Wistlandpound – Continues to fish well for wild brownies

The path to the water

Wistlandpound Continues to drop quickly as predominantly dry conditions continue across the region. The exposed banks are white with dying blanket weed as more areas become exposed. The water remains clear with extensive weed growth in shallow areas that does not impede the fishing to any extent.

I spent a couple of hours during late evening and brought six lovely browns averaging 10″ to hand all taking small black and silver spider patterns fished slowly with a floating line and fine tippet. The lake was calm and ringed by the rising trout and rudd.

Bideford and District Angling Club – Mid week Evening Match

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Evening competition No, 2 – Results

 1st Keith Copland 19lb 5oz
2nd Nathan Underwood 15lb 4oz
3rd Martin Turner. 11lb 9oz
4th Kevin Shears 10lb 15oz
5th Mike Snudden 10lb 8oz
6th Cyril Found 9lb 13oz
16 anglers fished.
Our 3 hour evening match was well attended despite the wet weather, fortunately it cleared for the wiegh in.
Keith continues his run of good form, landing the winning catch from peg 9, carp on the pole with maggot hook baits. Nathan has fished similar tactics from peg 16 and despite losing several came in second on the night.
Martin’s 3rd placed catch was taken on peg 6 , on a top kit with caster hook bait.
The fishing remains quite tricky, although the silver fish are beginning to show, after spawning.

A brace of carp on the fly rod

A warm breeze with high clouds drifting across the late Spring sky. Bird song filled the air and the countryside has reached that moment in time when everything is lush, fresh and vibrant.
It is always good to escape to the water’s edge and a few hours was all I could manage for this visit to Bideford Angling Clubs carp lake. Karen’s lake opened in June 2019 and has matured into a wonderful lake in the three years that have followed.


Steve Bailey, Jude Gubb- Bideford Town Council, Paul Carter E.A, Karen Slade, Pete Skinner

Bideford Club Opens – Karens Lake

In fact, looking back at the opening day pictures it was a similar day to that on this recent visit.

I had visited the lake a week previously and caught one carp on the surface and with limited time and warm conditions I hoped that surface tactics would again bring rewards.
I catapulted out a few floaters on arrival and set up two sets of gear. A modern floater set up with an artificial dog biscuit and a 7 weight fly rod, floating line and a deer hair dog biscuit imitation.
I sat back and poured a coffee watching the surface for signs of feeding carp. It wasn’t long before there were a few swirls.
With the fish within range of the fly rod it was this option I chose putting the fly out just past the weed where several carp could be seen slurping down the floating baits.
This was exciting visual fishing as the carp cruised in the clear water clearly visible with the help of a good pair of polaroid’s to reduce the surface glare. A couple of fish moved into the left of my swim and I put the fly in amongst the free offerings. A good sized carp swam slowly towards the baits slurping down several of the free offerings before treating my fly with disdain.
Another carp swam purposefully towards the fly. Its orange lips opened, the fly disappeared and I set the hook! The surface erupted as the carp surged away diving for sanctuary. With large weed beds all around I was determined to keep the fish on as short a line as possible and piled on as much pressure as I dared. The 7-wt rod was straining as the reel spun as I attempted to slow the carps first run. It’s surprising just how much pressure you can apply with a fly rod if you have the confidence.
A few tense minutes followed as the tussle ebbed and flowed. The carps bronzed flanks gleaming in the sunlight as I coaxed it towards the waiting net. I breathed a sigh of relief as the fish came over the net cord. I secured the net and ensured that the unhooking mat was wet along with the weigh sling. The scales recorded a weight of 21lb 6oz my biggest carp on the fly.

21lb 6oz Carp on the fly

I was grateful to see two club members arrive at the entrance gate opposite and called them over to capture an image. It is always good to share the joy of success.

After a short break to savour and reflect upon success I continued to put out free offerings. By now the carp were a little more wary and I missed several chances as the fish managed to eject the fly before I could make contact.
I had a few tries with the floater rod further out but by now the Canada geese had got an appetite for floaters and each time I cast the heavy float headed straight for my set up.

The fly rod could be wielded without attracting the geese and I switched back to these tactics partly because of this and because the fly rod was far more exciting and rewarding.
My time was running out as early afternoon arrived and last cast time was approaching and had in fact gone when a couple of fish appeared slurping down a few floaters to my left.
The fly disappeared; the reel sang its song the rod took on an alarming curve and a few minutes later 12lb of mirror carp lay safely in the net.

A brace of carp on the fly is a great morning’s fishing and a reminder that fly fishing is not just a quirky tactic but on its day a very successful one.

Migratory Fish other than salmon !

Whilst the Rivers are very low a few migratory fish are still forging upriver. An encouraging story has been two rare shad caught by anglers fishing the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats on the River Taw. Several of this herring like fish were caught last year an indication that there is a breeding population surviving on the river. Next month it is likely that anglers will see spawning sea lamprey digging redds into the river bed. These prehistoric creatures seem to doing well on both the Taw and Torridge.

Hacche Lane Forty

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Steve Pinn has banked Hacche Lane fishery’s first forty a stunning looking fish in pristine condition. Well done and well deserved.

“A massive milestone for us all here at Hacche and what a fish to have as our first 40 plus..probably for me the most special fish on site as it was one fish amongst the hundreds of tiny leney fingerlings that were here on site when we started nearly ten years ago. It’s also very fitting that the captor was none other than our very own Steve Pinn…Steve has been invaluable with his help around the fishery whilst I was trying to juggle a full time job and the running of Hacche…I think Steve was a bit disappointed it wasn’t the bullet tbh but personally I’m over the moon as it means there is probably two 40s not just the one!”

Casting Into North Devon’s Rapid Streams

A couple of hours wading upriver passed all too quickly on a North Devon stream. It proved frustrating at time with the river very low and clear making it difficult to approach the pools without spooking the trout that could be seen darting away as I approached.

Flicking a bushy dry fly into the streamy water at the head of pools and runs rewarded me with a couple of beautiful wild browns of around 10″ and 8″.


The lush green growth and abundant bird life of the river valley in late spring is undoubtedly England at its best.

The water I fished is South Molton & District Angling Club water on the River Bray. I picked a book of my bookshelf ” Trout Fishing On Rapid Streams”, by H.C. Cutcliffe FRCS, Published in 1883 the book comprises A Complete System of fishing the North Devon streams and their like.
In the preface of the book the author mentions David Bale, now I think a letter-carrier, residing at High Bray. He is the best worm fisher I ever saw, and forever, is a most civil, indeed I may say polite man, truthful and honest and will be found a most respectable and well informed companion to the fishermen, who, I Trust will not forget to well acknowledge the merits of honest old David, now I fancy, not over well provided with the good things of this life”. The picture above shows High Bray Church upon the hill. It is reassuring to think that I fished the waters that David Bale cast his worm into over a century ago and the trout that I tempted would be direct descendants. Long may these rivers continue to thrive with their crimson spotted trout.

“In getting at these several little holes and currents, dont be afraid of your knees: keep down close to mother earth: go on your knees or crawl on your stomach; remember the trout is there, and you can catch him if you work properly and do not frighten him away.” These words of wisdom apply equally today!

Snap shots from the waters edge

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North Devon has a vast range of waters to fish with an abundance of different species to target. Below are a few snap shots from the Water Edge,

The dwindling waters of Wistlandpound on a late spring evening.

A typical Wistlandpound brownie; great fun on a 5 wt.

(Above) An unsuccessful trip to the coast with the lure rod the sea full of suspended weed; but it was still good to breath in the salty air.

(Above) A short morning session resulted in this mirror carp at Bideford Clubs Karens Lake.


Sometimes its good to get back to basics. James joined me for a session at Jennetts watching a crimson topped float close to the water Lily’s. Watching the float disappear was a delight and resulted in small roach, skimmers and a tackle twisting eel that reminded me of my younger days when these slimy tackle twisters were a common feature of catches.

The Lyn’s Beautiful brown trout

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Dan Spearman enjoyed a session on the spectacular River East Lyn tempting a dozen of the rivers wild brown trout. The fish were tempted on nymph and dry fly tactics. The wild brown trout of the Lyn are surely amongst the most beautiful in the West Country. Dan was delighted to report that there was an abundance of fly life on the river during the evening he fished. The Lyn tumbles through moorland and wooded gorges and its water quality is not impacted by the intensive farming practices that blight many other West Country Rivers.

Many thanks to Dan for allowing me to use his stunning images.