Before Covid I had got into a happy routine of fishing Draycote early in the season from the bank. It has always seemed to fish well early on and the banks often outfish the boats as the trout shoal up in the shallow, warming water. Now the lockdowns of previous years are, hopefully, behind us, it was time to get back into routine.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t playing ball. A week after opening day and spring had very definitely not sprung yet. The water was a chilly 6 degrees and the wind picked up significantly throughout the week. It looked like it was coming from the south and would be well into the twenties (mph), which would put the whole north shore out of action. I know from previous visits that it pays to be fishing into the wind early in the year but there was no chance of getting a line out. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, there were not many anglers out so I managed to grab a spare boat.
My initial plan was to drift into the north shore around Biggin Bay and Duns, expecting the fish to be close to the banks. I started on a fast intermediate with a black and green minkie on point and an orange blob on the dropper. I tried a few drifts into the north shore without any interest. The wind was at its worst at this point and it made fishing very uncomfortable. I then swapped to a DI3 with a black humongous and drifted across croft shoal a few times but again had no interest. If the fish were there they were lying deep.
Finally, around mid-morning, I got fed up of the wind and took shelter in Toft, trying a drift right across from south to north. I switched between the two lines and, eventually, as I got close to the Cornfield bank I got my first take. It took me a few short drifts to get it right but I found using a small black and green booby (see below) and a tequila blob on the Di3 was about right. The fish were not deep, around 2-4 feet, but the drift was quick, even with the drogue, so the Di3 just pulled the booby down quickly enough to get into the right zone immediately. I caught a quick 7 rainbows, with most coming to the booby, all on very short drifts into the bank as the fish seemed to be holding just 10-20 metres off the bank.
After a short break for lunch, I decided I’d had enough of the stockies and went looking for something bigger. As the rain started to fall, I fished by the overflow and around Rainbow Corner and had a few takes by what felt like decent fish but frustratingly they didn’t hold. Finally, I tried a couple of drifts close into the dam by the pontoon using a black snake on the DI3. The water was much clearer here and I must have had a dozen casts where I either felt a fish nipping at the fly or saw one follow it in, without a solid connection. I swapped to a smaller black lure to try to get a proper take but they were then not interested in anything else. It was a bit frustrating but it felt like the decent fish were not really hard on the feed yet and perhaps were just interested/annoyed by the snake. Not quite the early spring day I was hoping for but still lovely to get back out on the water.