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.
Blakewell Fishery is due to reopen on Saturday after a short closure to eradicate weed growth for the lake. After restocking with a good head of quality trout sport is likely to be excellent.
Don’t forget here is also the Fun Fishing Lake for the younger anglers and the chance to visit the otter via prearrange appointment. Hope to see as many as possible on August 31st for my book signing event see details at bottom of page.
With the warm summer weather Stillwater trout fishing is suffering the summer doldrums with trout tending to lurk in the deeper water reluctant to chase anglers flies except perhaps in the early morning or late evening. The rivers are in serious need of a good flush of freshwater so where to take the trout rod?
I had a report from two members of the River Torridge Fishery Association who had visited the lower estuary to enjoy a hectic session with school bass catching a large number on small barbless lures. With warm sunshine forecast a trip to the beach seemed a good plan. Pauline could sit and read a book on the sands whilst I waded out into the warm waters of the lower estuary. In addition to the bass I also had golden grey mullet on my mind and just wondered if I could strike gold after several previous failed attempts?
I after arrived at the waters edge just as the tide started to flood. I had intended to get there a little earlier but had to work out how to put together Paulines beach shelter, the brisk Southerly wind did not help!
The water was surprisingly warm as I walked out and stretched a line across the water. A couple of casts later brought the pleasing tug of a school bass. Several more followed as the tide surged in with the fish seen swirling all around. As the tide pushed in the takes eased off and I decided on a change of tactics fishing two small flies intended for mullet.
Despite the huge numbers of fish present I retrieved my flies without success. I changed tack slightly casting my flies into the shallows and retrieving as slowly as possible. Suddenly the line zipped tight and a fish darted to and fro on the line giving a scrap far out of proportion to its size. I was delighted to see the golden mark that helped identify the fish as a golden grey mullet my first of the species. The next cast and I connected again and the rod bent over with line zipping out as a good fish powered away before the hook pulled! I big golden grey ? I will never know but I will be back. I then discovered that if I dapped the flies lightly on a short line I could catch a bass on every cast. Twenty- five or thirty bass later I walked back up the beach as rain began to fall. Time to watch a bit of cricket to end a fun summers day.
Apologies for the poor pictures it not easy trying to get a pic without dropping phone or fish.
Many thanks to Exmoor Fly Fishing for letting me reproduce their report on the charity event at Exe Valley.
Fishing for FORCE the Cancer charity day organised by John Dawson was held at the superb Exe Valley Fishery by kind permission of Sue & Nick Hart.
The day started overcast and dimpsey in other words Exmoor weather! Jackie joined me to learn how to fly fish in no time she was throwing nice loops so it was on to the lake …no pulling lures here it was small flies from the word go . She was soon into her first fish of the day a quick burger and coffee then I took Rory under my wing it wasn’t long before I heard the shout “ I’ve got one I’ve got one” an epic battle ensued before a fin perfect Exe Valley rocket was drawn over the net….several more soon followed, the fishery is fishing really well and the Trout are up in the water and will readily take a dry.
Thanks must go to John Dawson, Sue Hart and the ladies from Force for putting the day on and raising lots of money for the charity.
Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Members assembled at Blakewell Fishery the lake looking stunning with fresh green foliage forming a stunning back drop. Members elected to opt for the sporting ticket allowing two fish to be retained before continuing on a catch and release basis.
The competition was run on the first two fish caught.
1st – Colin Combe – 3lb 9oz
2nd – David Eldred – 3lb 7oz
3rd – Nigel Bird – 3lb 5oz
4th – Andre Muxworthy – 2lb 10oz
5th – Wayne Thomas 2lb 4oz
Small imitative patterns worked well in the clear water and bright sunshine with all members catching their allotted brace and then enjoying some exciting catch and release sport. From mid may until the end of June the English countryside is at its very best with everything a vivid green with bird and pond life flourishing all around.
Well done to everyone who took part in the Troutmasters competition on Sunday 14th April 2019. The competition took place over four hours and even with the freezing cold easterly wind the ten anglers that attended managed a rod average of 2.4 fish per angler, with several anglers heading back to Anchor lake to continue fishing after the match had ended. Best tactics throughout this colder spell have been to fish deeper and slower.
- Chris Short with 5 fish weighing 16lb 8oz
- Keith Ratcliffe with 4 fish weighing 11lb 12oz
- Philip Duckett with 3 fish weighing 10lb 12oz
Mary Ratcliffe with 3 fish weighing 7lb 12oz
Ben Cheeld with 3 fish weighing 6lb 4oz
- Richard Cooper with 2 fish weighing 5lb 8oz
- Mike Duckett with 2 fish weighing 5lb
- Sam Shepherd – Junior with 2 fish weighing 4lb 12oz
9 -Terence O’Keefe
9 – Peter Kyle
The above full tailed rainbow trout was landed by Nick Hart who runs the nearby Exe Valley Fishery. Wimbleball and Exe Valley offer Fly Fishers visiting Exmoor an excellant choice of venues. The wide open expanse of Wimbleball offers the challenge of hard fighting fish in a stunning setting of moorland, woods and extensive farmland.
Exe Valley is situated in a sheltered valley beside the River Exe and offers fishing for both experienced anglers and families. Being slight less imposing Exe Valley is an ideal venue for those wanting to try trout fishing before venturing out to the wild expanse of Wimbleball.
Both fisheries offer catch and release options with stunning brown and rainbow trout.
Pete Tyjas who published Fly Culture Magazine tempted this beautiful springer from a middle Taw beat on a cascade. Whilst there have only been around half a dozen salmon from the Taw so far; as the water warms I expect a few more to be tempted.
Dave Mock caught his first ever salmon estimated at 8lb from the Barnstaple and District Angling Association Water below Newbridge.
The journey across Exmoor on a late March day evaporated into a whirl of fishing talk and tales as Jeff drove us to Wimbleball Lake high on Exmoor. On arrival we were greeted warmly by Trevor Telling who assists Mark and Tracey Underhill in running Wimbleball Lake.
Its just over twelve months since Mark took over running Wimbleball and I am sure that many of the anglers who have visited since will vouch for the Stirling job that Mark and his team have done.
I asked Mark to summarise his feeling after a year running the Lake.
“During our first season it was certainly a surprise to us how many fishermen came to fish at Wimbleball, and that gave us confidence to go on and order the Coulam boats. I don’t think we could have picked a worse year to have started running Wimbleball due to beast of a the east and then that awful fishing summer. But even with that we were very pleased with everything. The lake fished it’s socks off and we only had a few blanks all year, It’s truly a magical lake and I feel very blessed to have taken on the fishing my end goal is make Wimbleball one of the country’s top lakes for cracking quality and the hardest fighting fish any where in the country.”
Trevor Telling is himself a keen angler and is passionate to ensure that all those who visit the Lake enjoy the experience. He shares information freely suggesting where to fish and what flies and tactics are likely to succeed. We chatted at length about trout fishing and fisheries and how important it is to all work together in promoting this wonderful pastime. One issue that Mark and Trevor feel strongly about is the need to encourage young anglers into the sport and to promote this they offer Juniors under 16 the opportunity to fish for free when accompanied by a permit holding adult.
The adoption of a forward thinking catch and release policy has proved very popular with visiting anglers. The sensible catch and release ticket option costs the same as a five fish ticket with the first two fish to be retained ensuring a constant turnover of stock. The angler can enjoy a full days fishing without any worry about bag limits and having to leave when the quota is made.
A blue sky interspersed with white cotton wool clouds, birdsong drifting through the air, fresh green leaves and buds all around. Daffodils, celandines and primroses denote that we are in that delightful yellow phase of spring. Time to go trout fishing!
The bright sunshine and cool North West Breeze would undoubtedly make the trout a little harder to catch but this did little to dent our enthusiasm as we tackled up in the car park close to Bessom’s Bridge.
I threaded the Intermediate line through the rings attached a leader of 8lb b.s Fluro-carbon and put a bead headed black lure on the point with a buzzer pattern on the dropper.
Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce set up with some of Snowbee’s finest kit and elected to start off with a booby on a fast sinking line.
We both walked eagerly to the waters edge and took a few steps out into the gin clear water before extending our lines. And so, the search began in a rhythmic cast and retrieve that is so absorbing. The icy cold water on the fingers, the coolness seeping through waders, the expectation as the line is pulled back through the rod’s rings.
This wonderful vibrant spring landscape is surely all so vital in this quest to connect with the hard fighting trout that live within this other dimension beneath the surface. It’s all so hard to put into words but I can only link the total emersion into this trance like state as the mind set determined during yoga or mindfulness endeavours.
It was mid-morning by the time we started fishing and I am sure that we both expected success early in the day. I persisted with the set up I had started with whilst Jeff continually swapped and changed lines, tactics and flies. After an hour I hooked a rainbow trout that erupted at the end of the line leaping two or three feet into the air in a flurry of spray before racing away at a rate of knots then coming detached from the hook. This frustrating occurrence was to be repeated several times throughout the morning. This at least gave hope that I was doing something right, as Jeff had not even had a pull in the first two hours.
We stopped briefly for lunch resting our arms and assessing the situation. It was apparent that other anglers were also struggling to find the fish as they were constantly moving around searching.
By mid afternoon our spirits had dipped slightly and we decided it was time to try a new area. If nothing else it would give us a change of scenery and fresh hope. We figured that the shallow bay opposite could be worth a try. Whilst several anglers had been fishing there in the morning they had moved on and the area had been rested for a while.
As we walked to the water’s edge there came that welcome ring upon the water that signifies a feeding trout. Jeff put out a long floating line with a Black n’ peacock on the point. First cast came a pull; second cast a bent rod and an acrobatic rainbow. We were both relieved to break the prospect of a blank day and I captured the moment before resuming my own quest for a trout.
A few casts later and I was once again enjoying the thrill of a hard fighting rainbow at the end of the line. Exhilaration once more turned to disappointment as the hook once again lost its hold. I was now however brim full of confidence and expected a take with every cast and It wasn’t long before I was again relishing the battle with one of Wimbleballs hard fighting trout. Each trout seemed to be turbo charged ripping line through the fingers as the rod bent and bucked to the strain.
The next couple of hours saw us hook multiple hard fighting rainbows with black lures fished on an intermediate line highly effective. We don’t know of course whether it was the change of location that had brought success or the trout’s appetite or mood.
The fact that we had eventually unlocked the key to success brought satisfaction, whilst the perfect light as the day faded brought appreciation of the artist in us both. As the sun slowly sank it was difficult to know what mattered most, was it the thrill of hard fighting trout or the capturing of that moment with the camera?
With bare trees silhouetted against the skyline and the mirror of the lake reflecting the glowing embers of the day I hoped that Jeff could seal the moment. As I framed him fishing; a fish seized the fly. The next few minutes we both relished the moments as a hard fighting trout tested the tackle for several minutes before eventually surrendering into the folds of the rubber coated net. The barbless hook slipped easily from the jaws of a stunning wild brown trout. After capturing the moment Jeff let the fish swim away into the cool waters and into our memories.
We packed away, our fingers tingling with the cold water, our feet numbed after hours stood up to our waists in the cool water. As we left enchanting Wimbleball Lake I commented that we would never endure such discomfort during a day at work!
As the road climbed up onto the moor Jeff’s phone sprang into life. The fact that he was due at the pictures at 8.00pm had totally slipped his mind whilst lost in the waters of an angling life.
Its always good to be at the start of a season with those longer spring days and summer evenings still to come. The thrill of rising trout during perfect days beside well stocked waters.
Wimbleball Lake is a large reservoir with a surface area of 374 acres. The dam construction was completed in 1979 and provides water that is distributed by South West Water and Wessex Water. It was run as a trout fishery for many years by South West lakes Trust who downgraded the fishery in 2016. Mark Underhill took on running the lake in 2018 stocking it with quality rainbow trout from Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.
The lake also has a good population of wild brown trout that run to over 6lb.