Blakewell has reopened to anglers after a short break for maintenance and is in fine spring form.
Andy Facey landed this stunning 12lb spring rainbow from Blakewell.
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.
Blakewell Fisheries Christmas Competition is always an enjoyable social occasion in North Devon Fly-Fishers Calendar and it was good to be back amongst familiar faces albeit more socially distanced than in normal times.
It was a cold and frosty morning with a vivid blue sky and mist rising from the lake as the warmth of the sun beamed down. Eighteen anglers were taking part in this years scaled down event and after a welcome glass of port we all headed out to the lake. As is normal trout were hooked within the first few seconds of the start as flies were cast onto the calm surface.
I elected to use an olive damsel nymph with a small buzzer on a dropper. Within fifteen minutes I had three rainbow trout in the bag which was my mornings quota. This left me a couple of hours to wonder around the lake capturing images of the lake and the anglers.
Dinner was served at 12:30; a hot pasty and a pint. The afternoon session saw me persevere with the same team of flies. As is often the case catching became a little more of a challenge but after a couple of moves I completed my five fish limit.
The lake had fished well with plenty of hard fighting rainbows averaging between 1lb 8oz and 2lb. Amongst these were a few outsize specimen rainbows. The winter sunshine and colours around the lake were stunning and it was great to see a steady stream of families arriving to select their Christmas trees.
The winning angler was Trevor Whyborn with his five fish bag of 18lb 6oz that included the biggest rainbow of the day at 11lb 11oz. In runner up spot was John Buxton with five for 17lb 4oz and third Gary Matthews with two trout for 12lb 3oz.
Once again many thanks to John and Richard Nickell for hosting this annual event after what has been a challenging year in many ways. The COVID outbreak inevitably had its impact but not so much perhaps as the ongoing warm summers that cause difficulties for trout fisheries the length and breadth of the country. It is noticeable that smaller Stillwater trout fisheries like Blakewell are at their best during the cooler winter months.
As temperatures drop small Stillwater fisheries like Blakewell hit top form. An ideal place to grab a few hours now that the river season has ended.
Shaun Antony Ley spent a day at Blakewell Fishery where he hoped to introduce his children to the joys of angling. After the childrens interest dwindled Shaun spotted a large trout cruising in the clear water. After several casts and fly changes the trout succumbed to a pink spider pattern with a gold head. After an epic twenty minute battle a fine double figure rainbow of 11lb 10oz was safely in the net. Shauns dads wet feet a cost well worth paying.
Shaun said “I was over the moon with one of the best looking doubles Ive ever seen at Blakewell”
Blakewell Fishery is reestablishing its reputation as at the place to catch a double figure rainbow trout with big trout regularly being tempted by visitors to the pleasant Stillwater.
Mike Featherstone with a beautiful 14lb rainbow caught on a pheasant Tail nymph .
Blakewell Fishery has been in fine form since it reopened in Mid-May with numerous double figure trout tempted. Pete Masters banked a 12lb rainbow and Graham Thorne a stunning 15lb rainbow. Andy Facey banked a rainbow of 10lb. Rick Perry banked a brace of double figure rainbows weighing 13lb and 12lb. Chris Bryan banked a rainbow of 9lb 3oz. Small imitative patterns are proving most successful.
It’s seems I have lost the knack of catching fish in these post lockdown days. The top priority in a fishing session is of course to enjoy it and to that end I am generally a highly successful angler. But it is nice, indeed essential that at some point connection is made with a fish!
After a difficult day at the wonderful Wimbleball reservoir and a couple of unsuccessful lure fishing trips after a bass. A day at the ever reliable Blakewell was planned with James. James was also in need of actually catching a fish having shared my lack of success with the lures.
Blakewell has been fishing exceptionally well since reopening with several stunning double figure trout caught.
I received the below report from Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club secretary David Richards :-
I fished Blakewell on Saturday you have to pre- Book £40 for six fish pay over phone so you don’t need to meet anyone, arrived at 8.30 two others guys fishing (max 12) although there wasn’t 12 there. Weed free fishing good sample 2x3lbs 4×2.5lbs. Fishing at the top of finger using a little black and blue dancer. The chap down about 20ft away hooked into a big trout after about 20 mins I helped him land a 13.2lb fish looking immaculate.
John Jobson below :-
Terri said can we have some trout please, always happy to oblige, opening day Blakewell get in ! biggest 14lb 2ozs, 13lbs 6ozs, new pb total wt 6 fish was 40lb 1oz. Freezers full , I’m shattered happy days , fantastic day out , thank you Richard and John, trout for tea I guess.
James and I arranged to meet in the carp park at 9:30am and with a strong south west wind( gale) blowing with intermittent cloud I was confident of success. We promptly tackled up and headed for the lake choosing a spot well away from the other four anglers.
It was an awesome late spring day beside the lake with bright yellow flag Iris lining the banks, electric blue damsel flies, birdsong reverberating all around and the fresh green leaves shimmering in the strong breeze. The lake had a tinge of colour and a well riffled surface.
We cast our lines expectantly and after just a few casts James glimpsed a big rainbow in the margin as it followed his lure. I fished a team of small imitative patterns a PTN on the point with two buzzers. I was surprised when after an hour we had both failed to connect.
Joint fishery owner Richard Nickel strolled over for a chat and talked eagerly about their plans for the fishery. As we chatted I missed two opportunities as the line tightened momentarily in a signal of successful deception. As with most recent conversations modern phrases dominated with COVID-19, lockdown, social distancing, post pandemic and the few positives of reduced air pollution the embracing of local business and a refocusing on family life. Richard and his brother John have great plans for Blakewell in the coming months and have some super specimens ready to stock over the coming weeks.
James hooked a trout that struggled free after a few moments giving hope that success would come. As we fished on we caught the occasional tantalising glimpse of large trout rising but our offerings failed to tempt.
As confidence started to ebb a strong pull brought momentary contact followed by that despairing moment of slack line. Next cast and I was in action and after a brief tussle secured a rainbow of a couple of pounds. At least I had avoided a blank!
We searched our fly boxes for inspiration and began to swap and change searching in vain for that effective combination of right fly, right retrieve and right depth.
Eventually we ran out time and had to admit defeat. It’s not often I have a bad day Stillwater trout fishing and I generally bank on Blakewell producing the goods relatively easily. Perhaps it’s good to have that occasional hard day to raise the appreciation of the good days.
To round the day off I arrived home to find that I had forgotten to replace the cameras memory card last time I downloaded and so I had no photos of those beautiful flag Iris.