Brown Trout Hunting at Pitsford Reservoir

Man holding brown trout

Brown Trout Hunting at Pitsford Reservoir

I have been waiting patiently for the weather to cool a little over here in England before targeting the reservoir Browns. Although it wasn’t a blisteringly hot August, it was still hot enough to make our big reservoirs a little tricky. When hunting big browns, you need the odds to be in your favour. Ideally, we need cool but also clear water.

With the recent heat, Pitsford Reservoir had turned a little green with algae making targeting browns over the weed beds a very difficult task. However, there had been a few reports that the water was clearing and cooling.  That was good enough for me, and so, I booked myself a boat with my very good friend Stuart who had flown over from Canada and we went in search for the first decent brown of the ‘season’.

Catching Specimen Browns

Normally there are two approaches for catching specimen browns. The most frequently used method is fishing deep using fast sinking lines, such as an RIO Deep 7, to get your flies down to where the browns live. My favourite flies for this method are two humongous flies, one in white and one in black. Cast as far as you can, leave the flies to sink then either a slow or fast retrieve back. The second approach is to fish high in the water, usually over weed beds, using a popper, imitating an injured fish.

I set up my two rods on the boat, first a Sage X, 7# perfect for launching a heavy sinker to the horizon. Fly choice was simple. The Top dropper was a FlyShop white Humongous Fly and then on the point a Black and Gold Humongous Lure.  The leader choice was RIO’s Fluoroflex Strong 15.5lb which is tough enough to deal with the rough mouth of a brown trout. The second rod was a softer Sage Sonic, again 7# with a floater and a single popper.

Fishing Flies

As we motored out, I could see the water was still a little too green for my liking, but as we drove down The Narrows, there were some lovely clear patches with moving trout.  We stopped, not wanting to miss out on any action.  We drifted across the Narrows.  I was geared up with the RIO InTouch Deep 7, hardly ideal for surface feeding fish. However, I cast at two pods of fish and bent into fish straight away.  Stuart was fishing drys and the fish were nosing the flies but not taking. I joked he needed a humungous on.

I started ignoring the moving fish and casting my flies as far as I could, letting them sink for a good 30 seconds.  Have you ever actually tried wating 30 seconds for a line to sink? It seems to take for ever as you are so excited about making that next cast.

Fishing on Pitsford Reservoir, line case from a boat

Anyway, a few perch later, there was no sign of the browns. We drifted all the way towards The Pines.  I heard a huge splash behind the boat. I turned to see a massive brown crashing into fry behind the boat. I stood up, cast my flies in front of the fish and would you believe it, the fish took the fly.  Fish on, for all of 2 seconds…. Never to be seen again.  That got me thinking, perhaps the fish were higher?

We motored around the reservoir searching for clear water.  We had some action on the poppers in the corner of the dam. We got to fish over the weed with Stuart landing a very old fish.   However, the water was green and it didn’t feel right.

We headed back to the clear water of The Narrows, starting the drift from the Gorse Bank weed beds.  When we got there, the water really had cleared up and the visibility was excellent.  I tried for another hour on the deep lines for nothing. I decided to go up in the water and changed to a slow sinker.  Halfway across the lake, far away from the weed beds, my line tightening.  Instantly I knew it was a big brown.  ‘Stu, it’s a brown!’ I yelled. Deep, head shaking runs, we both watched the water nervously for the first glance of the fish.   Finally, the fish surfaced and what a sight it was.  I passed Stuart the net and in one swoop, he netted the fish.  The brown had taken the point fly.  After a few quick photos, we put the fish back.

Smiling Man holding Smiling Trout

I reeled in, then took the boat back to Gorse Bank, ready for another drift.  I cast a long line and then sorted out the boat after the chaos of the last fish.  Once all was in order, I picked up the rod, gave it a few good pulls then would you believe it, there was another brown on the end. After a great fight, a golden brown was in the net. I couldn’t believe it.  This fish clearly had taken deep down, where the browns are usually to be found.

Man looking at brown trout he caught

That was it for the Browns.  There was a small window when they were feeding, a window which I was lucky enough to take advantage of.

I felt that the browns were just starting to switch on after a long summer of warm water and poor visibility.  I think that in the next few weeks the sport will explode across our reservoirs and I for one won’t be missing out on it.

Good luck all,


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