Brown Trout sport at Bratton Water – With Dominic Garnett and Turral Flies

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Angling Writer Dominic Garnet sent me this report on Bratton Water. Dominic also works closely with local fly Tying specialists
Bratton Water has been no pushover, but fishing quite consistently in the cold and wet recent weather. Simon Jefferies, Dom Garnett and Gary Pearson enjoyed a good session using a mixture of flies on the lake. Buzzer fishing proved slow, but the fish were more responsive to lures. The best patterns were smallish and dark, including a Black Woolly Bugger or Crazy Legs, fished on a floating line but allowed to sink for several seconds and then retrieved with a picky figure of eight retrieve. Tail nips were common at times too, leading to the trio scaling down a little or even trimming back longer tails! All the fish were in consistently good condition, with sizes up to nearly three pounds, all but one browns as opposed to rainbows. The fish tended to follow the wind, collecting where the breeze blew; not the easiest for casting at times, but worth the effort of moving spots and putting up with stray gusts!

Blakewell Christmas Competition – Tackle Testing Rainbows

Thirty of Blakewell Fisheries regular customers gathered to fish the eagerly anticipated Christmas Competition and they were not to be disappointed as several tackle testing trout were hooked and landed. It was frantic action at the start of the competition with many anglers hooking trout on their first cast of the day. This fast and furious action of course eased off after an hour as the presence of thirty anglers casting into the clear water deterred the trout from feeding. Most anglers ended the day with their limit bag of six fish with an average weight of well over 3lb.

Trout were tempted using a wide range of flies and lures with damsel nymphs and cats whiskers amongst the most successful. Conditions really couldn’t have been any better with an overcast start to the day and mild conditions considering the time of year. As always the event was very much a social affair with many anglers setting their rods aside after landing their quota to chat with fellow anglers and compare notes.

The competition was punctuated by a welcome plate of chilli-con-carne cooked by the venues resident chef Richard Nickel who worked very hard with his assistant from the Blakewell Team Mia Bryant to play the perfect hosts to the anglers.

(Above) A fine rainbow of 15lb 13oz

Results –

1st – James Burdus – six fish for 33lb 14oz

2nd – John Buxton – Six fish for 31lb 2oz

3rd – Peter Furze – Six fish for 29lb 4oz

4th – Mike Bowles – Six Fish for 27lb 9oz

5th – John Sheppard – Six fish for 26lb 4oz

(Above) James Burdus – rainbow trout 15lb 13oz

(Above) John Buxton – Rainbow Trout 13lb 5oz

(Above) Peter Furze – rainbow trout 9lb 15oz

(Above) John Sheppard rainbow trout 9lb 13oz

Two double figure rainbows were landed and two others very close to double figures;  in addition there were several tales of the ones that got away! Numerous quality brown trout were also banked including a fine brace of browns weighing 5lb 6oz and 5lb 4oz to the rod of Mike Bowles.

(Above) Mike Bowles with a fine brace of browns weighing 5lb 6oz and 5lb 4oz.

(Above ) Paul Grisley hold a 4lb 8oz brown trout

(Above) Ethan Hoggins – with a pleasing brown trout 4lb 6oz

Richard Nickel also gave a fine demonstration on how to fillet trout making it look all too easy. I have to confess that on trying the same technique on my return home I found my results somewhat lacking compared to Richards. My blunt knife probably didn’t help though I feel sure Richard would have produced a more appetizing portion of trout.

As the Reservoir trout season ends its time to turn to the smaller stillwater’s

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Lottie Ava Kinnear aged 8 caught her first brown trout on a cats whiskers lure from Bratton Water. Her parents say that she really enjoyed herself and can’t wait to go again.

Bratton Water will start to fish well now as the cooler waters of late autumn and winter arrive. Last winter saw some stunning brown trout caught from the fishery with several over 5lb. (Below) Danny Ford with one of last winters stunning brown trout caught at Bratton Water.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club fished the last day of the season at Wessex Water’s Clatworthy Reservoir where the rainbow trout that the fishery is renowned for played hard to get. Only three of the ten members taking part in the event fishing for the Secretary’s Shield managed to land trout. This was despite the lake being well stocked with good numbers of trout that were times visible in the clear water.

David Rudman was the winner with a rainbow trout scaling 1lb 151/2oz. Dave Mock and Danny Ford tied in runner up spot both landing rainbows of 1lb 15oz. (Below) The three successful anglers.

Despite the lack of fish members enjoyed a day in beautiful countryside with trees surrounding the reservoir in splendid autumn colours.

As members gathered at the Fishing Lodge reflecting upon the past season they were treated to a delicious offering of Lemon Drizzle Cake from the local Clatworthy Fly Fishing Club. We all hope be to back at Clatworthy in the spring when it generally offers superb sport with some of the West Country’s hardest fighting rainbow trout.

With the reservoir trout fishing season at an end it is time to turn to the small still waters where sport is at its best through the colder months.

Changing Seasons -Autumn thoughts


Another salmon season has drawn to an end as I walked out to fish on the Middle Torridge. On arrival I realize I had arrived too late as the river was up and coloured with flotillas of leaves floating down stream.

As I am there I decide to fish anyway but have little confidence as I work my way down casting across favorite lies with little hope of a salmon locating the fly. Time has run out on this season all too quickly. Leaves collected in riverside eddies a rich variation of browns, gold’s and yellows those green shoots of spring have long gone. Summers gone yet I wish it could linger longer for I had so much more to do.

As I walked back to the car I listened to mournful mewing of young buzzards high above. I had one more trip to the river. and it proved to be my second season without a salmon. I look for no excuses as plenty have been caught just not on my watch.

We had just returned from a week in Scotland. Not a fishing holiday though a rod did get taken along. One afternoon Pauline and I walked up to a small dam within the glen. The mountains towered high above and stags bellowed their war cry across the brown livery of the glen. I cast across the dark water and was thrilled at the tug from a small trout. I caught four perfect wild browns of just a few inches more than enough reward for a miles walk in such splendid surroundings.

This was the only fishing I did yet fishing was never too far from my thoughts. I spoke with a local angler who painted a grim portrayal of salmon and sea trout fishing in the local rivers. He doubted if the species would exist in these local rivers in ten years time.

Whilst I knew that the sea lochs had great potential I did not see anyone fishing throughout our weeks stay. It seemed strange to have harbors that had no mullet. I was told of Pollock and coalfish from the rocky shoreline and wished I had light spinning rod or LRF set up to find out what was there. In the sound of Mull I peered into the deep and clear waters. At Tobermory I talked of common skate within deep waters off shore. Perhaps I need to return one day to answer some of my questions.

Back in North Devon my thoughts turn to autumn sea angling. Grey mullet, bass, conger and tope. As the nights draw in I know where I will be heading and look forward to the excitement of dark mysterious waters.

This angling game brings its frustrations and an awareness of the passing seasons; a brief spell of melancholy is soon replaced by optimism as the next chapter unfolds.

Fun on the dry fly

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North Devon’s Rivers hold plenty of beautiful wild brown trout that provide superb sport on the upstream dry fly. My son James landed this spotted beauty close to twenty years after catching his first fish. These wild fish are a treasure that we must ensure continue to thrive as their presence is an indication of a healthy river. My own fishing journey began on a tiny stream catching brown trout and I still get just as excited by these feisty little fish fifty years on.

Rare sights at Bratton Water

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One of the joys of fishing is the wildlife we see whilst at the waters edge and at Bratton Water there have been some exciting sightings in recent weeks with owner Mike Williams sending me these images he managed to capture of an osprey and a great white egret! Mike tells me the fishing has been excellent recently with some stunning brown trout tempted by visiting anglers. Dry fly and small buzzer nymph patterns always tend to work best at this picturesque water.

The fishery is renowned for the superb quality of its brown trout that have been caught to double figures.

A stunning brown landed earlier this spring by Danny Ford.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishers enjoy brown trout sport at home venue

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held their Edwards Cup Floating line competition at their home venue.  The competition was for the best brace of trout and was won by Dave Mock who landed who two trout for 2lb 15oz, Close behind was David Eldred with a brace totalling 2lb14oz and in third Paul Grisley with a single trout weighing 1lb 9oz.

Wistlandpound superb brown trout sport

Below is a report sent to South West lakes Trust by a very satisfied customer!

Jon Ogbourne enjoyed a Great day on Wistlandpound fishing from the clubs boat. He fished with Peter Coleman-Smith and Mark Stewart taking turns on the oars. Fish came from all over the lake with 50+ to the net by the time we landed at 6pm, the best was pushing 1.5lbs. All fish came to either traditional wets, sedgehogs or weighted mini tadpole patterns on the point. Steady wind blowing up toward the dam all day. Sunshine with broken cloud. Buzzers and hawthorn flies around perimeter of lake but not much out on the water. Fish didn’t seem to mind.