Another evening from the boat at Barnsfold, another productive session. Dad and I returned to the scene of Monday's success and although the condiditons were less favourable (bright sunshine, cold easterly wind), we were still lucky enough to enjoy some fine sport. Dad - who would fish suspender buzzers happily if they were the last fly pattern on Earth - had to wait until a bit later in the evening before the light intensity dropped off and fish started to key onto the emerging midge. Even so, a return of 11 fish was pleasing for what basically amounted to an hour and a half's work.
My evening got going a little earlier courtesy of the Di3 line and a team of mini-lures. A cormorant-style viva fished slowly accounted for a number of fish before I too made the change to surface tactics. I finished the evening with 17 fine rainbows up to 4lb 12oz, making 28 to the boat.....and 62 over the last two evenings out. Make hay while the sun shines, I say!
The most interesting thing about last night was this: when we got home and gutted a fish which we had kept, we found that it's stomach was - unsurprisingly - stuffed with midge pupae. What was surprising was that a number of these were still very much alive and wriggling, so we transferred half a dozen of them into a dish of clean water...and observed.
Sure enough, each of the pupae attempted to shed their shucks and fully emerge. The fact that each of them failed after considerable effort would tend to suggest that a majority of the ascending buzzers of which the trout are so fond, never make it into adult midge at all, but remain, crippled, in the meniscus. The following process was very noticeable:
Stage 1: The pupa gained a marked silvery sheen along the length of its abdomen where air had been admitted between the body and shuck - presumably to aid in escape.
Stage 2: Via a series of energetic wiggles, the shuck was slowly extruded until the abdomen was free and the shuck was hanging off the thorax and legs. This seemed to take a long time - around 5 minutes.
Stage 3: The insect struggled to rid itself of the skin clinging to its legs and wings. In the case of our test specimens, they failed and lay exhausted in the surface film.
Very apparent was the time this whole shenanigans took. Presuming that what we saw was an accurate reflection of natural conditions and that the pupae weren't too distressed/damaged etc as a result of their hiatus within the trout's guts, then it's obvious how vulnerable hatching midge are to feeding trout....and that the trailing shuck of the half-emerged insects may represent a significant trigger.
With this in mind, I have spent a few minutes at the vice tonight to see if I can't come up with a 'stuck-shuck' buzzer of some description. The prototype is below, along with a materials list. There is a good chance that this will catch some fish. There is an equally good chance that it won't be any more effective than a bog-standard buzzer pattern. But hey, it does no harm to give these things a try. I shall report back in due course.........
Matt's Stuck Shuck Buzzer.
Hook: Kamasan B100 #16.
Rib: Hends Synthetic Quill, colour black.
Shuck: Zelon (colour white), fixed by thin dribble of 'Hard As Nails'.
Thorax: Microbrite, colour peacock.
Wing Pads: Orange goose biots.
Head: Build up of spiderweb, tinted black using permanent marker.
Suspender Variant - designed to sit right in the surface film.
Note: The synthetic quill and zelon can be found at Phil Holding's excellent 'Fly Tying Boutique' - see link adjacent.