One of the most important lessons I have learnt during this years’ fishing is that of getting the right depth. Certainly, finding the fish is vital and having the right type of fly on the line is equally important but making sure the fly is in front of the fish has really improved my catch rates this year. Our recent trip to Eyebrook was a prime example, fishing black buzzers was the right approach but it was only when I found the right depth that I started to catch, and catch consistently.
This was proven again at Farmoor when I managed to get out for an early four hours one Sunday morning. The conditions were perfect: a light breeze, cloudy with patch sun and warm. After getting up early, I was on the water by 8am and started, in cloudy conditions, with a searching rig: a heavyweight buzzer on point, a lighter weight buzzer on the middle dropper and a black diawl bach on the top dropper. With the wind coming from left to right, I was letting the line drift across the water, counting down after casting before starting the retrieve. After twenty minutes I had a violent take and, after a good battle, netted a lovely 4-5lb rainbow on the diawl bach.
I continued in the same fashion but started seeing fish topping and tailing, so switched to a CDC emerger on the point with a smaller black buzzer on the middle dropper. Within a few minutes I had my second rainbow, another good weight, on the buzzer. The fish had moved up in the water and my previous rig had been fishing below them.
Things went a little quiet after that, so I took a walk round to the north side where I could see rising fish. When I got there, the water was dead calm but the fish were topping and tailing. I love catching on dries and don’t get the chance very often so changed to three dries: a CDC Yellow Owl emerger on the point, a sugar cube buzzer emerger on the middle dropper and a black shipmans buzzer on the top dropper. The next half an hour was filled with swirls, sips and violent takes on all three flies. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to net one but it was lots of fun. Its difficult to suddenly switch from the quick strikes needed for buzzer fishing to the delayed strikes for dries.
After that manic half an hour the surface action stopped as the sun started to break through the clouds. I kept the yellow owl on point but switched back to the buzzer and diawl bach, as a washing line set-up. This paid immediate dividends with another two rainbows falling to the diawl bach.
The sun came through properly then and the wind dropped. With the water perfectly calm and the warm sun beating down, I switched the point fly to a black cormorant and started to count down again after casting. After gradually increasing the count, I netted another with a count of twenty seconds and a little time after, one more with a count of thirty seconds, one to the buzzer and one more to the diawl bach.
I packed up, happy with six fish and a lovely morning. Over four hours, I had caught, or had takes, on the top, just under the surface and between three and six feet down. The fish had been moving up and down the water column in response to the conditions, coming up early and with cloud cover and then going down with sun and as the morning warmed up. Changing depths had been crucial to continued catching.