WIMBLEBALL 2023 – Season Underway!

A full English at the George Inn at Brompton Regis with fellow fly fishers was the perfect way to prepare for a day afloat on Wimbleball on February 2nd, day 2 of the 2023 season. We talked of tactics, trout fishers, trout flies and the complexities of modern society before heading to the lake full of expectation.

News from Opening day gave confidence that the fish would be likely to oblige with some anglers catching over twenty trout.

Wimbleball Report – Opening day Report

What a start to our 2023 season… Beautiful start to the day, bit of a shame about the fresh cold westerly breeze, but some fantastic fishing was had with over 30 anglers fishing the opening day, & some great pics from the first couple of days will be posted over the next few days… Tactics included intermediate or sink tip line, small black flies & black & green lures seemed the top takers… Some great returns & some struggled while watching others next to them pulling them in, a few noteworthy catches included James March with 25 fish, Clive Blacker 19 fish, Phil Giles 18 fish, Don Mansell 16 fish, Richard Earnshaw 15 fish, with many others in the 5 to 14 fish bracket, best fish weighed was just over 4lb, many reporting fish in the 3 to 4lb bracket… Happy days & thank you for your support!

I was sharing a boat with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce an option that would allow us to explore a large area of water without having to wade out into the chill waters of late winter. Early season fishing at Wimbleball is often as good or better from the bank providing the shoals of fish can be located.

It was great to be back out on this vast expanse of water nestled within Exmoor’s undulating landscape. Trees towered stark and bare around the lake that was now brim full with water following a wet winter. The last time I had visited the lake was desperately low following the severe drought of 2022 when the reservoir had dropped to around 20% resulting in a premature end to the trout fishing season.

The summer of 2022

The 2022 drought and heatwave proved extremely challenging for fish farming across the UK and will inevitably create issues for the coming season across the country. Anglers will need to accept moderate increases in permit prices and a shortage of big stock fish. It is to be hoped that 2023 brings a more normal summer with average rainfall.

I opted for an intermediate line with a black woolly bugger on the point and a small black and green nymph on a dropper. This followed advice from my fellow anglers at breakfast who suggested that any fly pattern would work providing it was predominantly black with a touch of green.

After a short unproductive drift into Cowmoor Bay we headed for the shallow end of the lake and dropped anchor in a sheltered bay close to an area of dense withy. Jeff and I started the process of searching the water.

It was reassuring to get into the steady motion of casting and retrieving. The line alighted upon the clear cold water and was allowed to sink for  a few moments before commencing a slow figure of eight retrieve. It wasn’t long before the line pulled tight as the satisfying pull of the first trout of the season hit my dropper.

Turbo charged full tailed Wimbleball trout are amongst the hardest fighting fish in the country putting a pleasing curve into angler’s rods and ripping line through chilled fingers.

It was supposed to have been a bright day with sunny intervals but on this occasion Carol Kirkwood’s cheerful predictions on BBC Breakfast had proved over optimistic as a chill westerly wind with grey skies and occasional drizzle persisting throughout the day.

The consistent sport kept our spirits up as we savoured the start of a new season looking forward to the warmer brighter days of spring ahead.  We ended the day sharing a catch of fifteen hard fighting rainbows the best estimated as close to 5lb.

            I look forward to my return trip when those hard fighting rainbows will thrill again on what is widely recognised as the West Countries top Stillwater trout fishery.

At the end of the day pan fried trout with a sprinkling of Cornish Sea Salt -Lemon Pepper