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Dry-fly fishing on lochs and reservoirs page 2


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And yet, were we afloat, we would urge the boat man to keep the craft near the self-same shore, so that we could lay the flies across that hopeful line that separates the black from the gold. When we fish from the bank we make prodigious efforts to cast a long distance out, and when we are working from the stern of a boat, we strive to get the tail-fly close to land. Whatever is desirable is just out of reach and, conversely, whatever is even slightly beyond our powers attains enormous importance.

We prefer to fish the small loch and the reservoir from the bank, and in such the trout generally lie quite close to the shore. There will always be a few trout, very fine specimens of course, which tantalise us by day by rising just beyond our longest cast, but evening brings them nearer the land, one or two of them into the creel.

When the angler reaches the scene of his conquests, he must first decide where he shall commence operations. Seldom will he be able to fish with the wind behind, as is the practice from a boat, because, unless the breeze is very strong, there will be a belt of calm along the shore probably so broad that lie is unable to reach the rougher water beyond. If he can by wading or length of line succeed in this he should spend a long time on that shore, for such a place, the tail of the wind, yields good results. In Highland lochs particularly, and also to some extent in all still water, we have found this to be true, and the probable explanation is that the trout, tired of nymphs, or keen to take anything, lie along that line in expectation of dies blown off the grass and heather. If the fish are rising freely in the calm belt, even the veriest beginner will have astonishing sport with the dry-fly, because the wind will assist him to get out a fine line and, if he holds back his rod at the end of the delivery, he will succeed n laying the flies so lightly on the water that a great response is assured.

For long-continued casting he should select a shore parallel to the wind, and fish it carefully down from top to bottom; he should have very little difficulty in sending his flies straight across a strong breeze. His main troubles will arise from the action of the wind upon his line, but, if he casts only to rising fish, these worries will be almost negligible. Striking is often largely a matter of luck owing to the slackness of the line, but if the rod is held pointing down wind and low to the surface and jerked shorewards, rather than upwards as usual, in answer to a rise, the hook will find its desired resting-place with pleasant frequency.

Many anglers avoid the shore towards which the wind is blowing and so throw away many opportunities of enjoying good sport and also of learning to cast into the wind, an accomplishment valuable on the river. For this work the angler should prepare a shorter cast of stouter build, and he would be well advised to discard the dropper-fly. There are good reasons for these recommendations. Fine gut is not so essential in the jabble of wave, and is more difficult to cast and manipulate than a heavier quality. Even the most expert will at such times contrive to tangle up his cast, and the presence of only one fly as well as the use of stouter gut reduces very much the possibility of this annoyance occur ring.

If he knows the loch well, he may, for the sake of variety and ease, wade out as far as may be and cast his flies across the waves; and, whenever he finds a projecting point, he will without hesitation accept the chance of an easy cast in the sheltered bay. Long casting off a lee shore is unnecessary hard labour, for the trout lie very near the edge amid the turmoil caused by the incoming waves meeting those reflected off the land; there they lurk, taking as they want them the flies swinging to and fro on the surface.

When trout are not rising, it is dreary, monotonous work casting a dry-fly at random upon a loch, unless, of course, hopefulness is stimulated and encouraged now and then by an offer accepted or missed. We find that we can remain contented for a longer time on a dour day, when we fish the wet-fly, than we can when we use its floating relative. The dry-fly is cast, left to float for a lime, lifted, and cast again; that is all. The wet-fly, on the other hand, must be brought shorewards and may be subjected to a large variety of motions in the process; there is much that can be done with it. The beginner always wants to know how long he should keep his fly floating; we cannot tell him. We fish the dry-fly on the loch (hiring a rise; if there is none, we fish the wet-fly; if it brings nothing we sometimes try the floating fly; if that does not produce a fish in a very short time the awful weariness of it sends us back to the wet-fly or to the shore for lunch. It is all very different on the river, a fish or at least a rise being certain to come even on an inauspicious day with a frequency that keeps weariness away.

On summer evenings, calm and peaceful, the surface of the loch is often plentifully spread with minute midges and the smallest duns. The trout are accustomed to swim about scooping them up in great glee. Generally the sinking of the sun is the signal that awakes the fish to activity. The beginner, on seeing the surface seething, need not conclude that, at last his great day has come, and that his creel is about to be filled to overflowing, nor need the experienced angler be consumed with despair. It is neither a hopeful nor a hopeless condition of things. Every single capture constitutes a veritable triumph, productive of more satisfaction than a dozen trout taken under other conditions. To attempt the luring of such trout from a boat is to invite failure; the campaign should be conducted from the bank and the flies that will make it succeed are the Blue Hen Spider and the Badger Hackle. These are the indispensable flies for the reservoir and lowland loch in the evenings of June and July.

The angler who fishes a loch with the floating fly during a rise has both a pleasant and a valuable experience; he obtains the maximum sport possible, learns to cast the fly with delicate precision unerringly to the mark, and, moreover, he acquires the art of casting at all angles to the wind, with it and against t, a faculty which will fit him to assail with every prospect of success the most cunning river-trout.

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