Good Friday Trout Fishing

April has to be one of my favourite months to target reservoir trout with that vibrancy of new life all around. Having enjoyed a good day at Wimbleball a few weeks ago I was keen to return and hopeful that with warm temperatures forecast there would be the chance of catching fish on the floating line.

This was to be a short session during the middle of the day with a catch and release ticket. Pauline would enjoy a well deserved rest with a good book whilst I waded out into the cool water. The drive across Exmoor proved to be an enjoyable experience with a stop off at Wheddon Cross to enjoy a Croissant and a hot coffee.

On arrival at Wimbleball it was clear that the holiday season had kicked off with families enjoying the warn sunshine, picnicking, floating about on the lake and generally having fun.

After checking into the ticket office and gleaning information from the catch returns it was time to head off and find a peaceful area of the lake away from the crowds. There is plenty of space at Wimbleball for everyone to do their thing. The information board in the ticket office indicated that some very good trout had been coming out to a variety of flies but that when the sun was out the fish tended to go down and become difficult to tempt.

We parked up past Bessoms Bridge and headed for the shallows where Jeff Pearce and I had enjoyed good sport a couple of weeks back.

I put down the tackle and surveyed the scenery. The lake stretched out before us sunlight twinkling on the ripples whilst a few swallows, swooped past and a butterfly fluttered in the light breeze. It was an idyllic spring day and with a warm sun and light breeze I was confident that the trout would be up in the water despite no signs of fish rising.

I waded out in to the crystal clear water and worked out a length of line to place a team of three flies. On the point a Montana, a buzzer and a Zulu on the droppers. I soon settled into that rhythmic routine of casting and retrieving. Birdsong, the call of toads and the sounds of people enjoying the day drifted across the water. My eyes searched the lake for feeding fish, my chilled fingers retrieving the line in slowly with the expectancy of that pleasing tug through the line.

After ten minutes or so the line pulled delightfully tight and a trout cartwheeled on a tight line before shedding the hook. That connection however brief always gives faith that the tactics will work and allows fishing to continue with conviction. It wasn’t too long before another trout was deceived and this time the barbless hook held firm. The trout was not to be easily subdued and threatened to strip line to the backing on several strong runs. After a couple of minutes the fish was ready for the net. A fin perfect rainbow of between four and five pounds.

As the afternoon approached I was pleased to hear the pleasing sound of trout rising. Several fish could be seen breaking the surface just out of casting range. After losing a couple of fish I eventually connected again and another stunning battle a rainbow of over four pounds was admired.

Pauline was called upon to briefly put down her book and capture the moments.

As the afternoon grew late it was unfortunately time to leave with other engagements looming away from the pleasing shores of this splendid lake. As other anglers passed by we chatted and exchanged notes. Several anglers had also enjoyed success and carried nets of weighty looking rainbows. As we walked back towards the car two anglers were fishing in the bay and one of them had hooked into a fine rainbow and was netting it as we approached. Yet another pristine full tailed rainbow of exactly 5lb was held up for the camera by captor Steve Essery who later informed me that he had finished his day with four fine trout scaling 2lb 4oz, 3lb 8oz and 3lb 10oz. His fishing companion had also enjoyed success ending with his five fish limit bag. He commented that it was great to see the fishery turned around under Mark Underhill’s management.

Wimbleball offers a superb trout fishing experience its not always easy but the fish are full tailed and hard fighting with the catch and release option working well. As the summer approaches it may well be worthwhile taking the option of a boat to cover more water. Summer evenings will I am sure provide some exciting sport from both bank and shore with free rising trout.

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Spring Sport

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Located at Gammaton Reservoirs ( 2 four acre lakes) .Annual membership £170. Members can keep up to 6 fish a week.
Day tickets £20 (3 fish) available from Summerlands Tackle, Westward Ho! & Tarka Country Pursuits , Torrington.
Membership enquiries to Mike Ball 07899 742757 . Email :

(Above) Limit bag for day ticket angler Richard Penton. Not bad for £20 & the option for catch & release on the lower lake if you want to carry on fishing after you’ve got your 3 fish.


posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Troutmasters Results

Well done to everyone who took part in the Troutmasters competition on Sunday 14th April 2019. The competition took place over four hours and even with the freezing cold easterly wind the ten anglers that attended managed a rod average of 2.4 fish per angler, with several anglers heading back to Anchor lake to continue fishing after the match had ended. Best tactics throughout this colder spell have been to fish deeper and slower.

  1. Chris Short with 5 fish weighing 16lb 8oz
  2. Keith Ratcliffe with 4 fish weighing 11lb 12oz
  3. Philip Duckett with 3 fish weighing 10lb 12oz
  4. Mary Ratcliffe with 3 fish weighing 7lb 12oz

  5. Ben Cheeld with 3 fish weighing 6lb 4oz

  6. Richard Cooper with 2 fish weighing 5lb 8oz
  7. Mike Duckett with 2 fish weighing 5lb
  8. Sam Shepherd – Junior with 2 fish weighing 4lb 12oz

    9 -Terence O’Keefe

    9 – Peter Kyle

    Junior Winner – Sam Shepherd

Exmoor Trout Fisheries for all.

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

The above full tailed rainbow trout was landed by Nick Hart who runs the nearby Exe Valley Fishery. Wimbleball and Exe Valley offer Fly Fishers visiting Exmoor an excellant choice of venues. The wide open expanse of Wimbleball offers the challenge of hard fighting fish in a stunning setting of moorland, woods and extensive farmland.

Exe Valley is situated in a sheltered valley beside the River Exe and offers fishing for both experienced anglers and families. Being slight less imposing Exe Valley is an ideal venue for those wanting to try trout fishing before venturing out to the wild expanse of Wimbleball.

Exe Valleys tranquil waters offer great sport.

Both fisheries offer catch and release options with stunning brown and rainbow trout.

(Above)A hard fighting rainbow on the line at Wimbleball

River Taw salmon

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Pete Tyjas who published Fly Culture Magazine tempted this beautiful springer from a middle Taw beat on a cascade. Whilst there have only been around half a dozen salmon from the Taw so far; as the water warms I expect a few more to be tempted.

Dave Mock caught his first ever salmon estimated at 8lb from the Barnstaple and District Angling Association Water below Newbridge.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – April Trophy – Clatworthy

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members fished their April Trophy Competition at Wessex Waters Clatworthy Reservoir where all members competing landed some top quality trout. A cold brisk easterly wind put the trout down deep with most fish caught  deep using boobies or lures. Whilst the fishing proved to be more challenging than expected the quality of the fish caught made the effort well worth well while with full tailed rainbows testing everyones tackle. One fish estimated at over five pound slipped the hook at the net whilst a good number of the fish caught were between 3lb and 4lb 8oz. The biggest trout fell to Colin Combes weighed in at 4lb 8oz and was part of the only five fish bag of the day that secured victory.

1st – Colin Combe – Five Rainbows – 12lb 15oz

2nd – Dave Mock – Four Rainbows – 12lb 12oz

3rd – Wayne Thomas – Four Rainbows – 10lb 15oz

4th – Dave Eldred – Three Rainbows – 7lb 8oz.

(Above) Colin Combe with a fine rainbow of 4lb 8oz
(Above) A fin perfect rainbow of 3lb 8oz

Latest from the River Torridge

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

It was good to once again arrive at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash as members of the River Torridge Fishery Association assembled for the AGM. This is always an enjoyable occasion with members coming from far and wide to reaffirm their commitment to the river Torridge by supporting the great work that is undertaken each year to protect and promote the river, its fish and ultimately the unique community that it supports.

Charles Inniss announced the sad news that Mrs Terry Norton Smith had recently passed away at the age of 94. Mrs Terry Norton Smith is fondly remembered by many who have fished the Torridge as she lived for many years at Little Warham Fishery with her husband Group Captain Peter Norton Smith


Last summer was one to be forgotten so far as salmon fishing is concerned with the long dry summer resulting in very low flows and consequently poor fishing. Catch returns show a rod catch of around 30 salmon and 75 to 100 sea trout. The nets took a total of 35 salmon and 23 sea trout from the Taw and Torridge Estuary.

The Torridge Fishery Association Website carry full details and all the latest news :-

Torridge River Association

The Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash gives a discount of £5 on fishing for Association members.

Below is the latest Newsreel from the Torridge Fishery Association giving a full round up of the AGM reports.

NEWSREEL: Spring 2019: Issue 40

Chairman: Paul Ashworth:                                         Secretary: Charles Inniss,

Beeches  Sheepwash Beaworthy Devon EX21 5NW

Tel:  01409231237


SUBSCRIPTIONS: for 2019 are now due please. If you have not already paid, please forward your cheque for £20 to the Secretary at the above address, making cheques payable to The River Torridge Fishery Association.

EA Proposals to reduce exploitation by rods and nets: Just before Xmas DEFRA gave us the good news we had been hoping for. The new salmon and sea trout byelaws have been confirmed.  All netting for salmon in our estuary has now ceased. This together with the ban on drift netting twelve months ago means that there is no netting in our estuary apart from netting for sand eels.

Catch and release remains voluntary but the EA expects a release rate above 90% for salmon. This effectively means that anglers are expected to release all salmon.  If the release level above 90% is not achieved, DEFRA will not hesitate to make releasing all salmon mandatory.

Your committee is concerned about the stock of sea trout and recommends that as well as salmon, all sea trout are released.

Please follow the following guide to good practice when releasing fish:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Use a fine knotless net.
  • Use strong tackle so fish can be played out and netted as quickly as possible.
  • Always net the fish: avoid handling fish and certainly do not pick them up by the tail to weigh or photograph.
  • Keep the fish in the water all the time: If you want to know the weight, measure the fish in the water and calculate accordingly. If you want to take a photo, do it while the fish is in the water.

Three year juvenile survey programmeThree years ago your committee agreed to fund a three year programme of juvenile surveys. The results of the initial survey (a semi-quantitative survey by the West Country Rivers Trust) in the summer of 2016 were disappointing. Salmon fry were present in only 10 of the 35 sites. In 2017 a full quantitative survey was completed by the EA. The results were much more encouraging with salmon fry present at most sites. Salmon parr numbers were poor but brown trout were evident throughout the catchment. This year the West Country Rivers Trust completed the third survey. This survey showed a continuing slight improvement particularly on the Okement and Lew tributaries. The three surveys have given us a better picture of the health of the river and where to target habitat improvements.Siltation and compaction of the spawning gravels continues to be a major problem.

The Salmon Hatchery: The rearing programme this winter has again been very successful. The broodstock of 5 hens and 5 cocks were all returned safely to the river. In the last week of March, 26,000 swim-up fry were stocked out into selected sites in the headwaters of the Torridge, Walden, Lew and Okement. For the dedicated team of volunteers, it is a great relief when the last fry are released into the river after five months of hard work.

Prospects for 2019:

After the disappointment of very poor fishing conditions in 2018 caused by the summer drought, we are all hopeful that 2019 will provide some good fishing. At least four salmon have been caught in March and even more encouraging sea trout have been caught as far upstream as the Junction Pool, where the Okement joins the main river. On 1stApril I saw the first trout rise of the season and anglers fishing the Half Moon beats at Sheepwash have enjoyed some good sport on dry fly and nymph.

Clay Discolouration: on the middle and lower river continues to be a problem after heavy rainfall, sometimes making the river unfishable just when it is an excellent height and colour for fishing. Discussions between the EA and Sibelco are continuing to minimise the problem. The obvious time to discharge clay water is when the river is in full spate.

The Fishermen’s eyes and ears:Our fishery officer, Paul Carter, is now responsible for all the rivers in North Devon and more than ever he is dependent on the eyes and ears of fishermen. If you have any concerns (poaching or pollution) please call him direct on 07768007363, or the EA Emergence Hotline 0800807060 or the Association Secretary 01409231237.

The Annual General Meeting: held at The Half Moon Inn on 5thApril was a great success with 46 members attending. The presentation by Adrian Dowding (WCRT) was particularly informative and interesting. We all enjoyed an excellent buffet and social get together after the meeting.


South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report – March 2019

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

The unseasonably warm weather in February could not continue and early March saw strong winds and heavy rain, making conditions challenging for anglers. However, as the month progressed the weather became warmer and calmer, with some hatching insects evident, and a few surface-feeding fish (a few fish even being caught on dry patterns). The water levels are still all full, with water temperatures rising – up to 10ºc by the end of the month.


Kennick– Rods averaged around 3 fish per angler, with a number of full bags and fish over 3lbs being caught. The North end of the fishery continued to prove the most productive, with bank anglers finding fish from the Causeway, Laployd and Smithacott Banks, as well as Clampitts Bay, while boat anglers tended to concentrate on the Narrows and deeper central water. Some surface-feeding fish are evident in the early mornings, although few hatching insects have yet been seen, and no fish could be tempted to rise to a dry pattern. Gold-head Damsels and Montanas fished on floating or intermediate lines have caught well, as have lure patterns (such as Kennick Killers, Tadpoles and Cat’s Whiskers). The best Rainbow caught during the month was a 3lb 11oz Rainbow, caught by Jim Heathcote (from Totnes), while Wes Ower caught a bag that included a Rainbow of 3lb and a wild Brown of 3lb while fishing from a boat. Mr A.Lobb had two excellent sessions, catching full bags on both occasions, with two fish and three fish of over 3lb respectively, although the best bag of the month was caught by Mr. M.Ure, catching (and releasing) 17 Rainbows up to 3lb 8oz on a tadpole pattern.

Siblyback– After a tough and windy opening weekend, both the weather and the fishing improved as the month progressed, with some nice full bags of fish being caught, rods averaging around three fish per angler, and surface feeding fish evident at the Marshes and Two Meadows (a few being taken on Black Gnats and Hoppers). With plenty of Buzzers hatching, small nymphs and teams of Buzzers have been successful patterns, while pulled deeper fished lures (Baby Dolls, Orange Blobs, Tadpoles and Vivas) have also caught well. The best fish caught in the month was a 3lb 8oz Rainbow caught by Mr Westlake.

Burrator– With two Coulam boats now at Burrator, and boats available for anglers from the beginning of the season, the opening weekend at Burrator got off to a flying start from both the banks (Longstone and Sheepstor Dam) and boats, with rods averaging 5.6 fish per angler. In addition to the freshly stocked fish, a number of wild Browns and overwintered Rainbows were caught. While fish have generally been feeding on small buzzers, small lures and flashy nymphs fished on intermediate lines proved to be the most effective method. Local club member, Stuart McCullough, caught the best fish of the weekend – a Rainbow of 3lb 8oz. As the month continued, catches remained high, with anglers averaging 5 fish per rod (and plenty of fish over 3lbs), with the best fishing to be had from Longstone Bank, the Lawns and Sheepstor Dam, mainly on Intermediate/Slow-sink lines, with a selection of patterns (Green-flash Damsel, Cats Whiskers and Tadpoles) slowly retrieved. Mr McMahon (from Walkhampton) also caught a 3lb 8oz Rainbow on a Goldhead, while Allan Lawson caught the best bag of fish – nine Rainbows from Longstone Bank and eight from the Lawns, using a Blue-flash Damsel.

Stithians– Pub Bay, The North Bank and Yellowort have proved to be the best locations in the opening month at Stithians, with anglers averaging just fewer than two fish per rod. As yet there are few surface-feeding fish and most fish have been caught on either a selection of nymph patterns (Pheasant Tail, Hares Ears, Diawl Bachs, Damsels and Montanas) or deeper fished lures (Orange Blobs, Tadpoles and Nomads). As the month progressed, fish also started to be caught from the banks at Mossops and Goonlaze.

Roadford– The opening weekend at the Brown Trout waters was met with gale force winds and driving rain, deterring all but the hardiest of anglers. Duncan Kier (from Belstone) caught six fish up to 1lb, fishing from the more sheltered banks in Dam Bay and Shop Inlet, using a Woolly Bugger. The weather improved the following week and local angler Dean Boucher caught nine fish in good condition from Davey’s Bank using a Black Tadpole. There are two new Coulam Boats on the water this year and over the winter we have cleared hundreds of metres of self-seeded willow from the banks to improve accessibility to the water’s edge.

Fernworthy– The first week of the season produced some wonderful sport at Fernworthy, with a number of anglers catching more than ten fish in a session and, overall, anglers catching 5.5 fish per rod. Fish have been moving throughout the day, taking buzzers and small nymphs (try Hares ears and Midge Pupae) in the calmer conditions, but otherwise Black Mini-lures on floating lines caught well in the deeper water by the dam.

Colliford– Fish are well spread out over the water and being caught off most banks – it pays to keep on the move to cover as much water as possible at Colliford. With some fish already starting to move on the surface, a few fish have been taken on dry patterns (Soldier Palmer and Black Bits). Floating or intermediate lines have worked best, even in the deeper water by the dam, with Black Spiders and dark lures catching well.

Chris Hall (April 2019)


Issue date: 3 April 2019

For more information, please contact:

Rosie Vine

Customer Communications and Marketing Manager

South West Lakes Trust

01566 771930


posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

These spring days are full of contrasts as the seasons turn. Fresh green shoots all around, the call of chiff chaffs, warm sunny days and cold days as the wind swings to the North.

As I drove to the river sleet settled on the windscreen and the temperature gauge read 3 degrees. Yesterday it was double figures and warm sunshine.  It was good to wade in the lower Taw this evening and see the first sand martins swopping over the river. I have been fishing the river since the seventies and there is a certain reassurance in the constant flow through familiar lands. I glimpsed fry in the shallows and wondered what they were; minnows, trout or maybe roach or dace fry?

A fish swirled half a dozen times in the narrow run at the head of a pool. A salmon, a sea trout or a large brown trout? I asked the question swinging the fly across the river but got no answer! High water had reached above Bishops Tawton half a mile or so downriver. Had a fresh springer come in on the tide?

Just three days ago fourteen year old Ed Broggio landed his first salmon estimated at 8lb ten miles or so upriver close to the Junction with the Mole. Great to hear that a young angler setting out has enjoyed success.

Salmon fishing News and prospects from Taw and Torridge

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

At least two salmon have been tempted from beats on the the Torridge this weekend with Jonathon Sykes catching a 9lb sea liced fish at Beam and Anthony Ward tempted a fine fresh run salmon estimated at 13lb from a middle Torridge beat. There are also reports of a few sea trout to around 4lb. Not had any reports from the Taw but I suspect a few fish have been tempted over the weekend.

After a week or so without substantial rain the rivers are starting to drop back and run clear. Northerly winds are forecast over the next week with lower temperatures which could impact on sport. Best chance for fish will come from the Lower beats of both rivers and spring tides towards the end of the week could encourage a few fresh fish to run. It won’t be long before we are hoping for rain.