After reading through my blog the last week I thought I’d try something different as opposed to the usual photo layout.
Travelling to Farmoor Saturday morning the temperature gauge was hitting -10! At first, we were pretty reluctant to get out of the car for breakfast, but as we got closer to the lake the temperature rose and was near enough bearable – still below O though.
As the sun was rising above the tree line we were making our way out of the lodge searching for the best area to occupy us for the first few hours. The sun had yet to rise above the lip of the lake, it was -4 tackling up with a meter or more of ice around the edge making the first few cast difficult.
I tackled up with my preferred set up for bank fishing, an Airflo Airlite Nano Comp special fly rod and a Di8 shooting head. It was obvious the fish would be deep so there would be no compromise! Setting up a short leader of just 12 feet, I had 5 feet to my first fly, A Strangled Cat and a Fenton Cat on the point.
Usually the first cast is short, just to take any unwary fish by surprise then lengthen the casts there after. But as the temperature was so low, water so clear and half the lake icebound I made the first cast a long ‘un to get the depth and location right first. At first it was flat calm, but then a sharp left to right breeze picked up and it was bitter, the kind that makes you want to pack up and go with the wind on your back so you can hide behind the wall. But we stuck it out, albeit with a few less casts not to get the fingertips wet!
Jonathan hooked into the first fish after just 10 minutes of fishing, only to loose it as the first rose in the water columns. A few cast later another lost fish! Jonathan had it right but being primarily a river fisherman he couldn’t stop hitting the fish at first contact, he soon got the hang of it and let the fish actually eat the fly by slowing his retrieve down and waiting for the initial solid hold.
Anglers were moving around the lake looking for that quick fix hoping to land on a few lucky fish, although it wasn’t that sort of day. Perseverance was key, the water temp had dropped dramatically and the fish had seemed to sulk, not wanting to move far from their station. My plan as I described to Jon was, long casting and slow retrieves hopefully giving the fish a chance to ‘mosey’ around and pick up the fly. Fishing slow with long casts allows your flies and fly line to sink deep hugging the bottom presenting the flies in the fishes feeding zone. My theory was that the slower I fish the longer my flies are in the feeding zone and the more chance I have of fish intercepting the flies.
The flat calm was making things hard, the lack of wind meant casting was compromised and the fish were finicky. The lack of wind meant there was no/little undertow, the fish and flies had nothing to compete against meaning the fish could easily just ‘nip’ the tail or body of the fly. If the undertow was stronger the fish would be moving whilst taking the fly, competing against the undertow which should lead to better hook ups. These takes are normally described as ‘screamers’ as the fish hits the fly so hard it pulls the line out of your hand or stops dead on your retrieve. But today the takes were more finicky, if you’d missed the first take there wasn’t much luck that it would come back and re-take the fly. Throughout the day I think we must have missed twice as many as we landed, although this could have been down to user error I set about looking at different retrieves to entice the fish back. The best I found was ‘Slow figure of eight until you feel the take then jig the rod putting a small kick into the fly and pulls it down an inch or two, a fast figure of eight thereafter retrieves the slack line. After the initial ‘jig’ the fly will rise in the water column in front of the fish and this normally results in another take, or a hookup.
Check out the video below of my preferred retrieve. Hopefully you guys will enjoy the video – I thought it would be something new and different. What do you think?
Another showing the Jig from another angle