Monday, April 13, 2009

Barnsfold from a boat.....with spectacular results.


When I used to do a bit of coarse fishing, there was a widely held theory which ran something like this: modern carbon fibre poles were coming into wider use at that time and most anglers used a pole of up to 12m long max. Visit a commercial fishery anywhere and you would see anglers feeding and fishing around the 11m line – that is until improved technology allowed longer, lighter poles to be manufactured within a similar price bracket. Nowadays I gather many coarse anglers can pole fish up to 16.5m – something that was unthinkable 20 years ago.
The thing is, at the time we noticed that on hard-fished waters, the fish would become more and more wary over time, to the extent that they appeared reluctant to feed on the 10-12m line, choosing instead to remain slightly beyond reach of the zone they perceived to be hazardous. At such times, an angler with an extra metre of pole could sometimes gain a distinct advantage.

I believe this also applies to stillwater fly fishing from the bank – the zone to receive most hammer from anglers, is that between 15 and 30 metres from the bank where trout will be well accustomed to seeing all manner of fluff whizz past their noses during daylight hours. On recent visits to our local Barnsfold Reservoir (which isn’t a particularly deep venue and therefore beds of midge larvae can be expected just about anywhere), it came as no surprise to Dad and I to see greater numbers of trout feeding beyond the 50m mark than within comfortable casting range. Based on this, we decided that our next session would be from a boat.

Whether by design or luck, this worked out really well. Barnsfold isn’t a large venue and drifting is out of the question, so we anchored up in the middle adjacent to a wind lane off the back of one of the cages. A few fish were rising so we both started off on emerging buzzers with Dad getting off to a good start, boating four fish while I was still messing around with the anchors to stabilise the boat broadside-on. The old bugger continued in that vein until darkness to finish on a total of 19 fish returned – a cracking effort for three hour’s fishing.

I chose to mix and match a bit and took fish to washing-lined buzzers, suspenders and also to a combination of mini-lure and scruffy diawl bach fished briskly on a Di3. I had some really violent takes to the latter technique, with several fish almost yarking the rod out of my hand as I hung the flies at the end of the retrieve. I’m not much of a lure-fisher, but I took some tips from an experienced friend beforehand and I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying myself, once I understood slightly better some of the subtleties involved.

So although I hate to view fishing as a numbers game, there’s no denying that an evening’s total of 34 fish to the boat was very pleasing considering the long periods of fishless inactivity I have endured over the winter.

And a word about the fish: once again we were delighted at the quality of Frank Casson’s rainbows. They are bright, full-finned fish which really pull your arm off. Most were in the 2-3lb class and clean as a whistle (the fish shown below is a typical example). My floater set-up was rated for a #6 line and I have to admit to feeling somewhat under-gunned against these fierce trout. Full credit is due to the fishery management in this respect.

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