The Battle of Britain – Lake of Mentieth 2017 Autumn International Report

England captain Iain Barr reports from the recent lake of Mentieth home international fly fishing competition. Read on to discover the techniques that led England to victory and won Iain the coveted brown bowl trophy!

Lake of Mentieth is known as a fortress in Scotland as their international fly fishing team defend it with all their might. The four home nations were to descend on the lake from 11-15th September for the battle of Britain in the fly fishing stakes.

The lake of Mentieth

The lake of Mentieth.

Scotland boasted a very strong team with previous brown bowl winners, top Scottish internationals as well as a host of local knowledge. It was a force to be reckoned with.

However, as England captain, I was confident with the squad I had and with good practice backed by a solid strategic game plan we could come away victorious.

It’s a team event and has to be planned as such. I set different boats with different techniques often putting anglers out of their comfort zone to prevent complacency with the same methods they’re used to.

I arrived 3 days late due to a family emergency and assessed the two previous days practice with vice captain Ed Foster. It was as I expected, dries and an assortment of washing line techniques and flies.

Wednesday was the perfect dry fly day and the fish responded well to dries as big as a size 10 Midas to size 14 shuttle cock owls. I put myself as a roaming boat whereas all others were set areas and techniques to try. It was whilst moving from the heavily fished Lochend to cages bay that I cracked the method.

Using the Airflo Di3 and Di5 fly lines I tried the depths, something that hadn’t been mentioned in our team debriefs. I used a couple of boobies, a standard cat booby and a lake special candy booby. The lake is the king of fishing static venues so I cast out the flies and just kept the tension and no more. 3 fish in 3 casts had us moving out quickly.

Thursday I wanted to try the same area but leave the flies anchored deep for longer so using an Iain Barr new Fab, tied with FNF Jelly Fritz, a couple of nymphs in the middle and a blob I decided to drop through the layers and fish deep with Airflo 3 foot and 6 foot tips.

I was using Airflo G5 fluorocarbon in 11.2lb. Very thin for its strength which is definitely needed on Mentieth. The lake had a tinge of green so I decided to to fish as heavy as I could get away with. The fluorocarbon also has some stretch which absorbed the aggressive takes that were to come.

Several times the line would shoot away on the drop which I estimated to be about 4 to 6 foot down, but most were coming vertical on the hang.

A rapid 7 fish came to my side of the boat, I then switched to a Di5 with two boobies to get to the depth quicker to see if I could speed up the catch rate. A quick hat trick and I was putting of there.

A fully finned Mentieth bow'

A fully finned Mentieth bow’

My partner for the day bounced a lot of fish on the hang. I was using the amazing new Airflo Airlite V2 fly rod. These absorbed the aggressive snatches at the fly where as my partners rod was far too soft and simply wasn’t setting the hook. Rod balance is critical. Too soft and the hook won’t set, too stiff and you’ll bounce fish all day long. The Airlite V2 was just the perfect tool for the job!

The boys were struggling as I shared my info, but I banned all bar one boat from checking out the area and using the method until later in the day, to minimise being spotted. They caught and caught well.

I brought the flies, leader set up and exact map markings to the meeting and set the plan out to try and win the gold medal.

The toss for the engine was kind to us and 8 of us had control so I sent our two strongest dry fly anglers to Otter Bay and 6 to follow me to cages bay.

Airflo Di lines were banned from the car park to avoid showing our intent to fish deep. Midge tips in various guises were set up ready to go.

I drew a Scots man for the day as we headed to my choice of cages bay. He hooked into a fish almost immediately and I was shocked it took 3 casts to go tight as my line zipped away to a red Nemo almost vertical. Another quick fish followed and it became extremely congested and I felt I wanted to get deeper quicker due to boat pressure. I switched to the Di5 and two boobies and first cast the rod bent double and a stunning Mentieth rainbow of about 8lb came to the net having taken a sparkler booby, again vertical. Sport was slower that the Thurs and the 18 of the day before seemed some distance away!

A stunning Mentieth rainbow

A stunning Mentieth rainbow.

A short move to Stable Point had been get two more quick fish, both to the 3′ tip and new fab pattern. My partner decided he wanted to move and we moved around behind dog island where I hadn’t caught in 2 days!

He was soon into his 3rd  fish as my line tightened into my 6th, again on the tip and fab but much higher in the water.

I persisted with my method to go deep and soon my tally started to steadily climb as fish came deep almost all absolutely static on the hang. Some would hit the fly 5-6 times and it was crucial not to strike but wait for the rod to bend over into them!

As the wind increased the control in the tip lines was lost so I switched to the Di lines taking 1 on the Di 5 and 4 on Di 3 fishing two boobies. Again, I cast them out and simply let them drop through the layers. It was in cages bay that all went tight after about 10 seconds and a magnificent Mentieth double put up one hell of a fight before being safely returned after a quick photo. That was number 15. Two more quickly followed and it was time to head in with a respectable 17.

Martin Burgess of England matched my 17 and Tony Fox came in with 10. They came to dog island with 6 and 3 respectively and I shouted across to switch to my method and they did the rest!

It soon became clear that England’s long await for victory on Mentieth was over as we blew the other countries away with a 36 fish margin over 2nd place Wales, 37 ahead of Ireland and 38 ahead of last placed Scotland. Fish were measured and released but with an average of of over 2lb per fish this was possibly the biggest margin in the history of the event.

Iain Barr with the brown bowl trophy

Iain Barr with the brown bowl trophy.

With the team scores settled it was down to the UK individual title of the brown bowl and having taken my first 3 fish deep, they were bigger than Martin Burgess of England’s 3 so my second brown bowl in Scotland was secured having won it on Loch Leven too.

My 64cm rainbow on the sparkler, 3rd fish, also took the biggest fish.

It was a clean sweep of the trophies as I took captain gold,  top England rod , top individual and best fish. I couldn’t have been more proud of a resounding victory and of the solid team performance by a great bunch of lads.

Next stop Airflo Anglian Final, see it here!!

Silverware galore for Team England

Iain’s’ huge haul of silverware!

Winter Fly Fishing On Farmoor Reservoir

Winter is prime time for the smaller waters across the UK as many large reservoirs close, albeit for a much shorter period than some years ago.

For those who prefer a larger, more challenging venue then Farmoor Reservoir, hosting a World Bank Masters final sponsored by Airflo, continues to be open all year round. Occasionally closing during hotter summer months if water temperatures are too high.

7lb of Farmoor magic

7lb of Farmoor magic!

It is here where I ventured for a days guiding last week. Again, the fishing was simply amazing with cracking fish up to 7lb right off the top! Farmoor is associated by some as a deep booby water and this is simply not true in many aspects. It has some of the best buzzer fishing I have had, fry time can be explosive and the dry fly fishing some of the best I have had.

A happy client with a Farmoor cracker!

Last week wasn’t the warmest days but with light winds and buzzers hatching there were fish moving! Off came the fast sinkers as me and now a good friend Ron Howard came up on to floaters and midge tips. I opted for my infamous Iain Barr original candy fab and two nymphs, a woofta buzzer and cut throat cruncher. I had a few brief few casts with a Minkie Booby and 4 fish smacked it off the top but none connected so the tried and tested fab was offered.

My partner for the day was having joy with a white minkie booby as fish harrassed it across the top but the confident takes were definitely coming to the much slower fished Fab, in fact, almost static! In a frantic 15 minutes I had landed 3 crackers to 7lb right off the surface!! I had to pinch myself that it was still February!!

We traveled the full lake taking fish in most spots with most offers certainly coming in the top 4 feet. Its important to keep on the move this time of year as often you have to go to the fish, they wont come to you. We tried deep in several places and we did hook in to fish proving like on most reservoirs there are two layers of fish, those feeding deep and those searching the higher layers. This is worth remembering for any winter trips as it is very typical on most fisheries.

Rod bending action all day!

Rod bending action all day!

Slow retrieves out fished anything pulled which is paramount for this time of year. The buzzers and crunchers caught fish too up to 5lb! The water was clear so I generally stuck with a lure and nymph combination and caught steadily through the day. My partner was having great joy on a minkie booby fished off the top and down deep and landed some crackers including a double up! With these Farmoor fish in tip top condition and plenty of 4-5lb fish and many bigger, don’t shy down in tippet if visiting there, especially for the Bank Masters! I was on 11.2lb new Airflo G5 fluorocarbon on the midge tip and 13.1lb new G5 on the Di5. These fish are strong, big and hit hard!!

If venturing out through these winter months try lures with an imitative fly too, it brings great rewards. Having enjoyed most of my day fishing slow on the midge tip, I couldn’t resist trying some of my new snake flies and WOW! The response was explosive and certainly fast and furious!

Big snake flies work!

Big snake flies bring out an aggressive response!

With entries closing for the Farmoor Bank Masters on 24th Feb, there is still time to enter! There are over 200 anglers booked in for the weekend with top anglers from the UL and Europe including Spain, Norway, Poland and Belgium joining in. We also have beginners and people fishing competitions for the first time which is exactly what we wanted. They want to be part of something big and take in the experience and learn something along the way which is exactly where I started some 30 years ago now. Wow, that long! 😉

Fly packs to try this month:

Minkie Boobies
Black Buzzers sz 12
Crunchers sz 12
Snakes / Snake Boobies

A quality Farmoor rainbow – 4lb lump on a woofta!

Back End Trout Fishing – Super Sport On The Reservoirs

Top UK match angler and Airflo consultant Iain Barr shares his recent back end fly fishing success on the reservoirs. For super sport this autumn, keep on fishing!

If you’re looking for a big fish or a personal best, this is often the time of year you’re likely to encounter it. Temperatures dropping trigger the instinct for the trout to feed heavily for the lean months ahead and fry and shrimps are full of protein and just the diet required to pack on the weight.

Fishing off the dam at Grafham

Fishing off the dam at Grafham water.

In the last month I have made several trips to Grafham and Farmoor Reservoirs and the fishing has been off the scale in terms of numbers and quality. In 4 trips between the venues, 2 on each, I have netted 131 fish up to 6lb, nothing short of incredible fishing!

Grafham, renowned for it’s killer shrimps has been in excellent form for weeks and it’s continuing! Large quantities of fish are tight in the margins feeding heavily on astronomical amounts of shrimp! Don’t make the mistake of wading in before fishing the very edges – If you have more that two foot of water in the edge don’t wade in at all. Most trips I have fished stood several feet away from the waters edge and barely cast more than 10 yards of fly line all day. Hot spots have been the dam wall where I enjoyed some frantic mornings with Airflo’s Gareth Jones, anywhere on the North Shore and Gaynes Cove. Top patterns have been my Grafham Killer shrimps, crunchers and diawl bachs in size 12.

Quality back end Grafham fish

Quality back end Grafham fish.

Last week I had a morning in the boat harbour at the lodge and here the fish were hitting the fry. I fished from first light and had 13 fish before 11:00am and fish tipping 6lb using a Black and Silver Humungous fished with a slow fig of eight on the new Airflo Forge Floating line, out soon. At only £29.99 this is a cracker so grab one when it comes out! I’m also hugely impressed with the new G5 fluorocarbon. It’s supple and finer makeup allows for better presentation of the smaller flies and makes it even harder for the fish to see and I’ve been using the 11.2lb for nymphing and 13.1lb for lures without any issues at all, it’s incredible stuff!

The Airflo Forge – a great line for just £29.99

The Airflo Forge – a great line for just £29.99.

If heading to Grafham, it’s worth setting the alarm early to be there for first light. Call the lodge and buy your ticket before you go as the lodge doesn’t open until 08:00am and if recent form is anything to go by you could land a dozen or more by this time, it’s been that good!

Book in advance - so you can get an early start!

Book in advance – so you can get an early start.

Farmoor 1 has been explosive with so many fish in the 3-5lb bracket. I landed 50 in just one day before 15:00 with fish rising all day around me taking advantage of a late small red buzzer hatch, first I’ve seen in October for many years! Surprisingly they were fairly hard to tempt on dries as I took 5 in an hour but covered plenty. I switched to a candy fab on the point with nymphs and the disturbance of the fab had the fish in a frenzy! There is nothing more exciting that having bow waves coming from all directions after your flies and this is just how it was. If there was a red letter day in fly fishing, this was it! I switched to a fab and booby, all on a floater as you can’t beat fish chasing across the top. If I’d put a sinker on to make the boobies go under earlier on the retrieve would have no doubt caught more but there was no way I was stopping the exhilarating fun of fish bow waving my flies, often for 20 yards or more!

Fishing on Farmoor in November

Fishing on Farmoor in November. (Image: Steve Reed)

The fish seemed to be all round the lake from the margins to right through the middle. Fishing the wind lanes certainly proved productive so head for these as a first bet. There were some seriously big fish where the boats launch from and having caught a couple they had sticklebacks in them. A minkie booby or floating fry with a candy fab bounced across the top was the way to go for some frantic sport. The fish may well drop in this cold snap so be prepared to drop with them and an Airflo Di3 should be sufficient. Fish will start to move in as the water cools and I’ll definitely be heading back!

I will be hosting a big cash prize competition on Farmoor on the first weekend in March. Singles on Saturday and Pairs on the Sunday with up to £15,000 up for grabs! Details will be available on here and Iain Barr’s Fly Fishing for Trout Flies – Home and Iain Barr World Bank Masters on facebook very soon. It will be the first 200 paid entries who fish, no heats and 100% of all entry fees will be given away in the cash prize fund and plenty of tagged fish tackle and cash prizes open for anyone to catch over the weekend! The Elinor Bank Masters will still be going ahead with up to £3000 up for grabs, provisional date 16th April. Again, this will be the first paid 100 entries and 100% of entry fees will go to the prize fund.

Recommended Winter Packs :-

Humungus Heaven
Crunchers size 12
Diawl Bachs size 12
Crazy Cats
Minkies
Minkie Boobies

Two Titles One Champion – Iain Barr’s Winning Tactics

Unstoppable fishing machine Iain Barr keeps on winning UK fly fishing competitions! He recently bagged the Bank National Champion title and then followed up this mean feat by winning the Bob Church Classic – for the third year running! In this blog post Iain shares the tactics that won him these two prestigious titles. Enter the mind of a champion fly fisher…

Competition pro Iain Barr in action

Competition pro Iain Barr in action

English National Small Water Championship – Farmoor

Farmoor reservoir hosted the English National Small Water Championships with a field of 48 strong anglers hoping to make the 7 man squad.

Hot sunny weather greeted us and this has a impact on the methods to use. This time of year sees plenty of warm weather and the fish behave differently. In these conditions you will often find two layers of fish and Farmoor was no exception. There was a layer in the top 3-4 feet and and another layer approx 12-15 foot down.

I deployed 3 rods, Airflo Di5 and new JELLY Blobs. Airflo Di3 with a mix of cats Blobs and damsels and a Super-dri floater with nymphs and buzzers.

I fished the Di3 first on each peg, switched to buzzers and nymphs before fishing the last 10 mins of the 45 minute pegs to search for bonus fish that were lying deeper.

The first peg yielded a cracking 6lb fish, the only 1 I landed. I had 2 off my next 2 and a blank off a tricky corner peg which didn’t produce all day although I did miss a take whilst applying more suncream!!

The afternoon saw more fish nearer the surface so I pulled the Di3 with a blob and a cat switching the cat to a damsel mid way through the 45 mins. The Airflo sixth sense Di3 is the perfect pulling line if the fish are high.  It cuts through quickly and can.be fished fast and high or slower and deeper if they drop.

I landed a 1, 2,2 off my first 3 afternoon session pegs with many coming on the ‘hang’ about 10 yards off on the infamous Farmoor ledge.

During the last peg a thunder storm circled in the distance and despite 2 quick fish high in the water they stopped taking. During this changes in air pressure many say the fish stop feeding when really all they tend to do is drop deeper to acclimatise to the change in pressure.

I let the Di3 and Tungsten beaded cat lure drop for 30 seconds before a slow retrieve and I landed my final 3 giving my maximum of 5 in a few casts.

Scores were calculated and the Bank National Champion title was mine.  The top 7 will not represent England at Garnffrwd Lake in Wales in November.

The national bank champion trophy being awarded - top angling!

The national bank champion trophy being awarded – top angling!

Bob Church Classic – Grafam water

June saw the 29th Bob Church Classic held at Grafham Water.  Having won it the previous 2 years the hatrick was on. I’d had a tough practice landing just 2 but that was above average! Grafham was sulking with high and low pressure dominating and mixing through the week. Late Saturday saw a steady change in pressure with some rain and wind which we hoped we would stir them and boy did it!!

I took an evening boat Friday just to motor round to see where fish were moving and this played a key part in my day. I tried a couple of areas briefly and went for a quick look to where I had seen a few moving late Friday before my plan to move to the open water.

I arrived at the dam with it to myself and the fish were there in droves almost smutting like on midge but I’m convinced they were gorging the clouds of daphnia.

I was using an original Airflo slow intermediate with a booby on the point,  2 nymphs and a cat on the top. With fish so high the booby pulled across the top will certainly draw the fish in and it did. Usually I’d catch more on the nymphs but they just kept engulfing the sparkler booby pulled across them on the top.

Soon I was spotted and the armada arrived which inevitably slowed the sport down. I stuck with the same method but just fished it almost static. The majority of my remaining fish took the nymphs. Many may have taken the booby off but it allows the flies to descend much slower and more naturally.

I soon had my 16 fish limit and it was now a waiting game to see if i had done enough to complete an incredible hatrick of wins. All anglers were still fishing around me but there was a splattering of boats dotted in other areas.

17:30 saw the competition end and I heard of 2 other limits and it proved incredibly close!!

With a slightly earlier finish then Gus Armor of Scotland I managed to complete an unbelievable hatrick in wins!  Next year sees a special 30th year of this prestigious event to be held at Rutland where I’ll be aiming to bring it home for a 6th time.

Iain Barr with Bob church classic cup

Iain Barr with Bob church classic cup.

This time of year you can be fishing the top with dry flies or deep with lures.  Try dries like Big Reds, Shipmans and CDC owls. For deep lures boobies on fast sinking Lines, or cats whiskers and blobs fished deep – these will always catch.

See Iain Barr Fly packs available from Fishtec, such as:

Essential Dries
Harry potters
Essential Boobies
Blobs
Damsels

Tight lines, Iain.

Spring Buzzer Fishing Tip’s

A great little post by former world champion Iain Barr on spring buzzer fishing – invaluable advice if you fly-fish stillwater’s!

April going into May is all about the buzzers for me and no doubt many of you fly fishers out there.

I’m having crazy sport on buzzers at the moment and it will only get better before it tails off through June when more aquatic nymph pattern become hot on the trouts agenda.

Outings to note recently have been to Elinor where I’ve landed 48 in two trips, part days with about 35 taking buzzers including a cracking 13lb 10oz rainbow and a fine over wintered fish of about 5lb too.

13lb 8oz Elinor Fishery - on a buzzer

13lb 8oz Elinor Fishery – on a buzzer.

Black and dark claret buzzers are my favourites this time of year and usually larger ones in size 10 and size 8 reservoir buzzers.

What’s key is to fish them dead dead slow but best static. Their decent can be controlled by using a blob or fab on the point and or top dropper.

The retrieve is key too, keeping them static as long as possible but every 12 second or so try a very long slow pull to raise them through the water column and pause again before repeating. This will lift and drop the buzzers through the layers just like the naturals.

The woofta - Iain's buzzer of choice at the moment!

The woofta – Iain’s buzzer of choice at the moment!

My Woofta buzzers, black crisp,  Red Butt, Claret Stealth and Claret Midlands are some of my favourites this time of year or you can pick up my black buzzers selections and reservoir buzzer selections through Fishtec.

Tight lines at this great time of year for the fly!

Iain.

Winning The 2015 Bob Church Classic – Iain Barr

Anglian water’s Grafham hosted the 28th Bob Church Champion of Champions competition on 27th September. A strong field of 96 anglers from the UK, Norway, Belgium and for the first time Poland, were invited to compete for this FA Cup of Fly Fishing.

Iain with a cracking king Grafham rainbow.

Iain with a cracking king Grafham rainbow.

Conditions were near perfect albeit a little bright but that hasn’t affected the fish on Grafham this year as they remain high in the water.

My game plan was to target bigger fish feeding on shrimp in the margins and stay away from the fleet of boats that were targeting smaller fish in the open water near the Dam and Willows.

Having practiced 2 days before I had taken some belting fish to 5lb in just 3 foot of water in the sailing club bay to sludge point near Gaynes Cove.I couldn’t believe my luck when all boats went racing by leaving the whole shoreline to myself! Surely people had found these fish but I felt the good head of fish at the dam had sucked them in. These big fish were by no means easy but I felt with less boat pressure and the sheer average size would give me the advantage over the 8 hour match.

The killer shrimp fly pattern

The killer shrimp fly pattern

It wasn’t long before my partner, Andy Axon was into a 3lb 8oz rainbow as it tore in to a shrimp pattern I had given him in the sailing club bay. He’s relatively new to this game but mad keen so I recommended he change his set up and switch to a floating line and a Candy Blob and Shrimps which I duly gave him. I have got him on 8lb G3 fluorocarbon and it didn’t let us down! He was also using the new Airflo Blitz fly fishing rod which I had recommended him. We were like twins! Same rods, lines, tippet and flies!

It was a slow start but after 11 o’clock they started to come steadily to the shrimp and blob. As we were in shallow water the trick was to short line as if we were dry fishing so we didn’t disturb too much water and ‘line’ the fish.

By 1230 we had our 4 better fish, Andy actually taking a 5-2 lead at one point! He executed the hang perfectly and this was the trick as most come close to the boat. This included over 6.5lb of fish in a crazy double up that saw the boat beached in the reeds and me reaching over Andy to net his 2nd fish on the point! Great angling Andy!

A candy blob fly

A candy blob fly

A move to open water saw me take another 6, fishing two Candys and Crunchers in the middle, still on the floating line, all but 1 taking the blobs and a coral booby as I was targeting Daphnia feeders.

A fine Grafham brownie

Cracking brown caught on the Airflo blitz rod and a shrimp at the bob church classic

With just 20 mins fishing time left and sat on 10 fish we had one last drift near sludge going in to Gaynes Cove. In a crazy spell I took 6 all over 3lb in the last 20 minutes short lining the floating line with 3 shrimps and the candy blob. Andy took a 6th on a claret bits. The perfect day was complete!

Was 16 enough…. as I had heard of 9s and 10’s when I was sat on 4 fish? The weigh in soon revealed that 16 was the winning margin and with 4 fish for near 14lb I had the best fish too of 4lb 10 with a 14lb clear margin to 2nd place which went to Ray Maylon with 12.

It's great when a plan comes together...Result!

It’s great when a plan comes together…Result!

It’s good when a plan comes together but teamed with the right flies and the right kit for the job, it makes a tough task a little easier.

Tightlines, Iain Barr.

 

European Fly Fishing Championships – Slovakia

England World Fly Fishing Team

September saw me heading to Slovakia for the European Championships with team England who were sponsored a pair of superb COSTA polarised glasses each.

It was 5 river venues with wild Grayling and wild Brown and Rainbow Trout. Some beats on two of the venues had stocked browns introduced due to lower numbers of wild fish. The 3 venues were the River Poprad, River Vah and River Bella. We fished in the beautiful surroundings of the Liptovsky region where wild bears roam!! One section of the Bella had bear alerts so we had to be cautious!

I have fished in the World and European teams now for 15 years and have to say that this region of Slovakia has the most prolific fishing I have ever come across. The River Vah in practice would produce anything from 20 – 50 fish in a 3hr practice session in the right conditions. The Poprad would produce 60-80 grayling an hour at least!! On the first day of practice we fished the Poprad, a small river only approx 10 yards wide at best. We fished for 3.5 hrs and had over 900 fish to the hand for the squad of 7! I fished single dry fly, changing every 10 fish and took 40 in under an hour. I watched as the others caught half as much again if not double on nymphs. I switched to nymphs and the catch rate soared astronomically. Small nymphs on a 16 – 18 and 2.5mm beads seemed best in the small often skinny river. A hint of colour, orange, red or pink certainly helped the catch rates.

Iain Barr Grayling

The Vah is more of the typical river. Fast runs, deep holes, slow glides and long slow pools. We spent many days on this river in practice as 3 of the 5 sessions were on this river. Upper, Middle and Lower Vah sections.

Iain Barr Brown Trout

7 days back to back fishing took it’s toll and the team had earned a much needed rest. team Jacuzzi’s and Saunas and killer pool sessions on the table offered the perfect tonic of rest and play. Not too much rest I hasten to say as the manager had us all tying flies for almost 14hrs that day, not that the team needed prompting. I roomed with Andrew Scott who was tying flies at 0530 every morning without fail! Good job I get up early for London every morning and am used to it!

The competition was upon us and the team were confident. A day of heavy rain and snow in the mountains before the competition days put some depth to the river and the dreaded colour. Despite this, we were ready!

As with all pegged events you have good and bad beats.This was one for me to forget! I drew 5 of the lowest scoring pegs in the competition with the best position being an 8th by the overall winners, a Chech republic angler. He had 22 from my beat on the lower Vah and I followed with 16 despite their techniques I call ‘hoovering the beat!’. I caught just 4 in the main flow of  the river where he had obviously fished. On returning a fish to the controller I stumbled across a 2 foot or so deeper channel in some very shallow fast water. I managed to get 12 fish from this small bit of water that had obviously been missed as the 12 fish came in about 15 minutes.

I had a fast rip of water on the Bella and managed 13 with fellow angers around me fairing with 7-11. The top end beats all produced 30-40+ fish!

Day 1 saw England lying 6th well within striking distance. Andrew Scott got off to a flyer with a 1st and 2nd in his first two sessions netting 89 fish in the process!

Day 2 saw me get the one I had been waiting for, the Poprad. I avoided the lower beats again which had taken 50-70 fish in the first two sessions and drew the last peg on the stretch. It looked good but had only produced 8,3 and 11 fish so far. I took 11 matching the best to date.

It only went down hill as more poor beats followed and it didn’t fair too great for fellow team members. Andrew Scott drew another good beat and got a superb 2nd position but his luck run out with two average pegs which knocked him off a certain individual medal. He finished a very respectable individual 12th position. The team slipped to 11th.

The Czechs came out team winners with Spain taking the top individual. The Czechs fished small nymphs, often within a few feet of the margins to take the gold.

The rivers are starting to cool now and the grayling shoal so now is the time to contemplate some river fishing. It may be cooler but always carry some dries with you as even in the coldest of days fish will rise to any hatch that occurs during the warmest part of the day.

See Iain Barr fly sets available from Fishtec

 

Fly Fishing in Hot Weather

With this hot weather beating down many fish are heading to the depths to keep cool. The smaller waters with limited depths are struggling as the temperatures soar and the fish simply stop feeding.

My latest trip was to Rutland Water. The water had turned a pungent green with minimal visibility. The record had just been smashed with a Brown of over 17lb caught up Rutland’s North Arm. We decided to head up the North in search of better fish.

Rising fish

We had thick low cloud cover and to my astonishment fish were moving through the middle of the north arm. I was armed with my Di 7 Airflo forty plus fly line  to get to the cool depths but chose to pick up the rod with a floating line and pursued the rising fish. Nothing came and my partner started to pick fish up steadily on his Di7. 3-0 up and the banter started! It wasn’t long until I put a stop to his success and took him to the infamous North Arm weed beds.

Di7 and Buzzers

The water was badly tainted with green algae and it just didn’t seem appealing. We stuck it out for an hour on what I call dead certain drifts and nothing! We headed back to the North Arm Tower and I put 4 buzzers on a 16 foot leader on my Di7! I launched the full 40+ fly line in an increasing wind and held on. Just my 3rd cast and all locked up and the backing went flying out the rings!

I was in to a cracking fish which fought hard for almost 15 minutes before coming to the net. It weighed just shy of 6lb. It took the point fly at it’s deepest point and still came to the net feeling warm. 6 more quickly fell to the Buzzers ranging from stock fish to more resident specimens.

IB Buzzer

The Boils

No hot summer day would be complete without a shot at the boils. These are in the middle of Rutlands main basin and there are approximately 12 of them. This is where the water is pumped in producing numerous amounts of oxygen bubbles and the fish congregate in big numbers on them. It can be embarrassingly easy or they can be empty. If one is not producing just move to the next one. Many anglers cast in and rip there flies through them but the best method is to simply throw it on to one of the edges and let it swing around and just keep your line tight.

Fish here tend to be fighting fit and with the currents caused they can give you one hell of a scrap. Make sure you fish an absolute minimum of 8lb G3 but I would opt for 10lb. A di 5 or Di 7 is best to cut through the fast flowing water. I have had great success with dries on boils too so if overcast try a team of Harry Potters which skim perfectly off them. Again, takes can be very fast and furious so don’t be shy using 8 or 10lb tippet on the dries.

Small Waters

Anglers should ring up their local small waters and check how it is fishing before venturing out in such heat.many are shallow and with little oxygen the fish just wont feed. Many small waters close during the hotter months of the year so check this too before venturing out I recently visited Thornwood Lakes in Essex and had some absolute superb fishing with fish in to double figures on dries, nymphs and lures, take your pick. 4 of us landed 96 on the day and I took the lakes best figures of 49! Despite being relatively shallow, it is the clearest small water I have ever fished and just like chalk stream clarity. It is spring fed keeping the lakes crystal clear and cool even through the hottest months.

IB Recommended Fly Packs

Diawl Bachs | Crunchers | Blobs

Boobys | Essential Small Water | Essential Dries

Bob Church Classic at Rutland Water

Rutland hosted the 26th Bob Church Classic this month and produced a fishing bonanza! 100 Anglers took part with a rod average of 11.12 which is a record for the competition by some way!

You could have picked your method and almost every bank held fish. I was paired with Patrick De Schutter from Belgium. I hadn’t practiced so decided to start with the 3ft Airflo Mini Tip fly line a blob on the point and 3 new buzzers up the line. This is a great combination with many fish likely to take the blob whilst dropping through. We headed for Whitwell Front with a handful of other boats fishing there too.

Despite losing a fish first cast, Patrick soon raced into a 3 – 0 lead using a the sixth sense Di5 with the new hang markers a Blob and a Booby. This wasn’t just me against Patrick, this was a  Belgium World International versus an England World International so our country’s pride was at stake here!

My Di5 40+ emerged from my fishing tackle box. I prefer this line for pulling lures because of the angler which can be achieved by the intermediate running line. I put a Cats Whisker on the point due to the milky water colour, a size 12 Crisp Red Butt Buzzer just above it, a size 12 pearl goose cormorant just below a tequila blob on the top dropper. I took no chances with the leader material and opted for my tried and tested Airflo G3 in 10lb due to the low water clarity. In clearer water I would drop to 8 or even 6 when fishing nymphs.

I soon boated a fish to the blob and opted to move as the fish soon went off with boats turning in the shallow water where the fish were feeding. A quick move to Armley Wood up Rutlands North Arm saw one more fish come to the cats Whisker. A few drifts along the Finches produced no more fish so we moved to the end of Cardiac Hill where a boat had been sat anchored for some time.

bob-church-rutland-water-fishtec

It wasn’t long before the Di5 40+ got in to full action but the retrieve and hang was crucial. A very long slow pull with the arm fully extended to the front and then to the back allowing maximum distance in one movement with a brief figure of 8 after each set of 3 pulls. More important was the long ‘sweep and hang’ well away from the boat as we were only in 6-8 foot of water. I lifted the flies about 8 yards from the boat and hung them there for about 10 seconds proceeded with a very slow FO8. When doing this I was watching the line simply lift as  the fish took before lifting in to them. This is where the intermediate running line and heavier sinking head came into play.

The Cat was taking most of the fish but within 30 or so minutes the takes to the cat dried up and switched to the buzzer and cormorant between the two attractor flies as they became wary. We had the short drift to ourselves and if we went a drift with out action we left it for 15 mins and returned only for them to start taking again. A good point to remember when fishing any spot! Fish soon become wary and will go off, if you don’t know for any more fish near by, move off and return after!

England romped to victory in this mini European Championships by 16 fish to 5 after I took 14 fish in a little under 2 hours. My partner decided to switch back to nymphs in a bid to claw back some Belgium pride. It is often thought that competition anglers keep things to themselves but I set up my partner with a leader and my own fly set up and attached it to the end of his line and he proceeded to take 12 more fish to finish with 15 with as many takes.

Winner was Leigh Pond with his boat partner Al Owen in 2nd. Both fished buzzers on indicators and mini tips and Lee’s 4 fished weighed 14lb 14oz on top of his 33lb time and fish bonus!! Despite a quick fire 14 fish to complete my 16 fish limit the 3rd time win eluded me as I finished 5th. The whole of Rutland fished superb and with the fish to almost solely turn to buzzers it is set to be a healthy June! Get your boats booked early!

IB Recommended Fly Packs for May/June :

Reservoir Buzzers | Black Buzzers | Crunchers | Diwal Bachs

Why Fly Fishing late season pays off

I have never understood why many put there rods away come October or November. I took a trip to Grafham late November and caught the record 8 fish bag weight for 2012, 33lb 14oz.

The fly fishing was outstanding at the best fish was a 6lb 4oz Rainbow which I caught on my third cast on a new 2013 buzzer pattern. I was fishing a floating line with a buzzer, 2 cut throat crunchers or a sz 8 Killer Shrimp with a Candy Split Blob on the point. This is the same set up I used to win the Grafham Trophy for Team England September last year.

The fishing gear I used was my trusted i#8 Enigma fly rod, coupled with a #8 line and 8lb G3 fluorocarbon. It is imperative that you use fluorocarbon this time of year as the water is often crystal clear.

Fish like it slow this time of year and that day was no exception. They literally wanted it static! I was guiding for the day and my pal Paul Norris soon clocked on to this fact. We would cast it out and simply leave it alone for 20 seconds or so. We would then do 2 or 3 quick ‘flicks’ of the line like a fig of 8 and count to 20 or so again. It was a calm day and we were fishing relatively short lines as often fishing in 3-6 foot of water close to the sailing club shoreline between the yachts and The Seat. More often than not we would see our fly lines start to move before we saw anything at out finger tips. This is key if you want to catch more fish!

Although I stuck with the Blob and Nymph method, my partner tried a Minkie and caught a cracking Rainbow of 4lb 9oz, a personal best and first fish from Grafham after several visits with no joy. He landed 5 for 16lb and had plenty of other action on what has to be the 2nd best days fishing on Grafham I can remember. The best being 2 years back on Buzzers on the West Bank when it was almost a 3lb+ fish every other cast and there’s no better way to catch them than nymphing on a floater.

Dust down them resting fly rods and go fishing. Winter fishing is often superb, if like me, monitor the weather and choose good conditions. Next trip Farmoor 1 Reservoir where the sz 10 size limit of fly has been lifted and the Booby ban has also gone. See how I get on here first!

 

Iain Barr - Grapham Water