South Molton Anglers – River Working

I joined members of South Molton Angling Club on one of their stretches of fishing along the River Bray. This was the first of a couple of bank clearing work parties organised throughout the season. It was a delightful Spring day with a bright blue sky and a pleasure to be at the waterside with fellow anglers keen to carry out some early season work.

(Above) Before

(Above )After

The club rents several stretches of water and work with the landowners permission to undertake a minimal amount of river maintenance to allow access to fishing areas. The winter storm always bring a few fallen trees that can block the river and render some areas un-fishable. Substantial trash dams and fallen trees can also lead to serious bank erosion so these also need tackling.

A couple of hours hard work addressed a few areas of concern and also enabled the normal good humoured banter and discussion to flow. The long dead carcass of a red deer stag intrigued us all as we debated its demise. Had it died of old age, been shot or hit by a car? It is likely that the poor creature had gone to the river for its last drink before passing away to decompose beside the ever-flowing river the nutrients from its body returning to the land in natures never-ending cycle.

Questions and speculation abound during the autopsy

First Salmon from the Taw

Tony Watkins fished the Weir-Marsh and Brightly beats on the River Taw to tempt his first ever salmon a bright bar of silver estimated at 11lb. The salmon was tempted on a Wee Monkey Needle fly. Congratulations to Tony on his first salmon which I believe  is the third fish caught so far this season on the Taw.

Day tickets for this lovely stretch of the Taw can be bought from Chris Steer on 07761 285169

I fished the Torridge with the river looking perfect and tempted no fish. I could use the age-old excuse that the otter swimming through the river disrupted the fish but in truth silver bars of spring are hard won and it seems they are hanging around the lower river. To be out on such a beautiful day is surely pleasure enough for now.

Many thanks to my wife Pauline for capturing a few images of the river.

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report March 2022

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South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

March 2022

In anticipation of the new trout fishing season, South West Lakes was delighted to be able to offer the return of the popular South West Fly Fair at Roadford Lake on Sunday 6th March, after a year’s absence due to Covid.

Fly fishing enthusiasts from across the region keenly attended the event, which over the years has become an annual fixture in their diaries to herald in the new season. The show’s main sponsor was Chevron Hackles, the local producer of many fine fly tying feathers and accessories.

In addition to Chevron, there were many trade stands and exhibitors, with a wide selection of both new and used tackle and equipment for sale, along with fly tying demonstrations, casting demonstrations and tuition, and the opportunity to try out the latest equipment. Representatives from many local clubs, fisheries, and environmental organisations were on hand with information.

The fair not only caters for trout anglers, with enthusiasts for salmon, saltwater, pike, and grayling also represented. The event was opened by the fair’s patron, Charles Jardine, who then proceeded to give casting and fly tying demonstrations in his own inimitable, skilful and humorous fashion throughout the day, as well as a fish preparation and cookery demonstration.

A major part of the fair has always been the opportunity to catch up with old friends and fishing colleagues, and to enthuse about the opportunities for the upcoming season, and this year was no exception. Show organiser Dil Singh was delighted with the way that the first fly fair that he has been involved with turned out, and is already anticipating a bigger and better fair for 2023.

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Gammaton Fishing Well

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Torridge Fly Fishing Clubs season at Gammaton Reservoir has got off to an excellent start with several limit bags taken by members and visiting anglers.

Located at Gammaton Reservoirs ( 2 four acre lakes) .Annual membership £180. Members can keep up to 6 fish a week.
Day tickets £20 (3 fish) available from Summerlands Tackle, Westward Ho! & Tarka Country Pursuits , Torrington.
Membership enquiries to Mike Ball 07899 742757 . Email : [email protected]
The latest stocking of trout into Gammaton Reservior

The fishing is controlled by Torridge Fly Fishing Club established in 1959, day tickets can be purchased from Summerlands Tackle permitting visiting anglers to keep three fish at a reasonable cost of £20. The trout are predominantly rainbow’s averaging 2lb to 4lb stocked by Bulldog Trout Fishery.

A New Trout Season underway

The trout season on North Devon’s Rivers started on Tuesday and opens up many miles of wild brown trout fishing to fly fishing enthusiasts. The Fish pass scheme offers many miles of fishing across the Westcountry with many of the beats lightly fished in delightful countryside. It is well worth checking out their website

They also sell tickets for several South West Lakes Trust Waters including Wistlandpound Reservoir near Blackmoor Gate that also opened on March 15th with fishing for wild brown trout and rudd.

I have a season ticket for Wistlandpound and took an opening day stroll around the lake having a few casts here and there. It was late afternoon and the sun was starting to sink beneath the horizon as I savoured the pleasing actions of putting out a line on the water. A few fish rose across the lake and a good swirl behind my fly gave hope of action.

The last stop on our walk saw me cast out as a few more fish rose in the lake. I retrieved the small black lure and was delighted when the line zipped tight. A wild brown gave a spirited tussle before being safely netted. I admired its black and crimson spotted golden flanks before watching the fish dart away into the dark waters in the fading light. The first fish of the season is always special!

Wistlandpound Club – Visit Wimbleball

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club met at Wimbleball Lake for their first competition of the new season and were faced with challenging conditions during the first part of the day.

A cold South Easterly Wind was blowing down the lake into Bessoms and Ruggs which was the area the majority headed.

My own day got off to a flier when a rainbow seized my cormorant dropper on the first cast. I then waited over three hours before catching the next fish. A small black lure fished on an intermediate line being the successful method that accounted for the final four fish of the day.

Paul Grisley caught a rainbow early in the day and also went several hours before catching three more rainbows in the last half hour of the competition. The best of these was a stunning rainbow of 7lb 12oz that took the fly line out to the backing twice.

Early Spring can be challenging and on this day we seemed to have  several seasons in one day. The morning was bitterly cold in the South East wind with heavy showers and short spells of sunshine. Late in the day the wind dropped away and the lake took on a mirror like appearance reflecting the dark sky and colours of the landscape.

Result – 1st Paul Grisley – Four Rainbow  –  Trout 15lb 4oz – Best 7lb 12oz

                2nd Wayne Thomas – Five Rainbow – 10lb 11oz

                 3rd – David Eldred – One Rainbow – 2lb 8oz


Heavy rain has brought the river up a bit and brought some turbidity, if it was late Spring I would welcome this but somehow in early Spring the murky water does not inspire. I drift a big brass tube across the favoured spots. Its good to be back despite the cold wind and less than perfect river.

Salmon have been sighted leaping further downriver so its only a matter of time before someone strikes silver!

As I arrive a large bushy tailed fox scrambles into the hedgerow. I note the Spring flowers, daffodils, Primroses and celandines in what I often think of as Springs yellow phase.

I catch a movement in the corner of my eye ! A branch drifting downriver, but its strangely moving across the river? It somersaults in the river a tail slapping the water as it dives. My first glimpse of an otter this year. Whilst otters generate a lot of anger and debate amongst anglers I always thrill at the sight on this River made famous through the writings of Henry Williamson and Tarka the Otter. Otters belong here on this river; it is mankind that has upset the balance decimating the stocks of fish upon which the otters feed. Nature has a fine and complex balance that we so often upset.

In search of Spring silver

The March River

It was great to be back once again swinging a fly across familiar salmon lies on the River Torridge. The river level was just about perfect with the first week of the season hampered by high flows and turbid waters. Spring salmon are a great prize that have become increasingly hard to win in recent seasons. Ten years ago today I was lucky to hook and net a beautiful fresh run fish from the Middle Torridge. I have fished every March since without repeating this. I will keep trying savouring the spring flowers and the hopes of a new season.

It is sad to see the empty shell of a freshwater pearl mussel. These mollusc can live for over 100 years are not thought to have bred successfully since the 1960’s.


An out of season brown trout brought a welcome pull on the line. I hope to target these wild browns later in the Spring when they will hopefully take well presented dry flies or nymph.