Waterproofs hanging drying beside the Wood-burner reflected the story of the previous day as we sat enjoying coffees and full English in the George Inn at Brompton Regis. I was with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce, Nigel Evans and Andy Jesson who had fished in a friendly competition at Wimbleball the previous day.

         The nine competitors had recorded thirty trout in a close run event that had seen them battling some pretty severe weather as the strong winds and rain of Storm Babet brushed the West Country. On practice day Nigel and Andy had boated 29 trout between them so were slightly baffled at the relatively reduced catches on match day.

         Breakfast chat included in depth analysis of match day and then diverged to include the problems of the wider world and the intricacies of drone flying. These included several accounts of expensive drone crash disasters that must have been stressful for their owners at the time yet highly entertaining in the subsequent retelling. Strange how tales of disaster are often recounted and savoured with an ironic humour frequently lurking far longer than successful events. A bit like the memory of a big fish lost at the net that lingers painfully for years.

         Feeling fortified we all set off for Wimbleball confident after referring to the latest from the met office inferring that today’s weather would be better.

         After five minutes with the bilge pump to empty the boat Jeff and I set off under grey skies to the sheltered waters of the Upton Arm.

         Tinges of autumn showed upon the wooded banks with shades of golden brown amongst the still predominantly green canopy. The Upton Arm at Wimbleball is sheltered by steep wooded banks and always seems to have a unique other world atmosphere.

         Jeff manoeuvred the boat into position in an area that had proved productive over recent days. I eagerly extended my Snowbee intermediate line and began to retrieve the team of flies. A solid jolt was transmitted down the line to be followed by an acrobatic trout!

The resulting 2lb plus rainbow was a great start to the day and ensured I had at least ensured my ongoing 100% catch rate during the modern Wimbleball era.

         The successful fly was the ever reliable gold headed blue flash damsel on the point. I constantly reiterate that it is important to tie on a fly that gives confidence. I probably catch more than 50% of my still-water trout on this pattern and that is undoubtedly due to my confidence in its use. I am not generally one to swap and change flies repeatedly preferring to try different depths and speeds of retrieve before swapping patterns.

         We could see fish moving on a regular basis further along the bank and moved towards these fish. Once again my fly was seized, there was a flurry of spray and an angry rainbow erupted from the water.

     Over the first hour or so the pattern continued and Jeff also started to hook up with some hard fighting rainbows. All full tailed fish in splendid condition. It soon became obvious that the fish were tightly shoaled as we glimpsed numerous fish in the dark clear water as they followed our flies.

         Sport was to be consistent throughout the day with some epic battles with Wimbleball’s finest the best of the trout nudging 4lb and averaging close to 3lb.

         It was the weather though that will linger in the memory along with persistently bent rods and purring reels. The dark skies brought some brutal showers on the tail end of storm Babet.

         It seems that we are increasingly weathering the storms to go fishing. Fortunately, modern waterproofs are up to the job ensuring that fishing is enjoyable in even the most hostile of conditions. There can be few climate change deniers amongst the angling fraternity.

         Sport proved consistent as the day drifted past all too quickly. The high banks of the Upton Valley provided welcome shelter from the wind and we were joined by Nigel and Andy who fished a hundred yards or so behind us. They too enjoyed consistent action and also noticed that most of the fish were patrolling one side of the bay hugging the shoreline.

         A red kite soared high above the valley as the rain eased. The calm surface of the lake reflected the dark trees and as the showers passed by wisps of mist lifted from the lake.

         By mid-afternoon we had caught 19 rainbows releasing all but a couple at the side of the boat. Barbless hooks and rubber meshed Snowbee nets ensuring minimal damage.

         Inevitably sport eased and we decided upon a change of scenery heading back to the yacht club bay for a final hour. We had a quick drift without success and then proceeded to drop the anchor. A small wild brownie brought the days total to twenty.

         Another brutal shower descended upon the lake and a rainbow appeared briefly as the late afternoon sun momentarily broke through the clouds. The trout proved elusive probably switched off the feed for we felt sure they would be present in the area that had been productive over recent days.

In truth I wasn’t too upset when Jeff suggested he had had enough, I had too!

         It had been a top day on the lake a water that has provided some spectacular sport under the management of Mark Underhill and his family since 2018. Wimbleball is not always an easy water with a vast acreage the trout can sometimes prove elusive but it is always well stocked with pristine conditioned rainbows. There is always the added chance of connecting with one of the lakes wild brownies that have grown large feeding upon the abundant fry.

         Winter sport can be enjoyed with plans under consideration to remain open for most of the winter.

Sad news from Wimbleball Fly Fishery

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Sad news from Wimbleball Fly Fishery

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of our good friend & team member Trevor. For the last 5 years Trevor has been the stalwart of Wimbleball Fly Fishery, making many friends & gaining massive respect for his help, support & fishing knowledge while organising the boats & helping our anglers. Trevor’s funeral service was held at the Taunton Crematorium on Wednesday 27th September at 12.40pm… Mark & Trudi Underhill

Trevor always had a warm smile and imparted optimism at the start of each fishing day. He will be sadly missed by those who frequent this gem of a fishery high on Exmoor.


               July and August are often quiet months for Stillwater trout fishing with last season an absolute disaster with the prolonged drought and hot weather putting fish off the feed or sending them into the cooler depths of the lake. This year has been different and after a wet and cooler July and August I had heard that Wimbleball was fishing well. A trip was undoubtedly needed but with jobs to do at home an all day trip was not an option.

            A half day ticket at Wimbleball starts at 4.00pm and gives over four hours fishing during August at what should be the best time of day.

            The weather forecast gave light North West Winds with occasional showers some of them potentially thundery. It was raining when I left home at around 2.30pm and I hoped the rain would ease by the time I arrived.

            It was a pleasant drive over Exmoor and I noted the tinges of Autumn starting to show on the trees. I drove through occasional heavy showers and spells of sunshine that illuminated the moorland landscape.

            It was raining steadily when I pulled into the car park where another angler was parked up waiting for the rain to ease before heading out to the lake. I set up under the shelter of the car boot opting for a floating line and longish leader with a tip fly and two droppers. I tied a damsel on the point and daiwl Bach’s on the droppers.

            It was good to walk out onto the lake’s foreshore once again, I was a little surprised at how far the lake had dropped since my last visit. I knew it was now at around 75% but that’s quite a bit of exposed shoreline. The foreshore is coated in lush green growth of wetland plants and flowers that exuded a pleasant almost minty aroma as I walked eagerly to the water’s edge.

            I waded out and put a line out onto the water slowly retrieving as I took in the panorama of lake, sky and land. Dark foreboding clouds, glimpses of blue, lush green fields and trees bedecked in their dark summer foliage. Ducks foraged in the shallows their heads emersed and curly rears exposed in typical duck fashion. A heron’s call echoed across the lake, swallows and martins swooped low over the water. The margins were alive with tiny fry that would surely provide a feast for predatory trout over the coming months.

            I settled into the searching mode of cast and retrieve occasionally trying different flies and trying different areas of the bay. I saw a couple of fish rise shortly after starting but nothing seemed interested in my offerings and after three hours I was starting to have a few doubts. I have not blanked at Wimbleball since the lakes fishing has been under the management of Mark Underhill in 2018!

            After trying different areas, I headed back to where I had started and again commenced the searching rhythm. A fellow angler fishing along the bank to my right seemed to have the body language indicating a lack of success. I heard him comment to his friend; “time to cut our losses and head for home”.

            It was now just after 7.00pm and there was just an hour and a half permitted fishing time remaining. I had reverted to the damsel on the point, a diawl bach on the middle dropper with a sunburst blob on the top dropper.

            As the luckless angler disappeared from view the line suddenly zipped delightfully tight. A trout erupted from the water and after a strong encounter a slim full tailed rainbow graced the net. The silvery flanks, full tail and sleek appearance reminded me of a fresh run grilse.

            Next cast the line again zipped tight a trout leaping from the water. A beautiful wild brown trout of close to a pound that was quickly returned after capturing an image. To my delight the next two casts produced another brace of wild browns with vivid spotted flanks of olive green, bronze and buttery cream.

            I fished on expectantly and missed one more fish as the light began to fade. Judging by the size of the swirl behind the lure it was a good sized fish. Shortly after sunset I eventually made my tenth last cast and walked back to the car.

            In just over four hours hard fishing I had tempted four trout within a frantic fifteen minute spell. Had a shoal moved in? Had they just switched on for that short feeding spell? Whatever had happened it had whetted my appetite and I look forward to return trips during the autumn months when the fishing promises to be very exciting. With ongoing stocking of full tailed rainbows throughout and those wild browns that will surely feast upon those marginal fry. I wander how big those browns go to? Only one way to find out!

Wimbleball – Days to be cherished

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held their latest competition at Wimbleball Reservoir where Andre Muxworthy secured first place in difficult conditions boating a brace of rainbow trout totalling 4lb 10oz. I was runner up with  a rainbow of 2lb 6oz. In the hot bright conditions, the trout had gone into the deep water close to the dam and were caught using fast sinking lines.

During the hot days of summer a boat is without doubt the best option on this large reservoir giving the opportunity to search various areas in search of the venues hard fighting rainbow trout and wild brown trout. In the heat of the day deep water is undoubtedly the best place to search with bright lures, blobs and boobys good tactics to employ. In the cooler evenings dry flies and nymphs can work well. Mid June saw some spectacular sport with trout feasting on beetles and mayfly. Whilst the long hot days of summer often prove difficult any day spent afloat on this beautiful water is to be cherished.

Wimbleball Rainbows

It was good to be back at Wimbleball after a couple of months and I was relishing a day at this my favourite West Country lake. I was fishing with South Molton Angling Club who fish a series of days over the season were members can compete for the Mac Trophy awarded for the biggest trout recorded during these nominated days.

Several fellow members had elected to fish from the boats giving the opportunity to search the  vast lake for pods of feeding fish. I had chosen on this occasion to fish from the bank and had it in my mind to fish the shallow waters of the Rugg’s bank.

I set up with a floating line and a team of three flies. I waded out into the lake near the point and noted that the water level was still high and that it was exceptionally clear.

Bright sunshine with a cool brisk North Easterly breeze did not fill me with confidence but it was good to be working a fly with the lush green of spring all around.

            After twenty minutes without a pull, I walked further along the bank to find some slightly deeper water. After ten minutes I spotted a fish rise and put my team of flies into the vicinity. A savage pull and I was connected to a hard fighting rainbow of around 2lb that had taken a blue flash damsel on the point.

            After half an hour I fancied trying Cowmoor Bay and set off along the wooded path to emerge at the mouth of this vast bay. The bank on the opposite shore sloped up from the lake its grass incline decorated by a splash of golden buttercups. The water here was deeper and sheltered from the wind. To be honest it didn’t feel very fishy and after half an hour I tramped back close to where I had started.

            I replaced the point fly with a black bead headed Montana and started to fish methodically with a slow retrieve allowing the wind to drift the flies as I kept the line tight.

A couple of twitches transmitted down the line boosted my confidence and soon a good solid take resulted in a good rainbow gyrating on the end of the line leaping from the water on several occasions. At 3lb 6oz it was a pleasing full tailed fish that was to be followed five minutes later by a fish an ounce bigger at 3lb 7oz. I fished on and added two more full tailed rainbows to my bag both succumbing to the Montana.

            It was now close to 3.00pm and I decided to head home strolling back to the car on path lined with vivid yellow buttercups.

My next visit will be in summer when I hope to find the trout feasting on beetles a time that can offer superb dry fly sport.

            I found out later that it had been a tough day on the boats with no other club members boating more that three trout. Boat or bank is often a hard choice  with advantages to both. Fishing a well known bank mark can sometimes beat the boat for when fishing is hard persisting from the bank whilst covering less area ensures that the flies are in the water fishing throughout.

Wistlandpound Club – Wimbleball Results

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Wimbleball for their March Competition and all members tempted trout from various locations around the reservoir. The trout proved more difficult to tempt than expected possibly as a result of fluctuating temperatures with snow melt a potential factor. Prospects for are excellent for the coming months with large numbers of trout stocked. As Spring slowly settles in fish activity will increase with floating line sport likely on milder calmers days that are surely on the way.

A typical full tailed Wimbleball rainbow

Small dark coloured flies proved successful for me with a black lure on the point and black and green buzzers on droppers. Four of the five trout caught were tempted by the buzzers on the droppers. An intermediate line proved the best option it might have been worth drifting a set of buzzers beneath a floating line with a long leader and a gold head on the point.

I addition to hard fighting rainbows several wild browns were tempted with Colin Combe returning three fish to just over 1lb.

The winning bag of five rainbows.

March 12th – Wimbleball Result

1st Wayne Thomas 5 – 9lb 1oz

2nd – Andre Muxworthy – 3 – 6lb 10oz

3rd David Eldred – 2 – 5lb 8oz

4th Nigel Bird 2 – 4lb 11oz

5th Dave Mock – 2 – 3lb 6oz

6th – Colin Combe – 3 brown trout to 1lb +


Matt Kingdon and I arrived at Wimbleball Lake for around 8:30am, misty drizzle drifted across the water and surrounding hills driven by a brisk North Westerly breeze. Wimbleball can be a bleak place in early February but the plentiful full tailed hard fighting rainbows draw anglers from across the West Country.

We headed for the picnic bank giving access to deep water; a reliable area especially early in the season when the recently stocked rainbows tend to shoal up. It was good to wade out into the cool clear waters of this vast lake and put a line out across the water. I had tied a small black Wooley bugger on the point with a small black and green nymph on a dropper, this was presented with an intermediate line. These tactics were the same I had used from the boat a couple of weeks  ago with good effect. On each cast I paused for a few moments allowing the flies to sink before commencing a slow erratic retrieve. I often use the analogy of playing with a kitten when describing how to tempt a trout. The movement imparted into the flies or lure can trigger a take as can the pause. Each cast is made with thought, searching the depths and aiming to stimulate a reaction.

I watched Matt to my left employing a speedier retrieve that I thought was more akin to his competitive angling spirit.

Matt Kingdon searchs the water

After a few minutes my line zipped delightfully tight as a rainbow seized the lure erupting from the water in a flurry of spray. Over the next couple of hours another five trout were caught and despatched. All hard fighting full tailed fish between 1lb 12oz and 2lb 8oz. Matt also banked a couple of pleasing rainbows.

Matt in action with a full tailed Wimbleball rainbow

Matts first fish of the day

The relentless brisk cold wind and light rain was not pleasant so despite being where the fish were we decided to  move to a more sheltered bank. With the wind at our backs casting was easier and the fishing more pleasant, there is often a balance to be had when deciding where to fish. The whole thing is after all about enjoyment so whilst catching is important its not always vital to catch as many as possible. Unless of course it’s a competition!

We resumed our quest searching the water in various locations and catching trout in each area we searched. Matt worked hard changing flies and tactics earning himself a full bag of five trout by the time we were ready to head for home shortly after 3.00pm. I soldiered on with the same tactics and caught and released a further three trout ending the day with eight trout. A great days’ trout fishing on a dark dank February day.

A perfect February rainbow

As we packed away we plotted to return on those warmer spring days when the fish would rise freely and a floating line would stretch out on a lake riffled by a gentle breeze. Despite the chill air there were signs of spring all around with frogspawn in the shallows and birdsong drifting in the air. Snowdrops were abundant on the roadsides with daffodils budding in every moorland village along the route.

WIMBLEBALL 2023 – Season Underway!

A full English at the George Inn at Brompton Regis with fellow fly fishers was the perfect way to prepare for a day afloat on Wimbleball on February 2nd, day 2 of the 2023 season. We talked of tactics, trout fishers, trout flies and the complexities of modern society before heading to the lake full of expectation.

News from Opening day gave confidence that the fish would be likely to oblige with some anglers catching over twenty trout.

Wimbleball Report – Opening day Report

What a start to our 2023 season… Beautiful start to the day, bit of a shame about the fresh cold westerly breeze, but some fantastic fishing was had with over 30 anglers fishing the opening day, & some great pics from the first couple of days will be posted over the next few days… Tactics included intermediate or sink tip line, small black flies & black & green lures seemed the top takers… Some great returns & some struggled while watching others next to them pulling them in, a few noteworthy catches included James March with 25 fish, Clive Blacker 19 fish, Phil Giles 18 fish, Don Mansell 16 fish, Richard Earnshaw 15 fish, with many others in the 5 to 14 fish bracket, best fish weighed was just over 4lb, many reporting fish in the 3 to 4lb bracket… Happy days & thank you for your support!

I was sharing a boat with Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce an option that would allow us to explore a large area of water without having to wade out into the chill waters of late winter. Early season fishing at Wimbleball is often as good or better from the bank providing the shoals of fish can be located.

It was great to be back out on this vast expanse of water nestled within Exmoor’s undulating landscape. Trees towered stark and bare around the lake that was now brim full with water following a wet winter. The last time I had visited the lake was desperately low following the severe drought of 2022 when the reservoir had dropped to around 20% resulting in a premature end to the trout fishing season.

The summer of 2022

The 2022 drought and heatwave proved extremely challenging for fish farming across the UK and will inevitably create issues for the coming season across the country. Anglers will need to accept moderate increases in permit prices and a shortage of big stock fish. It is to be hoped that 2023 brings a more normal summer with average rainfall.

I opted for an intermediate line with a black woolly bugger on the point and a small black and green nymph on a dropper. This followed advice from my fellow anglers at breakfast who suggested that any fly pattern would work providing it was predominantly black with a touch of green.

After a short unproductive drift into Cowmoor Bay we headed for the shallow end of the lake and dropped anchor in a sheltered bay close to an area of dense withy. Jeff and I started the process of searching the water.

It was reassuring to get into the steady motion of casting and retrieving. The line alighted upon the clear cold water and was allowed to sink for  a few moments before commencing a slow figure of eight retrieve. It wasn’t long before the line pulled tight as the satisfying pull of the first trout of the season hit my dropper.

Turbo charged full tailed Wimbleball trout are amongst the hardest fighting fish in the country putting a pleasing curve into angler’s rods and ripping line through chilled fingers.

It was supposed to have been a bright day with sunny intervals but on this occasion Carol Kirkwood’s cheerful predictions on BBC Breakfast had proved over optimistic as a chill westerly wind with grey skies and occasional drizzle persisting throughout the day.

The consistent sport kept our spirits up as we savoured the start of a new season looking forward to the warmer brighter days of spring ahead.  We ended the day sharing a catch of fifteen hard fighting rainbows the best estimated as close to 5lb.

            I look forward to my return trip when those hard fighting rainbows will thrill again on what is widely recognised as the West Countries top Stillwater trout fishery.

At the end of the day pan fried trout with a sprinkling of Cornish Sea Salt -Lemon Pepper