DAVID HOPPE GIVES US A GUIDE TO EARLY SEASON AT DRAYCOTE WATER THROUGH HIS FIRST POST-LOCKDOWN SESSION.
Draycote Water is a fantastic fishery located near Dunchurch, Rugby and at 658 acres, it isn’t too daunting in size. The reservoir is famous for its buzzer fishing and its superb grown on trout, which quickly put on weight thanks to the abundance of fly life. The main target is rainbow trout, averaging around 2lb, with plenty of bigger fish spicing things up, including grown on browns, up to around the 10lb mark.
Draycote is a bank anglers dream. There are heaps of different bays with differing depths and features which you can wade, and you can drive around the lake, parking within the dedicated anglers’ spaces.
The fishery is a great choice for early season fishing, with the fish usually located within easy casting distance, often under your feet. With a little warmth, the buzzers start hatching making for some truly arm wrenching early season sport.
The plan of my first outing post-lockdown to Draycote Water was to simply catch fish and have fun. After collecting my ticket for the day, I jumped into the car and drove anticlockwise around the lake until I pulled my car into the first car park named Toft Bank car park, which overlooks Toft Shallows, a great early season bay.
The depth of water in Toft is relatively shallow from the bank, and you will be casting into around 4ft to 6ft of water. The bottom is predominantly sandy and is a great place for buzzers to hatch, so Toft is known for its buzzer fishing. There is a spot called the Swans Nest around 25 meters to the south west of the first car park. You have a little more access to deeper water at around 8ft, which is where I decided to cast my first line of 2021.
This was the maiden outing for my new Sage Sonic 10ft 7# flyrod, It’s Sage’s latest rod and is a crisp and lightweight rod with a fast action’. I looked forward to putting a bend into it. The wind was blowing from a cold north-easterly direction, straight down the lake, so I decided to start the day with the RIO InTouch Midge Tip Long fly line. This is a floating line with a 2 meters clear camo intermediate tip and is absolutely deadly early season when you need your flies to get down.
I also decided to try RIO’s new 8.8lb Fluoroflex Strong Tippet. This is RIO’s latest fluorocarbon and boasts being ultra-strong with exceptional knot strength. My leader length was 18ft, with two droppers. I decided on using my infamous cat whisker with loads of snow-white UV marabou, an outrageously big tail with a tungsten head to get it down. Then I tied on two black nymphs. I wasn’t expecting much from the nymphs, it was cold (8 degrees) and no signs of fly life.
It is always best to make your first few casts from the bank before wading out, you will be surprised how many fish are within a few metres of the shoreline. The first cast from the bank and the line tightened in about 2ft of water as I ended my retrieve. I was playing my first post-lockdown fish, and it felt terrific. It had engulfed the Cat.
CORNFIELDS & ALBERTS BOTTOM
The wind had veered a little more northerly, making it cold and frankly a little unpleasant. So, I decided to move to the opposite side of the lake and fish the Cornfields, this is a lovely bank, relatively shallow around 4ft, but if you head towards Lin Croft Point, anglers can access deeper water around 8ft. This is an excellent bank for fishing, especially during a northerly wind as the wind comes over your shoulder, making for easy fishing. As I drove around, there were lots of anglers in the water. I couldn’t see a free spot, so I decided to keep on driving.
I passed Albert’s Bottom, which is a shallow and sandy bay. If the wind is blowing into it, this bay can be fish soup. It’s often a bay not fished by bank anglers as it’s a bit of a walk from the nearest car park, but often the rewards are there for the roaming angler. When reservoir levels are down a little, you can safely wade fairly far out and even fish towards the shore!
I pulled into my favourite, Biggin Bay. This is my most consistent spot on the lake, and there are always fish to be caught here. There is an old pipe in the northeast corner of Biggin, a fabulous feature and often holds fish. However, the wind was blowing straight into it, and I fancied a little more shelter, so I walked along Biggin until the wind was behind me. I noticed a few fish moving just out of casting range, which made me think the Long Tip was a little too deep. However, a few casts in and the line tightened into something heavy. I took my time with this one, letting the Sage Sonic absorb and buffer the runs. Eventually, a great fish of 5.08lb was in the net, my biggest Draycote fish for some time! I carried on and caught a few on the Cat, but things weren’t right, I was too deep.
I decided to change to a straight floater and put on the amazing RIO Gold Elite fly line. I changed my Cat to a FAB and the nymphs to some size 12 buzzers. I cast slightly upwind and just held on. Two minutes into the retrieve, the line tightened, and my first buzzer caught fish of the year was in the net. The sun appeared and instantly warmed things up. Buzzers started hatching in numbers and the fish started feeding. It became a fish a cast. I decided to take one for the table. I spooned the fish and it was full of small black and grey buzzers. After catching enough, it was time for another move.
TOWER BANK & RAINBOW CORNER
A few anglers were fishing along Tower Bank, which is spot where bank anglers have access to deep water and can be a fantastic spot. Early season, the fish often run the drop off here, so long casts aren’t needed. If you walk towards the dam, a fence comes down into the water and an inlet opposite it. This area often holds better fish, so it’s always worth a few casts. I caught my biggest brown of 9.15lb from here 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, there is no longer fishing access along the dam walls anymore, which is a real shame. I have had many a red-letter day fishing off the Flatstones particularly when the sedges were hatching. I kept on driving to Rainbow Corner.
This is located in the south west corner of the reservoir. It’s a sandy bottom and can be a haven for buzzers. Fished best off the bank during a southerly or westerly wind, Rainbow Corner can be a phenomenal spot, especially when the fish are feeding on the buzzer. But with a northerly wind blowing straight into the corner of the reservoir, I didn’t fancy giving it a go and thought to myself that I would save Rainbow Corner for my next trip.
I decided to finish my day off at Hensborough Bank. This is a superb spot off the bank, although there isn’t much space because you are sandwiched between the dam wall and some trees with sailing club bank which is out of bounds beyond. When levels are high, this spot has enough room for 2 or 3 anglers at best. This can be a perfect location when the fish are feeding hard on the shrimp, found in abundance along the dam wall. It’s also a wonderful spot when it’s blowing a stiff southerly wind as it provides shelter.
The wind had swung a little more easterly now, so there was shelter, and it allowed me to cast my line and let the wind swing the flies around, towards the dam. It wasn’t long until another hard fighting fish graced my net with my size 12 buzzer in the corner of its mouth.
Draycote offers some superb bank fishing, especially early season. The fish were just switching onto the buzzer during my trip, but come mid-April and May, when the weather warms, the water becomes thick with big buzzers and this fishing can be sensational. I for one, cannot wait!