I was lucky enough to spend two days on Blithfield this week, one with my regular boat partner, Paul and one with my friend Joe.
The reports I'd been reading had been all about the fantastic buzzer hatches and consequent huge buzzer catches around the margins, giving bank anglers some great sport.
Armed with this information, I headed to Rainbow Corner and prepared a straight line buzzer rig. There is no bank angling in Rainbow Corner on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, to allow the sailing club easy access, so we could get in quite close to shore with the boat. With continual rain in the air, we were lucky there were no sailing boats out and we could drift from quite close in to the dam wall.
My rig was a simple red buzzer on the point with a black and brown epoxy buzzer on the droppers. This was presented on a 12ft slow sink midge tip. I had takes immediately and although not particularly big, the fish fought like tigers.
Realising, due to the size of the fish, that we were sitting on a pod of stockies, I changed the point fly to an orange FAB. Stockies will often mistake this for a pellet and that's exactly what they're used to eating, so takes were again immediate.
After an hour, we moved on as we'd not come to stockie bash (even though it was great fun) and we moved through the causeway in to the North lake. We'd not fished this much before as there's usually enough fish in the South lake to keep us busy. However, we'd had a tip that there were fish around The Stones and Yeatsall Corner, so we gave it a go there.
We stuck with buzzers for some success, but the orange blob was again favourite, with mutliple hits leading to slightly better fish. It was here that I managed the catch of the day with a freshwater mussel clinging on to a rock succumbing to my blob !
Paul was now trying a lure pattern with an orange blob on the top dropper with a black cutthroat minkie on the point on a fast glass. This proved to be very effective too and his first cast produced a skinny 1lb rainbow. Paul joked that he'd definitely win the smallest fish prize today, but I immediately bettered him with a 1 inch perch on a simple olive buzzer :)
We then tried a drift along Duck Keys with a strong wind blowing us straight along the bank. We decided to take it easy and back drift red holo and ninja diawl bachs with a tequila blob on the point and we were soon in to more fish as the rod bent round time and time again.
We'd noticed the terns and swallows working furiously over a small area in the middle of the North lake basin, so worked out that there was a buzzer hatch of some sort going on. It seemed strange that the buzzers should be hatching in such deep water, but the evidence was there with the birds, so we drifted over the middle, again back drifting, with buzzers and FABs on fast glass and di3 midge tip lines.
Despite being slowed by the drogue, we were still drifiting at some speed, so hope of the buzzers working was fading fast. Suddenly, there was a huge crashing splash behind the boat and my rod bent round hard. We both saw a very large brown tail on the surface and knew that I was in to a good brownie.
After a short, but hard fight, this beauty came to the net. It had taken a Brown Epozy Buzzer and was perfectly hooked in the scissors. We didn't weigh it, as we were worried about it after such a hard tussle, so we photographed it and returned it as soon as possible. I'm pleased to say it swam away very strongly. Just look at the paddle on that !
The wind was getting up and so we returned to the South Lake and decided upon the sheltered Watery Lane bank, which was almost flat calm close in. We moored up and switched to the bung with buzzers and I was surprised to see a fish jump clean out of the water and over my bung. The reason soon became apparent as it turned out to be hooked on the FAB on the point. We had, once again, found fish and were looking forward to some action. We were later told that 1000 fish had been stocked that day and that the resident fish often retreat to the causeway and Watery Lane when this happens. It looked like this is what had happened here.
Sadly, two bank anglers then appeared next to us and despite their kind protestations that they could fish either side of us, we felt it right to move on to pastures new. Although I can see why they do it, it's a shame that waters have the bank anglers priority rule and I much prefer the Toft Newton approach, where first come first served is used.
A move further up the bank gave us slim pickings and we ended up trying the Concrete Bowl area. This proved to be an excellent move as a change to big lures like pink and orange humungous snake zonkers on a fast glass gave us great results with a pull and/or a fish every cast. It seemed that speed was the key, as Paul is able to retrieve the roly poly method far faster than I can and as such caught twice as many fish as I did with the same tactics, including this cracking brown.
Tiring of the constant stripping, I switched a fab on the point with a Soldier Palmer on the top dropper on a floating line. This, pulled slowly with a figure of eight, had the same effect as stripping snakes as the fish seemed to like the more natural fly just as much as the garish lumps we had been pulling through them.
Thankfully, Blithfield has the excellent policy of staying open until 8:15pm at the moment, so we were able to stay to almost darkness. We finished the day, exhausted but very happy with 40+ to the boat.
The second day started in much better weather than the previous one and naturally we headed straight for the Concrete Bowl armed with pink humungous snake zonkers. Joe was even faster on the roly poly than Paul and as a result caught 7 in the first 20 minutes to my 1.
Encouraged by thoughts of the big brown from the previous day, Joe and I headed through to the North Lake and fished The Stones area with buzzers on a floating line and a pink snake on a di 3. Both methods gave us fish, but not in any consistant manner. Two bank anglers in Yeatsall Corner were absolutely bagging up with a fish a cast, but we couldn't see what they were using and couldn't reasonably get close enough to ask.
A quick comfort break took us back to the lodge and the South Lake, so we thought we'd try the Concrete Bowl again. However, they just weren't there, so we moved to around 50m off the bank opposite the big house next to Concrete Bay.
The fish were definitely here and were obviously very close to the surface as we could see them topping from time to time. I switched to a pink cutthroat booby snake on a floater and stripped it across the surface and was rewarded with fish literally jumping over each other chasing it through the water. Joe changed to a black and green booby snake and had exactly the same experience. The sport was frantic for a hectic half an hour before these bites dried up.
We noticed a bank angler nearby catching very well and asked him his method and two tequila FABs on a di 3 was suggested. We changed to FABs and in my case a Weighted Egg Zest Lime Jelly Blob on the point. The difference in the fishing was extraordinary.
I was immediately in to fish whether I used a stripping, roly poly or medium fast figure of 8 retrieve. I even doubled up on my second cast. Joe had switched to an Ally McCoist on the point with a tequila FAB on the dropper and was also catching consistently.
I moved to an Ally on the point and found that I could even use a slow figure of 8 and catch on it. The fishing was simply off the charts with fish after fish coming to our nets. This continued until 6pm when the weather took a real turn for the worse and we called it a day with 50+ to the boat.
The trip back in was a delight as a rainbow formed over Rainbow Corner and the lighting around the big house on the bank was stunning.
Overall, a fantastic couple of days on Blithfield with 90+ fish to the net in two action packed days. I heartily recommend a trip there, whether bank or boat fishing, as the fish are very close in at the moment.
I spoke to Dave at the boat lodge, who could be seen dilligently cleaning the boats and dock area after each use (good to see), who told me that they've stocked over 6000 fish in the past 6 weeks and the results are obvious, as it's the proverbial fish soup at the moment.
In conclusion, it's rare, but not impossible, to catch a monster at Blithfield, but you will catch and the chances are you'll catch quite a few, if you fish near enough to the bank and use the flies described in this article.
Flies used :
To buy 2 of all the flies mentioned in this article, just click here : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/the-blithfield-spring-selection
Individual flies can be purchased here :
Map of the Areas Described