This was to be the start of a big fishing week for me and I have to say after looking at the weather forecast I was not looking forward to it. It was going to be windy and wind on Rutland means big waves and not the easiest conditions to tempt trout. The Interservices for those that don’t know is a competition between the Armed Forces, Army, Navy and Airforce. The event has been hard fought the last few years but a strong RAF team has ensured they have dominated the event. This year though the Army was bringing a good experienced squad with no new caps and we hoped to run the hot favourites close.
Day one saw me partnered with Jamie Nairn a fellow scot we have fished several times together and generally have a good craik. We had been given half the basin to look at (not the good half…lol) and were instructed to start around ‘S’ Buoy. We couldn’t find the said bouy despite getting the binoculars out and scanning the area, I thought it might be my failing eyes and after a light-hearted argument about where we should have been we decided a drift onto Ernies point was close enough. A bit of shelter from the peninsula made fishing quite comfortable despite the wind. I had heard reports that Rutland was tough even in good conditions so was all set for a grinder. I was more than a little surprised to get action from the get go and the first take took me by surprise. Jamie and I had plenty of sport on that drift but only one fish graced the boat. As we motored over where we could see the rest of our group we passed ‘S’ Buoy and chuckled. Jamie picked up another fish drifting onto the Whitwell bank but we were well and truly in the washing machine now. Still to land a fish I was getting a bit twitchy but as we approached ‘U’ Buoy the flies were taken hard and my rod nearly ripped from my hand. Not one but two fish had grabbed the team of flies. I rarely land double shooters fishing only barbless flies once you net the first one the other slips away. This time though fortune smiled and I got them both. Further drifts in the open water produced a few more fish and we were a happy boat motoring over to meet for lunch.
At lunch, there was the usual piss taking and much laughter as we crowed that we got the good areas or cried that we had been shafted but all in good fun. Information was exchanged and a plan for the remainder of the day was made. A much quieter afternoon for me I only managing to add another fish to my total, Jamie managed a few more though and all in all we were pretty happy with a dozen fish to the boat. At the briefing in the evening it was clear the fishing was not easy and the next day was going to be much worse as even heavier winds were predicted. Some reshuffling was needed as some anglers had been stood up for deployment and others were not so well, Dave I hope your blockage is all sorted pal…lol.
The next day the wind was howling and we were probably not far off being not allowed out. Dave Norbury who was feeling much better was out with me and I was given the main basin area. I had a considerably shorter leader from the usual 22’ down to 12’ after turning Jamie’s waterproofs into mesh by wrapping my flies around his noggin more than once. I thought I would spare Dave the same fate. This proved very successful as well as not hitting Dave I was picking up plenty of fish. By the time one o’clock came around we had about ten fish in the boat. Travelling back up the drifts was akin to someone throwing buckets of water at you that instantly refilled so they could do it again. Mostly I would be thinking this is shite but when the trout are pulling back it doesn’t seem that bad. I met up with Ronnie Christie who was also getting plenty sport. He took us back up the wind to show us a must have drift. Dave and I started on the outside and watched Ronnie take two fish quickly. We were not long getting in at the back of him and this produced immediately Dave and I both taking fish and we had four trout on that short and very quick drift. The wind had gotten up to not *ucking funny and the fish were still coming. We had been lucky most of the day storms skirted around the reservoir and we only caught the very edge of them but at three o’clock our luck ran out and we were treated to a power shower. After this Dave had to make a deposit back at the jetty (tummy still not quite right poor bloke) and while I was waiting for him the message came through from the team captain to call it a day.
At the briefing in the evening it was clear that most had struggled with the conditions Ronnie had however come up with a workable method that would hopefully put a few fish in the boat. The meeting was a subdued affair after a tough day on a lumpy Rutland most were tired and ready for bed. Match day was bright really bright and the wind was still up the kiss of death! We had been lucky that the previous days had been overcast and the fish were willing to join in. I had drawn Steve Ottridge as I had the previous year, he had not practiced and gave up the engine. There was mention of Barn hill creek but I was quick to dispel any notion of not getting into the washing machine. The wind though not as heavy as the previous day was still strong and we were covering water fast. Not many rods were bending initially and I was pleased to get one early on Steve had also dropped a fish and shortly after another one fell off. I was buddied up with Ronnie and it was very quickly established that it was not going to fish like it had the previous day.
What really compounded the problem is that we were getting conflicting messages Ronnie and I both fishing DI5 lines but our boat partners were getting them much higher. It messes with your head and then you start chasing your tail. After a couple of hours in Steve and I had only put two fish in the boat, it was time to go looking. I hit a couple of the marks that had produced fish in practice for nothing. As I passed a few of the boys heading back up from the dam they were doing well and shouts of seven, fours and fives all on Ronnie’s method. My heart sank, I am lazy always have been but I was going to have to suck it up as Ronnie’s method involved some Loch Leven style pulling or combat stripping as we used to call it. I changed back to my five sweep and Steve changed to a midge tip not prepared to descend to the slobs a blobs tactics, no none of that carry on for Steve he was going to fish properly and nymph them out. “What have you got on Steve?” a sunburst blob oh *uck off …lol. It worked mind you and Steve matched me fish for fish I really wanted to change but I was getting a lot more action after one drift we had hooked seven fish and both felt a lot better about the day. I managed to grind out a grand total of six and just pipped Steve who managed five. From what I could tell on the water the Army seemed to have done pretty well but the scales would have the final say.
Between Ronnie and I we had worked out that the Navy Old Lags had beaten us into second place but what of the main event. There was an after-match meal at the Normanton Hotel and in a refreshing and most welcome change the Navy secretary read out the results before the meal. The Army had done enough beating the Airforce into second place, a hard-earned victory and a long time coming. Much credit to the RAF who were really gracious in defeat and quick with their congratulations to the guys a real credit to the sport. The Navy looked very professional in their new swag and I hope they enjoyed the event despite the result. Many thanks to all my boat partners over the three days suffering me for twenty minutes can be hard work but eight hours in a boat all credit to you. Really enjoyed competing with my old pal Ronnie Christie and hopefully we brought some value to the party. Roll on Grafham!