Early season trout – and it’s showtime

Words by:
Barry Grantham
Featured in:
May 2022

Although many trout fisheries remain open throughout the year, I always think of 1st April
as the start of the season.

Rather than fish one of the larger stillwater fisheries, I much prefer to fish in smaller waters. These can provide some challenging sport, and are ideal for the novice fly angler as well as those more experienced.

The lakes I usually fish and run as a syndicate for members only consist of two chalk bottomed gin clear pools. One lake is 2½ acres, the other is one acre in size. These are nestled away just on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. So let us look at a memorable day I had here in early April, three years ago.

It is 8am, the sun is up and a gentle breeze is blowing. On the east bank there is a gentle ripple starting, about 40ft from the bank. I look for signs of fish. I notice a slight disturbance in the ripple just as it joins the calm water. A fish is taking something just below the water’s surface. I decide to attach two flies. On the end I attach a black midge pupae imitation and on the dropper 3ft along I attach a hatching midge pupae. The end midge pupae will fish about 1ft to 2ft down below the water’s surface, the hatching pupae just in the water’s film. Line grease is wiped on the nylon leader to 2ft from the end, missing out the dropper with the hatching midge so it will sink just below the surface of the water.

A cast is made so that the flies just land in the ripple. There is no need to retrieve the line. Fish move along these ripple edges looking for food. Where calm water joins rippled water, a food trap is created. It is essential that close contact is kept with the leader and flies. I do not let my fly line get a lot of slack.

I see some surface activity about 15ft away from my flies. A fish is moving closer along the ripple edge. My line tightens, I lift the rod: a fish is on. The fish is very strong, it goes deep and heads for the middle of the lake. Could this be one of the large brown trout that are in the lake? The rainbow trout tend to stay near the surface and make leaps out of the water trying to shake the hook free.

The brown trout tend to keep well down near the lake bottom when hooked. The fish makes several dashes, taking line from my reel and making the ratchet click loudly. Slowly the fish starts to tire and is drawn over the waiting landing net. Yes, it is a brown trout.

The fish is carefully unhooked. It has taken the end black buzzer. A photo is taken and the fish weighs 6lb 4oz, my best fish from the lake. I carefully place it back in the water. I hold it upright with my hand grasping it near its tail fin, gently moving it side to side. After about one minute the fish gives a sudden lunge and swims away safely.

What more can I do? I am very happy to have caught my best fish from the lake, so it’s sit back and relax. I can just watch the wildlife that is abundant around the lake. Yes, there is more to fishing than just catching fish.

It is now getting near country show time and the first one I am attending is the Burghley House

Game and Country Fair. There is plenty to see and do for all ages. There are arena demonstrations, falconry, gun dogs, horses, ferrets and of course fishing. There are plenty of trade stands from food to clothing and country items. I will be down at the fishing village along with another instructor and will be giving fly casting demonstrations throughout the day and giving fly casting tuition to anyone who wants a lesson, from complete novice to the more advanced who may want to improve their casting. All the tuition is given completely free of charge. The instructors are fully insured, DBS checked, have been on safeguarding courses, and hold first aid certificates. There is a casting competition open to novices who have a lesson with a prize for the best score over the show season.

This year at Burghley my Labrador, Drake will be showing off his skills as a fly fishing dog. He will be giving fishing demonstrations to youngsters and showing them how he catches trout!

Also in the fishing marquee will be fly dressing. Bob Lomax, one of the top fly dressing instructors from the Game Angling Instructors’ Association, will be demonstrating along with local fly dressers. Come along and have a go. Again there will be a free to enter fly tying competition open to novices only.

Clubs from Rutland and Grafham Water will also be in attendance. There will be tackle on display to try out or purchase, fly dressing items and Peter Waterhouse from Scottie products will have his full range of handmade fly tying products on display. I also will have my hand-built split bamboo rods and handmade pin reels on display.

So come along and join us at Burghley House on the 3rd, 4th and 5th June.


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