Top Tips on Catching Large Tiger Trout!
I don’t fish small still waters regularly, however, when I do; I like it to be for a particular purpose, targeting a large brown, or in this case attempting to catch a big Tiger Trout.
A Tiger Trout is a sterile, intergeneric hybrid of the brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). It is an anomaly in the wild, The cross itself is unusual in that the parents are members of different genera.
There are very few waters that provide anglers with the opportunity to catch Tiger Trout, but Palm Springs Fishery at Greetham Valley in Rutland is one such venue. Together with a group of close friends, we took a visit in early December with the sole aim of catching a Tiger Trout.
Small still waters can be challenging, frustrating and often extremely rewarding. They are not as easy as is often perceived by many reservoir anglers. Fish soon become exposed to a large number of flies, retrieves and wise up very quickly, and once spooked become almost impossible to catch.
Rather than rush to the water and immediately fish I thought it best to try and gain an understanding of the fishery and the likely fish holding areas. For the first thirty minutes, I decided to simply walk the bank looking for fish and any patterns in behaviour. The lake is quite narrow with depths of 10 feet literally at your feet – it creates a feature, with a ledge just over a rod tip out from the bank. With the sharp drop from the bank and weed on the inside of the drop-off, fish simply had to hold here. It wasn’t long before I noticed a handful of fish patrolling the ledge just a few feet out and very close to the bottom. Any sudden movement would result in them spooking out into the deeper water – I knew this would be difficult.
I started with a clear intermediate and a 12ft length of Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon and a Gold head Damsel, I reasoned that a natural pattern with a marabou tail for movement, in non-scary colours would be a good starting point for pressured fish. A slow figure-of-eight retrieve would impart movement into the fly and hopefully grab the attention of the fish, then half way through the retrieve a couple of sharp pulls would turn any following fish into takes.
I fan cast the water and worked the depths in a methodical manner, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds… after an hour all I had to show for my efforts was a small perch and a follow from a large fish (that I believe was a tiger trout) that immediately turned away as soon as it saw my silhouette against the sky. To make matters worse no one else seemed to be catching either – had the hard frost early in the morning put the fish off? Possibly.
By 11:30am the day was warning, the sun had come out and had raised the temperature significantly, it was turning into the perfect winter’s morning, all we needed now was a few fish!
It was Colin Fincham who worked out the method and tactics, I just unashamedly followed his lead in order to be successful.
Colin had quickly caught two decent Tiger Trout, Including a double of 10lb 6oz. It was obvious to us that the fish were patrolling the ledge and were extremely wary, any sudden movements would spook them, as would a floating or intermediate fly line silhouetted against the sky.
Colin was standing well back from the bank around 10-12ft and was crouching down, meaning that the fish would find it difficult to see him. Then rather than cast out into open water, he was angling his casts literally along the bank, just 4-6ft out. He had also changed to a Di-5 sinking line with a short 5ft leader and a Long Tail Viva Booby. The fly line would be left for a full 60-90 seconds after he made his initial cast, this would allow the water and any fish in the area time to settle, his fly would pop up from the bottom and be holding around midwater, and with the odd pull and slow figure-of-eight would pull the fly deeper and right into the path of any patrolling trout. His method also had the added advantage of having no fly line above or being pulled through the fish, and as he made very few casts, compared to using a floater or intermediate, the fish didn’t get spooked.
I quickly changed and within half an hour felt a solid pull as the rod arched over following a short pause half way through the retrieve, my fly obviously lifted in the water and induced a take from a fish that followed the fly. After a short spirited fight, I netted my first Tiger Trout of 8lb 8oz. I continued with the same method and tactics working my way around the water, eventually netting four Tiger trout over 6lb. However, it was Colin Fincham who was the real star of the day. He had now caught his fifth Tiger which included two double figure fish, the largest a magnificent 11lb 6oz.
As far as I can establish his brace of Tigers at 11lb 6oz and 10lb 6oz is the largest ever brace caught in the UK.