WINTER PERFECTION

The trees were stark and dark looming out of the mist as night gave way to day. The line was punched out and allowed to settle the lures sinking slowly in the clear water. I began the retrieve attempting to impart life into the two flies. The cool water stung the fingers as I settled into the rhythm of fly fishing for Stillwater trout.

After five minutes the line drew tight with an electrifying tug and for a magical moment there was life on the line. It was short lived however the hooks failing to find a grip.

This brought the essential ingredient of anticipation to the hunt for a trout. The following fifteen minutes or so resulted in several missed takes but no actual hook ups.

I became immersed in the search relishing the cool fresh air, the ever changing light on the water and glimpses of birds upon the lake. Cool rain was driven by the Southwest wind but I hardly noticed as I focussed on the line as it entered the water expectant of that connection with life beneath in an unseen dimension.

After a quiet half an hour I moved fifty yards along the bank and restarted my quest. The line drew tight and life once again pulsed at the end of the line. After a pleasing tussle a handsome brown trout of close to 2lb was brought to the net and admired briefly before being slipped back to disappear with a flick of its tail. Another brown trout equally handsome followed a couple of casts later; half the size of the first.

After an hour without further success the nagging doubts began to set in prompting a move. Once again I cast out into the lake ever expectant. I watched anglers on the far bank and wondered how they were faring? I changed flies, small lures, large lures, small imitative patterns, slow retrieve, fast retrieve, erratic, smooth, deeper and shallower. This is the fascination of fly fishing on a large wind swept Stillwater. Whilst the trout are stocked the fishing has a feeling of wildness that is not experienced in the smaller commercial trout fisheries.

Location is of course vital in the search for success and after three hours without a winter rainbow I decided to move to the far bank. I walked back to the van, broke down the rod; loaded the gear and drove to the next car park.

A hot coffee from the flask and I set off to fish a new area with renewed optimism. I waded out and punched the line out across the lake. A stiff breeze was blowing and the water felt cool as I stood waist deep. It was now early afternoon and I sensed that the best of day had passed. Suddenly the line zipped tight and the rod hooped over as a hard fighting rainbow threw itself into the air. It was a relief to get a rainbow on the bank a pristine fish of a couple of pounds.

I fished on with  renewed expectation and was soon rewarded as a heavy pull resulted in connection with a super fit rainbow that took the line almost to the backing. The rod was hooped over as I relished the moments as the fish shook its head on a tight line making repeated powerful runs. After several tense minutes the rainbow was coaxed over the waiting net. Four and a half pounds of fin perfect perfection was given the last rites and laid to rest beside the other rainbow.

The winter sun eventually broke through illuminating the landscape. Shots from a nearby shoot drifted across the lake. I fished on content with success and was delighted when once again the line drew tight and a third prime conditioned rainbow was brought to the net after another exciting tussle.

The sun was now sinking closer to the hill tops and I decided to head for home after an exciting and rewarding days fishing. Wimbleball remains open until New Year’s Eve and is well worth a visit. I look forward to returning at the end of February at the start of a new season. Many thanks must go to Mark and Trudi Underhill for providing what is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of South West trout fishing. Its not always easy but those rainbows are true piscatorial perfection!

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Winter Challenge Bratton Water

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – Visited Bratton Water for the first of their Winter Challenge series and enjoyed some good sport in the calm conditions. The day started off with the fishery shrouded in mist before autumn sunshine broke through bringing the fish onto the feed.

1st – Andre Muxworthy – 3 fish – 9lb 2.5oz

2nd – Paul Grizley – 3 Fish – 6lb 14oz

3rd – Nigel Bird – 3 Fish 5lb 15oz

BIGGEST SALMON OF THE SEASON

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Experienced Taw rod Roger Bickley has caught his biggest salmon and the best of the season so far. The huge fish measuring 39″ and estimated at 22lb was tempted from a middle Taw beat using a stoats tail variant tied on a size 6 single hook. Roger described the large cock fish as having its flanks shaded in colours of autumn with a large kype indicating that it had been in the river for some time. The fish was undoubtedly stimulated by a slight rise in the water following isolated thunder storms at the weekend. The fish took around twenty minutes to land making several powerful runs that tested Roger’s 12lb leader to the full. After a few minutes of cradling carefully in the rivers flow the mighty fish gave a kick of its tail and swam strongly away. Hopefully this fine fish will be spawning on the redds high on Exmoor before Christmas as anglers sit beside log fires recalling tales of seasons past.

Len Francis also enjoyed success lower down river landing a 4lb grilse from the day-ticket Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats near Umberleigh. Tickets are available from Ivan Huxtable on 01769540835 or call into the Rising Sun at Umberleigh and speak with Jules.

IMG_5374Roger Bickley fishing the Middle Taw

Rising Sun

BRATTON FLEMING CRICKETS BIG FISH OFF

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Close to twenty members of Bratton Fleming Cricket club descended upon the normally tranquil waters of Bratton Water Trout Fishery for what will undoubtedly become an annual event. A mixture of experienced fly Fishers and first timers enjoyed the event that was blessed with warm summer sunshine. In the clear water small imitative patterns proved most successful with a gold headed pheasant tail nymph responsible for the demise of several of Bratton Waters hard fighting residents.

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On arrival at the fishery I found experienced local trout fisherman and Bratton Water regular Glyn Rees who had enjoyed a good day at the water landing four brown trout to 4lb targetting the fish using dry fly tactics.

Whilst the fishing fraternity cast their offerings to the lakes trout the remaining members of the Cricket club prepared the BBQ and played a primitive form of cricket using bats made from old sticks. Others watched the anglers and helped with the netting of fish.

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Most anglers landed their brace of trout despite the warm sunshine that beamed into the water. A pair of Polaroids were a distinct advantage enabling individual fish to be targetted with the two trout I caught both actually seen to take the tiny fly. The fish were a mixture of brown and rainbows with Debbie Tucker landing the biggest brown trout at 3lb 1oz. James Thomas landed a hard fighting of rainbow of 3lb 8oz that was leading the biggest fish of the day when we left the event to join another local event. Rob Scoines fresh back from a trip to Norway chasing big fish adapted to the finesse of trout fishing landing a brace of rainbows each weighing 2lb 9oz.

The Cricket club give special thanks to fishery owner Mike Williams for hosting the event that raised valuable funds for the Cricket Club.

Debbie Tucker with brace of Bratton Trout including a 3lb 1oz brown trout
Debbie Tucker with brace of Bratton Trout including a 3lb 1oz brown trout
James Thomas with a 3lb 10oz rainbow
James Thomas with a 3lb 8oz rainbow
Rob Scoines with his first brace of trout
Rob Scoines with his first brace of trout
Hard fighting trout
Hard fighting trout
Safely in the net
Safely in the net, Sophie Welby nets a rainbow for James Thomas
The waiting net
The waiting net
Success!
Success!
Darren Drew with a brace of rainbows
Darrin Drew with a brace of rainbows
James Thomas and myself with our catch.
James Thomas and myself with part of our catch.

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