I finally managed to steal a few hours away from pestering clients and family (that’s just the clients, not the family!) this week so I whizzed off to my favourite local (if you can call it local, it’s a 45 minute drive! Unfortunately there aren’t many good fly fishing venues in North Kent!) spring fed small still water at Stowting.
It really is a lovely venue – Quiet, in the middle of a valley, has interesting water features, spring fed and the owners Carol and Colin are always friendly and helpful. It’s one of those places where the fly life is good and the fish always fight hard. It’s also impossible to find if you didn’t know it was there as the lake is actually out the back of Carol and Colins house!
When I left home it was sunny and warm. When I arrived at the lake it was cloudy, windy and cold! I’d brought just enough to keep warm so the 3 hours I had would be enough but I’d have to think and work hard and quick. Stowting normally fishes well on most days but early season can be tricky especially when the wind is howling. There was no sign of any action on the top of the water so I went deep with some beaded stalking bugs and hares ears. Then changed to buzzers. Then tried blood worms. Still no sign of any knocks and my first hour had past by.
A quick note on tackle – I’d been itching to get out on the water and try my new Barrio line and leader setup so part of the day was seeing how this all performed. The Barrio floating line is absolutely fantastic! On first cast it flew through the eyes of the rod and felt very smooth. The weighting was perfect and cast out a fair distance without much effort. The lack of memory was very good and the line led very straight on the water. I had a few issues with the end of the line sinking a little but that could have been the new fluorocarbon tippet working its magic and cutting through the water, just pulling the line down a bit at the end. A few coatings of floatent soon fixed that. All in all I’m very happy with the new setup of Barrio line, Roman Mosser Minicon loop and fluro tapered leader.
My usual starting point was nicely positioned out of the wind but while this meant casting was easy it also meant the water in front of me was flat calm. After an hour and a half of trying lots of flies with not so much as a tease I decided the brave the opposite bank where I could see the wind hitting the water along a thin channel between the bank and the island. I was convinced a waggly bloodworm would do the trick deep down so I changed flies and wondered over. The wind was howling through and casting was very difficult. Luckily the channel wasn’t very wide so crouching down and side-casting into the wind I managed to get the fly out in the right area. Three casts out and bang, something big had slammed into the bloodworm deep down near the bank. It was a good 3lb over-wintered trout and it did not want to come in to the net. After a good 5 mins of scrapping and splashing it finally got close and then was gone…the hook had been dislodged by all the flapping around. It nearly touched the net at one point so I’m having that one and classing it as caught! One interesting thing I noticed was just as the fish took the fly it swam straight into the bank where I could see it and another trout came out of nowhere and tried to grab the dangly bits of the bloodworm straight out of the trouts mouth! I’ve never seen that before! Maybe they were competing hard for not much food at this time of year. Seeing that made me thing I was on the right track so I carried on with the blood. Thirty minutes later and nothing more.
I had seen quite a few fish cruising around in the channel near the island just a few feet below the surface so I change set up for a small black buzzer (Shouldn’t it be large buzzers for early season? I can never remember!) that would hang in the water. Another hour went by on the buzzer with a few missed knocks and follows and then a little roll cast onto a cruising trout produced a lovely take and another 2lb trout.
By now I was freezing cold and happy with the 2 I’d caught so it was time to go. You know, some times when I’m fishing I feel like I’m randomly trying anything I can think of, other days it feels like I use the knowledge I have well and everything works out logically. I’ll have more of these days please! Maybe all the winter research and reading is starting to pay off.