After months of planning, the Beardy Bros fishing tour for 2015 was finally here. We’d planned three days camping and fishing in Northampton, trying out the delights of Eyebrook and Rutland this year (after trying Grafham and Pitsford last year). We met at midday on Friday at a lovely camping site near Rutland (Wing Hall) and, after quickly pitching our tents, made our way to Eyebrook.
We’d kept a close eye on the weather during the week to try out our theory of whether the fish would be on the downwind shore. After four to five days of strong south-westerly winds, Friday was overcast, reasonably warm and with a light easterly breeze. If our theory held, then this was perfect as the fish would still be on the easterly side of the water (previously downwind) but the easterly would provide a light wind either left to right or at our backs. After purchasing our tickets and checking the returns, we made our way round the damn to the eastern shoreline of Eyebrook by the Three Trees. Just a little further round from the dam, the shoreline faces west and there is a steep drop off just within casting range. We had figured that the fish might be a little deeper, or keeping close to deep water, due to the high winds during the week.
As we reached the water, we were greeted by the lovely sight of trout topping and tailing just over the drop off. We quickly tackled up, both on a floating line with a point fly and two droppers. Buzzers had been hatching for weeks, according to the reports, so I opted for a black CDC emerger buzzer on the point, an epoxy black holo buzzer on the middle dropper and a slightly fluffier black buzzer on the top dropper, in an attempt to keep the flies in the first foot or two. Beardy Paul had set up a similar rig with a home tied black buzzer, diawl bach and a shipmans on the point to keep the flies up in the water a little.
I actually can’t remember exactly what I used but it was a combination of buzzers, dial bach, crunchers and some top of the water flies such as klinkhammers and hawthorns. All pretty much floated along in the wind in the top foot or so of water. We could see the fish all along the ridge but they were just out of reach unless you got that one long cast out there. It was these longer casts that caught us the fish. I did miss quite a few takes here as well which was a little frustrating.
The fish continued topping and tailing over the drop-off which was tantalisingly just out of my casting range, with the breeze just slightly against us. Beardy Paul had the first take, netting a lovely 2lb rainbow on a klinkhammer , after managing a slightly longer cast and drawing the flies back over the drop-off. Fifteen minutes later and he netted another one on a dial bach . Struggling for distance, I put a pair of wellies on and managed to get a couple of feet into the water. As soon as I casted an extra few feet, I hooked a lovely rainbow on the middle buzzer.
Getting in the water with waders on was great fun but we just timed it wrong and shortly after we braved the water the fish went off the boil and it got very quiet. Which was a shame, because there was something very special about being low down in the water, net on back, flies in pocket. I definitely felt more connected to everything.
After another hour the wind changed direction slightly and started to come towards us, making casting out to the drop-off almost impossible. We decided to move round to the dam, which would put the wind at our back more. The water here was calmer and as the fish were topping and tailing, I changed the top dropper to a black shipmans buzzer. I hooked another one after an hour or so which, pleasingly, had taken the shipmans. Two all now and the competition was on but beardy Paul managed another two on a shipmans and cruncher before things went quiet again and we decided to call it a day. Not a bad start but seeing so many fish on the surface, I couldn’t help feeling I should have done better.
We spent a chilly and windy* evening, discussing our day over a few beers and planning our tactics for the boat day we had planned for the next day at Rutland.
* WINDY! I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night! It sounded like a train going past all night with the wind blowing through the trees! We should have known what it would bring the next day at Rutland!
General conditions – Cloudy with slight breeze.
Wind direction – Easterly wind changing to southerly. Previous days had high westerly winds.
Air pressure – 1025
Flies that worked – Black buzzer, black shipmans, black CDC emerger buzzer, black cruncher, klinkhammer.
We awoke early in the morning to a stiff westerly wind which, by the time we had reached Rutland, was a 25mph gale blowing straight down the arms of the reservoir. We had a quick chat to the warden who suggested finding a sheltered bay** on the north arm but the look on his face wasn’t promising. Nevertheless, we got into the boat full of confidence and motored out into the main bowl.
** What he actually said was “you’ll just have to put your heads down and go for it” but I didn’t quite realise what he meant at the time. We should have looked across at the water, saw those white horses and turned around but no, we got in the boat and carried on oblivious to the impending doom! I have to say, the conditions that day were some of the worst I’ve ever fished in. We got soaked trying to motor a small fishing boat head long into 4/5 foot waves. Even in sheltered bays the wind was impossible (apart from once in the afternoon when we found cover and enjoyed a relatively peaceful few hours). And I don’t think I’ve ever been on a reservoir and had a boat get picked up, carried along and plonked down by waves before. After breaking my rod on the boat at lunch time and having to buy a new Greys GR30 (It is a very nice rod though and I have the GR50 on its way as well. A review and comparison of both rods coming soon) from the Rutland tackle shop I was about ready to give up but we soldiered on for a few more hours in the hope of catching that one fish that would make a bad day feel a little better. No such luck though.
What followed was a day of cold winds, wet clothes, almost impossible casting and a fruitless search to get out of the wind and into fish. To cut a long story short, neither of us had a bite all day and trudged out of the boat at 6pm cold, wet and downhearted. However, talking to other anglers, almost everyone else had had the same frustrating day as us. So, lesson learned, we trudged back to our campsite and warmed up over a few beers. The lesson? Don’t fish big reservoir’s with strong winds!
One day it would be nice to get to one of the big reservoirs and have a nice days fishing. I think thats 3 times now, twice in boats, that we’ve had terrible conditions and really hard fishing days.
General conditions – Cloudy with strong wind (25mph with higher gusts).
Wind direction – Westerly.
Air pressure – 1025
Flies that worked – None! And we must have tried everything!
Sunday morning was our last chance before we had to get back home, so we decided to go back to Eyebrook. We got up early, packed up our tents and were back at Eyebrook by 8am. Given the strong westerly yesterday we decided to stick with our theory and went back to the same spot on the easterly bank. It was overcast again but with a stronger southerly wind. This made casting a little trickier but we should be just about able to get out to the drop-off.
I quickly tackled up with a floating line, 16 foot leader with a hawthorne fly on point, a black holobuzzer on the middle dropper and a black and green diawl back on the top dropper. I was down in the water before Beardy Paul had finished tackling up and second cast in, hooked a lovely rainbow on the black buzzer. Brilliant start! Ten minutes later and, after untangling a huge mess in my leader, I was into another lovely fighting rainbow which had taken the same buzzer.
After another half an hour the wind changed direction and came straight into our faces, making casting out virtually impossible. Again, we decided to move round to the dam where several other anglers looked like they were having fun. The wind was now left to right and, while still quite strong, was just about manageable. With the sun was occasionally peaking out from behind the clouds, it was quite pleasant.
Yes yes yes, that all sounds lovely, catching fish on your second cast, but up until this point I hadn’t even had a tug! Getting round onto the damn was lovely and gave us perfect conditions. There was also the one local guy there casting out a full reel of line and pulling out a fish every few casts. Nice to see!
What followed was an almost perfect mornings fishing. The trout were feeding hard and fighting hard and taking a variety of flies. Sticking with the same rig, I caught another three trout, lost a couple and missed numerous takes, including quite a few on the surface fly (variously a cdc emerger buzzer, shipmans or hawthorn). Beardy Paul, however, whooped me hands down, catching seven trout in total on a range of flies, including: Dial bach, shipmans, hawthorn, a squirmy wormy type thing and a red buzzer.
It was one of the best mornings I’ve ever had. 7 fish in total and a very achy arm and shoulder after an incredible hard weekend fishing. That morning at Eyebrook made up for it though. The fish were there and in reach, you could see them coming up every now and again and other people were catching. With the squirmy wormy on I missed quick takes again and again but it was lots of fun and I finally get the method sorted. I think the problem was the wind blowing the line round creating a bow in the line and when striking it was taking too long to pull through the water. I revised things slightly and angled the rod round as the wind took the line so that I was on the other side striking. The takes were so quick the strike had to be instant and this way worked much better. Sticking with a washing line approach with buzzers and dial bachs and emerges caught a lot of fish that day…but not as many as the local guy 30 yards up the damn who left at lunch time after catching 18! Luck bugger!
As we were leaving, we worked out we had caught a total of seventeen trout at Eyebrook over the two sessions, as well as loads of ‘lost’ fish and missed takes. Eyebrook is well known for its top of the water action and I have to say, seeing the fish rising (and catching them) makes for a vastly more entertaining days fishing. We will definitely be going back to Eyebrook.
General conditions – Cloudy with occasional sun.
Wind direction – Southerly changing to south-westerly. Previous day had high westerly winds.
Air pressure – 1025
Flies that worked – Black buzzer, black CDC emerger buzzer, black/green diawl bach, green squirmy wormy, red buzzer, hawthorn.