A FRANTIC FIFTEEN MINUTES WHETS THE APPETITE

               July and August are often quiet months for Stillwater trout fishing with last season an absolute disaster with the prolonged drought and hot weather putting fish off the feed or sending them into the cooler depths of the lake. This year has been different and after a wet and cooler July and August I had heard that Wimbleball was fishing well. A trip was undoubtedly needed but with jobs to do at home an all day trip was not an option.

            A half day ticket at Wimbleball starts at 4.00pm and gives over four hours fishing during August at what should be the best time of day.

            The weather forecast gave light North West Winds with occasional showers some of them potentially thundery. It was raining when I left home at around 2.30pm and I hoped the rain would ease by the time I arrived.

            It was a pleasant drive over Exmoor and I noted the tinges of Autumn starting to show on the trees. I drove through occasional heavy showers and spells of sunshine that illuminated the moorland landscape.

            It was raining steadily when I pulled into the car park where another angler was parked up waiting for the rain to ease before heading out to the lake. I set up under the shelter of the car boot opting for a floating line and longish leader with a tip fly and two droppers. I tied a damsel on the point and daiwl Bach’s on the droppers.

            It was good to walk out onto the lake’s foreshore once again, I was a little surprised at how far the lake had dropped since my last visit. I knew it was now at around 75% but that’s quite a bit of exposed shoreline. The foreshore is coated in lush green growth of wetland plants and flowers that exuded a pleasant almost minty aroma as I walked eagerly to the water’s edge.

            I waded out and put a line out onto the water slowly retrieving as I took in the panorama of lake, sky and land. Dark foreboding clouds, glimpses of blue, lush green fields and trees bedecked in their dark summer foliage. Ducks foraged in the shallows their heads emersed and curly rears exposed in typical duck fashion. A heron’s call echoed across the lake, swallows and martins swooped low over the water. The margins were alive with tiny fry that would surely provide a feast for predatory trout over the coming months.

            I settled into the searching mode of cast and retrieve occasionally trying different flies and trying different areas of the bay. I saw a couple of fish rise shortly after starting but nothing seemed interested in my offerings and after three hours I was starting to have a few doubts. I have not blanked at Wimbleball since the lakes fishing has been under the management of Mark Underhill in 2018!

            After trying different areas, I headed back to where I had started and again commenced the searching rhythm. A fellow angler fishing along the bank to my right seemed to have the body language indicating a lack of success. I heard him comment to his friend; “time to cut our losses and head for home”.

            It was now just after 7.00pm and there was just an hour and a half permitted fishing time remaining. I had reverted to the damsel on the point, a diawl bach on the middle dropper with a sunburst blob on the top dropper.

            As the luckless angler disappeared from view the line suddenly zipped delightfully tight. A trout erupted from the water and after a strong encounter a slim full tailed rainbow graced the net. The silvery flanks, full tail and sleek appearance reminded me of a fresh run grilse.

            Next cast the line again zipped tight a trout leaping from the water. A beautiful wild brown trout of close to a pound that was quickly returned after capturing an image. To my delight the next two casts produced another brace of wild browns with vivid spotted flanks of olive green, bronze and buttery cream.

            I fished on expectantly and missed one more fish as the light began to fade. Judging by the size of the swirl behind the lure it was a good sized fish. Shortly after sunset I eventually made my tenth last cast and walked back to the car.

            In just over four hours hard fishing I had tempted four trout within a frantic fifteen minute spell. Had a shoal moved in? Had they just switched on for that short feeding spell? Whatever had happened it had whetted my appetite and I look forward to return trips during the autumn months when the fishing promises to be very exciting. With ongoing stocking of full tailed rainbows throughout and those wild browns that will surely feast upon those marginal fry. I wander how big those browns go to? Only one way to find out!