Fly Fishing Tactics
Anglers are always keen to know the best hotspots, or the best patterns, but fish are fickle so this advice needs to be continually reappraised and updated. Each fishery has it’s own hot spots which we could list here, however they would quickly cease to be hotspots! They keep changing according to a multitude of factors, so it is probably best to fish the waters and compile your own list.
Use Common Sense
Fish get spooked really easily so try to avoid scaring them!
Dress in a sombre fashion
Cast with utmost care at short range or in exceptional clarity.
Wear polarised glasses. They will help you spot fish, and take most of the glare off the water, avoiding unnecessary eyestrain.
Relax! Enjoying your fishing, and turn off your mobile!
Habitat and Behaviour
You will soon discover that trout are a species which prefer cool, flowing water, which is why Albury’s waters are so beneficial to trout fishing compared to many other waters in the area.
Water temperature is quite crucial, conditions beginning to become more difficult during the heat of summer when it is far better to concentrate on the cooler flowing waters of the Tillingbourne, which makes Vale End’s river fed site such an excellent choice of venue during a heat wave.
The clearer the water the easier it is to spot fish, this will enable you to see at what depths they swim, at certain times of day and the year. This will then dictate your choice of line, and retrieve speed. As the lakes have been purpose dug, there is always a deep section off any obvious promontory, so seek out those positions to begin with. Generally, you will be fishing in 2 – 3 metres of water, and a floating line will suffice for most months of the year but you can always lengthen the leader upwards from the standard length of 3 metres. Surface activity will also indicate that the fish are not too far down, and the type of rise form will also help to determine how deep you should be fishing, and at what speed.
If you go to the end of the lake where the wind is blowing, you will find a collection of nymphal shucks giving you a large clue as to the type and size of fly hatching off.
Wherever fish can feel secure, that’s where you will find them in general.
River tactics are more demanding.
The confines are tighter through more tricky casting, and there is a greater chance of the fish being spooked.
The greater challenge is often more of an appeal to an angler who has already fished for several successful seasons on the lakes.
Basically, you should be looking to watch the water more, and to fish less, although more decisively.
You may take 20 minutes watching fish behaviour within a pool before you have a first cast, as one cast is the only opportunity you might get at a particular fish.
A lot of recent bank work to improve this facet of our fisheries is now bearing real fruit, with some lovely pools having been created.
Removing wide silted areas from the river stretches by narrowing the river profile is vastly improving habitat.
There is some excellent river sport to be had on day-ticket, chiefly at Vale End, where the river Tillingbourne runs the length of the fishery. There is also Office Beat running alongside the lower lake at Weston – Millhouse.
Meanwhile at Powdermills fishery, then river passes down both sides of the lake, offering river anglers varied opportunities. The carpark area is particularly productive.
All fishing on day ticket is catch and kill, with the takeable size limit at 12″
The very best river sport at Albury is on the Albury Park Syndicate, where membership is by season arrangement only, and currently running a waiting list of some 20 names. This fishery does operate a catch-and-release option.
A small number of ‘taster day tickets’ are issued on Park Fishery by prior arrangement only.
Knowing what fly to use, without a certain amount of experience, is always a dilemma as typically ten people will give you their ten favourite and uniquely different patterns and claim that theirs is the best! Flies generally fall into two categories – those which imitate, and, those which attract. The imitations are fished slowly, or even static, trying to mimic true to nature swimming speeds, whilst the attractors are designed to be stripped in to create an aggravation for the fish to respond to. The bailiff will be on top of the situation, with an eye constantly on the water, and will be best be able to advise on selection and sizes, and how to fish them.
The top six flies at Albury waters through the year would typically be:
Blue Flash Damsel Nymph, Buzzer, Bloodworm, GRHE, Cats Whisker, Fritz Goldhead Lure. Many more successful flies are used, including responses to specific hatches, some of which are seasonal floating dry flies, such as Mayfly, Daddy Long Legs and the Hawthorn Fly.
The effect of weather can have a dramatic effect on fortunes – so check out the forecast before your trip. It will help you greatly in fishing prowess and could also save you a soaking!
The best of the fishing is to be had at the temperate times of year – spring and autumn – where the water temperature is ideal, and fish feeding avidly.
The following fishing poem is well worth remembering…………
When the wind’s in the east, the fish bite the least.
When the wind’s in the south, the fly is blown right into the fish’s mouth.
When the wind is in the west, the fishing is at it’s very best.
However, when the wind is in the north, the noble angler goes not forth.
In general, cloud is your best friend, and sun is your worst enemy. Remember that as trout do not have ears, they are unable to wear shades, so in bright weather they will be swimming at a much greater depth than normal. This would be a great opportunity to try out some heavily leaded flies you may have just tied up, but the fish will be much harder to spot, and tempt out to play.
Heavily wooded sections do not feature greatly on the lakes, but stands of mature trees at Syon and to a lesser extent, at Vale End will offer tremendous shade in hot bright weather, and can also be a good source of food, such as caterpillars. Casting may be a problem in the vicinity, but access will guarantee you fish which have not been fished over too readily.
Beat the summer heat
As summer sun warms the water, trout will then tend to swim more deeply, although still rising when light conditions become sombre or during the evening – hence the fabled ‘evening rise’ phrase . They will also be far more selective in their feeding habits.
Check out the weed-beds. Whilst it can be frustrating to keep de-weeding your fly hook, that is often where you will find fish grazing, and when you see cleared weed on lake banks during the summer months, take a closer look and discover exactly how many insects and creepy crawlies you can see.
On the lakes in high summer, look for fish shoaling, where they can then be easily targeted with accurate casting.
During the heat of summer it is far better to concentrate on the cooler flowing waters of the Tillingbourne, which makes Vale End’s river fed site such an excellent choice of venue during a heat wave.
Beat the Winter blues
As summer turns to autumn, trout rise again in the water column, as sport improves markedly, and will continue
in a rich vein right through the winter until bitter winter weather arrives, whereupon fish will swim deeper again,
this time for warmth!
Look around inflows or where you suspect spring flow to come in. These same spots remain ice free during the winter, so make a few mental notes next time Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.