Some of my earliest memories of fishing are of evenings spent at Arlington Reservoir, a pretty, medium-sized water nestled in the South Downs. I have a very clear image of feeling a fish buck and bounce on the end of my dad’s line, the sun setting to our left – I must have been around four or five at the time and couldn’t hold the rod by myself. The reservoir also played host to a pair of black swans that you had to pass if you wanted to get onto the bank, and I remember Arlington was where I saw my first osprey.
A trip was overdue, and I thought a session on the bank would make the perfect start to my season. I’d read that it was fishing well, too, so my hopes were high as I bought my ticket, had a chat with a ranger and tackled up.
To the left of the hut is a stretch of bank known as The Bay, and this seemed the obvious place to start. After wading through more mud than my walking boots could cope with – wellies next time, I think – I reached a spot that was suitable to make a start at. My setup was uncomplicated and suited for the bank: a Di3 40+ Expert line, a 12lb fluorocarbon leader, a booby on the point and a blob on the dropper, eight feet apart and 10 feet to the braided loop to allow for line changes. I would fan cast trying different retrieves and depths until I either did or didn’t catch a fish, at which point I’d either stay and test the successful method or move another 50 metres up the bank and repeat the process, in either case allowing 20 to 40 minutes between swim changes.
It wasn’t long before I’d hooked into something – a tree on a back cast. There is limited casting room along much of The Bay, and the wind blowing across my casting arm wasn’t helping. If anything, this mishap came at the right time because I’d decided that I’d be better off on a Di5.
After a quick reset I was back fishing, and around 10 minutes later I had a trout in the bass bag. Another followed three casts later and I was pleased that I was beginning to figure out what the fish wanted. Both had taken my Cutthroat Cat Booby as I had stripped it back.
That fly brings back memories. It was tied by Phil Longstaff at some unearthly hour of the morning in hurried preparation for the youth international at Llyn Brenig the next day. So long ago now...
Half an hour and a swim change later, disaster struck. The bank had taken offence at something I’d said to it – “Why can’t you just be flat?” – and had decided to make my running line its next victim. As I sat, catastrophic tangle in hand, I was left wishing for the smooth, snag-free hull of a boat. I could do nothing but make the tangle worse, so I wound up my line and decided to take (another) 10 minutes to soak in my surroundings. It was approaching noon. The sun was at its zenith and the wind was beginning to pick up, blowing clouds in from over the downs. I had been joined on the bank by another angler who’d leapfrogged me as I was concentrating on the tangle. He’d brought a seat with him – more on that later.
By the time I’d changed my line back to the Di3 and sorted out a new leader – after the fight with the tree I’d been left with only one fly – the angler had moved on. I hurriedly marched round to where he had been, a section of The Bay with a decent amount of casting room. As I arrived a fish rolled on the surface. They were closer to the top than might be expected on such a bright day and soon I had another on the bank. It too had taken my fast-moving flies mid-water, proving my approach worked.
For the rest of my time fishing I stayed in that spot, save a quick gander to a shallower area. I caught there too, twiddling a Woofta and black and green Fab across a shelf and, despite losing a couple, larger flies stuck better than smaller ones.
By 1.30pm I’d caught my six-fish limit. Is there a better feeling in fishing than knowing you’ve got your method right? I’ve yet to find one. I certainly could have caught my fish quicker, but sometimes it’s nice to make things last, especially when confident with your approach and fishing catch-and-kill. If only our sport could be that satisfying all the time!
Walking back to the lodge I encountered a number of anglers who had journeyed round from another part of the reservoir. Like the gentleman with the seat, they would cast their lines out, put their rods on the floor and wait for a fish to take an interest. I believe they were using boobies with sink-tip lines. The three anglers had five fish between them, I believe, and they had all been caught with a lot of patience in The Bay.
In the car on the way home I was left pondering whether that type of fishing can possibly be enjoyable, that inactive sit-down-and-wait strategy. My joy that day had come from the fact that I’d worked out where most of the fish were, what flies they wanted, at what depth and with what retrieve. I’d actively hunted the fish and figured out how best to catch them, taking my time to enjoy the experience and the setting in the process. Where do the inactive anglers get their joy? Is it from the catching, rather than the fishing? Is it simply from the experience?
Maybe next time I’ll ask them. Arlington is clearly very well stocked, and although small the fish fight hard and are in good condition. The pricing is very reasonable too, especially for under 25s, who enjoy a substantial discount on tickets. It’s certainly a venue I’d recommend to a friend, regardless of how they might want to fish it, and once the trout have turned their attention to buzzers I’ll be back on the bank, rod in hand, ready to forge new memories of that most wonderful of reservoirs.
One lucky angler could find themselves £2500 better off if they rise to the challenge of landing the Golden Trout at Bewl Water. The tagged trout with a price on its head has been released into the lake on the Kent and Sussex border and anglers who pay an additional supplement of £2.50 on top of their usual ticket price will be able to claim the £2,500 bounty if they land the prize fish.
They'll need lots of luck as well as skill and judgement. The Golden Trout has joined the 27,500 other trout that been used to re-stock Bewl since Tunbridge Wells-based Markerstudy Leisure bought the site in January. "The Golden Trout was released into the middle of the reservoir, which can hold up to 31,000 million litres of water, so it could be anywhere by now", said Howard Mackenzie, Estates Manager at Bewl Water.
"There is no time limit to the competition, it will remain open until whenever the Golden Trout is successfully landed. "We wish the best of luck to all those anglers who set out to catch it."
The competition kicks off on 1st August. Day prices at Bewl Water range from £12 to £28 for fishing tickets, with boat hire starting at £18.
Trout Taken 318(1020) Catch and Release 347(946) Rod Returns 130(427) Fish per rod 5.11(4.60)
Season’s totals in brackets
Season ticket holder Horace Wood of Sapcote accompanied Alan Brooking of Leicester on a boat recently and both initially struggled to catch it was not until much later in the day that the fish began to feed. Horace and Alan anchored and fished off the pens area with teams of buzzers and finished the day with limit bags apiece.
Good friends Chris Thomas of Milton Keynes and Brian Holly from Derry, Northern Ireland enjoyed frenetic sport on their first ever visit to the fishery. Brian and Chris opted to fish the bank at the Hawthorns and caught twenty fighting fit rainbow’s between them. The majority of the pairs rainbows were taken on diawl bach, Brian caught a particularly nice over-wintered rainbow that was estimated to weigh around 3lb 8oz.
Season ticket holder Dave Chadwick of Ashley fished from the bell and caught numerous rainbows on buzzers fished under an indicator and topped his session off with a superb brown trout estimated to weigh between 4-5lb, the fish was safely returned to the water.
A mix of April showers some of which have been thundery with hail stones have done little to improve early season fishing conditions but with a healthy stocking policy helping to return a consistent rod average of 4 for the bank and 6 for the boats nobody at Eyebrook is complaining…
Best fly patterns for the ‘brook’ include black quill buzzers, black and green taddies, gold ribbed hares ear nymphs and diawl bach all fished on floating lines.
The 2016 Eyebrook Wednesday Night Boat League will soon be underway Opening match on Wednesday 11th May 2016 and offers some great fishing prizes.
During 2013 The Eyebrook Wednesday Night Boat League was born and has proved to be an absolute winner as it has not only offered the seasoned angler the opportunity for some friendly competition but also helped novice fly fishers get to grips with the sport as regards fly choice, drifting or anchored boat and tactics generally. If you are interested in participating have a word with Jobe Burnham at the Eyebrook Fishing Lodge or for more information click on to www.eyebrook.com News and Events- Wednesday Night Boat League.
‘Catch me if you can’, Tagged Trout Competition Along with the usual top quality rainbows the Eyebrook Trout Fishery have been stocking for the 2016 season a number of tagged fish have also been introduced into the fishery. To qualify for entry into the 'Catch me if you can' Competition and your chance to win vouchers to the value of £100 that can be redeemed at the fishery for permits, boats, tuition or even toward payment on season tickets, you must first register your details with fishery staff at the Eyebrook fishing lodge, entry fee is £5.00 and the competition runs until the end of fishing 2016... and good luck!
For your Chance to Win a Day Motorboat at Eyebrook Trout Fishery simply register your details at Eyebrook fishing lodge or at our on-line booking facility and send in your name and contact details including your email address and we will enter you into our weekly prize draw for a day motorboat at Eyebrook. Normal day permits will still apply. And this week’s winner is Mervyn White.
General Boat Bookings are now being taken so to reserve boats or any other general fishery information call 01536 772930 alternatively boats can be booked online at www.eyebrook.com
And catch up with the Eyebrook Fishery Website at www.eyebrook.com absolutely full to the brim with fishing tips and all your fly-fishing related questions answered at ‘Millers Tails’ And for those of you who tweet, you can now follow us on @theEyebrook, if you’re on Facebook like our page at www.facebook.com/eyebrook