Ladybower Trout Fishing – New Record for Ben

This summer I have made a couple of trips to Ladybower Trout Fishery and I feel like I’m getting a bit of a knack for the place. It’s an enormous expanse of water; around 500 acres, set in beautiful Peak District countryside. The fishing is good too, so good in fact I decided to head over for a boat fishing trip with me old mucka Ben. A fly fishing virgin.

On route to Ladybower, riding in style in the blue bullet, we discussed tactics. I say we discussed tactics but ben had never been fly fishing at this point so the discussion mainly revolved around me talking about “becoming the fish” and Ben nodding in agreement. Upon arrival, with Ben suitably gee’d up and in full trout mode, I set up his fly rod with just one fly on the point, a bright red blob fly. I on the other hand tried to mix it up a bit and use a team of flies with an attractor blob on the top dropper, a wet fly type thing on the middle and a buzzer on the bottom. Just to confirm there was no method to my madness! With final witty pun shouted to the bank we set sail!

“I have boobies and I’m on the blob!” 

– Jack Cartlidge, shouted from a boat, Ladybower 08/13 –

The blob I was on, was one of the excellent flies from There is an example of one below. I am still relatively new to the world of flies and entomology so I have absolutely zero shame in saying I choose flies purely on two factors:

  1. Is it shiny?
  2. Does it have a silly name

The fly below is called the Red Blob (hehe) and it is shiny; so it matches even my stringent criteria exactly. Seriously though it’s a great fly and it’s really nicely made.blob fly

When I’m fly fishing for the day I like to have a nice sit down around the middle of the day when the sun is high and the fish arent biting. You really need it after a morning of thrashing the water into a foam like a maniac, I don’t know if it’s my poor form or my gay little girl hands from working in an office but by the end of a session my mits will be more calloused than  Either way its nice to have a little sit down and soak up your surroundings. Frankly, there isn’t a better place to do this than drifting on a boat on a reservoir nestled high up in the Pennines.

2013-07-06 17.20.02

Putting my feet up at Ladybower

 Anybody who has fished lady bower before will know that there are thousands of small perch lining some of the shadier margins, unfortunately, this is the place to find trout on a bright sunny day. I have found though, in my limited experience of the reservoir, that if you start catching perch you may as well move along because there won’t be trout in the swim. I assume this is simply because the perch will spook off big trout and they simply will not be occupying the same space at the same time.

Fat Worzel Grummidge with a perch

Fat Worzel Grummidge with a perch

On this trip I was accompanied by me old cockersparrow Ben – seen here catching his first pike. On this trip we were somewhat restricted in spots to choose for the day as we did not have an outboard just strong arms and oars,  we decided we would be staying in the lower arm of the reservoir with the dam wall near the boat shed and fishery office. Having rowed to the first spot we started having a few casts around, we both started on a floating line with the aims of working lower through the water if we had no joy.

Whilst I was majestically working my lure through the water, the fly deliciously darting just below the surface. Behind me was Ben all 6’s and 7’s as he struggled to get his first ever cast out. It looked a bit like a bear, trying to conduct an orchestra if you can picture that but sometimes ugly pays (as they say…. I think they say that anyway it may be a saying about seeing prozzies but I’m not sure) and as Ben’s first majestic cast piled into the water all around his feet just over the side of the boat a trout took it almost instantly and after a long struggle Ben managed to overcome the trout and tickle him on board…….. Then I smashed its head in.

Bens First Rainbow

Ben’s First Rainbow

We struggled for the rest of the day trying a variety of different depths with a  variety of different blobs, boobies and flies. I managed a 3 or 4 perch and a small trout, which must have been a half wildie (if you like) having been spawned in the reservoir from the stocked fish put in the last few seasons. Even though it was fucked after the fight in the hot water, I managed to nurse it back to health and after about 10 mins or so of holding it in the water and it swam away strongly.

Mint! well parsley

Mint! well parsley

All in all a good days fishing even if I did have to face the eternal embarrassment of getting a trout I caught on a previous trip out of the freezer, whilst Ben dined on the delights of the catch of the day.

Fit for a king

Fit for a king

Rainbow Trout Brace at Ladybower!

Fly fishing is a tough old game, it requires stealth and cunning in equal abundance. Traits which I, admittedly, possess little of in equal measure. I like to think of it as the hardest form of fishing. The difficultly starts before you have even left the shop, flies, tippets, leaders, line, reel and rod need to be perfectly balanced in order for the line, leader and tippet to unfurl gently onto the waters surface. That’s if you can even cast well, which I cannot. A 6 metre cast is a monster in my humble books.

So assuming you have selected the correct gear, by fluke if nothing else then you need to select a suitable fly; which by the way is an innuendo minefield. So having selected the flies with the funniest names, dog knobblers and boobies, combined with your perfectly balanced gear, you are ready to go fly fishing.

Excellent! Let the trout catching commence!

IMG-20130706-WA0013 - Copy

Not so I’m afraid it took me 6 attempts before I caught my first trout. Although I did catch a monster perch on my previous trip seen here: Ladybower Troutfishing.

In took me so long in fact that I was beginning to lose faith in the method.

What do you do when your struggling to catch on the local stream chasing humble wildies with unbalanced kit?

Go to a reservoir that is packed full of rainbows and hire a boat, so being shit at casting isn’t such a handicap. Also, I invested in a brilliant AirFlo Starter kit which contains all you need to go trout fishing (all for a mere 50 english pounds).

Ladybower was the place for me and my bald headed Carillion accomplice Jamie. Another noob in the trout fishing world.

2013-07-06 17.20.10

With Jamie at the helm of the boat. We headed out onto the beautiful reservoir. Ladybower is extremely deep with an average depth I believe of around 75 foot, with this in mind we set sail for the margins.

– “Stocked trout are stupid” –

frankly excellent Mat Hayes quote. I am inclined to agree with Mr Hayes on this one mainly due to the fly the trout were succumbing to. Shown below is an orange blob, a fly that the purist would scoff at but I can hardly cast so I wouldn’t really place myself in the purist class.

2013-07-06 11.00.03

The theory behind blobs is the flutter and colour of a bright blob drawn quickly through the water will induce a territorial trout to strike. It is not without its critics, as seen here:

Yobs with Blobs – Admittedly, a strange thing to report in a newspaper but what the hell better than the usual rubbish.

On the day I fished a variety of different blobs starting low and working my way up the water layers. This sound strategy is not one of my own, but the one of the brilliant fisheries staff who are very quick to offer advice even to the novice like myself.  Before approaching any new venue I like to do a bit of research, Ladybower is discussed in detail by local pro on this website a well written and very informative read.

After completing a few drifts up the Derwent Reservoir arm of the Reservoir I finally hooked into my first fly fished trout. We had been drifting along the bank with the wind, I was casting about 2 foot from the bank. As soon as the fly hit the water I started to tighten up to the fly, suddenly the line went tight, I knew I was on and struck into the fish.  Line started flying through my fingers as I initially stuggled to get the trout under control. The power of my first rainbow trout was immense and the fish made several lunges for freedom, but keeping the rod tip high and using my arm as an extra shock absorber I managed to land my first “proper” fly caught fish.

IMG-20130706-WA0015 - Copy

Catching my first trout on the fly was a brilliant experience, and I went on to catch a further 2 in quick succession; on the same drift in fact. When we returned to shore with the other boat anglers, I had hadthe most productive day on the fly by far, with the highest average stamp of fish and the largest quantity. To the other anglers that failed that day…..

To catch a fish you have to become the fish, it was a bright sunny day so we fished in the margins right next to the trees which were providing shelter from the glaring sun, I retieved the blob very fast stripping line off the reel as fast as possible to induce a take from an otherwise lazy trout monging around in the sun and we kept moving all day and it was only in one spot that we found a very large shoal of feeding trout. Of course I am talking rubbish, and it was almost definitely blind luck rather than judgement by who cares. NorthernCoarse/GameAngler Out!

IMG-20130706-WA0008 - Copy


The fruits of my labour.

2013-07-06 23.22.27

Ladybower Troutfishing

Once made famous by the Avro Lancaster’s of 617 Squadron of the RAF, perhaps better known as the Dambusters. Ladybower is a huge reservoir nestled amongst the vast moorland hills that constitute the Peak District.

Now made famous by the northerncoarseangler.


And this monstrous perch, caught on the fly. My first ever fly caught fish from one of the most beautiful places in the country.



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