Andy Taylor heads up a course for anglers to increase their catch rate, surprisingly, the oldies out number the kids three to one!
The last junior course of the year at Marton Heath was something a little bit different. The cold November weather put most of the seven youngsters who had booked in off; only one brave young man ventured to the bankside to do battle with the winter rainbows. So for the first time the adults outnumbered the juniors 3 to 1!
The plan of attack for the morning was to tie a fly each and then go out and fish them until lunch time. One of the regular anglers was catching a few fish on St Marys pool so young Sam Royle went round to see what he was doing the business on. A white fritz was the reply and this was to be fly one. The white fritz was tied on a standard 10 heavy weight hook, 2.5mm silver bead, white marabou tail with 2 stands of flashabou and a white UV fritz body. This and the cats whisker are deadly at this time of year at Marton. Fly two was chosen by Ken Crosbie chairman of the Cheshire branch of the Salmon and Trout Association and has been helping me with the junior courses for many years. A diawl bach with a fine red holo rib was his chosen pattern, one which the regulars at his fishery New Platt lakes had been catching well on. Again this was tied on a standard size 10 heavy weight hook, cock pheasant tail tips for the tail and throat/beard, 2 strands of peacock herl for the body, ribbed with the red holo. Fly three was chosen by Eric Jones a small black spider tied with a thread body and a black head hackle on a short shank 12. At 75 Eric is my youngest junior and has helped my with the junior courses since we started 12 years ago.
Finally my fly..... a natural zonker tied on a size 10. The tying for this pattern will be in January’s edition of the Total Fly Fisher magazine!!! This has been a cracking fly for me this season when the going has been tough- it got me through to the England bank team in the final at Westlow Mere; was one of the flies used by the current England bank team who convincingly won the international at Garnffrwd fishery in Wales and was responsible for catching some belting fish at Draycote water.
Four flies tied now out to test them. For me and Sam it was intermediate fly lines, Sam was fishing a slime and I chose a fast glass. Ken and Eric opted for floaters. We all started with a single fly- all four of us choosing the white fritz. Three of us started on Dons Pool with Ken trying his luck on St. Mary’s Pool. After 15 minutes I had my first take on the lift as a rainbow of about 3lb swirled at the fly as it broke the surface. Why does that always happen when you’re not watching!! A few more casts and concentrating on the lift/hang after each one brought nothing so time for a change of fly. I swapped the white fritz for the zonker. First cast on the lift/hang and fish one was on. A quick scrap and fish was in the net and then safely returned. A look over my shoulder onto St Marys Pool and I noticed Eric netting his first fish which had taken the diawl bach fished slowly on a floating line. Ken then moved onto Dons Pool to join us and he was soon into his first fish again on the diawl bach on the floater. I moved onto St Marys to see if I could tempt my second fish, time was moving on with lunch time only 20 minutes away.
Sam dropped into the peg I had caught on in Dons Pool and took his first fish on the white fritz on the hang. Fish two soon followed again on the white fritz this time the fish took on the first few pulls back. We now had 5 fish between us on three of the four flies we had tied. In the last five minutes Eric moved to the top end of St Mary’s Pool and caught his second on the white fritz. Then on his last cast before lunch Sam hooked into his third fish on the zonker only for it to come off at the net!!!! Gutted!!!!
So in the end four anglers, fished three out of the four flies (none of us fished the spider!) on intermediates and floating lines for just over an hour and caught six fish. The diawl bach accounted for two of these, the white fritz three and the zonker one. The intermediate lines caught three fish as did the floaters. Two of the fish were caught on the hang, one pulling back and three on a slow figure of eight retrieve.
An interesting experiment which goes to show how different and interesting fly fishing can be, from the choice of flies tied, to the lines and leaders we fished with, to the retrieves we used, all with the end result of fish in the net. I suppose this is the magic of fly fishing which keeps us coming back for more!