FORCE the Cancer charity day organised by John Dawson at Exe Valley

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Many thanks to Exmoor Fly Fishing for letting me reproduce their report on the charity event at Exe Valley.

Fishing for FORCE the Cancer charity day organised by John Dawson was held at the superb Exe Valley Fishery by kind permission of Sue & Nick Hart.
The day started overcast and dimpsey in other words Exmoor weather! Jackie joined me to learn how to fly fish in no time she was throwing nice loops so it was on to the lake …no pulling lures here it was small flies from the word go . She was soon into her first fish of the day a quick burger and coffee then I took Rory under my wing it wasn’t long before I heard the shout “ I’ve got one I’ve got one” an epic battle ensued before a fin perfect Exe Valley rocket was drawn over the net….several more soon followed, the fishery is fishing really well and the Trout are up in the water and will readily take a dry.
Thanks must go to John Dawson, Sue Hart and the ladies from Force for putting the day on and raising lots of money for the charity.

Blakewell Trout Sport Under Blue Skies

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Members assembled at Blakewell Fishery the lake looking stunning with fresh green foliage forming a stunning back drop. Members elected to opt for the sporting ticket allowing two fish to be retained before continuing on a catch and release basis.

The competition was run on the first two fish caught.

1st – Colin Combe – 3lb 9oz

2nd – David Eldred – 3lb 7oz

3rd – Nigel Bird – 3lb 5oz

4th – Andre Muxworthy – 2lb 10oz

5th – Wayne Thomas  2lb 4oz

Small imitative patterns worked well in the clear water and bright sunshine with all members catching their allotted brace and then enjoying some exciting catch and release sport. From mid may until the end of June the English countryside is at its very best with everything a vivid green with bird and pond life flourishing all around.

(Above )Time for break and a chat.
(Above) A pleasing brown of close to 2lb

EXE VALLEY TROUT MASTERS RESULT

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Troutmasters Results

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

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

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

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

    9 -Terence O’Keefe

    9 – Peter Kyle

    Junior Winner – Sam Shepherd

Exmoor Trout Fisheries for all.

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

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

Exe Valleys tranquil waters offer great sport.

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

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

River Taw salmon

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

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

EARLY SEASON TROUT FISHING – Another Perfect Day

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The journey across Exmoor on a late March day evaporated into a whirl of fishing talk and tales as Jeff drove us to Wimbleball Lake high on Exmoor. On arrival we were greeted warmly by Trevor Telling who assists Mark and Tracey Underhill in running Wimbleball Lake.

Its just over twelve months since Mark took over running Wimbleball and I am sure that many of the anglers who have visited since will vouch for the Stirling job that Mark and his team have done.

I asked Mark to summarise his feeling after a year running the Lake.

“During our first season it was certainly a surprise to us how many fishermen came to fish at Wimbleball, and that gave us confidence to go on and order the Coulam boats. I don’t think we could have picked a worse year to have started running Wimbleball due to beast of a the east and then that awful fishing summer. But even with that we were very pleased with everything. The lake fished it’s socks off and we only had a few blanks all year, It’s truly a magical lake and I feel very blessed to have taken on the fishing my end goal is make Wimbleball one of the country’s top lakes for cracking quality and the hardest fighting fish any where in the country.”

Trevor Telling is himself a keen angler and is passionate to ensure that all those who visit the Lake enjoy the experience. He shares information freely suggesting where to fish and what flies and tactics are likely to succeed. We chatted at length about trout fishing and fisheries and how important it is to all work together in promoting this wonderful pastime. One issue that Mark and Trevor feel strongly about is the need to encourage young anglers into the sport and to promote this they offer Juniors under 16 the opportunity to fish for free when accompanied by a permit holding adult.

The adoption of a forward thinking catch and release policy has proved very popular with visiting anglers. The sensible catch and release ticket option costs the same as a five fish ticket with the first two fish to be retained ensuring a constant turnover of stock. The angler can enjoy a full days fishing without any worry about bag limits and having to leave when the quota is made.

A blue sky interspersed with white cotton wool clouds, birdsong drifting through the air, fresh green leaves and buds all around. Daffodils, celandines and primroses denote that we are in that delightful yellow phase of spring. Time to go trout fishing!

The bright sunshine and cool North West Breeze would undoubtedly make the trout a little harder to catch but this did little to dent our enthusiasm as we tackled up in the car  park close to Bessom’s Bridge.

I threaded the Intermediate line through the rings attached a leader of 8lb b.s Fluro-carbon and put a bead headed black lure on the point with a buzzer pattern on the dropper.

Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce set up with some of Snowbee’s finest kit  and elected to start off with a booby on a fast sinking line.

We both walked eagerly to the waters edge and took a few steps out into the gin clear water before extending our lines. And so, the search began in a rhythmic cast and retrieve that is so absorbing. The icy cold water on the fingers, the coolness seeping through waders, the expectation as the line is pulled back through the rod’s rings.

This wonderful vibrant spring landscape is surely all so vital in this quest to connect with the hard fighting trout that live within this other dimension beneath the surface. It’s all so hard to put into words but I can only link the total emersion into this trance like state as the mind set determined during yoga or mindfulness endeavours.

It was mid-morning by the time we started fishing and I am sure that we both expected success early in the day. I persisted with the set up I had started with whilst Jeff continually swapped and changed lines, tactics and flies. After an hour I hooked a rainbow trout that erupted at the end of the line leaping two or three feet into the air in a flurry of spray before racing away at a rate of knots then coming detached from the hook. This frustrating occurrence was to be repeated several times throughout the morning. This at least gave hope that I was doing something right, as Jeff had not even had a pull in the first two hours.

We stopped briefly for lunch resting our arms and assessing the situation. It was apparent that other anglers were also struggling to find the fish as they were constantly moving around searching.

By mid afternoon our spirits had dipped slightly and we decided it was time to try a new area. If nothing else it would give us a change of scenery and fresh hope. We figured that the shallow bay opposite could be worth a try. Whilst several anglers had been fishing there in the morning they had moved on and the area had been rested for a while.

As we walked to the water’s edge there came that welcome ring upon the water that signifies a feeding trout. Jeff put out a long floating line with a Black n’ peacock on the point. First cast came a pull; second cast a bent rod and an acrobatic rainbow. We were both relieved to break the prospect of a blank day and I captured the moment before resuming my own quest for a trout.

A few casts later and I was once again enjoying the thrill of a hard fighting rainbow at the end of the line. Exhilaration once more turned to disappointment as the hook once again lost its hold. I was now however brim full of confidence and expected a take with every cast and It wasn’t long before I was again relishing the battle with one of Wimbleballs hard fighting trout. Each trout seemed to be turbo charged ripping line through the fingers as the rod bent and bucked to the strain.

The next couple of hours saw us hook multiple hard fighting rainbows with black lures fished on an intermediate line highly effective. We don’t know of course whether it was the change of location that had brought success or the trout’s appetite or mood.

The fact that we had eventually unlocked the key to success brought satisfaction, whilst the perfect light as the day faded brought appreciation of the artist in us both. As the sun slowly sank it was difficult to know what mattered most, was it the thrill of hard fighting trout or the capturing of that moment with the camera?

With bare trees silhouetted against the skyline and the mirror of the lake reflecting the glowing embers of the day I hoped that Jeff could seal the moment. As I framed him fishing; a fish seized the fly. The next few minutes we both relished the moments as a hard fighting trout tested the tackle for several minutes before eventually surrendering into the folds of the rubber coated net. The barbless hook slipped easily from the  jaws of a stunning wild brown trout. After capturing the moment Jeff let the fish swim away into the cool waters and into our memories.

We packed away, our fingers tingling with the cold water, our feet numbed after  hours stood up to our waists in the cool water. As we left enchanting Wimbleball Lake I commented  that we would never endure such discomfort during a day at work!

As the road climbed up onto the moor Jeff’s phone sprang into life. The fact that he was due at the pictures at 8.00pm had totally slipped his mind whilst lost in the waters of an angling life.

Its always good to be at the start of a season with those longer spring days and summer evenings still to come. The thrill of rising trout during perfect days beside well stocked waters.

Wimbleball Lake is a large reservoir with a surface area of 374 acres. The dam construction was completed in 1979 and provides water that is distributed by  South West Water and Wessex Water. It was run as a trout fishery for many years by South West lakes Trust who downgraded the fishery in 2016. Mark Underhill took on running the lake in 2018 stocking it with quality rainbow trout from Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.

The lake also has a good population of wild brown trout that run to over 6lb.

 

South West Fly Fair 2019

South West Lakes Trust once again hosted the Annual South West Fly Fair at Roadford Lake. This popular fixture in the Fly Fishers Calendar is sponsored by Turrall and Cortland and attracted a good number of Fly Fishing Enthusiast’s despite gale force winds and an unfortunate clash with the Six nations Rugby.

Casting, cooking and Fly Tying demonstrations entertained the audience with numerous trade stands offering an array of flies, clothing, tackle and art. Conservation was high on the agenda with Westcountry Rivers Trust, Wild Trout Trust and South West lakes highlighting the issue of Invasive species. Fixtures like this are vital in bringing anglers together to share in enthusiasm for the coming months. A poster declared that; “Time is Precious Spend it Fishing”; wise advice in these turbulent times.

(Below) Charles Jardine always puts on a great demonstration of Fly Casting manipulating the fly Line effortlessly even when faced with gale force winds that would ensure certain tangles for the average angler.

( Below) In the warmth of the Fly Tying lounge a wide range of flies and lures were tied up to trick the wariest of fish.

In the Main Hall anglers mingled rekindling friendships and waxing lyrical about days at the waters edge both close to home and far away. Stands included Second Hand Tackle, Dry Fly Powder, Arundel Arms,  Homeleigh Angling Centre, Invasive Species, Turrall and Cortland, Snowbee UK, West Country Rivers Trust, Luke Bannister Split Cane Rods, Rawson Fly Rods, Robin Armstrong, Wild Trout Trust, Upper Teign Fishing Club, Crediton Fishing Club, SWLT, Virtual Nymph and Milemead Trout Farm were amongst those in attendance.

(below) Raising awareness of Invasive species.

(Below) Robin Armstrong with some of his works of art.

(Below) Ben Smeeth observes as Gary Champion gives a fascinating cooking demonstration explaining the method of marinating trout in lime with garlic and ginger – Ceviche is I believe the term. The resulting trout tasted delicious ; an ideal starter to try on friends.

(Below) West Country Based Snowbee UK

(Below) An array of flies from West Country Fly Firm Turrall

http://www.swlakesfishing.co.uk

Blakewell – Catch and Release Fishing

Times are changing in the world of Stillwater Trout Fishing with more emphasis being put on quality time at the waters edge. A few years ago, there was perhaps an obsession with catching big trout and whilst there are still fisheries that cater for the big trout angler these are now in the minority. It seems that most of today’s anglers want to catch good numbers of fish relishing the key ingredients of trout fishing.

This change in angler’s approach has resulted in an increase in catch and release or sporting tickets. Blakewell Fishery near Barnstaple has after careful consideration moved to meet this demand offering a sporting ticket that allows anglers to retain a brace of fish for the table and then continue fishing on a catch and release basis for the remainder of the day.

I joined with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce for a mornings fishing at Blakewell that fortuitously coincided with a break in the stormy weather. After a chat over coffee in the tea room we headed out on the lake to try our luck.

Walking out to the lake we took a look around and elected to fish the bay with Jeff fishing the point whilst I fished the inner bay. I elected to fish a gold head PTN on the point with a spider pattern on a dropper. I extended the line across the water and on the second cast after allowing the fly to sink I saw the point of the fly line twitch. I instinctively raised the rod whilst pulling on the line with my left hand. There came that pleasing feeling of life and resistance as a trout erupted in a flurry of spray at the end of a tight line. Whilst I was using a 5wt rod I had taken the precaution of using an 8lb tippet ensuring I could bring any fish I hooked to the net quickly ensuring the fish could be slipped back quickly. The use of light leaders when catch and release fishing should be discouraged as trout should not be played to exhaustion.

Over on the point Jeff was putting a new Snowbee Spectre Fly line through its paces with impressive results punching small imitative patterns into a stiff breeze with ease. It wasn’t long before Jeff was also into a hard fighting rainbow. The fish was held briefly above the water for a quick photo before being slipped back into the water.

The next couple of hours passed by all too quickly with several trout falling to our offerings in the clear water. In the past I have often fished for trout and been almost disappointed when I have caught my bag limit for the session. Catch and release removes that perception that some anglers have in that they must catch their bag limit.

Catch and release offers anglers the opportunity to savour time at the water’s edge at a reasonable cost. It is however imperative that care is taken to ensure that a high percentage of fish survive to perhaps grow bigger. Barbless hooks are essential, fish should be unhooked in the water whenever possible and only held briefly to capture the moment.

It is advisable to use as strong a leader as practical to ensure fish are brought to the net quickly. Fish should only be handled with wet hands and should be steadied in the water for a few moments if they show any sign of fatigue.

Those anglers who do not wish to practice catch and release can of course elect to purchase a standard five fish ticket for the same price enabling them to take home all they catch. The two options cater for the vast majority of anglers. Over the next couple of months Richard and John plan to stock Spartic trout and a number of big brown trout.

Spring is a marvellous time to be at the water’s edge as green growth signals the onset of spring. The first swallows and martins will soon be swooping low over the water feasting after their long migration from warmer climes. The trout will also be rising setting those delightful rings upon the water. A carefully placed fly will be sipped down in that delightful moment of deception to be relished by the fly fisher.

As the morning grew to a close it was time to enjoy the first BBQ of the spring. A hot sausage in a fresh bread roll was the perfect end to a great mornings fishing. Jeff took advantage of a new clearing to demonstrate the art of roll casting.

New Sporting Ticket Option at Blakewell

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Blakewell Trout Fishery have introduced a new sporting ticket that entitles the angler to retain two trout and then continue fishing on a catch and release basis for the remainder of the day. The cost of a day’s fishing is £30.00 for the catch and release option or the same for a five fish bag when fishing must cease when bag completed. This enlightened move brings the fishery in line with many other Stillwater fisheries that have adapted to a changing market. Catch and release fishing allows anglers to focus upon quality time spent at the water’s edge away from the stresses of modern society. Perhaps this reflects a move away from material gain towards the actual experience of a day in the great outdoors.

Full report on my latest visit to the water with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce will follow later this week.

Jeff Pearce with a hard fighting Blakewell rainbow trout