4th March 2016
Saturday saw Chatton Trout Fishery host the final of the Fritz n Fly competition which has been running throughout the winter months. To qualify to fish in the final all the competitors had to come in the top four places at any one of the heats.
The competition is organised by Jimmy Tuck and his wife Tracey, and many thanks must go to them for the hundreds of miles they travel and the hours they put into the competition. The many heats are held at most of the local still waters in the north east. Heats are also fished as far away as Ayrshire, Scotland, Derbyshire and Cheshire. Every competitor in the heats and final contributed £10 towards the competition. For the final at Chatton there was over £4,100 to be fished for. Everyone in the final who caught a fish was guaranteed a share of the prize money.
In the final, a total of fifty four anglers competed. It was a cold morning, with the overnight frost producing some ice around the margins. This ice slowly disappeared as the day produced some weak sunshine at times. The anglers caught a total of two hundred and sixty six trout, all the fish being recorded then returned to the lakes. All three lakes were used for the final. The total catch included three double figure trout, (fish over ten pounds weight ). The weight was not important, it was the number of trout caught by each individual that mattered.
The payout to each competitor was calculated by dividing the £4,100 by the total number of fish caught. That worked out at £15.50p for each trout landed. Each angler then received £15.50 times the number of fish they had caught. Each rod averaged five trout, so on average each finalist received £77.50. However, the top rod received £201.50 for thirteen fish and the next two rods each had eleven trout so they received £170.50 each.
It was an exciting day, especially at lunch time. While the anglers were munching into their pie and peas followed by a host of sweet afters,I listened to the competitors discussing how many they had landed, and indeed, how many they had hooked but lost before getting them to the net. Loosing fish before netting them obviously did not count in the totals!! One guy at lunch time was saying that he had only caught his seven fish on buzzer patterns, while another angler was saying he had caught four fish all on different patterns and all at different depths. Competitions or leisure fishing for fun, every day is different and different times of the day sometimes need different tactics. Anglers have got to be aware of changing conditions and adapt the way they are fishing to be successful.
At Chatton all three lakes, although just a few metres apart in places, can fish completely differently at times. I have seen trout rising, feeding from the surface in one lake, and not a trout to be seen on the other two lakes. It is strange considering all three lakes are stocked with the same amount, size and type of trout. All lakes have Rainbow, Blue and Brown trout in them, with the fish ranging from two and a quarter pounds to trout up to the twenty pound mark. The density of trout is the same in each lake too, so why do they fish so differently?
Fly fishing is a challenge and although there are some very good anglers, even the very best of them will be the first to admit they do not know it all. That is probably a big part of the attraction to this superb sport. The ability to return fish to the lake or a river and watch them swim off is also for me very satisfying!
I had three hours at Chatton one day with Jimmy before the competition. Interesting to see some of the finalists in the competition practicing, trying to discover the correct fly patterns to use and at what depth the trout were swimming at. I managed to land seven fish, four from Ross Lake, two from Dunnydeer Lake and one from Chatton Lake. There was some bright sunshine but also a few snowflakes drifted down too!!
I coached young Thomas again at Thrunton one day. His casting is improving and he remains as keen as anyone I have ever coached. It was another cold day and guys were mainly catching on intermediate and sinking lines which are to heavy for a ten year old like Thomas. Some good catches were reported at different times during the week. A superb Brown Trout, estimated at sixteen pounds plus was catch and carefully returned. One angler caught twenty seven fish during two visits in the week. Three large Rainbows between thirteen and nineteen pounds were also caught.
This next week sees me coaching at Chatton and Thrunton as well as having a little self time to spend with Millie my dog! Nights are getting lighter and still waters are remaining open a little later, check their websites for the latest details.