Sunday, 30 March 2008

In Deep

The weather has been fantastic today, certainly a lot warmer and drier than yesterday! But the evening rain took its toll on the river which looked a little murky as I drove over the bridge to work this morning. That said I only managed to glance at it as I was quite unaware that the clocks had gone forward last night until Neil rang to say that Tim, Tony and Alison had arrived at the shop rods in hand!

Before long I was wadered up and ready to go although I first had to sort out Tony who had succumbed to a Demon reel to add to his newly purchased rod. A lake session followed and I worked with Alison on gaining extra distance. For those of you reaching for that extra yard or two remember this; less is more! Alisons best casts always came when she applied a smooth stroke to good timing. Brute force does not get the line out further! In between Alison could do no wrong on the fish front landing 10 Trout very quickly using a long leader and ultra slow retrieve. The moment the line shimmered a lift met with solid resistance. Try this for yourself early season, it works!

After the lake we set up with some pretty extreme river kit consisting of 10ft rods, floating lines and short leaders incorporating two or three droppers. On the top dropper we placed a very heavy tungsten bead nymph, further weighed down by wraps of lead under body. The other two patterns would consist of copper johns or similar. The basic idea is to lob the whole lot upstream, raise the rod and allow the flies to pass just in front. Any unusual movement on the line is met with a firm strike and often a fish. However today the river is cold and carrying colour so I knew we would be in for a tough session. But the guys did not let me down concentrating hard and managing a fish each and some lost; in such hard conditions these are satisfying fish. If you are keen to try this technique out watch the video below as Tim Watson fishes a fast run using a fast sink polyeader to gain even more depth.

Tomorrow I have a beginner to entertain and then David Garth returns hopefully to christen his new Marksman outfit. It will be tough going on the river until it warms but for those willing to put in the effort there are rewards to be had. And Wimbleball has now opened so I can't wait to wet a line there through the week. Lots of anglers yearn for a floater and nymphs but early season I love deep sinking lines and that awesome feeling when the line locks up solid. With 30 odd Demon spools to load before then I had better go and do some winding!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Wet but Happy

Well it certainly rained today! But I am glad we ignored the forecast for gale force winds by midday as this turned out to be way off, as usual! We cancelled a day recently based on the forecast only to be met with big blue skies and some spring sunshine. So watching Sky news last night after arriving home I made the decision that we would go for it and I am glad we did. It has certainly been blustery but these guys have had a ball!

Visiting from Bristol, the 2 Steve's (left & right) and Richard (middle) spent a morning casting and then I introduced them to some subtle nymph fishing tactics. Despite the weather a decent straight cast coupled with a steady figure of 8 picked up a few fish steadily through the morning session catching using a variety of Crunchers and Diawl Bachs. Each of the guys worked tremendously hard on their casting and it paid off. By the afternoon we had swapped to dries. Yes .... surface tactics in this weather!

Richard headed back to the lake after our knot and entomology session and added 3 to his tally, all off the surface without any guidance, proof that tuition really does pay off. The guys have headed to the Anchor Inn now and I reckon there will be just a little merriment!

It was great to leave Neil to the office work and Internet today and get out there on the lake, especially after last weekend! (see previous post!) Tomorrow I have Tim and Tony Watson heading over with a lady fisher and I just know they will want to get in the river. It is high, cold and clear but a heavy bug and a 10ft rod may see our first Grayling of the year. I had better stop typing and go and tie the bugs!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Round Up

Its been a while since I have managed to get to the keyboard and add anything to the blog. At this time of year it is all go as anglers ready themselves for the new season. It is amazing how many grown men walk out of the shop with a child like grin clutching arm loads of goodies!

I headed up to Chew with good mate Andrew Hedger just before the NEC Go Fishing show and we enjoyed a day out for the early season Rainbows. The fish were in great condition but I was pleased we headed to the Blue Bowl pub first for a decent fry up as it was COLD! Boobies were successful but pulled lures on an Airflo DI 3 are also working. We fished opening day just after the gales on 14th March and the water was coloured so I found Black or a very bright Orange to be best. Andrew tied up some huge Coral coloured thing which the Rainbows enjoyed but also one decent lone Brown of about 3 1/2lb which he managed to drop back in before I could photograph it! The fishing was tough, the Rainbows shoaled up hard. This has been the same during the opening of Blagdon this week which I had hoped to get to. That's another story as my young boy Chester brought home a bug that has had me flat on my back for 3 days, so I missed the opening. Hopefully I will get up there soon, maybe with Henry Gilbey as I feel an early spring reservoir feature coming on.

After the Chew trip I fired up the Corrado and zoomed up to the NEC where Charles Jardine wowed the crowd with superb demonstrations and an attempt to cast 10 Spey rods at a time! Now that's impressive but I want to see him do it and hook 10 Salmon!

For all you petrol heads, the rado is fine thanks. The new engine is doing well and purred to Birmingham and back. After a 2 year lay off trying to sort out the previous multiple problems it is very cool to be driving her again and they seem even rarer now. I have to say my car filled me with a lot more joy than the show which I thought was small and bland. Good to see Iain Barr whose flies are very popular and I got a look at the outdoor show but other than that not much to report on an event that could be so good with just a little imagination. Oh yes, Active Exmoor were at the NEC Outdoor Show. Grab a copy of their new guide book which shows some superb activities and accommodation to enjoy in the Exmoor area. We are very lucky to live in such a special place that is just a short drive from J27 of M5. I hope you did not spend too much time on this motorway during the weekend though!

So what about the fishing? Well it's cold .... but then you know that! The lake has actually been fishing very well and of course big n black pulled slow has been catching. Opening day on the river (15th March) was whitewashed by the weather but cleared through the week. Even so it was very high and Neil did amazingly well to guide Jim Pool to a couple of fish in some of the toughest river conditions going. He used a 10ft Streamflex rod, coupled to a Rio Indicator line and super fast poly leader linked to a short leader and heavy bugs. The pair retreated after lunch but I would say they won the battle based on a howling North wind and pumping river. To some it may seem like madness but the satisfaction of success in such tough conditions actually beats catching easily. The secret is to wear good kit and for value for money I just cannot fault the Greys GRXi clothing range.

Our season really begins now so look out for many faces, some new, some old .... all guaranteed to be enjoying Fun, Fresh Air and Fish. Oh, and our new colour brochure has been completed so if you want a copy drop us a line. Happy Easter and Good Fishing.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


It has a been a busy weekend at our HQ here at Exe Valley with the Troutmasters fish off yesterday and then the best fish of the year so far caught today by Alex Rogers. I am really pleased for this guy who I have taught a couple of times now. At close to 80 Alex gets out there in all weathers and really puts the effort into practicing his casting which had proved troublesome in the past. I have been tweaking this during a couple of hourly sessions in recent weeks and it looks like the extra distance is paying dividends. Alex proudly strolled into the shop with this huge 9lb 5oz Rainbow in perfect condition! Stocked a while back in readiness for the Troutmasters that took place yesterday the jumbo fish avoided 13 anglers during the match but succumbed to Alex's home tied Black Taddy. It is entered into the Trout Fisherman Troutmasters comp for this month and has a great chance of winning. Good luck Alex!

Now down to the results. The match was fished over the course of 6 hours and each contestant had to move 3 pegs each hour. For those lucky enough to catch their 5 fish limit early there is the reward of 1lb per hour that they are unable to fish. Neil set the anglers off with a horn and within moments rods were bending. Within half an hour the first anglers were weighing in. But with a strengthening wind and sudden squalls of rain the fishing slowed. Even so all but one of the 13 strong gathering weighed in 5 fish taking the rod average to 4.8 per angler with an average fish weight of 2.0lb Best fish of the day went to Gary Lovering at 4.4lb with the top honours awarded to Chris Hodge who will fish the final at Grafham later this year. Good luck Chris!

1st - Chris Hodge : 5 FISH: 13.3lb + 5lb Time Bonus = 18.3lb

2nd - Rhys Roberts : 5 FISH: 14.0lb + 2lb Time Bonus = 16.0lb

3rd - Gary Turl : 5 FISH: 10.5lb + 5lb Time Bonus = 15.5lb

4th- Will Parfitt : 5 FISH: 10.3lb + 5lb Time Bonus = 15.3lb

5th - Jeff Hawke : 5 FISH: 12.3lb + 2lb Time Bonus = 14.3lb

6th - Ben Roberts : 5 FISH: 9.4lb + 4lb Time Bonus = 13.4lb

7th - Lee Liddle : 5 FISH: 11.9lb + 1lb Time Bonus = 12.9lb

8th - Gary Lovering: 5 FISH: 11.9lb + 0lb Time Bonus = 11.9lb

9th - Jayne Shoulders: 5 FISH: 11.5lb + 0lb Time Bonus = 11.5lb

10th - Mike Sherwin: 5 FISH: 8.9lb + 2lb Time Bonus = 10.9lb

11th - Clive Vincent: 5 FISH: 8.3lb + 0lb Time Bonus = 8.3lb

12th - Anita Winter: 3 FISH: 6.2lb + 0lb Time Bonus = 6.2lb

Unfortunately there was 1 disqualification!

Amongst all these anglers we have been fielding huge interest in the Hardy Demon range which is one of the most exciting products on the market today. The reel features a patented spool system and represents remarkable value for money in a product of this quality. Meanwhile I have been hard at the keyboard penning a few more features for Trout Fisherman and this week is set to be busy. I am especially looking forward to Thursday as it is the Chew Valley lake opening day and I will be heading off with good mate Andrew Hedger for the first boat session of the year. Before then I will need to set up all my kit ready for the NEC Go Fishing Show
this coming weekend and on Tuesday I will out shooting a feature with Henry while quizzing him on his seemingly amazing trip to South America. Find out more about that here. Oh and by the way river junkies ... less than a week to go!

Thursday, 6 March 2008


OK so now I am jealous! In my days as a guide on the Gallegos in Argentina I had heard rumours of awesome fish further to the North; known as Golden Dorado. The stories I heard relating this species soon became a burning desire and along with several other species/venues I added them to my ever increasing list of fly fishing ambitions. One day I will get there but for now just drool at these awesome shots by Henry Gilbey.

I am hard at work on the lake and organising our Troustmasters fish off. Plus we have been stocking the shop which is now full of new 2008 product by the likes of Hardy, Greys, Reddington, Rio, Snowbee, Mc Lean, Chubb, Fishpond, Lamson, Pacific Fly (including their awesome river patterns) plus don't forget Iain Barrs massive range of flies that are proving deadly on venues across the land.

Enough from me, check out Henry's trip and do a little dreaming!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Beginners Luck!

Talk about beginners luck! Phil, on just his 2nd ever fly fishing trip, hooked this superbly conditioned Exe Valley Rainbow weighing in at 7lbs using a Cats Whisker. The fish gave him the run around and was a real achievement as the wind was howling and the water coloured due to a recent spate. It is entered into the Troutmasters and may even win him a badge and a place in the 2009 final!

Meanwhile I have been busy with a wave of guests either improving or getting into fly fishing for the first time. That along with the daily updates of Hart Flyshop and other duties mean my blog has been neglected for a few days. I will get a few river pix online soon for you stream junkies sat in an office somewhere and wishing you were on the bank! The season is almost here for Wild Brown Trout, just 12 more days to go! The Salmon season is already off to a start and I have just heard from Chris Marwood who runs the Mole syndicate with me. Apparently the river is in fine form, so all we need now is a run of fish!

Henry has just headed off to Argentina in search of the amazing Golden Dorado (no, of course I'm not jealous!). Keep up to date with his adventure here

And to all of you who are entered into the Trout Fisherman, Troustmasters fish off here at Exe Valley Fishery on Saturday I hope you are hard at the tying vice and ready for action!