Spring time is just round the corner, finally its starting to warm up and small stillwater fly fishing will be coming into its own! There will be no sign of troublesome summer time weed, the water will be well oxygenated and fresh fish will have been stocked. However this is still no walk in the park! Read on to find out how to kick off your early season stillwater trout fishing campaign.
An early start on a small stillwater fishery
1. Don’t reach for sinking lines first – For the early spring in most years people opt for sinking lines and deeply fished lures. Try a floater first with a co-polymer leader and fish the upper layers nice and slowly. By doing this, the leader and flies will not hit the deck or fall too quickly through the water column, giving fish more time to see the flies. You can then search the lower layers if your unproductive. One of my favourite set ups is an unweighted black or olive woolly bugger on the point, with a buzzer on the dropper. The heavily palmered fly means you can retrieve nice and slow without hitting bottom, and catch fish on the buzzer. When you strip in to recast you often prompt a take on the point fly – giving you the best of both methods!
2. Get to the fishery early – Set your alarm clock, and beat the crowds! Small stillwaters have a confined area, so pretty soon the fish get used to seeing flies of all description whizzing past, and wise up after a few hours. The earlier you get there, the more chance you have of connecting with some fresh fish that have not seen another anglers flies.
3. Cast to moving fish – It amazes me that more anglers don’t cover topping fish on small stillwaters! Always make the effort to pick your fly line up and cast to a moving fish. Try to work out which way it’s heading and drop your flies in its path. Its also extremely satisfying when that fish turns and nails your offering!
Indicators and flies all ready to fish
4. Use a blob under an indicator – when blobs first hit the scene, the in method was to rip them back in at break neck speed on fast sinking Di lines, and hang the fly for a few moments before lifting off. This can be a devastating tactic on a small stillwater, but the fish soon get used to it. Fished under a bung such as an Airlock strike indicator they are absolutely lethal. I think its about the way they behave in the water column when static, they drift slowly just like trout pellets do. The bright colours simply make the trout take notice of them.
5. Use a forty plus line – With increased angling pressure the fish can eventually move out of casting range, and seemingly all group up in the middle. This is very frustrating if like most 25 to 30 yards is your maximum range . Give your self the edge with an Airflo forty plus extreme fly line. These lines will give you that extra distance you need and of course make you look like a casting hero in front of other anglers! I would not be without a selection of these fly lines on a small water, they are easy to use and you should see at least another 5 – 10 yards on your added on to your normal range.
A Double figure rainbow caught tight along the lake margin
6.Cast along the edge – Of course the trout wont always be right out in the middle, they will also look to follow the most defined feature of the lake, the margin! Watching the margins can often pay dividends for an early fish. These margin cruisers will take a fly fished close in. So take care to cast parallel to the bank, and stand a few steps back from the edge – especially when you arrive at a new swim. You often hear of beginners and youngsters landing the largest trout stocked in the lake, these are anglers that cant cast far. Those big trout were hugging the margin on a patrol route.
7. Mix up retrieves – Try to vary your retrieve to keep the fish interested, use a jerky figure of eight, fast strip, twitchy two foot pulls with a long pause, a steady very slow crawl or even a rapid rolly polly, and don’t forget to hang the flies for a few seconds before lifting off. The more you mix it up, the less bored the trout will be and you will eventually trigger a strike.
A Nice brown trout from Ellerdine lakes