Bellbrook Fishery, Devon

Bellbrook Fishery just north of Tiverton in Devon was the venue I was first introduced to fly fishing. On that particular day a little wild brown trout caught in the gathering dusk had saved me from blanking, so when I made a long overdue return visit to Bellbrook yesterday I was hoping to do so with a little more success. Bellbrook Fishery consists of 6 small lakes arrayed down a wooded valley with 5 of the lakes stocked with ‘normal’ fish and the 6th stocked with specimen fish of a higher average size. From the off, I had elected to give the specimen lake a miss and concentrate on the other 5 waters. The weather on arrival was blue skies and sunshine but with a bitterly cold wind blowing straight up the valley which made things chillier than it looked. Having decided I didn’t like the look of the very top lake of the 5 Normal ones, this left me with the remaining 4 to try my luck on – Sedgemoor, Exmoor, Dartmoor & Bodmin lakes.

Chatting to a few of the other fishermen there and a couple just leaving, it seemed everyone was catching fish with the most popular flies being gold head nymphs, blood worms and montana’s all fished slow and deep. There was very little in the way of rising fish so I followed the crowd in using a floating line with sinking leader and gold headed nymph. By the time I started fishing there were only a few other fishermen remaining, so I started on Exmoor Lake and had the lake to myself – looking down the valley it was pretty much one fisherman per lake.

I was thankful I had the lake to myself as my casting was atrocious and I seemed to have taken a drastic step back in ability in the intervening couple of weeks since my last trip. A fruitless hour or two and I finally started to get into my stride with regards casting.  A move around to the other side of the lake resulted in a savage take that came completely out of the blue and gave me a fleeting moment of elation before the fly was returned to me with the hook straightened out. Curses! Nothing else I tried could tempt another response on that lake after that so I decided to try the others.

By now pretty much everyone else had left. I watched the last remaining angler catch his final fish of his 5 fish limit before picking his brain as to his success. The chap was extremely helpful and it transpired he was fishing pretty much the same set up to myself – floating line, sinking leader and switching between nymphs & bloodworms – he could just cast further (and was a far better fly fisherman obviously)… After he had left I then had the place to myself and the pick of the lakes. With the afternoon wearing on and a little more sign of fish activity I felt more hopeful. This combined with an improvement in my casting and I started to see lots of fish follow and investigate my fly as well as having a few plucks and nibbles. I had follows on all 4 lakes, with both gold head nymphs and bloodworms but just couldn’t connect with any fish. They always seemed to veer away at the last moment.

Time running out I switched to a bright orange blob fly which straight away produced lots of follows from fish. I briefly hooked and lost a fish on Exmoor Lake before moving up to Sedgemoor where I eventually hooked and landed a fine rainbow trout on the blob fly. The fish hit the fly with serious conviction even though, or maybe because, I retrieved it pretty fast making the blob twitch and jump around in the water. Either way the fish really fought well on my 5/6 weight rod and I certainly sighed with relief when I got the net under it, especially given the many near misses and disappointments of the day.

I fished on for another half hour after that but without any more success. It meant I finished the day with a lovely plumb rainbow trout and thoroughly enjoyed the sport and venue.

Bellbrook is a great little fishery, with some lovely lakes, good facilities, and reasonable prices and is definitely a place I’ll be revisiting.

2015-04-19 Bellbrook Trout 2.5lb b

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First visit to Barrow Tanks

Easter bank holiday weekend with good weather and time to kill saw me testing the waters at the Barrow Tanks near Bristol. These three reservoirs managed by Bristol Water are stocked with trout and are reserved for fly fishing, very accessible, reasonably priced and by all accounts quite productive.

I’d never fished this venue before so wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was very pleasantly surprised by what we found. Granted, it was great weather with no wind which always helps make an enjoyable day, fish or no fish!

Trout Fishing Barrow tanks

Meeting up with Jason at dawn we crossed over the road to start off fishing reservoirs 1 & 2. There was very little sign of fish on the surface although as the day wore on, there was masses of midges and other insect life around. We saw various other people around the lake catching fish which is always an encouraging sight and helped keep our spirits up throughout the day.

My casting left a lot to be desired to start with but did pick up a bit with practice by the end of the session, although I still felt I was severely lacking distance, which on such large waters as these is probably quite a disadvantage. We tried various flies but not knowing any better, I for one majored on a using a little dry fly with a buzzer fished below, New Zealand style. A few fish-less hours on tanks 1 & 2 and we decided to explore reservoir 3 but with no more success than on the other two.

Neither of us had our casting practice interrupted by fish bothering us at any stage during the day and we had glorious weather in pleasant surroundings so couldn’t really complain about our bank holiday fishing. Maybe next time I’d like to catch one of the pesky trout!

Fly Fishing Barrow Tanks