What else could I do?

JobberDun

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I need a bit of advice from my fellow anglers.

Last Sunday I went to my local lake (Norton Fishery, Essex) for a four hour session.

When I saw Bert the owner, he told me that people were catching on buzzers fished three feet deep, either drifting or a figure of eight retrieve.

So I set out fishing just before midday.

After one hour, nothing.

Fish were jumping out of the water, and there were swirls on the top.

I changed to a dry fly, letting it drift and then twitching it, again nothing!

I move to another swim and started again, again nothing!

After two and a half hours I managed to get a 3lb rainbow. I think this was more luck than skill. The fish took the fly about ten seconds after it had landed on the surface. So I think I had managed to drop the fly in the right place at the right time.

Having spoken to another angler I decided to fish a bit deeper, so changed to an intermediate line. Nothing!

Back to the floating line.

Bert the owner walked around the lake and told me to change to a bright cat's whisker and strip it fast.

I tried another spot and managed to get a little knock, but not fish.

Then it was time to leave for my Sunday dinner, but I decided to have a couple more casts at my second fishing spot. Second cast I got a fish on, but it got off after about ten seconds!!!

Being new to fly fishing I'm sat here wondering what else I could do in order to catch fish.

I tried a dry fly, drifting and twitching,

Buzzers, drifting, figure of eight (slow, medium and fast retrieve), and stripping (short, medium, long, slow, medium and fast).

Then the lure varying the retrieve.

Another angler walked past me and he told me he had three fish, and lost a couple. He said the was fishing a buzzer at three feet!

Can I have your advice please.
 

weiliwen

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Keep at it. As Gary Player allegedly said, "The harder I practice, the luckier I get." I can tell you by long and painful experience that just following what the recommendations are is necessary but not sufficient.* I am from The USA's Pacific Northwest. In 1975 my parents bought a cabin on an Oregon coastal river, and I started fishing for them every year. The first season, I was skunked, even though I used the same spinners, at the same speed, in the same areas. By the time my dad finally sold the place in 1998, however, I was confident I could catch my limit of salmon every time I got into the boat. It was down to time spent, not only on the water, but on THAT water. I knew where every hole was, every shallow part, and I understood salmon behavior much better.

*By the way, at the end, not only was following the lead of others not sufficient, it wasn't necessary, either. I knew what, where, when, and how to target the salmon. It allowed me to expand from what everybody else had been doing to experiment with tactics based on my greater knowledge than 15 years before.
 

codyarrow

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Take a good look at the setup of the guy that's catching. See if his buzzers look of a different weight to yours. Check out his length of leader. try and find out if he's on fluro :whistle: Take to the coffee flask and subtly watch how he's fishing for 10 mins. These are things I did when I was trying to get to grips with a river.
 

dgp

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In our local fishery we find that the fish are very fussy about the size, colour and movement of the buzzers. Can always get the situation where one person fishing with a size 14 black buzzer is catching but they are ignoring a size 12 green or red etc. Movement is also a factor - sometimes drifting in a strong wind is a killer whereas the next time it could be stationery with occasional twitches or very very slow retrieve. Buzzer fishing is extremely variable and what catches on one trip may be useless on the next. That's fish and fishing.
 

silver creek

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I need a bit of advice from my fellow anglers.

Last Sunday I went to my local lake (Norton Fishery, Essex) for a four hour session......

After two and a half hours I managed to get a 3lb rainbow. I think this was more luck than skill. The fish took the fly about ten seconds after it had landed on the surface. So I think I had managed to drop the fly in the right place at the right time.........

Being new to fly fishing I'm sat here wondering what else I could do in order to catch fish.

Can I have your advice please.
I am going to generate a bit of controversy with this post, but I think this post is an appropriate answer to the OP's question.

What you could have done is to use that throat/stomach pump to sample the fish you caught. This could have shown you what the fish you caught had just eaten.

Before catch and release became the way most fly fishers fished, fly fishers kept, cleaned and ate their catch. They had a very important advantage over a C&R fly fisher. By cleaning the fish, they gained knowledge about what the fish was eating when it was caught. So they could correlate what they observed on the stream and what fly they used to catch the fish, with what the fish was actually eating.

When a fly fisher releases a fish, he has no knowledge about what the fish actually ate before he took the fly. There is a way to gain that knowledge without much additional harm the fish any more than we do by taking additional time to photograph the fish.

The solution is the proper use of a stomach pump, more properly called a throat pump.

Secondly, before anyone posts that we are taking food out of the fish or that stomach pumps kill fish, allow me to provide a few facts.

First to the argument that we are taking food out of the fish and robbing it of energy. The fact is that the fish uses up more of its store of energy during the fight to escape us than we take by sampling its throat. The argument that we are "robbing" the fish of food and energy is a hollow argument when made by a fly fisher whose goal is to hook a fish and fight it until it can resist no longer.

As to the argument that stomach pumps kill fish, stomach pumps have been scientifically studied and they have very low mortality. Certainly catching the fish places the fish at greater risk than a stomach pump and much greater risk than doing a shocking survey on fish. I strongly believe they are less stressful that the grip and grin photos we all take from time to time.

Strange and Kennedy (1981) assessed the survival of salmonids subjected to stomach flushing and found no difference between stomach-flushed fish and control fish that were held for 3 to 5 nights.

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"Kennedy, G. J., & Strange, C. D. (1981). Stomach Flushing of Salmonids: A Simple and Effective Technique for the Removal of the Stomach Contents. Aquaculture Research Aquaculture Res, 12(1), 9-15.

ABSTRACT:

A stomach flushing technique is described which has been used for over a year, both in the laboratory and in the field. It is reliable, quick and relatively easy to perform and has been applied to juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) and brown trout (S. trutta L.). The only limitation on its use was that fish <4 cm in length were considered too small to flush. Experiments carried out show that the technique removes 98.9% of the stomach contents from the fish and has very little effect on subsequent survival (99.3%) and condition. It is suggested that this technique is an improvement on previous designs."

In the article above, the goal was to remove stomach contents. The goal of a fly fisher is to remove the throat contents which are the last few items eaten. Throat sampling is less invasive than stomach sampling.

Here is a second article:

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1054&context=ncfwrustaff

"ABSTRACT:

Several nonlethal methods have been developed to determine the stomach
contents of fish, including gastroscopes, tubes, stomach suction, stomach flushing, emetics,
forceps, and chronic fistulas. By reviewing the literature on this subject, we found that the
effectiveness (ability to remove all stomach contents) of the different methods depends on
size, age, species of fish, and the size of the food items in the stomach. Overall, various
methods of stomach flushing were the most effective method of recovering stomach items
from a variety of fishes. Mechanized pressure appeared to be the most efficient method of
stomach flushing for most large fishes. The use of syringes allowed stomach flushing to be
performed on most young and small fishes. The use of tubes and stomach suctions, much
simpler and less expensive methods than stomach flushing
, were nearly as effective for some
fishes such as black bass (Micropterus spp.) and salmonids."



Carl Richards and Doug Swisher of Selective Trout fame used stomach pumps to gain the knowledge to write that book. Carl Richards wrote the chapter titled What Trout Eat in the The Complete Guide to Fishing with a Fly Rod published by Fly Fisherman Magazine, ISBN: 0-87165-013-4. The stomach pump is given over 3/4ths of a page coverage in picture and text on page 46.

I quote from the text, "If fish are feeding underwater, two methods can be used to discover what they are feeding on. The best way is to catch a fish (usually one dummy can be taken using an attractor, fished wet, such as a Coachman) and pump his stomach with a simple stomach pump." From the caption for the pictures, "Above, a stomach designed for trout is an effective way of discovering what the fish are feeding on without harming it."

Ruby Mountain Fly Fishers: Throat Pumping Trout

Fly Angler's OnLine "Deanna Birkholm - Ladyfisher's Article - 9798"

More recently, Brian Chan has also recommended "stomach" pumps as a method of safe sampling. Brian Chan is a Senior Fisheries Biologist in British Columbia. He is aware of the above scientific articles from reviews in Fisheries Science. Brian Chan and Phil Rowley are well known stillwater fly fishers in North America. Brian Chan's video on using a throat/stomach pump is below.

When a senior fisheries biologist suggests a sampling method, I believe that speaks to the fact that it does not kill the fish.

Stillwater Fly Fishing Store, by Phil Rowley and Brian Chan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2lKKh37n-k

This is the method that I use:

Fill the pump completely water and then push out 1/2 of the water by compressing the bulb. Insert the tube gently into the throat and release the bulb so the remaining 1/2 of the bulb re-expands sucking up the food into the plastic stem. If nothing comes out, then without pulling out the tube, compress the bulb gently push in some of the water and then suck it back but don't suck material back into the bulb. Now release the trout.

The material in the tube should come out in the order that the fish ate it with the last item out being the one the fish ate last. You should not have the items into the bulb or else they will get mixed up and you won't know for sure what was eaten last. If you did suck material into the bulb, examine the food and the freshest item was probably eaten last.

I rarely pump now since I usually know what the fish are eating. However, for the beginning fly fisher it is a wonderful educational tool. A portable sampling net and the stomach pump forms the two best methods of learning what the fish are eating.

The best way IMHO to sample a fish with stomach pump is first to net the fish, no matter what it's size. Then before even taking off the hook, keep it in the net and in the water. Turn the fish upside down. This is almost always disorients the fish and keeps it from struggling. Quickly sample the fish, then drop the pump into the net, remove the hook and release the fish.

You can then examine the sample after releasing the fish. This method is the least traumatic and I have found it to be the fastest way to release the fish. It rarely takes significantly longer than most people take to just remove the hook and release the fish. It is better than lifting the fish out of the water.

Like many techniques in fly fishing, I believe using a stomach pump is what could be termed a fairness issue. Some fly fishers feel that nymphing is somehow unfair, and some nymphers think nymphing with strike indicators is less fair than fishing without. The Dry Fly vs Nymphing ethical argument originated with Halford and Skues and in some circles that argument continues to this day.

Halford and Skues: "This Chalkstream Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" | MidCurrent

So if you don't want to use a stomach pump, don't. But research has shown that stomach pumps are not a resource issue.

The experienced fly fisher has little need to throat pump a fish. But for a beginner, I think it is a valuable learning tool that does not harm the resource.

A throat pump is especially valuable when used in the context of fishing emergers. Emergers can be a difficult for beginners to sort out and a throat pump is one of the best tools in figuring out what is actually happening. Hence my suggestion that a throat pump is a valuable tool to study emergence.

Truth be told, the greatest threat to a trout is the most effective fly fisher because they catch the most fish. Studies have shown that hooking mortality even with barbless hooks is 3.5 - 4%. We inadvertently kill 1 of every 25 fish we catch. Catch and release 1000 fish in a season and you have killed 40 fish. I have had 50 fish days on the San Juan and two trout probably died.

This site is dedicated to educating fly fishers on how to catch more and more fish, but we do not consider this an ethical issue. Fly fishers, and I include myself, tend to forget that even C&R fishing with a fly is a blood sport.

The reality is that as we become more adept at catching fish, more fish will die regardless of how careful we are.
 

Overmiwadrers

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I havent fished a still for 20 years but the first thing I always did was have a poke about on the shoreline , especially the one with the waves hitting it . Amazing how buzzers and drowned flies end up there . All fly fishing is the same suss out what they are feeding on and you have taken a big step forward , becoming an invertebrate monitor years ago helped my no end in understanding what fish fill their bellies with..


O M W
 

dgp

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"All fly fishing is the same suss out what they are feeding on and you have taken a big step forward"

Problem is it doesn't explain why cat's whiskers, blobs, boobies and all manner of flashy lures catch stockies, residents and even wild brownies !!
 

speytime

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I don't think you could have done much more with the time you had, you tried various patterns, lines and retrieves and didn't catch anything thats just fishing!

Al
 
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jaybeegee

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Observation is the key, for sure the more leisurely my approach, the more I catch. Good polarised glasses and patience, sitting and watching, poking about in the margins and turning a stone or two will yield clues to what the fish might be on to. It’s all part of it and is ( almost ) as satisfying as catching.
B
 

BobP

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The clue was in the fish that took the fly ten seconds after it landed. Yes, it was luck the first time, so keep trying your luck.

I do a lot of teaching beginners on a small pool which is very clear and is stuffed full of rainbows. The reaction of the fish to a fly can easily be seen. Dries work well, but not if they are left on the water. Fish just swim straight under the fly if it is left. Cast out, leave for 10-15 seconds and if no response re-cast to a different spot. Shuttlecock buzzers are a good bet for this.

With rising fish in front of you that is exactly what I would have done. It works on small stillwaters and it works on reservoirs. Done it lots of times.
 

JobberDun

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Essex
Thank you for all your replies.

I will take it all onboard, especially the bit about checking the waters edge to see what is there, I never thought of that! And, finding out what the fish are eating from the fish I catch.

Having been fishing for most of my life (coarse), I do understand that there will be days when no matter what I do, nothing will work.

I am getting better at fly fishing, and I am enjoying the dry fly a lot.

Thanks again.

Russ
 

skajtrout

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The single best piece of advice I've ever had on catching trout was from Mr. Edmunds on here (hello Rob) and it goes like this: Depth / retrieve / fly choice. In that order. This took me back somehwhat as - like many others I suspect - I'd have put fly choice at the top of the list, not so. You can match the hatch all you like but it means nothing if you're at the wrong depth. You'll note he even puts type/speed of retrieve before fly choice, whodathunkit. Rob told me this a couple of years back now and it has been something of a revelation since. Find the depth, and keep your fly(s) at that depth for as long as possible. Maybe the guy who had caught on buzzers "3 feet down" was using a sink-tip or intermediate? Just a thought.

Skaj
 

Lewis Chessman

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Just a couple of thoughts to add. Along with checking for wind-blown insects and shucks in the margins, inspect any bankside veg, bushes and trees for insects waiting to mate and lay eggs later. You might then be prepared to change flies/tactics when that happens. If the wind is behind both you and a bankside tree/bush give it a wee shake and watch the water for rises to anything which falls off the leaves. Adjust fly accordingly ....
I tell myself this isn't 'ground-baiting'. :eek:mg:

My other thought was how do you know that you actually did get down to ''three feet'' with your flies? It's not an easy thing to gauge. It's been years since I buzzered but when I did I used to count the cast down. If I got a touch at, say, 25 seconds then I'd stick to that and a bit more. Knowing the actual depth in feet wasn't that important to me, knowing how long it took for the flies to sink into the taking zone was much more useful - and easily repeatable, if a little tiresome.
 

mike fox

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What hasn't been mentioned yet is your choice of leader/tippet strength/diameter/mono or fluro. It all makes a difference to catch rates. Scale down to the size of fish you are likely to catch. Fish will choose to take different flies at different times of day, different days of the week, different weeks of the month etc. Just because someone caught several fish on a particular pattern doesn't mean that you will do the same. Concentrate on your presentation rather than the fly and eventually you will catch as many if not more than others.
 

morayfisher

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The clue was in the fish that took the fly ten seconds after it landed. Yes, it was luck the first time, so keep trying your luck.

I do a lot of teaching beginners on a small pool which is very clear and is stuffed full of rainbows. The reaction of the fish to a fly can easily be seen. Dries work well, but not if they are left on the water. Fish just swim straight under the fly if it is left. Cast out, leave for 10-15 seconds and if no response re-cast to a different spot. Shuttlecock buzzers are a good bet for this.

With rising fish in front of you that is exactly what I would have done. It works on small stillwaters and it works on reservoirs. Done it lots of times.
No doubt a valid tactic Bob but I’ve also had good success by casting infrequently and leaving emergers especially, static until a cruising trout spots and takes it.
In my experience on small still waters, lots of lifting off and recasting pushes the fish away.

To the OP I’d say yes, learn stuff as you go along, that’s part of the fun, but it is supposed to be enjoyable. Even if you blank, you’ve still had some time away from everyday life, hopefully in nice surroundings in the fresh air.
 

codyarrow

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I tell myself this isn't 'ground-baiting'. :eek:mg:
I wouldn't worry about this at the last rainbow fishery I used to go to there was a practice of throwing tesco sardine tins with holes in to fish over.:eek:mg:
Talking to an old retired keeper this year he told me one of his first junior keeper jobs was catching mayflies and keeping them in a tin. If Sir was struggling on the Lough he would open the tin and let a few out on to the water. He said it worked a treat.;)
 

icaughtafishonce

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I don't think you did at all badly there. You moved around, tried a few different methods, depths etc etc. I find that as you get used to a water things definitely get easier. You know where the good spots are. The other thing I would say is that often being early works well. If things get a bit too warm, then trout will stop feeding. Probably not an issue so much in October, but definitely bad in August. But ultimately you caught and it sounds like you had a nice time.
 
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