Trout in a frosty dawn!

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Many thanks to Exmoor Fly Fishing for allowing me to use their report on the latest South West Fishing for Life trip to Wimbleball.

Today was the monthly meet for SWFFL ….South West Fishing For Life…this takes place at Wimbleball Reservoir. A massive vote of thanks should go to Mark Underhill and the team that now operate the fishing, the place has been totally transformed. Mark graciously lets the ladies fish there, the fishing is superb, the hard fighting Rainbows that one of the ladies encountered on a very cold, clear and frosty morning are testament to his hard work and foresight….the early “bird” certainly catches the worm……

Fishing for Force – Cancer Charity

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Exmoor Fly Fishing

“Fishing for force” Force is a local cancer charity, John Dawson is organising a day at Exe Valley Fishery by kind permission of Sue & Nick Hart, both John and myself will be in attendance offering tuition and help in all aspects of fly fishing.
It’s a very worthwhile cause, here’s a little bit more about the charity… details for booking are on the flyer….Chris🎣

At FORCE Cancer Charity we believe that anyone diagnosed with cancer deserves the best possible treatment and professional support, face to face and close to home.
We have a Cancer Support and Information Centre in Exeter for patients and their loved ones who need physical, emotional, psychological and practical support.

We also offer support and information and fund the delivery of chemotherapy once a week in Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton.

All our services are free.

Changing times – Time to worry?

Changing times – Time to worry?

When I started sea fishing over forty years ago many of fish we caught were killed to be weighed in at competitions, eaten or buried in the garden. Looking back what anglers did was wrong but we knew no different it was different times and there was little perception that fish stocks were dwindling. There was perhaps still a belief that god provides and that there would always be plenty more fish in the sea.

These are fortunately more enlightened times and most sea anglers practice catch and release keeping just the occasional fish for the table. It is vital that those fish we return to the water have a good chance of survival and I see more and more guidance on how to handle fish. The basics are to treat all fish with respect. Handle as little as possible and support the fish when posing for photos. Consider using circle hooks or barbless when appropriate and consider replacing trebles with singles. When weighing fish always use a purpose made weigh sling or carrier bag for smaller species. Do not dangle fish on the scales.

Coarse anglers have been returning fish to the water for the best part of a century and are in many ways ahead of the game. Weigh slings, unhooking matts and antiseptic ointments are now part of carp anglers standard kit. Rigs used are carefully designed to reduce the risk of tethering any fish that are lost.

Salmon anglers who once retained virtually every fish they caught now have to return close to 100% of the fish they catch. Salmon runs are generally on an alarming downward spiral for a multitude of reasons and it is anglers who are at the forefront of campaigns to protect the future of the species.

Please follow the following guide to good practice when releasing fish:

  • Use barbless hooks. 
  • Use a fine knotless net.
  • Use strong tackle so fish can be played out and netted as quickly as possible.
  • Always net the fish: avoid handling fish and certainly do not pick them up by the tail to weigh or photograph. 
  • Keep the fish in the water all the time: If you want to know the weight, measure the fish in the water and calculate accordingly. If you want to take a photo, do it while the fish is in the water.

Whilst there are those who seek to criticise or even ban angling on morale grounds it is frequently the anglers who are desperately trying to protect fish stocks from over fishing and habitat destruction. Perhaps it is because anglers have a direct interaction with nature by participating that they have a deep passion and love for the environment and the creatures that dwell within. I know that I am perhaps skating on thin ice here but many anglers I know have very a deep love of the countryside and the waters edge. There are of course those who leave litter, mistreat fish and show no respect for the countryside. These are unfortunately a significant minority within society as a whole.

As an angler I feel that I have a close connection with the environment both marine and countryside. Sometimes I question my deep passion for angling but it is this quest for fish that has taken me to some beautiful locations and I have seen many wonders of nature that many only see from their arm chairs on HD screens.

I have witnessed an alarming decline in our countryside in the half a century I have fished and I often fear that I am amongst a generation that has seen the tale end of anglings golden age. And perhaps if we are to believe the climate change protestors earths golden age as well?

Fun Fishing for young anglers

It is vital that young anglers come into this wonderful pastime of ours and engage with nature. At Exe Valley Fishery they are catering for those first timers with a lake dedicated to young family fishing adventures. Chris Guest sent me this news story following on from young Haydo’s adventure.

“Fun in the Easter Sun, Haydo & grandpa went fishing and Haydo caught his first trout on Lobbs Lake at Exe Valley Fishery, a brilliant place to take kids for their first fishing adventure, this lake is bait or spinner, we float fished with some soft pellets and it wasn’t long before he had his string pulled, a couple of fish later he was enjoying a well deserved Cola Ice Pop from the fishery freezer, check it out!!!”

There is of course the main fishing lake for the dedicated Fly Fisher with trout to double figures!

Good Friday Trout Fishing

April has to be one of my favourite months to target reservoir trout with that vibrancy of new life all around. Having enjoyed a good day at Wimbleball a few weeks ago I was keen to return and hopeful that with warm temperatures forecast there would be the chance of catching fish on the floating line.

This was to be a short session during the middle of the day with a catch and release ticket. Pauline would enjoy a well deserved rest with a good book whilst I waded out into the cool water. The drive across Exmoor proved to be an enjoyable experience with a stop off at Wheddon Cross to enjoy a Croissant and a hot coffee.

On arrival at Wimbleball it was clear that the holiday season had kicked off with families enjoying the warn sunshine, picnicking, floating about on the lake and generally having fun.

After checking into the ticket office and gleaning information from the catch returns it was time to head off and find a peaceful area of the lake away from the crowds. There is plenty of space at Wimbleball for everyone to do their thing. The information board in the ticket office indicated that some very good trout had been coming out to a variety of flies but that when the sun was out the fish tended to go down and become difficult to tempt.

We parked up past Bessoms Bridge and headed for the shallows where Jeff Pearce and I had enjoyed good sport a couple of weeks back.

I put down the tackle and surveyed the scenery. The lake stretched out before us sunlight twinkling on the ripples whilst a few swallows, swooped past and a butterfly fluttered in the light breeze. It was an idyllic spring day and with a warm sun and light breeze I was confident that the trout would be up in the water despite no signs of fish rising.

I waded out in to the crystal clear water and worked out a length of line to place a team of three flies. On the point a Montana, a buzzer and a Zulu on the droppers. I soon settled into that rhythmic routine of casting and retrieving. Birdsong, the call of toads and the sounds of people enjoying the day drifted across the water. My eyes searched the lake for feeding fish, my chilled fingers retrieving the line in slowly with the expectancy of that pleasing tug through the line.

After ten minutes or so the line pulled delightfully tight and a trout cartwheeled on a tight line before shedding the hook. That connection however brief always gives faith that the tactics will work and allows fishing to continue with conviction. It wasn’t too long before another trout was deceived and this time the barbless hook held firm. The trout was not to be easily subdued and threatened to strip line to the backing on several strong runs. After a couple of minutes the fish was ready for the net. A fin perfect rainbow of between four and five pounds.

As the afternoon approached I was pleased to hear the pleasing sound of trout rising. Several fish could be seen breaking the surface just out of casting range. After losing a couple of fish I eventually connected again and another stunning battle a rainbow of over four pounds was admired.

Pauline was called upon to briefly put down her book and capture the moments.

As the afternoon grew late it was unfortunately time to leave with other engagements looming away from the pleasing shores of this splendid lake. As other anglers passed by we chatted and exchanged notes. Several anglers had also enjoyed success and carried nets of weighty looking rainbows. As we walked back towards the car two anglers were fishing in the bay and one of them had hooked into a fine rainbow and was netting it as we approached. Yet another pristine full tailed rainbow of exactly 5lb was held up for the camera by captor Steve Essery who later informed me that he had finished his day with four fine trout scaling 2lb 4oz, 3lb 8oz and 3lb 10oz. His fishing companion had also enjoyed success ending with his five fish limit bag. He commented that it was great to see the fishery turned around under Mark Underhill’s management.

Wimbleball offers a superb trout fishing experience its not always easy but the fish are full tailed and hard fighting with the catch and release option working well. As the summer approaches it may well be worthwhile taking the option of a boat to cover more water. Summer evenings will I am sure provide some exciting sport from both bank and shore with free rising trout.

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Spring Sport

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Located at Gammaton Reservoirs ( 2 four acre lakes) .Annual membership £170. 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]com

(Above) Limit bag for day ticket angler Richard Penton. Not bad for £20 & the option for catch & release on the lower lake if you want to carry on fishing after you’ve got your 3 fish.

EXE VALLEY TROUT MASTERS RESULT

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Troutmasters Results

Well done to everyone who took part in the Troutmasters competition on Sunday 14th April 2019. The competition took place over four hours and even with the freezing cold easterly wind the ten anglers that attended managed a rod average of 2.4 fish per angler, with several anglers heading back to Anchor lake to continue fishing after the match had ended. Best tactics throughout this colder spell have been to fish deeper and slower.

  1. Chris Short with 5 fish weighing 16lb 8oz
  2. Keith Ratcliffe with 4 fish weighing 11lb 12oz
  3. Philip Duckett with 3 fish weighing 10lb 12oz
  4. Mary Ratcliffe with 3 fish weighing 7lb 12oz

  5. Ben Cheeld with 3 fish weighing 6lb 4oz

  6. Richard Cooper with 2 fish weighing 5lb 8oz
  7. Mike Duckett with 2 fish weighing 5lb
  8. Sam Shepherd – Junior with 2 fish weighing 4lb 12oz

    9 -Terence O’Keefe

    9 – Peter Kyle

    Junior Winner – Sam Shepherd

Exmoor Trout Fisheries for all.

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The above full tailed rainbow trout was landed by Nick Hart who runs the nearby Exe Valley Fishery. Wimbleball and Exe Valley offer Fly Fishers visiting Exmoor an excellant choice of venues. The wide open expanse of Wimbleball offers the challenge of hard fighting fish in a stunning setting of moorland, woods and extensive farmland.

Exe Valley is situated in a sheltered valley beside the River Exe and offers fishing for both experienced anglers and families. Being slight less imposing Exe Valley is an ideal venue for those wanting to try trout fishing before venturing out to the wild expanse of Wimbleball.

Exe Valleys tranquil waters offer great sport.

Both fisheries offer catch and release options with stunning brown and rainbow trout.

(Above)A hard fighting rainbow on the line at Wimbleball

River Taw salmon

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Pete Tyjas who published Fly Culture Magazine tempted this beautiful springer from a middle Taw beat on a cascade. Whilst there have only been around half a dozen salmon from the Taw so far; as the water warms I expect a few more to be tempted.

Dave Mock caught his first ever salmon estimated at 8lb from the Barnstaple and District Angling Association Water below Newbridge.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – April Trophy – Clatworthy

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members fished their April Trophy Competition at Wessex Waters Clatworthy Reservoir where all members competing landed some top quality trout. A cold brisk easterly wind put the trout down deep with most fish caught  deep using boobies or lures. Whilst the fishing proved to be more challenging than expected the quality of the fish caught made the effort well worth well while with full tailed rainbows testing everyones tackle. One fish estimated at over five pound slipped the hook at the net whilst a good number of the fish caught were between 3lb and 4lb 8oz. The biggest trout fell to Colin Combes weighed in at 4lb 8oz and was part of the only five fish bag of the day that secured victory.

1st – Colin Combe – Five Rainbows – 12lb 15oz

2nd – Dave Mock – Four Rainbows – 12lb 12oz

3rd – Wayne Thomas – Four Rainbows – 10lb 15oz

4th – Dave Eldred – Three Rainbows – 7lb 8oz.

(Above) Colin Combe with a fine rainbow of 4lb 8oz
(Above) A fin perfect rainbow of 3lb 8oz