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

Good Friday Trout Fishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Spring Sport

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Located at Gammaton Reservoirs ( 2 four acre lakes) .Annual membership £170. Members can keep up to 6 fish a week.
Day tickets £20 (3 fish) available from Summerlands Tackle, Westward Ho! & Tarka Country Pursuits , Torrington.
Membership enquiries to Mike Ball 07899 742757 . Email : Michael.ball54@btinternet.com

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

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

South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report – March 2019

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

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Hall (April 2019)

ENDS

Issue date: 3 April 2019

For more information, please contact:

Rosie Vine

Customer Communications and Marketing Manager

South West Lakes Trust

01566 771930

rvine@swlakestrust.org.uk

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.

 

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