So, now we've left the jetty and we have several hundred acres of water in front of us. Where to go? If you have invested in a fish finder then that will certainly help in making the decision. But the first point to take into consideration is the wind. If the wind is too strong then you shouldn't be out in a boat in the first place. Having said that, the most comfortable place to fish is always upwind, where the wind comes off the land. Here it has not had time to have a major effect on the water, so there will be fewer and smaller waves to rock the boat. My experience is that fish come to much the same conclusion! They tend to move upwind towards the sheltered, more peaceful areas of the water. That should be your first destination. Put your face into the wind and follow your nose!

Do not approach within 100 yards of any shore - that is the domain of the bank fisherman. Besides, you run the serious risk of grounding if you get too close to shore. No fishery will thank you for ruining a propeller on one of its boats by hitting the rocks in shallow water. Wearing your polarised sunglasses will help in avoiding this danger. Keep an eye on the water by the side of the boat - you will be able to see to quite a depth with your glasses on. Many waters also have no-go areas - bird sanctuaries, sailing areas, etc. - which you should be aware of and respect.

Your fish finder comes into its own when looking for the right place to moor up and start fishing. Running at low throttle you can slowly approach the shore, keeping watch on the fish finder for the depth of water. Look for the ten to twelve foot depth - that's where you want to fish. Remember, that's the littoral zone, where most of the fishing action occurs. You may have to move forward or reverse some distance to find the right place to drop your anchor. Remember that the wind is going to push your boat towards the deeper water, so you'll need to drop anchor in shallower water to allow for this.

Without a fish finder the process is a little more hit and miss but still quite straightforward. When you think you've arrived at a likely spot put the engine in neutral and allow the boat to come to a stop - a touch of reverse on the engine will help. Now carefully stand, holding the anchor rope or chain so that the chain and rope are vertical with your hand at head height with the anchor just touching the deck. The object is to work out where five feet of anchor and rope is. Let the rest of the rope lie on the floor. Look at the rope where it hangs down and just touches the floor. Now reach down and pick up that piece of rope. That's the point on your anchor rope we're interested in - that's the ten foot mark. I keep a short piece of string in my box to tie onto the anchor rope at that point. I don't have to measure it again that day. Just remember to retrieve your string at home time!

Having found this ten foot mark, slowly lower the anchor overboard. Lower it gently and see if it touches bottom. If it touches bottom too soon, you're too shallow. Move the boat into deeper water. If the anchor does not touch bottom then carry on letting it out and watch your piece of string to give you an idea of how much too deep the water is - if you get my meaning. If it disappears into the murky depths then you are much too deep. Move the boat inshore a little and try again. It sounds a fiddly business, but you'll only have to do it once and you will soon remember where the right depths are.

To help you remember where these ideal depths are you should take bearings of objects on the shore. The way this works is to find two land based objects - a church spire and a tree for example that line up at your point on the water. Then look in another direction about ninety degrees to the first two points and find another two items that line up. Power lines, trees, houses, hilltops - anything that is permanent will do. Simple trigonometry shows that these points will only intersect at the place where you are observing them. Next time you want to fish that spot it's a simple task of getting your two sets of points lined up again. Remember to  make allowances for any variation in depth from time to time caused by the extraction of water from the reservoir.

With the advent of global positioning systems becoming more available, finding your way back to a fishing hotspot becomes even easier. Some mobile phones even sport this facility and while I am not generally an advocate of mobile phones interrupting one's fishing enjoyment, there are times when the phone can be a life saving tool. Out of politeness it is best to turn it off when not being used. There is no need to leave the phone at home and if yours does have GPS on it you might as well use it.

Having found that fishing hotspot, letting your pals in on the exact location is made easier using a GPS co-ordinate. Of course, letting all your pals know just where your fishing hot spot is will probably turn it into a fishing black spot! One word of warning though - you must make allowance for the wind direction when using that GPS location. If the co-ordinate is taken when you are at anchor when the wind is blowing from the west, then dropping your anchor at that point in an easterly wind will put you a good way off the point when your anchor has settled. A final thought: with the advent of Google Earth maps it might be worth homing in on your water and looking at it through the satellite view. Several of the waters I have examined showed quite clearly where the shallow water and the drop-offs were located. It’s worth a look.




The Fly Fishing Encyclopedia