The double Booby
Gareth Jones uses two buoyant flies to catch well at his local Llandegfedd Reservoir
Gareth Jones uses two buoyant flies to catch at Llandegfedd Reservoir
NESTLED in a relatively steep valley close to New Inn, near Pont y pool, is Llandegfedd Reser voir. At more than 400 acres it is the most signif icant large stillwater in South Wales and well known as a great boat-f ishing venue. Being only three miles from my home, it’s my local water and one that I’ve put a great deal of time into over the last 10 years. It makes a great practice water for competition fishing and has contributed to some terrif ic results in the A nglian Water competition with my fishing team the Nymphomanics. Like any venue, the most important thing is f ish location and once found, tr ying to keep in touch with them is what puts f ish in the boat. I’m always tr y ing to build up a picture in my mind to help me understand where they’ll move with any wind direction changes or increased angler pressure.
During early season, regardless of where they’re stocked, f ish will generally follow the steep shoreline to f ind themselves some shallower water. Not only does this shallower water warm up quicker, but it also holds the majority of the food items and f ishing in depths of 10 -20 feet is usually far more productive than f ishing in water 30 -40 feet deep. Today, the water temperature is
GARETH’S LLANDEGFEDD SET-UP
extremely low and after the recent heav y snow fall, the subsequent melt is f inding its way into the lake. I know that the lake has a decent number of fish stocked for the start of the season. The f ish had been stocked at the dam and without anyone putting any pressure on them, they were hanging around the boat jetty. So my f irst
drift is no more than 100 yards out. First cast and after a 20 second count, I start the retrieve – a couple of long pulls to begin with and then a steady f igure-ofeight. Half way back it all goes tight and my season has started. A double Booby set-up, one bright one on the dropper and a black or olive version on the point is the way to go and – while I’m enjoying having my string pulled in the little bay we affectionately call the ‘Aquarium’ – I’m keen to tr y some other areas further up the lake. Working my way along the ‘Gabians’ shoreline and into Bill Smith’s Bay, we come across pockets of fish that are obviously running down the wind on the way to the shallow water. Again all the takes come at depth and the fish hit the f lies as I pull them away from the shore. Moving even further into the shallower end of the lake I start a drift off 7 Buoy heading towards the island shore. The shallow water here extends out into the lake for several hundred yards and I’m able to run the boat along the shallows casting right and left to work both drop-offs. As we drift in and hit about 12 feet of water the takes start to come. But these are a different stamp of f ish that have been placed in the lake at the dam with the previous week’s stocking. They have only taken a few days to find this shallower water and with some small black midge hatching it’s easy to see why they’re here.
Drift versus anchor
In winds of less than 15mph, I always prefer to drift but should the wind pick up and I have to get my f lies deep, then I have no qualms about reaching for the anchor. Drifting obviously helps you to cover water faster and when you’re looking for recent stock fish, these can sometimes be in relatively tight pods and more easily located on the drift. However, if you’re not able to control the f lies and get them to depth, then drifting is a waste of time. When the wind picks up, it’s far better to anchor and in these situations, I pick a shoreline with the wind blowing along it. If the f ish are in the area, you’ll get takes ver y quickly. So if you’ve not had any action for 10 minutes then move! Just lift the anchor, drift for 20 yards and then do it again – this will allow you to work the shoreline effectively and make the most of diff icult conditions.
Early season flies
In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with a couple of Boobies when the water is ultra-cold. They have several benef its
“When the wind picks up, it’s far better to anchor and in these situations, I pick a shoreline with the wind blowing along it.”
as they can be fished ver y slowly without catching the bottom. But perhaps more signif icantly, they’re ver y easy for the f ish to take. Let me explain: in cold water the f ish are less active and less aggressive, so the Booby with its large foam eyes is easy for the f ish to eat. As the f ish opens its mouth and displaces water, the f ly just f loats in and often you just get a feeling similar to the f ly going through weed just before you feel the solid hook-up.
Long casting and counting
It sounds obvious, but getting your f lies deep involves counting the f ly to depth. The majorit y of anglers I watch start to retrieve far too soon after the line has landed. When the water is cold, the fish real ly need the f ly presented at the depth they are holding and will not move far through the water column to intercept. With a Di-7 taking 20 seconds to get to 12 feet , the slow f igure-of-eight will allow the line to continue sinking and hit a greater depth halfway through the retrieve, allowing you to hit bottom in 15 feet of water. The further you cast, the more time your f lies will spend at the correct depth and ultimately catch you more fish during this cold weather period.
Regardless of weather conditions, I’ve noted a phenomenon where you can sometimes find fish in mid water later in the day. So from 3pm onwards every fifth cast or so, I’ll stroke the f lies back f ive seconds down. These are often overwintered fish or fish that have been in the lake for some time and will start to take closer to the surface as the water warms up and any early-season buzzers hatch.
After the usual crash and bang at the start of the season, Llandegfedd can be incredibly responsive to fishing teams of Superglue Buzzers on a f loater or midge-tip line. Then, as the water warms up, the fish move out from the shore and can provide incredible top-of-the-water sport.
“The further you cast, the more time your flies will spend at the correct depth and ultimately catch you more fish during this cold weather.”
Gloves keep hands warm while protecting against sinking lines. Boobies of many colours to suit any given day. Yellow and olive make a deadly combination. The Olive Booby caught the most trout on the day.
Gareth enjoys hot sport on a cold early season day at Llandegfedd.
Olive Booby Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B175 Thread: Olive Tail: Golden olive marabou Body: FNF picric or pellet Fritz Eyes: 6mm yellow foam
Black Marabou Booby Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B175 Thread: Black Tail/body/wing: Black marabou Rib: Medium mirage Eyes: 6mm black foam
Dennis Booby Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B175 Thread: Black Tail: Black marabou Body: Black and red Fritz Eyes: 6mm black foam