After recent spates both the Taw and Torridge are fining down nicely and reports are trickling in of salmon. I fished a middle river beat on the Torridge and conditions were as close to perfect for salmon and sea trout as it would seem possible.I fished through the known lies with care, searching with the fly swimming across the current. The occasional trout hit the fly and gave a brief moment of excitement. It was good to be on the river immersed in the surroundings as birds swooped over the water and the occasional mayfly lifted into the warm evening. Despite this there was also frustration that despite ideal conditions success was elusive.
I was very pleased to hear today of a fresh run 12lb salmon to the rod of Russell Crisp on a middle Torridge beat. It is often the case that the salmon are more willing to take a fly as they settle into their lies and can be reluctant to take as they run the river. It is perhaps the unpredictability of the salmon that make them so alluring.
I hope to bring more news from the rivers in the coming days. The solitary nature of salmon fishing and private inclination of its participants sometimes means that news is not as forthcoming as in other branches of the sport. I would encourage game anglers to send me their catches and pictures I will not divulge location of capture unless encouraged to do so.
It’s hard to believe that the longest day has passed us by already and the days are starting to recede in that ever revolving circle of time. I met South West Lakes Trust Ranger Danny Ford on June 20th at Wistlandpound just before 6.00pm with fours hours of fishing ahead of us, if only these summer days would last. I had fished earlier in the year when Wistlandpound had opened as brown trout fishery a new era in its development as North Devon’s largest trout water. Since those early season days a further stocking of brown trout have been introduced ensuring a healthy population of both stock fish and existing wild fish.
The evening was overcast with occasional glimpses of the sun and a light breeze. Ideal conditions I thought. We were using Wistlandpound Fly-fishing Clubs boat paired up with an electric outboard that gave us ease of maneuverability and was certainly easier than rowing. Danny suggested we try the deep water at the dam end of the lake as he had landed several trout from this location on his last visit a week before. A fast sink line, a black tadpole on the point of the leader and brightly coloured blob on the dropper was Dan’s suggestion. An erratic retrieve and the occasional pause allowing the fly to hang motionless in the water was the tactic to employ. Success came first to Danny, a handsomely marked brown of around 12oz. A few follows but no more hook ups called for a move and a change of tactics.
Putting the boat within casting range of the West bank we began a drift. With the occasional fish rising we both set up with floating lines. Danny using a dry fly whilst I opted for a bead headed pheasant tail on the point with a cormorant on the dropper. After a couple of drifts honors were even with trout falling to both dry fly and nymph.
I had heard that there were a few quality rudd being caught so I persuaded Danny to put us on a few rudd. Drifting close into the weedy margins soon brought success with these pretty golden flanked red finned coarse fish. The rudd proved a pleasing distraction for a short period with a double shot bringing a pleasing opportunity to capture the variance in the hues of these fish. There are those who curse the rudd that do not give a good account of themselves. But as they tend to congregate in certain areas it’s not too big an issue; though it is undoubtedly more difficult for the bank angler to avoid them.
After the rudd interlude we headed back out into deeper water and targeted the trout that were rising frequently. Danny and I both enjoyed success before the rise petered out. I picked up the sinking line once again and employed a fast retrieve with the occasional pause. This brought quick success in the shape of a brown of over 1lb. For the next twenty minutes or so we had several follows and a couple more stunningly marked browns.
As the battery was running low and the light fading we headed back to the dam end where I landed one more trout. The water surface became becalmed as dusk set in and what wind there was died away. The occasional trout punctuated the surface with a telling ripple. The sun sank behind the trees, the crimson sky reflecting through the trees onto the lake like a burning fire. Owls hooted in the trees and blackbirds cries echoed across the still water. It was time to go the longest day was as all days do ending.
We had ended the session with five browns each to around 1lb 8oz and five rudd each. The fishing is comparable to wild brown trout fishing savoured by many on upland tarns and lochs in the North of the country. Fascinated fishing in beautiful surroundings and at a very reasonable cost.
After an exceptionally dry April and May local rivers have been at uncomfortably low levels with migratory fish reluctant or unable to progress upriver. As a result both salmon and sea trout fishing had virtually ground to a halt. The recent rainfall though often very localized brought a significant rise to the River Torridge that has brought several salmon into the system with salmon caught from beats throughout the river. Richard Jewell was among those successful landing a fresh run grilse with sea liced flanks. I fished a mid river Beat of the Torridge and whilst I failed to connect with a salmon I did catch a pleasing brown trout of almost around 1lb.
Taw regular Len Francis was one of the first to benefit from a slight rise in the Taw landing a salmon from a mid river beat. Heavy rain is falling as I type this so hopefully the rivers will rise further bringing a good run of fish over coming days.
Bratton Water is nestled in a sheltered valley beside Bratton Stream and offers fine sport with free rising brown and rainbow trout. Eddy Hazeldon enjoyed a four-hour session at the water with his sixteen-year-old daughter Charlotte and landed a brace of trout each averaging 3lb.
Long time member of Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Bob Gooding fished the water to land a stunning brown trout of 8lb.
Small imitative patterns tend to work well at this water with dry flies always worth a try especially during warm summer evening’s.
Whilst many will be grumbling about recent rain in localized areas salmon and sea trout anglers will have a little hope in their hearts. After an exceptionally dry April and May local rivers have been at uncomfortably low levels with migratory fish reluctant or unable to progress upriver. Both salmon and sea trout fishing have virtually ground to a halt. A quick look at the Environment Agency gauging stations indicates a substantial rise in the Upper and middle Torridge that should give encouragement that a few fish will move over Beam Weir. The initial flush of water after a prolonged drought is often very dirty and this can deter fish from moving into the system. As the water clears fish should run giving anglers a chance of sport. Ideally we need a sustained period of rain to maintain the river level for a few weeks.
The Taw does not seem to have benefited to the same extent as the Torridge but even here a small rise could bring a few sea trout and salmon into the Lower reaches.
The Lyn seems to missed out on the rainfall and is still exceptionally low.
Blakewell Fishery is in top spring form with anglers enjoying fine sport as summer sunshine raises the water temperature encouraging good hatches of fly. Gavin Colwill from Bude a regular visitor to the fishery landed a fine brace of rainbows weighing 16lb and 14lb part of six fish bag that totalled 38lb.
The Fisheries Spring Competition saw some fine bags of trout despite the bright sunshine that was enjoyed by the competitors. Chris Rorstad won the events top prize of a twenty fish season ticket for Blakewell with a six fish bag weighing 18lb 2oz. In runner up spot was Stuart Avion with six trout for 17lb 6oz and third Neil Young with six for 16lb 11oz. The day was punctuated with a BBQ where anglers enjoyed their food and few beers whilst discussing past and future forays in search of trout.
Numerous double figure trout have featured in catches over recent weeks with some large fish glimpsed in the clear water as they cruise the margins.
John Vaughan took top spot at Triple Hooks Clubs Fly fishing competition at Bratton Water with a four fish bag of 12lb 4oz that included a rainbow trout of 6lb. Robbie Hancock was runner up with a four fish bag of 11lb 3oz and Dennis Toleman third with four trout for 10lb. Bags were a mixture of brown trout and rainbow trout with fish moving well early and late in the day.