Melbury Carp catches

posted in: Carp Fishing, Sidebar | 0
Catch report from Tim Thornton:
“Lovely 32 hour session on SW Lakes Melbury reservoir in North Devon.
Arrived at 0400 in the rain. It took some time to get a bite on the end of a south westerly, but the effort of an early start and 1.5 hour drive in darkness through the damp Devon lanes was worth it.
The bites started to come through observation and different tactics using DNA baits 18mm Bug boilies. 12 bites and 11 landed
The carp scaled from 13lb to 24lb 4oz.
The biggest came in darkness on a relatively heavy baited rod left all day and into the night.
Plus just being here is amazing given the views.
Andrew and Jack Willis also fished at Melbury banking ten carp to 27lb8oz.

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report


September 2022

Water levels have continued to fall (in some cases well below 40%) in spite of some welcome interludes of rain, meaning that large expanses of muddy banks have been exposed, and anglers are reminded to be aware of the dangers of soft mud. Water temperatures are still high, and the trout, rainbows in particular, are still not particularly eager to look at a fly, and are generally in the cooler deeper parts of the lakes. We should start to see an improvement in the fishing with fresher conditions and cooler nights now prevailing.


Kennick – Boat anglers continue to achieve the best results, with the deeper waters in Boat, Poplar, and Clampitts Bays producing the best sport. Either sinking lines or floating lines with a long leader fished with a slow retrieve in mid-water produced results, using either a variety of Damsel Nymph patterns or Black Tadpoles. Simon Emery (from Winkleigh) caught three rainbows to 3lb using an Olive Damsel fished on a sinking line and slow retrieve, while Chris Whiteman (from Exeter) caught a 2lb 8oz rainbow on a Green Damsel.

Burrator – Sheepstor, Longstone Bay, Pigtrough, and Discovery Point proved to be the best locations to fish, with anglers favouring floating lines with a sink-tip, and a variety of nymph (Blue Flash Damsel, Claret Buzzer) and lure patterns (Orange FAB, Viva, and Cruncher). Alan Bachelor, along with two companions, caught fourteen rainbows to 2lb, while Jon Rood (from Plymouth) caught three rainbows to 2lb using an Orange FAB, with an Orange Blob on the dropper, fishing from Sheepstor Bank.

Stithians – Water levels are very low here – at the time of writing only 25% full. The Dam area, Sluice Bank, and North Bank have produced the best sport, with Black Pennell, Goat’s Toe, and Dunkeld fished on a sink-tip line taking fish, while browns have risen to Daddylonglegs patterns.

Fernworthy – The recent rain has meant that the water level in this high Moorland reservoir has started to rise, with some fish activity. Nick Hawkins (from South Brent) caught two nice browns to 2lb 4oz using a sunk Kate McLaren on a slow retrieve.

Colliford – The fishery continues to buck the trend, with anglers averaging 4.7 fish per rod, and fish well spread out around the lake (Browngelly Bay, Lords Waste, and East Bank producing a lot of catches). Fish are being tempted to take dry patterns (Foam Beetles, Bobs Bits, Foam Daddies, Black Gnats and Small Sedges) fished on a floating line and long leader, as well as sub-surface patterns (Gold-head Daddies, Diawl Bachs, Soldier Palmers, Montanas, and Buzzers). Chris Tilyard (from Fradden) caught ten browns to 2lb 11oz in an early morning session using a Soldier Palmer and Zonka.

Roadford – Sport at Roadford continues to improve, with anglers averaging 6.7 browns per rod in one week. Daveys Bank, East Wortha, and the South Bank produced the best sport, with fish taking a variety of patterns (including Black Hoppers, Ginger Shipmans, Soldier Palmer, Zulu, and Black Tadpole) on floating lines. Dean Boucher (from Gunnislake) caught thirteen browns to 1lb 4oz in one session on pulled wets (Soldier Palmer, Zulu, and Black Tadpole) fishing a floating line. Rodney Wevill (from Launceston) caught seven browns on a floating line with static and medium retrieves.

Meeting SOUTH WEST LAKES TRUST – New Head of Angling

I met with Ashley Bunning at Lower Slade Reservoir to discuss his new role as head of angling with South West Lakes Trust. Ashley is a very keen all-round angler much like myself and we had plenty to chat about as we walked around the reservoir. Ashley’s new role encompasses  Game and Coarse fishing across the South West.

Ashley is very keen to promote angling across the region focussing in particular on encouraging young people into angling with school days a strong possibility. The lakes across the region provide a wealth of angling opportunities for pleasure, Match, Carp and specimen hunters. Getting a balance across all persuasions can be difficult and it is often difficult to please everyone. Being a keen angler himself Ashley has plenty of ideas and has plenty of contacts across the angling world. He acknowledges that there are challenges and that there is ground to make up following the departure of Ben Smeeth last year.

The popular Carp Fishing competitions sponsored by Mainline are due to return next year at Upper Tamar and  I will have full details on NDANs as soon as these are officially announced. I might even take part myself!

The reservoirs across the South West offer a wide range of unique fishing opportunities and Ashley is keen to expand these where possible if budgets allow. These are difficult times and as a potential recession impacts upon us all fishing will undoubtedly be affected. It is also worth remembering that angling can be a relatively inexpensive pastime that has great benefits for both physical and mental health.

The social media platforms are to be reinvigorated over the coming months and I hope to share any news on North Devon Angling News. South West Lakes Trust have taken over the running of the famous Royalty Fishery at Christchurch where many historical catches have been made.

Angling is of course not the only pastime that uses the lakes and tolerance is essential if everyone is to enjoy their time at the water.


September 2022 

Hi all, I’m Ashley Bunning, the new Head of Angling at South West Lakes.

I am a keen angler who has fished the South West Lakes reservoirs all my life. I grew up in Holsworthy and when I finished school I moved away from home and studied Fishery Management and Aquaculture to a Bachelor of Science level at Sparsholt College in Winchester.

After completing my course, I worked at various fisheries around the country, then settled at Anglers Paradise in Devon for the last six years.

Over the years I have volunteered for South West Lakes and when the opportunity came about to have a role here as Head of Angling I jumped at the chance! I look forward to pushing fishing forward and improving the experience for anglers on our waters.


South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report August 2022

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries Report

August 2022

The continuing hot, dry and sunny weather conditions have meant that water levels in the reservoirs across the South West have been low (below 50% full) and continue to drop, while water temperatures have been high – this means that although more bank is exposed, thus opening up new areas for bank anglers, the fish have been sulking in the deeper, cooler water, and have not been particularly eager to feed, resulting in some difficult fishing on most of the lakes. Prospects for September should see a welcome improvement, with cooler temperatures and some rain to freshen the waters.


Kennick – Boat anglers, able to access the deeper water, achieved the best results when fishing with weighted flies (Gold Head Damsels in particular), Boobies and Lures, along with the occasional Buzzer. Clampitts Bay, Boat Bay, The Narrows, the deep midwater and the area by the dam produced the best sport, with anglers averaging 1.2 fish per rod. As part of National Fishing Month, Kennick hosted a free Trout Fishing Taster day on 21 August, supported by Snowbee UK and Turrall flies. The event was well attended, with qualified coaches on hand to provide tuition throughout the day, as well as fly tying demonstrations and tackle to purchase.

Burrator – Sinking lines with a selection of wet patterns (Damsels and Montanas in particular) and lures produced the best results, although a large dry pattern (a Daddy or Hopper) occasionally brought fish to the surface. Rods averaged 2.4 fish per angler, with Sheepstor, Longstone Point and Bank, and Pig’s Trough Bay the most productive areas.

Stithians – A variety of techniques and depths fished met with some success at Stithians – floating lines with dry patterns (Hare’s Ear Parachute, Coch-y-Bondhu, Daddies and Hoppers), fast sinking lines with Bloodworm and Shrimp patterns, as well as the washing-line method, all primarily from the bank and well spread out around the lake (although Dam Wall, Pipe Bay, and Deep Bank featured in many catch returns).

Fernworthy – The South Bank produced the best sport, with Black CDC emergers, Black Gnats, Black Buzzers and Black Tadpoles fished on floating or intermediate lines accounting for all the catches, with anglers averaging just under one fish per rod.

Colliford – While the other waters struggled to produce good sport, Colliford came into its own in August, with weekly rod averages rising from 3.75  to 6.5 fish per angler. Rising fish meant that Floating lines with long leaders accounted for nearly all the fish caught, with a selection of dry patterns (Hopper, Hawthorn, Deer Hair Sedge, Daddies and Beetles) or sub-surface nymphs and wets (Hare’s Ear Nymphs, Bibios, Spider patterns, and Soldier Palmers) all catching well. As is usual at Colliford, fish were well spread out around the banks (although Lords Waste, Spillway, and Redhill Downs all produced consistent results). Chris Tilyard (from Fraddon) caught twelve browns in one session, while his son, Brody, caught his first ever brown trout on his first fly fishing session. Gary Stickland (from Chagford) caught twelve browns to 1lb 8oz, using a floating line and long leader in one session.

Roadford – Deep fished lures (Wooly Bugger, Booby Damsel, and Tadpole) fished from a boat with a slow retrieve, particularly over the Boils, Shop Inlet, and Boat Bay produced the best results, although generally sport was slow and challenging.


Trout taster day success – Kennick 20 August 2022

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

A trout fishing taster day took place on Saturday 20 August as part of National Fishing Month.

The free event, kindly supported by Snowbee and Turrall, was based at Kennick reservoir and offered the chance for those interested in taking up the sport to have a go themselves with experienced anglers on hand to offer tuition as well as fly-tying demonstrations. It was also the perfect opportunity for anglers to come along and pick up some new techniques and tips and have a cup of tea and chat.

National Fishing Month (1st-31st August) celebrates the social, well-being and environmental benefits of angling and the uptake of places for the taster day was very encouraging with the event selling out quickly. The weather was kind and there was some useful cloud coverage and breeze at times. Participants were booked into one of three sessions throughout the day and were assigned to a coach who offered tuition and guidance. It was a great atmosphere, lots of laughs and a really good opportunity to experience fly-fishing in an informal and friendly setting.

Back at the lodge, there were fly-tying demonstrations to watch, a sale of fishing equipment and plenty of tea, coffee and biscuits and the chance to enter a raffle to win various angling items and permits. Thanks to the team from Turrall for their support with the day, in particular their contribution to the raffle and generous gift bags. Well done to the winners who will be contacted shortly.

We had some great feedback on the day and it was really good to see so many people enjoying the fishing as well as hearing future plans to continue the hobby going forward. We have also been asked to run more days like this so watch this space! A particular mention should go to the junior anglers who put in a lot of effort and showed some very promising talent- keep it up!

We would like to extend our gratitude to those who came along or helped on the day, without whom events like this would not be possible so a special thank you to: Simon Kidd (Snowbee), John Hern, Brian Ratcliff, Colin Nice, Andy Watson, Heather Lamacraft, Mike Kent, Geoff Stephens, Harry Chance and Laurence Skinner who gave us their time and expertise throughout the day and of course to Mark for his help and organisation.

Tight lines and hope to see you out on the water soon.

Dil Singh​
Visitor Experience Manager ‑ Dartmoor
Technical Lead ‑ Game Fishing

Wistlandpound – Beautiful browns brighten a stormy day

Wistlandpound is just a short drive from my home in North Devon and provides the opportunity for shorts sessions with the fly Rod in search of the wild brown trout and Rudd that abound in the lake.

As I walked to the water via the wooded path I was delighted to hear the sound of chiff-chaffs calling from the trees a sure sign that spring has truly arrived despite the overcast sky and near gale force south west wind. I arrived at the waters edge with the wind blowing from left to right which made it easy to put out a decent line despite its strength.

I retained the team of flies that had brought some success at Colliford at the end of last month. A small black lure on the point and a black spider on the dropper.

I put out the floating  line and paused to allow the fly to sink a little before starting the retrieve. My plan was to cover plenty of water making a step along the bank between each cast. On the third cast I was delighted to feel a strong pull that resulted in a spirited scrap from a wild brown of around 10″.

Half a dozen casts later after missing a few tentative takes I once again felt a strong pull and connected with a good fish that put a decent curve in the rod. After a short tussle I was thrilled to bank a beautiful wild brown of 14″.

This was a truly stunning looking trout that was admired briefly and its image captured.

I continued to search the bank missing several takes and connecting with several more stunning wild browns that were between 10″ and 12″. Each fish was totally different in appearance with some almost silver like a sea trout others golden flanked and crimson spotted. In the short two hour session I brought seven trout to hand each one released carefully ensuring future sport.

I look forward to warmer days with a gentle breeze rippling the lake surface but I doubt the fish will be so eager to grab the fly then.