by Charlotte Cooper

If it's cold and bright, winter can be a real pleasure by the water. What does Fishing for Schools instructor Bob Goble suggest for your fishing success this November...

November is the start of winter proper, with short daylight hours and who knows what the weather will bring. But though it may be cold and frosty, with white stuff crunching underfoot, if you wrap up warmly, it can be a real pleasure to be out in the cold, bright sunlight.

What can beat a very bright blue sky, contrasting with the various species and changing colours of the trees? Most will have lost their leaves and have shut down for winter but others will remain green, making a very pleasing picture indeed, not forgetting the long shadows created by the sun’s low appearance over the horizon.

The rivers and lakes will have had a good flush through with plenty of rain freshening the water and the temperature will be back in single figures with good oxygen levels. This is extremely good for trout, as they are cold-water creatures. The fish will also be hungry. Insect life will be sparse so the trout’s attention will be smaller prey species, like roach, and perch, to get them through the winter.

 Flies to use this month include just about anything that looks like something to eat! Flies with lots of movement are particularly good, so try mink and marabou with lots of swaying and pulsing movement. White, green and black are good colour combinations as well as orange.

The key thing is to find the feeding depth. Sometimes it is possible to see trout chasing at the surface with smaller fish scattering and being chased by a pack of trout. I have included a picture of some patterns you could use, a good fly to try is the humongous, with its gold tinsel under a plume of marabou, a silvery body and a spiky hackle palmered around. You can use chain at the head and bead eyes or a single gold or silver bead, can be quite deadly. Fish slow and deep but also be open minded as to the way you retrieve, whatever fly you use and the depth. I call this the taking zone.

 If you are not taking fish home for the pot, please be careful when handling them. The picture shows catch and release tools. The head of the tool can also be small or larger than pictured. The larger one is useful if you have a bead of some sort on the hook. Much like when using a disgorger, it is a matter of sliding the line down the slot and into the fish’s mouth. Push down, keeping a tensioned line and the hook is removed quite easy. It is a very efficient and quick way and can be done with the fish in the net so very little handling is necessary.

Please use barbless or debarbed hooks. You can debarb with a pair of flat nosed pliers by squashing the barb down. There are thousands of barbed fly patterns out there, but manufacturers are seeing the move towards going barbless. I have been using them for many years and they have been the norm in the coarse fishing world as far as I can remember.

By keeping the tension on between you and the fish (controlled tension of course), you will land that fish, even without a barb on your hook.

Please up your leader/tippet strength. Don’t play the fish for too long. If possible, keep the fish in the net to unhook it then release, but only once you think its fit enough. You want that fish to swim away strongly to fight another day.

One more important item of tackle is your fly line. They can be very expensive to replace, so looking after them is cost effective in the long run. After your session, clean your line when home. Use a very tepid warm soapy water to clean your line, it will disperse all the mud and grit that has collected on it. Let it dry and use a soft cloth to finish. You can also use a proprietary line cleaner or restorer to revitalise, then you are ready to go again.

That’s all for now. Keep warm and safe but most of all have fun,

Bob G

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