We’re very excited to tell you that we have partnered with Catch to be our fishery management and booking partner.
From 16 November 2023 day tickets will only be available through Catch. Season tickets remain bookable through our website, but will be available through Catch from next year.
Catch are giving our season ticket holders a six-month free subscription so you can book day tickets via the app and enjoy the other benefits. If you already have a Catch account this will automatically be applied. If you don’t, Catch will be sending you an email shortly with details on how to access and begin your free subscription.
Download the Catch app from App Store or Google Play, create a free account and take advantage of all the great features straight away:
Interactive lake maps
Masses of information at your fingertips
Receive catch reports, news and events in real-time
Upload your own catch reports directly to our fishery pages
Book your next session days, weeks or even months in advance
Receive automatic reminders when your next session is due
… and much more!
These guys know what they are doing and have your (and our) best interests at heart. They’ve made the platform easy for everyone to use and we strongly believe that we’ve made the very best decision possible: by partnering with Catch we’ve brought our fishery administration bang up to date which will, in turn, benefit you as an angler.
We appreciate you may have questions so feel free to contact us directly or the Catch team at [email protected] for more information. There is also a live chat option on the Catch website.
I have been visiting Stafford Moor for over forty years collecting a wealth of memories from its banks. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the fishery was one of the top Stillwater trout fisheries in the country. When I first fished there the lake was owned by Andrew Joynson and managed by Gordon Eveleigh. The lake was well stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout to over 10lb . I well remember tempting a rainbow of 12lb from the lake which is now Beatties. The fishery was extended in the eighties with the higher lake excavated to offer more scope for the trout anglers.
In 2001 the fishery started a new chapter when it was bought by Andy Seery who transformed the lakes into an outstanding coarse fishery offering superb match and coarse fishing.
Today Stafford Moor is owned by the Coombes Family who have invested much time and energy and money into the fishery ensuring it remains one of the country’s top match and specimen venues with luxury Canadian style lodges.
I had been intending to pay a return visit to target the venues carp for some time and arranged a visit in early May. Joanne Coombes and her daughter Millie offered a warm and cheery greeting as I walked into the shop to purchase some bait and bits for my trip on Lodge Lake. The shop is extremely well stocked with bait and tackle for both match and specimen anglers. The shop also has fresh milk, bread and snacks.
I was very impressed with the clean and well maintained onsite facilities that include toilets and showers for anglers to use.
I parked up in the Lodge Lake car park and had a scout around to choose a swim to occupy for the next 24 hours. Fortunately, I had several to choose from and settled for the Big Island Swim. With a gentle breeze blowing into the corner and the odd fish showing I felt confident that this would produce.
I loaded the barrow and wheeled my ridiculous mountain of gear to the swim. First job was to have a cast around with a lead and float to find the depth and potential features. The Island directly out in front was an obvious point of interest and I decided that I would put a bait on each end of the island fishing a third bait out into the clear water to my right.
On the left of the island, I found around three foot of water close in with around five foot to the right side. I carefully measured the distance to my chosen spots and spodded out a mixture of pellets and broken boilies.
I then cast out my baits into each of the chosen spots and set about erecting the bivvy as ominous rainclouds started to build. With the bivvy set up and tackle sort of tidy I put out a few more boilies with a throwing stick. The middle rod was suddenly away the indicator screaming its warning! I lifted the rod to feel a momentary heavy weight. Sadly, the fish came off within seconds and I cursed my luck. Encouraged I hoped this wouldn’t be my only chance of the session.
The swims are well laid out with a gravel base ensuring you do not end up fishing amidst a sea of mud. I put the kettle on and made a fresh brew of coffee sitting back on the bed chair to savour the tranquil surroundings.
When I first fished this lake for trout close to forty years ago there was only sparse vegetation with the banks showing the scars of recent excavation. Today the lakes have matured with the lush greenery of late spring all around. My mind drifted back over the years at the fishery and how it has matured into a haven for wildlife and a fantastic venue for anglers and their families.
Ominous rumbles of thunder came from nearby as the storm clouds gathered. Rain started to fall with intensity and I was glad of the bivvy’s sheltered interior. I love looking out across lakes as the lights and shades play upon the water. At times the rain pelted the surface with great intensity and I sort of dreaded a run for to leave the bivvy would result in a drenching.
I hadn’t expected any extensive rain with the met office forecasting 10% chance of showers! I looked that the rain radar and noted that the rain should eventually move away by late afternoon.
At around 6.00pm the rain did indeed stop and weak sunshine broke through the clouds. Surely the carp would come on the feed anytime soon. I cast out fresh baits and spodded a few more boilies
As darkness eventually descended I expected a run at any moment. I soaked up the atmosphere relishing the onset of darkness as owls hooted in the nearby trees. The occasional star could be glimpsed in breaks in the cloud. I snuggled into the sleeping bag ever hopeful that a screaming alarm would wake me from my slumbers.
A breeze picked up overnight and the occasional single bleep came from the bite alarms raising expectation as I woke sporadically during the dark hours.
The soft cool light of dawn brought with it a sense of disappointment. The confidence that is so vital was ebbing slowly away. I expected to see signs of life as the temperature climbed but all was still except for the ducks and robins that frequently visited my swim.
I reeled in the middle rod and checked the bait that was all good. I put on a fresh bait and topped up the bait in the swim with a few boilies and pellets. The other rods were left in place as I was confident that all would be present and correct with the baits.
I brewed a fresh coffee and sat back to survey the lake and analyse why I had failed to connect with any of the lake’s residents. It would have been interesting to know how other anglers on the complex had caught during the 24 hours I was present. I had a degree of confidence in my bait and rigs. The swim I had chosen seemed to be likely to hold carp with good features and a gentle breeze blowing into the corner.
Perhaps the heavy rain had resulted in a dramatic drop in water temperature suppressing the fish’s appetite? It was possible that the carp were preparing to spawn?
I compared notes with a good friend who told me that his mate was fishing a prolific water and had not had a run for 36 hours. So maybe the conditions were just not conducive for good fishing? Or was I just a bad angler?
I am not a regular carp fisher and fish very few longer overnight sessions. With many species of fish to target I am wary of the addictive nature of carp fishing. The desire to hear that bite alarm scream out and subsequent bending rod is a strong compulsion.
Non anglers struggle to comprehend the whole notion of spending days trying to catch a fish that is returned to the water. I have given up trying to explain or justify the obsession. There is certainly something rather special about carp fishing that attracts a huge number of devotees.
I am looking forward to my next visit to a carp lake when I will hopefully get it right and bank a fish or two.
Recent reports at Stafford Moor show some very impressive specimens with several carp of over 30lb banked.
(Below) Andy & Jack Burrett fished on swims 1 and 2 on Beatties lake and banked 43 fish including a new Common lake record ! ………….. a stunning 36lb 3oz common.
( Below) Ben Smith banked 7 fish out up to 31lb 12oz from the inlet swim on Beatties lake , Ben used pva bags with pellet and 12mm pink wafters.
I called into the shop after packing away having to admit to Jo that I had blanked on what is one of Devon’s most prolific carp waters. I joked that I was able to blank and still leave with a smile. The fishery owner’s life is certainly not easy as Jo quipped that she could write a book on the strange comments made by visiting anglers. “ How many fish can I expect to catch in a 24 hour session?”. Or “I am off now; I have been fishing for nearly three hours and caught too many fish! Meeting the needs of anglers is certainly a challenge.
My own impression of Stafford Moor is that of a very well run fishery that offers the chance to catch some superb specimens. Next time I intend to put things right!
Another year passes and we say goodbye to 2022! It has been a hard year for the reservoirs, not only in the South West, but all over the UK. Low water levels and lake closures have been a frustrating factor to fishing through the summer, and we thank all of you for being understanding through these testing times. Having started my role in September, I would personally like to thank all of you for your kind words of support and I hope we can now push forward and continue the great work South West Lakes has been doing to improve the fishing on the waters.
There have been some great catches through the year with many great bags of silvers from many of the reservoirs to some special carp being caught.
Sadly, the lakes have lost two of its ‘A-team’, with Arnie from Porth and The Big Fully from Argal passing. These fish put many smiles on anglers’ faces, they will be missed!
Looking towards the future of the lakes, in November we stocked 39 new carp into Argal. These fished ranged between 13lb and 17lb, with 34 mirrors and 5 commons. Next year we are planning to stock other waters in the region to continue our work to improve all our waters. There has been some great swim building projects carried out on the lakes also, I would like to thank all the volunteers who have given up their time to help and make improvements on the lakes.
I am pleased to announce that we will be running the Mainline Pairs competitions again for next year the dates for this will be March 24-26, June 30-July 2 and September 29-October 1. We are looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces and welcoming new anglers to the competitions.
Also we will be having two event days in August, which will be part of the Angling Trust’s National Fishing Month, with the emphasis to get as many kids fishing as possible. The dates and places for this are the Royalty Fishery on August 5 and Upper Tamar Lakes on August 19. Please keep your eyes peeled for these events on the website, so you don’t miss out.
Once again thank you for all your support through this last year, may you all have a great Christmas and happy New Year. Look forward to seeing you all out on the bank in 2023.
Having met Ashley Bunning while he was working at Anglers Paradise I feel sure he will promote angling across SWLT’s waters following on from the excellent work undertaken by Ben Smeeth in recent years.
Meet Ashley, our new Head of Angling
Hi all, I’m Ashley Bunning, the new Head of Angling at South West Lakes.
I am a keen angler who has fished the South West Lakes reservoirs all my life. I grew up in Holsworthy and when I finished school I moved away from home and studied Fishery Management and Aquaculture to a Bachelor of Science level at Sparsholt College in Winchester.
After completing my course, I worked at various fisheries around the country, then settled at Anglers Paradise in Devon for the last six years.
Over the years I have volunteered for South West Lakes and when the opportunity came about to have a role here as Head of Angling I jumped at the chance! I look forward to pushing fishing forward and improving the experience for anglers on our waters.
Anglers Paradise near Halwill Junction is a well known complex of fishing lakes and holiday lodges founded in 1981 by the ever colourful character Zyg Gregorek. Boasting over thirty lakes there are a wide range of options for anglers with tiddlers to specimens of many species. The core value of the venue is family oriented with many families returning year after year to enjoy the friendly atmosphere and excellent fishing.
A fishery like Anglers Paradise requires careful management of stocks and maintenance to each lake. A popular event in the Paradise calendar is the annual netting event that takes place in early November. Each year regular guests, members of the 5 C’s
(Crazy Crafty Cunning Carp Catchers) and staff embark upon the netting of a nominated lake.
I was pleased to attend this years netting and record the event for North Devon Angling News. Each year a different lake is netted the fish removed and kept in stock ponds whilst the lake is de-silted. The fish are sorted and distributed across the venue ensuring that the diverse nature of the fishery is maintained.
This year’s nominated lake was Octopussy last netted over ten years ago. The stock consisted of specimen carp, catfish and numerous silver fish.
I arrived shortly after 9.00am and followed Zenia and her son Zee Jay to find a busy team already at work lakeside hauling nets and floundering about in glorious oodles of thick cold slimy mud. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon as heavy squalls passed frequently to be punctuated by sunny spells that created spectacular rainbows. The leaves glowed in full autumn glory as laughter and banter filled the air.
I was immediately impressed at the smoothness of the operation. The net was drawn in by those on the ropes. The catchers catching the fish and placing them in soft sacks and slings. These were then elevated to the top of the bank by a human conveyor belt and then placed in tanks of water. When the tanks were full of precious cargo they were taken to a series of stock ponds ready for sorting and restocking over the coming weeks.
As I walked from Octopussy to the stock ponds I was thrilled to catch sight of a kingfisher, its vivid electric blue colours a magnificent sight in the autumn sunshine. The complex is undoubtedly an oasis for wildlife within the rolling Devon hills.
It was fascinating to witness the range of fish present in this moderately sized lake. Specimen carp to over twenty pounds, catfish nudging forty pounds and plenty of doubles. There were also huge numbers of golden flanked rudd, the occasional golden tench, tiny fry a few good sized eels and several grass carp.
Zenia chatted enthusiastically about Anglers Paradise, her work with the Angling Trust and her role with tackle giants Shakespeare promoting fishing for families and children. The COVID pandemic has had a positive impact on many aspects of angling with many people discovering the pastime and others rediscovering its joys. The contact with nature and the outdoors is acknowledged as having huge benefits for mental health.
The role of social media was also discussed with both positive and negative aspects considered. An integral part of the modern world it can at times distract from the core aspects of fishing feeding egos with some fishing for likes instead of fish!
Ashley Bunning has been a part of the venue’s fishery team for several years and his passion about the fishing and the future of Anglers Paradise was apparent as we chatted. Ashley is like myself a keen all rounder casting his lines in both fresh and salt-waters across the UK.
As the mornings work drew to a close I asked Ashley if he could gather the forty plus team together for a team photo. Fortunately, the sun broke through as the muddy masses posed together as one big happy team celebrating a job well done.
Minutes later the rain belted down in epic proportions as I walked back to my van to climb out of my waders and waterproofs. I called into the Safari Bar for a chat with Zyg who greeted me warmly before proceeding with recollections of his years at Anglers Paradise and beyond. The walls of the bar are a fascinating testament to a lifetime of fishing and adventure enjoyed by a larger than life character. Photos of famous anglers, celebrity’s, a fine collection of taxidermy and casts of the many fish caught by Zyg along with other treasures collected on his travels around the globe. Anglers Paradise shows what can be achieved with determination, hard work and perhaps a touch of mischief along the way.
The 2021 Netting week raised an impressive £2,763.35 for local charities. The week culminating with a firework display on bonfire night. Chatting with the guests I know that many will be back next year to once again frolic in the mud and wrestle with the fish.
Zenia’s summary of the week below
NETTING WEEK FUNDRAISING SUCCESS 🥳🎉🥳
Well, what can we say – what a fantastic week it has been!!
We are truly blown away with everyone’s generosity and are overwhelmed with how much we raised in a week!! Here is a rundown of what ‘we all’ raised…
Burgers and hotdogs (kindly donated by Warrens’s Butchers in Launceston) – £138
Bingo – Mick & Dawn Whitfield – £405
Nail painting – Cristal – £45
Curry Night – Zyg & Rose/Anglers Paradise – £199
Badges – Di Mepham – £74
Race Night – Paul Beamont, Tackleshop Goblin aka Richard Flynn – £100
Many thanks to Simon Francis for this excellent report on the East Lyn.
Having been away for a few months I was excited to see how the East Lyn would fish.
On Saturday and Sunday there had been good hatches and rises to ephemerids, but jobs to do around the house had kept me from fishing. The river levels were very good for this time of year, and a bit of wild swimming confirmed the water was pretty cool! Monday 26th July was a little cooler and I waited until 2pm to head off, upstream on the Watersmeet & Glenside fisheries water from our Primrose Cottage at Rockford, Brendon. (https://primrosecottageexmoor.co.uk/)
I fished my (now vintage) 7 foot Orvis HLS 1 ounce #4wt with an old Rimfly reel, a 9ft leader and 4ft 2.5lb fluorocarbon tippet. The rod was a gift to myself when I qualified as a STANIC game fishing instructor 21 years ago. It is easier under the trees in the height of summer than the 9 ft #3wt that offers a bit more line control. I fished a size 14 elk hair and CDC caddis all day as it worked all day, and has the advantage I can see it even in the gloom in the shady spots!
Whilst there wasn’t much of a hatch fish were moving, and came freely to the Elk Hair Caddis. Rises varied from a full on “smash and grab”, to the most discerning of sips.
I caught a couple of fish in every pool, and picked up the odd fish in the lovely little runs and pots between pools. It is a shame that so many people overlook these little holes where you get short drifts and instant takes, it’s the best fun!
I also love fishing the back currents that wash food back upstream, often close under the banks, or alongside big boulders. Whilst it challenges casting and mending to get a good presentation, it’s a great reward when an often better sized fish sips down your fly.
As usual I was accompanied by dippers, wrens, wagtails, martins, and swallows but was especially pleased to see the Pied Flycatcher back outside the cottage, as I sat with a cold beer, contemplating another great day on the East Lyn. All for £5.
See also Dominick Garnetts excellent write up below
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.
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.
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.