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.