I love to get away fishing on my own, it’s an age thing.
Long gone are the days of carrying on with a like-minded squad down the local Stillwater. I still partake occasionally, but instead, for me now, the solitude of ‘hunting’ fish as an individual appeals more.
Occasionally, I share a rod with friend who has the same (track a trout down and then try and catch it’ mentality as me. But, sadly, those guys are few and far between.
What with Covid and all it brings my hunt for larger reservoir fish has and sill is a no go. The days of spending £50 for a day’s fishing allude me anyway, so this year, as well as last year, I have been spending more and more time on running water.
The solitude, the quiet and the fact that you’re out there and ‘doing it’ when others are not makes me feel like I’m outside the day-today bubble of life, true escapism.
I like all manner of fishing and feel that with all my years of experience they’ve led me to a level of proficiency so that I’m now comfortable no matter what style of fishing it is that I’m doing.
BUT, and like Kim Kardashian’s, it’s a big BUTT, I seem to turn more and more to the dry fly.
It’s no better and no worse than any other method for catching fish, to be fair there are far more efficient ways of catching both on still and running water but dries just do it for me.
This last week or so, I have done over 350 miles and 6 hours in the car, over two evenings in search of a large river trout on dry fly. You need to put the effort in if you want to succeed here, time on the water is crucial.
I have mates that have been doing the same, some have spent eight consecutive evenings on the water, just walking, up to 5 miles, and watching, looking for that BIG fish worthy of a cast.
Last year I saw a fish which I honesty believe would have been double figures, the same evening I saw three other trout which would have easily have been over 5lb, but all were in positions where a cast was impossible. The one fish I did manage to cast at that night, I caught, it was a little one, 3lb 12oz!
Never before have I seen anything like it in the UK and I have fished all the big trout rivers, to say I was shocked would be an understatement.
It’s no ordinary river, it’s terrible for fly fishing, unlike in Scotland and Wales, the rivers that hold the huge fish in England ( forget stockies on chalkstreams) are to be found in coarse fish rivers, deep and terribly slow, often coloured and full of silt, but the silt is the key. Where there is silt there are MAYFLY and where there’s mayfly you’ll get the spinner. It’s the spinner and ONLY the spinners that bring these huge fish up from their deep, dark homes.
Huge pools, with back eddies the size of a tennis court are what you’re after, dead water in the main, water where the spinners get trapped and provide a procession of ‘sip down’ mouthfulls. But with vast expanses of water there’s drag, no matter how slow the current, as long as there’s flow there’s drag. If you can get drag casting 5 yards of fly line imagine the drag on a 20 yard cast. You also need to factor in the flies, I’m using spinner patterns that are the size of my palm! With time on the water, my friends and I have found that the bigger the fly the better seems to be the case, especially with these huge trout.Bigger fly even more drag.
I’ve sat on a high bank, one where I’d cast at from the other side of the river the night before, and I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Water that from the opposite bank looked to be flowing left to right was traveling in completely the wrong direction, and not just a for a yard or so, it was circling for over 20 or 30 yards before pulling back into the main flow.
The width of the river in places means you just can’t tell what’s going on at the point where your target fish is rising.
This year I have been concentrating on smaller sections, not only so that I can see what the water’s doing but also to get off the paths well trodden. The same ethos applies here though, first find the fish. I now use Google maps to plot out areas of interest, long slow bends are ideal, as is tree cover, so both in close proximity is a great starting point….
Having marked up my areas, dropping a pin here and there, I then walk the water, rod dismantled, and cover some land walking between areas, each section gets 20 minutes viewing time. I feel that 20 minutes is enough time for a monster to give away it’s location. These things don’t behave like normal trout, that are up and on it.
These big ones rise a handful of times, if you’re really lucky, but once they’ve rose, experience tells me that if I cover them, it’s a big IF, then they’ll come up to my fly. They may not take it, but I should get a response, if it’s positive then I’m laughing, if not then it’s logged on the map for another trip.
This year, the falls of spent fly have been poor and the monster trout very few and far between, actually, no one has had one, the big floods may well have had something to do with this?
I did hook one though, I played it hard on 12lb leader and a very strong size 8 hook, twice it tried to take me under a tree root on the far bank, and I managed to steer it out, then, after a minute or so, it came off, simple. I put that fish over 5lb easily over that weight actually, but not the size of the things I saw last year.
I did manage a few nice fish though and for me that’s all it takes, I had two trips and caught two decent fish, both over 2lb, and some others but they don’t really get a mention, they were, (getting my eye in) fish. That’s been it tis year, two evenings where it was (nearly) right. Shame, but there it is, fishing is like that at times.
For me it was abut the getting out there and doing it, on my own, hunting, proper hunting and with a dry fly too.
Social distancing at it’s most enjoyable!