The trout seem to know that they will be having a lean time over the next few months as they feed more aggressively than they have for much of the season. Whatever their choice of food, imitations do not need to be as accurate as they had had to be mid-summer when the fish were much more fussy. Having said that, presentation, accuracy and a good imitative fly will surely outscore the sloppy approachÖor will it? At this time of the year the fish tend to be very localised, certainly in shallow water and, if you are not in the right area, you may as well fish in your bathtub!

On Chew there are still some fish feeding on fry, especially around Woodford bank. However, it seems that the boom that we had lately with corixae has attracted a huge amount of trout into areas where these food-forms abound. When I was on the lake with my two Tasmanian friends, Malcolm and Mike, we spotted a lot of fish moving off Moreton point. There was no insect hatch under way and the rise forms were not suggestive of fry feeders. I didnít think that corixa was the target either as usually the fish take these little insects rather aggressively. Nevertheless, as our boat drifted into a submerged tree stump, I looked over the side to see a virtual carpet of corixae scooting along the bottom of the lake. Each visit since that trip some three weeks ago I have encountered these massive "swarms" of the little creatures, and so too have the trout. No need for sudden rushes to catch the insect swimming to the surface to take in oxygen: the trout have all the time in the world to choose their lunch.

Bank anglers in particular have been doing really well along Moreton and Stratford, and all sorts of flies have been working; from pearly thoraxed pheasant tails, through corixae patterns and on to small dries. Take your pick and pitch it in front of a feeding trout!

I had the dubious pleasure of leaving home at five-thirty last Saturday morning in order to fish the final Major Clubs competition of the season for Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishers Association. Word was that Grafham, the venue for the Association match (in which all of the leagues fish at the same time), was not responding to nymphs or dries and that the dreaded blob was again the fly to use. I was determined to prove otherwise and I am afraid that stubbornness lead to a very unsuccessful day for me. I caught a trout on the first drift of the on a claret Bobís bits (quite befitting, for this lake is the birthplace of this great, yet simple fly), but had to concede to using sinkers and lures for most of the day. Nothing moved on the surface and anglers using "slime" lines and blobs or boobies caught almost all the good bags.

I have been very critical of this blob-fishing craze this year, but I did see a different side of it on Saturday. Andy Linwood, one of the Grafham regulars with whom I have fished, talked fishing and spilled a few pints over the years, actually had the top "bag" in this match. He fished on "G-buoy" and caught a good eight-fish limit and had time bonus to add as he finished before six oíclock. I moved to this area at about three and saw him catch his final fish, a fantastic five-pounder. Andy used a black double blob on the point and an orange blob on a dropper. He fished his slime line very slowly. He certainly didnít rip it back as seems to be the norm for this fly. He beat a good number of top midlands anglers who would consider that they are adept at blob fishing! So, maybe there is a bit more to it than I think. He told my partner and me exactly what he was using and how to fish them; the trouble was that neither Greville nor I had a black blob in our fly boxes!

The Bristol team has had a pretty poor year so it was no surprise that we finished in last position in Group one. For some reason club members really donít seem to get behind this team event like they do in other clubs. At one stage the match organiser for Bristol, Mark Withyman, even considered withdrawing form the league as he was getting so fed up with phoning round the night before, trying to replace people who had withdrawn. However, he kept going to the end. We are trying to organise things a little differently next year to ensure that we have a more competitive team. I will keep you posted!

Most clubs were already sure of their promotion or relegation position before this final match. The best fish of the season in league matches was boated on Saturday by Peter Wylde. He had a splendid 6lbs 9oz rainbow trout.

Group four winners were Hanningfield. Group three saw the army team, Soldier Palmers A, win through to the second division. Queen Mother get promotion from the second to the first division, whilst for the third year in a row, Bewl won the top division. Amazingly, each of the four winners totalled 27 points from a possible thirty.

I am fishing Chew a few times this week, but donít be surprised if I donít write about trout next as it is the pike that I am going after! Yes, Chew is opening its water to pike anglers, and I couldnít resist booking boats on the first couple of days. I will let you know how it goes.

Tight lines,
Martin Cottis