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ANGLING: PAT ARMSTRONG'S COLUMN ON THE ANGLING SCENE: Grafham opens in style.

Byline: PAT ARMSTRONG

A GREAT START to Grafham Water's new season saw plenty of over- wintered fish showing to the floating line and buzzer approach.

The pick of them was a terrific 6lb 8oz rainbow, which earned Steve Payne from Bedford Grafham's New Lodge Trophy and pounds 70 in tackle vouchers for the heaviest fish captured on opening day.

Payne fished from a boat in the bowl of the dam, where a black and green Cat's Whisker lure brought a bag of seven fish weighing a total 18lb 1oz. His eighth fish didn't count - it was a superb brownie of 4lb 8oz, one of a good number of over-wintered browns which were safely returned by first-day anglers.

Rugby's Rob Appleton of Rugby went all the way with rainbows, landing the day's best limit for 20lb 2oz, all taken on floating line and black epoxy buzzers from the south end of the dam. Appleton's eight trout included over-wintered rainbows of 4lb, 3lb 12oz and 3lb 8oz.

Anglers using the natural approach had most success from both bank and boat, scoring with floating or slow sinking lines teamed with long leaders and buzzer or small nymph patterns. Hill Farm and Plummer Park were among the most popular early hotspots.

BIG buzzer hatches equalled big catches at Ravensthorpe, which posted a remarkable rod average of 7.5 as 84 anglers chalked up 632 trout in a single week.

Boat and bank anglers had the time of their lives after finding fish switched on to prolific black and olive buzzer hatches.

In the shallow margins of the reservoir, size 12 holographic buzzer and Damsel variants were the order of the day.

Local angler and season ticket holder Dick Haynes of Ravensthorpe returned 49 rainbows boat fishing off the Coton End car park. Dick alternated buzzer and GRHE on a floating line.

Digby Lewis of Banbury took 16 fish boat fishing the island, including a superb brace weighing 5lb 4oz and 4lb 1oz. The fish came to size 12 GRHE on a floating line.

IT WAS a big fish weekend at Pitsford, where season ticket holder Kevin Height from Stanion set a new personal best which may end up in a glass case.

Fishing off Stone Barn Point he used an intermediate line with a Dawson olive pattern to tempt a 9lb rainbow that had been feeding all winter and was in superb shape and condition.

Its thrilled captor said "I think I will have to put this giant in a glass case".

Phil Gregg of Oakham also found himself locked into a big fish battle from the Gorse Bank at Pitsford. Gregg, who holds a season ticket and is a Rutland Water regular, banked the the 7lb 11oz fish on a Damsel pattern presented on an intermediate line.

Pitsford warden Nathan Clayton said: "This season is tipped to be one to remember. The fish are well spread out in all the usual places like the Pines, round to Pitsford Creek and Rigby's Point. Other tops spots are Stone Barn to North Farm Bay."

His top advice for boat and bank anglers over Easter: "For a better catch rate, move around".

Pitsford produced 890 fish to 231 returns during the week, for a rod average of 3.80.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 29, 2002
Words:543
Previous Article:RACING: Sixth course on the cards for Scotland.
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