SUMMER NIGHTS

A gentle surf pushed into the beach as I strolled in the shallow water enjoying the coolness in the late afternoon heat. I searched the water for the fish I had been told would be there amongst the bathers. Amongst a slightly foamy coloured band of water, I found what I was looking for hundreds of mullet darting to and fro apparently feasting up on an algal feast.

I cast expectantly with a team of flies designed to attract the wily mullet. As the waves turned mullet could be seen in the small waves some of them a decent size. I suspected that many were golden greys though the size of some indicated that thick lips were amongst them.

A couple of times the line zipped tight but contact could not be made. As the tide started to flood the activity increased with swirling mullet all around. I cast repeatedly trying slow retrieves, quicker retrieves and static drifts. Frustration grew, the tide flooded and all of sudden they were gone.

The following night I stood upon a boulder strewn shoreline armed with a lure rod. A surface lure was cast out and worked back across the still water. The sun was descending as the day faded a golden glow of fiery light. A large swirl behind the lure gave hope. Hundreds of fish could be seen dimpling the surface. Mullet again! The fly rod was in the van but I was too lazy or too focussed on the bass to switch tactics. Another night I will return with a few bread flies and some floating crust to get them feeding. Some would say that’s cheating; but perhaps we sometimes make things too difficult for ourselves.

As the light faded expectation grew as the tide gently pushed in. An hour after dark I heard a swirl in the calm water. Next cast my soft plastic was seized, a welcome jolt of life through the line. A bass of a couple of pounds saved a blank.

The moon slowly rose above the hill, lights reflected in the mirror calm sea. The cool night air, the aroma of seaweed and fresh sea air. These summer nights are to be cherished for all too soon autumn and winter will descend bringing different challenges.

http://www.quaysports.com

Early or Late on those hot summer days

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I was delighted to receive this wonderful image of Graham Dunn fishing the Middle Torridge during the early dawn. During these hot summer days it’s better to be at the waters edge either at first or last light as the temperature is more comfortable and the fish more likely to take. During this short trip Graham tempted a dace, five brown trout and  a sea trout all carefully released with minimal handling.

‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

Hot and getting hotter; mid-July the forecast gives wall to wall sunshine with temperatures into the mid-twenties. It’s not a perfect day to be heading out trout fishing yet there are worse places to be than floating about on Wimbleball. Part of anglings enjoyment is after all working for a result when conditions are difficult.

I had arranged to meet with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce to try our luck in the height of summer. We were optimistic as we launched the boat despite the bright sunny conditions and headed for Rugg’s Bay for a drift or two. During these hot days of Summer, a boat is a distinct advantage enabling the option to search far and wide for the trout.

Plenty of water, sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses were essentials for today and Jeff had equipped himself with Snowbee’s finest.

A pleasing breeze was blowing down through the bay as we started our first drift. Jeff elected to start on a floater whilst I went down deep with a blue flash damsel on the point and a bright yellow and orange blob on a dropper. This proved to be a promising tactic as after half a dozen casts a fish was on! Then off! After I lost a couple more Jeff also went down deep  and had a couple of pulls. Eventually after a run of fish on and off I managed to get a hard fighting rainbow to the net.

As the middle of the day approached we decided to head off to the deep water near the dam where a few fish had been tempted the previous day using sinking lines and boobies. An angler there reported on some success with several follows and a couple of good rainbows.

We tried for an hour without success and decided to move into the wooded Upton Arm where we might tempt a wild brown in addition to the rainbows. After half an hour our spirits dropped as expectation started to ebb in the hot sun. We headed back to the deep water where a good rainbow followed my lure close to the boat before turning away.

It was now late afternoon and we decided to head right back up to Rugg’s and drift in the breeze ensuring we at least covered plenty of water. After ten minutes Jeff’s olive damsel was nailed by one of Wimbleball’s energetic rainbows. A blank was at least saved, reward for dogged persistence.

As we drifted the occasional fish was glimpsed following the flies. On one retrieve I was astounded to see a group of good sized rainbows chasing my team of flies before turning away at the last moment. Thinking we had found a shoal we dropped anchor and fished static for an hour giving a floating line and a team of imitative patterns a try. Whilst it was good to slow down and chill for a while I felt that the fish were not feeding and the best hope was a stripped lure or blob to stimulate an aggressive response.

We upped anchor and drifted until we ran out of water, calling it a day at close to 7.00pm after ten hours with just a fish each it had been a hard day’s fishing.

A Jamaican proverb: ‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

A phrase for the day and the reason I will be back again whatever the weather.

After a long hot day afloat perhaps a cool beer at the George Inn at Brompton Regis? https://thegeorgeinnexmoor.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR3a8bHVB5iHmbvTNTYunb_jCt1nG-rz9Nm-DLtWYL1cpV408SQdS8VD8pQ 

Images from the waters edge

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There is far more to fishing than simply catching fish which is just as well. I don’t always want to carry a large camera to the waters edge especially when traveling light with the fly rod or lure rod. Below are few images captured on the Go Pro that often gives a totally different perspective. On a recent holiday to Cornwall I spent several hours casting a team of flies to huge shoals of golden grey mullet. At one point  hundreds of silver flanks could be seen as wave crashed onto the sands giving a window into a watery world. To blank in such surroundings is not too bad.

A short session on a shallow rock mark casting into Cornwalls crystal clear water brought some success with this colourful ballan wrasse.
 Back home I visited a local trout stream to enjoy a few hours flicking a dry fly into its clear tumbling waters. The quick splashy rises proved difficult to connect with and only a couple of small spotted beauties stayed on the hook long enough to bring to the hand and admire.
A few hours beside a summer stream is so good. To glimpse a pair kingfishers flit past in a flash of electric blue and to stand in the cool flowing waters a delight.

After the first flush of summer we now enter those calm days after the excitement of spring and early. As the days slowly shorten, the trees take on a slightly darker hue, the mewing of young buzzards drifts across the valley, the screeching of swifts are all signs of the passing year. As an angler it is an exciting time for there is so much to look forward to casting in many waters.

Wimbleball Hardest Fighting trout in the West?

Late May is undoubtedly the best time to be in the English Countryside as natures lush greenery takes on that fresh vivid green hue that lasts a few fleeting weeks. The country lanes are lined with delicate white cow parsley and an abundance of late spring and early summer flowers.

Pauline and I were taking a short break on Exmoor. I was indulging in a few hours fishing at Wimbleball whilst Pauline relaxed in the sunshine and wielded the camera to capture a few images.

We arrived at the lake close to midday and set up beneath a bright blue sky as a cool breeze ruffled the lakes surface. I was surprised to see very little surface activity but elected to set up a floating line as I thought the trout would be likely to be in the upper layers.

The lake had risen several feet since my previous visit a fortnight ago as a result of persistent rainfall. I fished a team of three flies on a 12ft leader using a Montana on the point and two buzzers on the droppers. After twenty minutes without a pull, I changed to an olive damsel on the point and speeded up the retrieve. This brought an immediate response with a small wild brownie coming adrift after a brief tussle.

After a short  coffee break I again changed tactics extending the leader around four feet and tying a bead headed buzzer to the point, a diawl bach to the middle dropper and a bright yellow blob to the top dropper. I cast this out and fished a very slow retrieve just keeping the line tight and watching the tip for movement.

After five minutes the line zipped tight and a rainbow erupted from the surface in a flurry of spray the reel singing as line evaporated through the rings. A handsome full tailed rainbow was eventually netted and admired.

The next three hours saw me bank five more trout to over five pounds all of them giving thrilling battles in the clear water. It was satisfying to have once again found the right tactics for the day which is after all what this wonderful game is all about.

We packed up late afternoon and headed to the George Inn at Brompton Regis that is now in the capable hands of Trudi and Mark Underhill. This delightful historical country Inn oozes history and has been carefully renovated to retain its character. Our large room looked out over a splendid Exmoor landscape as swifts and swallows swooped around this peaceful quintessential English village.

Several other anglers were enjoying an ale in the beer garden when we arrived and chatted enthusiastically about rainbow trout that took them to the backing as they drifted the lake on one of the  Wimbleball fleet of boats.

We finished our day with a delicious meal in the busy bar relishing the sounds of laughter and chat after months of pandemic induced silence.

The combination of stunning fishing for some of the hardest fighting rainbows in the West and superb accommodation close by will I am sure prove very popular over the coming seasons.

BLAKEWELL FISHERY

Blakewell Fishery is a picturesque and tranquil small-water trout fishery that is located just over a mile from the market town of Barnstaple. The clear waters offer quality Fly Fishing for rainbow trout and brown trout that are stocked into double figures attracting anglers from across the region.

The fishery is best approached using a light to medium outfit (6/7wt) with floating lines and imitative patterns working throughout the year. Day Tickets are £45.00 for a five fish limit. You can book online or call Richard Nickell on 07884 073932

The venue is perfect for new comers to Fly Fishing as it is less-intimidating than larger venues that may prove off putting to those starting out. Fly Fishing tuition is available on site with resident instructors. See Website for full details. www.blakewell.co.uk

The fishing is often at its best during the winter months when the trout flourish in the cool water that flows in from Bradiford Water.

A Brace of Winter Doubles

Bratton Water – South Molton Anglers

I joined a dozen or so members of South Molton Angling Club at the tranquil Bratton Water Trout Fishery for a mornings fishing and chat. This was very much a social event with an opportunity for a mornings fishing. Conditions were perfect for enjoying the scenery and catching up with fellow members but far from ideal for catching trout. The water was crystal clear and the margins alive with tadpoles a fact that encouraged a few members to try small black tadpole type flies.

I had brought along my 10ft 5wt rod and matched it with a floating line and a long leader of 6.5lb fluorocarbon. A small bead head pheasant tail on the point and a black n’ peacock on a dropper. This was cast out and allowed to sink before retrieving very slowly watching the line intently for any twitches. I missed a few but caught my bag of 3 rainbows within two hours then proceeded to chat for a while with fellow members about things country and fishy.

Strange how you perceive that you have found the right method to find that other have caught using a totally different fly and retrieve.

Rob Kingdon with pleasing bag of Bratton Water Trout

It was time to head home and cook up a Sunday dinner of fresh trout!

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report April 2021

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South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

April 2021

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.

Fishing:

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.

 

 

 

 

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Gammaton Reservoirs

We called into Summerlands Tackle shop to pick up our Permits for Gammaton Reservoirs and It brought home to me the vitally important role these establishments play in bringing anglers together. Mooching around the shop was long-time friend, angler and local guitar maestro Jim Crawford. We exchanged greetings and once again talked of a joining up for a long awaited foray beside a mysterious tree lined carp water.

Parking up at Gammaton memories flooded back of a time many years ago when I came here to work with the South West Water Authority. The two reservoirs used to provide water to Bideford via a water treatment plant consisting of slow sand filters. A labour intensive process that employed a small team lead by the resident Superintendent who would now of course be a manager. Charlie was a hard working countryman who lived in the water workers cottage. The garden was neat and tidy with rows of runner beans and a few spuds, a vision of Beatrix Potter’s Mr Mc-Gregor’s garden. My memory imagines pink roses somewhere in the garden though the mists of time perhaps enhance the vision.

The house still remains, and some of the old infrastructure still lingers from the water works but the old wooden work mans shed is long gone. A place where we would take a lengthy tea break or shelter from the rain. Charlie was a hard worker and took a great pride in the water works and the reservoirs. I remember the old Allen Scythe grass mowers that would be used to keep the grass dam trimmed. Old hand bill hooks were still used and honed sharp with a carborundum stone. I well remember talking with Charlie about the weather expressing concern about a particularly dry spell. “ Nature has its way of balancing out he told me; rainfall levels tend to average out throughout the year”.

When I started with the water board over forty years ago it seemed a very different world. Charlie and the water board men worked in a stable environment that had flowed along for decades where time seemed abundant. The water flowed from the two reservoirs gravitated through the old filters, a bit of chloros was added to kill the bugs and the water was distributed to the people of Bideford. In the summer the grass was trimmed and in the winter the ditches were kept clean and the fences mended. If it was wet the Allen Scythe would be oiled and maintained its blades sharpened. The old wooden shed would smell of oily rags and topics of the day would be discussed over a cuppa.

No spreadsheets, no technology except the landline that was linked to a bell on the side of the shed.

I digress in a bit of reminisce brought about by the location and the fact that I Leave SWW next week after close to forty two years. Besides it is worth recording a memory of times gone by before its gone.

Above the dam little has changed over the years. It’s the last day of April and primroses line the banks. Fresh growth burst forth from the trees and birdsong emanates all around. Lambs skip about in adjacent fields and the panorama of North Devon stretches out beneath a bright blue sky.

The fishing is controlled by Torridge Fly Fishing Club established in 1959, day tickets can be purchased from Summerlands Tackle permitting visiting anglers to keep three fish at a reasonable cost of £20. The trout are predominantly rainbow’s averaging 2lb to 4lb stocked by Bulldog Trout Fishery.

Several anglers were fishing when James and I arrived and made us very welcome offering much advice on flies and tactics.

We started on the lower dam searching the water with a floating line and long leader. The water was crystal clear rippled by a cold North wind that had prevailed throughout this April. A few fish broke the surface beyond casting range and after half an hour we decided to move to a promising looking area that had been made vacant by a successful angler.

The water here was deeper and I cast with greater confidence. After ten minutes James exclaimed surprise as a rainbow erupted from the water on a tight line surging away at speed the rod arching in battle. After a few tense minutes a full tailed rainbow of close to four pounds was safely in the net and given the last rites. The catching of the trout was given additional provenance as the rod James was using was the treasured possession of James fiancée’s grandpa who loved fly fishing for trout in the reservoirs close to London. A nine foot six inch Silver Creek Reservoir rod that has a rather forgiving soft action in line with the time it was manufactured.

Ten minutes later another rainbow was hooked by James and promptly threw the hook. By this time, I had not had a pull and was wondering what I was doing wrong. A feeling that was added to when James added a second rainbow to his tally.

Several small yet handsome perch seized our flies between trout bringing a bit of variance with their pleasingly smart defiant manner.

Persistence paid off eventually and the line zipped tight as a pleasing and very hard pulling rainbow seized my blue flash damsel.

As the afternoon passed I suggested we wander up to the top lake and try our luck. The familiar path had not changed over the years as it lead us to the slightly more open top lake.

The water here appeared deeper and I was confident of success especially when I spied the bent rod of a fellow angler on the far bank.

After ten minutes my line pulled tight and another fighting fit rainbow was brought to the net. Followed a cast later by another stunning fish of close to four pounds that pulled beyond its size.

With my bag completed it was time to relax and take in the view. I took the camera for a walk and captured the scene as swallows swooped in the cool evening air.

James persisted trying for his third trout but it seemed that luck had deserted him for the day and eventually after several last casts he decided it was time to head off for portions of fish and chips on the way home.

And so ended another almost perfect day in an angling life especially so in sharing it with James after a long break from fishing together in part due to the COVID times we have all endured.

Evening brings prizes of gold and silver

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