Harpers Lakes

I popped up to Harpers Lakes, one of Exeter Angling Associations waters for an exploratory session today. Situated adjacent to the Tiverton Parkway railway station and Junction 27 of the M5 these two lakes offer tench, bream and carp fishing all in relatively tranquil surroundings considering their proximity to the railway and road.

On arrival I chatted to the only other angler on the lake who was feeder fishing and it turned out was a regular here. I learnt that the first lake was 5-6 foot deep at the shallower end and sloped down to around 12 foot. It held a good head of bream and small tench as well as crucians and carp into double figures. The Second lake on the other side of the railway line and much more secluded mainly featured carp. Both lakes had large shoals of rudd cruising the upper layers.

I had only made the call to go fishing the night before and hence only came armed with a can of sweetcorn and a can of spam. chose to set up the pole in the shallower corner near the weeds and went for a size 12 hook and 5lb hooklength to give me some chance should I hook one of the carp. A few nibbles on sweetcorn didn’t develop into anything, but after rooting around under a pile of weed on the bank that someone had obviously raked out of the swim recently, I collected a few juicy worms. These turned out a better option as I swiftly landed a small tench and a nice skimmer on worm.

A switch to luncheon meat resulted in me connecting with a bigger fish which I assume was a carp that I just couldn’t bully away from the weed, where it promptly transferred the hook leaving me with nothing but a big bundle of weed to drag back in.

Another fish followed, which I assume was either a crucian or a hybrid before I then connected with two more carp – one on sweetcorn and the other on meat – both of which were unstoppable with the pole. After this the bites dried up as it approached midday, so I packed up and took a stroll with the fly rod around to the second lake; mainly to have a look more than anything else.

The second lake is reached via the path the runs behind the first lake, up to the North Devon link road, where you walk alongside the link road over the bridge, across the railway before hopping over the crash barrier and heading down a flight of steps to the lake..

2017-05-28 Harpers Lakes 7096

The second lake was very secluded with only a handful of swims and much of the bank inaccessible. Large numbers of very skittish rudd were evident along with the occasional carp that could be seen cruising the surface further out from the bank. Space for a back cast with the fly rod was not that generous so I was limited to fishing quite close in. A small red grub type fly tempted the rudd whilst a squirmy worm slowly retrieved was the downfall of a greedy little perch. I only really had a few casts before deciding that lunch beckoned and that it was time to head home.

2017-05-28 Harpers Lakes - Rudd

All in all, Harpers Lakes were a pleasant diversion for the morning with plenty of potential for the future. Next time an early morning or evening session would be more sensible I think.






Easter at Luccombes Coarse Fishery

In an effort to break out away from the Easter Eggs and risk of overdosing on chocolate, I dragged the family down to Luccombes Ponds this Easter for a quick fishing fix.

Being a bank holiday weekend, the place was understandably busy and we had to settle for whatever swims were available. I selected a spot next to a reed bed that had quite a bit of fish activity visible, and set up a float rod as well as a fly rod with the intention of switching between the two as the need arouse. The pond was quite shallow, and the spot I fished next to the reeds was only 2 – 3 foot deep. Despite being able to fish only one or two rod lengths out, the proximity of the reed bed would mean I’d have to bully any fish from the start.

I started off with the float rod using luncheon meat hook bait fished on the bottom. Bites were pretty much instant and it wasn’t long before I had the first fish on the bank. This turned out to be a modest sized bream. After this the carp moved in and a steady procession of carp around the 2lb mark came out.

Loose fed dog biscuits with fly fished pellet fly tempted one carp but apart from this solitary fish the others for the day all fell to float fished spam. Looking around at the other anglers on the other ponds and it seemed that floating dog biscuits or bread were the baits of choice which probably accounted for the wariness of the fish when presented with dog biscuits on the surface.

2017-04-17 Luccombes 5273

Amongst the array of carp, I caught a couple of small skimmers and a fish that looked a lot like a large rudd but could possibly have been a hybrid of some description. All in all we had a nice couple of hours with no shortage of fish and fairly decent weather. Certainly beats being at work.




Easy fishing at the Waie Inn.

We had a family day out at the Waie Inn near Crediton today. Easter half term and glorious sunny weather seemed too good to be true. We popped out to the Waie Inn to sample easy fishing alongside pub food.

The pond here is quite small, but is well stocked with fish, making it a perfect place to get the kids catching. In fact it really did prove to be so full of fish that bites are pretty much guaranteed every cast – perfect for the younger members of the family.

We started fishing with Rhianna’s little pole, using maggots for bait and loose feeding small amounts each cast. For the serious angler it’s one of those locations which is just too easy – but for the kids this proved perfect; plenty of ravenously hungry little carp – all a nice size to put up a scrap on light tackle without proving too much of a handful.

Once the thrill of catching the gluttonous carp on pole waned, we switched to the fly rod to get to see the more visual spectacle of watching the fish slurp down the fly.. We used my little #4 rod with a self tied dog biscuit fly and loose fed 3 or 4 dog biscuits each cast. The carp switched to surface feeding immediately and were so numerous they were properly competing with each other for the loose feed.

I did try fishing natural flies, but the fish seemed well and truly conditioned to expect bread or dog biscuits and all ‘natural’ baits were rejected. Nevertheless, the dog biscuits did the trick and really gave the kids the fishing fix we were looking for. Both Rhianna and Isobel got the hang of flicking out the fly for themselves as well as hooking and playing each fish. The fly rod definitely proved to be the favourite method of the day. Not a bad day considering the day ticket only cost £3.50 and the Inn has a fantastic play park for when small people get bored along with the option of a pub lunch and beer to refresh the weary angler.



Foam Beetles for Carp

I managed to pop out for a couple of hours on Monday in the hope of trying for pike on the fly rod but was thwarted by events in the end. The access to the river where I’d hoped to fish was blocked by farmers sorting livestock on the only access path to the fields that led to the river, so I switched to plan B.

Plan B involved a short drive to Newcourt Barton lakes to fly fish for the carp there. Being a weekday I had the place to myself and wasted no time in introducing a few dog biscuits to entice the carp into feeding on the surface. This didn’t take long and it wasn’t too difficult to connect with my first fish. After this the fish became a lot more cagey and steadfastly ignored the imitation dog biscuit fly whilst happily taking all the free offerings.

The fish did seem to be feeding on the surface on the other side of the pond amongst all the floating leaves being shed by the autumn trees so I moved round to investigate. It wasn’t apparent what the fish were feeding on, but I switched to a small black foam beetle fly and was immediately into a fish. A few more followed after that – nothing what you might call large, but fun all the same and satisfying to catch them on a ‘proper’ fly rather than a bait imitation.

Still looking forward to kicking off my pike fly fishing for this year, but it’ll have to wait by the looks of things.


Kia Ora Lakes and the Squirmy Worm

The weather today has been amazing for October! Amazing full stop in fact. Hot and sunny and not a breath of wind. Isobel and myself headed to Kia Ora lakes near Cullompton this afternoon for a chilled out session.

We set up on the smaller of the two lakes to fish for the ‘Silver fish’ and proceeded to pull out a steady stream of quality roach, rudd, skimmers and small tench along with a few hybrids and gudgeon. All were on a short pole and double maggot. Isobel really got into the swing of things and amazed me not only with her patience (not a quality 9 year olds usually have), but her enthusiasm for pole fishing. I would have to admit that she definitely takes after me when it comes to striking bites though… not exactly lightening reflexes shall we say. In fact she made me look positively on the ball… Still – loads of fun and she enjoyed herself.

The ‘Gold’ lake containing the carp was just a couple of yards away from where we were fishing, so I popped over there to stalk a few carp with the fly rod, whilst Izzy was making a dent in the food supplies.

Floating baits aren’t permitted at Kia Ora and as I didn’t want to fall foul of the bailiff should he visit, I fished a sinking fly – my squirmy worm fly.


There wasn’t that many carp to be seen, but I did spot and get to cast to a few that were sunbathing or just cruising around. I probably managed to cast to half a dozen, and hooked 3 of those. It was really satisfying to cast to a stationary sunbathing carp and land a fly a foot in front of his nose then watch him suddenly swim purposefully forward to take the slowly sinking ‘worm’. All close range stuff and pretty arm wrenching.

I had 3 carp in total, the biggest 8lb and the others around 6lb.

Izzy did’ take that long to demolish the sandwiches and before I knew it I was called back to catch more of the ever obliging roach and rudd. Will have to bring more food next time to buy myself a little more time to myself…

Blackberry Eating Carp

A quick trip to New Court Barton Lakes found me searching through my fly box trying to find something to replicate blackberries when fly fishing.

I fished the 2nd lake, and hadn’t been fishing for long before I realised why I was having no interest on any of my flies – the fish were all tight against the island opposite picking blackberries off the overhanging branches where they touched the water.

No amount of natural flies or even dog biscuit floaters could entice them to look at anything else.

I found a black blob fly in my box, that with a liberal addition of gink floatant just about hung at the surface. The cast to the island wasn’t very far and it was relatively easy to get nice and tight into the overhanging brambles.

The first fish to encounter the blob took it with no hesitation and the ensuing battle finished when I netted a lovely 6lb carp after a very spirited fight.

Full of confidence I now endeavoured to get the fly back in tight under the brambles. Confidence didn’t go that well when paired with dense overhanging brambles and my fly was swiftly swallowed by the undergrowth. This was a bit of a problem as it was the only thing in the fly box that even vaguely resembled a blackberry and no other substitutes seemed to fit the bill – certainly from the fishes point of view. A couple of foam beetles and daddies were inspected if cast near the brambles, but the carp always turned away at the last moment. Did they suspect foul play or was it just because they didn’t look like floating berries? Whatever the reason, that first carp was the only fish of the afternoon.

Oh well, thats fishing – success followed by elation shortly followed by hope then disappointment. Nothing unusual there then.

Rudd and Carp at Kia Ora

Last time I fished Exeter & District’s, Kia Ora lakes with Rhianna, she had 60 rudd from the smaller pond in not that many more minutes. This time we started off on the smaller pond again targeting the hoards of rudd before moving onto the larger pond to try our luck for the carp.

We pole fished using maggots which on the smaller pond, without exception were hit on the drop by ravenous rudd. Even cubes of luncheon meat were savaged mercilessly. Not a chance of getting a bait near the bottom. This is the perfect kind of fishing for my daughters but after a while I managed to persuade her that it would be better if she watched me catch carp from the bigger pond just behind us.

We moved to a nice looking swim opposite a wooded island that I’d be able to reach with a long pole. A few decent sized carp were cruising around basking in the sunshine, but on this venue, surface fishing is banned so we plumbed the depth tight up against the island opposite. The water in front of us was fairly consistently shallow at only about 2 – 3 foot deep, so as there was no obvious deeper spots we decided to fish tight against the overhanging vegetation agains the island opposite. With my pole at nearly full reach, this was going to be a little more challenging.

I loose fed maggot and luncheon meat before going straight for the meat bait on the hook. Bites were easy to come by but connecting with anything was a very different proposition. It wasn’t long before Rhianna’s interest was waining and I knew me time was fast running out unless I could hook something..

The first two fish I hooked felt a good size but were off across the lake and into snags quicker than I could say “oooh, I’ve got one..”. Putting on the pressure only resulted in the hooks pulling out. I stepped up the rig and went for a beefier hook length in the hope of being able to stop any other fish I hooked a bit easier, and also increased hook size in an effort to hopefully get a better hook hold. This seemed to work and we swiftly landed 2 nice fish, the bigger of which went to nearly 7lb. I’m sure we could of caught more but with a small child moaning about being bored it seemed a good time to call it a day. We did chat to another angler leaving at the same time as ourselves to learn that he’d caught around a dozen carp up to 12lb. Nice to be sat by the water in the sunshine.


Carp Bonanza on the Fly Rod

This weekend saw some of the years warmest weather so far and it seemed rude to ignore the opportunity to sneak out for an hour or two with the fly rod. I headed out to Newcourt Barton ponds and took my eldest daughter with me to act as official photographer. As it turned out on the day, it wasn’t just her taking the photos.

We’ve fished Newcourt Barton ponds a few times in the past and had some nice fish from here on the fly rod. There are 4 ponds, mainly stocked with carp, although the first pond when you enter is supposedly a tench and skimmer pond. Given the great weather we were surprised to only find one other angler on fishing – always nice as e’d pretty much have the pick of the swims. Rhianna and I parked up near the 2nd pond when we arrived and could see a couple of nice sized carp cruising the surface as we set up the rod. The trip was all about catching fish, rather than worrying about catching them on ‘natural’ flies only, so we went straight to the dog biscuit imitation fly. In this instance I used one I’d tied myself so I wasn’t initially that confident it would do the trick.

We lose fed a half dozen dog biscuits at a time and eventually the fish started taking the free offerings with confidence. When I introduced my fly it wasn’t long before it was taken without hesitation.  I was using my #7 rod and a floating line with a 7lb tippet. The rather scruffy, self tied fly was tied on a meaty size 10 barbless carp hook so on the snag free pond I had very little to worry about. Even so the fish wasn’t to be beaten that easily and really put up a scrap. The end result being a beautifully conditioned carp of around 7lb.

2016-07-16 Newcourt Barton 4893

After the commotion of this first fish, we struggled to get the fish to fed again and It was only by casting right against the overhanging vegetation on the island in the pond that I managed to tempt another fish – this time smaller at around the 4lb mark. No more fish were forthcoming after this so we switched to one of the other ponds.

It was only a matter of seconds after throwing in a half dozen lose fed offerings in our new swim before the place seemed to come alive with fish. we lose fed a little more and the fish were really going for it, often competing with each other for the dog biscuits. Needless to say, the fish came fast and furious from this point onwards. Over the course of the next hour we had another 10 fish – mostly around the 4 – 5lb mark. Rhianna caught 2 fish which was a major milestone for her as she usually uses a pole. This time, she had her first go with a fishing rod, cast out herself, hooked and played the fish all by herself with my role limited to landing and unhooking the fish. Definitely a proud daddy moment! The smile on her face said it all. Think she would of stayed there all night catching fish but my arm was aching from the action so we called it a day.

What a great session though! Caught lots of fish on my self tied fly. Rhianna caught her first fish all by herself on a fly rod – and a nice fish at that. What better way is there to spend a summer afternoon?

Carp on Dry Fly

Yes! Eventually I’ve managed to catch a carp on a ‘natural’ dry fly rather than one of the dog biscuit of bread imitation flies. It wasn’t a big fish, but it felt like I’d caught it ‘properly’!

Flt Caught Carp Luccombes


It’s taken a while but today’s conditions just seemed made for the occasion. The weather forecast was a bit iffy with rain and wind forecast later on, but I managed to sneak down to Luccombes Fishery near Exeter first thing, for 2 hours of fly fishing for carp. The weather being hot, humid and overcast certainly seemed conducive for getting the fish feeding on the surface. I fished the middle of the 5 ponds at Luccombes, right next to a small reed bed which had quite a few fishing moving in and around. Plenty of fish seemed to be feeding on something at the surface but I couldn’t see what it was. Fishing at close range meant it was nice and easy to make a good presentation to the fish and see up close how they reacted to the bait.

I started off by loose feeding dog biscuits and fishing a biscuit imitation fly over the top. I used my #5 rod and floating line with straight 10lb fluorocarbon tippet. There are a few carp in the mid twenties at Luccombes so I wanted to make sure that if by any miracle I did hook one of the bigger fish I had a chance of landing it.

I didn’t feed many loose offerings but even so, whilst the carp did eventually pick off the biscuits one by one, they weren’t exactly going crazy for them. I only had one fish make any attempt to examine my fly, only to reject it pretty smartly. It seemed the fish were preoccupied with something else.

After a while, the clouds of small black midges that were everywhere made me realise that the fish were probably feeding on the emerging midges…. A swift change to my smallest black fly did result in a carp inhaling and ejecting the offering but frustratingly that was the only interest on that particular fly. I didn’t have anything else that might resemble the midge lava in the fly box, so had to experiment. It wasn’t until I switched to a daddy long-legs fly that I eventually got lucky and had two fish competing for the fly that I connected with a fish.

It came as no surprise given that I was fishing within inches of the reedbed that as soon as it was hooked the carp went straight into the reeds. Thankfully with the sturdy tackle it was easily muscled out and quickly in the net, photographed and returned swiftly.

The excitement seemed to have turned all the fish off of feeding on the surface, and with the forecast light drizzle arriving it seemed prudent to call it a day. Still – I’ve finally caught a carp on a ‘proper’ dry fly!

Fly Fishing Luccombes


Pole Fishing for Carp at the Waie Inn

Bank holiday weekends are made for fishing! And with a Sunday boat trip booked, this weekend was no exception. Despite being out on the boat on Sunday, good weather on the Saturday was just too tempting to resist so I managed to persuade the family that a visit to the Waie Inn near Crediton would be nice. The kids could play on the outdoor play area while the wife and I had a beer or two. A little pond attached to the Inn that provided the opportunity to fish was just an added bonus….

The Waie Inn’s small pond is generously stocked with small carp making it the ideal venue for a guaranteed good days fishing for the kids. At £3.50 it’s about as cheap as you can find as well.

We set up a short 4m whip and float fished double maggot over a steady trickle of loose fed offerings. At the extent of the little pole’s reach the water was only 2 and a half feet deep and the bites came straight away and then continuously throughout the rest of the session. The fish were generally between 4 and 12 inches long and suitably easy to catch which maintained the interest of an 8 and a 10 year old along with their friends. Can’t ask for much more than that for a fun afternoon’s family fishing. Just hoping for a bit more challenge / excitement on the boat tomorrow.