Going through the various forums and fishing reports, it is obvious that something is happening at Blithfield Reservoir. The venue took a little longer than most to repen after lockdown and the current catch returns reflect the kind of results other venues were reporting once they allowed fishing to start again.
We decided to visit, to not only get an idea if the venue lived up to it’s current reputation, but also to see how they’d implemented Covid-19 restrictions and how well they’re being observed. This latter point is very important to us as the general demographic for fly fishermen tends to be skewed towards those of more advancing years and as such represent a higher risk to exposure to the Coronavirus.
Booking the boat was the first hurdle as there is no online or email booking system at present and we had to rely on the telephone. Every call we made went straight to voicemail, but the majority of these calls were responded to within a day or so by the ever friendly Claire on reception.
There’s no need to visit the shop / reception area as you can drive straight down to the water, but I went in anyway to ask about whch flies to use and which areas to try. There is hand sanitiser supplied and masks are mandatory in the shop. Claire was extremely helpful and knowledgable and I was soon on my way with the required information.
Arriving at the boat house, it was clear that Blithfield are taking Covid restrictions very seriously. There is a strict 1 in, 1 out rule on the main downstairs room and all prebooked tickets were laid out on a table for the relevant anglers to pick up, thus removing the need for interaction with others.
Picking our boat up, we were soon off the the dam wall in front of the boat house. The wind was helpfully blowing right along the wall, which enabled us to drift from one end to the other.
I’d selected a tequila booby on the point of a 15 feet leader with a candy FAB on the dropper 10 feet behind it. It took less than 30 seconds for a trout to rise to the booby and the first fish was in the net. This was followed by a second identical take on the second cast and the day was already looking good.
After 3 fish in 4 drifts, mostly stockies, I decided to try for a larger fish in the depths. I put of a DI5 with my favourite fly, a silver and black humungous booby, on the point and tequila booby on the dropper. Letting the line sink deep in the water with a slow figure of eight retrieve attracted no interest, so I reverted to stripping the line through the depths. I’d just about given up when, on the hang, something almost wrenched the rod from my hands, snapping 10lb line instantly. I reeled in to find just the line above the dropper left attached to my fly line. I don’t know what it was that took it, but if anybody catches a monster with a tequila booby still attached, please let me know what it was !
Further attempts on the top or bottom were fruitless, so we moved to the causeway. The wind had swung round 90 degrees and was now pushing straight down the reservoir. so we postioned ourselves in line with the gap to the other side of the reservoir and drifted down. Tequila boobies were once again popular, especially stripped across the top and it was great fun watching the frantic swirls and splashes as trout chased them.
After discussing the fishing with a chap on another boat, we switched to a plain orange booby and this proved an excellent move as the trout were taking it whether it was fished static, figure of eighted or ripped.
Once again reverting to try to the bigger fish, we adopted sinking and intermediate lines behind the boat, using only the drift to move them through the water. A goldbead olive detached daddy on the dropper with a Silver and black humungous booby on the point to hold it up seemed exactly what the trout were looking for and we were soon both in to fish around the 3lb mark midway across the reservoir. The good fishing continued until a flotilla of boats started following our drift, including one chap who stopped in our drift and put out a drogue, effectively cutting us off, so we moved on, grumbling quietly….
As we reached late afternoon, the wind was dropping, we moved to rainbow corner and had some great dry fly sport on green holo CDC owls, Adam’s parachute, black klinkhammer and orange detached daddy. All fished static, allowing them to drift naturally across the water using only the wind. Takes ranged from subtle little swirls for the klinkhammers to massive crashing takes on the daddies. These continued until boat curfew time and we were sad to have to leave such great sport.
Overall, a cracking day at Blithfield and a highly recommended venue, with excellent catches and a serious and robust attitude to covid safety. Add to that, the excellent customer service from all the staff involved at the reservoir and it’s a must visit site.