For our tour to the Midlands Reservoirs this year we decided to mix things up and fish Eyebrook, Rutland and Pitsford. All three had been fishing well in the previous weeks with good buzzer hatches in the right conditions. Both Beardy Paul and myself had spent the previous week tying up new patterns and constantly checking the weather reports, so by the time Friday came along we were raring to go.
Eyebrook is one of our favourite venues and tends to be our starting point for the tour. We arrived at 9.30am to a warm, sunny and completely still reservoir with fish clearly taking flies off the top of the water. After a quick chat with the rangers, who informed us that the best action would likely be up the top end, we tackled up and jumped in the boat.
We were heading up to Stoke Dry but noticed lots of rising fish on the north bank at The Willows, where a few boats had already anchored up. We motored gently into a good spot and scanned the water. It was crystal clear and absolutely still which, with the sun beating down, are not always good conditions but there was enough surface activity to suggest the fish were actively feeding high up.
We started with floating lines with a buoyant point fly to keep the line high and nymphs on the droppers. With no interest, I swapped to a blob on point with a diawl bach and buzzer on the droppers and counted the line down, also with no joy. I then tried straight-lining buzzers and putting a weighted pheasant tail on the end but still nothing. Beardy Paul managed a couple on a FAB but we had clearly not quite found the right flies or method. We then noticed that there were pond olives hatching off and thought the trout might have switched onto the nymph. As Beardy Paul had caught higher up, and I’d had no joy deep, I put an olive cruncher on the point which would sink a little but keep relatively high on the floater. A couple of casts later I was into my first fish of the weekend, which took the cruncher, followed by another shortly after. Beardy Paul had another couple on green nymphs and buzzers. We thought we’d found the method but it went quiet after that before the weather took a sudden turn for the worse. From warm, sunny skies the clouds arrived and the heavens opened. We decided to go back to the lodge for lunch and got hit by a short hailstone shower on the way!
After lunch we tried a few other spots without seeing any activity before motoring back to the willows. Nothing that we tried seemed to work, which was all the more frustrating as a guy in the boat next to use was pulling out fish for fun. After another few sunny but fruitless hours, the wind picked up again and the heavens opened. We carried on fishing for a while and Beardy Paul managed to pick up another three fish to FABs and blobs, strangely as the weather worsened. With no obvious end to the rain in sight and knowing we had another two days fishing ahead of us, we decided to call it a day.
Talking to some of the other anglers, it seemed others had found it difficult as well with few catches on nymphs and sporadic catches on blobs. However, the guy we’d seen hoiking them out had apparently been using a slime line with green diawl bachs and FABs, for 53 fish! Now, at points during the day both Beardy Paul and I had fished with FABs and green nymphs (including a period with a green diawl bach), in the same area as this guy. The only difference we could see was that we were using floating lines and he had used a slime. So perhaps the fish were just a little deeper and the slime, combined with the FAB, kept the nymphs at the perfect depth for longer.
Our only previous experience at Rutland was not a positive one. We’d fished from a boat four years ago in a gale with lashing rain. We’d finished the day wet, cold and fishless. But with better conditions forecast and good reports we were excited to try again.
We were tackled up and on the water by 8.30am. Thankfully, there was just a little breeze and with sunny and cloudy spells, so we were confident the fish wouldn’t be too far down. Nevertheless, after the previous day we decided to try different depths so Beardy Paul started with a floater and I had a midge tip. We motored down the south arm, aiming to try some of the bays which reports had said were holding fish.
We stopped in one of the large bays and anchored up about 20 yards off the shore, fishing out into the bay. There was no sign of fish on the surface but we decided to give it a quick go. After 30 minutes of searching the area and the depths we’d had no action so decided to move on round towards the end of the south arm. As we motored round, there were a few boats already in place but we noticed a grouping of swallows just off the shore. Assuming the swallows were taking hatching flies, and where there’s a hatch there should be fish, we motored across and anchored up around 30 yards off the shoreline. Beardy Paul was into a lovely Rutland brown quickly, taking a buzzer high up, so I changed to a floating line with FAB, diawl bach and buzzer.
We both managed a couple of fish, all taking the FAB but it was sporadic. Beardy Paul noticed that our takes we’re coming when the wind pushed us around and we were casting towards the bank. So, we moved ourselves closer in where we could cast towards a group of trees on the bank. That’s when the real fun started! We were getting takes every five minutes or so, with some fish coming to the net but plenty of missed takes. Most of the fish were coming to the FABs but we had one or two on nymphs.
After a fun hour like this, I decided to remove the FAB. I like catching fish on anything but with the fish so seemingly keen, I wanted to concentrate on the nymphs. I put a black hopper on point in order to keep the line reasonably high in the water but also thought it might be mistaken for a hawthorn fly being blown off the trees. If the previous activity was fun, what happened next was amazing. I had fish on with the next seven consecutive casts! Not all of them stayed on but I got five to the net in that small period. Beardy Paul was catching too and we had numerous double hook ups (I even had a triple hook up), missed fish, a couple of bent hooks, snap offs and two occasions when we had fish at the same time and had to swap rods as the fish were tearing off all round the boat.
We had fish to all three flies on the cast but a red holo diawl bach and black diawl bach with a
red head took the most. It was the most exciting prolonged spell of activity either of us had ever had. It eventually quietened down around 2pm and we had a break for lunch with 25 fish to the boat.
After lunch back at the lodge we headed back down the south arm and tried a few other spots. We picked up a few fish here and there but nothing consistent so eventually made our way back to our spot from the morning. I’d half expected it to have gone off or for the fish to have moved off but no! We were into fish almost immediately and had another fun couple of hours, with fish coming to the boat constantly, to round off an amazing day. All in, we’d had 44 fish for the day!
It was unlikely our third day would match-up with Rutland, and so it proved. We’d previously agreed that after two days in a boat we’d have a day wandering the banks and wading. Unfortunately, the weather was not our friend. We arrived at Pitsford to cloudless skies, a hot, bright sun and very little wind. The water was crystal clear which, with the gently shelving banks at Pitsford, meant the fish were holding around 40-50 yards off the bank.
We wandered down the bank fishing through Duffers, Bog Bay, Gorse and The Cliffs without so much as a tug. We could see fish rising but they were just too far out from the bank. As the wind picked up changed direction it became impossible to get much distance off the bank so we moved across the North Fields shore, closer to the causeway. The combination of the wind and the gradient here meant we could just about get to deeper water. Beardy Paul managed to pick up a single fish on a red holo diawl bach but otherwise it was quiet. For our last hour we chucked a line out on the small side, next to the boat dock, where Beardy Paul managed to pick up another couple before we had to head home.
The boats on this side seemed to be picking up fish, mostly using an indicator fished quite deep and static. In hindsight, given the conditions we needed to be afloat or should have picked a smaller water, like Elinor, to fish off the bank.
Still, all in all a fantastic weekend and a red-letter day at Rutland which will stick long in the memory.