Fly Fishing enthusiasts from across the South West and beyond gathered at Roadford on March 6th for the popular Fly Fair. After a two year gap due to COVID the event was rejuvenated with an overwhelming sense of joy at a return to a sort of normal.
The event organised by South West Lakes Trust is an invaluable show case for Fly Fishing providing a platform for companies to display their products and more importantly for anglers and lovers of the waterside to mingle generating firm plans for the coming season.
When I arrived home after a day chatting to fellow anglers my mind was buzzing with talk of flies, presentation, tackle, fish and the waters in which they swim along with the extensive environmental challenges. I will try to give a brief account of the day but would urge all who love fly fishing to attend next year.
Thanks must go to South West Lakes Trusts Dil Singh, technical lead for game fishing who organised the event along with his dedicated team. The event was opened by the Fairs patron Charles Jardine who gave a warm welcome stressing how vital angling is to us all during these challenging times. The fairs main sponsor was Chevron Hackles.
Charles delivered a fascinating Fly Casting demonstration later in the day. This was delivered with his normal repertoire of humour with clear inspiring instruction illustrated with a few tales from the waters edge. To watch Charles cast is a true reflection of how an expert makes a task look so easy and effortless. The bitter cold North-East wind was conquered as he both mastered the conditions and captivated the audience.
The basic principle to learn about fly fishing was the importance of relaxing and being at one with the rod and line.
Amongst the fly fishing topics covered were trout, pike and salmon. A rather sad observation made by Charles was that today salmon fishing consisted of plenty of casting practice with the vague chance of catching once a year. This is rather a poignant statement that to my mind very much describes the state of West Country salmon fishing!
Charles ended his demonstration by casting a fly line using a broomstick!
Retreating to the warmth of the conference centre there was an abundance of Fly fishers to engage with and discuss the wonderful places we share and the issues that we feel so passionate about.
The environment was high on the agenda with members of the fish pass team present to discuss the many miles of water available across the South West via their fishpassapp.co.uk The invasive species stand gave valuable information about how anglers can reduce the inadvertent distribution of species by cleaning and drying waders and nets between trips.
Several Fly Fishing groups and associations were well represented with Burrator Fly Fishing Association, Kennick Fly Fishers, Siblyback Fly fishers and Stithians in attendance along with the Pike Fly Fishing Association. Apologies to those I have undoubtedly failed to mention.
Snowbee Tackle were well represented by Simon Kidd and one of their ambassadors Jeff Pearce who mingled with the many angler’s present discussing the finer points of Fly fishing.
It was a delight to catch up with so many friends that share my passion for fishing. The planning of future forays at such social gatherings is undoubtedly vital for the future of fly fishing and it is very clear to see how valuable quality time at the water’s edge is for our mental health and well-being.
Pete Tyjas is editor of Fly Culture magazine a publication that provides a brilliant and inspiring read incorporating quality writing on fly fishing from across the globe. Pete also produces the excellent Fly Culture podcast that makes for fascinating listening on those long drives to fishing destinations. www.flyculturemag.com
It is always good to catch up with John Aplin Managing director at Casterbridge fisheries Limited. I have been very fortunate to visit Johns wonderful stretch of the River Frome in Dorset and even catch some of the marvellous grayling that swim within the clear waters of this tranquil chalkstream. http://www.casterbridgefisheries.co.uk
I was introduced to Nigel Nunn from Kent who has turned his hobby into a full time job.
Nigel is now a full time Fly Tier crafting flies that are intended to catch trout and not anglers. Nigel is a frequent visitor to the South West with his wife Julia who shares his love of fly fishing. Since becoming a full time fly tier Nigel overcame the challenge of impaired vision after developing cataracts on his eyes. Working with fellow anglers Nigel creates flies to imitate the wild insects hatching across the country. He explained how he receives orders from across the country reflecting the timing of fly hatches that move through the rivers of the land generally from South to North.
Luke Bannister builds high quality split cane fly rods for the connoisseur who delights in the qualities of split cane as a tool to deliver the fly. Luke relishes fishing for wild brown trout that abound in West Country rivers.
Rodney Wevill is vice chairman of the Pike Fly Fishing Association and a keen member of the Facebook group fluff chucker’s. Rodney is a keen fly fishing devotee who targets a wide range of species beyond pike.
Rodney has enjoyed success with that most elusive of fish the grey mullet. I expressed my own frustrations at chasing these fish with the fly. Catching mullet on bait is often difficult enough without complicating matters. Rodney and his good friend discussed the intricacies of stalking these mesmerising fish using small flies to imitate their natural food.
Shallow water and feeding fish being the key. This summer will once again see me wading in the shallow clear water of summer following wise words of encouragement from Rodney and his good friend Gary Brazier.
Alan Riddell’s stand with an impressive range of flies
I spent several hours at this year’s fly fair and left buoyed with optimism for the future of Fly Fishing. The challenge for the future is of course to encourage more young participants. Angling has undoubtedly received a boost as many have discovered its true value whilst escaping from COVID induced lockdowns etc. In these increasingly dark times solace can often be found at the waters edge. The ability to wander free with a rod and line is without doubt an experience to both cherish and share.
2022 Trout Fisheries Prices
|Trout Fishery||Season Dates||Day Ticket||Concessionary
|Catch & Release
|Evening Ticket||Under 18
Under 18 Bag Limit
|Burrator||12th March – 30th November||£21.00||£19.00||5||£15.50||£14.50||Free with paying adult||2|
|Colliford||15th March – 12th October||£17.00||£15.50||4||n/a||£11.00||Free with paying adult||2|
|Fernworthy||15th March – 12th October||£17.00||£15.50||4||n/a||£11.00||Free with paying adult||2|
|Kennick||12th March – 30th November||£27.50||£25.00||5||£20.00||£19.00||Free with paying adult||2|
|Roadford||15th March – 12th October||£17.00||£15.50||4||n/a||£11.00||Free with paying adult||2|
|Siblyback||12th March – 30th November||£25.00||£22.50||5||£20.00||£17.50||Free with paying adult||2|
|Stithians||12th March – 30th November||£21.00||£19.00||5||£15.50||£14.50||Free with paying adult||2|
|Wistlandpound||15th March – 12th October||£11.00||n/a||2||n/a||n/a||Free with paying adult||2|