I PREDICT A RIOT OF AUTUMN SPORT

Exmoor was shrouded in early morning September mist as I negotiated the twists and turns of the road to Wimbleball. I was meeting with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce for an eagerly anticipated day  searching for the hard fighting browns and rainbows that dwell within the lakes 500 plus acres.

Autumn is an exciting time for the reservoir trout angler with dropping temperatures often resulting in an uplift in sport. The long warm days of summer tend to result in the trout becoming lethargic, languishing into the deep water where they can be difficult to tempt.

Jeff arrived at the boat launching pontoons after the long drive from Cornwall and we eagerly loaded the gear onto the boat. We noted that the water was full of fry and wondered if the trout would be embarking in a bit of fry bashing somewhere around the lake?

It seemed the perfect day for trout fishing with overcast conditions and a gentle breeze riffling the lakes surface. The beauty of a boat is that the lake can be explored  extensively moving from zone to zone within minutes.

We decided to head for the Upton Arm where the tree lined banks often deliver tempting morsals upon which the wild browns and established rainbows feast. A wide range of methods can work at this time of year but recent catch returns indicated that the fish were tending to be down deep. The absence of fish rising confirmed that this could well be the case.

Working in partnership two anglers can often find the key to success quicker using differing tactics until the best one is found.

I elected to start with a fast sinking line and three flies. An olive damsel on the point, a cormorant on the middle dropper and an orange blob on the top dropper. Jeff elected to start with an intermediate line and similar choice of flies.

After 15 minutes or so I hooked into the first fish of the day that came off after a brief tussle. The next half an hour proved frustrating as a succession of good sized rainbows chased the flies to the side of the boat. The trout were obviously interested nipping at the tails of the flies and lures.

Persistence paid off after a while and a small wild brown eventually nailed the damsel. These wild Wimbleball browns are delightful with patterned flanks with hues of green, gold, brown and bronze decorated with black and crimson spots.

As the morning passed chances came and went and it became clear that the trout were still behaving as if it was August and had not yet awoken into their Autumn mode.

Whilst Jeff constantly made changes I tended to stick to the damsel lure on the point making occasional changes to the dropper flies and varying the speed of the retrieve.

As the day drifted past we explored Cowmoor Bay and end up in the shallower Bessom’s and Rugg’s. The vast sky changed frequently from misty cloud to periods of warm sunshine. The landscape was still vibrant and green with leaves not yet showing any signs of the changing season. The occasional martin and swallow swooped over the water.

We reluctantly made our last casts shortly after 6:30pm having enjoyed a great day searching the lake. Four wild browns each and a brace of rainbow between us the best nudging 4lb.

The next couple of months will surely bring a riot of sport as the trout awaken from their summer slumbers. Fry patterns or dry daddies will tempt both hard fighting rainbows and perhaps even one of the huge wild browns that lurk in the lake. The best wild brown caught last year topped 8lb and bigger ones undoubtedly dwell in the depths of the lake. The rainbow stock density is high with plenty of full tailed five pounders waiting to be caught.

I look forward to my return to the lake in a couple of weeks with eagerness.

Many thanks to Jeff Pearce of Snowbee for sharing his images of the days fishing.

         

Fishing for Life at picturesque Hawkridge

Many thanks for the report below from Sally Pizii  Trustee and Fishing coordinator of all  SWFFL (South West Fishing For Life)  and FFL groups  :-

What a wonderful day the ladies from South West Fishing for Life had on Sunday at Hawkridge Reservoir.

The weather was warm and fine and, as always, the scenery provided a stunning background to the competition.

The ladies might have all been united by having had breast cancer, but competition was fierce as they fished their annual fly fishing boat match.

The boats were all carefully rowed by members of the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club  and secrets shared as to which fly to use and where the best place to cast would be.

There were trout everywhere and could be clearly seen cruising through the water, one almost jumped in to one of the boats, but only one was hungry enough to take the fly offered.

Julie Abbott caught a lovely two pound, four ounce trout. She took first prize as did her boatman Andre and everyone else got ‘runners up’ prizes.

Due to Covid, a shared meal was not on offer at the end of the event, but next year, we hope it will all be different.

Thanks go to the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club and to Wessex Water who allowed the competition to take place.

https://www.southwestfishingforlife.org.uk/index.php

 The Wistlandpound Club members fished on after the mornings boat sharing to compete in the clubs Roger and Guard Shield. The winner was Colin Combe with four trout for 11lb 4oz and runner up myself with four trout for 9lb 12oz. David Eldred was third with one trout of 2lb 14oz.

Colin Combes with his winning bag of trout

Hawkridge Reservior is at present run by Wessex Water and is a picturesque water located in the Quantox Hills close to Taunton.

https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/community/activities/fishing-at-hawkridge

Wimbleball – Fine bag

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Andy Facey enjoyed a spot of Wimbleball trout action putting together a fine bag of hard fighting rainbows weighing 5lb 2 oz , 4lb 12oz , 3lb 12oz , 3lb 6oz and  2lb 8oz all on black and peacock spider.

The coming Autumn should see some spectacular sport at this venue as the trout feed hard as temperatures start to drop as the season changes. A wide range of tactics can work from lures to dry flies.

Fish Legal is considering legal action for River Mole Pollution

Fish Legal are considering legal action against those responsible for the devastating pollution incident that killed thousands of fish on the river Mole in July 2019. See full press release below:-

River Mole polluters not off the hook yet

Fish Legal is considering legal action against those responsible for polluting a 4.7 kilometre stretch of the River Mole with digestate in July 2019.

The company was fined £2,000 and an employee was fined £667 at Exeter Magistrates Court on 28 July 2021 after an estimated 15,600 fish died as result of the incident.

Fish Legal has a number of riparian and angling club members on the River Mole affected by what one Environment Agency officer has described as the worst fish kill seen in 30 years. Whole populations of salmonids, from mature adults to fry, are thought to have been wiped out by what appears to have been a careless and completely avoidable pollution of the river.

Penelope Gane, Head of Practice at Fish Legal said:

“It’s good to see that the Environment Agency prosecuted in this case.  They have faced a barrage of criticism in the media recently for not taking a tough stance on polluters so when they do use their powers to punish offenders and to deter others that should be acknowledged.”

“The fine on the other hand is paltry.  Anaerobic digestate is extremely toxic to aquatic life and it could take years for fish populations to fully recover from this one-off event.  Whilst the Court may have stuck to the letter of the Sentencing Guidelines in deciding on the level of the fine to impose in this case, does a total of £2,667 really send out the right message about the value of our rivers?”

Alex Gibson, who owns fishing rights to about a mile of the River Taw into which the River Mole flows, said:

“It would be hard to imagine a worse pollution incident.  It comes after the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association has both spent time and money improving access over Head Weir – the gateway to the Mole for migratory fish – and gravel washing on the Mole to increase spawning capability there. It is not just anglers fishing below the polluted stretch, but all those who enjoy the river and its ecology that have felt the devastating effect of this pollution incident and, unfortunately will continue to do so into the future.”

Fish Legal took legal action on behalf of a member club on the River Leadon in a similar incident in 2016 when an employee instructed to fertilise one of the orchards at a farm near Dymock in Gloucestershire failed to check the valves before turning on the irrigation system designed to take the digestate fertiliser from a lagoon to the orchard. Sadly, anaerobic digesters continue to represent a high-risk operation with catastrophic consequences for rivers when anything goes wrong.

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report August 2021

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Please see below the latest report from SWLT. Not included in the report but shown in the pictures are several coarse fish landed by Fly Fisherman. These coarse fish can offer excellent sport with carp present in Roadford, Colliford and Kennick. Large numbers of Rudd also offer great sport at Wistlandpound and Stithians. Large perch are also present at Roadford where lure fishing boats are available.

All of the South West Lakes Trust trout fisheries continue to be operated under strict Covid-19 restrictions, in line with the Angling Trust and Government guidelines. At the time of writing, the on-site permit huts are still not yet open, so day tickets, season tickets and boats should be pre-booked online (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing). Water levels are currently about 90% full.

Fishing:

Kennick – The month proved to be one of very mixed weather, with some very hot bright days, followed by heavy rain and winds – the main overriding feature was of warm muggy conditions, and water temperatures gradually rising (to 19º), which in many cases drove the lethargic fish to deeper cooler water, with boat anglers tending to achieve the best results. In spite of plentiful hatches of sedges, buzzers, and damsels, surface feeding was mainly restricted to early mornings and late evenings. Generally intermediate or sinking lines with a slow retrieve proved to be the most successful method, with a wide selection of nymph and lure patterns all working well, although the occasional floating pattern (Claret Snaffler, Black Gnat, Daddies and Hoppers) did bring fish to the surface, with fish well spread out over the lake. Mark Skelley enjoyed a great dry fly session during a buzzer hatch, catching six rainbows between 2 and 3lbs, as well as a beautiful 2lb brown. Matt Baines had great sport from a float tube, catching nine 2lb rainbows; Adam Dale caught six 2lb rainbows using a Booby fished from a boat on a sinking line.

Siblyback – A tough month’s fishing at Siblyback produced disappointing results, particularly at the beginning and end of the month. The majority of fish caught were taken from Stocky Bay or North Bay (from a boat), with most of the action in the late afternoon or early evening. A slow retrieved Bibio on a floating line produced a 2lb rainbow and an 8oz brown for Andy Dexter, while Phil Messenger-Roberts caught five rainbows up to 2lb 4oz.

Burrator – The fishing proved challenging this month, with the warm conditions making the fish lethargic and not keen to feed, although sport did improve toward the end of the month. A variety of methods worked, and fish were caught on both floating and sinking lines, with a variety of retrieval speeds. Longstone and Pig Trough Bay produced the best fishing, with both nymph (Buzzers, Hares Ears, and Damsels) and lure patterns (Persuader, Kennick Killer, and Woolly Bugger) catching fish. The best fish caught in the month was a 3lb rainbow caught by Jon Rood; M. Cekella caught three rainbows to 2lb 8oz.

Stithians – The fishing improved at Stithians, with weekly averages up to 2.11 fish per angler, and fish chasing fry in the margins. Pipe Bay, Goonlaze Point, Pub Bay, Chapel Bay as well as the deeper water by the dam all produced good sport, with a wide selection of dry, nymph and lure (including fry) patterns all catching fish,  and floating line and washing-line tactics working well. Simon Peters (from Truro) enjoyed two excellent sessions, catching seven rainbows to 2lb in one, and two rainbows and three browns to 1lb 8oz four days later, using a washing-line set up (FAB on point, with Daddies and Hoppers) and slow figure-of-eight retrieve. Simon Peters caught 11 rainbows using a Damsel Nymph.

Colliford – The warm conditions did nothing to deter the eager feeding brown trout at Colliford, with anglers enjoying an overall monthly average of 4.2 fish per rod. Fish were well spread out around the lake (the best approach here is to keep on the move and cover as much water as possible), and floating lines were the most productive approach, with a selection of dry patterns (Beetles, Hoppers, Sedges, and Black Gnats), nymphs (Hares Ears, Damsels, and Bibios), and some lures (Black Tadpoles and Cormorants) as well as pulled Soldier Palmers all catching well. Dean Boucher caught twenty eight fish in two visits, using a red Hopper and foam Beetle. Chris Tillyard caught fourteen fish in two sessions using a dry Hares Ear and a Black Spider pattern; Chris also caught nine browns to 30cm on dries on another visit, and 5 browns to 33cm using a Silver Sedge dry and a Soldier Palmer Snatcher on yet another session.

Fernworthy – The fishing improved as the month progressed (the conditions were too hot earlier), and fish started to feed near the surface (mainly on Buzzers and Sedges). Thornworthy Bank and the South Bank proved to be the most productive locations, with Black Gnats, Midges, Beetles, Dry Sedges, Hawthornes, and Bibios fished on a slowly retrieved floating line producing the best results. Simon Madden caught a 2lb brown using a Damsel Nymph, Clive Garland (from Bampton) caught nine browns on a dry sedge, and Patrick Murphy (from Plymouth) caught six browns on a team of midges.

Roadford – The middle of the month produced the best results at Roadford, when anglers averaged just under four fish per rod. Daveys Bank, Gaddacombe, and the deeper water by the dam all fished well. Sub-surface patterns produced the best results, with either nymphs (Damsels, Montanas, Bibios, Buzzers, and Daiwl Bachs) or dark lures (Black Tadpoles, Black Wooly Buggers) producing the best results. Jamie Gillman (from Plymouth) caught ten browns to 2lbs using a Diawl Bach; Duncan Kier (from Belstone) caught eight browns to 2lb 8oz; Dean Boucher caught twelve browns in two sessions, all on a floating line.

Please visit the South West Lakes Trust website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for details on ticket prices, fishery information, clubs, competitions, and boat availability.

North Devon Rivers Latest

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A lack of rain has undoubtedly contributed to another poor season on North Devon’s rivers with salmon and sea trout numbers below expectation. As the last month of the season looms anglers will be hoping for a big spate to bring in the fish that are hopefully waiting in the estuary. Good sport in last few weeks can very often restore many an anglers season.

Ian Blewett tempted this stunning River Taw salmon on  Size 12 Stoat’s tail. The fish was hooked in the fading light of dusk and eventually unhooked and released after darkness had descended. An exciting encounter in what Ian described as a poor season so far.

River Torridge Newsreel

The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                               Secretary:

Charles Inniss                                                                                                                         Beeches

Sheepwash                                                                                                                         Beaworthy

Devon

EX21 5NW

                                                                                                      [email protected]

                                                                                                                        tel: 01409231237

NEWSREEL: SUMMER 2021:               

The Annual Dinner and Raffle: will take place at The Half Moon Inn, Sheepwash on Saturday 25th September. Please book direct with The Half Moon.         Tel: 01409231376. e-mail:  [email protected]

The Half Moon has recently changed hands and the new owners, Haydn Beynon and his wife Kim are keen to meet as many of you as possible. They want to retain The Half Moon as a traditional fishing inn and in particular wish to encourage newcomers to take up river fly fishing. Our new fishery officer, Callum Underhill, will be joining us and is looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible.

Environment Agency – North Devon’s New Fishery Officer

The Hatchery: it’s that time of the year again: in early November we will be trapping the broodstock of five hens and five cocks. This winter we are again planning to rear 30,000 swim-up fry to stock out into the headwaters next spring. After the disappointment of not being able to operate last year, the EA are happy for us to run our hatchery this year with 50% of our eggs being grown on to “swim-up” fry at the Colliford hatchery in Cornwall.

The season so far: it’s been an unusual year. An exceptionally cold and dry April was followed by a month of incessant rain and not until early June did the river come into good fishing condition. Because of the Covid restrictions there have not been so many visiting anglers but several large sea trout over 5lb have been caught by those fishing after dark: mostly from middle river beats. An 8lb bass was recently caught in the weir pool at Beam!!

The AGM: the agm could not be held this year, but all being well will take place next spring.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: most of the £20 subscriptions for this year have now been paid. Thank you all very much. I would be grateful to receive the few that are outstanding. Please make cheques payable to the Torridge Fishery Association and forward to me at the above address. If paying by BACS: a/c no: 0082770: sort code: 51 70 16. Ref: Torridge Owners Association. Raffle ticket money and subs can be paid with one cheque.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the dinner: it is always a most enjoyable evening.

Environment Agency – North Devon’s New Fishery Officer

The East Lyn River is one of my favourite locations a beautiful river that holds an array of personal angling memories accumulated over forty years. I arranged to catch up with North Devon’s new Environment Agency Fishery Officer Callum Underhill so this venue seemed a logical location to meet up and exchange notes.

Callum is filling the shoes of Paul Carter who retired from the Environment Agency after more than three decades patrolling and safeguarding North Devons waters. It was immediately apparent that Callum brings a great deal of dedication and passion to the role that involves a vast patch of North Devon with the Rivers Taw, Torridge and Lyn at the heart of operations.

A keen coarse angler originating from Somerset he is keen to expand his angling forays to include both Fly Fishing and Sea Angling. Before moving to the South West Callum worked as a fishery officer in the Midlands.

We walked the Lyn exchanging many fishy tales and lamenting the decline in salmon and sea trout stocks across the region. In particular we discussed the fabulous East Lyn and its excellent wild brown trout fishing that is available at a very reasonable £5.00 per day. This season has also seen several salmon caught and released close to 10lb.

We discussed a vast range of issues relating to North Devon including law enforcement, pollution, Climate change, regulations, Rod Licences and bylaws. We also discussed coastal issues and the work of IFCA and the overlap in responsibilities. Callum has a vast knowledge of the issues and the politics behind them and will I am sure prove a vital asset to North Devon assisting both anglers and conservation interests.

Anglers are encouraged to report any concerns regarding illegal fishing activity, poaching or pollution to the Environment Agency

Incident hotline
Telephone: 0800 80 70 60
24-hour service

River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association – Respond to Mole Pollution Incident

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Mole Pollution Incident July 2019 – EA Prosecution

In the recent prosecution brought by the Environment Agency the guilty pleas were appropriate and not unexpected. The fines however, appear derisory – £2,000 and £667 against a fish kill of around 16,400. These fines don’t reflect the severity of the incident, the damage done to our fish stocks and the ecology of the Mole. Where is the deterrent message to the farming community at a time of poor water quality in our rivers which remain under continuing threat from unsafe farming practices?

See link to EA press release below

We are pleased that the EA carried out a successful prosecution, but extremely disappointed with the final outcome.

Andy Gray, Chairman, RTFCA

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-devon-company-fined-for-pollution-that-devastated-fish-population

Red Skin Disease in wild salmon

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This year we have received a number of reports of wild Atlantic salmon exhibiting ventral haemorrhaging consistent with Red Skin Disease (RSD). We are monitoring the situation on all our major salmon rivers and working with partners across the UK to better understand its cause and impact.

We have been collating reports of skin lesions in wild salmonids from across England and have issued regular guidance to our staff, anglers and stakeholders on what to look out for, what to do if disease is suspected, and the need to report any cases to us promptly. We are also working closely with colleagues in Natural Resources Wales to monitor and collate reports.

We have had no reported cases of mortality associated with ventral haemorrhaging in wild salmonids in England, but have received reports of a small number of fish caught by anglers showing changes consistent with RSD. Our staff who operate salmon traps as part of our national index monitoring programme have also observed a small number of cases.

We are asking anglers to be vigilant but not to remove or handle any fish in distress. Also for anglers to carefully take photographs of fish exhibiting any unusual marks if safe to do so, to practice good biosecurity, and to adhere to our guidance on disinfection or to ‘Clean, Check, Dry’ equipment after fishing and before moving to other waters.

To report dead or dying fish, please contact our incident hotline immediately: 0800 80 70 60. For further information on RSD please contact our National Fisheries Laboratory: 02084 745244 or 07825 111723 / [email protected]

North Devon company fined for pollution that devastated fish population

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The North Devon company that caused a pollution incident leading to a devastating fish kill on the River Mole near South Molton has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £9,836 in costs.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-devon-company-fined-for-pollution-that-devastated-fish-population

The charges:

A J Sing and Son Ltd pleaded guilty to the following offence:

Between 29 July 2019 and 1 August 2019 on land at Gortonhill Moors, South Molton you caused a water discharge activity not under or to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, namely by the deposit of organic matter derived from an anaerobic digestion plant on to said land, which subsequently entered the river Mole. Contrary to Regulations 12(1)(b) and 38(1) (a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

Ryan Adams pleaded guilty to the following offence:

Between 29 July 2019 and 1 August 2019 on land at Gortonhill Moors, South Molton A J Sing and Son Limited caused a water discharge activity not under or to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, namely by the deposit of organic matter derived from an anaerobic digestion plant onto said land, which subsequently entered the river Mole and said water discharge activity was caused by an act or default on your part. Contrary to regulations 12(1)(b) and 38(6) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

COMMENT – North Devon Angling News

Many anglers and conservationists are appalled at the paltry fine issued following a court case relating to a devastating fish kill on the River Mole. The EA estimated that 15,600 fish were killed.

The River Mole is one of North Devon’s premier game fishing rivers a major tributary of the River Taw. Over recent seasons the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association have invested and assisted in major schemes to improve the river habitat and improve upstream migration. This destruction of a pristine river environment will impact upon the river for years to come.

After a long and protracted court case and extensive work by the EA the outcome is appalling. The rivers are vital arteries that flow through our countryside and this generation owes it to those who follow us to ensure a healthy environment. Salmon and sea trout are iconic species that are a barometer to the health of our world. The destruction of habitat should in my view be severely punished to deter any future negligence in agricultural practice.

For more information on the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association click on below link.