Last casts of the Wimbleball season

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It always seems difficult to fit in enough time for fishing trips so with the season at Wimbleball drawing to a close I was keen to have one last trip at this rejuvenated water. The last two years have seen this large reservoir return to form after a sterling effort by Mark and Trudi Underhill and their team. Regular stocking of full finned hard fighting rainbows has ensured that a building number of Fly Fishing enthusiasts are visiting the lake.

It seemed a good idea to visit the lake on the last day of the 2019 season on Saturday, November 30th. I contacted my good friend and Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pierce to see if he fancied joining me. He too was keen so we agreed to meet up at 9.00am and take out a boat giving the freedom to explore a larger area than bank fishing.

I am not so sure either of us thought it was such a good idea when we set out at dawn with a bitter east wind and a forecast of temperatures of 5 degrees C. it was certainly a bitterly cold late November day with slate grey skies and a cutting Easterly wind that anglers dread. We have all heard that old saying, “ when the wind is in the East the fish bite the least”.

The only way we were going to enjoy today was to make sure we would keep warm. I had togged up with my full Chillcheater thermals, with a fleece trouser and top. On top of this I wore leggings and a Chillcheater waterproof smock. So suitably wrapped up we climbed onboard the boat and steamed out onto the cold expanse of water.

There were several other anglers braving the elements on the bank all fishing in the Bessom and Rugg’s area of the lake. This area gave some shelter from the wind and had been producing plenty of rainbows in recent weeks.

We both opted to start using sinking lines and a team of flies. Typically, a lure on the point a small imitative pattern on the middle dropper and blob on the top dropper. This was a combination I was to stick with all day.

We dropped anchor and extended our lines searching for fish in keen anticipation. It was great to be out despite the chill conditions and we chatted enthusiastically about past and future fishing forays.

After half an hour neither of us had so much as a pull and decided to make a move. On arrival at our new destination Jeff spotted a fish rise which gave some optimism. I heard a curse from Jeff  who had just cast out letting the line sink as he retrieved a drink from his tackle bag. The rod tip had surged over, loose line zipping tight. A momentary connection followed before the fish shook itself free from the barbless hook. A few minutes later Jeff saw another rise and cast hopefully immediately connecting with a hard fighting rainbow that had seized a tiny diawl bach as the flies hit the water. The rainbow would have weighed around 3lb and was carefully released at the side of the boat.

We fished on in this spot for a while before moving again and again in search of elusive trout. We saw that the bank anglers were enjoying some success with their rods bent and reels screaming in protest. To our surprise they seemed to be catching on floating lines despite the conditions.

Jeff worked hard as always changing his lines from sinking to intermediate and to a full floater. I persisted with the sinking line approach believing that most fish would be down deep. What I did do was change the tip fly on a regular basis and vary my retrieve. Slow and steady, fast and erratic. Sometimes letting the line sink deep and on other casts commencing the retrieve as soon as the fly hit the water.

Eventually the line zipped delightfully tight as something hit a damsel nymph beneath the boat. The fish fought deep swimming in circles with no long fast runs. To our surprise it was beautiful spotted brown trout  of round 2lb that appeared at the surface.

Jeff grabbed a quick picture of the fish at the side of boat and I let the out of season fish swim away into the chill water.

It was now early afternoon and we fished on relishing the challenge buoyed by some success. We both agreed that we looked forward to a return in the spring as swallows swooped low over the water, buds were breaking on the trees and trout were lazily sipping buzzers from warm waters caressed by a gentle breeze. Despite thoughts of spring and summer there is still something beguiling about this bleak winter landscape.

We continued to make regular moves hoping to locate a pod of fish. Once again my line pulled tight and another fine brown trout was brought to the side of the boat.

We watched the bank anglers continuing to enjoy some success which spurred us on to fish ever harder expectant of action with every cast. Jeff had several pulls that he failed to convert.

When my line again drew tight I was convinced I had hooked a big rainbow. The rod took on an alarming curve and line was ripped from the reel. For a minute or so the fish had the better of me causing a few anxious moments as it threatened to take the line around the anchor rope. Relishing the battle I piled on the pressure hoping Jeff would capture the bent rod as the fish tested my tackle. It was undoubtedly a very good fish as we caught a glimpse of its flanks in the clear cold water. Eventually the pressure told and a beautiful brown trout that must have been closer to five pounds than four broke the surface. The fish was drawn into Jeff’s rubber meshed net and carefully unhooked before a quick picture above the water. A stunning fish that would make this a day to remember.

We fished on for another hour moving a few more times but my arm was starting to ache. I suggested to Jeff that another ten minutes would do for me and I don’t think he was too disappointed at my suggestion. It was after all close to 4.00pm by the time we had moored the boat back at the launch pontoon.

We vowed to return in the spring at the start of a new season. It promises to be a good one if this season is anything to go by.

Hooked on Lure Fishing – By Dominic Garnett & Andy Mytton

Lure fishing is I believe one of the biggest growth areas in angling with an increasing number of recruits. I guess lure fishing fits well with modern life allowing short sessions with minimal tackle enabling anyone to get their fishy fix.

The latest Lure Fishing book from Dominic Garnett and Andy Mytton is a comprehensive and informative guide to modern lure fishing tactics. I grew up in a generation that had a very narrow view of lure fishing with just a handful of predatory species targeted by most anglers. The introduction of LRF fishing and species fishing has totally transformed the lure fishing world as is illustrated throughout this fascinating tome.

The emphasis throughout the book is fishing for fun. The quest for big is not high on the agenda it’s all about the catching and the variety of species. From saltwater rockpools and blennies, ‘ minnows in brook’s right up to pike, bass and salmon.

The book is well illustrated throughout with some stunning underwater images from Jack Perks. Tactics, tackle, rigs, lures, watercraft, habitat is all crammed into over 200 pages along with a few tales to inspire and illustrate how it all fits together.

This is a must read for lure anglers whatever their experience as it is packed with tips and new angles. I am sure it will be one of those books that is frequently dipped into for inspiration on the eve of lure fishing trips. The only downside is that it will fuel that dreaded temptation to add to the ever increasing box of must have lures!

Definitely one for the Christmas List !

An Evening with Chris Yates

In 1986 I remember eagerly collecting my copy of the book ‘Casting at the Sun’ by Christopher Yates. I read the book enthralled  from cover to cover as it described angling adventures on mystical lakes where great carp glided through mysterious waters. In my view the book is the best piece of angling literature ever written encompassing much of anglings true essence.

Thirty odd years later Pauline and I set off to listen to a talk by Chris at Pentridge Village hall in Wiltshire.

We left our farmhouse B & B on a  wet and misty evening in late November driving through tree lined rural village lanes. On such an evening the sat nav was a welcome guide to our destination. As we entered the village of Pentridge we were guided by signs to Chris Yates that eventually brought us to a chaotic assembly of randomly parked cars.

We entered the village hall that was packed with an audience predominated by men. It was pleasing to see a wide mix of ages with several younger faces smiling enthusiastically as they chatted, swapping tales of a predominantly piscatorial nature. The hall proved the perfect venue with its high ceiling and timeless décor that would I imagine have changed little in recent decades unlike many village halls that have been modernised and sanitised.

This was the third evening talk featuring Chris with each event selling out and raising substantial funds to assist in cancer research. Anglers had travelled from far and wide to listen to the talk with visitors from the Netherlands, South Wales and North Yorkshire to name a few.  What entices people to travel so far on a cold wet November night?

Chris arrived receiving a warm welcome from the packed hall and chatted warmly to all signing books and other paraphernalia. Winners of an auction to spend a day fishing with Chris were given special certificates and raffle prizes were announced as those present dug deep into their wallets in the hope of winning a valuable prize.

The event organiser Neil Martin introduced Chris to the audience who immediately adopted a hushed tone of anticipation. And so, the talk began with Chris announcing that he was not sure where the talk would lead. Starting off with his latest passion for marsh harriers Chris delivered a mesmerising talk that flowed easily reminiscing about fishing in rivers and lakes whilst weaving in fascinating stories of ghosts, lost friends and other adventures. The core essence of Chris’s delivery was one of fun, humour and a connection with the natural world.

After a lengthy break with more book signing it was time for the raffle draw with some stunning and memorable prizes on offer. I was delighted to win a Lucky Crucian carp float donated by Chris. A treasured memento of a special night.

The raffle was followed by a fascinating question and answer session between Chris and the audience covering more fishy tales, tactics and ghostly goings on.

And so, the evening drew to a close and we set off into the night our minds swimming with fish and countryside visions. Mr Yates is certainly an antidote to the negativity of this modern world.

Below – My recent book ” I Caught A Glimpse” Is available from – https://thelittleegretpress.co.uk

WAITING WATCHING

posted in: Articles, Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

It was the first really cold night of the season and our breath hung misty in the still air as we waited beside the calm waters of the Bristol Channel. The lights of welsh towns and villages shone brightly across the water and in the sky above stars shone brightly in a vast cosmic vista.

The throbbing of a boats engine carried far across the sea as it moved up channel to offload its cargo. Occasionally the rod tips nodded as a dogfish or small eel toyed with the baits anchored out within that mysterious dimension.

The amber fiery glow of the steel works of Port Talbot had illuminated the sky earlier in the evening but later as we contemplated heading for home another glowing ember caught our attention.

A red apparition was slowly materializing above Cardiff to the North East. We speculated on its source as it slowly grew in size growing ever redder as it rose from the land. After ten minutes its crescent shape materialized as the moon climbed slowly, red fading to amber and then to silver. The moonlight painting a swathe of light across the swirling waters of the Bristol Channel as the tide began to ebb.

We slowly packed away our tackle fingers stinging in the frosty air. We trudged back to the van thinking of a warm bed and a good nights sleep. On arriving home I found the lawn glistening with a layer of frost. Owls hooted in the nearby woods.

I am often asked why we go fishing especially on cold winter nights when you often catch nothing.  And It’s not easy to answer but sometimes it’s just good to be there waiting watching the world.

http://www.chillcheater.com

INVASIVE SPECIES – FREE WORKSHOPS

An opportunity to learn more about the complex world of invasive species and how we a s anglers can help stop the spread and identify issues.

South West Lakes Trust and South West Water invite you to a free workshop to find out more about biosecurity, invasive non-native species and discuss what we can all do to help prevent their spread. There are five workshops covering our region and bookings are now being taken through our events page. https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/events

Presentations will focus on some of the key issues of invasive non-native species and the most current and effective biosecurity methods. Workshop sessions will provide an opportunity for us to discuss the best options for biosecurity facilities at our lakes so we can help protect them and our sports.

These are free events for anyone who uses our lakes for sport or recreation. Complimentary hot and cold drinks and supper will be provided.

Please feel free to pass this invitation on to friends and colleagues who may be interested.

The events are organised by South West Lakes Trust and South West Water and are supported by Angling Trust and Nicky Green Associates. Booking is essential. We look forward to welcoming you.

South West Water and South West Lakes Trust invite you to Brompton Regis Village Hall to find out more about biosecurity, invasive non-native species and discuss what we can all do to help prevent their spread.

Presentations will focus on some of the key issues of invasive non-native species and the most current and effective biosecurity methods. Workshop session will provide an opportunity for us to discuss the best options for biosecurity facilities at our lakes so we can help protect them and our sports.

This is a free event for anyone who uses our lakes for sport or recreation. Complimentary hot/cold drinks and pasties will be served from 6- 6.30pm.

Please click here to see the programme, and click the button below to book your place (please inform us of any dietary requirements when booking).

Please feel welcome to pass this invitation on to friends and colleagues who may be interested.

This event is organised by South West Lakes Trust and South West Water and is supported by Angling Trust and Nicky Green Associates.

Invasive Species and Biosecurity Workshop

Monday 25th November, 6pm – 8.30pm, Brompton Regis Village Hall, 8 Brompton Meadows, Brompton Regis, Dulverton TA22 9PD

Workshop Programme

6.00 – 6.30pm Registration, hot and cold drinks and pasties will be provided

6.30 – 6.45pm Welcome and introduction – Kate Hills, Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, South West Water

 What are invasive species, the problems they cause, what SWW and SWLT are doing about Invasive Non Native Species (INNS).

6.45 – 7.00pm Signal crayfish: origins, pathways to introduction and biosecurity risks – Nicky Green, Crayfish Specialist, Nicky Green Associates

 Crayfish ecology, management and research – what we know about signal crayfish in the South West, legislation and what can we do about them.

7.00 – 7.15pm Invasive species: their impacts on fishing and how anglers can help to stop their spread – Dr. Emily Smith, Environment Manager,

Angling Trust

  •   A summary of some of the main impacts of INNS on fishing in the UK.
  •   Negative impacts on native fish populations in the UK – direct predation on fish

    eggs/juveniles, competition with native fish for food/shelter, invasive plants

    blanketing waterways, reducing oxygen level and preventing access to fishing swims.

  •   Easy measures anglers can adopt to reduce the threat of INNS being spread into

    their fisheries and other waterways.

    7.15 – 7.30pm AQUA Biosecurity Accreditation Scheme – Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer, South West Lakes Trust

  •   An update on the AQUA Scheme at SWLT lakes.
  •   Current best practice biosecurity advice and methods to help protect our lakes.

    7.30 – 7.40pm Comfort Break

    7.40 – 8.20pm Workshop session

 Group discussions on the potential for biosecurity facilities at our sites and our most

likely options to help prevent the spread of INNS. 8.20 – 8.30pm Closing summary

FREE Invasive Species and Biosecurity Workshop

Tuesday 19th November, 6pm – 8.30pm, Roadford Lake, Broadwoodwidger, Lifton, Devon. PL16 0RL

Workshop Programme

6.00 – 6.30pm Registration, hot and cold drinks and pasties will be provided

6.30 – 6.45pm Welcome and introduction – Kate Hills, Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, South West Water

 What are invasive species, the problems they cause, what SWW and SWLT are doing about Invasive Non Native Species (INNS).

6.45 – 7.00pm Signal crayfish: origins, pathways to introduction and biosecurity risks – Nicky Green, Crayfish Specialist, Nicky Green Associates

 Crayfish ecology, management and research – what we know about signal crayfish in the South West, legislation and what can we do about them.

7.00 – 7.15pm Invasive species: their impacts on fishing and how anglers can help to stop their spread – Dr. Emily Smith, Environment Manager,

Angling Trust

  •   A summary of some of the main impacts of INNS on fishing in the UK.
  •   Negative impacts on native fish populations in the UK – direct predation on fish

    eggs/juveniles, competition with native fish for food/shelter, invasive plants

    blanketing waterways reducing oxygen level and preventing access to fishing swims.

  •   Easy measures anglers can adopt to reduce the threat of INNS being spread into

    their fisheries and other waterways.

    7.15 – 7.30pm AQUA Biosecurity Accreditation Scheme – Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer, South West Lakes Trust

  •   An update on the AQUA Scheme at SWLT lakes
  •   Current best practice biosecurity advice and methods to help protect our lakes.

    7.30 – 7.40pm Comfort Break

    7.40 – 8.20pm Workshop session

 Group discussions on the potential for biosecurity facilities at our sites and our most

likely options to help prevent the spread of INNS. 8.20 – 8.30pm Closing summary

IMAGES FROM THE MINDS EYE – LOOKING BACK

The minds eye stores many thousands of images some of which lie dormant whilst others linger on the surface never fading completely. As a teenager I fished from the Banjo Pier at Looe in Cornwall a place I have revisited on numerous occasions since those formative angling days in the early to mid seventies. Strange how certain things stick in the mind, I just checked out the year Carl Douglas released Kung Fu Fighting. For some reason I remember this playing in the amusement arcade in Looe all those years ago in 1974. I was thirteen and by then fishing at Looe with the local lads. ( I never actually liked the song but it stuck in the mind!)

My father had introduced me to sea angling during our annual holiday to Looe which almost always fell during the last week of September and first week of October. Then as now fishing was prohibited from the Banjo until October 1st. prior to 1974 I had fished with my parents and it was garfish, mackerel and Pollock that would drag a brightly coloured sea float beneath the surface. The garfish would toy with the bait causing the float to dither before sliding beneath the surface or lying flat as the garfish swam up with the bait. I probably caught my first fish from Looe when I was seven or eight.

Those childhood and teenage days are long gone, the essence of those days remain etched in that marvelous minds eye. Strange to say that whilst I have revisited the Banjo on many occasions with Pauline watching the ebbing and flowing of the tide, the coming and going of boats and the vast seascape I had not taken a rod in hand at the venue since my last holiday with my parents back in around 1976/7. This was I guess partially due to timing as it was generally out of bounds due to it being summertime.

I remember clearly how I had fished for grey mullet on the ebbing tide in the eddy formed as the estuary meets the open sea beside the old banjo. When discussing a trip to Looe with the Combe Martin Sea Angling Club where better to fish for mullet than my old haunt? My connection with Looe had resulted in a long-term friendship on Facebook with fellow angler Matt Pengelly.  Matt is a fanatical sea angler who has fished Looe all his life. I have exchanged stories of Looe with Matt on many occasions and over the years he has freely shared a vast amount of information to which I owe him a big thank you.

As regards to the Looe mullet Matt confirmed my thoughts in that several generations of mullet later little has changed. Hence close to fifty years after catching my first sea fish I find myself on the banjo pier rod in hand along with our son James and five other members of the CMSAC mulleteers.

Quiver tips and floats are employed and mullet are caught up to around three pound.

I drop my orange tipped float into the ebbing flow. After drifting a few yards it dips slowly beneath those familiar clear waters. I lift the rod in expectation and feel a familiar gyrating motion transmitted through the line. I swing the garfish up into my hand, “Look a swordfish”, cries out a young child.  I remember such comments being made all those years ago. The green scales stick to my hands and that distinctive small of fresh garfish triggers childhood memories.

I chat with Matt who has joined us on the Banjo for a while and he tells me of plans to redevelop Looe and its Harbour. I am saddened to hear of these plans to bring prosperity to this old Cornish town. The pleasures of Looe are simple and special and locked in my minds eye and I am sure in many others who have trod a similar path.

Looking back, I have a wealth of memories relating to fishing and the places it has taken me to. I also have memories of Ilfracombe when it had a pier and how the removal of that pier has contributed to the loss of a community. I Remember how on cold winter nights we would gather on the pier safe above surging waters; ever hopeful. Sadly I feel the essence of angling holds no tangible value to planners and councilors. The social benefits are overlooked in the search for marinas and visions of splendor.

Where lies the value in a garfish and a disappearing float?

http://www.redgill.co.uk

Tackle Shops Essential for the Angling Community

Many thanks to the Summerlands Team for welcoming me into their treasure trove of fishing tackle to promote my book “I Caught A Glimpse”. It was an enjoyable couple of hours spent chatting with local anglers and reminded me of the importance of tackle shops in maintaining angling rich community.

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – BOOK LAUNCH

(Above) Image – Courtesy of Tony Gussin

After what seems like a long journey my book ” I Caught A Glimpse” has finally been published and I am delighted with the end result. The launch day at Blakewell Fishery proved to be an enjoyable event with a good number of local anglers attending to meet with publisher Wayne Cryer from the Little Egret Press and myself. The lush water gardens, pools of swirling trout and tea rooms bathed in bright sunshine proved the perfect setting. There was a steady stream of anglers arriving throughout the event and it was pleasing to see generations of North Devon Anglers mingling and reminiscing with several old friends reunited.

The book will be judged by its readers so I await feed back confident that I have produced a worthwhile tome. There is of course far more that I could have written about and this becomes increasingly obvious as I talk further with the anglers of North Devon.

A big thank you to all of those who attended the book launch from both Wayne Cryer and I.

On a hectic day Pauline and I then attended the Annual River Torridge Dinner at the Half Moon Inn. After a wonderful meal with members of the Association I was pleased to sign a few more copies of “I Caught A  Glimpse”. Special thanks must go to Charles Inniss who wrote a foreword to the book and promoted the book enthusiastically to the Torridge Fishery members.

I must of course give a very big thanks to all who assisted me in writing the book for it was by no means a solo effort and those who helped are acknowledged within the book. Though I have to say I have undoubtedly missed a few.

Volunteer Required – Can you help to enable a gentleman to continue his fishing passion?

I received an enquiry from Samantha Mathews who works for Valorum Care asking if I knew of anyone who could help a gentlemen to prolong his angling experiences. I know from my interviews with several senior anglers that the passion for angling is still there years after they are forced to leave the waters edge. I am sure that the below opportunity would be very rewarding.

Volunteer Required – Can you help to enable a gentleman to continue his fishing passion?

We are looking for a person, or people, to help a gentleman continue his passion for angling. He loves to spend hours fishing and returning the fish to its environment.  Due to physical disability he cannot do this without company and support.  He would love the opportunity to spend time outdoors with like-minded people.  You would ideally need to be a driver willing to drive one of our Valorum Foundation vehicles – for which we would give you training.  We would also give training in how to support a wheelchair user and any other areas you feel useful.

We are based in Braunton but could reimburse your fuel costs to us.  If this sounds like something you could do or would like to ask any questions please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sam Mathews on [email protected] or telephone 01271 815915

It would be fantastic if you could place an advert for Francois.  I’m running ideas around with regards to the social meeting idea as well so please feel free to pass my details on to anybody who you think may be interested.

UNLOCKING ROADFORD’S SECRETS

South West Lakes Trust have been running a month long trial at the 700 acre Roadford Reservoir to ascertain its perch fishing potential. During August boats have been available for anglers to target the venues perch using lure fishing tactics. The venue is normally fly only with brown trout the target.

Previous trials have enabled anglers to catch perch to over three pounds with good numbers of fish over 2lb. Fly anglers targeting the lakes brown trout sometimes get frustrated with the huge numbers of small perch present. These small perch undoubtedly provide food for the larger perch and big trout.

The opportunity to explore this potential was too good an opportunity to miss. So when my long time angling friend Bruce Elstone invited me to share a boat with him I jumped at the chance.

Bank Holiday Monday saw us arrive at the Lake as the early morning mist began to clear. The forecast was for a hot sunny day, far from ideal conditions to target the venues perch. But with only a limited time at hand we could not choose our day.

We set off to explore targeting fish in the bays. The low level of the lake revealed the skeletal remains of the many trees that had been drowned in the flooding  of the valley years before.

I started off using a jig headed soft plastic lure on the point and a small drop shot pattern a couple of feet above. Within minutes I was catching small perch almost every cast. Bruce searched the bay with a  spinner but to our surprise failed to tempt the small perch.

Bruce changed tactics using a slow jig pattern that flickered tantalizingly as it was worked beneath the boat. This worked well and Bruce was soon catching the small perch in good numbers. Having caught plenty of small perch we now hoped for that bigger fish and eventually Bruce’s rod took on a more pleasing curve. After a short tussle the pleasing sight of a big perch materialised beside the boat where it was safely netted. At 2lb 4oz it was a good start to the day. Minutes later it was my turn as a fish of 1lb 14oz seized my dropshot lure.

The hot sun beat down on the calm lake as sailing yachts attempted to find the breeze. Bruce successfully tempted several more decent perch using the slow jig patterns while I struggled to catch further bigger perch. Frequent changes of lure pattern brought frustratingly little success to my rod.

As the day progressed we listened intently as the Ashes Test Match progressed with victory for England seeming increasingly unlikely.

Mid-afternoon and we decided to head to the café for refreshment. The Test Match continued with England down to just one wicket. Half an hour later as we headed to the lake the cricket continued and our focus turned increasingly to the drama of the Test match.

We fished in the bay dropping our lures in search of perch whilst listening intently to the unfolding drama of the Test Match. When Ben Stokes hit the winning runs we both shouted out across the lake in unison to celebrate an unlikely victory for England. Moments later Bruce’s rod bent as a large weight tugged at the end of the line. Instead of a monster perch up came a brace of two pounders, one on the slow jig and one to the drop shot lure!

Does life get much better ?

We searched the lake for more perch as the evening approached. With little success we returned to  the bay where we had enjoyed success earlier in the day. As the light faded Bruce hooked a very large fish on a small plug that came off after a few moments. We were convinced that this would have been the biggest fish of the day. The next half hour proved frustrating as perch hit the lures without getting hooked. Judging by the swirls and heavy thumps on the rod these were big fish.

Hopefully there will be further trials and if there are we will be back in search of the big specimen perch that undoubtedly lurk within this vast water. Strangely we caught no trout on lures reinforcing my believe that the fly is often a far more productive method for tempting trout.