Lower Tamar carp and bream

Aaron Bunning had a trip to remember on Lower Tamar this week. After setting up in Swampy’s and catching one fish, he decided to move swims in the morning to Hilton’s. Putting a good spread of Mirage baits ‘Reservoir Specials’ he fished a matching wafter as a hook bait. He ended the session with four fish including this cracking 33lb 6oz common.

( below) Bruce Elston set out to catch a double figure bream on his  third session his quest for a double figure bream came good with specimens of  11lb 6oz and 10lb 11oz.

South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report – March

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South West Lakes Trust Trout Fisheries Report

March 2024

The new season is now firmly under way at all of the South West Lakes Trust trout fisheries; where available, boats are now on the water, and should be pre-booked (online or via the telephone). Generally the weather for the opening month has been both mixed and challenging to anglers, with strong winds, rain, snow and hail, and cold temperatures. Fish have been feeding throughout the water column, with some already starting to feed near the surface, and many have been caught using floating line tactics. The very wet winter means that the water levels are full.

Fishing:

Kennick – Rods averaged just over 5 fish per angler over the month, with fish generally well spread out around the lake and eager to feed. Both boat and bank anglers caught fish in most locations (particularly the Top End, Clampitts Bay, the Dam and Hawthorn Point), using a variety of tactics from floating lines fishing nymphs just under the surface, to Blobs and Boobies fished on fast-sinking lines, all with a variety of retrieves. Andy Western caught a four pound rainbow, the best fish of the month.

Siblyback – The fishery continued to produce some fine fishing, with anglers averaging 3.9 fish per rod. Two Meadows, Stocky Bay, Crylla and North Bank produced the best sport, with bank anglers getting marginally better results than the boats. Dark fly patterns seemed to be preferred by the fish, with Montanas, Vivas, and Black and Gold Fritz patterns fishing well over a range of depths and with various retrieves; a few fish were even tempted to the surface to take Black Hoppers. Small hatches of buzzers produced rising fish on occasions. Benjamin Lang (from Launceston) caught one brownie and seven rainbows – the best of which was 3lb 8oz, caught on a size 14 buzzer cast to rising fish feeding off hatching buzzers off Meadows Bank. Simon Peters (from Truro) caught a bag of seven rainbows to 2lb 8oz, fishing from the East Bank, using a Black and Green Snake and a Black and Green Bunny Cat on an intermediate line.

Burrator – Again, the great start to the season continued at Burrator, with anglers averaging 5 fish per rod, with fish well spread out around the lake, particularly at Longstone, Sheepstor, Lowery, Pig Trough and Bennett’s. Floating and intermediate lines with a variety of retrieval methods (fast, slow figure of eight, washing line) all produced good sport. Hatches of buzzers and black gnats meant that fish were frequently found feeding near the surface (and occasionally caught on a Klinkhammer); however, the majority of fish were taken sub-surface on a variety on nymph (Damsels, Pheasant Tails, Buzzers and Montanas) and lure (Orange Blobs, Black Fritz, Humungous and Cats Whisker) patterns. Kevin Sellar (from Plymouth) caught twelve rainbows and a brown from the boat, fishing off Discovery Bank, then Lowery Point, Pines, Bennett’s and Narrator, using a slow intermediate line. Al Lawson (from Plymouth) caught a bag of five rainbows fishing between Lowery Point and the field, and then on to Bennett’s; Dom and Ben Garnett (from Exeter) caught four rainbows and three browns, using a Damsel Nymph at first, and then a Black spider when fish started to rise to hatching buzzers, at Narrator Bank.

Stithians – The fishing improved as the month progressed, with anglers averaging 3.3 fish per rod. The best sport was to be had at North Bank, Yellowort, Goonlaze, Chapel Bay and Mossopps, with surface activity during the occasional buzzer hatch. Fish were caught at all depths on a wide selection of nymphs (mainly Damsel variants) and lure patterns (Orange Blobs, Cats Whiskers, Cormorants and Muddlers), with some fish rising to both Claret and Green Hoppers, as well as small parachute dry patterns and Coch-y-Bondhu. Simon Peters (from Cusgarne) caught a bag of eight rainbows in the space of an hour, pulling an Apache Lure on an intermediate line and slow retrieve, with aggressive takes; on another visit he caught five rainbows to 2lb 8oz from Deep Bank. Phillip Lockley (from Constantine) caught four rainbows using a home-tied Damsel nymph fished near the bottom.

Fernworthy – The fishing improved as the month progressed. The middle week resulted in eight anglers out of thirteen catching full bags, and an overall rod average of 2.23 fish per angler; the average then rose to 2.7 fish per rod in the final week of the month. The most successful method was a medium or slow retrieve on either a floating or intermediate line, with most fish feeding in the top six feet of water, mainly on a variety of sub-surface nymph patterns (including Diawl Bachs, Pheasant Tails, Montanas, Buzzers and Bibios), while a few fish rose to take a Daddy Longlegs from the surface. Prime locations included Permit Hut, Boat Bay, Lowton Bay and South Bank. Rodney Wevill (from Lifton) caught five browns to 1lb 4oz using a Soldier Palmer and Blue Zulu on a floating line with a medium retrieve.

Colliford – Again, the fishing improved toward the end of the month, with rod averages rising to 3.5 fish per visit, with the best fishing to be had by the dam, Lords Waste and along the West bank. Generally floating lines with a medium or slow-jerked retrieve produced the best results, using Soldier Palmers, Muddler Minnows, Zulus and Hare’s Ear patterns. When there was a rise to hatching buzzers, small Black Gnats and Bob’s Bits both caught fish, as did Deer Hair Sedges and Daddy Longlegs patterns. Dean Boucher (from Gunnislake) opened his season with four (three overwintered) browns to twelve inches using a Black Tadpole and Zonker. Chris Tilyard (from Fraddon) caught four browns, casting a Black Gnat to fish rising to a Black Buzzer hatch, while Roger Truscott (from Liskeard) caught eighteen browns in one session. Richard Ticehurst (from Kelly Bray) caught six browns to 14” in an afternoon session, noting plenty of insect activity (tiny black terrestrials, longhorn sedges, small brown beetles, and craneflies) – he found short casts and static presentation of dry patterns for the fish to find the most successful method. Colliford is the only reservoir not yet at full capacity, being 95% full at time of writing.

Fluff Chucker’s /SWLT Brown Trout Masters Heat one – Colliford

Roadford – Rods averaged 3 fish per rod, with most fish caught either in the deeper water by the dam or at Grinnacombe. Generally a slowly retrieved floating line, fishing Beetles, Tadpoles or a mini Scruffy Tiger produced the best results. Jamie Gillman (from Plympton) caught ten browns up to 1lb, all using a Beetle pattern.

Please see the Trust’s website (www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing) for more information on buying tickets, boat availability and booking, and forthcoming events. The Trust, in conjunction with Fluff Chuckers, will be running a Brown Trout Masters competition this season, to be held over three dates at Colliford, Fernworthy, and Roadford – please see the website for more information.

 

Chris Hall (April 2024)

 

ROADFORD FLY FAIR

         South West Lakes Trust hosted their annual Fly Fair at Roadford where Fly anglers from all over the South West converged for this ever popular curtain raiser to a new season. A wide variety of stands represented those involved in the Fly Fishing Community. The events main sponsors were Chevron Hackles, Holmleigh Angling Centre, Catch, Snowbee and Turrall.

         Charles Jardine opened the event stressing the need for anglers to get out fishing and support their local fisheries. He also spoke of the benefits of introducing young people into the fascinating world of fly fishing that has many positive benefits for mental health and general well-being.

         Discussion flowed freely throughout the day with many plans set for the coming season. The long wet winter has undoubtedly impacted upon winter fishing with those fly anglers seeking sport with grayling and pike having a difficult time with only short periods when conditions were suitable to visit the water’s edge.

         There has been considerable change over recent seasons as society has been impacted upon by Brexit, Covid and the cost of living crisis. Angling and fly fishing has of course been affected by all of this but it is perhaps even more important that our pastime thrives to bring much needed sanctuary from this gloom laden world.

         Fly fishing has long been seen as a rather elitist branch of angling and when I started casting a fly fifty years ago the art of fly casting was still to some extent seen as a sport for the gentry.

         The boom in Stillwater trout fishing during the 1970’s broke down these social barriers to some extent as a wider section of society enjoyed catching rainbow trout stocked into water supply reservoirs.

         I remember being thrilled to catch the occasional limit bag of trout when I started out with the fish averaging around 1lb. As fisheries spread competition increased and small still-waters started opening stocking ever larger trout. Into the 1980’s and 1990’s double figure rainbow trout became a regular feature with some fisheries stocking fish to over 20lb.

         This increasingly artificial commercial fishing resulted in ever increasing expectations from anglers. Another factor that perhaps influenced stocking was a significant increase in cormorant populations across reservoirs. The stocking of rainbows under 1lb 8oz became unviable as smaller trout were simply mopped up by these predatory birds.

         Covid impacted upon us all but there was an initial post covid boom in fishing as anglers escaped to the great outdoors to enjoy a pastime that offered a safe environment. The value of fishing to mental health became much appreciated and for a time it seemed fly fishing was in a good place.

         Sadly, the cost of living and angler’s unrealistic levels of expectation has resulted in an unsustainable situation. The spiralling cost of fish food and hot summers has impacted upon the farms that provide stock fish. The result is that fisheries are forced to pass the costs onto customers. In a cost of living crisis, it is very much a case of the survival of the fittest and as a result we are seeing the collapse of some fisheries Draycote Water in the Midlands being a case in question.

         So having painted a rather gloomy picture of the fly fishing world in this country I will now look for those proverbial green shoots.

         This year’s fly fair brought together a wide dynamic of anglers from the West Country Fly Fishing scene. With a new season ahead, there was undoubtedly a positive and optimistic drive as the leaders of this pastime urged us to get out fishing and support our local fisheries.

Jeff Pearce and Russ Symons talk flies

         Concern for the environment was evident with fishery associations promoting their waters that are often surprisingly cheap alternatives to the commercial waters.

Laura Dee Invasive species information stand

Companies like Catch and Fish Pass are now offering a new way to buy day permits using the latest mobile phone technology.

Tim Price from Catch

         In contrast to the modern world traditional craftsmen like Luke Bannister were at hand to display magical wands of split cane that add sweet perfection to an angler’s day.

         I took pleasure in introducing Michelle Werrett whose new book Song of the Streams is enchanting readers to fellow author Mike Weaver whose writing has delighted West Country anglers for many decades. His book In Pursuit of Wild Trout published in 1991 is a classic tome that is timeless in its validity.

         The West Country has a wealth of wild streams that offer exciting fishing for wild brown trout and a sadly diminishing number of salmon and sea trout. Adrian Bryant has been promoting the excellent film Riverwoods across the region and I joined him in presenting a short preview of this film giving my own brief view on the tragic decline of salmon.

         Chatting with many at the Fly Fair it was apparent that there is a willingness to adapt and there are signs that new thinking is starting to break down the barriers of tradition. There is a growing desire to fish for varied species across different waters.

         Pike from large stillwater’s and canals are an increasingly reported trend. Perch, rudd and carp are also gaining a following with Dominick Garnett columnist for the Angling Times giving a thought provoking talk on fly fishing for coarse fish. There is also an increasing number of anglers targeting sea fish with bass and mullet offering exciting sport during those hot months of summer when the trout are dwelling deep down in the reservoirs.

         There are those who taking fly fishing into cross over territory with LRF with talk of using squirmy flies employed to catch blennies and other species from rock pools using 2 wt. rods more often used to target wild brown trout in moorland streams.

         The definition of Fly Fishing on Wikipedia is Fly fishing is an angling technique that uses an ultra-lightweight lure called an artificial fly, which typically mimics small invertebrates such as flying and aquatic insects to attract and catch fish.”

This differs somewhat to my own thoughts where I had always believed fly fishing to be a technique that involves projecting the fly to the fish using a line as the weight. The traditional casting styles were entrenched within my  mind set. But I now see an unfurling world of unorthodox presentations as anglers dibble and jig their flies or lures.

         This is a world far from those days captured within the classic tomes depicting Fly Fishing on the revered chalk streams of England. Surely though there is room for all as our splendid pastime evolves as it always has?

         We are living in times far removed from those of Halford whose doctrine of the Upstream Dry Fly stimulated debate within the world of the wealthy and privileged during Victorian Times.

         I returned home from this year’s fly fair full of enthusiasm for the coming season with plans made that this year I really must try to make happen.

         Many thanks to Ashley Bunning and all at South West Lakes Trust for hosting a fabulous fair.

 

 

Winter Carp from South West lakes Waters

posted in: Carp Fishing, Sidebar | 0

 

Quay Sports Mr Biso with a lovely old common caught recently from Jennetts Reservoir which is part of the Coarse Fishing South West Lakes Trust. Biso used the newly released ‘DS1’ Boilie from Remix Baits alongside a Sticky Baits Signature wafter with his rig choice being his ever faithfull blowback rig. Pop in for a chat with Biso he will share any tactics/spots and even show you how to tie this if required.
All orders online are 24H delivery with any orders over £25 being free postage.
(Below) Aaron Bunning enjoyed success Melbury banking these fine carp

South West Lakes Trust – Partner with Catch

Message from South West Lakes Trust

Hello fellow anglers

We’re very excited to tell you that we have partnered with Catch to be our fishery management and booking partner.

From 16 November 2023 day tickets will only be available through Catch. Season tickets remain bookable through our website, but will be available through Catch from next year.

Catch are giving our season ticket holders a six-month free subscription so you can book day tickets via the app and enjoy the other benefits. If you already have a Catch account this will automatically be applied. If you don’t, Catch will be sending you an email shortly with details on how to access and begin your free subscription.

Download the Catch app from App Store or Google Play, create a free account and take advantage of all the great features straight away:

  • Interactive lake maps
  • Masses of information at your fingertips
  • Receive catch reports, news and events in real-time
  • Upload your own catch reports directly to our fishery pages
  • Book your next session days, weeks or even months in advance
  • Receive automatic reminders when your next session is due

… and much more!

These guys know what they are doing and have your (and our) best interests at heart. They’ve made the platform easy for everyone to use and we strongly believe that we’ve made the very best decision possible: by partnering with Catch we’ve brought our fishery administration bang up to date which will, in turn, benefit you as an angler.

We appreciate you may have questions so feel free to contact us directly or the Catch team at [email protected] for more information. There is also a live chat option on the Catch website.

Thank you
Ashley
Head of Angling

ROADFORD CARP REMOVAL PROJECT

 

It was an hour before dawn and I was going fishing at Roadford Lake to take part in South West lakes Trust carp removal project. A fox dashed across the road as I drove through the quiet undisturbed Devon countryside. These early mornings often offer glimpses of creatures as they head for cover after their nocturnal meanderings.

I was fishing with my good friend Bruce Elston who like me is just an occasional carp fisher. Roadford is a vast lake of over 700 acres and offers great sport fly-fishing for brown trout. https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/roadford-lake

At some point carp have got into the lake and have thrived providing South West Lakes with a problem for there has never been any intention to have coarse fish within the lake. The lake is the main source of water for North Devon so it can never be drained and netting the fish is not a viable option. SWLT have therefore open up a limited carp fishing removal project. Anglers paying to fish for these carp over a limited period are funding game fishing improvements for the future. The health checked carp are being carefully relocated to waters across the South West lakes portfolio where they will provide improved sport.

Following its introduction in May, we are excited to announce the return of carp fishing at Roadford Lake for September

Just off the A30, Roadford Lake is a naturally beautiful location perfect for anglers living in both Devon and Cornwall and this unique opportunity should not be missed!

Throughout the month, we’ll be removing carp from the lake for restocking purposes elsewhere, and we ask that all fish caught are placed in the floatation pen situated in the water, where they will be collected each morning.

Carp fishing will only be available in a designated area of the lake and all anglers are advised to bring a pair of waders.

Find out more and book: https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/roadford-lake-carp

#ItsYourOutdoors

Bruce and I arrived at the lake as the sun rose in the eastern sky bathing the entire scene in a rich golden glow. Some anglers were already bivvied up and it looked like they were enjoying some early morning sport.

We hurried to the water’s edge and started to set up. The normal process of plumbing the depth was undertaken using a marker rod and float. After deciding what contour to fish over we both embarked upon the task of spodding out a bed of bait. I was using a mixture of pigeon conditioner, sweetcorn and maize.

Hook baits of maize and tiger nuts were fished amidst the particles on standard hair rigs. This process of getting fishing took well over an hour and it was good to eventually sit back and take in the view.  Swallows and martins swooped above as the early autumn sun heated the day. It seemed a little spiteful that as many children returned to school a heatwave was forecast and due to last at least a week.

 

We didn’t know what to expect as each day is different and the lake has not been extensively fished for carp. We knew that some outstanding catches had been made with fish to over twenty pounds.

There is always an added excitement when fishing a water for the first time and with a water as big as Roadford you just don’t know what will turn up, if anything?

At around 8:30am my right had rod was away the alarm screaming as line was torn from the bait-runner. I jumped up and grabbed the rod disappointed when no contact was made.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long before another screaming run resulted in a hard fighting common carp of around 7lb. This was the start of an exciting mornings fishing for me with four more carp banked to 12lb 8oz. I also lost two fish to a hidden snag that I assumed was a tree long since submerged when the valley was flooded back in 1989.

During the morning Bruce had only hooked one carp, a small common of around 3lb.

It is always frustrating fishing with a friend if all the runs seem to come to just one of you. The rest of the day panned out much as expected with the carp going off the feed and neither of us getting any runs after early afternoon.

We were curious to witness Ashley Bunning and fellow ranger Mervyn Beale arrive to remove some of the carp already residing in the retaining enclosures close to the bank. The carp were pristine full tailed fish that will provide welcome stockings across South West lakes Trust Coarse Waters.

Ashley Bunning Head of Angling at South West Lakes Trust displays carp destined for other waters.

It was relentlessly hot for early September and I was glad that I had brought along a brolly to provide some welcome shade.

I was due to leave at 7.00pm and as the day drifted past I envied Bruce who had extended his ticket to allow a night of fishing. At close to 6.00pm Bruce had a screaming run to a bait fished in the margins to his right. After a good tussle I slipped the net under a stocky common carp that pulled the scales to 15lb.

I left the lake as the sun started to sink beneath the horizon. Bruce went on to bank another dozen carp overnight to mid doubles. He told me of a tropical night sleeping under the stars. Shortly after the break of dawn he was thrilled to watch an osprey gliding majestically over the lake.

 

A carp fisher dawn enjoyed by Bruce after a sleepless tropical night that saw him bank a dozen carp.

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report July 2023

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

 

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

July 2023

The weather broke at the end of June, with cooler, wetter, and far more mixed weather conditions in July, although the water temperatures remained high, and fish generally kept to the deeper water and were reluctant to rise to feed.

Fishing

Kennick – The water level continued to fall gradually, down to 89% capacity by the end of the month. In spite of plenty of surface insect activity – buzzer hatches and damsels on the surface, generally the fish stayed in the deeper water, and intermediate or sinking lines fished with lures (Nomads, Tadpoles, Boobies and Cats Whiskers) accounted for most catches, although nymphs (Damsels, Diawl Bachs, and small Buzzers) fished on floating or intermediate lines did catch the odd fish. Anglers averaged 1.5 fish per rod, although this did improve to two fish by the end of the month. Apart from the central deeper water fished by the boats, bank anglers managed to pick up fish at Bracken Point, Laployd Bank, Clampitts Bay, Oak Tree Point, and Boat Bank. John Shore (from Totnes) caught seven rainbows to 3lb, fishing from a boat, using a Black Fritz Nomad and a Blue Flash Damsel on a sinking line and short leader. Simon Vowles and Andy Sterrick enjoyed a good day’s boat fishing from a drifting boat using fast sinking lines with teams of flies (Booby on the point and Diawl Bachs on the droppers), catching eight fish between 2lb and 3lb 3oz, while Graham Roberts (from Totnes) caught four fish to 3lb while fishing from a boat.

The annual Peninsula Classic bank competition was held at the end of June – conditions were hard, and while fish could be seen cruising in the shallows, they were not eager to take the fly. Alex Venn caught three rainbows (bag weight 6lb 8oz) to win the competition, with Darren Penfold runner-up, and Dave Perks third.

Siblyback – Challenging conditions meant that anglers only averaged 1 fish per rod, with Stocky Bay, Two Meadows, and West Bank proving to be the best locations. A variety of dry patterns (Hoppers, Mayflies, and Suspender emergers) tempted fish to the surface, although, in the main, sub-surface nymphs (Buzzers and Montanas) and lures (Minky, Olive Blob, Pink GH Blob, and Boobies) fished on an intermediate line proved to be more successful.

Burrator – Anglers struggled with the summer conditions, barely averaging a fish per rod, with the best sport at Pig Trough, Longstone Point, and Bennetts Lawn. Again, as the month progressed, the fishing improved, with anglers averaging 2.5 fish per rod by the end. A slow, deep retrieve on a variety of lines proved to be the most successful, with catching flies including Buzzers, Damsels, Hares Ears, and Bibios, with Orange Blobs picking up deeper fish, and a dry Sedgehog tempting a few fish to the surface. Patrick Murphy (from Plymouth) caught a beautifully conditioned wild brown trout of 1lb 4oz fishing in the early evening.

Stithians – The fishing really picked up at Stithians in July, with anglers averaging 4.9 fish per rod, mainly on floating lines and a slow retrieve. Fish were well spread out around the banks, with most locations producing fish. Fish were eager to feed off the surface, and there were a number of successful dry patterns (including Olive Hoppers, Beetles, and Black Deerhair Emergers) as well as subsurface nymphs (Damsel Nymphs, Brown Spiders, Black and Peacock Spiders, and Montanas).

Fernworthy –  The warm, blustery, mixed weather conditions made for tougher fishing at Fernworthy, and anglers had to pick their days carefully. Rod averages increased to two fish per rod toward the end of the month. Fish could be tempted to the surface however, with most fish being caught on dry patterns (Black Gnat, Dry Sedge, Elk Hair Emerger, Klinkhammer, and Shipman’s Buzzer). Lowton Bay, the bank below the permit hut, and Thornworthy proved to be the locations producing the best sport. Richard Lane (from Westbury) caught five browns to 13” while fishing dries to an evening rise to a hatch of small black midges.

Colliford – In spite of low levels (currently 58%), this lake continues to fish superbly with plenty of surface activity and dry fly action. Anglers averaged 3.8 fish per rod, which rose to ten fish per angler toward the end of the month, with East Bank, Lords Waste, Stuffle, Browngelly Bay, and West Bank all fishing well. Successful dry patterns included Black Hoppers, Foam Beetles, Sedgehogs, Hawthorns, Black Sedges, and Black Bits, while sub-surface feeding fish were taken on Montanas, Mini Muddlers, and Black Spiders. Daniel Gilbert caught the best fish of the season so far – a beautiful brown trout of 45cm as part of a bag of nine fish caught on Soldier Palmers, Hawthorns, and Black and Peacocks. Nick Odle (from Looe) caught fourteen browns to 1lb3oz on a Bibio and Muddlers fished on a floating line. Simon Peters (from Cusgarne) caught fifteen browns to 1lb using a drowned Daddy on a floating line, before switching to a team of three – Hares Ear on the point, Black Pennel and Pink Wickhams on the droppers.

Roadford – Now down to 65% full, the fishing continues to be challenging, with anglers struggling to average a fish per rod. The main sport has been by the dam, with fishing coming to the surface to take a beetle.

 

SUPERB SPRING FISHING ON South West Lakes Waters

A 3lb 8oz Perch John Deprieelle caught from Roadford this weekend. Perch fishing (by boat only) is offered alongside game fishing at Roadford. Purchase your permits and check the rules here: https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/roadford-lake #ItsYourOutdoors

(Below) Steve Dawe caught three specimen bream at 11lb 10oz, 12lb 8oz and 13lb 6oz from Lower Tamar on a recent session.

( Below) Some fantastic catches by Joe Dietrich from Lower Tamar!
He had PBs all-round with a PB common of 31lb 6oz, PB tench of 7lb 10oz and a bream of 13lb
(Below) Ashley Bunning had 3 fish to 28lb 12oz at Lower Tamar last week, all on Nashbait Scopex Squid wafters over a bed of 20mm Scopex Squid freebies.
New carp fishing spot alert!
This May and September, we will be introducing carp fishing at Roadford Lake. This is an ideal, naturally beautiful location, just off the A30, perfect for anglers living in both Devon and Cornwall.
This will be a trial venture in a designated area at the lake, including 12 swims.

2023 SOUTH WEST FLY FAIR – REPORT

The 2023 South West Fly Fair was held at Roadford Lake on February, 26th. This has become a very popular event in the West Country Fly Fishers diary heralding the onset of Spring fishing.

The format of the day allows plenty of time for social interaction with anglers from across the South West and beyond converging at the conference centre. There was a range of expert anglers at hand to offer advice on tackle, tactics, fly casting and fly tying.

There were numerous stalls with both new and second hand tackle, a vast array of flies and fly tying materials along with details of where to fish. Representatives from numerous angling club’s associations and trusts were in attendance.

Thanks must go to South West Lakes Trusts head of Angling Ashley Bunning and Dil Singh technical lead for game fishing who organised the event with their dedicated team. The event was opened by the familiar fair’s patron Charles Jardine. The fairs main sponsor was Chevron Hackles.

South West Lakes Trusts head of Angling Ashley Bunning( Right) and Dil Singh technical lead for game fishing

As always Charles Jardine’s enthusiasm for fly fishing was very apparent and was this year bolstered by the company of angling writer Peter Cockwill. Charles and Peter both highly respected fly fishing practitioners who have witnessed a huge amount of change in the fly fishing world and have remained at the fore front for several decades.

Charles and Peter are joining forces on June 21st at Syon Park to “ Cast A Marathon”. Twenty six miles of casting using a mix of Orvis 4,6 and 8 weights to raise funds for https://www.fishingforschools.co.uk and Castaway and to promote their love of Fly Fishing. Full details to follow.

Charles Jardine and Peter Cockwill

On arriving at the lakeside venue, it was immediately apparent that the lake is still barely half full following last seasons disastrous drought. This was undoubtedly a widely discussed issue amongst anglers as they debated last season and the coming months. Colliford in Cornwall is apparently even lower prompting the alarming question what if we get another summer of drought? Let’s hope it’s a more traditional British summer with a few downpours to keep the lakes topped up and the rivers flowing.

The experts , Charles Jardine, Snowbee’s Simon Kidd and Gary Champion delivered fine casting demonstrations with impressive flexing of rods and swirling of lines that all looked so simple in their hands despite the chill brisk North East Wind.

( Above) Charles casts his magic

 

Gary Champion explaing the art of fly casting

Snowbee’s Simon Kidd

The fly tying fraternity created many flies and lures to tempt the most discerning of anglers. Talks were delivered with humour and wisdom with plenty of audience participation.

The trade stands and expertise are an integral part of the show but above all it is the angling community that is at the heart of this event. Each year friendships are rekindled and plans made for the coming year. I’m sure its not just me who discusses plans for the season to then find that time and life intervene as for any keen angler will testify there is so much water and little time.

Topping up the tackle – Homeleigh Garden Centre – Angling Department – 

A cheerful smile from John Aplin of Casterbridge Fisheries LTD

Put a couple of hundred anglers together for a day and there will be a huge amount of discussion. That great angling writer H.T. Sheringham penned several classic books in the early part of the last century  the titles of which would cover many of the debates undertaken. Trout Fishing Memories and Morals, Elements of Angling and perhaps more appropriate “Fishing its Cause Treatment and Cure”.

Debate about tactics and morals have raged within angling for centuries. When does an artificial bait become a fly? Is Upstream dry fly fishing superior to upstream nymph. Is the use of an indicator akin to float fishing? Are wild trout more worthy than stocked? What of the future of fishing? Cane, carbon or fibre glass? Is social media toxic or is it the anglers that post upon it? Is competitive angling good or does it bring out the worst in people?

I joined a discussion with well-known West Country Fluff chucker Rodney Wevil debating on how to catch mullet on the fly. Are they the most difficult fish to tempt? Despite considerable success with the species Rodney believes they are indeed among the most challenging of fish.

Talk of Fly Fishing and twenty years ago most would have thought of trout or salmon. Today fly fishing enthusiast’s target a very wide range of species in both salt and freshwater. Predatory fish such as pike have become top targets as have carp. The tactics used to tempt these species open up an entire new spectrum for anglers to debate.

Rodney Wevill

Another item very high on the agenda is the river environment a topic that is now gathering a far wider audience due in part to the sterling efforts of Feargal Sharkey and the like. As anglers we have a very close affinity with water and are very aware of change.

As waters closer to home suffer from mankind’s actions it is perhaps inevitable that those who can afford seek fish from distant lands. I talked of fishing the richer waters of Norway and Iceland.

I also had a very interesting discussion about the fishing in the Southern Hemisphere. I had seen pictures of adventures with huge seatrout, brown trout and rainbow trout posted by Peter Cockwill.

Peter enlightened me about how these fish have thrived in pristine waters of the Southern hemisphere after being stocked many years ago by us northerners. Waters that had no significant fish populations now have these fish that many think of as wild. They are not of course truly wild but illustrate how mankind can redistribute nature to his own ends. Mankind is undoubtedly decimating the marine ecosystems of the world how nature responds is complex.

         The 2023 Fly Fair was a very enjoyable event that will hopefully run as an annual event for many years. I arrived home late afternoon with a head full of fishy thoughts. In the middle of the night I awoke; discussions of fish populations in our rivers swimming through my mind. A common theme amongst anglers is how it used to be. Each generation has its own bench marks.

Keen to record my thoughts I left a warm bed to compose the following:-

I REMEMBER WHEN

The old guy said,

 

I remember when the salmon poured into the pools,

Packed like sardines you could have walked across their backs, (1983)

 

I remember when some anglers caught one hundred salmon in a  season,  (2003)

 

It’s been a better season we caught forty from the river last year,  (2023)

 

I remember when there were salmon in the river,     (2043)

                                                                                                  

I remember being told there were once salmon in this river,  (2063)

 

(Above) Zoe Latham keen Dartmoor Fly Fisher – With her fish and fly art works

                                                                                                

http://www.bannisterrods.co.uk

 

Invasive Species –