The Fly Shop Welsh Hawks Take Silver at the Airflo International on Rutland – by David HoppeWayne Jones
The Airflo International on Rutland June 2021
It is fair to say the team was just a little bit excited about the prospects of 3 days practice and 2 days competing at the Airflo Spring Invitational International Competition which was held at the mighty Rutland Water. The last time the Welsh Hawks competed as a Team on Rutland at was back in October 2019!
We split the team into three areas; North Arm, Bowl to Sailing Club and the South Arm.
The first day of practice was hard. It was 28 degrees and bright sun. We split the team into three areas; North Arm, Bowl to Sailing Club and the South Arm. By doing this, we cover the whole lake and start to understand which areas hold fish. Although conditions were poor, what we did learn was that there was a lot of fish feeding hard on pin fry. In the calm conditions, some areas of the lake were boiling with fish pushing water feeding on the tiny fry. The top areas for this were Green Bank, Hideaway, and Sykes. However, here the fish were tricky. We could only tempt them using a Hares Ear CDC. We also identified fish running the drop-offs and margins with areas such as Yellow Stones and Barnsdale holding lots of fish. There was a large area of green algae that was being blown around. The worst of it was in the main bowl of the dam and top of the North Arm. Fishing was hard in these areas, the key was to find clear water.
Day 2 of practice and the weather had improved with drizzle and light winds. We sent boats to the three areas and with the overcast conditions started catching well. The best lines were tip lines changing between slow or fast sinking tips depending on the strength of the wind and wave. Two fabs with two nymphs in between were the best flies. My top fly leading up to the competition was a FNF Jelly Fire Pink and Magma Fab and this continued to produce fish during practice securing its place as the teams top dropper. Green and red leggy nemos also picked up fish along with green flash back nymphs. When covering pin feeders, a quick change to drys worked.
Day 3 and we were met with good conditions. We kept off the main areas but watched others catching our fish. Tip lines continued to work during the day, although we were now slowing down our retrieve and fishing almost static. The dam remained green, but the wind was forecast to change to a north-easterly which would blow the algae down the lake. Potentially by matchday the dam could be clear of the algae. That evening we discussed areas. The plan was to fish clear water and where there was the most concentration of fish. The main areas where we had consistently found fish were Yellowstone to Spud either close in or open water, Sykes and Barnsdale area.
Matchday and we arrived at Rutland Water early in anticipation
Matchday and we arrived at the lake early in anticipation. We found out who were our boat partners for the day. As per usual, three of the team drew the engine and had control. Myself and Russel had control and decided to fish Spud down to Yellowstone areas. Christiane gave the engine to Iain Barr expecting him to take them to the fish. The weather was overcast, mild but the important factor was that the wind had swung north-easterly, blowing the algae away from the dam down the South Arm. We knew the top of the dam would be clear.
By 12pm it was fairly obvious that the Yellowstone areas including Spud was not fishing. I had only managed 2 fish, with Guss and Russ only with a few fish each. At this point we didn’t know how Gazza or Wayne were getting on, they were fishing somewhere in the North. Christian who was out with Iain Barr and he was 1-0 up on him, they didn’t have the high numbers of fish we had hoped for.
Around 12pm I saw Gareth and waved him down, just as Russel was motoring past. A team meeting was held open water where it was agreed a change was required and that we would head to the top of the wind and fish Sykes. The water was indeed clear at the top of the wind and with that we knew we would catch fish.
Three Hawk boats worked down from Sykes to Stockie Bay towards Whitwell. We were able to bounce flies, lines, and ideas off each other and it worked well. We all caught with most fish coming to a static FAB fished on a 12ft tip line. At the end of the day, thanks to a move to the top of the wind, we were sitting in 3rd place with 31 fish.
Day 2 the wind had picked up, still blowing off the dam where we knew the water would be clear. Myself and Gazza headed to the Sykes with an aim of working the bank along to Barnsdale if needed. Wayne and Christian were to fish the top of the dam and work a bag. Russel went to the Green Bank at the top of the South Arm; his aim was 8 fish on drys. Gareth was taken to Blue pipes where he would pull in a building wave.
Working together, myself and Gazza bounced Sykes for only a few fish. I eventually reached Barnsdale where it became obvious that there were fish to be had
Working together, myself and Gazza bounced Sykes for only a few fish. I eventually reached Barnsdale where it became obvious that there were fish to be had. Fishing the 12 ft slow tip with two fabs and two green leggy nemos, fishing almost static, I bagged up, landing 12 fish by 1515hrs. Gazza eventually joined me after a slight detour to the Sailing Club. Gazza once in the bay started catching but seemed to be struggling to keep them on the hook. He still managed to land 7 fish. Russel had a fantastic day fishing Hideaway and Green Bank landing 11 stunning fish including a big brown. He caught using a mixture of drys and fabs.
The team had performed consistently over two days, landing a further 45 fish. Excellent communication on the water and good decision-making helped the Hawks take Silver place. I was fortunate to take the individual bronze over the two days with 19 fish.
The team had performed consistently over two days
It was great being back fishing together as a team and of course competing. Let’s hope more of the competitions which were cancelled last year start up again and haven’t been lost. We Hawks love the buzz of a Major competition and would be rather lost without them.