The Venue: Elinor Fishery near Aldwinkle, Northants. A very well known and excellently run fishery made from an old gravel pit.
The weather: Sunny with some grey periods. The wind was unfortunately quite strong on this day, forecast at 18mph with gusts to 26mph during the time we fished. Strong enough to give the weaker and older members of the club quite a lot of difficulty controlling where they wanted to be. This was not a day to be an ailing ‘old git’ on the water, two of us had to give up early.
Nature notes: There are usually quite a lot of raptors seen around this lake. A red kite regularly flew over the water quite low, and a kestrel was seen hunting the field fringes of the lake most of the day despite the unwelcome attention it received from the large number of crows which mercilessly mobbed it. Both grey geese and Canada geese were present in good numbers and were constantly calling or flying around the water. A pair of swans and a couple of last year’s cygnets were also seen.
On the way to the water, it was delightful to see the thousands of cowslips growing on the grass verges. The side of the M40 was particularly noticeable for the plethora of these delightful spring flowers which appear to have made a great ‘return’ to the countryside in the last few years.
On this trip I also saw a couple of rabbits on the roadside feeding hard – probably does fuelling up to feed litters of kittens hidden in stops somewhere nearby.
The fishermen: It was great to see Terry again after a very long absence; he was impressively fit looking and svelte after having a zip fitted in his sternum last year!? Jez also joined us after a long absence and was very keen to ensure that I received his subscription for the coming year. Our antipodean super-fit member joined us once again – the pot-hunters in our midst need to be fearful of his presence as he is a seriously good fisherman. The snake man from Manchester and the current Championship leader and his mate were there, as were the Chemical twins. A sorry looking Leicestershire lob-wormer turned up on his own; either hen-pecked, hung over or a bit under the weather! A couple of elderly cripples completed the set.
The fishing: This was definitely a day when the ‘first find your fish’ tenet applied. There were undoubtedly fish all over the lake, but they were present in greater numbers in some places than others. The fishing depth was also fairly crucial, and at the end of the match I was surprised to find what the critical level appeared to be.
Steve F. managed to find a good spot early on and quickly hit on a method which from where I covered the water would never have appeared a relevant possibility. He used dry flies! Now this is not strictly true in the purist sense as at least one of them was a Shipman’s buzzer, but nevertheless he caught 11 fish at the surface which in a strong wind and on a water where I didn’t get a sight of a fish for about three hours was pretty good going. Carl in the meantime had modified his two buzzer approach, to a one buzzer on the dropper washing line attack with a green and black booby on the end. The buzzer was a gold ribbed black affair and caught him a really stunning looking bag of fish to weigh in with another returned. Ric also caught many of his nine fish on a black buzzer. Mid morning Andre also told me that his fish were coming to flies fished on a floating line, mainly to damsels and a montana. Dave C, Terry , and I had all ended up at the bay on the opposite shore to the boat park – this partially by design but more largely through inherent weakness to fight the wind which drove us over there. I did get a pull on a green and black zonker on an intermediate line and a little later lost another fish after a few seconds just south of this bay. I had already watched Martin catch a couple of fish in the middle more or less opposite this bay, and then saw him catch one precisely where I had had the first pull. I guessed that Martin would have had an intermediate line on and be towing a large snake around, this later proved to be correct - but it did net him six good fish. Jez and Ivan later joined Martin in the bay, where the wind finally got the better of Ivan and he had to give up at midday. Jez finally ended his day with three in the net but I’m not sure what he caught on although I did see him and Martin with their tubes together at one point, so whether he succumbed to using a Manchester Buzzer I’m not sure.
Dave C. eventually ended up by the dam end of the lake where his previous seasonal luck appears to have deserted him and he ended the day with one pull and nothing in the bag. Brian in the meantime had netted two and I know he lost another early on, which came off a tadpole. Terry had one fish by lunchtime and then got blown back across to the opposite bay where we fished earlier on and caught three more, to finish the match with four. By 2.00pm The wind had defeated my body and having been blown involuntarily to the opposite shore and despite trying various lines, lures and buzzers etc. not having had a fish in the net, I decided to try and get back to the boat park and give up. Three quarters of the way there, and towing a zonker near the bottom on a Hi D in desperation, a fish finally surrendered itself to me – making it the first rainbow I had caught in seven months.
Undoubtedly most of the fish were caught very close to the surface, the majority of these between the tree grove on the boat park shore down to where the power lines crossed the lake and not far from the shore. Most of the rest of the trout were taken in the bay opposite the boat park. Black Buzzers took most of the fish, with black and green lures or the odd damsel taking the majority of the rest. There were some seriously big black flies and some alder flies dropping onto the water, but I never saw a fish rise to any of them. However, Steve had found fish rising fairly early on further down the lake which were obviously taking the hatch at least on that part of the water. That particular bank was offering some slight shelter from the stronger wind which bedevilled the water about thirty five yards from that shore. Jez and I did enter the arm at the far end of the water down past the power lines, the one bay was quite sheltered, but appeared devoid of fish, as neither of us caught anything nor did the pair of boat anglers that I saw. Martin defied the logic by catching fish on a heathen lure on a sinking line. I am not aware of any brown or blue trout being caught.
Carl deservedly won the match with a super bag of fine silver fish which I think were caught away from the main ‘catch area’. At least some of these looked to me to be well established fish and not stockies, which may be why he had the heaviest bag of six. Amazingly Martin came second by catching with the most unconventional set-up of the day. Ric and Steve landed twenty between them, thus showing that they are pretty good at this fishing game, and Andre vied to join them, separating them by coming in fourth despite losing most of what he hooked.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the staff at Elinor for once again making us welcome and giving us a pleasant days fishing. We are also very grateful for the prize which was presented to our winning member.