Late sea­son bank raid

Iain Barr gets up early to tar­get Rutland’s big trout ly­ing just yards from the shore

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

LATE sea­son of­fers an­glers a chance of a very large grown-on trout. Our reser­voirs are cool­ing and this trig­gers the trout’s feed­ing in­stinct to pack on weight ready for win­ter. These fish con­cen­trate on corixa and fry, but it’s the fry that of­fers the most nu­tri­tion. Mil­lions of small fish fry gather around the shores of our reser­voirs and Rutland this year is no ex­cep­tion. Hordes of ju­ve­nile perch mixed in with fry from bream, roach and rudd amongst oth­ers – and a splat­ter­ing of stick­le­backs – line Rutland’s shore­lines. They can’t be found along all 26 miles of this large ex­panse of wa­ter but look for ob­vi­ous struc­ture and places of cover where they find safe haven.

Vis­ual spec­ta­cle

As a young­ster and com­ing through my 20s and 30s, this time of year was very ex­cit­ing with large browns in par­tic­u­lar reg­u­larly seen and caught as they hunted the shore­lines, ag­gres­sively at­tack­ing the shoals of fry. This has not al­ways been the case but some­thing has changed be­cause, for at least the last four years, it has been like the old days with so many specimen fish crash­ing into the mar­gins. The fry pa­rade around the sur­face leap­ing in their mil­lions at first and last light and this can be a spec­ta­cle in its own right. But the sight of large trout cartwheel­ing into these pet­ri­fied shoals is some­thing spe­cial. Rutland’s South Nor­man­ton shore­line of­fers a great op­por­tu­nity for a large trout. Along this bank there’s the Boat Harbour, Nor­man­ton Church, Fan­tasy Is­land and a splat­ter­ing of small bays with plenty of large stones and boul­ders where the fry can take cover. I start early, first light in fact. I may have been fish­ing for al­most 40 years now but I still don’t sleep be­fore any fish­ing trip so I can usu­ally be found on the banks early. The same can’t be said for Peter Gather­cole, un­for­tu­nately. A 6.30am start for Pete could be any­thing up to 8.30 so I’m a lit­tle sur­prised when this char­ac­ter ap­pears over the Fan­tasy wall where I had started. “Af­ter­noon Pete,” I joke with a large grin on my face. I re­port I’ve had noth­ing so we opt to walk the Nor­man­ton bank.

Stay on the move

Dur­ing late sea­son it cer­tainly pays to keep on the move. I know the fish feed hard at first light but I’ve had no of­fers and seen no fish. Don’t hang around if you’ve seen zero signs of fry, keep mov­ing un­til you find out where they are! With time at a pre­mium we briskly walk the shore look­ing for signs of life. The ‘Blue Pipes’ fur­ther up the bank of­fers deeper wa­ter closer in and these are used in con­junc­tion with the ‘boils’ for pump­ing wa­ter. They also of­fer a hide­out for small fish fry. I start cast­ing here and walk back to­wards my car at Fan­tasy Is­land. This is about half a mile of wa­ter for me to tar­get, which is plenty. I’m trav­el­ling light, cer­tainly much lighter now Peter is here to carry my net!

Set-ups and re­trieve

My set-ups in­clude a float­ing line with a sin­gle White Hu­mun­gus and a tip line with a WCC Sin­gle Rutland Perch Fry. From the shore I pre­fer these lines as it al­lows me to fish them slower through the shal­lower wa­ter. I of­ten see an­glers pulling fry lures back ex­tremely fast and, although this does work, I find the slower re­trieve gets a more pos­i­tive take. Like fish­ing a shared salmon pool on a river, I cast and step my way back to­wards Fan­tasy Is­land, with ev­ery cast hit­ting a new piece of wa­ter. This is im­por­tant as you are of­ten fish­ing for in­di­vid­ual large fish, not shoals of fresh fish mov­ing through. I move some 100 yards with no of­fers but, while fish­ing the Hu­mun­gus with a medium fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve, I have an im­me­di­ate solid take. Straight away we can see the golden flanks crash­ing on the sur­face as a brown – es­ti­mated at about 6lb – pre­pares to take a dive for free­dom. Pete fran­ti­cally runs down the bank to grab the net, which was left some 50 yards or so up the bank. Af­ter a two-minute bat­tle, a mag­nif­i­cent Rutland brown nes­tles in the land­ing net. Pete gets the pho­to­graphs he needs and the fish is safely re­turned. These are beau­ti­ful crea­tures and I al­ways

“I have an im­me­di­ate solid take. Straight away we can see the golden flanks crash­ing on the sur­face as a brown pre­pares to dive for free­dom.”

re­lease specimen browns where I can. And of course at this time of year they are out of sea­son so must be re­turned. I’m aware of de­bates re­gard­ing these fish be­ing killed but we must re­mem­ber they are stocked trout at the end of the day and the an­gler is en­ti­tled to take them dur­ing the sea­son. Where I do have a grum­ble is where some an­glers con­tin­u­ally take them for car park glory as they pa­rade it back at the lodge.

Leader strength

It’s crit­i­cal that you beef up your tackle for late-sea­son fry feed­ers. You shouldn’t re­ally fish any­thing be­low 8lb at the very least. I’m us­ing 13.1lb G5 fluoro­car­bon to give me the ad­van­tage should I make con­tact with a large fish. It’s strong but ex­tremely thin for it’s break­ing strain. I con­tinue to walk the shore swap­ping be­tween the Hu­mun­gus and Perch Fry with no other of­fers. This is typ­i­cal for this time of year so don’t be dis­ap­pointed with just one or two of­fers when hunt­ing the larger fish. Other ar­eas will of­fer more fre­quent sport from smaller rain­bows but the qui­eter banks and those of­fer­ing fea­tures will give you the chance of that bet­ter fish. It was a short ses­sion but the job is done. I de­lib­er­ately chose first light as the time to fish. The shore­line was also cho­sen care­fully with Fan­tasy Is­land of­fer­ing rocky get­aways for fry and the Nor­man­ton bank giv­ing me a ‘plan B’ close by. My choice of Hu­mun­gus and WCC Perch Fry are two ab­so­lute bankers. The Hu­mun­gus is an all-time favourite for this time of year and the Perch Fry is the ideal im­i­ta­tion of the large num­bers of perch fry present this year. Put all these three fac­tors to­gether each time you go fry bash­ing and you’ll in­crease your odds for that fish of a life­time.

A 6lb-plus brown trout is slipped safely back into Rutland.

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