Blagdon is another water which I used to spend a lot of time fishing as a kid, the Thorn fly fishing club would arrange two or three trips a year and heading over the Seven Bridge was always a great occasion. It usually mean Chew, Blagdon or Draycote! All of which I am very fond of.
We had opening day boats booked for a few weeks and each day the Blagdon grew closer.. Fond memories of setting out from the jetty, with only the sound of the battery powered motor and the waves lapping against the side of the boat came flooding back. Heaven. This was Terry’s second time on a boat, the first just last weekend at Draycote Water. So I was hoping to show him a couple of different techniques from what he had learnt at Dryacote. Upon arrival we were greeted with murky water with visibility down to a couple of feet. Big, changing winds and heavy rain a couple of days before slightly coloured some of the areas around the lake. Almost the full fleet of boats were out before we got there… just after 9 am – These Bristol boys are keen!
It was obvious where most anglers thought the head of fish where as we could see the last boat to leave the jetty heading down past the Green lawn seemingly onto rainbow point and bells bush, an area also littered with bank anglers. As a tip off we headed over to the North bank, just where the line of trees enter the water. Out first drift looked promising but controlling the boat proved impossible! We were dragging to the point each time, giving a large but deadly curve in our fly lines. The problem is, I hate fishing like this as you loose all control and don’t feel the slight takes you would with a tight or straight line. It was time to re-arrange the drogue so we could drift square to the wind. Once I got the angle it was down to business.
In the meantime, Terry set-up using an Airflo Sweep fly line which sinks 3 inches per second on the belly and two at the front, flies were a black and green lure on the point and an orange blob on the dropper. I think stocky bashing must come second nature to him! I decided to drop to a standard Di 5, a new water which hasn’t been fished for some time, the fish need to be found so the two different lines fishing at different depths would hopefully search out where the fish are holding up. After two drifts across the end of the north bank nothing really happened other than a follow close to the shore. We looked to the left where a bunch of bank anglers were fishing and within seconds there was a splash outside of the guy in the middle and his mate who was fishing below ran up the net the fish. He dispatched the fish and slipped it into an already bulging bass bag, I said to Terry it was time to move. As we motored across the sun broke and the heat was instant. I turned the boat to see the same angler into another fish, assuming he was on a heavy sinking line because of the angle of the strike and judging by the yellow running line it looked as if it was an Airflo 40+ or similar.
I stopped the boat around 100 yards from the shore where the bank anglers where fishing, hoping it would give the drogue time to set and give us a little more time to see what was going on. The wind in this particular corner of the dam was squally, turning the boat in circles and generally making the fishing difficult, so I pulled us along the bank a few yards to catch the wind perfectly. Within seconds of our first cast hitting the water our lines simultaneously tightened up, Terry stripping and me use the Roly-Poly. Each fish had the blob just stuck in it’s scissors. Both peas in the pod, but very fit and strong fighting fish.
We got closer to the shore and watched the bank boys get a couple more fish, it was good to show Terry how the shoal moves along the contours of the bank. Watching the guy furthers away into a fish, then the next, then the closest angler netting one as the shoal moved passed. The sequence would continue in reverse order as the fish moved back down the bank until the anglers eventually pushed them out into our fishing zone.
Within an hour the fish had pushed too far out for the bank anglers to reach, even with shooting heads they were struggling the distance needed into a fairly strong, and growing head wind. We were now anchored up some 80 yards from the shore, the fish were in such a tight band that drifting over them would give just one decent cast over the area until we had to move to make way for the bankies. I positioned the boat in around 30ft of water, trying to get our casts into 20/15ft and let the flies sink along the contour and lift through the deeper water, hopefully changing the angle where the fish were laying.
It was instant success, within five or six casts I’d landed three fish and Terry had a couple of pulls. It was becoming apparent the Di5 was out fishing the Di3 almost instantly. I passed Terry a Di5 sweep so he could fish his flies in the same zone. After he got used to the weight difference between the 3 and the 5, his casting improved and was almost hitting the backing knot on most casts!
It wasn’t long before his rod buckled over and was into a hard fighting fish.
The change of line was a saviour for Terry as all through the day when we hit a patch of fish, it was more or less fish for fish, and at the end, he managed to take 5 fish to me 2! The sweep path of the fly line meant that the flies were falling and being retrieved on a ‘U’ shape path, that change of angle at the deepest point and later on in the day that’s the point where every fish took. I was struggling to replicate this with a standard Di5, but it was great to see and re-assuring that when you have the correct fly line on in certain situations, there is nothing you can do to mimic it. Check out this post here on how to keep your flies in the zone using the Airflo range of fly lines.
As they day grew older the wind picked up and the rain set it, after a massive hail storm at around 3pm we decided to call it a day and head back to south Wales. We managed over 50 fish to the boat and our 16 fish weighed over 44lb 5oz. With the best 8 fish bag going 26lb 1Ooz. Rod average for opening weekend was just over 5, a brilliant early season average! This weekend sees the opening of Chew Valley lake, we’ve a boat booked for Sunday so will let you know how we get on!