We are deep into competition season on the Lake and it had faced another busy week of practice, ahead of the second Scottish Clubs semi-final on the Friday. Well done to all those teams that have qualified for the final. The results suggested that the fishing had become progressively more difficult over the week. Quint also said that the fishing conditions had been really changeable, but anglers had been struggling to find a consistently successful tactic. One thing that has been consistent though is the areas that have been producing best baskets, namely from Malling Shore round Stable Point into Cages, the Burn-mouth (it has been on fire for several weeks), Rookery and down through the Gap into the open water towards the shallow marker buoys.
We had 6 boats for the session and I was paired with Peter Fionda. Peter set-up two rods, one for the dries and another the Cortland blue and washing line cast with small cat booby on the point, pearly cormorant and small nondescript nymphs. We were unsure where to set-up our first drift, but decided to follow the crowd and head into the cages. Given the predominantly southerly we set-up drifting towards the ropes from about 150 yards out. I loaded the 6ft tip, candy, flash-back hare’s ear and gold ribbed Diawl, all on size 12. The conditions were ideal for top of the water sport: warm & overcast. But wind was a bit squally. The only thing missing was the absence of rising fish, and that did not change over the course of the day.
We probably spent a bit too much time in the cages, but had some early encouragement with a few half-hearted pulls… but no cigar. I had gone a bit deeper with a team of daddies as we headed up to the Malling Shore and set-up drifts towards Dog Isle. The weather was a bit quieter here, but still no obvious signs of any feeding fish. We bumped into Bob and Jimmy and they had both picked up some early fish drifting towards the Malling burn, as had John McGonagle (John is in a rich vein of form), who was fishing with Darrel Young.
Peter and I were still clean, so we headed toward the Gap, setting up a few drifts around Sandy Bay – where we picked up our first fish. The fishing was difficult and fish that we came across were few and far between. What there was seemed to be coming short and were acting with little conviction. We then moved backed towards the Silage Pits. If anything, conditions improved, but still did not trigger much response from the fish. Eventually Peter switched to dries: claret half-hog and brown foam daddy. Immediately he rose a fish and then netted his first fish to the daddy. I switched to gold-ribbed hare’s ear shuttlecock and JM’s fiery brown hopper and this combination began working reasonably well and accounted for some great quality trout.
We bumped into Bob/Jimmy once again who were fishing in the open water out from the Plantation and Bob was now having a bit success twiddling nymphs. Trevor and Stevie were drifting out from Roman Bay towards Dog Isle but they were also struggling. Dougie and Colin had moved back up from the Butts/Chicken Leg, but they were having little success with their normal dry fly approach and were now also twiddling.
Stewart Barnes had a great day, ending with 6 fish. He started on the dries but switched to washing line and his best fly was a black booby fished slowly along the Cages/Rookery/Sam’s Point drifts. Mel did well, picking up 3 fish with similar tactics. Overall it was a tough day. Weather was weird, fish were weird and our 12 rods finished with 28 fish, giving a rod average of 2.3 to confirm the difficult day.