How To Fish Stillwaters

June 23rd, 2003

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

A New Buzzer (I think)

By Jim Clarke, UK

I am fortunate enough to have a lake at the bottom of the garden, no fairies, just a lake. It has lots of fish in it but unfortunately, all coarse fish, carp, tench and roach. We saw some suggestive movement last summer and consequently took two pike on the fly. Recent efforts to repeat this have failed. We feel those two were the entire stock of pike. The other fish are not really my cup of tea. I was brought up in Ireland where coarse fishing was (at that time) unknown and consequently have no knowledge of or feeling for such fish. The water is supplied by natural field drainage and therefore does not flow as required by trout. It just seeps away. Perfect for coarse fish but no hope for stocking with trout.

HOWEVER. Peering into the murky depths one evening, I discovered a virtual soup of aquatic insects. They would all have featured high on a trout's menu, and as such got me thinking. If I filled an aquarium with the soup what a perfect case for study of the beasties we so painstakingly strive to imitate as trout food. I know this is not by any means a new idea, but it was the first time I had realised my lake was full of such stuff. Should have been obvious really! We only moved here a year ago and it just hadn't dawned on me that a lake full of coarse fish would still produce the ingredients for trout heaven.

SO. I duly extracted a couple of gallons of the stuff, put it in an aquarium and sat back to peer into it. It was another world. Beetles, bugs, larvae, bloodworms, nymphs - you name it, I had it. All there before my eyes, ready to copy.

BUT. What is that buzzer doing? You must realise that in the UK we catch possibly 30% of all our reservoir trout on buzzers, or chironimids to be precise, both in the bloodworm stage and the buzzer. We fish them in myriad colours and sizes, new patterns evolving daily and appearing in our magazines in vast numbers. It appears every fly tier sits at his bench and thinks "Now what silly colours can I use this week?" He ties his monstrosity and Lo and Behold catches a fish on it! he same applies to pattern outline. We have anorexic buzzers, Slim Jim buzzers, Goliath buzzers, epoxy buzzers, hare's ear buzzers and on ad infinitum. The natural ascends from the lake bed to the surface and on the way up becomes food for the trout, and in phenomenal numbers to boot.

This one however, was playing around! No direct businesslike rise to the surface for this lad! It came wriggling up to the surface, fiddled about a bit and then turned turtle and swam down out of sight. I became aware that lots more were doing the same thing. I have never read of this facet of their behaviour before, it may be that they all do it, always. It was new to me.

I next noticed that after a fairly rapid ascent, the descent was leisurely and not so purposeful. Dithery, somewhat undecided.

The suggestion arose in the deep recesses of the grey matter. If they do this all the time and do it more slowly than they come up, surely this portion of the life cycle is of as much, if not more, interest to the trout.

TIE ONE! So I did, see illustration (digital cameras and I are not yet intimate acquaintances, but I will persevere.) And it worked.

I have had quite a few rainbows from a few of our local lakes on this, tied in the ubiquitous black with silver rib and white breathing tubes, but also in green with gold rib and white tubes. It is an interesting looking fly and one that I can confidently commend to the reading multitude. I look forward to the response.

P.S. Another version I am fond of in clear water is tied very small on a man-sized hook, they don't seem to mind this one either! ~ Jim Clark

About Jim

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, longer ago than he cares to remember, after leaving school he went into his family's business - Gunmakers and Fishing Tackle manufacturers. By the time he joined the firm it had become more retail than manufacturing, though the history and reputation of the company was somewhat patrician, which stood them in good stead in the face of the modern, retail only, fly-by-night businesses which proliferated in the fifties and sixties in the climate of leisure time explosion. A few years later, feeling somewhat stifled in a company run by father and two warring uncles, he left to take over an ailing gun maker in Chester, England. He was to stay there for thirty pleasant years, retiring some six years ago, ostensibly to have more time to fish. He had given up shooting, but in reality appears to have retired to garden, decorate and construct THINGS in the garden. He has, nevertheless managed to fish in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, with trips to Sweden and Alaska thrown in. You will find more of Jim's writing in our Readers Casts and Worldwide/Europe section.

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