For the past few years I’ve tried to get in a couple of early wading sessions while the bank fishing is still good. There is something special about being waist-deep in water while fishing.
Due to current Covid procedures and work constraints I’d had to book well in advance and decided to have another go on Blagdon Lake, probably one of the most picturesque places to fish in the country. Unfortunately, my trip came at the end of a two-week period of constant, cold north-easterlies combined with bright sunshine. Nevertheless, as usual I was like a kid at Christmas and up and on the bank early.
The sun was bright and although the wind was gentle, it was barely 4 degrees. Given the prevailing wind I started on the north shore, at pegs point. The water is relatively shallow – probably 6-8 foot – so there was little need for anything other than a floater. I was hoping the fish would be on nymphs but I wasn’t sure at what depth they might be so I decided to go for a black diawl bach on the top dropper, a muskins on the middle dropper and a weighted damsel on the point. This should allow me to search the depths.
I cast out from the bank, just in case there were fish in close, and then carefully waded up to my thighs. My first, longer, cast connected with something heavy quickly and I was into my first fish, on the diawl bach. It was a decent rainbow of around 3-4lb and it fought really well.
I continued with this set-up for a while and then changed the point fly to a blob to keep the flies higher in the water but with no success. Eventually, the wind dropped and the water in front of me looked like glass. I switched to buzzers on the point and middle droppers with the diawl bach still on the top dropper but attached a bung so my flies were fishing at 2, 5 and 8 foot. I much prefer to straight-line nymphs but the bright sun and still water meant I didn’t want to cast too much and just wanted the flies to remain static, just drifting around at a standard depth. On the second cast, the bung slipped away and I lifted into another decent rainbow.
By mid-morning, I’d had no more takes and the sun was high in the sky. I thought it likely that the fish had moved away from the bank and decided to search for some deeper water. I went further up the north shore to the North Bank where the banks meet the water at a steeper gradient, suggesting deeper water.
There was a very slight left to right breeze so I put a candy blob on the point with a buzzer on the middle dropper and the trusty diawl remained on the top dropper. I casted as far as I could and barely retrieved, just keeping in touch with the line as it drifted with the breeze. It was quiet for a while but then I has a sudden pluck and release, a typical blob take. A couple of casts later another good sized rainbow took the diawl bach again. It seemed like the fish were high in the water, even with the sun, but there just weren’t that many of them close in to the banks.
Unfortunately, that was it for the day. I spent the afternoon exploring the north banks and trying different spots. As the clouds came over mid-afternoon there was a lot of activity in the main channel entrance to Butcombe bay; big black buzzers were hatching, the swifts were out in force and there were fish rising. Unfortunately, they were just out of casting range. If only I’d been in a boat!
Whilst the fishing was tough, it was a lovely day out in a lovely setting. One of these days, hopefully, I will get down to Blagdon and catch the conditions right for a nymph-fest from the bank.