So you got up at half past three in the morning and its now four and you are fishing. Well assuming you managed this, you need to become extremely cautious from the off. You are very likely to find fish right beside the bank cruising around - perhaps even with their backs out of the water.
Kneel well back and start with the dry fly. A shipman's or two is always a good bet. Their early morning diet often consists of leftovers from the previous nights feeding.
Of course if you were there as well then you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, selectivity is usually out. Semi-drowned sedges, spent spinners and of course the ever-present buzzer should all be quite literally hanging around.
Also, you may get a hatch. Buzzers, caenis and sedges can hatch in those early morning hours.
Ok, so lets assume the dries aren't working. What then? Nymphs, or perhaps spiders. Keep close to the surface during the first few hours. Hopefully you arrived on a breathless morning.
A windy morning will often put the fish down and perhaps off altogether.
Another good start can be with a black lure. When there is very little light around, all the fish can hope for is to see dark things against the lighter backdrop. It will appear darker for the fish in the water than for you standing outside it. Slanted light rays due to the refractive properties of water will penetrate the surface less than a sun directly overhead.
Generally if you haven't got one of those bright sunny warm days, which we seem to be getting rather a lot of lately (this was written in '96 when England actually had a summer - Paul) then you might just find the fish hanging around your feet for a little longer. Stick it out with the imitative stuff.
The evenings start the other way around. The first fish come at long range to some sort of lure (probably white) and the fish keep coming until you are fishing dries, kneeling some ten yards back from the waters edge. The evening rise for the bank fisher, however, can be somewhat unpredictable. It is often disappointing and is only made worse because he can see the boats pulling out fish like there was no tomorrow.
Now the dam's a funny thing. I guess I get about two separate one-week to ten-day hot fishing periods on them. The first often comes around the early part of June, occurs at one end of the wall, is best at around about half past ten in the morning and very few people know about it. I approach it in two different ways. (1) floating line and nymphs, probably buzzers on the droppers and damsel on the point, probably a gold-head and (2) dries. The nymph fishing relies on inducing the take, the dry approach is far more fun and can be really quite difficult to cast out under certain wind conditions.
I guess I had better tell you about dams. The primary reason for their existence is to stop the water from washing all down the valley and drowning towns in the process, holding the water back so as to pump it to the taps when needed. Their secondary function is to cause you to slip in and attempt to stop you getting out until either, someone comes to you assistance, or failing that, you become a victim of the waters.
Yes, dams are notoriously slippy. When wet they can be absolutely treacherous. And remember that even when its not raining the lake water tends to splash around the edges. Great place to slip. Studded waders are great for water entry. Try sliding all the way down from the top of the dam and into the water.
Once you finally find yourself in the water, and you probably will at some point or other, then you will find that the dam is even slippier under the lake than above.
You can sprint under water and not go anywhere. Try it.
All that you actually can do is to swim all the way to the end and walk out. However take care here too, you should find some really soft mud you can get your feet stuck in.
The best bet is to swim along to some other angler, who will be a little surprised, and ask him for a hand out. This is the stage where you can pull him in too. You could travel up the dam like this and end up with more anglers in the water than fish. Beware of large groups of swimming anglers requesting assistance.
Two more things, beware bridges above dams; the shade hides the damp and also make sure platforms are secure before trusting your weight to them. I remember one time sliding down a wet dam and landing on a platform with relief, only to find it was somewhat premature because some bastard had unchained it.
The second period of hot dam fishing occurs somewhere during August and will be dealt with under the same month. Also July can give sport.