Ed Rands fished at Blakewell Fishery to tempt a 9lb rainbow and witness another angler land a stunning 15lb blue trout ( Below)
As we enter July trout fishing tends get harder going as the water temperature rises and the fish go deeper. I was eager to get out onto Wimbleball before the summer doldrums set in and had arranged to meet with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce for a day afloat.
I met up with Jeff at the boat launching bay just before 9.00am and my spirits were immediately lifted by the enthusiastic banter that was flowing amongst the anglers gathering for a day on the water. I have found that angling has been a great antidote to the widespread doom and gloom of the COVID pandemic.
We were all greeted cheerfully by Trevor the fisheries resident guide and bailiff who is always willing to offer valuable advice on where to fish and what tactics to employ.
It seemed the perfect day for trout fishing with a moderate westerly breeze and broken cloud cover. If this had been a month earlier teams of buzzers would have been the way to go I am sure but general consensus was now for deeper water and lures.
During the more difficult days of mid to late summer a boat gives a significant advantage allowing a larger area of the lake to be explored.
Jeff and I decided on a few casts in the sailing club bay just to get warmed up so to speak. As we drifted slowly Jeff caught a glimpse of a good sized rainbow estimated at 6lb + and put his olive damsel into the area. The fish immediately seized the offering and erupted from the water in a flurry of spray. I grabbed for the camera to no avail as Jeff pulled in a slack line to reveal that the hook had partially opened out. Testament to Wimbleball’s hard fighting fish or a dodgy hook?
I had one trout follow my lure in the bay but after this early success we decided to head out onto the lake proper. The deeper water up near the dam seemed a good idea so it was off to there that we headed powered by the petrol outboard.
Drifting the margins Jeff had the first chance as a trout likened to a tuna chased a damsel nymph to the side of the boat. A few more glimpses of trout brought excited comments from Jeff as we explored the lakes margins that dropped off into deep-water within just yards of the bank.
After a few tentative plucks the first fish of the day was secured. A small handsome rudd of just over 8oz!
The Upton Arm has a reputation for producing some superb wild brown trout. And so we headed up into this delightfully wooded bay. Drifting with the strong breeze proved a little too fast even with the drogue so we decided to drop anchor at a promising looking spot not too far off the shoreline. I often ponder upon this for when we fish from boats we often strive to get close to shore whilst when we shore fish we aim to put our flies as far out as possible. In truth the margin of the lake is its biggest and most often productive zone.
This area soon proved a good call as Jeff hooked a fine rainbow of close to 5lb that used its broad tail to good effect. Over the next couple of hours Jeff added another three rainbows to the tally. I couldn’t get a pull and started to question what I was doing wrong. I was on a sinking line and fishing a damsel nymph whilst Jeff was on a sink tip with using various large nymphs on the point a yellow and red buzzer on a dropper.
As the fishing eased we decided perhaps unwisely to try elsewhere and headed for the deep water of the Narrows close to some old boat launching steps. Sticking with the sinking line and a damsel nymph I searched the deep water. Suddenly the line zipped tight and a rainbow of a couple of pounds graced the net. Over the next couple of hour’s we drifted around anchored for periods and it was me that started to enjoy success adding a couple more to the days total.
As afternoon drifted into evening we decided on a last half an hour back in the sailing club bay. After a few casts another rainbow hit my black zulu on the dropper. With four trout each it seemed a good time to head for home.
As we packed away the gear the lake looked superb in the early evening light. We reflected upon an enjoyable day of two halves. A morning when Jeff seemed to charm the trout and an afternoon when I somehow found the key to success. These long hard summer days though challenging are often just as rewarding as those easier days of plenty in the early season.
We will be back in search of those broad backed tuna shaped rainbows with full tails before too long!
With reports of stunning rainbows to over 10lb and trout feasting on beetles I was keen to get back up to the beautiful Wimbleball lake again and do battle with its full tailed rainbows. Our son James was entering a Motorbike Enduro event a few miles away so it seemed a good excuse to meet up for a Father’s Day Picnic combined with a few hours fishing!
I commented to Pauline as we enjoyed the journey across Exmoor’s summer landscape that the fish often went off the feed around midday. An ominous comment as I would probably manage my first casts for around 11:30.
I left Pauline reading her book in the car and hastened to the waters edge looking for a place that would offer a little shelter from the brisk breeze along with a good chance of fish. Conditions were ideal and I soon found the perfect spot with the breeze blowing right to left. A few fish were rising just off the weed bed at the waters edge.
I tied a beetle imitation on the point, a diawl bach on the middle dropper and a black zulu on the top dropper. I waded carefully out and started searching the water. It wasn’t long before the line zipped tight; a pleasing 3lb plus rainbow was battling on a tight line. Ten minutes later a brace were secured and tea secured for the next night!
It was now catch and release time. I wandered back to the car to see if Pauline was ready to join me and take a few pictures whilst enjoying the warmth of the day. On arrival back at the waters edge it seemed the spell had been broken as my first couple of casts resulted in a minor tangle and the rhythm seemed to have deserted me. It soon returned however but it seemed my prediction had proved right for takes became few and far between.
James and Sophie arrived and enjoyed a tasty picnic; Social distancing of course. Several trout rose within casting range and I was soon back casting a line. Rising trout really are not good for my social skills! Despite several chances I failed to connect and at around 6.00pm we headed for home.
It will not be too long before I get back for a more serious fishing session ensuring I get there well before the fish have their afternoon siesta and perhaps hanging on for the evening rise as well!
Blakewell Fishery is reestablishing its reputation as at the place to catch a double figure rainbow trout with big trout regularly being tempted by visitors to the pleasant Stillwater.
Mike Featherstone with a beautiful 14lb rainbow caught on a pheasant Tail nymph .
Blakewell Fishery has been in fine form since it reopened in Mid-May with numerous double figure trout tempted. Pete Masters banked a 12lb rainbow and Graham Thorne a stunning 15lb rainbow. Andy Facey banked a rainbow of 10lb. Rick Perry banked a brace of double figure rainbows weighing 13lb and 12lb. Chris Bryan banked a rainbow of 9lb 3oz. Small imitative patterns are proving most successful.
I had been itching to get back to Wimbleball after lockdown and booked half a day off work mid-week hoping it wouldn’t be too busy. It probably wasn’t the best day to have chosen; the hottest day of the year so far with a cloudless sky. Despite this I arrived full of optimism despite the conditions and headed for Rugg’s bay where there was plenty of room to fish and maintain social distance.
The far bank was full of families and young people soaking up the sun and whilst at first this seemed a little concerning I deemed that several groups may well be from single households. In any case the sounds of fun and laughter drifting across the water was welcome after months of doom and gloom. I am growing increasingly tired of the bitching and blaming that has manifested itself as the COVID crisis has unfolded. Apply a bit of common sense follow the rules and accept that there is always a bit of risk in life.
The walk to the lake along a buttercup lined footpath with young lambs playing in the fields was a delightful start to the afternoon and it was truly good to be alive and out in the English countryside.
I set up a floating line and a team of imitative patterns, a gold-head PTN on the point, a buzzer on the middle dropper and a diawl bach on the top dropper. I was surprised just how far the reservoir had dropped since my last visit back on opening day on March 1st when the lake was full to the brim.
Wading out into the cool clear water I extended the line across the water. Paused to allow the flies to sink a little and started a slow figure of eight retrieve. I expected a pull at any second as I settled into the session. Swallows and martins swooped over the water and birdsong resonated all around.
I kept an eye on other anglers around the lake and caught sight of the occasional bent rod and flurry of foam as a fish neared the net. After about an hour starting the line zipped tight and a hard fighting rainbow of around 3lb posed for the camera.
I fished on optimistically changing the flies from time to time but sticking to the slow imitative approach because that is what I had expected to work.
Slowly as the afternoon slipped into evening I began to lose some of that early confidence. Whilst the occasional fish rose further out it was clear that the hoped for evening rise was not going to happen.
I should perhaps have changed to slow sink line and gone deeper with a lure but on this occasion I had perhaps become too content just enjoying the day going through the motions of fishing the fly.
I drove home as the sun set over Exmoor thinking of my return to the lake in the not to distant future.
Wimbleball on Exmoor is fishing exceptionally well since reopening to angling in line with government guidelines.
The fishing is on fire at Wimbleball since we re-opened, we’re receiving some great reports & catch returns, just the tonic we needed as things stand with this virus. Tactics vary over the day as you’d expect & Di3 & Di5 lines are working well with black lures, but equally anglers are catching with teams of small dark flies just under the surface. Photos courtesy of Alan Behan who had a great day with his best Rainbow at 5lb 3ozs…
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.
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.