Many thanks to Simon Francis who sent me this inspiring feature on the tumbling waters of the East Lyn.
Wild Brown Trout on the East Lyn
Many thanks to Simon Francis who sent me this inspiring feature on the tumbling waters of the East Lyn.
Wild Brown Trout on the East Lyn
Good Practice Guide
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.
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
the Taw why not join the Association to support our efforts.
Dan Spearman fished Bulldog Fishery to take this stunning brace of double figure brown trout!
Wimbleball Lake high on Exmoor is a beautiful expanse of water surrounded by rolling hills of pasture and woodland. The construction of the dam commenced in November 1974 and was completed in 1979. The concrete aggregate came from local quarries at Bampton and the structure consists of 184,000 cubic metres of concrete. It holds 21,540 megalitres of water within a catchment of 2910 hectares (370 Acres) and supplies water to the distribution networks of both Wessex and South West Water. Over 12,000 trees were planted around its perimeter providing a rich habitat for wildlife.
The Lake has been a popular fishery for many years and hosted several large angling competitions whilst it was run by South West Water and later by the South West Lakes Trust. Sadly, commercial pressures lead to a short period in the last decade when the fishery was down-graded initially to a low cost rainbow trout fishery and then to a wild fishery with no stocking of fish.
Many of the regular anglers drifted away to fish the lakes close neighbour Clatworthy that continues to provide first class trout fishing. In 2018 Mark Underhill and his wife Trudi took on the management of Wimbleball and were determined to turn the fishery around and bring it back to surpass its former glories as one of the West Country’s top Stillwater trout fisheries.
Over the past two seasons the Underhill family has stocked many thousands of hard fighting rainbow trout reared at their Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton. The trout are stocked from a weight of around 2lb 8oz up double figures.
An enlightened policy of catch and release fishing was introduced with anglers given the option of buying a five fish catch and keep ticket or a catch and release ticket with the anglers retaining the first two trout caught and then releasing all the fish they caught after this with barbless hooks mandatory to ensure quick and easy release. This format ensures that anglers travelling to the water can enjoy a long day savouring the fine sport on offer.
The latest addition to the Wimbleball experience is the acquisition of The George Inn that is set amongst the beautiful, rolling countryside of Exmoor in the quiet & friendly village of Brompton Regis, on the Eastern side of the Exmoor national park.
It was good to once again wander the river bank and swing a fly in the hope of a spring run salmon. The seasons come and go so quickly and it is hard to believe that twelve months have flashed past. Once again the wild daffodils are decorating the banks as natures calendar turns its pages.
The water is cold and fairly clear running at a perfect height. Several years ago on March 7th I netted a fresh run Springer of around 9lb so I am optimistic that success could come with any cast. I drift the Fly across familiar water and on one cast there is a brief tightening of the line followed a second later by a heaviness. Too gentle to be trout it could be a snag in the river. Repeated casts over the same spot rule this out so I change my Fly and cover the lie again. There is a brief tug and a flurry of spray as what was a good sized trout shakes the hook free. Im not convinced that it was the trout that intercepted the fly first drift. Salmon takes can be so subtle at times feeling like a drifting leaf has brushed the hook. I contemplate what might have been and fish on content that I have a full season ahead.
I always tend to associate Spring with trout and salmon fishing so when picking up the Tesco shop I indulged in the April Edition of Trout and Salmon Magazine. Browsing through its pages of pleasing images I was delighted to come upon local fishery owner Richard Nickell’s familiar smiling features.
The magazine has another excellent feature on trout fishing on Dartmoor with local cane rod builder Luke Bannister.
South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report
At the time of writing, only two of South West Lakes’ rainbow trout fisheries have opened (Kennick and Siblyback), with Stithians and Burrator opening on 5 March for season permit holders and 6 March for day tickets. The brown trout fisheries open on 15 March (Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound).
The fisheries will all be operating under strict Covid19 restrictions, in line with the Angling Trust and Government guidelines. This means that the fishing will be available to local anglers only, until the current travel restrictions are lifted. The on-site permit huts will not be open, so day tickets, season tickets and boats should be pre-booked online – www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing.
Kennick – The season began with a cold snap, but with some superb fishing, with rods averaging 6.5 fish per angler in the opening week. As one would expect, the fish were lying deep, with fish often taking on the drop, with the best sport to be had in Forest and Clampitts Bays and the deep water by the dam, with weighted Damsel Nymphs, Montanas, and lure patterns (Boobies, Tadpoles and Orange Blobs) all working well. The best bag caught in the month was 20 fish (19 returned) caught by M.Dadd, with Mark M catching 14 fish up to 3lbs on a Blob fished on a sinking line from the bank.
Siblyback – The cold easterly winds made the fishing at Siblyback on the opening weekend challenging, with the sheltered banks in Stocky Bay producing the best sport as well as the most comfortable conditions, with Blobs and slow-fished Damsel Nymphs catching well. As the month progressed, and the wind direction changed, the North Shore and West Bank also started to produce fish, with Montanas, small nymphs and spiders on intermediate lines attracting fish, and rod averages improving to 2.55 fish per angler. P.Murphey caught the best fish – a 3lb rainbow, while G.Hext caught 11 rainbows and a superb 2lb Brown on his first two visits of the season.
The River Torridge salmon season is underway and the scoreboard is ticking over as regular Torridge angler Duncan Betts tempted a fine 9lb fresh run springer. A cast in the right place at the right time and a springer that most prized of catches could be yours.
I hope to bring more news from the rivers as the week progresses. On the Taw a 3lb sea trout was tempted from the Day Ticket Brightly and Weir Marsh beats.
March 1st is the first day of the salmon season on North Devon Rivers and both the Taw and Torridge are looking good running high and clear.
I took my rod the bottom of the Taw at midday and had a few casts to greet the new season. This was on the Barnstaple Club Water and I suspect any fish that have moved in will have pushed up river with plenty of water and big tides. It was good to wade out into the cool water once again and flex the rod. I can remember the river on opening day when I started fishing for salmon back in the late seventies when club members would have been out in numbers hoping for that first fish off the season. Sadly the number of anglers have dwindled along with the spring salmon. Another major factor is the mandatory catch and release that is now enforced along with a spinning being discouraged despite being legal for the first month of the season.
I am always fascinated at the amount of debris brought down by the winter spates. It is hard to imagine the ferocity of the waters that carried this so high onto the bank. It is also fascinating to see how the river changes each year as nature moulds its path to the sea.
It’s an exciting time of year as winter passes with new fishing adventures on the horizon. Today was the last day of winter yet at this time of year the seasons seem to fluctuate from day to day and even from morning till night. There was frost on the grass when I looked out of the bedroom window as the moon sank beneath the tree line and the sun rose from the opposite direction illuminating the fields as the frost melted away in a warm dawn glow.
I was fishing at Bulldog fishery which is less than five miles from my home so truly local. The lane to the fishery winds down through woodland and between the remains of the old Lynton to Barnstaple Railway. The Fishery is located beside the Barnstaple Yeo that was running high and clear its sparkling water flowing into the top of the lake. I have been meaning to pay the fishery a visit for sometime after seeing some stunning images of its big brown trout.
I set up and walked the fishery bank peering into the clear water. The shaded far bank proved an ideal vantage point with the sun behind me I could see clearly into the lake. The downside of course was that my shadow could also be cast onto the water alerting the fish of my presence.
The trees would hopefully break my silhouette. Half way down the Lake I glimpsed two very large trout just a couple of rod lengths from the bank. I pulled a few yards of line from the reel and wetted the damsel nymph in the margin. The line was carefully flicked out in front of the trout; my heart was in my mouth the fish turned towards the fly eyeing it with intent for a moment before turning away showing disdain at my offering.
Such chances are often fleeting but it was an exciting start to the trip. I moved along the bank and put a long line parallel to the bank. After a couple of pulls the line drew tight and a trout pulled back. An impressive brown trout its spotted sides showing clearly in the gin clear water. The trout close to five pounds was certainly a great start to the day.
A few casts later a rainbow chased the olive damsel nymph close to the bank where I saw its mouth open and engulf the lure.
With two trout on the bank I was pleased to take a break from fishing and chat with the fishery owner Nigel Early about his exciting plans for the fishery. The trout lake is due to be considerably enlarged to provide far more bank space making it an ideal venue for visiting clubs or small groups of anglers. This is an intimate Stillwater trout fishery that contains some huge brown trout up to 15lb that are undoubtedly wily and worthy targets. The fishery policy is for all browns over 5lb to be returned carefully to the water preserving a valuable asset and ensuring that visiting anglers have the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime. There are two day ticket options; four fish £30 or five fish £35. Large returned browns do not count as part of this bag.
Nigel is no stranger to big trout and was proud to tell me that he had provided stock fish from the trout farm that have set English, Scottish and Welsh records Including rainbows of 26lb 9oz (Welsh) and 24lb 6oz ( Scottish).
Another project underway is a carp lake of several acres that has been stocked with ten carp over thirty pound and another 120 carp ranging from low doubles to mid twenties. There will be ten swims on the lake that should open in early May and will undoubtedly provide some exciting fishing. I feel sure that the lake will mature nicely over the coming years to bring a valuable carping venue close to Barnstaple.
After leaving Nigel to continue his work I returned to the trout lake where I managed to spot another huge brown trout that once again frustrated my efforts swimming at my nymph before turning away and disappearing into the depths of the lake. Several good sized fish were showing near the inlet and followed my olive damsel before turning away. With the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky it was undoubtedly time for a little finesse. A bead headed nymph was flicked out and the lines tip twitched. A 4lb plus rainbow was added to my bag. With Sunday dinner waiting I reeled in and headed for home thoughts of big browns etched on the minds eye.