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Brown trout are the target of choice for Mr Parton, but he feels that things aren’t quite what they used to be… or are they?
Steve Parton Is from fly fishing’s ‘old school’ and what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing…
I’m not that interested in rainbow trout – I never really was, well, not in the UK at any rate. I am if they’re wild and in Alaska or Kamchatka – that’s a different matter! This is why the last few ‘backends’ at Pitsford were such a pleasure for me. I had over 30 good brown trout in a dozen trips and haven’t seen better-conditioned browns in many years – they were all pristine, but sadly no real big ones.
And did that matter? Actually, no, not one bit. Brown trout to me are like old pals – occasionally long-missed ones. When I started serious stillwater fly fishing, over 40 years ago, they were never really all that common.
They’re not really in the same commercial league as rainbows – they’re slower growing and at least double the cost to buy in.
I’d guess that in my early years maybe one in every 10 trout caught was a brownie, unless I was fishing at Draycote. In the early years they were definitely the target fish at this venue. The heavy pre-opening-day stocking of brown trout fingerlings saw them grow fast because the place was flooded. Some pals and I had three excellent seasons anchored up over the shoals, fishing very deep with leadcore lines. We caught loads of the things.
There were other anomalies – I once hit a rich vein one summer at Eyebrook and have no doubt that the fish were part of a year class that had actually spawned up the Eye Brook itself. Again, these were all taken deep; so deep, in fact, that I was asked to leave the water or change my tactics because I was the only one catching them – special lines you see!
98 TOTAL FLYFISHER
I was asked to leave the water or change my tactics because I was the only one catching them.
Basically, catching a brown was a bonus among a ruck of rainbows, until Rutland Water changed that. The almost complete failure of pre-opening stocking with rainbows meant that there were lots of browns. They were 1lb 10oz on the first opening day, 3lb 5oz by the end of September the same year and about that weight at the start of the second season – wonderful. Sadly, six years later they were gone!
After the seventh Rutland season I moved on to Blithfield Reservoir and eventually took to float tubing at waters wherever I was allowed on. That was almost exclusively rainbow-trout fishing; there were very few browns – I went maybe four seasons without catching any at all. Apart, of course, from the odd foray to Carsington Water
– a water singularly ill set up as a brown-trout fishery. Quite who Severn Trent got to do their establishment plans I have no idea, but he – or they if a committee – were idiots, and that’s being polite!
I wrote a fairly hard-hitting article after the press day before it opened, telling them in words of one syllable exactly what they had got totally wrong. Things like no rainbow trout, no petrol or diesel engines on the boats on a water in a known windy area and about three-quarters of the bank fishing excluded! What a cockup – and wasn’t I later proven right? In went the rainbows and on went the engines. After the initial mistakes the water never had a chance to realise more than a small fraction of its capabilities and now they are about to make a serious mess of it altogether!
The year that Rutland was privatised saw a significant stocking of browns that some of us watched for five seasons, until they were over 6lb, and then we had a few good hits. Big fish deliberately targeted, but not for long.
In the last decade or so I’ve started to increasingly go back to the boat with the rudder and have been catching browns again, and very nice it is too. I will willingly pass up the chance of an easy bagful by fishing deep, in the hope that I’ll get a monster brown!
Keith Causer did a fair job with the browns at Draycote, sliding in a fair few and an odd bigger one, all of which did very well until scuppered by the everinsensitive Severn Trent. When will we have the directors up against a wall?
I was seriously looking forward to a few trips in May and June this year, showing folks the basic techniques. Now Rutland will likely get the benefits of that, possibly Grafham too, which should give me a chance to reacquaint myself with the other species that I am currently interested in – zander!
And there’s one of the sad little oddities that the punters at Grafham who moan about rudders have caused. Surely to God it should be possible for the Grafham management to work out a way of letting my pals and me on with the rudder specifically to have a go at the zander, on a ‘no kill the trouties’ basis? It’s remarkably shortsighted that they haven’t come up with something like that already!
My old boat partner, ‘Little’ Jim Clements, keeps telling me quietly that he and I have had the best of it, but I’m not certain. What I am sure of is that I shall be there again this season, trying to figure out a way of catching more browns and some of the other monsters that lurk in the deeper water. I am looking forward to it!