Sea-Trout Fishing Methods: Lake Fishing and Dapping
Sea-trouting in lakes raises rather different problems from those encountered on rivers. In rivers, we usually have a fairly good idea where the fish lie; in lakes this is not so. A featureless lake can be a depressing sight to an angler who has tried for hours to contact a sea-trout and failed, for in the course of a day only a limited amount of water can be covered. Clearly it is of importance to fish through the right water.
There are various sorts of still waters holding sea-trout. There is the sea-loch which is flooded by salt water at each high tide. There are lochs drained by a channel which partially or wholly floods, depending on whether. The tide is neap or spring.
Then there are the freshwater lakes connected to the sea by a river up which fish run.
Sea-trout usually reach lakes in a shoal. On arrival, bursting with energy, they quarter the water, especially if it is small, but after a short period — perhaps half a day after arrival — they settle into well-used sea-trout lies. A typical lie might be at the end of, and alongside, a rocky headland.
The traditional method of lake fishing is to drift in a rowing-boat, casting theahead of the boat and drawing them back. A fault with this method of angling is that it is sometimes hard for the angler to sink his flies deeply enough to catch fish, especially when the boat is drifting fast. Sometimes fish will rise all the way to the surface; at other times they want the fly deeply sunk. One solution is to mount a drogue or sea-anchor to the boat amidships so as to slow its drift. If the angler, in addition, casts his flies well to the side, it is possible to obtain considerable depth. If a gillie or a companion is in the boat then of course the flies must never be allowed to cross the halfway line, in case he should be hooked in the ear or in the hair.
Depth is very important in lake fishing. A surprising number of loch-fishers never seem to vary their tactics, but I am convinced that varying the swim of the flies from shallow to deep according to the mood of the fish makes all the difference to the bag.
Any fly-rod from 2.7 m (9 ft) to about 3.3 m (11 ft) can be used for boat-work. Longer rods offer the advantage of allowing the angler toor bob the topmost fly along the wave-crests — a deadly ploy, especially on windy days.
I prefer winged flies for this type of work, the size depending on local conditions. Flies dressed to hooks size H 12 to H 8 will be found suitable for most lakes and lochs. Patterns are a matter of personal conviction, but it is useful to have a bit of red in lake flies; a fly with a teal wing, yellow or green silk body, and a red tag at the tail (either of wool or fluorescent fibres) makes a good general-purpose pattern for lakes when tied in the above sizes.
Some anglers like to work their flies fairly fast, but speed of working really depends on the amount of wave. If there is a biggish wave, vigorous working certainly draws the fishes’ attention to the lure; when there is no more than a ripple I feel that slow, steady drawing is the best tactic.
Huge flies have been developed for sea-trout in lakes, their enthusiastic inventors using such descriptives as ‘sparrow’ and ‘hummingbird’. Since visibility and secure hooking are the prime objectives, some successfulflies are dressed on a tube and incorporate a treble in the tail.
If sea-trout are lying in six or eight feet of water a fly dapped on the surface has to be pretty substantial before they will rise to it. A small, fished deep, would catch these fish.
Dapping has been described as a monotonous pursuit. It has one advantage, however, in that the angler clearly sees the fish coming at his fly. This is enormously exciting, so much so that one must constantly guard against the fault of striking too early.