TWENTY FOUR HOURS AT LOWER TAMAR LAKE

Twelve months or so ago I stood on the dam at Lower Tamar Lake watching several large carp basking in the Spring sunshine. I promised myself that when I had more time I would return and invest some quality time into pursuing fish. Twelve months on I have done just that and returned tackle loaded and ready to cast.

https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/lower-tamar

On arrival at the lake the sun is shining across this large shallow expanse of water that was created as a feeder for Bude Canal back in the 1820’s. The depths in the lake vary from 8ft to 3ft and my guess is that fish movement may be influenced by wind direction, water temperature, food availability and angling pressure.

The choice of swim is not easy as three other anglers are already in position and a quick chat with them reveals that the fishing has been slow with just one carp banked by them in the past twenty four hours.

My aim is to catch carp or a double figure bream and realisation soon dawns that this is not a forgone conclusion and any rewards will have to be earned. After a stroll around the Lake, it was gut instinct that made me choose to fish the swim at the far end of the dam that would give access to deeper water.

The barrow was loaded and pushed to the swim where I was to spend the next 24hours. Ominous clouds were building as I hurriedly erected my oval brolly shelter and bed chair, stowing those items that needed to be kept dry beneath in preparation for the oncoming rain.

I cast around with a marker float that revealed that I had seven foot of water at fifty yards. The next thirty minutes was spent launching a few spod’s full of particles to the zone I intended to place my baits. Two rods with wafters and one with a method feeder baited with a couple of grains of artificial corn.

The rods were cast out as the rain began to pour down, the sky taking on a grey and foreboding tone.

I took shelter beneath the canvas and began the vigil watching the days weather pass by with traps set. Strange how time flies as the contemplation and observation occupy the mind.

As the rain beats down swallows and martins swoop low over the water. Ducks and ducklings busy about and a grebe hunts far out in the lake. As the rain eases warm sunshine illuminates the scene transforming the vista to that of summer. A buzzer hatch brings a frenzy of activity from the summer migrants. The swallows and martins are joined by the delightful sight of swifts twisting and turning in the blue sky a sure confirmation that Spring is turning relentlessly towards summer.

Afternoon turns to evening and baits are checked and recast. Sausage’s sizzle and hot coffee is enjoyed whilst watching and waiting.

The evening starts to descend and the light fades and with it comes expectation that the alarm will ring out as a fish locates the bait. Wood pigeons coo relentlessly and the hooting of an owl drifts across the stilling waters as the breeze drops away with the coming of night.

Far across the lake the surface is broken by fish but they are beyond my range.

I drift off to sleep the twinkle of farm lights in the distance. Rain patters on the canvas and cool air intrudes into the shelter.  I drift back into sleep. The alarm screams out and the blue light of the Delkim shatters the darkness. I stumble out into my boots, right foot in left and left foot in right! I lift the rod to feel a pleasing weight on the end. I am hoping it’s a big bream as I slowly retrieve a ponderous dead weight. Within yards of the margin’s, it wakes up ripping line from the reel telling me it’s no bream.

A golden flanked mirror carp of 19lb 4oz is a pleasing result and avoids a blank session.

After recasting the rod, I retreat back to the warmth of my sleeping bag. Heavy rain lashes down and I dread another run.

I sleep an interrupted sleep drifting in and out of strange dreams that seem to have been prevalent throughout the previous months of pandemic invoked lockdown. I step out into the night to answer natures call and marvel at the vividly clear star studded night sky and reflect on the fact that this is one of life’s constants virtually unchanged for millions of years.

Dawn breaks and the dawn chorus rings out to greet the day. All is still with a mirror like lake stretching before me. I savour the dawn expectantly but all is quiet. A couple of hours later I boil the kettle and cook up a bacon butty.

A couple of dog walkers take  a stroll and the day unfolds sunshine illuminating the lake as life resumes. I chat to a fellow angler of waters he fishes and swap notes. He has caught one bream of perhaps five pounds in the night and congratulates me on my success.

With heavy rain forecast I slowly pack away already planning my next trips. I intend to catch a carp from each of SWLT’s waters before the year is out and have made a good start. But still need to catch that double figure bream.

Lower Tamar Lake can be a challenging venue but it has many treasures within including carp to over thirty pounds, double figure bream, 2lb plus roach, big perch, tench, trout and eels.

https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/lower-tamar

https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/lower-tamar

BLAKEWELL FISHERY

Blakewell Fishery is a picturesque and tranquil small-water trout fishery that is located just over a mile from the market town of Barnstaple. The clear waters offer quality Fly Fishing for rainbow trout and brown trout that are stocked into double figures attracting anglers from across the region.

The fishery is best approached using a light to medium outfit (6/7wt) with floating lines and imitative patterns working throughout the year. Day Tickets are £45.00 for a five fish limit. You can book online or call Richard Nickell on 07884 073932

The venue is perfect for new comers to Fly Fishing as it is less-intimidating than larger venues that may prove off putting to those starting out. Fly Fishing tuition is available on site with resident instructors. See Website for full details. www.blakewell.co.uk

The fishing is often at its best during the winter months when the trout flourish in the cool water that flows in from Bradiford Water.

A Brace of Winter Doubles

WIMBLEBALL LAKE

Wimbleball Lake high on Exmoor is a beautiful expanse of water surrounded by rolling hills of pasture and woodland. The construction of the dam commenced in November 1974 and was completed in 1979. The concrete aggregate came from local quarries at Bampton and the structure consists of 184,000 cubic metres of concrete. It holds 21,540 megalitres of water within a catchment of 2910 hectares (370 Acres) and supplies water to the distribution networks of both Wessex and South West Water. Over 12,000 trees were planted around its perimeter providing a rich habitat for wildlife.

The Lake has been a popular fishery for many years and hosted several large angling competitions whilst it was run by South West Water and later by the South West Lakes Trust. Sadly, commercial pressures lead to a short period in the last decade when the fishery was down-graded initially to a low cost rainbow trout fishery and then to a wild fishery with no stocking of fish.

Many of the regular anglers drifted away to fish the lakes close neighbour Clatworthy  that continues to provide first class trout fishing. In 2018 Mark Underhill and his wife Trudi took on the management of Wimbleball and were determined to turn the fishery around and bring it back to surpass its former glories as one of the West Country’s top Stillwater trout fisheries.

Over the past two seasons the Underhill family has stocked many thousands of hard fighting rainbow trout reared at their Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton. The trout are stocked from a weight of around 2lb 8oz up double figures.

An enlightened policy of catch and release fishing was introduced with anglers given the option of buying a five fish catch and keep ticket or a catch and release ticket with the anglers retaining the first two trout caught and then releasing all the fish they caught after this with barbless hooks mandatory to ensure quick and easy release. This format ensures that anglers travelling to the water can enjoy a long day savouring the fine sport on offer.

The latest addition to the Wimbleball experience is the acquisition of The George Inn that is set amongst the beautiful, rolling countryside of Exmoor in the quiet & friendly village of Brompton Regis, on the Eastern side of the Exmoor national park.

http://www.wimbleballflyfishery.co.uk