Tim Joyce, a professional and very friendly fishing guide, gives us the lowdown on his Grafham Water season so far!
My season’s guiding on Grafham Water, so far, is best described as ‘AWESOME’. Both in numbers of clients and the overall quality of the fishing on offer, it’s been great!
After the poor end to the 2018 season with water levels the lowest in memory , high water temperatures and huge algae blooms making fishing near impossible at times I didn’t know what to expect from Grafham in March 2019, only a few months before it was a lake that had been written off by many anglers.
With the pumps back to full power and the inlets open bringing in much needed water, the lake was full of cold clear water for the start of the season, thankfully with not an algae bloom in sight. This was a good start but… had the lake, the insects, the food and more importantly the trout survived the turmoil of big changes. Well, right from the off the answer to all three was YES!
I did however have to see if these large scale changes had altered the dynamic of the fishing for the season to come, a challenge myself and my clients embraced with gusto.
The first big difference which we noticed early season was instead of finding the trout running the banks, on the shallow clay beds looking to feed on buzzers, the lake seemed pretty devoid of feeding fish close in, very stange for here? In fact, there was often no point in fishing within 75 to 100m of the banks, a rarity indeed on Grafham early doors.
We soon realised that you needed to locate the drop off areas in order to locate the fish. Odd behaviour for early season stockies, a complete contrast to most waters,I’m sure you’ll agree.
The theory was that because of the low water in 2018 a lot of the usual buzzer beds had of course been exposed to frosts throughout the winter and also the heavy footfall from bank anglers, in their search for shrimp feeders through late autumn and on into the new year, killing the buzzer larvae. This is something that I experienced back on Hanningfield 20 plus years ago. Like Hannignfield the Grafham trout headed further out seeking daphnia and any smaller buzzers from the deeper water that had not been affected.
The open water became our regular haunt, with long drifts parallel to the north shore cutting across the points from Hedge End and past Pylon and Deep Water points ending at G buoy, a perfect way to cover the fish and indeed lots and lost of water.
Every time you passed the point and moved into deeper water very often the fish were located. This was of course completely at odds with your normal spring fishing. Early season methods didn’t change however, teams of heavy buzzers on floaters or slow sink tip lines, being the order of the day, best flies were Crisp Packets or Grey Boy Buzzers. The bung worked well too, but not as good as you’d expect. The other method was to fish with fast sunk lines and bright Blobs and Boobies, but fished slow, far slower than normal!
But all this soon changed, the trout of March came up high in the water in mid to late April and guess what, they’ve stayed there all season, they’re still there now!
The reason for this appears to be an explosion in small green buzzer, found mainly in the open water and mainly in the top foot in most weather conditions. Imitation was hopeless with so much food available and so distraction has been key, fishing with something to knock the fish off the normal feeding habits, finding something that piqued their interest.
Floating or tip lines with a very bright Blob Booby or FAB on the point and a couple of flashy nymphs on the droppers, UV Crunchers or Nemo Cunchers helped draw these fish to your cast!
By cast at the shoals of moving fish, there was lots of this, and ripping the line back to initially create a commotion would pull them off the feed.
It’s been superb, exciting and very visual fishing. There’s nothing like the sight of two or three competing trout hurtling towards your fly pushing a big bulge of water over themselves (washing machining) as they are desperately hurtling toward your fly!
Believe it or not, this has been the pattern for the rest of the season, so far. Flies have changed little, with dries playing their part the last month or two, but often two nymphs in between two large buoyant dries, like daddies, have often out fished everything, even on bright days!
Saying all this we are at the turn of the season now and my diary is filling with clients looking forward to having a go at the winter bank fishing, People looking to stalk the banks and hunting the big resident killer shrimp feeders along the edges of the rocky shore line.
And don’t forget the fry bashing in the harbour. I have to admit, I can’t wait either!
Fancy a day out with Tim, find him here! https://www.facebook.com/FlyfishingEssex/
Great column Tim and a fantastic Guide