Both Rutland & Grafham Water have experienced some fantastic buzzer fishing this last 8 weeks. What has been noticeable, is the widespread feeding activity. ! The fish can be found absolutely everywhere on these two waters.
There was much talk pre-season at Rutland that with the low winter water levels, rapidly filled in the early spring, would have killed off buzzer beds around the shores, thus sending fish from the shores packing ! In fact, it has been the complete opposite. The fish just won't, as of now, leave the margins. Normanton, Berrybuts, Green Bank, Dickinsons Bay, Sailing Club, Yellow Stone, the list goes on. These are areas I have fished for the last 4 weeks, and still, the fish are there, and right in on the shores, feeding on tiny buzzers !
The casts have varied from washing lining 3 buzzers, straight lining 4 buzzers, and even the indicator. All tactics have worked, HOWEVER at times you must get your flies, ideally parallel along the shores, at just 5' off the bank !! We often target shores with the winds blowing in, however the best shores have been with the wind blowing along them, however from a competition anglers perspective, its "advantage inside line" FACT ! The angler fishing 2- 6' of water may fair better than the other end of the boat fishing 4 - 8' of water. It really has been that pivotal at times in recent weeks, right up until my latest visit(4/5/23)
As the weather has warmed this last week or so, more and more fly life has slowly appeared. Year in year out, at Rutland, there is a definitive moment when the buzzer fishing is met in the middle with other terrestrials appearing. At this moment, feeding habits change, as the menu in front of the fish begins to change also.
You will still catch plenty on buzzers, as they are still prevalent, however so are other insects. My approach has now changed! Whilst I will still have a buzzer/s on my cast, I will now include Diawl Bachs. Saying this, fishing in 2-3' of water with a team of nymphs is not easy, as you'll hit the bottom pretty quick. To combat this, fish a small booby on the point, shorten your leader and the flies will remain suspended longer. The big key point is, to cast a short line whilst in the shallows. You'll not spook the fish, but more importantly, your flies will remain off the bottom.
This last week(start of May) the fish still remain very tight in, and can often be seen sipping in small midge as close as 2' to the bank - Crazy right? They are catchable, and i'll tell you how.
It can be very frustrating to tempt these fish as they just seem so tuned in to what they are feeding on, and whatever you chuck at them just doesn't seem to work. If what you are chucking at them is buzzers and nymphs, you are now going below these fish. The fish in the margins are now sifting through the surface, and the word surface is the important word here! Welcome to the single dry fly approach !!
I recently shared a boat with Darren Palmer, and we found ourselves getting frustrated trying to catch fish just feet off the south shore at East Creek. We were washing lining with size 14 buzzers, and still couldn't tempt them, even after several drifts over them. After watching the fish carefully, just feet from the boat, I could see they were sipping small midge off the top, not just once, twice, but three or four times in a row. This told me immediately these fish are right in the surface film, and there was our answer - our small buzzers were simply fishing below them.
As we manouvered our boat to come back round and through them once more, I switched to a single size 14 dry fly, the Grunter. A favourite pattern of mine to catch tricky fish feeding off the surface. (These Grunters are available at www.flashattackflies.com )
Link for the Grunter Fly.
The result was instant, 2 fish and 1 swirl in just 5 casts as we crossed the point where they were hold up. A simple change of tactic bought instant success.
Only yesterday(4/5/23) I put this to the test once more, just feet off the shore, and I am talking my fly sat no more than 6' off the bank. Where's there's food there's fish, and bigger ones too. This specimen brown(5.lb) was cruising just feet off the shore. As I watched it rising, once, twice, then a third time, I presented my Grunter fly delicately right in its path, and sure a fate, seconds later up it came and sipped it in, right in front of my eyes !! BANG. (Note how close in we are)
I went on to take 5 more on the single dry, as well as missing just as many. Just like earlier in the week, we were fishing the washing line set up, that had worked up the North Arm, however upon arrival to Normanton, just like the past 3 weeks, the fish are still there, and still rising right against the shores picking up tiny buzzers off the top, and just under. BELOW - The contents of a fish caught 4/5/23. Small tiny buzzers, with many still wiggling. This fish was caught just feet off the shore.
We did take several fish on Diawl Bachs throughout the day too. I predict that the month ahead will be a mixed combination of buzzers, diawl bachs, crunchers and dries. As the weather and water warms throughout May, this will be more and more the case as the month progresses.
I hope you enjoyed the read, and with a busy schedule for me in May, I will continue to keep you up to speed on how I get on on the 'Mecca'.
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Craig Barr - www.flashattackflies.com