Iain Barr

Trout­mas­ters was such a great day out

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - Iain Barr: Has fished for Eng­land 24 times across World, Euro­pean, Loch-style and Rivers In­ter­na­tional Teams.

I'VE just com­peted in the 39th Trout­mas­ters Fi­nal on Dray­cote Water and what a plea­sure it was. I’d spent two prac­tice days afloat and had amaz­ing sport. On the Satur­day I’d ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing I’d never seen in 40 years: a feed­ing frenzy on blood­worm that mat­ted the sur­face in the shal­lows of Toft. The fish were freely scoop­ing up this meal, as were the ducks. I was told the blood­worms were po­ten­tially mi­grat­ing, caus­ing this very rare phe­nom­e­non. The shal­lows of Toft boiled with fish – easy tar­gets as my­self and Eli­nor’s Ed Fos­ter took some qual­ity fish on red dries and a mix of Boo­bies pulled across the sur­face. It didn’t last too long as the fish were dis­persed by boats com­ing straight through the drift. We took a slow, wide arc when head­ing back up the drift only to be beaten by boats rac­ing us through the mid­dle of the fish. Then they would turn the boat and start fish­ing where they’d just mo­tored. When you find feed­ing fish, es­pe­cially those feed­ing on the sur­face, it’s bet­ter to lose a minute’s fish­ing time by tak­ing a wide berth around the fish. Avoid go­ing full throt­tle be­cause the noise and the waves caused by the boat will push the fish down. We did two laps of the lake and caught fish all round on var­i­ous meth­ods and flies, such as Snakes and dries. Many an­glers were fish­ing Snakes at fast speeds, of­ten with a roly-poly re­trieve. This is where you place the rod un­der your arm pit and pull the line with both hands, of­ten as quick as you can. My ex­pe­ri­ence when fish­ing large Snakes us­ing this re­trieve is that I hook less than 50 per­cent of the takes. I’ve ex­per­i­mented with this and for me, a steady fig­ure-of-eight re­sults in more than an 80 per­cent hook-up ra­tio. When rip­ping lures fast, the trout has to make a split-sec­ond de­ci­sion, of­ten snatch­ing at it. With a steady re­trieve, I be­lieve the fish has made a thought­ful de­ci­sion to take the fly. It’s slow enough to fol­low and study it be­fore mak­ing a con­scious de­ci­sion to eat it, re­sult­ing in a con­fi­dent take and bet­ter hook -up.

When fish­ing dries

On my sec­ond day’s prac­tice I fished with fel­low Air­flo Costa team mate Andy Axon. He’s rel­a­tively new to the com­pe­ti­tion scene but is keen to learn. He ques­tions ev­ery­thing he does and watches closely what I’m do­ing. We had an awe­some day and caught some of Dray­cote’s in­fa­mous sil­ver rain­bows through the open water. Red dries were the pick of the day as we put more than 40 fish in the boat. When fish­ing dries you don’t have to fish a long line. You’re fish­ing dries be­cause the fish are high in the water and, by cast­ing a long line, you are, in ef­fect ,‘lin­ing’ fish. This means your line is land­ing on more fish than you’re prob­a­bly aware of, and spook­ing them. The most ef­fec­tive way to fish dries is just six or seven yards in front of the boat. This gives dis­tinct ad­van­tages. Firstly, you’re not lin­ing any fish and they come closer to the boat. Sec­ondly, you can watch the fish take the fly and strike at the right time. At dis­tance, it’s not al­ways clear whether the fish has taken the fly and this can re­sult in strik­ing too late or, more of­ten, too early. There is a third ad­van­tage, the fish is closer to the boat and there­fore quicker to get in to the net!

Match day

Match day dawned and I drew the bank ses­sion first and fished the shal­low Big­gin Bay where fish were feed­ing well in just a few feet of water. I took four on Blood­worms and Red Holo Di­awl Bachs but was miss­ing too many with short, ten­ta­tive takes. A change to three red dries in­clud­ing a Ship­man’s Buzzer, Big Red and Mi­das saw me take seven more fish and win the ses­sion. In the af­ter­noon I de­cided to search for quiet water away from the fleet of boats and headed for the Sail­ing Club shal­lows. It was soon ap­par­ent that I had com­pany as a boat fol­lowed me, de­spite a few dummy runs – all part of the game when fish­ing the Trout­mas­ters Fi­nal. I headed to the corner of the Sail­ing Club with the ad­ja­cent boat in tow. My friendly Scot­tish boat part­ner was some­what amused by our new friends shad­ow­ing us. We stopped and sure enough, they stopped too. We stopped in open water so as not to spook the fish in the shal­lows. As the horn sounded we took a stealthy ap­proach to the shore­line only for our new friends to storm to the shore! We were in front and I soon put two fish in the boat with a cou­ple missed and sev­eral fol­lows. Set­ting up for a sec­ond drift we couldn’t get into the spot as our friends were still go­ing through with the drogue out. It's vi­tal not to use a drogue in shal­low water as it drags the bot­tom, dis­turb­ing it and of­ten colours it up too. I be­lieve the large dark para­chute-like bag also spooks the fish some­what! A sec­ond quick drift saw no more of­fers, and a hand­ful of missed fish over the Lin­ford Shoals had me scratch­ing my head as we headed to the Toft shal­lows. I put five quick fish in the boat to be left with seven in the ses­sion. I fished a fast glass and two Blobs as it was ev­i­dent some stocked fish had ap­peared. My friendly gi­ant of a boat part­ner caught one too and was made up hav­ing caught from the bank as well. This com­pe­ti­tion is great. You’re in the boat with a com­plete stranger and through­out our three-hour boat ses­sion we shared life's ex­pe­ri­ences and I lis­tened to his sto­ries about the in­fa­mous Loch Leven, a place I just love. My seven fish placed me sec­ond in the boat ses­sion be­cause Corn­wall’s Dave Johns man­aged an im­pres­sive 10. With my first place in the morn­ing and sec­ond in the af­ter­noon only two firsts could beat it and that’s ex­actly what An­thony Mead­ows did with awe­some angling to win both his boat and bank ses­sion! Con­grat­u­la­tions to the new 2018 Trout­mas­ters Cham­pion.

Have a go your­self

Many of our fish­eries are Trout­mas­ters Waters. If you catch a big fish, fill out the form at the fish­ery. At the end of the year all the qual­i­fiers are in­vited to com­pete in a ‘fish-off’ at that venue and the win­ner gets to fish the great fun fi­nal! Next year is the 40th an­niver­sary and this will be a spe­cial oc­ca­sion with great fish­ing again on Dray­cote. Give it a go.

“You’re in the boat with a com­plete stranger and through­out our three-hour boat ses­sion we shared life’s ex­pe­ri­ences...”

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