Yesterday I had the pleasure of sharing a boat at Draycote Water with the one and only Steve Cullen with anticipation of fry feeders. For once we weren’t shooting an article or practising for a competition, we were just going fishing, and in relatively good conditions!
After a quick chat with the fishery staff, we set off towards Rainbow Corner. I set up my 10ft Sage Pulse with a 12ft slow tip and a couple of Fulling Mill hoppers with a FAB on the point. As soon as we arrived we saw fish moving. So, I decided to quickly change to a floater and three dry flies. While I was faffing, Steve hooked and landed a lovely silver fish. We decided to do the drift again now I was ready with the drys. And yes, as we started the second drift, the sun came out and the fish disappeared! Typical. Steve had another fish a blob.
I got tired of not catching, so went back on my original set up and caught a fish quickly, although this time we were drifting down by Hensborough. These fish were recent stockies and more than willing to hit the FAB.
Steve then suggested we have a go for the fry feeders along the dam… In all my years of fishing Dracycote I have never targeted the fry feeders. Steve kindly gave me one of his killing fry patterns and we both put on floaters, 20ft leader (8lb fluoruoflex) and a single fly.
Steve told me where to put the boat, which was basically as close to the dam as possible. We worked our way along the stones, casting a longish line, giving the fry two good pulls then slowly and steadily retrieved the floating fry, creating a wake.
After about 10mins, we had no fish. I was thinking Steve was probably a little confused (he is getting on a little – he told me his age yesterday!)… surely it’s too early for fry feeders… then suddenly, out of nowhere, a great big trout started following. How exciting! The fish followed all the way to the boat. I stopped my retrieve, then the fish engulfed the fly. I struck and the hook came flying out of the fish… doh!
Steve then covered a fish to his right… the fish locked onto the fly making a wake and boom, fry feeders No.1 was on! It then started raining, I just love the British weather, on went the wet weather gear, my trust Vision Lohi Jacket.
I then went on to have another two fish, nothing huge but all clean silver fish around 3lb.
We then headed over to E buoy where we found a lot of resident fish. Steve landed a lump of a fish on a fry popper. To be honest I was now struggling to catch and so changed back to dries. Steve continued catching and I had turned into his photographer.
A change of approach…
All of a sudden the cloud reappeared and the wind dropped. Fortunately, the fish stuck their noses up. I missed four fish on the dries, eventually hooking and catching one. Steve couldn’t resist, so joined me, catching a fish first cast…
Before we knew it, the day was nearly over. I dropped Steve off an hour before I called it a day. After a few more fish to the dries, I had one last cast along the dam wall in 1ft of water with the popper. My last fish of the day was a 4lb fish and would you believe it, it had a fry stuck in its mouth!
If you fancy some early season fry bashing… Draycote is certainly worth a trip this year.
3 Fry Patterns to Try this Season
Minkie Suspender Size 6 & 8
A fry pattern with plenty of movement and disturbance. The large foam head allows the fly to skate and wake across the surface, whilst forcing the fly to undulate when fished subsurface. A top pattern for large trout, pike and perch.
Floating Roach Fry
A great pattern to fish over weed beds either as a single fly or as part of a team. This fly is often fished on the point of a cast with nymphs above. Cast out near structure and pull the flies to cause a disturbance – this should attract the attention of any nearby fish.
Rob’s Wrapped Minkie
If you’re fishing below the surface and need a fly with all the right characteristics of a fry, look no further than Rob’s Wrapped Minkie. It’s size, colour and mass is just about right for a 2-3″ fry, the large eye and sparkle give great attraction and the wrapped mink allows for an irresistible movement. Fished both fast and slow to great effect.
About David Hoppe
David Hoppe is a highly successful and dedicated International competition angler who spends most of his time fishing British lakes and reservoirs for hard fighting rainbow and brown trout.
Representing his Country Wales, he is one of the youngest anglers to win the prestigious Brown Bowl at an International Championship and has a long list of titles to his name, including World BankMaster 2016 Champion!
David is a regular contributor to various fishing publications including Total FlyFisher and social media platforms – Follow him on Facebook