Angling Generations

Norman Bird was a founder member of Combe Martin Sea Angling Club and I was fortunate to join the club ten years after his son Nigel who joined the club in 1963. Nigel and I fished together with the club on many occasions during the seventies and early eighties and now fish together from time to time with the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club. I was pleased fo receive this picture from Nigel showing his grandson George enjoying his first fishing trip with his grandad at Bratton Water where they enjoyed catching a fine bag of rainbow and brown trout.

It is great to see the generations as they discover the joys of angling. For many years I enjoyed trips out of Combe Martin on George Eastmans boat Star of Scillionia PW265.  and was also privileged to help out from time to time hauling lobster pots and taking trips around the bay. Those glorious summer days were greatly enhanced by Georges great grandad George Eastman of whom I have many fond memories . Much has changed over the years but I still feel a sense of belonging when I stroll upon the foreshore at Combe Martin reminiscing upon a lifetime of encounters within the bay.

Footnote – Nigel traced Star of Scillionia PW265 around the West Country over the years from the Isles of Scilly to the Helford Passage were she was finally decommissioned and broken up.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Winter Challenge Bratton Water

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Visited Bratton Water for the first of their Winter Challenge series and enjoyed some good sport in the calm conditions. The day started off with the fishery shrouded in mist before autumn sunshine broke through bringing the fish onto the feed.

1st – Andre Muxworthy – 3 fish – 9lb 2.5oz

2nd – Paul Grizley – 3 Fish – 6lb 14oz

3rd – Nigel Bird – 3 Fish 5lb 15oz

Wistlandpound Club – Bratton Water Result

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Members enjoyed a good mornings sport at Bratton Water with the eight competitors all completing their three fish limits. Winner was Paul Grisly with 7lb 4oz. David Eldred and Dave Richards were runners up with 7lb 3oz and Nigel Bird fourth with 6lb 13oz.

Fifth – David Holmes 6lb 11oz

Sixth – Colin Combe 6lb 9oz

Seventh –  Dave Mock 6lb 1oz

Eighth – Andre Muxworthy 5lb 4oz

South Molton Anglers Visit Bratton Water

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I joined several members of South Molton Angling Club on a mild misty autumn morning at Bratton Water. Conditions were ideal for trout fishing and all members completed their three fish bags before the close of the competition. The water was gin clear and small imitative patterns resulted in the quickest full bags. The best trout caught was a stunning brown trout of 3lb 15oz that fell to my rod on just the second cast of the morning. Roger Bray tempted the best rainbow of 3lb. All fish fought hard and were in superb condition.

This picturesque and sheltered  water should offer great sport in the coming months as autumn hues tint the wooded valley. Dry flies can work well right through the autumn with some stunning browns caught each season.

Wistlandpound Club enjoy a fine mornings Fly -Fishing

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Bratton Water for the second leg of their Winter Challenge Series. Members found the lake in fine form with a variety of flies tempting the hard fighting trout in the clear water. Club secretary Dave Richards won the competition with three fish for 8lb 2oz. In runner up spot was Nigel Bird with three for 7lb 6oz with Paul Grisley and david Eldred equal  third with three for 7lb 5oz.

Andre Muxworthy three for 7lb 3oz, Colin Combes three for 7lb 2.5oz, Dave Mock three for 6lb 6oz and Wayne Thomas three for 5lb 7oz.

A typical catch of three hard fighting Bratton Water rainbows.

Whilst large flies and lures can work well at Bratton I personally prefer an approach with a little more finesse when fishing this picturesque water nestled in a peaceful Valley beside the Bratton Stream. Arriving at the fishery I selected a small gold-head PTN for the point and a small black buzzer on the dropper. Casting out across the lake I allowed the fly to sink for a few seconds before beginning a slow retrieve just keeping the line tight as it drifts in the breeze. The tip of the line was studied carefully and after a couple of casts it was pleasing to set the hook with a quick draw on the line with the left hand. I caught my three fish bag within an hour of starting as did virtually all fellow members. It must be very difficult to get the stocking balance right on these small stillwaters. Anglers vary greatly in angling ability and the trout fluctuate greatly in their willingness to feed. Combine the anglers ability, the vast variation in the British weather with the vagaries of the trout and you have a recipe that seldom suits all tastes. Too many fish and angler catches his fish too quickly, too few fish and anglers will grumble that they cannot catch. Generally Bratton Waters stocking policy is spot on as on its day it can offer challenging fishing yet very few days when anglers go home without a fish or five.

On a cool winters day Wistlandpound Club members enjoy the social aspect of a day by the water. Chatting about fish and life is a big part of the club angling scene and small still-water’s like Bratton are perfect for a Winter morning with members returning to families and home life after a bit of fresh air with a bag full of trout each for tomorrow nights tea.

Fine winter trout at Bratton Water

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held the first heat of their Winter Challenge series at Bratton Water where all members secured three fish bags by mid morning. The winning bag of three browns fell to myself (Wayne Thomas) and totalled 9lb 14oz. In runner up spot was Colin Combe with  9lb 12oz and in third Andre Muxworthy with 8lb 12oz.

(Above) Winning bag of three quality browns to 4lb

Bratton Water is nestled in a wooded valley protected from most winds which is always good especially when a bitter East wind is blowing as it was on the day of our visit. With a bright blue sky I wondered if we would struggle to catch but these fears were unfounded as the trout responded well to a variety of tactics. I chose to fish a light rod combined with a floating line and long 6lb b.s leader with a small gold-head PTN on the tip and small diawl-bach on a dropper. Casting a long line and allowing the fly to sink before commencing a very slow erratic retrieve. The choice of tactics was more to do with how I wanted to fish as opposed to what I thought would catch most. Other members succeeded using small lures fished on intermediate lines with speedier retrieves.

(Above)Three quality rainbows caught by Nigel Bird
Members take a break

Double Figure Bratton Brown!

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(Above) Jamie Walden is the resident fishing coach at Bratton Water and put his angling skills to good use during a session at the venue banking five superb brown trout the best this stunning specimen of 10lb. All the trout were tempted using a small black bead headed hares ear nymph. The specimen brown is believed to be a wild trout that has grown on feeding on the rich food present in the lake that boasts crystal clear water where small imitative patterns often work well for brown trout. Jamie gave tuition to a group of four first time trout anglers during the weekend and guided them to success in hot sunny condition with the novices landing nine trout between them.

Jamie offer fly fishing tuition at Bratton Water and at Little Warham Fishery he can be contacted on 01837682870.

(Above) John Vaughan and Dennis Toleman of Barnstaple Triple Hook Club

Dennis Toleman won Triple Hook Clubs latest Fly Fishing Match at Bratton Water with a four fish bag of rainbows totaling 9lb 8oz. John Vaughan was runner up with four fish for 8lb 7oz and Robbie Hancock third with four for 7lb 4oz.

John fished just off the bottom with orange booby whilst Dennis fished a little black Montana and a little orange blob. Rob fished a black and yellow lure.

Bratton Water – Rainbow boost

Bratton Water has a well deserved reputation for its quality brown trout fishing with fish to double figures banked in recent seasons. The best in recent weeks has a been a fine brown of 5lb 2oz to the rod of T.Evans of Barnstaple. The brown trout are however often hard to tempt and the hordes of small rudd often intercept the small imitative patterns before the browns get there. Mike has recently stocked a few rainbows that are being caught on a variety of patterns. The more aggressive rainbows are also feeding on the rudd fry in the margins giving an opportunity for the angler to stalk these fish. Mike informs me that the fishery is presently weed free despite the warm weather. The rudd whilst a nuisance at times will in the longer term lead to some big brown trout as they wax fat on the abundant food supply.

Bratton’s Hard Fighting Browns

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Paul Grisley with a 5lb 1oz brown trout

I joined members of Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club at Bratton Water Fly Fishery on February 11th and enjoyed excellent sport with the venues hard fighting brown trout. it was a day of sunshine and hail showers with the occasional rainbow decorating the sky. The day started slowly for me three trout coming unstuck in the first hour. Paul Grisley fishing a few yards away showed the way and landed what was to be the biggest fish a of the day a stunning brown trout of 5lb 1oz in a total bag of 11lb 4oz.

The water at Bratton is generally crystal clear but heavy rain the previous day had coloured the water so it was likely that the normal small imitative flies would not work well. For this reason I persevered with black bodied lures with long marabou tails that fluttered enticingly in the water. After a couple of moves around the lake I eventually found  fish in the the top corner of the lake and converted several takes into a four fish bag in half an hour of exciting fishing.

My first brown trout of the day a stunning looking fish of the type that has built Bratton’s Reputation as a fine brown trout venue

After bagging up I enjoyed hot coffee from my flask and chatted to fellow club members who were also enjoying some great sport with Bratton’s brown trout.

All in all an enjoyable few hours at this picturesque fishery that is sheltered from most winds.  Fishery Owner Mike Williams told told me that improvement work is planned on the access road over the coming weeks.

Brown Trout sport at Bratton Water – With Dominic Garnett and Turral Flies

Angling Writer Dominic Garnett sent me this report on Bratton Water. Dominic also works closely with local fly Tying specialists
Bratton Water has been no pushover, but fishing quite consistently in the cold and wet recent weather. Simon Jefferies, Dom Garnett and Gary Pearson enjoyed a good session using a mixture of flies on the lake. Buzzer fishing proved slow, but the fish were more responsive to lures. The best patterns were smallish and dark, including a Black Woolly Bugger or Crazy Legs, fished on a floating line but allowed to sink for several seconds and then retrieved with a picky figure of eight retrieve. Tail nips were common at times too, leading to the trio scaling down a little or even trimming back longer tails! All the fish were in consistently good condition, with sizes up to nearly three pounds, all but one browns as opposed to rainbows. The fish tended to follow the wind, collecting where the breeze blew; not the easiest for casting at times, but worth the effort of moving spots and putting up with stray gusts!