Blakewell – In prime condition for winter season

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Blakewell Fishery has undergone a major weed-cutting exercise following the long hot summer and is now in prime condition as we enter the cooler months when trout can provide exciting sport. The main road past Blakewell is currently closed but a short detour via Shirwell is well worth it. At this time of year a wide variety of tactics can work with a damsel nymph fished on a long leader a good bet.

(Above & Below)) Weed-cutting machinery in action-

A fine rainbow caught during last years Christmas Competition.

With Christmas coming its a good time to visit the on site tackle shop that has a selection of tackle from West Country based tackle company Snowbee. There is also the opportunity to enjoy a hot coffee and slice of cake.

European Lure Fishing Show 2018

The European Lure Fishing Show 2018 was held at Bristol last weekend and I was fortunate to visit the show with fellow Combe Martin SAC members Nick and Jack Phillips.  This is the second year of the show and after hearing good reports from last year I thought it worth taking a look. The event focus’s on Lure fishing and Fly Fishing with an extensive range of products on display along with talks and demonstrations.

The best side of these shows is undoubtedly the opportunity to meet up with fellow anglers and swap tales with old friends.

We took time to listen to two talks; one on world wide fishing with Dave Lewis of Sea Angler with Dave giving sound advice on chasing those bucket list fish that take anglers to some stunning locations.

The second talk was delivered by Henry Gilbey and was a thought provoking one that revolved around the wearing of life-jackets. Henry told of two young brothers who tragically died whilst fishing off the North Cornish coast. The fact that Henry knew the mark well and that he had intended fishing it that day undoubtedly struck a cord. I know Henry and he is passionate about his fishing and has like most keen sea anglers had a few near misses.

After listening to Henry I visited the Art of Fishing stand and purchased two Crewsaver Buoyancy aids. One for myself and one for my son James. After close to fifty years of fishing I am all to aware of the statistics with anglers drowning every year I ask myself how likely am I to become one of those stats? The life jackets are not cumbersome and after a few minutes you forget you have them on. Why would you not wear one Henry asked? £70 is but a small price to pay if it saves your life?

It was noticeable that very few anglers attended Henry’s talk on safety at sea. I am sure that if Henry had been waxing lyrical about lure fishing  many would have sat hanging on his every word. Health and safety isn’t sexy but it was probably the most important topic on the agenda and most chose to ignore it!

Strangely in all the years I have been fishing on the coast I have given only passing thought to my own safety. Yet I have had nightmares about  fellow anglers being washed into the sea whilst I stand helpless on the shore. What would you say to their nearest and dearest?

Perhaps it is for others that you should don that life saving vest for lets face it if you get washed into the sea on a dark and stormy night without a life jacket your not going to worry for long.

A short film shot in conjunction with the RNLI on the North Devon Coast was a true eye opener as to what happens if you fall into the water wearing waders. I will share the film on my Facebook page when it is released. Take a few moments to watch.

Great to see Mark Underhill present and chatting to enthusiastic anglers about his first season at Wimbleball lake.

(Above) Angling Trust Blogger, Author and angling guide Dominick  Garnett

Wistlandpound Club – Visit to Exe Valley

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members travelled to Exe Valley Fishery to compete for the secretary’s Shield.

The weather forecast gave the rain clearing away by mid morning but on this occasion this proved a little premature as heavy rain persisted for the first couple of hours with the Anchor Lake overflowing into an already swollen River Exe. The wind had however abated from the gale force winds of the previous two days that had been courtesy of storm Callum.

It was relatively mild and trout were rising from the start of the days competition. I started off with a damsel nymph and hooked into a hard fighting rainbow of around 3lb within ten minutes of starting.

A few more follows and takes followed but as is often the case the trout seemed to grow warier as anglers lines splashed upon the water. Noticing several trout rising a couple of yards along the bank I relocated; tied on a daddy longs imitation and fished it very slowly to quickly complete my three fish limit of fish to kill and take. Other members were also catching trout on a regular basis with small imitative patterns outscoring lures.

It was now time to snip off the barbed hooks and go catch and release for the remainder of the day. This proved both fascinating and frustrating for me as I successfully hooked a succession of trout on buzzers and diawl bachs all of them coming detached before reaching the net. This wasn’t really an issue as the most exciting part is hooking the fish and all appeared to be fish between 2lb and 4lb and whilst it is good to get them to the net its not important as it the successful deception that matters in this instance.

By mid afternoon all members had completed their three fish bags and gone on the enjoy some catch and release action.

The competition was won by Dave Mock who weighed in three trout for total of 9lb 14oz. Runner up was Colin Combe with three for 9lb and third myself with three for 8lb 14oz.

4th -Paul Grisley 8lb 12oz

5th – Nigel Bird 8lb

6th David Eldred 6lb 4oz

The trout averaged 3lb for the day with all members taking their allocated quota. The innovative pricing structure combining various options of catch and release and catch and kill gives excellent value depending upon individual preference.  The lake is can now be fished without hindrance from weed and the water remained clear despite the flooded river Exe racing past full of turbidity and flotsam.

PERKS WINS £1000 AT BEST OF THE BEST TROUT FISHING FINAL!

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PERKS WINS £1000 AT BEST OF THE BEST TROUT FISHING FINAL!


Dave Perks from Newquay has won the annual Best of the Best competition at Kennick reservoir near Bovey Tracey in Devon. Dave caught 6 Rainbow Trout for 12lbs 10oz to scoop the £1000 top prize.

The competition which is now in its fifth year is run by South West Lakes Trust, the largest provider of trout fishing in Cornwall and Devon. Snowbee, based in Plympton, who are a leading brand within the trout fishing industry were once again the sole sponsor of the competition.

The competition was held on 7th October at the stunning 50 acre venue which is heavily stocked with Rainbow and Blue trout. Dave’s bag of fish included a fine 4lb 7oz Rainbow. Dave finished runner up in the 2017 final and went one better this time holding off the challenge of Paul Jones from Wadebridge who was runner up for the second successive year. Paul caught 7 Rainbows for 10lb 4oz and collected £400 for his efforts.

Third place, winning £250, was Graham Watts from Bodmin who caught 6 fish for 10lb 3oz.

In total 97 Rainbows were caught by the 35 finalists for a rod average of 2.8 fish per person. There were also some cracking Brown trout caught and released with Chris Bolt managing the largest at 3lb 8oz. Fish were caught by a variety of fly patterns throughout the day.

Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling for South West Lakes Trust commented ‘it was a cracking final and many congratulations to Dave Perks on the win but well done to all anglers on qualifying for the final and a huge thankyou to Snowbee for sponsoring the event. Our Rainbow trout fisheries will be open for everyone to enjoy until the end of November’

Autumn Trout at Blakewell

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As the river season closes its time to start thinking of Stllwater trout to keep in practice.

Its been a challenging summer for still water trout fishery’s and fish farming with high water temperatures and prolific weed growth causing many problems. At Blakewell the Nickel’s have as always endeavored to keep the fishery ticking over offering anglers a special ticket option of an open ticket entitling the angler to keep visiting as many times as they like until their bag limit has been completed. This offer continues until the end of October when normal operation resumes.

Early in October a specialist weed cutting company will be visiting the fishery to eradicate the problematic weed in preparation for the winter season when trout fishing is at its best.

The imminent closure of the Barnstaple to Muddiford Road is no obstacle to visiting Blakewell as a short diversion around Shirwell will only delay arrival by ten minutes.

The lake at present at the end of September has weed covering 50% of the lake but as you can see from these pictures I took today large areas are weed free allowing plenty of water to cast a fly. At this time of year a bushy daddy long legs imitation  will produce exciting takes on most days. A muddler minnow stripped across the surface could also work well as will all the normal buzzers and nymphs. Plenty of trout were showing as I walked around the lake with anglers telling of of browns to over six pounds in recent weeks. If your on holiday and have no tackle with you this is no obstacle to enjoying a day fishing as top quality Snowbee Fly Fishing tackle is available to hire.

Fun fishing is also available for children with a heavily stocked trout pond where children can catch the families supper.

The cafe offers a delightful place to call in for a coffee or cream tea with a tasty looking array of hot for to choose from. On a sunny day sit beside the stock ponds or on  cold day sit beside the wood-burner!

A matter of perspective

A matter of perspective

Fishing is at times a complex pastime full of paradoxes’, dilemmas and moral issues that can stimulate passionate debate. Fly Fishing by its nature is perhaps even more prone to this than other forms of angling though I say this in part because this article is aimed at the Fly Angler. As an all round angler I am far from a fly fishing purist and resist the elitist view that fly fishing is somehow superior to other forms of fishing. Many hold fly-fishing in esteem as a more worthy style of fishing when compared to bait fishing or lure fishing. But where does this view come from?

As a young boy I fished a tiny stream and caught plenty of wild brown trout with buttercup flanks and crimson spots. My chosen technique was a wriggling red worm or pinch of bread flake. It was beside this tiny stream that I learned to read the water and develop that knack of knowing where to cast. Sadly that wonderful stream of my youth is devoid of fish but that’s another story.

As time went by I learnt to cast a fly and find fly-fishing an invaluable string to my angling repertoire. On its day it can be a very effective way to catch fish and on most days I would expect to catch more trout from a small stream armed with a lightweight fly rod than with a pot of worms. It is true that the worm might tempt that big trout living deep in a shady pool or one that has grown large as a result of cannibalistic tendencies but in general the delicate fly fisher will out fish the bait dangler.

When I developed a love for angling literature I delved into classic tomes that told of chalk streams and water meadows. In classic books such as “ A Summer on the Test” by John Waller Hills or “The Book of the Dry Fly” by George A.B Dewar these authors and others of that era were of course members of the upper classes who lived privileged lives that enabled them to cast into the almost sacred waters of the Test and Itchen. It was in these waters where the dogma of Halfords Dry Fly Purist attitudes where born.

I fished the Test once several years ago and whilst it was a costly days fishing I enjoyed every minute of it. I caught on both dry fly and upstream nymph. It was a privilege to fish from manicured banks and tread the path of those with more money than I. I almost used the word wealth at that point but held back for money and wealth are different. The fishing was very enjoyable but in truth not as challenging as I had expected. These were not wily wild fish but stockfish in what has become an artificial fishery like many small Stillwater fly fisheries.

Trout waters are many and the trout within them varied. Each river, lake, loch and reservoir has its own peculiarities and it is this rich variation that gives fishing its fascination. There are different approaches to trout fishing and we as anglers contrive to introduce a complex web of rules and values.

Modern trout fishing has many parallels with society reflecting morals and desire. The put and take trout fisheries that emerged in the late seventies brought an expectation amongst many to get their limit of big trout. As a result prices were driven up as fishery owners tried to cater for the demand for big trout. Anglers measured their success with the size of the fish they caught a plump 10lb or even 20lb rainbow being the dream.

Sadly as time has passed by many anglers have developed unrealistic expectations and have lost sight of the true essence of fly-fishing. Fortunately I see a slow change as many are now seeing the value in wild fish in tumbling brooks and streams. A fishing world in miniature where it is not the size that matters, more the beauty of the quarry and the natural surroundings from which it is caught. The brief admiration of a jeweled trout before it is slipped carefully back into clear water.

There is undoubtedly a place for well-stocked artificial waters and at times it is fun to catch a big stocked trout. It is also exciting to catch stocked rainbows from reservoirs using modern methods but it is surely that moment of delightful deception that is equally thrilling from a rambling brook especially if the whole act can be witnessed in clear and healthy water.

The measuring of fish by sheer size is perhaps that reflection upon society where we want it all bigger better and now. Surely utopia is a day of fishing ahead where there is no rush and all that matters is to momentarily connect with the pulsing life in that world beneath the surface. To put it in monetary terms where lies the best value? A full day wondering the stream for priceless spotted jewels surrounded by natures finest or a dash to catch a limit of stockies in a well kept stew pond?

Wayne Thomas

Big rainbow for Wistlandpound Club member Nigel Bird

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club Members travelled to Wessex Waters Clatworthy Reservoir where members enjoyed a fine days sport with hard fighting rainbow trout that averaged over 2lb. Highlight of the day was the fine rainbow trout of 8lb 6oz caught by Nigel Bird that helped him towards a winning bag of five trout totaling 17lb 15oz. All members caught their limits of five trout with the remaining results below.

Runners up were: Wayne Thomas Five 10lb 10oz and David Eldred 10lb 10oz

Third – Paul Grisley – 10lb    Dave Mock 10lb

Fourth – Colin Combes – 9lb 15oz

I shared a boat with fellow club member Paul Grisley and we both completed our five fish limits before 1:00pm.

(Above)Paul Grisley with a well conditioned Clatworthy rainbow
(Above) Fresh from the water a stunning rainbow of just over 2lb

Autumn is a fine time for reservoir trout fishing with water temperatures starting to drop and fry plentiful in the margins. Its hard to believe that its autumn already. (Below)The reservoirs are showing the result of a  long dry summer that has been a disaster for salmon anglers.

The months of September and October should see some excellent sport enjoyed at reservoirs such as Wimbleball and Clatworthy.

Exe Valley Re-opens

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Nick and Sue Hart announce the reopening of this delightful Fly Fishery close to Dulverton.

Anchor Lake is once again open for fishing.  The fishery have received several inquirers from anglers keen to fish and have therefore opened the doors in time for the weekend. 

Please note that there is weed present in the lake although the algae situation is much improved.  Dry flies and top water tactics will be needed, long leaders tied to goldheads and heavy lures will result in frustration rather than good fishing!

We advise that all anglers check the lake prior to making a decision to purchase a permit (which must be paid for prior to fishing), please see the relevant rules and details regarding the current conditions in the permit hut.  A fresh stocking will take place in time for bank holiday weekend.

(Above) A fin perfect 7lb plus rainbow caught just before the fishery closed due to prolific weed growth triggered by the hot summer.

As cooler air moves in with rain and wind small stillwater’s will start to fish well. A dry daddy long-legs could well be the pattern to try with weed still problematic to anglers who fail to adapt to conditions.

EAT SLEEP AND FISH FOR THE LAST TIME

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I have been sharing Eat Sleep Fish with readers of North Devon Angling News for the past couple of years as it has been an excellent read. Sadly this is the last edition but against modern trends the Editorial Team are launching an exciting new venture in the form of a hard copy magazine entitled Fly Culture that will follow a similar line to the Eat Sleep Fish on-line magazine. I wish the team well in this as I believe there is a place in the market for the hard copy that gives the reader a more traditional product. Whilst I spend many hours at a computer there is something more tangible and rewarding about sitting down and browsing through a  magazine with a cup of coffee or tea.