Sunday, 26 April 2015
Coarse surprises for spring
I’ve enjoyed some really interesting sessions this past couple of weeks, despite much of my free time being squeezed, crunched or written off. This is definitely a huge benefit of lure or fly fishing though; you can be packed and ready to fish in seconds. Nor is a lack of time my problem solely- it’s the same for loads of my friends who lead equally busy lives and seldom manage to get a full day in. I strongly suspect this is part of the reason why the fishing world is changing, and light, mobile methods are the in thing at the moment.
Sometimes, admittedly, it can take me a good hour to forget my to do list and all the shit rattling around in my brain. But I know of no better place to throw it all into the depths than a little estate lake I’ve been frequenting for about a year now. Not the cheapest, for a skinflint such as I, but very pretty and very rich in insect life. A handful of others fish for the carp with bait, but I just love wandering about with the fly rod. I tend to take two set ups: a four weight for rudd and hybrids, plus a nine weight for the carp, which really take some stopping. On those days when nobody else is around to bother, I also sometimes take a little boat out.
Perhaps the dry, hot days this spring are the culprit, but it hasn’t been all plain sailing due to quite coloured water- and the same goes for the canals. This makes spotting the fish harder, and also makes it harder for them to spot your flies. Bigger spiders have worked though (up to a size 12) along with red or claret buzzers with a little flash. Sometimes a tag team of two is better than one also, if only to double your chances in coloured water. If nothing else the rudd have obliged:
Funny fish these. Shy, too, where they don’t see a lot of humans. Make a shit cast and they flee like a gun has gone off. Land it right, with the flies settling gently where they can see them and they’ll take with zero hesitation, making you wonder why you ever found it difficult ten minutes ago. I’ve yet to spy a really big one, but there are loads in the 6oz to 1lb class that kick very pleasantly on light gear- in fact, not even the lightest match rod gives a better buzz.
Other, stranger things are also stirring. I think they’re rudd bream or roach bream hybrids. I pick my words carefully because I’m not sure and I’ve never seen a true bream in this little lake. They do like forming a squadron a foot or two under the surface though, sometimes mixing with the better rudd. Sink a fly to one stealthily and they’ll often take at the first time of asking. Although a lot of anglers see them as not entirely desirable, they do tend to fight harder per pound than either rudd or bream. This one took a claret buzzer:
The beauty of a natural, mixed fishery is that you're never quite sure what you'll encounter next. For some coarse fish, such as bream and tench, I rarely go all out for them but will usually fish for bites with an easier species like roach, rudd or perch, but always be prepared to have a cast at any bonuses that show up. The value of always being ready cannot be too keenly stressed either: when that surprise fish comes into view, you simply must be ready to make an instant delivery, rather than faff around trying to find the fly or untangle the fly line.
For the sake of my curiosity as much as anything else, I'm always scanning the water and dipping a net into the edge to see what I might be able to copy. Midges are a given, but there are also stacks of water boatmen, shrimp and -not to be confused- hog lice like this chap:
When it comes to the actual fishing though, provided you pick flies that look naturally edible and present them in the right way, you have a chance. Hare's Ears, Shrimps and dark spiders are all useful staples that will catch various coarse fish.
The other conspicuous customers on the last session were the carp, but these can be harder to tempt. I blew it with a couple of nice fish that I got too close to, but also elicited a take from a solid looking mirror carp. Had I delayed the strike, rather than lifting too early, I might have had much bigger end to the session.
In other news, I’ve also been mixing a bit of work with pleasure down on the edge of Cornwall. My day job is copywriting, but I also like to make the most of my photography skills to go with my words. The Jamaica Inn is one of those really quirky, genuinely different and historic places that I’ve been helping to promote. This particular photo shoot involved Murphy; not an Irishman, but a beautiful black and white-masked horse. Suitably gothic looking for one of the most haunted places in Cornwall.
You can read all about an interesting session on Colliford Lake on the new Turrall Flies blog, which also comes with a chance to win a selection of my favourite flies for the venue. All you have to do is follow us on Facebook or Twitter and share the post.