Cooler Temperatures & Fishing On Stillwaters
Paul Procter Answers Your Questions!
Question: The weather has changed recently and with cooler temperatures should I be fishing lures on stillwaters?
A drop in temperatures often puts an edge on the trout’s appetite as they prepare for winter. Obviously, trout will target fry and baitfish at this time of year as they represent a protein rich return for fish. That said, trout are extremely opportunistic and quick to take advantage of certain food sources available to them at anytime.
Granted, baitfsh and coarse fry form an important part of the trout’s diet in autumn, but it’s not necessary to use lures exclusively at this time of year. Generally speaking, buzzers become more active as temperatures drop at the back end and we see a resurgence of buzzer hatches. Equally, aquatic bugs like corixa and freshwater shrimps, as well as hoglice are vital for the trout’s survival now. Then we need to consider terrestrials as there’s a species of small brown beetle that equates to a #16 hook, which remain active until the closing days of November, giving us a realistic chance of dry fly fishing. Tiny midges too fill the air on still autumn days and when they fall to water, trout are quick to take advantage. So, as you can see, there are several possibilities open to us despite a drop in temperatures.
Buzzers and Nymphs:
Often when buzzers hatch many anglers believe it’s necessary to copy them using an exact imitation. Admittedly, I have a box full of buzzers imitation, but equally, you’ll enjoy success using more suggestive dressings like pheasant tail nymphs (PTNs) and diawl bachs, oh and don’t forget the hare’s ear nymph either as it can easily pass as a small nymph, shrimp, or hoglouse, depending on how you fish it.
If you’re a beginner then a single size 14 nymph, or buzzer on a 12ft tapered leader will suffice. For more seasoned rods, two nymphs on positioned some 4-5ft apart on an overall leader of 14ft is a good call. Perhaps the key thing is to fish these as slowly as possible, often just using a cross-wind to drift the flies round on a ‘bowing’ line.
Furthermore, if I’m using two flies then they will consist of two very different patterns. One will be a close copy buzzer and the other a more impressionistic fly like a diawl bach. Of course, if trout show a preference for one fly over the other for whatever reason, then I’ll knot on two similar flies.
As soon as we experience a cold snap, many anglers put away their dry fly boxes. In some respect this is understandable. However there are a surprising opportunities if you care to waft a dry fly at this time of year. As mentioned there’s a species of small brown beetle, which remains active until early December. A size 14/16 foam beetle on a 12-14ft tapered leader should keep you busy where dimpling trout are found.
Obviously there’ll be buzzers too when a small dry fly like a griffiths gnat is bound to score. Something that’s not much talked about are tiny money spiders that migrate at this time of year. They actually spin a long length of silk that acts like a sail to carry them on the wind. Of course, many of them crash land on water, much to the trout’s delight. Again a size 18 or 20 griffiths gnat, or black smut will be the trout’s undoing.
Lures tend to be our default setting when the weather turns iffy. And admittedly there are times when fishing lures will be the winning method, but be careful not to fall into the one dimensional trap of simply flicking it out and hauling it back. Generally speaking, trout become more lethargic in colder water. It makes sense then to retrieve your flies more slowly now.
Perhaps one of the best methods is a weighted, mobile lure like a nomad that is fished on as long a leader as conditions allow, or you can cope with. I’d suggest something like a 12ft tapered leader with at least 5ft of 6lb level monofilament knotted on to give a 17ft leader overall. Presented on a floating line the weighted lure will plummet surprisingly deep. What’s more, using a jerky retrieve with plenty of pauses the fly will fish ‘sink and draw’ style, which sees the fly pulsate in a seductive manner.
Of course, breezy conditions will hamper the use of a floating line, so it might be wise to switch to a sink density now. The same is true where deeper water occurs close to banks, like dam walls for example. I’m a big fan of slow sinking lines as they are relatively diverse. In that if retrieved immediately then they won’t sink quickly and ‘bottom out’ so to speak. Conversely, if you allow them time to sink then they attain an appreciable depth. Admittedly, you’ll wait longer than if using a HiD line, but like I said they’re a compromise line that cover many eventualities. It’s important to shorten up the leader now to reduce the likelihood of ‘fly lag’ which sees the flutter several feet above your sinking line. One idea is to attach a poly sinking leader with 3ft of monofilament looped on. Again, remember to keep the retrieve, short and twitchy!