BEWL WATER by Andy LushI've always considered Bewl to be my "home water" living within walking distance of the reservoir as I do. Over the years I've spent countless hours fishing its banks and more recently boat fishing it. I've fished there every year since its inception twenty seasons ago, in the early years I fished it exclusively but as the years have rolled by I've wandered around the south's many and varied trout fisheries.
A major change has taken place at Bewl, in the form of the 'Yalding' pipe line; this has changed the whole waters ecology. The enriched water has seen an increase in fly life and this year, the second since its construction has seen another sensational explosion of food, this time in the form of daphnia. The blooms have been nothing short of exceptional; this has seen the fish almost totally preoccupied on the clouds of daphnia.
One sunny day
My visit to Bewl coincided with a spell of very hot, bright weather hitting the high 80's, these conditions had persisted for the previous 2 weeks, coupled with a very light wind, conditions were less than ideal for trout fishing and even less conducive to surface fishing, my personal favourite style of fly fishing!
I knew the fish would be feeding on daphnia under the prevailing conditions. Bright coloured flies such as Whisky fly, Rat Catcher (a Cats Whisker Variation) and patterns incorporating orange 'Fritz' fished fast and continuously using an overhand retrieve, would be necessary to catch consistently.
To be successful, you have to systematically search the layers of water to locate the daphnia's depth, being very sensitive to light the daphnia sinks low in the water in bright light and rises towards the surface on overcast-dull days. A combination of sinking lines from Intermediate to ĎHi-Dí is needed to keep in touch with the daphnia feeding trout.
Dry fly and other top water tactics have occasionally been successful, in the last few weeks the trout have been straying away from the daphnia with good hatches of buzzer, a modest return of sedges and huge quantities of snails. As you can see the food available to the trout is phenomenal, having feed well all summer the fish are now not only much heavier than normal but in the best condition I have ever seen, their sheer power has to be experienced to be appreciated.
I started my day by tackling the area known as the 'Nose' my first choice method under these conditions was to fish a floating line, because of my dislike for sinking lines, with a heavily weighted double gold head damsel nymph on a 20' leader, with a small hot orange nondescript nymph on a dropper 4' 6" from the point fly.
First cast was made and the flies were allowed to sink for 60 seconds before a v-e-r-y slow figure of eight retrieve was made, on the lift off a slight resistance was felt and the strike set the hook into the first fish of the day which put a modest bend in my nymph rod, the resulting fight was very short lived as a small perch surfaced. I continued fishing this way for the first hour without any further encouragement while systematically counting the flies down deeper and deeper. A change to an intermediate line made no difference and so after two hours a change was needed.
I moved to the 'bubble' over by the dam, this aeration spot is always worth some attention during the "dog days of summer", when fishing these 'bubble's' I've noticed that it pays to fish on the up wind side. As the bubbles reach the surface the food and debris that the turbulence brings up mushrooms out onto the surface, on the downwind side this creates wind or scum lanes which spreads the food out and the fish, these areas are ideal for drift fishing, on the upwind side the wind pushes the "fallout" back towards the bubbles and creates a distinct edge which on this day was clearly visible.
Right on cue within minutes of arriving I had my first trout of the day followed by another minutes latter. The successful method was very simple, as predicted a fast retrieve using an intermediate line with a 'Rat Catcher' on the point, with the orange nymph still on the dropper, after a short while the fish went off the feed, so I repositioned the boat right at the start of the 'bubble's', another couple of chances soon followed but they didn't stick, and them as I was counting my flies down I had a take "on the drop" which broke me without even striking!
Again the fish went off the feed so another move was necessary, it's important to mention that when reservoir fishing it pays to be impatient and keep on moving, looking all the time for signs of feeding fish, that's why drift fishing is so successful, if you can locate feeding fish them catching them is the easy bit.
I moved over to 'Beauman's Point', I'd seen signs of fish splashing on my previous move from the 'Nose' to the 'bubble'. At 'Beauman's' there is a sand bar that reaches out into the reservoir, this often attracts vast quantities of coarse fish fry, as we arrived I set the boat up to drift over the bar and on towards the 'cages', very quickly I noticed signs of fry feeding trout. The trout we herding the fry up onto the surface and wreaking havoc as they charged through the shoal stunning them, the scene was reminiscent of mackerel feeding on whitebait we even had the accompanying sea gulls picking off the casualties!
Having found the fish now all we had to do was catch them.
My first approach was to fish a team of big dries, a black 'Poly Hopper' size 10 on the point, a claret 'Taff's emerger' size 12 on the middle dropper and a bright orange C.D.C.'Shipmans' buzzer size 12 on the top dropper.
I found it difficult to put my flies onto these fry feeding fish as they were moving so very fast and shallow, their window of vision was so small that only a fly right between the eyes was going to be seen!
I eventually caught a fish on the top dropper which totally wrapped the whole leader into a nice tight ball. Time for a new leader and to reflect on how I was going to take advantage of the situation I now found myself in!
The winning method
I continued with the black 'Poly Hopper' on the point but changed to a white C.D.C. 'Shipmans' on the middle dropper to imitate the fry and dispensed with a top dropper to avoid a repetition of the previous tangle. By raising my rod to 11 o'clock and slowly drawing the flies across the surface they caused a small wake which caught the trout's attention, eventually a fish slowly rose behind the white C.D.C. 'Shipmans' and took it. Between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock I caught 6 more fish and missed too many in the excitement. I'm quite sure that the 7lb Riverge fluorocarbon leader material had a great deal to do with my success in such bright conditions while fishing so close to the surface. I honestly would not want to go afloat without it! Interestingly Roy Westward, the photographer, fished with a co-polymer "double strength" style of nylon leader material using the same flies and did not enjoy the same degree of success.
Back End Bonanza
This autumn is going to be FANTASTIC, with the trout fry feeding; this will bring them to the surface and within range of the bank fisherman. After dinning on daphnia all summer these hard fighting trout are packing on even more weight eating this years roach fry which have also been eating daphnia and are now 2" long! With the average trout weighing 2lbs and others over 5lb being seen in many areas of the reservoir, this "end of season" is going to be the "best ever". Already Brown Trout to 12lb 4oz and Rainbow's to 9lb 6oz have been caught.
The big news
With the changing regulations regarding fishing seasons Howard Mackenzie, Bewl's manager, is hoping to announce an extension of the Rainbow Trout season at Bewl, if it goes ahead then the back end bonanza will continue throughout November! With these changes in regulations the reservoir will in future open in late March to always include Easter.
Phone: 01892 890352
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