Dougie Loughridge: Brown Trout Hunting

There are few things in freshwater angling more impressive than a large, wild, river Brown Trout. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to land two really nice specimens.

Having a young family means it is often difficult to get a full day out fishing. However, at this time of year with the longer days, I can sometimes escape before or after work for a few hours fishing, often into the dark when some of the biggies leave their daytime haunts and go out on the hunt. So after work one evening recently, I set off to the river, stopping to pick up my mate and fellow Team member Jim Lees en route.

Conditions were favourable, mild with a light upstream wind but it was a bit on the bright side so we sat it out, choosing not to disturb the areas we wanted to fish until the Sun went down a little. One of the things I’ve learnt from Jim in the last couple of Seasons we’ve fished together, is to not go charging into a pool. You can learn so much more by having patience, sitting and observing the water, watching for signs of feeding fish or insect life. You can often go for long periods of time without making a cast but when you do, make it count.

I thread up my 10 foot 4 weight rod with a 4 weight floating line, 16 foot leader tapering down to a 3lb point and a generic #16 dirty duster emerger pattern as there wasn’t much rising at all. I took the decision to start a bit further downstream and work a pool, just blind casting to see if I could “bring one up”. After two or three casts, a large nose broke the surface and sucked in my offering... a nice rise which I promptly missed! Pool ruined, time to move upstream.

On the way up, we spotted a few stoneflies and the odd sedge skittering along the surface but nothing showed interest. There were however, lots of spinners dancing around so this looked promising for later. As we approached the pool, there were two, maybe three fish rising. Jim was up, so he set his sights on the nearest fish which was rising consistently mid-way across the stream. On his third cast, it came up and Jim set the hook. Immediately he knew it was a smaller fish of around a pound, so being the gent that he is, he quickly bullied it downstream for a quick release so as not to disturb the other fish we spotted earlier.

After unhooking, Jim pointed out that the other trout was still feeding confidently. I saw the fish come up just inches from the near bank in slackish water. I changed over to a #18 (SLD) rusty spinner pattern with a black sight post which I’d be able to spot in the light glassy surface. It was clearly a large trout but it was also going to be a tricky cast to get a drag free drift and indeed my first attempt was poor which had me cursing my technique – the adrenaline had me rushing too much. Fortunately for me, the trout wasn’t put off so after I regained my composure, I cast slightly upstream and after a short drift, the trout came up confidently. The fish fought hard in the current and after a short battle, Jim netted my prize – a stunning 20 inch Brown Trout.

The fly looked tiny in its mouth! After a few proud grip n’ grins, the fish went back and we moved on upstream. Next fish was Jim’s……

The predicted spinner fall hadn’t really happened and by this time we were well into the dark, approaching midnight. Jim still felt confident his hi vis Spinner would work and sure enough after slowly working up the pool, a cracking trout of 21 inches nailed his tiny fly out of nowhere. A superb result but it was late and time to head home.

A week later another short window of opportunity enabled me to get back on the river again with Jim but rather than a late night session, this time I was on my way to pick him up at 3am. We were tackled up by the river at 4.45am but this time it was colder and wet. It was clear after the first hour or so that there would be few opportunities for dry fly sport so I set up with a NZ indicator and #18 nymph on a Partridge Jig hook with a 2mm tungsten bead.

We leap-frogged each other, taking it in turns to cover water without any luck. Jim then changed over to a hopper pattern of his own creation basically shock and awe tactics to see if they would have a go at a good mouthful of terrestrial! And it worked almost straight away, well, I say it worked, unfortunately the fish shook off the hook almost straight away – still, it showed interest!

My turn again. Still no hatch so on stayed the nymph. I worked my way up to the head of the next pool, occasionally catching up on weed but just as I was running out of water, the wool indicator stopped and thinking it was weed again, I lifted the rod. It wasn’t weed but another 20+ inches of angry wild Brown trout! After a short, heart in mouth fight, it was released.

No need to weigh it, who cares about pounds and ounces – just a beautiful creature to admire.

Detailed step by step instructions of how to tie the Hi vis spinner as well as some other brilliant patterns can be found on Jims Blog Palewatery.com
 


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