Successful small water enthusiast Staurt Smitham takes a visit to his No. 1 venue, Ellerdine lakes. But forgets to set his alarm clock! Take a read to find out exactly how he tackles a highly pressured small trout fishery such as this- It will be sure to improve your stillwater trout fishing!
I arrive late on a Bank Holiday and I know I’ve gotta play catch up, both on the finding the taking method and the depth of the fish. Parking up at 11 o’clock, the regulars are already tucking into a full English, whilst I’m getting dressed? They’ve all caught, so they’ve already sussed the taking method and flies. After getting dressed and paying up, I’m off to quickly get the fly fishing gear rigged up.
This morning I’m setting up two rods. One with a Super Dri Lake Pro floater and the other is a sinking rig, with my trusty Sixth Sense DI3. Both lines perform again and again in difficult situations and have helped me land countless fish. There’s a lot to be said for feeling the hit, right down the line length. Both these lines have power cores, so hooking up at distance is no problem. Keeping them on, is quite another thing?
I’m using G3 flouro for my leader. In 10lb breaking strain, the chance is reduced in being broken, by one of the larger residents, that are always there. Having a piece of fishing tackle like this, gives me a confidence boost. Especially, when I can just ramp up the pressure on the rod, with a hard running fish!
With the floater I’m opting for an 18ft leader with two droppers. On the top dropper is a Red ribbed Diawl Bach, Middle has a Black Diawl and the point is a blood red buzzer with Peacock herl thorax. The sinker has just 6ft of leader and a skinny Olive Damsel. This short set up prevents the fly buoying up, which is more evident, with a longer leader. This Damsel pattern works just great, both here and and at Frensham in Surrey, where a friend of mine uses it, with equal success.
Whilst getting dressed, I’m watching Lakemoor out of the back windows of the Lodge. With slashing rises in the margins, the fish are on the fin and willing to chase their food. Hence the Damsel set up,as my first choice to start the day. Walking up the tree lined bank, I know I have deep water, less than a rod length away. Plus the fish will rush up the inclined lake bed to hit a fly!
Starting out on short casts along the bank line, I can see the odd mirror like flash, deep down in the water. These are active fish looking for fodder and on the fin? Offering a single fly, reduces the chance of a double hook up on super active feeders. Feeling nothing on two casts, I opt for a longer cast of about 40 ft and have the rear taper marker, outside the tip ring.
Plucking the Damsel back in a spurting pull, makes the marabou and flashabou tail pulse and shimmer. A trigger that just works and I get the response I was hoping for! As the 10ft hang marker just comes to the water surface, the line hesitates and pulls away. I lift and the water surface explodes, as a bright silver Rainbow, feels the resistance and goes for broke, hitting the accelerator! It sends a big ‘”V” wake out behind it, with it’s tail pounding away, on an energized run. That adrenaline rush just highlights the sheer power, and a thrilling turn of pace that these fast fish can turn onto in a split second. It’s why I fish!
Clamping the line against the rod handle, I quickly horse the Rainbow into my net. A pic for twitter and the rainbow is away, back to depth and sanctuary. Checking my fly and leader, the damsel is ragged out. I’ve had over 20 fish to this very fly, including today and it needs to be changed and disposed of.
A fresh looking damsel occupies the point and I send it straight out, to search the far margin near a tree. Pulling with my line hand down, to straighten the leader, I then let the line drop through the water. Counting to 10, I start plucking the line back and get the 20ft hang marker into the tip ring and just stop. This does a few things? It makes a following fish, think about the prey it’s watching and could it take the fly out aggression. Also my line drops back down in the water, so I can search more of the small area I’m covering to my front? Mixing up the retrieve with long pulls, short plucks and stops, keeps you thinking and adds triggers to a following fish. Pace changes are always good to practice, until you find one that works consistently. You can see the results of your retrieve on the hang markers, as they come in. Erratic plucks always work and I’m in again.
Fast fish this one! Instead of hitting the surface it goes for depth and changes it’s mind, then comes right back at me? I wasn’t expecting that, so I’m pulling line in like a demon to keep pace. After a few head shaking exchanges and gaining the upper hand, I slide the net rim under this bull of a Rainbow. He isn’t too happy in the net either and goes nuts. With the fly in the net, I photograph the fish and let it slide to the Lakemoor deeps.
I’m in the mood for a change of scenery, so hop over to Meadow. The biggest lake of the four and with rises in Spring Bay which you see, as you drive in. I set up and drop the net. Peeling line off the reel, I make a cast over the reed beds on my right, the pull the leader and line straight. Almost immediately I’m locked up as my line banding slides away, making the visual battle all the more exciting. This is a great looking Rainbow of around 5lb, that is just hitting the gas and what a run! I’m in “trout heaven”. After an exhilarating series of runs, I power glide the fish over the net rim and I’m shaking. Wow, what fight and with a tail that’s just superb, you begin to understand why these fish are hard chargers! The Black Diawl takes another victim.
Untangling my leader, I recast to the same spot, as the fish are hogging the easy surface feed, being carried by the surface tow. My line banding darts forward and I feel the line pulse, as the fish dives away! This is on the top dropper and the Red Diawl works it’s magic. I’m losing line fast here, so adding more pressure by locking the line against the rod. This Rainbow hits the surface with a slash and slams away from me! Hard thumps highlight the Rainbows power and energy. Thrill ride stuff this for sure.
This is top of the water angling at its best I think. I take six more fish like this, Including one that hit the buzzer on the hang. Just amazing fishing at Ellerdine Lakes. As a last cast option and yes we all have one! I move to Marsh Lake for a cheeky cast at some risers, ear the Fir Trees adjacent to Meadow. This area hold some great fish, so pushing out the hauling zone, I have just 50ft of line on the water. The weeping willow in the corner is a holding point for some truly big fish. I’m just keeping the flies moving and see the banding stop, so line strike with my line hand. A shorter but plumper Rainbow thuds away from me, toward the reed bed. Dropping the rod tip and horsing the fish back toward me, I get the upper hand and now glide the fish across the surface, to the net.
I’m running low on time and need to pack up for the day. What a result though. Damsel sport on the sinking rig, but the floater was the definite winner today. Top of water sport at one the UK’s top small stillwater trout fisheries! It was Good Friday, but it also a great Friday too.