Damsels and daddies

Rainbow trout fishing resumed at Rib Valley in late September with the restocking of Millennium Lake. The new arrivals have been active at the surface, jumping, splashing and bow-waving. Probably a lot of this is not feeding activity, perhaps it’s a reaction to their changed environment or sheer joie de vivre!

On my first couple of trips the fishing was rather slow, but I caught a few on black or white lures fished deep on a sinking line. I thought the warm, still conditions were not helpful and my fish all came early or late in the day.

On my next session I started with the same method, using an Appetizer lure which is quite an old pattern intended to represent a small fish:

Appetizer trout fly

First cast with this and I waited 10 seconds for my fast sink line to get down a bit. Before I could start retrieving there was a pull and I was into a trout – it had taken the fly on the drop:

Rainbow trout

Two more rainbows quickly followed on a conventionally retrieved fly, plus a couple of small perch:

Perch on a trout fly

Later in the afternoon, fish started showing at the surface – much more subtle movements than the usual crashing about – possibly they were taking natural food items. In one spot a shoal of fish was holding station in an area about the size of a dinner table, rising occasionally:

Trout rising

It was quite a long cast to reach them, but every time I managed it I got a take or a pull. Quite exciting as you could often see the fish bow-waving or boiling as they chased the fly. This was with a floating line and a damsel nymph. I also had a small buzzer on a dropper but they took the nymph every time.

Another successful fly recently has been the daddy longlegs:

Artificial daddy longlegs

Daddies don’t seem to be around in large numbers, but last time out I saw one land on the water just a rod’s length from the bank. It wasn’t long before a trout took it in a slow head and tail rise. Daddies sink once waterlogged – easy prey for any patrolling rainbows. All my fish on this pattern have taken it just sub-surface.

Roach from the river

In late September a bloom of daphnia (water fleas – a form of zooplankton) made fishing very difficult for a while on Westmill Lake. Nearly all the fish were up at the surface feeding on the daphnia and they would not look at any other baits. This kind of preoccupation is a classic angling problem.

Walking down the bank with young Jake and his aunt Frances, we could see shoals of carp, roach and bream, as well as a couple of large perch. I’m guessing that all these fish are capable of filtering out the daphnia from the water, rather like a whale does with krill. We also saw some large pike which were presumably more interested in the shoals of roach.

We started on the lake just to give Jake a chance to learn how to cast and bait the hook. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t get any bites so we moved on to the nearby River Rib which was unaffected by daphnia, but had more casting hazards in the form of overhanging trees:

River fishing

We caught fish here alright – lots of minnows:

They are quite handsome and worth a closer look:

The overcast, drizzly conditions we had are often good for catching roach, so we didn’t mind getting a bit damp. Jake caught several decent specimens including this one:

River roach

A few days later, things picked up again on the lake. Jeff and his two sons Beau and Bailey had an enjoyable time learning new fishing skills and catching roach and perch. As often happens, the best fish of the day came right at the end as the light was starting to go – a decent roach about 10oz for Bailey:

Here’s a closer look at it:

A good sized fish that any angler would be glad to catch. Well done Bailey!

August update

In late August conditions changed with the heatwave ending and overnight temperatures dropping. In the mornings the lakeside grass was often wet with dew and it was chilly enough that I needed to wear a couple of extra layers. It definitely felt like the start of autumn.

There was a change in the fishing as well, with the usually reliable roach becoming much less responsive. We were having to wait longer for bites and missing a higher proportion of them. I think sometimes the fish were just swimming off with the bait on the edge of their mouths.

It all added up to hard fishing with concentration required at all times. On the plus side some larger roach up to 10oz or so were starting to show, along with skimmers and the odd decent perch.

I was quite busy in this period, mainly with family groups trying fishing for the first time. Sunny, Rahul, Preeya and 8 year old Arun came back for another session and again did well. Arun impressed me with his ability to learn new skills quickly – he was rewarded with some roach on waggler, like this one:

Boy with roach

Rahul picked up a nice bream, the first to be caught in my lessons for a while:

Boy with bream

On the fly fishing side of things, I gave a 1hr casting lesson to Danny in my local park in North London. Fly casting is not difficult, but most people benefit from a bit of instruction and practice before going fishing for the first time.

Fly fishing lesson


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