Despite knocking off 15 miles last night today's journey up on to the top of Dartmoor was a grind. The fishing here is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, 15 miles of brown trout fishing with salmon and sea trout a possibility in the main rivers - East and West Dart - given water. Fishing permits can be purchased for cash or exchanged for passport tokens at a number of local outlets including the Two Bridges Hotel, outside of which I parked my bike.
I wandered in to reception where a large group of people were enjoying pre-dinner drinks, ladies in summer dresses, gentlemen in shirts and ties, me in 3 day old cycling gear, sodden from rain and sweat. I would suggest at this stage that I was a little 'bedraggled' and probably the last person the staff were expecting to see. The member of staff that served me was not as versed in the arrangements for purchasing permits as I was and flatly refused to exchange my tokens for the permit, 'we don't accept them this year, its changed'. He would not be swayed, despite me pointing out the Angling Passport logo printed all over the permit, or the 2011 passport brochure which stated very clearly that they could be exchanged. 'Besides' he said, fingering my proffered tokens 'they are wet'. 'They are wet?' says I, my voice rising an octave, 'I have cycled over 100 miles to be here, they are wet, I am wet, everything I own is wet'. He was not going to change his mind (he was wrong, I checked at the Westcountry Rivers Trust, the Hotel has now been re-educated, I understand) so I handed over my £10 note, it too was wet, but he didn't mind. I beat a trail out of there and went fishing.
Cherrybrook is a tiny stream, it is beautiful and tranquil, but that isn't why I chose it, you are spoilt for beautiful and tranquil fishing up here, no the reason I chose to fish Cherrybrook is that it is a flat journey from the Hotel to there, simple.
Fishing the Cherrybrook
I hid my bike amongst the tall moorland grass and walked downstream away from the road bridge and the picnic munching tourists that had gathered there despite the brisk wind. Within minutes of venturing away from the moorland roads I was struck by the remote beauty and seclusion of the fishery. The stream itself was running clear with only the peaty stain, typical to these moorland waters, evident. There was some surprisingly varied fishing for such a small stream, narrow fast running sections, small pools that just scream fish and long canal like glides. With a large head of trout and relatively meagre feeding opportunities the fish cannot afford to be too picky. I found any small, dark dry fly would produce the desired response and fishing was fast and furious. The brown trout were small, 4-6 inches at most, but beautiful with dark backs, to match the peat stained water, gradually fading to a light, silvery, yellow belly with dark red, almost claret spots.
Small, but perfectly formed.
I fished on until dark, completely absorbed into the surroundings and the fishing, I pitched the bivi close to the stream, readied myself for bed and ate dinner - pasta for the last time, I was starting to get bored of pasta.
The gortex coffin. It's all about the location.