Guidance for the new salmon season

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A new salmon season gets underway on March 1st and with river levels looking good there is optimism that a few spring fish will be tempted. The River Taw Fishery Association have sent recommendations to all their members who fish the Taw. See below.

EA Consultation: Managing Salmon & Sea Trout Fisheries. RTFA Committee Recommendations.

As you are all probably aware we move into a new era on the river this coming season. We will no longer have any salmon and sea trout nets on the estuary and while we have campaigned successfully against mandatory 100% catch and release (C&R) the Environment Agency expects us to reach and maintain a release level for salmon of over 90% for 2019 and beyond. Failure to comply could result in the imposition of mandatory 100% C&R.

When we fish this coming season and thereafter how should we adjust to the fact that the EA expects us to maintain this release level for salmon bearing in mind that our release levels were 88% in 2017, 79% in 2016 and 85% in 2015?

Given the 90% plus C&R target, the EA salmon bag limits which form part of the River Taw byelaws have become largely irrelevant – 2 fish in any 24 hour period, 3 fish in any 7 day period and 10 fish in a season. From now on, in theory, an individual would have to catch and release 10 salmon before keeping one to ensure the Taw stays above 90% C&R. In practice this translates into each of us operating on a 100% voluntary C&R basis whenever we possibly can. The RTFA Committee now recommends this.

It will be important for RTFA members, including our three fishing hotels, to take responsibility for getting this message out to non-members and visiting anglers who fish their water.

We appreciate that will not be to everyone’s liking, but it should beremembered that during the consultation process we were faced with the real threat of mandatory 100% C&R.

If we turn our attention to sea trout, for which the EA is not setting out an expected release level, our historical release levels were 77% in 2015, 82% in 2016 and 81% in 2017. Again the EA bag limits have become largely irrelevant – 5 fish in any 24 hour period, 15 fish in any 7 day period and 40 fish in a season. All of us know, particularly the specialist sea trout fishermen amongst us, that sea trout numbers have been falling dramatically in recent years. In 2017 for

example, the last year for which we have complete figures, sea trout numbers dropped below salmon numbers for the first time – 193 to 243 (EA rod catch figures). From preliminary numbers that I have received this situation persisted last season. We are still trying to understand the reasons for this decline, but without knowing the cause we cannot put together any remedial plans. As a result your Committee recommends that until there is a significant improvement in sea trout numbers we should practice voluntary 100% C&R whenever we possibly can.

By operating the same system for salmon and sea trout we will ensure that the largest possible numbers of both species are able to reach their spawning grounds. At the same time we will continue to make as many river improvements annually as funding permits. Particular emphasis will be placed on finding out what is behind the sea trout decline and taking appropriate remedial action to the extent that it turns out to be an in-river problem.

The beginning of the season is a good time for each of us to remind ourselvesof “good practice”. Our Good Practice Guide can be found on the RTFA website –

Let’s hope for a successful season this year with a full river and no droughts. That will give us a good opportunity to assess the true condition of our lovely river and its fish stocks.

Alex Gibson, Chairman February 2018

Top Value Fishing Ticket offer at Blakewell

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Blakewell Fishery are offering a special rate for a days fishing offering great value for money. Plus if you visit on a Saturday there will be a delicious homemade stew available from the cafe for £5.00 an ideal warm up for lunch before travelling home or continuing fishing.

Loyalty 5 fish ticket for £30

Dear Angler,
Richard and John would like to thank you for your support last year; it was a challenging season and the Summer had an effect on all of us.
We hope to see you all soon for this new season and would like to offer you an all day 8am until sunset, loyalty 5 fish ticket for £30 available on your next visit.

Every Saturday there will also be a homemade stew available from the cafe for £4. Any angler who visits the fishery twice in a month and uses 2 x £30 tickets qualifies for a free bowl of stew and tea or coffee.

Tight lines and kind regards

John and Richard.

Line recycling

Line is probably the most harmful material anglers use and experienced anglers change their line on a regular basis as it is the vital link between them and the fish they hope to persuade to the waters edge. Discarded line has long been an issue that causes concern even when put out with the rubbish it can get onto landfill where it can entangle birdlife. I have in the past cut my line into short lengths or burnt it on the fire. Now there is a scheme to recycle old mono and braid and the good news is that North Devons tackle shops are participating in the scheme so please bag up your old line and take it to your local tackle shop and place in the designated receptacle. For more information on the scheme please click on the below link.

Winter trout sport at Blakewell

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Wistlandpound Flyfishing Club members visited Blakewell Fishery for the final leg of their winter challenge series and all members successfully completed their three fish bags within a couple of hours. The water was still crystal clear despite heavy overnight rain as the inlet had been diverted to maintain good water clarity. My first trout of the day was a fine rainbow of around 3lb 8oz that gave a great account in the cold water. The fish was tempted using my favourite winter Stillwater fly the olive damsel. This pattern always seems to work well sinking quickly due to its chain eyes with its long marabou tail fluttering enticingly with a slow erratic retrieve.

After catching my first trout quickly I decided to wonder around the lake a little and take in the scenery a little. I was pleased to see that frogs had been busy spawning in a small pool adjacent to the lake. Signs of spring were in fact all around if you took a moment to look around with daffodils well advanced and green buds on the hawthorns along the path to the fishery.

Dennis Toleman from the Triple Hook Club had elected to take a walk around the lake and as we chatted a small wild brown trout seized my fly and was captured on Dennis’s phone before being slipped back into the water.

As we chatted I missed couple of pulls but soon added a brace of rainbows to my first fish. As a dark cloud threatened we walked back to join fellow club members who had by now all caught their bags. We strolled back to the fishery weigh station to see who had won this heat of he winter challenge.

1st – Dave Richards – three Fish – 7lb 13oz

2nd – Wayne Thomas – three fish – 6lb 10oz

3rd – Paul Grisley – three fish = 5lb 13oz

4th – Colin Combe – Three fish – 5lb 8oz

5th -Nigel Bird – Three fish – 5lb 3oz

The  winner of the Winter Challenge was Dave Richards with 23lb 2oz, runner up Colin Combe with 22lb 8oz and third Wayne Thomas with 21lb 7oz.

Paul Grisley was forth with 21lb 4oz and fifth Nigel Bird with 20lb 6oz.

After fishing I enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee with John Nickell who shared exciting prospects for the coming spring. After a difficult season in 2018 due to the exceptionally hot summer plans are in place for 2019.John tells me stock fish are now growing well with plenty of good sized rainbow and brown trout coming along for stocking in early spring. In addition they will be stocking with sparctic trout a cross between brook trout and Arctic char. They are also planning to stock tiger trout a cross between brook trout and brown trout both species are obtained from Torre Trout Farms.

I was also tempted with some superb smoked salmon to try later in the day beside a roaring log fire. Blakewell smoke their own grown trout and organic salmon that taste far superior to mass produced products bought at the supermarket.

Organic smoked salmon on a fresh baguette with just a dusting of black pepper -Perfect!

Wimbleball Opens – March 1st

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Wimbleball enjoyed a fantastic season last year under the management of Mark Underhill who has transformed the fishery stocking hard fighting quality rainbow trout throughout the season.

The new season gets underway on March 1st and promises excellent sport from the off. I hope to see you there!

Season opening date 1st March 2019

For all fishing information please call Mark on 07758561412
Facebook: Wimbleball Fly Fishery

Ticket prices: 2019

If you want to buy any tickets please enter your email address and name below and the number of tickets you require. We will then send you an invoice which you can pay online, alternatively please call 01398 351371.

Day ticket (5 fish limit) = £25.00

Catch and Release Day Ticket £25.00 (first 2 fish must be kept)

Day concession (5 fish limit) = £22.00

Evening Ticket after 4pm (2 fish limit) = £17.00

16-18yrs (2 fish limit) = £18.00
Juniors under 16yrs fish free with an adult ticket.

Boat Hire – 2 man occupancy. (Mon-Thurs boats need to be pre-booked)
Rowing Boat = £20.00 per day.

Rowing boat single occupancy = £15.00 per day.

Rowing Boat with engine = £30.00 per day

Rowing boat with engine single occupancy = £20.00 per day.

Great cold water sport at Exe Valley

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With the snow melting fast outside it seems like a good time to show some of the stunning fish that anglers at Exe Valley have been catching. The cold spell has far from slowed the fishing with anglers having great success on a variety of flies and tactics. The fish are in great condition & fighting hard.

(Below)John Ratcliffe from Exmouth visited on a very cold day and used a variety of different patterns and depths with a slow retrieve. He caught all six of his fish including a lovely Blue Trout.

(Below)Andy Dade from Berrow visited and caught 4 fish including a cracking 6lb 1oz Rainbow Trout noting “Good day again, all fish on Apps Bloodworm. Deep and slow retrieve” A few days later however Andy returned to Anchor Lake and landed a stunning 12lb 2oz Rainbow Trout using an Apps Bloodworm on a floating line. This Rainbow was Andys personal best Rainbow Trout – well done Andy!

(Below) Colin Nice from Exeter visited with a friend during last week and enjoyed bacon rolls on arrival & soup by the lake for lunch – available from our the fishery pre order menu. Colin caught 6 fish including a nice 4lb Rainbow Trout. Colin said “Very good – enjoyable all aspects. All fish on small flies P.T.N, D.B, Bloody William & floating line – 6”-12” down.