STARTING STILLWATER TROUT FISHING by Andy Lush
Part 2 – Summer, Autumn and Wind Lanes
Last month in part we looked at the basics, finding the natural food larder the trout want to feed on, presenting our fly in this area, basics of boat fishing and Spring time. Now in part 2 we will look at the other 2 seasons for fly fishing and also cover some other useful information.
As the summer heat warms the waters surface so the trout’s behaviour changes, the trout drop down in depth avoiding the bright sunlight and also seeking cooler water, if the warm weather continues for more than a few days the fish will move from the shallow arms and bays where they’ve been previously feeding and gravitating towards the deepest coolest water they can find, on reservoirs usually the basin area near the dam, these areas often have oxygenating ‘bubbles’, seek these out as these areas draw fish like a magnet.
The invigorating bubbles mix the layers of water that develop, the warmest layer being the surface gradually getting cooler the deeper you go, this is known as stratification, if allowed to continue unchecked the trout will be forced deeper and deeper down to depths in excess of thirty feet where they are unable to leave for more than a brief foray to the surface, the bubbles stop the stratification occurring which improves the overall water quality.
his is a prime location for catching trout that are feasting on a mixture of daphnia, nymphs and fry that is forced up towards the surface by the vigorous up welling. Anchor as close to these bubbles as possible cast onto one of the whirlpools, I suggest a floating line with a team of small nymphs such as Diawl Bach’s, Crunchers or Buzzers, I cast towards the centre allowing the flies to be swept back towards me all the time retrieving enough line to keep in contact with my flies as they drop through the surface layers, this ‘dead drift’ tactic can be devastatingly effective, the takes are solid rod wrenching affairs which are hard to miss, the beauty of this method is that your flies search all layers as they descend in the most natural way.
Natural Food: Daphnia
Through the summer months trout on many waters survive feeding on these water fleas, Daphnia is the equivalent of freshwater plankton, the neat thing about this food item is the fact that it avoids bright sunlight so the clouds of daphnia are deep down in cool water exactly where the trout are so they are able to feed on a nutritious food supply in their cool water ‘comfort zone’. When trout are feeding on daphnia the most important thing to consider is at what depth to fish your flies?
Remember the clouds of daphnia will rise towards the surface when its overcast but will go deeper as the sunlight increases, the challenge is to keep in touch with their depth, its worth mentioning that bright orange, peach, coral or pink flies are very successful when fished on sinking lines, the choice of sink rate is critical to enable you to retrieve your flies through the right depth band this is further complicated by the strength of wind if drift fishing as the line has to deliver your flies to the right depth quickly enough to allow the maximum length of line to be retrieved horizontally and to provide speed control! This is why successful boat anglers carry so many different sinking lines and more importantly know which one to use at any given time this is a real skill that can only be achieved through time on the water in other words ‘experience’ something you can’t buy in a packet but something that grows with time on the water, get it right and trout feeding on daphnia can be a push over make the wrong choice of sinking line and it can be highly frustrating.
As we move into the season of harvest the water starts to cool this sees a gradual migration of fish towards the margins and shallow water. Bank fishing on the reservoirs becomes a serious option again with the potential of two main food items on the trout’s menu.
First we have the ‘Daddy’, with the rain comes the emergence of the Daddy Long Legs these terrestrial flies need the moisture to release them from the ground this coupled with a reasonable wind sees them tumbling across the waters surface and trout will be intercepting them close to the up wind banks, be there and you will have a bean feast miss out on this opportunity and you could miss all the action. On small stillwaters the fish do not migrate to the margins necessarily but they do become far more active as the water cools, the water cools so much quicker due to the smaller volume of water than the reservoirs so expect good fishing to return as soon as the weather breaks.
The second food source is the fry of the coarse fish, ‘fry feeding’ is very exciting to say the least the action comes in short bursts often around weed beds as the trout herd the fry up and charge through them stunning as many as they can and then returning to mop up their victims sipping them in, in a very casual manner. On my local reservoir ‘Bewl Water’ this scenario rarely occurs due to the lack of weed so the trout have adopted another approach, groups of trout herd fry into dense shoals out in open water, often over deep water well away from the banks and sanctuary, then all hell lets loose as the charge through the fry stunning and crippling their prey, this usually occurs out of sight below the surface, but not always, the stunned fry occasionally reach the surface where they are picked off by seagulls.
The sight of excited seagulls is the indication the observant fisherman is looking for, your best tactic now is to fish a team of white fry imitating attractor flies such as Minkies, Boobies and Cats Whiskers in different sizes retrieve these high in the water column either on floating or intermediate lines changing sizes and patterns until an exact imitation is found, the tactic I prefer is to fish floating fry patterns ‘static’ as we drift in the vicinity of the sightings, the takes can come at anytime so you have to be vigilant and patient.
So what is a wind lane? They are caused mostly during periods of light wind conditions and are generally found on open sections of lakes, when two currents of wind meet together, forming a calm lane on the water. These winds collect emerging and hatched insects leaving them in this calm lane of water, providing a concentration of easy pickings for trout to feed on. Wind lane fishing is done from a boat where we can drift down a "wind lane" to meet the feeding trout as they move up the lane.
Ignore these at your peril as they offer trout rich pickings in the form of emerging flies that have failed to escape the surface tension. I find the ‘edge’ between the ripple and the flat calm is where the food is most concentrated so this is where the trout patrol, I aim my cast across the wind lane with my point fly just into the calm area, my middle dropper positioned in the ‘edge’ of the ripple and my top dropper in the outside ripple this effectively covers all options as fish mooch up these food highways. It’s worth mentioning that on calm bright days wind lanes can offer opportunities of action on dries when conditions would make it impossible.
In summary these articles are intended to point you in the right direction, it is by no means the whole story that’s the beauty of what we do, you should now have enough understanding of what makes trout tick to go and write your own story in your own diary, a very important thing to keep as you solve different parts to a never ending puzzle we call trout fishing.
The Friendly Fisherman