Big Bulldog Browns

It’s an exciting time of year as winter passes with new fishing adventures on the horizon. Today was the last day of winter yet at this time of year the seasons seem to fluctuate from day to day and even from morning till night.  There was frost on the grass when I looked out of the bedroom window as the moon sank beneath the tree line and the sun rose from the opposite direction illuminating the fields as the frost  melted away in a warm dawn glow.

I was fishing at Bulldog fishery which is less than five miles from my home so truly local. The lane to the fishery winds down through woodland and between the remains of the old Lynton to Barnstaple Railway. The Fishery is located beside the Barnstaple Yeo that was running high and clear its sparkling water flowing into the  top of the lake. I have been meaning to pay the fishery a visit for sometime after seeing some stunning images of its big brown trout.

I set up and walked the fishery bank peering into the clear water. The shaded far bank proved an ideal vantage point with the sun behind me I could see clearly into the lake. The downside of course was that my shadow could also be cast onto the water alerting the fish of my presence.

The trees would hopefully break my silhouette. Half way down the Lake I glimpsed two very large trout just a couple of rod lengths from the bank. I pulled a few yards of line from the reel and wetted the damsel nymph in the margin. The line was carefully flicked out in front of the trout; my heart was in my mouth the fish turned towards the fly eyeing it with intent for a moment before turning away showing disdain at my offering.

Such chances are often fleeting but it was an exciting start to the trip. I moved along the bank and put a long line parallel to the bank. After a couple of pulls the line drew tight and a trout pulled back. An impressive brown trout its spotted sides showing clearly in the gin clear water. The trout close to five pounds was certainly a great start to the day.

A few casts later a rainbow chased the olive damsel nymph close to the bank where I saw its mouth open and engulf the lure.

With two trout on the bank I was pleased to take a break from fishing and chat with the fishery owner Nigel Early about his exciting plans for the fishery. The trout lake is due to be considerably enlarged to provide far more bank space making it an ideal venue for visiting clubs or small groups of anglers. This is an intimate Stillwater trout fishery that contains some huge brown trout up to 15lb that are undoubtedly wily and worthy targets. The fishery policy is for all browns over 5lb to be returned carefully to the water preserving a valuable asset and ensuring that visiting anglers have the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime. There are two day ticket options; four fish £30 or five fish £35. Large returned browns do not count as part of this bag.

Nigel is no stranger to big trout and was proud to tell me that he had provided stock fish from the trout farm that have set English, Scottish and Welsh records Including rainbows of 26lb 9oz (Welsh) and 24lb 6oz ( Scottish).

Another project underway is a carp lake of several acres that has been stocked with ten carp over thirty pound and another 120 carp ranging from low doubles to mid twenties. There will be ten swims on the lake that should open in early May and will undoubtedly provide some exciting fishing. I feel sure that the lake will mature nicely over the coming years to bring a valuable carping venue close to Barnstaple.

After leaving Nigel to continue his work I returned to the trout lake where I managed to spot another huge brown trout that once again frustrated my efforts swimming at my nymph before turning away and disappearing into the depths of the lake. Several good sized fish were showing near the inlet and followed my olive damsel before turning away. With the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky it was undoubtedly time for a little finesse. A bead headed nymph was flicked out and the lines tip twitched. A 4lb plus rainbow was added to my bag. With Sunday dinner waiting I reeled in and headed for home thoughts of big browns etched on the minds eye.

Paradise Carp

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Aaron Bunning  took  advantage of his local Lakes at Anglers Paradise and caught these 2 beauties!
A stunning 22lb 2oz Common and a 18lb 8oz Mirror both from Nirvana’s Xanadu Lake caught using Nash Citruz pop up, flake and liquidised bread.
Anglers Paradise

Winter Carp from Local waters

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Rob Kendall has enjoyed winter action  at Jennetts during his his last two trips resulting in four carp topped by these two at 27lb 6oz and 27lb 3oz. Caught over 1/2 kg of a test bait that he has developed along with close friend Stuart Hutchings.
(Below)Paul Blake fished at Darracott and was delighted to tempt one of the reservoirs largest known residents a fine common carp of 22lb 12oz.

A FINE BIRTHDAY PRESENT – Ten Year old Zaine banks carp brace

Proud parents Joe and Zenia Drury Gregorek sent me this heartwarming  report from Anglers Paradise.

Zaine Drury-Gregorek who knows how to celebrate his 10th birthday and that was to go fishing! Zaine had a few hours on Anglers Eldorado’s Cat and Carp Lake 1 and caught a stunning Mirror and a lovely Common! Needless to say it was the best Birthday ever and he didn’t want to leave! Zaine caught the Carp using Munchbaits Citrus Blend Pop Ups.

Anglers Paradise

FISHING IN LOCKDOWN?

I have had several anglers message me regarding fishing in lockdown and what the position is. The Angling Trust have successfully lobbied Government resulting in angling being allowed within the lockdown guidelines. See updated guidelines below from the Angling Trust.

Lockdown fishing: updated guidelines published

The problem with the guidelines is that it leaves a certain amount of freedom to interpret for example what is local. Local is within your town or village, though you can drive a short distance to access an open space. I have reluctantly decided to hang up my rods until after lockdown as I live ten miles from the coast. Could I justify travelling ten miles to go fishing? Is it essential travel? Everyones circumstances are of course different and angling could be a lifeline to many giving valuable exercise for both body and soul. The sooner we can get on top of this COVID nightmare the better and staying home for a few weeks is surely worth the long term result.

In the mean time I will be enjoying a couple of books I received at Christmas that will hopefully inspire me in the coming spring and summer.

I will also be sorting through my fishing gear putting new hooks on old lures, tying rigs and having a general tidy. Might even stock up on a few flies, lures and bits and pieces. In the mean time I will try and write a few features on North Devon Angling plus report on any catches reported to me from those fortunate enough to live close to  fish filled waters.

REKINDLING THE JOYS OF FISHING

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Gary Strachan and his son Harry enjoyed a 36 hour session at Anglers Paradise’s Day Ticket Fatboy’s Lake where they banked 12 carp too 14lb. All of the fish were in immaculate condition and caught using 12 -mm pop ups. This was a welcome return to angling for Gary who has found his love of the sport rekindled with the opportunity to share fishing trips with his son. Gary commented to me on how the amount of gear carp anglers now carry contrasts to his younger days when you would take; “a flask, some sandwiches, a sleeping bag and perhaps a plastic sheet depending on the time of year? Fast forward 50 years and two trips with the carp barrow to set up. Yes it’s more comfortable without a doubt, but is it really that much more enjoyable?
I guess the essence still remains though perhaps its has all become a little formulaic with many anglers following a text book approach. I doubt it would seem more enjoyable if you turned the clock back to use those floppy old fibre glass carp rods and sun loungers that collapse as your trying to sleep. I recall with fondness camping in a pub car park close to the River Thames. I climbed into my tent after a visit to the pub and my sun lounger collapsed in a tangle of aluminium frames and canvas. Strange how looking back there is always a sense that things were better but I suspect thats just the joy and enthusiasm of youth.
Anglers Paradise

Stunning Winter Carp Action at the Moor

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Stafford Moor continues to produce some stunning carp despite the cold winter conditions.

(Below) Darren Bakers fabulous 27lb 8oz ghostie caught from the beach swim on Beatties lake.

(Below) Mike Stemp who had 2 fish out from swim one up on lodge lake up to 29lb 8oz caught on Sticky bits krill boilies.

(Below) Chris Blythe  fished on swim 15 (Albert square) up on lodge lake and banked this 28lb beauty out on Jh baits Klf and carbon baits mini seed mix.

(Below) Andy Barnes & Ian Kendall enjoyed success banking carp of  27lb 7oz and Andy had a 19lb 14oz mirror from swim 14 (beach 1 swim) up on lodge lake  both  caught on Sticky baits Manilla boilies and cloudy Manilla.

(Below) Jimmy Knight and Jordan Rowe who had 11 fish out including Jordan’s 33lb 12oz beauty from the beach swim on Beatties lake, all fish were caught on Sticky baits krill boilies.