Wimbleball in fine Spring Form

Mark Jones and his brother enjoyed a cracking day at Wimbleball where Mark boated a personal best rainbow of 8lb and and another fine rainbow of 5lb 10oz.  Marks fish plus another four over 4lb were tempted using dial bach’s and buzzers. Marks brother boated a 5lb rainbow first cast! The venue is certainly providing some superb sport despite the inclement early spring weather.

South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report

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February 2020

At the time of writing, Kennick is the only South West Lakes Trust Trout fishery that has opened for the 2020 season and, in spite of three named storms, strong winds and heavy rains, anglers who have braved the elements have been rewarded with some excellent sport.

The opening weekend (14 February) produced a rod average of over four fish, with over half of the anglers recording a full bag. The fish are lying deep, so sunk lines fishing weighted lures (Blobs, Nomads, and Cats Whiskers, as well as Goldhead Damsels) have produced the best results, with fish being caught from the banks at Clampitts, Laployds, up to the Causeway. The best fish caught on opening day was a 2lb 12oz Rainbow, caught by Andy Gooding (from Liverton), while Andy Lobb braved storm Dennis to bag eight Rainbows weighing in at 17lb 5oz.

The following week continued to produce some fine fishing, with most anglers opting to fish from the banks (although boat anglers caught well in the deeper waters in Outer Clampitts), with the North end of the fishery producing the best results. Anglers averaged a rod average of 3.1 fish per rod, including plenty of strong overwintered fish, with Mike Malpas catching the best fish – a Rainbow of 3lb 12oz.

The seventh annual South West Fly Fair (this year’s main show sponsor being Chevron Hackles) was held on 29 February at Roadford Lake and, yet again, the day proved to be a great success. In addition to the opportunity to try out the latest equipment available from the various trade stands, there were casting and fly tying demonstrations from the show’s patron, Charles Jardine, as well as demonstrations, including preparation and cooking your catch, from Gary Champion. A number of fly tiers were on hand to demonstrate and explain various techniques, with the opportunity to ‘have a go’ with the experts, as well as stands organised by local Clubs, fishery and environmental organisations. The day is always a great opportunity to buy that essential tackle for the new season, as well as to catch up with old friends and to talk fishing in anticipation of the forthcoming year on the water.

Annual Fly Fair Attracts Over 200 People to Roadford

The eighth South West Fly Fair got the Trout fishing season off with a bang on Saturday 29 February as fly fishermen from all over the region attended the annual show, held at Roadford Lake and hosted by South West Lakes Trust.

The show is always a great place to grab a bargain, watch some fantastic demonstrations from Trout fishing celebrities and speak to the many organisation and trade stands that attend. There was also a free fly casting and fly tying zone for anyone to have go.

The show was launched by Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling for South West Lakes Trust, and then officially opened at 10.30am by Charles Jardine, one of the country’s most respected fly-fishing gurus, England Fly Fishing Commonwealth Team member and patron of the show.

Activities throughout the day included casting demonstrations with Charles, who gave an entertaining and impressive display with the Trout rod, and Gary Champion, a local expert who travels worldwide teaching people to fish and give demonstrations.

More than 30 people took advantage of the free fly casting lessons and clinics for both newcomers to the sport and experienced anglers feeling a little rusty after the closed season. Gary Champion gave a fantastic demonstration on ways to prepare and cook your Trout once you have caught it with samples to taste. This was a real treat on a very cold day!

There were a variety of angling conservation organisations including The Westcountry Rivers Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and local custom rod maker, Luke Bannister, who has built up an international following for his beautiful hand-crafted split cane rods.

Those looking for new fishing opportunities in 2020 were able to speak to representatives from various fishing clubs throughout the region.

There was also a large selection of angling trade stands including impressive displays from the shows sponsor Chevron Hackles, with the opportunity to handle, try and buy this year’s latest equipment.

The 2020 Trout fishing season has started on the South West Lakes Trust Rainbow Trout water Kennick with Siblyback, Stithians and Burrator all opening on 7 March. The Brown Trout season for Roadford, Fernworthy, Colliford and Wistlandpound starts on 15 March. Full details and this year’s prices are on the Trust’s website – www.swlakesfishing.co.uk.

BLAKEWELL CHRISTMAS COMPETITION 2019

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Twenty seven anglers arrived to fish Blakewell’s Annual Christmas Competition despite the pending arrival of Storm Atiyah with winds forecast to reach up to 70mph. The competition is always an enjoyable day of socializing. Many of the anglers fish this competition each year catching up on the latest gossip from the South West Angling world with stories of places visited and of fishing adventures across the world.

I always find it slightly alarming how quickly this event seems to come around as the years drift past to merge into memories. Coffees, port and greetings are exchanged before the draw. The format is well known to all the regulars with six pegs drawn with an hour to be spent at each peg rotating around the lake throughout the day. With the storm forecast John and Richard Nickell wisely decide upon a slight change to this years timetable bring the competitions close to 2.30pm With dinner closing the event enabling anglers to retreat to the warmth of the tea room as the predicted storm arrives.

At 9.30am we set off for the lake full of expectation with those first few casts often productive. I draw a peg at the top corner of the Lake and have a grandstand view across the water where I observe several bent rods within minutes of the start.

To my surprise the first hour passes without any action to my rod and I am pleased to move to a new area. I have elected to fish a black tailed marabou lure with a bright green head on the point and two spider type flies on the droppers. After twenty minutes in my second zone I hook a rainbow of around 1lb 8oz and feel relieved to get the scoreboard ticking over. Persistence over the next hour sees another three trout caught the best a very pleasing fish of 4lb.

A vicious squall suddenly sweeps across the lake. Lashing rain and hail driven by a raging wind that bends the trees and sends branches drifting down the lake. At this point some anglers appear to be ready to pack away. Others like myself grit our teeth and try to soldier on.

Fortunately the squall is short lived and sunshine once again breaks through the clouds bringing a welcome splash of light and colour to the day. I make another move and soon connect with two more trout to complete my six fish bag.

With mission complete I take a walk around the lake capturing a few fishy moments as competitors chat and share the day. By 2.30pm everyone is ready for a hot dish of chilli con-carne a mince pie and a cool beer.

Many thanks again to John and Richard Nickell for their hospitality and good humour. Hard to believe its 12 months since we heard Richards cheery patter of optimism for the coming year. Once again a steady stream of families walkaway with their Christmas trees a sense of cheery optimism in the winter air.

Competition Results :-

1st Alan Evans – six trout – 14lb 10oz

2nd – Paul Grisley – Six trout – 14lb 2oz

3rd – Mark Buxton – Six trout 12lb 4oz

( Above) Biggest Fish – Alan Evans – Rainbow trout  – 6lb

WIMBLEBALL – LATE AUTUMN

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Fly Fishers have enjoyed a splendid season at Wimbleball Reservoir with regular stockings of quality rainbow trout throughout out the season.

I enjoyed some exciting sessions at the venue in the spring but have struggled to get back during the summer months with other fishing trips and lifes demands conspiring to keep me away from this delightful venue high on Exmoor. With reports of some stunning rainbows being caught during the autumn I was determined to have at least one more session before the seasons close at the end of November.

Whilst the North Devon coast was tempting I decided I must take the fly rod and try for a reservoir rainbow. After the big storm that had blown through on Saturday I wondered what the water clarity would be like as I arrived on Sunday morning. To my relief the water was crystal clear and sparkling in the late autumn sunshine.  A brisk Westerly breeze was blowing across the lake into Ruggs Bay where I started my session. After half an hour or so without a pull I decided to move to Bessoms Bank opposite where the wind would be blowing over my shoulder, This was also the area that appeared to be fishing well according to the catch returns in the fishery office.

A couple of other anglers were already fishing this area and boats were drifting off this bank indicating that a few fish were probably about. It was encouraging to see several fish rising within casting range of the bank especially with it being November 3rd. I was fishing a team of flies with a floating line, Montana on the point and buzzers on the droppers. After ten minutes a fish rose at the limit of my casting range and I dropped my fly bang on target! One pull, two pulls and there came that satisfying thump down the line. The rod hooped over and several yards of line disappeared through the rod rings. A near fin perfect rainbow of around 3lb was soon safely in the net.

I persisted with the floating line set up for a couple of hours briefly feeling one other fish. With few fish rising as afternoon set in I changed over to a sinking line and a lure with a long black marabou tail and silver head. After ten minutes a solid take resulted in another hard fighting rainbow of a similar size to the first.

With two trout in the bag I now ensured that I was using barbless flies. For a while I persisted with the lure and sinking line approach and had several follows and swirls, I glimpsed what looked like a very large brown trout following the lure right to waters edge. After this all went quiet for a while and I reverted back to the floating line for an hour without success.

With no activity on the surface I again swapped over to the sinking line and lure approach. After ten minutes a beautiful brown trout of around 1lb seized the lure and was slipped free without removing from the water. Next cast brought a solid take from another brown trout that was pushing 3lb this was returned immediately as being on my own it would be difficult to get a decent picture.

As the light started to fade heavy rain began to fall and I decided it was time to head for home. It had been a very enjoyable day with a couple of good trout for tomorrow nights tea a pleasing brace of browns returned and that monster glimpsed to come back for next time. I slipped back into the permit office to make my return and checked out what others had caught. Plenty of stunning rainbows to over 5lb had succumbed with several multiple bags of fish. I could have done better but at least I had caught a few and enjoyed my day. I will be back in the spring. There are over three weeks left of the season and there are some stunning rainbows waiting to be caught from what has to be the West Country’s best large Stillwater. trout fishery.

Another Month At Wimbleball- Full Tailed Rainbows on the agenda until end of November!

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West Country Fly-Fisher’s have enjoyed an exceptional fishing season at Wimbleball Reservoir where Mark Underhill has transformed the quality of the fishing stocking regularly with hard fighting rainbow trout.

The season at Wimbleball continues until November 30th and will when conditions permit offer anglers the chance of some superb sport. I intend to make at least one more visit to the fishery before it close for the winter.

On Sunday October 27th they hosted Kennick Flyfishers for the final round of their Snowbee Top Rod Competition 2019. The weather was kind, considering recent conditions, providing the 14 anglers taking part with a dry, sunny day & cool northerly breeze. After a good day on the water they managed 52 fish between them, with 8 anglers getting their bag limit, the action was mostly in the Bessoms & Ruggs areas. Best fish of the day went to Alan Riddell of Newton Abbot with a fine Rainbow of 8LBS 6OZ, (pictured). Top 3 anglers were:
1ST ALAN RIDDELL OF NEWTON ABBOT – 5 FISH 19LBS
2ND TOM HENDY OF CHUDLEIGH – 5 FISH 15LBS 11OZ
3RD ANDY WATSON OF BOVEY TRACEY – 5 FISH 15LBS 3OZ

A typical bag of Wimbleball Rainbows !

Wimbleball – Fine Autumn Trout sport

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Stillwater Trout anglers are enjoying fine sport at Wimbleball Reservoir with rainbows into double figures succumbing to lures fished close to the surface. The catch and release policy is proving extremely successful with anglers catching up to twenty fish a day with 3lb plus fish frequently stripping anglers lines to the backing. September and October are exciting months for the trout angler on big reservoirs with the trout falling to fry imitations or dry daddy longlegs.

Denis Bilkey with a fine Wimbleball rainbow

Big Rainbow at Exe Valley

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Exe Valley Fishery to compete for their Holland Trophy electing to fish a combination ticket allowing members to retain their first three fish for the competition and release three on a catch and release basis. Omens were good as we arrived to purchase our tickets with an angler walking away from the lake with a stunning rainbow. Neil Kyle had tempted the 12lb 8oz rainbow using a small bloodworm fly.

On arrival at Anchor Lake trout were moving all around with rises and bulges on the calm surface. Members were soon into fish with a variety of tactics succeeding until as is often the case the fish started to wise up. I tempted a fish after a short while using a small booby on the point with two buzzers on droppers. A pleasing trout of around 3lb taking the booby on the point.

After this I struggled for a while and chatted with club secretary Dave Richards who had already taken his bag of three using a briskly retrieved lure. Not one to persist with finesse if it’s not working I switched to a large damsel nymph with long marabou tail. My bag was soon complete. It was now time to go catch and release and for this I elected to scale down to a 4lb point with a tiny grey duster dry fly. I spent the next half an hour flicking the fly at individual rising fish savouring that delicious moment of deception as the trout rose to the fly slurping the fly down and then feeling that moment of success as line tightened followed by a bucking rod and screaming reel. Strange how I had struggled to catch my three and then as soon as I went catch and release the fish came with ease.

Dave Richards with a fine rainbow of 5lb 4oz.

As storm clouds gathered it was time to travel back home and enjoy the drive across the stunning Exmoor landscape. On the way I popped into Dulvertons’ excellent bookshop Rothwell & Dunworth where I picked up a pleasing book entitled ” Fishing a Highland Stream” A Love Affair With A River by John Inglis Hall.

The results of the competition were :-

1st = Dave Richards & Colin Combe both landing three trout for 9lb 8oz

2nd Wayne Thomas – Three fish for 7lb 4oz

3rd – Nigel Bird & Dave – with single rainbows of 4lb each

Colin Combes also released a fine rainbow of close to 10lb.

Good Friday Trout Fishing

April has to be one of my favourite months to target reservoir trout with that vibrancy of new life all around. Having enjoyed a good day at Wimbleball a few weeks ago I was keen to return and hopeful that with warm temperatures forecast there would be the chance of catching fish on the floating line.

This was to be a short session during the middle of the day with a catch and release ticket. Pauline would enjoy a well deserved rest with a good book whilst I waded out into the cool water. The drive across Exmoor proved to be an enjoyable experience with a stop off at Wheddon Cross to enjoy a Croissant and a hot coffee.

On arrival at Wimbleball it was clear that the holiday season had kicked off with families enjoying the warn sunshine, picnicking, floating about on the lake and generally having fun.

After checking into the ticket office and gleaning information from the catch returns it was time to head off and find a peaceful area of the lake away from the crowds. There is plenty of space at Wimbleball for everyone to do their thing. The information board in the ticket office indicated that some very good trout had been coming out to a variety of flies but that when the sun was out the fish tended to go down and become difficult to tempt.

We parked up past Bessoms Bridge and headed for the shallows where Jeff Pearce and I had enjoyed good sport a couple of weeks back.

I put down the tackle and surveyed the scenery. The lake stretched out before us sunlight twinkling on the ripples whilst a few swallows, swooped past and a butterfly fluttered in the light breeze. It was an idyllic spring day and with a warm sun and light breeze I was confident that the trout would be up in the water despite no signs of fish rising.

I waded out in to the crystal clear water and worked out a length of line to place a team of three flies. On the point a Montana, a buzzer and a Zulu on the droppers. I soon settled into that rhythmic routine of casting and retrieving. Birdsong, the call of toads and the sounds of people enjoying the day drifted across the water. My eyes searched the lake for feeding fish, my chilled fingers retrieving the line in slowly with the expectancy of that pleasing tug through the line.

After ten minutes or so the line pulled delightfully tight and a trout cartwheeled on a tight line before shedding the hook. That connection however brief always gives faith that the tactics will work and allows fishing to continue with conviction. It wasn’t too long before another trout was deceived and this time the barbless hook held firm. The trout was not to be easily subdued and threatened to strip line to the backing on several strong runs. After a couple of minutes the fish was ready for the net. A fin perfect rainbow of between four and five pounds.

As the afternoon approached I was pleased to hear the pleasing sound of trout rising. Several fish could be seen breaking the surface just out of casting range. After losing a couple of fish I eventually connected again and another stunning battle a rainbow of over four pounds was admired.

Pauline was called upon to briefly put down her book and capture the moments.

As the afternoon grew late it was unfortunately time to leave with other engagements looming away from the pleasing shores of this splendid lake. As other anglers passed by we chatted and exchanged notes. Several anglers had also enjoyed success and carried nets of weighty looking rainbows. As we walked back towards the car two anglers were fishing in the bay and one of them had hooked into a fine rainbow and was netting it as we approached. Yet another pristine full tailed rainbow of exactly 5lb was held up for the camera by captor Steve Essery who later informed me that he had finished his day with four fine trout scaling 2lb 4oz, 3lb 8oz and 3lb 10oz. His fishing companion had also enjoyed success ending with his five fish limit bag. He commented that it was great to see the fishery turned around under Mark Underhill’s management.

Wimbleball offers a superb trout fishing experience its not always easy but the fish are full tailed and hard fighting with the catch and release option working well. As the summer approaches it may well be worthwhile taking the option of a boat to cover more water. Summer evenings will I am sure provide some exciting sport from both bank and shore with free rising trout.