British Float Tube Association

BFTA EVENTS => Competition Reports 2018 => Topic started by: bracken on April 08, 2018, 10:58:32 AM

Title: Thornton Report - April 7th 2018
Post by: bracken on April 08, 2018, 10:58:32 AM
The Venue: Thornton Reservoir near Leicester.

The weather:Better than of late! Mainly dull, cloudy with a fair sprinkling of light showers. The sun did make a brief appearance around 1.30pm to let us know it still exists. The water temperature had warmed to a stunning 9 degrees (up from 6 degrees a few days ago). The air temperature was decidedly cool in the morning but may have risen to around 12 or 13 later on. Wind was relatively light most of the day but still enough to move a float tube a surprising distance up the lake back towards the lodge if you were changing flies etc. and not finning.

Nature notes: Spring is supposed to be here. There are primroses to be seen in some of the grass verges, blackthorn blossom spasmodically appears before being frosted or blown off the bushes. Hawthorn leaves are breaking from many of the bushes – so better weather should be on its way.

Around midday a group of 25 or so sand martins appeared over the lake and started feeding on the numerous buzzers. Steve also spotted a solitary swallow. The usual mallard and tufted ducks were present as were a pair of white domesticated geese. Cormorants were also about but the usual large flock of Canada Geese were notable by their absence. Little grebes were mating and swimming quite happily near the float tubes in the lodge arm, and there were also a pair of great crested grebes opposite the lodge.

The most notable natural feature of the day was one often overlooked by all but keen trout fishermen. There were millions of buzzers about on the water and in the air. These were interesting because of the wide variety of types and sizes seen. The size ranged from tiny almost microscopic smuts, through little and medium sized varieties right up to some about ¾” long in the air.

Brian had spotted an Osprey, and a couple of the company also reckoned to have spotted some procreating large white herons, (this according to Ric.) It is possible that the latter were either lesser or greater white egrets.

The fishermen: In the end only eight stalwarts turned out to fish the day. A couple of them ex-cardiac refugees courtesy of the JR in Oxford. Gary had been thrown out for the day by Lorraine and tasked with errands by Andre, the Preston pair, the chemical twins and a NZ triathlete. Any one of this lot is very capable of taking a difficult fish out of any water in the country!

The fishing:
Mmmmm! It must be stated here that although the water had fined down from a deep chocolate colour earlier in the week, clear it wasn’t! I ventured up the arm from the lodge towards the small dam, when about a third of the way up, I only knew I had feet and fins because of the increasing numbness generated by the cold water – I certainly couldn’t see them. Returning towards the main basin did allow a very murky vision of fins lurking in the darkness below.

This set of conditions did give the thinking fisherman a clue that fishing a size 22 buzzer probably wasn’t the best move! A more likely scenario would be to put something on the end of a floating line, which with luck could be seen as a tasty shadow against the sky from a fish lurking below. A further clue was that there was little or no surface activity from the fish, so they were not mopping up the myriad of black flies off the surface. I did consider that one of Martin’s 4” wiggly white Manchester buzzers fished mid-water might be worth a try, but didn’t have the guts to be seen to test it! I did think that this was going to be the day that Ric and SF would bag up quickly, fishing their range of beautifully tied buzzers.

I duly decided that I would put a team of buzzers on and give it a go. It’s very boring catching nothing isn’t it? Having changed buzzers and crunchers etc. and still had no offers I decided to try a DI3 with a nomad and a small size 14 long shank white montana on the dropper. By now I was in the basin on the woodside, to my astonishment I briefly hooked a fish quite deep down – an occurance which was spotted by Carl who was fishing not far away from me – he had already got one fish in the bag and told me that Ric. and Steve also had one apiece. I now tried the almost unthinkable and allowed the flies to sink well down into the water before retrieving, and once again hooked a fish shortly after starting the retrieve – this also came off! Although armed with this scant evidence, I came to the conclusion that deep fish could actually see lures that had sunk slowly and would pick them off on the start of a retrieve; I now changed to a fast sinking line and gave it a go. That was a waste of time then!

From my position I could see almost everybody on the water and was able to note that none were actually catching fish. Steve had remained relatively static opposite the visitor’s car park so I assumed that he was into a shoal and getting takes. By now a few fish were showing gently on the surface, obviously after buzzers. Some dorsal fins appeared quietly out of the water then disappeared only to show again a little way ahead later. Back to the floating line with a blakestone buzzer, a blue flash cruncher and a non-descript black tadpole and partridge affair on the point. I had wondered whether the main dam edge would be productive, so motored across to join the majority of the others including Carl and Ric. As I got close a fish threw itself on the point fly and this time stayed on long enough for me to net it. I was surprised to find that Steve had only got one in the bag and was not being overwhelmed with pulls. A little later while finning gently onwards towards the dam I sensed the slightest touch on the end of the line and lifted into a fish. As soon as it was hooked, this trout took off like a lunatic stripping out line and jumping out of the surface. It was one of the lakes bigger trout. Eventually it decided to turn and run back at the same pace, this allowed the line to go a little slack and I guess the resulting drag on the ‘belly’ of the line pulled the hook out. Very exciting for a few seconds, but seriously annoying – sorry vicar!

Having worked halfway down the dam and gone past Brian who was fishing about eighty yards further out on the lake, my back and legs started to give a lot of warning that they were going to give up big time, (I hadn’t really been able to walk without a lot of pain for about 10 days and had been keeping the Tramadol factory going), so although it was only about 2.20pm I decided it was time to get out while I still could.  I motored across to the buoys opposite the concrete blockhouse and was suddenly into an obviously large shoal of fish which were topping all around me within a few feet of the FT. Unfortunately, they were not at all interested in anything that I cast in front of them or through the shoal, so I resumed my journey home. I was able to watch Terry net and dispatch a tidy trout on the way past. Then I passed Steve in the lodge arm and told him about the fish. He went off to explore their potential, and as he pulled away with commendable speed from leg power alone, I hooked a sprat not very far from where he had been fishing. This was tricky to land because my landing net had managed to hook one of the meshes under the loop of an arm pocket zip and couldn’t be freed. However, luck was with me on this one and it did eventually end up in the bit of mesh I could get over the front of the crossbar. I now motored back to the launch ramp and struggled out of the water without falling in. Gary joined me shortly afterwards having decided that fishing wasn’t for him on this day.

I weighed my paltry bag of two small fish and was then able to accost two pleasant elderly ladies who were walking past and give the trout away, (much to Gary’s amusement). They looked delighted so I do hope that they enjoy their meal.

As stated above, the lads who fished this match are pretty capable fishermen. Gary stated that the fishing was difficult, (at least I think that’s what he said because I didn’t have my hearing aids in). The fish were very definitely reluctant to take artificials of any sort. A floating line was definitely the best bet later in the morning until the end of the competition. Choosing a favourite fly was anybody’s guess. A holographic buzzer and a black and green booby took Steve’s fish. My two came to a black nameless size 12 creation with a little bit of blue flash and a long partridge feather herl hackle. Ric caught his on buzzers, one of Terry’s fish came to a bloodworm. Either a nomad or a white and green montana certainly attracted two escapees for me. Surprisingly an intermediate did elicit some interest from fish earlier in the day, but my guess is that the fly must have been very close to them for them to see or feel it. I feel the fish were feeding hard on buzzer nymphs not very far under the surface, and possibly only on one favoured variety which we were not matching, or alternatively there were so many of the naturals that the chance of an artificial gaining their interest was very slim.

Three of us blanked, Carl only caught the one fish early in the day. The other four of us caught two fish apiece – the winning points were then down to luck as to which fish weighed the most. Well done to all for their perseverance and good humour.

Asides: You would never believe the flack that I got for attending this day. I was however somewhat interested to see whether my extended motor tiller handle would work as planned. I also used a LiFeO4 golf buggy battery for the first time in a high mounted battery box to see if everything stayed dry. (Fortunately it did).

The tiller aerial mast derived handle works well, and allows fine directional adjustment when travelling. It is very easy to steer the float tube with your feet and fins once it is fixed on a straight line direction of movement. It could be possible to fix the handle so that it is placed above the head and allow full side to side movement.

The battery is a definite advantage in terms of weight and carrying to and from the water. It also performs well on the water. When using the bigger ASP24 Watersnake yesterday, it probably ran for three quarters of an hour off and on. The battery voltmeter was still showing 11.9 volts when under load in low speed and 13.2 volts at rest. In theory it should run for up to two hours in low speed. There was also a negligible wind effect to fight against yesterday, so it wasn’t working particularly hard. Speed across the water was comparable to fairly steady finning – so nothing startling. Selecting high speed didn’t appear to make that much difference to speed of travel, but did take a lot more out of the battery dropping it down into the 10 volt range. Is it worth the extra cost? Probably, if you can afford it!

For those taking an interest in this project of motorising the float tube, I have also made a front mounted frame to try and see what happens with a motor mounted in front of the apron. I intend trying this somewhere soon, so watch this space for a report. I also know that another member has done this adaption, but using the crossbar itself. It will be interesting to see what happens! I guess holding a fishing rod will be different because it will have to be held more sideways than normal. I think landing a lively fish, (or not), might be a cause for some cursing. It will however make control of the motor much easier for steering and switching and also for launching and landing to get it up out of the water. Adjusting the vertical motor height should be possible, which may make getting it out of the way of feet and fins a lot more viable. We shall see!

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Ifor and his team for hosting us. This was a very pleasant days fishing. The local members were also very friendly and welcoming and showed a lot of interest in float tubing matters.

Title: Re: Thornton Report - April 7th 2018
Post by: buzzerman on April 08, 2018, 01:39:08 PM
Good report again Tony. Hard,tough,difficult sums up the fishing but good to see everyone again. Hopefully next week Toft will be better if recent fishing is anything to go by lots of fish to the washing line method with a fab or small booby on the point and Dawes Bach’s on the dropper fished slow or static on either a midge tipped floater and with the weather warming up buzzers should be in with a chance