Autumn Fly Fishing On Carsington Water, Derbyshire – Pull And Pause
TFF editor Andy Taylor takes an autumn trip to Carsington Water in search of its silver-tailed rainbow trout.
2018 has been a funny old year on the stillwater fly fishing scene for me. The “Beast From The East” put paid to the early buzzer fishing on my regular waters and then the “Heat Wave From Hell” scuppered the fantastic sport I’ve experienced over the years during the summer afloat on our big waters. For me it’s been a struggle to catch on a nymph, buzzer or dry and instead I’ve felt like I’ve had to make the trout take the fly rather than catching fish on the feed, with Blobs and Boobies being my main form of attack.
Silver Tailed Rainbows In The Peak District
So as the autumnal weather appeared and the shorter days and cooler nights became the norm is was time to get back on the big waters after a summer spent on the Welsh Dee. The word on the social media jungle drums was that Carsington Water in the Peak District had switched on. Talk of big, fully finned, silver-tailed rainbows had come on the feed, with the hot spot being in and around the mouth of Fish Tail Creek. Dries, washing-line and nymphs had been the methods to tempt these great looking fish, so armed with my floating line and box of dries I headed out to Carsington.
Carsington is a hidden gem in the Peak District sometimes forgotten perhaps due to the popularity of the Midlands Reservoirs a couple of hours drive away. I for one am guilty of this, having in recent years taken a two-hour drive to Anglian Water reservoirs, often ignoring those stillwater’s on my door step. Carsington is usually crystal clear, it has exceptional fly hatches, the ability to consistently produce superb, silver tailed rainbows, has a good fleet of boats and is situated in some of the most picturesque countryside in the country.
Dries To Start
Like many of our big waters this year the water level was down; probably the lowest I’ve seen it. We parked up in the adjacent anglers car park, got our half day ticket and made our way out for just after 9am. The wind was blowing directly into Fish Tail Creek so we set the drift a good 500 metres back . I started out on dries, my ever reliable Flat Daddy on the point, a Claret Bits in the middle and a Big Red as a sighter on the top dropper. After a season of “pulling” I was looking forward to catching some quality fish on dries.
There was a decent ripple so I kept my casts short so I could see the Big Red on the top dropper and fan cast around the front of the boat leaving the dries for 10 seconds before repositioning covering as much water as I could as with drifted along. I find this method works well at this time of year as the fish will be looking up for terrestrials and other bits being blown onto the waters surface.
Dries Fished Wet
After one drift through we were fishless so we motored back round and did a similar drift this time aiming for the right hand point of the mouth. This time I mixed my tactics up. I fished the dries as dries for the first ten seconds as before, and then popped them under the surface and stroked them back. Fishing dries wet can be a deadly tactic. We drifted onto the point and then down the right hand side of the bay still with no luck. Time to move.
We continued to move out to right and this time tried a drift into Upperfields Bay. Perhaps the fish had moved here. Again we were fishless and with time pressing on it was a time for a change.
Change In Tactics
I tackled up the Wychwood Hoverer intermediate line and a Zonker on a 14ft leader. We were convinced that the fish were here and hopefully by pulling something big through the hotspot we might tempt one of these silver-tailed rainbows. Again we drifted into the mouth of Fish Tail Creek with out a pull or a follow. Time to change again. Out came some colour, a pink Blob on the top dropper and a sunburst Blob on the point of the same 14ft leader. I cast out, straightened the leader, turned to talk to my boat partner and the line locked up! The first fish to make it to the net was by luck not skill. It had taken the pink Blob static just under the surface. The fish was safely returned and the flies launched out again. This time I pulled back as soon as the flies had touched the water. I felt the fish were potentially high and whilst not wanting the break the surface to take a dry that might be prepared to chase. And so this was the case. The next few casts resulted in follows right up to the boat but no takes.
We were convinced that the fish were here and hopefully by pulling something big through the hotspot we might tempt one of these silver-tailed rainbows.
Time To Pause
I decided to change colour. Off came the pink and sunburst and on went two drab Tequila Blobs a FNF Colossus on the point a small size 12 Jelly Blob on the dropper. Again these were cast out and pulled back at speed employing a pause half way back. It worked! A pause part way back proved too irresistible to a fully-finned Carsington rainbow. The rod was wrenched nearly from my hand. Takes such as this on the pause are unbelievable and heart stopping at times. Just make sure you keep your rod tip on an angle so that you don’t end up with a smash take! How can a fish of this size pull so hard? A great battle took place before a stunning silver-tailed trout came to the net. This is what we were after albeit not on the dries.
Three more fish soon came to the net as we altered our drift in and around Fish Tail Creek, all on the pause some way back on the retrieve. Sometimes these takes would come as soon as you stopped other times they came after a 10 to twenty second wait.
Takes continued on the next two drifts both on the pause and on the hang but I couldn’t connect with them. It was only when my boat partner said you could have had a dozen by now if all those had stuck that I decided to check the hooks. The Blob on the point had broken at the bend! Lesson learnt. A fresh Blob was attached and we caught steadily to our 2pm finish. All the fish came to the pause on the retrieve.
When fishing stillwaters we can be obsessed with casting as far we can and moving the flies back in steady pulls back to the bank and boat. Yes on days this works but sometimes we need pause, stop the retrieve and fish static or on the drop. The pause is just as effective as the pull for catching stillwater trout. Try it, but be prepared for those arm-wrenching takes…
Andy is the Features Editor of Today’s FlyFisher.com following three years as Editor of Total FlyFisher. Andy is a multi-capped England International in both loch-style and bank disciplines. A qualified instructor and lecturer, Andy has a wealth of fishery management experience.