Huge Rare Shad from local estuary

         Dan Spearman was spinning for thin lipped mullet and had a shock when a huge allis shad estimated at 5lb seized his baited spinner. The fish gave an exciting account leaping from the water and making several long runs. The fish was landed and carefully returned to the water. The shad is a rare and endangered species and are not to be fished for intentionally.  The population appears to be increasing on the Taw with several reported each year by salmon anglers. The species spawn during late spring and early summer.

Thin lipped grey mullet are moving into the estuaries of the Taw and Torridge providing exciting sport for anglers using baited spinner tactics. Combe Martin SAC member John Shapland caught a fine  specimen thin lip of 4lb 4oz.

Round 2 of the SWLT / FLUFF CHUCKERS Brown Trout Masters at Fernworthy lake on Dartmoor.

A good turn out with anglers from all around the South West.
With the weather not really making its mind up whether it’s summer or early spring, sunshine, overcast and very windy.
Fishing has been a little harder on Fernworthy in 2024 compared to 2023 when a lot of really nice fish were being caught.
But we had some real talent on the banks today so even though it could be hard going there was always going to be some great results.
And results we got, everyone caught fish with
Keith Burnett landing the most fish with 11, Roger Trusscott was runner up with 7, Richard Adeney  & Rodney Wevill joint 3rd with 6 .
Once again following on from round 1 Kevin Sellar caught the biggest fish at 41cm
With Wayne Thomas runner up.
A massive thank you to Turrall Flies and Lakedown Brewing . Co for their support and providing some great prizes .
Now is off to Roadford lake on the 12th October for the 3rd and final round. Where the 2024 Brown Trout Master will be crowned.
Overall results of round 1 & 2 combined
1 Roger Truscott. 582cm
2. Keith Burnett. 433cm
3. Richard Adeney. 274cm
4. Rodney Wevill. 204cm
5. Kevin Sellar. 171cm
6. Wayne Thomas. 163cm
7. Philip Hoskin. 138cm
8. Matt Rodwell. 67cm
9.  Ben Elliot 64cm
10. Dave Perks. 64cm
11. Pete Williams. 54cm
12. Slawomir Olaf Pilecki 32cm
13. Jack Welshman 30cm
14. Dave Cook. 28cm
14. Andrew Watson  27cm
15. Peter Finnis. ……….,
Winner Keith Burnett
Runner up Roger Trusscott
Kevin Sellar caught the biggest fish at 41cm
Wayne Thomas runner in biggest fish category


Fernworthy Reservior is situated high on Dartmoor a few miles from Chagford an ancient and fascinating moorland village . I had not fished the reservoir since a distant day as a teenager back in the late 1970’s but I certainly do not intend to wait so long until my next visit.

Pre competition chats at the waters edge.

The reservoirs surroundings are steeped in history with ancient stone circles showing glimpses of a fascinating history. The reservior itself was built during the Second World War a time of death and turmoil that seems so far removed from this early summer day. There is a certain reassurance to be gained by spending a day in such a place far from the worries of this troubled world and something that was touched upon as we chatted briefly of war in todays world before the presentation.

Fernworthy is a brown trout fishery with a good head of wild fish supplemented with regular stockings each season. A brisk cool North West Wind and sunny spells were perhaps not ideal conditions but all competitors caught some lovely trout with some stunning looking fish amongst them. I had a frustrating day hooking nine fish an up Roger Truscott had had a similar experience. The vast majority of the fish were caught using small immitative patterns as is to be expected at a natural catch and release brown trout fishery.

A special thanks to Rodney Wevill for organising the event and gaining the support of the generous sponsors. South West Lakes Trust, Turral Flies and Lakedown Brewing

Early Morning cloud at the competitions start





Tumbling clear waters have carved valleys between the undulating hills of Exmoor over millions of years. The River Exe from which Exmoor gets its name flows from Exe head near Simonsbath to Exmouth a distance of 60 miles. It’s major tributary the River Barle merges with the Exe a couple of miles below Dulverton a spot immortalised in the rare book ‘Philandering Angler’ by Arthur Applin. Applin reminisces about the ‘Carnarvon Arms’ waters and a “trout fat as butter with belly like gold”. And also in that classic tome “Going Fishing’ by Negley Farson. Farson writes of “an imperturbable scene which fills you with content”.

Both authors are well travelled especially for the era in which they wrote and yet there is great affection for the humble brown trout of the Exe and Barle.

Exmoor has a rich literary history that has it seems to be ongoing with Michelle Werrett’s latest book ‘Song of the Streams’ a book that is set to become a classic of its genre.

Sadly the ‘Carnarvon Arms’, a country Inn with a rich history is now converted into flats. A fate that has befallen many fine Country Hotels.

Fortunately those crimson spotted wild brown trout with bellies of gold are still abundant throughout the Exe and Barle and can be fished for at a very reasonable cost.

I joined Dulverton Angling Association a couple of years ago with the intention of exploring their eight beats of fishing on the Upper Exe and its tributaries. And so on a warm and sunny 1st of June I walked into Lance Nicholson’s shop to enquire if any beats were available. This was only a short session with Pauline joining me to relax and read a book at the water’s edge whilst I explored the river.

We were advised that the Stoats Tail beat was available and would tick all the relevant boxes. The beat is half a mile or so of fishing that runs up from the main road bridge in the town to the weir in which I often spot trout and the occasional salmon when I sometimes pause for a look in the river on route to this delightful moorland town.

Swifts were gliding above the roof tops in the hazy blue sky as we walked to the river their high pitched screeches a truly evocative sound of summer.

After passing through the gate to the riverside we followed the pathway through into the meadow where Pauline found a shady spot to read whilst I scrambled down the tree lined bank to the river.

There is surely no better place to be than beside a West Country River in late May or early June. The lush fresh green leaves provided a fine frame to the river as it tumbled over boulders and between rocky gorges.

The water was as clear as gin, as I clambered over the slippery rocks I noted that the pools were deceptively deep. I started to explore the pools and runs with a bushy dry fly. Nothing showed for the first hundred yards or so but in a large pool below a split in the river a good sized trout rose to the fly. Whilst I failed to connect I was encouraged and after resting the pool for fifteen minutes returned with a change of fly. Once again a fish rose but I again failed to connect.

Above the rapids there was a tempting looking run overhung by a holly bush. I guessed where a fish might lie and on the second cast there was a splashy rise and I was connected to a handsome Barle trout of perhaps 10”.

I looked upriver, contemplated exploring further but decided to quit whilst I was ahead and returned to Pauline. As we strolled back through the meadow we noted how delightfully detached we were from the town that was hidden from view behind the wooded river.

The following morning I once again set off across Exmoor’s winding roads as the early morning sun streamed through the vibrant green of fresh leaves. The destination was Wimbleball Lake in search of its hard fighting rainbows.

I would be joining fellow members of South Molton & District Angling Club.

         I had left it too late to book a boat and headed for the bank of Rugg’s bay where I have enjoyed good sport in the past.

The path to the lake was lined with vivid yellow buttercups and birdsong drifted through the cool morning air.

A light North wind was creating a gentle ripple across the lake; I waded out into the cool water and put out the team of three flies, a black bead headed spider on the point, a black pennel on the middle dropper and a foam black buzzer on the top dropper.

After half a dozen casts the line zipped tight and a trout cartwheeled from the water. A handsome wild brown trout of close to 1lb graced the net. These are wild trout descendants of the trout that lived in the River Haddeo, before the lake was completed back in 1979. I admired the trout briefly before letting it swim back into the clear waters of the lake. A few weeks ago a wild brown trout estimated at around 7lb was tempted from the lake. I noted the large numbers of fry swimming around me as I stood waist deep. During late summer and autumn the wild browns can often be seen harassing the tiny fry in the margins. With such an abundance of food it will surely be only a matter of time before someone hooks into a double figure wild trout?

A few minutes later a hard fighting rainbow of around 2lb took the tip fly and was duly despatched.

         South Molton and District Angling Club Chairman Ed Rands and a boat partner arrived fifty yards or so away and dropped anchor. They gave a me a cheery wave as I hooked into another hard fighting rainbow.

During the following hour I hooked several more rainbows and noticed that the tip fly was showing signs of stress. I used forceps to bend it back into shape after landing four rainbows of around 2lb with one or two others coming adrift.

I secured a self-portrait with the fish and held it aloft for Ed and fellow club members to witness. The fish had completed my five fish limit so it was catch and release from now on.

Several coch-y-bunddu beetle could be seen drifting on the water and it was these that I guessed the trout were feeding upon. A fact that was confirmed when one of the trout regurgitated numerous beetles that drifted away as I unhooked the fish. I expect the next few weeks will produce the cream of the years sport as the trout turn on to this annual feast.

To my surprise the boats fishing out in the bay were not catching despite several fish rising in their proximity. Ed and his boat partner even beached their boat and came over for a chat. I showed them my flies and set up telling exactly how I was presenting my team of flies.

         Despite this I continued to catch returning ten more hard fighting rainbows to an estimated 4lb whilst my fellow club members remained fishless. Sometimes success in fishing comes through a slice of luck or some subtle detail that whets the fishes appetite on that day.

I packed away my tackle at around 2.00pm very content with my days sport. I will undoubtedly be back soon. Chasing Exmoor trout in both running and Stillwater. News that Tarr Steps Farm are now selling day tickets for both trout and salmon is certainly on the to do list. I have fond memories of fishing the Tarr Steps Hotel Water several years ago and treasure the memory of a grilse caught on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral back on September 6th, 1997.

         The Tarr Steps Hotel has sadly closed a contributary factor is undoubtedly the dramatically declining runs of salmon. I remember spotting several dozen salmon in a days fishing. The fishing was often exceptional as the river fined down after a spate and my visits failed to coincide with that magic taking period. The salmon could be spotted though in abundance. Today the salmon are very scarce and hard to find whilst the wild brown trout are thriving a sign perhaps.


Bideford and District Angling Club Evening competition No. 3

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Bideford and District Angling Club
Evening competition No. 3
2nd Richard Jefferies 29lb 15oz
4th Keith Mountjoy 22lb 11oz
5th Martin Turner 22lb 10oz
6th Roger Ackroyd 22lb 5oz
18 members fished.
The 3rd match in the 10 match series was fished in reasonable conditions , a brisk westerly and warmish evening led to another close competition..
Out of the 18 numbers in the draw bag Nathan has again drawn peg 13 !
He fished with paste over pellets in the margins for his second victory of the series.
Richard has drawn the adjacent peg 12 and fished in a similar fashion for the second spot.
Darren has had a couple of larger fish and some skimmers for third off peg 3 .

Bideford and District Angling Club Junior competition No. 1

Bideford and District Angling Club
Junior competition No. 1
Tarka Swims 11 fished
1st Thea Overend 3:670 kilo
2nd Ethan Broom 3:190
3rd Ted Blight 2:720
4th George Batten 2:400
5th Albi Clements 2:290
6th Amelia Bell 1:895
7th Lewis Hathaway 1:745
8th Billy Butler 1:700
9th Freya Lewis 1:265
10th Rex Lewis :620
11th Leo Davies :410
Our junior members have enjoyed a pleasant afternoon on George’s lake. Weather was warm and dry with a brisk North Westerly breeze.
The fish proved tricky, but every youngster caught in the end . Our winner on the day, in her first match was our youngest competitor Thea , with a little help from Uncle Craig , they fished peg 25 on the pole.
Second placed Ethan, also on his first competition, fished punched bread with a 3metre whip on peg 20.
Ted took third place fishing on peg 2 .
Our sincere thanks go out to the very generous support we have had from Summerlands Tackle , Quay Sports , Baitech, Martin Cocks, Tom Downing , Guru Tackle.


  Chew Valley Lakes reputation was further enhanced this Spring with the capture of a British Record pike scaling 47lb 5oz. I have fished the lake on and off for over twenty years and enjoyed a mix of success and failure at the venue.

         I joined my good friend Bruce Elston for a day with the fly rod. The weather forecast had looked good with a moderate North West Breeze and no rain. I arrived at the lake just after 9:00am and  we chatted to fellow anglers as we loaded our gear onto the boat. It appeared that the fishing had been hard going. Undeterred we set out for our chosen area searching the water casting our big flies in ten foot of water. With a drogue controlling our drift we covered water at a steady pace.

         There was suspended algae present in the water and visibility was not as good as on some previous visits. On the first drift we had a couple of follows and pulls which was encouraging.

         Next drift Bruce hooked into a jack of around 4lb which boosted our confidence. On the next drift it was my turn and I brought a jack of around 4lb to the boat nothing big but at least we were catching. The next couple of drifts resulted in a couple of missed takes and a micro jack for Bruce.

         As the day raced past takes dried up as they often do during the afternoon. Hundreds of swifts were swooping over the water undoubtedly feasting upon insects.   To our surprise throughout the day we saw only a couple of trout rising which for late May was perhaps a little strange.

         With wind increasing and action non-existent we decided to head for shelter and enjoy an early evening snack. In a sheltered bay I lit the stove and fried up a dozen chipolata sausages. Bruce put out a team of buzzers whilst he waited for the culinary delight of a sausage sandwich.

         The sun broke through momentarily bathing the bay in evening light. We resumed our search for a while in the bay before once again heading back to the main expanse of the lake. I tempted another micro jack on one of Rodney Wevil’s bright orange scruffy tigers.

         As the light faded from a late Spring day we had several last drifts eventually conceding defeat at 20:45.

We had made many casts during close to nine hours of fishing at a guess I reckon we notched up close to a thousands casts in the day.

         Chew Valley Lake can be hard; its draw is of course that the next cast could bring that fish of a lifetime. I was fortunate to catch that fish a couple of years ago so I know it can happen. Maybe next cast?

Pike fishing seems to follow a natural cycle with each year slightly different. There seems to be an explosion of micro jacks this year with a few very large fish and low numbers of medium sized pike. The lake is large however and will always hold mystery and just maybe another British Record. A fifty ?

38lb pike caught in 2022

Mainline Baits Carp Open Pairs Competitions

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The Mainline Baits Carp Pairs competitions are held at our 81 acre fishery, Upper Tamar Lake. The competitions are generously sponsored by carp fishing giants Mainline Baits.

There is £3,500 in prize money from South West Lakes Trust for each competition. Each person who enters will get a goody bag with some fantastic Mainline products inside.

This year there is an exciting new rule change regarding the way the final results are taken. This year, instead of all the fish a pair catch being weighed in and this being your final result, the three biggest fish from each pair will be added together and this will be your final result. So, any fish that are smaller than the three biggest a pair has caught already through the competition can be put back straight away and do not require weighing in. But if a fish is bigger than your previous three recorded fish then it will be weighed in. This way it will make the competition more open to anyone winning.

All tackle and equipment is transported to and from your swim. There is also a full menu for the weekend with food delivered directly to your swim!

2024 dates:

  • Friday 19 July to Sunday 21 July
  • Friday 4 October to Sunday 6 October

The competition is limited to 34 pairs. You can book your place online below.

For further information contact us on 01566 771930 or [email protected]


Mark Drewer has taken the lead in Combe Martin SAC’s Bass lure league tempting bass of 67.5cm and 63cm. Both fish were tempted on a white gravity stick pulse tail.  As we go into summer proper I am expecting catches to pick up. At present Mark Drewer is in first place with two bass for 130.5cm. Second is Reece Woolgar with two bass for 118.5cm.