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.

Bratton Water – South Molton Anglers

I joined a dozen or so members of South Molton Angling Club at the tranquil Bratton Water Trout Fishery for a mornings fishing and chat. This was very much a social event with an opportunity for a mornings fishing. Conditions were perfect for enjoying the scenery and catching up with fellow members but far from ideal for catching trout. The water was crystal clear and the margins alive with tadpoles a fact that encouraged a few members to try small black tadpole type flies.

I had brought along my 10ft 5wt rod and matched it with a floating line and a long leader of 6.5lb fluorocarbon. A small bead head pheasant tail on the point and a black n’ peacock on a dropper. This was cast out and allowed to sink before retrieving very slowly watching the line intently for any twitches. I missed a few but caught my bag of 3 rainbows within two hours then proceeded to chat for a while with fellow members about things country and fishy.

Strange how you perceive that you have found the right method to find that other have caught using a totally different fly and retrieve.

Rob Kingdon with pleasing bag of Bratton Water Trout

It was time to head home and cook up a Sunday dinner of fresh trout!

Torridge Fly Fishing Club – Gammaton Reservoirs

We called into Summerlands Tackle shop to pick up our Permits for Gammaton Reservoirs and It brought home to me the vitally important role these establishments play in bringing anglers together. Mooching around the shop was long-time friend, angler and local guitar maestro Jim Crawford. We exchanged greetings and once again talked of a joining up for a long awaited foray beside a mysterious tree lined carp water.

Parking up at Gammaton memories flooded back of a time many years ago when I came here to work with the South West Water Authority. The two reservoirs used to provide water to Bideford via a water treatment plant consisting of slow sand filters. A labour intensive process that employed a small team lead by the resident Superintendent who would now of course be a manager. Charlie was a hard working countryman who lived in the water workers cottage. The garden was neat and tidy with rows of runner beans and a few spuds, a vision of Beatrix Potter’s Mr Mc-Gregor’s garden. My memory imagines pink roses somewhere in the garden though the mists of time perhaps enhance the vision.

The house still remains, and some of the old infrastructure still lingers from the water works but the old wooden work mans shed is long gone. A place where we would take a lengthy tea break or shelter from the rain. Charlie was a hard worker and took a great pride in the water works and the reservoirs. I remember the old Allen Scythe grass mowers that would be used to keep the grass dam trimmed. Old hand bill hooks were still used and honed sharp with a carborundum stone. I well remember talking with Charlie about the weather expressing concern about a particularly dry spell. “ Nature has its way of balancing out he told me; rainfall levels tend to average out throughout the year”.

When I started with the water board over forty years ago it seemed a very different world. Charlie and the water board men worked in a stable environment that had flowed along for decades where time seemed abundant. The water flowed from the two reservoirs gravitated through the old filters, a bit of chloros was added to kill the bugs and the water was distributed to the people of Bideford. In the summer the grass was trimmed and in the winter the ditches were kept clean and the fences mended. If it was wet the Allen Scythe would be oiled and maintained its blades sharpened. The old wooden shed would smell of oily rags and topics of the day would be discussed over a cuppa.

No spreadsheets, no technology except the landline that was linked to a bell on the side of the shed.

I digress in a bit of reminisce brought about by the location and the fact that I Leave SWW next week after close to forty two years. Besides it is worth recording a memory of times gone by before its gone.

Above the dam little has changed over the years. It’s the last day of April and primroses line the banks. Fresh growth burst forth from the trees and birdsong emanates all around. Lambs skip about in adjacent fields and the panorama of North Devon stretches out beneath a bright blue sky.

The fishing is controlled by Torridge Fly Fishing Club established in 1959, day tickets can be purchased from Summerlands Tackle permitting visiting anglers to keep three fish at a reasonable cost of £20. The trout are predominantly rainbow’s averaging 2lb to 4lb stocked by Bulldog Trout Fishery.

Several anglers were fishing when James and I arrived and made us very welcome offering much advice on flies and tactics.

We started on the lower dam searching the water with a floating line and long leader. The water was crystal clear rippled by a cold North wind that had prevailed throughout this April. A few fish broke the surface beyond casting range and after half an hour we decided to move to a promising looking area that had been made vacant by a successful angler.

The water here was deeper and I cast with greater confidence. After ten minutes James exclaimed surprise as a rainbow erupted from the water on a tight line surging away at speed the rod arching in battle. After a few tense minutes a full tailed rainbow of close to four pounds was safely in the net and given the last rites. The catching of the trout was given additional provenance as the rod James was using was the treasured possession of James fiancée’s grandpa who loved fly fishing for trout in the reservoirs close to London. A nine foot six inch Silver Creek Reservoir rod that has a rather forgiving soft action in line with the time it was manufactured.

Ten minutes later another rainbow was hooked by James and promptly threw the hook. By this time, I had not had a pull and was wondering what I was doing wrong. A feeling that was added to when James added a second rainbow to his tally.

Several small yet handsome perch seized our flies between trout bringing a bit of variance with their pleasingly smart defiant manner.

Persistence paid off eventually and the line zipped tight as a pleasing and very hard pulling rainbow seized my blue flash damsel.

As the afternoon passed I suggested we wander up to the top lake and try our luck. The familiar path had not changed over the years as it lead us to the slightly more open top lake.

The water here appeared deeper and I was confident of success especially when I spied the bent rod of a fellow angler on the far bank.

After ten minutes my line pulled tight and another fighting fit rainbow was brought to the net. Followed a cast later by another stunning fish of close to four pounds that pulled beyond its size.

With my bag completed it was time to relax and take in the view. I took the camera for a walk and captured the scene as swallows swooped in the cool evening air.

James persisted trying for his third trout but it seemed that luck had deserted him for the day and eventually after several last casts he decided it was time to head off for portions of fish and chips on the way home.

And so ended another almost perfect day in an angling life especially so in sharing it with James after a long break from fishing together in part due to the COVID times we have all endured.

A BLAKEWELL BRACE

A week ago it was like summer today, it is like winter as I walk out to the Lake at Blakewell! Hail and snow flakes are driven by the icy North West Wind. A few moments later the sun is shining and the world looks a less hostile place.

I have a two fish complimentary ticket from the Christmas Competition and had not got around to using it as a result of COVID and the lake being closed so I was pleased that Richard & John allowed me to use it after several months. I had a plan to wander around the lake casting to individual fish seeing if I could spot one of the lakes doubles. The water was crystal clear but the gusty wind frequently riffled the surface making spotting fish tricky.

I fished several spots around the lake and failed to get a touch. I tried several patterns without success but did manage to spot a few trout cruising in the bay. A black bead headed lure on a long leader resulted in a twitch on the tip of the fly line. Next cast the line zipped tight and a spirited tussle followed before the fish came adrift! I checked the hook point and all was well. Next cast and again the line zipped tight….off came the trout. Third time lucky I thought when I hooked the next a couple of casts later…off it came. Still at least I had found the right fly and tactic. Ten minutes later the brace was in the bag.

Its always good when you find the right answer and yet I always wonder if the trout had simply switched on for some reason. This thought is reinforced as I walk away and notice that one of the other anglers has a well bent rod. Its mission accomplished anyway with trout for tea and spring proper on the way.

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

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South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

February 2021

General:

At the time of writing, only two of South West Lakes’ rainbow trout fisheries have opened (Kennick and Siblyback), with Stithians and Burrator opening on 5 March for season permit holders and 6 March for day tickets. The brown trout fisheries open on 15 March (Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound).

The fisheries will all be operating under strict Covid19 restrictions, in line with the Angling Trust and Government guidelines. This means that the fishing will be available to local anglers only, until the current travel restrictions are lifted. The on-site permit huts will not be open, so day tickets, season tickets and boats should be pre-booked online – www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing.

Fishing:

Kennick – The season began with a cold snap, but with some superb fishing, with rods averaging 6.5 fish per angler in the opening week. As one would expect, the fish were lying deep, with fish often taking on the drop, with the best sport to be had in Forest and Clampitts Bays and the deep water by the dam, with weighted Damsel Nymphs, Montanas, and lure patterns (Boobies, Tadpoles and Orange Blobs) all working well. The best bag caught in the month was 20 fish (19 returned) caught by M.Dadd, with Mark M catching 14 fish up to 3lbs on a Blob fished on a sinking line from the bank.

Siblyback – The cold easterly winds made the fishing at Siblyback on the opening weekend challenging, with the sheltered banks in Stocky Bay producing the best sport as well as the most comfortable conditions, with Blobs and slow-fished Damsel Nymphs catching well. As the month progressed, and the wind direction changed, the North Shore and West Bank also started to produce fish, with Montanas, small nymphs and spiders on intermediate lines attracting fish, and rod averages improving to 2.55 fish per angler. P.Murphey caught the best fish – a 3lb rainbow, while G.Hext caught 11 rainbows and a superb 2lb Brown on his first two visits of the season.

Big Bulldog Browns

It’s an exciting time of year as winter passes with new fishing adventures on the horizon. Today was the last day of winter yet at this time of year the seasons seem to fluctuate from day to day and even from morning till night.  There was frost on the grass when I looked out of the bedroom window as the moon sank beneath the tree line and the sun rose from the opposite direction illuminating the fields as the frost  melted away in a warm dawn glow.

I was fishing at Bulldog fishery which is less than five miles from my home so truly local. The lane to the fishery winds down through woodland and between the remains of the old Lynton to Barnstaple Railway. The Fishery is located beside the Barnstaple Yeo that was running high and clear its sparkling water flowing into the  top of the lake. I have been meaning to pay the fishery a visit for sometime after seeing some stunning images of its big brown trout.

I set up and walked the fishery bank peering into the clear water. The shaded far bank proved an ideal vantage point with the sun behind me I could see clearly into the lake. The downside of course was that my shadow could also be cast onto the water alerting the fish of my presence.

The trees would hopefully break my silhouette. Half way down the Lake I glimpsed two very large trout just a couple of rod lengths from the bank. I pulled a few yards of line from the reel and wetted the damsel nymph in the margin. The line was carefully flicked out in front of the trout; my heart was in my mouth the fish turned towards the fly eyeing it with intent for a moment before turning away showing disdain at my offering.

Such chances are often fleeting but it was an exciting start to the trip. I moved along the bank and put a long line parallel to the bank. After a couple of pulls the line drew tight and a trout pulled back. An impressive brown trout its spotted sides showing clearly in the gin clear water. The trout close to five pounds was certainly a great start to the day.

A few casts later a rainbow chased the olive damsel nymph close to the bank where I saw its mouth open and engulf the lure.

With two trout on the bank I was pleased to take a break from fishing and chat with the fishery owner Nigel Early about his exciting plans for the fishery. The trout lake is due to be considerably enlarged to provide far more bank space making it an ideal venue for visiting clubs or small groups of anglers. This is an intimate Stillwater trout fishery that contains some huge brown trout up to 15lb that are undoubtedly wily and worthy targets. The fishery policy is for all browns over 5lb to be returned carefully to the water preserving a valuable asset and ensuring that visiting anglers have the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime. There are two day ticket options; four fish £30 or five fish £35. Large returned browns do not count as part of this bag.

Nigel is no stranger to big trout and was proud to tell me that he had provided stock fish from the trout farm that have set English, Scottish and Welsh records Including rainbows of 26lb 9oz (Welsh) and 24lb 6oz ( Scottish).

Another project underway is a carp lake of several acres that has been stocked with ten carp over thirty pound and another 120 carp ranging from low doubles to mid twenties. There will be ten swims on the lake that should open in early May and will undoubtedly provide some exciting fishing. I feel sure that the lake will mature nicely over the coming years to bring a valuable carping venue close to Barnstaple.

After leaving Nigel to continue his work I returned to the trout lake where I managed to spot another huge brown trout that once again frustrated my efforts swimming at my nymph before turning away and disappearing into the depths of the lake. Several good sized fish were showing near the inlet and followed my olive damsel before turning away. With the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky it was undoubtedly time for a little finesse. A bead headed nymph was flicked out and the lines tip twitched. A 4lb plus rainbow was added to my bag. With Sunday dinner waiting I reeled in and headed for home thoughts of big browns etched on the minds eye.

2021 Trout Fishing Pre-season Newsletter South West Lakes

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Introduction

A new season is upon us already. Having closed our Rainbow waters at Christmas it’s been a short turnaround this winter. I’m sure you can’t wait to wet a line again, especially with the current health crisis. One thing I have found during the current lockdown is that having something to look forward to is absolutely vital at the moment and I cant wait for the trout season to open! I’ve bought some new waders and some new wellies and I will be spending as much time fishing as I can this year.
I hope that you enjoy your season, wherever you fish.

Ben Smeeth 

Covid-19 Update

We are opening and stocking our fisheries as planned but please remember, when visiting our trout fisheries, you must read and adhere to the information below which highlights the restrictions in place so we can continue to fish.

  • Fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules of staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors. (DCMS 06/01/2021)
  • Only local travel is permitted for the purpose of daily exercise as set out in the Government’s travel guidance.
  • The local area is specified as the town, village or part of the city in which you live. There is recognition that there will be a need to travel for outdoor exercise, this should be done locally, but you can travel a short distance within your area.
  • Anglers will need to apply judgement in defining their local area.
  • Boat fishing can continue and the boat fishing rules and regulations during Covid-19 remain in place.
  • You can only fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual.
  • You must adhere to social distancing measures: Hands, Face and Space.

Competition fishing, or any other organised fishing event, is prohibited by law during lockdown.

For further information on local exercise please visit the Angling Trust website or the Government website.

2021 Pricing and Dates

Our prices for all day and season tickets have remained the same as 2020.

All of the prices can be found here.

The opening dates are as follows:

Rainbows:
Kennick and Siblyback – 13 February
Stithians and Burrator – 6 March

Season ticket holders for the Rainbow waters can fish one day earlier than day ticket anglers.

Browns:
Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound – 15 March

New Trout Website LaunchedWe have launched a new trout fishing website which has all of the information you need for your trout fishing with us this year.

We have made buying your ticket easier with the new ‘buy a ticket’ option on the homepage.

All of the weekly catch reports and summaries, along with the latest news, are all displayed prominently making them easy to find.

We have also made completing a catch report much easier with the catch return tab on the homepage.

www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing

Season Tickets

Season permits can be purchased directly from our websiteAlternatively, please give our head office a call on 01566 771930 or drop me a line on 01288 321262 and we will be more than happy to help you purchase your ticket over the phone.

Why buy a season permit?

  • You can fish a day before our day ticket anglers at the Rainbow waters
  • You can fish as many times as you would like throughout the season as long as weekly bag limits are not exceeded
  • It gives you the flexibility to fish for an hour or the whole day
  • Boats are £10 per day instead of £15
  • We have multiple lake season tickets with our all waters and castabout (brown trout) options
  • If you are a member of the Burrator Fly Fishers, Siblyback Fly Fishers, Kennick Fly Fishers or CAST fly fishing club (Stithians) we will give you 5% off your season permit
  • If we extend the season to the end of November your ticket will be extended without charge
  • You won’t have a to buy a day ticket every time you fish

Stocking

Our stocking in 2021 will be done by two suppliers with our Rainbows coming from Mark Underhill at Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.

In 2020 the Rainbow’s supplied by Rainbow Valley were extremely hard fighting, quite often stripping line to the backing!

The Browns are coming from Richard Howe and his team at Torre Trout Farms.

We know all the fish will be of high quality and be sure to give you some great sport as always.

Day Permits

Our permit rooms on sites will be closed until further notice with the coronavirus situation.

Permits are only available through our website or by calling our main office on 01566 771930.

Please note, the office is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Tickets can be purchased days in advance of your visit.

Castabout Ticket

I want to highlight the value for money with the Castabout ticket. This ticket covers all four of our brown trout waters, three of which are stocked (Colliford, Fernworthy and Roadford) and Wistlandpound where the fishing is for previously stocked and wild fish. At £250 for a full season, or £212.50 for concession, the value for money is outstanding.

Roadford in particular fished absolutely superb last season with 110 browns to 3lb being caught in the last week of the season by just 11 anglers! Colliford showed glimpses of returning to its former glory and, although we are not there yet, we are working towards it. Numerous fish of 2lbs were caught with the majority being released to fight another day.

Fernworthy wasn’t its usual self in 2020 but still provided plenty of pulls. I’m expecting the fishing to be great this season when we stock more fish into the lake.

Competitions

  • 11 April – The Snowbee team of four competition at Siblyback
  • 2 May – Kennick bank pairs
  • 23 May – Cornwall v Devon at Siblyback
  • 20 June – Kennick Peninsula Classic singles
  • 17 October – Best of the Best final at Kennick

The Best of the Best competition, sponsored by Snowbee, has a £2,000 prize fund for the final. Here’s how it works:

  • There will be 6 heats of 12 anglers maximum
  • 6 will qualify for the final from each heat leaving 36 anglers in the final at Kennick on 17 October

The dates for the heats are:

  • Siblyback – 6 March
  • Kennick – 20 March
  • Stithians – 24 April
  • Burrator – 8 May
  • Siblyback – 29 May
  • Kennick – 2 October

If you would like more information on any of the competitions please visit our website. If you would like to book onto one of the heats please call our office on 01566 771930.