You can see some of the pictures for this blog in a slideshow. (Click)

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Chasing Rainbows

Note: Our native trout (Salmo trutta) require very high oxygen levels in the waters that they inhabit. Fast running streams and babbling brooks, burns and becks are what wild brown trout prefer, but they will live in lochs and lakes and even the sea if there is enough oxygen. Cold water absorbs oxygen much more readily than warm water, so your average warm lowland pond or reservoir is not trout habitat. Even if you get them to survive, they still need shallow gravel beds washed with cold oxygen rich water as a spawning ground.

The farm-bred American rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is not so picky and it grows very quickly, like a battery hen. That's why rainbows are the fish of choice for stocking lowland waters.

Today I went chasing rainbows at Grafham Water. It didn't start well.

To access the water at my favourite spot, I had to walk through a field and that's where the trouble started. Walking purposefully and filled with expectation, I caught my line on a thistle and broke off the top six inches of my rod. I decided to carry on anyway.
Pea soup
Broken rod

The loss of six inches of skinny tip section had turned my rod into a poker but I could still cast with it as long as the line did not foul around the broken section, which it did often. I even hooked a fish, but lost it.

Problem number two soon became apparent: thick green algae and floating clumps of weed drifted past at walking pace, despite there being no wind at all. I soon gave up and walked back to my car with the intention of moving to another area of the lake, or another lake, or another country.

I keep a second rod in the car, loaded with a sinking line, just in case I can't find fish near the surface. It's only nine feet long, which is short for lochs and reservoirs, but it casts really well and I have many happy memories associated with buying it at LL Bean's shop in Freeport and using it to catch striped bass in Maine. I thought I'd give it a go for an hour with the floating line and so I went back to wade into the scum, hoping to be able to cast beyond it and find trout.

What I found was perch. I enjoyed catching them too, but then the sky turned thundery grey and it looked like the day was over at 4 pm. It looked very ominous, like the world was about to end. The perch stopped feeding and the air was electric. An osprey flapped across the reservoir while gulls meowed in defiance. Flocks of swallows swooped past me, low over the water; a sure sign of rain. A migrating sandpiper paid a brief visit to a rock and then left. Then nothing. The stillness and the silence were absolute. Time to go.

Boat anglers off the harbour at Perry.

Being  half Scottish and half Yorkshire I like to get value for money. It costs quite a lot to fish at Grafham and so far today I had spent £30 and broken a rod worth nearly £100, all to catch three perch.

I moved round to the opposite shore where the fishing boats are kept. There is a cafe and bar there, so, if the weather worsened, I would have shelter. I would not need to wade either. (Did I not mention that my waders had sprung a leak and that I was soaked from the waist down?)

Four rainbow trout.
The green algae was here too but instead of drifting past on the surface it was mixed in the water, creating a thin pea soup. It didn't look good. Indeed, I didn't see any sign of a fish for an hour on the harbour arm and the amount of weed growing in the bay was a hindrance, even on a floating line.

I followed the famous advice given to fishermen on the Sea of Gallilee and cast on the other side. More accurately, I moved to the other arm of the dock and soon saw a fish boil on the surface there. I couldn't get a take on my killer shrimp imitation but soon another fish moved, and then another, so I chased the school of fish round the harbour trying to intercept their route with a well-placed cast. Those fish were chasing their prey so I let the fly sink only a few inches and then gave it a good pull and was into a fish straight away.

The day redeemed itself. The rain went away, the sun came out and I soon had my four fish limit. As I was packing up, the bright hoop of a rainbow arched across the lake, just for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment