Autumn can be a fantastic time for fly fishing small stillwaters across the UK. As temperatures decrease, trout become more active and feed up in readiness for the coming winter.
In this blog report, Fishtec team member Gareth Wilson visits the productive Ellerdine lakes fishery deep in the Shropshire countryside – where he experiences some brilliant autumnal fishing.
Autumn is one of my favourite times of year to fish a small stillwater. Rainbow trout become more active and harder fighting as the temperatures plummet. They tend to be in great condition and start packing on weight from bashing fry. The colder temperatures and higher oxygen content mean great sport can be experienced in October.
For those looking for the fish of a lifetime with the chance of a different trout species with every cast, then Ellerdine lakes are a perfect location. Set in stunning rural farmland in Shropshire, this Trout Masters Venue is ideal for both beginners and more advanced anglers. The venue is run by Ed and Jayne Upton who really understand the needs of the modern-day angler. With 4 spring-fed lakes, regular stocking and a superb tackle shop on site, Ellerdine lakes offer a great day out at a very reasonable cost.
This October I traveled up with a party of seven anglers from South Wales including four beginners for three days fishing. My personal aim was of catching a brown trout as this was the only species I had failed to catch on my previous visit to the fishery, last year. using an Airflo Super stik rod, my fly line set up to start the day was the Airflo Super-Dri 6ft Fast inter sink tip with an 18ft G3 8lb Fluorocarbon leader. I started with two of my own patterns, a Sunburst Muddler as a point fly and Robs Hopper on the dropper as we were advised daddies had been fishing well.
I cast out with anticipation as my previous visit had produced monster fish, starting with a faster retrieve causing the muddler to create a wake. After a few casts, I decided to slow everything down. Then on a slow figure eight everything went tight – I was into my first Ellerdine trout of the trip! This lovely 7lb rainbow gave a cracking account for itself refusing to come to the net. It had taken the dropper and this fly would prove to catch many more fish this weekend. My first fish in April was a stunning 10lb rainbow and this fish an equally impressive 7lb, this fishery is truly home to some huge trout.
Unexpectedly for this time of year it was very warm with bright sunshine. This if anything seemed to enhance the fishing, with fish being in the top 4ft of water. Remembering my last trip, I decided to put on a rainbow flash damsel. This design, very similar to my blue flash damsel which helped catch the 12.7 lbs tiger I had caught here last time, was a great fly for fishing in amongst the weeds.
I moved in front of the lodge at Meadow lake and cast to a small bit of land with a tiny bush on it. I began to retrieve with a fast figure eight and provoked an aggressive take from my first Ellerdine brown trout. The fish went deep and tried to bury itself into the weeds. After a good scrap, my first Ellerdine Brownie was in the net.
The rest of my party where also hitting fish with the majority coming to Robs Hopper. The day got harder as strong winds picked up leaving limited options of where to fish, so I moved onto Marsh and fished into the wind. I changed my set up to a Chartreuse Flash Taddy on the point with, for the first time ever, an Egg Laying Blob on the dropper. I had never used blobs before but within 40 minutes I hit into three good rainbows. Two took the point fly and the bigger of the three took the blob. We had a successful first day in what ended up being tough conditions.
I spent the evening tying flies to ensure we had plenty of the patterns that were working the previous day. We woke up early to perfect fishing conditions – it was mild with a very light wind of about 5mph. On this day two customers from the Fishtec Shop in Brecon had made the trip to fish with us on my recommendation.
Rob and Shaun both keen fisherman, but neither had caught a rainbow before. I set Rob up with one of Robs Hoppers and advised adding a 6ft tippet onto his tapered leader. Within 20 minutes he was into his first fish. A great joy of mine Is helping people new to the sport in hooking up with their first fish. After a decent scrap he managed to land it and the satisfaction was clear to see!
Another fisherman who made the trip with us was Stuart who had blanked the previous day. After seeing the success of the Egg Laying Blob he asked me to tie him three. He started hitting fish on every other cast. This ‘killer fly’ was attracting fish in numbers. The T-15 material used turns into a translucent jelly which looks great in the water.
My aim on day two was the same as the previous year – to help the newer fisherman amongst us get into the fish. Things were going well, they were all having offers and landing fish from 2-5lbs in weight, so I decided to set my own rod up. Again, my choice of fly line was the Airflo Super Dri 6ft sink tip, a simply lovely line to cast and fish with.
I must have gone through every fly in my fly box on day two and worked my way round all 4 lakes but I was struggling. I had 4 fish on which all came off and plenty of offers but I was having ‘one of those days’. I honestly thought this would be my first blank in 5 years!
Luckily as the last light of day was fading behind the trees, I put on an Orange Flash Taddy and cast into the distance on Cranymoor. I varied the retrieve often pausing before a quick strip or fast figure eight and finally – fish on! Not the biggest but certainly one of the nicest trout from the lake. A tiger trout of about a pound and a half that was certainly welcome and avoided the blank.
That evening I decided to tie the Incredible Cat and a couple of other fry patterns – after noticing a lot of coarse fish fry around all of the lakes. We left our accommodation at 7:30am and made our way to Ellerdine with high hopes and expectations. Today I was here to catch fish! My set up for the day started with a Chartreuse Flash Damsel on the point with and Emerger pattern on the dropper.
We started on Marsh as the main lake Meadow was packed and it wasn’t long before I was in. An energetic fish decided the emerger was a tasty option and continued to perform acrobatically out of the water before coming to the net. After seeing the success of the natural I set up a 18ft 6lb Sightfree G3 fluorocarbon leader with a Bibbio Muddler on the point and 2 emergers at 6ft intervals, one olive and one claret, on the droppers. I missed a few fish but takes were few and far between so I decided to switch things up. I changed to 12ft of G3 8lb fluorocarbon and put on the Incredible Cat tied the night before. I started pulling it through weed beds occasionally hooking weeds in the process. It was not long before I was into a nice fighting 3 lb rainbow. The take was savage and this was the start of good things….
After seeing this fly working it’s magic, Stuart decided to arm himself with the killer pattern. Within 20 minutes he had hooked into a submarine. This cracking rainbow took him over 6 minutes to land and is his PB trout to date – It weighed in at 13.7 lbs. From Blanking to 17 fish and a PB, the ‘incredible cat’ was certainly doing the trick for him.
I continued to hit fish with a varied retrieve, pulling it through the weed beds on Marsh lake. The final fish of the trip was a fine brownie that found the Incredible Cat irresistible. As I pulled it through the water I felt it hit some weeds before a voracious take. Again, like the first brown trout he went deep and kept digging into the weeds. When I landed the fish, I was satisfied with how well we had done this weekend.
I came to Ellerdine with the target of catching one of their stunning brown trout. I left having caught two, a bunch of rainbows and a lovely tiger. A hat trick of species. The Autumn period at Ellerdine certainly lived up to our expectations leaving us fond memories of incredible fishing. The friendly staff and well stocked tackle shop ensures this is a fishery we will be returning to – with a trip in February in mind.
For more details on the flies mentioned in this post visit UKFlyFisher.
Want to fish Ellerdine lakes? Visit their website here!