Sunday, 14 August 2011

Devon Fly Fishing - on a bike. Part one.

Hi Folks, well I did it! 150 miles across Devon and into Cornwall on my bicycle, camping at night and fishing at day, 5 different rivers in 5 days. I have been back a few days now and have been sifting through over 400 photographs, writing and talking to people about my trip. If you would like to hear my interview with BBC Radio Devon live from the banks of the river Inny it will be on the iplayer for the next couple of days at:
the interview is 2.43 along the time line.

Day one was nearly 35 miles from home to the river Culm near the village of Bradninch. I had planned the majority of the journey on B roads and minor roads to avoid the traffic and to see more of rural Devon. Unfortunately the Town of Tiverton was unavoidable and lead to the first navigational faux pas of the trip, perhaps adding a couple of additional miles. Suddenly road signs became pointers to distant cities as opposed to the next village a couple of miles away and I found it difficult to find the next waypoint on my journey when offered a choice of the road to Bristol or the road to Plymouth. Anyway, I got there, eventually.

The River Culm is a river of contradictions; absorbing, tranquil fishing yet just 100 yards from the M5 motorway. The beat I fished consisted of long, slow glides interrupted by faster riffles, the banks are lined with thick verges of nettles and himalayan balsam - an invasive weed that is the scourge of so many fisheries in these parts. It would be very difficult to fish here without picking up the odd scratch or nettle sting as you fight your way to the river. Once in the river the tall vegetation serves as a screen and very quickly a found the drone of the traffic, punctuated by the odd train, (I didn't mention the main railway line) disappears into the background.

Fishing amongst the Himalayan Balsam.

I found the fishing to be completely absorbing, not too many fish rising, but responding to a number of different tactics as I chopped and changed to match the different water I encountered. There is a good head of trout here, I had fish to about 12 inches and lost what looked like a beauty, on a dry fly, which let go after a brief tussle, well over the 1lb mark I reckon. The Culm is a mixed fishery, there are chub, dace and roach in addition to trout but I didn't encounter any today.

Culm Brown Trout

I left the river having had a very enjoyable few hours fishing but without feeling that I had actually cracked it, I couldn't help thinking that the river had more to offer. Next time. With the nearest campsite some 7 miles in the wrong direction I found a friendly farmer who allowed me to make camp in his field. Dinner - Pasta. And then squeeze into my bivi bag which for the un-initiated can best be thought of as a coffin made of gortex.

That's it for now, I will post about day 2 soon, a day of hills, jungle warfare and close encounters with hard of hearing animals.


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