Time to sort the fly boxes

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Preparing for brighter days ahead

With a cold east wind blowing and lockdown curtailing all but local fishing it seemed a good day to sort through my fly boxes prior to the forthcoming trout fishing season on rivers and reservoirs. My fly boxes are seldom as orderly as they should be as whilst beside the water’s edge, I am inclined to lack the patience to carefully replace meticulously after offering them to the trout. I have several boxes for river trout fishing crammed with small beaded nymphs, spider patterns and dry flies.

These flies have accumulated as I fall repeatedly to temptation admiring the well tied flies created from wisps of material whipped to small hooks. As my eyes age I struggle to spot the signs of rust that could lead to hook failure at that crucial moment. Each pattern is tied to represent a living creature within the trout’s diet. In the rapid streams that we fish in North Devon an approximate imitation is surely all we need. How can a trout decipher what it sees as its flash’s past in an instance in the turbulent Devon streams?  I can to some extent believe that a trout in a crystal-clear chalk stream can be extremely discerning though I suspect the clumsy approach of an angler has far more to do with rejection than a less than perfect imitation.

The tiding of the fly boxes certainly raises the spirits with thoughts of warm spring days ahead beside vibrant sparkling waters full of crimson spotted wild brown trout.

Later in the year as summer approaches, I intend to target grey mullet using fly fishing tactics. This branch of angling has become increasingly popular and some devotees enjoy considerable success using these tactics that have been honed and published by Colin McCloud whose book “Fly Fishing for mullet”. Sits awaiting a read on my bookshelf.

The targeting of various species using fly fishing tactics has become increasingly popular in recent years and is a consequence of anglers following fashionable trends and perhaps a realization that the method can be very effective at times proving even more effective than bait. I personally see it very much as another string in my bow that can be both effective and enjoyable.

2021 Trout Fishing Pre-season Newsletter South West Lakes

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Introduction

A new season is upon us already. Having closed our Rainbow waters at Christmas it’s been a short turnaround this winter. I’m sure you can’t wait to wet a line again, especially with the current health crisis. One thing I have found during the current lockdown is that having something to look forward to is absolutely vital at the moment and I cant wait for the trout season to open! I’ve bought some new waders and some new wellies and I will be spending as much time fishing as I can this year.
I hope that you enjoy your season, wherever you fish.

Ben Smeeth 

Covid-19 Update

We are opening and stocking our fisheries as planned but please remember, when visiting our trout fisheries, you must read and adhere to the information below which highlights the restrictions in place so we can continue to fish.

  • Fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules of staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors. (DCMS 06/01/2021)
  • Only local travel is permitted for the purpose of daily exercise as set out in the Government’s travel guidance.
  • The local area is specified as the town, village or part of the city in which you live. There is recognition that there will be a need to travel for outdoor exercise, this should be done locally, but you can travel a short distance within your area.
  • Anglers will need to apply judgement in defining their local area.
  • Boat fishing can continue and the boat fishing rules and regulations during Covid-19 remain in place.
  • You can only fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual.
  • You must adhere to social distancing measures: Hands, Face and Space.

Competition fishing, or any other organised fishing event, is prohibited by law during lockdown.

For further information on local exercise please visit the Angling Trust website or the Government website.

2021 Pricing and Dates

Our prices for all day and season tickets have remained the same as 2020.

All of the prices can be found here.

The opening dates are as follows:

Rainbows:
Kennick and Siblyback – 13 February
Stithians and Burrator – 6 March

Season ticket holders for the Rainbow waters can fish one day earlier than day ticket anglers.

Browns:
Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound – 15 March

New Trout Website LaunchedWe have launched a new trout fishing website which has all of the information you need for your trout fishing with us this year.

We have made buying your ticket easier with the new ‘buy a ticket’ option on the homepage.

All of the weekly catch reports and summaries, along with the latest news, are all displayed prominently making them easy to find.

We have also made completing a catch report much easier with the catch return tab on the homepage.

www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing

Season Tickets

Season permits can be purchased directly from our websiteAlternatively, please give our head office a call on 01566 771930 or drop me a line on 01288 321262 and we will be more than happy to help you purchase your ticket over the phone.

Why buy a season permit?

  • You can fish a day before our day ticket anglers at the Rainbow waters
  • You can fish as many times as you would like throughout the season as long as weekly bag limits are not exceeded
  • It gives you the flexibility to fish for an hour or the whole day
  • Boats are £10 per day instead of £15
  • We have multiple lake season tickets with our all waters and castabout (brown trout) options
  • If you are a member of the Burrator Fly Fishers, Siblyback Fly Fishers, Kennick Fly Fishers or CAST fly fishing club (Stithians) we will give you 5% off your season permit
  • If we extend the season to the end of November your ticket will be extended without charge
  • You won’t have a to buy a day ticket every time you fish

Stocking

Our stocking in 2021 will be done by two suppliers with our Rainbows coming from Mark Underhill at Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.

In 2020 the Rainbow’s supplied by Rainbow Valley were extremely hard fighting, quite often stripping line to the backing!

The Browns are coming from Richard Howe and his team at Torre Trout Farms.

We know all the fish will be of high quality and be sure to give you some great sport as always.

Day Permits

Our permit rooms on sites will be closed until further notice with the coronavirus situation.

Permits are only available through our website or by calling our main office on 01566 771930.

Please note, the office is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Tickets can be purchased days in advance of your visit.

Castabout Ticket

I want to highlight the value for money with the Castabout ticket. This ticket covers all four of our brown trout waters, three of which are stocked (Colliford, Fernworthy and Roadford) and Wistlandpound where the fishing is for previously stocked and wild fish. At £250 for a full season, or £212.50 for concession, the value for money is outstanding.

Roadford in particular fished absolutely superb last season with 110 browns to 3lb being caught in the last week of the season by just 11 anglers! Colliford showed glimpses of returning to its former glory and, although we are not there yet, we are working towards it. Numerous fish of 2lbs were caught with the majority being released to fight another day.

Fernworthy wasn’t its usual self in 2020 but still provided plenty of pulls. I’m expecting the fishing to be great this season when we stock more fish into the lake.

Competitions

  • 11 April – The Snowbee team of four competition at Siblyback
  • 2 May – Kennick bank pairs
  • 23 May – Cornwall v Devon at Siblyback
  • 20 June – Kennick Peninsula Classic singles
  • 17 October – Best of the Best final at Kennick

The Best of the Best competition, sponsored by Snowbee, has a £2,000 prize fund for the final. Here’s how it works:

  • There will be 6 heats of 12 anglers maximum
  • 6 will qualify for the final from each heat leaving 36 anglers in the final at Kennick on 17 October

The dates for the heats are:

  • Siblyback – 6 March
  • Kennick – 20 March
  • Stithians – 24 April
  • Burrator – 8 May
  • Siblyback – 29 May
  • Kennick – 2 October

If you would like more information on any of the competitions please visit our website. If you would like to book onto one of the heats please call our office on 01566 771930.

A Sunday morning brace of trout

It was good to be beside the calm waters of my local trout fishery as a weak wintry sun peeped through the morning clouds. I threaded a five weight floater line through the rings relishing a quiet couple of hours searching the water. I tied a buoyant fly from barbless flies https://www.barbless-flies.co.uk/products/stillwater-dinkhamer-selection  and suspended a couple of small nymphs beneath it. I stretched the line out across the water retrieving at a slow pace focussing on the floating fly. On the second cast the fly disappeared and I tightened and felt the pleasing resistance of a rainbow trout.

I spent the next half an hour enjoying the motions of fly fishing. The swish off the rod and pleasing settling down of flies and line one upon the calm water. With no further action I pondered upon the fact that a trout so often falls on the first couple of casts at the water. It is as if the catching of that first fish transmits a warning to the lakes residents?

A change of tactics is called for and I tie on an olive damsel removing the buoyant Dinkhammer and cast out allowing the bead headed lure to sink deeper into the lake. After a couple of casts the line draws tight and a vividly spotted full tailed brown trout is brought protesting to the net.

With a brace of trout secured its time to stroll back along the lakeside taking note of the daffodils pushing forth in a promise of the coming spring.

I return home for Sunday dinner and still have time for a walk around the village on a quiet winters day with thoughts of better times ahead.

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.

FISHING HUTS

There was an old hut on the pier at Ilfracombe where I used to fish along with many local anglers. I had forgotten all about the hut until joining a discussion reminiscing about fishing from the old pier that was demolished close to twenty years ago. The pier could be fished at all states of the tide and being high above the water was a safe place even during winter storms.

During those cold winter nights as the waves pounded against the pier’s concrete pillars, the hut gave  a place to shelter. Huddled within anglers would pour a hot drink and enjoy a smoke as they glanced frequently at their rods resting upon the ramparts. The hut and its surroundings had a strange aroma of stale bait and urine. Despite this there was a certain comfort in this old hut. The camaraderie of anglers enduring the worst of the weather whilst sharing that dream of big fish and embellishing stories of battles won and lost over past seasons.

The talk of the old hut on the pier stimulated me to remember other fishing huts and lodges I had visited over a lifetime of angling adventures. At Stafford Moor trout fishery during the late 1970’s I recall the large fishing lodge. Its stark breeze blocked walls and large windows that allowed in plenty of light. Old leather chairs and sofas encircled a scruffy old wooden coffee table that was strewn with old copies of Trout and Salmon magazines. During the cold days of early spring the lodge gave a welcome respite from the cold winds that swept across the windswept moorland. Back then many trout fishers still tended to fit a certain stereo type of upper class gentlemen who talked in that distinctly old English way. As a young long haired youth, I soon learnt that fishing is a great leveller with the shared interest melting any barriers of class or age.

On North Devon’s rivers there are many splendid fishing huts my favourite being an old Tudor styled hut that sits beside the River Torridge at Little Warham. The hut is situated well above the flood line and looks out over the ever flowing river. It is not grand but has a certain timeless charm and has undoubtedly been a place of refuge for anglers over generations and I can imagine the Majors and Generals contemplating the complexities of wartime as they took a break from the pursuit of the once prolific salmon. The tranquillity and perpetuity of the ever flowing stream must have brought solace in those troubled times.

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On the River Test in Hampshire I joined two friends for a days fishing from its manicured banks. The immaculately decorated hut was plush and clean in contrast to that grimy old hut on the pier. Further up river we came across an old wooden shelter with an old bench on which were carved the words, “ Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits”.

On the Lower reaches of the River Taw there are the remains of the Barnstaple & District Angling Clubs hut. Its corrugated sides and roof were painted green. Today it is in a sad state of decay and most of the club anglers who gathered there have long since departed. The rod rack remains empty and ivy and brambles have encroached taking back the old hut. The river still flows majestically past through the seasons though sadly the once prolific salmon are few and far between. There is something about angling huts that is hard to put into words.

My Fishing Year 2020

Looking back on my fishing year

2020 ! Well what a year; a year that will remembered for the global pandemic that changed the way we live. I am sure that in the future we will reflect upon those pre-pandemic years with a certain yearning for what we will perceive as a golden age.

It has certainly been a scary year in many ways but life will move on and a new normal will eventually prevail. There are positives in that we have perhaps been forced to realise the value of the great outdoors and how nature is a reassuring constant in our lives a fact that we as anglers have been able to savour.

When the year began who could have imagined the restrictions that would be imposed upon us. But apart from the three months of tight lock down fishing continued and we all had to focus on what is on our own doorstep.

January

The promise of early casts

An early session on the rocks and I meet a hungry bird.

Winter mullet have become a common catch in winter

February

Winter pike fishing – The true essence of winter fishing the bright glow of optimism upon cool dark waters.

And of course there are also winter carp!

In the middle of February we headed for Dorset for a short break beside the River Frome. The river was out of sorts but it was still good to be beside the water.

At this time we had no idea that times were about to change!

Little did we know that fishings social aspect would be banned under strict COVID restrictions! Tiers, bubbles and face masks were not on the agenda!

MARCH

The salmon season was underway but with swollen rivers there would be no silver spring bars.

The Wimbleball Trout were obliging and put a pleasing bed in the rod as a coid wind swept across Exmoor.

April

Into lockdown and  April and May we walked the country lanes and glimpsed wild brown trout in clear waters.

MAY

As lockdown was lifted what a joy to once again smell the salty sea air. Breathe in and enjoy a new found freedom.

At Wimbleball crowds flocked to the shoreline and the British public relished the great outdoors like never before.

It was a joy to once again ponder upon those important matters like what fly to use?

JUNE

Carp are very much a fish of the summer though I don’t always catch! Its fun waiting though….

A boat on Wimbleball brings hard fighting rainbows and summer Rudd

In mid June I join Steve Dawe on a one off trip to catch the mysterious eel from a water that has never been fished for eels before! We prove that there are some big trout present!

JULY

Summer bass on the lure

Summer salmon fishing on the Taw & Torridge its not just about the catching its good to just drift a fly across the river.

AUGUST

A trip to Cornwall and the delights of mackerel on light tackle…

Followed by bent rods and aching arms far off Lands End

And  summer drifts into autumn

SEPTEMBER

Success is sweet when it comes my first salmon for several seasons after many hundreds of casts comes that delightful tug and well bent rod..belief is restored!

Autumn is a time for mullet but sometimes they’re  not there or are rather small!

It was a good year on the lure…I just love it when they hit that lure.  Sublime!

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A carp fishing interlude at Hacche Moor Carp Fishery

And then shark adventure number two with Jason Barrow and others

The trout seasons ends with the rivers low. I enjoy a last day nymphing on the Lyn. A week later the river is a raging torrent.

October

A good time to hit the beach as the sunsets earlier.

As winter approaches grayling are a fish that spring to mind and once again the Dorset Frome beckons..

A 2lb 12oz grayling my fish of the year!!

(Above) And when the seasons over there is always time for a riverside walk.

A last trip to Wimbleball 

December

Winter Trout and  Christmas at Blakewell

And as the years ends those familiar home waters call…..

Happy New Year for 2021 tight lines to all…….

Bulldog Fishery – Building a fine reputation

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Bull Dog Trout Fishery is fast establishing a reputation for quality trout fishing with some superb trout caught over the Christmas period. The Day ticket water offers a variety of trout to double figures and is a sheltered venue just minutes from Barnstaple. Day Tickets are £30 for 4 fish or £35 for 5 fish.

Trout Farm & Fishery

A few recent captures are shown below:-

Laurie with a Magnificent 8lb 12 oz rainbow.
Reef Patten with a double figure rainbow
(Above)Jon Patten with a fine brown trout
(Above) Sean Mutch with a pleasing 3.5 lb brownie
(Above) Harry Liddle with a fine bag of trout including rainbows 8 lb, 5lb 14oz, 6lb 6oz and 2lb followed by a 3 lb brownie.
(Above) Double figure rainbow for Reef Patten

SOUTH MOLTON ANGLERS ENJOY DOUBLES BONANZA AT BLAKEWELL

SOUTH MOLTON ANGLERS ENJOY DOUBLES BONANZA AT BLAKEWELL

I joined several members of the South Molton Angling Club Blakewell Fishery. What a contrast in weather conditions compared to last weeks Christmas competition that saw anglers greeted by frost and mist rising from the water. This week was dark and overcast with occasional outbreaks of heavy rain.

The dark and gloomy conditions did little to dampen the enthusiasm and good humour of the South Molton anglers who were all pleased to be out in the fresh air casting a line.

I decided to head for the area that had been producing the previous week and started off with my favourite olive damsel nymph. After half an hour without a pull I decided to try a different pattern. I could see that other anglers were catching steadily so the trout were obviously feeding. I glimpsed a big rainbow cruising just a rod length that convinced me to stay put. A bead headed black lure soon brought a rainbow of around 1lb 8oz. A few casts later I glimpsed the large rainbow again this time converging on my lure! The mouth opened and the line drew tight, the rod hooped over and a few anxious moments followed, a big trout lunged to and fro before being coaxed over the rim of the net. At thirteen pound it was a fish to bring a broad smile and set the hands a tremble.

Amazingly twenty minutes later I caught sight of another big trout as it followed my lure nailing it just a few yards from the bank. This one pulled the scales to 11lb a very pleasing brace of trout for 24lb.

Shortly after this on the opposite bank Matt Kingdon was into another Blakewell beauty that pulled the scales to 14lb 6oz. After completing my own limit I wondered over to get a picture of Matts and found he had a fine rainbow of of 9lb 12oz to go with it.

Amazingly back on the bank where I had enjoyed success Jim Ricketts was battling a good fish and we all watched on as his good friend wielded a net that was slightly undersized. We all felt relieved for him when the 12lb 14oz rainbow was safely banked.

The club had enjoyed a great Sunday mornings sport despite the gloom laden sky. Six big rainbows were banked by lunchtime along with plenty of table sized fish.

South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report

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South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report

December 2020

General:

All of South West Lakes’ rainbow trout fisheries will stay open until 24 December. Please see website for details on tickets and prices as well as the latest Covid19 advice and restrictions – www.swlakesfishing.co.uk. Note that tickets may only be purchased online or over the telephone on 01566 771930. Water temperatures have been falling over all of the sites and, with stocking continuing through the month, the fishing has continued to be good with the fish lying in deeper water as the month progressed.

At Kennick the boat anglers enjoyed the best sport. Mr. M.Ure netted 14 fish, while Andy Birkett from Plymouth caught a bag of 13 fish up to 2lb 12oz in one session while drifting off the East Wall, pulling small white fry patterns about six feet down, and 12 fish on another visit. Matt Baines caught the best fish of the month – a rainbow of 3lb 5oz. Kevin Primmer caught rainbows of 3lb 4oz and 3lb in a bag of four fish.

Burrator continued to produce consistent sport using deeper fished gold-head patterns (Blue-flash Damsels and Montanas) and sunk lures, with plenty of fish up to 2lb caught, as well as a good number of blue trout.

The fishing at Stithians showed a marked improvement, with a number of reasonable bags (John Henderson caught nine fish up to 2lbs+ using orange patterns) and plenty of fish around 2lb being caught, the best being 2lb 8oz, mainly on sunk nymphs and lures, although George Eustace did manage to pick up a rainbow on an Olive and Black Hopper.

Season Summary:

In spite of the Covid restrictions, and the ‘stop-start’ availability of fishing, the 2020 season produced some good fishing across the region, especially at Burrator, Kennick and Siblyback, while the fishing improved toward the end of the season at Stithians and Roadford produced some outstanding sport in the last few months.

The season started with the hugely successful Fly Fair at Roadford at the end of February, with many anglers in attendance, exhibits, trade stands and demonstrations. The Peninsula Classic Bank Competition at Kennick in October was won (for the fourth time) by Andy Gooding (from Liverton), catching five rainbows weighing in at 10lb 5oz, using Damsel Nymphs and a Black and Green Lure.

The new fishing club at Siblyback continued to build up numbers and hosted a number of events this season, including competitions, fly tying evenings and other social gatherings and are continuing to welcome new members (contact: derek.aungerbtinternet.com).

Dave Matthews – Siblyback Fly Fishers Association Competition

Fisheries Summary:

Siblyback: Best fish – 8lb 4oz rainbow, caught  by George Hext; the best brown was a 4lb fish caught by Stephen Pearce. Fishery rod average 2.7 fish

Kennick:  Best fish – 5lb 10z rainbow caught by Kevin Primmer. Fishery rod average 2.7 fish

Stithians: Best fish – 4lb 8oz rainbow caught by Roger Marks. Fishery rod average 1.4 fish

Burrator: Best fish – 5lb 8oz rainbow caught by Paul Lee; the best brown was a 4lb fish caught by Kevin Sellar.  Fishery rod average 3.5 fish

Colliford: Best fish – 3lb brown trout caught by Dean Boucher. Fishery rod average 2.6 fish

Fernworthy: Rod average 2.7 fish, up to 2lb 4oz

Roadford: Best fish – 3lb 8oz brown trout caught by Duncan Kier; fishery rod average 4.4 fish

The season opening dates and prices for 2020 will be posted (along with other information) on the website and on the ‘Trout Fishing South West Lakes Trust’ Facebook page.