Reservoirs, tarns, llyns and lochans all provide another scenic dimension to our summer stillwater sport in more distant parts of the UK.
By June, the trout should be feeding well on the surface as all manner of aquatic flies hatch in good numbers. However, if you are a Stillwater angler and looking for some surface action, then head north or west.
The English reservoirs do not offer the surface sport they once did. There are plenty of theories why, including the aerial threat from cormorants and the feeding of trout in cages with sinking pellets. But the most likely reason are the vast swarms of protein-rich daphnia clouding our reservoirs.
There is simply no reason for a rainbow to stick its head up. All the food it ever wants is in the depths. Northern and western reservoirs, often constructed on acidic, or low alkaline soil, are not as rich in food or as eutrophic as their southern counterparts. The chance of catching a genuine grown-on rainbow here is much smaller.
But you will find a wide range of insects, plus the important terrestrials that get blown onto the water, to bring the trout to the top.
Trout stocked on a moorland, or upland, reservoir, soon get used to looking upwards for their food. Small upwinged flies like the claret dun assume greater importance, as a good hatch during the day can produce a spectacular rise. This species can be identified by its hindwings which, unlike any other mayfly, are paler than the main wings.
A fall of these tiny terrestrials can occur at any time. Then watch the trout go mad with rises everywhere
Confined to upland moorland areas, these mating beetles can hatch in vast swarms on warm days
The northern version of the terrestrial hawthorn fly, the heather fly is identified by its orange legs
A small olive sized mayfly found on the more-acidic waters that will produce good day-time rises, even in a wind
These will generally be smaller than in southern waters and looking upwards for their food
Always expect a home-grown brownie in these older waters. Browns were originally stocked before rainbows
This hard-fighting strain of rainbows do well in the food-poorer but cooler waters of the north and west. They retain their condition
An easy food source for predatory trout like brownies, upland waters will often hold minnows if fed by a stream
An important summer insect on northern waters, the nymph or creeper is used as hook bait
These aggressive spiny-backed little fish haunt the shallows. Every so often, the trout will turn onto them, particularly in autumn
The caddis or sedge can be imitated at various stages in its life cycle. The adults hatch at dusk
CATCH & RELEASE
THE upland areas of the north and west of the country are rich in waters large and small. These are usually reservoirs, constructed more than 100 years ago, to supply water to the then burgeoning heavy industries. However, that now belongs to the history books and these reservoirs offer ready-made locations for trout fisheries. Many are owned by local clubs and can be fished on a very-reasonably priced ticket. And nearly all will be catch and release.
Don’t expect the thick silver vermillion-sided fish you will catch 200 miles south. These fish usually turn darker and slimmer once they have been caught and returned a few times.
Blue trout do well in these upland venues. It used to be brook trout but these are now hard for fish suppliers to get hold of.
These mature waters are normally as clear as possible but have neither the weed nor the algal growth found in waters further south. So the first step is to scale down your tackle and leader strength.
Depending on the wind strength and size of water, choose between a six-weight or a five-weight 10ft or 9ft 6ins rod. There is a growing trend to use lighter rods in longer lengths.
All you should need is a floating line, or a slow-sink like an SSI, that hangs just below the surface for some nymph work. But today we’re going to fish dry fly.
DUNS & DIPTERA
THE weather is warm, breezy and cloudy, ideal for good hatches. Look along the reedy margins or in the grass for insects that have recently hatched.
June is a good month for olive hatches, but on upland acidic waters expect also to find the claret dun which the trout will eagerly take from the surface or subsurface. Claret duns are a similar size to lake olives but you won’t find such large females.
Classic dry fly imitations include the Claret Dun, Iron Blue Dun or a Kite’s Imperial, all around size 14. But a darker CDC dry should do. A fall of black gnats can occur right through the spring, summer and autumn as winds dump the swarms onto the water to the delight of the trout. Calm days will see dying insects trapped in the surface film after the rigours of mating.
There are plenty of dry Gnat imitations, but you might do just as well with a small black Spider or Bibio fished just beneath the surface.
Later in the summer, look out for the heather fly, an ungainly flyer that is easily blown onto the water where its characteristic orange legs create a disturbance rarely missed by the trout.
In Wales and Scotland, expect the coch-y-bonddu, or bracken clock, beetle. On warm days, the mating beetles can create huge swarms which, once blown onto the water, bring the trout to a surface feeding frenzy. The classic pattern uses a body of peacock herl and a hackle of red cock although there are some new close-copy patterns around.
CADDIS & STONEFLIES
BENEATH the surface, a rake through the inshore pebbles will reveal other surprises, like the tasty larvae of one the largest groups of aquatic flies, the Trichoptera or sedges. Of the 193 British species, no fewer than 148 make cases out of material like small stones, gravel and small sticks. Flies that imitate them include the classic Stick Fly or the Cased Caddis. Fish these flies close to the bottom on a floating line and long leader.
The pupal and adult stage are even more important to the angler and we will be looking at these next month as they are found on waters up and down the country.
Although more important to the river angler, the stoneflies, or hard-winged flies, can be found on the shoreline of stoney lakes. The males of some of the larger species are incapable of flight as the wings hardly exist.
The stonefly nymph, or creeper, is a popular northern hook bait for trout where allowed but hard to imitate. However, the adults are on the wing from April to June and include Yellow Sally, Needle Fly and Willow Fly.
It’s rare to find any coarse fish in these upland reservoirs, except maybe a few small perch, but sticklebacks will usually be present in the margins and maybe some minnows if there is a stream entering. Both will offer another food source for the stocked trout.
Because of their age, most of these reservoirs will have probably been stocked with brown trout at some time or another and, provided there is a stream for them to spawn, their progeny should live on for future anglers to enjoy.
A caddis nymph uses bits of stick and gravel to build its protective case.
TACTICS & TACKLE
GET to the water early to take advantage of any early hatches. Terrestrials will appear later in the day. If casting is easy, you will have chosen a 5wt rod between 9 and 10ft. If more windy, then go for the six weight. You may also want to try a double taper fly line for more sensitivity and accuracy in the cast.
Use a tapered co-polymer 12-14ft leader tapering down to 5lb. Start off with a single dry fly, with both leader and fly lightly greased. If the breeze gets up and they are taking sub-surface, shorten the leader, add a dropper for the dry fly and fish a spider, nymph or drowned emerger on the point. The dry fly will act as an indicator.