The depths of winter

A recent fly fishing session at Rib Valley got off to a slow start, despite odd fish moving in front of me. I tried imitative patterns such as bloodworm and buzzer on a floating line, then lures on a sinking line, with no sign of a take as far as I could tell.

Moving to the other side of the lake, I started fishing by the floating cage which holds trout yet to be stocked:

Trout cage at Rib Valley

This cage seems to have a strong attraction for the free swimming fish, maybe because they associate with the shoal inside. After a few attempts I dropped my fly inches from the woodwork. I was using a black goldhead:

Black goldhead trout fly

As the fly sank, the nylon leader moved slightly, indicating a take. My strike hit solid resistance but a split second later the rod straightened and the line fell slack. The fish was gone. Ten blank minutes later, my attention started to wander. As I turned to speak to a nearby angler, I felt the line twitch and managed to connect with a decent rainbow:

Rainbow trout

After a while I started using a “bung”  – a small plastic float – to suspend the flies. One advantage of this method is that it provides good bite indication. I rigged it up with a bloodworm pattern set to fish about eight feet down:

Bung and bloodworm fly

Having never used a bung before I was pleased eventually to see it drag beneath the surface – a bit like those barrels in Jaws! Sweeping the rod back I could feel a trout thumping away deep down, and soon had it in the net:

Trout on bloodworm

It took a while to get a third fish; a crosswind was catching the line, dragging the fly sideways and upwards, which is much less effective than a static, deep presentation. When I persuaded the bung to come to rest against the cage, it disappeared again. A switch back to a lure brought a fourth fish to the bank and the session to an end.

Two days later I was accompanied by my good fishing mate Rich. With strong winds blowing we were glad to find the cage moored on the sheltered side of the lake. Rich got off the mark quickly, albeit in an unconventional manner. A trout picked up his fly a couple of feet from the bank after he had thrown it in by hand before casting. They all count I suppose:

Rich and trout

I was fishing bloodworm again, but on a long leader without a bung. The idea was to get the fly deep without sinking the end of the fly line, and to watch and feel the line for indications of a take.

With this approach, concentration is key. After casting, you watch the point where the leader cuts under the surface, while taking up slack line. Any abnormal movement could be a fish stopping the fly, or you may feel a very slight increase in tension. Either way, you need to tighten up quickly. Sometimes you find yourself striking without really knowing why. I had a burst of action with three fish on the bloodworm, plus a couple missed.

Rich meanwhile had been plugging away to no avail, other than one fish hooked and lost. He broke the deadlock with this fish on a lure which he had cast out, allowed to sink well down and then retrieved slowly:

Rich with a trout

As dusk closed in we moved to the downwind side of the lake where other anglers were doing well. With our sinking lines and lures we quickly had a fish each, and missed a couple. The trout were close in; one dashed at my fly right under the rod tip. They were probably searching for insects and other food items pushed in by the breeze.