South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report
All of South West Lakes’ trout fisheries continue to be operated under strict Covid19 restrictions, in line with the Angling Trust and Government guidelines. At the time of writing, the on-site permit huts are not yet open, so day tickets, season tickets and boats should be pre-booked online – www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing.
South West Lakes are pleased to announce the appointment of Dil Singh to oversee the management and day-to-day running of its trout fisheries – Dil is an experienced fly angler and qualified angling coach, and is a welcome addition to the team.
Kennick – The water is starting to warm up, although cool easterly winds and cold nights (and even some snow!) have meant that this is a slow process. Fish have started to show on the surface, particularly in the mornings and evenings, and are feeding eagerly on buzzers (both mid-water and from the surface), with anglers catching on all depths of line.
Rods averaged 3.8 fish per angler over the month, with the fish well distributed around the lake, and both bat and bank anglers enjoying success. Successful patterns worth mentioning included Buzzers, Damsels, Diawl Bachs and Montana nymphs, as well as Orange Blobs, Cats Wiskers and Boobies. In addition to some excellent bags (several anglers caught over ten fish in a session, with Simon Jeffries and son Ollie catching 22 fish between them), Phil M-R caught a superb 5lb rainbow, Malcom U caught a 4lb 4oz rainbow and Geoff V caught a bag of eight rainbows up to 4lb.
Siblyback – The fish are now becoming more active, with plenty of fish rising to feed (particularly in late afternoon) – some taking flies delicately while others slash violently at the fly. Anglers averaged 2.4 fish per rod, with Stocky Bay, Two Meadows, The North Shore and Small Marsh producing the best fishing. Floating or Intermediate lines are the most productive methods, and with buzzers hatching, Black Buzzer patterns are proving popular, along with Damsels, Bloodworms and Montanas. Productive lures include Orange Blobs, Tadpoles and Cats Whiskers. David Ryder caught the best fish of the month – a 4lb 4oz rainbow caught on a black and green Cats Whisker.
The Snowbee Team of Four Team Floating Line competition was held on 25 April. With a strong southerly wind and bright sunshine, casting proved challenging, especially as the fish moved further offshore as the day progressed. Most anglers caught well however (averaging over four fish per rod), with Rodney Wevill catching the best fish of the day – a 3lb 8oz rainbow. Nine teams competed – the competition was won by the Innis Fishery team (23 fish for 30lb 5oz), with Kennick ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams coming second and third respectively.
Three boats are now available at Siblyback and must be booked in advance.
Burrator –Boat and bank anglers enjoyed some excellent sport, with the best fishing at Longstone, Pig Trough, Discovery Point and off The Pines. Plenty of fish have been showing, particularly mornings and evenings, feeding off midges and small buzzers. Anglers averaged 4.9 fish per rod over the month and, depending on the weather conditions, could be caught on dry patterns (Bristol Hoppers, Beetles and Bumble Claret), down deep with heavy lines and lure patterns (Green Fritz, Cats Whisker, Orange Blobs or Tadpoles), or somewhere in between on a wide variety of nymph patterns (particularly Buzzers, Montanas and Damsels). Although no particularly large fish were caught, plenty of full bags (including some wonderful blues) up to 2lb 8oz were caught, with Kevin K catching five fish including a beautiful 40cm blue.
Stithians – Fish are now starting to feed eagerly at Stithians, with plenty of surface activity, particularly in late afternoons and early evening, when anglers have been catching fish on black beetle, hopper and emerger patterns. Floating or intermediate lines have been the method of choice, and fish have been well spread out around the fishery, with Mossops, Sluice Bank, North Shore, Chapel Bay and Pipe Bay all producing consistent sport.
Successful sub-surface patterns have included Diawl Bachs, Damsels and Montanas, with larger lure patterns (Orange Blobs, Boobies and Tadpoles) catching well in the deeper water by the dam. Plenty of full bags were caught, with John H catching eight rainbows to 3lb, Stephen T catching 13 fish to 2lb 4oz and Simon P catching six rainbows to 2lb 8oz.
Colliford – The water temperature here has now reached 12ºc and fish are feeding eagerly from the surface, particularly on bright still days when static dry patterns produced good results, with one angler already reporting some hawthorn flies in the air. The fish are well spread out and, while some fish have been taken on deeper fished lures (Tadpoles and Woolly Buggers), the majority of fish have been caught on dries (Beetles, Sedges and Hoppers) or nymphs/wets fished on a floating line (Buzzers, Bibios, Spiders, Soldier Palmers and Montanas). Simon W caught 13 browns on a selection of beetles, crunchers and Soldier Palmers, while Mark K caught eight fish on a Bibio.
Fernworthy – There have been some large hatches of small black upwings at Fernworthy, which means Black Gnats, Beetles and Hawthorns have worked well; otherwise a wide selection of nymphs and wet patterns fished on floating or midge-tip lines produced good results, with fish well spread out around the lake. Some quality browns have been caught, including a 55cm (3lb) brown caught by Matt B on a Goldhead Montana and Rodney Wevill catching a 3lb 1oz brown (both excellent fish for this acidic Dartmoor water).
Roadford – Boats have been fishing well, with a lot of fish still in the deeper water in the central areas, as well as Grinnecombe and Wortha. Woolly Buggers, Tadpoles and Goldhead damsels fished well, along with Zulus and Bristol Hoppers. While plenty of browns were caught, no notable fish over 2lb were taken.
Please visit the South West Lakes website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for the latest Covid19 updates, as well as details on ticket prices, fishery information, clubs, competitions and boat availability.
I took a stroll around Wistlandpound Resevoir rod in hand as afternoon drifted into evening beneath a cloudless blue sky. It was good to be out enjoying these longer Spring evenings as birdsong fills the air and fresh growth is bursting forth all around. With just a few flies in my waistcoat pocket, a net on my back and a five weight rod I had no intention to stay in one place.
It felt good to cast a line out across the calm water. A small bead headed PTN on the point and small black spider on a dropper. The open bank brought no interest in the flies so I moved on to the inlet shallows where shoals of Rudd were cruising amongst the weed. I flicked the flies into a passing shoal and watched a red finned Rudd divert to converge with the fly. The line zipped tight and a colourful Rudd was brought to hand. Flanks of burnished gold and silver, fins of crimson red a pleasing prize that was quickly followed up with another sparkling jewel.
I moved on and began a search of the windward bank casting the flies out and allowing them to drift around in an ark taking a step along the foreshore with each cast. Suddenly the line zipped tight and the rod took on a pleasing curve as a wild brownie dashed to and fro.
A pristine wild brown trout slipped into the net. The barbless spider slipped easily from its jaws, I admired its golden spotted flanks illuminated in the evening sun as I slipped it back into the gin clear water.
To book online visit –https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/book-now#e
A brilliant blue cloudless sky and a North-East wind are never good for fishing but despite this it was delightful exploring this small clear water stream with a New Zealand style set up. This was challenging fishing with no manicured banks and plenty of branches and brambles to snare the flies. As I worked up stream flicking the team of flies into the deeper pockets and riffles it was both frustrating and encouraging to see plenty of trout darting for cover as they caught sight of me trying to be stealthy. I feel sure this will be easier in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky.
Two tiny trout succumb to a dry fly, images of perfection in the clear water their flanks a mixture of gold and crimson spots. It is also encouraging to tempt a small salmon par an indication that salmon have successfully spawned in this water during the winter.
The river weaves its way through woodland, fallen trees, lichen draped branches and wild flowers. Deer footprints in the muddy river side. A squirrel scampers across branches watching me warily. Marsh marigolds, primroses and the smell of wild garlic, Is there a better place than beside a trout stream in early spring?
Many thanks to Simon Francis who sent me this inspiring feature on the tumbling waters of the East Lyn.
Wild Brown Trout on the East Lyn
Dan Spearman fished Bulldog Fishery to take this stunning brace of double figure brown trout!
It’s an exciting time of year as winter passes with new fishing adventures on the horizon. Today was the last day of winter yet at this time of year the seasons seem to fluctuate from day to day and even from morning till night. There was frost on the grass when I looked out of the bedroom window as the moon sank beneath the tree line and the sun rose from the opposite direction illuminating the fields as the frost melted away in a warm dawn glow.
I was fishing at Bulldog fishery which is less than five miles from my home so truly local. The lane to the fishery winds down through woodland and between the remains of the old Lynton to Barnstaple Railway. The Fishery is located beside the Barnstaple Yeo that was running high and clear its sparkling water flowing into the top of the lake. I have been meaning to pay the fishery a visit for sometime after seeing some stunning images of its big brown trout.
I set up and walked the fishery bank peering into the clear water. The shaded far bank proved an ideal vantage point with the sun behind me I could see clearly into the lake. The downside of course was that my shadow could also be cast onto the water alerting the fish of my presence.
The trees would hopefully break my silhouette. Half way down the Lake I glimpsed two very large trout just a couple of rod lengths from the bank. I pulled a few yards of line from the reel and wetted the damsel nymph in the margin. The line was carefully flicked out in front of the trout; my heart was in my mouth the fish turned towards the fly eyeing it with intent for a moment before turning away showing disdain at my offering.
Such chances are often fleeting but it was an exciting start to the trip. I moved along the bank and put a long line parallel to the bank. After a couple of pulls the line drew tight and a trout pulled back. An impressive brown trout its spotted sides showing clearly in the gin clear water. The trout close to five pounds was certainly a great start to the day.
A few casts later a rainbow chased the olive damsel nymph close to the bank where I saw its mouth open and engulf the lure.
With two trout on the bank I was pleased to take a break from fishing and chat with the fishery owner Nigel Early about his exciting plans for the fishery. The trout lake is due to be considerably enlarged to provide far more bank space making it an ideal venue for visiting clubs or small groups of anglers. This is an intimate Stillwater trout fishery that contains some huge brown trout up to 15lb that are undoubtedly wily and worthy targets. The fishery policy is for all browns over 5lb to be returned carefully to the water preserving a valuable asset and ensuring that visiting anglers have the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime. There are two day ticket options; four fish £30 or five fish £35. Large returned browns do not count as part of this bag.
Nigel is no stranger to big trout and was proud to tell me that he had provided stock fish from the trout farm that have set English, Scottish and Welsh records Including rainbows of 26lb 9oz (Welsh) and 24lb 6oz ( Scottish).
Another project underway is a carp lake of several acres that has been stocked with ten carp over thirty pound and another 120 carp ranging from low doubles to mid twenties. There will be ten swims on the lake that should open in early May and will undoubtedly provide some exciting fishing. I feel sure that the lake will mature nicely over the coming years to bring a valuable carping venue close to Barnstaple.
After leaving Nigel to continue his work I returned to the trout lake where I managed to spot another huge brown trout that once again frustrated my efforts swimming at my nymph before turning away and disappearing into the depths of the lake. Several good sized fish were showing near the inlet and followed my olive damsel before turning away. With the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky it was undoubtedly time for a little finesse. A bead headed nymph was flicked out and the lines tip twitched. A 4lb plus rainbow was added to my bag. With Sunday dinner waiting I reeled in and headed for home thoughts of big browns etched on the minds eye.
A new season is upon us already. Having closed our Rainbow waters at Christmas it’s been a short turnaround this winter. I’m sure you can’t wait to wet a line again, especially with the current health crisis. One thing I have found during the current lockdown is that having something to look forward to is absolutely vital at the moment and I cant wait for the trout season to open! I’ve bought some new waders and some new wellies and I will be spending as much time fishing as I can this year.
I hope that you enjoy your season, wherever you fish.
We are opening and stocking our fisheries as planned but please remember, when visiting our trout fisheries, you must read and adhere to the information below which highlights the restrictions in place so we can continue to fish.
- Fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules of staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors. (DCMS 06/01/2021)
- Only local travel is permitted for the purpose of daily exercise as set out in the Government’s travel guidance.
- The local area is specified as the town, village or part of the city in which you live. There is recognition that there will be a need to travel for outdoor exercise, this should be done locally, but you can travel a short distance within your area.
- Anglers will need to apply judgement in defining their local area.
- Boat fishing can continue and the boat fishing rules and regulations during Covid-19 remain in place.
- You can only fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual.
- You must adhere to social distancing measures: Hands, Face and Space.
Competition fishing, or any other organised fishing event, is prohibited by law during lockdown.
2021 Pricing and Dates
Our prices for all day and season tickets have remained the same as 2020.
All of the prices can be found here.
The opening dates are as follows:
Kennick and Siblyback – 13 February
Stithians and Burrator – 6 March
Season ticket holders for the Rainbow waters can fish one day earlier than day ticket anglers.
Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound – 15 March
New Trout Website LaunchedWe have launched a new trout fishing website which has all of the information you need for your trout fishing with us this year.
We have made buying your ticket easier with the new ‘buy a ticket’ option on the homepage.
All of the weekly catch reports and summaries, along with the latest news, are all displayed prominently making them easy to find.
We have also made completing a catch report much easier with the catch return tab on the homepage.
Season permits can be purchased directly from our website. Alternatively, please give our head office a call on 01566 771930 or drop me a line on 01288 321262 and we will be more than happy to help you purchase your ticket over the phone.
Why buy a season permit?
- You can fish a day before our day ticket anglers at the Rainbow waters
- You can fish as many times as you would like throughout the season as long as weekly bag limits are not exceeded
- It gives you the flexibility to fish for an hour or the whole day
- Boats are £10 per day instead of £15
- We have multiple lake season tickets with our all waters and castabout (brown trout) options
- If you are a member of the Burrator Fly Fishers, Siblyback Fly Fishers, Kennick Fly Fishers or CAST fly fishing club (Stithians) we will give you 5% off your season permit
- If we extend the season to the end of November your ticket will be extended without charge
- You won’t have a to buy a day ticket every time you fish
Our stocking in 2021 will be done by two suppliers with our Rainbows coming from Mark Underhill at Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.
In 2020 the Rainbow’s supplied by Rainbow Valley were extremely hard fighting, quite often stripping line to the backing!
The Browns are coming from Richard Howe and his team at Torre Trout Farms.
We know all the fish will be of high quality and be sure to give you some great sport as always.
Our permit rooms on sites will be closed until further notice with the coronavirus situation.
Permits are only available through our website or by calling our main office on 01566 771930.
Please note, the office is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Tickets can be purchased days in advance of your visit.
I want to highlight the value for money with the Castabout ticket. This ticket covers all four of our brown trout waters, three of which are stocked (Colliford, Fernworthy and Roadford) and Wistlandpound where the fishing is for previously stocked and wild fish. At £250 for a full season, or £212.50 for concession, the value for money is outstanding.
Roadford in particular fished absolutely superb last season with 110 browns to 3lb being caught in the last week of the season by just 11 anglers! Colliford showed glimpses of returning to its former glory and, although we are not there yet, we are working towards it. Numerous fish of 2lbs were caught with the majority being released to fight another day.
Fernworthy wasn’t its usual self in 2020 but still provided plenty of pulls. I’m expecting the fishing to be great this season when we stock more fish into the lake.
- 11 April – The Snowbee team of four competition at Siblyback
- 2 May – Kennick bank pairs
- 23 May – Cornwall v Devon at Siblyback
- 20 June – Kennick Peninsula Classic singles
- 17 October – Best of the Best final at Kennick
- There will be 6 heats of 12 anglers maximum
- 6 will qualify for the final from each heat leaving 36 anglers in the final at Kennick on 17 October
The dates for the heats are:
- Siblyback – 6 March
- Kennick – 20 March
- Stithians – 24 April
- Burrator – 8 May
- Siblyback – 29 May
- Kennick – 2 October
If you would like more information on any of the competitions please visit our website. If you would like to book onto one of the heats please call our office on 01566 771930.
Unlocking the mystery of the eel
Wistlandpound Reservoir was created in an enduring feat of engineering by building a clay core dam across Bratton Stream during the late 1950’s. It supplies water to a large area of North Devon and has become a popular area for walkers and is used by the Calvert Trust to provide adventure holidays for disabled adults and children. The lake is managed by The South West Lakes Trust who also control angling at the venue which has a long history as a trout fishery.
My good friend Steve Dawe is a keen eel angler and member of the National Anguilla Club and we got talking about waters that contain eels and in particular large eels. I recalled how twenty or more years ago eels had become trapped in the inlet of the local water works and that these eels were of a good size.
Wistlandpound had never to our knowledge been fished for eels and it is a well-known fact amongst eel anglers that venues that have not been fished and have limited access for eels can hold the eels of dreams. The European eel has been known to live to over 100 years so it is possible that any eels trapped within Wistlandpound when the dam was constructed could still be present.
Steve and I spoke with Ben Smeeth who is head of angling at SWLT and after due consideration Ben agreed to an exploratory session to investigate the lakes eel potential.
Steves credentials as an eel angler are well documented so it was a welcome opportunity for me to join Steve and learn more about how to catch specimen eels. Whilst I have caught many eels over the years I have never caught a specimen of over 3lb and this target is now firmly in my sights.
Eventually in mid-June I met up with Steve and struggled to the banks of a depleted Wistlandpound with an array of tackle, bivvies’ and provisions. The weather forecast was a little ominous with a weather warning in place for thunderstorms and possible flash floods! This did little to dent our enthusiasm as eels are reported to become more active during thunderstorms.
With the reservoir at around 60% capacity we had a good choice of accessible bank and selected a swim that gave access to deep water.
Steve gave me useful advice on the rigs to use and how to mount the small dead-baits to give a good chance of hooking an eel. Fortunately, we arrived before the rain and managed to get set up before it arrived in spectacular fashion accompanied by a very long resounding rumble of thunder.
The rain beat down on our shelters and I looked out the rods hoping that a run would not come at this time. After a couple of hour’s, the rain eventually eased and we brewed a hot drink and began chatting about fish and fishing.
Suddenly Steve’s alarm burst into life and he was at his rod in expectation. To our disappointment he failed to connect and reeled in to find that his bait was gone.
We didn’t have long to wait though for within minutes my alarm sounded and I hoked into the culprit. It was no eel but a stunning wild brown trout of around 1lb 8oz.
Within half an hour Steve was in action again and connected this time to bring to the net a stunning wild brown trout that must have been over 3lb. I wondered just how big these wild browns grow to within the lake. I suspect there are a few surprises as there is now an abundance of silvery rudd residing in the lake perfect prey the lakes wild browns to grow to a large size.
Recent seasons have unfortunately been blighted by an abundance of thick green algae making fly Fishing difficult at times. Whilst trout are no longer stocked into the reservoir there is a good head of wild brown trout present and I am sure that Fly Fishing during the autumn could produce the goods as these large browns feed on the lakes abundant fry.
As the evening descended Steve and I talked extensively about our fishing lives and the many places that we have visited and plan to perhaps visit in the future.
As we chatted we frequently cast our eyes upon the rods perched beside the lake their tips pointing into the green water. As the light faded expectation grew as this was surely the eels meal time?
After last hot drinks we both retired to our shelters to catch some sleep. Occasionally an alarm would give a single bleep and I would tense in anticipation. On one occasion I looked out to see a shadow flit away from the rods, an inquisitive fox I believe.
Just before light some type of bird gave a repeated cry that echoed around the lake in a strange almost stereo like mode. I spoke to Steve later who thought it could have been a type of hawk. Thinking back, I should have recorded it on my phone.
I snoozed intermittently as a grey and misty day dawned. I took a look at the weather forecast that told of heavy rain from 8.00am. The rods remained poised at the waters edge but by now our expectations of catching the mysterious eel had faded. After a rushed brew and breakfast we packed away our gear to escape before the rain. The question remains unanswered for now. The problem is that life is short and big eels can take time to find.
Fortunately there are plenty of other SWLT waters that have proven big eel potential. Upper Tamar lake, Lower Tamar, Melbury and Jennets all hold eels of over 4lb with far bigger eels likely to be lurking in the mysterious depths.
Ollie Passmore caught this stunning wild brown trout of 2lb 5oz whilst spinning for thin lipped mullet using a baited spinner. The fish was returned after a quick photo.