South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

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May 2021

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).

Fishing:

Kennick – The water continues to warm up, although strong, cold winds and one of the wettest Mays on record have meant that this is a slow process, and fishing on some days has been challenging. In spite of this, anglers from both bank and boat have enjoyed some excellent sport, averaging just over three fish per rod (mainly rainbows, along with a few browns). There have been plenty of buzzer hatches, and when these occur, the fish tend to lie in shallow water taking buzzer patterns just under the surface; otherwise, fish tend to be feeding 10-12’ below the surface. In addition to buzzer patterns, other successful flies included Diawl Bachs, Damsel Nymphs, or deeper fished lures (such as Orange Blobs, Cormorants, and Cats Whiskers). Fish were well spread out, with anglers catching well at Clampitts Bay, Oak Tree Point, and off the Lawns, with boats also picking up fish in Boat Bay. Plenty of decent bags were caught, including a bag of ten fish caught by Geoff V, nine rainbows to 2lb 8oz caught by Matt B, ten rainbows to 2lb 8oz caught by Malcome Ure, and nine fish to 3lb caught by James H. David B caught the best fish early in the month – a 4lb rainbow.

Siblyback – Stocky Bay, Crylla, and Two Meadows proved to be the best locations, with rods averaging 3.3 fish per rod. Floating lines with a slow retrieve proved to be the most effective method, with fish often taking just below the surface. Successful patterns included Montanas, Black Buzzers, Diawl Bachs, and Damsels, with the occasional fish coming up to take a Beetle, Sedge, or Black Gnat; otherwise pulled lures (Green Baby Doll, Viva, or Appetiser) caught fish in deeper water. George H caught five rainbows to 4lb in an evening session using Back Sedges and Bibios, while Al L caught a bag of 8 rainbows.

Burrator – Another great month’s fishing at Burrator in spite of the weather, with anglers averaging 4.5 fish per rod. The best locations were Longstone, Pines Bay, Pig Trough, and Sheepstor. Fish have been well distributed throughout the water column, with anglers catching on floating, intermediate, and sinking lines, usually with a slow retrieve. With occasional fish moving on the surface, dry patterns (including Foam-backed Beetles and Sedges) have met with some success, although nymphs (Diawl Back, Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damsel, and Montana nymphs) and deeper fished lures (Cormorant, Cats Whisker, and Kennick Killer) have proved the most effective. Better bags included nine rainbows, caught by Alan J; six rainbows to 4lb; and Simon Jeffries catching a ‘full house’ of five rainbows, three browns, and a blue in one session.

Stithians – With plenty of surface activity (especially in the evenings) and terrestrials being blown onto the water, floating lines and dry patterns (Foam-Head Hoppers and Hawthornes in particular) have been producing some exciting sport, with some decent bags of fish up to 2lb 4oz. Nymph patterns (Hares Ear, Montana, Diawl Bach, and Buzzer) and Lures (Viva, Cormorant, Kennick Killer) have both worked well with the deeper feeding fish. Fish are well spread out around the water, with anglers reporting a variety of successful locations (including Yellowort, Pipe Bay, Mossops, and Carnmenellis).

Colliford – Weather conditions have played a crucial part in the sport at Colliford this month, when a sudden change (such as a change of wind direction, cloud cover, or rain) has killed off what had started as a promising day’s sport of feeding fish and surface activity. Nevertheless, slow retrieved nymphs (Diawl Bachs, Buzzers, and Crunchers) on floating lines worked well for roving anglers, and when conditions permitted, a Dry Sedge or Bob’s Bits brought fish up to the surface. Successful locations included Hut Bay, the Dam area, and Browngelly Bay.

Fernworthy – In spite of the challenging weather conditions, anglers averaged three fish per rod in May, on either sub-surface nymph patterns (Damsels, Black and Peacock Spider, and Hares Ear) or, as there have been good hatches, with plenty of fish moving on the surface, small dries (Black Gnats in particular) fished on the surface letting the wind take the fly naturally; fish have also been rising to take a twitched sedge pattern. The most popular and successful location has been the bank near the permit hut, with anglers finding fish while fishing the margins. The better bags included eleven fish caught by Andrew G, and eight fish caught by Stuart M.

Roadford – Rods averaged around four fish per rod over the month, and while fish are well spread out around the lake, Big Oaks, Grinnacombe, and Goodacre Bay are worth a mention, with both boat and bank anglers catching fish. The trout are present throughout the water column, and are being caught on floating, intermediate, and sinking lines with a wide variety of patterns, from dry Hawthornes to a selection of nymphs (Pheasant Tails, Orange Buzzers, Montanas, and Damsels), and deeper-fished lures (Tadpoles and Woolly Buggers) – all with a slow pull retrieve. Notable bags included eight browns to 12” caught by Ian S, seven fish to 1lb 8oz caught by Duncan Kier, and five browns caught by Gary Stickland.

Please visit the South West Lakes Trust website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for the latest Covid-19 updates, as well as details on ticket prices, fishery information, clubs, competitions, and boat availability.

Chris Hall (May 2021)

 

FINE SILVER SPRINGER

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Richard Nickell took a break from Blakewell fishery duties and tempted a superb fresh run springer estimated at 13lb+ from a River Taw beat. Both the Taw and Torridge are fining down nicely and as the fish settle into their familiar lies anglers will hope to tempt a few salmon and sea trout.

Salmon and Trout Conservation are running a campaign for a Parliamentary Petition;  “Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers”

Freshwater habitats- rivers, lakes and streams and all their associated wildlife need your help.

We are asking you to sign, and share as widely as you can, Salmon & Trout Conservation’s Parliamentary Petition “Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers”.

Please sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586378

The Environment Agency needs to be shorn of Government directions to put the economy before the environment and it needs the funding to enforce existing legislation without fear or favour. Our report “Doing its Job exposed its lamentable failure to protect our rivers and their wildlife. We want your support to give the EA the mandate and money to stop the decline.

We need 100,000 signatures to get a debate in Parliament and have until 24 November to achieve our target. It is a big ask but with your help we can do it.

Wimbleball Hardest Fighting trout in the West?

Late May is undoubtedly the best time to be in the English Countryside as natures lush greenery takes on that fresh vivid green hue that lasts a few fleeting weeks. The country lanes are lined with delicate white cow parsley and an abundance of late spring and early summer flowers.

Pauline and I were taking a short break on Exmoor. I was indulging in a few hours fishing at Wimbleball whilst Pauline relaxed in the sunshine and wielded the camera to capture a few images.

We arrived at the lake close to midday and set up beneath a bright blue sky as a cool breeze ruffled the lakes surface. I was surprised to see very little surface activity but elected to set up a floating line as I thought the trout would be likely to be in the upper layers.

The lake had risen several feet since my previous visit a fortnight ago as a result of persistent rainfall. I fished a team of three flies on a 12ft leader using a Montana on the point and two buzzers on the droppers. After twenty minutes without a pull, I changed to an olive damsel on the point and speeded up the retrieve. This brought an immediate response with a small wild brownie coming adrift after a brief tussle.

After a short  coffee break I again changed tactics extending the leader around four feet and tying a bead headed buzzer to the point, a diawl bach to the middle dropper and a bright yellow blob to the top dropper. I cast this out and fished a very slow retrieve just keeping the line tight and watching the tip for movement.

After five minutes the line zipped tight and a rainbow erupted from the surface in a flurry of spray the reel singing as line evaporated through the rings. A handsome full tailed rainbow was eventually netted and admired.

The next three hours saw me bank five more trout to over five pounds all of them giving thrilling battles in the clear water. It was satisfying to have once again found the right tactics for the day which is after all what this wonderful game is all about.

We packed up late afternoon and headed to the George Inn at Brompton Regis that is now in the capable hands of Trudi and Mark Underhill. This delightful historical country Inn oozes history and has been carefully renovated to retain its character. Our large room looked out over a splendid Exmoor landscape as swifts and swallows swooped around this peaceful quintessential English village.

Several other anglers were enjoying an ale in the beer garden when we arrived and chatted enthusiastically about rainbow trout that took them to the backing as they drifted the lake on one of the  Wimbleball fleet of boats.

We finished our day with a delicious meal in the busy bar relishing the sounds of laughter and chat after months of pandemic induced silence.

The combination of stunning fishing for some of the hardest fighting rainbows in the West and superb accommodation close by will I am sure prove very popular over the coming seasons.

Big Rivers Bring Silver Tourists

The Taw and Torridge are both running high following the recent spell of heavy rain but as the rivers drop and clear salmon and sea trout should start to show in good numbers. Jack Hillcox was fishing a River Taw beat with his father Simon who was acting as ghillie.

Simon told me ” The one thing better than catching a salmon  is acting as ghille when your son lands one.We had half an hour left before I had to drop him at Tiverton Parkway and were just philosophising how we had a great day and fish didn’t really matter ….then wham! A memorable day and hoping we all have some action over the next week or so.”

The salmon was returned quickly and swam away like a rocket.

As the rivers drop salmon and sea trout will settle into known lies where for a few days they will be catchable. Im sure a few good brown trout will also seize the salmon flies like this fine brown tempted by a seasoned Torridge fisher.

I fished a middle Torridge Beat as the sun started to rise above the trees and had  a couple of good pulls on a brass tube fly. The colour was perfect but the river is running just a little high and should be perfect within two or three days. Despite the lack of success is there a better place to be than in the river as the English countryside reaches early summer perfection?

After posting this I received news that Jamie Walden tempted a fine salmon of 16lb from Little Warham Fishery.

Bulldog Trout Fishery Latest Reports

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Bulldog Trout Fishery is gaining a reputation for producing quality trout fishing as illustrated here from the latest report sent over by fishery owner Nigel Early.
“At the end of the day nothing like a quite cast or two on my lake, time to reflect how lucky I am. Had my friends down from Evesham fishing today sadly one no longer with them having passed away and is sorely missed. A toast to Rodger during a break.
Well done to Bill for the biggest fish a Magnificent brownie of 10 lb plus,”
(Below) Krystian and his mates traveled from Yeovil to fish Bulldogs trout Lake were well satisfied with a great day with all three anglers taking four fish bags scaling;ing 17lb 9oz, 17lb and 15lb 12oz.The trout averaged between four and five pounds.

(Below) South Molton Bishop Mike Clothier tempted a fine brace of rainbows scaling 4lb 8oz and 8lb.

Taking a walk beside the tumbling waters of the East Lyn

After the rain and clouds it is a relief to walk beside the tumbling waters of the East Lyn as they race towards the Bristol Channel. Over forty years ago I caught my first salmon from this river an event that is etched upon my mind. The numbers of salmon that now run this river have dramatically declined though of course as an angler I cannot help wonder what now swims within this raging torrent. It’s running too high to fish today as any fish hooked would surely be lost in the maelstrom unfair on the fish and pointless for the angler.

After one of the driest Aprils on record May’s rain has restored the balance and the coming weeks give promise across North Devons rivers with salmon and sea trout likely to be well distributed throughout. Time to pause and take in natures beauty as Spring bursts towards summer invigorated by weather fronts pushing in from the Atlantic.

ww

Fly Fishing Club Return to the water with screaming reels

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club resumed activities at Wimbleball Reservoir after a twelve month lay off due to the COVID pandemic. Spirits were buoyant as members congregated at the ticket hut prior to heading out to the lake. Two pairs of anglers were taking to boats and the remaining three including myself were fishing from the bank.

Heavy thundery showers were forecast and a gentle breeze was pushing up into Bessom’s Bay and Ruggs. The three of us who had opted to fish the bank headed to this area.

Pulling into the parking area I was delighted to see a splash of vivid yellow with cowslips in full bloom a pleasing sight and less common in the West than the dominant primroses.

Wimbleball is undoubtedly the jewel in South West Reservoir fishing with a growing reputation throughout the Fly Fishing fraternity. Wading out into the cool clear water I put out a floating line and a team of three flies. After fifteen minutes using small imitative patterns I changed tactics slightly adding a damsel an olive damsel to the point and bright orange blob to the top dropper. This brought instant success as a rainbow hit the lure hard giving a spirited account before being drawn over the net. A couple of casts later another rainbow hit the blob and was safely netted.

With a brace secured I was now fishing in the zone expectant of a take at any second. A few missed pulls followed enough to keep me alert and fishing with that confidence that ensures total emersion in the task at hand.

(Above) Andre Muxworthy & Paul Grisley fishing in the rain!

By midday the rain was lashing down and it was far from warm. Angry clouds drifted past. I noticed a few fish rise and one or two Alder flies were showing. I changed my team of flies putting a bead head black Montana on the point, an Alder fly on the top leaving a black buzzer on the middle dropper. Slowing the retrieve right down I soon found action hooking into an impressive rainbow that erupted from the water before taking the fly line down to the backing. Five minutes later a full tailed rainbow of over 4lb 8oz was being admired on the bank. This was followed by another impressive rainbow over 4lb and a final fish of around 3lb. This sadly brought my fishing for the day to a close as being a competition all anglers had bought five fish tickets. My normal option is to buy a catch and release ticket.

I chatted to fellow anglers for a while before enjoying  a coffee and sandwich as the rain persisted. It was now close to 2.00pm with a couple of hours left until the weigh in back at the permit hut.

I drove back to the hut and took a stroll to the waters edge. A brief spell of sunshine transformed the scene as water sports enthusiasts enjoyed the day. There is plenty of space on the Lake for all with anglers, windsurfers and dingy sailors all catered for.

Just after 4.00pm club members gathered for the weigh in and all had tales of hard fighting rainbows with a couple of snapped tippets in the mix. Biggest fish of the day was an impressive rainbow of 6lb 7oz that had taken Andre Muxworthy over fifteen minutes to get into the boat. All members had caught with four limit bags and several fish of over 4lb.

Andre Muxworthy with the biggest trout of the day at 6lb 7oz

The results of the Edwards Cup:-

1st Andre Muxworthy – Five Fish – 16lb 6oz – Best Fish 6lb 7oz

2nd Colin Combe – Five Fish – 15lb 8oz – Best Fish – 5lb 8oz

3rd – Wayne Thomas – Five Fish – Best Fish – 4lb 10oz

4th – David Eldred – Four Fish – 12lb 10oz

5th – Paul Grisley – Five Fish – 12lb

6th – Nigel Bird – One fish – 2lb 8oz

7th Dave Mock – One fish 2lb 7oz..

Summer Spate

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After a long dry spring salmon and sea trout anglers will be feeling optimistic following a substantial rise in all of North Devons rivers.

The Torridge at Dolton is up to 1.14 M

The Taw at Umberleigh – 1.40 M

The Lyn at Brendon = 2.00 M

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/river-and-sea-levels

The rivers will be too high and coloured initially but should come good over the coming days. The Lyn will be first to be fishable and should produce fish from Friday, May 14th.

The Taw and Torridge will take a few days to settle down but may be fishable by late in the weekend.

River Taw Fisheries member Mike George tempted a fine fresh run salmon from a mid Taw beat after last weeks small spate the latest spate should ensure salmon are spread throughout the Taw & Torridge catchments.

Good Practice Guide

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Catching the fish

Use appropriate tackle. Rod and line should be strong enough to bring the fish to net swiftly and without playing it to exhaustion. Move the fish out of fast water as soon as possible. The use of barbless single or double hooks is recommended. Barbed hooks can be rendered barbless by pinching with pliers.

Catch and Release
RTFA strongly recommends that you practise catch and release whenever possible.

Playing the fish

When playing a fish try not to play it to exhaustion but land it as quickly as is possible.

Landing the fish

Use a fine knotless meshed landing net. No gaffs or tailers may be used. Ensure the fish remains in the water at all times.
Do not beach or tail a fish.

Handling the fish

Ensure that hands are wet and avoid squeezing the fish.

Removing the hook

Remove the hook gently, using forceps or a hook disgorger.
Should the fish be deep-hooked cut the line as near to the hook as possible.

Recording the fish

Do not weigh the fish, but calculate its length and subsequently use a length/weight conversion chart (see below) to find the weight. Suitable length marks on rod or wading-stick can be helpful. Photographs of the fish should only be taken while the fish is in the water.

Reviving and releasing the fish

Support the fish with both hands in a gentle current and facing upstream.
Allow time for the fish to regain its strength and be able to swim away on its own.

Disease

To guard against disease that can damage our fish stocks fishermen are directed to the Environment Agency’s website for “Guidance on Disinfecting Fishing Tackle”.

The Environment Agency Incident Hotline

For reporting any serious environmental incident such as pollution, poaching or fish in distress is

0800 807 060

  • RTFA strongly believes that fishermen are the best guardians of our river and if you fish

    the Taw why not join the Association to support our efforts.

  • Contact us via our website at www.rivertawfisheries.co.uk or phone our Treasurer, Richard Nickell on 10271 344533 / 07884 073932

Wimbleball Fly Fishery welcomes back disabled anglers as Covid-19 restrictions ease

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The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations to fund its important work.

Help get more Wheelyboats on the UK’s waters by texting WHEELYBOAT to 70085 to donate £5. Thank you.

Wimbleball Fly Fishery welcomes back disabled anglers as Covid-19 restrictions ease

A wheelchair accessible fishing boat, a ‘Coulam 16 Wheelyboat’, is back on the water in Somerset, enabling disabled anglers to access the lake independently

Mark-Underhill-with-the-new-C16-Wheelyboat-at-Wimbleball-Fly-Fishery.-Credit-The-Wheelyboat-Trust.jpeg

Disabled anglers across the South West and beyond can once again fish at Wimbleball Lake in Somerset, courtesy of a brand-new wheelchair accessible fishing boat and lockdown restrictions easing.

Andy-Beadsley-Director-of-The-Wheelyboat-Trust-fishing-on-Wimbleball-Lake-Somerset.-Credit-The-Wheelyboat-Trust

The purpose-built angling boat, a ‘Coulam 16 Wheelyboat’, arrived at Wimbleball Lake in the Exmoor National Park in March 2020, but due to the national lockdowns, its use throughout last year was somewhat disrupted.

But now, as Covid-19 restrictions ease, The Wheelyboat Trust, the Angling Trust and Wimbleball Fly Fishery are delighted to announce this Coulam 16 Wheelyboat is up and running, and ready for disabled anglers to use this spring, summer and beyond.

Wimbleball’s new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat will enable disabled anglers and wheelchair users to access the clear waters of Wimbleball Lake and fish independently for top quality rainbow and wild brown trout, courtesy of renowned Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton.

In 2019 national charities The Wheelyboat Trust and the Angling Trust joined forces and invited fisheries and angling clubs throughout the UK to apply for seven part-funded Coulam 16 Wheelyboats, allowing disabled anglers with independent access to fishing sites across the UK. Now, one of these brand-new Coulam 16

RAIN BRINGS HOPE OF LATE SPRING SALMON RUN

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After a long dry spell we have at last had a substantial fall of Rain across the area that resulted in the first spate of late spring. Coinciding with building Spring tides this should encourage a run of salmon and sea trout into North Devon’s rivers. I would expect the Taw and Torridge to be fishable by mid week as the water clears. The Lower Taw may rise slowly as tributaries from high on the moors lowly release into the main river. The Lyn has had a substantial rise but will fall quickly and be fishable from today with Tuesday likely to be the prime day.

Latest levels can be found via the EA link –https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/station/3099

The river levels at 07:15 on May 9th

River Torridge at Dolton – 0.85 M

River Taw at Umberleigh – 0.40

East Lyn at Brendon – 0.40