With its height and huge dam wall, Foremark is one of those fisheries you can’t see until you’re right upon it.
The reservoir was constructed and landscaped in the mid 70’s well away from major roads, and continued forestry management has resulted in an extremely attractive water ringed by open pasture and deep forest.
The water, which opened to the fly fishing public in 1979, has about four miles of bank fishing. This, coupled with a fleet of 20 boats, half of which are equipped with petrol outboard motors, puts it among the premiership of reservoir fishing.
The reservoir is fed, by pipeline, from the River Dove, which is about five miles away, gives the fishery a rich feed of aquatic insects that come in with the water at the popular and aptly named ‘Cascade’, on the eastern side of the reservoir.
There is also a good head of coarse fish in the reservoir - though not a single pike, surprisingly - which provides a prodigious source of fry to maintain some hefty trout.
Stocking takes place twice weekly throughout the summer months with rainbow trout from 1lb 4oz to fish well into double figures. There is also a good mixture of fish from 2lb to 6lb as well as the big doubles. Three or four years ago, we stocked with 55,000 fingerling brown trout, which are now well grown on and should provide some good fish in the next few years.
Foremark is unusual in that at least half the bank is exclusively for anglers, the public being kept to the west bank. Boat anglers face some restrictions when sailing is in progress - mainly Sunday afternoons - when you are excluded from the centre of the bowl. On the other hand, sailors are excluded from the southern arm.
Boat fishing on Foremark is always best in a south to westerly wind, with Carvers Arm, Verduns Point, Flamingo Bay and in front of the lodge giving the best results. In the slightly less favourable north or easterly wind, the Dam Wall, Valve Tower right through to Bush Bay is great drifting territory.
If there’s one tip I’d like to impart, it’s to concentrate on fishing the top five feet of the water, no matter what the depth. It’s rarely that sinking lines produce better results than fishing imitative patterns near the surface.
SPRING: March and early April provide huge buzzer hatches, starting with black insects for a few weeks, then the green variety for the next three or four weeks and then back to black,which are evident for the remainder of the year.
Late in spring, we get large hatches of hawthorn fly. It usually takes the fish a day or two to cotton on to these big, terrestrial flies but once they do, they go mad for a well-presented artificial. Many of the better fish fall to Hawthorns fished through the ripple.
SUMMER: As the warmer months come, the upper layers provide more consistent sport. A long leader and Damselfly Nymph with a smaller buzzer pattern on a dropper drifted on a side wind can be deadly during May.
For traditional wet-fly anglers, old favourites such as Soldier Palmer, Mallard and Claret and Invictas are deadly for the rainbows.
Summer also provides sport for dry-fly, especially during the often prolific evening rises. The popular CDC emerger patterns work extremely well, along with many of the older, tried and tested patterns.
AUTUMN: The back end of the season is the time to tempt the bigger fish with a fry imitating pattern. Anything from floating fry to Minkies, White Fritz and old favourites such as Appetiser and Missionary will score. The fish will be bigger than usual, so this is the prime time when records are broken.
Foremark’s best rainbow weighed 16lb 10oz and our record brown trout tipped the scales at 10lb.
UNDERSTANDING THE WIND
Bush Bay, The Stones
Ticknell Bank, Cascade, Hut Point, Verdun Point
Carvers Arm, both banks
Dam Wall, Lodge, Verdun Point, Hut Point
1 LODGE BANK
If you have mobility problems, don’t hesitate to make life easy on yourself and fish next to your car. This is great nymphing territory, Buzzers, Sedges and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear - especially with a jungle cock cheek - all work well on a floating line, with no need for a huge cast. Daddy Longlegs comes into its own in September, and Boobies fished close to the bank are excellent.
Top tip: Anyone can fish off the pontoon, but give way to the disabled
Best times: There are fish year-round
2 DAM WALL (EAST)
The eastern end of the Dam, at the end of the no-fishing zone, is a hotspot for buzzer and sedges, which hatch around here in huge numbers from May onwards. This is often a sheltered part of the dam wall from which casting is fairly easy, and so especially popular with bank anglers. Best method is generally a floating line, fishing with Buzzer and dry Sedge patterns, CDC and Parachute patterns in particular.
Top tip: If the fish are slightly deeper try an intermediate, fishing as slowly as possible.
Best times: Early season
3 DAM TO THE STONES
The Eastern end of the Dam towards Carvers Rocks provides sheltered bays and points and some of the most productive areas on the water. Again Black Buzzers and Sedge patterns produce some excellent results, but try a variety of floating and semi-sinking patterns. With slow retrieves, fluorocarbon leader material is a great asset.
Top tip: Try to match the size of the insects when using sedges
Best times: Early to mid summer
4 THE STONES
Deep water very close in means short casting with a fast-sinking line and Boobies - a popular tactic which produces well. Use a short leader and let the whole line sink before beginning the retrieve in even pulls, waiting a few seconds between each pull. This area is also very close to refreshment kiosk and toilets.
Top tip: Use 8lb fluorocarbon with Booby lures
Best times: Often excellent at the back end of the season
5 HERON POINT
This area fishes well in most wind conditions. With bays to either side and the point extending into deep water, fish lie on the edges of the point waiting for food items drifting across the point. The lush vegetation around the reservoir provides an abundance of terrestrial insects that get blown onto the water towards the waiting trout.
Top tip: A well-presented dry imitation often works and frequently produces the better stamp of fish.
Best times: May to June when hawthorns are around. Autumn for Daddy Longlegs.
6 EAST BANK
This section of the East bank just below Heron Point fishes well with the wind off your back - useful for anglers with little casting confidence. It’s another good, sheltered area and ideal for the nymph and dry fly angler. In a calm, presentation needs to be spot on, using quality leaders and well-prepared dry patterns. Intermediate lines work well here, with a slow retrieve.
Top tip: Use a sight bob when fishing nymphs slowly
Best times: This is a great midsummer hotspot
7 THE CASCADE
The Cascade area on the Ticknall bank is where the water from the River Dove is pumped into the reservoir. The water is rich in insect and fly life and fry. Nymphing works well, but so do fishing sinking fry patterns at the back end of the season, casting alongside but not into the main flow. Minkies and White Fritz score with this method.
Top tip: Vary the retrieve dramatically when using fry imitations.
Best times: A hotspot, particularly in autumn.
8 HIGH BANK
As this area catches the tail end of the flow from The Cascade, it is another big-fish hotspot. Fry patterns work well, particularly in autumn, but when there’s a fall of daddy longlegs, fishing dry Daddies is magical sport. Watch out, too, for sedge hatches which produce splashy rises, and fish dry sedge patterns or sedge pupae on an intermediate line.
Top tip: Detached-body Daddies work particularly well.
Best times: September onwards
9 SOUTH TICKNALL
Close bankside vegetation along the southern Ticknall bank calls for casting along the edges of the water. This puts off many anglers from fishing this area. However, for the angler who wants to go stalking his fish, this is ideal territory. Creeping quietly along with light tackle can often tempt some of the more selective fish to take a tempting dry sedge pattern. Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail Nymphs work very well here.
Top tip: Big fish cruise very close to the bank.
Best times: Any time when a breeze blows inshore.
10 BRAMBLE BAY - HUT POINT
Just to the South of Hut Point is a stretch of tree-lined bank that has had woodland management work undertaken in recent years. This has resulted in very nice sections where the trees have been thinned and breaks created to allow casting. An excellent area when falls of terrestrials like hawthorns are around
Top tip: Be patient when fishing dries, and leave the fly in the water a while
Best times: May and September
11 HUT POINT
This part of the reservoir must rate among the top five hotspots. Named Hut Point after a long-departed hut that was popular with anglers as a shelter in adverse weather, the point extends well out into very deep water and provides good ambushing territory for the bigger fish lying in wait. For this reason fry-imitating patterns can take some superb rainbows, while nymph tactics also work well in the top water.
Top tip: This prolific fish-holding area fishes extremely well in any wind direction with the exception of strong northerlies.
Best times: September to November
12 VERDUN’S POINT
Named after the late bailiff Verdun Manning, this spot offers deep water very close in. Verdun knew his stuff, because this area remains the top spot on the reservoir, particularly in westerly and southerly winds. Damselfly Nymph patterns are very successful here, and in Flamingo Bay to your right. Sedge hatches bring the fish right to the top.
Top tip: Old patterns like Invicta, Wickhams and March Brown can work as well as the modern Hopper
Best times: Great on a summer evening.
13 VERDUNS - YACHT SLIP
This area has a rocky bottom and a small brook inlet. Early season, tadpoles stream down the brook into the reservoir bringing fun sport with Black Tadpole. Roach spawn here, so it’s another opportunity to fish Minkies and Zonkers for the larger rainbows at any time after September, right through to November. Teams of Buzzers work here as elsewhere, with a slow retrieve or no retrieve at all.
Top tip: Let teams of buzzers swing round in the wind - it’s deadly here.
Best times: An autumn hotspot.
In the height of summer, there’s consistent sport at the aerators, just off the Valve Tower. The fish congregate here and any of the seasonal methods will work. When the daddy longlegs are around, a dry Daddy or Hopper will score. Loch-style drifting - there’s no anchoring here - is great with traditional wet flies like Black Pennell and Black and Peacock Spider.
Top tip: Don’t stay in the bubbles. Drift well downwind as well
Best times: Great on sultry summer afternoons