I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – A Great Winter Read

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – Fishing In North Devon

            I have been privileged to enjoy over forty years fishing North Devon’s varied waters enjoying both success and failure. The places and the many people I have met along the way have greatly enriched the journey and as the years pass I realise that all we ever get is a fleeting glimpse of a period in angling history.

In this book I tell a few of my own stories of North Devon angling along with recollections from others; some from an earlier generation who enjoyed fishing in those good old days.

I have no favourite species of fish just the one I am fishing for at the time and this book reflects this with every discipline of angling represented. From the small crimson spotted trout of tumbling streams to the huge shark that roam the Atlantic Ocean.

Angling is in essence an attempt to reach into a different dimension. Its fascination has for me never ceased and I always believe that the next cast will be the one that connects, that marvellous moment of completed deception. The anglers I have interviewed in writing this book reflect upon past times when they too glimpsed piscatorial events that they enjoyed recalling. Stories of lost fisheries, big fish, record fish of angler’s their attitudes and love of fishing.

I hope that I manage to share and convey the joys of angling in North Devon and provide a glimpse into a century of marvellous fishing.

Just a fleeting glimpse,

Of Memories gone,

A hopeful glimpse of what may come,

When its bitter cold outside its often good to settle down by the fire to read a good book.  ” I Caught A Glimpse” has an array of fishing stories from North Devon with all disciplines catered for if your interested check out this review from Dominic Garnett and the comments from my friend Paul French.

https://dgfishing.co.uk/winter-coarse-fishing-and-new-angling-books-reviewed/?fbclid=IwAR1STJpBKb5FDftACxckmT4Gjl9zb5UknO9M0eyvbEQuhmITPgH2TQLF5As

I received this email from my friend Paul French who took the book on a cruise.

“We’ve recently returned from a cruise to Norway which provided me with ample time to read your book and what a thoroughly good read it was too! The passion you undoubtably have for this pastime of ours is embodied in the words on each and every page. The part mix of autobiographical and part historical is I believe a unique blende and certainly not something I’ve seen attempted elsewhere. It couldn’t have been an easy project to undertake and metaphorically reading between the lines the reader may understandably not appreciate the hours and days of research you have put into it. You’ve smashed it, all round my kind of book. 

All we need now is a Glimpse of the next one”.

https://thelittleegretpress.co.uk/product-category/author/wayne-thomas/

Available from The Little Egret Press or drop me a PM via my Facebook Page or North Devon Angling News.

Last casts of the Wimbleball season

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It always seems difficult to fit in enough time for fishing trips so with the season at Wimbleball drawing to a close I was keen to have one last trip at this rejuvenated water. The last two years have seen this large reservoir return to form after a sterling effort by Mark and Trudi Underhill and their team. Regular stocking of full finned hard fighting rainbows has ensured that a building number of Fly Fishing enthusiasts are visiting the lake.

It seemed a good idea to visit the lake on the last day of the 2019 season on Saturday, November 30th. I contacted my good friend and Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pierce to see if he fancied joining me. He too was keen so we agreed to meet up at 9.00am and take out a boat giving the freedom to explore a larger area than bank fishing.

I am not so sure either of us thought it was such a good idea when we set out at dawn with a bitter east wind and a forecast of temperatures of 5 degrees C. it was certainly a bitterly cold late November day with slate grey skies and a cutting Easterly wind that anglers dread. We have all heard that old saying, “ when the wind is in the East the fish bite the least”.

The only way we were going to enjoy today was to make sure we would keep warm. I had togged up with my full Chillcheater thermals, with a fleece trouser and top. On top of this I wore leggings and a Chillcheater waterproof smock. So suitably wrapped up we climbed onboard the boat and steamed out onto the cold expanse of water.

There were several other anglers braving the elements on the bank all fishing in the Bessom and Rugg’s area of the lake. This area gave some shelter from the wind and had been producing plenty of rainbows in recent weeks.

We both opted to start using sinking lines and a team of flies. Typically, a lure on the point a small imitative pattern on the middle dropper and blob on the top dropper. This was a combination I was to stick with all day.

We dropped anchor and extended our lines searching for fish in keen anticipation. It was great to be out despite the chill conditions and we chatted enthusiastically about past and future fishing forays.

After half an hour neither of us had so much as a pull and decided to make a move. On arrival at our new destination Jeff spotted a fish rise which gave some optimism. I heard a curse from Jeff  who had just cast out letting the line sink as he retrieved a drink from his tackle bag. The rod tip had surged over, loose line zipping tight. A momentary connection followed before the fish shook itself free from the barbless hook. A few minutes later Jeff saw another rise and cast hopefully immediately connecting with a hard fighting rainbow that had seized a tiny diawl bach as the flies hit the water. The rainbow would have weighed around 3lb and was carefully released at the side of the boat.

We fished on in this spot for a while before moving again and again in search of elusive trout. We saw that the bank anglers were enjoying some success with their rods bent and reels screaming in protest. To our surprise they seemed to be catching on floating lines despite the conditions.

Jeff worked hard as always changing his lines from sinking to intermediate and to a full floater. I persisted with the sinking line approach believing that most fish would be down deep. What I did do was change the tip fly on a regular basis and vary my retrieve. Slow and steady, fast and erratic. Sometimes letting the line sink deep and on other casts commencing the retrieve as soon as the fly hit the water.

Eventually the line zipped delightfully tight as something hit a damsel nymph beneath the boat. The fish fought deep swimming in circles with no long fast runs. To our surprise it was beautiful spotted brown trout  of round 2lb that appeared at the surface.

Jeff grabbed a quick picture of the fish at the side of boat and I let the out of season fish swim away into the chill water.

It was now early afternoon and we fished on relishing the challenge buoyed by some success. We both agreed that we looked forward to a return in the spring as swallows swooped low over the water, buds were breaking on the trees and trout were lazily sipping buzzers from warm waters caressed by a gentle breeze. Despite thoughts of spring and summer there is still something beguiling about this bleak winter landscape.

We continued to make regular moves hoping to locate a pod of fish. Once again my line pulled tight and another fine brown trout was brought to the side of the boat.

We watched the bank anglers continuing to enjoy some success which spurred us on to fish ever harder expectant of action with every cast. Jeff had several pulls that he failed to convert.

When my line again drew tight I was convinced I had hooked a big rainbow. The rod took on an alarming curve and line was ripped from the reel. For a minute or so the fish had the better of me causing a few anxious moments as it threatened to take the line around the anchor rope. Relishing the battle I piled on the pressure hoping Jeff would capture the bent rod as the fish tested my tackle. It was undoubtedly a very good fish as we caught a glimpse of its flanks in the clear cold water. Eventually the pressure told and a beautiful brown trout that must have been closer to five pounds than four broke the surface. The fish was drawn into Jeff’s rubber meshed net and carefully unhooked before a quick picture above the water. A stunning fish that would make this a day to remember.

We fished on for another hour moving a few more times but my arm was starting to ache. I suggested to Jeff that another ten minutes would do for me and I don’t think he was too disappointed at my suggestion. It was after all close to 4.00pm by the time we had moored the boat back at the launch pontoon.

We vowed to return in the spring at the start of a new season. It promises to be a good one if this season is anything to go by.

Hooked on Lure Fishing – By Dominic Garnett & Andy Mytton

Lure fishing is I believe one of the biggest growth areas in angling with an increasing number of recruits. I guess lure fishing fits well with modern life allowing short sessions with minimal tackle enabling anyone to get their fishy fix.

The latest Lure Fishing book from Dominic Garnett and Andy Mytton is a comprehensive and informative guide to modern lure fishing tactics. I grew up in a generation that had a very narrow view of lure fishing with just a handful of predatory species targeted by most anglers. The introduction of LRF fishing and species fishing has totally transformed the lure fishing world as is illustrated throughout this fascinating tome.

The emphasis throughout the book is fishing for fun. The quest for big is not high on the agenda it’s all about the catching and the variety of species. From saltwater rockpools and blennies, ‘ minnows in brook’s right up to pike, bass and salmon.

The book is well illustrated throughout with some stunning underwater images from Jack Perks. Tactics, tackle, rigs, lures, watercraft, habitat is all crammed into over 200 pages along with a few tales to inspire and illustrate how it all fits together.

This is a must read for lure anglers whatever their experience as it is packed with tips and new angles. I am sure it will be one of those books that is frequently dipped into for inspiration on the eve of lure fishing trips. The only downside is that it will fuel that dreaded temptation to add to the ever increasing box of must have lures!

Definitely one for the Christmas List !

TORRIDGE FISHERY ASSOCIATION – NEWSREEL

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The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

 

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                                   Secretary: Charles Inniss

e-mail: [email protected]

NEWSREEL: WINTER 2019.

The salmon hatchery:  

            On Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th November we successfully trapped our 10 broodstock (5 hens and 5 cocks).  Four of the hens are about 9lb together with one superb fish in excess of 13lb. All the cock fish are in the 4.5lb range.  All the fish are in excellent condition  and are now being looked after back at the hatchery. We were concerned that with the rivers having been in full spate for the last six weeks all the salmon may have gone through the fish pass, but our worries were unfounded. Indeed there seems to be a steady run in the Okement which is very encouraging.

The lid of the main broodstock tank needed repairing and this was completed by Ken Dunn and David Williams in time to receive the broodstock.

Last year there was a high mortality from the eggs of one of the hens, so the team will be looking closely at out procedures for stripping and fertilising the eggs to minimise the risk of high mortalities.

Juvenile Surveys:

            During the summer the EA carried out juvenile surveys at a limited number of sites on the main river and major tributaries. The results were encouraging. The site at Okehampton Castle on the River Okement always produces good results but this year it was quite outstanding particularly with the numbers of salmon parr.

The Annual Dinner and Raffle:

Another superb evening at The Half Moon. 47 of us enjoyed an excellent meal followed by the raffle and auction. Once again member support for the annual raffle was tremendous and over £1,500 was raised which will go towards continuing our efforts to improve the fishing on this beautiful river. In particular this money is used to finance the running of the hatchery. Particular thanks to Paul Ashworth, our Chairman, and his wife Geraldine who organised the raffle and the auction which as always went off without a hitch with the usual wonderful array of prizes.

The Fishing Season:

Following on from 2018 the salmon anglers were hoping for more water and more fish: but it was not to be. It has been another season with predominantly low flows with few salmon caught. We were all hoping that the autumn rains would arrive in time to provide some good fishing at the back end of the season. The rains did arrive but our weather went from one extreme to another. The river was in full spate for the last 10 days of the season and since then there has hardly been a dry day. In the last fortnight there have been two large floods, with the river over the top of the hedges at Sheepwash on 25th October.

The brown trout fishing in May and June was at times quite outstanding. Often although there was little surface activity anglers who persevered with a dry fly were rewarded with some excellent catches. As in 2018 several trout upwards of 2lb have been caught.

There seemed to be a better run of sea trout this year. A small spate in June encouraged fish to move upstream and they spread throughout the system. I haven’t heard of any very large sea trout being caught and the main run seems to have been in the 2/3lb range with some fish up to 5lb.

 

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Winter Challenge Bratton Water

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Visited Bratton Water for the first of their Winter Challenge series and enjoyed some good sport in the calm conditions. The day started off with the fishery shrouded in mist before autumn sunshine broke through bringing the fish onto the feed.

1st – Andre Muxworthy – 3 fish – 9lb 2.5oz

2nd – Paul Grizley – 3 Fish – 6lb 14oz

3rd – Nigel Bird – 3 Fish 5lb 15oz

INVASIVE SPECIES – FREE WORKSHOPS

An opportunity to learn more about the complex world of invasive species and how we a s anglers can help stop the spread and identify issues.

South West Lakes Trust and South West Water invite you to a free workshop to find out more about biosecurity, invasive non-native species and discuss what we can all do to help prevent their spread. There are five workshops covering our region and bookings are now being taken through our events page. https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/events

Presentations will focus on some of the key issues of invasive non-native species and the most current and effective biosecurity methods. Workshop sessions will provide an opportunity for us to discuss the best options for biosecurity facilities at our lakes so we can help protect them and our sports.

These are free events for anyone who uses our lakes for sport or recreation. Complimentary hot and cold drinks and supper will be provided.

Please feel free to pass this invitation on to friends and colleagues who may be interested.

The events are organised by South West Lakes Trust and South West Water and are supported by Angling Trust and Nicky Green Associates. Booking is essential. We look forward to welcoming you.

South West Water and South West Lakes Trust invite you to Brompton Regis Village Hall to find out more about biosecurity, invasive non-native species and discuss what we can all do to help prevent their spread.

Presentations will focus on some of the key issues of invasive non-native species and the most current and effective biosecurity methods. Workshop session will provide an opportunity for us to discuss the best options for biosecurity facilities at our lakes so we can help protect them and our sports.

This is a free event for anyone who uses our lakes for sport or recreation. Complimentary hot/cold drinks and pasties will be served from 6- 6.30pm.

Please click here to see the programme, and click the button below to book your place (please inform us of any dietary requirements when booking).

Please feel welcome to pass this invitation on to friends and colleagues who may be interested.

This event is organised by South West Lakes Trust and South West Water and is supported by Angling Trust and Nicky Green Associates.

Invasive Species and Biosecurity Workshop

Monday 25th November, 6pm – 8.30pm, Brompton Regis Village Hall, 8 Brompton Meadows, Brompton Regis, Dulverton TA22 9PD

Workshop Programme

6.00 – 6.30pm Registration, hot and cold drinks and pasties will be provided

6.30 – 6.45pm Welcome and introduction – Kate Hills, Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, South West Water

 What are invasive species, the problems they cause, what SWW and SWLT are doing about Invasive Non Native Species (INNS).

6.45 – 7.00pm Signal crayfish: origins, pathways to introduction and biosecurity risks – Nicky Green, Crayfish Specialist, Nicky Green Associates

 Crayfish ecology, management and research – what we know about signal crayfish in the South West, legislation and what can we do about them.

7.00 – 7.15pm Invasive species: their impacts on fishing and how anglers can help to stop their spread – Dr. Emily Smith, Environment Manager,

Angling Trust

  •   A summary of some of the main impacts of INNS on fishing in the UK.
  •   Negative impacts on native fish populations in the UK – direct predation on fish

    eggs/juveniles, competition with native fish for food/shelter, invasive plants

    blanketing waterways, reducing oxygen level and preventing access to fishing swims.

  •   Easy measures anglers can adopt to reduce the threat of INNS being spread into

    their fisheries and other waterways.

    7.15 – 7.30pm AQUA Biosecurity Accreditation Scheme – Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer, South West Lakes Trust

  •   An update on the AQUA Scheme at SWLT lakes.
  •   Current best practice biosecurity advice and methods to help protect our lakes.

    7.30 – 7.40pm Comfort Break

    7.40 – 8.20pm Workshop session

 Group discussions on the potential for biosecurity facilities at our sites and our most

likely options to help prevent the spread of INNS. 8.20 – 8.30pm Closing summary

FREE Invasive Species and Biosecurity Workshop

Tuesday 19th November, 6pm – 8.30pm, Roadford Lake, Broadwoodwidger, Lifton, Devon. PL16 0RL

Workshop Programme

6.00 – 6.30pm Registration, hot and cold drinks and pasties will be provided

6.30 – 6.45pm Welcome and introduction – Kate Hills, Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, South West Water

 What are invasive species, the problems they cause, what SWW and SWLT are doing about Invasive Non Native Species (INNS).

6.45 – 7.00pm Signal crayfish: origins, pathways to introduction and biosecurity risks – Nicky Green, Crayfish Specialist, Nicky Green Associates

 Crayfish ecology, management and research – what we know about signal crayfish in the South West, legislation and what can we do about them.

7.00 – 7.15pm Invasive species: their impacts on fishing and how anglers can help to stop their spread – Dr. Emily Smith, Environment Manager,

Angling Trust

  •   A summary of some of the main impacts of INNS on fishing in the UK.
  •   Negative impacts on native fish populations in the UK – direct predation on fish

    eggs/juveniles, competition with native fish for food/shelter, invasive plants

    blanketing waterways reducing oxygen level and preventing access to fishing swims.

  •   Easy measures anglers can adopt to reduce the threat of INNS being spread into

    their fisheries and other waterways.

    7.15 – 7.30pm AQUA Biosecurity Accreditation Scheme – Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer, South West Lakes Trust

  •   An update on the AQUA Scheme at SWLT lakes
  •   Current best practice biosecurity advice and methods to help protect our lakes.

    7.30 – 7.40pm Comfort Break

    7.40 – 8.20pm Workshop session

 Group discussions on the potential for biosecurity facilities at our sites and our most

likely options to help prevent the spread of INNS. 8.20 – 8.30pm Closing summary

WIMBLEBALL – LATE AUTUMN

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Fly Fishers have enjoyed a splendid season at Wimbleball Reservoir with regular stockings of quality rainbow trout throughout out the season.

I enjoyed some exciting sessions at the venue in the spring but have struggled to get back during the summer months with other fishing trips and lifes demands conspiring to keep me away from this delightful venue high on Exmoor. With reports of some stunning rainbows being caught during the autumn I was determined to have at least one more session before the seasons close at the end of November.

Whilst the North Devon coast was tempting I decided I must take the fly rod and try for a reservoir rainbow. After the big storm that had blown through on Saturday I wondered what the water clarity would be like as I arrived on Sunday morning. To my relief the water was crystal clear and sparkling in the late autumn sunshine.  A brisk Westerly breeze was blowing across the lake into Ruggs Bay where I started my session. After half an hour or so without a pull I decided to move to Bessoms Bank opposite where the wind would be blowing over my shoulder, This was also the area that appeared to be fishing well according to the catch returns in the fishery office.

A couple of other anglers were already fishing this area and boats were drifting off this bank indicating that a few fish were probably about. It was encouraging to see several fish rising within casting range of the bank especially with it being November 3rd. I was fishing a team of flies with a floating line, Montana on the point and buzzers on the droppers. After ten minutes a fish rose at the limit of my casting range and I dropped my fly bang on target! One pull, two pulls and there came that satisfying thump down the line. The rod hooped over and several yards of line disappeared through the rod rings. A near fin perfect rainbow of around 3lb was soon safely in the net.

I persisted with the floating line set up for a couple of hours briefly feeling one other fish. With few fish rising as afternoon set in I changed over to a sinking line and a lure with a long black marabou tail and silver head. After ten minutes a solid take resulted in another hard fighting rainbow of a similar size to the first.

With two trout in the bag I now ensured that I was using barbless flies. For a while I persisted with the lure and sinking line approach and had several follows and swirls, I glimpsed what looked like a very large brown trout following the lure right to waters edge. After this all went quiet for a while and I reverted back to the floating line for an hour without success.

With no activity on the surface I again swapped over to the sinking line and lure approach. After ten minutes a beautiful brown trout of around 1lb seized the lure and was slipped free without removing from the water. Next cast brought a solid take from another brown trout that was pushing 3lb this was returned immediately as being on my own it would be difficult to get a decent picture.

As the light started to fade heavy rain began to fall and I decided it was time to head for home. It had been a very enjoyable day with a couple of good trout for tomorrow nights tea a pleasing brace of browns returned and that monster glimpsed to come back for next time. I slipped back into the permit office to make my return and checked out what others had caught. Plenty of stunning rainbows to over 5lb had succumbed with several multiple bags of fish. I could have done better but at least I had caught a few and enjoyed my day. I will be back in the spring. There are over three weeks left of the season and there are some stunning rainbows waiting to be caught from what has to be the West Country’s best large Stillwater. trout fishery.

Wistlandpound Club – Bratton Water Result

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Members enjoyed a good mornings sport at Bratton Water with the eight competitors all completing their three fish limits. Winner was Paul Grisly with 7lb 4oz. David Eldred and Dave Richards were runners up with 7lb 3oz and Nigel Bird fourth with 6lb 13oz.

Fifth – David Holmes 6lb 11oz

Sixth – Colin Combe 6lb 9oz

Seventh –  Dave Mock 6lb 1oz

Eighth – Andre Muxworthy 5lb 4oz

Another Month At Wimbleball- Full Tailed Rainbows on the agenda until end of November!

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West Country Fly-Fisher’s have enjoyed an exceptional fishing season at Wimbleball Reservoir where Mark Underhill has transformed the quality of the fishing stocking regularly with hard fighting rainbow trout.

The season at Wimbleball continues until November 30th and will when conditions permit offer anglers the chance of some superb sport. I intend to make at least one more visit to the fishery before it close for the winter.

On Sunday October 27th they hosted Kennick Flyfishers for the final round of their Snowbee Top Rod Competition 2019. The weather was kind, considering recent conditions, providing the 14 anglers taking part with a dry, sunny day & cool northerly breeze. After a good day on the water they managed 52 fish between them, with 8 anglers getting their bag limit, the action was mostly in the Bessoms & Ruggs areas. Best fish of the day went to Alan Riddell of Newton Abbot with a fine Rainbow of 8LBS 6OZ, (pictured). Top 3 anglers were:
1ST ALAN RIDDELL OF NEWTON ABBOT – 5 FISH 19LBS
2ND TOM HENDY OF CHUDLEIGH – 5 FISH 15LBS 11OZ
3RD ANDY WATSON OF BOVEY TRACEY – 5 FISH 15LBS 3OZ

A typical bag of Wimbleball Rainbows !