SEASONS END

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As I walked to the river rod in hand it seemed difficult to comprehend that another season had passed by for it seemed such a short time ago that I had trod this same route to see the wild daffodils lining the bank back in early March. It was a still morning without a breath of wind a good thing at this time as it would reduce the number of leaves fluttering into the tree lined river. October 8th end of the first week of the two week Torridge season extension. Looking at the trees still bearing their foliage in predominantly dark shades of green it seemed that nature was denying the passing of the year. Yet I know that within a month the majority of the leaves will have dropped and the rivers salmon will be beginning their  spawning ritual in earnest high up on the redds.

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The river is looking good a slight tinge of colour still, but a little below perfect height, a week having past since the last spate. I wade out and cast the fly across the river allowing it to drift across searching for the salmon that are surely present? The fly I have selected is a barb-less single with a gold tinsel body and brownish wing with a flash of orange. I bought a small selection of flies at Ilfracombe’s Variety Sports a couple of weeks ago, after fifty odd years this well established tackle shop is closing down its owners John and Janet Fennel taking a well deserved rest after many years serving the local angling community.

I fish the pools and runs methodically enjoying the seclusion and savouring the timeless scene that somehow always reminds me of a Constable fine art painting. With the river at its present state I have a hunch where I will find a fish a deep tree shrouded pool. The first fish through brings no result. I select a tungsten headed fly with a black and silver body with long marabou tail. An awful fly to cast but it sinks quickly and may just cover a deep lying fish. First cast, I watch the path of the fly as I lift it I spot a big salmon rise in the water its flanks a mix of gold and bronze hues. Its mouth clearly opens as it attempts to  seize my fly, unsuccessfully! Two casts later it again pursues my fly and again misses. The margin between success and failure is small. The image of the salmon within the river will live in my minds eye for many years. A valuable image that will ensure I return next season hopeful of success. That occasional glimpse is essential to maintain the desire, that and the tales from other anglers who have tasted success.

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On this last session I have seen kingfishers, squirrels, pheasants, long tailed tits, wagtails and even a salmon. It has not been a successful season fish wise for myself with no salmon or sea trout landed. Others have fortunately fared better as I discover at the end of season dinner.

The annual Torridge Fishery Association dinner was held on Saturday October 8th at the Half Moon Inn, Sheepwash. Opening the door of this old fishing Inn Pauline and I stepped into a burble of excited chatter. The pub was packed with locals and fishers from near and far, a mixture of both old and new faces. Enthusiastic greetings from the ever cheery Charles Inniss immediately set  the warm tone of the evening.

We  were joined at the dinner table by  Anthony and Amanda the new owners of the historic  Little Warham Fishery two miles of some of the River Torridges best salmon and sea trout fishing. Listening to their plans  gives confidence in the future of fishing on the Torridge.

One of the main beneficiary’s of the annual Egg Box dinner as it has been called is the associations hatchery that has enabled the stocking out of close to 250,000 swim up fry over a ten year period. This years dinner will also help to fund vital  fry surveys on selected stretches of the river. The association thank all those who gave generously  buying raffle tickets in the hope of winning an array of prizes donated  by supporters of the  association.

The three course meal was as ever delicious and enjoyed over deep discussions primarily relating to subjects of a piscatorial nature. The previous week had seen around half a dozen salmon caught. A 12lb salmon to the rod of Chris Powell fishing a middle river beat, a brace of 6lb salmon to the rod of Reg Lawton, a 6lb salmon for Anthony McInness fishing an upper river beat and another 6lb salmon to the rod of Graham Henderson fishing an Upper River Beat.

Members of the Torridge Association will meet again in the Spring when they assemble at the Half Moon for the AGM. By then another season will be underway and with good fortune several thousand more salmon fry will have been stocked out into the river’s tributary’s.  During the winter months the hatchery team will have spent many hours nurturing the salmon eggs through to swim up fry stage.

2016 has not been a brilliant season with river levels on the low side throughout much of the season. Seasons fluctuate greatly and are always dependent upon  many factors particularly the success of spawning fives years previously. Some have speculated that the severe floods experienced a few years ago may have impacted upon this years run of fish.

I will bring any news I receive from the river over the winter months as I receive it so watch this space.

SEASON ENDING

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The Rising Sun at Umberleigh played host to a gathering of anglers and their partners at an end of season dinner. A late flurry of action on the river allowed a few accounts of battles over good food and ale as the log burner emitted a welcome warmth. Len Francis hooked a fine 17lb salmon its flanks reflecting the autumnal hues of the season. The fish was tempted from the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats controlled by Ivan Huxtable.  Nathan Judd also enjoyed success on the beat with an end of season grilse. Nick Briant also  landed a fine hen fish estimated at 18lb that was tempted on a small copper tube fly. The last month of the season proved a little disappointing with those fish caught all stale fish that had undoubtedly been in the river for a while. Sport has generally been very sporadic throughout 2016 with river levels generally low and fish coming as expected on the few spates that we have had. The most disappointing aspect has been the poor numbers of sea trout.

Emma Tyjas
Emma Tyjas enjoyed success earlier in the season.

It seems such a short time since I joined an excited gathering of anglers in the Rising Sun at the start of the season and I feel sure that in six months time enthusiasm will be recharged after the long winter break. Every season is different dependent on both the weather and the success of spawning on the redds in the five years preceding the season. As the leaves start to fall and the swallows have departed those spring days with daffodil lined banks seem so far away yet as live races past they will soon be here once again. In the mean time there is no need to pack away the rods with stillwater trout fishery’s at their best.

The River Torridge fishers have a fortnight extension to enjoy with special permits available from Charles Innis 0n 01409 231237. Fishing is strictly catch and release with single barbless hooks only. A few salmon have been tempted in the last week of September as river levels fluctuate  as a result of some heavy bursts of rain. John Graham and Garry Duggan both landed grilse of around 6lb from mid river beats. When conditions allow there is every chance of a good fish from the Torridge with plenty of water to encourage a run of late fish. Charles Inniss informed me that he had a momentary contact with a large fish whilst fishing the upper river.

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FLOUNDER SEASON UNDERWAY

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The flounder fishing season in the river Taw traditionally gets underway at the time of Barnstaple Fair and the first Flounder competition of the season was held by Triple Hook Club on September 25th when 14 anglers took part. A good number of flounder were caught and numerous school bass up to 3lb.

Winner of the competition was Devlin with flounder scaling 1lb 11.75oz. Runner up was Tony Burslem with a flounder of 1lb 10.5oz and third John Vaughan with a flounder of 15.5oz.

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NEWS UPDATE TO FOLLOW

Apologies for the lack of updates over the past week we have been on holiday to Fowey in Cornwall. Will update the site with all relevant local news tomorrow. I will also write a short blog on fishing in Cornwall; whilst not a fishing holiday there were a few piscatorial interludes.

Many thanks to all those who have supported the website since its launch back in June especially those who have placed adverts on the site. If you would like to advertise please email me and I will get back to you with full details.

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BIG BROWNS AT BRATTON WATER

High water temperatures and extensive weed growth have made fishing challenging at Bratton Water as at many other waters in the area some of which have been forced to close temporarily. The skillful angler can generally tempt a fish or two from the Bratton Waters Crystal clear waters using either dry flies or small nymphs. South Molton Angler Bob Gooding put his many years of experience to good use catching five brownies in a session the best two scaling 7lb 8oz and 5lb. Arthur Bond landed a brace of 5lb brown trout and rainbow trout.

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Bob Gooding

As autumn sets in sport at this tranquil lake will improve with the trout rising freely. Daddy long-leg patterns are well worth trying fished virtually static; this visual fishing is a particularly pleasing way to deceive the specimen browns that cruise within the clear waters.

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BRIGHT AND SUNNY SLOWS GAME SPORT

The recent dry, bright sunny weather has brought fishing on the rivers to a virtual standstill with water now crystal clear. The only realistic chance of catching salmon or sea trout is early and late in the day when the sun is off the water. Before the rivers dropped several grilse and sea trout were landed from both the Mole and Bray.

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A few fish are trickling in however and a couple of salmon have been tempted from the Torridge. I fished the Weir Marsh and Brightly beats of the Taw last week and saw several salmon show as I fished down through this splendid stretch of prime day ticket water. Two fish were caught from these beats including a 6lb salmon to the rod of David Rice and a 4lb grilse for David Carhart.

IMG_0950Weir Marsh & Brightly Beats of the Taw

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Clubs Rogers and Guard Shield was contested by six keen club members on a bright sunny day not conducive to trout fishing. Winner of the event was Colin Combe with tow browns totalling 27inches. Runner up was Steve Edmunds with one quality brown trout of 15”.

Wimbleball catch reports show 1.6 fish per rod day.

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BRATTON FLEMING CRICKETS BIG FISH OFF

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Close to twenty members of Bratton Fleming Cricket club descended upon the normally tranquil waters of Bratton Water Trout Fishery for what will undoubtedly become an annual event. A mixture of experienced fly Fishers and first timers enjoyed the event that was blessed with warm summer sunshine. In the clear water small imitative patterns proved most successful with a gold headed pheasant tail nymph responsible for the demise of several of Bratton Waters hard fighting residents.

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On arrival at the fishery I found experienced local trout fisherman and Bratton Water regular Glyn Rees who had enjoyed a good day at the water landing four brown trout to 4lb targetting the fish using dry fly tactics.

Whilst the fishing fraternity cast their offerings to the lakes trout the remaining members of the Cricket club prepared the BBQ and played a primitive form of cricket using bats made from old sticks. Others watched the anglers and helped with the netting of fish.

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Most anglers landed their brace of trout despite the warm sunshine that beamed into the water. A pair of Polaroids were a distinct advantage enabling individual fish to be targetted with the two trout I caught both actually seen to take the tiny fly. The fish were a mixture of brown and rainbows with Debbie Tucker landing the biggest brown trout at 3lb 1oz. James Thomas landed a hard fighting of rainbow of 3lb 8oz that was leading the biggest fish of the day when we left the event to join another local event. Rob Scoines fresh back from a trip to Norway chasing big fish adapted to the finesse of trout fishing landing a brace of rainbows each weighing 2lb 9oz.

The Cricket club give special thanks to fishery owner Mike Williams for hosting the event that raised valuable funds for the Cricket Club.

Debbie Tucker with brace of Bratton Trout including a 3lb 1oz brown trout
Debbie Tucker with brace of Bratton Trout including a 3lb 1oz brown trout
James Thomas with a 3lb 10oz rainbow
James Thomas with a 3lb 8oz rainbow
Rob Scoines with his first brace of trout
Rob Scoines with his first brace of trout
Hard fighting trout
Hard fighting trout
Safely in the net
Safely in the net, Sophie Welby nets a rainbow for James Thomas
The waiting net
The waiting net
Success!
Success!
Darren Drew with a brace of rainbows
Darrin Drew with a brace of rainbows
James Thomas and myself with our catch.
James Thomas and myself with part of our catch.

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BIG BASS TEMPTED ON BREAD

Stephen Found was targetting thick lipped grey mullet in the River Torridge estuary when his bread flake presented on a size 8 hook to 6lb b,s line was seized by a fine specimen bass of 9lb. The fish battled for 25minutes before being successfully landed. Stephen is a member of Bideford Angling Club and lives in Holsworthy.

Over the years I have landed numerous species of fish whilst targetting mullet with bread flake including bass, wrasse, black bream,pollock, garfish and mackerel. The capture of big bass in the estuary is often accidental which raises the question of how many would be caught if anglers actually targetted them.

Stephen Found
Stephen Found