My friend Danny Ford dropped a me a Facebook message to say he was visiting Bratton Water; would I like to join him. Whilst I had not got time to fish I had got time to pop down for a chat and a catch up. On arrival the lake was mirror calm with the trees and reeds casting reflections across the still-water that was punctuated by the pleasing rings of feeding trout.
Danny was casting a line from the Dam and fishing a team of small buzzers very slowly watching the tip of the line intently for any movement that could indicate the deception of a wily trout. Danny pulled a fine prize from his trout bag a stunning brown trout of around 6lb. Its flanks were decorated in crimson spots. its tail was full, a perfect brown trout that would please any angler.
We chatted about fish, waters and prospects for the coming year. I told Danny I wanted some action shots and for a while he struggled to get a take. This is so often the way with trout in small still waters, Danny had caught three trout within his first hour and had taken a short rest to find that the fish had stopped feeding. Eventually after half an hour of varied retrieves the line drew tight and Danny played a beautifully marked brown trout to the net.
Danny undoubtedly went on to catch his final fish of a five fish limit bag. We talked briefly of flies and concluded that one of the most important aspects of fly is that the angler has confidence in it. Danny carries a small selection of flies on most outings and has total confidence that he can catch on all but the hardest days.
It’s hard to believe that the longest day has passed us by already and the days are starting to recede in that ever revolving circle of time. I met South West Lakes Trust Ranger Danny Ford on June 20th at Wistlandpound just before 6.00pm with fours hours of fishing ahead of us, if only these summer days would last. I had fished earlier in the year when Wistlandpound had opened as brown trout fishery a new era in its development as North Devon’s largest trout water. Since those early season days a further stocking of brown trout have been introduced ensuring a healthy population of both stock fish and existing wild fish.
The evening was overcast with occasional glimpses of the sun and a light breeze. Ideal conditions I thought. We were using Wistlandpound Fly-fishing Clubs boat paired up with an electric outboard that gave us ease of maneuverability and was certainly easier than rowing. Danny suggested we try the deep water at the dam end of the lake as he had landed several trout from this location on his last visit a week before. A fast sink line, a black tadpole on the point of the leader and brightly coloured blob on the dropper was Dan’s suggestion. An erratic retrieve and the occasional pause allowing the fly to hang motionless in the water was the tactic to employ. Success came first to Danny, a handsomely marked brown of around 12oz. A few follows but no more hook ups called for a move and a change of tactics.
Putting the boat within casting range of the West bank we began a drift. With the occasional fish rising we both set up with floating lines. Danny using a dry fly whilst I opted for a bead headed pheasant tail on the point with a cormorant on the dropper. After a couple of drifts honors were even with trout falling to both dry fly and nymph.
I had heard that there were a few quality rudd being caught so I persuaded Danny to put us on a few rudd. Drifting close into the weedy margins soon brought success with these pretty golden flanked red finned coarse fish. The rudd proved a pleasing distraction for a short period with a double shot bringing a pleasing opportunity to capture the variance in the hues of these fish. There are those who curse the rudd that do not give a good account of themselves. But as they tend to congregate in certain areas it’s not too big an issue; though it is undoubtedly more difficult for the bank angler to avoid them.
After the rudd interlude we headed back out into deeper water and targeted the trout that were rising frequently. Danny and I both enjoyed success before the rise petered out. I picked up the sinking line once again and employed a fast retrieve with the occasional pause. This brought quick success in the shape of a brown of over 1lb. For the next twenty minutes or so we had several follows and a couple more stunningly marked browns.
As the battery was running low and the light fading we headed back to the dam end where I landed one more trout. The water surface became becalmed as dusk set in and what wind there was died away. The occasional trout punctuated the surface with a telling ripple. The sun sank behind the trees, the crimson sky reflecting through the trees onto the lake like a burning fire. Owls hooted in the trees and blackbirds cries echoed across the still water. It was time to go the longest day was as all days do ending.
We had ended the session with five browns each to around 1lb 8oz and five rudd each. The fishing is comparable to wild brown trout fishing savoured by many on upland tarns and lochs in the North of the country. Fascinated fishing in beautiful surroundings and at a very reasonable cost.