The holiday season is definitely ‘fishing season’ for anglers, once Christmas is out of the way may fishermen head to their local still waters for some post Xmas fun, here are Simon Robinson’s top tips to catch more fish on Small waters this winter.
Whilst I now devote the vast majority of my time to river fishing, I do still enjoy my time on the Still waters. as rivers are often out of sorts during the winter, still waters make a great alternative to sitting at home waiting for the rivers to clear or drop.
An added bonus is that just as the rivers are entering their most unproductive period the small waters are often coming into their prime time.
Below are my top tips to hopefully help you catch more fish on Small Waters.
Slow it down
During the winter, water temperatures drop and as a result, the fish are less likely to chase a fast-moving pattern, particularly in the morning or after a hard frost. To achieve the best results at this time of year it is often important to fish your fly slowly. To do this a floating line and lightly weighted pattern is often an advantage, particularly if the water is not too deep. The floating line allows you to fish slowly without the fly sinking too deep. If your fly line is sinking due to the fluorocarbon leader try adding some floatant such as Dry Sauce to the last few feet this will not only hold the fly up but will give a visual indication of a take.
Keep moving to catch more fish on small waters
During winter fish often shoal, this is usually due to water temperatures where small areas of the lake, for various reasons, are slightly warmer. This may be an underwater spring, inflow stream, depth, or even angle of the sun. Unless you are very familiar with a fishery it is a good idea to keep moving until you find the fish. When I am looking to locate fish I usually try to fish 2 or 3 methods for around 5 – 10 minutes before moving on to a new spot. If the fish are tightly shoaled you will almost always get an indication immediately as they usually become competitive when tightly shoaled. When the fish are located you can take your time and work on the best method to catch them.
Look out for a hatch
During winter, fly hatches tend to be limited and are almost always dark coloured midges. These hatches usually occur around lunchtime and the fish will often be quick to react. To catch these fish you need to be prepared to match the hatch. I fish a variety of patterns, however, my main patterns are usually a black diawl bach and buzzers in sizes 12 – 16. If fish are taking midge from the surface a CDC shuttlecock buzzer is best fished as a single fly on a copolymer 6x tippet.
Fish fine leaders
Fisheries are often at their most clear during winter as the cold water kills off the suspended algae and frosts often stop sediment entering the water. As a result, a fine leader is often an advantage, particularly when fishing slowly, as finer tippets are not only less visible but also allow the fly to move more naturally on slow retrieves.
Try big AND small flies…
During winter I have often found the ‘little or large’ approach to be very effective. This is based on the fact that when the water is cold the fish often seem to either be feeding on small natural insects or need to be induced into feeding. When it comes to large lure patterns for winter fishing the snake fly reigns supreme, it is not only very large but also, due to being constructed from a length of rabbit fur it is highly mobile even on a slow retrieve.
Try a bung
The bung is one method which can be devastating during the depths of winter. Whilst all methods can have their day, there are simply occasions where fish will not take a fly which is moving horizontally. On these occasions, the indicator or ‘bung’ is not only the best option but can change an average day into a red-letter one. When fishing the indicator remember to keep changing the depth and pattern. In the past I have found that the best winter patterns are App’s Bloodworms, Egg flies or Squirmy worms, stick with these 3 patterns and you should be able to get takes on most waters during the winter months.
I hope these tips help you catch more fish on small waters, it’s great that we can get out and fish all year on a variety of venues and it is something we should take advantage of and hopefully catch some cracking fish in the process.