South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report October 2021

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All of the South West Lakes Trust trout fisheries continue to be operated under strict Covid 19 restrictions, in line with the current Angling Trust and Government guidelines. At the time of writing the on-site permit huts are not open, so day tickets, season tickets, and boats should be pre-booked online (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) or via the telephone. Water levels are currently between 60% and 65% full, and water temperatures have now started to drop.

Kennick – The weather conditions have generally been settled (apart from one short spell of very heavy rain) with a couple of mild sunny weeks toward the end of October, when there have been buzzer hatches and a number of fish showing on the surface. Generally intermediate or sinking lines have accounted for many of the fish caught, either on nymphs (Damsels, Montanas, Diawl Bachs and Buzzers) or lures (Cats Whiskers, Boobies and Baby Dolls), with only the occasional fish rising to a dry Daddy or Orange Hopper. The fish have been well distributed around the lake, although The Narrows and Clampitts Bay proved popular locations for both boat and bank anglers.

Matthew Simpson (from Exeter) caught the best fish of the month – a 4lb 5oz rainbow, using a yellow and white Booby fished on a fast sink line. Graham Roberts (from Torquay) caught a 4lb rainbow from a boat deep down in the middle drifts, while Alan Behan (from Plymouth) caught a bag of five rainbows to 3lb 2oz using various patterns on an intermediate line.

Siblyback – Another challenging month’s fishing at Siblyback, with not much insect life in evidence, and few fish showing, although the occasional fish could be tempted by dry patterns when the wind was low. Buzzers, Pheasant Tail and Montana nymphs fished on intermediate lines produced the best results, with some deeper lying fish taking Baby Dolls and Black and White Fritz patterns. Crylla Bay, Stocky Bay and the West Bank were the most productive locations. The best fish caught varied between 2lbs and 3lbs – Phil Messenger-Roberts (from St Austell) caught a 2lb 9oz rainbow, while William Brown caught two rainbows of 2lb 8oz.

Burrator – Although there has been little insect activity and few fish showing on the surface, apart from the occasional evening rise to midge hatches, anglers have still favoured floating lines fished in conjunction with a wide variety of nymph patterns (Damsels, Montanas, Buzzers, Diawl Bachs and Bloodworms being the most popular). Longstone, Sheepstor, Discovery Bay and Pig Trough Bay were the most productive locations, with most fish being caught by bank anglers. Robert Prout (from Plymouth) caught the best fish of the month – a 3lb 2oz rainbow caught using a floating line and 18’ leader. Sam Brown (from Plymouth) caught two rainbows of 2lb and 3lb.

Stithians – The fish have been well spread out around the lake, with anglers catching fish in most locations (Yellowort and Mossopps in particular). Floating and intermediate lines have been the most successful, with the fish still feeding near the surface – toward the end of the month in particular, there was plenty of insect activity and fish feeding from the surface, when dry sedges, daddies, emergers, beetles and hoppers all produced good catches; otherwise, slow-fished nymphs (Damsels, Diawl Bachs and Buzzers) proved to be successful. Phil Messenger-Rogers (from St Austell) caught rainbows to 2lb 4oz, while Simon Peters (from Cusgarne) caught ten rainbows to 2lb in two visits, and John Hedges (from Falmouth) caught three rainbows to 2lb.

Colliford – The fish are still near the surface and looking up to feed, although sometimes the rises have been sporadic, with short bursts of activity. As usual at Colliford, the fish are well spread out, and the successful angler keeps on the move to cover as much bank as possible. Hoppers, Beetles, Daddies, Black Gnats and Sedges have been popular surface patterns, while sub-surface feeders have taken Hares Ears, Montanas, Soldier Palmers and Diawl Bachs. Dean Boucher (from Gunnislake) caught five browns to 2lb 8oz (best fish of the season at Colliford) using Foam Beetles and Red Hoppers, and another brown of 2lb 4oz on a separate visit; Chris Tilyard (from Fraddon) caught three browns to 38cm.

Fernworthy – The fish have generally been near the surface, so floating lines with a long leader have been the order of the day with dry patterns working well (Black Gnats, Grey Wulffs, Klinkhammers and Hoppers in particular). Otherwise slow-fished sub-surface nymphs (Damsels, Diawl Bachs, Buzzers and Montanas) have proved successful, with fish well spread out around the lake. Clive Garland (from Tiverton) caught five browns to 36cm using a Balloon Caddis with a slow retrieve; Howard Thresher (from Crediton) caught six browns to 35cm using a floating line and static/slow retrieve.

Roadford – Daveys Bank, Wortha Bay and Grinnacombe have proved to be the most productive locations this month, with a floating line and a variety of retrieval methods producing the best results. Dries (Daddy Longlegs, Foam Beetles), Nymphs (Pheasant Tails, Buzzers, Damsels and Hares Ears), and Lures (Appetisers and Black Tadpoles) all caught fish. The best fish caught during the month was a cracking 3lb 8oz brown caught by Michael John Tregoning (from Wadebridge), while John Isaac (from Newquay) caught a bag of five browns to 3lb 4oz.

Please visit the South West Lakes Trust website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for details on ticket prices, fishery information, clubs, competitions, and boat availability.

Chris Hall (October 2021)

http://www.swlakesfishing.co.uk

BULLDOG -BIG TROUT FOR THE NEW SEASON

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As temperatures drop and the days grow shorter the smaller stillwater trout fisheries offer exciting sport. Bulldog fishery near Barnstaple are building a reputation for quality hard fighting trout that are regularly stocked into double figures.

(Above) Tom Early stocks the latest trout in Bulldog fisheries trout lake.

“Summers out, big fish in! A few of the many fish we stocked in the fly lake here at Bulldog today! Ranging from 2lb- 10lb we think the anglers in the weeks to come will be very happy with the lumps that will be coming out!”

OLD FISHERS UNITED

Friendships are a vital part of angling and it is always great to maintain those long lasting bonds with a trip to the water’s edge. Garry, Rob, Ray and I were once part of South West Waters Game Fishing Team who travelled the length and breadth of England fishing in the annual Water Industry Game Fishing Competition (WIGFIC). We have tried to maintain the tradition of an annual fly fishing trip ever since our participation in the event ceased several years ago.

After a long lull due partially to COVID the Old Fisher Farts set off for a weekend at Wimbleball Lake staying at the delightful old Exmoor pub The George at Brompton Regis.

We assembled at the ticket hut at around 8:30am and cooked up an open air breakfast of sausage and bacon sarnies before heading out to cast our lines. Rob and I for the shoreline and Garry and Ray to the boats to be greeted by the ever helpful Trevor.

Conditions seemed ideal with a gentle breeze and light cloud cover. Despite this the trout proved hard to tempt with just a couple of hard fighting rainbows and wild browns succumbing to my lures fished on an intermediate line.

We met up at lunch time for another fry up and a chat.

Garry had managed a couple of rainbows but Ray and Rob had yet to catch. Spirits were still high despite the uncooperative trout and we set off refreshed and eager. With me joining Ray in the boat whilst Garry enjoyed a few hours on the bank.

The afternoon drifted past with me adding another couple of rainbows to the tally along with a beautiful wild brown of around a pound. Mid-afternoon Ray hooked a good rainbow that to my alarm caused him to almost stumble overboard! I think Garry added another rainbow to the score from the bank whilst Rob remained fishless.

As the sun slowly sank we headed back to the pub for a well-earned meal and a pint or two. Back in the early 1990’s we had been part of a winning team securing overall victory in the WIGFIC competition held at Wessex Waters Sutton Bingham Reservoir near Yeovil. In the intervening years since we have fished many times without repeating that victory. Back then as young men working in the Water Industry we undoubtedly  talked a far different agenda. Close to thirty years later we discuss our medications and ailments and have more in common with the elderly gents in “The Last of The Summer Wine” and suffer occasional bouts of Victor Meldrew like grumpiness! The tales of days and colleagues some long gone bounced across the pub table. Memories of younger days rekindled once again.

In years gone by evenings in the pub would have endured into the early hours with last orders signalling close of play. These days catching the end of News at Ten signals a late night!

Next morning when we arrived lakeside where the lake was hidden in dense early morning mist. A bright calm sunny day was forecast so we suspected that the fishing would be even more difficult. Admiring the morning splendour as we chugged out on calm waters having elected to use boats. Catching trout seemed to be secondary as the new day dawned and a brilliant blue sky was unveiled, trees emerging from the mist dissolving in the warmth of the rising sun.

The tree shrouded Upton Arm of Wimbleball Lake is one of my favourite areas to fish. We resumed the days fishing searching the water with various lures. The morning proved frustrating with numerous good trout following the flies before turning away tantalisingly close to the boat.

By late morning Rob and I met with Garry and Ray to discuss tactics and decided on a move to the far end of the lake where we had enjoyed some success the previous  day. We also knew that a fresh stocking had been made in the area so hoped a few uneducated fish would grant us success.

In the shallows we found the trout attacking fry sending tiny fish scattering to break the calm waters surface. Casting into the shoreline I tempted a small brown trout and secured a hard fighting rainbow. Rob also hooked a good fish that threw the hook  after a pleasing encounter. Retrieving lures briskly with a roly-poly retrieve brought several follows from some impressive looking trout including a blue trout that looked a good five pound plus. A few brief hook ups kept us casting until we eventually conceded defeat at around 6:30pm the sun slowly setting to close what had been a magnificent autumn day.

Our lack of catching was certainly nothing to do with a lack of trout in the lake for the stocking of Wimbleball is regular and often with fin perfect rainbows that will take you to the backing. Large waters like Wimbleball are my favourite trout waters for success is sometimes hard earned but all the more rewarding for that.

Once again we resumed tales of bygone days at the pub that evening. Eagerly plotting future forays and discussing the state of the world.

After a delicious Full English on the Sunday morning, we set off for home another collection of memories etched upon our minds. The Old Fisher Farts will hopefully reunite in the spring of 2022.

Last casts of the season

After a long dry late summer and early autumn the rains have arrived swelling the local rivers into a dirty torrent. On the last day of the salmon season following rain earlier in the week the rivers had started to drop. I took my rod to the Middle Torridge and swung the fly more to say goodbye to season as in expectation of catching.

The river was at a good height but visibility was no more than 6″. I put on a big orange tube fly in the hope that it could be seen. The water was dark and turbid and rain beat down. The Bankside trees and vegetation showed little sign of the changing season. I savoured the sights of the river bank, the invasive Himalayan balsam has spread widely in some areas. Its pink flowers added colour, water droplets shone like jewels upon  seed heads that popped as I walked past. Rose hips added a splash of colour as persistent rain beat down on this grey final day of what has been a disappointing season. In a few days the river will have fined down and will hopefully be full of salmon and sea trout forging up river to spawn high up on the redds.

Rose hips add a splash of colour on the dullest of days.

We are living in strange times the ash trees suffering from ash die back some already dead and cut into lengths. Nature will heal of course I read recently of the loss of the nations elm trees during the dutch elm disease outbreak during the  60’s and seventies when an estimated 25.000,000 elm trees perished in the UK.

It is hard to believe that another season has passed by and for me a season without a salmon. As an all-round angler there is much to look forward to as autumn arrives and I will be torn as to where to cast my line. Until the wild daffodils once again decorate the banks I will no longer cast in hope of silver.

A Day with the Fluff Chuckers

The calm expanse of Chew Valley Lake on an Autumn morning is an inspiring location to start a day if you are an angler. I have fished this renowned water on numerous occasions with mixed success but always relish the challenge that it provides. The water renowned for its huge pike brings a mixed response for as with all famous waters it brings with it the politics and traits of human nature born of egos and a desire to succeed.

I first fished the water for pike during the season it first opened to this branch of the sport and remember those early trips with fondness. Early morning breakfasts in the Lodge prior to loading the boats with tackle. The room packed with the big names of the day; legends of the pike and specimen angling world.

Even then the fishing wasn’t always easy despite the headlines in the angling press. Plenty of twenties, lots of thirties and even a few forties. These fish made the news but nobody read of the blank sessions that demoralised those who went to the lake expecting the fish of their dreams.

The seasoned specimen hunter eagerly spent hours on the phone trying to secure a day on the water that is presently run by Bristol Water. In those days there was a certain amount of friction between the trout fishers and the pikers. Fortunately, I think those days have to some extent gone as the angling world contracts and different disciplines to some extent diverge.

I had joined an online Facebook Group named the Fluff Chucker’s after speaking with my good friend Bruce Elston who is like me an all-round angler and occasional fly fisher. A species competition at Chew Valley Lake armed with the Fly Rods sounded fun so I messaged Bruce and suggested we give it a try.

And so, we found ourselves at Chew Valley Lake as the morning mist lifted from the water and low cloud hung in the autumn sky. An eager group of anglers assembled tackle and climbed into the flotilla of boats. The lakes surface was mirror calm with barely a breath of wind.

The boats headed off to various areas of the water as anglers used their intimate knowledge of the lake or followed their instincts. Bruce and I were somewhere between the two as we had both fished the lake on numerous occasions and knew the topography well.

We spent the first hour exploring the deep water in front of the Lodge hoping for a perch or trout without success. Deciding that we should get a pike under our belts we headed off to fish the shallower weedy areas where we expected to find the pike.

Casting a big pike fly into the vast waters of Chew Valley Lake is always filled with expectation and hope. The fish of dreams dwell within and each cast has the potential to connect so it is always particularly thrilling when the line draws tight as a pike hits the fly.

It only took a few casts before that exhilarating pull came as a jack hit the fly giving a spirited tussle before sliding over the rim of Bruce’s capacious net.

Pike came steadily to our flies throughout the day. I used a large black lure with marabou that pulsed tantalizingly as it was retrieved. Bruce swapped and changed using various pike fly patterns tempting several pike throughout the day. To be honest I’m not too convinced the choice of fly is that important when targeting pike. I just persist with a fly I have confidence in hoping I drop it in front of a feeding pike. Depth, speed of retrieve probably more important than the actual pattern?

We ended up sharing a haul of eight pike between us nothing over 5lb but good fun.

The trout proved harder to tempt. Bruce had a rainbow chase a large white pike fly which inspired me to try stripping a white cat’s whisker. Bang! A hard fighting rainbow trout of just under 3lb.

A steady stream of posts appeared on the phones telling of big pike and a few rainbows. The thought of that big pike lurking in wait somewhere kept us fishing hard until the competition closed at close to 5:30pm.

By now I think most anglers knew the result. The biggest pike caught was an impressive 28lb. Many thanks to Rodney Wevill, Jethro Binns, Bristol Water and Orvis for putting the event together.

Wimbleball – Fine bag

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Andy Facey enjoyed a spot of Wimbleball trout action putting together a fine bag of hard fighting rainbows weighing 5lb 2 oz , 4lb 12oz , 3lb 12oz , 3lb 6oz and  2lb 8oz all on black and peacock spider.

The coming Autumn should see some spectacular sport at this venue as the trout feed hard as temperatures start to drop as the season changes. A wide range of tactics can work from lures to dry flies.

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.