Winter Salmon and Sea Trout News –

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Mid winter and high on the moors salmon and sea trout are cutting redds ensuring the ongoing survival of these enigmatic fish that forge into our rivers each year in a struggle that is every bit as dramatic as the migration of the wildebeest on the Serengeti. This marvel of nature is overlooked by many who pass over swirling waters without a thought for these majestic creatures.

Anglers have a deep fascination for these fish and a passion to preserve stocks for future generations. I joined members of the River Torridge Fishery Association for their annual trapping of salmon for their hatchery located close to a tributary of the Torridge.

Below is a copy of Newsreel by kind permission of Charles Inniss.

The River Torridge Fishery Association – News Reel

President: Lord Clinton

 

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                                   Secretary: Charles Inniss

e-mail: charles.inniss@btinternet.com

NEWSREEL: WINTER 2018.

The salmon hatchery:  

            Over the weekend 10/11thNovember we successfully trapped the broodstock: 5 hens and 5 cocks all about 8/10lb and all in excellent condition. On Saturday 8thDecember we were able to strip all five hens in one go despite the gales and heavy rain. We now have just over 30,000 eggs laid out in the trays. All the fish have been successfully returned to the river and this year for the first time there was no sign of disease on any of the fish. So far so good.

(Above) Members of the River Torridge Fishery Association on Hatchery trapping day.

Juvenile Survey:

            The West Country Rivers Trust surveyed 40 sitesduring the late summer and early autumn. The results have not yet been published but apparently several sites on the Okement and Lew were encouraging. The sites on the Upper Torridge again revealed poor densities of salmon fry and parr.

This spring we released some salmon fry from the hatchery into the mill leat by the hatchery. This is a controlled area with no natural salmon production. The juvenile survey in September revealed good densities of salmon fry. The hatchery team was delighted to know its offspring were doing well and surviving in their natural surroundings.

The Annual Dinner and Raffle:

Another superb evening at The Half Moon. Over 50 of us enjoyed an excellent meal followed by the raffle and auction. Once again member support for the annual raffle was tremendous and over £1,500 was raised which will go towards continuing our efforts to improve the fishing on this beautiful river. In particular this money is used to finance the running of the hatchery and the cost of the juvenile survey. Particular thanks to Paul Ashworth, our Chairman, and his wife Geraldine who organised the raffle and the auction. There was the usual wonderful array of prizes.

The Fishing Season:

There are good years and poor years. 2018 will go down as one of the poorer years. Low river levels and high water temperature made fishing difficult. Too many of us, me included, wait for the ideal conditions and do not bother when the conditions are unfavourable. Those who ventured out caught fish having some success with the sea trout using dry fly.

Proposed Measures to reduce salmon exploitation:

            Despite rushing through the consultation process in the autumn of 2017, all has since gone quiet: presumably the proposals are sitting on a desk at DEFRA. Let’s hope a final decision can be made for the 2019 season.

Winter well:

            My very best wishes to you all for a peaceful Xmas and a healthy New Year.

In 2012 River Reads Press published “Torridge Reflections” a fascinating tome by Charles Inniss I am delighted that a fresh print run of 100 copies has been announced wirh copies available from River Reads, Cochybondu books and Charles Inniss. The first edition sold out and is highly sought after by book collectors and lovers of fishing in North Devon.

(Above) South Molton Anglers head to the river to count the redds.

Observation of salmon, sea trout and brown trout spawning is an important part of river monitoring and since the dramatic reduction of Environment Agency staff this job is often undertaken by volunteers. The South Molton Angling Club visit the spawning areas on their waters on the River Bray each winter to assess the numbers of salmon spawning. This years observations have been encouraging with good numbers of salmon, sea trout and brown trout seen before winter spates clouded the waters.

Just a quick update on our redd counting morning from Ed Rands.
“The river was in good shape to see what was going on although most other rivers were high and brown.
We walked a familiar strech of river and saw several salmon and sea trout.
There were also a good number of redds there, of different sizes e.g. brown & sea trout and salmon had been spawning which is very encouraging as we didn’t see much last year.
Hopefully they will hatch in the spring and go on their intrepid journey to keep these precious and vulnerable fish in our rivers.
 We also picked up plastic and other foreign bodies from the river.
So all in all a very enjoyable morning, thanks to those who attended.
Merry Christmas.
Ed Rands shared a number of old photos with me that had been found in the attic of a house during a house move. They are fantastic images that give a fascinating glimpse into the past.The images are from the Fortesque Hotel at Kingsympton and show salmon caught from the River Taw probably from the Junction Pool area. The these spendid catches of salmon were made during the 50/60’s.
In those days of plenty virtually all salmon were killed as stocks were abundant and few feared for the future of the species. Whilst  anglers undoubtedly contributed to dwindling stocks other factors have had a far more dramatic impact. Pollution, Poaching, Global Warming, Disease, Over Exploitation, Farming Practices,Silting of spawning grounds, Obstacles to Migration, Predation and other factors have all played their part. These days anglers are fighting for the survival of these magnificent fish removing barriers to migration, improving habitat, campaigning to remove netting, practicing catch and release and attempting to improve stocks by using hatcherys to improve fry survival.
It is sad to see how stocks have been allowed to decline over the years. We have lost a great deal from our rivers it would be tragic if salmon were to be consigned to the history books like the mighty sturgeon that once migrated up many of our local rivers.

Winter Trout – Blakewell

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On a stormy winter day small still-waters can offer the chance of excellent sport with hard fighting winter rainbows. Jeff Pearce and I met up with Dominic Garnett from the Angling Trust and his father John at Blakewell fishery where we hoped to connect with one of the recently stocked specimen brown trout.  Our arrival coinciding with strong winds and heavy showers a full English breakfast in the cafe beside a glowing woodburner was a welcome option and enabled us to chat at length about blogging, photography and the intricacies of fishing. We discussed the most important aspects of a fly. Dominic stressed the importance of a quality hook and its trout attracting features. Whilst I agreed with these vital ingredients I stressed that the most important aspect is that the angler has confidence in the fly or lure.  This generally leads to the angler fishing well keeping the fly in the water instead of constantly searching the fly box for inspiration. Dominic had also brought along his angling mascot the General who often features in Dominic’s musings in the acclaimed Fallon’s Angler magazine.

(Above) Dominic Garnett and the General with Turrall flies!

Eventually the call of the great outdoors became too strong and we ventured out to the lake. To our relief the water was still clear and had not been adversely affected by the torrential rain that turned the nearby river into a raging torrent.

The instant action we had all anticipated did not immediately occur and it was half an hour before Jeff hooked the first trout of the day. A pleasing rainbow a fish that thrives in the cold waters of winter.

Dominic and I had both expected the trout to respond to larger lures with perhaps a touch of colour. The trout had not read the script however and my first two fish and Jeffs were all tempted on small black flies or buzzers.

Many consider winter days to be drab and colourless but this is often far from true as winter sunshine and rainbows illuminated our day bringing pleasing winter vistas.

This was not one of those days when the trout attacked our offerings with gusto this was one of those days when persistance was essential. As the hours passed all too quickly the tally of trout slowly grew with the four of us eventually banking a dozen trout to just over 2lb.

(Above) Dominic Garnett nets a hard fighting Blakewell rainbow

BLAKEWELL CHRISTMAS COMPETITION 2018

Twenty Five of Blakewell Fisheries regular anglers attended the fisheries popular Christmas Competition where they enjoyed an unseasonably mild winters day with cloudy Skies that should have been ideal for trout fishing. Those anglers prepared to persevere and try different flies enjoyed a successful days fishing with six anglers taking their six fish limits. Small dark flies proved to be most effective with black and green combinations proving most productive.

Andy Facey with a fine brown trout of 3lb 12oz the biggest of the day.

The winner of the competition was Paul Grisley who banked six trout for 15lb 8oz. In runner up spot was Graham Turner with six for 13lb 10oz and in third Andy Facey with six for 13lb 5oz. In forth place was John Buxton with six for 12lb 7oz.

The competition was punctuated by a delicious chilli con carne meal followed by mulled wine and mince pies. John and Richard Nickel thanked all competitors for their valuable support following a difficult summer season when many thousands of pounds worth of prime quality stock fish were lost as a result of exceptionally high temperatures.  They talked of ambitious plans for the coming season with bank side improvements, weed cutting and of course every endeavour to ensure the fisheries stock fish are of the highest quality as the season progresses.

(Below) Small dark flies like this Black and peacock variant proved successful.

(Below)

The coming weeks should see some excellent fishing with several stunning big brown trout stocked.

(Below) Winter Trout Fishing at Blakewell

What once swam under the bridge?

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I was chatting to a fellow angler at the weekend about salmon fishing on the Taw and how the fishing has declined since I first started fishing the river over forty years ago. As is often the case talk reminisced on large fish caught and the angler in question told me of his first salmon a fine fish of around twenty pounds. One particular fish was etched on his memory and he described spotting the dorsal fin of this huge fish on a lower Taw beat. The fish was lying close to the edge in a well known lie its dorsal fin showing above the water. He and a fellow angler climbed high up on the bank and peered into water. They were awestruck at the sight before them; a huge salmon estimated at between four and five feet in length. The fish sensing their presence swam slowly into the depth of the pool never to be seen again despite their efforts to tempt the fish with rod and line.

Later on that evening I did a little research leafing through the pages of that Classic tome, ” The Doomsday Book of Giant Salmon” written by that late master of angling history Fred Buller. Within the pages of this book are a couple of huge West Country salmon one of which is the famous 57lb salmon caught in a net by Mr Stephens and Jimmy Hill at Fremington in September 1925. This huge salmon would have been around the same length as the fish sighted by my fellow angler.

Whilst this salmon is likely to be amongst the largest to have run our local rivers it is intriguing to wonder what fish have swum under Barnstaple Bridge and into other North Devon Rivers. As salmon numbers continue to dwindle huge fish are probably consigned to the history books. But there are I am sure people within the local community who can tell of large salmon seen or indeed removed from local rivers in the distant past.

It would be great to hear any stories of large salmon or sea trout from North Devon Rivers even if they were caught many years ago by less than legitimate means. I would be delighted to air any such tales here on North Devon Angling News; an ideal read for those long winter nights. You can email any stories to info@northdevonanglingnews and I will publish over the Christmas period! I will not of course publish the names of the authors unless they are happy for me to do so. It is important that any stories are shared before the generations pass and with them their knowledge.

Fine winter trout at Bratton Water

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held the first heat of their Winter Challenge series at Bratton Water where all members secured three fish bags by mid morning. The winning bag of three browns fell to myself (Wayne Thomas) and totalled 9lb 14oz. In runner up spot was Colin Combe with  9lb 12oz and in third Andre Muxworthy with 8lb 12oz.

(Above) Winning bag of three quality browns to 4lb

Bratton Water is nestled in a wooded valley protected from most winds which is always good especially when a bitter East wind is blowing as it was on the day of our visit. With a bright blue sky I wondered if we would struggle to catch but these fears were unfounded as the trout responded well to a variety of tactics. I chose to fish a light rod combined with a floating line and long 6lb b.s leader with a small gold-head PTN on the tip and small diawl-bach on a dropper. Casting a long line and allowing the fly to sink before commencing a very slow erratic retrieve. The choice of tactics was more to do with how I wanted to fish as opposed to what I thought would catch most. Other members succeeded using small lures fished on intermediate lines with speedier retrieves.

(Above)Three quality rainbows caught by Nigel Bird
Members take a break

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report (October 2018)

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South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report (October 2018)

The latest report from South West Lakes Trust not much from North Devon but some news from South Devon and Mid Devon might be worth a trip away for a change of scenery.

General:

With a couple of early winter storms hitting the South West recently, the waters have been stirred up, levels started to rise and water temperatures continued to drop in the reservoirs across the region. Daddies and sedges on the water have meant that fish have been looking up to feed, and dry patterns have produced some excellent results. The South West Lakes Trust’s Brown Trout waters (Roadford, Fernworthy, and Colliford) closed for the season on12 October; the season at its stocked rainbow waters (Kennick, Siblyback, Stithians, and Burrator) will be extended until the end of November.

Fishing:

Kennick – Catch rates picked up as the month progressed, peaking with a weekly catch rate of 3.2 fish per rod. Clampitts Bay, Smithacott, The Narrows and The Lawns have proved the best locations for bank anglers, while boats had the most success fishing into the margins of the more inaccessible banks. With Buzzers and Daddies on the water, surface-feeding fish were most active in the mornings, and anglers caught fish on Claret Snafflers, Hoppers, Daddies, and Black Spiders fished in the surface film. Sub-surface feeders could be caught on Gold-head Damsels, Diawl Bach’s, and Montana’s, with a few deeper fish being caught on Boobies and Tadpoles.

The best fish of the month was a 4lb 7oz rainbow, caught by Dave Perks (from Newquay), which helped him secure top place (and a prize of £1000) in the South West Lakes Trust’s ‘Best of The Best’ annual competition, held on 7 October; runner-up was Paul Jones (from Wadebridge). Chris Bolt (from Newton Abbot) caught the best Brown trout, weighing in at 3lb 8oz).

Siblyback – Mornings and evenings continue to be the most productive times to fish, and with plenty of midge activity on the water (particularly in the evenings), and a lot of surface-feeding fish off the North Shore. Two meadows has produced consistently good fishing, with fish coming up to take Hoppers, Black Gnats and Ants, and Black and Peacock Spiders. Buzzer patterns fished at various depths have proved effective, especially in teams with a Damsel Nymph or Montana on the point.

Burrator – the water temperatures continue to drop (now around 16 ºc), and plenty of fish can be seen moving on the surface in the mornings – small black dry patterns (such as Black Gnats, Ants, and Black Buzzer emergers) have produced some good bags. Sub-surface feeders have been caught on Damsel Nymphs, Diawl Back’s, and small Montana’s, with deeper fish taking Boobies, Black Lures, and Olive Nomads. The most productive bank areas have been the point and banks on the Longstone Peninsula, while boats have consistently picked up fish between the two dams.

 

 

 

Stithians – Yellowort Bay has produced the best fishing, and with plenty of sedges about, dry patterns proved the method of choice – a selection of flies, including Klinkhammers, Sedges, Dung Files, and Bibios all caught fish. Brown Sedge Pupa caught sub-surface feeders, with a few fish also taking pulled lures in the deeper water.by the dam.

Colliford – Floating line tactics, often with pulled patterns such as Soldier Palmers and Bibios fished close to the water’s edge in the mornings produced some good results, especially along the east bank and by the dam, with anglers averaging three fish per rod. Dean Boucher caught the best fish – a brown of 2lbs.

Fernworthy – Surface fishing produced the best and most exciting sport, with a variety of dry patterns (including Light Sedges, Foam Beetles, Black Gnats) producing excellent results – G.Vernon caught eight fish using a Dry Adams, and Paul Ackland (from Plympton) caught six fish on dry Sedges. Sub-surface wets and nymph patterns also caught well (including Buzzers, Bibios, Kate McLarens, and Pearly Invictas.

Roadford – the season at Roadford finished with some excellent bank fishing, with a lot of fish showing all over the fishery, and fish being caught at Grinnacombe, Shop Inlet, Daveys Bank, Wortha Bay, and in the deeper water by the dam. Dean Boucher had a great session pulling teams of wets (the best combination consisting of Soldier Palmers and Bibios on droppers and a Black Tadpole on the point), catching twenty brown trout up to 2lbs, with the best results coming from fishing the rougher areas of water.

Chris Hall (October 2018)

 

ENDS

Issue date: 6 April 2018

For more information, please contact:

Alice Peters

Customer Communications and Marketing Officer

South West Lakes Trust

01566 771930

apeters@swlakestrust.org.uk

Blakewell – In prime condition for winter season

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Blakewell Fishery has undergone a major weed-cutting exercise following the long hot summer and is now in prime condition as we enter the cooler months when trout can provide exciting sport. The main road past Blakewell is currently closed but a short detour via Shirwell is well worth it. At this time of year a wide variety of tactics can work with a damsel nymph fished on a long leader a good bet.

(Above & Below)) Weed-cutting machinery in action-

A fine rainbow caught during last years Christmas Competition.

With Christmas coming its a good time to visit the on site tackle shop that has a selection of tackle from West Country based tackle company Snowbee. There is also the opportunity to enjoy a hot coffee and slice of cake.

European Lure Fishing Show 2018

The European Lure Fishing Show 2018 was held at Bristol last weekend and I was fortunate to visit the show with fellow Combe Martin SAC members Nick and Jack Phillips.  This is the second year of the show and after hearing good reports from last year I thought it worth taking a look. The event focus’s on Lure fishing and Fly Fishing with an extensive range of products on display along with talks and demonstrations.

The best side of these shows is undoubtedly the opportunity to meet up with fellow anglers and swap tales with old friends.

We took time to listen to two talks; one on world wide fishing with Dave Lewis of Sea Angler with Dave giving sound advice on chasing those bucket list fish that take anglers to some stunning locations.

The second talk was delivered by Henry Gilbey and was a thought provoking one that revolved around the wearing of life-jackets. Henry told of two young brothers who tragically died whilst fishing off the North Cornish coast. The fact that Henry knew the mark well and that he had intended fishing it that day undoubtedly struck a cord. I know Henry and he is passionate about his fishing and has like most keen sea anglers had a few near misses.

After listening to Henry I visited the Art of Fishing stand and purchased two Crewsaver Buoyancy aids. One for myself and one for my son James. After close to fifty years of fishing I am all to aware of the statistics with anglers drowning every year I ask myself how likely am I to become one of those stats? The life jackets are not cumbersome and after a few minutes you forget you have them on. Why would you not wear one Henry asked? £70 is but a small price to pay if it saves your life?

It was noticeable that very few anglers attended Henry’s talk on safety at sea. I am sure that if Henry had been waxing lyrical about lure fishing  many would have sat hanging on his every word. Health and safety isn’t sexy but it was probably the most important topic on the agenda and most chose to ignore it!

Strangely in all the years I have been fishing on the coast I have given only passing thought to my own safety. Yet I have had nightmares about  fellow anglers being washed into the sea whilst I stand helpless on the shore. What would you say to their nearest and dearest?

Perhaps it is for others that you should don that life saving vest for lets face it if you get washed into the sea on a dark and stormy night without a life jacket your not going to worry for long.

A short film shot in conjunction with the RNLI on the North Devon Coast was a true eye opener as to what happens if you fall into the water wearing waders. I will share the film on my Facebook page when it is released. Take a few moments to watch.

Great to see Mark Underhill present and chatting to enthusiastic anglers about his first season at Wimbleball lake.

(Above) Angling Trust Blogger, Author and angling guide Dominick  Garnett

Wistlandpound Club – Visit to Exe Valley

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members travelled to Exe Valley Fishery to compete for the secretary’s Shield.

The weather forecast gave the rain clearing away by mid morning but on this occasion this proved a little premature as heavy rain persisted for the first couple of hours with the Anchor Lake overflowing into an already swollen River Exe. The wind had however abated from the gale force winds of the previous two days that had been courtesy of storm Callum.

It was relatively mild and trout were rising from the start of the days competition. I started off with a damsel nymph and hooked into a hard fighting rainbow of around 3lb within ten minutes of starting.

A few more follows and takes followed but as is often the case the trout seemed to grow warier as anglers lines splashed upon the water. Noticing several trout rising a couple of yards along the bank I relocated; tied on a daddy longs imitation and fished it very slowly to quickly complete my three fish limit of fish to kill and take. Other members were also catching trout on a regular basis with small imitative patterns outscoring lures.

It was now time to snip off the barbed hooks and go catch and release for the remainder of the day. This proved both fascinating and frustrating for me as I successfully hooked a succession of trout on buzzers and diawl bachs all of them coming detached before reaching the net. This wasn’t really an issue as the most exciting part is hooking the fish and all appeared to be fish between 2lb and 4lb and whilst it is good to get them to the net its not important as it the successful deception that matters in this instance.

By mid afternoon all members had completed their three fish bags and gone on the enjoy some catch and release action.

The competition was won by Dave Mock who weighed in three trout for total of 9lb 14oz. Runner up was Colin Combe with three for 9lb and third myself with three for 8lb 14oz.

4th -Paul Grisley 8lb 12oz

5th – Nigel Bird 8lb

6th David Eldred 6lb 4oz

The trout averaged 3lb for the day with all members taking their allocated quota. The innovative pricing structure combining various options of catch and release and catch and kill gives excellent value depending upon individual preference.  The lake is can now be fished without hindrance from weed and the water remained clear despite the flooded river Exe racing past full of turbidity and flotsam.

PERKS WINS £1000 AT BEST OF THE BEST TROUT FISHING FINAL!

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PERKS WINS £1000 AT BEST OF THE BEST TROUT FISHING FINAL!


Dave Perks from Newquay has won the annual Best of the Best competition at Kennick reservoir near Bovey Tracey in Devon. Dave caught 6 Rainbow Trout for 12lbs 10oz to scoop the £1000 top prize.

The competition which is now in its fifth year is run by South West Lakes Trust, the largest provider of trout fishing in Cornwall and Devon. Snowbee, based in Plympton, who are a leading brand within the trout fishing industry were once again the sole sponsor of the competition.

The competition was held on 7th October at the stunning 50 acre venue which is heavily stocked with Rainbow and Blue trout. Dave’s bag of fish included a fine 4lb 7oz Rainbow. Dave finished runner up in the 2017 final and went one better this time holding off the challenge of Paul Jones from Wadebridge who was runner up for the second successive year. Paul caught 7 Rainbows for 10lb 4oz and collected £400 for his efforts.

Third place, winning £250, was Graham Watts from Bodmin who caught 6 fish for 10lb 3oz.

In total 97 Rainbows were caught by the 35 finalists for a rod average of 2.8 fish per person. There were also some cracking Brown trout caught and released with Chris Bolt managing the largest at 3lb 8oz. Fish were caught by a variety of fly patterns throughout the day.

Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling for South West Lakes Trust commented ‘it was a cracking final and many congratulations to Dave Perks on the win but well done to all anglers on qualifying for the final and a huge thankyou to Snowbee for sponsoring the event. Our Rainbow trout fisheries will be open for everyone to enjoy until the end of November’