Warren Langridge welcomed the New Year in at Pennine Trout Fishery where flies fished static was the best line of attack.
I t was that a couple of nights before my first venture of the year, as I was sat tying a couple of flies, I received a message from Today’s FlyFisher editor Andy Taylor, asking whether I would like to get involved with the new venture – I was delighted too of course and I’m sure he will once again provide a great E-mag filled with what we want to read.
After a bleak festive period trout fishing wise, the opportunity cropped up to fish Pennine Trout Fishery, one of my old haunts when I was learning the trade! I obviously jumped at the chance, as there is always a bend in the rod to be had at Pennine. I’d had a month or so break from the trout scene spending my winter mainly after pike, but that’s for another day. Knowing that the fishery had been closed, with nobody fishing for a number of days leading up to my visit I was well prepared for an arm aching session… and it didn’t disappoint!
Even on a cold winters day there were plenty of anglers on Pennine’s top lake.
The Squirmy seems to have been forgotten about over the past year or so but believe me it can be devastating on its day!
Arriving at around 7:30am I joined the back of the queue waiting to get in once the gates had been opened, this has been the story for years at Pennine and speaks for itself with the number of anglers it gets on a weekly basis.
Ticket paid and I was lucky enough to drop on to a decent peg to start off with, the top lake on the wall, a favourite spot for many regulars. Arriving with an open mind as to what I was going to set up with I decided on a midge-tip with a couple of lures and a bung set up on the other rod. I started with the bung as I felt it would give me an idea of depth that they wanted the flies at before I moved on to the lures. I set the bung to 4-ft, a good starting point for searching the uppers layers of the water where trout can often be found early on. The fly was a fluorescent yellow Squirmy on a size 12 grub hook. The Squirmy seems to have been forgotten about over the past year or so but believe me it can be devastating on its day! I suppose we follow trends when it comes to flies, which may be why it has slipped off the radar for some with the introduction of newer materials.
Squirmy worms, chewing gum worms and blobs all flies that work under the bung!
Four Casts…Four Fish
I must have got it right! No joke, my first four casts resulted in four fish! It just goes to show that when you get the right depth and a fly they like the look of it’s as easy as it can be. Looking around there were a few fish getting caught in the first hour, as is often the case on these smaller waters. After this period it requires a little thought from the angler. For the next hour or so I get a takes most casts and although they don’t seem as committed into taking the fly as they were at first, I do boost my tally up by a couple.
By now the wind has gone into full Arctic mode and its bitterly cold, a break from the weather was needed and I grab a coffee and take 10 minutes shelter in the hut.
Returning to my spot I decide to switch over the other rod loaded with the midge-tip. The reason I opted for the midge-tip is that the end of the line digs in nicely when you have a harsh cross wind as we do today, enabling a lot better depth control of the flies. The weapons of choice are a Hot-Head Damsel on the point and a Hot-Head Tadpole on the dropper. I start off with a steady figure of eight retrieve and the odd pull mixed in the entice any following fish. You’re missing a trick if you don’t count your flies down too, this ensures you cover different depths and find where the trout are on the day, count to 5 seconds, then 10, then 15 and so on…
I don’t see many fish being landed now and after a fairly lengthy period the pulled flies result in no takes. Have the fish switched off?
Four casts…four fish all to the Squirmy.
I keep the fish coming throughout the afternoon while other anglers fishing pulled flies struggle to put a few fish together.
Back To The Bung
I pick up the bung rod once more and alter the depth to around eight feet. There’s not as many moving fish near the surface, I have a feeling they have dropped deeper with pressure from angler’s lines. Yep, it slides away again! Now I did fish the lures at greater depths too so it must be the static fly that takes their liking. I have often found a static fly to out fish a pulled one on small, high-pressured waters like this simply because of the number of flies that go whizzing past them all the time, as is the case today!
A fly sat at the right depth, smack in the face of fish where they can inspect it at their own will is far more effective in my opinion and leads to more takes more often than not. Experimenting with different flies and depths as the fish move up and down in the water column I keep the fish coming throughout the afternoon while other anglers fishing pulled flies struggle to put a few fish together.
Early afternoon I call it a day while my fingers are still attached and my first session of the year turned out to be a great one, landing well into the 20’s it made venturing out in the cold all worthwhile.
Twenty fish in a session. Find the right fly and the right depth and the bung can be a very effective stillwater tactic.
Top Five Bung Tips:
1) Fish a single fly. When fishing static the fish have every chance to fully inspect your leader and a couple of flies within sight can spook cagey, pressured fish.
2) Use as low a diameter breaking strain leader as you can get away with, a static leader has every opportunity to be spotted. I favour Fulling Mill World Class 6lb for most of my bung fishing.
3) Carry a selection of colour indicators. Different colour bungs stand out differently in different light levels and backdrops.
4) Keep lengthy casts to a minimum. You need to be able to hit any takes you get and shortening your casts will help put you more in contact with the end of your fly line.
5) Should be an obvious one but – make sure you bung is buoyant! Different weights of flies can pull a bung under so make sure you carry different size bungs for different flies.
Having fly fished since the age of 14 Warren Langridge has turned his passion into a career, working for one of the largest tackle chains in the UK. His wealth of knowledge across the sport spans from competition fishing through to a particular passion for pike on the fly and night-time sea trout.