Things have changed over the last 10 years on all our waters, but none more so than the midlands reservoirs of Grafham, and Pitsford, both these waters and many more within the UK have seen the arrival of Dikerogammarus villosus and Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, simply known to anglers as the ‘Killer Shrimp’. They are invasive non-native species that have spread from the Ponto-Caspian Region of Eastern Europe. They are voracious predators that kill a range of native species, including young fish, and can significantly alter ecosystems.
I personally haven’t witnessed any change in either of the reservoirs eco systems, there still appears to be an abundance of buzzers, fry, snails, damsels and daphnia etc.. although I haven’t conducted any meaningful research – I’ll leave that and the control of the “Killer Shrimp” in the capable hands of the Environment Agency who’s track record on such matters is second to none ie zander, zebra mussels, signal crayfish etc…
I do however know that the arrival of the “Killer Shrimp” has seen a dramatic change in the feeding habits of trout. The fish are simply holding much closer into the bank. In fact, the first 5 – 20 yards out has been the place to fish from August onwards. Boats have often struggled to catch consistently (unless they target the daphnia feeders in open water) as anglers simply cannot fish close enough in; with bank anglers often now needing to angle their casts along the bank rather than out into the reservoir for best results.
Rough well picked out Hare’s Ears and Shrimp Patterns fished on a Floater or Midge Tip often washing line style (held up with small boobies or even dries) have been the most productive method for over half the season including deep into the winter months of November and December.
My preferred method from the bank is simply to fish a 15ft leader with 2 semi-buoyant Foam Hare’s Ear shrimp patterns spaced equally 5 ft apart on the droppers on and a Neutral Density Nemo Booby on the point – as previously mentioned my lines of choice when fishing this style are floaters, mini tips or a slow intermediate. A medium figure of 8 retrieve is all that’s required and the takes can be savage.
Here’s another great killer shrimp pattern to try:
A recent trend is for wading anglers to adopt the “Grafham Shuffle” as it’s affectionately known you basically kick the stones over under your feet as you shuffle knee high in the water along the bank. Shrimps will appear from everywhere and anglers legally bait up their swim. It’s a devastating trick and the fish will be literally round your feet feeding with confidence in 15 minutes or so.
An ultra slow retrieve usually picks out the better quality fish, and a medium figure of 8 will get you more fish – as mentioned many times, the resident fish have seen it all and don’t want to waste energy chasing food when it can be easily picked off.
When targeting Shrimp feeders it’s important to fish areas with features, pontoons, gravel/rocky banks, weed beds, moorings, harbour areas in which the shrimp can flourish because the trout will never be far away from a plentiful food source.
With the “Killer Shrimp” continuing to spread I believe as anglers we will need to continue to adapt the way we fish and our patterns in order to keep catching. For me, it’s this uncertainty and the constant changes that make our sport so appealing.
Top Tips for Targeting Killer Shrimp Feeders
- Read the water. The trick is to avoid coloured water, simply check the contours of the bank and fish on stoney areas rather than mud banks.
- Fish around points and into bays, rather than right in the corner of a bay. The points channel food across them, they also give you access to a range of water depths and temperatures. This change in temperature usually gives some weed growth, which will hold food and fish.
- Fish small imitative patterns – match the hatch. Don’t go too big from the off, shrimp are relatively small and a size 10 or 12 is ideal. Just fish them in the correct manner.
Read Rob’s account on Killer Shrimp Feeders at Grafham Water