The day was brightening up very nicely as we arrived at the Lake – drier and warmer than the east coast. The conditions were near perfect, with patches of cloud cover and a gentle westerly breeze. Reports were the Lake had been fishing well in the run-up and there was talk that dries and buzzers were doing the business. Favoured areas mentioned were the Malling shore, right across to Roman Bay and into the top of Gateside.
I was paired with Bob Whyte and he set two rods up – one for nymphs and the other for dries. Bob had also brought along his electric for good ghillieing, Alan was fishing with Fraser Gault, Trevor was paired with Stephen Kilpatrick, Peter Fionda with Gary Heseltine while big Jimmy was our lone angler for the day.
The fleet headed west. Bob and I thought we would do the same, but we encountered some early engine trouble that required running repairs from Douglas. Douglas happened to mention that some good catches were being reported from right along the road shore into Kate’s and over at the Butts. We took a rash gamble and headed into International Bay. We could not believe our good fortune when there was not another boat in sight. The reason would become clear by the end of the day.
We both started with dries and in the conditions felt confident these were the right tactics. The water clarity for this time of year was superb. We did short drifts to start, then tried out in the open water, working a big area, right down to the Gravel Pit. In all that time we never moved a fish or indeed saw a fish, but every cast promised something. By now, Bob had changed to twiddling nymphs on the midge tip. There was a bit of life around as well – plenty evidence of buzzer hatches and a good sprinkling of mayfly nymph shucks, as well as a few adult mayflies and lots of damsels.
Only thing that was missing was the fish. We eventually found a few around Tod Hole and Bogle Knowe. Bob picked up three fish to blobs and boobies. I picked up two to half-hogs, and a couple to a cutthroat cat, heading into Loch End. We spent a bit too much time enjoying the craic and the views, but after a good few hours of hard fishing we decided to cut our losses. We headed over to the Rookery and saw a few boats working Sam’s Point. By now, the odd fish was showing. Bob decided to put the dries back on, with a Klink on the point and a rollover Mayfly pattern on the bob. He picked up another couple of fish that came blind, and was very unlucky to drop another couple close to the net, the Klink proving effective, once again.
By this time, we could see the fleet of boats spread right across the western shore, with most going back to repeat drifts in the same area. We finally bumped into one of our boats, Trevor and Stephen, who were fishing tight into the ropes in Gateside. They had done very well in the morning but mentioned that it had gone much quieter in the afternoon as the sun burned through what little cloud cover was left. Then the wind picked up and the fish remained just as elusive.
Delighted to report that The Club had a very good day, although Jimmy did struggle to his 32 (!) all on a floating line to a variety of dries and buzzers. Peter continued his good recent good form and netted 9, matched fish for fish by Gary, to cormorants and buzzers. Trevor on a midge-tip with blobs, and Stephen, had 11 to the boat. Alan and Fraser had nine between them from around Dog Island, mostly on sedgehogs, with Alan’s biggest at well over 4 lbs.
A wise man once said if you want to catch fish it is probably best to fish where the fish are – in this case most definitely up around the Malling shore. Another fishing day and another lesson!