Light touch for Blakewell Double

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Jeremy Johnson 11lb 6oz rainbow
Jeremy Johnson
11lb 6oz rainbow

Jeremy Johnson used a light approach at Blakewell fishery to tempt a fine rainbow scaling 11lb 6oz. Jeremy used a size 12 montana nymph presented using a 4 wt Orvis rod and 4 wt floating line. The montana nymph is one of my favourite patterns and a good choice at this picturesque well stocked water.


Grilse from the Rivers

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The Taw and Torridge are both in perfect condition following recent rainfall and fish are there to be caught. Clinton Marshall fished the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw to land a 5lb grilse and Len Francis fished the same beat to land a 6lb grilse. Both fish were fresh in from the sea with silver flanks and sea lice still attached.

I fished the Middle Torridge with the river in fine trim I expected a fish at anytime but not a pull. The sight of a kingfisher alighting on a branch opposite where I fished was reward for my effort plus the glimpse of two barn owls as I drove home.

At least seven salmon were landed from the Torridge from beats throughout the river all of them grilse up to 4lb. Martin Weeks and his party fish the Torridge every summer specializing in sea trout fishing after dark. Their latest visit to the river saw them land twenty six sea trout to 3lb in three nights fishing.

It is surprising how many sea trout can be in the river with anglers being unaware of their presence. Whilst there are a number of fishers who target the fish after dark there are far fewer than fish the famous sea trout rivers of South Wales. If more anglers adopted nocturnal habits it is likely that far more of these enigmatic fish would be tempted.

The best book on sea trout fishing is undoubtedly Hugh Falkus’s classic work Sea Trout Fishing published in 1962. It is surprising that this classic tome was written so long ago as its is still totally relevant to this day and well worth seeking out. A book that captures the atmosphere of sea trout fishing through the night is BB’s The Pool of the Black Witch.


Rising Sun for salmon news


Wednesday night is steak night at The Rising Sun at Umberleigh and an ideal place to catch up on he latest news from the River Taw. Landlord Julian Zealey is a keen angler and is always worth chatting with for the latest news from the river.


At least two salmon were landed from the Taw on June 29th including a 12lb fish from a middle river beat to the rod of Roland Eustace and 10lb salmon to the rod of Trevor Smith from the Mole. Several school peel have also been caught over recent days from beats throughout the river system.


Richard Johns landed a 9lb salmon from the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw along with a couple of sea trout to 2lb 8oz.

The last Thursday of each month sees a get together of salmon anglers at the monthly soiree with canapés and beers from 5:30.


On the Middle Torridge Stuart Eynon shared a catch of seven salmon from a middle river beat.


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The latest report from South West Lakes Trust shows that some fine sport has been enjoyed with the regions two brown trout fisheries offering great loch style sport. At Wimbleball catches have been impressive as Danny Fords latest report indicates :-


 Wimbleball The fishing still continues to produce top sport where bank anglers can enjoy a return of 5.2 and boats achieving 4.5 per angler.
Mr Vinall caught the fish of the week with a stunning 6lb 15oz Rainbow from the Dam end (pic attaced). Mr Vinall was using a Black Magic Nymph when the large fish took his fly. He also went on to return a further 4 rainbows and 2 browns. Well done! This fish is a strong contender for fish of the season, and I’m sure the largest in a few years. Ill check and get back to you. Terry Bridgman was also amongst the fish last week, catching and releasing 22 over 2 days.


Wistlandpound – The Beach, Hide Bay, Gordon’s Bay and the deeper water near the dam proved to be the best locations; Brownie Point is now accessible (levels are down by about 12’) to bank anglers, with boat anglers catching well at this location, especially drifting with a team of Nymphs. Dry patterns, especially Hawthorns, Sedges and Black Gnats, have caught well, particularly in the mornings and evenings, as have sub-surface patterns (Pheasant Tail Nymphs, small montanas and spider patterns) fished on a floating line throughout the day. Jon Ogborne and Peter Coleman-Smith had a very successful day on the boat fished loch- style, netting 29 Brown Trout between them.

Roadford – Wortha Bay is now open to anglers and starting to produce results, especially for boat anglers on short drifts. Although there is plenty of fly life about, most of the fish are being taken on sub-surface patterns (mainly dark, such as Small Black tadpoles, Black Pennells and Bibios) fished on a floating line. Stephen Jones caught the best fish of the month – a beautiful grown-on Brown of 4lb 14oz.

With water temperatures rising, boat anglers can expect some exciting sport, fishing over the boils, where some huge fish have been caught in recent years.


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Friendly rivalry at Blakewell Fishery saw regulars  Gavin Colwill and John Piper go head to head in a competition. The two anglers landed six fish each totaling 32lb! Gavin was deemed the winner landing the days biggest trout a fine rainbow of 13lb. John’s biggest was a fine rainbow of 12lb.

John Piper with a fine brace of trout

Perfect Conditions

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Perfect conditions
Perfect conditions

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.

Longest Day at Wistlandpound

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Danny Ford
Danny Ford

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.

Danny Ford - brown trout
Danny Ford – brown trout

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.

A double shot of rudd
A double shot of rudd

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.

Embers of a dying day
Embers of a dying day

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.

Wistlandpound Day tickets cost :- £15:00 for full details visit


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The middle Torridge
The middle Torridge


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.

Torridge brown trout
Torridge brown trout

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

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Bratton Water
Bratton Water


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.



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The Upper Torridge

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.