West Country Fly Fair 2020

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South West Fly Fair Returns to Roadford Lake for its Seventh Consecutive Year

The South West Fly Fishing Fair will be held at Roadford Lake for its seventh consecutive year on Saturday 29 February, 10.00am – 4.00pm. This event, proudly sponsored by Chevron Hackles, has become a regular fixture in the West Country’s angling calendar as anglers prepare for the start of a new fishing season. Each year the event has built on the success of the previous Fly Fair and the 2020 show will be bigger and better again!

The show will be opened at 10.00am by one of the country’s most respected fly-fishing gurus, and Patron of the show, Charles Jardine. There will be fly-tying demonstrations from both local and nationally renowned experts, with a chance to ‘have a go’, as well as the opportunity to pick up useful tips and valuable advice.

Other activities throughout the day include casting demonstrations, fly casting lessons and clinics for both newcomers to the sport and experienced anglers feeling a little rusty after the closed season as well as casting competitions and the opportunity to try float-tubing or kayak fishing!

There will be Trout cooking demonstrations and a variety of live Trout for people to view including Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Blue Trout.

Trade stands will be selling tackle and equipment at bargain prices and there will also be rod making demonstrations.

It’s a terrific event and the only one of its kind in the South West! Entry is only £3.00 for adults and under 18s go free. The bar will be open for refreshments throughout the day and parking will be free.

For more information please contact Ben Smeeth by calling South West Lakes Trust on 01566 771930 or email [email protected].

Salmon – journeys end

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I was sent this picture of dead salmon seen on the banks of the Torridge Estuary. Such a sight is not uncommon at this time of year. The majority of salmon will have spawned on the redds high up on the rivers headwaters and many die of exhaustion after ensuring the ongoing survival of the species. This salmon was estimated at 8lb to 10lb and was a cock fish judging by its prominent kype.

I always welcome any fish related news, comment and pictures from North Devon.

It is less that two months until the start of the salmon fishing season on our local rivers. Last season was blighted by low flows throughout a large portion of the season. Rumours are that this has been a reasonable spawning season on our local rivers so we must hope that this is true. Salmon numbers have been in decline for decades and every effort must be made to ensure that these iconic fish continue to forge up our rivers each year.

WINTER READING

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Dark winter nights are made for reading and dreaming and the latest edition of Fly Culture delivers plenty of fuel to inspire. The editor in Chief of this quality read is local Fly Fishing enthusiast Pete Tyjas who was an inspiring Fly Fishing Guide at the Fox and Hounds, Eggesford.

My own book on fishing in North Devon entitled “I Caught A Glimpse” is available from https://thelittleegretpress.co.uk/product-category/author/wayne-thomas/

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Christmas Competition @ Blakewell

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Seven members fished in the clubs Christmas Competition at Blakewell where all members caught their three fish bags of hard fighting rainbows. The fish were caught on a variety of flies mostly small imitative patterns with the water clarity good. The lake was well sheltered from the gale force winds that were beating in from the North-West.

1st – Paul Grisley –  3 Trout – 6lb 11oz

2nd – Dave Eldred – 3 Trout – 5lb 11oz

3rd – Dave Mock – 3  Trout – 5lb 8oz

4th – Wayne Thomas – 3 Trout – 5lb 5oz

5th – Nigel Bird – 3 Trout – 5lb

6th – Colin Combe – 3 Trout – 4lb 11oz

7th – Andre Muxworthy = 3 trout – 4lb 1oz

BLAKEWELL CHRISTMAS COMPETITION 2019

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Twenty seven anglers arrived to fish Blakewell’s Annual Christmas Competition despite the pending arrival of Storm Atiyah with winds forecast to reach up to 70mph. The competition is always an enjoyable day of socializing. Many of the anglers fish this competition each year catching up on the latest gossip from the South West Angling world with stories of places visited and of fishing adventures across the world.

I always find it slightly alarming how quickly this event seems to come around as the years drift past to merge into memories. Coffees, port and greetings are exchanged before the draw. The format is well known to all the regulars with six pegs drawn with an hour to be spent at each peg rotating around the lake throughout the day. With the storm forecast John and Richard Nickell wisely decide upon a slight change to this years timetable bring the competitions close to 2.30pm With dinner closing the event enabling anglers to retreat to the warmth of the tea room as the predicted storm arrives.

At 9.30am we set off for the lake full of expectation with those first few casts often productive. I draw a peg at the top corner of the Lake and have a grandstand view across the water where I observe several bent rods within minutes of the start.

To my surprise the first hour passes without any action to my rod and I am pleased to move to a new area. I have elected to fish a black tailed marabou lure with a bright green head on the point and two spider type flies on the droppers. After twenty minutes in my second zone I hook a rainbow of around 1lb 8oz and feel relieved to get the scoreboard ticking over. Persistence over the next hour sees another three trout caught the best a very pleasing fish of 4lb.

A vicious squall suddenly sweeps across the lake. Lashing rain and hail driven by a raging wind that bends the trees and sends branches drifting down the lake. At this point some anglers appear to be ready to pack away. Others like myself grit our teeth and try to soldier on.

Fortunately the squall is short lived and sunshine once again breaks through the clouds bringing a welcome splash of light and colour to the day. I make another move and soon connect with two more trout to complete my six fish bag.

With mission complete I take a walk around the lake capturing a few fishy moments as competitors chat and share the day. By 2.30pm everyone is ready for a hot dish of chilli con-carne a mince pie and a cool beer.

Many thanks again to John and Richard Nickell for their hospitality and good humour. Hard to believe its 12 months since we heard Richards cheery patter of optimism for the coming year. Once again a steady stream of families walkaway with their Christmas trees a sense of cheery optimism in the winter air.

Competition Results :-

1st Alan Evans – six trout – 14lb 10oz

2nd – Paul Grisley – Six trout – 14lb 2oz

3rd – Mark Buxton – Six trout 12lb 4oz

( Above) Biggest Fish – Alan Evans – Rainbow trout  – 6lb

Great Torrington Army Cadet’s Fly Fishing for Duke of Edinburgh’s Award 2019

This year’s course started on 2nd April 2019 with a basic Introduction into Fly Fishing, over the past 7 months 4 cadets from Great Torrington Detachment have worked hard learning the different elements required to be proficient fly fishermen, these included types of Rods, Reels, Flies, Lines, Leaders & Casting.

On 16th April we had a visit from Paul Carter, Environment Agency Fisheries Officer to talk about his job and Licencing.

As well as Paul we had another visitor, Alan Crawley, River Warden for the Commons Conservators to talk about the work he’s been doing to improve access to the river by installing steps etc.

The Cadets found this evening really interesting.

15th June was our fly tying day where the cadets were instructed in the art of fly tying, this was also an opportunity for them to tie a selection of flies ready for the lake days to follow, all the cadets successfully managed to tie 6 reasonably flies by the end of the day.

13th July was our first Lake day, Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery, near Holsworthy. This day proved to be challenging and despite everyone’s best efforts no fish were caught, but the cadets did get a lot of experience.

27th July should have been our second lake days, Bratton Water Fly Fishery, Barnstaple. Unfortunately due to so much other training happening that weekend which some of the group were involved in, we had to cancel.

30th November was our third lake day, Blakewell Trout Fishery, Barnstaple. This day started with a guided tour around the farm to see and learn about the fish, how water levels, oxygen level and temperatures affect the fish’s growth & wellbeing.

Fishing was challenging with fish following lures and turning away at the last moment, the cadet didn’t let this put them off but persevered in their quest to catch and land their first fish.

By the end of the day the cadets had all caught a fish to take home, best result ever, a perfect end to the course.

The Cadets and Instructors would like to thank the following people for their continued support,

Paul Carter                   Environment Agency Fisheries Officer

Alan Crawley                 River Warden for the Commons Conservators

Paul Cozens                  Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery

Andrew Moores            Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery

Mike Williams               Bratton Water Fly Fishery

Richard Nickell              Blakewell Fishery

John Nickell                  Blakewell Fishery