Staff Catch Report Harelaw Trout Fishing & Coffee Shop
|Sunset in the hills
"The last hour they REALLY switch on" is something you want to hear when you already see fish rising across the loch. We'd pulled up to the Harelaw car park and were having a wee look out at the water while buying our tickets, fishery manager Ross was on hand to sort out some coffees and give us a rundown of whats been working recently.
|Ginger Shipmans Buzzer
It was a bit of a flashback with the top flies being Sugarcube, CDC & Shipmans Buzzers, the washing line was doing well but dries and emergers as the sun sets would be the best sport.
Dave Shipman's 'damp' dry fly pattern is extraordinarily versatile. He invented this in the late Seventies for surface feeding trout on Rutland Water when the fish were preoccupied with taking adult buzzers struggling in the surface film.
The Harelaw Dam is 102 acres with over 3 miles of wading banks, 4 dam walls, and a smattering of islands so it's good to get pointers. With an average depth of 5-9 feet going down to around 13ft at most there are fish to be had all over but there's nothing like local knowledge. That's exactly what our colleague Stephen has, he's a regular up there represents the club in team competitions and even has his own earmarked boat! The chances of bragging rights were slim but he was holding out a while having a chat with some other anglers before starting so we thought we'd try and steal a march.
The boats are well set up with quiet electric motors, mounted drogues and decent boat nets so it was simple enough to get out on the loch. Lifejackets on, rods rigged up & we started with some drifts down the island. one of us pulling wets the other fishing static buzzers. Mixing & matching methods is the way to go until you hit on what's working, we could see fish head tailing and the odd splashy rise so there were feeding fish we just had to get them on to our flies.
Thomas was in first, the bung twitched and he struck into a fish. It thrashed, jumped, and came off still a good sign though, I got a boil to a bumble pattern on the top dropper that didn't connect on the next drift but we were confident enough to drift back through a similar area again.
This time though all the rising fish were too much to ignore and we both swapped to fish in the surface film, I'd spotted some sedges coming off and the swallows were all over the loch feeding on big buzzers. It'd be rude to ignore Ross's advice so Thomas had a Shipmans in his team while I had a CDC buzzer in mine. Slowly drifting and fan-casting the dries we got some interest straight away, either from angler error or the fish not going all out for the flies it took a few dropped chances before the first fish was in the net. It went on like that for a bit with a few tentative takes (or outright misses depending on your point of view) but by the time Stephen came past for a visit there were some fish on the board. He'd not fished long but had a similar story, rises but not many positive takes he did say not to worry though "the last hour will be excellent". When we drifted on a little and caught one in front of the other boat though he decided he'd better get switched on just in case.
As the sun dipped a little the local knowledge proved to be spot on, the fish certainly switched on and there were rises all around even some right under the rod tip. Fishing in low light meant we were depending on a bit of feel to know when the fish were on our flies, we each set up a more visible fly on the point to help spot takes on the emerger patterns sitting in the surface film in between. One of the trout that took Thomas's Shipmans fought as hard as any rainbow I've ever seen, it took off ripping line and refusing to give in all the way to the net.
Once that was released we had a good few each and it seemed as good a time as any to pack up, so we headed in. We'd been 2 up at the last check-in so that was good enough to declare victory, knowing full well that Stephen probably had double figures in that magical last hour!