Wimbleball in fine form

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Wimbleball is in fine form at present with some stunning bags of rainbows caught in the opening few weeks with numerous fish topping 5lb. Surface activity has been great and should improve further with warmer weather on the way.

A very pleasing brace of 4lb-5lb rainbows caught by Richard Elbro. The trout were tempted on a cut throat cats whisker which was invented by his fellow angler friend Richard.

(Below)A very good day at Wimbleball for Peter Davies on the right and John Ratcliffe with 9 fish between them up to 6lb 10oz.

David Plumridge had great days sport  at the lake with loads of fish on buzzers on a catch n release ticket, best being a 5 lb rainbow.( Below)


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            Wimbeball Reservoir reopened under new management on Friday 23rd March and visiting anglers were treated to some fine sport with pristine conditioned hard fighting rainbow trout that averaged well over 2lb. Adam Westcott banked the best fish of the day a fine rainbow of 5lb 12oz that topped a five fish limit bag of close to 20lb. J. Glanfield registered a return of five for 20lb 5oz and G.T Benson five for 18lb 2oz. Anglers practicing catch and release enjoyed frequently bent rods with up to fifteen fish per rod. A wide range of patterns worked well with small dark lures amongst the most successful.

I visited the fishery on Saturday March 24th eager to reacquaint myself with a long time favourite venue. Like many South West Anglers I was very disappointed when South West Lakes Trust downgraded the fishery in 2016 ceasing the stocking of rainbow trout. This was a huge blow to Fly Fishing in the area with the 374acre lake that was built in the 1970’s providing traditional reservoir trout fishing for many years. The Dam straddles the River Haddeo a tributary of the river Exe and is surrounded by stunning Exmoor scenery.

Wimbeball Fly Fishery is now under the fresh stewardship of Mark Underhill an established Fish Farmer and his wife Trudy. I met with Mark at the Fishery permit hut and had an in-depth discussion on the complex world of trout rearing.

Mark and Trudy Underhill

Fortunately Mark is a passionate angler and has an understanding of what anglers want from their day at the waters edge. Mark told me that he was delighted with the opening day when all of the fourteen anglers attended enjoyed great sport with the freshly stocked trout that averaged three pounds with plenty of trout between 4lb and 5lb. A five fish ticket is excellent value at £25 for five fish with an option to practice catch and release at the same price with the first two fish caught to be retained with barb-less hooks mandatory.

It was a cold dank morning when I arrived with Exmoor draped in mist and the car thermometer reading just 2 degrees C. After my enlightening chat with Mark I set off for the waters edge as the morning mist started to lift. Early season rainbows are not generally hard to catch with location the key. Based upon the previous days reports I decided to fish the Sailing Club Bay moving to other well-known areas if success was not forthcoming.

I had set up two rods one with a fast sink line and the other with an intermediate. To the fast sink line had tied an 8lb leader tipped with a black lure with long marabou tail and fluorescent green head. It was this outfit that I started with fishing the fly deep with a steady retrieve. After ten minutes I felt that electrifying tug as a trout attacked the lure. To my surprise I glimpsed a flash of golden flanks as a beautiful wild brown trout flashed on the line before being drawn over the waiting net. I admired my prize for moment before taking a portrait and slipping the prize back into the chill waters.

Whilst I love to fish a floating line and a team of nymphs later in the season I also relish this early season fishing that lacks the finesse of the warmer days. There is something particularly thrilling about that moment  a trout hits the lure.

It was perhaps ten minutes before I caught my first rainbow of the day a hard fighting full tailed two-pounder. Mark had wondered down to see how I was faring captured the fish and I on camera.

Mark and I chatted for a while on fishing excursions for both shark and salmon swapping stories of our adventures and lamenting the sad decline of salmon catches over recent seasons.

I resumed fishing after this short break swapping to the intermediate line with the black lure on the point and an orange blob on the dropper. This allowed me to slow the retrieve down and it wasn’t long before another rainbow slammed into the lure. The next hour saw me hook one or two rainbows that came adrift, one a good fish that could well have pulled the scales to four pound plus. I also banked four rainbows ending with a fine fish of 3lb 8oz that pulled far harder than the scales indicated.

I returned to he fishing hut with a pleasing bag to weigh. Mark had intended to cast a line with me for a while but a damaged rod had kept him from the water. He was pleased to accept my offer to have a few casts with my rod and we wondered back to the  water s edge to get a few more pictures. Mark’s wife Trudy joined us and I asked her if she fished to be told that she did not fish now but had once caught two salmon from the Exe illustrating that old adage that women often have an uncanny knack of tempting salmon.

Mark enjoyed half an hours fishing making contact with several trout that refused to stay on the line for more than a second or two. With fish to attend to back at the farm Mark had to leave to prepare for deliveries of fish to venues in the Midlands.

I captured a few images of the lake in its rather stark early spring state. When I return in a few weeks’ time swallows will be swooping over the water and fresh green foliage will decorate the trees. The trout will be sipping flies from the surface and my floating line will tighten at that glorious moment of deception.



Wimbleball Fly Fishery – Opening Friday March 23rd

Wimbleball Reservoir Opens for Fly Fishing after a significant stocking under the management of new Fishery Manager Mark Underhill.

The first stocking at Wimbleball 2018 saw the introduction of 300 fully finned Rainbows up to 4lb with another 4000 to follow before opening day on March the 23rd. Day Tickets for a five fish limit cost £25 which is excellent value from the look of the fish being stocked.

For details and to book contact Mark Underhill on 07758561412 or email :- [email protected]

Typical of the quality rainbows being stocked into Wimbleball

A delivery of boats for use at Wimbleball in the coming season.

Significant Changes for Underperforming Wimbleball!

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Wimbleball Reservoir has been a splendid location for trout fishers for many years but sadly its days as a premier trout fishery appear to be over as South West Lakes Trust have today sent out a letter indicating that the fisheries future is to change for the worse.

Dear All

May I take this opportunity to thank you for supporting Wimbleball fishery during the 2016 season.

I am writing to inform you that there will be significant changes next year and wanted to make you aware of these at an early stage before you plan your fishing for next season.

Unfortunately the fishery at Wimbleball has continued to underperform in the face of rising costs and as a charity we cannot continue to operate in this unsustainable way. Therefore in 2017 we will not be stocking the lake while we take the time to review the operation and identify the best way forward. We all know what a great fishery Wimbleball can be and its future remains important to us. However we also believe that it should only operate as a premier rainbow trout fishery if we are able to offer the very best experience to our anglers, so we are going to take this time to make the right decisions, both for the Charity and you, our customers.

During 2017 we will be offering low cost fishing for over wintered Rainbows, Blues and natural Browns. Browns will remain as catch and release to protect the very good natural stocks. In 2016 we stocked Rainbows to 7lbs and some cracking Blues, many of which were not caught and we anticipate there will be plenty of fish to catch in spring and early summer and some terrific brown trout fishing in August and September. There will be one type of ticket available (day permits) at £10.00 for up to 3 Rainbows. Catch and release is optional.

We will not be operating the boats for 2017 so fishing will be from the bank only. Some new areas of bank have been cleared by our Wardens.

The permits will be available online at www.swlakesfishing.co.uk or from the permit room on site.

For clubs and group bookings we would be happy to offer some really good rates for fishing at our other fisheries such as Kennick or Siblyback where we have terrific boat or bank fishing available. For individuals we would also be happy to discuss great rates for buying day tickets in bulk.

Wimbleball will remain a qualifying venue for the Best of the Best competition with the final being held at Kennick on 15th October.

While I appreciate that this will not be welcome news, I trust that you will understand our position and in the meantime I hope you will take advantage of the low cost option for 2017.

If you would like to discuss our plans further please do not hesitate to contact myself, Alex Forster or Ben Smeeth.

Your sincerely

Colin Vallance
Heritage and Environment Director, South West Lakes Trust
Managing Director, Wheal Martyn Trust



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Please find the latest catch report for Wimbleball from Danny Ford. Plenty of fish showing in the narrows from the old pontoons down to Bessoms. They are holding off the weed bank 10 yards out. Anglers have been doing well with nymph patterns, Diawl Bach in particular, fisher either on a midge tip or intermediate.

The fish off for the Orvis Boat Pairs was held on Sunday, Steve Ebdon, and Andy Gooding taking 1st place with Pete Kempton and Phil Sharpe runners up. Steve and Andy won a season ticket for 2017 while Pete and Phil take home a lovely Orvis access reel and a £50 gift voucher. Both boats chose to fish the top end of the lake, with Steve and Andy doing particularly well drifting from the old pontoons to the bouy in Bessoms. Well done!

Wimbleball hosted their final competition of the year on Saturday, 4 Anglers attended the boat comp which ran from 10-4.30pm. 18 rainbows were caught with a return of 4.5 per angler!

1st Danny Ford 6 fish for 8lb 1oz
2nd Ed Trickett 5 fish for 7lb 4oz
3rd Dave Ridgway 4 fish for 6lb 1oz
4th Howard James 3 fish for 5lb 9oz

(Comp results will be included in next week’s report)

Wimbleball will stay open for November and fishing will be available from boat and bank at a reduced price. £8.50 for 2 fish, second permits may be purchased. Boat prices TBC.


Wimbleball News – Wistlandpound Club Result

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held their Beeny Trophy competition at Wimbleball Reservoir on September 25th.

Colin Combe won with 6 fish for 8 lb 12 oz and Danny had 6 fish for 8 lb 10 oz and was runner up. 8 people fished and all by boat.

Heavy rain showers punctuated the day.

Please find the weekly catch report for Wimbleball from Danny Ford. We have been seeing some great sport in front of the bridge on dry flies, claret and black hoppers being the most productive, with foam daddies also taking their fair share of surface feeding trout. Rod average is 2.6 with the boats showing a return of 2.8. Water temp continues to drop and is showing 16.5°C

Regular anglers Tom and Bob (season tickets) had a bumper day from the boat on Friday with both anglers achieving a full bag fishing hoppers on a southerly wind in front of the bridge. Fish were showing everywhere during the spells of cloud cover and Tom commented that is was one of the best days he has had this season, well done both!

From October 1st, our boat availability will be from 9am-5pm 7 days a week. We may start to bring a few off the water so please book to avoid disappointment. October is one of my favourite times to fish on the reservoir, with many of the larger fish starting to show. Last year Steart bay was producing good bags, one to try!

Danny Ford
Wimbleball Countryside Warden




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from-left-2nd-rob-gale-1st-matt-kingdon-3rd-alec-hoareCongratulations to Matt Kingdon on winning South West Lakes Trust’s Best of the Best competition at Wimbleball. Full report below from Ben Smeeth of South West Lakes Trust

Matt Kingdon has won the Best of the Best £5000 final at Wimbleball Lake held on 18 September after being the only angler to catch a limit of 10 fish. The competition, now in its third year, is run by South West Lakes Trust and sponsored by Snowbee (www.snowbee.co.uk).

Matt, from Barnstaple, bagged his limit with more than an hour to go from the Bessoms Bridge area of the lake. Successful tactics were a team of three flies consisting of a Peach Blob on top, a Red Holographic Cruncher in the middle and a Black Lure with Malibu Tail and a Green Sparkled Body with Red Rib on the bottom fly. A slow to medium retrieve to jerk the Malibu Tail accounted for seven of Matt’s ten fish. He collected £2000 for the win, following on from his third place finish where he won £1000 in the 2015 final. It completes a great week for Matt who qualified for the Home International Loch style in 2017.

57 anglers fished the final after 92 had qualified throughout the season from Kennick, Wimbleball, Stithians, Siblyback and Burrator. After the briefing was done, there was a mad dash for the favoured fishing spots with most anglers opting for Bessoms and Ruggs end of the lake. The weather conditions were pretty good with a slight ripple on the water, overcast mainly but warm sunny spells at times. A lot of fish were showing out of casting range and catches were much slower than the previous week which was expected after the pressure from anglers practising.

Rob Gale, from Ashburton, finished second catching eight fish from the Narrows to claim the £1250 prize pot with Alec Hoare, Newton Abbot, claiming the £750 third place with seven fish for 11lb 4oz with only 5 ounces separating fifth place from third!

There was a strong Kennick Fly Fishers Association showing at the top of the individual standings with the top five finishers all members. After winning it the last two years Andrew Gooding finished a creditable 8th.

The largest fish in the final (not finishing in the top three) was won jointly by Mike Stone (Starcross) and Roger Truscott (Liskeard) who shared the £500 prize fund with a Rainbow of 2lb 2oz each.

The blind pairs was introduced this season and the winners, claiming £150 each, were Matt Kingdon and Steve Ebdon (Exeter) with Rob Gale and John Huckings (Camelford) finishing second to win £100 each.

There were 127 Rainbows caught in total giving a 2.3 rod average per person for the competition with a further 30 Browns also caught and released.

Simon Kidd from Snowbee was on hand to give out the prizes and here is the full list of prize winners:


Winner – Matt Kingdon 10 fish for 15lb 6oz £2000 BOB trophy and name on the honours board in the permit room
Runner up – Rob Gale 8 fish for 13lb 4oz £1250 BOB trophy and name on the honours board in the permit room
Third – Alec Hoare 7 fish for 11lb 4oz £750 BOB trophy and name on the honours board in the permit room
Heaviest Fish (not finishing in the top three) Mike Stone and Roger Truscott 2lb 2oz £250 each
Second heaviest fish (not in top three) Andy Watson 2lb 1oz Snowbee Fly Vest and Back pack worth over £100
Blind Pairs winners: Matt Kingdon and Steve Ebdon 18lb 12oz £150 each
Blind Pairs runners up: Rob Gale and John Huckings 17lb 15oz £100 each
4th – Andy Watson 7 fish for 10lb 15oz (won on countback with largest fish 2lb 1oz) Snowbee 9ft #6 Geo Nano rod worth £350
5th – Paul Wicks 7 fish for 10lb 15oz New Snowbee Classic Fly rod worth over £200
6th – Pete Kempton 6 fish for 9lb 11oz Snowbee stripping basket worth £50
7th – Nick Tompkins 5 fish for 7lb 9oz Snowbee Slim Line fly box kit worth £40
8th – Andy Gooding 5 fish for 7lb 8oz Snowbee Slim Line fly box kit worth £40
9th – Dave Perks 5 fish for 7lb 6oz (won on countback with largest fish 1lb 12oz) Snowbee Competition Fly Box worth nearly £30
10th – Tony Chipman 5 fish for 7lb 6oz Snowbee easyvue competition fly box worth £20
Heaviest fish Wimbleball – Howard James 6lb 8oz Snowbee Fly Line worth £50
Heaviest Fish Kennick – Mark Brimblecombe 7lb 6oz Snowbee Fly Line worth £50
Heaviest Fish Burrator – Allan Lawson 5lb Snowbee Fly Line worth £50
Heaviest Fish Siblyback – Duncan Kier 6lb 8oz Snowbee Fly Line worth £50
Heaviest Fish Stithians – Nigel Burley 6lb 11oz Snowbee Fly Line worth £50

The top three will also have their names engraved onto the honours board in the permit room at Wimbleball.

A huge thank you to all of the Marshalls, especially Danny Ford for all his work leading up to and during the competition and also the sponsor Snowbee who very generously donated over £1000 worth of prizes.

Ben Smeeth

Technical Lead for Fishing



The recent dry, bright sunny weather has brought fishing on the rivers to a virtual standstill with water now crystal clear. The only realistic chance of catching salmon or sea trout is early and late in the day when the sun is off the water. Before the rivers dropped several grilse and sea trout were landed from both the Mole and Bray.


A few fish are trickling in however and a couple of salmon have been tempted from the Torridge. I fished the Weir Marsh and Brightly beats of the Taw last week and saw several salmon show as I fished down through this splendid stretch of prime day ticket water. Two fish were caught from these beats including a 6lb salmon to the rod of David Rice and a 4lb grilse for David Carhart.

IMG_0950Weir Marsh & Brightly Beats of the Taw

Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Clubs Rogers and Guard Shield was contested by six keen club members on a bright sunny day not conducive to trout fishing. Winner of the event was Colin Combe with tow browns totalling 27inches. Runner up was Steve Edmunds with one quality brown trout of 15”.

Wimbleball catch reports show 1.6 fish per rod day.

Rising Sun