Summer Time Success – Warm Weather Trout Fishing Tips

It seems like summer has arrived and is here to stay as temperatures hover around the mid twenties to early thirties. Water temperatures begin to rocket, albeit 4-6 weeks late after a harsh, long cold winter. This time of year the fishing can be at its toughest with fish becoming lethargic.

A heatwave trout

A heatwave trout

Despite the heat of the day you can still enjoy your fishing. There are some obvious cooler parts of the day, first thing in the morning and towards the end of the day. I have been having incredible sport at the start of the day, arriving at 04:30am last week on Rutland bank and I have done that since I was a young boy!

Dawn on Rutland

Dawn on Rutland

I was rewarded with 14 fish before 09:00am as the fish fed close to the shore in the cooler start. The late evenings have also been productive as the fish move in again to feed just a few feet off the bank. Dries in the shallows has been the way to go with my Hares Ear CDC culs, Sugarcube Hares ears and Yellow Owls being the pick of the flies. The fish have been feeding hard on shrimps and this selection of dries are perfect for them.

The fish have been feeding hard on killer shrimp

The fish have been feeding hard on killer shrimp

Dry flies indicate I am obviously fishing on the surface but not all fish are on the top. I took this magnificent Rutland double figure brown trout 30 foot down on a buzzer using a 3 foot Airflo tip line. It was completely flat calm and bright hot sunshine! This allowed me to cast a full line and leave 4 buzzers to head to the deck. There are two layers of cooler water, usually the first few feet, if a good breeze and towards the bottom. As I took the large brown trout deep there were fish moving! Often though, the larger fish will sit below in the deeper water and fresh fish will feed high and eventually drop deeper as they acclimatise to the water temperatures.

A magnificent Rutland brown trout

A magnificent Rutland brown trout

It becomes obvious the middle layers are usually devoid of fish as they sit in the top few feet or the bottom few feet. Choice of line becomes simple, a floating or tip line or the Airflo Booby Basher which is the fastest sinking modern fly line out there! It’s a heavy line and should be fished with a #8 rod or more!

Fishing dries will keep your flies right up there and is a very good choice, Culs, Big Reds, Midas, and Owls a favourite choice. For the Booby Basher, the clue can be in the name. Fishing a short leader of 4-6 foot, you can cast out this amazing line and leave the booby buoyant just off the bottom in the coolest of water. Please check boobies are allowed during catch and release on your venue as many prohibit it due to the fish often swallowing them especially if left static.

For me, I prefer to use a tip line with heavy buzzers if the wind isn’t too strong. I tend to use a leader of 28-30 foot which is tapered from 15lb down to 8lb with the 4 heavy buzzers on the last 15 foot. This gives maximum free tippet from the fly line to free fall quickly and effectively to the bottom. Fish the flies  too close to the fly  line will only prevent the flies from free falling quickly. One option is to fish the buzzers on fast sinking lines and many do it and are successful! I prefer to use a tip line for better control but don’t rule out the fast sinking line with this method, especially if you cant cast this far enough to get the depths.

Fish early or late for best success!!

Fish early or late for best success!!

Many small waters close this time of year as temperatures just get too much and I know many are suffering at the moment. Head for spring fed waters as these offer cooler water all year round. Fish early in the morning or late into the evening, this offers your best chance. Same rule applies to our large reservoirs, fish early or late, but they do give you options of the deeper water. There is an exception to this as many large reservoirs have aerators which provide much needed cooler water and masses of oxygen. These can be stuffed with fish and bring much needed sport on the toughest of days.

I recommend my Heavy Buzzer selections and boobies for this time of year along with my CDC Owls and Big Reds. Enjoy the sun, drink plenty of fluids, take plenty of sun cream and just think of the cooler days in a few months time! Tight Lines, Iain.

Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018 – Full Length DVD

Airflo sales director Gareth Jones and Fishtec blogger Iain Barr are two of the countries most successful stillwater fly fishermen. Together they co-operated with Trout Fisherman Magazine to bring us their latest fly fishing feature film.

In this new DVD titled ‘Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018’ they visit a variety of UK waters in search of trout. Their secret methods, fly lines, flies and tackle are all revealed, along with essential tips on how to catch more fish. If you fly fish lakes or reservoirs, then this is a ‘must watch’!

Want to see more of the Airflo Stillwater Tactics series? You can check out Volume 3 here.

For the others, head to our YouTube Channel!!

Buzzer Bonanza

Well known stillwater match angler Iain Barr shares his thoughts on spring buzzer fishing tactics. If you want to improve your buzzer fishing skills, read on!

May and June see prolific buzzer hatches across our lakes and reservoirs. Its buzzer bonanza time and what a time it is! That tightening of the line to the fingertips takes some explaining but it’s a buzz, an excitement, an exhilarating feeling.

7lb 12 Rutland Brown taken on a IB red butt black buzzer

7lb 12 Rutland Brown taken on a IB red butt black buzzer

For the best control with buzzers, a floating line or sink tip line is needed. In calm conditions I prefer to use a full floating line. I tend to add mucilin to the final 2-3 feet of fly line so this sits high. This is my indicator and my eyes are glued to it. Often you will get an arm wrenching pull but it’s those subtle takes that can be missed if not closely watching the line move. If a steady wind, I will opt for a tip line which ‘bites’ in the wave allowing better hook ups.

Some fish are still lying deep due to a harsh cold winter, these tend to be the bigger fish. Fish are also beginning to rise through the water columns as days become warmer so it’s a very exciting time of the season. It’s important to maximise your catch rate by taking advantage of both layers of fish. You can fish deep by using a heavy Reservoir Buzzer on the point and lighter buzzers up the line with a nymph on the top dropper. This ensures you are fishing all layers and it’s key to note which flies the fish are taking.

Early in the day you may note that the fish are taking the deep buzzer but often the fish will then start taking the buzzers up the line and the top dropper nymph. As the day warms and the buzzer pupae ascend through the layers the fish will follow them. The heavy buzzer then becomes redundant so try switching this to a Booby or Fab to hold the remaining flies higher in the water column. The more your flies are in the fish feeding ‘window’ the more you will catch, so depth control is critical when buzzer and nymph fishing.

One way to control the depth to perfection is by using a strike indicator or ‘bung’ . This is usually a piece of foam tied to a hook or a fly artificially enlarged to be visible as an indicator. This allows the flies to be suspended at the set depths and more importantly to be absolutely static. This is key to the most successful buzzer fishing. By retrieving your buzzers you are bringing them against any current which is totally unnatural. The best fish will often ignore these as they identify this as abnormal. I am not the biggest fan of the bung but I have no doubt it is lethal on its day. What you miss with this method is that exhilarating tightening in your fingertips.

Rutland water

Rutland water

At the moment, Rutland Water is at the clearest I have even seen it in 40 years. You can watch the fish swimming under the boat at 15-20 feet down! Tippet choice is crucial in such clear water. I am a huge fan of the Airflo G5 fluorocarbon. Its supple, fine diameter for its strength and very strong. With any colour in the water I use the 11.2lb for buzzers and in the crystal clear water I’ll drop down to 8.4lb. It has some ‘stretch’ in it and absorbs the aggressive takes you can get on buzzers. If the takes are very subtle I switch to Airflo G3. This is very strong and has less stretch allowing you detect the subtle takes more easily.

My choice of rod is the impressive Airflo Airlite V2 10’ #8. It’s soft enough to hit the aggressive buzzer takes hard and powerful enough to cope with the biggest of fish. I also use this rod for my sinking line work so acts as the perfect all round rod.

The rod position is critical for the hanging of your buzzers. As you approach the end of your cast whether on the boat or bank, always hang your flies. Raise your rod to about 10 o’clock position and stop everything. Ensure your top dropper is about 2-3 down below the surface and watch this for any movement. This is where the V2 plays it’s part. Too soft and the fish will pull and the hook may not set, too stiff and the fish will hit and will often ‘bounce’ off.

Enjoy this special time in the season. Our lakes and Reservoirs are now in full swing buzzer time. See Fishtec for a full range of Iain Barr World Champions Choice fly packs including Reservoir Buzzers, Stealth Buzzers and Black/Olive Buzzers.

Tight lines

Iain

5 Top Early Season Trout Flies

Spring is finally here – or is it winter? The fishing at the moment on stillwater fisheries and our trout reservoirs has been difficult, to say the least.

When it comes to fly choice, the right patterns can make all the difference in challenging early season conditions. Here we have picked our 5 top attractor flies to help you beat the spring chill, with a few tips on how to fish them.

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

1. Orange Booby – Size 10

What early season fly box would be complete without the booby? Orange is a dead cert colour that will attract freshly stocked fish. This version by Caledonia fly has a lot of extra movement in the marabou wing and straggle fritz body. Fish on a Di7 sinking fly line for best results either singularly or part of a team. A slow and twitchy figure of eight retrieve will often bring best success.

2. Silver Humongous – Size 10 Long Shank

A deadly early season lure pattern that will trigger the aggressive interest of the most lethargic fish, even in extreme cold water temperatures. As well as stocked trout, It also appeals to resident and overwintered fish, especially fry eating browns. Use on a Di3 or Di5 sinker with long strips and regular pauses. Expect arm wrenching takes!

3. Pink Diver Nymph – Size 10

A deadly ‘nymph’ that is perfect for fishing static under a strike indicator (Check out our guide). For cold water set the fly at a good depth to start, and simply let the wind do the work. The wind and wave action will make the rubber legs twitch enticingly, making the fly hard to refuse.

4. Marabou Montana – Size 10

Black and green is a lethal combination for the early part of the season. This take on the classic Montana nymph adds a heavy bead and some marabou to create a winning blend. Fish on a floating line with a very long leader (15 to 20 foot) let it sink right to the bottom and then literally crawl it back with a slow figure of eight.

5. Hotty Dancer – Size 10

Yellow and white has been proven as a brilliant choice for coloured, cold water – for example snow melt conditions. The addition of a hot head bead enhances the patterns appeal and works as a trigger point. Fish on a fast intermediate fly line and retrieve with a slow, but steady strip after allowing the fly to sink a few feet down.

An ealry season prize on the orange booby

An early season prize on the orange booby!

Count down to opening day: UK reservoir fisheries dates 2018

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Fishtec

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Llyn Clywedog fishery

With the days becoming longer and lighter, it’s hard to ignore the excitement of a new trout fishing season just around the corner.

To help you get your plans for 2018 off to a flying start, here’s the Fishtec pick of our top 10 UK reservoir fisheries as the new season begins, including those all-important opening dates for your diary.

So, whether you’re an expert stillwater trout hunter, or completely new to this aspect of the sport, why not try exploring somewhere different this year?

• Stocks Reservoir (Forest of Bowland, Lancashire)

Stocks sits 600 feet above sea level in the hills at the top of the Hodder Valley, so you’ll need to wrap up warm to begin your season here. But all those extra layers will be worth it – Stocks is widely regarded as ‘the best reservoir fishery in the north’. To start your season at Stocks, try imitative buzzers, or black and white, green or orange lures, fished from the bank on a slow-sinking line in the clear, slightly peaty water.
Season opens: 24 February 2018
More information: www.stocksreservoir.com/

• Rutland Water (near Oakham, Rutland)

Seeming to float above the surface of Rutland Water when levels are high in early season, Normanton Church makes one of the greatest backdrops of British stillwater fly-fishing. A session close to this iconic building should be on every angler’s early-season bucket list. Trout grow to 15lbs in Rutland’s rich waters, and the U-shaped reservoir’s sinuous points and bays will provide you with miles and miles of bank to explore. If you’re looking for a midge hatch, the shallow South Arm is reputed to be one of the best and biggest buzzer fishing spots in the country.
Season opens: 9 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/

• Draycote (near Rugby, Warwickshire)

Surrounded by rolling countryside, yet within easy distance of several motorways, Draycote boasts the finest buzzer fishing in the Midlands – a very good reason to mark your diary for early season. You’ll need to hire a boat to drift the hotspots over Draycote’s famous shallow island ‘shoals’, but all the natural banks offer superb fishing too, and browns and rainbows grow on to sizes of 10lbs or more.
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/

• Grafham Water (near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

With its internationally-famous stocks of overwintered brown and rainbow trout, Grafham Water is one of Britain’s premier early-season fisheries. Loch-style fishing from boats for these turbo-charged fish is always popular, but taking a roving approach on foot can also be very productive, and even better access to the banks is planned in 2018. (Don’t forget, Grafham has become a stronghold for invasive ‘killer shrimp’ in recent years, so it’s vital to take careful biosecurity precautions when you’re fishing here).
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/

• Llyn Brenig (Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

If you’re craving top-of-the-water sport at the end of a long winter, the fourth largest lake in Wales may be your chance to catch a buzzer hatch. At a height of 1,200 feet in the Welsh mountains, booking a boat is often the best option to help you cover the water and take advantage of the prevailing wind. Llyn Brenig rainbows are famous for their fierce fighting qualities, and good early season flies include buzzers, cats’ whiskers, cormorants, blobs and boobies.
Season opens: 10 March 2018
More information: www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing

• Llyn Clywedog (near Llanidloes, mid Wales)

Many reservoir fisheries are operated by water companies, so it’s refreshing to find one that’s run by a local fishing club for members and visitors. Llanidloes and District AA puts all its proceeds straight back into the fishery: the club stocks around 35,000 rainbow trout each season, and provides 29 boats including a wheelie boat. For 2018, they’ve also added 4hp petrol motors to all the boats. Local anglers put most of their faith in black buzzers, up to a size 12, for the months of March to May.
Season opens: 8 March 2018
More information: www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk

• Llandegfedd (near Pontypool, south Wales)

Easily accessible from Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool, this is a Welsh fishery that’s run by Welsh Water. Llandegfedd is generously stocked with rainbow trout, but it also holds browns, as well as perch, roach-bream hybrids and big pike. Early season tactics are split between traditional floating lines and weighted nymphs, or fast sinkers with short lures or boobies. On their day, both can catch just as many fish! Llandegfedd has recently been threatened with closure, so please show your support for the fishery in 2018.
Season opens: 1 March (rainbow trout), 20 March (brown trout)
More information: www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd

• Chew Valley Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

After hitting the headlines last year (when Bristol Water threatened to wind it down as a fishery) it’s testament to Chew Valley’s popularity that anglers’ protests persuaded them to rethink. The fishery has now won a reprieve, but it’s in all our interests to continue fishing it enthusiastically for grown-on browns up to 22lbs and rainbows up to 14lbs. Early season can produce epic midge hatches from the lake’s shallow waters, and a stealthy approach with imitative nymphs, emergers and dry flies on floating lines comes recommended by regular bank and boat fishermen alike.
Season opens: 6 March (season tickets), 8 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/

• Blagdon Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

Nestling at the foot of the scenic Mendip Hills, Blagdon has a legendary reputation for the varied sport it provides with its deep basins, shallow bays, and long narrow shape that makes it ideal for both bank and boat fishing. Five rowing boats and 15 petrol-driven boats (with low power output to reduce disturbance and wash) are available to book. Very much like nearby Chew, imitative tactics with small flies, especially black buzzers, are popular from the start of the season.
Season opens: 13 March (season tickets), 15 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/

• Hawkridge (near Bridgewater, Somerset)

Wessex Water also runs other fly fisheries at Clatworthy and Sutton Bingham, but sharp-eyed social media buffs may already have noticed something new at Hawkridge in addition to the usual rainbows, browns, char, tiger, golden and blue trout this season: ‘sparctic’ trout, a cross between brook trout and Arctic char. Stocked at up to about 5lbs, with full fins and large pale spots on silver-grey sides, they’re stunningly beautiful fish. We can’t think of a better way to spice up your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed this spring!
Season opens: 28 February 2018
More information: www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

Countdown to open season: at a glance

Fishery

Open season

More information

Stocks Reservoir

(Forest of Bowland, Lancs)

24 February 2018 www.stocksreservoir.com/
Rutland Water

(Oakham, Rutland)

9 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/
Draycote

(Rugby, Warwickshire)

2 March 2018 www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/
Grafham Water

(Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

2 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/
Llyn Brenig

(Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

10 March 2018 www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing
Llyn Clywedog

(Llanidloes, mid Wales)

8 March 2018 www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk
Llandegfedd

(Pontypool, south Wales)

1 March (rainbow trout),

20 March (brown trout)

www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd
Chew Valley Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

6 March (season tickets),

8 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/
Blagdon Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

13 March (season tickets),

15 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/
Hawkridge

(Bridgewater, Somerset)

28 February 2018 www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

UK Stillwater fly fisheries opening 2018

Click to download your free handy guide

More about the author…

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

Five End Of Season Stillwater Fly Fishing Tips

The days are getting shorter, mornings misty and with a chill in the evening air we are now moving into autumn with a vengeance. Such conditions can mean only one thing – we are now heading into the ‘back end’, a time on the trout fishers calendar where brilliant sport can be expected. These stillwater fly fishing tips should help you make the most of this productive time of year!

Brilliant back end bank fishing

A brilliant back end bank fishing spot – an old river channel

1. On the bank – Once water temperatures cool off, the margins become the place to concentrate on during the autumn. Natural food accumulates and terrestrial life is blown onto the water here – so bank fishing really comes into it’s own. Look for bays, points, dying weed beds, old river channels and any in-flow of running water. Grown on resident fish won’t be far away!

2. Dig out the big flies – Colder temps tend to bring out the aggression in resident fish, especially brown trout. Combine that with the abundance of coarse fish fry on our reservoirs and you can use larger flies with full confidence – booby zonkers, snakes, humongous and various fry patterns will often catch the biggest and best quality fish.

Fish large flies with confidence

Fish large flies with confidence at this time of year

3. Afternoons are best – Very early and late tend to be times to avoid when air temperatures plummet, resulting in fish sulking out of reach in deep water. That brief spell of mid afternoon warmth can trigger fly hatches and feeding activity, so concentrate your efforts for when the water is alive and the fishing at it’s peak.

4. Slime lines = good times – Intermediates fly lines are perfect for fishing at this time of year. They are so versatile and cover the top layers down to mid water comfortably. The Airflo camo clear is a great line to start with for the bank angler fishing among decaying weedbeds or looking for a stealth option. It’s a joy to cast and lovely to handle even with cold hands.

On the fast intermediate....

A brownie on the fast intermediate….

5. Brave the wind – Autumn winds can be strong and unpleasant to fish in, BUT they can also concentrate the fish within easy reach. It is well worth casting right into the teeth of the wind, or fishing a bay where the wind is blowing in and funneling terrestrial food, such as daddy long legs. In windy conditions don’t worry about distance (the fish could be just a few yards out!) try your best to get turnover. Make your leader shorter and your casting loop tighter, in order to punch your cast under the wind.

Modern Stillwater Flyfishing Tactics Volume 3

It is every anglers dream to catch more fish and this feature length DVD produced by Airflo and Trout Fisherman magazine will help you achieve this!

Originally available with the May 2017 issue of Trout Fisherman, the UK’s leading competitive anglers Gareth Jones and Iain Barr turn their attention to bank fishing on Graham water for killer shrimp feeders and then enjoy a productive session on the small stillwater paradise of Ellerdine lakes.

This MUST WATCH feature is stuffed full of invaluable fly fishing tips, tackle and techniques. And it’s totally free to view on our YouTube channel!

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!