A less than auspicious end to 2015

A wet and rain drenched new years eve was my last chance for a fishy end to the year. Given the atrocious weather of the last few weeks, I decided to pay a visit to Bellbrook Fishery up near Tiverton in the hope that the venue would at least be fishable. The River Exe was seriously flooded with the surrounding fields looking like one gigantic lake. Quite an impressive sight but I was glad to get to Bellbrook without having to traverse any flooded roads.

The lakes at Bellbrook are set within a steep sided valley that provide shelter from most wind unless its a northeasterly, so even though I could hear the wind howling in the trees when I arrived, the lakes themselves were flat calm. The lakes are stream fed and due to the heavy rains were quite coloured: the bottom lake especially was particularly murky and downright un-fishable due to the strong flow from the stream discharging into it. The remainder of lakes looked worth a go however.

I tried various flies, concentrating on large and brightly coloured flies due to the murky water conditions. Within a few casts my fly choice seemed well founded when I connected for a second or two with a fish. Sadly this seemed to be the tale of the day as I then went on to miss takes from, or lose another 6 or 7 fish! Whilst I might expect to lose the odd fish, it seemed inexplicable to have so many takes and yet not catch any of them. I must of been doing something wrong, but frustratingly for the life of me couldn’t figure out what.

I did see a few other anglers fishing, and at least a couple of them caught a couple of nice rainbows, so this proved the fish weren’t uncatchable. Not how I’d hoped to end the year but that’s the way it goes sometimes I guess.

I’m looking forward to the coming year now and hope to build on the success of this last year. New years resolution? Catch more sea fish on the fly! A two week holiday in the Scilly Isles in the summer should be a fine opportunity to do so. I just need to find some other venues closer to home to get to test out the saltwater fly fishing!

All that said, it’s been a great year of fishing! hopefully 2016 will be as fruitful!


Walking for the Pike

The last few of my recent fishing trips have been to the Grand Western Canal after Pike. The venue is great for when everywhere else is rained off as seems to have been the theme for the last few weeks – the canal seems to remain clear…ish and fishable no matter what the weather, even if some parts are clearer than others.

Yet more bad weather this week saw me heading back to the Tiverton Canal, this time with my fishing buddy Jason. I would be fly fishing for pike, and he toting the lure rod with a selection of shads and plugs. We hoped to tempt a few pike, even though we knew that realistically the chances of anything big were not that high. Still – even the jacks are fun on light gear!

We met up at dawn and headed over to the Greenway section near Halberton. After depositing one car at the Dudley Weatherley Jubilee Bridge we drove back to the Greenway Bridge at Halberton and set off on foot. This way we could walk the whole big loop of water between the two cars without having to back track at any point. It turned into quite a walk as I hadn’t really appreciated just how big a loop of water this was.

Things started promisingly with an early take on a small fly retrieved slowly. A little later I landed a tiny pike that most satisfyingly, had taken the fly that my youngest daughter had helped me tie up recently! What a relief! … and in this case the size was irrelevant, I knew Isobel would be delighted!

Tiverton Canal Jack Pike

Isobel's Pike Fly

The weather was seemingly perfect with no wind and still, overcast, mild conditions. Very nice for just walking and exploring the water. A couple of other takes, including a fish lost to both of us followed pretty swiftly after the first fish and things were looking up. A good bit of action in the first hour and plenty of time left! We began to wonder how many fish we’d actually get to bank….I certainly expected a couple more fish in the remaining time. It wasn’t to be however as for some reason the bites dried up and we fished and fished with no more takes, despite persevering for a good few hours more.

Even though the flurry of fish I’d expected after the first hour, didn’t happen, I left at the end of the day with the satisfaction of christening Isobel’s fly and maybe more importantly for future, having seen some different and interesting looking stretches of water that just invited a return visit at another time.

Christmas is fast approaching, so maybe I’ll have to drag myself away from the Tivvy Canal of the festive break and visit somewhere else.. Just need some favourable weather.

Canal Pike

Wind and rain seems to have been non-stop for the last couple of weeks, and considering the river Exe was in flood a couple of days this week I wasn’t that hopeful of being able to get out fishing over the weekend. However, the weather forecast seemed to show the wind easing off over Sunday so I decided to grab my chance. Despite a pretty hectic weekend of family orientated activities I managed to get out down the Tiverton Canal this morning for a quick 2 hour session. Experience has shown that whilst the rivers may be a flooded un-fishable mess, the canal will often remain crystal clear. Fingers crossed! I arrived at the Greenway section near Halberton, in the dark and wasn’t feeling that encouraged by the blustery & overcast conditions and it wasn’t until first light that I could actually see the water I was fishing in. Given the amount of rain we’ve had over the last few days it was a relief to find the canal was very clear.

I stuck with the successful #5 rod and #8 floating line combo that has been working so well over the last few trips. I worked my way along the canal trying out a couple of my self tied flies without any sign of activity until after switching to a small fly that Isobel had helped me tie a couple of weeks ago, I had a small jack rush and grab at the fly. Frustratingly the hook didn’t take hold and the jack couldn’t be tempted to come back for a second attempt.

I decided to rest the swim and moved on, before coming back 20 minutes later. A few casts convinced me that I wasn’t fooling my quarry by presenting the same fly to him so I switched to a larger shop brought grey and white fly. Despite the fly being fairly big at 5-6″ long, it cast very easily and sank slowly too – allowing a very slow a twitchy retrieve without snagging the weed on the bottom. The second cast was hit pretty decisively by something that obviously wasn’t the small jack! The fish went crazy from the first moment and fought like a demon. I was really relieved to get the net under a fat, healthy and toothy looking pike that tipped the scales to 7lb.

Tiverton Canal Pike

I’d crushed the barb on this particular fly so it is effectively a barbless hook which made unhooking a doddle! A quick photo and after slipping the fish back, I examined the trace… Whilst the wire itself was in perfect order, the snap link itself had snagged the net. A gentle pull to free the snap link from the mesh and it pulled straight! What crap! Absolute miracle it didn’t do this whilst I was playing the fish! Lesson learnt – I certainly won’t ever use these again!

Wire Trace snap link

Thankfully it was a lesson, that didn’t cost me a fish..

The Grand Western Canal has been kind to me of late – whilst none of the pike have been monsters, I had caught now on the last 5 trips here! Famous last words? Hope to extend the run of good fortune next weekend.