Having Trouble Catching a Double? (Graham Hayward Guest Blog)
Expert trophy fish hunter Graham Hayward shares his secrets on how to catch reservoir doubles.
Graham Hayward is an accomplished competition angler and guide who is well renowned for his ability to consistantly catch huge reservoir Brown and Rainbow Trout. He recently started a his own business Guide Rutland Fly Fishing, which offers a 'unique approach to guiding and targeting of big specimen fish'.
How do you set about catching a double figure fish? It’s no secret that there are few more prestigious fish than a grown on double figure Trout from one of the Anglian Water reservoirs. No, I'm not talking about a pellet pig from a big fish stillwater - that’s just another fresh dumb stocky. I’m talking about a once in a lifetime 10lb+, grown on cunning and overwintered Brown or Rainbow Trout. This leads us to a very important issue- the demise of big grown on Rainbows in our large reservoirs.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to catch Rainbows over the 7lb mark. In fact, I believe that a 7lb Rainbow is now the new double figure standard. However, the same cannot be said for Brown Trout. For the past few years, the size and quality of Browns has been on the rise. Today, on either Rutland or Pitsford, a 5-6lb Brownie is almost common place. So, with a little insight and the right fly, a double figure Brownie could be well within your grasp.
Our big reservoirs, naturally sculpted with deep holes, bays, and points, provide the perfect habitat for these big Browns. So perfect in fact, that finding them can be a hard enough struggle to begin with! Big fish are big for a reason. These Browns are exceptionally smart and crafty, they have seen it all before and therefore will often opt to reside in a quieter section of the reservoir, in areas free of divebombing tequila boobies and candy fabs. So, if I were you, I’d ask the lads in the lodge where they’ve been sending the anglers on that day and head in the opposite direction! But a good cast and a quiet spot isn’t all you’ll need to catch the big Brownies. Food is the biggest factor to consider when targeting large browns!
I think it’s a common misconception that Brown Trout are solitary creatures that would much prefer to reside in their own territories. In my experience, its completely the opposite to this and I believe, if there’s one, you can expect to find a hell of a lot more! The principal reason for this is food. Unlike other fresh fish in the reservoir, the Brown Trout’s feeding patterns makes its movements somewhat predictable. If, for example, you caught a big fish in a particular area one year, it’s more than likely that that same fish and its buddies will be in the same area at around the same time the following year, just a couple of pounds bigger… provided that you released him the first time around! So, whether it’s a buzzer bed crawling with chironomids or a pontoon stacked with fry, finding a spot with an abundance of food nearby will provide you with the best opportunity to track down the big fish.
So now you know the optimum conditions for hooking a big Brown, what about the fly? When looking for Brownies, it’s safe to assume that they will be swimming roughly 10ft below the Rainbows. But these are clever fish and they have seen it all before. So, in my opinion, the most natural approach will be the best. Even swapping your fab for a grub buzzer for half an hour could well land you the fish of a lifetime. Two key windows of opportunity are your spring time buzzer bonanza and when they switch onto the abundance of fry found in the autumn and winter.
When fishing lures it’s ESSENTIAL that you space them correctly. I really cannot stress the importance of this enough! I fish with a minimum of 10ft between large lures such as minkies or humunguses. When targeting Browns with a Nymph approach, I start small on the top dropper and taper my nymphs down to a large buzzer or heavy cruncher on the point. I never fish colour on a cast when targeting these fish as I feel it puts them on edge making the fish less likely to take one of the nymphs up the line. On the other hand, if the fish are high up in the water and a washing line approach is necessary, I will opt for a more imitative buoyant fly on the point such as a humongous or minkie booby.
Fishing for Browns is a very unpredictable business. One day they’ll be pulling off your arm, the next you might not even get a follow. So, be prepared for sessions of either feast or famine and take any opportunity the lake offers.
Tight lines and good luck for the coming season!