Well, July soon passed us by. The weather was a bit more mixed than it has been of late, and it allowed us to try out a few new stretches of rivers and streams that had been too low to warrant the journey out. There hasn't really been enough water to do too much to the river here, but any fresh water was a bonus. A bit further down stream they have had quite a bit more and the rivers over at Tavistock have reported some good Salmon and sea trout been caught. Recently we have been finding that most of our fishing sessions were starting late on in the day and running into the early hours. Having spent a few late nights searching for the bigger browns that are resident in the rivers, we were blessed with some of the biggest wild trout I have seen down here. To catch a 10 inch fish is a decent fish, and a bonus. To catch three 2lb trout in three casts is unheard of! This was the luck that good mate 'Oddie' had during a late night session last week. It has been a case of trying a few different methods, tackling the deep gorges, use big flies and wade through the deeper faster runs that did the business. Having spent the early part of the season fishing the same pools in a more traditional approach, it was nothing compared to what was going on with the method change and when the sun goes down.
It soon gets you thinking. Do the big resident brown trout that live in these small streams really feed much on fly life? Do they bother to rise to a size 20 spent gnat, pick off small stoneflies or caddis as they grub around in the stones, or do they feed on something more substantial? A big fish in these small streams will need as much protein as possible to grow to the size that we have witnessed. A lot of anglers talk about these moorland streams been void of food. Personal experience has proven that there is quite an abundance of food at times, but what there is, is often on the small side. Unlike a lot of streams and rivers throughout the country we aren't blessed with the large up-winged flies or big stoneflies that lift off. We have our own variety of small flies such as midge, yellow sally, small-brown stoneflies and sedge. So have the trout turned their attention to small salmon and trout parr as their main food source? Have the upper reach trout turned ferox? The way that they took the flies, were certainly similar to how a pike hits a bait fish fly. It was pure aggression! The first time I hooked into ferox trout was on one of the big lochs in Scotland back in the eighties. Loch Awe is well know for it's ferox trout which can grow over 30lb in weight. Living at depths of up to 100ft plus, they often feed solely on other trout. And now again as a lucky pike angler you can sometimes latch onto one whilst fishing the deeper water using pike tactics. Unfortunately our moorland trout will never reach the huge sizes of other ferox trout. But what it does show is, that there are a few trout out there doing something different to most of the others!
Loch Awe at Killchurn Castle
A beaut of a ferox trout from Loch Lomond*
It was good to meet up with Derrick and Deb's to spend the day at the Dunster Country Fair in Somerset. We were kindly asked if we could do the fly casting demo's and be on hand to give tuition and advice. We arrived the evening before to set up the pitch and to check out the fly casting area. I arrived at Dek's house with few rods, reels, lines and my tent in-hand. I thought 'job done!' But Deb's had put the real work in for the show. For that I would like to say 'Thank you'. She had spent the previous weeks working on photo boards, posters, leaflets, banners, you name it, she did it! I felt guilty that I had only turned up to help with the casting demo's and tuition. But true to form, if I was given a task to do I tried my hardest to get out of it. But she soon had us knuckling down.
It was nice to be in Somerset again. Having lived and worked in the county for a year prior to the shift to Devon, it was good to be welcomed back for the day and nice to speak to some of the regular fly fishers that I knew during my time there. For those thinking about trying a bit fly fishing in Somerset there are some really nice water's worth a cast. For the stillwater angler there is the stunning 'Wimbleball Lake'. At 374 acres it's not a water to be sniffed at. Wimbleball is situated near to a little village called Dulverton and used to be renowned for it's trout fishing. Still a good water with a reasonable head of fish, but the stocking policy and numbers of fish stocked per season has dwindled over the years. Wimbleball lake is a good early season water, and has the option of both boat and bank fishing. Most stillwater patterns will catch, but the most productive flies tend to be Montana's, Buzzers, Damsels and Blobs. For more info, you can ring the guys at Wimbleball on 01398-371460 or email email@example.com
For the river angler, Somerset streams run through some of the nicest scenery anywhere in the country. Whether you are looking to catch Brown trout, Sea trout, Grayling or Salmon, one of the most famous rivers is the Exe. Starting it's life high up on Exmoor, it works it's way through Somerset and Devon before emptying into Babbacombe Bay near Exmouth. Along it's length there is some excellent river fishing to be had. Another little stream that is worth the effort is the River Barle. Again starting high up on Exmoor at Pinkworthy pond, it works it's way through Simonsbath to Dulverton where it feeds into the river Exe. Most of the stretches are private or club water, but membership for the fishing on some of the beats is a reasonable price of £25 per season! For more information you can get in touch with Pat or James at Lance Nicholson Tackle & Guns in Dulverton. Their phone number is 01398-323409 or drop Pat and email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deb's taking it easy, whilst we do all the work!
aff-UK was back over at the coast over the weekend in search of a few Bass. The first day was a bit breezy to say the least but there were a few fish moving and searching out a meal. The fishing was a bit tough due to the conditions, and especially hard to spot fish. When bass and mullet are present it's always nice to be able to see them and make a cast to a particular fish instead of having to fish blind. But when your there, your there, so it was a case of making the most out of it. Sunday was different all together! Blue sky, blue water, black shapes and silver flashes. This was more like it! We had the company of a group fly fishing nuts who wanted to get their strings pulled by a few of these SW bass. We started off having a try for a few of the mullet that were holding in the estuary prior to the tide flooding. As per usual, they were finicky and hard to get hold of. But saying that they were taking the flies. Maybe a bit of angler error may have crept in somewhere. That seems to be mullet fishing all over. If it's not perfect, then they seem to know that something is amiss and swim on by.
The bass on the other hand came in like an invading army once the tide had turned. I would hate to be a meal when these things are on the feed. Looking across the estuary through the shallow water, you could easily see pods of up to 100 fish at a time swimming around. They were everywhere! A couple of the guys had never caught a bass before, so it looked like today was the day. It was a mixed group of guys consisting of fly fishers, course anglers and first timer's. So it was good to see everyone bent into fish. I'm not usually a numbers kind of angler, but between the five who were fishing they managed to catch an impressive 160 bass between them. The flies that were doing the business were thunder creeks, Clousers, flash minnows, and surface poppers. All the fish were returned which was good to see. Admittedly most were under limit, but the ones that could of made it into the pan, were still put back to continue to produce more fun for future seasons.
Kevin & Dek releasing the first bass
Paul with a nice 'Popper' caught Bass
Barry's first ever bass on the fly!
Quentin getting amongst the fish.
At the moment Derrick and myself are holding our breath that the weather starts to ease a bit over at the coast. Carl the Shark skipper had to cancel one of our trips due to Strong winds. So fingers crossed that we can get out on Monday to get into a few of the big 'Blues' that he was talking about. So we will keep you posted on how it goes. If anyone is interested in having a day tackling sharks on the fly, we are more than happy to help.
* Photo courtesy of Ferox Trout Forum.