Together with two good friends, Paul and Jess, I decided to go and fish La Mordorée, an old quarry now totally transformed into a magnificent stillwater trout fishery in the heart of the Charente, just 30 mins drive from us.
I had fished this reservoir in the summer to no avail. It can be just too hot for the fish to bother playing. Talking to the owner he told me that it fishes best in autumn and spring.
So……we headed off bright and early one November morning. The colours of the surrounding trees are majestic at this time of year and it was a rather comfortable 18 degrees, hazy sun and little wind upon our arrival.
There was a good deal of surface activity visible. Just what we needed – a bout of dry fly fishing. Tackling up was undertaken with gusto as rise after rise was seen upon the water. Funny how a rise looks like a little target isn’t it?
I had been asked to give a quick refresher on casting techniques to Paul and Jess, so we headed to the waters edge. Edge is the word, the quarry is over 15 metres deep and our bank shelved steeply for about 2 metres and then dropped off into the blue.
I was teaching a change of direction technique to Paul and Jess when a beautiful 6lb+ rainbow rose to my right hand side. As I had cast to my left, this gave a marvellous opportunity to demonstrate a change of direction cast. With a deft waft of the rod and an increasing amount of adrenalin starting to run through my system, I cast to the fish.
Normally shaking hands do not produce good casts, however this time the fly, a grey wulff, landed just in the trout’s window of vision. Slurp!! And it was gone. The fly line started to disappear steadily into the depths as I let out more and more with minimal resistance for the fish. (Now, here’s a lesson to us all……….it pays to remember that 1.5lb tippet tapered leaders are superb for river fishing, but perhaps a slightly stronger breaking strain would have been preferable for a fish such as this fellow.) You’ve guessed it………”ping” and everything went slack, jaws and all.
As the group excitement died down we discussed the why’s, wherefore’s and if only’s as anglers do. Words not worthy of print were spoken in profusion, as anglers do.
This one definitely “Got away”
We fished for an hour or so up until lunchtime, enjoying many rises, takes, and subsequent losses and saw some truly tremendous fish cruising below the surface.
La Mordorée has a good head of rainbows, browns, blues and golden trout and there are black bass too. Mental note: Must catch a black bass!
The French lunch has to be observed. So we settled down at the picnic table for a traditional lunch of pate, bread, cheese and of course a small beer. Not forgetting a “pain au chocolat” for afters.
Recharged we fished on into the afternoon. The wind had gotten up a little so the surface disguised our lines and leaders admirably, whilst allowing our flies to bob around happily in the wavelets.
Paul hooked into a prowling rainbow only for the fish to decide that perhaps taking this fly was a mistake, so he spat it back at Paul, who proceeded to entertain us with a temper tantrum usually not seen after the age of around two years old. Or maybe it was more of a tribal war dance, its difficult to say when you are doubled up laughing. Onwards and upwards…………
Jess hooked into a rather nice golden trout just as he was in the process of paying the owner for our fishing. It looks impressive, but Jess was relieved of the trout and his euros, both got away.
Me…I missed a good few takes, “lack of practice” was the excuse chosen from my book of “Explanations for an empty creel”, however I finally banked a plump dinner plate sized rainbow, so my wife Sue would be delighted, if not a little surprised.
We finished the day by watching the sun begin to set over the reservoir and sipping a beer. A great day indeed.
With my thanks to Paul and Jess.
- Tony Scott, Fly Fishing in France
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