20th February 2018 Saw the start of a new challenge for five young members of Great Torrington Army Cadet Force who decided to take on fly fishing for the skills element of their D of E Award scheme.
Prior to the course starting we arrange a Sunday morning visit to Monkokehampton Salmon Hatchery on the 4th February to learn about their work, kindly laid on by Charles Innis, who explained to the Cadets about the life cycle of the Salmon from egg to return, we looked at the setup and walked up river to see the weir, the Cadets found this visit very educational.
Over the past 5 months Cadets Sjt Daniel Lobb, L/Cpl Tyler Bolt, L/Cpl Jack Pledger L/Cpl Sam Newberry & Cdt Harvey Hodge have learnt and practiced all the skills needed to become proficient fly fishermen.
The course covered all elements such as types of rods, reels, lines leaders, knots, casting techniques and types of flies and how to fish them, which was then followed up by a day tying their own flies for them use on the two lake days.
The course also included two guest speakers, the first being Paul Carter, Environment Agency Water Bailiff who gave the Cadets an insight into his job role, Licensing and environment, the second was Allan Crawley Commons Conservators River Warden, Allan gave the Cadets an insight into his role and how they were working on better access for anglers along the commons riverbank. We also had a third speaker Keith Armashaw lined up from the fly fishing section of the Torrington Museum, unfortunately Keith was taken ill, the Cadets found Paul and Allan’s presentations really interesting. I’m sure Keith’s presentation would have be equally as good, we do hope Keith is on the road to recovery and wish him well for the future.
Months of hard work practising paid of on our two lake days, the first being at Simpson’s Valley Coarse & Trout Fishery nr Holsworthy on Saturday 26th May 2018
This was a good days fishing and despite it being hard work all five managed to catch a nice Rainbow Trout, the first fish of the day was caught by Col Ashley Fulford OBE, Chairman of the Army Cadet Force Association and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Advisory Panel who joined us for the day being a keen fly fisherman himself.
The heaviest fish of the day was caught by L/Cpl Tyler Bolt, a nice Rainbow weighing in at 3 ½ pounds. Everyone went hope excited having caught their first ever Trout, thanks to Paul Cozens & Andrew Moores for making this possible for us, we really appreciate it.
Our second lake day was held at Bratton Water Trout Fishery, Loxhore Cross, nr Barnstaple, This proved to be another cracking days fishing where after a slow start all five caught their second ever trout. The first fish of the day was caught by L/Cpl Sam Newberry and the largest was caught by L/Cpl Pledger. Thanks to Mike Williams for all his help setting this up and accommodating us on the day , really appreciated.
This Course is the third one we have run but this year we have built a lot more in it and it has gone so well these five Cadets have started buying their own kit and asking for more lake days in the future.
Great Torrington Army Cadets would like to express their sincere thanks to the following people for their help and support this year it really has been appreciated, thank you.
Charles Innis : visit to Salmon Hatchery
Paul Carter : EA Bailiff
Allan Crawley : Commons Conservators River Warden.
Paul Cozens & Andrew Moores : Simpsons Valley Coarse & Trout Fishery
Mike Williams : Bratton Water Trout Fishery
Keith Armashaw : Great Torrington Museum
Again many Thanks
Capt Trevor Cook ACF Instructor. Lt Matt Sanders OC Great Torrington Detachment
Great Torrington Army Cadets started fly fishing for D of E two years ago, buying six starter kits directly from Airflo at a special price thanks Glenda Evans (Airflo) and funded by a grant from Great Torrington Town Council. We now have enquiries from Cadets about the next course. From this years five Sjt Lobb has now used fly fishing for his Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards L/Cpl Pledger for his Bronze & Silver L/Cpl Bolt, L/Cpl Newberry & Cdt Hodge for Bronze.
Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members met members of South West – Fishing for life at Hawkridge Reservoir near Bridgewater where members gave Fly Fishing Coaching on a one to one basis from boats kindly provided by Wessex Water. The hot sunny conditions were far from ideal for fishing and as a result only one of the ladies taking part caught a trout. The event proved very enjoyable and rewarding however with all celebrating the joys of fishing and living on a splendid summers day. The main fishing event commenced at 1.00pm and finished at 3.00pm and was followed by afternoon tea and delicious food in the fishing lodge.
Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club have been invited to repeat the event in September 2019 when it is hoped conditions will be more favorable for catching fish.
‘Fishing for Life’ is an organization which provides fly fishing sessions for people who all have one thing in common – breast cancer. Meetings are held every month at lakes over the South West, Greater Manchester area and Gloucester/Worcester,, where the scenery is beautiful all the year round. At these sessions members are able to learn to fly fish under the supervision of qualified coaches.
The sessions are provided free of charge, thanks to the help of South West Lakes Trust, Bristol Waters, fisheries and small grants from local authorities. Also fundraising done by a very committed group of volunteers. As well as learning to fly fish, knot tying, entomology, fly tying and conservation are all included in the program and each morning’s session is concluded with refreshments.
Fly fishing not only provides gentle relaxing exercise, but in this wonderful atmosphere, refreshes the soul as well as one member said. New friendships are made with like minded people and it is a time to relax and have some special ME time. Families and partners are welcome to come along and support but the fishing is just for the members. Everyone is welcome to the refreshments at the end of the session.
Wistlandpound Club Members fished their competition between 4.00pm and 6.00pm
Competition Report From Club Secretary David Richards
Well the fishing at Hawkridge was tough five members fished with the women, who I believe had a great day as did the men,such was the enjoyment factor that we have booked up to do the same in September next year.
The reservoir temperature was in the region of 28/29 degrees which is somewhere around the high 80,s.
I believe every fly and every tactic was used but for all but one it was no use and as we had decided earlier that the winner of the comp was going to be the heaviest fish Colin Combe who caught the only 2 fish 4lb 4oz won the day .
Tight Lines Dave R…
I will just add that I did hook into a rainbow that I estimated at 4lb before it managed to shed the hook a foot from the net!
Pete Tyjas of the Devon School of Fly Fishing is editor of the popular on-line Fly Fishing Magazine Eat Sleep Fish that I share each month via NDAN’s. Pete is at the helm of a brave venture to launch a new hard copy Fly Fishing Magazine entitled Fly Culture. Below is an interview Pete has shared with the readers of NDAN’s. I wish Pete and his team all the best in this exciting new venture. In this age of on-line publishing it is refreshing to see a new angling publication in old style print that is in my view far more aesthetically pleasing. I feel that there will always be a place for a quality product in a traditional format. I can remember my father telling me that vinyl would soon be obsolete with the arrival of the CD. This has not proved entirely true as many young people have rediscovered the joy of slipping the vinyl from its artistic sleeve,, placing it on the turntable then lowering the needle to hear that crackle of anticipation before music blasts from the speakers. I have a book shelf full of angling books and as my eye drifts across the covers I relive a world of prose. Its not the same hidden in the files of my computer. I will accept that computer files do not gather dust nor do they emit that wonderful aroma you get as you browse a good old second hand bookshop.
Fly Culture – Should be available from September.
I’ve been a full time fishing guide for 15 years based in Devon and over the last six years I’ve also edited and run an online fishing magazine called Eat Sleep Fish So it’s fair to say fishing is your life then? I guess so, I spend most of my days on a river, either guiding or fishing myself and often think about it when I’m not there. It’s not that I’m obsessed or anything! There is just something that still blows my mind that we tie on a fly made from fur and feather that we think the trout might be eating, cast it out and in some cases, certainly not all of them, they take the thing. I never tire of it. How did Fly Culture come about? I’d been thinking for a long time about doing either a “best of” or a one-off hard copy version of Eat Sleep Fish for a few years now and couldn’t shake that feeling. Last November, I listened to a podcast where an independent magazine publisher spoke about how they set up. That was it, I wanted to do it. Has Eat Sleep Fish been a good training for you? Without a doubt, yes. I have learnt about deadlines, getting content, editing the content and doing my best to help contributors with their submissions. It’s been a steep learning curve but one I’ve really enjoyed. What is the best advice you think you have given a new contributor? Don’t assume the reader knows the river/lake/stream you are telling them about. Describe it so that they can visualise it themselves and ensure the piece has a beginning, middle and end. Is bringing a new magazine a smart idea in a declining market place? I think there might be room for us. I looked carefully at the independent magazine market rather than just fishing magazines and it seems in pretty good shape. With Fly Culture we want to bring a “why” rather than “how” title. This frees us up to cover a much wider spectrum of topics rather than covering well-trodden ground. Do you have a USP for Fly Culture that will make it stand out? I think we do. There will be more about that in coming weeks but as far as I know, it is pretty ground breaking. Is bringing a magazine financially viable? It might be. Our model is a pretty simple one really. We just want to put out a product that we believe in, we’d want to read ourselves, people connect with and hopefully buy. This project isn’t about bottom lines, as long as we can cover our printing costs we’ll be more than happy. Anything else is a bonus that we can use to keep improving FC. Will there be regular contributors? I think there will be some but I am really keen that we can help break new writers and photographers too. To me at least we can then keep away from a formulaic approach and make each issue fresh and interesting. Is conservation important to Fly Culture? Yes, really. From the paper and ink used to print Fly Culture, to the issues we want to cover in each edition. We’re really pleased to also have The Wild Trout Trust involved with a series of articles too. When will Fly Culture be available to buy? In the next few weeks you’ll be able to pre-order the magazine from the Fly Culture website. We plan to deliver in early September so it won’t be long. Are you getting a chance to fish with all of this going on? When I can. I’m finding myself spending more time casting a double handed rod for salmon these days, although trout will always have a very special place in my heart and there is nothing like having a small box of flies, a trout rod and a few rising fish!
The summer of 2018 will be etched upon our memories as one of those rare summers of sunshine and warmth. Those of you old enough may be able to remember that notorious summer of 1976 when the country had many weeks without rain when the grass was parched and beaches packed with tourists. Last week I asked for images of angling in North Devon during mid summer 2018. Below are a few images that illustrate one of the reasons we spend so much time at the waters edge in search of fish. Sometimes catching is just a bonus.
Nick Hart at Exe Valley is seeking help in an innovative project where anglers get the chance to join in with the fishery in maintaining the quality fishing they love.
Its the first time in around a decade that we have seen so little algae (blanket weed) at Exe Valley, despite this summers high temperatures. Check out the pic taken today and note in particular how clear the lake bed is. However the pond weed is now spreading quickly and so next Sunday 8th July we will be closing to clear as much as possible using our very successful weed rakes, boat etc. But we need some help!
Would you like to join us for a weed party?! The deal is we drag as much weed out of the lake as possible and those who help receive 2 x 3 fish permits for their efforts, a BBQ and beer into the bargain plus the satisfaction that they have helped us to keep the fishery open.
Interested? Please message us, comment below or call the fishery on 01398 323008
Andrew Gooding has won the Peninsula Classic at Kennick for the second year running.
It was a really challenging days fishing at Kennick in hot, bright conditions. There were lots of fish showing all over the
lake throughout the day coming clean out of the water trying to catch damsels and dragon flies which were visible in huge
numbers. The majority of those were browns but there were some Rainbows and Blues in amongst them.
Despite all the surface activity, tempting a fish on a dry was really difficult.
The stocking from the dam last week meant some fish had stayed in the deeper, cooler water by the dam and this was
the most productive area during the day. Andrew caught his fish in the last hour of the day at 4pm and bagged his 8 fish
limit very quickly once he found the right method. A Di-3 line with a cats whisker retrieved roly-poly style proving the most popular for Andrew.
Andrew wins a season ticket for 2019 for a lake of his choice. Dave Perks who finished second won a £100 voucher for
Fly fishing Tackle of Crediton. Rob Gale finished third and won a £50 fly fishing tackle voucher and a day permit for Kennick. Darren Penfold won a boat ticket for Kennick and a £25 voucher for Fly Fishing Tackle and Barry Ware Senior won a £25 voucher for Fly Fishing Tackle.
1st: Andy Gooding 8 fish for 12lbs
2nd:Dave Perks 3 fish for 4lb 9oz
3rd: Rob Gale 3 fish for 4lbs 5oz
4th: Darren Penfold
2 fish for 2lb 15oz
5th: Barry Ware Snr 2 fish for 2lb 11oz
Best of the Best Qualifiers: Alan Brown 1lb 8oz and Ray Butler 1lb 6oz
Joint 6th: Nik Tompkins and Alan Brown1 fish for 1lb 8oz
Joint 8th: Mike Boston and Ray Butler 1 fish for 1lb 6oz
10th: Chris Bolt 1 fish for 1lb 4oz Total fish caught: 24 for 16 anglers
Congratulations to Andy Gooding and well done to everyone for taking part and sticking at it in very hot weather.
My thanks to Howard Thresher from Fly Fishing Tackle Crediton for sponsoring the competition and to Mark Baxendale,
Countryside and Angling warden at Kennick, for doing a cracking BBQ for everyone.
Pictured from left are: Rob Gale, Andy Gooding, Dave Perks and Howard Thresher
Grey Mullet are a challenge especially so on the Fly. Jeff Pearce shares his success with the bonefish of Britain.
Like many I imagine, I have caught Mullet on a float rig with ground baited bread since a child, as well as a few on a baited spoon. More recently perhaps over the past 10 years or so I have started fly fishing for bass. Transferring my 40 years of fly fishing experience to bass was relatively straight forward as long as I found the right location, not too difficult as I have been lure & bait fishing for them from shore and boat all of my life.
So two seasons ago I decided having seen Mullet at every bass venue I fish that they should be a target, armed with every blog on the subject and suitably tied Mullet flies I set out catch them, how difficult can it be to catch a Mullet on a fly!
No cheating, no bread flies or ground baiting, just getting amongst them using flies to imitate shrimps, invertebrates & seaweed flies… The first season resulted in lots of small Bass to 3lb, they love small flies in the shallows too, but not even a sniff from the cruising
Grey ghosts, they are just there to frustrate the life out of me! Last year I managed a bit better a decent fish over 5Lb but I was actually Bass fishing on the beach with small flies in the surf, can’t take this as success, so the quest continued, more
research more walking the river and beaches. Find them on the feed and you’ll be in, so the story goes, not so easy, searched everywhere for genuinely feeding Mullet.
Anyway, perseverance has paid off, I think I have cracked it, resulting in my first Mullet this season genuinely taken while fishing for Mullet as they fed on the beach with the incoming tide.
I had been watching the tides, weather and wind for days, I needed a reasonably good low tide to springs, an offshore breeze and nice weather, bingo the last two weeks have been good on more than one day.
I set out very optimistic as always when I go fishing, on the way its which fly shall I try, how many in the team, what combinations etc. I arrive at the beach, its glorious, sun is high in the sky although its relatively early and what a bonus, the carpark attendant isn’t ready so free parking it is.
I set up and then head out on the long walk to the low tide mark, I’m a little early, another 30 mins to low tide and maybe an hour before things start to liven up as they begin to move in and feed with the tide. I see huge shoals of Mullet just playing in the shallows, although I know,
they don’t take a fly unless they are feeding Im going to try anyway, irresistible to see fish up to 6Lb plus cruising flashing and jumping in the shallows just off the surf. Obviously no interest, I knew really as I presented my patterns time & time again, then the small schoolie Bass move into the shallows, I hook 3 at once, causes a right mess and puts paid to the non feeding Mullet. Lets fix the leader and wait for the tide!
The tide starts to flow along the beach the Mullet now start to get their heads down, turning into the current and things start to look promising, a couple of small plucks which I miss, are these mullet takes or more small Bass I ask myself, then it happens, I feel a pluck and instinctively lift the rod, everything goes tight & before I know it I’m down to the backing and I know Ive hooked a Mullet. 15 minutes later, this lovely bar of Ghost silver is on the sand beside me, it took my Glass bead head Diawl Bach with a red tag, many have said this is a good Mullet fly, I’m now convinced too.
Just one on this occasion but the number of plucks & misses suggest I’ve cracked it, maybe I should quit while i’m ahead, as I’m sure every Mullet taken naturally on the fly will still be a challenge, but a huge thrill with unbelievable satisfaction!
(Above) Jamie Walden is the resident fishing coach at Bratton Water and put his angling skills to good use during a session at the venue banking five superb brown trout the best this stunning specimen of 10lb. All the trout were tempted using a small black bead headed hares ear nymph. The specimen brown is believed to be a wild trout that has grown on feeding on the rich food present in the lake that boasts crystal clear water where small imitative patterns often work well for brown trout. Jamie gave tuition to a group of four first time trout anglers during the weekend and guided them to success in hot sunny condition with the novices landing nine trout between them.
Jamie offer fly fishing tuition at Bratton Water and at Little Warham Fishery he can be contacted on 01837682870.
Dennis Toleman won Triple Hook Clubs latest Fly Fishing Match at Bratton Water with a four fish bag of rainbows totaling 9lb 8oz. John Vaughan was runner up with four fish for 8lb 7oz and Robbie Hancock third with four for 7lb 4oz.
John fished just off the bottom with orange booby whilst Dennis fished a little black Montana and a little orange blob. Rob fished a black and yellow lure.
Its mid summer the longest days are here now and it doesn’t get any better out at the waters edge. Over the next few days it be would great to share a few images of summer at the waters edge. So lets see some images of fish, water and fishing. Lets get away from those standard grip and pose shots of angler with fish and try to get a bit of atmosphere and the joys of angling. Please either email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just post on the North Devon Angling News Facebook page and I will transfer from there.
Next weekend I publish a picture special of North Devon Angling Views! Thanks for your response so far
The River Taw Fisheries Associations latest newsletter is an informative read and I must give special thanks to their Chairman Alex Gibson for permitting me to reproduce it here on North Devon Angling News.
The season got off to a poor start. We lost the first six weeks because of freezing weather and then a number of large spates. As the river settled few salmon were caught and sea trout were late to arrive. By the end of May only about 15 salmon and the same number of sea trout had been caught. We must hope that
our migratory fish are simply a month or so late like everything else in the countryside this year.
Last season was mixed – quite good for salmon fishermen, but very poor for those who target sea trout. The beat survey showed 286 salmon and 214 sea trout. (2016 numbers: 185 salmon and 302 sea trout.) This is the first time that I can remember sea trout numbers being below salmon numbers. No-one can come up with a plausible explanation or, perhaps more importantly, a remedy. We do know that sea trout numbers can fluctuate quite dramatically and we must hope for a bounce back. The EA rod catch numbers for 2017 were 243 salmon (88% returned) and 193 sea trout (81% returned). Brown trout fishing had another good year with about 2,300 fish caught, roughly the same as 2016 even though conditions were less favourable.
Members kindly took part in the EA Salmon & Sea Trout Consultation and will have heard about the proposed National Protection Byelaws that should become effective next year if all goes to plan. For us this will mean an end to salmon and sea trout netting in the Taw/Torridge estuary and a requirement on us to reach and maintain a catch and release rate for salmon of at least 90% or face the imposition of 100% C&R. We have never reached 90%, so all fishermen will have to apply themselves. Those who rent out fishing and those who invite guests to fish their beat will need to get the message across. It is unfortunate that our River Taw Byelaws with their out-dated bag limits convey the wrong message.
The IFCA netting byelaws were finally approved and as a result the salmon and sea trout by-catch in our estuary is now a thing of the past. Everyone should be congratulated for their efforts during a long and complicated campaign.
Two major water quality problems are taking much of the Committee’s time at the moment; siltation and sewage treatment works (STWs). The articles later in the Newsletter by Mark Lloyd and Bill Beaumont directly address the first of these problems. Laurence Couldrick’s article addresses the second.
Everyone who fishes our river, with the exception perhaps of those who fish the Bray, will have noticed a huge increase in the amount of silt in the river. The deterioration of the Mole is particularly worrisome. The growing of winter maize is the main culprit. The run-off from fields is dramatic, particularly when combined with a very wet winter and spring. As a non-farmer I am amazed that some farmers are so uncaring about their top-soil. It is in a real sense their equity. There are three anaerobic biodigestors on the Taw system and they have an enormous appetite for maize. Not only that, but they operate on an owner self- monitored basis. If anything should go wrong there will be a major pollution incident with fish kills, as happened recently on a tributary of the Tamar. We can do no more than keep our fingers crossed.
As for STWs, we have at least 35 on the Taw catchment. All of them out-flow into our river and all of them belong to South West Water. The question is – how many are fit for purpose today and how many will be fit for purpose tomorrow as more and more houses are built in the towns and villages of our catchment? We are applying as much pressure as we can on SWW, working with like-minded organisations including Angling Trust and South West Rivers Trust. We have to encourage SWW to do the right amount of maintenance and investment. Like biodigestors, STWs are also owner self-monitored, a term that does not inspire confidence. We are trying to establish what the EA’s overseeing role is and how actively they are fulfilling it.
Northam Landfill continues to lurk in the background with 650,000 cubic metres of waste in danger of being exposed to the Taw/Torridge estuary. Strorms last winter ate away at the Burrows and brought the problem into greater focus. We are adding our voice to those keen for proper protective action to be taken.
River improvement work was carried out on the Little Dart and its tributary, the Sturcombe, on a match-funded basis between RTFA an
WRT. 13 debris dams were cleared and 17 spawning gravel sites cleaned. Selective coppicing and wood debris enhancement work was carried out over about 3km of bank. This work will continue this year. In our river improvement plans there will be an emphasis generally on gravel cleaning. Bill Beaumont’s article explains why. Any change in farming practice to reduce siltation will take time and is not within our control. Gravel cleaning has an immediate effect and we do have control over it.
This year the EA will carry out its 6-yearly juvenile survey at 67 sites. To enable us to “read” the river effectively and prioritise river work we need to find a way to finance the WRT’s fry index surveys in the intermediate years. Each of these surveys cost about £8,500. Some financing ideas are being worked on.
The Taw has lagged behind other rivers in providing volunteers for the Riverfly Partnership. This season we are making a big effort to redress this situation. 8 potential volunteers have been identified for training. Over time their surveys will add to our knowledge of the water quality and general health of the Taw.
I am concerned about what I perceive as a lack of fishing effort on the river, especially since we have lost the early part of the season to the weather and there is always the threat of drought conditions as we move into summer. Rod catch numbers are an important indicator of the health of a river and its fish stocks. So please, when the river is fishable get out there and fish.
A final point. Please have a careful read of Roger Furniss’s article. Before long we may need to review our constitution which has a rather old-fashioned look about it.
Hon. Treasurer’s Report
The Association continues to work to improve the Taw catchment and last season made two donations, £3,870 and £5,000, on a match-funded basis with WRT for river improvement projects on the Little Dart.. We will be committing to further projects next season, again with WRT on a match-funded basis.
Currently our own cash resources total almost £14,000 and we also have an additional £23,000 held to our account at WRT. This is a comfortable position, but river improvement work is expensive and we must continue to seek additional funding sources
RTFA held another very successful AGM and auction at Highbullen Hotel in March. Following on from the success of last year, the auction this year raised a total of £4,280, a very important boost to RTFA funds. Thanks must be given to those who donated auction lots and to those who organised the auction and its delivery.
Subscriptions & Membership
Subscriptions are due in April and I am pleased to report that we are now receiving the majority of subs via standing order. This is good news. A total of £3,640 has been collected. May I remind you all that the RTFA bank details for setting up a standing order can be found on our website under the heading Membership, along with
application forms for new members. New members are asked to complete an application form and send it to me for our records, but at the same time please set up your standing order and inform me when you have done so.
Recruitment continues. We have 5 new members this year and I am sure this figure will increase as the season progresses.
Full Members (Riparian Owners) £35.00 Associate Members £15.00
Raising money requires hard work and commitment. I would like to thank you for your continued support.
Blakewell Fisheries, Muddiford, Barnstaple, North Devon EX31 4ET.
RTFA AGM and Dinner
River Taw Fisheries Association AGM Friday 22nd March 2019
The Environment Agency (EA)
It was good to speak to so many of you at the AGM in March. As regards Fisheries Enforcement Officer numbers in Devon we have remained the same as last year, but the addition of the fully warranted part time officers has been of great benefit. In line with all Enforcement Agencies we operate an intelligence- led approach to enforcement, so you all have an important role, acting as eyes and ears for your river. Please continue to report any suspected illegal fishing activities to the EA’s 24 hour hotline – 0800 80 70 60. The more intelligence we have, the more effective we can be on your behalf. Pollution incidents can also be logged on this number. For non-urgent or general fisheries information please feel free to email me.
So far this season I have not had any reports of diseased salmon in the Taw which is good news. Again please update me if you do see any diseased fish.
Bio-security is of great importance for river users to prevent the transfer of invasive aquatic species. Please adopt the “Check, Clean, Dry” approach with all your fishing equipment particularly if you fish on a variety of different waters. For more information go to www.nonnativespecies.org/checkcleandry
I mentioned at the AGM that this summer, weather permitting, we will be carrying out the full Taw catchment electro- fishing programme at 67 sites. This should give a comprehensive review of the current juvenile stock status in the catchment.
EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer North Devon email@example.com
If you want to know……..
About the state of the river and for fishing reports visit the River Taw Fisheries Association Web Site on
and click on Current News and Webcams & Gauges
Save our soils to rescue our rivers
Over the past 60 years, we’ve seen a dramatic change in farming practices and land use choices, driven principally by
high intensity production of cheap food and European subsidies. This has led to the soils on which we depend forfood throughout England and Wales becoming damaged and eroded, causing widespread pollution and flooding. Agriculture is now responsible for the highest number of serious pollution incidents of any sector and is the main reason why only 14% of rivers are in good health.
Bare fields of maize, stubble turnips, over-grazed pasture, slurry spreading and winter-wheat have all led to vast amounts of soil, nutrients and water washing off the land into rivers and lakes. This has a disastrous impact on aquatic wildlife because it smothers insects and fish eggs in gravels on river beds and leads to algal blooms that deplete oxygen in the water. It also heaps costs on the rest of society. Government research estimates the costs of poorly-managed soil to be £1.2 billion each year, or £23 million a week. We are losing soil at around ten times the rate that it is being produced, which is fundamentally unsustainable.
By contrast, healthy soils have high organic matter content, a strong, porous structure and a wide range of soil organisms including worms, fungi and bacteria that work symbiotically with plants to produce more nutritious food and lock up carbon underground. They allow free percolation of water to replenish groundwater storage and keep rivers flowing in summer droughts.
Of course we have to keep on farming, but we do need to change farm practices significantly to save our soils and rescue our rivers for future generations. Simple measures like minimising soil disturbance, sowing rows across the slope, planting follow-on crops to avoid bare fields, reducing stocking densities and slurry quantities can all make a dramatic difference. In high-risk areas (probably less than 10% of the area of a catchment) land-use change will be needed, such as switching from arable to pasture or pasture to woodland.
There have been initiatives such as Catchment Sensitive Farming which have offered advice to farmers and land managers. These have been a step in the right direction, but have largely failed at a strategic scale. Too often they’ve worked with farmers who are most receptive to change, rather than those who are causing the biggest problems. Uncertainty about budgets, inappropriate targets and a lack of clear objectives has led to high staff turnover and an incoherent approach.
Most importantly, advice hasn’t been backed up by a credible enforcement regime. The government has directed the Environment Agency and Rural Payments Agency to take a light touch approach to enforcement and has slashed
budgets to a point where the EA is now able to visit fewer than 1% of farms each year. The many farmers who are following the rules are exasperated to see their neighbours cutting corners and getting away with it.
The government has at last recognised these strategic failures, and it is running a consultation about the future of farming in advance of an agriculture bill. The Angling Trust, WWF and The Rivers Trust have teamed up to write a report setting out a pathway towards a more sustainable future for land and water.
Achieving fundamental change across more than 100,000 farms in England and Wales will require a co-ordinated approach with four complementary measures:
Alignment to a clear set of objectives and planning process in each catchment by all relevant organisations, co-ordinated by the Catchment Based Approach network;
Firm but fair enforcement by the Environment Agency of existing and new regulations to outlaw excessive soil erosion, water run-off and pollution;
Local, well-trained, expert advisors providing free, advice targeted at the higher risk landowners;
Targeted incentives to enable land use change in high risk areas of the catchment (probably less than 10% of land area).
The Government intends to phase out direct payments to farmers and move to a new system where public money requires delivery of public benefits. Our report estimates that to reimburse farmers fully for changing land-use in England would cost less than £500m per year out of the £2.3 billion subsidies currently paid in England and Wales.
We estimate that enforcement and advice will cost just £10 million a year – a fraction of the cost to society of continuing with our current approach. This is a no-brainer of epic proportions that could transform the state of our natural environment rapidly and ensure that we have food and water for the next generation.
Fishing Hotels on the Taw and Mole
The Highbullen Hotel, Chittlehamholt The Fox and Hounds Hotel, Eggesford The Rising Sun Inn, Umberleigh
Chief Executive, Angling Trust
Tel: 01769 540561 01769 580345 01769 560447
Salmon spawning gravels in the chalk streams
of Southern England and their impact on egg survival.
In recent years declines in Atlantic salmon numbers and catches have given cause for concern in many of the southern chalk rivers. Several potential causes for such changes have been suggested, including factors operative in both the marine and freshwater phases of the life of the salmon. There is, however, a strong viewpoint that problems at the early freshwater stages could be of major significance.
Whilst the composition and quality of salmon spawning areas have been reasonably well studied in North America, in the UK there have been very few published investigations in the UK on gravel composition that is suitable for Atlantic salmon.
Over most of the stream beds of the chalk rivers of Southern England, the gaps between the larger gravels are filled by finer sediments and in many places, there is an overlying blanket of sand or silt, often associated with growths of aquatic plants. There is a seasonal cycle of low-flow (spring/summer) sediment deposition followed by high-flow (autumn/winter) wash out. In general, by the time that salmon spawn (normally December onwards), the shallower, faster flowing reaches of river which they select for redd construction will have been swept free of fine sediment by the seasonal increases in discharge. In addition, the female fish disturb the gravel and, in the process, winnow away clogging interstitial material. In normal conditions this redd construction creates an open structure which persists for sufficient time to permit adequate irrigation of the egg pockets by flowing, oxygenated water, thus promoting egg development and, ultimately, enabling emergence of fry If, however, the flushing flows are inadequate or conversely, if the sediment load is greatly increased, it may be that the areas of suitable spawning gravel are greatly reduced or degraded. In these situations, if the female fish are unable to loosen, excavate and/or winnow redds or the interstices of redds become blocked by fine particles during development and prior to emergence, then the spawning will be a partial or complete failure. In the case of blockage of interstices during development, it is known that when fine (less than 2 mm) sediment is more than 20% by weight and/or less than 1 mm sediment is more than 15% by weight, reduced survival is likely.
Several factors are known to contribute to increases in fine sediment loading of streams. Impacts from abstraction of water, reduced weed growth, forestry operations, enhanced erosion of the land surface, aquaculture e.g. discharge from fish farms and cress beds, poor agricultural practice, etc. are all likely to have detrimental effects on the river’s fine sediment load. Recent changes in agricultural practices are causing particular concern, increased growing of maize as a silage or biofuel crop (a 2,500% increase in acreage over
the last 40 years) and intensification of livestock farming are known causes of increased sediment loads entering rivers.
Several fisheries have historically cleaned areas of gravel where salmonids are known to spawn. With evidence increasingly suggesting that siltation of spawning gravels may be a significant cause in the widespread decline in salmon numbers, (Solomon 1992, Scott and Beaumont 1993) there is now a resurgence of interest in the natural composition and the impacts of cleaning of salmon spawning gravels.
To establish the structure of potential spawning gravels in southern England, a gravel composition survey of sites on the rivers Hampshire Avon, Wylye, Nadder, Dorset Frome and Piddle was carried out. The objective of the study was to compare conditions between and within rivers, to determine the particle size composition of spawning gravels, and to consider the implications of the results obtained on likely salmon spawning success.
To obtain detailed information on gravel bed structure, bed samples need to be collected, as far as is possible, in an undisturbed state. To do this freeze cores were taken of the stream bed. A copper pipe was inserted into the riverbed and 2 litres of liquid nitrogen was gradually poured into the pipe over
a 5-10 min period. The pipe with frozen attached sediment was then withdrawn and laid on a tray to thaw. The tray was partitioned transversely into 100 mm sections to permit depth stratification of the sample.
Gravel cores were collected from the rivers during March, a period when salmonid eggs and alevins would still be present in the gravel and hence the data would be applicable to their survival. Cores were taken either from areas of known salmon spawning activity or from areas where salmon were known to have spawned in previous years but actual redds were avoided. In all cases the extreme margins of the river were avoided.
Sediment analysis was carried out by washing the gravel through a succession of sieves. Sand indices were calculated for all sites. This index looks at the ratio of coarse to fine sand in a sample and relates it to the probability of a salmon egg surviving to emergence. For this study particle size categories of 2.0 mm to 0.5 mm and 0.5 mm to 0.063 mm have been used for the coarse and fine sand respectively.
The study showed that from the point of view of salmon spawning conditions, all the chalk streams studied had Sand Indices above levels at which reduced emergence of salmon fry may be expected to occur, with even the best river gravels in
the region having reduced emergence expectations. Thus, the level of fines within
the southern chalk streams may be a contributing factor in the recent reduction in numbers of salmon within these rivers.
Any excess of sediment (particularly in late winter-early spring) could further affect hatching potential and perhaps even prevent successful emergence of salmon.
Although a salmon may spawn successfully in certain types of gravel, it does not follow that the gravel will give good survival rates for the eggs and alevins. Studies have shown that when salmon spawn in gravel with a high percentage of fine material present, egg survival was below 10% compared with around 60% in good gravels.
Further studies were carried out on effectiveness of gravel cleaning. This process uses water jets to flush the fine sediment out of the gravel to allow good survival of the eggs. This management was found to be both effective at increasing egg survival, giving an 8-fold improvement in egg survival, and for the effectiveness to last at least two years.
Of course, the quantity and quality of spawning gravels are only two factors in the complex life history of the salmon. However, unlike problems that occur in the marine environment, mitigating measures can be taken to improve gravel condition and alleviate this aspect of the problems that beset these keystone species.
W. R. C. Beaumont
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT)
Our ever changing catchments and the sewage treatment problem.
Many of the rivers and streams in the West Country fail the standards set by the EU Water Framework Directive due at least in part to high phosphate levels entering the water. Modelling, mapping and monitoring of a river usually highlight three sources: farming, both point source from slurry and manure stores but also
diffuse, from across the land and riverbanks; septic tanks from small hamlets and individual properties and sewage treatment works (STWs). Apportionment studies from across the region show that the split between the three is locally variable, but in general around 50%, plus or minus 20%, is from agriculture and the balance from sewage treatment.
As you know Westcountry Rivers Trust has worked with farmers over the years to try to reduce agricultural loadings. This is having some impact where we can
secure infrastructure grants and improvements in land management. In some of our catchments we have seen reductions in nutrient loadings and increases in invertebrates and fish populations, but that still leaves the other side of the problem, namely sewage treatment.
Over the years our small rural sewage treatment works have been pushed outside their original design specifications as increasing population has led to increased housing development. This, coupled with changing weather patterns, misconnections, where clean roof and road water is getting into the sewerage system and a reduction in the permeability of our towns and gardens as people pave over their land, is reducing STWs capacity to treat waste. It is therefore not surprising that the effectiveness of individual STWs is called into question in terms of their contribution to phosphate loading within our rivers. This is in addition to other chemicals and pollutants that may make it through the treatment process.
At the Trust we have always tried to operate through evidence and consensus, which is why we are gathering more and more data on our
rivers in order to pinpoint the problems and provide sufficient data to
hold polluters to account. This is why we have also set up citizen
science programmes and invested in monitoring kit that can be deployed upstream and downstream of any problem area. These efforts have allowed us to highlight the problems as well as develop solutions. This does not always mean the best option is the end of pipe solution of a multi-million pound facility, although in places with significant development this is exactly what is required. The solution needs to be defined by the scale of the problem in relation to the rest of the river.
An alternative option that exists alongside formal treatment is the creation of constructed wetlands to take final discharges. This is currently being used successfully in the east of England. Where space permits this option has been shown to be effective, but correct design is essential. Another option is to work with the communities that use the STWs to prevent clean water getting into sewage systems, to hold back flood water and stop it overwhelming these systems and to reduce the amount of phosphate products used by householders. The final option involves reducing other loadings to bring the total loadings in an area under the legal limit. Whatever option is taken though, there needs to be an increased openness and honesty led by community monitoring, if we are to truly deal with these failures on our rivers.
CEO, Westcountry Rivers Trust
CATCHING THE ENIGMATIC TAW SEA TROUT
The sea trout is often regarded as an enigmatic fish by anglers. It
is a very close cousin to the Atlantic Salmon and appears to have
a similar lifestyle. The sea trout is in reality a sea-run brown trout
that starts its life in freshwater before it smolts and descends to
the sea in the May of each year. However, in truth we know far
less about the sea trout than we do about salmon. No one really knows where these juvenile fish go to feed and grow. The accepted wisdom is that they chase shrimp, sand eels and capelin in waters around the coasts of the Celtic Sea and grow quickly before returning to the river of their birth in the years that follow. They are by nature a rather secretive fish, running the rivers in the dark hours and the best time to catch them on the fly is probably at night when they are up on the fin and at their most active.
Across Devon and Cornwall the sea trout is colloquially termed a “peal”. On the Taw the smaller fish that appear in large numbers in June, July and August are called “school peal” or “harvest peal” and the bigger fish in the 2 to 6 pound bracket are “peal” or “salmon-peal” in old parlance. Any fish above the 6 pound mark is termed a “pug”, a term coined by the old salmon estuary netsmen to describe these deep and powerfully built fish. If you are lucky or skilful enough catch a 6 pounder or anything bigger, then you will have done well because it’s a very good fish indeed. The Taw regularly produces big sea trout; the biggest in recent years caught by a salmon angler on the main stem was over 16 pounds – a monster. A big fresh August hen of over 14 pounds was also caught on the Mole in 2016, but every year double figure fish are taken and a good smattering of 7- 9 pounders regularly succumb to night anglers.
So how do you go about finding a taking sea trout on the Taw system? Well the first thing to realise is that the fish start to run the river far earlier than most people imagine. Some of the big fish start to appear in late April and continue to trickle into the system
thoughout May. These fish often run hard and can be found well up on the Upper Taw and Mole. I have seen sea liced peal caught at night at Wampford Bridge on the Mole in the second week of May. On the Taw night fishing operations normally commence in earnest at the beginning of June. The runs of fish really start to build and by the third week of June good numbers of peal will be present throughout the main stem and well above the junction. Night time temperatures will have warmed and stabilised and with a bit of luck, warm and gentle South Westerlies will blow, thus encouraging the fish to be in a taking mood. Rather like salmon, the truth is that fresh run fish will more readily take the fly than the
older residents. But fishing a fining river after a small summer spate will pep things up and often produce great results.
Sea trout will lie up in sheltered water and deep shaded pools during the day, but will become more active as the light values change at dusk. When the river is low, anglers fishing at night will often hear fish in the riffles as they move from pool to pool. Sometimes these new arrivals will settle in a pool and then become ready takers. At times you can intercept running fish at the heads of the pools but more of that later. It is generally accepted that in settled conditions as the darkness deepens and night draws in the peal will become more active. Some will decide to run upstream, but those that have stopped to rest will often move from their daytime hiding places to take up positions in the deeper glides and pool tails. They will often lie together as a loose shoal or you may find a smattering of individuals distributed through the pool, but when there is a bright moon peal will seek the shelter of the gloom provided by overhanging trees and bankside vegetation. When conditions are good you will often see or hear peal swirling and moving or jumping with a very distinctive “ker-plosh”. An encouraging sound that is always good for morale.
Let’s talk a little about tackle, flies and tactics. Given that the Taw is essentially fly only, you’ll need a nine and a half to ten foot fly rod rated AFTM 6 or 7. A good quality fly reel with a properly working drag and floating line to match. A good reservoir or still water trout set up will suffice admirably.
Depending on your level of expertise or approach you may want to pack a couple of medium or fast sink versi-tips or poly-leaders if you should wish to fish deep in the pots later in the night. Use10lb BS leaders of 9 to 10 feet in length – anything lighter and you are asking for trouble. Peal at night aren’t generally line shy. You should aim to travel light, there is no need to festoon yourself with vests, pockets and gismos. Wear chest waders if you can because they will allow you to wade deep and manoeuvre in the pool when required. Wear a warm jacket with big pockets into which you can deposit licence, fly boxes, leader material, nylon clippers, spare torch et al. Take a net – a small Gye net or other suitable alternative is a must. A hat with a peak or wide brim helps and a modern LED powered head torch is essential; make sure it has a red-light function. By turning away from the river, you can use the red light to change flies and undo the inevitable tangles and most importantly the red light won’t spook the fish and ruin your night vision. Never, ever, shine a white light on a pool at night – you will kill the fishing.
Many anglers are happy to stick with the more traditional fly patterns such as Silver Invicta or Butcher and so on, but these days many anglers also fish modern flies that are bigger by comparison
and of substantially different appearance. I have real confidence fishing slimly tied Black and Silver Snakes, Waddingtons or tubes of anything between an inch and two inches in length on the point. There are those who say that fishing a dropper increases the chances of tangling and they are probably right. However, there are a lot of anglers who do fish a dropper because it works for them. My fishing friends and I use black and silver stoat’s tail and hair wing butcher variants, tied on size 6 or 8 low water salmon singles on the dropper and we catch a substantial proportion of our fish on them.
Let us assume you have secured your beat for the night. It is late June, the evening is settled, warm and there is good cloud cover. Having checked the Bye Laws the first thing to do is arrive early when it is still light, stow your kit in a safe place and conduct a recce. Stay well back from the river and Identify the pools, pool tails and glides that might hold fish. Also check those hazards that might affect your casting and those areas where a switch or roll cast might be useful. Take note of the access points and routes because the river will become a different place when darkness falls. As the dusk deepens and the bats appear you might wish to start by having a cast or two in the riffles at the heads of the pools. This is often the place to intercept running fish and there is always a chance of encountering a resident salmon in the oxygenated water. You will find that your eyes will adjust to the gloom and when the dusk deepens and all becomes a darker uniform grey, switch your fishing effort to the glides and pool tails. Make your way gently into the water and cast downstream at a forty five degree angle under the far bank, put in an appropriate mend and work your flies back across the river with a gentle series of pulls or a slow figure of eight retrieve. Fish your cast out, take a long pace and cast gain. Remember, you are searching for that taking fish and always fish right down to the very tail of a pool. Peal will often lie in amazingly shallow water at night.
In the wee small hours you may feel the river has gone dead. The peal may have stopped showing and gone down and all is quiet. This is the
time to change tactics. Put on a quick sinking poly leader and short tippet; team it with a big fly and start searching the deeper parts of the
pools. Fish the fly with a slow retrieve and concentrate on getting the fly right down. This method often delivers surprising results. However, as the eastern sky starts to lighten it will be time to switch back to the floater and concentrate on the glides and pool tails before dawn heralds the end of your fishing.
A peal will take your fly in a variety of ways. Sometimes you will feel a fish pluck at your fly, but not take. Take a step back and cast to the same place again, a fresh fish will more than likely have another go. Sometimes the pulls are savage, sometimes the fly just stops dead and sometimes the fly feels as if it has gone peculiarly light in the water. No matter, the response should be the same.
Don’t strike per say, but rather lift the rod firmly and pull down on the line in your other hand. Tighten into the fish and hopefully the fireworks will begin. The wonderfully exciting thing about night-time peal fishing is that you never know what is coming next. It could be a feisty school peal, but equally it could be an eight pounder fresh from the tide. On feeling the hook there’s a good chance that the fish will immediately take to the air and then run and then jump again. Fights can be spectacular and heart-stopping – a big peal will change direction in an inkling, so be warned – but weather the initial storm and things will calm down. Sooner or later you will be able to draw your prize into the net and with beating heart and shaking hands saviour one of angling’s great triumphs and admire one of our most enigmatic game fish – before doing it all again.
Oh and by the way, a word of warning. Once you try night- time peal angling it can become seriously addictive.
RTFA Committee Member
River Taw Fisheries Association Committee
Chairman Secretary Treasurer
Lower Taw Upper Taw
Alex Gibson George Marsh Richard Nickell
Simon Phillips John Smith Peter Tyjas
Andy Gray John Macro Chris Taylor
Associate Members’ Representative Ian Blewett*
IT Adviser Bryan Martin* Newsletter Editor Judith Kauntze* Torridge Representative Paul Ashworth*
* Non-voting Members
RTFA – FIT FOR THE FUTURE?
Alex Gibson asked me to contribute this article to your Newsletter because of concerns about whether RTFA is up to speed constitutionally. Nevertheless it is with some temerity that I write as a very new (2018) Associate Member of RTFA. This article reflects my experience gained over 14 years serving the 20 individual river
associations in the South West and as a Committee Member on the Exe, Fowey and Teign Associations. The views expressed are mine alone.
In common with most of the river associations in the South West, RTFA started life as a Riparian and Fishery Owners’ Association reflecting the direct ownership interests of its leading players. This is apparent in the membership arrangements with two different levels – Full for riparian and fishery owners and Associate for everyone else – as a new rod holder on the Taw I have joined as an Associate Member which means I pay less than for my membership of three other rivers! Does any of this matter?
When I first joined the Exe Association, RETA, its constitution was similar to the Taw’s. It had relatively few members and had been run by the same small group for many years. It changed its constitution to allow anyone with an interest in the river and its fishing to be a full member by the simple addition of the word ‘and anglers’ in its constitution which now includes To represent the interests of riparian owners and anglers of the River Exe and its tributaries. The Committee includes representatives from all parts of the river. There are now 250 individual members each paying £30 pa, many by Standing Order, plus a few corporate members paying varying amounts. The benefits of the changed constitution include:
Better representation of all anglers on the river and reflection of the socio-economic benefits of angling on the river – removal of the old ‘us and them’;
Better basis of influence on the establishment (Defra, Environment Agency, Exmoor National Park, SWW, Angling Trust, IFCA’s, etc);
Better income from a wider base;
Easier fundraising for specific projects, especially when applying for
A bigger pool of potential Committee Members;
More potential volunteers who feel fully involved – now reflected in
work on Riverfly, juvenile fish surveys, habitat and gravel improvement,
and cormorant and goosander monitoring and control;
Easier communication with the bulk of the Exe angling community.
This is not to suggest that the RTFA is not a very successful
association – its work on barrier removal and other river improvement schemes, IFCA netting byelaws, siltation and sewage treatment is testament to its success which rivals that of most associations. Indeed RETA is only now following the Taw’s lead on removing barriers to migration. However there is an increasing threat which suggests it’s time for a change – the threat to game angling, especially for salmon and sea trout, posed by the EA’s focus on regulating fishing while doing little to address the real threats to rivers, their fish and hence our fishing.
To be a credible force when dealing with this and all the other threats and to influence the debate it is important to have a strong democratic base – there are still those in power who see us as an anachronistic irrelevant group of rich owners even though our track record of caring for our rivers is in direct contrast to theirs. The continuing reduction in the EA’s ability to fulfil its statutory fisheries duties is increasing the need for us to manage our own rivers for the benefit of all anglers, not just fishery owners. Equally the interests of owners (and I am one on the Exe) are best served by the most effective river associations.
As I said in the opening I wrote this with some temerity and it is with the same temerity that I ask the question – is RTFA constitutionally fit for the future?
Former Secretary, South West Rivers Association
End of Season Gathering
The newly refurbished Rising Sun Inn at Umberleigh will be hosting an evening to mark the end of the season on Sunday, 30th September. More details to follow on the website.
To book a table and for further details, please contact
Charles O’Shea on 01769 560447
River Taw Byelaws
Salmon 1 March to 30 September Sea Trout & Brown Trout 15 March to 30 September
Salmon bag limits
Fly fishing permitted all season Spinning permitted until 31 March No other method or bait fishing permitted
No salmon to be retained before 16 June
No salmon greater than 70cms in length to be retained after 31 July
2 fish in any 24 hour period 3 fish in any 7 day period 10 fish in a season
No rod caught salmon to be sold or offered for sale
Sea Trout bag limits 5 fish in any 24 hour period 15 fish in any 7 day period
40 fish in a season Size limit 25cms
No rod caught sea trout to be sold or offered for sale Size limit 20cms
We strongly recommend
that you practice catch and release wherever you can and release all sea trout under 1lb and above 4lbs
I joined members of Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club at Exe Valley Fishery on Sunday June 10th and with a sunny day in prospect I wondered how hard the fishing would be as blue skies and sunshine are not always an ideal recipe for good sport. It was great to arrive and meet up with Nick Hart who manages the fishery with his wife Sue. Nick and I always have plenty to discuss and it was a while since we had last met and there was plenty to catch up on especially with NIck now working away in a prestigious role with Farlow’s in London.
Exe Valley has introduced an enlightened day ticket strategy that incorporates catch and release with catch and kill offering a wide range of options at different prices. The club members elected to purchase a three fish ticket that entitled the angler to retain three trout and then continue fishing releasing the next three trout. Catch and release fishing is strictly barb-less hooks, rubber meshed nets and fish to be returned as soon as possible with minimal handling.
After chatting with Nick almost half an hour of the competition had already passed by before I strolled out to the lake that looked stunning on this hazy summers day. Several members had already caught their three fish quota and were enjoying a chat and a drink from their flasks.
With trout rising freely all around I decided on using a light weight outfit presenting a small Cul de canard dry fly pattern on a 4lb tippet.
Casting to individual rising fish it was not long before I enjoyed the satisfaction of connection as a trout leisurely devoured the dry fly in that delightful moment of deception savored by trout anglers over many decades.
A few yards along the bank fellow club member Nigel Bird was also enjoying dry fly action practicing catch and release after completing his three fish quota.
Two more trout succumbed to my dry fly in quick succession and gave spirited tussles on the light tackle I was employing. Casting a dry fly to individual feeding fish was great fun and very rewarding fishing. The last of my three fish on catch and release proved to be my best trout of the day and I estimated it at just over three pounds a fish that made my reel sing as it tested my light weight outfit.
With my fishing over for the day it was time to take a stroll around the lake with my camera and capture a few images of this delightful fishery.
Vivid flag Iris brought a pleasing splash of yellow whilst brightly coloured damsel flies flitted amorously amongst the lakeside reeds and lush plants.
By early afternoon all members had caught their allocation of three trout and it was time to weigh in. Winner by a very large margin was Dave Richards with a three fish bag of 18lb 4oz that included a fine brace of rainbows caught within his first few casts weighing 8lb 8oz and 7lb 8oz.
Runner up was Dave Mock with 8lb and third Colin Combe with 6lb 12oz.
Both the Taw and Torridge are at summer levels with little chance of fresh run salmon moving into the river. Big tides might see the odd fish trickle into the lower reaches. Low water seldom deters sea trout that are likely to move into river and move stealthily up river with night fishing the only likely approach likely to succeed. I had a couple of hours on the middle Torridge at the weekend and tempted several brown trout on small black and silver flies intended for sea trout. The best trout was a fine wild brown of well over 1lb.
There are plenty of quality wild brown trout throughout our local rivers that can give superb sport using dry fly and nymph tactics. Fishing after dark with surface lures or traditional sea trout flies could bring success with big sea trout. The Welsh rivers are heavily fished after dark and some fine sea trout are caught. I am sure that many more big sea trout would be tempted in North Devon if they were targetted at the right time.
Bratton Water has a well deserved reputation for its quality brown trout fishing with fish to double figures banked in recent seasons. The best in recent weeks has a been a fine brown of 5lb 2oz to the rod of T.Evans of Barnstaple. The brown trout are however often hard to tempt and the hordes of small rudd often intercept the small imitative patterns before the browns get there. Mike has recently stocked a few rainbows that are being caught on a variety of patterns. The more aggressive rainbows are also feeding on the rudd fry in the margins giving an opportunity for the angler to stalk these fish. Mike informs me that the fishery is presently weed free despite the warm weather. The rudd whilst a nuisance at times will in the longer term lead to some big brown trout as they wax fat on the abundant food supply.
Congratulations to Matt Kingdon who has been selected for the 2018 English Commonwealth Fly Fishing Team.
Barnstaple & District Angling Association member Matt Kingdon has been selected for the 2018 English Commonwealth Fly Fishing Team.
Matt fished for England last year and is looking forward to flying off to Ireland for training seasons for the major competition in September. If successful next stop for the team will be New Zealand.
For his achievement the Barnstaple & District Angling Association have presented Matt with the prestigious ‘Committee Cup’
Wimbleball continues to fish exceptionally well as the season progresses with some superb catches to anglers fishing buzzers and imitative patterns. Th next couple of months offer some excellent prospects.
Peter Hughes enjoyed a superb day’s fishing today off the bank at Ruggs. Despite bright sun and a strong, cold, North East wind Peter and his friend managed to entice 15 strong, hard fighting, bars of silver on a catch and release ticket. Brilliant fish and fishing with all fish coming to buzzer variants on floating lines.
Simon Fuller and boat partner caught full bags from Cow Moor fish ranging from 2.8lb-4.8lb,and bank fisherman Ashley Scott bagged up at Ruggs with fish up to 5lb.
(Below) A fine rainbow for Daniel Loftus
(Below )A couple of the fish caught by Ashley Scott
As the rivers drop to summer level and start to show their bones there is still the chance of a salmon or sea trout fishing early or late in the day when the sun is off the water. Eddie Rands visited a middle Taw beat before work and was rewarded with a 10lb silver bar tempted on a little Invicta.
SEA FISHING – The fishing at Combe Martin is varied and excellent; and not the least delightful aspect is the opportunity afforded the visitor of seeing from a new angle the magnificent cliffs. Motor boats and rowing boats are available in good weather at any state of the tide: though it is sound policy to listen to the expert advice of the local boatmen as to the most suitable conditions and the most profitable fishing hours. With the constantly varying tides of this channel they are perfectly familiar; and their favourite fishing marks are productive of good sport.
Bass, pollock, pouting (locally called “glowers”) wrasse,codling, tope, conger, grey mullet, plaice, dabs, and mackerel are taken in spring and summer.
The herring season is from mid-September to Christmas. Cod, large conger, skate, ray and dogfish are caught in winter. bearded rockling and whiting also occur: sea-bream has been scarce of late years and hake has not been obtained for several years past. A weever was caught off Ilfracombe in 1932 and a sturgeon near Clovelly. Sunfish are sometimes seen resting on the surface. Small sharks, seals and porpoises come up the Bristol Channel at times. Lobsters, crabs and prawns may be added to the list. Squids are fairly plentiful.
A conger of over eighty pounds was caught about 1880. Two halibut were taken on “long lines” one night in early December, December 1919, one weighed 60lb., the other about 16lbs. This is the only occasion remembered for halibut locally. A bottle nosed shark sixfeet long and about three hundred weight, was caught in herring nets, November 1931. A skate (“rooker”), five feet across and weighing one hundred weight, was caught on December 2nd 1931. An angler fish was taken some years ago and a strange fish, possibly another angler, was washed ashore dead on February 7th 1933.
FLY FISHING – Fly Fishing may be had at Hunters Inn. Tickets being obtainable at the hotel; and on Slade Reservoir. Ilfracombe’ permits being issued at the Municipal Offices, Ilfracombe. Good fishing is also available on the East Lyn, the Barle and the Bray. For fishing on the Exmoor Reservoir apply at the Ring Of Bells Inn, Challacombe.
Whilst having a tidy up I came across an old holiday guide to Combe Martin. The back cover advert below gives a fascinating glimpse of the past. Reading through sections of this book brings thoughts as to what we have lost in the seas off North Devon. I was born in Combe Martin and can see see glimpses of my youth within the pages of this old guide within which I can frustratingly find no publication date. My guess is that it is early 1950;s. It is a sad reflection that the waters off our coast once held fish that we now travel to far off shores to catch.
There is of course much that has not changed along the majestic North Devon Coast and for this we should ensure that we pause to savour what remains and reflect upon change and what the future holds.
COMBE MARTIN (Scene of Marie Corelli’ s Mighty Atom)
For SUNSHINE and HEALTH and the Ideal Sea Side- Country Holiday.
UNRIVALLED MILD WINTER CLIMATE
Express Train 51/2 hours London – Ilfracombe, thence Motor coach connection (20 Minutes) Direct Booking.
The salmon season got off to a slow start on both the Taw and Torridge as a result of low water temperatures and successive spates that kept the rivers brimful. As the waters have dropped and temperatures have climbed sevral anglers have enjoyed success on both rivers with fish from Lower and Middle beats of both rivers.
Sugh Smith banked a 6lb salmon from the Weir Marsh and Brightly beats of the Taw. Barry Sutton caught a fine 10lb 8oz salmon on a silver stoats tail and Michael Martin a 9lb salmon on an orange fly of his own design.There have also been salmon caught from the Barnstaple Club water below Newbridge. Reports from Upper Taw beats are scarce but with the prolonged high water levels salmon and sea trout will undoubtedly be present.
On the Torridge Chris Warcup caught a fine brace of salmon estimated at 12lb and 14lb. David Lincoln landed a 10lb salmon from a mid river beat. As the river levels drop on both rivers salmon sport will ease off though lower beats of both rivers will be worth a try.
The lower river levels and higher temperatures will prove more conducive to sea trout fishing with after dark fishing worthwhile. Several sea trout between 2lb and 4lb have been caught by anglers at Little Warham Fishery on the RIver Torridge where day tickets are available. It is surprising how many sea trout can be present in the rivers and a concerted after dark sortie can often unlock the rivers secrets.
The Upper reaches of North Devon rivers and many miles of smaller rivers throughout the area can offer splendid sport with wild brown trout that rise freely to a well presented dry fly. The East Lyn offers stunning fishing in beautiful surrounding for less than a fiver a day. Many streams offer excellent fishing with nothing more required than a polite inquiry seeking permission to fish.
I arrived at Blakewell just before 9.00am to meet up with members of the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club and fish for the Edwards Floating Line Cup. It was a very pleasant late spring morning with lush green growth all around and birdsong filing the calm morning air. Dennis Toleman and Rob Hancock also arrived to fish Triple Hook Clubs A & J Barrow Fly Trophy Competition. They were a little concerned when I told them it was Wistlandpounds competition but when I told them it was not starting until 10:00 am they breathed a sigh of relief as they would most likely have got well underway towards their four fish quota by then as early morning before the sun gets on the water is often the best time of day.
After setting up my tackle I took a walk to the lake to capture Dennis and Rob in action and see if I could get any tips for the competition ahead. Both anglers were in action by the time I arrived and I took a few snaps as their rods absorbed the lunges of the hard fighting rainbows that both exceeded 4lb.
Dennis Toleman went on to win the A & J Barrow Trophy with a four fish bag totaling 13lb 4oz. Robbie Hancock finishing runner up with 12lb 3oz.
Blakewell’s Lake looked the perfect trout lake on this sunny morning with a brood of ducklings chirping as they dashed to and fro amongst the reeds. A few swallows swooped speedily over the water and high above a pair of buzzards soared on the thermals.
My fellow Wistlandpound club members duly arrived and after purchasing three fish tickets sauntered out to the lakeside. Within a few minutes several members were in action with bent rods as the lakes hard fighting rainbows surged to and fro in the clear water. I had tied on a damsel nymph and cast it well across the lake towards a rising trout. As I started to retrieve I noticed a trout of a couple of pounds closing in on the fly. Hoping for something a little bigger I stopped retrieving and watched the trout turn away. I fished on and within a few casts felt the pleasing tightening of the line. Whilst not big the rainbow fought gamely before eventually slipping over the rim of the net.
A few casts later I hooked an almost identical rainbow of a couple of pounds. Aware that other members had already landed bigger trout I decided upon a change of tactics and wandered to a shady corner on the far bank. I stood quietly leaning against a tree and peered into the crystal clear water watching as trout cruised past. I had tied on a gold headed green nymph one of my favourite stalking fly’s. After a few minutes a larger fish appeared and I flicked the nymph a few feet in front of the rainbow. I allowed the fly to sink then gave a twitch giving life to the gold head. The trouts mouth opened, the line twitched the rod lifted and I felt the weight of the fish and watched as it shook its head before surging away ripping line though my fingers before making the reel sing and rod absorb the strain. An enjoyable tussle followed before my prize was secure in the waiting net. At around four pound it was a pleasing result and emphasized how a little patience and stealthy angling can bring a better result than fishing blind.
By midday all members had secured their three fish bags with Paul Grisley taking top spot with a bag of 9lb 9oz the best fish a fraction under 4lb. David Eldred was runner up with 9lb 6oz, Myself third with 8lb 13oz and forth Colin Combes with 6lb 12oz.
With the competition over it was time to retire to the decking for welcome cups of tea and coffee. After a lengthy chat about fishing trips, catches and holidays it was time for a behind the scenes tour of the fish farm with co fishery owner Richard Nickell. Richard gave a fascinating and at times humorous account of rearing thousands of trout from fry to table size. Explaining the many trials and tribulations that can beset the fish farmer and the extensive costs involved. Richard ended the tour with a demonstration of his skill with the filleting knife and many ways to cook trout.
Twenty Five anglers fished in Blakewell’s Spring Open and good sport was enjoyed as the venues hard fighting rainbows seized the various fly’s on offer. Robert Turner won the competition with a six fish bag weighing 20lb 7oz. The bag included trout of 6lb 14oz and 5lb 7oz. In runner up spot was Pete Rorstad with six for 19lb 9oz and in third Gary Matthews with 18lb 6oz. Most of the twenty-five competitors landed their six fish limits with a good number of four pound plus fish brought to the scales.
The event was punctuated by a lunchtime BBQ provided by Blakewell.
The next few weeks are amongst the most enjoyable time to fish these small still-waters with fresh green foliage all around crystal clear water and free rising trout. Blakewell also has a well stocked tackle shop with many of Snowbee’s latest products.
Whilst the internet and social media gets a lot of negative publicity there are many positive sides to its growth. Angling is a worldwide sport and its participants across the world have a huge amount in common. It is of coarse more than just anglers that have a lot in common for fish and the habitats in which they dwell also have many parallels. The internet has bridged many gaps and has opened up a vast amount of knowledge to be shared among anglers from different continents.
David asked me if he could share his latest feature on my website and having had a look I noted how relevant the tactics described are to those discussed at Eggesford. So if you have five minutes have browse at the tactics used to tempted trout across the pond and around the world.
The 2018 Westcountry Fly Fishing Course has been running for thirteen or fourteen years at the Fox and Hounds Country Hotel at Eggesford and has become an eagerly anticipated event amongst those in the know. The event is organized by Crediton based Fly Fishing Tackle.co.uk and the Devon School of Fly Fishing. The format is to gather some of the countries top Fly Fishing Guides together with an assembly of top Fly Fishing Tackle from Vision Fly Fishing UK. Anglers who want to learn are invited and for the cost of lunch enjoy free casting tuition and advice. The event takes place in a riverside meadow that is reached via a pleasing stroll through the hotels grounds.
Fortunately the event was once again blessed with good April weather with just a light shower during the afternoon.
Peter Tyjas from the Devon School of Fly Fishing launched the event giving a passionate talk about the River Taw. Peter opened by talking of his love for the river and concerns about the effects of modern developments on the rivers future. He explained how intensive work by local organizations including the River Taw Fisheries Association has helped the river environment by improving upstream migration routes for migratory fish.
Peter then talked of fishing the Taw from its source high on Dartmoor near Belstone, down through the wooded valleys near Crediton and from there to the Fox and Hounds beats and then on to the bigger river below its junction with the Mole where the waters of Exmoor and Dartmoor converge.
Each section of river has its own characteristics and challenges requiring a slightly modified approach and ideally tackle suited to the quarry and surroundings. For the higher open moorland a 10ft 3 weight rod was recommended, whilst in woody confines an 8ft 4 weight was considered best. As the angler moves lower down the river a 9 ft four weight rod is better for the trout. The salmon and sea trout obviously require heavier tackle and this was described in detail with switch rods and double handed rods explained in depth.
Peter described the tactics likely to succeed and the correct approach. Some key points being the need for stealth and careful consideration as to where the fish will be lying. Being a Fly Fishing Course there was of course emphasis on how to put the fly in front of the trout using different techniques.
Entomology was explained in some detail and which flies to select for different occasions. The need for good presentation was given a great deal of importance for Peter is a great exponent of putting the fly in the right place without scaring the fish. Far better to present the wrong fly right than the right fly wrong. Fish have only a few seconds to decide whether to take or eject the chance of food.
Peter repeatedly expressed his views on taking care of the precious resource of the fish within the river system. A fish should be held only briefly close to the water for a quick photo. The traditional pose with the angler holding the fish out of water is frowned upon.
I found Peters section on salmon and sea trout very thought provoking realizing that I can at times become a little mechanical in my own approach. Whilst the standard across and down searching of the river is often effective it is not the only way to fish. The use of streamer type flies cast across or upstream and pulled briskly to stimulate an aggressive approach from salmon and sea trout is a technique I will try more often. I have caught using sun-ray shadows and had aggressive follows and takes whilst retrieving the fly briskly but have tended to resort to these tactics on rare occasions late in the season. I have been guilty on many occasions of going through the motions. Pleasant as this can be there are times when thinking a little more out of the box may bring a bonus fish.
Following on from Peter fascinating talk we were treated to a talks and demonstrations from Jim Williams AAPGAI Master level fly fishing & fly casting instructor, sales manager for Vision Fly Fishing UK and Ian May AAPGAI Master Instructor based in Hampshire, teaching both single and double handed disciplines for salmon, trout and grayling. These talks focused on casting techniques to combat the weather, improving presentation, accuracy and distance. Loop speed, lines, rods, tension, balance, rods actions, materials and personal preference were all given careful deliberation and explanation in an entertaining way.
An hour’s break for dinner took us all to the bar and dining room of the Fox and Hounds. The walls here are decorated with an array of fascinating photos. Many of which show ladies and gentlemen from a long gone generation posing with splendid catches of salmon and sea trout. Whilst in this more enlightened age we return the fish we catch we should not judge these anglers who took fish for the table in times of plenty. It would be wonderful to see the return of those runs of fish. There are some pictures that show a day’s catch of salmon that would today constitute a season’s haul not just for one angler but for whole beat.
With our hunger sated we once again sauntered back to the water meadow for practical demonstrations on how to tackle the river. Peter Tyjas and Sam Baycroft displayed the art of fishing New Zealand style with a nymph and dry fly combination whilst Jim Williams gave a fascinating insight into the art of French nymphing.
A short session of further casting instruction and rod waggling followed in the field before proceedings were brought to a close with a draw for a quality landing net donated by Vision. I am sure all who attended left eager to get out fishing trying out their new found skills. Thanks must go to all involved in the delivery of the day. Such events are invaluable in promoting the sport. It would be good to see a few more ladies and young anglers at the events as there is much to enjoy within this wonderful sport that engages with the environment and fosters a deep appreciation of the countryside. There are also I feel many benefits to participants for both mental well being social interaction and good health.
Duncan Betts caught a fine 9lb salmon from a middle Torridge Beat during the past and Peter Stemp landed a 6lb salmon also from a middle river beat.
The river was at a perfect height and colour at the weekend and I enjoyed my second visit to the river so far this year. Despite the perfect conditions I did not have any success with salmon or sea trout. With green foliage starting to appear all around and bird song filling the air it was a pleasure to be stood waist deep in the river casting the fly across the water hoping for that electrifying pull through the line.
One of the fascinating aspects of angling is the creatures observed beside the river. Otters, kingfishers, wagtails and dippers are amongst the more common sightings. But sometimes something more unusual catches the eye like this rather creepy looking leech.
Competition’s are very popular with our anglers.
Please book early to avoid disappointment, we can only cater for a maximum 25 anglers.
The competition will run from 9am to 5pm
with lunch provided at 13.00pm
Enter the Competition –
Our mailing address is:
Barnstaple, Devon EX31 3xg
Chillcheaters are now producing army green jackets, smocks and bib and brace in their renowned Aquatherm material these products are ideal for the carp and trout fisherman who want 100% waterproof clothing that is both lightweight and hard wearing. Braunton Baits are stocking the products. The jackets are £159, The smocks £140 and the Bib and Brace £130.
Wimbleball is in fine form at present with some stunning bags of rainbows caught in the opening few weeks with numerous fish topping 5lb. Surface activity has been great and should improve further with warmer weather on the way.
A very pleasing brace of 4lb-5lb rainbows caught by Richard Elbro. The trout were tempted on a cut throat cats whisker which was invented by his fellow angler friend Richard.
(Below)A very good day at Wimbleball for Peter Davies on the right and John Ratcliffe with 9 fish between them up to 6lb 10oz.
David Plumridge had great days sport at the lake with loads of fish on buzzers on a catch n release ticket, best being a 5 lb rainbow.( Below)
Peter Tyjas from the Devon School of Fly Fishing was delighted to catch this fine spring run salmon from the Lower Taw. With river levels now starting to drop at long last and temperatures on the rise the prospects of fish on both the Taw and Torridge are excellant.
I always associate springtime with trout fishing being beside the water as the buds start to unfurl and birdsong drifts through the warming air. As the evenings draw out it is time to savour the opportunities for after-work sorties all too often the longest day has crept upon me and I realize that once again I have failed to grab those important times beside the water.
With this in mind I had arranged to meet up with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce at Blakewell Fishery to try out a few of their latest products and of course to catch a couple of trout. It was a cool evening when I arrived at Blakewell with occasional sunshine and a light breeze blowing down the lake.
Jeff was keen to assemble all the latest Snowbee gear from his collection of smart and functional luggage to suit the mobile angler.
We set up four rods from the latest Snowbee range and Jeff set about demonstrating the art of roll casting using the eight weight Spectre Fly Rod that is ideally suited for fly fishing for pike or bass fishing in the estuary. After a few casts a large brown trout erupted from the corner of the lake seizing the large clouser minnow before ejecting the hook in a flurry of spray.
Apart from this brief encounter with the large brown trout it seemed quiet in this section of the lake so we decided to move to the other end of the lake that had apparently been fishing well. Armed with lighter set ups we strolled to our new area where we immediately saw a few fish moving. Jeff was first into a fish using a small bead headed nymph; a pleasing rainbow of a couple of pounds. Several fish could be seen cruising in the clear water and I spotted what looked like a good fish. The five weight Snowbee Spectre proved to be a delightful tool matched to one of Snowbee’s floating lines and I was able to drop my bead headed nymph directly in-front of the cruising trout. I allowed the fly to sink before giving a gentle twitch, a glimpse of white mouth and slight twitch of line saw me tighten into the trout. Several minutes later following a tense tussle a fine rainbow of 6lb 8oz was safely in the net.
A few moments later it was Jeff’s turn to hook a decent sized trout that surged to and fro whilst I tried to capture a few images with my camera and Jeff’s Go-Pro. This fin perfect rainbow of 5lb made the session a great success.
Casting to individual trout is an exciting way to fish that demands a keen eye enhanced with a pair of quality polarized glasses to reduce surface glare.
Whilst there was a chill in the air as the sun sank lower in the sky signs of spring were all around with buds bursting forth on trees and shrubs. The croak of toads in the margins whilst high above gyrating in the sky a few martins had arrived from warmer climes far away. A sure sign that winters grip is slipping as we slide into the most glorious season of all. In just a few weeks the countryside will be at its magnificent best.
A couple of hard fighting two pounders later it was time to pack away the gear and retreat for a hot coffee with co fishery owner Richard Nickel who was keen to share tales of his latest excursion to Scotland’s River Tay where he had enjoyed success with an 8lb spring run salmon.
As a follow up to Seth Tuson’s fascinating talk at the River Torridge Fishery Associations AGM I asked him to send me a few words. Young anglers are essential if future generations are to enjoy the waterside as we have done and they need all the support and encouragement we can give.
I Qualified for the England youth team in September 2016, at Grafham water. This meant I became part of a team that would fish at International competition at llyn Brenig in Wales the following summer. In the final competition England came second to Scotland with Wales in third and Ireland in 4th. In September last year I re-qualified at Draycote water where this years international will be held in August. It has been an amazing experience and I have developed my skills far past where I ever expected I would, to help fund my fishing I also sell my flies that I tie at £1.20 each these include a wide range of modern lures nymphs and dries as well as some classics. I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Torridge Fishery Associations AGM at the Half Moon Inn Sheepwash was as always well supported with members travelling from far and wide to meet up with fellow members and hear a summary of the last twelve months. There was a good deal of common ground between Taw and Torridge River Associations with a focus on the River catchments health. Guest Speakers were Paul Carter from the EA, Sam Baycock from the West Country Rivers Trust and England Junior Fly Fishing Team member Seth Tuson. Paul Ashworth and Charles Inniss gave a summary of news including a positive result from the Hatchery project with 24000 swim up fry ready for stocking out.
Sam Baycock of the West Country Rivers Trust gave an enlightening talk on his work to improve habitat for spawning salmon and to increase fry survival,targeted coppicing to reduce shading, soil containment, and removal of obstructions were key areas.
Seth Tuson aged 17 talked at length about his experience fishing with the England Junior Fly Fishing Team. He outlined the vast amount of travelling and hard work involved with training session most weeks at Lyn Brenig in North Wales. This year training is at Draycote Reservoir. One of the huge benefits of the experience has been an depth knowledge of fly fishing tactics. Seth is tying flies to raise funds for his Fly Fishing adventure and can tie most still water flies to order and charges £1.20 per fly. Seth can be contacted via email :- email@example.com
High river levels have curtailed fishing effort on the Taw and Torridge but Len Francis managed to get in a cast or two during a slight lull in the rain catching a fresh run spring salmon of 9lb from the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw. Another two salmon are believed to have been landed from Taw beats so far this year.
NEWSREEL: Spring 2018: Issue 37
Chairman: Paul Ashworth:
Secretary: Charles Inniss, Beeches Sheepwash Beaworthy Devon EX21 5NW
SUBSCRIPTIONS: for 2018 are now dueplease. 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: A big thank you to all of you who responded to the EA proposals. Because of the pressure exerted by the Angling Trust, the South West Rivers Association, River Fishery Associations and many individual anglers, the EA have only imposed mandatory “catch and release” on rivers were salmon stocks are dangerously low. “Catch and release” on our river will remain voluntary.
In simple terms for our river:
The spring salmon byelaw will remain in place: ie prior to 16th June all salmon must be released.
“Catch and release” will remain voluntary, but the EA has stated that at least 90% of fish must be released. If this is not achieved the EA will reserve the option to introduce mandatory “catch and release”.
In 2019 seine netting for salmon/sea trout by the three remaining licensed netsmen will cease.
Your committee recommends that anglers should practice “catch and release” at all times and whenever possible use barbless hooks.
GREAT NEWS!! The proposed IFCA Bye-law has been confirmed. As from 1st March this year, all drift netting for bass and mullet in our estuary has ceased. This will finally bring to an end salmon and sea trout being caught as a by-catch and having to be released either dead or so seriously injured the chances of survival were minimal.
Three year juvenile survey programme: Two 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. Last summer a full quantitative survey was completed by the EA. The results were much more encouraging with salmon fry present at most sites throughout the catchment. Salmon parr numbers were poor but brown trout were evident throughout the catchment. This year the West Country Rivers Trust will carry out the third survey. The three surveys should give us a better picture of the health of the river and where to target habitat improvements.
The 2017 Season: it was a dry spring and early summer but from July onwards the weather was much more unsettled with the river holding at a good height resulting in improved salmon catches. Salmon and sea trout catches were both slightly better than in recent years. However there is a discrepancy between the official EA rod catch data and our known catches by anglers. There are still anglers who are failing to send in their catch returns. It is vital all anglers send in their return even if it is a nil return.
Prospects for 2018: March has been an exceptionally wet and cold month with the river rarely fishable. So far one salmon has been caught (10lb), on the Lower Torridge. As I write this Newsreel in the second week of April it’s still raining with the river still in spate. Patience is a virtue!!
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 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. Although the eggs of one hen failed to be fertilised there have been very few losses from the remainder and over 24,000 swim-up fry will be stocked out into the headwaters during the next fortnight. For the dedicated team of eight it is a great relief when the last fry are released into the river after five months of hard work and worry.
Sewage Storm Overflows at Torrington: thanks to the perseverance of the Torrington Commons Conservators SWW will be taking action to rectify the recurring problem of two sewage storm overflows repeatedly discharging raw sewage into the river at Torrington. The Conservators enlisted the help of Fish Legal (the legal arm of The Angling Trust).
The Annual General Meeting: held at The Half Moon Inn on 6th April was a great success with over 40 members attending.
We all enjoyed an excellent buffet and social get together after the meeting.
BUY YOUR FISHING LICENCE, PAY YOUR ASSOCIATION SUBSCRIPTION AND ABOVE ALL ENJOY YOUR FISHING. HAVE A GREAT SEASON.
On Thursday 28th Sept 2017 Nick cast aside his old wading boots and set off for Farlows of Pall Mall below is an extract from Nicks latest Newsletter.
Fed up with the winter?
Following the terrible UK weather experienced during the past few months at last the fishing season is open! To kick off I would like to welcome you to my first update of the year including news of my move to the world famous Farlows of Pall Mall and the latest from Exe Valley Fishery.
Guided Fly Fishing with Nick Hart
After many requests I am pleased to report that I will be swapping my Chinos for Waders, hosting a very limited number of guided days during 2018. Dates are available in April, May, June, July, August & September fishing for wild Brown Trout (on stunning Exmoor rivers like the one above!) and there are also my unique River to Rock Adventures which offer the chance to experience both West Country Trout and saltwater fly fishing for Bass on the North Devon Coast.
Please contact me directly by email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details & dates. Alternatively I am available at the store located in central London, telephone 0207 484 1021
Find out about these limited availability trips & view packages here
Catch & Release 2018
It has been a tough winter at Exe Valley Fishery with low footfall due to the inclement weather. But now that spring seems to have finally sprung we are back in action with fresh stock introduced on a regular basis and our Catch & Release option launched last year continues for the same great price of just £25.
Meanwhile despite my new position as Farlows Fishing Manager, Sue will be available on a day to day basis to help with any queries you may have regarding the fishery and I will be visiting the lakes every week. You can also contact us on 01398 323008 or please email email@example.com
Paul Grisley secured victory in Wistlandpound Clubs April Trophy at Blagdon Reservoir. His eight fish limit bag of rainbow trout totalled 21lb 3oz. Colin Combe was runner up with 8 for 17lb 8oz and David Eldred third with 8 for 16lb 12oz. The biggest trout of the day was a rainbow of 4lb 6oz to the rod of Paul Grisley.
I shared a boat with Matt Kingdom who gave a lesson in how to catch trout completing his eight fish limit by lunch time and going on to add another ten trout. I fished similar tactics and even scrounged a couple of Matt’s successful flies to land a brace of trout. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is due to a subtle difference in technique or tackle. Blagdon is a truly historic trout water that can provide exciting sport especially at this time of year as the trout feast on the thousands of buzzers that hatch from the lake when conditions are right. In a few weeks time it will be thrilling to hear the pleasing screech of the swifts as they swoop across the lake. The first swallows should be showing any day soon.
After many years I have replaced my old trout fishing bag with a new one. The Snowbee XS – Bank & Boat Bag is highly recommended with numerous practical and functional characteristics. www.snowbee.co.uk
Another cold snap, ‘The Beast From The East’, bringing thick snow across the region in the middle of the month, meant that water and air temperatures have stayed low (water temperatures not much higher than 4ºc) and there has been little insect activity, meaning that the fish have been staying and feeding in the middle and deeper levels in the water column.
All the reservoirs are at 100% capacity and topping over the spillways. As temperatures start to rise in April, fish will be starting to look to the surface to feed, enabling anglers to target fish with dry patterns and floating lines, with maybe the odd Hawthorn and Olive starting to appear toward the end of the month.
Kennick – The fishing was fairly consistent throughout the month, with anglers averaging 3.6 fish per rod, with the Top End, Clampitts Bay and Bank and the Narrows producing the most fish. With little insect activity on the water yet, very few fish have been showing, and all fish have been taken on sub-surface patterns (either Damsels and Diawl Bachs, or lures such as Tadpoles, Cats Whiskers and Boobies) at a range of depths – floating, intermediate and sinking line methods have all caught fish. With many anglers catching their bag limits, the best fish caught during the month was a 4lb Rainbow, which, along with another Rainbow of 3lb 4oz, was part of a full bag caught by Mr J.Howard.
Siblyback – Two Meadows, Crylla Bay and the North Bank provided the best sport, with a variety of lure patterns (Cats Whisker, Orange Blob, Baby Doll, Cormorant, Orange Fritz) fished on sinking lines producing the best results. As conditions warmed, Buzzers, Damsel Nymphs and Shrimp patterns started to catch fish, with the afternoons and evenings the best time of day. The best fish caught in the month was a 4lb 11oz Rainbow, caught by Mr P.England from Liskeard.
Burrator – Longstone Bank and Point have produced the best fishing, with a few fish also caught from the north bank, with intermediate and sunk-line tactics the most successful, as fish have generally been lying fairly deep. In addition to Booby patterns, various nymphs (especially Damsels and Montanas) have fished well, and bags have included good numbers of hard-fighting Blues providing excellent sport.
Stithians – The fishing improved as the month progressed and temperatures started to rise, with weekly catch averages improving from under one fish per rod to over two fish per angler. All fish have been caught on sub-surface lure patterns (Orange Blob, Viva, Tadpole and Fritz patterns), with the best locations including Chapel Bay, Pub Bay, Yellowort and the deeper water by the dam. The best fish of the month was a fine Brown Trout of 3lbs, caught by Mr D. Parker from Camborne while fishing from a boat at the end of the month.
Roadford – Catches have been averaging around seven fish per angler, with boat anglers achieving the best results over deeper water. Very few fish have been showing, with Bibios, Squinkies and Tadpoles proving to be the most successful patterns.
Fernworthy – The fish have been showing along the south shore, with anglers averaging between four and six fish per visit. The most successful patterns included Silver Invictas and Snipe and Purple.
Colliford – In spite of the bitterly cold conditions, there have been small back buzzers hatching and fish moving on the surface, with a few already being caught on dry patterns. Catches have been averaging at just over four fish per visit, with the majority of fish caught on pulled wet patterns (Bibios, Soldier Palmers and Zonkas) as well as nymphs and spiders. The fish have overwintered well and are in good condition – the best fish so far, a 22” resident Brown, was caught on Good Friday by a local angler Dean Boucher. The fish are generally in small clusters, and for best results anglers need to be mobile, with Lordwaste, West Stuffle, and North Bank the most productive areas.
North Devon Fly Fishing enthusiasts have new a venue to fish that offers catch and release fishing for big brown trout along with catch and keep rainbow trout. The lake is approximately 1.5 acres and is close to River Yeo where day tickets are also available for wild brown trout and the occasional sea trout. A catch and release ticket is £20 per day and a four fish rainbow ticket £30. Owner Nigel Early is applying for Trout Master status at the venue. Nigel Early – firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Smith enjoyed a successful trip to Wimbleball Fishery where he found the fish cooperating despite the challenging conditions.
“Tidy bag of fish to 3lb 11oz today, caught in driving snow, a cold northerly wind and 0 degrees! Lots of fish in Ruggs, taking small black nymphs and buzzers on a floater. Things are looking good for Wimbleball, wishing Mark and the team every success. Will be back soon..”
Peter Duckett also braved the weather conditions; caught and kept his 2 on a catch and release ticket and then went on to catch another 16 Rainbows between 2lb 8oz – 4lb 12oz and also lost 10.
He also banked 2 fine browns of which the largest was estimated at 4lb 12oz.
The bad weather endured throughout March has not been good news for fishery owners as Nick Hart Reports in his latest news brief from Exe Valley Fishery. It is to be hoped that springs warmth soon descends to encourage anglers out to the waters edge.
(Below )John Slaven with an Exe Valley Trout – one of just 44 anglers who fished at Exe Valley during March!
The weather during the last few weeks has resulted in our quietest March on record with just 44 anglers visiting (yes, that’s correct …just 44!) … 11 of them for the Troutmasters match which had to be rescheduled due to snow. Despite the lack of customers, we continue to maintain and stock the fishery as always, shown in the catch figures of 153 fish caught by the 44 anglers up to 29th March resulting in a rod average of 3.5.With the continued changeable conditions and lack of footfall we have regrettably taken the decision to delay the reopening of Lobbs Lake until such time that we feel the venue will have the support required to operate the lake on a day to day basis.
The River Taw Fisheries Association held their Annual General Meeting at High Bullen Hotel on Friday March 23rd. Chairman Alex Gibson reported on the 2017 season when approximately 286 salmon were landed and 214 sea trout. The statistic that immediately raised concern was the dramatic drop in sea trout numbers. It is to be hoped that this is one of nature’s cyclical fluctuations and not something more sinister. The good news was a healthy number of brown trout reported by anglers from the Taw catchment.
High Impact Enforcement Officer Paul Carter gave an update on the latest news regarding netting bye laws and proposed regulations to safeguard future salmon stocks. He emphasized the importance of anglers reporting any potential pollution’s or illegal fishing via the Environment Agency’s hotline: – 0800 807060.
Anglers are encouraged to respond to the latest consultation regarding the proposals. Via the following link:-
There was some encouraging news in that redd counts on the Upper Taw had been encouraging compared to recent seasons. South Molton & District Angling Club gave valuable help to carry out observation on the River Bray under guidance from Paul Carter and plan to carry out an annual redd count from now on.
Bill Beaumont, Senior Fisheries Scientist, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, gave an enlightening talk entitled; “Salmon and Silt-A Recipe for Disaster”. Whilst much of the data presented was from the River Frome in Dorset it had a great deal of relevance to our own local rivers. There is an acknowledgement that marine survival is a major factor that we have little control over. For this reason the focus needs to be on ensuring the salmon and sea trout have a healthy habitat in which to breed. Farming practices are a key concern with silt run off, insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers all ingredients that can cause significant damage to the river environment. Education is a major factor in this area with retaining what is put on the land beneficial economically. What is the point in spending thousands of pounds on treatments to see it all wash off into the river?
There are numerous ways that farming practice can be modified to protect the waterways. Including catch crops to bind the soil and keep it in place, ploughing across slopes and fencing to reduce cattle access to the river.
The basic message is that we need to clean up our act. Find the problems, identify the causes and discover the solutions. To do this we need political will power to provide finance. Education combined with financial reward for good practice. This has to be backed up by enforcement ensuring that there is a significant cost to breaking the rules.
Bill Beaumont’s in depth presentation highlighted many issues that can impact upon salmon and sea trout. Mapping the migration of adult salmon and sea trout and parr and smolts is vital in understanding where losses are highest. With this knowledge targeted effort can bring success stemming the decline in these iconic migratory fish.
A few issues highlighted included; Marine – By catches of smolts, Over-fishing of food fish, Competition for food from herrings etc, Marine temperature change. Freshwater – Variable spawning success, Predation from birds, fish, mink and otters, Water abstraction, less flushing of gravels, Land-use (as previously mentioned),
Chairman Alex Gibson highlighted widespread concern amongst members regarding the potential breaches of compliance at many of the areas sewage treatment works. With increasing housing development within the region there is undoubtedly a need for significant investment to ensure that wastewater is adequately treated. Once again if any potential pollution’s are observed then the E-A hotline 0800 807060 should be used.
Anglers are at the forefront of conservation on rivers and are in a position to spot indications of issues unlikely to be detected by general members of the public. Guests at the meeting included members of the River Torridge Fishery Association who work hand in hand with the Taw fishers on many issues common to both rivers that share the same estuary mouth. An area of grave concern is the Northam Landfill site where coastal erosion is threatening to release many tons of potentially toxic material into the lower estuary
The AGM was closely followed by the associations annual auction that is a significant fund raising event in the calendar. All monies received help fund vital work on the river system including surveys and improvement work by the West Country Rivers Trust.
The evenings events and coming season are always debated in great depth during the delicious meal that follows.
Wimbeball Reservoir reopened under new management on Friday 23rd March and visiting anglers were treated to some fine sport with pristine conditioned hard fighting rainbow trout that averaged well over 2lb. Adam Westcott banked the best fish of the day a fine rainbow of 5lb 12oz that topped a five fish limit bag of close to 20lb. J. Glanfield registered a return of five for 20lb 5oz and G.T Benson five for 18lb 2oz. Anglers practicing catch and release enjoyed frequently bent rods with up to fifteen fish per rod. A wide range of patterns worked well with small dark lures amongst the most successful.
I visited the fishery on Saturday March 24th eager to reacquaint myself with a long time favourite venue. Like many South West Anglers I was very disappointed when South West Lakes Trust downgraded the fishery in 2016 ceasing the stocking of rainbow trout. This was a huge blow to Fly Fishing in the area with the 374acre lake that was built in the 1970’s providing traditional reservoir trout fishing for many years. The Dam straddles the River Haddeo a tributary of the river Exe and is surrounded by stunning Exmoor scenery.
Wimbeball Fly Fishery is now under the fresh stewardship of Mark Underhill an established Fish Farmer and his wife Trudy. I met with Mark at the Fishery permit hut and had an in-depth discussion on the complex world of trout rearing.
Fortunately Mark is a passionate angler and has an understanding of what anglers want from their day at the waters edge. Mark told me that he was delighted with the opening day when all of the fourteen anglers attended enjoyed great sport with the freshly stocked trout that averaged three pounds with plenty of trout between 4lb and 5lb. A five fish ticket is excellent value at £25 for five fish with an option to practice catch and release at the same price with the first two fish caught to be retained with barb-less hooks mandatory.
It was a cold dank morning when I arrived with Exmoor draped in mist and the car thermometer reading just 2 degrees C. After my enlightening chat with Mark I set off for the waters edge as the morning mist started to lift. Early season rainbows are not generally hard to catch with location the key. Based upon the previous days reports I decided to fish the Sailing Club Bay moving to other well-known areas if success was not forthcoming.
I had set up two rods one with a fast sink line and the other with an intermediate. To the fast sink line had tied an 8lb leader tipped with a black lure with long marabou tail and fluorescent green head. It was this outfit that I started with fishing the fly deep with a steady retrieve. After ten minutes I felt that electrifying tug as a trout attacked the lure. To my surprise I glimpsed a flash of golden flanks as a beautiful wild brown trout flashed on the line before being drawn over the waiting net. I admired my prize for moment before taking a portrait and slipping the prize back into the chill waters.
Whilst I love to fish a floating line and a team of nymphs later in the season I also relish this early season fishing that lacks the finesse of the warmer days. There is something particularly thrilling about that moment a trout hits the lure.
It was perhaps ten minutes before I caught my first rainbow of the day a hard fighting full tailed two-pounder. Mark had wondered down to see how I was faring captured the fish and I on camera.
Mark and I chatted for a while on fishing excursions for both shark and salmon swapping stories of our adventures and lamenting the sad decline of salmon catches over recent seasons.
I resumed fishing after this short break swapping to the intermediate line with the black lure on the point and an orange blob on the dropper. This allowed me to slow the retrieve down and it wasn’t long before another rainbow slammed into the lure. The next hour saw me hook one or two rainbows that came adrift, one a good fish that could well have pulled the scales to four pound plus. I also banked four rainbows ending with a fine fish of 3lb 8oz that pulled far harder than the scales indicated.
I returned to he fishing hut with a pleasing bag to weigh. Mark had intended to cast a line with me for a while but a damaged rod had kept him from the water. He was pleased to accept my offer to have a few casts with my rod and we wondered back to the water s edge to get a few more pictures. Mark’s wife Trudy joined us and I asked her if she fished to be told that she did not fish now but had once caught two salmon from the Exe illustrating that old adage that women often have an uncanny knack of tempting salmon.
Mark enjoyed half an hours fishing making contact with several trout that refused to stay on the line for more than a second or two. With fish to attend to back at the farm Mark had to leave to prepare for deliveries of fish to venues in the Midlands.
I captured a few images of the lake in its rather stark early spring state. When I return in a few weeks’ time swallows will be swooping over the water and fresh green foliage will decorate the trees. The trout will be sipping flies from the surface and my floating line will tighten at that glorious moment of deception.
Nick Hart was pleased to post the latest news from the Troutmasters event at Exe Valley where Nick was super impressed by “these young lads competing as juniors and all helping one another out. Sam in the yellow had his first 2 fish within 7 minutes!!! We just need more of them …..”
It is imperative that we encourage as many young anglers as possible into angling to enjoy a lifelong pastime that is proven to be for good mental health, social interaction and awareness of the natural world.
BIG congratulations to junior winner James Mockridge with 5 fish for 13lb including a 1 hour time bonus and senior winner Phil Duckett in his first comp with 5 fish and a 2 hour bonus for 16lb. And finally 9 year old Max Mockridge & 10 year old Sam Shepherd both got 4 fish each and weighed in at 9lb 12oz to tie second place!
Wimbleball Reservoir Opens for Fly Fishing after a significant stocking under the management of new Fishery Manager Mark Underhill.
The first stocking at Wimbleball 2018 saw the introduction of 300 fully finned Rainbows up to 4lb with another 4000 to follow before opening day on March the 23rd. Day Tickets for a five fish limit cost £25 which is excellent value from the look of the fish being stocked.
For details and to book contact Mark Underhill on 07758561412 or email :- email@example.com
A delivery of boats for use at Wimbleball in the coming season.
Exe Valley is fishing well as spring arrives as this latest report from the fishery illustrates.
Reading from the returns archives Mr Tomkins recently tried a sporting ticket and worked nymphs for 4 fish over a few hours before switching to a stripped Blob which gave him another 5 fish in just half an hour.
Other returns mention the depth of the fish with the word “deep” used consistently along with “cold” including Mr Hobdens comment which made us chuckle “Bloody Freezing!! But good sport!” There is no doubt that wrapping up warm is required to enjoy a day at Exe Valley but if you put in the effort the chances are you will be rewarded with some action.
Mr Hobden banked 4 fish during his chilly session, but John Slaven had an even more fruitful day with 5 taken and 4 released, noting that it had been a “Cold day but worth it. Fantastic!” Johns bag tipped the scales to 15lb 2oz with a best fish of 3lb 2oz
John will hope for an equally impressive bag in just over a weeks’ time when on Sunday 18th March Exe Valley will host its annual Troutmasters Fish Off to determine who will head to the final later in the year. This event is already well signed up with around 15 anglers attending but if you have an invite and have yet to contact us, there is still time, if you are quick! Please note that the fishery will be closed to regular day tickets on 18/03/18 until after the match which is due to end around 2pm.
If you are going to practice beforehand or if you are just heading to the fishery for a pleasure day it would be well worth packing Blobs, Snakes, Blue Flash Damsels, Apps Worms and a few buzzers. Floating lines with long leaders (fished slow) will work well but in recent weeks intermediates and medium sinkers such as the Di-3 have been well worth trying.
And to round up this catch report please note that Lobbs Lake will be open by the end of the month (in time for Easter) with further details regarding the fishing that will be available on this venue posted next time.
Many thanks for reading and look our for more news soon.
Its seems that spring is slow to arrive and just as we think its getting milder another cold snap is forecast. But any day now we will get that first real day of spring when warmth prevails and balmy air descends.
There are of course signs that spring is here as daffodils, primroses and celandine’s line the hedgerows and roadside verges. Frogs spawned a couple of months ago now and their spawn is already transforming into tadpoles. It will be soon be the turn of the toads to converge onto lakes and ponds their birdlike croak echoing around. Any time now we could glimpse that first sand martin and then that true harbinger of spring and summer the swallows.
As anglers we are of course very aware of nature that is around us and this is all part of what fishing is all about. I am always filled with optimism as the days grow longer and the chance to fish evening sessions in daylight arrives. Of course many plans are made and time is as ever less plentiful than desired. In just a couple of weeks the clocks spring forward.
There will be the chance to cast a fly across the river for spring salmon. Flick a dry fly upstream for wild brown trout or fish a buzzer on a Stillwater for hard fighting rainbows.
Carp anglers will relish the warming water knowing that carp will become more active and as a result will search for food maybe even coming onto the surface where a chum mixer will be slurped down with that delightful sound of summer evenings.
If you’re a sea angler your thoughts will be turning to bass, smoothound and ray. It will of course depend upon your favourite angling style what you seek. The bait angler will enjoy sitting back waiting for the nodding rod and screaming reel. The lure fisher will be more mobile searching for fish casting here and there searching for that electric tug on the line.
I could ramble on but I am sure you get the vibes that I am trying to convey that excitement at the arrival of new a season and fresh piscatorial adventures. I hope to report on your catches over these coming months, not just the fish but also an appreciation of all that angling means. So please feel free to send me your successes, stories and any images of the angling world you enjoy.
Many thanks go to those who sponsor this site and support this project.
South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report (February 2018)
The 2018 season opened three weeks earlier this year at Kennick Rainbow Trout fishery, on 16 February, and produced some excellent sport, before the snows came at the end of the month, for both boat and bank anglers. Water temperatures were around 6°c and the fish were eager to feed. Rods averaged 2.7 fish per angler over the opening weekend, improving to 3.1 fish by the end of the week.
Sub-surface patterns on sinking or intermediate lines proved to be successful, with either weighted or gold-head nymphs (particularly Damsels and Montanas) or lures (Tadpoles. Orange Blobs,and Boobies) catching fish. Both boat and bank anglers found fish in Clampitts Bay, the Narrows, near the Causeway, and from the Lawns.
The opening weekend saw a number of fish over 3lbs caught, with Mike Boston (from Torquay) catching a full bag, which included a Rainbow of 3lbs 12oz, while fishing from the bank. Mr. Peppitt (from Newton Abbot) caught a 3lb 10oz Rainbow, as part of a full bag, the following week, while fishing from the bank. Chris Bee (from Dawlish) caught a 3lb 8oz over-wintered Brown, also as part of a full bag.
While no insects have yet been seen on the surface, and nothing yet caught on dry patterns, there has been quite a lot of fish activity near the surface in the mornings as water temperatures start to rise and prospects are good for hatches and floating line methods as conditions warm up.
Burrator, Siblyback and Stithians Rainbow fisheries opened at the beginning of March, while the Brown Trout waters at Roadford, Fernworthy and Colliford open on 15 March.
The South West Fly Fair was held at Roadford on 24 February, for the sixth consecutive year, and proved to be even bigger and better, with dry, bright (if cold) conditions encouraging audiences and participants to enjoy the casting demonstrations and clinics, as well as the chance to try out the latest tackle. Indoors there were fly tying demonstrations along with numerous stands offering tackle and information, along with a masterclass Trout cookery demonstration from a local, top-class chef. Show patron Charles Jardine was on hand all day and, when not giving demonstrations, was available for advice or just a chat.
A new salmon season gets underway on Thursday March 1st. Hard to believe that winter is on its way out and in just a few weeks the first swallows and martins will be swooping low over the water. Winter is reluctant to release its grip and ice and snow is lining the river bank and it will be the hardiest of anglers who venture out. With the water temperature very low and river levels dropping the best chance of a salmon will be on the lower beats with a fly fished slow and deep.
Those wishing to celebrate the seasons start can call in for a welcome nibble and raise a glass to the new season at the traditional salmon Soiree, beer and nibbles at The Rising Sun; Umberleigh. Snow permitting of course. My guess is that an assemble of anglers will enjoy a warm fireside chat reflecting on past seasons success and renewed hopes for the coming season.
The fisher constantly is as it were in a wild garden, and this very pleasure to be found in the beauty around him he has made a part of his sport itself. It has a spirit: it is not merely the sport of taking fish.
But in England,since the time of Walton, the first thought of your true fisher is of fresh air, the glowing sunsets, the flowers and trees, the birds, and all the river loving things in furs or feathers.
On sunny mornings in some quiet valley he sees the white breasted ‘dipper’ curtsey to him from some stone ere she plunges in again to search for food upon the shallows. or the kingfisher skimming the water with his gleam of blue, or hovering, a flutter of blue and orange, over some luckless minnow. The swallow, sandmartin, water-wagtail, sandpiper are to be seen at every pool, and not seldom a great grey heron slowly and clumsily rise and flaps off at his approach
Taken from that angling Classic from over a hundred years past – LETTERS to A SALMON FISHERS SONS – 1910 – BY A. H. CHAYTOR
The above joys of angling remain unchanged that and the hope of life on the line.
The South West Fly Fair has become a popular event in the Fly Fishers Calendar and is held on the last Saturday in February each year at Roadford Lake. The event coincides with rising excitement amongst anglers as another River Season approaches and anglers thoughts turn to spring days, daffodil lined river banks, silver salmon and feisty wild trout.
The event is hosted by South West Lakes Trust and was sponsored by Turrall Flies and Cortland. There were wide ranges of demonstrations held throughout the day including Casting, Cooking and Fly Tying. Close to 250 attended the show making it one of the biggest angling events in the West Country Game Fishers Calendar.
Indoors at the conference venue there were a wide range of displays of fishing related interests including fishing tackle, art, media and environmental interests. My wife Pauline and I managed to get a round only a short section of the many stalls as we spent time chatting with the stallholders who were all passionate about fishing and their connection with it.
Conservation Officer Mike Blackmore (Above Right) and his colleague represented the Wild Trout Trust an organisation that nurtures nature to ensure the well being of the native wild trout. The world of the wild trout is a complex one and we learned that the gene pool of the trout is extremely diverse with populations of fish showing a vast differential despite being the same species. Each river population adapts over the years to its own unique environment with variations in colour, patterns, size and even tolerance to water quality. www.wildtrout.org
(Above) Alan Riddell Rod Builder and Fly Tyer displayed his range of quality rods and quality trout and salmon flies.
Mark Underhill Fishery Manager chatted about his plans for Wimbleball Fly Fishery that is due to open on March 23rd an exciting day for West Country Fly Fishing with quality rainbows to be stocked ranging between 3lb and 6lb.
Jane and Mandi from the established Get Hooked Guide were at hand to offer advice on where to fish throughout the West Country. There excellent guides and website have been providing an A to Z of fishing venues for close to thirty years.
Pete Tyjas and Duncan from the Devon School of Fly Fishing were at hand to promote the excellent on line fishing webzine Eat Sleep Fish and offer advice on casting and fishing on the River Taw and other local rivers. On Sunday April 22nd they will be busy hosting the West Country Fly Fishing Seminar at the Fox and Hounds Country Hotel, Eggesford. Pauline and I attended this event last year and had a very enjoyable and informative day.
Other exhibitors included Fly Fishing Tackle of Crediton, British Float Tubing Association, BASC, Arundell Arms, Crayfish UK, West Country Rivers Trust/River Fly Partnership, Turral and Cortland (Show Sponsors) Robin Armstrong, Luke Bannister Split cane rods, Chevron Hackles, Weatherbys Dry Fly, Milemead Fish Farm, Torre Trout Farms, Homeleigh Angling Centre, England Commonwealth Fly Fishing Team, Crediton Fly Fishing Club and Virtual Nymph.
Below is the press release from South West Lakes Trust Just in case I missed anything.
Annual Fly Fair Attracts Over 250 People to Roadford
The sixth South West Fly Fair got the Trout fishing season off with a bang on Saturday (24 February) as fly fishermen from all over the region attended the annual show, held at Roadford Lake and hosted by South West Lakes Trust.
The show is always a great place to grab a bargain, watch some fantastic demonstrations from Trout fishing celebrities and speak to the many organisation and trade stands that attend. There was also a free fly casting and fly tying zone for anyone to have go.
The show was launched by Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling for South West Lakes Trust and then officially opened at 10.20am by Charles Jardine, one of the country’s most respected fly-fishing gurus and patron of the show.
Activities throughout the day included casting demonstrations with Charles, who gave an entertaining and impressive display with the Trout rod, and Gary Champion, a local expert who travels worldwide teaching people to fish and give demonstrations. Pete Tyjas from the Devon School of Fly Fishing also gave a great display on river fishing for all to enjoy.
More than 30 people took advantage of the free fly casting lessons and clinics for both newcomers to the sport and experienced anglers feeling a little rusty after the closed season. The Chef from the local angling hotel, the Arundell Arms, gave a fantastic demonstration on ways to prepare and cook your Trout once you have caught it with samples to taste. This was a real treat on a very cold day!
There were a variety of angling conservation organisations including The Westcountry Rivers Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and two local custom rod makers, Alan Riddell and Luke Bannister, who has built up an international following for his beautiful hand-crafted split cane rods. The British Float Tube Association (BFTA) and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) were also on hand to provide information and advice.
South West Lakes Trust’s Trout suppliers, Milemead Fisheries and Torre Trout Farms Ltd, were on hand to talk to anglers and show a sample of the fish they could expect to catch in 2018. There were some stunning Tiger, Brown, Rainbow and Blue Trout on display for people to view. Those looking for new fishing opportunities in 2018 were able to speak to representatives from various fishing clubs throughout the region and ‘Get Hooked’ magazine who were also on hand to advise.
There was also a large selection of angling trade stands including impressive displays from the shows sponsor Cortland UK, with the opportunity to handle, try and buy this year’s latest equipment as well as an astounding selection of fur, feathers and specialist fly-tying equipment from suppliers based all over the country.
Mark Underhill of Wimbleball Fly Fishery was also on hand to inform everyone of his intentions for Wimbleball and its future as a Trout fishery now he has taken the operation on.
The 2018 Trout fishing season on the South West Lakes Trust Rainbow Trout reservoirs starts on 3 March at Siblyback, Stithians and Burrator and has already kicked off in spectacular form at Kennick reservoir. The Brown Trout season for Roadford, Fernworthy, Colliford and Wistlandpound starts on 15 March. Full details and this year’s prices are on the Trust’s website – www.swlakesfishing.co.uk.
As winter inflicts its final chill trout anglers can enjoy top rate sport with Blakewell’s handsome brown trout. Some fine browns have been tempted over recent weeks and their is always the chance of one of the double figure rainbows that are regularly stocked. A trip to a still-water is an ideal way to warm up for the start of the salmon season next that commences on March 1st.
A floating line fished in conjunction with a long leader generally does the trick with a damsel nymph fished on the point or even a team of buzzers and nymphs. There are plenty of flies for sale in the well stocked tackle store along with a range of tackle from West Country Tackle company Snowbee.
South Molton & District Angling Clubs AGM was held on February 20th at the Coaching Inn, South Molton. A good number of members were present to listen to reports from the clubs officers. Eddie Rand’s delivered a humorous account of the clubs year focusing on the rivers health and plans for sympathetic work to be undertaken at a suitable time to both improve fishability and fish habitat.
Roger Bray stepped into the role of secretary following the resignation of Ian Binding following many years of loyal service to the club.
Ian Binding was one of the clubs founding members and has fifty years of fond memories of his years with the club. Ian told me that the club was initially formed as a sea angling club with members enjoying excursions to local venues. They often fished from local ports aboard local charter boats including the Combe Martin boats whose skippers included Mickey Irwin and George Eastman. When fishing became available on the River Bray courtesy of the Poltimore Arms they took on the fishing and have remained tenants on the water via the Stucley Estate. The rivers are primarily wild brown trout fisheries that offer fine sport for the dry fly fisher using light tackle.
The club has room for a few new members with game fishing membership allowing access to 5 miles of fishing for just £50 per year. Social membership stands at £10. The club holds monthly meetings at the Coach and Horses, regular outings to local still-water trout fisheries including Blakewell, Bratton Water and Exe Valley. There are also boat trips throughout the years from local ports. Anyone interested in joining this friendly and active club should contact Roger Bray on 01271 371506 or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Kingdon gave an enlightening talk to the membership outlying his experiences of fly fishing for Team England at various venues including the renowned Chew Valley Lake. He also gave a fascinating insight into the rules, tactics and effort involved.
Following the formalities and talks Eddie Rand’s presented trophies to Rob Kingdon for his capture of a 30lb + tope on one of the clubs boat trips in 2017.
Mike Latham won the clubs Fly Fishing Trophy with a 4lb 5oz trout.
There were of coarse plenty of fishing tales exchanged throughout the evening covering all disciplines of angling. Eddie had several tales of a recent trip to Spain’s River Ebro where he caught catfish of over 40lb and a fine carp of 37lb.
As I reflect on last season it was a real story of two halves with a really good first half and very difficult second. The fishing at the majority of waters until the end of June was really good, some cracking fish were caught and good rod averages. From July onwards it was tough, although some waters provided some really good sport at times, particularly for Brown Trout.
We stocked Brown Trout at Kennick and Stithians instead of Rainbows in July as they are much hardier in warm waters and I hoped rod averages would be maintained while the Rainbows didn’t play ball. Plenty of Browns were caught but not as many as I had hoped. With the price of Browns being so much higher than Rainbows and Blues, I decided against this for 2018 and we will be back to stocking quality Rainbows and Blues from Milemead Fish Farm but with an increase in fish
Are times changing? Are the seasons changing? Many fisheries across the UK are struggling in the second half of the season with warm water temperatures making fishing hard. I read an article in Total Fly Fisher Magazine in 2017 which suggested seasons have changed and fishery managers would need to embrace this in the future and perhaps change season opening times and avoid stocking fish in July and August. It was real food for thought and something which has stuck with me in planning for 2018.
2018 – A season in anticipation
The season is now upon us already, it only seems like yesterday we closed for 2017. I am really looking forward to the new season and hopefully the few changes we have made will improve the fishing for all of you.
We are stocking a lot more Rainbows and Blues into Kennick. The season opened two weeks early, on 16 February for season permits and 17 February for day ticket anglers, and the first weekend of the new fishing season went really well. The weather was pretty kind to us and the water temperature of 6 degrees hasn’t put the fish off feeding. More fish arriving this Friday (23 February) from Milemead Fish Farm.
There have been some really good bags of fish caught with Phillip Watts banking 6 Rainbows for 13lbs and Mike Boston managing a full bag of 6 fish which included a 3lb 12oz specimen. Well done also to Chris Bee who caught and released the best Brown so far at 3lb 8oz. Damsels, Montanas and Tadpoles have been the most successful flies and not surprisingly nothing reported to dries just yet. Clampitts Bay and down through the narrows have been the best locations so far.
Warden Mark Baxendale and Senior Warden Kit Hancock will again be on hand to assist you at Kennick.
Stithians will also receive more Rainbows as a result of not stocking any Brownies. The fishery has been really consistent this last couple of seasons and some really good Rainbow Trout sport has given way to some great fun on the stocked and natural Brownies in the summer. Senior warden Beth Cross has been working hard during the winter with the CAST fishing club volunteers to get banks and back casting areas cleared. We have also installed some new signage to encourage dog walkers to abide by the reservoir regulations. There will be in increase in Rainbows stocked this season.
Burrator will also be having more Rainbows and our new warden Sam LeBailly has been busy bank clearing with the great help of Burrator Fly Fishers members. Sam is a qualified angling coach and will be on hand to help with any fishing enquiries at Burrator.
The wakeboard system at Siblyback is in the process of being removed and will be gone before the season starts, enabling access to Crilla Bay by bank or boat for the entire season. Siblyback stocking will be very similar to last season with some cracking Rainbows to around 6lbs and plenty of Blues. The adventures of Ron and John, our bailiffs which featured in the weekly catch reports, were great stories of ‘the one that got away’ as well as some terrific sport and experiences they had while being at the lake. Ron and John will feature again in 2018 with some top tips and information to help everyone enjoy their fishing at Siblyback. We have plans to make improvements to the permit room and introduce a signature fly which won’t fail to catch at Siblyback! Senior Warden Nigel Tomkinson, ably assisted by John Davies, will be around on site to help with any enquiries and will help direct you to the fish!
Fernworthy was our most consistent fishery in 2017 and I expect more great sport there this year. Our team of volunteers are planning some improvements to the permit room and will be out bank clearing to make sure casting areas are ready. Roadford will be very similar and we will be out bank clearing their also before the season gets underway. There will be 4 boats ready to go and the highlight of 2017 was Andy Birkett’s 5lb 8oz Brown. Bailiff Nick Coleman worked tirelessly policing the banks last season to stop poaching and to help anglers make the most of their visit. Nick has a wealth of knowledge in Trout fishing and I am sure you will bump into him around Roadford in 2018.
Colliford fished hard in 2017 but I am optimistic we can return it to the spectacular fishing from 3-4 years ago. We will continue to stock double the number of Browns that we did a few years back and with the Ruffe dying last season this should encourage the Trout to show themselves again.
Unfortunately Wistlandpound will not be stocked in 2018. The fishery will be open for low cost Brown Trout fishing and I anticipate some really good sport will be had. Although this is a great shame, fisheries have to be sustainable and I will look at the options for Wistlandpound’s sustainability during this season.
Drift fishery is no longer under our management as we will be concentrating more on Stithians. I would like to thank bailiff David Williams for his very hard work for the past few seasons.
At all of our Rainbow Trout waters we will not be planning to stock Rainbows or Blues during July and August unless weather conditions and water temperatures are favourable and I am confident the fish will survive. We will be stocking Rainbows again as soon as conditions suit stocking in September. However, we are stocking more fish as a whole.
I wish you an enjoyable and successful trout fishing season
Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling
Around the Clubs
Around our fisheries there are different clubs – why not become a member and get involved. If you are interested in joining a club here are the contact details:
The weekly catch reports at our fisheries are a great source of information to help you catch fish. The reports feature interesting information like hatches of flies observed, best flies of the week, best locations for catching, notable catches of fish and some fantastic pictures. We also do a monthly summary from around the fisheries so, if you would like to receive the weekly or monthly reports for any of our waters or all of them, please email me email@example.com
Find us on Facebook
We have an active Facebook page called ‘Trout Fishing South West Lakes Trust’
We post the catch reports, pictures, events and interesting information on this page so ‘LIKE’ the page for regular updates.
Find all of the information you need about our Trout fisheries, competitions, catch reports, prices and contact details on our website www.swlakesfishing.co.uk
Buy your permit online
Did you know you can buy your fishing permit online through our website www.swlakesfishing.co.uk? When you land on the home page for Trout fishing scroll down and on your right hand side is a box which says ‘BUY YOUR PERMIT ONLINE’.
Online catch returns
You can complete your catch return from the comfort of your own home after your days fishing through our website www.swlakesfishing.co.uk. On the Trout homepage scroll down and you will see a purple box which says ‘CATCH RETURNS’. It is absolutely vital you complete a catch return, even if you don’t catch a fish, as this can help us work out stocking schedules and stock levels. Please also include any Brown Trout on your catch return if you’re fishing a Rainbow water.
We have a series of team and individual competitions across our waters this year. The Snowbee sponsored team of four competition kicks the season off at Siblyback, the Cornish Open Float Tube competition at Stithians is in May and there is a pairs competition at Kennick as well as a singles in early summer. The season culminates with the final of the £2000 Best of the Best sponsored by Snowbee in October at Kennick. Here are the dates, if you would like to enter any of them please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Snowbee Siblyback Team of Four – 15 April
Kennick Bank Pairs – 6 May
Snowbee Cornish Open at Stithians – 12 May
Kennick Peninsula Classic Singles – 24 June
Best of the Best Final Singles at Kennick – 7 October
Thousands of pounds worth of prizes are available during the season through these competitions and the chance to win yourself a season ticket for 2019 at some of them too!
During this season I will be sending around a survey to all of our Trout anglers. The aim for the survey is to consult with you, the anglers, to help shape the future of Trout fishing across our waters. I would like to know what you want or would like to see at any of our fisheries. I can’t promise anything but I do promise that all comments and suggestions will be discussed and we can implement positive changes to ensure the fisheries are sustainable for the future. Please take a short time to complete the survey when it arrives and have your say. I would love to hear from you.
I am delighted to announce that Wimbleball will be open for Rainbow Trout fishing in 2018. Mark Underhill of Rainbow Valley Trout Farm has taken it on and has some really good ideas for the future of the fishery. Mark plans to install 10 boats this season and stock his home grown Trout of high quality with lots of fish in the 3-6lb size range. Mark is contactable on 07814324925 or email@example.com
Videos and photos
During the season we will be posting some videos of fish being stocked and people catching fish as well as loads of photos so keep an eye on our Facebook page and website. If you want to appear please send us in your pictures firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring seems to be in the air today and thoughts are turning to running water, spring salmon and crimson spotted wild trout that thrive in Devon streams.
We must not take these delights for granted as there are threats to these vital arteries of the land brought home to me as I read through the latest emails from Chairman of the River Taw Fisheries Association Alex Gibson.
Open the below link to see what a badly managed dairy operation can do. The pollution here was on the Taw system, but fortunately did not affect the main stem of the river. Nevertheless the damage to fish stocks was extensive. If you come across anything of this kind when at or around the river please report it immediately to the EA Emergency Hotline – 0800 807060
The Pollution Threat from Sewage Treatment Works (STWs) on the Taw System
As we are all well aware, the importance of water quality in our river cannot be overstated.
The Committee has come across a new, to us, cause for concern in this area, namely the STWs on our system which are owned and managed by South West Water (SWW). Simply put – Are these STWs currently fit for purpose and will they be fit for purpose when all the planned house-building in our catchment’s towns and villages has been completed? For example, South Molton is planning over 1,200 homes and Chulmleigh over 90. Is the right amount of maintenance being carried out by SWW and is sufficient investment committed for the future?
There are at least 35 STWs on our system, all of which discharge into the main stem or its tributaries. SWW like other water companies runs STWs on the basis of “operator self-monitoring” which immediately raises an amber or even red warning light in our opinion. Also there is a question about how rigorous the Environment Agency is or indeed can be in this area given recent cut-backs.
This is not a Taw specific problem and we have raised it regionally with South West Rivers Association so that individual rivers in the south-west can take their own action. From discussions with Angling Trust we understand that they are aware that this is a national problem and are working with World Wildlife Fund.
As for the Taw specifically, we are working with Fish Legal to discover whether in relation to STWs the EA is fulfilling its role to protect and improve river quality under the Water Framework Directive and carrying out its duties towards fishermen. Other initiatives to raise awareness of this problem are being undertaken.
The Committee believes it is important that members are aware of this threat, particularly those who fish directly below STWs. Any obvious signs of pollution from STW sources should be reported to the EA emergency hot-line – 0800 807060. Also, as we understand more about the STW situation it may be that we will need to mount a campaign with the support of our membership.
I received this notification from the River Taw Fishery Association. This long awaited bye-law will not only protect salmon and sea trout stocks but will also help protect valuable sporting sea fish like bass and grey mullet.
The new IFCA netting byelaws for Devon & Severn have finally been signed by the Minister. This means an end to the salmon and sea trout by-catch in the Taw/Torridge estuary by those netting for bass and mullet. The only netting permitted after 1 March this year will be by the 3 licensed salmon netsmen, who are themselves under the threat of a possible ban, and by those netting sand eels. This is a major step, the result of a long and difficult process.
I joined members of Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club at Bratton Water Fly Fishery on February 11th and enjoyed excellent sport with the venues hard fighting brown trout. it was a day of sunshine and hail showers with the occasional rainbow decorating the sky. The day started slowly for me three trout coming unstuck in the first hour. Paul Grisley fishing a few yards away showed the way and landed what was to be the biggest fish a of the day a stunning brown trout of 5lb 1oz in a total bag of 11lb 4oz.
The water at Bratton is generally crystal clear but heavy rain the previous day had coloured the water so it was likely that the normal small imitative flies would not work well. For this reason I persevered with black bodied lures with long marabou tails that fluttered enticingly in the water. After a couple of moves around the lake I eventually found fish in the the top corner of the lake and converted several takes into a four fish bag in half an hour of exciting fishing.
After bagging up I enjoyed hot coffee from my flask and chatted to fellow club members who were also enjoying some great sport with Bratton’s brown trout.
All in all an enjoyable few hours at this picturesque fishery that is sheltered from most winds. Fishery Owner Mike Williams told told me that improvement work is planned on the access road over the coming weeks.
Bratton Water has been no pushover, but fishing quite consistently in the cold and wet recent weather. Simon Jefferies, Dom Garnett and Gary Pearson enjoyed a good session using a mixture of flies on the lake. Buzzer fishing proved slow, but the fish were more responsive to lures. The best patterns were smallish and dark, including a Black Woolly Bugger or Crazy Legs, fished on a floating line but allowed to sink for several seconds and then retrieved with a picky figure of eight retrieve. Tail nips were common at times too, leading to the trio scaling down a little or even trimming back longer tails! All the fish were in consistently good condition, with sizes up to nearly three pounds, all but one browns as opposed to rainbows. The fish tended to follow the wind, collecting where the breeze blew; not the easiest for casting at times, but worth the effort of moving spots and putting up with stray gusts!
Bratton Water has been no pushover, but fishing quite consistently in the cold and wet recent weather. Simon Jefferies, Dom Garnett and Gary Pearson enjoyed a good session using a mixture of flies on the lake. Buzzer fishing proved slow, but the fish were more responsive to lures. The best patterns were smallish and dark, including a Black Woolly Bugger or Crazy Legs, fished on a floating line but allowed to sink for several seconds and then retrieved with a picky figure of eight retrieve. Tail nips were common at times too, leading to the trio scaling down a little or even trimming back longer tails! All the fish were in consistently good condition, with sizes up to nearly three pounds, all but one browns as opposed to rainbows. The fish tended to follow the wind, collecting where the breeze blew; not the easiest for casting at times, but worth the effort of moving spots and putting up with stray gusts!
Its less than a month until the start of a new salmon season and optimism will as always be high. The rivers are running brimful at present so hopefully they will be in fine trim in for the seasons start. Its time to start sorting out the tackle and buying a few bits and pieces. Check those waders and nets. Another new rod! In the mean time why not have an inspirational read of the latest Eat Sleep Fish Magazines. Just click on the links.
Why not have a warm up session on a local still water like Blakewell, Bratton Water or Exe Valley.