Andy Taylor experiences the high and lows of The Ellerdine Fur & Feather competition.
December is the time that many Stillwater fisheries hold their annual “Fur and Feather” competitions. Traditionally it was the larger stillwaters who tended to do this with prizes ranging from a brace of pheasants to a fresh Christmas turkey, with perhaps a couple of rabbits on offer as a bonus. More recently some of our small stillwaters and holding such events and on Sunday 2nd December I headed to Ellerdine Lakes for their “Fur and Feather”.
I rolled into the car park for the 9.30am start just after 9am. It was full. There were well over 35 anglers tackled up waiting to commence battle with one another, and, the trout. It was great to see such a large number of anglers supporting their local fishery, with both young and not so young armed with fly rods and sinking lines. In turn it was great to see the hard work put in by Ed, Jayne and their family for those anglers who had braved the cold weather. All the pools were ice free- thanks pretty much to Ed’s ice breaking on two of the smaller pools at 5am; there were prizes all the way down to 10th place- no sign of a Turkey but plenty of tackle prizes and a great looking shield; tea and coffee on arrival followed by a welcomed burger and chips at lunch- not forgetting the tasty chocolate cake and finally the fish- Ed had put a “few” in for us all some tiddlers upto 18lb!
So at 9.30am after the match briefing we had a rolling start. Rules were to kill your first 4 fish and whoever weighed in the heaviest bag would be the winner. I had number 28 so was one of the last to make my way to my chosen spot, by then many of the hot spots had gone. I tackled up my 8# Greys XF2 with a Fast Glass line, 15 ft leader and two flies- a red apps on the dropper and a olive zonker on the point. My tactic:- catch 3 fish as quick as I could and then search for biggie. I started on Meadow Pool half way along the road side where I could cover plenty of water.
First cast was a short one. I let the flies settle near the bottom and sloooowly figure of eight them back. On the lift the leader twitched I struck and fish number 1 was on. A lean Rainbow of 3lb was attached to the Apps. A good start. Next cast a take which I missed due to gauping at someone playing a fish at the other side of the pool! And then it went quiet. I decided to shorten my leader and fish just one fly to try and get my flies deeper. A switch to a natural zonker and the line locked up. I could see the fish battling away under the surface- it looked a good fish; a double???? Just as my sighting reached my nervous system and my knees nearly gave way the beast shook the hook and my zonker floated back in the air towards me. AAAAAAAARRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!
A quick re cast to where it came off. Would it take again? The line went solid and a quirky rainbow of 2lb jumped clear to the water!!!! A quick powerful fight and fish number 2 was in the net. It’s a pity his big brother didn’t hang on. I had to move peg then and fished the bays on Meadow pool. Fish number 3 came just before lunch- a good fish well over 3lb took a liking to my natural zonker.
After lunch I tried Lakemoor in my last attempt to catch a lump. I went right to the top end. I cast my zonker out and saw a BIG fish swirl to my right. I stripped the line back to re-cast and cover the fish for the line to tighten part way back and a rainbow of about 2lb jump free of the water. Fish number four- the final fish of my limit. I never had chance to recast for the big one!
So 4 fish for nearly 11lb was a good bag but not good enough for a top ten finish. First was young George Hammersley of Stourbridge taking his four fish limit by 11.30. He used a black and white lure on Lakemoor and Cranny to land two 7lb 4oz rainbows and a couple of stockies for the best bag of the day of 19lb 1oz he won £100 an airflo rod and the shield
2nd place was Bloxwich regular Dave Parker who landed a 9 lb 2oz rainbow and 3 more smaller rainbows for a total weight of 16lb 6oz.
3rd was Bob Forsythe who made the trip from Hertfordshire with a four fish bag for a respectable 14lb 14oz all taken on a black rubber legged daddy.
Best Rainbow of the match was a 11lb 8oz specimen taken on a cat by John Ruscoe Newport off the Marsh lake!! Unfortunately John couldn't get any more fish to go with it.
A cracking day out at Ellerdine Lakes. A great Stillwater fishery which looks after its anglers and in turn the anglers look after the fishery. I’m looking forward to the next match there in the New Year.....