Small stillwater fishing

A chilly couple of hours in the boat


The rivers were just about receding to fishable levels when the snow came and so that put an end to that. With no fishing for several weeks I was getting cabin fever so decided, without huge enthusiasm, to have a go on one of the club’s ponds. I’m not a massive fan of fishing on small stillwaters – did enough of that in put-and-take venues when I first took up fly fishing. Would much rather be waist-deep in running water. But needs must, so I headed up to the small water just this side of the Dalby Forest. The sky was grey, the thermometer refusing to budge above 6C, and a light but decidedly nippy breeze was coming in from the south-west. I wasn’t expecting much.

Tackled up with the 9ft 4wt, 14 foot leader and a size 16 goldhead hare’s ear with a little orange tag:

We’ve got a dinky, if somewhat weather-beaten, little boat house that contains two small flat-bottomed skiffs (if that’s the right term):

So it was into the boat and we’re off:

The breeze came and went and came again, putting a bit of a riffle on the top. But nothing was rising – hardly surprising in these conditions – so it was a question of heading to the likely spots and trying my luck. This section of tree-lined bank often holds fish in the warmer months, but I wasn’t sure if anything would be there today:

Apparently not, or at least nothing that was interested in my offering. I plugged away here and there for an hour to no avail. I headed towards the top end of the pond where there is some deeper water and where the fish tend to shoal up. They can be reticent: I think a lot of people head straight for this hotspot and as a consequence the fish are somewhat educated. Well, that’s been my experience in any event.

After another 15 minutes I felt a couple of plucks and thought I’d simply hit weed. But the line tightened and I pulled in a rather sorry looking little brown who, judging by the scars on his flank, had had a run-in with a predator:

I persisted for another half hour and was rewarded by two better fish who disobligingly shook the hook before I could net them. Called it a day. Well, I’d scratched the itch so that was something. As I say, I don’t fish the ponds that often but something I found in the boat made me think that perhaps I was doing it wrong:

I’m referring to the fly, not the 20p bit (that’s just for scale). An odd fly. Clearly a blue damsel, of which you do get a lot on the water in the warmer months. Thing is, it had two lead-shot eyes so clearly would not be fished as a dry. Not really my bag – think I’ll stick to the size 16s.


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