After spending most of the summer fishing on the river I was keen to get back out on a reservoir. As the temperatures had started to fall, I booked a boat at Draycote which has tended, over the last few years, to pick up earlier after the summer heat.
Typically, for me, on the day the wind was blowing a proper gale across the reservoir (I never seem to get a gentle breeze). Nevertheless, I was tackled up and in the boat by 8.15am, keen for a full day afloat. The wind was coming from the west, so I motored over to the dam which was a little sheltered from the wind. I love fishing from a drifting boat but I never feel I’ve quite got the hang of it so I was keen to get some practice in. I started close to the dam in the calmer water on a midge-tip with a diawl bach and cruncher on the droppers and a popper hopper on the point. The drift started slowly until the wind hit me and then, even with the drogue the boat was shifting. As I drifted out into deep water I had a few slash takes on the hopper but nothing stuck (in retrospect, this was the clue I missed) and no interest in the nymphs.
I decided to try switching to an intermediate to get the flies down a little quicker given the wind speed. I swapped the cruncher to another diawl and put a blob on the point, in an attempt to present the flies on a straight plane and relatively static as I drifted towards them. After another drift I’d had no takes so tried casting to the side and letting the line sink a little longer. After a count of 10, I started retrieving and instantly the line locked-up with my first rainbow taking the blob. I set-up another drift over the same area and tried the same tactic but with no luck.
I decided a change was in order so motored over to the north end and managed to set a drift running parallel to the bank. About halfway through, I had my second fish of the day, again coming to the blob, but only after leaving the line to sink. I reasoned that the fish must be a little deeper and switched to a Di3 to the flies would get down quicker. After another couple of drifts, I’d had nothing.
By this time I was a little fed up of being battered by the wind so I motored over to the dam and anchored up in much calmer conditions. It was a relief and to enjoy it more I switched to a floater for some buzzer fishing; a heavy buzzer on point, another buzzer on the middle dropper and a diawl bach on the top dropper. I was aiming to fish down the depths and see when I picked up some interest. I was mid-cast when a fish rose right in front of me. I cast to one side and the fish took the diawl bach as soon as it hit the water. Perhaps they weren’t that deep!
I switched quickly to the popper hopper on point to fish the cast high up in the water. Barely five minutes later and the rod nearly shot out of my hand as a fish darted away with the diawl bach firmly lodged in its jaws. It shot off like a rocket and took me almost down to the backing. After a good ten minute fight I brought it to the net. I stayed by the dam for a hour or so, picking up another couple of bows, all taking the black diawl very close to the surface.
It was mid afternoon by this time and the wind had dropped significantly. I decided to go back to drifting but kept the floater on. I tried a few different places with no interest and then decided to spend the last few hours in Toft. Due to wind conditions, I’ve never managed to fish Toft by boat, and I reasoned that the fish might be happier with shallower water now the temps had dropped. I tried a drift around Lin Point with no joy and then carried on into Toft, drifting from 50 yards out into the shallows. About 30 yards out I noticed a few fish rising and had a couple of slashes at the blob as it landed. I switched to dries, with a small foam daddy on the dropper and a large, sedgehog on the point. After a couple of casts, a rainbow erupted from the water and engulfed the daddy. Over the next hour, I had a lot of fun on the top with the fish happy to come for the daddy but little else. I only had one more fish to the net but had plenty of slashes, follows and missed takes. There were not many freely rising fish but they appeared quickly to the daddy.
So, overall, a lovely day with 8 fish to the boat which is not bad in tricky conditions at a reservoir I only fish occasionally. However, I left with the feeling it could have been better. In retrospect, I should have taken the early hint from the interest in the popper hopper and fished higher in the water, earlier.