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.

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club – April Trophy – Clatworthy

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club members fished their April Trophy Competition at Wessex Waters Clatworthy Reservoir where all members competing landed some top quality trout. A cold brisk easterly wind put the trout down deep with most fish caught  deep using boobies or lures. Whilst the fishing proved to be more challenging than expected the quality of the fish caught made the effort well worth well while with full tailed rainbows testing everyones tackle. One fish estimated at over five pound slipped the hook at the net whilst a good number of the fish caught were between 3lb and 4lb 8oz. The biggest trout fell to Colin Combes weighed in at 4lb 8oz and was part of the only five fish bag of the day that secured victory.

1st – Colin Combe – Five Rainbows – 12lb 15oz

2nd – Dave Mock – Four Rainbows – 12lb 12oz

3rd – Wayne Thomas – Four Rainbows – 10lb 15oz

4th – Dave Eldred – Three Rainbows – 7lb 8oz.

(Above) Colin Combe with a fine rainbow of 4lb 8oz
(Above) A fin perfect rainbow of 3lb 8oz

EARLY SEASON TROUT FISHING – Another Perfect Day

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The journey across Exmoor on a late March day evaporated into a whirl of fishing talk and tales as Jeff drove us to Wimbleball Lake high on Exmoor. On arrival we were greeted warmly by Trevor Telling who assists Mark and Tracey Underhill in running Wimbleball Lake.

Its just over twelve months since Mark took over running Wimbleball and I am sure that many of the anglers who have visited since will vouch for the Stirling job that Mark and his team have done.

I asked Mark to summarise his feeling after a year running the Lake.

“During our first season it was certainly a surprise to us how many fishermen came to fish at Wimbleball, and that gave us confidence to go on and order the Coulam boats. I don’t think we could have picked a worse year to have started running Wimbleball due to beast of a the east and then that awful fishing summer. But even with that we were very pleased with everything. The lake fished it’s socks off and we only had a few blanks all year, It’s truly a magical lake and I feel very blessed to have taken on the fishing my end goal is make Wimbleball one of the country’s top lakes for cracking quality and the hardest fighting fish any where in the country.”

Trevor Telling is himself a keen angler and is passionate to ensure that all those who visit the Lake enjoy the experience. He shares information freely suggesting where to fish and what flies and tactics are likely to succeed. We chatted at length about trout fishing and fisheries and how important it is to all work together in promoting this wonderful pastime. One issue that Mark and Trevor feel strongly about is the need to encourage young anglers into the sport and to promote this they offer Juniors under 16 the opportunity to fish for free when accompanied by a permit holding adult.

The adoption of a forward thinking catch and release policy has proved very popular with visiting anglers. The sensible catch and release ticket option costs the same as a five fish ticket with the first two fish to be retained ensuring a constant turnover of stock. The angler can enjoy a full days fishing without any worry about bag limits and having to leave when the quota is made.

A blue sky interspersed with white cotton wool clouds, birdsong drifting through the air, fresh green leaves and buds all around. Daffodils, celandines and primroses denote that we are in that delightful yellow phase of spring. Time to go trout fishing!

The bright sunshine and cool North West Breeze would undoubtedly make the trout a little harder to catch but this did little to dent our enthusiasm as we tackled up in the car  park close to Bessom’s Bridge.

I threaded the Intermediate line through the rings attached a leader of 8lb b.s Fluro-carbon and put a bead headed black lure on the point with a buzzer pattern on the dropper.

Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce set up with some of Snowbee’s finest kit  and elected to start off with a booby on a fast sinking line.

We both walked eagerly to the waters edge and took a few steps out into the gin clear water before extending our lines. And so, the search began in a rhythmic cast and retrieve that is so absorbing. The icy cold water on the fingers, the coolness seeping through waders, the expectation as the line is pulled back through the rod’s rings.

This wonderful vibrant spring landscape is surely all so vital in this quest to connect with the hard fighting trout that live within this other dimension beneath the surface. It’s all so hard to put into words but I can only link the total emersion into this trance like state as the mind set determined during yoga or mindfulness endeavours.

It was mid-morning by the time we started fishing and I am sure that we both expected success early in the day. I persisted with the set up I had started with whilst Jeff continually swapped and changed lines, tactics and flies. After an hour I hooked a rainbow trout that erupted at the end of the line leaping two or three feet into the air in a flurry of spray before racing away at a rate of knots then coming detached from the hook. This frustrating occurrence was to be repeated several times throughout the morning. This at least gave hope that I was doing something right, as Jeff had not even had a pull in the first two hours.

We stopped briefly for lunch resting our arms and assessing the situation. It was apparent that other anglers were also struggling to find the fish as they were constantly moving around searching.

By mid afternoon our spirits had dipped slightly and we decided it was time to try a new area. If nothing else it would give us a change of scenery and fresh hope. We figured that the shallow bay opposite could be worth a try. Whilst several anglers had been fishing there in the morning they had moved on and the area had been rested for a while.

As we walked to the water’s edge there came that welcome ring upon the water that signifies a feeding trout. Jeff put out a long floating line with a Black n’ peacock on the point. First cast came a pull; second cast a bent rod and an acrobatic rainbow. We were both relieved to break the prospect of a blank day and I captured the moment before resuming my own quest for a trout.

A few casts later and I was once again enjoying the thrill of a hard fighting rainbow at the end of the line. Exhilaration once more turned to disappointment as the hook once again lost its hold. I was now however brim full of confidence and expected a take with every cast and It wasn’t long before I was again relishing the battle with one of Wimbleballs hard fighting trout. Each trout seemed to be turbo charged ripping line through the fingers as the rod bent and bucked to the strain.

The next couple of hours saw us hook multiple hard fighting rainbows with black lures fished on an intermediate line highly effective. We don’t know of course whether it was the change of location that had brought success or the trout’s appetite or mood.

The fact that we had eventually unlocked the key to success brought satisfaction, whilst the perfect light as the day faded brought appreciation of the artist in us both. As the sun slowly sank it was difficult to know what mattered most, was it the thrill of hard fighting trout or the capturing of that moment with the camera?

With bare trees silhouetted against the skyline and the mirror of the lake reflecting the glowing embers of the day I hoped that Jeff could seal the moment. As I framed him fishing; a fish seized the fly. The next few minutes we both relished the moments as a hard fighting trout tested the tackle for several minutes before eventually surrendering into the folds of the rubber coated net. The barbless hook slipped easily from the  jaws of a stunning wild brown trout. After capturing the moment Jeff let the fish swim away into the cool waters and into our memories.

We packed away, our fingers tingling with the cold water, our feet numbed after  hours stood up to our waists in the cool water. As we left enchanting Wimbleball Lake I commented  that we would never endure such discomfort during a day at work!

As the road climbed up onto the moor Jeff’s phone sprang into life. The fact that he was due at the pictures at 8.00pm had totally slipped his mind whilst lost in the waters of an angling life.

Its always good to be at the start of a season with those longer spring days and summer evenings still to come. The thrill of rising trout during perfect days beside well stocked waters.

Wimbleball Lake is a large reservoir with a surface area of 374 acres. The dam construction was completed in 1979 and provides water that is distributed by  South West Water and Wessex Water. It was run as a trout fishery for many years by South West lakes Trust who downgraded the fishery in 2016. Mark Underhill took on running the lake in 2018 stocking it with quality rainbow trout from Rainbow Valley Trout Farm.

The lake also has a good population of wild brown trout that run to over 6lb.

 

Wistlandpound Fly Fishers visit Wimbleball on a stormy day!

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Clubs first outing of the season was to Wimbleball Reservoir high on Exmoor. With gale force winds, hail, sleet and icy rain punctuating long sunny spells it was a day to wrap up warm. We arrived shortly after 9.00am and a glance through the catch returns showed that sport had at times been frantic over the opening week of the season with plenty of limit bags and impressive catch and release sport. The size of trout was also promising with good numbers of fish over 4lb.

I decided to start directly below the permit hut close to where the boats are launched as this bank had a degree of shelter from the gale force wind that was sweeping across from the North West. A large bead headed black lure presented on an intermediate line seemed an obvious choice this early in the season and the trout seemed to agree as I was into a hard fighting rainbow of close to 3lb on just my second cast.

For the next half an hour I felt tugs at the fly on every other cast and briefly connected with another hard fighting rainbow before landing my second rainbow. At this point I was expecting to bag up within a couple of hours but the trout had other ideas!

I persevered with the same tactics for another hour but failed to get a pull. A move fifty yards along the bank brought an encounter with a stunning brown trout of close to 2lb that cartwheeled out of the water in flurry of spray. After a quick photo of the fish in the net it was returned and swam strongly away into the crystal clear water.

Talking to other passing anglers it was a similar story with sport drying up.  I decided upon a move along the bank to where some other club members where fishing. Andre Muxworthy had already bagged up and told me he had landed all his fish within the first hour or so. Whilst I received a couple more pulls at this location my score for the day was to remain at a brace of good rainbows totalling 5lb 8oz.

The afternoon passed quickly by with clouds racing across the sky, Canada geese cackling on the lake and leafless trees dancing in the cold wind. After a day stood in icy water it was not too difficult to drag myself from the waters edge and return to the permit hut to weigh in.

Winner Paul Grisley with a 4lb 2oz rainbow

1st – Paul Grisley – Five trout for 15lb 8oz  Best fish a rainbow of 4lb 2oz

2nd – Andre Muxworthy – Five trout for 14lb   Best fish a rainbow of 5lb

3rd – Wayne Thomas – Two trout for 5lb 8oz

4th – David Eldred – Two trout for 5lb 4oz

Andre Muxworthy with the best fish of the day a full tailed 5lb rainbow.

I hope to return to Wimbleball in a couple of weeks when with luck the weather will be a little kinder. The fishing has been spectacular at times so far this season and even on this day when I and a few others struggled to catch one angler enjoyed a catch and release day with over twenty fish returned. Early in the season with fish often tightly shoaled up location is often the key with black and green lures very often successful.

Exe Valley Report – From Sue Hart

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Since my last report which was written whilst there was snow on the ground, we have had Storm Eric followed by the most glorious February weather. It has been lovely to see so many anglers fishing Anchor Lake in the sun. The lake is beautifully clear with the fish cruising just below the surface. All areas around the lake have been fishing well with a wide range of flies being successful along with a slow retrieve.

Chris Comber from Norton Fitzwarren visited Exe Valley Fishery for the first time during Storm Eric and managed to entice out this hard fighting Rainbow Trout.

Richard Carr from Wiveslicombe was given his permit as a gift and visited Exe Valley over the half term. Richard caught 4 fish with the biggest weighing in at 4 ½ lbs.

Anchor Lake Tactics

Throughout February a large number of flies have been working well with Bloodworm & Blob patterns continuing to be successful along with Sedge, Diawl Bachs, Damsels and Hares Ears. The fish have been close to the surface earlier in the day and moving down a little deeper when the sun is very bright.

Lobbs Lake Re-opening

After the huge weeding effort on New Years Eve I am pleased to say that Lobbs Lake will open for family fishing from Monday 1st April 2019. Lobbs Lake will have a separate permit to Anchor Lake and it will be an any method lake. As well as fishing on Lobbs Lake there will be bags of fish food for sale in the shop for those who would like to come and feed the fish.

Special Offers & New Permit Option

Starting today I will be trialling a 1 fish permit option as requested by several of our anglers, also any transaction of £25.00 or over will receive a voucher to use in the shop.

Fishery Notices

· Quick reminder to anglers that have taken up our Winter Permit Offer – there is less than a month to go to gain your free permit with the offer ending on 31.03.2019. You then have until 30.04.2019 to use your permit.

· Please can I remind anglers fishing Catch & Release that there are few separate rules. A copy can be found here.

· The pre-order menu will continue to be available until 31.03.2019. There is a copy below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this report. Sue x