The Beardy Bros annual tour this year saw us return to Eyebrook, where we enjoyed two fantastic half-day sessions last year, as well as trying out Elinor, another excellent midlands fishery.
After much planning and frantic fly-tying, we met at our campsite midday on Friday, quickly pitched our tents and hurried over to Eyebrook for an afternoon’s boat fishing. The weather was not in our favour however; a strong north-easterly was blowing across the reservoir making much of the main bowl unfishable. We motored over to Sams Dyke, where the island offered a wind break and it was possible to anchor up and fish in reasonable water, albeit still in a cold, blustery wind. We tried a range of buzzer and generic nymph tactics, trying different depths and a few other sheltered areas of the reservoir but to no effect. Not many others were catching but the reports in the lodge showed one guy had caught a bucket-load on black buzzers. We spent the evening shivering round a camp fire with a few beers, sorting out our tactics for the next day where we would be back on a boat at Eyebrook.
The next day we arrived at a much less blustery Eyebrook with an almost perfect forecast of clouds and patchy sun. We motored straight out to Sams Dyke, where most of the fish had been caught the day before, determined to nail some of those lovely Eyebrook rainbows. We anchored up about forty yards off the bank, both using variations of a washing line with buzzers and nymphs. After a fruitless first hour, Beardy Paul nailed the first fish of the day on a large black buzzer suspended under a bung, followed by another shortly after on the same fly. Within another hour, I’d landed one and Beardy Paul had another two; he’d cracked it, they wanted large black buzzers fished about six feet down. By the time we stopped for a quick lunch, Beardy Paul was romping home with six to my single trout (and a very decent Perch!).
BP – The buzzer shucks in the water were huge. We couldn’t see them the day before due to the weather conditions but seeing them floating around I realised they were very big so I went for the biggest size 10 buzzer I had. We also realised later in the day that we’d read somewhere that big was better early season and small later in the season. I guess, due to the buzzers being in the mud longer over winter that they grow more. Whatever the reason, it worked and the fish kept on coming. I even had a fish jump on to one of the buzzers as I was changing my point fly and my droppers were hanging off the side of the boat! If only it had stayed on!
After lunch, I managed another lovely rainbow and missed a few takes – I realised that the takes were all coming barely 5-10 yards from the boat and, as I was fishing a slow figure of eight, I suspected I wasn’t starting the retrieve off deep enough. I started flicking the line out 15-20 yards, letting it sink for a minute and then starting a slow figure of eight retrieve. This approach worked a treat and over the rest of the day, and on into a lovely sunny evening, I brought a further nine trout to the boat. With Beardy Paul catching nine overall, we caught a total of twenty rainbows. When we motored in at eight that night we were shattered; those Eyebrook trout fight really hard and do not want to come into the net. That was by far our best boat day and we chugged a few beers very happily that night.
The following day, our last, we got up early, packed up our tents and shot across to Elinor Trout Fishery. Elinor is a lovely medium-sized lake, nestled in a shallow valley. They had a bank match on so the lake was quite busy but we soon found space with the breeze behind us. After two days on a boat we were looking forward to fishing on solid ground. With the sun beating down on us, it was a lovely warm morning to be out but the nicer conditions soon proved tricky for fishing. Elinor has shallow, shelving banks and with bright sun and clear water, it required some large casts to get into deeper water. With weeds starting to grow up from the bottom as well, it proved challenging to get the flies out a long way and present them at the right depth. After trying multiple different flies and rigs, Beardy Paul finally nailed a lovely rainbow with a large black buzzer (again) fished on a washing line type approach but using a blob which helped keep the flies at a certain depth. I hooked an excellent fighting fish on a tadpole which unfortunately came off as I was getting it to the net but Beardy Paul finished off the day with a final rainbow on the black buzzer again.
BP – We were advised to go for buzzers, hares ear, dial backs, etc but they just weren’t working. Part of the problem was getting out far enough. My new AtomSix custom built rod (review coming soon!) was helping but it just wasn’t quite enough. I talked to a very nice man, who was casting out a huge amount of line, and he said he caught 5 in 50 mins on huge orange buzzers. So, it was going big again that did the trick. In fact it was the same black buzzer that I’d done so well on at Eyebrook that worked again at Elinor. The 2 fish I caught were great but I missed a lot of very quick snatchy takes. A tricky day but a lovely new venue to add to the list. Maybe a boat next time?
So, after two tricky half-days and one red-letter day at Eyebrook, we finished all square and thoroughly content with our weekend fishing.
General conditions – Cloudy and very windy Friday. Cloudy and less windy on Saturday. Sunny and slight wind on Saunday.
Wind direction – North and north easterly all weekend
Flies that worked – Big fat black buzzers! Size 10.