Wednesday, 27 August 2008

So Nearly a Salmon ... or two

I was out last night after work for a session on the River Exe after the Grilse that are now running the river. There are fish to be had but you need to be there at the right time and with a rising barometer, a cloudy sky and the evening darkness drawing near we fancied our chances.

Within a few casts on Blackpool I was into a fish, which thrashed on the surface and then came off! I fished that run hard, but nothing else for a while. A change of fly (to a classic Stoats Tail double) and once again I was off down the pool. In the identical spot I had lost the previous fish , I had a moment of madness and was fiddling with the cuff on my new Hardy EWS Jacket! The line was off out of my hand towards Exmouth before I realised my mistake. A chance of a 2nd Salmon ... Gone!

Meanwhile Mike was itching to have a go at the Browns that are up on top and feeding hard after all the flood water. This could be a very good end to the Trout season and I look forward to my last day party with the lads on the bank. Mike is in practice and took this lovely fish approaching a pound on a skated Sedge.

Back to the Salmon. A few fish had moved here and there but it had gone quiet and Neil reported no takes so far. I had one more pull on a Stoaty before enlisting the help of a big black Minkie Conehead. Now this is not a hard and fast Salmon pattern; but why shouldn't it work? I think we only catch Salmon on the likes of Stoats Tails, Cascades etc., because that is what we fish all of the time.

Out went the Conehead on an Intermediate and right in the back of Blackpool a fresh looking Grilse snapped it up, took some line, jumped and then came off! It was not to be my night and although I thrashed the water well into darkness nothing else transpired. That's Salmon fishing!

I must leave the keyboard and get back to the shop, there is much to be done. We have changed the look and there are more plans for the future. Come and check us out at the open day on Saturday 30th August 2008. We will be on hand to offer advice and assistance regarding a multitude of fly fishing topics, plus enter our competition for the chance to WIN a Hardy Demon rod worth £279.00!

Fishing Reports - South West Lakes

South West Lakes Trout Fisheries


The mixed weather continued through July – settled spells broken by wind and rain. Water levels have kept high, and while water temperatures have continued to rise, they have not reached a level to adversely affect the fishing. Sedges are beginning to appear in greater numbers, with good prospects for dry fly fishing next month, particularly in the evenings.


Kennick – July produced a number of big fish throughout the month to both boat and bank anglers, with weekly rod averages of 2.5 fish. Sedges and Damsel Flies brought fish to the surface, and anglers fishing with these imitations met with some success. Sub-surface nymphs (Damsel Nymphs, Buzzers, Montanas, and Pheasant Tail Nymphs) produced the most consistent results, fished down to about 1 metre depth. Lures and boobie patterns fished on sinking lines also provided good sport.

The best fish of the month included a 6lb 6oz rainbow (equalling this season’s best fish so far) caught by Mr. P.Sore of Ashburton, using a Montana from the bank, and rainbows of 6lb 20z and 3lb 1oz (as part of a full bag) caught by Mr. Ashfor of Exeter, using a Damsel fishing from the bank in Clampitts Bay. The best bag of the month included rainbows of 6lb 1oz, 5lb 6oz, and 3lb 2oz, and was caught by Mr. R. Metcalf of Kingskerswell, using a Green Nymph fished from the bank.

Siblyback - the changeable weather had a pronounced effect on the fishing, with weekly rod averages varying between 2.1 and 4.3 fish, with fish readily rising on the calmer and warmer days Successful dry patterns included large dark Hoppers (Black or Claret) and Daddies, which would even bring non-rising fish up. Sub-surface nymphs such as Damsels, Montanas, and Pale Green Buzzers caught fish, as did larger darker lure patterns (such as Vivas and Cormorants). The best fish of the month included a 4lb 4oz and 3lb 9oz rainbow caught by Mr. Allin of Okehampton fishing a Lime Green Jungle Cock wet fly, and a bag that included rainbows of 3lb 5oz, 3lb 4oz, and 3lb 2oz rainbows caught by D. Locke from Taunton, fishing buzzers from a boat.

Wimbleball Ruggs, Bessoms, and Cowmoor all fished consistently well from the bank during July, while boat anglers also caught fish in the Sailing Club area. With fish feeding off buzzers and sedges from the surface, there was great sport to be had using dry Sedge patterns, Lake Olive patterns, Daddies, and Black Gnats. Traditional sub-surface imitations (such as Damsel Nymphs, Montanas, Diawl Bachs, and Buzzers) all caught fish, as did larger lures such as Black Tadpoles, Cats Whiskers, and Orange Fritz patterns.

A number of fish over 3 pounds were caught, including a 3lb 6oz rainbow caught by Maurice Woodward from Dulverton, and 3lb 4oz by Neil Osborne from Exeter.

Stithians – was predominantly a dry fly water during July, with a selection of Hoppers (Black or Orange), Daddies, Sedges, Bibios, and Gnats all catching fish. Successful sub-surface patterns included Buzzers, Damsel Nymphs, Hares ears and Invictas, with Orange lures proving to be the best attractor patterns. Bank fishing tended to be more popular, with Goonlaze, Chapel Point and Carnmellis Point all fishing well, as well as the deeper water near the dam and around the aerators. The best fish of the month was a 3lb 12oz rainbow caught by Mr. Chamberlain of Cambourne.

Colliford – has continued to fish well, with a variety of traditional brown trout patterns (such as Connemara Black, Black Pennel, Mallard and Claret, as well as Damsel Nymphs and Hare’s Ear Nymphs) all catching well. However the best sport resulted from Elk Hair Sedge imitations twitched on the surface, as well as Hoppers and Bibios. Jamie Walden of Winkliegh enjoyed a great day’s sport, resulting in a bag that included brownies of 2 and 4 pounds on a dry sedge imitation.

Fernworthy – This brown trout fishery continues to fish well, with a wide variety of patterns all taking the eagerly feeding fish - mainly dark traditional patterns have been catching fish (Bibio, Black Pennell, Zulu, Black Emergers, Spider patterns, Hare’s Ear, and Montanas), and when the fish get a bit more choosy, a size 16 Black Gnat or Ant pattern has worked well. With catch-and-release available, anglers have been catching bags of up to a dozen fish up to 2lb. The best areas have included the North Bank by the dam, and the South Bank below the permit hut.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Busy Bank Holiday

The weather is slightly better ... just slightly. In fact as you will see from some of the photos below the sky is in fact blue; not grey! It has been a busy time for us with plenty of anglers on the fishery enjoying the now weed free conditions plus faces old and new returning to brush up their casting or learn how to fly fish from scratch.

As always it was a pleasure to welcome Ian and Sam Langer back to the shores of Exe Valley Fishery for their yearly casting and fishing tune up. A father myself, I know how important a bit of time to yourself is and so Ian and Sam relish a day out fishing with a brief rest in our top class local restaurant, Woods, for a glass of wine and some lunch of course! Here they are with a couple of decent fish. One taken on a dry, the other on a Diawl Bach. The oxygen content of the water is high for the time of year due to the low temperatures and the fish are feeding well so try imitative tactics if you are in the area.

From two anglers I know very well to a chance outing with some people from Germany who have now taken up residence in the UK. Ludwig was desperate to sort some Trout fishing for himself and we were happy to assist. He attended along with Mia, pictured here with her son Jacob who manned the net through the morning. They could only manage a couple of hours due to family commitments but 3 fish were caught and a couple lost. Not bad as Mia has never cast a fly! I believe the fish were consumed last night with new potatoes, salad and of course a bottle of decent white wine. Ummm, lovely! It sounds like Ludwig is fired up for the Sea Trout so lets hope the 2009 season comes with enough water but not too much.

My own fishing has been a little infrequent, mainly due to the river conditions and volume of work here to be done. But I am eyeing up a slot this week for a crack at the Salmon. There are plenty of fish through the system now due to the constant high water, but you just need to be there at the right time. One person who managed this was Andrew Maund who hooked a staggering 11 fish while out for a session on the Mole last week. He landed 6 comprising 3 Salmon and 3 Sea Trout. Top angling! He also returned the next day to take another Salmon and a 9lb Sea Trout! And then again the next day to land another couple of Grilse and a 4lb Sea Trout. Of course I am not jealous in the slightest! I did give the river a good going over for a few hours one night last week but it was after the pools had been fished and once again the heavens opened. The water coloured and that was that. There was also another fisherman present, an Otter that spent an hour playing hide and seek with me in Sandmartin pool!

I may have not had much fishing this week but it sounds like Henry Gilbey has been having a ball in Jersey. This guy is seriously addicted to Bass and the new modern light tackle phenomenon. Check out more on Henrys Blog.

There is a lot more news for me to catch up on but this week we are preparing for our Open Day on Saturday 30th August so I am needed in the shop. We are very excited about the launch of our new club and look forward to seeing Charlotte and Peter from Aardvark McLeod who are supporting the event. We also have several new products lines so come and check it out! More info this week.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Big Water, Big Fish

The rain has been challenging to say the least recently. At the times the River Exe had to be in excess of 4ft over summer levels if not more. It was quite simply blasting its way through and during an abandoned fishing trip recently all I could do was stand and watch in awe at the power wondering just how many Salmon were on their way to the moorland tributaries!

The inclement weather has made a lot of fishing very tough on rivers and even saltwater fly fishing opportunities are being dashed by the moment. Many estuaries where usually the chance of a Bass on the fly is very high at this time of year are useless due to the suspended silt discharged into the area by the river. I am all for wrapping up warm, getting out there and getting on with it. But ... the current British weather is curtailing options.

However it is certainly not all doom and gloom. Exe Valley Fishery is looking superb now the Aqua Tractor has done its thing and the low temperatures make for highly oxygenated water. This means the fish are happy and has lead to the capture of some fine specimens including these two weighing in at 8lb 8oz and 9lb 8oz. The fish below was taken last weekend when the sun came out for at least 10 minutes!

Join us on Saturday 30th August 2008 for our open day and try catching one for yourself during our competition running throughout the day. The entrance fee is just £10.00 plus a two fish permit and the best bag on the day will win a Hardy Demon Fly Rod worth £279.00!

During the week we have taken another influx of budding new anglers attending our popular fly fishing courses and I have been out and about working on a new project that is proving to be a challenge but very rewarding. As the rain clatters down once more I feel a cup of tea coming on and the need to find a book picturing some very large Bonefish in a very hot country. Will we be blessed with an Indian summer? I hope so.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Rivers in Spate

Just back from my trip with Dave Sedgwick. I guessed the river would be high but the Mole was daft! At least 12" up on last week, even the access points were flooded and so pretty quickly we abandoned ship after a bit of casting practice. Fishing in a section just below the stretch pictured here Jim Parrot took a couple of Sea Trout only a week ago today. Will the rain ever stop?

The huge amounts of water are good for one thing though and that's Salmon. They are running the River Exe which David and I headed back to for the afternoon session. A fish did show a couple of times in one of the pools Dave fished. Using a large Conehead Comet strapped to a 500 grain head and a 14ft double hander Dave did encounter a strong pull from the fish but unfortunately no hook up. In such high coloured water we are talking millimetres and split seconds between a hooked up fish or not. It is however hugely satisfying when everything comes to together in such tough conditions as Tim Watson found last season. Read more here.

It is worth noting the difference in clarity between the Mole, a low lying river and the Exe which is the opposite. If your fishing trip looks doomed due to high water, search around for another venue because there may just be something that could yield some action. To be honest even in the toughest of tough conditions it is worth casting, after all it is an old cliche but "if your fly is not in the water ... "

I have some flies to tie tonight, mainly coneheads and lots of sorting out here to do tomorrow before I spend Tuesday and Wednesday working on a new project that I will reveal in good time. Of course I also hope to have a fish and with the water like it is bound to be the Salmon that I am after. Things look good for the week and there are reports of Grilse running so get out there if you can!

Fishing after Weeding

We are already well into August and yet it only seems a moment ago that the season began. I have been out with several guests over the last few weeks and now that Exe Valley Fishery has been cleared of weed on the main lake the fishing has suddenly become very good indeed.

Neil Pope is a busy IT director in London and needed something to help him relax. A former coarse angler he was soon casting well enough to take 3 fine Trout on dry flies. Iain Barrs Harry Potter dries are certainly devastating on their day! It is so satisfying to introduce people to the sport, particularly those with busy lives who rarely find time for themselves. When we hear back from them it is doubly satisfying!

"Nick, I just want to thank you for a fantastic day, I have not relaxed so much for a long time. I have not stopped talking about the day since my return and had great fun gutting and cooking the fish. Both me and my wife where very surprised how nice fresh Trout is when cooked. I do think I have the bug so I am sure I will be back down. Again many thanks you made everything fun and well worth while." Neil Pope, London (by email)

On Friday a previous guest of Nick Hart Fly Fishing, John Wilkinson arrived to hone his skills from his 1 day course in May. We spent an enjoyable half day working on casting and fishing techniques which resulted in 3 fish. John was using his new fly fishing kit by Wychwood. These rods are amazing value for money and ideal for anyone trying the sport for the first time.

After several reschedules firstly due to the premature birth of Scarlett (my daughter who will be one in Oct, where did the time go!?) and then due to a holiday, Mrs Boddington arrived for her very first attempt at fly fishing aged 80! Guided by Neil she made the best of the fine weather and good water conditions to take this lovely Trout plus two others. It just goes to show that no matter age or sex fly fishing is for all of us. Fly Fishing, elitist; since when?!

Today I am headed out with a long time guest who I have been looking after for over a decade. Dave Sedgwick started with a novice course and since then now takes a rod on the Wylye for Trout and has this year also started fishing the Avon for Salmon, plus he fishes the Dorset coast for Bass. Right now the truck is loaded, my fly box is full of heavy tubes and we are about to take on the Devon weather and water conditions in the hope of a summer (that's a laugh!) Grilse. Report here tomorrow and check out the tuition site as I am making some changes. Plus ... the open day is in just a couple of weeks, Sat 30th August. Look out on the blog, in the press and in your snail mail box for details.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Aqua Tractor Unloading Weed

There were a few problems trying to add this to the previous blog post, so here I have provided video of the Aqua Tractor depositing its first load of Exe Valley Weed.

Aqua Tractor Goes to Work

My last post was all about the clean up operation underway here at Exe Valley Fishery. This involved an amazing machine hired out to us by Kingcombe Aquacare known as an Aqua Tractor. This odd looking craft worth in excess of £60,000 cruised the lakes for a couple of days cutting out the weed at lake bed level and then conveying it on board.

This first video shows the boat working the lake and collecting the weed. Just look at that slick of algae behind the boat and the flattening on the opposite edge is more weed, now, all gone! I have had problems uploading the 2nd video but will attempt to do so in the following post.

The results are fantastic as can be seen from this picture of Exe Valley yesterday. Thousands of Corixa are now charging around the lake and the Trout are making the best of them. The feeder stream is also flowing very well now the weed has been cut back providing highly oxygenated water that bodes very well for the coming weeks including our open day on Saturday 30th August 2008. Our next step is to clear the edges and install new platforms. Most important of all we are also about to introduce a total ban on all dogs to ensure our banks are free from those nasty deposits that none of us likes to encounter!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Exe Valley Clean Up

Small waters suffer during the summer months, although this year I do wonder if the weather we have experienced could really be called summer! Even so the higher temps, coupled with lower flows and de-oxygenated water do lead to the nightmare that every fishery manager seeks to avoid ... WEED!

In particular Exe Valley suffers from low level weed that then attracts an algae which coats the vegetation resulting in something akin to thick cabbage soup. This causes terrible problems for anglers when fishing and trying to land Trout. So something had to be done because over the last few years we have attracted a great following of anglers to the fishery and owe it to them to maintain the fishery as best possible.

Research lead us to the people at Kingcombe Aquacare who have a quarter of a century of knowledge and experience in the field of maintaining and improving waterways. In particular I was attracted to a curious looking contraption known as an "aqua tractor". To better explain how this works tomorrow I will post up some video footage of the machine in action and also the results of two days spent navigating the lake.

There will be further details here and on my other sites soon regarding the open day we have coming up on Saturday 30th August 2007. Plus the Hart Flyshop club launches and we have more news regarding Exe Valley including the revamped website. And finally if you have chance to get out on the River Exe it is worth leaving the Trout rod and targeting Salmon. There is a Grilse run happening and on Tuesday evening I fished with good mate Mike Boniface who hooked a nice fish despite very coloured water conditions. He had it on for a while, but the fish went berserk and then slipped the hook requiring a beer afterwards to steady his nerves!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Sea Trout by Day

A week has shot past since the CLA gamefair and there hasn't been a moment since to update the blog. The show was a great event as always and I enjoyed demonstrating the comparisons between fly fishing and lure fishing alongside Henry Gilbey. The crowds this year were huge and the weather was fantastic. I got to look at a lot more of the show than usual along with my wife Sue and little lad Chester who behaved incredibly well during the weekend, despite the soaring temperatures. In particular I was amazed by the products offered trough Bass Lures
and I had to stay well away from the various 4x4 sales areas as my truck needs replacing!

What has happened to the weather since that glorious CLA weekend? It has been shocking to say the least although a week ago today I did manage to bag myself another session on the Sea Trout. That night really hammered home to me once again that no matter what text books, DVDs and general theories there maybe ... the fish make the rules. It was a really warm evening, the cloud rolled in and the River Mole was literally pitch black. Perfect Sea Trout conditions. I did get a couple of fish, small school peal and lost another bigger as did Neil at around 1.30am, but following on from the high octane action from our moonlit session the week before it made for a puzzling session. Which leads me neatly on to yesterday.

I was guiding Jim Parrot and Alex Beattie on a Grand Slam. This is an action packed day spent fishing for Trout, Bass and then Sea Trout ... all in 24 hours ... all on fly. However based on the conditions it was just not possible to take up this challenge. The Atlantic around the North Coast is milky to say the least and our main estuary was chocolate Brown due to flooded rivers flowing in. Both guys had done a fair amount of Brown Trout fishing and so I decided we would take a look at the River Mole on the off chance that the colour was clearing.

It was! There was certainly colour to be seen but this can actually be very good when fishing for Salmon or Sea Trout. Setting up with single handed rods we were soon casting with Midge Tip Lines and Sea Trout patterns. Yes, in the daytime! Twenty five minutes in and Jim was hooked up into a lovely little peal that gave a great account of itself and after a photo was carefully returned. During the session both guys got a number of takes, a typical Sea Trout habit that keeps the adrenalin levels running throughout the day. But it was Jim that converted another later in the early evening to once again catch and release another sprightly Peal. It was a shame not to be able to do take up the slam but completing our day in the Anchor Inn over a pint both Alex and Jim have vowed to return. Let us hope the weather shines upon them in 2009 and that they get chance to achieve the exciting challenge of taking a Wild Brown Trout, Bass and Sea Trout all in one day and on the fly.

Another slam turned into a slap on Friday as Tim Watson and Tony Kaye embarked on their day. All be it the smallest Browns I think they have ever caught during their many guided sessions with me, it is a day not about size but species. On schedule a couple of little Wild Browns were in the bag although Tim did also get another bigger and an escaped Rainbow before we headed out to the coast.

A howling South Westerly greeted us as we neared the estuary which was a disturbing colour. Both the River Taw and River Torridge were blown due to the huge amounts of rain and gushing sediment into the usually crystal clear waters that Crow Point has become famous for. The Bass in this area are rarely large but it is usually possible to catch a few and it is a great place for saltwater virgins to cut their teeth. I am not sure if the Browns were bigger but both Tony and Tim got loads of Bass from one clear lagoon. We could not fish the main areas because there was so much colour and so now that we had at least contacted a Bass I drove the guys West to find something bigger. Again we were scuppered by conditions finding a milky sea that did not invite fly tactics.

Gutted. But we had a couple of species, even though small and so we remained inspired that a big Sea Trout was on the cards. But I was worried. Looking across the valley as we drove inland the scene looked bleak as dark clouds enveloped the hills before us. All the way we tried to keep our spirits high but nearing the River Mole our suspicions were confirmed. Storm drain after storm drain had blown and the Mole was now a dirty brown mess. Full marks to both Tim and Tony who still took a walk upstream and had a cast or two. Reality soon set in. The challenge was over and it was time to drown our sorrows by filling our tummies with perhaps one of the finest meals I have ever had at our local Thai restaurant, Tongdam. So two grand slams that didn't go to plan, but fun was had, fish were caught and it still leaves us with some unfinished business in the future! Like I said at the beginning of this piece ... the fish make the rules!

I have some exciting news about the fishery and details regarding our open day to post up, but right now I am off home to tie up some Sea Trout flies, I have to make the most of the rest of the season! I am also going to be having a look through some of my huge collection of fly rods as I need to make some room. I have a confession to make. Thanks to Henry I am about to buy myself some lure fishing kit!