Wistlandpound Club – Visit Wimbleball

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club met at Wimbleball Lake for their first competition of the new season and were faced with challenging conditions during the first part of the day.

A cold South Easterly Wind was blowing down the lake into Bessoms and Ruggs which was the area the majority headed.

My own day got off to a flier when a rainbow seized my cormorant dropper on the first cast. I then waited over three hours before catching the next fish. A small black lure fished on an intermediate line being the successful method that accounted for the final four fish of the day.

Paul Grisley caught a rainbow early in the day and also went several hours before catching three more rainbows in the last half hour of the competition. The best of these was a stunning rainbow of 7lb 12oz that took the fly line out to the backing twice.

Early Spring can be challenging and on this day we seemed to have  several seasons in one day. The morning was bitterly cold in the South East wind with heavy showers and short spells of sunshine. Late in the day the wind dropped away and the lake took on a mirror like appearance reflecting the dark sky and colours of the landscape.

Result – 1st Paul Grisley – Four Rainbow  –  Trout 15lb 4oz – Best 7lb 12oz

                2nd Wayne Thomas – Five Rainbow – 10lb 11oz

                 3rd – David Eldred – One Rainbow – 2lb 8oz

OPENING DAY –APPOINTMENT WITH FULL TAILED RAINBOWS

The sun was rising above the hills of Exmoor illuminating the sky in shades of golden yellow as I drove the winding road towards Wimbleball Lake. Whilst silhouettes of trees still told of winters grip the roadside snowdrops and rising daffodils told of the coming of spring.

It was the last weekend of February and the first day of a new season on Wimbleball Lake a fishery that has been rejuvenated in recent years following careful management by the Underhill family.

I met with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce at the lake for 8:00am and chatted with fellow anglers who had travelled down from the North of Bristol leaving shortly before dawn in their eagerness to connect with the first trout of the season. The two month break certainly rejuvenates enthusiasm with over thirty keen anglers booked into fish on this opening day.

Jeff and I had elected to fish the bank confident that the fish would likely to be close in. We started off near to the boat launching jetty where cheerful fishery assistant Trevor helped anglers on their way with words of advice and encouragement. Wading out into the icy cold water I pushed out my intermediate line with a small black lure on the point and a cormorant on the dropper. I paused a few moments allowing the line to sink whilst I looked around admiring the scene before me. Early morning sunshine casting light upon the cold waters that were ruffled by a cold South Easterly breeze. The stark outline of the surrounding hills and trees framing the lake.

I began a slow and lazy retrieve relishing the early season anticipation and expectation. On the second or third cast there came that delightfully electrifying tug as the line pulled tight the rod tip jagging. I lifted into the fish the rod hooping over as the rainbow surged away into the lake. The fish fought gamely testing the tackle and my patience  as I coaxed the fish to the waiting net. A full finned rainbow of close to five pound was a great start to the season. Jeff was busy welcoming anglers to the boats and rushed over to catch a few images as I posed with my prize in the icy water.

During the following half an hour I added another three stunning rainbows to the days tally. The icy water stinging the fingers and numbing the toes seemed of little consequence.  Jeff eventually joined me hoping to savour his first trout of the season yet by now the South East breeze was increasing in strength making casting more difficult.

We decided to move to a more sheltered area and start a fresh search. Wading out into the waters of a shallow bay we again began the routine of searching the water. Jeffs line zipped tight and he enjoyed battling his first trout of the season a silver rainbow of over 2lb.

We fished the bay for another half an hour without further success and decided once again on a move to deeper water close to Bessom’s bridge. Fishing here proved challenging with the strong icy wind battering the shoreline. Confident that fish would be present we fished hard and I was rewarded with a stunning looking long lean rainbow of close to 4lb.

We gave it another half an hour in the teeth of the wind before conceding defeat and heading once again to sheltered waters. A few fish were being caught in the bay and we fished optimistically before stopping for a bankside sandwich and a coffee.

We discussed tactics and decided to move once again and escape the cool wind. Moving to the far side of the sailing club we found calm sheltered water. By now the sky was a vivid blue with bright sunshine shining into the clear water. Once again my line zipped tight and a wild brown trout exploded from the water performing an acrobatic summersault. Jeff secured a few pics of the immaculate wild fish before it darted away to freedom.

It was mid-afternoon and we sensed a slight easing in the wind speed. The area close to the boat launching area seemed worth a revisit following the success enjoyed earlier in the day.

We braved the cold wind for an hour before conceding defeat at close to 4.00pm. Late February high on Exmoor can be brutal but the rewards are high with Wimbleball’s hard fighting rainbow trout amongst the hardest fighting trout I have ever encountered.

Fishing this vast often windswept lake feels truly wild.

Early season the fish can be concentrated as the catch returns revealed at the end of the day with some anglers recording up to twenty fish. Both bank and boat fishing giving great sport with the popular lures of the day working well.

I have always found black lures or olive damsels to produce well in early season fished down in the water at a slow pace. Anglers often follow fashions with favoured variations proving successful each season.

I look forward eagerly  to my next Wimbleball session and once again connecting with its full tailed battling rainbows.

WINTER PERFECTION

The trees were stark and dark looming out of the mist as night gave way to day. The line was punched out and allowed to settle the lures sinking slowly in the clear water. I began the retrieve attempting to impart life into the two flies. The cool water stung the fingers as I settled into the rhythm of fly fishing for Stillwater trout.

After five minutes the line drew tight with an electrifying tug and for a magical moment there was life on the line. It was short lived however the hooks failing to find a grip.

This brought the essential ingredient of anticipation to the hunt for a trout. The following fifteen minutes or so resulted in several missed takes but no actual hook ups.

I became immersed in the search relishing the cool fresh air, the ever changing light on the water and glimpses of birds upon the lake. Cool rain was driven by the Southwest wind but I hardly noticed as I focussed on the line as it entered the water expectant of that connection with life beneath in an unseen dimension.

After a quiet half an hour I moved fifty yards along the bank and restarted my quest. The line drew tight and life once again pulsed at the end of the line. After a pleasing tussle a handsome brown trout of close to 2lb was brought to the net and admired briefly before being slipped back to disappear with a flick of its tail. Another brown trout equally handsome followed a couple of casts later; half the size of the first.

After an hour without further success the nagging doubts began to set in prompting a move. Once again I cast out into the lake ever expectant. I watched anglers on the far bank and wondered how they were faring? I changed flies, small lures, large lures, small imitative patterns, slow retrieve, fast retrieve, erratic, smooth, deeper and shallower. This is the fascination of fly fishing on a large wind swept Stillwater. Whilst the trout are stocked the fishing has a feeling of wildness that is not experienced in the smaller commercial trout fisheries.

Location is of course vital in the search for success and after three hours without a winter rainbow I decided to move to the far bank. I walked back to the van, broke down the rod; loaded the gear and drove to the next car park.

A hot coffee from the flask and I set off to fish a new area with renewed optimism. I waded out and punched the line out across the lake. A stiff breeze was blowing and the water felt cool as I stood waist deep. It was now early afternoon and I sensed that the best of day had passed. Suddenly the line zipped tight and the rod hooped over as a hard fighting rainbow threw itself into the air. It was a relief to get a rainbow on the bank a pristine fish of a couple of pounds.

I fished on with  renewed expectation and was soon rewarded as a heavy pull resulted in connection with a super fit rainbow that took the line almost to the backing. The rod was hooped over as I relished the moments as the fish shook its head on a tight line making repeated powerful runs. After several tense minutes the rainbow was coaxed over the waiting net. Four and a half pounds of fin perfect perfection was given the last rites and laid to rest beside the other rainbow.

The winter sun eventually broke through illuminating the landscape. Shots from a nearby shoot drifted across the lake. I fished on content with success and was delighted when once again the line drew tight and a third prime conditioned rainbow was brought to the net after another exciting tussle.

The sun was now sinking closer to the hill tops and I decided to head for home after an exciting and rewarding days fishing. Wimbleball remains open until New Year’s Eve and is well worth a visit. I look forward to returning at the end of February at the start of a new season. Many thanks must go to Mark and Trudi Underhill for providing what is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of South West trout fishing. Its not always easy but those rainbows are true piscatorial perfection!

OLD FISHERS UNITED

Friendships are a vital part of angling and it is always great to maintain those long lasting bonds with a trip to the water’s edge. Garry, Rob, Ray and I were once part of South West Waters Game Fishing Team who travelled the length and breadth of England fishing in the annual Water Industry Game Fishing Competition (WIGFIC). We have tried to maintain the tradition of an annual fly fishing trip ever since our participation in the event ceased several years ago.

After a long lull due partially to COVID the Old Fisher Farts set off for a weekend at Wimbleball Lake staying at the delightful old Exmoor pub The George at Brompton Regis.

We assembled at the ticket hut at around 8:30am and cooked up an open air breakfast of sausage and bacon sarnies before heading out to cast our lines. Rob and I for the shoreline and Garry and Ray to the boats to be greeted by the ever helpful Trevor.

Conditions seemed ideal with a gentle breeze and light cloud cover. Despite this the trout proved hard to tempt with just a couple of hard fighting rainbows and wild browns succumbing to my lures fished on an intermediate line.

We met up at lunch time for another fry up and a chat.

Garry had managed a couple of rainbows but Ray and Rob had yet to catch. Spirits were still high despite the uncooperative trout and we set off refreshed and eager. With me joining Ray in the boat whilst Garry enjoyed a few hours on the bank.

The afternoon drifted past with me adding another couple of rainbows to the tally along with a beautiful wild brown of around a pound. Mid-afternoon Ray hooked a good rainbow that to my alarm caused him to almost stumble overboard! I think Garry added another rainbow to the score from the bank whilst Rob remained fishless.

As the sun slowly sank we headed back to the pub for a well-earned meal and a pint or two. Back in the early 1990’s we had been part of a winning team securing overall victory in the WIGFIC competition held at Wessex Waters Sutton Bingham Reservoir near Yeovil. In the intervening years since we have fished many times without repeating that victory. Back then as young men working in the Water Industry we undoubtedly  talked a far different agenda. Close to thirty years later we discuss our medications and ailments and have more in common with the elderly gents in “The Last of The Summer Wine” and suffer occasional bouts of Victor Meldrew like grumpiness! The tales of days and colleagues some long gone bounced across the pub table. Memories of younger days rekindled once again.

In years gone by evenings in the pub would have endured into the early hours with last orders signalling close of play. These days catching the end of News at Ten signals a late night!

Next morning when we arrived lakeside where the lake was hidden in dense early morning mist. A bright calm sunny day was forecast so we suspected that the fishing would be even more difficult. Admiring the morning splendour as we chugged out on calm waters having elected to use boats. Catching trout seemed to be secondary as the new day dawned and a brilliant blue sky was unveiled, trees emerging from the mist dissolving in the warmth of the rising sun.

The tree shrouded Upton Arm of Wimbleball Lake is one of my favourite areas to fish. We resumed the days fishing searching the water with various lures. The morning proved frustrating with numerous good trout following the flies before turning away tantalisingly close to the boat.

By late morning Rob and I met with Garry and Ray to discuss tactics and decided on a move to the far end of the lake where we had enjoyed some success the previous  day. We also knew that a fresh stocking had been made in the area so hoped a few uneducated fish would grant us success.

In the shallows we found the trout attacking fry sending tiny fish scattering to break the calm waters surface. Casting into the shoreline I tempted a small brown trout and secured a hard fighting rainbow. Rob also hooked a good fish that threw the hook  after a pleasing encounter. Retrieving lures briskly with a roly-poly retrieve brought several follows from some impressive looking trout including a blue trout that looked a good five pound plus. A few brief hook ups kept us casting until we eventually conceded defeat at around 6:30pm the sun slowly setting to close what had been a magnificent autumn day.

Our lack of catching was certainly nothing to do with a lack of trout in the lake for the stocking of Wimbleball is regular and often with fin perfect rainbows that will take you to the backing. Large waters like Wimbleball are my favourite trout waters for success is sometimes hard earned but all the more rewarding for that.

Once again we resumed tales of bygone days at the pub that evening. Eagerly plotting future forays and discussing the state of the world.

After a delicious Full English on the Sunday morning, we set off for home another collection of memories etched upon our minds. The Old Fisher Farts will hopefully reunite in the spring of 2022.

Wimbleball – Fine bag

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Andy Facey enjoyed a spot of Wimbleball trout action putting together a fine bag of hard fighting rainbows weighing 5lb 2 oz , 4lb 12oz , 3lb 12oz , 3lb 6oz and  2lb 8oz all on black and peacock spider.

The coming Autumn should see some spectacular sport at this venue as the trout feed hard as temperatures start to drop as the season changes. A wide range of tactics can work from lures to dry flies.

‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

Hot and getting hotter; mid-July the forecast gives wall to wall sunshine with temperatures into the mid-twenties. It’s not a perfect day to be heading out trout fishing yet there are worse places to be than floating about on Wimbleball. Part of anglings enjoyment is after all working for a result when conditions are difficult.

I had arranged to meet with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce to try our luck in the height of summer. We were optimistic as we launched the boat despite the bright sunny conditions and headed for Rugg’s Bay for a drift or two. During these hot days of Summer, a boat is a distinct advantage enabling the option to search far and wide for the trout.

Plenty of water, sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses were essentials for today and Jeff had equipped himself with Snowbee’s finest.

A pleasing breeze was blowing down through the bay as we started our first drift. Jeff elected to start on a floater whilst I went down deep with a blue flash damsel on the point and a bright yellow and orange blob on a dropper. This proved to be a promising tactic as after half a dozen casts a fish was on! Then off! After I lost a couple more Jeff also went down deep  and had a couple of pulls. Eventually after a run of fish on and off I managed to get a hard fighting rainbow to the net.

As the middle of the day approached we decided to head off to the deep water near the dam where a few fish had been tempted the previous day using sinking lines and boobies. An angler there reported on some success with several follows and a couple of good rainbows.

We tried for an hour without success and decided to move into the wooded Upton Arm where we might tempt a wild brown in addition to the rainbows. After half an hour our spirits dropped as expectation started to ebb in the hot sun. We headed back to the deep water where a good rainbow followed my lure close to the boat before turning away.

It was now late afternoon and we decided to head right back up to Rugg’s and drift in the breeze ensuring we at least covered plenty of water. After ten minutes Jeff’s olive damsel was nailed by one of Wimbleball’s energetic rainbows. A blank was at least saved, reward for dogged persistence.

As we drifted the occasional fish was glimpsed following the flies. On one retrieve I was astounded to see a group of good sized rainbows chasing my team of flies before turning away at the last moment. Thinking we had found a shoal we dropped anchor and fished static for an hour giving a floating line and a team of imitative patterns a try. Whilst it was good to slow down and chill for a while I felt that the fish were not feeding and the best hope was a stripped lure or blob to stimulate an aggressive response.

We upped anchor and drifted until we ran out of water, calling it a day at close to 7.00pm after ten hours with just a fish each it had been a hard day’s fishing.

A Jamaican proverb: ‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

A phrase for the day and the reason I will be back again whatever the weather.

After a long hot day afloat perhaps a cool beer at the George Inn at Brompton Regis? https://thegeorgeinnexmoor.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR3a8bHVB5iHmbvTNTYunb_jCt1nG-rz9Nm-DLtWYL1cpV408SQdS8VD8pQ 

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.

Wimbleball Fly Fishery welcomes back disabled anglers as Covid-19 restrictions ease

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The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations to fund its important work.

Help get more Wheelyboats on the UK’s waters by texting WHEELYBOAT to 70085 to donate £5. Thank you.

Wimbleball Fly Fishery welcomes back disabled anglers as Covid-19 restrictions ease

A wheelchair accessible fishing boat, a ‘Coulam 16 Wheelyboat’, is back on the water in Somerset, enabling disabled anglers to access the lake independently

Mark-Underhill-with-the-new-C16-Wheelyboat-at-Wimbleball-Fly-Fishery.-Credit-The-Wheelyboat-Trust.jpeg

Disabled anglers across the South West and beyond can once again fish at Wimbleball Lake in Somerset, courtesy of a brand-new wheelchair accessible fishing boat and lockdown restrictions easing.

Andy-Beadsley-Director-of-The-Wheelyboat-Trust-fishing-on-Wimbleball-Lake-Somerset.-Credit-The-Wheelyboat-Trust

The purpose-built angling boat, a ‘Coulam 16 Wheelyboat’, arrived at Wimbleball Lake in the Exmoor National Park in March 2020, but due to the national lockdowns, its use throughout last year was somewhat disrupted.

But now, as Covid-19 restrictions ease, The Wheelyboat Trust, the Angling Trust and Wimbleball Fly Fishery are delighted to announce this Coulam 16 Wheelyboat is up and running, and ready for disabled anglers to use this spring, summer and beyond.

Wimbleball’s new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat will enable disabled anglers and wheelchair users to access the clear waters of Wimbleball Lake and fish independently for top quality rainbow and wild brown trout, courtesy of renowned Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton.

In 2019 national charities The Wheelyboat Trust and the Angling Trust joined forces and invited fisheries and angling clubs throughout the UK to apply for seven part-funded Coulam 16 Wheelyboats, allowing disabled anglers with independent access to fishing sites across the UK. Now, one of these brand-new Coulam 16