South West Lakes Trusts head of Coarse Fishing Ben Smeeth is leaving the trust after close to twenty years of sterling service. Ben will be missed by many in the angling community having contributed to a thriving Coarse fishing portfolio that includes several of North Devon’s favourite angling venues.
Twelve months or so ago I stood on the dam at Lower Tamar Lake watching several large carp basking in the Spring sunshine. I promised myself that when I had more time I would return and invest some quality time into pursuing fish. Twelve months on I have done just that and returned tackle loaded and ready to cast.
On arrival at the lake the sun is shining across this large shallow expanse of water that was created as a feeder for Bude Canal back in the 1820’s. The depths in the lake vary from 8ft to 3ft and my guess is that fish movement may be influenced by wind direction, water temperature, food availability and angling pressure.
The choice of swim is not easy as three other anglers are already in position and a quick chat with them reveals that the fishing has been slow with just one carp banked by them in the past twenty four hours.
My aim is to catch carp or a double figure bream and realisation soon dawns that this is not a forgone conclusion and any rewards will have to be earned. After a stroll around the Lake, it was gut instinct that made me choose to fish the swim at the far end of the dam that would give access to deeper water.
The barrow was loaded and pushed to the swim where I was to spend the next 24hours. Ominous clouds were building as I hurriedly erected my oval brolly shelter and bed chair, stowing those items that needed to be kept dry beneath in preparation for the oncoming rain.
I cast around with a marker float that revealed that I had seven foot of water at fifty yards. The next thirty minutes was spent launching a few spod’s full of particles to the zone I intended to place my baits. Two rods with wafters and one with a method feeder baited with a couple of grains of artificial corn.
The rods were cast out as the rain began to pour down, the sky taking on a grey and foreboding tone.
I took shelter beneath the canvas and began the vigil watching the days weather pass by with traps set. Strange how time flies as the contemplation and observation occupy the mind.
As the rain beats down swallows and martins swoop low over the water. Ducks and ducklings busy about and a grebe hunts far out in the lake. As the rain eases warm sunshine illuminates the scene transforming the vista to that of summer. A buzzer hatch brings a frenzy of activity from the summer migrants. The swallows and martins are joined by the delightful sight of swifts twisting and turning in the blue sky a sure confirmation that Spring is turning relentlessly towards summer.
Afternoon turns to evening and baits are checked and recast. Sausage’s sizzle and hot coffee is enjoyed whilst watching and waiting.
The evening starts to descend and the light fades and with it comes expectation that the alarm will ring out as a fish locates the bait. Wood pigeons coo relentlessly and the hooting of an owl drifts across the stilling waters as the breeze drops away with the coming of night.
Far across the lake the surface is broken by fish but they are beyond my range.
I drift off to sleep the twinkle of farm lights in the distance. Rain patters on the canvas and cool air intrudes into the shelter. I drift back into sleep. The alarm screams out and the blue light of the Delkim shatters the darkness. I stumble out into my boots, right foot in left and left foot in right! I lift the rod to feel a pleasing weight on the end. I am hoping it’s a big bream as I slowly retrieve a ponderous dead weight. Within yards of the margin’s, it wakes up ripping line from the reel telling me it’s no bream.
A golden flanked mirror carp of 19lb 4oz is a pleasing result and avoids a blank session.
After recasting the rod, I retreat back to the warmth of my sleeping bag. Heavy rain lashes down and I dread another run.
I sleep an interrupted sleep drifting in and out of strange dreams that seem to have been prevalent throughout the previous months of pandemic invoked lockdown. I step out into the night to answer natures call and marvel at the vividly clear star studded night sky and reflect on the fact that this is one of life’s constants virtually unchanged for millions of years.
Dawn breaks and the dawn chorus rings out to greet the day. All is still with a mirror like lake stretching before me. I savour the dawn expectantly but all is quiet. A couple of hours later I boil the kettle and cook up a bacon butty.
A couple of dog walkers take a stroll and the day unfolds sunshine illuminating the lake as life resumes. I chat to a fellow angler of waters he fishes and swap notes. He has caught one bream of perhaps five pounds in the night and congratulates me on my success.
With heavy rain forecast I slowly pack away already planning my next trips. I intend to catch a carp from each of SWLT’s waters before the year is out and have made a good start. But still need to catch that double figure bream.
Lower Tamar Lake can be a challenging venue but it has many treasures within including carp to over thirty pounds, double figure bream, 2lb plus roach, big perch, tench, trout and eels.
Mark Gibson and Mark Eager fished Lower Tamar Lake banking eleven carp including eight over twenty pounds the best 27lb.
(Below) Ian Knowles had these two from Upper Tamar recently. 19lb 5oz and 12lb 4oz.
South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report
Boat and bank fishing is available to anglers, with day tickets on sale through the SW Lakes Fishing website or via telephone (01566 771930). Due to Covid19 precautions, self-service permit huts still remain closed at the time of writing. Certain restrictions continue to operate and anglers are asked to read the latest Angling Trust advice with regard to health and social distancing – this information is also available on the SW Lakes Fishing website – https://trout.swlakesfishing.co.uk. Where boats are available, these must be pre-booked and strict guidelines must be followed regarding their use (see website for details). Catch returns also need to be completed online, where the latest weekly catch reports will be available to view.
Kennick – The Rhododendrons are now in full bloom and the fishery is looking stunning. Boat fishing over deeper water has generally proved to be the most successful throughout July and, although some fish have been tempted up to look at dries and Hoppers, most fish have preferred to stay in the deeper water where Blobs and Boobies have produced good results. Plenty of fish over 3lb have been caught, with some large bags caught on catch-and-release tickets; rods averaged 2.7 fish per angler. In addition to deep-fished lures, weighted nymphs (Damsels, Montanas and Diawl Bachs) have also caught fish. Michael Herring (from Thurlstone) caught the best fish of the month – a 3lb 14oz rainbow, fishing deep from a boat. Mr. M. Ure had some excellent sessions from a boat, catching bags of 19 fish, 16 fish and 15 fish on separate occasions. Mr P.Brown caught a bag of 17 rainbows, fishing from a boat over the deeper water.
Siblyback – The changeable weather produced mixed fishing at Siblyback, with some weeks producing excellent sport (averaging 3.5 fish per angler) and superb fish, while others proving to be more challenging. Stocky Bay produced consistently good sport, while Crylla Bay, Marshes and the North Bank all fished well. Fish were still looking up to feed, and dry patterns (Black Beetles, Sedgehogs and Hoppers) all tempted fish. Sub-surface nymphs and wets (Damsels, Montanas and Black Buzzers) caught well throughout the month, with anglers also catching on fry patterns and lures (Kennick Killer and Orange Fritz in particular). Jamie Gilman caught the best fish of the month – a 5lb 8oz rainbow, as part of a bag of seven fish. A late return from George Hext reported that he had caught a rainbow of 8lb 4oz back in May – the best fish of the season (so far).
Stithians – Weekly rod averages have been up to 2.3 fish per angler, with plenty of fish over 2lb, the best being rainbows of 2lb 12oz caught by Steve Glanville and Mike Freeman. The best locations included Goonlaze, Pub Bay, Mossops and Carnmenellis, with fish being caught on a selection of dries (Sedges, Klinkhammers, Black Gnats and Beetles) or sub-surface nymphs and wets (Pheasant Tail Nymph, Mallard and Claret, Black Buzzers and Black Pennel).
Burrator – With weekly rod averages up to 3.5 fish per angler, Burrator continues to fish well and produced some outstanding days’ sport – Paul Lee caught 28 fish from a boat using a selection of Boobies, Blobs and Dry patterns on sinking and midge-tip lines. Generally wet patterns and lures have produced the best results (Damsels, Montanas and teams of Buzzers, or Orange Blobs, Boobies and Kennick Killers), while Klinkhammers and Black Gnats attracted some fish to the surface. Longstone Point and Sheepstor bank produced consistent sport from the shore, while boat anglers enjoyed success off Lowery Point and in the deeper central water. Simon Jeffries caught a 3lb 8oz rainbow (as part of a full bag) from Longstone Bank using a Kennick Killer, and M. Baines also caught a 3lb 8oz rainbow from Sheepstor Bank, using an Orange Cruncher.
Colliford – Some nice grown-on brownies were caught over the month, with Dean Boucher catching fish of 2lb 4oz on two occasions and Chris Clarke catching a 2lb brownie on a Brown Nymph. In addition to keeping on the move to cover as much bank as possible (with Redhill Flats, Lords Waste, Browngelly Bay and Gillhouse Bay all proving popular), it pays to vary the fly pattern and type according to conditions – with Soldier Palmers, Zulus, Black Hoppers, Beetles, Hares Ear Nymphs, Diawl Bachs, Sedge Pupae and weighted Damsels all catching well.
Fernworthy continued to produce some great sport, with anglers averaging 2.5 fish per visit – amongst these were plenty of full bags. George Hext caught a bag of 11 fish using a Black dry Sedge and Black Beaded Nymphs, while Nigel Easton caught a grown-on brown of 2lb using a Bibio pattern. Fish have been free rising, taking emerging midges and sedges, with a selection of traditional dry and wet patterns all catching well (Kate McClaren, Silver Invicta, Bibio, Coch-y-Bondhu, Diawl Bach, Soldier Palmer, Sedgehog, Zulu and Klinkhammer). Most banks have produced sport, with Thornworthy Bank, North Shore, Fishery Hut Bay, Farmhouse bank and Lowton Bay all mentioned in catch returns, with fish often tight into the bank in less than 12” of water.
Roadford – At last the fishing has begun to pick up at Roadford! Jeff Ferguson caught 7 brownies to 1lb 4oz using small nymph patterns (Pheasant Tail nymph and Black Buzzer), while Duncan Kier (from Belstone) had a superb morning fishing from a boat over the boils – the fish were high in the water and took a fast pulled fly (Squinky) almost as soon as it hit the water. Duncan netted five fish – the best a cracking 3lb 8oz grown-on brown in superb condition. The fishing is at its best at Roadford when there is some good cloud cover – currently this seems to be a far more important consideration than the time of day.
Perch fishing (from the boat only) is currently available – this must be pre-booked (see website for more details), and some great fish as well as large bags have been caught. Bruce Elston caught over 60 fish up to 2lb 8oz on one visit and over 30 fish, with five over 2lb, on another while Mike Stone (from Starcross) caught a beautiful 2lb perch.
Adam Moxey, Chris Lambert and Steve Moore have been among the perch at Upper Tamar recently. From the perch boat they boated lots of fish to just under 4lbs on a mixture of soft lures and weighted hooks with self-made flies. The chaps were catching that many fish they were returning fish of 2-3lbs without weighing them in the end! A real red letter day at the prolific venue! Remarkably Steve Moore also had a 14lb common carp on his weighted hook and fly!
Some stunning carp from South West Lakes waters near Bideford. Report below from Ben Smeeth
(Below)Ryan Willshire had this peach of a mirror at the weekend from Melbury. There is some stunning mirrors in the venue and this one is right up there. The fish weighed 20lb 4oz.
Congratulations to Nathan England who after a few years away from carping is back with a bang! This 30.02 Jennetts reservoir common was backed up by another of 26.08 within a couple days of each other. He is over the moon and has outdone son Jake who had a 28lb common two weeks ago! The day ticket venue in Bideford, Devon, is on fire at the moment!