The Wed­nes­day Fly

When faced with moody trout, Mike Thrus­sell se­lects a pat­tern that will get no­ticed!

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Why us­ing un­usual colour com­bi­na­tions can pro­voke more takes

IGLANCE at the thick fog and mist, in­wardly pray­ing it would lift and the sun break through. Maybe it’s me but I find misty, flat calm con­di­tions a tough call as fish are of­ten cagey. Pant-y-Bedw fish­ery, five miles east of Car­marthen, is set in the heart of the west Wales coun­try­side, very close to the fa­mous River Towy. Owner Dun­can Year­ley, a keen in­ter­na­tional con­ser­va­tion­ist and na­ture lover, bought Chal­lenger Lake two years ago. The lake is set in around 37-acres and formed from a nat­u­ral bowl in the land, plus is sur­rounded on three sides by mostly na­tive wood­land. He’s worked tire­lessly since to im­prove the fish­ery. This shows with well-man­i­cured but nat­u­ral banks and good easy ac­cess. Also, prior to Dun­can tak­ing over, the lake had some rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing weedy, but his good man­age­ment has cured this. His aim is to cre­ate an “an­glers’ fish­ery”, one that keeps you com­ing back, and he’s well on course to achieve that. He’s also keen to pro­mote nat­u­ral wildlife, which can only add to the fish­ery’s ap­peal. His an­gler au­di­ence is al­ready a mix of rel­a­tive new­com­ers to the very ex­pe­ri­enced and the fish­ery is well placed to pro­vide sport to sat­isfy both. He’s equally keen to en­cour­age young an­glers and, through lo­cal clubs, has al­ready or­gan­ised nu­mer­ous suc­cess­ful days of angling in­tro­duc­tion and tu­ition, giv­ing the fu­ture a help­ing hand.

Mir­ror calm

I nor­mally like to make an early start when fish­ing a new fish­ery, but learn­ing about the lake from Dun­can, and ad­mit­tedly, play­ing for time so that mist lifts, sees me ac­tu­ally hit the wa­ter mid-morn­ing. It’s mir­ror calm, not a rip­ple. Noth­ing stirs the sur­face, the bank­side reeds are static, the only move­ment be­ing the oc­ca­sional fish ris­ing far out in the mid­dle of the lake.

Vis­i­bil­ity is less than 50-yards at times and the grass, bank­side veg­e­ta­tion and very quickly me too, are drip­ping in dew. I fish the shal­lower car park end first. Tak­ing just the rod and net and keep­ing low be­hind the bank­side reed beds, I creep along try­ing to spot any fish work­ing tight in to the edge with a sin­gle fly, longish leader and cov­er­ing ris­ing fish. In nor­mal con­di­tions this would be a top tac­tic here given the good cover along the banks. I work along a fair bit of ground but see noth­ing. The banks are quite high in places, so if there’s no rip­ple on the wa­ter, try to keep low and off the sky­line. Fish are soon put off by un­nat­u­ral move­ment and keep­ing low can help on those tougher days. I spot the odd fish fur­ther out be­yond cast­ing range tak­ing some­thing sub­sur­face, so change to a two-fly cast and small size 14 black emerger on the point and a size 16 Black & Green Spi­der on the drop­per. I pick a spot that’s fairly tight be­tween two trees to min­imise my pro­file and make a se­ries of casts out to where I’d seen the odd fish top.

The first take

Twenty-min­utes later the rod pulls over to a nice rain­bow that shows briefly on the sur­face hav­ing taken the drop­per, then shoots away to deeper wa­ter. It is on for about a minute then just pulls free. It’s still mir­ror calm and close to mid­day

“...try to keep low and off the sky­line. Fish are soon put off by un­nat­u­ral move­ment and keep­ing low can help on those tougher days.”

now, but there are signs the mist is try­ing to lift and I slowly work my way up to­wards the is­land and the more heav­ily-wooded area. Here there’s a nar­row chan­nel be­tween the bank and the is­land that looks prime for a big fish, es­pe­cially to­wards last light or in very bright con­di­tions as the trees and is­land give good shade. But again I have no in­ter­est.

Time for a Buzzer

Mov­ing on, there’s a short open point of land at the top of the lake ,which al­lows you to cover a lot of wa­ter. This is a good spot, as is this whole up­per bank, to work a Buzzer from. So, even though not ideal with no wind, I set up a sin­gle Buzzer with an in­di­ca­tor above to get a lit­tle move­ment from the nat­u­ral left-to-right sur­face drift to try and cover more wa­ter and hope­fully more fish. Hot­head Black Buzzers are re­ally ef­fec­tive here but – though I try a wide va­ri­ety of depths, pat­terns and sizes, and cover a lot of ground – the fish are just not hav­ing it. Nor are they in­ter­ested when I switch to pulling lures. There’s a good stock of fish in this lake, but, if I’m go­ing to suc­ceed, I need some­thing that tar­gets the few fish will­ing to feed in th­ese ul­tra-calm con­di­tions. The area, just a few days be­fore, had suf­fered se­vere flood­ing not wit­nessed for more than 20-years as a ma­jor storm passed through, and I won­der if this had af­fected the fish and if there’s a band of sink­ing sed­i­ment deeper down. I move in to the cor­ner at the top of the House Bank where Dun­can claims there’s deeper wa­ter. I work this pretty hard and hav­ing gone back to emerger pat­terns and try­ing a fair few I hook and in­stantly lose an­other rain­bow. My fears about the calm and mist seem jus­ti­fied. Tak­ing a few min­utes out for a quick sand­wich, I then work my way down the House Bank try­ing dif­fer­ent tac­tics. If this doesn’t pro­duce, I’ll head back to the House End where I’d started and fish the shal­low wa­ter where I’d seen more over­all ac­tiv­ity. I go through the mo­tions for the next hour, switch­ing from a float­ing line set-up with a point fly cre­at­ing a wake and two drop­pers, to a sink-tip work­ing flies sub­sur­face, then to a slow in­ter­me­di­ate us­ing a very slow re­trieve. I also change to a three-fly cast with a big tar­get fly on the top drop­per, try­ing to draw the fish’s at­ten­tion to the trail­ing flies. I have a cou­ple of very gen­tle pulls when us­ing the in­ter­me­di­ate, but no hook-ups. I head back to where I started. Here, the lakebed is com­prised of silt with some light weed growth, but with a gen­tly shal­low­ing an­gle of bank fall­ing away in to the deeper wa­ter. My plan now is to work that deep wa­ter and bring the fly up the an­gle of the bank to try to find fish that are swim­ming along this con­tour line. A habit, even re­luc­tant-to-feed trout, will usu­ally adopt. This is the main fea­ture and it has to be where any hunt­ing fish will be work­ing. I choose a medium-sink in­ter­me­di­ate line, add 10 feet of 8lb fluoro­car­bon, then a tip­pet ring, so I could eas­ily change tip­pet break­ing strains if need­ing to go lighter to try and pull a take, then fin­ish with four feet of 6lb fluoro­car­bon. My start fly is a small Gold­head Dam­sel Nymph, which I’m told is a good fly on this wa­ter. I change lure types and colours sev­eral times and still don’t get a pull.

“When all other things fail, try the shock fly tac­tics us­ing flies dressed in white, yel­low and pink.”

Dras­tic mea­sures

It’s now late af­ter­noon and with light lev­els drop­ping it’s time for shock tac­tics. I opt for ‘The Wed­nes­day’ fly named af­ter Sh­effield Wed­nes­day Foot­ball Club as it’s dressed in their fa­mous blue and white. My think­ing is that any fish in the vicin­ity has to see this fly and if worked slowly it might get a re­sponse. I want the white body as a shock colour, and the dark blue tail to give a sil­hou­ette, pretty much an at­tempt to cover all even­tu­al­i­ties and over­come any sus­pended sed­i­ment colour in the deeper wa­ter. I make my cast at an an­gle just cov­er­ing the deeper wa­ter, but then bring the fly back with a slow fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve up to and along the an­gle of the bank. As it comes to where I know the bank lifts, I in­crease the speed of the re­trieve to trig­ger a re­sponse. A half-a-dozen casts later the fly stops dead just as it’s half­way up the in­cline and a rain­bow pow­ers off into deeper wa­ter. Dun­can’s fish come from a south west fish­ery and they fight well, mak­ing short sear­ing runs and twist­ing and turn­ing near the sur­face. Even at the net it turns and takes off on one long run be­fore fi­nally find­ing the mesh. It takes a lot of ef­fort, pa­tience and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, but The Wed­nes­day fly hits me a late win­ner. A short while later the same fly takes an­other fish worked up the bank ex­actly as be­fore. With time run­ning out, I switch to an­other shock fly, an all-white and pearl White War­rior Gold­head, to give a big­ger vis­ual tar­get, just to see if it in­creases the catch rate. It takes one more rain­bow. Be­fore com­ing to Pant-y-Bedw, I’d had a look on their Face­book page and an an­gler just a few weeks pre­vi­ously had 27 trout in a day, a fish­ery record. It’s pretty ob­vi­ous that no two days’ fish­ing are ever the same for a myr­iad of rea­sons. I’d found it tough in the flat calm, but it’s al­ways worth putting in the ef­fort, even when you’re strug­gling. When all other things fail, try the shock fly tac­tics us­ing flies dressed in pure ob­vi­ous colour such as white, yel­low and pink, just to make sure the fish ac­tu­ally see it, and then work on from there. The Wed­nes­day Fly is a sim­ple dress­ing but can be very ef­fec­tive on re­ally dif­fi­cult days fished fairly slow.

Words & pic­tures: Mike Thrus­sell

Af­ter try­ing al­most ev­ery­thing, Mike fi­nally got the fish to take.

Pant-y-Bedw is a well­main­tained nat­u­ral set­ting for fly an­glers.

Luck­ily, the morn­ing mist cleared and Mike got amongst the fish.

MIKE’SLEADERSET-UP The fish are well pro­por­tioned and hard fight­ing. In­set: The Wed­nes­day Fly.

Mike uses bank­side reeds as cover when search­ing for fish.

To an in­ter­me­di­ate fly line 10ft of 8lb fluoro­car­bon Tip­pet ring 4ft of 6lb fluoro­car­bon Wed­nes­day Fly

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