Opening day on Rutland is a prestigious event in the fly fishing calendar. For many of you, it will be the start of a new season and an opportunity to dust off your tackle, stretch your shoulders, and dig out your waders… probably to find they have a new leak where a mouse decided to nest for the winter. This year we see the return of an April 1st opening day. In previous years, excluding last season’s June opening, Rutland has opened in March while the fish were holding deep and surprisingly far from the bank angler’s reach! But, I think this year will be different. I'm writing this blog in early March and we have already enjoyed a couple of warm weekends. So, I think (and hope!) this year, we will see fish tight to the banks and switching onto the early buzzers from April 1st.
The South Arm-
The key stocking points on the South Arm are: Green Bank, Old Hall, Road End, and the Sailing Club. I believe the South Arm provides early season anglers with the most opportunity. It’s also the most forgiving game plan for those that don't know the lake all that well.
On the peninsula side of the South Arm, fish hold in certain areas after being stocked and running the bank. The first drift worth mentioning is into the bushes in front of the car park on the Green Bank. This small bay can hold huge amounts of fish early season, however, I've found it is either feast or famine and the fish don't tend to hold here for long. It seems they either run the Bunds Wall to join the resident fish in Hideaway Bay where they inevitably stay to gorge on the early season buzzer hatches or join the masses at Old Hall point and bay. This is a brilliant spot, but it is very popular and so getting close to the bank can be a challenge! A spot that produces early season as well as throughout the year K Bouy Point can be an awesome area to fish early season. The area holds an abundance of fish and is a spot the bank anglers can’t reach! It is certainly a ‘must try’ opening day spot and I can almost guarantee there will be fish to be caught here! K Bouy to Inman’s Spinney is great to bounce along hugging the bank with short drifts picking up fish as you go. I’ve never found this area to hold huge amounts of fish, but generally offer interest or a fish on every drift.
Sailing Club to New Zealand Point is a safe bet for a stocky Rainbow or two, but it can be plagued with suicidal stocky browns. Fish stocked here usually don't go far in the first weeks of the season however as the season progresses will generally push up towards Manton bay.
The North Arm-
The key stocking points in the North Arm are: The Transformer, Dickensons' Bay and Ernie’s Point.
The strategy for fishing the North Arm is quite simple. Dickensons' Bay holds a huge amount of fish which generally tend to be slightly larger. The bay also offers a nice mix of Brown and Rainbow trout which makes the longer drive worth your while. However, this in the only area of the North Arm I would consider fishing from the boat, unless you are looking for resident fish.
The Main Basin-
The key stocking points in the Main Basin are: Church Bay, Stockie Bay, Ernie’s Point and East Creek. Personally, I think Normanton Bank will be a safe bet on opening day. Here there is plenty of space to get tight into the bank and generally, it holds a good spread of fish. Church Bay through to the dam wall will also hold many fresh stockies, so will certainly be worth a visit if you are in the area. On the North Bank of the Basin, Sykes Lane and the Beach usually hold a good amount of fish. Around Stocky Bay you are likely to find a few bank anglers, shelving off deep quickly getting close to the bank is essential. The mouth of Whitwell and Ernie’s Point can hold a lot of fish early season, however, in the past, I have found it to be hit and miss from the boat.
Only time will tell where the fish will end up this year, but hopefully this will help anglers to find fish early this season on Rutland.