Winter sun at Bushey Leaze

January 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm

My phone rang with an offer I could not refuse, a visit to Bushey Leaze trout fishery, picked up and dropped off at my door, a mild, dry day  forecast and the chance of big rainbows from this spring fed lake at Lechlade. The previous week my companion Pete had taken twelve fish between three and five pounds fishing an orange “Blob”, static under an indicator, so a quick look on Google produced an image, which to my eye said pellet fly, no doubt the only food these fish had ever seen. A hunt through my fly tying materials came up with some hot orange marabou for a tail and orange chenille for the body, tied over a built up body to give bulk, on a short size 14 hook, producing three in quick time.

Having cut my teeth on the Concrete Bowls, fresh water reservoirs around London in the 70’s, where all fish were introduce by Thames Water at 12 inches long and left to grow on in their vast acreages, which often reached depths of ninety feet, I have always felt prejudiced against the smaller commercial fisheries, where the paying public have demanded larger fish and comfortable fishing. In the 70’s, the strain of rainbows were fertile fish, which went into spawning condition early in the year and would often be black and kiped up in April, when the trout season began. In those days the reservoir fishing was subsidized by the nationalised water companies, but when they were privatized in the 80’s, support was withdrawn, leaving the door open for commercial operations, who with the need for year round fishing, stocked infertile triploid rainbows with rapid growth rates.

With a freezer full of various game and trout from my last outing, the last thing I needed was more trout, so had decided for a £30 three fish limit, but with Pete’s offer to smoke my fish, I paid the extra £7.50 for six fish. Arriving at the water’s edge, conditions seemed perfect with just a light breeze causing a slight ripple on the crystal clear lake, where fish could be seen moving and a few rods were already bent into fish. Pete walked down to his favourite bay, while I opted for a spot between trees, where I’d seen a fish top. With my indicator two feet above my new “Blob” I cast in, only for my purple indicator to be taken seconds after it hit the water. Rediculace. This did not result in a fish, the following casts producing swirls at the indicator, or it’s brief disappearance as my Blob was mouthed by more than one rainbow. I could have slid the indicator down to the hook and fished with that, but I did want to feel that I was at least using some skill, so took it off and began a very slow retrieve, getting plucks and on, off strikes. After ten minutes a fish held on long enough for me to set the hook and soon felt the juddering fight of a decent fish, which after some tail flapping, gave up and came to the net. About 3lb, it was a typical stew pond fish, front fins missing and a chewed tail, it’s brief chance of freedom ending on a muddy bank. Another cast and another fish on, this one putting on a better show, making several rapid runs followed by body shaking leaps, before the runs got shorter and the head shaking began. Convinced the hook was about to drop out, I entered the shallows and got a boot full of freezing water, as I reach over to net the still struggling rainbow. Slightly larger, this one had a full set of fins, although it’s tail was split in places and it’s nose and chin were flattened off, another scruffy fish. Fifteen minutes in and I already had two fish, do I continue fish mongering this shoal of confused rainbows and pack up in an hour, or shall I try else where? I chose the latter and went off to find Pete, passing another angler scurrying to claim my fish filled spot.

By now the sun had come over the trees and the wind dropped, the only ripples being made by the ducks and swans. I found Pete studying his motionless bite indicator. This was where he had a dozen fish last week, but today he hadn’t had a take and was now on his fall back method, the bloodworm  without a touch. I continued round and could see that few anglers had caught, one complaining that he’d worked hard for one fish today, but had caught eight in an hour the previous week. Finding another tree lined bay, I searched out the water in front of me, increasing the lengths of my casts,  fishing depths and speed of retrieve, observing the lack of action from the boat anglers and feeling that I should have stayed longer in my first spot. Following a long cast and a thirty second count down, my line tightened as I began to retrieve, the line spraying up water, when I raised the rod to set the hook. This was a very good fish, beating the surface with it’s tail, then diving deep taking line in an arcing run. The fight went on for five minutes before the first sighting showed a good conditioned 5lb rainbow, another five minutes seeming to pass before he was ready for the net, only to turn and slip the hook in the final seconds. I slapped the rod against the water in frustration. The size 14 barbless hook had dropped out on the bank of the previous two fish and the fight had loosened it’s hold at the critical moment.

Walking back Pete was still fishless, so we decided it was time for a sandwich in the sun at the fishing hut, giving me the chance to empty the water from my squelching boot, while deciding what to do next. We could see that the aquarium was now vacant and fish were still moving there, so Pete made his way to the spot and had soon broken his duck, following up with another, to equal my catch. With the sun passing behind the trees, we packed away the rods, after a hard day, bright sun and a flat calm giving us a beating.