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Stillwaters in November

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Bank-fishermen need to take into account water levels and the effect that low water levels, perhaps through much of the year, will have on still waters. If water levels are rising, expect to find fish feeding in shallow water near the bank. Water temperature will also effect your fishing. Large volumes of water will tend to hold their temperature for longer than small, shallow lakes. After a long, hot summer even at the end of the year the water will still be warmer than in February or March if winter has been cold and there has been snow.

Buzzers are the most populous fly on stillwaters and will hatch all year round. While autumn and early winter hatches are less prolific than hatches in the spring, buzzers will still hatch. Calm and (relatively) warm days will encourage midges to hatch and fish to rise and such fish can be caught on dry flies. So just because you are fishing in the middle of the winter, don't think that you will never be able to fish a dry fly to rising fish.

If you are fishing on a day when there is a nasty cold wind blowing, try to fish in a sheltered area where you and the fish in the water will be a bit more comfortable. On big reservoirs the effect of the wind some days before you are fishing will still be effecting where the fish and their food are and thus where you should fish. Wind-driven water movement can continue for quite sometime after the wind that caused the movement has dropped or changed direction.

As temperatures drop, the metabolism of trout slows down and so they don't need to feed so much. They will not be very active either so retrieves should be slowed right down to match. If you keep hooking weeds, you do at least know that your fly is getting down deep. But if it is a real problem, try fishing with either a slower-sinking leader or line, or an unweighted fly, or even a combination. Once you find the depth at which fish are feeding, keep fishing at that depth. If small, imitative patterns do not produce any fish, then it is worthwhile trying something bigger, such as a lure, that offers a fish a decent meal in return for the effort of capturing it.

Be prepared and dress for the weather

To enjoy fly-fishing in the winter and during cold weather, it is very important to be dressed properly. The right choice of clothing will help you enjoy a day beside the water even when the temperature drops. The key to keeping warm and dry is to select breathable waterproof outer garments and dress in layers underneath.

Starting at the bottom, waterproof footwear goes without question, worn with thermal or fleece socks or stockings. Thermal long pants will keep your legs warm under normal trousers. Thermal underwear that wicks moisture away from your skin keeps you dry if you get hot when walking or being active. A thick shirt and a good fleece go on top. There are wind- and water-proof fleeces available now. On a really cold day, a thermal or cotton polo neck under your shirt will provide added warmth and keep your neck warm. A fleece 'neck' will fill-in the gap between shirt and chin and can even be pulled up over your mouth on seriously cold days. It is most important to wear a hat as people lose a lot of heat through their heads, regardless of how much hair they - have not - got. So keep you head covered. A woollen beanie is a good idea as it can be pulled down over your ears. Fingerless gloves will help you to keep your hands warm. Neoprene gloves will keep your hands both dry and warm. An alternative is a pair of thin washing-up or surgical gloves which will keep your hands dry in the rain and dry hands will be warmer than wet ones.

Outer layers must be waterproof - that goes without saying - and are better if they are breathable as condensation won't build-up inside. A good jacket, either a short wading one or a longer one is essential. You can choose one with plenty of pockets so that you do not need to wear a fishing vest underneath, or a simpler design to wear over your vest. Waterproof over-trousers will keep your legs dry if you are not wearing waders.

Photographs courtesy of Terry Griffiths

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