The day started breezy with an odd shower about. The water had thankfully cooled down from its spell of being over the limit for the fish being on top in the shallows. I measured it about 2 feet down at 19 C. The one thing we were not sure about was what the hot spell had done to the mayfly hatch. In good years it continues right through July, but last year’s hot weather in June seemed to curtail it badly.
Jimmy Millar and I headed to Chicken Leg at the start to get a bit of shelter and to look for risers. We were not finding any and not drawing fish to our dries. We tried down at Tod Hole. Nothing doing. Next we tried in the lee of Inchmahome. Nothing there either. Then to Reedy Bay, where Jimmy picked up the first of the day on a mayfly pattern. We were going to head up to the Malling shore, but a real squall got up, just as we were motoring, and we bailed out and went over to Arnmach. That was quiet too. We thought as it was later, the mayfly might be getting going and so took a look back at Chicken Leg, but it was quiet. The wind was a bit steadier, so we decided this time to go up to Malling. As we headed up, Jimmy fancied a look between the islands – usually a hot area for mayfly feeders. But it was dead quiet, like all the other places we chose to try. Our drift brought us out and round the point of Inchmahome. Finally, I picked up my first, on a mayfly emerger.
Our drift carried on out into the open water of the east basin. Suddenly, we were seeing fish – and some lumps among them – and in numbers. We were seeing nothing on the water for them and the rises were as much chases and lunges. Our best guess was they were on fry. We are forever musing on why you don’t see the Lake rainbows fry bashing the way you do on the English reservoirs. Maybe this time? We were in among with with dries on, so we had to give them a shot. By the time we were through them, we were well out in the rough water and we hadn’t had so much as a look off them. We guessed it had to be fry. No idea what size? This year’s pin fry, or last year’s 3-inchers? We went back up to the shelter of Inchmahome and took the dry fly rods down and put up pulling rods. Jimmy went a bit higher in the water than me, with a 6 foot slow tip and a popper minky on the tail. He also put a dabbler in fry colours on a dropper. I put up a 10 foot medium tip and decided to try a snake to start with, in case they were on the bigger stuff.
We went back out with the reset button firmly pressed. Must have been about 1:30 by this time. Sure enough, it didn’t take too long for Jimmy to catch one… and what did it cough up in the net, but a couple of fry – probably roach. They only about an inch long. i was getting nothing going for the big snake, so I took it off and put on a small silver and grey minky and a ye olde Rutland sparkler. That was a much better combination, and I was soon into the action.
We only had about 3 hours at them before we had to pack in, but we were moving fish, getting follows along the top and getting pulls every drift. We added 9 fish to our couple on dries. We enjoyed the mini-session – it was old school surface pulling for rainbows. We didn’t get any of the lunkers we saw that first drift when we were on the wrong stuff. In fact, every drift was gradually slower than the one before it, and we were wishing we had found them much earlier.
We were wondering what the fry were doing away out there. I wondered if both fry and trout had headed for the deep water area between Inchmahome and International Bay. I overlaid the GPS trace on a depth map. Jury’s out on that one, I think.
Dougie Skedd adds…
Hmm. Recirculated polar airflow. That’s going to be gusty and swirly I thought. And so it proved. I set out with Alan Everington to see what we could find. At least the wind and rain in the previous week would have cooled the surface water and I hoped it meant we wouldn’t have to join the hordes in Gateside Bay dredging the depths. We started in at the Butts in the hope of shelter and perhaps a rising fish. While there was a bit of shelter, not a rise was to be seen. Well, nothing ventured and all that, we started. I had gone with a hopeful dry mayfly on the dropper and a suspender on the point. Alan had opted for a Di-3 and pulling patterns. Straight away, he had a brisk follow, although the fish turned away at the last moment. Shortly thereafter, a fish rolled lazily at the mayfly. I was surprised when I lifted and felt the weight of the fish. I had expected a fresh air shot, but no, a good take, hooked in the scissors. Alan took this as a sign and changed to a floater with dries too. We drifted out a fair distance without any sign of life. We decided to go back up into the very shallow water and try our luck again.
Once more, right at the start of the drift a fish came up and took very quietly and confidently. Again, he was hooked right in the scissors. We tried a run down, close to the reedbeds at the old pike nets. Another fish took the mayfly confidently. So far, so good, but we then had to endure a long blank spell. We tried Arnmach, the Lee of Inchmahome, between the islands, from the Lee of Sam’s Point to the hotel, back to the Butts. We were getting a bit hacked off. The wind seemed to have settled a bit, so we thought we would try Malling. We hoped there might be some shelter there. As we arrived, we saw a couple of fish rising in the calm of the sheltered water close to the shore. There was hope! We set up for a drift. A fish rose so quietly and gently I didn’t think it had taken the fly, but lifted just in case. It was on and well hooked. That was the pattern again. We steadily picked away for the rest of the session, ending up with fourteen for the boat. The most remarkable thing all day was how quietly and without fuss the trout were eating a big mayfly dun. Just business as usual. Other than the puncture on the way to the Lake, it was a very decent day.
Keith Logan adds…
We had a good number for this outing with 7 boats and great to be joined by Jimmy Millar for the day.
Reports of surprisingly good returns from the National semi-final on the Thursday suggested that the fish had come up in the water column and had also spread out from the deep water in the cages. There were also reports of good dry fly sport out from the Malling Shore to Dog Isle and also around Roman Bay, which were all fairly encouraging. Another positive was the generally cooler weather over the past week, which was accompanied by some welcome heavy showers that has helped to cool the water and stir up the fish. Water clarity certainly in Hotel Bay was still good and the water felt cooler than our previous outing. There was plenty of cloud cover, so we were cautiously optimistic.
I was pleased to be heading out with new member, Brian Spence, who is another experienced dry fly rod. Brian set up with floater, little black booby on the point and a couple of popper hoppers: black and claret, so it was going to be interesting to see how that worked. I’d set up with 6 ft tip, FAB, small olive nymph and Diawl Bach. It was a close call whether to head directly to Malling Shore or to the cages to start with. We opted for the cages, with conditions at the start fairly encouraging. Given the westerly, we set up half-way along the rope, trying to drift towards the burn mouth, where there were a couple of boats already working the area. The jungle drums these days are fairly effective – but it certainly was not overcrowded.
Almost straight away, Brian hooked a good fish and lost his whole cast. Damn and blast, as some would say. I’d have been a lot more agricultural. I watched Brian working his magic; his claret popper hopper creating a fair amount of interest and, although I managed the first fish to the boat, it seemed clear the fish were higher in the water. So, I switched to the floater and replaced the FAB with a brown foam daddy. We were both getting a fair amount of interest, with plenty of fresh air shots. Still not happy with my set-up, I then changed to a team of dries and then felt a bit more settled-in for the rest of the day, picking away at the fish with a combination of various F-flies, small foam black beetles and half-hogs. We repeated drifts right across to the point of the rookery and the fish were also close in to the margins. Brian’s cast of flies seemed partial to the odd smash take that generally meant re-arming and going again, but he had plenty of replacements.
We headed across to the ‘hairy hole’, but the cross wind was playing havoc and, although there were fish cruising around from Stable Point, it was proving difficult covering the right water with any consistency. We headed up to the Malling shore, but the burn area and close in was fairly busy. We could see rods bending, so we set up to get a drift adjacent to Dog Isle, out towards Squirrel Island. We were unconvinced, and although we had a couple of half-hearted splashes at our flies, we thought it best to head for pastures new. If the fish were right across the cages, surely there would be a sprinkling down along the Rookery and into Portend Bay? We did encounter a few in that area, but by now the squally wind was picking up and the fishing was increasingly challenging. We continued past Sam’s into the relative calm of Reedy Bay, Water temperature here was still a touch on the warm side in the shallows and we did not see much to keep us there. There was still the odd mayfly around and there were plenty damselflies, but they were largely left undisturbed.
We thought better of it and headed back to the relative calm of the cages. The boats were still working the area close in and still having obvious success. We set up further out from the rope again and there was still sport to be had. The fish here were much better quality. We started to see a few more of of our club boats and it seemed clear that most were having a good day. Trevor, who had a slow start by his standards, saw a smart change to size 10 brown buzzers turn his fortunes round. John followed suit with similar results. Fraser and Matt also had an active session up the Malling Shore.
Our 14 rods ended with a total of 102 fish, giving a rod average of more than 7, so a good day. Mel, Dougie and Trevor all got into double figures which was impressive angling. No doubt the Lake is back fishing its socks off, but much of the next few weeks feels as if it will be largely weather dependent: make hay while the sun doesn’t shine!