Early Season thoughts beside the river

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Today I cast a line for salmon on the middle Torridge with the river running high and at a good colour there should be a few salmon about and I have read reports of a couple of fish hooked and lost. Catching really did not matter today it was just good to be beside the river and feel the waters flow and cool air. In these worrying times its a great comfort to be beside the river as spring flowers bring a splash of colour and a feeling of normality.

After a winter away from the beat its always interesting to note the changes that have occurred after winter spates tear down the valley. The odd tree has succumbed but overall little has changed. The present situation in the wider world has made me focus on the present far more and today I walked slowly along the bank savouring the familiar spring flowers and birdsong. The pheasants, strutting across the fields, the cooing wood pigeons in the woods, a grey squirrel flitting from branch to branch.

I have been a keen collector of the books of BB and I recalled somewhere in his writings a dark tale of the Village of Faxton abandoned as the  spectre of the Black Death reaped its curse in 1665. “The Country Mans Bedside Book” was published in 1941 during the dark days of World War 2. At the end of the introduction I found this fitting prose.

One day this dark dream will be over, the iron of winter will pass, the village bells ring out again over tranquil meadows and we shall have peace again. When that hour comes let us help to build a saner, simpler world on the one true foundation.

Nature is master of all, there will be wild violets blooming along the sheltered bank whatever we may do, the joyous bird will sing, grass will cover the old scars. In this I find quiet comfort and a pointer to man’s folly. 

‘BB’

Northants, April 1941

It is comforting to look back into history and see that previous generations have been through dark days and that they have passed as these will do. We as anglers are very fortunate to have this connection with nature that can give assurance that all will be well in time.

I leave you with a few images from the waters edge.

( Below)The winter floods have washed away several freshwater pearl mussels. These can live upwards of 100 years and have not bred in the Torridge for many years. It is sad to see these casualties beside the river. https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2017/04/28/saving-freshwater-mussels-torridge/

The above pearl mussel shell undoubtedly belonged to a mollusc that started its life somewhere around the time of World War 1 just a couple of years before the last flu pandemic to inflict death and misery across the world. It is sobering to think of this grim history but also perhaps comforting to reflect on all the good times that have happened in this century since this old timer was born in the ever-flowing waters of the Torridge.

River Torridge Postpone AGM as a result of Covid-19

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The River Torridge Fisheries Association have reluctantly had to cancel their AGM that was due to be held at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash on April 3rd. The Covid-19 outbreak is causing widespread anguish and will leave a long lasting legacy as it spreads to cause ill health and both social and financial hardship. It is to be hoped that anglers can at least access the waters edge and enjoy a reprieve from the concerning news from around the world.

The latest news from the association can be found on their website –http://www.rivertorridge.org.uk

RIVER TAW FISHERIES ASSOCIATION AGM POSTPONED

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The River Taw Fisheries Association have made the decision to postpone this years AGM that was due to take place at Highbullen Hotel on March 27th  due to ongoing concerns regarding the Coronavirus.

Angling on the whole is not severely impacted upon by the Coronavirus.  Waterside activities in the fresh air are undoubtedly amongst the safest place to be when it comes to Coronavirus. After one of the wettest winters for several decades Devon’s rivers are brimful with water and whilst the first two weeks of the season have been a washout the rivers levels bode well for the coming season. With dryer weather forecast for next week I expect a few anglers to get out and wet a line.

Alistair Blundell ventured onto the lower Torridge and spotted a salmon showing at the tail of the pool. He used his double handed rod to drift a fly across the spot and was rewarded with that delightful connection with a double figure spring salmon. After a few exciting moments the fish managed to shake the hook free in the strong current. The hooking of the fish is a great sign that salmon are in the rivers and as the water level drop there is every project of that most prized spring run salmon.

Wimbleball in fine Spring Form

Mark Jones and his brother enjoyed a cracking day at Wimbleball where Mark boated a personal best rainbow of 8lb and and another fine rainbow of 5lb 10oz.  Marks fish plus another four over 4lb were tempted using dial bach’s and buzzers. Marks brother boated a 5lb rainbow first cast! The venue is certainly providing some superb sport despite the inclement early spring weather.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Presentation Night

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club  held their presentation night at the Pack of Cards Combe Martin where club members and their partners enjoyed a delicious meal. The club was formed in the late seventies and is still going strong despite Wistlandpound being downgraded to a wild brown trout fishery. The small friendly club hold competitions throughout the year visiting the regions many still waters in search of trout.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Award Winners 2019 Members 

South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report

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February 2020

At the time of writing, Kennick is the only South West Lakes Trust Trout fishery that has opened for the 2020 season and, in spite of three named storms, strong winds and heavy rains, anglers who have braved the elements have been rewarded with some excellent sport.

The opening weekend (14 February) produced a rod average of over four fish, with over half of the anglers recording a full bag. The fish are lying deep, so sunk lines fishing weighted lures (Blobs, Nomads, and Cats Whiskers, as well as Goldhead Damsels) have produced the best results, with fish being caught from the banks at Clampitts, Laployds, up to the Causeway. The best fish caught on opening day was a 2lb 12oz Rainbow, caught by Andy Gooding (from Liverton), while Andy Lobb braved storm Dennis to bag eight Rainbows weighing in at 17lb 5oz.

The following week continued to produce some fine fishing, with most anglers opting to fish from the banks (although boat anglers caught well in the deeper waters in Outer Clampitts), with the North end of the fishery producing the best results. Anglers averaged a rod average of 3.1 fish per rod, including plenty of strong overwintered fish, with Mike Malpas catching the best fish – a Rainbow of 3lb 12oz.

The seventh annual South West Fly Fair (this year’s main show sponsor being Chevron Hackles) was held on 29 February at Roadford Lake and, yet again, the day proved to be a great success. In addition to the opportunity to try out the latest equipment available from the various trade stands, there were casting and fly tying demonstrations from the show’s patron, Charles Jardine, as well as demonstrations, including preparation and cooking your catch, from Gary Champion. A number of fly tiers were on hand to demonstrate and explain various techniques, with the opportunity to ‘have a go’ with the experts, as well as stands organised by local Clubs, fishery and environmental organisations. The day is always a great opportunity to buy that essential tackle for the new season, as well as to catch up with old friends and to talk fishing in anticipation of the forthcoming year on the water.

Annual Fly Fair Attracts Over 200 People to Roadford

The eighth South West Fly Fair got the Trout fishing season off with a bang on Saturday 29 February as fly fishermen from all over the region attended the annual show, held at Roadford Lake and hosted by South West Lakes Trust.

The show is always a great place to grab a bargain, watch some fantastic demonstrations from Trout fishing celebrities and speak to the many organisation and trade stands that attend. There was also a free fly casting and fly tying zone for anyone to have go.

The show was launched by Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling for South West Lakes Trust, and then officially opened at 10.30am by Charles Jardine, one of the country’s most respected fly-fishing gurus, England Fly Fishing Commonwealth Team member and patron of the show.

Activities throughout the day included casting demonstrations with Charles, who gave an entertaining and impressive display with the Trout rod, and Gary Champion, a local expert who travels worldwide teaching people to fish and give demonstrations.

More than 30 people took advantage of the free fly casting lessons and clinics for both newcomers to the sport and experienced anglers feeling a little rusty after the closed season. Gary Champion gave a fantastic demonstration on ways to prepare and cook your Trout once you have caught it with samples to taste. This was a real treat on a very cold day!

There were a variety of angling conservation organisations including The Westcountry Rivers Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and local custom rod maker, Luke Bannister, who has built up an international following for his beautiful hand-crafted split cane rods.

Those looking for new fishing opportunities in 2020 were able to speak to representatives from various fishing clubs throughout the region.

There was also a large selection of angling trade stands including impressive displays from the shows sponsor Chevron Hackles, with the opportunity to handle, try and buy this year’s latest equipment.

The 2020 Trout fishing season has started on the South West Lakes Trust Rainbow Trout water Kennick with Siblyback, Stithians and Burrator all opening on 7 March. The Brown Trout season for Roadford, Fernworthy, Colliford and Wistlandpound starts on 15 March. Full details and this year’s prices are on the Trust’s website – www.swlakesfishing.co.uk.

SOUTH WEST FLY FAIR 2020

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Ben Smeeth – Head of Fishing at South West Lakes Trust

The South West Fly Fair at Roadford Lake has become a popular fixture on the West Country angling calendar and always attracts a healthy number of the regions fly fishing enthusiasts. Falling on the eve of a new season the event is always good for stocking up with tackle and catching up with fellow anglers rekindling old friendships and forming new ones.

The Casterbridge Fishery Team

There is always a strong focus on the environment that is vital to the health of ourselves and the fish we seek. After a stormy winter with exceptional rainfall anglers are looking forward to warmer months rising trout and perhaps silver sea trout and salmon.

Gary Champion give a casting demonstration during a lull in the blustery weather.

This year’s event was sponsored by Chevron Hackles. Chevron are a local company who produce top quality fly tying hackles for the discerning Fly tyer.

The following stall holders were present :- Alan Riddell Rods, Arundell Arms, Turral, Homeleigh Angling Centre, Chevron Hackles ( Show Sponsor) Snowbee UK, Casterbridge Fisheries, Luke Bannister Split Cane Rods, British Float Tube Association, Second Hand Tackle Sale, Wild Trout Trust, Author Wayne Thomas, West Country River Trust, South West Lakes, South West Lakes Invasive Species, Virtual Nymph, Grayling society and Launceston Anglers, Milemead Fish Farm, Torre Trout Farms.

The following stall holders were present :- Alan Riddell Rods, Arundell Arms, Turral, Homeleigh Angling Centre, Chevron Hackles ( Show Sponsor) Snowbee UK, Casterbridge Fisheries, Luke Bannister Split Cane Rods, British Float Tube Association, Second Hand Tackle Sale, Wild Trout Trust, Author Wayne Thomas, West Country River Trust, South West Lakes, South West Lakes Invasive Species, Virtual Nymph, Grayling society and Launceston Anglers, Milemead Fish Farm, Torre Trout Farms.

Plenty of flies to tempt both anglers and trout!