I joined a dozen or so members of South Molton Angling Club at the tranquil Bratton Water Trout Fishery for a mornings fishing and chat. This was very much a social event with an opportunity for a mornings fishing. Conditions were perfect for enjoying the scenery and catching up with fellow members but far from ideal for catching trout. The water was crystal clear and the margins alive with tadpoles a fact that encouraged a few members to try small black tadpole type flies.
I had brought along my 10ft 5wt rod and matched it with a floating line and a long leader of 6.5lb fluorocarbon. A small bead head pheasant tail on the point and a black n’ peacock on a dropper. This was cast out and allowed to sink before retrieving very slowly watching the line intently for any twitches. I missed a few but caught my bag of 3 rainbows within two hours then proceeded to chat for a while with fellow members about things country and fishy.
Strange how you perceive that you have found the right method to find that other have caught using a totally different fly and retrieve.
It was time to head home and cook up a Sunday dinner of fresh trout!
Bratton Water will be open throughout lockdown and is in fine form with hard fighting brown and rainbow trout. This sheltered water is well wort a visit. Remember you can meet up with one other in an outdoor setting. For full guidance on fishing through lockdown visit the Angling Trust Website.
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 – 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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 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.