Fine Sport at Bulldog Fly Fishery

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Fly Anglers are enjoying some cracking sport at Bulldog Fishery with both rainbow trout and spartic trout making up bags.


(Above ) Grandson & Grandad Ryan and Pete had their first fly session here at Bulldog and they certainly weren’t disappointed! Both on a 6 fish ticket, they braved the appalling weather to achieve some amazing results! Both bagged out with hard fighting rainbows and 3 of the newly added spartic’s were also caught!

(Above) Phil and Malcolm after a day on the fly lake 
Biggest of the lot being a 4lb+ rainbow!

(Above) Not the easiest of days, but Carl persevered and managed his fish limit! 
Biggest of the 3 was estimated around the 4lb mark and was said to take off like a steam train! After a lengthy fight and some serious arm ache the rainbow was landed.


I joined members of South Molton Angling Club at Bulldog Fishery for one of their monthly fishing competitions fishing for the Mac McCarthy Trophy. The trout fishing lake has undergone a significant transformation since my last visit and is now twice the size of the previous lake with the dividing roadway removed to create one large lake. This has been generously stocked with rainbows to 7lb and a mix of spartics and browns.

A good number of club members were in attendance in addition to a few day ticket visitors and it was immediatly apparent that the lake could now  host a dozen or more anglers in comfort. A strong South West wind was blowing up the valley with occasional drizzle driven over the lake. Despite the rather gloomy weather it was at least mild and everyone was in good spirits as they tackled up and took up places at the waters edge.

I set up with an intermediate Snowbee line and tied on the ever reliable damsel nymph with a black cormorant on a dropper. I chose to fish close to the lake inlet with the raging and murky River Yeo racing down behind me. The water in the lake was surprisingly clear despite heavy rain over previous days and I could see the occasional rainbow trout cruising in the margins. I put out the line allowed the the flies to sink slowly before beginning a slow irratic retrieve.

After three or for casts  the line tightened and I felt the pleasing tug of a trout. A hard fighting rainbow was eventually pulled over the rim of the net. I added two more full tailed rainbows over the next twenty minutes to complete my three fish bag,

I poured a coffee and took a walk around the lake catching a few images of other anglers enjoyed tempting the lakes trout. Several trout to over four pound were caught including some good fish by anglers trying fly fishing for the first time. It was interesting to note how some experienced anglers were struggling to complete their bags whilst others were catching the trout with ease. Subtle differences in presentation can make all the difference to success whilst at other times trout determine that the lucky angler bags up.

The late Autumn and Winter months offer great sport at small Stillwaters with weed growth at a minimum and trout in tip top condition in the Cool water.

( Above) Brian Sedgebeer with a fine 4lb rainbow
Danny Boyles with a brace of rainbows


Summer Trout – Gammaton Reservoir

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Gammaton Reservoir near Bideford is well run by Torridge Fly Fishing Club who arrange regular stockings of rainbow trout to 4lb throughout the season. I recently visited the lake with six fellow members of the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club. We had been warned that the fishing would be difficult as on most Stillwater trout fisheries at this time of year but with the date in club diary of events we decided to go ahead.

Club member Robert Chugg kindly met us at the fishery car park at 5:30pm and sorted our permits that are excellent value at £25.00 for three fish.

We all walked up to the top lake which had been fishing the best of the two. Most elected to use sinking lines with reports indicating that what fish were caught recently fell to lures or flies fished deep.

The conditions seemed ideal with a light westerly breeze and occasional sunny spells. The view from the lake is truly spectacular with the vista of the Taw & Torridge estuary basin stretching out to Saunton Sands and the hotel that is clearly visible. Lundy Island is also visible on the horizon far out in the Bristol Channel.

I set up on the West bank of the lake and started searching for a fish. Colin Combe opposite caught a fish early on which was an encouraging sign.

I tried various set ups and after an hour had a solid take whilst fishing a damsel booby fishing back with a pull and pause retrieve. The rainbow was around 1lb 12oz and a pleasing result considering the recent catches. I noted that fellow members were not catching any trout just a few small perch. After a while with no further takes I changed to a Montana on the point and two small dark flies on the droppers. I fished this slowly and to my dismay lost three fish before close of fishing at 9:30pm. Colin opposite landed one more trout.

As the light faded we walked back to the car park. The friendly club sortie had been highly enjoyable despite just three fish being landed. Colin Combe was the winner with two rainbows for 3lb 4oz and myself runner up with 1lb 12oz.

Wimbleball Rainbows


It was good to be back at Wimbleball after a couple of months and I was relishing a day at this my favourite West Country lake. I was fishing with South Molton Angling Club who fish a series of days over the season were members can compete for the Mac Trophy awarded for the biggest trout recorded during these nominated days.

Several fellow members had elected to fish from the boats giving the opportunity to search the  vast lake for pods of feeding fish. I had chosen on this occasion to fish from the bank and had it in my mind to fish the shallow waters of the Rugg’s bank.

I set up with a floating line and a team of three flies. I waded out into the lake near the point and noted that the water level was still high and that it was exceptionally clear.

Bright sunshine with a cool brisk North Easterly breeze did not fill me with confidence but it was good to be working a fly with the lush green of spring all around.

            After twenty minutes without a pull, I walked further along the bank to find some slightly deeper water. After ten minutes I spotted a fish rise and put my team of flies into the vicinity. A savage pull and I was connected to a hard fighting rainbow of around 2lb that had taken a blue flash damsel on the point.

            After half an hour I fancied trying Cowmoor Bay and set off along the wooded path to emerge at the mouth of this vast bay. The bank on the opposite shore sloped up from the lake its grass incline decorated by a splash of golden buttercups. The water here was deeper and sheltered from the wind. To be honest it didn’t feel very fishy and after half an hour I tramped back close to where I had started.

            I replaced the point fly with a black bead headed Montana and started to fish methodically with a slow retrieve allowing the wind to drift the flies as I kept the line tight.

A couple of twitches transmitted down the line boosted my confidence and soon a good solid take resulted in a good rainbow gyrating on the end of the line leaping from the water on several occasions. At 3lb 6oz it was a pleasing full tailed fish that was to be followed five minutes later by a fish an ounce bigger at 3lb 7oz. I fished on and added two more full tailed rainbows to my bag both succumbing to the Montana.

            It was now close to 3.00pm and I decided to head home strolling back to the car on path lined with vivid yellow buttercups.

My next visit will be in summer when I hope to find the trout feasting on beetles a time that can offer superb dry fly sport.

            I found out later that it had been a tough day on the boats with no other club members boating more that three trout. Boat or bank is often a hard choice  with advantages to both. Fishing a well known bank mark can sometimes beat the boat for when fishing is hard persisting from the bank whilst covering less area ensures that the flies are in the water fishing throughout.


Free trout fishing taster day at Kennick Reservoir

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Free trout fishing taster day at Kennick Reservoir

Environmental charity South West Lakes is hosting a free trout fishing taster day at Kennick Reservoir on Dartmoor on Saturday 20 August.

The day is part of National Fishing Month (1-31 August) which celebrates the social, wellbeing and environmental benefits of angling.

The event is kindly supported by Snowbee and Turrall. As well as tuition, there will be fly-tying demonstrations with Brian Ratcliff and Colin Nice, casting demonstrations with Simon Kidd at Snowbee, a raffle, and countless tips and tricks for beginners and more experienced anglers. All participants will also receive a gift bag from Turrall and there will be the opportunity to purchase a range of fishing gear and accessories.

Dil Singh, Technical Lead for Game Fishing at South West Lakes, said: “We would like to extend a warm welcome to all new beginners to our sport, and of course any established anglers who would like to come along. If you would enjoy the chance to try fishing or brush up on techniques as well as catching up with some friends over coffee and biscuits then we look forward to seeing you. The kettle is on!”

There are three sessions to choose from: 10am-11.30am, 12pm-1.30pm and 2pm-3.30pm. Booking is essential at

Raffle tickets are also available in advance and prizes include Snowbee Classic fly rod, fly reel and fly line, rod kits from Turrall, Kennick day permit and boat permit. Tickets cost £2.50 each or five for £10.

Wistlandpound Club @ Clatworthy

I always enjoy joining Wistlandpound Club on the annual trip to Wessex Waters Clatworthy Reservoir which is  fished in early April. The fishing at this reservoir in early spring is normally excellent with hard fighting good conditioned rainbow trout generally succumbing to lures fished down deep in the cold water.

On this occasion the competition was to be fished from the bank. Catch reports suggested that fish were being caught on buzzers and dial bachs fished on floating lines with long leaders. Whilst this is a way I love to fish I set up with an intermediate line and an orange blob on the dropper with an olive damsel on the point. We all headed up into the Westcott Bay area to start our search.

Paul Grisley search for spring rainbows

The fishing proved to be more challenging than expected and it took me an hour before I hooked my first rainbow of the day.

I persisted with my tactics allowing the flies to sink for 20 seconds or so before starting an erratic retrieve. I completed my five fish limit by 1.30pm and spent the next couple of hours chatting to fellow club members and taking a few pictures of the action and splendid spring scenery.

A typical five fish limit of spring rainbows

I am always fascinated to see the remains of the signal crayfish that abound around the shores of the lake these unwelcome crustaceans have established a large population within the lake and I suspect the herons stalking the banks may have been feasting upon them when we arrived.

Dave Mock brings a hard fighting rainbow to the net.



Andre Muxworthy added two rainbows to his bag within the last half hour.
Andre Muxworthy with a pleasing rainbow

We gathered at the fishing lodge at close of play with all members catching a few rainbows.

1st – Wayne Thomas     5 fish  11lb
2nd – Colin Combe        4 fish   8lb 8oz
3rd – David Eldred          3 fish   8lb
4th – Dave Mock            3 fish   7lb 15oz
5th -Andre Muxworthy – 3 fish   6lb 10oz
6th – Paul Grisley           3 fish   5lb 10oz



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!

Autumn Trout Sport at Bulldog


I joined eight members of South Molton and District Angling Club at Bulldog Fishery where a good days sport was enjoyed. It was a surprisingly mild and sunny day for early November and several good sized trout could be seen cruising in the clear water.

Bulldog is a small water and  eight members is close to the maximum comfortable number for the water. But with all members being friends and it being very much a social event the fact that lines came close at times didn’t matter.

The hotspot seemed to be close to the lake inlet where several fish were showing including a large fish well into double figures. Small imitative patterns seemed to be the way to go with several fish tempted on montana nymphs. My first fish of the day succumbed to this pattern with a further three falling to small gold head PT nymphs.


A full finned four pound rainbow

I believe at least half the members ended the day with four fish limit bags with most fish weighing between 3lb and 5lb.

Ed Rands nets a Bulldog rainbow

Bulldog is an intimate water that is stocked with rainbows averaging over 3lb and browns into double figures. It is a perfect winter venue that offers good sport and a good chance of a double figure fish.






Wimbleball Hardest Fighting trout in the West?


Late May is undoubtedly the best time to be in the English Countryside as natures lush greenery takes on that fresh vivid green hue that lasts a few fleeting weeks. The country lanes are lined with delicate white cow parsley and an abundance of late spring and early summer flowers.

Pauline and I were taking a short break on Exmoor. I was indulging in a few hours fishing at Wimbleball whilst Pauline relaxed in the sunshine and wielded the camera to capture a few images.

We arrived at the lake close to midday and set up beneath a bright blue sky as a cool breeze ruffled the lakes surface. I was surprised to see very little surface activity but elected to set up a floating line as I thought the trout would be likely to be in the upper layers.

The lake had risen several feet since my previous visit a fortnight ago as a result of persistent rainfall. I fished a team of three flies on a 12ft leader using a Montana on the point and two buzzers on the droppers. After twenty minutes without a pull, I changed to an olive damsel on the point and speeded up the retrieve. This brought an immediate response with a small wild brownie coming adrift after a brief tussle.

After a short  coffee break I again changed tactics extending the leader around four feet and tying a bead headed buzzer to the point, a diawl bach to the middle dropper and a bright yellow blob to the top dropper. I cast this out and fished a very slow retrieve just keeping the line tight and watching the tip for movement.

After five minutes the line zipped tight and a rainbow erupted from the surface in a flurry of spray the reel singing as line evaporated through the rings. A handsome full tailed rainbow was eventually netted and admired.

The next three hours saw me bank five more trout to over five pounds all of them giving thrilling battles in the clear water. It was satisfying to have once again found the right tactics for the day which is after all what this wonderful game is all about.

We packed up late afternoon and headed to the George Inn at Brompton Regis that is now in the capable hands of Trudi and Mark Underhill. This delightful historical country Inn oozes history and has been carefully renovated to retain its character. Our large room looked out over a splendid Exmoor landscape as swifts and swallows swooped around this peaceful quintessential English village.

Several other anglers were enjoying an ale in the beer garden when we arrived and chatted enthusiastically about rainbow trout that took them to the backing as they drifted the lake on one of the  Wimbleball fleet of boats.

We finished our day with a delicious meal in the busy bar relishing the sounds of laughter and chat after months of pandemic induced silence.

The combination of stunning fishing for some of the hardest fighting rainbows in the West and superb accommodation close by will I am sure prove very popular over the coming seasons.