A bit of a strange one at Barnsfold last night. Usually on a mild evening in mid April, you would expect the place to be alive with hatching midge and Frank Casson's fine rainbow trout rising to sip the struggling emergers from the surface film. However, despite the conditions appearing favourable for such an event, the place was weirdly quiet. Maybe we really are still a month behind normality for this time of year.
I did find sport, just not in the expected manner. A very occasional riser convinced me that if the trout weren't exactly surface feeding, then they would surely be mooching about in the upper layers. So on one rod I set up a floating line and a team of diawl bachs and nymphs, whilst on the other I went for a fast glass intermediate with a black and green cormorant on the top dropper ahead of a pair of nymphs. Luckily the fish showed interest in the former set up almost straight away, a 'tweaky' figure of eight retrieve bringing a couple of nice rainbows early on, although a fishless half hour followed before I connected with a third.
As it turned out, that was the pattern of the evening for me: a couple of quick fish followed by a lull necessitating a move to another spot. One thing which did surprise me was that half of the fish I caught appeared to be in spawning condition, and not the triploid rainbow trout one would expect. The fish below in particular was obviously full of roe, vent extruded ready to release:
Later on, I did finally get some surface sport. A sparse hatch of big black midge brought a few fish up as the breeze died and the sun began to sink. Problem is, not many of them were trout! I ended up scaling my gear right down and enjoying a fun half hour locking horns with pods of cruising rudd, returning half a dozen bronzed beauties up to perhaps half a pound. Again, not what I had expected.....but a good test of the reflexes!
The evening's main point of interest for me though, was the fact that of the 9 trout I returned, every single one of them came to the same pattern - the scruffy black nymph in the top photo, which I had on both rods - point position on the floater 'DB' set up and middle dropper on the intermediate. It has proved useful for me in the past, although never to such a degree as last night. The original version was given to me by a friend, along with a batch of the synthetic hackle material which is used in its tying. I've included the dressing of my variant below for the benefit of any fellow visitors to Barnsfold who may wish to give it a swim.
Scruffy Black Nymph
Hook: FM comp heavyweight #10 or 12
Thread: black UTC 70
Tails: black cock fibres
Body: black Hareline 'pseudo hackle' trimmed short
Cheeks: JC splits
Head: gold Lite Brite and chocolate brown Diamond Brite
Varnish: three coats of Hard As Nails liberally soaked into head dubbing