Reports of Rutland from the off have been nothing short of extraordinary, the previous weeks Sportsfish team event saw a rod average of 15! I had arranged to practice with Del Spry on the Friday but as luck would have it I managed to secure the Thursday of as well. The weather looked great for the Thursday and Friday but it was to get up a bit over the weekend. I was keen to get up and do a little photography and a bit of buzzer fishing, no one to share a boat with meant I could please myself. So, after taking a few shots of Normanton Church I returned to the lodge to sort out my kit. Sean Hanlon was also taking an extra day with Jim Wright and we chatted while setting up our rods. I only ever set up one rod when sharing a boat but as I was on my tod today both rods were rigged. I set one up with the floater and a bung rig and the other with a midge tip straight through. I wished the guys tight lines and made my way up to the South Arm.
I had spoken with a couple of anglers at the lodge and they had suggested that there were some fish to be had up at Gibbets. What I found was I was at the wrong end of the wind and had much difficulty keeping up with my line. It was not supposed to be this windy I cursed under my breath. A couple of drifts and I abandoned the endeavour and made my way across the arm to Old Hall. This appeared much more civilised and the shores were lined with bank anglers, surely a good indicator that there were some trout about. Indeed, there were and the sport with a midge tip and buzzers was outstanding. A good mix of Brown and Rainbow trout. The wind was kind on this side of the arm blowing me gently out at an angle from the bank. As I got out the wind would really pick up and I just tucked back in. Every drift produced sport, Anglian water should be commended the quality of the stocked fish is very good and there were plenty over wintered fish joining in. As I made my way down towards K Buoy the sport was frantic. I thought to myself that I would need to find something really special not to spend my match days up here. I got around the corner to Yellowstone’s and unbelievably it just got better! I had a couple of really nice fish to 4lb in here all just twiddling. Before I knew it was 1400hrs. I went across the arm again into East Creek I thought I would get some shelter for a spot of lunch. I got my bung out while I ate but the fish would not give me peace and I lost half a pork pie over the side trying to stop my rod from being dragged overboard. I did not really want to do the North Arm and Normanton bank as I thought Del might want to look at them the next day. I went over to Carrot Creek for a bit but managed nothing. The shortest of trips into Whitewell and with an increasing wind I thought it was time to go in. On the way back I spotted a boat in Church Bay the angler on the point playing a fish. My interest was piqued however when his pal also hooked into a fish, well it would be rude not to. I stuck on a DI5 and a couple of blobs. An orange blob on the top and a black blob on the point. The wind was pushing through and although the drift was a good distance it was quick. Carnage, that’s the only way to describe it you could not get your flies back without a fish hooking up or a follow or take. Great way to top off a grand day.
The boys had arrived from Scotland a couple of the them a little worse from the journey. Jon Twine looked like a broken man he had done the bulk of the driving. It was really grand to see them all and they had over wintered well. Jock Kettles was in grand form and really looking forward to the Kit Kat Cup. A man on a mission having not enjoyed a brew from it in the last couple of years. We headed off to Weatherspoon’s in Oakham for our evening meal, a top scoff and a pint for under a tenner, you cannae whack it! Our accommodations were a little Spartan but the price was right I had gotten a six-man room but knew nobody wanted to share with me as my reputation as a snorer always precedes me. Del does not mind though being half deaf has its benefits!
The Friday saw the wind get up a little and it was time to get down to business. The floater and midge tip were dispensed with and on went the sinkers and the nasties! Del set up with a long midge tip initially and off we went. Church bay was a little bust with boats so I stuck to the outside and kept an eye on them. I knew Martin and Brad from old and could see them slaying fish at will. Even though I was on the outside of the bay I still managed four fish in about fifteen minutes. Del struggling to get much sport with the buzzers initially he did well to stick to his guns. We kept drifting ignoring the temptation to go into Church Bay. As we drew level with the Church Del finally scored with the buzzers and what a goal it was cracking Brown trout with a huge tail. As we carried on drifting we had both made ten or so casts for nothing and Del turned to me and said “Its gone off”, we both burst into laughter. We arrived at the bush behind the hotel, shootie in bush. The fish here were of a slightly better stamp and it was duly noted. We moved further up all the time looking around to see how others were doing. We had arrived at Fantasy and were about to move up to the North arm when we noticed one of our boats taking fish hard in. Well while we were here….lol.
We arrived in Dickenson’s bay during the match a couple of weeks back this had been full of Brown trout. That has changed though and there was a good mix. We had picked up Dean Rudd who was out on his own and asked if he wanted to move around with us for a bit of company. We worked down the Barnsdale road end and Cardiac Hill all the while taking fish, it was a red-letter day no doubt. Eventually we reached Bellgrano, I hooked into another fish on the top dropper and while it was in the net Del pointed out that there was another on the point. I half expected it to be gone by the time I had returned the first fish as I was using barbless flies. As it was the fish was still attached, I quickly got it to the boat and released it throwing the flies over the edge of the boat only to see the flies shoot away again. Unfortunately I still had one in my hand this was soon quickly imbedded in my index finger….ouch! There was claret everywhere and it took some time to stem the flow of blood, my finger smarting it was time to call it a day. I have fished with Del for years and we have had our share of great fishing days but I think he would agree that this surpassed them all.
Spirits were high around the camp fires most had enjoyed bumper sport and the tales of triumph were being banded around. Off course match day is always a bit different, you can go from hero to zero in a heartbeat a wrong decision on method and area can leave you scratching your head. The problem if you could call it that was there were too many areas to choose from. For me it boiled down to where was the quickest place to get eight fish and the answer was Church Bay. By the time people had travelled to Sykes or Yellowstone I was confident I could be well on my way to finishing. My partner for the day was a grand lad called Ian Pinder, although veteran fly angler he had not fished in competitions. It was the day of the Kit Kat Cup and although its bit of a laugh between Jock and I you can be assured that we both want to win! Ian was a star and gave me full control of the boat, only Del and I ended up initially in Church Bay. I watched Del net his first fish almost first cast, as I struck into my first fish and dragged it un-ceremoniously across the top to my waiting net. It buckled and wriggled free before it reached the waiting net. Oh well never mind as I looked up I watched Del net another. I was getting takes and offers but it took a little bit of refinement to get them to have it. Surprisingly Del decided to move off to shootie in bush I had assumed to tap into the slightly bigger fish. I opted to stay and just try and finish quickly. By the time Del had returned about forty minutes I had managed seven and lost another couple in play. He reported that he could not find the fish we had found the previous day and was still on two. I told him they were still here but the wind ensured you had very little time in the kill zone. Sitting on seven fish I lost another two fish in play and I have to admit to thinking I had blown it. I had not looked at the clock concentrating hard to get finished. The last fish inevitably locked up and when I checked my watch it was 1026hrs not to shabby but could have been better. The wind was pretty horrendous by now and I decided to take Ian to an area where he would be better able to fish effectively. So, it was up to Dickinson’s. It was like a different water Ian was better able to stay in touch with his flies and he was soon in about the fish. Building a steady bag, I was convinced he was going to finish. But after a hatful of opportunity and several returned Brown trout we had run out of time. Seven was a great day and he assured me that he had thoroughly enjoyed himself.
As we arrived back I could see Jock on the bank already changed. It was going to be close and I assumed it would come down to a bit of time bonus. Ian and I went to weigh in Jock hot on my heels he had finished only a short time after me that would make only a little difference so it would be down to the fish weight. My fish were a good average going a little over sixteen pounds. Jock congratulated me and offered his hand, the Kit Kat cup was secured for another year. I could have gone home a happy man but the Army were kindly running a Spring match so I thought I would stay on and have another day out.
The evening was filled by the Federations AGM and afterwards I gave a little introduction to fly tying for those that were interested. A couple of pints in the pub with the boys and I was fit for bed.
The way the boat draw is done for the last day is the guy that come first on the first day fishes with the guy who comes last and so on and so forth. My partner for the day was a Lad called Dave Norbury. He had suffered a bad day the day before and was hopeful of a better day. As we milled around the harbour waiting for the off I was convinced I was just going to drop into the drift I had done the day before. So many boats dropped onto the area I opted to fish the other side of the harbour. Less boats had gone left so off I went as I set the drift and made my first cast I noticed Del coming across as well. He had finished here the previous day and had assured me it was stuffed with fish. As I extended my landing net and picked up my rod four or five long pulls saw the line tighten up into my first fish. It was a cracker, great way to start. But as time ticked on I was not feeling the love, I spoke with Del who had already boated three. I was too deep so up to a three, I also told Dave to stop mucking about with his midge tip and get on a DI3. Almost immediately I was into another good fish. After ten minutes or so though it just did not feel right, Dave had boated his first fish as well to be fair if it had been fishing normally I would have been very pleased. There is nothing normal about the way Rutland is fishing so after ten minutes without a follow nor offer I decided to take us back to Church bay.
I stuck with the DI 3 and was into a fish very quickly, I was still unhappy with the depth though and changed back to the DI5. Explaining to Dave that I thought this would be quicker, he changed to a DI7. I was just saying to Dave how important being organised and having the ability to change quickly can make a huge difference to your day. As I was dishing out all this golden advice my spool spun from my reel hitting the gunnels of the boat and spinning to the depths. I rolly pollied the line as fast as I could but to no avail. All the line, all the backing in the water what a bloody plonker! Aye Dave efficiency that’s what it’s all about! So I had missed the whole drift, but Dave had managed a few fish and generated a lot of interest. Back around and actually having the flies in the water brought another three fish to the boat. Dave was going great guns also and we were both on seven. One more drift and we were both done great effort. It was only the back of eleven so we decided to head up the arms for a bit of buzzer fishing. We had an hour or so catching fish for fun but there was to be some rain coming in and neither of us fancied a drenching so we headed back in about 1500hrs. Tug and Jock were already in and were to be the winners of the boat pairs competition. We were finishing at 1600 so there was not long to wait until the weigh in. There had been some great performances Mark Rose who had such a hard time the previous week in the Sportsfish finished in less than an hour.
It was pleasing to see most had managed their limits and there had been some amazing fish caught. Notably some pretty impressive Brown trout had been taken. I have not got the full results but the highlights, Jock Kettles ever consistent won the boat pairs both days. Adam Sinclair new to competition loch style fishing won the Serving members trophy. I was lucky enough to be the top rod over the two days and won the associate trophy. More importantly though the Kit Kat Cup is back home and ready for Tuesday morning! If you have the opportunity to go fishing go to Rutland now, it can’t last. Many thanks to all my boat partners over the last few days and the organisers without whose efforts there would be not a match at all.