The first frosts of the season is something worth celebrating from a Winter fishing perspective. It is a time in which the Trout embrace the colder water temperatures and feed a little more aggressively before they switch into spawning mode. We have started to record minus degree Celius mornings here in the Midlands, with the crisp air ushering in the welcome change. It’s time to check the waders for untimely leaks, dust off those sinking lines and ensure that you’re prepared for the still water season.
Early mornings continue to be more productive at the end of Autumn, with that magical hour of first light baring witness to the surface action that we all crave. Innovative Frog patterns and popping for Trophy Rainbow Trout have seen some great specimens come from waters whose clarity usually demands flies in the 14 to 18 size range. Inducing that fish to charge at something on the top is the epitome of fly fishing and changing the way which one targets fish on fly teaches us all that the next great pattern or technique lies in the dreams and schemes of the generation willing to adapt.
When the weather has allowed for it, the early evening rise is still evident, with those elusive Brown Trout ignoring any vulgar bugger thrown in their direction, opting to sip a size 16 Elk Hair or Tent Wing Caddis drifting by. We have been more fortunate in terms of rainfall than the rest of our drought stricken country and consequently the majority of the Trout dams are still holding at about 80% of capacity. The weed beds of many dams are now well exposed, creating a little turbidity at the waters edge, but not enough to cut off visibility for the fish still hunting along the fringes for any aquatic invertebrates. At this time of year, one is torn between fishing a very imitative pattern slowly around said structure or resorting to the guerrilla tactics of bright disco flies retrieved at drag racing finesse and speed. It’s important to be prepared for both options, as we are already seeing the cruising fish, patrolling the rocky outcrops and dam walls, gravitating towards anything resembling a spawning bed. Whilst the purists will opt to look for feeding or cruising fish from the edge of the bank, there is no denying that float tubing will see more Trout landed when fishing any dam. The ability to cover more water is the simple mathematical advantage and couple this with being able to present a fly into a weed bed as opposed to over it and from the comfort of your V-Boat you definitely have the upper hand. Intermediate lines are preferable to fast sinking when wanting to fish the water column effectively, as quite frankly your fly spend more time in the water and patience will allow you to fish the full depth of 5 to 10 meters being the extent of most Midlands Trout waters. There is no doubt that the right line will mean less casting and more fishing!
Patterns that are performing come in many shapes and sizes, but by and large, streamers are what are being more commonly fished, in a Zonker or Minky style. with Olive and Black being the basic go to colours in naturals and vivid orange or red variations giving a spawning trigger to the rip and strip brigade. The Bully Bugger continues to irritate the Trout into striking, regardless of water or rod pressure. As usual the WildFly lads have been designing and fishing a multitude of weird and sometimes wonderful flies, never worried about tradition or convention, with results being driving force behind their adaptations. With the precious little time that we all have to enjoy Winter Trout fishing on dams, knowing how to fish the right pattern is the difference between a long cold day on the water and memories shared time and again around the warm hearth of Notties pub.
Here’s to breaking the mould and sharing the wealth of knowledge amongst all catch and release fly fishers.