Bratton Water – Wistlandpound Club Monthy Competition

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Bratton Water for their monthly competition and all those attending caught their three fish limit despite challenging conditions. It was a beautiful day to be beside the water but a bright blue sky and crystal clear water are always likely to prove difficult. The margins were alive with tadpoles, lush greenery all-around the occasional mayfly hatching. A perfect day in early May; is there a better place to be than England in late spring?

The trout could be seen cruising slowly just beneath the surface with the occasional fish slurping down surface flies. Shortly after arriving I dropped a  goldhead PTN on the nose of a cruising trout that took the fly without hesitation. A pleasing brown trout of over 2lb.  This proved to be   the exception for I failed to get another take for a couple of hours.

A fresh stocking of trout were introduced whilst we were fishing. I did not move to this area for a while but eventually moved to the half of the lake that had been stocked. With the help of polaroid glasses I observed a shoal of freshly stocked trout and dropped  the PTN into their midst. There was a swirl on the first drop and on the second connection with a rainbow of around 1lb 8oz. I fished on in this spot for 15 minutes or so but the trout appeared to have wised up taking no notice of the fly.

By now my fellow members had bagged up fishing from the dam. I decided to move and drop my fly amongst a fresh selection of trout. A couple of casts and couple of follows then a good brown turned, the white of its mouth showing as the stillwater dinkhammer moved ( dry fly indicator) I lifted the rod and watched the trout react in the clear water. After a spirited tussle the fish was safely in the net.

It was time to weigh in.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – May Competition Result

1st Wayne Thomas  3 trout 6lb 10oz

2nd – Colin Combe 3 trout 6lb 9oz

3rd David Eldred 3 trout 4lb 14oz

South Molton Anglers – Enjoy the tonic of Bratton Water

I joined South Molton Angling Club at Bratton Water to enjoy a Sunday morning beneath a cloud free sky. As my good friend Matt Kingdon commented it was good to feel the warm sunshine on the face as birds sang in the woods as if to welcome the forthcoming spring. As the gloomy news continues to prevail the tranquil waters we fish seem evermore important for our ongoing mental health. Casting a line and chatting with fellow anglers as nature goes on, a vital tonic.

Visiting this picturesque venue I must reflect upon the recent death of fishery owner Mike Williams who nurtured the fishery over many seasons. Mike always gave a cheery welcome even during recent years as ill health took its toll. Mike supported the local community on numerous occasions  hosting events for local youth clubs and beaver groups during summer evenings. I remember these events fondly when our son James attended. It was delightful to assist as a dozen or more young anglers attempted to cast a fly across the water with many delighting in the catching of their first trout. Whilst many may not have become lifelong anglers they will have gained an appreciation for this connection with nature. I also remember an evening spent with Bratton Fleming Cricket Club when we enjoyed a few beers and an evening BBQ. These special times were made possible by Mike and Jan. 

The lakes stocks had recently been boosted with a stocking of quality brown trout and several of these had already been landed when I arrived. The bright sun and crystal clear water were perhaps not ideal for fishing but I had every confidence that success would come. I set up with a 10ft 5 weight rod with a PTN on the point and  a cormorant on the dropper. After 20 minutes without a take I made a move to the next peg. First cast and the cormorant was seized by a stunning looking brown trout of close to 2lb. Success breeds confidence that was emboldened when another trout followed my flies to the surface before turning away at the last moment.

I fished persistently putting out a long line and allowing the flies to sink before commencing a slow retrieve. I completed my three fish bag after two hours fishing. All three fish were pristine brown trout of over 2lb.

With my bag complete I strolled over to chat with Matt Kingdon who had already banked one fine brown. Matt was fishing a team of small nymphs slowly inching them back through the clear calm water. As we chatted I watched the line tip carefully sharing in the anticipation. A couple of fish were missed and several fish broke the surface raising expectation.

I glimpsed the flash of a golden flank beneath the surface and as I uttered a warning to Matt he tightened into the fish his rod hooping over in success. The fish writhed on the line and we were surprised to see that Matt had hooked into two browns. The odds of landing both were slim but skill and perhaps a little luck resulted in a fine brace of trout safely in the net.

I was delighted to catch the result on camera before heading home for dinner with firm plans of future fishing forays during the coming months.

Club secretary Roger Bray later reported that all members had succeeded in catching their three fish bag the best a pleasing brown trout of 2lb 13oz.

“The event today was a great success with eight members attending. An encouraging start to 2022. 

We should thank Jan Williams for allowing the event to take place and to provide a well-stocked brown trout lake in weed-free conditions.”

We enjoyed some fine weather with an occasional breeze with everyone bagging up quite early with 2lb 13ozs the benchmark for the year, although it took the secretary until 2.30 pm to do so.

Bratton Water remains Open with some stunning brown trout providing exciting and rewarding fishing.

A SAD LOSS – Mike Williams – Bratton Water

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Fly Fishers from North Devon and beyond will be saddened by the passing of Mike Williams at Bratton Water Fly Fishery. Mike and Jan have given a warm welcome to anglers visiting their picturesque water over many seasons. The fishery is still open and offers excellent sport with both brown trout and rainbow trout.

I knew Mike for many years and always enjoyed visiting the fishery to be greeted  with his warm and cheery demeanour. His long term health issues were endured  with great strength and dignity.

Bratton Water – South Molton Anglers

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.

Rob Kingdon with pleasing bag of Bratton Water Trout

It was time to head home and cook up a Sunday dinner of fresh trout!

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.