LOST IN PARADISE – THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Anglers Paradise

Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce and I visited Anglers Paradises Day Ticket Trout Lake during May last year and enjoyed a rewarding days fishing catching rainbow trout to over five pound and tiger trout estimated at 8lb.

Trouting In Paradise

We were both keen to return and arranged a visit with Go-Catch representative Peter Skrivanos.

After hearing reports of some stunning fish in recent weeks we were full of optimism as we headed across the meadow to the water.

 

Verdant green was appearing on the trees and cuckoo flowers decorated the lakeside grassland. Despite obvious signs of spring a cold North East breeze made it feel more like winter. There was at least a touch of blue between the clouds lifting the spirits as we made our first casts.

Peter was starting with a bold approach tying on a rather gaudy lure that he assured us would appeal to the aggressive tiger trout that reside within the lake.

I tied a tried and trusted gold head damsel nymph to my 10.5lb b.s XS plus Gold leader and proceeded to search the water with an Intermediate Snowbee XS Fly Line. I was well aware that the lake holds big hard fighting trout and wanted to get the fish to the net as quickly as possible to ensure they could be returned safely to the water after a minimal battle.

After just a few minutes Peter hooked into a hard fighting tiger trout that gave a fight out of proportion to its moderate size of perhaps 1lb 12oz. Peter kept the fish in the net and slipped out the barbless hook allowing me to get a quick picture before the fish swam briskly back into the lake.

After twenty minutes or so without any action I moved to the lakes corner and hooked a handsomely marked brown trout that slipped the hook before visiting the net.

A handsomely marked brown trout for Jeff

As the morning ebbed slowly away it became clear that the residents were playing hard to tempt. Jeff caught a tiger  of 1lb 8oz and and a small handsome brown trout we all caught numerous small perch, stripy sergeants that evoke memories of childhood days beside still-waters.

The vibrant sounds of woodpeckers drilling in the woods drifted across the valley. The evocative call of a cuckoo lifted the spirits a sure sign that summer is on its way after what seems a long wet winter and Spring.

I noticed several fish rising close to lakes overflow tower and changed to a floating line, suspending a black buzzer beneath a sight indicator.

 Casting this out I commenced an ultra-slow retrieve just keeping the line tight in the gentle breeze. I watched the indicator intently and lifted the rod sharply when I noticed it plunge beneath the surface. The rod a Snowbee Diamond 7wt took on an impressive curve and line was ripped from the reel as a trout of a good size powered away. To my concern the powerful fish seemed determined to head for the overflow pipe and whilst I frantically tried to prevent it I was unable to slow its progress. The fish of perhaps 7lb erupted from the lake giving a tantalizing glimpse of rainbow hued flanks before taking the line around the concrete the hook shank parting as the line momentarily snagged the structure.

Jeff and Peter looked across the lake alerted to my cursing cry! Encouraged by this, I tied on a new buzzer and started afresh.

The indicator dipped and I connected with what felt a very good fish. Once again its power surprised me and I endeavoured to get it away from the overflow pipe. To my dismay the powerful fish got the upper hand and won its freedom.

Peter and Jeff had also enjoyed brief connection with large fish that came adrift any one of which would have made it a day to remember.

As the afternoon evaporated Peter hooked into his second fish, a spartic nudging a couple of pounds.

Conceding that it was hard going Peter decided to head home before the traffic got bad. Jeff and I persisted convinced that at any moment the line would zip tight and one of the lakes special fish would make an error.

         Jeff pointed out the orange of my lost indicator at the upwind end of the lake. I wondered if the fish was still attached? I walked around and after a couple of casts managed to hook into the indicator. The fish was no longer attached but the buzzer was still there so at least the barbless hook had fallen free.

         By late afternoon the cold wind and lack of action started to take its toll and we eventually conceded defeat agreeing to return in search of the large trout that dwell within the lake that nestles within a wooded valley.

Anglers Paradise Trout Lake is strictly Catch and release with barbless hooks, single flies, rubber nets and unhooking matts mandatory. I personally try to unhook fish in the water returning with minimal handling.

Catch and release is a concept withing trout fishing circles that stimulates some debate. Some believe it makes the fish wary and harder to tempt. Whilst there could be a bit of truth in this it also enables trout fishing for large fish at a very reasonable price.

Day Tickets for Anglers Paradise can be purchased via https://www.gocatch.fish

SPRING SALMON and PRESTIGIUOS AWARD FOR STEPHEN PHELPS AT SWW RIVERS AGM

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

After a slow start to the 2024 salmon season a few fish are starting to show as the river fines down and temperatures rise. Roger Bickley caught a 9lb fresh run springer from the middle Taw and

Seth Tuson caught a beautiful 13lb springer from the River Torridge.

(Below)

“After an awful start to the season with river heights rarely dropping below 1m on the gauge, I’ve finally managed to get out salmon fishing a few times recently. After what feels like endless blanks over the last couple of years, I’m over the moon to have caught this 13lb salmon on a single handed rod, full floating line and small shrimp style fly. It feels like a great privilege to catch a fish like this on the Torridge as they become rarer and I’m so happy that all the time I’ve put in has been worth it.”

Stuart Gardener was a founding member of the South West Rivers Association in the 1960’s and created an annual award to be presented to someone who has done exceptional work for fishing organisations in the South west.

This encompasses the twenty two South West River Associations.

This year the award was presented to Stephen Phelps at the Associations AGM at the Arundell Arms the beating heart of West Country Fishing. Stephen writes :-
“I was presented with it, I’ll hold it for a year.
At yesterday’s SWRA AGM i was speechless, just mumbled a “thank you”.
Today I realise the enormity of it to me. I will, I’m sure not receive anything so special again.
Previous recipients include Charles Inniss, previous chairmen of the association, even Lord Clinton our President, until he passed away about a month ago.
Hope you don’t mind me sharing but I am overwhelmed chuffed.”

A pollution incident on the River Taw caused wide concern across the angling community. Fortunately there were no reports of fish deaths following the incident that affected several miles of the mid to Lower Taw. The Environment Agency carried out an investigation and will undoubtedly continue to monitor the situation.

Anglers and those at the water edge are encouraged to report any pollution concerns to the EA on the hotline number 0800 807060

BREAKING NEWS ON TAW POLLUTION INCIDENT

News is breaking regarding a serious pollution incident on the River Taw. The Environment Agency have been informed and are investigating. Local anglers are dismayed at this incident that is impacting the river just as levels fall  following months of rain. This simply is not good enough at a time when water quality is high on the public agenda. It is surely time that all those with a passion for rivers to get together and demand adequate protection for our rivers the vital arteries of the land. I will update as soon as I have more details but witnesses report discoloured water, strong odour and foam at the waters edge.

Exe Predator Concerns – Reporting Details

Anyone who cares for the ecology of our rivers will be concerned about potential damage to fish stocks by predation especially when the salmon is now classed as endangered. The River Exe and Tributaries Association is anxious to obtain some science-based evidence as to the extent of this problem and has asked for assistance from DAA members, amongst others, to help gather information which will be relevant to any such studies.

In the first instance, whilst an online recording facility is awaited on the RETA website, please can you report any sightings of otters, cormorants or goosanders to Alistair Langford ([email protected]) the information should include:

An 8-figure grid reference for the location of the sighting – https://gridreferencefinder.com/

The date and time 

Number sighted

In the case of a goosander whether it was male or female and if there were any chicks and if so how many.

The river adjacent to which the sighting took place.

Many thanks for your assistance

Lance Nicholson

Fishing & Guns

9 High Street

Dulverton

TA22 9HB

01398 323409

www.lance-nicholson.co.uk

At Last the salmon season is underway

After one of the wettest Springs in living memory the rivers have eventually dropped to a good level and the first salmon of the 2024 season have been caught. A superb fresh run springer estimated at 20lb was caught from a middle Taw beat at the start of the week and several others have been hooked and lost on both the Taw and Torridge. I visited the a middle Taw beat for a short early evening session and the river looked perfect.

The latest River levels can be found on the GOV UK website :- https://check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/station/3106

The link is the Umberleigh Guage and anything below 0.75 is considered generally fishable. The river levels should remain good for at least a couple of weeks but with trees absorbing plenty of water we will be hoping for rain by mid may!


Dulverton Angling Association have secured fishing on new beat “Old Woman Beat” offer trout, grayling and the chance of salmon later in the season. Visit their website for the latest news.

https://dulvertonanglingassociation.org.uk

NEWSREEL: SPRING 2024 – TORRIDGE RIVERS ASSOCIATION

         Lord Clinton: it is with sadness that I have to report that Lord Clinton, the president of our Association, has passed away after a short illness. Lord Clinton was very much the brainchild in the setting up of our Association in 1979. He was chairman for five years and has been President ever since. He was passionate about our river, attended committee meetings whenever his busy diary permitted and always gave sound advice when asked.

            Change of Name: those members present at the agm voted in favour of the proposal to change the name of the Association to Torridge Rivers Association. The previous name was rather long and often caused confusion for those paying their subscription by BACS. Your committee discussed at length a possible name change and considered that the new name would represent not only our fishery interest but also our support for the health of the river and all the catchments.

http://www.rivertorridge.org.uk

            The AGM: was held at The Half Moon Inn on Friday 22nd March. 26 members attended. The Chairman welcomed everybody, especially Ewan Wallace (Devon Wildlife Trust) and Sam Fenner (North Devon Fishery Enforcement Officer). Ewan Wallace, the project manager for the North Devon Improvement Project, outlined the work of the Trust with particular reference to our catchment. Sam Fenner explained that there were now only three fishery enforcement officers for Devon and he alone was responsible for the Torridge Taw and Lyn catchments as well as the estuary. Sam stressed the need for our support: we must be the eyes and ears of the river and to let him know of any concerns.

            The Salmon Hatchery: for the first time for four years we were able to operate the hatchery again. In order for the EA to give us permission to use the fish pass at Monkokehampton Weir to trap our broodstock we had to provide a very detailed risk assessment document, take part in a training day as well as purchase a hoist and harness. Trapping the broodstock was not easy but we eventually caught up five hens and three cock fish. Four of the five hens were stripped and 22,000 fertilised eggs were laid out in the incubating trays. Despite the problems of warm water (often as high as 10C) and silt covering the eggs, hatching was successful and over 20,000 swim-up fry have been stocked out in the headwaters of the Torridge, Lew and Okement. Izzy Moser from the Devon Wildlife Trust advised on the stocking sites and helped with the stocking.

            100% salmon catch and release: once again the EA has deferred making a decision. However with stocks of salmon and sea trout at all time low your committee strongly recommends that all migratory fish are released without where possible removing them from the water.

For those who missed the Riverwoods evening at the Half Moon there is a chance to see the film and another talk. See poster above.

            The season so far: the river was bank high on 1st March and has been in spate for the whole of the first month. Salmon have been seen both at Beam and Madeira. When the river finally settles there will be a good chance of a fresh spring salmon.

            The Egg Box Dinner: Saturday 28th September at The Half Moon Inn. Book early with The Half Moon to avoid disappointment. Tel: 01409231376 e-mail: [email protected]

https://www.halfmoonsheepwash.co.uk

SPRING TROUT

         It seems to have been a slow start to Spring this year with relentless rain resulting in bank high rivers. Even the Upper reaches are pushing through hard making fishing challenging.

         With the rivers eventually dropping back and running clear I headed out to enjoy a couple of hours chasing wild browns. It was delightful to revisit the familiar river valley as new born lambs frisked in the fields.

         The river was racing past high and clear as I walked the bank looking for slacker water to drift my heavy nymphs.

It was good to feel the cool water as I focussed on the sight tip of the leader. In the first pool I fished a small trout was on briefly before wriggling free.

         I moved on relishing the smell of wild garlic in the fresh spring air. Chiff Chaffs song drifted through the valley and early bluebells were in bloom.

         I worked my way upriver searching for trout enjoying the spirited tussle that even the smallest trout gave on the light tackle. A good fish of perhaps 10” came off its crimson flanks glimpsed as the rod flexed.

         I drove away contented with a brief reacquaintance with the river.

         A few days later I joined Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club at Bulldog Fishery. As we threaded the line through the rod rings the lake lay mirror calm fresh green trees reflecting in the calm water.

         We chatted for a while before heading to the water’s edge. The water was gin clear and I decided to adopt an imitative approach presenting a PTN and buzzer beneath a foam buzzer that acted as an indicator.

         As I worked the flies slowly through the water I caught sight of a large bird of prey. After a few moments I was able to ascertain that I was witnessing the rare and exciting view of an osprey. These majestic birds migrate North from Africa each Spring and are occasionally glimpsed over large lakes and reservoirs.

         In addition to the rare osprey it was reassuring to glimpse swallows and martins arriving in the valley, a true sign that spring has arrived.

         My quest for trout proved harder than expected with no indications or pulls. Fellow club member Andre Muxworthy had caught a brace of fish and I wondered what he had been using.

         I changed to a gold headed damsel nymph on the point with a longer leader and moved to another area of the lake.

Andre walked over for a chat after completing his three fish bag and generously shared information as to his choice of fly.

         Fishing close to where Andre had enjoyed success my line zipped tight and a decent fish was momentarily hooked before shedding the hook.

         As is often the case a few casts later a hard fighting rainbow was brought to the waiting net. The next fifteen minutes I enjoyed several near misses as trout followed the fly their shadowy forms visible deep down in the clear and sheltered water. A spartic of a couple of pounds seized the fly and was netted after a pleasing tussle.  A couple of casts after landing this fish I watched the dark shadow of a trout following my fly, I paused allowing the fly to sink slowly before twitching it teasing the fish as it moved towards it. The fish appeared to lose interest and I again let it sink.  The trout promptly followed it down and I saw its mouth open, lifting the rod briskly I delighted in the life on the line. A tiger trout its vividly patterned flanks completing a pleasing three fish bag.

         Andre and I watched on as fellow club member Colin Combe hooked into his final fish of the morning.

A pleasing spartic of a couple of pounds that would give him a total bag weight of 9lb 4oz and most likely first place in the competition. Andre’s three totalled 7lb 13oz and mine 6lb 7oz. One club member remained fishing when we left so hopefully he went on to catch his bag.

 

Talking flies and lures