Skip to content
Home » Talking Trout

Talking Trout

It does make me smile when people say that stocked trout are easy. “Just like rats in a barrel” is an often used phrase. It’s news to me! To be fair, these people tend to quote what they’ve heard, not what they’ve experienced first hand. Freshly stocked fish may be suckers and take anything that resembles food without a care for a couple of days, but the reality is way different for fish that have acclimatised to their surroundings and realise if they want to eat, then they have to take items they haven’t seen before. Once they’ve been fished for for a while, then they soon become just as shy, elusive and clever as a wild fish.

It’s been on my bucket list to catch a double figure trout for some time. With this in mind, I found myself booking in for a day at the Lechlade Fishery in Gloucestershire. A noted big fish water and often quoted as being in the top six in the country. The fishery is stocked, pretty much, on a daily basis, with huge trout. Both the biggest rainbow and brown trout recorded here are well over 20lbs.

While getting my ticket I gleaned from one of the staff that the fish, typically for trout, had followed the wind and where tending to show from the far southeast corner. I was thinking of doing just that and heading to that exact spot, but nice to see my thought pattern being vindicated.

I’d given thought as to whether to fish heavier than my usual Hardy Zephrus 10ft 5W given the potential size of the fish, but decided that I’d be best fishing with what I’m used to. The only substitution I made was to opt for an intermediate line, as I felt the fish would be down deeper, also for a straight 12ft tippet length of thin diameter 9.5lb Fluorocarbon line. You need the strength to combat these big fish, but need to work the percentages in your favour by fishing as a fine a diameter line as you can. Fish heavy and these fish will look, think, and veer away. The long tippet also helps mask the fly line from the fly if you’re a taking fish.

Playing a big Lechlade rainbow on my Hardy Zephrus 5wt.
Playing a big Lechlade rainbow on my Hardy Zephrus 5wt.

Fly selection is never as straightforward as is made out to be, either. The water was carrying some colour after a period of rain, and fairly strong winds. The usual Damsels and Tadpole lures were quoted, but an original Cats Whisker is often a good fly when the water is coloured up as the fish can see it that little bit better with it being predominately white, especially if it has a little tinsel in it to catch the light.

The water clarity worked both for and against me. In the coloured water any nearby trout were less likely to see me. However, a good tactic at Lechlade, is to walk the bank and spot fish using good sunglasses. No chance of doing that, clarity, at a guess, was only a couple of feet or so.

I decided to use a tactic I use on my mountain lake trout and fish to visible feature. Trout like drop-offs, will sit under overhanging tree boughs, work around the sides of small bays, and play where the bank juts out in to the lake more than surrounding ground.

The wind, as expected, was a pain, straight in your face and gusting strong at times. I tried a small bay with the wind on my back, and though I saw fish roll, I had no takes. I went back to facing in to the wind. I was fishing with my lad Mike Jr, and he’d had no takes either. Keeping an eye on the other anglers on the bank, I’d not seen a fish taken by them either.

I tried a second bay to my right and worked it thoroughly casting in a fan shape to cover as much ground as possible. I’d counted down my line until I was getting the odd bit of weed on the fly from the bottom, then fished slightly shallower. I was working the edge of a drop-off when I felt a light touch on the fly. Just a tap really, then a fish was briefly on and gently swimming away before the hook just pulled out. It felt heavy too. Not the best of starts!

I moved again and found a spot where the bank dropped away very steeply. I made a half dozen casts and felt the fly stop dead thinking it was snagged…then the snag moved and bored off out in to the bay dragging line off. The fish made several long runs, then slugged it out in front of me going left and right and back again. I was relieved to net a fish that looked about 8lbs, a rainbow. I followed this up shortly after with a smaller fish.

Whilst most of the fish came on Cats Whiskers, this one took an orange fly.
Whilst most of the fish came on Cats Whiskers, this one took an orange fly.

The wind was gusting and periodically heavy rain showers swept through. Occasionally I’d see a boil of a fish on the surface. Fish were about, but not overly eager to feed and the conditions were not helping.

I stayed where I was, methodically working the water. I missed a few tentative pulls, then felt everything go solid. This fish was heavier, went deep, bored straight out in to the middle of the lake, then came back at me. Once close in it made short, determined runs, and seemed intent on trying to find sunken tree roots. I had to apply heavy side strain to keep the fish out. I worked it back in to deeper water in front of me and fought the fish with constant pressure letting it take line through my hand to tire it. I hadn’t really seen it yet, just the shape and colour of the flank. Suddenly it nosed on to the surface and twisted. It looked big with a deep flank. I let it fight it out on the surface, then Mike Jr netted it. It looked big, but I doubted it was a double.

I fished on for another hour without any sign of fish. It was late now and the sun was all but gone. I switched from the white Cats Whisker to an orange fly I tie myself. I shot a long cast out in to a small bay, let the fly sink, then worked it slowly back with a figure-of-eight retrieve. On the third cast, the rod buckled over has a big trout smashed the fly. This fish instantly used its weight to bore off for the middle of the lake and took me deep, deep in to the backing. It sulked, pumped the rod, and took off again. I got backing back on the reel, then the fish dragged it off again. It was a slow fight, me gaining a little line at a time, sometimes losing it, then getting it back. The fish worked its way back in to the small bay and was heading under some overhanging tree branches. Side strain turned it, and it bored off again. Eventually I had the fish in front of me, but had yet to see it.

A big boil in the water was the first hint the fish was near. Then a big fat back broke surface followed by a shovel like slapping tail. The fish was big, it might be a double? Each time I eased it to the net, it shied away and took a little line back. Eventually it made the net and was swung ashore.

My biggest of the session - 9lbs 5oz
My biggest of the session – 9lbs 5oz

There are certified scales at Lechlade, and I wanted to make sure my weights were accurate. It turned out Mike Jr and I had both caught four rainbows’ each. Mike’s weighed 6lb 1oz, 7lb 2oz, 7lb 8oz and 7lb 9oz. Mine weighed 6lb 1oz, 8lb 5oz, 9lb 1oz and 9lb 5ozs. We didn’t get a double, but got close, and will be back for another try, but did both achieve personal best trout.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fishing at Lechlade, and would recommend when possible you treat yourself to a real experience. Not easy fishing, but then I wouldn’t want it to be.