Winter On The Fisheries – Iain Barr Fly Fishing On Ellerdine Lakes

With the winter now setting in it can offer some of the best sport there is! Ellerdine is one fishery I visit once the frosts and snow appears as it sends the fish into a feeding frenzy! It’s bonanza time on the small waters as the warm waters of summer are long gone. Natural food is scarce and the fish have to feed which can make them a little easier.

Iain Barr with an Ellerdine lakes double

Iain Barr with an Ellerdine lakes double

They have to feed but they’re certainly not over active and the angler has to search them down. In this blog there will be some tips to increase your chances of enjoying some fantastic winter sport, aimed at the small waters.

Before we get to the water let’s have a think about what you wear as it can be nippy out there. Layers are key as opposed to several thick jumpers. It’s not usually the main body that gets cold but the feet tend to suffer so I load on 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair being thermal, and my new TF Gear Ultra Dri boots that have an internally fitted thermal stocking.

Most small waters are not too deep so usually a floating line to intermediate line will suffice.  Despite the cold there will still be small windows of fly life activity so don’t shy away from fishing small black buzzers or small nymphs.  Many anglers simply turn up and throw a lure at them and hope for all day action. They certainly have their time and place but I catch more fish on small waters with a small buzzer and small blob or egg fished static on a floating line.  The key is static as many small waters operate a catch and release policy so fish are used to the big lures and are used to the repetitive movement of the artificial flies we throw at them.

Iain Barr with an Ellerdine Tiger trout

Iain Barr with an Ellerdine Tiger trout

I tend to use Airflo’s 6lb G3 fluorocarbon for its thin diameter as winter waters are usually crystal clear also the finer tippet allows me to fish my size 14 small black buzzers with great presentation.  With this finer tippet I use my Airflo Streamtec 5/6 fly rod giving my arms a rest from my reservoir kit which is beefed up to #8 rods.

G3 Flourocarbon in 6lb

G3 Fluorocarbon in 6lb

Positioning of the buzzer is key to get that and the egg to the right depth. I place the buzzer just 4 foot above the egg or small original Iain Barr Candy Blob. The fish will be attracted to the egg or blob but if suspicious the buzzer is strategically placed to offer a more realistic meal. In many of the small waters I have fished with this combination I often watch the egg or blob descend and will often see it disappear without seeing the fish, strike instantly! Or going the other way, the egg or blob will start to move which indicates the fish has picked up the small buzzer. This is the warning to not just cast out and allow it to sink. Good polarised glasses are paramount for this and there is a good range available through Fishtec.

If you can’t see the flies dropping the next trick is to add mucilin grease to the last 2-3 feet of the fly line to make it ride high on the waters surface then simply watch this move. A small water favourite method is to fish an indicator or bung. This is where you suspend your flies under a buoyant fly or piece of foam and watch this dip under.  This certainly allows you to fish the flies static but you miss them tightening of the line in your finger tips which gives me the buzz!

Intermediates and lures certainly play their part! Small waters are often stocked frequently to keep active sport so a lure is always worth a try. White and Black and green lures are a must as are snake lures. What’s key is not to be too repetitive with your retrieve and to keep changing your flies and keep on the move. Don’t be tempted to fish two lures together as this could be too much for clear waters and pressured fish. I tend to find slowly moved lures will work better than those robotically thrown out and pulled back. Snakes have been a revolution in recent years and without doubt a medium figure of 8 is the best retrieve for hooking up.

A winter fishery trout

A winter fishery trout taken on a lure

Fish can be found in shallower water looking for any insect life hatching in this marginally warmer water, look for this preferably sloping off over a ledge. Many small waters have reeds along the edges, fish along these keeping a low profile. If the wind is not too strong it will pay dividends to fish straight into it. Don’t be put off by a head wind as the fish will be ‘up the banks’ so a far cast isn’t required. It’s more important to ensure the flies turnover and land straight than it is to get distance.  Keep low and bring your flies as close to the side as you can

Don’t be disappointed if the fish are not playing all day as you will find they feed in short periods and despite dipping temperatures , the last half an hour can be as busy as any part of the day!

Try my new Micro Buzzer packs along with my new Jelly Blob and Fab packs and fish them together static. Keep changing the colour of fab or blob. The Dancer pack is worth a go giving a variety of colours of gold headed lures. Fishtec are soon to be selling my single flies so look out for my new snakes for 2019, coming soon!!

Next blog will prepare you for when the Reservoirs open!

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Iain Barr

About Iain Barr

A name synonymous with competition fly fishing excellence, Iain Barr has fished for England over 28 times across World, European, Loch Style, Small Waters and Rivers, proving his flies the world over. Iain’s World Champions Choice offers a definitive range of the very patterns he’s used to catch literally thousands of trout. If it’s fly fishing know-how you’re after, Iain is your go-to source.