Photograph by Steve Barnett

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Anonymous (well it was Stephen really) said:

"I fully understand the value of thorough reconnaissance, but like a lot of anglers I have to travel a fair distance to follow my sport. How long do I wait before I go searching for the Trout when they are not rising and what tactics do you use to do so?"

The real answer to the first part of this very reasonable question is: "It all depends..."

It depends on: what time of year it is; what time of day you are starting; the nature of the water you are fishing; and what you can see already now you are there.

At the beginning and end of the season the best of the fishing day is usually compressed into a short time of about three or four hours in the centre of the daylight hours.  This is variable though, as weather conditions can change and a sudden warm spell occur that can extend the day until dark as flies and fish make the most of these special occasions, but generally you will be doing most of your fishing in that central part of these shorter days.  So if you have arrived at the at the waterside by 11:00 you will be waiting a short time and if no rises are evident within half an hour you would do well to, slowly, go-a-hunting, working your way upstream until you find either rising fish or see a fish on station that looks like it might come up to your artificial.

In high summer the dry fly fishing day is more complicated but we are blessed with more hours of opportunity.  Complicated in that it starts and stops and starts again and stops and starts again...

Get there before dawn and you will very likely find that there are fish rising.  These have probably been feeding all night.  You would start fishing immediately in these circumstances, but an hour or so after dawn everything goes quiet.  This has prompted me to think that when we say, at around 08:30 or so, "We are too early!" we are kidding ourselves.  We are actually too late, for the first activity of the day that is.

At the "normal" time of starting, mid-morning, you will probably have to wait a while before any serious hatch, and consequent rise, gets under way.  To answer part of your question, your own mood should determine how long you are prepared to watch and wait. 

For the second part of your question, you can have a perfectly reasonable and productive time searching for fish that are on station, not yet rising but might be tempted by a fake of a terrestrial (particularly in the weeks after the Hawthorn Fly has been on the river).  Fish seem to seize these quickly, as terrestrials on the water are opportunities that can easily be missed.  Hence the often violent takes that a terrestrial, such as a Charles Cotton's Black Fly can induce. 

Usually brown trout will be found lurking in the edges under the canopy of bankside vegetation, whilst if you are fishing the Derbyshire Wye you will have the added bonus of Wild Rainbow Trout that hang around in mid-river amongst the fronds of Ranunculus fluitans.  Either of these will respond to the inducement of a bushy fly representing a terrestrial.  Three of my favourites for this job are: of course the Charles Cotton's Black Fly; the Double Badger; Nondescript Sedge; and the Red Hackle (to be shown on this blog in future)

The Sedge fly is a fly associated with the evenings but they do put in appearances at other times too. 

If you are starting your day of dry fly fishing later in the day, you may be latching onto a rise that is already underway.  Now you must try and determine what flies the fish are eating.  You don't have to be very scientific or detailed about all this.  There is no real need to know the exact species and sex of the flies that are on the menu.  All you need to be sure of is, "Of the flies that are around right now, which are being eaten by the trout you would now like to catch?"

Having determined the answer as best you can, you now consider the colour, shape and size of those flies, look in your box and choose one that is pretty much similar to the real ones.  At this time of day your fish will very likely be eating olives.  These are little upwinged flies that stand on the water with their wings up high and when they do fly they look like tiny ballerinas as they waft themselves to tree cover to wait until they are ready to eclode as adults. 

A good fly, amongst many others, to represent olives is the Grey Duster.

The day can switch off for a little while during high summer in the late afternoon or early evening.  The hatching flies stop hatching and the adult flies are not yet ready to return to the river to lay their eggs.  If the flies included the Blue Winged Olive (BWO) you can expect some activity later on as their adult females, the Sherry Spinners, return to the river to lay their eggs and finally die, ending up on the water, cruciform as spent spinners.  These returns of spinner often lead to what many regard as the cream of dry fly fishing.  You can read about some tactics here and the flies here.

This has turned out to be a long answer to a shortish pair of questions, please do forgive me.  There is no firm answer, but I hope these ramblings will give you a starting point or two.  Angling is unpredictable.  Dry Fly Fishing is even more so.  That's why we love it, I think...

Regular Rod

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the response, very interesting - if you want to call it 'rambling' you are fully entitled to do so - but for acolytes like myself, keep rambling!