So, another year and another new year’s resolution; more fishing! And with the new year barely a day old, I’m actually managing to keep to this resolution as I wake on 2nd January with a day-off, the sun shining on a frosty morning and a wife who’s happy to potter round the house with the kids! So, I decide to shoot out to Meon Springs for a day’s winter fishing.
I’ve spent some quality down time over the Christmas break doing some research and tying some new fly’s, so I’m all set with a plan. The theory goes something like this:
- The air is cold so the fish will be deep where the water is warmer – longer leaders (Meon is quite a shallow water so no need for weighted flies).
- The fish will not want to expend too much energy in colder weather but will still want to feed – so keep it slow and dangle it in front of their nose.
- If the water is clear, then smaller, more natural flies (eg nymphs) should work better.
- If the water is murky, then something with a bit of movement (eg lures) are a better bet.
I arrive at 10am, with frost still on the ground but clear skies and with the sun starting to peak out over the trees. There is a cold wind blowing, creating a ripple, but the water is crystal clear. I walk slowly along the bank watching the fish and, even in this shallow lake, they are ambling slowly along the bottom. So far, so good.
I tackle up with a floating line, a twelve foot tapered leader and a blood worm to start with (natural and deep). There’s not many other anglers around so I manage to snag a promontory which offers 180 degree casting. I stick to the basics to start with, casting into the margins, letting the blood worm sink, keeping it slow. After five minutes I start fan casting a bit further out, then try different sink rates and adding a few sharp draws into the slow figure of eight retrieve. After another twenty minutes, I’m comfortable I’ve covered plenty of water and decide to switch flies. With the sun now shining directly I decide to try a small, black buzzer with holo cheeks, which has caught me plenty of fish here before. As before, I fancast, trying different depths and try to retain an ultra slow figure of eight with the odd quick draw and sink but still no takes.
Now, this is normally the point where I get the fly boxes out, start pouring over them and pick a load of random flies. But, I decide to stick to the plan and get out my nymph box. I tied a couple of nymphs over Christmas: a black and green kind of pheasant tail (ish) and an olive cruncher. I decide this is a perfect time to try them out and so start with the olive version.
I cast out and immediately miss a take on the drop; crap, wasn’t concentrating but at least there’s some interest. Rather than recast, I start a slow figure of eight with a sudden quick draw and suddenly I feel the line tighten as I’m into a nice 2½lb rainbow, fantastic! As I’m on a two-fish ticket and given the speed of the interest in that fly I decide to change to the black version, both the see what happens and to extend my stay a little. Bugger me, two casts in and, whoosh, I’m playing an aggressive 3 pounder for a good five minutes.
Having caught my limit, I move over to the catch and release section but there’s some wily old trout in there who are having none of it. After a fruitless couple of hours, I’m starting to lose the feeling in my toes, so decide to have a quick coffee and call it a day. But I drive home pleased with myself; got a day’s fishing in early in the year, had a plan and stuck to it and actually managed to catch a few on my own flies. Doesn’t get much better than that.
My flies: an olive cruncher and a black and green pheasant tail nymph (with a silver tail flash). Bit messy but the fish didn’t seem to mind!