If you go down to Rutland Water this season be preapred for a big brown trout surprise

This Rutland brownie was estimated at 8lb before being returned.

For anyone that fishes Rutland Water regularly, or even occasionally come to that, I feel I must impart some essential advice. This is based around the fact that chances of encountering a big fish at Rutland Water these days are really high.

What do I mean by big? Well that is of course relative, but there are now not only many browns in the 5-8lb region but there is always the outside chance of a double-figure brown and dare I say (OK, yes I dare) a 20lb plus specimen.

And remember these are all grown on from 2 to 2 1/2 lb stock fish. They are also fighting fit with full tails.

My essential advice is to have at least 200 yards of backing, as you may find you need it all!

Case in point. In April last year I was fishing at New Zealand Point. I had already caught some lovely fighting fit overwintered rainbows on a Gold bead Hare’s Ear (I use this as my go to demon shrimp imitation).

The light was beginning to fade. I made a good long cast, let the gold bead sink, and started a figure-of-eight retrieve with a few six-inch pulls. Suddenly everything locked tight and gave the perfect impression of having caught bottom. Then, my 7-weight Loomis hooped round into a horseshoe and simultaneously a huge spade of a tail erupted through the light ripple. After that, the only thing I could do was hang on.

I checked the drag was properly set on my Evotec (which fortunately had once been used for bonefishing, so it still had 200 yards of backing). I watched all of my fly line leave the reel and disappear into the distance. And it just went on and on, no let up. Eventually, I glanced down and to my horror I could see my backing was soon going to run out and fish was going to ‘spool’ me. Now it was time to put the rod horizontal and exert some side-pressure to turn this beast. 

This was successful. But there was no time to celebrate. The fish, which judging by the tail, was a very large brown, started to swim back towards me, but far faster than I could reel in. I couldn’t just hand pull the backing in and drop it on the ground, as it would get snagged on rocks and thistles, so I started running backwards into the field behind me. I did get some very strange looks as I did this. I was eventually playing this fish almost 100 yards inland, at which point the hook was suddenly thrown. I was left scratching my head in wonder at what could have been. 

A couple of months later I was anchored up by the wall in Manton Bay. I kid you not, but the exact same thing happened again.

I also once noticed a very large fish in East Creek bay. It was relatively stationary, just sub-surface in the waves. Now, I have caught a lot of big pike and that’s what I thought I was observing. That is until it started to regularly rise to dry flies.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!