Top of the Water Sport
Now the weather is more settled into its usual UK self – many of our reservoirs will see a big increase in top of the water action as trout start to feed hard again after becoming somewhat lethargic through the summer months. Much of the fish’s diet will be from the surface including terrestrials like beetles and daddies, and aquatic insects like buzzers, the big red and of course, fry.
Chris Jones and I headed over to Wentwood reservoir, Newport, South Wales to hopefully get our hand in on some top of the water action. Reservoir catch reports were good and the weather was nigh on perfect… This was my first trip to Wentwood and my hopes were high as many of my angling friends grew up fishing the lake, all the stories were of hard fighting fish which were plentiful in numbers.
We arrived at 09:00 to anglers already out on the boats, the water was low and much of the shallow end of the lake was completely dried up, exposing some extremely fishy looking spots. We hauled our kit to the boat, including the engine and battery, and decided to tackle up when afloat – Doing this gives you a great insight into what’s hatching – if anything – and what methods you may want to start on.
With just one look at the water, we both decided to string up our 5#’s with a team of dries on 6lb copolymer – An olive shuttlecock buzzer, Amber Bits and a Claret Hopper – A selection of flies no fish could refuse… Chris was set up on something similar, but replacing the hopper for another shuttlecock buzzer.
To start out first drift, we literally pushed off from the jetty and turned the boat around, rising fish greeted us almost instantly, and it was only two casts in that Chris had hooked and lost his first fish. A promising start to say the least. We continued our drift towards the dam wall, encountering many refusals, and eventually, as I was about to lift off, a fish took my shuttlecock right at the dam wall – A stocky, probably the reason why we were getting so many refusals.
What tends to happen if there are many recently stocked fish in the lake you’re fishing is that you may get splashy rises or swirls to your dries, this is usually because the stocked fish don’t really know what natural food is, we call this ‘playing’ with the flies. The way to counteract these splashy rises is to tweak your line or lift your rod tip, this can entice the fish into eating your offering.
After releasing the fish, we motored back around to where we started. I swapped from a floater to a slow intermediate and replaced the dry flies with a couple of pulling hoppers and a small pink booby. A fish rose as I settled the boat and I put a cast just a few feet up wind of the rise. Instantly the fish was on the booby and I stripped the line back as the fish followed. The bow-wave disappeared and the line locked up, the fish leapt clean of the water and a fighting fit rainbow skated towards the net.
Before the end of the drift Chris was in his tackle box searching for his fast glass and managed to get the last couple of casts close to the dam wall. He strung up a cast of 7lb Fulling Mill World Class Fluorocarbon with an orange booby on the point, a blob on the top dropper and a cormorant in the middle, a likely selection of flies for stockies indeed! As we drifted towards the dam, Chris hooked into a fish on the orange booby as it came up to the hang.
The conditions deteriorated somewhat, with a chilly wind putting an end to rising fish. For the next hour or so we struggled, Chris managed another one on the cormorant, and I dropped a fish, until we found a slick forming off the end of the tower. Fishing around structure is always a banker when both lake and river fishing, structure will hold and channel insects into a continuous flow of food – If there are any fish around this is often where you will find them.
I put a cast close to the back of the tower and held on as the flies fell through the surface. The line straightened, but no pull, so I held on and again the line straightened, this time I set the hook and a small, overwintered fish came clean from the water. It goes to prove that structure will hold fish as well as food, and better ones of that.