Wistlandpound Reservoir is just up the road from where I live and is an ideal spot to combine a summer evening  walk with a few casts here and there. It was ideal that Pauline could join me and capture a few images of the scene and hopefully a fish or two. Despite being on my doorstep I haven’t visited as often as I had planned even though I did tempt some stunning wild brown trout earlier in the season.

            Mid-August fishing can be a struggle so my expectations were not high so my target for the evening would be to tempt a golden flanked rudd or two. These beautiful fish are considered a nuisance by some but I see them as a pleasing diversion from the trout. I have glimpsed rudd of over a pound and would love to catch one of these larger specimens.

            I had grabbed an old split cane Scottie Fly Rod that was already set up with a PTN on the point and black spider on a dropper. There is perhaps something organic and tactile about split cane and this rod could undoubtedly tell a tale or two and has a slightly poignant history.

            I bought the rod from a friend at work who had picked it up at a car boot sale at Torrington. He wasn’t really an angler but had started to take a bit of an interest and we planned to take rods to the River Torridge and cast a line for trout. He was going to retire at some point in the near future and would have time to indulge in a new hobby expanding upon his love for family time, playing golf and tinkering with his sports car.

            At the Roadford Fly Fair we met up with a friend and got chatting about life and fishing. How’s it going we asked to be told rather awkwardly that this would be his last Fly-fair as he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. A bit of a conversation stifler but we stumbled on and somehow got talking about fishing rods. It turned out he had sold his old Scottie Fly Rod at a car boot sale at Torrington.

            Later that year I attended my work colleague’s funeral. He had retired after  being diagnosed with cancer. We never did get to cast a line on the Torridge so on the odd occasion when I take out the old Scottie I cannot help but have a cast for my lost friends who had shared ownership of the old Scottie.

            The sun was slowly sinking as we walked to the reservoir and there was barely a breath of wind. Reflections of trees, evening light, the occasional trout rise dimpling the surface and vapour trails decorating the cloud free evening sky.

            We stopped at the first area of open bank and I extended a line upon the calm water. It took a while to adjust to the need to cast slower with the cane rod and I ended up spending a few moments untangling my fine leader. As is often the case other areas of the lake called and we ambled on chatting and absorbing the embers of the fading summer day.

            We ended up on the far shoreline where I had caught a good brown trout earlier in the season. I waded out and suggested that Pauline capture a few images of me fishing out the fading day.

            Tantalisingly beyond casting range the surface was broken as a large shoal of fish feasted upon something, a hatch of fly perhaps? Large numbers of martins swooped above the water a sure indication that flies were indeed hatching. I flicked a fly  yards from bushes that stretched out into the lake, paused and began a slow retrieve, the line tightened. A rudd was guided to my hand and lifted from the water its flanks glowing a burnished bronze and silver in the fading light.

            After a quick picture the fish was slipped back. I cast again to be rewarded with a slightly bigger rudd.

A pleasing end to the day etching out another memory I remembered those immortal lines that feature in the books written by the late countryside writer BB.

The Wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights, and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.



Recent rainfall has rejuvenated North Devon’s Rivers and the countryside bringing a lush green to the landscapes. I have reported several salmon caught from the Taw and Torridge over recent days and was delighted to make connection with a special fish myself, more of that later. On leaving the River I was delighted to receive a message from Paul Carter who had just netted a fine fresh run silver salmon from the Middle Taw estimated at 15lb.

The guys from Shady River Fishing have been enjoying some excellent fishing higher up the River catchments targeting wild brown trout. Euro Nymphing tactics producing some stunning fish in the high water conditions. The pick of recent catches being this stunning wild brown of 14” that was estimated at 2lb.

Visit ‘shady river fishing’ on Instagram.

The middle Torridge was looking close to perfect when I arrived for a morning session. Peering into the river I could easily make out the stones at a depth of 18”, the water was the colour of the finest ale. The water glistened in the morning sun and I admired a large silver wash fritillary butterfly as it settled upon bankside grass. I paused for a minute or two sitting on the bench as the river flowed past. A  juvenile buzzard mewed above a sound synonymous with August and the passing of summer.

I waded into the cool water and grimaced as I felt a leak in my waders. I put a line out across the river allowing the fly to drift across the flow searching for the increasingly illusive Atlantic salmon. It was good to be here following the familiar pattern of casting, drifting and stepping down through the pool.

At the point where I knew salmon had taken my fly in the past I felt a strong pull and lifted the rod tightening into a fish for just a few seconds. A chance gone perhaps? The margins between success and failure are often small. I analysed my response to the take, had I lifted into the fish too quickly? It is good practice to allow a little slack to allow the salmon to turn down with the fly but in all honesty the delectable moment of the take is so fleeting. In truth most of the salmon I have caught have hooked themselves or at least I have difficulty in actually visualising that fleeting moment of deception and connection.

I fished on searching the river and its known lies. It has been a little disheartening so far this season to drift the fly over the lies time and time again. Fishing the river in conditions like this even ten years ago I feel certain I would at least have seen a fish jump.

Despite the lack of success and ongoing concern regarding salmon and sea trout stocks I have stubbornly retained a sense of expectation as I fish, whilst there are still salmon to be caught hope springs eternal.

The river and its surroundings have a feel of late summer, early autumn. The invasive Himalayan Balsam are sadly flourishing their pretty pink flowers attracting bees and butterflies. Vivid blue damsel flies flutter amongst the riverside vegetation. Pin head fry flit to and fro in the river’s margins.

After fishing the top of the beat I fish back down searching the water heading for my final casts of the day in the bottom pool.

I wade out into the river once again still hoping almost expectant as this pool has provided many of the salmon I have caught from the Torridge over the years. As I proceed slowly down the pool I hear the piercing call of a kingfisher and glimpse the electric blue as the bird flashes down river. My optimistic heart views this as a good omen.

As I reach the bottom of the pool the line swings round in the current. The line zips delightfully tight and the water twenty yards below erupts as a fish  leaps high above the river gyrating at the lines end. The rod hoops over and the fish heads downriver as I relish the moments of drama. For a few minutes salmo-salar dictates making several strong runs and leaping several times. There are a few anxious moments as the fish lunges near  to branches on the far bank. Pressure eventually starts to sap the salmon’s energy and I coax the fish up river. The fish holds station in mid river and I slip the net ready to secure my prize. There are tense moments as line is gained and lost at close quarters. I pile on the pressure and the salmon rolls into the net. I wade up to the reed fringed bank above and take a moment to admire my prize. The salmon its flanks decorated in autumn hues signifies that it has been in the river for a while. I slip the barbless hook from its jaw and take a quick couple of pictures with the salmon in the net. I then carefully slide the fish into the river cradling the fish in the current  lifting its head momentarily to capture an image. The fish is strong and kicks its tail as I support it. I watch satisfied as the precious fish swims into the ale coloured water to hopefully fulfil its destiny on the spawning redds later in the winter months.


I recieved an email from a reader of North Devon Angling News and have published it here with my reply. Darren’s email mirrors many of my own observations and thoughts on the River and its decline. Many thanks to Darren for giving me permission to publish along with my reply.

Hi Wayne,

I chanced upon the NDAN website and indeed your book “I  Caught a Glimpse” this year –  excellent reading and nice to see a website so regularly updated.


Both from reading your book and old articles on the website it’s interesting to see the change in target species over the last few decades. We read about the reasons put forward and they seem to be many and varied. It set my mind running on a couple of points of local relevance.

The East Lyn is indeed a beautiful river and, although I wasn’t lucky enough to experience it,  I’m sure it’s days of plenty live long in the memories of those who did. But why the drastic decline – with the salmon run a shadow of its former glory and I doubt it’s fished much at all for sea trout nowadays. You wonder what the culprits are.  We can’t blame fish farming – the Severn is mercifully free from that industry which seems to have blighted the west coast of Scotland. The twin evils of pollution from farms (pesticide and fertilisers) and sewage discharge from treatment plants can’t be an important factor in that catchment can they ?  The brown trout population seems to be relatively healthy so the environment for parr developing to the smolt stage would seem to be good. I’m my limited walks along the river and along the coast looking out to sea I don’t see the preponderance of fishing eating birds and seals I’ve seen elsewhere.   

If I’m right in that unscientific guesswork it makes you wonder what’s going on out at sea. I suppose the salmon could be caught in large numbers at or en route back from their feeding grounds (like they used to be with drift nets on my native river Foyle).  But surely not the sea trout which, as I understand it, doesn’t  travel large distances and feeds around the coast. I’ve no doubt the bait fish such as sandeels, whitebait, etc. are hoovered up in huge quantities which could affect dependant species (although the bass seem to get by).    

You do wonder if rising sea temperatures have had a pernicious impact.  The reports of cod and whiting seem to have been replaced by smooth hound, bull huss and black bream but I wonder if it’s had am impact upon some part of the life cycle of the migratory fish as well.  

Something else that seems unusual to me is the differing behaviour of sea trout in the estuaries. I cut my teeth in the mid eighties catching sea trout with frozen sandeels freelined in the ebbing and flowing tides in the narrow points of estuaries on the Donegal coast.  The great times on that have gone now but its still worth a throw. What I wonder about is why sea trout were not caught more regularly  on bait and lures in the estuaries of sea trout rivers such as the Teign and the Taw. I’ve fished those estuaries quite a few times over the last 25 years but haven’t seen a sea trout taken. I can’t work out why.    Perhaps you’ve seen many caught.  

Anyway – I just thought I’d drop you an e-mail to congratulate you on the book and thank you for the helpful website. My head scratching re the East Lyn and seatrout behaviour at just thrown out there in case you happen to know the  definite answer !

All the Best


The Lyn facing drought conditions in the summer of 2022

Hi Darren,

                        Thank you for your email it is really good to get positive feedback regarding my book and the website.

Would you mind if I publish your email on North Devon Angling News with my own thoughts as set out below.

                        As regards the East Lyn many of your comments mirror my own thoughts.

                        There has undoubtedly been a dramatic decline in salmon and sea trout runs on the East Lyn and the vast majority of West Country Rivers.

                        I have witnessed the decline on the Lyn first hand and it has to be appreciated that the decline that I have seen is based upon just over forty years and that my own baseline would have been much depleted in comparison to an angler who had seen the fish that ran the river forty years prior to that.

                        The facts on the Lyn and other rivers are to some extent blurred by a reduction in angling since the introduction of catch and release. In the days of prolific salmon runs there were also large numbers of anglers fishing the river.  The angling community that once fished the Lyn came from far and wide when conditions were right and I met many anglers on the river who had commuted from London and other areas. These were familiar faces who joined the locals on the river bank jostling for the best spots. I often walk the river and now I seldom see a salmon angler even when conditions are good. Last week I spotted a good fish of 9lb plus resting in Overflow pool and feel sure there would have been other fish present.

                                    Like you I do not believe the River Lyn has significant issues regarding pollution, Water Quality or indeed salmon farming.

The abundance of wild brown trout are testimony to the River Lyn’s water quality.


It is likely that the most serious issue is loss at sea. These factors could relate to the marine eco systems that are in turmoil as a result of climate change, overfishing and an imbalance in predation.

            Climate change also impacts upon the spawning of salmon and survival with many scientists predicting that water temperature will be too high for salmonoid species to successfully spawn within the next forty years. Others predict the virtual extinction of salmon within the next twenty years.

                                    One regular angler on the river tells me that otters are decimating the remaining salmon stocks on the Lyn and I have heard of many otter sightings on the river. During drought conditions there are often seals around the river mouth feasting upon salmon, bass and mullet. The juvenile salmon ( smolts) are also heavily predated upon by cormorants that lurk in the river mouth particularly during the spring months.

                                    Another major factor that impacted massively on salmon numbers was UDN during the 1960, 70s and 80s. There was also a recent outbreak of disease that resulted in a large loss of spring run fish.

            The reasons for the decline in salmon stocks are undoubtedly complex and I see little reason for optimism though nature has a habit of bouncing back if given a chance. Everything we can do might help, reporting pollution, working with River Trusts and highlighting the decline of an iconic species. It is tragic that the salmon stocks on the Lyn were once so prolific that they could be harvested by anglers and via the salmon trap at the mouth of the river. For many years stocks seemed to be abundant and seemed to bounce back from UDN and natural weather patterns etc.

Across the natural world there has been a catastrophic decline and salmon are just another indicator that all is not well with our world.

            As regards to sea trout I have never understood why they are not caught on a regular basis in West Country estuaries. They are as you say caught in Scotland, Ireland, the Hebrides and across Sweden etc.

                                    Best Regards,


The sad remains of a salmon at the River mouth during the hot summer of 2022

Later this Autumn Medlar press are publishing a book that promises to deliver more information and thoughts on the history of Exmoors Rivers.



The old guy said,

I remember when the salmon poured into the pools, 

Packed like sardines you could have walked across their backs,  (1983) 

I remember when some anglers caught one hundred salmon in a  season,  (2003) 

It’s been a better season we caught forty from the river last year,  (2023) 

I remember when there were salmon in the river,     (2043)                                                                                                  

I remember being told there were once salmon in this river,  (2063)


Ask many sea anglers which is their favourite species and my guess would be that many would answer bass. This would come as no surprise as the species ticks many boxes. Bass certainly look the part with their streamlined bodies silver flanks and defiant spiky fins.

They are also reasonably prolific and can be caught from the warmer waters of the South West throughout the year. Their biggest attribute is perhaps the fact that they can be caught using a wide range of tactics that suit different angling approaches.

            Bass can be caught from a wide range of terrains across the region from deep water rock marks, shallow, rocky beaches, harbours, estuaries and those classic sandy storm beaches. The topography will to a certain extent determine the methods employed to catch bass and of course what is currently on the menu. Bass and all fish will go where the food is so this is ideally where the angler should head choosing bait that matches the hatch.

            My own bass fishing approach is to some extent determined by who I fish with, what method is likely to bring results and what I enjoy most. In recent seasons lure fishing has to some extent been my go to method producing good numbers of fish over shallow rocky shores.

            But to some degree I have always associated bass with shallow sandy surf beaches inspired years ago by the writing of Clive Gammon and others who fished the famous surf beaches of South West Ireland. The evocative picture of a loan angler stood in the surf holding the rod whilst waiting for the electrifying tug of a silver bass hunting in the third breaker.

            Whilst this approach has its appeal the modern angler tends to fish in a lazier yet perhaps more effective way. My good friend Kevin Legge has fished North Devon’s surf beaches for several decades and I always enjoy a session with Kev whose confidence and experience always inspires. Kevin’s approach is in some ways similar to that of the modern carp angler anchoring baits far out in the surf relying upon the large sharp hooks to self-hook the fish against the breakaway lead.

            A brisk westerly breeze was blowing when we arrived at the beach to coincide with a rising tide and the onset of night. A moderate surf was pushing in and at times it surged up the sand making fishing a little difficult. Kev doesn’t relish a surging push like this as it seldom results in good catches. But persistence can pay off in fishing and with a bait in the water you never know what is lurking out in the dark.

            We fished fifty yards or so apart each anchoring two baits out in the surf. I had elected to use joey mackerel on each rod casting out as far as I could and then walking back as the tide flooded until depleting line on the reel forced a recast.

            After a couple of hours Kev wandered over with a smoothound estimated at 8lb and tempted on a squid bait. Apart from this the baits had been untouched throughout.

            The brisk breeze drove spells of rain and drizzle into the beach and I pulled up my hood whilst I watched the rod tips for signs of life. The distant lights of seaside towns and villages flickered from across the bay and ships lights shone from out on the sea. Standing alone on the sands was liberating immersed in the natural world. Bright eyes shone in the headlights beam as a fox approached. Ever resourceful they have learnt that anglers bring bait that makes a tasty meal. For this reason, a tough bait box is essential to repel their efforts to steal from the bags left away from the incoming tide.

            As I removed old bait from the hooks the fox showed little fear and came right up to me despite my initial efforts to drive it away. The fox was certainly persistent and at times sat patiently behind me on the wet sand like a dog waiting for his meal. Eventually I warmed to my companion and allowed him to take the discarded bait each time I reeled in to refresh.

            The best time for bass is often close to high water which was at 01:40am. We decided to call time at around 1:30am and as I watched the rod tips intently a gentle nod of the tip caught my attention. I picked up the rod and felt a slight tug followed by a slight slacking of the line. Another slight tug followed and I suspected a dogfish. I raised the rod and began retrieving not sure if  anything was attached. A few lunges on the line as the tackle was brought into shallow water indicated that a fish was attached. A pleasing silver bass of around 3lb 8oz was dragged across the sand. I despatched the fish, descaled and gutted it as it was a perfect eating size. I return all bass I catch of over 6lb keeping the occasional fish for the table as it is one of my favourite eating fish.

            The larger bass are valuable breeding stock and their flesh is often riddled with worms that although harmless are not very appetising. The minimum size for bass is 42cm though I would return any  bass under 45cm. Anglers are permitted to take no more than two bass per day full guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bass-industry-guidance-2023/bass-fishing-guidance-2023


As I packed away the tackle Kev walked over to show me the smallest ray he had ever caught. A tiny ray that sat in the palm of his hand that had fancied a whole mackerel.

            It had been an enjoyable session made memorable by a visit from a wild fox and by just being there as the tide flooded as we puzzled over the pages of natures never ending script.

Mackerel a true fish of summer

Think back to those formative fishing days as a teenager in North Devon and mackerel would feature high in those fishing memories. Caught on silvery spinners, strips of mackerel fished beneath bright crimson tipped floats or more commonly on strings of feathers launched from the rocks. I remember watching the shoals as they drove scattering silver whitebait from the water as the birds swooped to feast upon the fleeing fish.

I had begun to think that those days of plenty had been consigned to history books but sometimes nature bounces back. I had heard that mackerel were abundant in shoals not witnessed for decades with large shoals showing from Hartland to Porlock.

I headed down to Ilfracombe to enjoy a session after the mackerel and scrambled out onto the rocks amongst the foundations of the old pier. It was good to see the rocks and pier busy with anglers of all ages casting a variety of lures and feathers. News that mackerel were about had brought out the occasional angler in abundance. And whilst I’m not generally keen on fishing amongst crowds I resigned myself to this hustle and bustle of communal angling.

I had brought a spinning rod and a few metal lures to savour each fish taking a few home for tea whilst enjoying the thrill of catching. For the first twenty minutes or so I suspected that I had missed out on the recent abundance. But then I noted a few mackerel starting to show with the twisting and turning fish being swung ashore.

A sharp knock was transmitted through the line and I was in. The mackerel are miniature tuna and fight hard their bodies packed with muscle. As I watched them in the clear water I reflected upon the huge tuna I had seen caught last winter and questioned my sanity in seeking contact with a member of the mackerel family 500 times bigger than the fish at the end of my line.

As the tide flooded I was forced to leave my rocky platform with five mackerel, real jewels of the summer sea. The sun was setting as I put the rods into the car and lines of anglers were still casting from the rocks.

Whilst mackerel can sometimes encourage a less savoury aspect in those who litter or take more fish than required it also brings anglers  of all ages to the shoreline to enjoy those simple pleasures.

During July and August many Ilfracombe Charter boats take holidaymakers on short trips to catch mackerel an experience that can be the introduction to a more serious angling addiction.

Estuaries of Opportunity

Combe Martin SAC member Jamie Steward tempted this fine specimen thin lipped grey mullet of 4lb 14oz whilst using baited spinner tactics.

The Taw and Torridge Estaury offer many miles of accessible angling where light tackle and varied tactics can be employed to tempt a surprisngly wide variety of species. Bass to double figures hunt the estuaries and can be found surprisingly high up on the confluence with freshwater as well as at the estuary mouth.

On  the lower estuary school bass can be seen in a feeding frenzy as they smash into whitebait behind this angler lure fishing on a flooding evening tide.              

Gilthead bream are a more recent visitor to the Taw estaury with specimens tempted as far up as Fremington Quay.  All three species of grey mullet can be found throughout the estuary and can be caught using bait, fly fishing and baited spinners.

Where the estuary meets the sea smoothound to double figures can provide excting tussles as they grab baits often intended for bass or gilthead bream.

( Above) The vast estuary at Fremington Quay offers plenty of scope to explore and use different tactics.

( Above) Mullet will push up into the many creeks along the estuary offering a challenge that few anglers are prepared to accept.

The vast estuary with its many mudbanks, creeks and sandbanks offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers with the chance to glimpse a diverse variety of wildlife. The scene is ever changing as the tides ebb and flow beneath everchanging skies. As autumn approaches flounder enthusiasts will line the banks at popular venues. Codling can often provide a decent meal as the nights pull in during late autumn.


The North Devon Coast has many miles of very varied and spectacular coastline much of it well worth exploring so when James suggested a trip to check out a cove near Ilfracombe I was keen. Lee Bay is a secluded Wooded Valley that descends to a fascinating stretch of coastline intersected by the South West Coast path much of the land in the custodianship of the National Trust.

James had suggested a short trip to explore the coves with a fishing rod perhaps incorporating a swim. We arrived shortly after Low water and walked out along the beach following a fascinating pathway cut into the rocky foreshore.

The path leads to a secluded beach sheltered from the prevailing South Westerly. This was where James intended to take a swim. But before cooling off we ventured beyond the cove through a maze of gulley’s that lead to a rugged rocky foreshore that screamed bass.

We had a few casts but with the tide flooding time was limited and we headed back to the cove where James plunged into the clear waters to cool down.

I stepped out onto the rocks and cast a lure whilst savouring the unfamiliar topography.

I didn’t really expect to catch and joined James on the beach suggesting we head back to Ilfracombe and try for a mackerel as the tide flooded.

Ilfracombe was a contrast to the secret coves of Lee Bay with its bustling harbour and people all around. After catching up with the cricket score we took our lure rods to the rocks near the pier and cast shiny metals into the clear water.

The aqua blues and greens of the sea with white breaking waves against rocky foreshores were exhilarating. We spied vast shoals of sandeel shimmering and shoaling close in against the shoreline. Birds were working out in the tide a sign that mackerel or bass were hunting.

A burst of life upon the water caught my attention and I cast my lure into the general direction. After a couple of casts came that pleasing thump as a mackerel hit the lure. Over the next twenty minutes we added four more mackerel to the tally. Fresh from the sea we looked forward to them lightly grilled or pan fried for tomorrow’s breakfast or dinner.

I was delighted to share the shoreline with James seeing the sea as it should be with abundant fish and prey. A lively moving eco system that can be enjoyed if only we could learn to use it in a sustainable fashion taking only our fair share.

As the tide forced us to retreat again we strolled along the harbour to pick up  delicious burgers and a Katsu box from Paul Lorrimore’s https://www.baysideburgerbar.co.uk/

It would have been nice to savour the food sat on a bench overlooking the harbour but Ilfracombe’s seagulls made us retreat to the safety of the car parked beneath Verity’s towering presence.

            The end of another perfect day in North Devon.



Sometimes it’s good to just go fishing for the day no agendas just a day with a friend catching up. I had not fished at Riverton Fishery for several years and when Gary suggested a day there I was keen to revisit. There are three lakes at the fishery a float fishing lake, Willow Lake and the specimen carp lake that is run on a syndicate basis.


            After a little deliberation we had decided upon Willow Lake a 2.5 Acre lake that was once a match fishing venue. The lake is now described as a pleasure lake with a wide variety of species stocked.

            The lakes have matured well with large trees partially surrounding the venue and plenty of platforms spaced out from which to fish. The only downside to the venue is the constant traffic noise from the link road. Fortunately this is soon forgotten as the vista of lake sky and nature takes the focus away from the buzz of the modern world.

            Gary and I set up in the first two swims on the lake and planned to alternate between float fishing and quiver tipping.

            I started feeding micro pellet and corn just over a rod length out. I set up a waggler float setting the depth so that the bait rested on the lake bed with a small shot 3” inches from the bait. I was fishing with an old centre pin reel loaded with 4lb b.s line simply because it is fun to use. The float sat pleasingly to attention before sliding delightfully out of sight within seconds.

            This set the pattern for the day with sweetcorn and small prawn segments bringing a variety of fish to the net from start to finish. Roach to 8oz, bream close to 4lb, carp on the float to 4lb and a few small perch.

            I catapulted pellets to the island and when I fancied a rest I put out banded pellet on a hair rig. On my first cast  the tip ripped around before I could place the rod in the rest. A hard fighting mirror of around 4lb was the result!

            I alternated between float and tip from midday until we packed away at around 4.30pm. Both methods pleasing in their own right. The delightful and frequent disappearance of the float and the savage dragging round of the quiver tip as the carp hooked themselves.

            We lost count of our catch but certainly had a great day’s sport and vowed to return for a rerun. It’s great to simply share a day at the water.

Wimbleball – Days to be cherished

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held their latest competition at Wimbleball Reservoir where Andre Muxworthy secured first place in difficult conditions boating a brace of rainbow trout totalling 4lb 10oz. I was runner up with  a rainbow of 2lb 6oz. In the hot bright conditions, the trout had gone into the deep water close to the dam and were caught using fast sinking lines.

During the hot days of summer a boat is without doubt the best option on this large reservoir giving the opportunity to search various areas in search of the venues hard fighting rainbow trout and wild brown trout. In the heat of the day deep water is undoubtedly the best place to search with bright lures, blobs and boobys good tactics to employ. In the cooler evenings dry flies and nymphs can work well. Mid June saw some spectacular sport with trout feasting on beetles and mayfly. Whilst the long hot days of summer often prove difficult any day spent afloat on this beautiful water is to be cherished.


Anglers Paradise

Midsummer is a time to savour when the longest day arrives the English countryside is at its luxuriant peak. The foliage is lush and green with an abundance of wild flowers adding both colour and a perfumed aroma to the long days.

         I joined my good friends for a third year targeting  the catfish that lurk within Anglers Eldorado’s Cat and Carp Lake 2. With rumours of fish stocked to over eighty pounds anticipation of harsh battles with giant fish were on the agenda as we plotted our campaign over breakfast at team cat leader’s house. Swims were chosen with a mixture of choice and a random draw that pleased all present hopefully giving everyone the chance to put their baits into a known hotspot.

         We pulled into the car park shortly after 8:00 and started to offload the ridiculous mountain of gear required for a forty eight hour session. Before going to our swims, we took a group picture for the memory files.

Team catfish

         I don’t fish long sessions very often but always relish that anticipation of a couple of days beside the water. The Lakes at Anglers Eldorado day ticket complex have certainly matured since I first visited many years ago. I first looked into the complex whilst driving past when the lakes were still recently dug holes in the ground. At that time characterless waters that I had no desire to fish. The lakes have now matured with nature allowed to weave its magic with the lush green vegetation surrounding the lakes a home to abundant and varied wildlife.

         We all set up in our swims and set about deciding where to cast our traps. Each of us having our own slightly different approach. The basic plan being to put out a bed of baits and pellets to bring catfish into the swim.  Fishing boilies or bunches of worms on carp style bolt rigs.

         It was around 11:00 by the time I had my baits in place close to features on the far bank surrounded by a liberal sprinkling of pellets and boilies. I made a fresh cup of coffee and sat back savouring the hot sun whilst contemplating the prospects of hooking a catfish.

I watched large dragonflies hover and dart above the calm waters, vivid blue damsel flies settled on the rods. A calm anticipation hung in the air as with traps set the wait began.

Set up an waiting, traps set.

         The weather forecast predicted the chance of thunderstorms and heavy showers. And as the afternoon passed dark clouds gathered and rain fell. Later afternoon without warning my righthand rod was away the Delkim bleeping and the bobbin dropping back. I grabbed the rod and lifted into a solid feeling fish. After a good tussle I was pleased to secure a light lemony flanked catfish of just over 15lb. Blank avoided at least.

A 15lb catfish as rain falls

         A short time later Tony fishing to my right was in action banking a good catfish of 32lb 7oz.

         The session proved to be a successful one with Bruce topping the scoreboard at close of play banking half a dozen or more catfish to 41lb. Bruce’s tactics of heavy baiting contributing to his success along with pinpoint accuracy in putting his bait into hotspots.

         John Hughes also enjoyed success with several cats to 27lb 12oz.

Some you win some you lose….
Bruce with with one of several catfish caught during the session

Sometimes you wnder if you want a run?

Another battle commences 

Putting number to the capture…

Not the prettiest but they have  a certain allure and pull very hard.

         I banked two carp a mirror and a common both giving screaming runs on consecutive nights at around the same time in the fading light.

         We had all caught a catfish by the end of the 48 hour session. Several powerful fish escaped along the way adding frustration and increasing the desire for a return trip.

         In the longer term it is perhaps the bigger picture that soaks into life’s rich bank of memories. We fished from June 20th  until June 22nd absorbed in the natural world.

         Hot sunshine, dark clouds, thunder and rain followed by rainbows. The descent of darkness and that wonderful depth of colours and reflections as the day drifts away.

         As the light faded from the long day I was still able to scribble a few notes in my notebook long after 10.00pm. At 11.00pm I lay back and listened to the sounds of the summer night. An unfamiliar evocative call drifted in the night air, an almost out of this world alien sound. I recognized it as the call of the nightjar, a bird that had featured on BBC’s Springwatch a few weeks ago.

         In the early hours I left the bivvy to answer natures call and gazed up at a night sky of vivid twinkling stars. There was something deeply profound in the vastness of the universe.

         Dawn came shortly after 4.00am each morning. The sun climbing slowly its rays cutting across the calm lake as mist lifted from the water. Intricate cobwebs glistening with morning dew and sweet songs of the dawn chorus filling the air. There is far more to this fishing lark than catching fish.

         At the end of the session six friends brought together by a love of fishing said warm and cheery goodbyes vowing to do it all again next year if we are spared.

Dark skies pass

A rainbow as rain the passes

Vivid reflections as the stillness descends 

A golden carp as the sunsets
The setting sun
The breaking dawn
The start of the longest day

Cobwebs intricate patterns draped in dew
John and Bruce Lifelong friends share the moment –
John Hughes with the last fish of the trip – 27lb 12oz
A pleasing return – Until we meet again 
Anglers Paradise