Catching large brown trout – Top Tips from Rob Edmunds
Fulling Mill Ambassador Rob Edmunds, is largely renown for his ability to catch plentiful numbers of fish, but he is also a dab hand at targeting the larger more resident trout the Midlands reservoirs hold… Here he has put together a selection of Top Tips for catching large brown trout that are quite often elusive to many…
The lure of large grown on fish, especially catching large brown trout at the peak of their physical condition draws anglers to the midlands reservoirs like a moth to a flame. The chances of a reservoir double are small but 4lb + fish are a distinct possibility for every angler every time they fish the reservoirs from September to November. The attraction of such fish is almost drug like as we all too often leave the comfort of our warm beds in search of the ultimate prize; the fish of a lifetime; a grown on reservoir resident a fish that knows to avoid brightly coloured lures ripped back like the plague; preferring a more imitative approach.
The weather at this time of year is usually cooler, dark and moody with the distinct chance of rain, yet it fails to deter dozens of hardy anglers from arriving at dawn in order to maximise their chances of such a fish. It’s that special time of the year when the normally cautious resident fish leave the reservoir depths to hunt the fry, corixa and shrimps that congregate in the margins of our reservoirs, usually around some visible structure or underwater obstruction. It gives the trout one last chance to pack on weight before the baron winter months and a life of scavenging for food and living off fat reserves in order to survive.
This presents huge challenges for the angler; large grown-on fish require well balanced tackle, and specialist techniques if you are to be consistently successful.
Fry feeders are physically at their peak, fully finned, fast, strong, relentless; they simply will not give in; often they will escape (few anglers are accustom to playing or have the correct tackle to subdue a 4lb+ fish) Losses must be accepted and merely makes the fish that you do catch that much more special. It’s a time of year that must be savoured… When stories regarding monster fish hooked and lost can be told… and believed.
Often corixa and Fry feeding fish are seen as difficult and almost impossible to catch, I accept that they are challenging but personally I would rather catch 1 grown on 4lb+ Brown than 4 or 5 recently stocked rainbows. I also think the biggest failing is most anglers general approach when trying to catch these large fish.
Both Corixa and Fry love shallow, weedy water often the weed acts as a filter or barrier to the water in the main body of the reservoir. It is not effected as much by higher winds and so does not colour up as quickly making the water particularly clear in most instances.
Trout feeding in this shallow, clear water are highly viable to the angler, you can often see them cruising just over the weed beds literally feet from the bank, confidently taking any food in their path. There is a temptation to rush to the waters edge and frantically cast at every fish you see, especially as it’s often a larger than normal fish. Numerous casts, weighted flies, and an animated angler only do one thing, they spook the fish and simply push them out of reach. Patience and a stealthy approach is key to success.
You should make very few casts, keep low and remain patient. Occasionally If I see a large fish working the bank, I will creep in a wide arc 20 – 30 yards or so in front of it and simply wait until it comes into range before making my cast – guerrilla angling!
All flies must be tied on hooks that are strong they don’t bend out under the pressure or strain of a decent fish. I prefer the FM Competition Heavyweight Hook for much of my tying.
Over the weekend I had some excellent sport at Rutland and Grafham reservoirs targeting larger fish. One thing I must stress though timing is essential. There is no doubt in my mind that the most prolific times of the day are early morning 6:00am – 8:00am or late evening 7:00pm – 9:00pm, at these times the shallows come alive, the wind is at its lightest and the trout leave the safety of the deep water to hunt for food. You will catch during the day but conditions must be almost perfect (overcast warm with light winds).
When it comes to catching large brown trout and rainbows, my initial line of attack is always a 12ft leader of 10lb Co-Polymer with a Mylar floating fry on the point and a small size 12 Red Holographic Nemo on the dropper just 3ft from the point fly, remember that any trout will have a very small angle of vision in such shallow water. In flat calms fish are often pulled to the Mylar fry and then take the red holographic Nemo just subsurface, when it’s a little more windy they will take both patterns equally. (really big fish 5lb + usually take the fry imitation)
On some occasions (flat calms) I prefer fishing a Suspender minkie on the point, basically because the mink tail imparts a small amount of movement into the pattern. Often it’s all that’s needed to turn swirls into positive takes (a suspender minkie can also be given a sharp strip to create a “pop” again this disturbance can pull the fish to your cast.
After a dozen or so casts with the floating fry and nemo I always revert to more aggressive tactics before leaving the area, I want to stimulate any fish into taking my fly so I opt for a Fast Intermediate with a 12ft leader of 12lb fluorocarbon and a Snake booby, the movement in this fly is simply unbelievable and it will often induce a take when all else fails, it also causes a lot of disturbance pulling trout to your cast from out of nowhere. A long cast along the feature (weed bed) and a slow roly-poly after a count of 3 – 10 seconds is all that’s needed (depending on how deep the water is)
Takes are often so confident they almost pull your arm off so when a fish is hooked it’s important to have a plan of what you are going to do – these are not stock fish, but well mended resident fish of 4lb fish are easily capable of snapping an 8lb leader – you must assess the water and it’s features, are there any trees, platforms, fences, weed beds that these fish will head for, it’s literally pile on the pressure and side strain, hook turn them out into the clear open water and let them run they can’t snap you there… because these are fit, strong resident fish in the peak of their condition you must accept that you will loose at least 1 in every 3 fish hooked – for me it makes the ones caught that little bit more special.
As you are fishing in shallow water the runs will be spectacular, runs of 20 – 30 yards are an everyday occurrence and your drag must be set correctly you do not want the reel to overrun and tangle or the drag to be to stiff so the hook simply pulls out or leader snaps, it’s a very fine balance and you won’t get many second chances. Remember any fish hooked in shallow water’s first instinct is to run to safety – this equates to deep water some distance away or a weed bed.
On Saturday I fish the weed beds around the North Arm of Rutland Water, the clear water, light winds and warm temperature made it ideal for targeting these specimen fish.
Whilst drifting off the weed beds I noticed a sizeable fish rising in a distinct path up a wind lane some 40 – 50 m away, the light winds meant that I had plenty of time to change to a single small Cdc before the fish came into range – literally first cast the fish went over the dry and he was hooked.
As I was a good distance off the weed beds I simply let the fish run into open water, it was then a case of playing the waiting game, not bullying the fish or rushing it, after a good fight a fine Brown well over 5lb.
Working the weed beds with the floating fry I soon picked up another decent brown of 4 lb on a red holographic nemo, before switching to more aggressive tactics once the sun was starting to show.
On after a follow along the weed bed I repeated the cast and everything went solid, another brown of over 5lb was angrily shaking its head, a white snake booby firmly in its scissors – I piled on the pressure and managed to get the fish away from the weed before netting it and releasing it (is there such a better sight than a 5lb plus brown coming to the net ?)
With the sun now beating down at 10:30am I knew I’d had the best of the day, any decent fish would be resting up and now impossible to tempt, conditions have to be spot on for catching large brown trout, and tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.
24 hours later at Grafham and the temperature has dropped almost 10c, it’s a typical autumnal day with 15 – 20mph winds and light rain, the water is coloured making fishing difficult
I opt for aggressive tactics from the beginning, a larger silhouette and disturbance causing pattern (Black Snake Booby) may get me a fish or two and I set off to Savages Creek and the last weed beds that always produce a large fish or two.
After an hour I was still fishless, nothing not even a follow to work on, I decided to adopt my tactics slightly and put on a fast sinking line with a 10ft leader and the same Black Snake Booby (black stands out well in coloured water) I ventured out into the middle of Savages Creek into the slightly deeper water and began working the depths, I soon bumped a fish on the hang but unfortunately it didn’t lock up yet 4 casts later the rod buckled over and I knew I was into a decent fish, the deep slow runs, the head shaking it was the text book fight of a large brown and 5 minutes later I was holding the largest fish of the week from Grafham, a fin perfect brown of 5 lb 10oz.
I fished for another 2 hours for nothing… but I didn’t care it had been a great weekend with some amazing fish. Catching large bro
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