The new season is always an exciting time, we are filled with enthusiasm and expectations that this year we will be our year, we hope that more and bigger fish are just the next cast away… But early season reservoir trout fishing can be prone to changes.
The problem is the reality rarely lives up to our expectations, we arrive at our chosen water; Ravensthorpe Reservoir in Northamptonshire with the aim of targeting resident overwintered fish rather than the numerous stockies, the problem is that high winds, run-off from the land and water being pumped in by the water authority have turned the reservoir a dirty tea colour. Our chances of catching resident fish are all but gone – the more natural approach that we intended to pursue (deep bloodworms and buzzers) is pointless, the chances of any fish seeing our small drab flies at depth are almost nil.
We accepted this and expected the water to be coloured, storm “Doris” had stirred the water up like a blender over the last 2 days meaning that we already had a “Plan B” as an alternative – experience has taught my partner, fly tying guru Steve Carew and I, that it’s impossible to fish against the conditions.
We still yearned for excitement, powerful runs from hard fighting fish. Early season reservoir trout fishing often means that water temperature is low, and that fish are in prime condition, we knew there will be no problem in returning all our fish, even after a long hard fight, provided we are careful.
To maximise the fun we’ve both opted for light 9ft 6″rods Aftm #4 weight, it will hopefully provide plenty of rod bending action from even small fish and if we are lucky enough to hook something substantial then it will be a real challenge on such a light outfit. we’ve decided to keep things simple, the gusting 20 – 30mph winds make casting quite difficult with such light tackle so it’s a single fly approach on a 13ft leader of 8lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon. A single fly will create competition between the stockies, and mean more aggressive takes.
In such challenging conditions it’s important to stay warm and try not to fight the elements, thankfully Ravensthorpe is a sheltered water, surrounded on 3 sides by trees, so there is always plenty of area’s that you can “tuck in” and escape a beating from the wind.
As such hardened anglers, Seve and I decide that we would start directly in front of the wood, just to the left of the lodge towards Mongers Point, we motored literally 10 yards from the bank dropping our anchor, and paying out the anchor rope. By anchoring so closely to the bank the anchor has a much better chance of holding – the angle of the anchor point ensures a good hold, and the boat is also not affected by the strong wind. An added bonus is that bank anglers are unable to fish in front of the wood meaning that we would not be disturbed.
We decide to stick to tried and tested patterns, Steve opted for a Black & Green Tadpole, while I opted for a Cat’s Whisker Tadpole. both flies are proven fish catching patterns, season after season on any stocked water they consistently catch well all year round, but especially early season reservoir trout fishing and late season. Their long marabou tail and weighted head provided an irresistible undulating movement when employed with a figure of 8 retrieve, and the tungsten head quickly gets the fly down to the required depth and holds it there.
We are aiming to fish a band of water 10 – 40m from the bank, we know that stockies always tend to run up and down the banks early season, so by fishing the bay we have the advantage of fish running 2 banks – hopefully, we have anchored in a hot-spot.
We made our casts and counted our flies down on just the 4th cast at 15 seconds down we were both into fish, that just powered away and got down to the backing, providing plenty of excitement of such light tackle. After a spirited fight, we both had a 2lb recently stocked rainbows in the net. At that point, we decided not to change flies all day, as an experiment to see if we could determine which of the classic tadpole patterns was better.
I soon opened up a commanding lead of 10 fish to 4 on the cat’s whisker tadpole, and it was noticeable that the fish were coming faster to the brighter pattern, probably because as recent stock fish they hadn’t seen a fly before and so hadn’t yet wised up. However from 12:00hrs on-wards Steve began to peg me back, he was getting the more positive takes, while I was getting follows or plucks at my fly, anything I did hook seemed to come to the hang or fall off. By 14:00hrs Steve was 18 fish to 16 up and pulling away on the more black pattern while I was struggling. early season reservoir trout fishing
The competition angler in me debated moving to another area of the reservoir, to find some fresh fish that I knew I could catch quicker on the Cat’s Whisker… however on this occasion I decided to stay put and accept that I was well and truly beaten… or rather the Cat’s Whisker had been beaten by the Black Tadpole – the final score for anyone interested was Steve and the Black Tadpole 25, Rob and the Cat’s Whisker Tadpole 19. early season reservoir trout fishing
In had turned into a great day, we were comfortable in the conditions protected by the wood, and had enjoyed some tremendous sport with over 40 fish to the boat Steve and I were in universal agreement that light rods were so much more enjoyable and sporting than the 7 or 8 weight set up’s that we usually employ, that literally hook the fish and then allow you drag them in….we actually felt like the fish had a chance.