Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Christmas Competition

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members fished their Christmas Competition at Bulldog Fishery where Colin Combe tempted a fine brown trout of 9lb.

Andre Muxworthy took the best bag of three trout totalling 9lb 6oz.

Dave Mock was second with three for 8lb 10oz and Dave Richards third with 8lb 4oz.

Dave Eldred was forth with three for 7lb 13oz.

The icy cold conditions do not deter rainbow trout that thrive in the cold well oxygenated water of winter. A variety of flies worked for members.

Wistlandpound – A Short Evening Session

After reading a few reports of good sized rudd being caught at Wistlandpound on Dry Fly Tactics I decided it was time to enjoy a short evening session. After a long dry spring and early summer the reservoir is now very low with a vast area of bank now fishable. Water clarity is still excellent with no signs of significant  algal blooms.

The lake was mirror calm and a few fish were rising. I opted for an easy to see Dry Fly as the light values were already starting to drop. I started at the top end of the reservoir and soon connected with a trout of around 10oz. To my surprise it was rainbow trout that have not to my knowledge been stocked for around ten years. It is possible that it has been accidentally stocked with brown trout but as far as I know the lake is now promoted as an un-stocked wild fishery. This raises the interesting possibility that there is a breeding population of rainbows in the lake?

A few more missed takes followed before I connected with a lovely brown trout of 10″.

After adding another brown to my tally I set out to target the rudd and managed a brace of golden flanked rudd as the light begin to fade. Both fish succumbing to a small peter ross fished slowly through a large shoal. There are undoubtedly some big rudd to be caught but getting though the small fish is challenging. The large numbers of rudd fry will undoubtedly result in some good sport with wild browns during early autumn.

Tranquil Torridge Waters

The River Torridge starts its journey close to the Cornish border near Meddon just a short distance from the source of the Tamar and shares many characteristics with this river.

The Torridge meanders through the heart of rural Devon gathering water from various tributaries including the Okement that flows from high on Dartmoor close to the source of its sister river the Taw. The Torridge eventually merges with the Taw in the estuary at Instow.

            Rivers have their own unique characters and as an angler it is a delight to tune into this and become immersed into the ever flowing waters. I fish the Torridge throughout the salmon and trout fishing season that commences on March 1st and concludes on September 30th.

            Each phase of the season is to be savoured from the cold days of early spring when wild daffodils decorate the banks to those mellow days of early autumn.

            Little Warham Fishery is middle river nestled in a tranquil valley close to the village of Beaford. I joined Fly Culture Editor in Chief Pete Tyjas the day after midsummers day to target the wild brown trout that thrive within this beautiful stretch of river


            After a long dry spring the river was showing its bones an all too familiar sight in recent seasons that have blighted the salmon anglers hopes. There were undoubtedly a few salmon and sea trout residing in the deeper pools. These fish may well be stirred to take an anglers fly when welcome rain falls to wake them from their slumber.

            Anthony and Amanda moved to Little Warham five years ago when my wife and I joined them on a delightful June evening. https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2017/06/25/little-warham-fishery/

They have worked hard in those five years nurturing the river banks and restoring the farmhouse to provide stunning self-catering holiday accommodation.


Despite visiting the fishery five years ago this was my first trip to the fishery armed with a rod and I was eager to share a day’s fishing with Pete. Pete had visited the river several years ago when it was still owned by Terri Norton Smith. After a quick chat with Anthony, I bundled my gear into Pete’s four wheel drive and we set off for the river. A long and bumpy farm track eventually took us to a shaded anglers car park within the woods above the river.

            It was at this point that I realised that I had left my camera, polaroids and hat on the front seat of my car back at the farm house. Fortunately, Pete had a spare hat and my phone would be adequate as back up to the camera.

            We gathered our tackles and descended down the steep steps to the fishing hut  depositing our lunch boxes and water. We placed our rods upon the rack beneath the hut and climbed the rustic steps. The veranda of the hut has a couple of seats on which to rest and admire the splendid view.

The inner confines are as a fishing hut should be retaining a timeless feel that has been shared by many generations of anglers. Above the fireplace is an etching of a salmon on a plank of wood. Testament to a salmon of 33lb, part of a catch of six salmon totalling 107lb made in April close to 100 years ago.

            Pete and I chatted about the Torridge its history and challenges faced by the river and its salmon. Some of this chat may well be broadcast via the popular Fly Culture Pod cast.

            The Torridge has inspired several authors over the years most famous of these is undoubtedly Henry Williamson, his books ‘Tarka the Otter’, ‘Salar the Salmon’ and ‘A Clear Water Stream’ weaving a rich tapestry of descriptive prose.  Lemon Greys classic fishing book ‘Torridge Fishery’ tells of the fishing above Little Warham and is a worthy book for any salmon angler’s library. Charles Inniss’s book ‘Torridge Reflections” published in 2012 is a delight to read reflecting on Charles years on the river at the Half Moon Inn. The poet Laurette Ted Hughes was also inspired by the Torridge and his work is celebrated in ‘The Catch’ by Mark Wormald, published in 2022.

            Pete and I were both keen to head for the river and set off to fish the upper beat above  the hut on  Anthony’s advice. We both set up with a duo set up a large bushy dry fly beneath which was suspended a small nymph pattern.

The river was showing its bones

            The Torridge is a peaceful river running much of its length far from roads or rail unlike the Taw that is flanked throughout most of its length by both. The summer valley was filled with birdsong as we approached carefully navigating through the lush green summer foliage. It had rained the previous night and the river had we were told risen by less than two inches. There was perhaps a slight tinge of colour but it was difficult to tell as the Torridge is never crystal clear like its sister river the Taw. We were hopeful that this slight influx of fresh would stir the trout to feed but the fish do not always read the script.

            With the river running so low we both agreed that the best areas to target would be the faster running riffles and runs where oxygen levels would be enhanced. This faster water also gives discerning trout less time to inspect our offerings.

            A flash of electric blue flashed past above the twinkling water. The sight of a kingfisher however fleeting always lifts the spirits an image that cannot be adequately painted with words. Damsel flies were also abundant hovering above the river and alighting on the riverside cow parsley its delicate white flowers punctuating the vivid greenery of mid-summer.

            The sun was beating down from a cloud free blue sky and we looked for shady lies to cast our flies. Pete wandered further upriver; I extended a line but was irritated to find I had missed out a rod ring when threading the line. A few minutes or two of retackling resolved the issue and at last I managed to put out a line on the water.

            The buoyant bushy dry fly bobbed down on the surface a tiny nymph suspended beneath. I focussed intently expecting the fly to disappear at any second as a trout seized the nymph below. I worked slowly upriver searching the water without early success.

            I snagged a high tussock of grass on the back cast just as the fishery owner Anthony appeared to witness my incompetence. Anthony was accompanied by his four year old son, Brook was fascinated by the mysteries of the water’s edge. I helped him to turn stones in the search for life whilst Pete chatted with Anthony about their first five years at Little Warham.

            After this short interlude our quest continued. My fishing rhythm eventually arrived after a slow start. Casting a 3-weight and tiny flies was a stark contrast to the large pike flies I had been casting two days before on the vast Chew Valley Lake.

            Casting into the head of a shallow run the dry fly disappeared and I lifted the rod to feel the thrilling pulse of life on the line. In a second or two it was gone a small trout that had brought a welcome slice of optimism.

            The morning drifted by as we waded the river searching and reading the water as we savoured the summer river.

            By midday we had covered the upper beat and decided to return to the fishing hut for a snack and a cool drink. As we walked the river bank we talked of fishing, of cricket and of people we knew.

            Back at the hut it was good to take a break savouring the summer views from the open porch. The  Torridge flows beneath the fishing hut through a long deep pool where it is easy to imagine salmon and sea trout resting. On the opposite bank a tall coniferous forest towered high whilst at the rivers edge mighty oaks dominate casting welcome shade across the pools. We discussed the trout’s apparent reluctance to feed reminiscing on the many excuse’s anglers concoct when the fish refuse to play the game. A bright hot summers day with a North East wind was always going to be a challenge.

A summers day work

            The afternoon would surely bring its rewards. We picked up our rods and strolled down towards the bottom of the beat.  A long shady run beneath a wooded bank took our fancy and whilst Pete headed towards the tail I started midway flicking out the trusty duo.

            The fly disappeared, I lifted the rod and the light rod flexed in my hands. The small wild brown leapt from the river and battled gamely for a few moments. The barbless hook slipped from its jaws and I admired its beauty for a moment before allowing it to swim back from whence it had come.

            The river tumbled from pool to pool cascading over rocky ridges into deeper pits. Long shallow riffles and slowly swirling eddies. The steep wooded banks and dense vegetation creating a rich habitat. Throughout the day we continued to catch welcome glimpses of kingfishers as they streaked past.

            The hot sun beat relentlessly into the valley. Climbing up and down the banks and pushing through high vegetation perspiration dripping from my forehead reminded me of a jungle movie scene. With a throbbing head I recognised the early symptoms of heat stroke and set off for the fishing hut and a cool drink of water.

Always pause to admire the colours lights and shades of the day

            I found Pete fishing beneath the overhanging tree canopy where he had spied rising fish. I wished him well and went on my way to the hut.

            After a cool drink I wandered back to find Pete stood mid river. Izaak Walton ended his classic book the ‘Compleat Angler’ with the phrase “Study to be Quiet” a phrase that is said to embody the philosophy of tranquillity and solace in angling. It was a pleasure to watch Pete’s skill at casting a delicate line across the water emersed within a kaleidoscope of reflections.

Emersed within a kaleidoscope of reflections.

            Anthony who had been cutting the grass appeared at my side and we both watched as Pete gave a commentary on the fish he had spied rising quietly under the shady bank. He had stood quietly observing and merging into the river scene. Numerous dry flies had been tried without success. After each offer to the trout, he had rested the water totally focussed upon deception. A dimple upon the surface and a tell tale ring. Pete’s line glided out the fly alighting on calm waters to drift over the fading rings. A swirl, a curse. Twice more the fish was tempted and escaped the hook! Pete reluctantly wound the line onto his reel and slowly waded towards us. Once again the water was broken by the rising fish. Pete caught the movement in the corner of his eye and stopped. Carefully he worked out the line and took careful aim dropping the dry fly precisely. The delightful moment of deception was followed by a flurry of spray. The rod pulsed and bended as the fish dashed for freedom.

It was soon safely in the net a beautiful wild brown trout with red and black speckled flanks of olive and bronze. At around a pound it was a wonderful prize earned by slowing down, observing and applying a large degree of patience and stealth.

            As we walked back to the car I spied a rising fish but with throbbing head and creeping nausea I knew that the fish would have to wait for another day.

Wistlandpound – Continues to fish well for wild brownies

The path to the water

Wistlandpound Continues to drop quickly as predominantly dry conditions continue across the region. The exposed banks are white with dying blanket weed as more areas become exposed. The water remains clear with extensive weed growth in shallow areas that does not impede the fishing to any extent.

I spent a couple of hours during late evening and brought six lovely browns averaging 10″ to hand all taking small black and silver spider patterns fished slowly with a floating line and fine tippet. The lake was calm and ringed by the rising trout and rudd.

Casting Into North Devon’s Rapid Streams

A couple of hours wading upriver passed all too quickly on a North Devon stream. It proved frustrating at time with the river very low and clear making it difficult to approach the pools without spooking the trout that could be seen darting away as I approached.

Flicking a bushy dry fly into the streamy water at the head of pools and runs rewarded me with a couple of beautiful wild browns of around 10″ and 8″.


The lush green growth and abundant bird life of the river valley in late spring is undoubtedly England at its best.

The water I fished is South Molton & District Angling Club water on the River Bray. I picked a book of my bookshelf ” Trout Fishing On Rapid Streams”, by H.C. Cutcliffe FRCS, Published in 1883 the book comprises A Complete System of fishing the North Devon streams and their like.
In the preface of the book the author mentions David Bale, now I think a letter-carrier, residing at High Bray. He is the best worm fisher I ever saw, and forever, is a most civil, indeed I may say polite man, truthful and honest and will be found a most respectable and well informed companion to the fishermen, who, I Trust will not forget to well acknowledge the merits of honest old David, now I fancy, not over well provided with the good things of this life”. The picture above shows High Bray Church upon the hill. It is reassuring to think that I fished the waters that David Bale cast his worm into over a century ago and the trout that I tempted would be direct descendants. Long may these rivers continue to thrive with their crimson spotted trout.

“In getting at these several little holes and currents, dont be afraid of your knees: keep down close to mother earth: go on your knees or crawl on your stomach; remember the trout is there, and you can catch him if you work properly and do not frighten him away.” These words of wisdom apply equally today!

The Lyn’s Beautiful brown trout

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Dan Spearman enjoyed a session on the spectacular River East Lyn tempting a dozen of the rivers wild brown trout. The fish were tempted on nymph and dry fly tactics. The wild brown trout of the Lyn are surely amongst the most beautiful in the West Country. Dan was delighted to report that there was an abundance of fly life on the river during the evening he fished. The Lyn tumbles through moorland and wooded gorges and its water quality is not impacted by the intensive farming practices that blight many other West Country Rivers.

Many thanks to Dan for allowing me to use his stunning images.

A wonderful time to fish the East Lyn for its beautifully marked wild brown trout.

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Many thanks to Simon Francis for sending North Devon Angling News this update on the beautiful East Lyn

April and early May is a wonderful time to fish the East Lyn for its beautifully marked wild brown trout.

The sun has warmed the waters (which this year is very low). Hatches of grannom and olives are trickling off from mid morning, and the fish are looking up, presenting the dry fly enthusiast with enviable sport. The trees are green but not in full leaf (so casting is mercifully easier), and the native birds are nesting (wagtails, dippers, wrens) and summer migrants like the flycatchers arriving. It’s a wonderful time to be by the river whether fishing or not.

I avoided the few walkers from Watersmeet by fishing upstream from Crook Pool, up through Rockford, and onto Brendon. The water was low so I skipped over the pools in favour of the runs and pots. Fishing these is fun. Presentation can be tricky, with swirling currents and a breeze, and drifts short, but the broken current allows you to get closer than you can on the pools. I fished a 7 foot 2wt old Orvis, overweighted with a 3wt line. I fished a ten foot leader down to 2lb tippet. Some new flies from Phil Middleton (https://instagram.com/thephilmid?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=) graced the business end and worked fantastically. Sedges, olives, CDC’s, work well in this early  season. When the rain comes, a change to Klink and Dink set up with a gold ribbed hairs ear or is very effective, if not as much fun as the dry flies.

Day and season tickets for the Watersmeet fishery can be brought from Barbrook service station, both at a fraction of the cost of single “stockie pond” ticket.
If you would like details of the fishing or stay to stay at www.primrosecottageexmoor.co.uk please email [email protected]

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

Short Sessions with Brown Trout

A cool South West wind ruffled the surface of Wistlandpound and mist descended upon the tree lined perimeter as I waded out into the lake. I had left the rod set up since my last visit with a black tadpole on the point and small black pennel variant on a dropper. I commenced to search the water and after ten minutes hooked into my first brown trout of the evening a valiant scrapper of perhaps 10″. This was only a short session but proved to a good one. During the next hour I banked ten trout up to 12″ and on one cast even managed a brace with one on each fly.

I wondered if the rudd would still be present in the shallow inlet and wandered up for a cast or two. Six rudd later I returned to the trout area and added another brownie to the total as the light faded from the day.

The following morning I decided to head for a short session on the Torridge once again targeting brown trout as with river levels now very low there was little chance of a salmon.

It was a delight to be wading in the cool waters with lush green growth all around. I started out with a new Zealand style set up and hooked a brown trout of perhaps 8oz after a few casts but it came adrift after a brief tussle.

It was good to see plenty of fry darting about in the margins and a few toad tadpoles. I was hoping to spot a few rising fish but they were very few and far between. At the top of the beat I changed over to a pair of nymphs and tried drifting these over promising lies to no avail. With only a short time left a few fish started to rise and I hastily changed over to a dry fly. I flicked the fly into the streamy run where I had spotted the rising fish. A glance at the time and I realised that my time was almost up.  One more cast… a splashy rise and I was into a 12″ brownie to save a blank session.

One of the joys of fly fishing is the lack of preparation required. Just pick up the rod and head to the waters edge.