Iain Barr

Former world cham­pion Iain Barr gets ex­cited about the prospects of a bumper fry time as we ap­proach the back end of the sea­son

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Why this could be a ter­rific late sea­son

THIS time of year of­fers fly-fish­er­men the op­por­tu­nity of a fish of a life­time. Af­ter a long hot sum­mer, wa­ter tem­per­a­tures are fi­nally tum­bling and the starved trout are back on the feed! With such a hot sum­mer, the end of sea­son fry frenzy could still be go­ing into De­cem­ber and Jan­uary as tem­per­a­tures stay above nor­mal in our lakes and reser­voirs. One or two fish are show­ing signs of feed­ing on fry and a re­cent trip to Dray­cote had many fish with small perch fry in them. Rut­land is stuffed with fry and it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore the fish turn on them. Rut­land's last two sea­sons have boasted ar­guably the best late-sea­son brown trout fish­ing in the UK. I've fished Anglian wa­ters for 35-plus years and never had a dou­ble-fig­ure fish but I have had two in the last 12 months. I was lucky to sneak a few hours one af­ter­noon last Oc­to­ber and take a 10lb 2oz brown on a White Hu­mun­gus from the Har­bour Wall and this is the first bit of ad­vice I will of­fer. Where to fish?

Look for struc­ture

“The fish­eries are be­hind... so see Novem­ber, De­cem­ber and Jan­uary as Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.”

All the large reser­voirs have har­bours to hold their boat fleets. This is man-made cover for the hordes of fry that ap­pear now. The pon­toons of­fer refuge for the fry and they’ll gather in their mil­lions. Last year the Rut­land har­bour was black with fry and the as­saults on them were com­ing from all an­gles! Seag­ulls bombed from above like RAF jets while the large trout, of­ten browns, charged them from be­low. It was like watch­ing an At­ten­bor­ough episode of killer whales hurtling at the sea lions! Trout would go deep and swim to the sur­face at speed and cart­wheel through the fry! Stun­ning to see. Like the killer whales, last year I'd watch sev­eral large browns in a pack, chase the fry into a frenzy! Chew Val­ley has two par­al­lel pon­toons and fry in their mil­lions are at­tracted here. It’s a spec­ta­cle as trout, perch and pike send these in­no­cent ju­ve­niles into a panic! Last year at Dray­cote while guid­ing a client, we parked the boat just a few feet off the pon­toon and I flicked a dry Snake off my rod into the wa­ter and a rain­bow of near 5lb took it dry, right off the top with just my leader out the rod tip. Like the fry, it was tak­ing cover un­der the pon­toon wait­ing for the fry to pass. Struc­ture is im­por­tant when tar­get­ing fry. Fry need cover – pon­toons, rocky out­crops, large weedbeds, sail­ing yachts and moor­ings, any­thing of­fer­ing a chance of es­cape and cover. Fry of­fer a large, nu­tri­tious meal and you'll of­ten find that trout feed in a frenzy for short pe­ri­ods and then dis­ap­pear with the odd one still will­ing to feed. First and last light of­fer a good chance of big fish. As the sun rises and sets, the fry ap­pear on the sur­face and trout and other preda­tors seem to know this. It makes them easy tar­gets as the fry un­wit­tingly jump freely on the sur­face and are bombed by gulls and trout alike! The trout are of­ten at­tack­ing sil­hou­ettes and this makes them vul­ner­a­ble but how do you make them take your ar­ti­fi­cial with so many nat­u­rals? Your of­fer­ing sim­ply has to stand out. At first and last light a sur­face pat­tern can be the best choice. The old favourites like a Minky Boo­bies, Hu­mun­gus Boo­bies or my new Mini Snoo­bies ripped across the sur­face are sure to get their at­ten­tion.! By bounc­ing these across the waves you're sure to get an at­tack. Rain­bows of­ten chase be­fore tak­ing but you'll find that large browns sim­ply in­ter­cept them with a fe­ro­cious on­slaught in one hit. You have to be ready for this im­me­di­ately, as your fly lands and don’t shy away from strong leader tip­pet. I al­ways use 13.1lb Air­flo G5 fluoro­car­bon for fry feed­ers. It’s very strong and not too thick for all my fry pat­terns and you don’t want to be snapped on that large fish you’ve strived to catch. Of­ten af­ter an on­slaught the trout re­turn to pick up stunned and in­jured fry. This is when you turn to a Float­ing Fry or the pop­u­lar Pop­per Minkies. These are de­signed to sit in the film and fish will take them as sub­tly as they do a dry fly. A fish tak­ing a static fry off the sur­face needs a firm lift of the rod as op­posed to a hard strike. If the fish hasn’t con­nected when you lift they'll of­ten chase the fry as it skims away from them. If the fish swirl at your fly, a short pull can trig­ger the take you’ve been wait­ing for.

Fish deeper when ac­tion stops

Once the frenzy ends, usu­ally an hour af­ter sun­rise, this isn’t the last of the ac­tion. Trout have to pack on weight to get through the win­ter so won’t ig­nore a small fry go­ing past their ter­ri­tory. As soon as the sur­face ac­tiv­ity stops, fish a lit­tle deeper. Just like the sur­face pat­terns, they can be ripped fast or fished dead slow or static! My 10lb 2oz brown from Rut­land Har­bour last Oc­to­ber took a White Hu­mun­gus lure static. I’d cast out three Hu­mun­gus lures, un­did a tan­gle for 45 sec­onds or so and af­ter reel­ing up the slack the line went tight. Don’t be ob­sessed by rip­ping the fry pat­terns back too fast. I use my range of Snakes a lot now and catch more fish us­ing a fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve than I do rip­ping them back. The Hu­mun­gus is hard to beat at fry time and it's best fished with short two to three-foot short pulls to give the marabou max­i­mum tail move­ment. Prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar sunken fry pat­tern is the Leaded Minky. A slow fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve is best for these, and be pre­pared for more sub­tle takes. Beef up your tackle. I’ve dis­cussed leader strength but you need a pow­er­ful rod to drive that hook home as well as cast some of the larger pat­terns. In loch-style com­pe­ti­tions I watch an­glers ‘bounce’ fish off as they pull lures fast. Some are fish­ing 6/7wt rods and, in my opin­ion, these are not made for pulling lures fast and aren't ideal for big fry feed­ers. In my opin­ion, a 6/7wt rod has too much give for a large trout tak­ing your fly. The rod buck­les and doesn’t have the back­bone to set the hook. You may get away with it on sur­face pat­terns but just think of the fish you have ‘bounced’ on sunk fry lures when it rips out your hand and there’s noth­ing there. I opt for my orig­i­nal Air­flo Enig­mas and the Air­lite V2. Light­weight and pow­er­ful cast­ers and strong enough for fry. The fish­eries are be­hind in terms of con­di­tions and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures so see Novem­ber, De­cem­ber and Jan­uary as Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

Iain Barr: Has fished for Eng­land 24 times across World, Eu­ro­pean, Loch-style and Rivers In­ter­na­tional Teams.

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