Many thanks to Ross Stanway who produced this enchanting piece for North Devon Angling News. I know that there are many who will read this and recall their own days beside childhood streams. The West Country is criss-crossed by these fascinating streams that have seen many hundreds of anglers born. The piece is illustrated with more of Ross’s stunning illustrations available via his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RossStanwayMarineArt/
Bulldog fishery has reopened after a winter break and offers some fine sport.
Ross Prior from Barnstaple took this double figure Brownie and bagged out with a 5 fish ticket for 19lb 6oz.
Fish tickets are 4 for £30.00, and 5 for £35.00, catch and release for £20.00/ day. Should anyone bag out and wish to carry on fishing its £5.00 with barbless hooks. All brownies to be returned, this allows other anglers the experience of catching double figured Brownies.
Fishery open dawn till dusk, days’ notice required for booking. Contact Nigel Early on 07767492800
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.
With a brisk North-West wind blowing I decided on a trip to the Lower Taw where I hoped a salmon might be lying up waiting for a rise in the river. The river was lower than I expected but it was good to be there savouring the dying weeks of another season. I had not visited the stretch since the spring when sand martins were swooping over the big pit and a season stretched ahead, how quick the time passes.
I worked down the pool casting and retrieving a large willie gun pattern hoping to stimulate a take from any salmon lurking in the deep slow moving pool. Suddenly the line zipped tight and the water boiled as a fish hit the fly. This was no salmon but it was a decent sized fish and I was thrilled to see a golden flank in the water. After a few anxious moments the prize was safely in the net a pristine wild brown trout of at least 3lb 8oz. A stunning fish my biggest wild river brown and a welcome slice of luck. Right place right time.
After a quick photo I slipped the trout back into the water and continued a search for silver. If you have followed my water side meanderings you will know of my fascination with the old fishing hut. Each time I visit the decay continues. Recent bank clearance has revealed more detail letting the light reveal more of the ruined hut of memories. The rod rack still stands, old scales rust away in the recess of the shed. What fish were once placed there to be converted to pounds and ounces. The river runs relentlessly on whilst a generations work and memories slowly fade into oblivion. The old bridge structure still stands in the river but even this is slowly washing away.
As I write this rain is beating down and I am optimistic that the long summer drought is well and truly over. Whilst many will be grumbling about the wet summer we have not in truth had much rain so far certainly not enough to bring the rivers up and encourage good numbers of salmon and sea trout into the rivers. Sea trout wise it has not been as bad as last year and a few salmon have trickled in. Bob Lewington fished on the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw and was rewarded with fine salmon of 9lb. A few salmon have also been tempted on the River East Lyn.
( Below) Chay Bloggis has landed a 7lb fresh run salmon from the middle Taw on a Stoats Tail, variant.
The cooler weather is also welcomed by Stillwater Trout Fisheries where the trout do not react well do extra hot conditions.
Pete Tyjas was rewarded whilst searching for silver on the river catching a superb brown trout.
Pete Tyjas “We’ve been hitting the river pretty hard hoping that any small lift might bring some salmon up. Despite our efforts nothing has materialised as yet.
Emma and I popped down this morning just in case and while she fished a pool for salmon I rigged up a single handed rod and decided I’d pull a streamer. At first I thought I’d hooked a grilse but it turned out to be a trout, the sort that I have only really dreamt about catching in Devon. I’m pleased Emma had a salmon net!
I’d love to say that it were perfect conditions for a heavy hatch and rising fish but it wasn’t and I just used what I had to hand.
Perhaps this method isn’t for for the purists but I don’t think I’d bump into a fish like this other than late at night or during a good hatch of mays. Happy? Just a little, sometimes your dreams do come true.”
The areas rivers are already at summer levels bringing concern amongst salmon anglers that we could be in for a repeat of last year’s disastrous season when rivers ran low for most of the fishing year. A brief rise last week after localised rain encouraged at least one fish into the Taw with Bob Lewington tempting a fresh run grilse of 6lb from the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats. There are positive stories from the Taw and Torridge in that the brown trout fishing has been excellent with wild trout to over 1lb caught on Half Moon Beats of the Torridge. Anglers have also caught and returned good numbers of silver smolts on their way back to the sea a sign that all is not doom and gloom.
With salmon and sea trout scarce, I contacted Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce and suggested an evening fishing the middle Torridge for wild brown trout. Jeff was keen to visit a new stretch of water and I picked him up whilst the sun was still high in the sky.
Arriving at the river the lack of recent rain was apparent with the river running very low. When I say there has been a lack of rain this not entirely true as localised heavy showers had brought a short spate the previous week bringing the level up three feet. As is often the case in recent years the dirty river dropped very quickly as a combination of dry ground and thirsty trees mopped up the welcome water.
Despite its subdued and sedate flow rate the river and its surroundings looked resplendent in its late spring flourish of vivid life and colour.
I expected to see plenty of trout rising as fly life seemed abundant with insects flitting above the water illuminated by the slowly sinking sun. We walked to the top of the beat discussing the various holding pools as we passed them. Each pool held its memories and I enjoyed recounting stories of salmon and sea trout caught during previous seasons.
I had tied a small grey duster dry fly to my light tippet and started to wade carefully up a long glide. I cast the fly to likely spots as I scanned the water for signs of feeding trout.
A splashy rise twenty yards upstream raised expectations and I waded stealthily to get within range.
After a couple of casts there came that most delightful of moments as the waters surface was broken as the dry fly was taken in a sublime moment of deception. A flick of the wrist set the tiny hook and the water bulged, the rod flexed and line was ripped through the rings as I was forced to give a little line. A twelve ounce wild brown trout gives a pleasing account on a three weight rod. Jeff was soon at hand to capture the moment and commented that such a fish could be the best of the season.
I fished on for a while rising a couple of more trout that came adrift after a few moments. Fishing the upstream dry fly to rising fish is perhaps as close as one can get to the true essence of the hunter fisher. This searching and seeking is so different to the trapping mindset of the static bait fisher.
Don’t get me wrong I am not setting out one type of fishing as superior to another just highlighting the contrasting approach. Non anglers find it difficult to contemplate upon the diverse nature of angling. Why we need so many rods, reels, lines and tackles.
I am in danger of wondering into complex waters so to return to the night in question. Jeff was fishing a slower section further down and had found several trout sipping flies from the surface. I watched him place his fly delicately upon the water and hoped to see him connect. As I turned to walk away down-river I heard a triumphant exclamation. The Snowbee Prestige G-XS Graphene Fly Rod ( Matched with a Thistledown 2 Wt line) was well bent as a good trout battled gamely on the gossamer thin line. After a few anxious moments a delighted Jeff gazed at his prize in the rubber meshed net. A pristine wild brown trout that would probably weigh close to 1lb 8oz. A splendid prize that was twice the size of the trout I had returned a few minutes earlier.
Jeff held the fish close to the water at all times lifting it only momentarily from its watery home to record a pleasing image to take away. It would be difficult to surpass this success and as the sun sank the temperature dropped and we both changed over to nymphs and spider patterns fished down and across.
This style of fishing is less demanding than the upstream dry fly and allows the attention to wonder slightly absorbing the sights and sounds of the river and its banks. The electric blue flash of a kingfisher, the yellow wagtails, the handsome cock pheasants and the lively brood of beeping ducklings all part of the rich scene.
We both enjoyed success with hard fighting trout tempted as the light faded. Hopefully as summer arrives and a little rain the brownies sea run brethren will provide some more exciting sport.
Dan Spearman ended 2018 in style landing his first double figure brown trout on New Years Eve after many years trying and coming close on several occasions with browns to over 9lb. Fishing at Bulldog Fisherys catch and release specimen trout lake with his young son Rex they enjoyed qaulity fishing landing several trout including Dan’s double figure brown.
Bulldog s owner Nigel Early can be contacted on 447767492800 A catch and release ticket is £20.00.