Are there any guidelines for the best day to go lake fishing?

ohanzee

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To this and other replies that talk about working it out yourself. Looking at the bigger picture, how many of you have read books about fly fishing? How many have looked at videos on, eg. YouTube, on fly fishing and new fishing methods? I have the bank anglers' guide to Grafham in front of me and it tells me an awful lot about the best places to fish for particular wind directions and suitable methods to use at certain times of year. It would take years and years of fishing for me, independently, to gain that amount of knowledge contained in a little booklet. Isn't this all learning from other peoples experience and mistakes? I don't believe anyone is truly self reliant.
We all learn from others and pick up pointers here and there, usually more so in the beginning and gradually less so as we learn the things we need to be self reliant.
I'd say most of that is technical, and the application is down to us, its about the development of skills and knowing what to and when is a skill, there is no book or youtube vid that can develop skills, you need to do it, that is the journey for most.

If on the other hand you don't want particularly to learn anything but just get out and catch that's cool.
 

ohanzee

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Of course it is, it's the angler's challenge of being successful....or are we talking about something different? Pardon my ignorance if so.
But not for everyone, for example there is a posh hotel in the Trossachs, like any all over Scotland they offer trips and activities, if you go to the bar you will see flyers for 'trout fishing', the customers on holiday at the hotel can pay a guide(my mate) for a day out in a boat and catch a couple of trout, they don't want to know about fly lines or when the best time to go is, they might never do it again, its a leisure activity, they want to experience it, catch a fish, take a photo and show friends.

Different levels of challenge, all valid.
 

Wee Jimmy

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To this and other replies that talk about working it out yourself. Looking at the bigger picture, how many of you have read books about fly fishing? How many have looked at videos on, eg. YouTube, on fly fishing and new fishing methods? I have the bank anglers' guide to Grafham in front of me and it tells me an awful lot about the best places to fish for particular wind directions and suitable methods to use at certain times of year. It would take years and years of fishing for me, independently, to gain that amount of knowledge contained in a little booklet. Isn't this all learning from other peoples experience and mistakes? I don't believe anyone is truly self reliant.
Reading about it only gives us a starting point, it won’t teach you how and when to apply the knowledge instinctively as things change on the water. Only hands-on experience through putting in the miles will give you that.
 

anzac

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I, for one, would rather use my own judgement of current conditions to decide how and where I was going to fish rather than 'second hand' information from 'last Tuesday'.
Fair enough. That works -- and is what I do as well -- when fishing familiar waters. Yet, if I am visiting my son in California and I decide to fish the Pacific, I will ask the locals about what they are catching and where, and what bait they are using. If I'm back in Australia, and I decide to fish in Sydney Harbour, or Botany Bay -- or the rivers of the Southern Tablelands, having not fished those waters in recent years, I'll ask the local anglers 'what's going'.

That's called common sense -- something the PM has told us in recent days that we possess.
 

BobP

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To this and other replies that talk about working it out yourself. Looking at the bigger picture, how many of you have read books about fly fishing? How many have looked at videos on, eg. YouTube, on fly fishing and new fishing methods? I have the bank anglers' guide to Grafham in front of me and it tells me an awful lot about the best places to fish for particular wind directions and suitable methods to use at certain times of year. It would take years and years of fishing for me, independently, to gain that amount of knowledge contained in a little booklet. Isn't this all learning from other peoples experience and mistakes? I don't believe anyone is truly self reliant.
I read books and magazine articles - I've even penned a good few myself. I've recently been given a book on nymph fishing on rivers. I'm pretty good at that, but I take the view that there is always something to be learned from others' set-up and experience. I might adopt some of their ideas, or not as the case may be. I look at videos too, though more for the fishing itself rather than the technical side. I always ask the question, "Is this set-up, rod, reel, line, method or team of flies going to make a significant improvement over what I already do? If I can catch 50 trout & grayling from River XXX am I going to shed tears of blood if I can't catch 55 by using any of the above as recommended by angler YYYYY?"

That booklet on Grafham is probably the distillation of many anglers' experiences over a number of years.

When I take clients to a water I've not fished before, or haven't fished for some time, I always arrive at least half an hour early and look at the returns book if there is one, and walk the beat to see what is going on. By the time the client arrives I will have formed at least the basis of a game plan plus a plan B in case plan A doesn't work. If I have been on that water several times I will know where fish have been caught on previous visits. If it is a new water to me I'll make a mental note of where fish are caught for future reference.

If I'm planning a day at Farmoor I always phone the ranger's office to ask how it is fishing and what with. I check the Met Office weather and also look at Wind Guru which gives very specific information about wind strength and direct, cloud cover, rainfall during the day. If I were going to Grafham, Chew, Rutland or any of the reservoirs I would do the same.

What ohanzee is talking about is a totally different angling experience to that which we in the southern counties of England have to contend with. A remote loch presents very different challenges because there is no back-up system to refer to. All I would do if I were there is to consult the local tackle shop if there is one and then use a fairly standard team of flies as a starting point.

As I said before, we all make mistakes. The trick is to learn from the error, ensure that it isn't repeated and to profit from the experience.
 

thetrouttickler

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In general weather terms, the only weather condition I consider to be thoroughly detrimental is a gusty southerly wind and bright sun. This combination truly is the kiss of death.
This is an interesting observation. Assuming you are following the convention of stating wind direction as the direction from which the wind is blowing. Does your observation apply to rivers and stillwaters equally?

Reminds me of the saying,

Wind from the east, fish bite the least;
Wind from the west, the fish bite the best;
Wind from the north, few sailors set forth;
Wind from the south blows bait in their mouth.


I'm fishing on Friday and the forecast is for a wind from due south, and sunshine o_O
 

kingf000

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I think there are two contentious issues here. One is the Bismark quote that effectively says that it is better to learn from the mistakes of others rather than make the mistakes yourself, and gave two examples where this was beneficial. Yes, if you fish a loch that no one else has fished recently, you have to fall back upon the lessons you have learnt from fishing other lochs and from books, talking to people etc. as part of your general increase in learning, as learning from other peoples experience of that loch is not possible. However, on the more heavily fished waters that I'm talking about, as said above it is a different matter as there is a wealth of experience out there that you can tap into. So what Bismark is saying is that if you arrive at a lake and it looks like a good buzzer day, but other anglers are failing to catch on buzzers, assuming they are using buzzers correctly, is it foolish to still try buzzers because that is what your intuition tells you should work, or do you try something else?

The other contentious issue is whether it is possible to predict when fishing will be good, which is what my original question was about. As I've said before, I don't want to waste my time and money going to a lake where the fish aren't feeding, you don't learn anything from failing to catch. I'm a scientist so I instinctively believe that there must be rational explanations as to why fish feed much better on some days than others, it is just about finding out what those factors are. I'm already aware of two: water temperature, a high temperature being bad, and possibly strong sunlight. Trout do not have eyelids (nor can they wear sunglasses) so lengthy periods of bright sunlight is uncomfortable for them and they seek deeper water or shade, which in those circumstances is where I should fish or fish early morning before the sun is up. Though I don't like fishing in strong sunshine in summer anyway and much prefer sitting in the garden with a beer. This discussion has raised the possibility that rapid changes in air pressure may put the fish off feeding and that is something I can accept. So, for example, after a lengthy spell of hot weather with high pressure dominating, a sudden change to low pressure would put the fish off feeding due to necessity of their bladders to adapt to the pressure change, and vice versa. So the message would be to avoid the first day or two following a rapid change in pressure, even if other conditions seem ideal.

The above comment is interesting, as some of the best autumn fishing on Grafham has been with the wind from the North! Friday is due to be a hot day, at least in the south east, and the pressure has been high and constant for some time. So the fishing should be good early on then decline as the sun rises and temperatures increase. So dry early on, then switch to slow, deep fishing, as the high water temperature will make the fish lethargic due to low oxygen levels?
 

BobP

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This is an interesting observation. Assuming you are following the convention of stating wind direction as the direction from which the wind is blowing. Does your observation apply to rivers and stillwaters equally?

Reminds me of the saying,

Wind from the east, fish bite the least;
Wind from the west, the fish bite the best;
Wind from the north, few sailors set forth;
Wind from the south blows bait in their mouth.


I'm fishing on Friday and the forecast is for a wind from due south, and sunshine o_O
My observation is based on experience while boat fishing on reservoirs. A strong, gusty wind from the south, ie blowing S to N accompanied by bright sunshine seemed to put the fish into a completely uncooperative mood.

As trout have no eyelids I wouldn't expect to catch fish close to the surface are having to swim into the sun. On rivers that flow predominantly W to E I'd expect things to slow down after midday as then the fish will be facing the sun as it moves to the west. Find a shady reach and fish can still be caught.
 

BobP

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I think there are two contentious issues here. One is the Bismark quote that effectively says that it is better to learn from the mistakes of others rather than make the mistakes yourself, and gave two examples where this was beneficial. Yes, if you fish a loch that no one else has fished recently, you have to fall back upon the lessons you have learnt from fishing other lochs and from books, talking to people etc. as part of your general increase in learning, as learning from other peoples experience of that loch is not possible. However, on the more heavily fished waters that I'm talking about, as said above it is a different matter as there is a wealth of experience out there that you can tap into. So what Bismark is saying is that if you arrive at a lake and it looks like a good buzzer day, but other anglers are failing to catch on buzzers, assuming they are using buzzers correctly, is it foolish to still try buzzers because that is what your intuition tells you should work, or do you try something else?

The other contentious issue is whether it is possible to predict when fishing will be good, which is what my original question was about. As I've said before, I don't want to waste my time and money going to a lake where the fish aren't feeding, you don't learn anything from failing to catch. I'm a scientist so I instinctively believe that there must be rational explanations as to why fish feed much better on some days than others, it is just about finding out what those factors are. I'm already aware of two: water temperature, a high temperature being bad, and possibly strong sunlight. Trout do not have eyelids (nor can they wear sunglasses) so lengthy periods of bright sunlight is uncomfortable for them and they seek deeper water or shade, which in those circumstances is where I should fish or fish early morning before the sun is up. Though I don't like fishing in strong sunshine in summer anyway and much prefer sitting in the garden with a beer. This discussion has raised the possibility that rapid changes in air pressure may put the fish off feeding and that is something I can accept. So, for example, after a lengthy spell of hot weather with high pressure dominating, a sudden change to low pressure would put the fish off feeding due to necessity of their bladders to adapt to the pressure change, and vice versa. So the message would be to avoid the first day or two following a rapid change in pressure, even if other conditions seem ideal.

The above comment is interesting, as some of the best autumn fishing on Grafham has been with the wind from the North! Friday is due to be a hot day, at least in the south east, and the pressure has been high and constant for some time. So the fishing should be good early on then decline as the sun rises and temperatures increase. So dry early on, then switch to slow, deep fishing, as the high water temperature will make the fish lethargic due to low oxygen levels?
 

PaulD

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Friday is due to be a hot day, at least in the south east, and the pressure has been high and constant for some time. So the fishing should be good early on then decline as the sun rises and temperatures increase. So dry early on, then switch to slow, deep fishing, as the high water temperature will make the fish lethargic due to low oxygen levels?
The water temperature isn't going to rise significantly during the day. Water temperatures are usually on the high side in July and August which depresses fish activity and fishing.
 

BobP

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If I arrived at a lake to see swallows hawking over the water, buzzers in the air and conditions ideal for fishing buzzers that is what I would do, irrespective of whatever other anglers are doing. I am much more interested in my fishing other than noting that the others appear to be using floating lines and fishing nymphs of one sort or another.

If there was no such activity as above I'd still fish buzzers, though I would go deeper. Buzzers are present in the water 365 days of the year, and trout will take them on all of those days. It is the percentage method.

Fish have to eat. Their feeding spells might be long as in all day during periods of abundance, or in short bursts during periods of adverse weather, ie cold or hot. Rapid changes in water conditions will cause the fish to switch off until they adapt to the change. Whether this lasts a few hours or two or three days I am not sure, not being a trout. Trout use their swim bladders to assist in altering their depth in the water and this can be instantaneous as we know, so on that account I would think there is some other mechanism at work that causes fish to switch off when the air pressure rises or falls - if indeed they do.

You seem to be expecting to apply scientific principles to trout fishing and I'm not sure that works. We are dealing with living creatures that rely upon other living creatures for their existence. If the buzzers don't ascend from the bottom then the trout don't eat, or go and find something else to eat.

I am, or rather was, a fishery scientist. One of the things I was told at a very early stage of my career was that fisheries science is an inexact science. It is based on observation, experience and very often gut instinct. There are no laws of physics, no chemical formulae that govern fish behaviour. Some fairly basic mathematics when working out fish population statistics that any GCSE student can cope with. When it comes to explaining why fish behave in a certain way, or don't, then as often as not it's anyone's guess.
 

tangled

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Friday is due to be a hot day, at least in the south east, and the pressure has been high and constant for some time. So the fishing should be good early on then decline as the sun rises and temperatures increase. So dry early on, then switch to slow, deep fishing, as the high water temperature will make the fish lethargic due to low oxygen levels?
I doubt that there will be any good time to fish a small stillwater in the South East on Friday.

Average temperatures have been high for several weeks and will be warming up even more this week as daily temperatures rise to 30C on Friday. Bodies of water warm slowly and lose heat slowly (relative to air and land). My local water is currently 23C at the surface and will probably rise a few degrees more by the weekend. The difference between day and night temperatures will probably not be big enough to make a difference for the fish.

Fish are cold blooded and salmonids start becoming distressed as temperatures get beyond around 18C and pretty much lose all interest in everything beyond 20C.

Of course, fish being fish, you never quite know and I did actually catch a mad fish in that 23C water but it was random. I saw another chap get one 5 meters down on a weighted bloodworm, but that was 10 hours of combined fishing.

Water temperature at depth will, of course, be lower as warm water rises but convection ensures eventual mixing, particularly in relatively shallow waters. A lot of our small waters are man made, by damming small streams. You obviously find the deeper water at the dam.

The other issue is that if you are fishing in those temperatures the dissolved oxygen content is lowered and catching and playing a fish may kill it. Personally I've abandoned my local lakes now 'til the Autumn.
 

Wee Jimmy

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The above comment is interesting, as some of the best autumn fishing on Grafham has been with the wind from the North!
That’s a good point, it goes without saying that not all venues are the same.I know places which can fish really well in an easterly. Understanding how the wind will affect each individual water in terms of currents,food lines,food collection areas etc is arguably of more practical use to us than just about anything else.
 

Scotty Mitchell

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It's worth bearing in mind that the wind direction as provided by Met Office is not relevant to some places due to how the topography influences the actual wind and subsequently you can be fishing with a southerly wind affecting the water due to an actually easterly being blocked and forced round by hills.
 

ohanzee

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There is a book written by a guy who did a PHD or something on whether air pressure can increase the chances of catching a salmon, he worked with Casio to make a watch that indicated pressure change, before you all rush out and order it consider for a moment that, if it were possible to predict fish activity by air pressure, or contained in this book, why we are still asking that one :)
 

eddleston123

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'Wind from the East, Fish bite the least'

The three rivers that I mainly fish flow from West to East - I catch a lot more trout when it is blowing from east to west - It makes it easy to cast upstream and improves my presentation.

A howling Westerly wind and I stay at home!



Douglas
 

kingf000

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I doubt that there will be any good time to fish a small stillwater in the South East on Friday.

Average temperatures have been high for several weeks and will be warming up even more this week as daily temperatures rise to 30C on Friday. Bodies of water warm slowly and lose heat slowly (relative to air and land). My local water is currently 23C at the surface and will probably rise a few degrees more by the weekend. The difference between day and night temperatures will probably not be big enough to make a difference for the fish.

Fish are cold blooded and salmonids start becoming distressed as temperatures get beyond around 18C and pretty much lose all interest in everything beyond 20C.

Of course, fish being fish, you never quite know and I did actually catch a mad fish in that 23C water but it was random. I saw another chap get one 5 meters down on a weighted bloodworm, but that was 10 hours of combined fishing.

Water temperature at depth will, of course, be lower as warm water rises but convection ensures eventual mixing, particularly in relatively shallow waters. A lot of our small waters are man made, by damming small streams. You obviously find the deeper water at the dam.

The other issue is that if you are fishing in those temperatures the dissolved oxygen content is lowered and catching and playing a fish may kill it. Personally I've abandoned my local lakes now 'til the Autumn.
As I said earlier, the lake I've started to fish is spring fed, so has a constant source of cool water which helps to keep, at least the lower levels, cool. The shallows and surface water can get quite warm during the day, but does cool off during the night, even if the average temperature of the bulk of the lake differs. The lake I used to fish did get very warm in summer and they had an exceptionally high mortality, I think partly due to poor handling as the majority of members insisted on dragging the fish up a 5ft bank to remove the hook, then climbing back down release the fish. I raised the issue of stopping fishing in July/August and it was robustly turned down at the AGM!
 

kingf000

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If I arrived at a lake to see swallows hawking over the water, buzzers in the air and conditions ideal for fishing buzzers that is what I would do, irrespective of whatever other anglers are doing. I am much more interested in my fishing other than noting that the others appear to be using floating lines and fishing nymphs of one sort or another.

If there was no such activity as above I'd still fish buzzers, though I would go deeper. Buzzers are present in the water 365 days of the year, and trout will take them on all of those days. It is the percentage method.

Fish have to eat. Their feeding spells might be long as in all day during periods of abundance, or in short bursts during periods of adverse weather, ie cold or hot. Rapid changes in water conditions will cause the fish to switch off until they adapt to the change. Whether this lasts a few hours or two or three days I am not sure, not being a trout. Trout use their swim bladders to assist in altering their depth in the water and this can be instantaneous as we know, so on that account I would think there is some other mechanism at work that causes fish to switch off when the air pressure rises or falls - if indeed they do.

You seem to be expecting to apply scientific principles to trout fishing and I'm not sure that works. We are dealing with living creatures that rely upon other living creatures for their existence. If the buzzers don't ascend from the bottom then the trout don't eat, or go and find something else to eat.

I am, or rather was, a fishery scientist. One of the things I was told at a very early stage of my career was that fisheries science is an inexact science. It is based on observation, experience and very often gut instinct. There are no laws of physics, no chemical formulae that govern fish behaviour. Some fairly basic mathematics when working out fish population statistics that any GCSE student can cope with. When it comes to explaining why fish behave in a certain way, or don't, then as often as not it's anyone's guess.
The use of buzzers was purely as an example. You could substitute it for fly X and I personally would be reluctant to initially try fly X if everyone else was failing to catch on it, even if there were lots of fly X around, unless I had a different way of presenting it, and especially of there were other flies around that would be worth a try. As I've found from experience, the fish can sometimes latch on to one particular fly, not necessarily the most abundant.
Over this being an inexact science you are right, but there are many examples of inexact sciences where good predictions can be made, it is just quoted as a probability rather than an absolute. So if I deduce conditions that tell me that there is only a 20% probability of fish feeding, then I'll accept that and wait for a day when the probability is much higher. As you say, it is probably rapid changes in water conditions that, for whatever reasons, turn the fish off eating ( I'm not thinking about whether fish are surface or sub-surface feeding, but whether they are feeding at all). Barometric pressure not only affects the swim bladder, which I admit may be irrelevant and I was simply quoting the article, but also affects the water in other ways, such as the amount of dissolved oxygen. Sudden changes in that may contribute to putting the fish off feeding. How often do people feel heavy and lethargic when the humidity and barometric pressure changes to high? Maybe it is the same with fish? It's just an interesting factor that I haven't considered.
 

codyarrow

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Boat partner was a trawler skipper of 50 years. He calls easterlies 'poverty winds'. Even at sea commercially they noticed a distinctive drop in catch. Does this carry to every water? I can only speak for my location and say it does make a difference more often than not.
Southerly winds I like; but then we are not blessed with heat.
 
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