The new season is now firmly underway at the South West Lakes trout fisheries, with the rainbow waters opening on 11 March, and brown trout on 15 March. Where available, boats are now on the water, and should be pre-booked (online or via the telephone). Generally the weather for the opening weeks has been challenging to anglers, with strong winds, rain, and cold temperatures, and the fish mainly feeding in the deeper waters, although fish have been looking up to feed at a few of the waters.
Kennick – Rods averaged 3.7 fish per angler on opening day, with a variety of methods and depths all producing good results. Paul Osborne (from Exeter) caught the best opening day fish – a rainbow of 3lb 8oz, as part of a bag of five fish, while Duncan Kier (from Belstone) caught the best bag – twelve rainbows, using a blob fished from the bank. The week continued well, with the best results coming from using a variety of nymphs (Damsels and Buzzers) and lure patterns (Cats Whiskers, Black and Olive Snakes, Orange Fritz, and Boobies) fished on an intermediate line, with fish well spread out around the lake. Notable bags included ten rainbows to 3lb, caught by Johnny Mac (from Plympton) using a sinking line and stripped snakes, as well as ten rainbows to 3lb, caught by both J.Stainforth (from Brixham) and Mick White (from Bovey Tracey) – the latter caught using a flashy blue damsel on an intermediate line with a slow but constant retrieve. The level at Kennick is now up to 87% and filling.
Siblyback – The lake is full now, and opened the season on excellent form, with anglers averaging 5.3 fish per rod on the opening weekend. Tony Chipman (from Truro) caught nine rainbows (including two nice overwintered fish of around 2lb) using a slowly retrieved floating line with a team of buzzers. Generally intermediate or floating lines with a sink tip have been the most productive, with plenty of fish around Crylla and Stocky Bays, as well as the dam area, with a wide selection of nymph and lure patterns all catching fish. John Henderson (from Falmouth) caught the best bag, with eighteen rainbows to 2lb, all caught on a floating line with a sinking leader.
The Snowbee ‘Teams of Four’ bank competition was held on 2 April, with ten teams competing, and anglers averaging 3.05 fish. Roche Angling Club (Tony Chipman, Dave Perks, Pete Williams, and John Hutchings) were the winners, catching 21 fish weighing in at 32lb 7oz. Runners up were Fishiotherapy Time, and Kennick ‘C’ team came third.
Burrator – Levels are now full, with the best fishing to be had at Longstone Bank, Pigs Trough, and The Point. Al Lawson caught the best fish on opening day, catching four rainbows to 2lb from a boat shared with his brother Andy, who caught five rainbows on a floating line and jerky retrieve. Generally, dark lure and nymph patterns fished on floating or intermediate lines with a variety of retrieves has proved to be the most successful tactic. Phil Adlam (from Plymouth) caught the best fish – a rainbow of 2lb11oz, using a sink-tip line and roly-poly retrieve, while Rob Slaney (from Yelverton) caught a bag of thirteen fish (including some browns and a blue), using a Black Damsel.
Stithians – The lake is now over 90% full. Opening day fished extremely well with anglers averaging seven fish per rod. Stephen Glanville (from St Agnes) caught the best fish of the day – a 2lb 11oz rainbow, as part of a seven fish bag, while John Henderson (from Falmouth) caught 16 rainbows and a brown, with many fish being taken on a dry Black Gnat (these were hatching on the day). Averages fell to a still respectable 3.64 fish per rod as the month progressed, with fish well spread out around the lake; intermediate and floating lines with a sink tip and various retrieves all caught well, with nymphs, lures and some dries all accounting for fish. Simon Peters (from Cusgarne) caught a bag of 20 fish on a floating line and fast ‘figure-of-eight’ retrieve, and John Henderson caught another bag of ten fish to 2lb 8oz.
Fernworthy – Surprisingly, this high Dartmoor lake (which is usually slow to start), opened the season with some excellent sport in spite of the adverse weather conditions, with anglers averaging eight fish per rod in the opening week. Rodney Wevill fished a Welshman Minnow on a floating line, and with Jack Welshman, the pair enjoyed a superb day’s sport, catching 22 browns, with 17 weighing in at between a pound and 2lb 8oz. With midges on the surface later in the month, anglers using the dry fly (Black Gnat, Black Klinkhammer, and Claret Hopper) were rewarded with some excellent sport, while other fish were taken using Soldier Palmers and black nymphs and tadpoles. Fish were well spread out around the lake, but the south bank, Thornworthy Bay, and area around the old permit hut proved to be particularly productive. Nicholas Freeman (from Andover) caught six browns to 2lb 6oz below the old hut, where fish were eagerly feeding throughout the day.
Roadford – Now at 68% full, and slowly filling, Roadford started the season well, with the dam area and Grinnacombe producing the best sport. Rodney Wevill (from Launceston) caught five browns using a Welshman Minnow and a mini Scruffy Tiger on a floating line. Plenty of fish have been in the shallows, and floating lines with Daddy Longlegs, Humungous, and Blue Zulu patterns have all caught fish, with anglers averaging 2.5 fish per rod.
For anglers’ information, this May and September, carp fishing will be introduced at Roadford Lake as a trial venture. Carp fishing will be limited to 12 swims and fly fishing will not be permitted in this area only. The long term aim is to improve Roadford Lake as a brown trout fishery.
Colliford – This water is still only just over 50% full, and so far has been slow to start, with only a few fish caught.
Wistlandpound – This lake North of Barnstaple offers some superb fishing for wild browns with good numbers of fish in the 8oz to 12oz size range and the occasional fish over 1lb. The rudd that have thrived in the lake can offer fun sport on dry fly tactics and its is likley that the bigger browns feast on these fish. Browns to over 3lb have been caught in recent seasons. Small black lures and tradiional wets flies work well.
Please see South West Lakes’ website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for more information on buying tickets, boat availability and booking, and forthcoming events.
Chris Hall (April 2023)