Grey Boys on a Grey Day - Pulling Buzzers on Blagdon
I joined Malcolm Hunt, manager of Manningford Trout Fishery, on a day out at Blagdon Lake in anticipation for some prolific early season action. Social media had been alive with huge catches and easy stocky bashing, "fish all over" and "choking on Buzzers" apparently, so we couldn't resist. We arrived early doors and both set out to catch on Buzzers (Chironomids), and despite a strain injury on my left hand preventing a figure of eight retrieve I was determined to succeed. The conditions were cold (8'C), but a perfect ripple and overcast sky allowed for decent hatching conditions. Accordingly I coupled a floating line with 4 Buzzers, a mixture of patterns and colours with an emerger version on the top. The idea being that once the fish zone in on a particular one I could switch the others to match. Malcolm opted for a similar approach, but with a sink tip line to work the depths.
My intitial 4 Buzzer cast, held on a Cliff Boat Patch.
While setting up in the boat we noticed that there were plenty of shucks in the harbour, as well as clouds of flies from size 14 to 10 in hook equivalent. We dropped the drogue immediately in front of the harbour and I was into a fish on the first cast, it took a Buzzer in the top 2 ft of water on the drop, which was odd considering the cold conditions! I had a second on the hang soon after, followed by a 3rd savage take that snapped me off despite presenting the extremely robust 12lb Rio Fluouroflex Plus - probably a bad knot I hate to admit. I was having to fish a sink and draw technique rather than static due to my injury, casting out letting the flies sink and drawing them back up in the water to allow them to sink again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
So we were off to a flying start, and what we thought would be a pretty straight forward day, turns out it wasn't to be so simple. As we bounced about the lake hitting the popular producing areas we seemed to just be picking up the odd fish, steady, but not the carnage we expected. And even more strangely, the fish weren't coming at the same point in the retrieve, same fly or same presentation or depth. We were catching them in a multitude of ways. Realising we hadn't quite got it right we resisted the urge to switch to lures and set ourselves a challenge to work out the best presentation and match the hatch to increase our catch rate to something more relative to the conditions and number of stocked fish.
I immediately, and unreservedly reached for a 9ft bung and fished it for a good hour, this was partly because I was in pain, but mainly to see if it gave us an idea of the feeding depth - it did, all but one fish falling to the fly at the 6ft point. I spooned a fish and found it absolutely full of Grey Boy Buzzers, all sizes and not much else. These grubs had a silver/white segmented body, with a red spot, orange cheeks and breathers, and by chance I had recently tied up some just the same but lacking breathers. I tied 3 of them on, why bother with anything else I thought. The next change saw the addition of a FAB (foam arsed blob) to the point fly to hold the flies up in a washing line in that 6ft zone. This change did increase the catch rate, but not considerably, I needed another tweak. Like most days fishing you have lots of ideas come into your head 'maybe I should try fishing deeper?', 'maybe I should dig it in the wind with a sink tip?', 'maybe I need to try smaller flies?' - the list goes on. Often, these are just ideas, but sometimes your gut just tells you something is right, and that something tends to keep popping subconsciously back into your head. On this occasion it was the implementation of a hover line, incidentally Malcolm had been having the same thought about a slow intermediate. We both switched lines, and I decided that given the huge number of Buzzers in the water I needed something extra to draw the fish onto mine, I tied a FAB to the top and bottom of the cast with two Grey Boys in the middle. The idea here being to hold the 4 offerings at the 6ft depth for the longest possible period. Abracadabra! It worked! and we both started to get takes pretty much every cast, we had cracked it, eventually! The method involved casting out, pulling the line straight, waiting 15 seconds then 2-3 fast pulls to draw the fish in, pause, then repeat until you got a take. Our efforts this day were not in vain, our drive to catch more fish faster, while covering water on the drift resulted in significant gains later in the day and turned an average early season session into a bumper one.
Interested in tying a Grey Boy Buzzer? I find that the two most important materials for success with this pattern are the use of a nano silk which is very strong to deal with the flexi, and some Solarez Bone Dry resin - that stuff is excellent and doesn't overwhelm the fly, retaining the original shape in the body and 100% tack free.
My version of a Grey Boy Buzzer.
Rib: White flexifloss, fine red micro wire
Cheeks: Orange flexifloss
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