Barnsfold Fly Fishery – A day of firsts

This weekends fishing adventure starts in an unusual location. On the Friday night commute home from work. Trucking through the streets of the South Manchester in a Fiat Panda. The date was the 21st of Feb which mean the opening day of most of the trout reservoirs around the North West was nearly upon us. Trout fishing on reservoirs holds a really special place in my heart, the thought of casting a fly from a boat gleefully waiting for the first pull back from a potential behemoth. So leaving it late on Friday I phoned my contacts at the local reservoirs and begged for a boat. I played the celebrity angler card (which obviously didn’t work because the only people that read this drivel our my mates and my dad and they do this out of a sense of duty probably, the terminal illness card and I even said I would give an unnamed man in the Peak District a blowie. Leaving it so late, I was less likely to get a boat than a black man aboard the Titanic. I did try and time and time again my advances were turned down. So I turned to; a great resource for any fly fisherman in the North. After picking my target in the depths of rural Lancashire, I picked up the phone. Here is a greatly reduced exert from a particularly strange conversation:

– Can I book a boat for tomorrow please? –

– A boooooat? Whatever for? –

– Erm for the fishery which you own? –

– Ohhhh a boat –

So with the premise of a boat being available or at the really least it was loosely agreed. We decided to head up to Barnsfold Fly Fishery for a days fly fishing.

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Jamie Ward tackling up

The fishery itself consists of two lakes perched overlooking the Lancashire countryside below. My initial thoughts of the fishery were that it is nicely kept if lightly visually unremarkable. Not in a negative way its just a typical reservoir bowl split into two lakes. Saying this the view from parts of the lakes is lovely. Because of its exposed nature the wind really whips over the artificial dam side of the reservoir. Making even standing on that side of the reservoir loud and uncomfortable and pretty much ruling out fishing from that bank. This I’m sure is not the case every day but it was absolutely blowing a hooley when i was there. In fact if it wasn’t windy it would be a beautiful spot with a scenic view behind you a ressie packed full of trout in front.

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Playing his first trout

Soooooo, on to the fishing. As it transpired we did not have a boat ready upon our arrival but we really need one. As a rookie in the world of fly fishing I often find fishing a larger water from the bank frustrating to say the very least. I personal least favourite thing about this style of fishing is the mystery fly disappearance closely followed by the getting caught in a tree behind and in third place always having in the back of mind “I don’t think I’m casting far enough”.

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Yesterday though it felt like my fly fishing had a slight coming of age today as I wasn’t constantly frustrating myself through my inexperience of casting and the water I was on really helped enable this. The banks of both reservoirs really enable you to work with the wind and I am sure that whatever wind you would find yourself in you could find a spot from the bank where you are fishing effectively unhindered by the wind. After all as Steve of Arnfield Fly Fishery said to a sexy young fly fishing rookie i.e me:

–  What’s the number one rule of fly fishing? –

– Wear a flat cap with a fly in it?-

– No!-

– errrrr-

– Always keep the wind on your left cheek (young padawan) –

n.b all words in brackets are words that might have only happened in my head

Today despite the wind I thought I would fish a team of three flies on my trustee old Airflo 10 foot #7 weight with a couple of reels loaded with an intermediate and a floating line. I started on the top with the floating fishing with a sparkly black egg flie on the top dropper, then one of my own Daiwl Bachs on the dropper with a small black buzzer on point. To be honest it was the first time I fished a team of flies successfully in the past my inexperience of casting meant I was on a one way train to tangle town after a few trips I abandoned the method.

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My very own Daiwl Bach

But despite the wind this time it actually went all right. I spent the morning playing around with different flies and colours. I eventually settled on a small orange boobie followed by a black size 16 buzzer and then another black buzzer this time in 12 with a gold head. Not much reasoning in this selection but i eventually started to attract some interest from some predatory trout. I was performing simple roll casts with the flies landing not more than 5 metres from the bank. Now fishing with an intermediate line I was pulling in a slow retrieve and I was getting plenty of follows and flashes as trout flashed up to the boobie. The clarity of the water allowed me to just make out the boobie and the flashes of trout harassing the little orange lure at around 2 foots depth.

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After a couple of misfires and missed takes due to lack of practice and making rollies when the fish pounced, I eventually managed to get into a couple of trout. Both eventually fell to the small buzzers trailing the boobie through the water. Although I did have a particulary memorble take having just a fish I snagged on my next cast on the point buzzer. Whilst I was waving the rod from side to side to dislodge the snagged fly a large trout took the boobie flying around in the water. this in turn dislodged the snagged fly which was great! I then lost this new fish. Which sucked! In a final twist to the weird events surrounding this fishing trip both myself and jamie forgot our landing nets so we had to tickle the fish out which whilst hilarious on steep banks was awkward to say the least. It’s not a method of landing fish that I would recommend especially with two spare flies whizzing around at head height.

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Worst Landing Net Ever!

Highlights of the day:

  1. Jamie hooking himself in the head during a cast (whilst flouting Steve’s number one rule)
  2. Catching my first trout on the buzzer
  3. Catching our first trout from the bank
  4. Jamie hooking himself in both the top dropper and the dropper with a fish still on point trying to lunge for freedom in the water

Whilst spending the day with Jamie whilst he was on a self destruction spree was great and the three fish were a bonus. The absolute highlight was discovering this great fishery with a great atmosphere on Manchester’s doorstep up in Lancashire.

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A pristine Barnfold rainbow of about 2lb


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