Think like a match man
Gareth Jones explains why it pays to have an adaptable line of attack
PRACTISING for a big match always gets me excited and with the Anglian Water Final just around the corner, it’ll be great to get out on Rutland and see how it performs after the prolonged period of hot weather. Recent trips to Draycote and Eyebrook suggest that the water has turned over, with stronger winds forcing cooler water to the surface. But being such a large water I know Rutland will take a little longer to get the fish back up on top.
Small green midges
A quick chat with the rangers in the morning always brings rewards. These guys meet everyone coming off the water and are a great source of up-to-date information. You never know what little snippet might help you in your day. Today is no different and Nigel Savage mentions that there have been good hatches of small green midge. Looking at the trees around the lodge, I see huge clouds of small green midges that have hatched in their millions. These are sure to be on the menu, hopefully keeping the fish in the upper layers of water. As usual, despite coming from Wales, I’m early and head out for the Sailing Club – an area where a pal had seen fish moving on the surface the previous day and close enough to the lodge that I could motor back to pick up photographer Peter Gathercole when he arrives. In the calm conditions a small slick appears between B and A Buoys. I flick out the dries – small size 16 CDC emergers – and miss several fish in quick succession. By the time I hit A Buoy, I’ve actually risen four fish and haven’t felt a single one. Not the best of starts, but the fish are moving to green midge and are high in the water. All reports suggest that the Dam is fishing well, but I already know this and – after picking up Peter – we decide to head deeper into the South Arm to see what we can find. As you can imagine the shallower water is less oxygenated than the main basin after the summer, but halfway up the arm we find a small pod of good fish moving quickly – again they look like green midge feeders. But despite my best efforts, I only manage to break off on one of these!
Location, location, location
We work the area hard. With the hatch subsiding, and very little sign of any fish activity, it’s time to make a call. Should we stay around for a couple of good fish, or get some numbers closer to the Dam? Now I’d like to say that I stick it out and catch a few lumps, but the need to practice for the Anglian event has me taking the long run down towards the Main Basin. Now armed with a team of a small Booby, a nymph and Foam Arsed Blob (FAB), we head down towards the Dam stopping off at X Buoy on the way. Just stroking the flies back across the surface, we soon have fish following the disturbance patterns. It’s such a contrast to the dour fishing earlier, as fish now follow my flies almost every other cast. These aren’t recently-introduced fish, these are fish stocked earlier in the season, now enjoying the cooler water and feeding hard in order to put on condition for winter. As a result, they don’t slam into brightlycoloured flies, instead there are lots of follows and very few takes. The way to
reduce follows is to stop pulling! Let me explain. My preference is to pull fast to get a fish to follow and then to just stop the flies dead a long way off from the boat! After an abrupt stop I like to watch the loop of line at the rod tip for any sign of a take. This works a treat today and converts at a very high rate.
Get an angle
Always try to get some sort of angle on the fish. A fly pulled straight upwind covers far less fish than a fly retrieved at 45 degrees across the wind. It’s also a more aggressive retrieve as it pulls the fish off its natural line of movement and forces the decision on the trout’s behalf. I’ve been messing around with a new clear Hover line and it’s certainly having the desired effect, allowing me to pop flies across the surface without fly line wake and being almost invisible to the fish. I seem to be scaring far less trout, we just need to tease and cajole them into taking the flies, with the long distance hang being very effective.
With good cloud cover, I like to fish flies that incorporate some UV materials, whether it’s the fritz in the case of
“Try to get some sort of angle on the fish. A fly pulled straight upwind covers far fewer fish than a fly retrieved at 45 degrees to the wind.”
the FAB (see photograph, above right), or the rib on the nymphs or Hoppers in the middle droppers. I’ve read up as much as I can about UV materials and spoken to a lot of top anglers about how they affect the fish. But, while I cannot give any concrete evidence about why they work, I assure you that they can be a game changer on any given day and are something I recommend you try.
The fish are in pods and we work along the south shore from the Church to the corner of the Dam. But with the wind blowing into this corner, food has been blown into that area late in the day. So, numbers of fish here is incredible with as many as 10 following the fly at the same time and double hook-ups common as I stop my flies in the pod of followers.
Fish the conditions
It was a quiet start to the day. I went from doing what I enjoy most to an absolute crazy fish-filled afternoon using Blobs, FABs and Boobies! Today was a lesson in fishing what the fish want, right where they want it.
Gareth Jones feels the full power as a trout bores deep at Rutland.
Rutland Water is justly famous for quality rainbows such as this.
Now the water has cooled a little, the fish fight much harder.
A perfectly formed rainbow and with a very sharp tail.
Gareth nets yet another Rutland rainbow that took the popular FAB.