Dan Spearman enjoyed a session on the spectacular River East Lyn tempting a dozen of the rivers wild brown trout. The fish were tempted on nymph and dry fly tactics. The wild brown trout of the Lyn are surely amongst the most beautiful in the West Country. Dan was delighted to report that there was an abundance of fly life on the river during the evening he fished. The Lyn tumbles through moorland and wooded gorges and its water quality is not impacted by the intensive farming practices that blight many other West Country Rivers.
Many thanks to Dan for allowing me to use his stunning images.
Adrian Kruger enjoyed a cracking day at Bulldog Fishery catching a stunning brace of Brown trout weighing 14lb 2oz and 8lb 8oz part of a five fish haul from the day ticket trout fishery just outside Barnstaple.
Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Bratton Water for their monthly competition and all those attending caught their three fish limit despite challenging conditions. It was a beautiful day to be beside the water but a bright blue sky and crystal clear water are always likely to prove difficult. The margins were alive with tadpoles, lush greenery all-around the occasional mayfly hatching. A perfect day in early May; is there a better place to be than England in late spring?
The trout could be seen cruising slowly just beneath the surface with the occasional fish slurping down surface flies. Shortly after arriving I dropped a goldhead PTN on the nose of a cruising trout that took the fly without hesitation. A pleasing brown trout of over 2lb. This proved to be the exception for I failed to get another take for a couple of hours.
A fresh stocking of trout were introduced whilst we were fishing. I did not move to this area for a while but eventually moved to the half of the lake that had been stocked. With the help of polaroid glasses I observed a shoal of freshly stocked trout and dropped the PTN into their midst. There was a swirl on the first drop and on the second connection with a rainbow of around 1lb 8oz. I fished on in this spot for 15 minutes or so but the trout appeared to have wised up taking no notice of the fly.
By now my fellow members had bagged up fishing from the dam. I decided to move and drop my fly amongst a fresh selection of trout. A couple of casts and couple of follows then a good brown turned, the white of its mouth showing as the stillwater dinkhammer moved ( dry fly indicator) I lifted the rod and watched the trout react in the clear water. After a spirited tussle the fish was safely in the net.
It was time to weigh in.
Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – May Competition Result
A cool South West wind ruffled the surface of Wistlandpound and mist descended upon the tree lined perimeter as I waded out into the lake. I had left the rod set up since my last visit with a black tadpole on the point and small black pennel variant on a dropper. I commenced to search the water and after ten minutes hooked into my first brown trout of the evening a valiant scrapper of perhaps 10″. This was only a short session but proved to a good one. During the next hour I banked ten trout up to 12″ and on one cast even managed a brace with one on each fly.
I wondered if the rudd would still be present in the shallow inlet and wandered up for a cast or two. Six rudd later I returned to the trout area and added another brownie to the total as the light faded from the day.
The following morning I decided to head for a short session on the Torridge once again targeting brown trout as with river levels now very low there was little chance of a salmon.
It was a delight to be wading in the cool waters with lush green growth all around. I started out with a new Zealand style set up and hooked a brown trout of perhaps 8oz after a few casts but it came adrift after a brief tussle.
It was good to see plenty of fry darting about in the margins and a few toad tadpoles. I was hoping to spot a few rising fish but they were very few and far between. At the top of the beat I changed over to a pair of nymphs and tried drifting these over promising lies to no avail. With only a short time left a few fish started to rise and I hastily changed over to a dry fly. I flicked the fly into the streamy run where I had spotted the rising fish. A glance at the time and I realised that my time was almost up. One more cast… a splashy rise and I was into a 12″ brownie to save a blank session.
One of the joys of fly fishing is the lack of preparation required. Just pick up the rod and head to the waters edge.
As I walked down to the dam at Wistlandpound I was surprised to see just how low the reservior was so early in the season. After a long dry spring and a relatively dry winter it will need a lot of rain to regain the levels with water pumped from the River Bray near Challacombe.
This was only a short session that was to prove far more productive than I expected. I tied a small black lure on the point and black spder pattern to a dropper. Walking to the point on the West Bank I started putting out a line and started a slow retrieve. After each cast I took a step to my right planning to cover plenty of water. After half a dozen casts I was encouraged by a boil on the surface as a fish swirled at the fly without connecting.
A few cast later came a solid tug as I connected with a brown trout that gave a spirited account spending plenty of time leaping high out of the water before coming to hand. During the next 45 minutes another five trout followed all pristine looking fish of around 10″.
I decided to walk to the far end close to the inlet to see if any rudd were showing. After a couple of casts another brown trout siezed the fly and was brought protesting to Hand. I caught sight of swirls close to the weeds and put the flies into the area. The line pulled tight and I lifted into my first rudd of the season. During the next thirty minutes a dozen or so rudd were brought to hand. These were beautiful fish the light bouncing off their scales and fins glowing red. Th size of the rudd was encouraging with the average size bigger than those caught last year. The best was around 12oz and I have heard runours of fish well over 1lb.
I walked briskly back to the car after a short but rewarding session.
The river was running low and clear as I threaded the line through the rings tying one of Nigel Nunn’s scruffy dry fly creations to a fine leader. It was a cool calm overcast evening and no fish appeared to be rising as I watched the water.
Lambs pranced in the fields, spring flowers lined the banks and birdsong filled the air. With life throwing a few challenges the river gave a welcome relief as I waded carefully into the clear water. I was using a light weight Snowbee classic rod and flicked the dry fly up stream focusing on the buoyant fly as it alighted and drifted down.
I have never enjoyed a great deal of success casting into calm still pools on these small rivers with fish far more liable to slip up in the streamy fast water at the pool’s heads or deeper runs.
Searching the water as I waded and scrambled as stealthily as I could upstream; a true tonic fully focussing the mind upon the moment. The bushy fly bobbed buoyantly and I was heartened to raise a couple of smallish trout that I failed to connect with. Threading the back cast between overhanging branches proved challenging at times but tangles were few and my rhythm felt good as the fly alighted repeatedly in promising spots.
The living river valley filled the senses, wild garlic in full flower its pleasing scent released from time to time as it was crushed underfoot. Carpets of bluebells beneath the trees with vivid fresh green starting to show. Ferns were unfurling and bird song drifted across the valley with activity all around as parent birds searched for food.
I had covered perhaps half a mile of water when I flicked the fly into a streamy run.
A swirl on the surface, a flick of the wrist and that delightful connection. The light rod pulsed in my hand as the fish fought in the strong current. I relished the moments and was thrilled when the fish was safely pulled over the rim of the net. I admired its spotted flanks, slipping the barbless fly from its jaws grabbed a picture of a 12” beauty, holding the fish for a moment in the flow.
It disappeared with a flick of its tail, gone from whence it had come a vision etched upon the minds eye.
I continued my search for another half an hour before walking back to the car as the evening light began to fade. I glanced under the old bridge and thought about exploring the river below next time.
The western sky glowed pink over the horizon as I drove home and I thought of the coast and casting a lure to bass in the fading light or maybe waiting for a smoothound to scream away.
Chay Boggis had a feeling that a trip to the river would be worthwhile and headed for the Weir Marsh and Brightly beats on the Taw. Thinking that the rain although not enough to make the the river rise if there’s fish in the pools its enough to get them to take the fly.. “Absolutely buzzing to have hooked this 13lb spring fish on my little 7 weight switch rod what a scrap.”
After a successful trip to Wistlandpound last week and reports of good sport from other anglers I headed back to the reservoir again. On arrival I met up with Fluff Chucker Rodney Wevill who had travelled up from his home close to Launceston. It was good to meet up with Rodney on his first visit to the picturesque water close to my home in North Devon. We chatted fishing on our way to the water and I was able to give a quick run down of the waters history since I started fishing it in the late 1970’s.
Starting on the South Bank of the lake we commenced putting out a line on the water. We both connected with hard fighting browns within five minutes and admired their spotted flanks and varied hues. I was using a small black lure on the point with a black spider pattern on the dropper. The fish were hitting the point fly and a slow retrieve seemed to be the favoured approach.
Rodney hooked a cracking fish that came off close to the net whilst I was pleased to bring a pristine fish of around 10″ to hand.
Martins swooped above the lake and birdsong filled the air. It really felt that spring had arrived at last after weeks of predominantly North and East winds.
We fished an enjoyable session with Rodney catching eleven browns to just under 1lb. I managed eight fish the best a stunning trout of 15″, Its buttercup flanks dotted with spots of brown, black and crimson.
These fish though small by commercial fishery standards are a delight to catch offering truly wild fishing at a very reasonable cost. Day Tickets are £11.00 from
When my good friend Steve Dawe expressed an interest in fly fishing for pike it seemed a good idea to arrange a trip to that mecca of pike fishing Chew Valley Lake. This large expanse of water in Somerset has a well-deserved reputation for producing huge pike. It is also a water that has shattered more dreams than it has made for its rewards are not always easily won.
It’s a venue I love to visit when I get the chance though rising fuel costs are certainly a cause for concern when travelling outside of North Devon in search of fish. We seemed to have struck it lucky when we arrived at the Lodge to look over a flat calm lake. The previous two days had seen all boats cancelled as a result of strong to gale force Northerly winds.
Early April is perhaps a little early to target the pike on the fly as they will still potentially be recovering from spawning. May is probably the best month before weed growth and high water temperatures put paid to pike on the fly until September when the water starts to cool again.
We were encouraged by reports of a few pike seen in the weedy margins and decided to head to these areas first. I have enjoyed some success in the past targeting pike on the fly and tend to stick to the flies I have confidence in. Medium sized black lures with perhaps a bit of lure flash added.
Confidence is key to enjoying fly fishing, especially pike fishing with the fly. The allure of Chew is that you know that the next cast could bring the fish of your dreams. Thirty pound plus pike are present with twenty pounders likely. The reality is of course that the majority of pike caught will be jacks. These give exciting sport and help to maintain that interest.
In the first hour the pike were certainly feeding with several hits that resulted in a nice jack to get Steve off the mark. I hooked and lost one and had several follows. Moving into deeper water we had several fish follow the fly to within a few feet of the boat. Some of these were good fish certainly upper doubles maybe bigger. Steve added a second jack to the tally.
By mid-morning the takes dried up a bit and we searched the lakes known hotspots. Each area brought a hit or follow with good sized trout also attacking the large flies from time to time. We both had a brief interlude with the trout gear but our hearts were not in chasing trout we wanted a big pike and soon returned to casting the big flies despite aching arms.
The weather seemed to be going through all seasons with calm conditions early changing to cold and windy later in the day with a brief shower that abated as soon as we got our coats on.
By late afternoon I was starting to contemplate a blank session. I still believed though and persisted. Each move brought a little hope that we could find that big pike that was on the feed.
At just after 5.00pm after eight hours of constant casting I put the boat into a reed fringed bay and put out another cast. The line was jerked savagely tight the rod hooping over and the water surface erupted in a flurry of spray. The pike looked far bigger in the water than the scales would tell. At 12lb 8oz it was no monster but it was reward enough for a long hard day of persistence. Steve captured the image in the late afternoon sun and we fished on for another hour before deciding to pack up with a long drive home ahead of us.
Back at the Lodge we chatted with trout anglers who had been practicing for a big competition over the weekend. They had caught several pike on buzzers whilst fishing for trout. Perhaps we should have scaled down on our big flies! We will hopefully be back in a few weeks when the waters have warmed up a little.