What a summer! It’s been so hot for so long! Today’s trip was no different – very very hot and sunny although a bit breezy at times.
I mainly concentrated on fly fishing although without massive amounts of enthusiasm. I think the heat installed a general malaise in me that sapped my willingness to perservere after the first few casts at each new place.
I did catch a couple of small chub on fly. Although it wasn’t until I switched to float fishing with maggot that I started to catch a little more regularly with gudgeon, perch and minnows.
Jason coarse fishing throughout and had a good variety of fish including: chub, rudd, roach, perch, gudgeon, minnow and hybrid.
We started off at West Lydford in the hope of making use of the shade of the trees we knew were along that stretch, before ending up at the Cowbridge stretch. I had fun stalking large chub that could be seen on the surface basking in the sunshine, and managed to tempt one of the biggest to take a daddy-long legs fly, only for me to miss the take! If only!
Summer has well and truly arrived – Hot & Sunny! Took the family up to the Waie Inn near Crediton for a couple of hours of tranquility – picnic and a spot of fishing. Set up the fishing umbrella to give us some shade and set the girls fishing with float fished luncheon meat on the pole.
True to form the Waie Inn delivered with numerous small and greedy carp. Bites were very easy to come by on the pole, so much so that we wondered if they would even take our picnic scraps, and went on to catch a carp on a piece of banana which the girls thought was hilarious.
I fly fished briefly with a dog biscuit imitation fly amongst loose fed dog biscuits. Surprisingly the fish were especially wary of floating baits which seemed to be in direct contrast to their apparent kamikaze approach to float fished baits. Whereas in the past we’ve had no trouble tempting carp from here on the fly – this time it took some doing. I switched around flies a bit and landed a few on my own scruffy self tied biscuit fly. However, the shop bought biscuit flies were rejected upon inspection by the fish every time.
All in all we had a fun session made all the better by the fantastic weather. Whilst the majority of the fish were on the small side – Izzy did land a 5-6lb fish on the pole which really made her arms ache…
I visited Bellbrook Fishery in Devon, with Ben – the first trip for either of us for some time. We were treated to sunny, if very cold conditions and with a gusty easterly wind blowing straight up the valley just to test our casting.
This was the first trip for myself in a few months. Now a couple of months without fishing for me is pretty remarkable – the kind of break from fishing that is unheard of. I can’t remember the time when I’d had that number of months without fishing since being a small kid…. Still, this was my chance to get my fishing mojo back!
We arrived to find we had the place to ourselves and as soon as we started fishing I had two takes from trout which I landed and lost a third fish. It seemed a very promising start! However, that was as good as it got, and I had no more fish and Ben didn’t manage to get off the mark.
It turned out that either we were both unlucky, incompetent or maybe the fishing was just hard. Personally I like to put it down to the fish not being on the feed…. Either way, the conditions were testing when the wind got up and despite going home with a couple of fish, I was left feeling we could’ve done better….. Now where did I put my mojo?
Popped up to the Tiverton Canal for a spot of fly fishing for pike. Arriving at dawn and with conditions seemingly perfect I had high hopes of a few jacks if nothing else.
Tried various flies over the course of the session but mainly experimented with some new tube flies that I’d tied up after reading various articles on their benefits for pike fishing. Used authentic wire trace which could be treaded down through the tube and looped onto a small stainless steel single hook which allowed the flies to be changed really easily whilst also ensuring the hook was positioned nearer the rear of the fly – always useful for snaring those pike that just nip at the end of a fly.
As it turned out, I only had one take from a small jack before I had to get home to do the usual fatherly duties of chauffeuring the kids around. Still – I liked the tube flies, and their flexibility and generally considered my first experiment with them a success of sorts and worthy of more experimentation.
Two weeks of holiday in the Isles of Scilly provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of fishing – The weather was changeable throughout the holiday – generally dry with sunny spells although the wind varied between brutally strong to light. Strong winds favoured lure fishing and made fly fishing difficult (See Part 2 for a lure fishing slant). The first real chance to fly fish was on a trip to Tresco. Whilst the Family played on the beach, I explored the north end of the island to shelter from the southerly wind. Used fast sinking 40+ line which cast really well and sunk super fast – much faster than any fly lines I’ve used before. This caused problems when fishing shallower weedy marks but was really good for the deeper areas. Despite all the promise the location held, I had no interest from the fish at all sadly.
The next fly fishing opportunity was whilst fishing the rocks on the east of St Mary’s with lure and fly rod. I mainly used the lure rod and had a lot of success. I did however give the fly rod a reasonably thorough go with various flies and did have a few follows from small wrasse, but frustratingly no takes. Given that the fish were queuing up to attack the soft lures there was no contest as to which method to concentrate on.
With nicer weather forecast for one of the days it finally tempted me to pop out to Penennis Head at dawn to fish the deep water there for Pollack. The wind blowing in an awkward direction however, made things difficult and on top of this my casting was pretty atrocious too – despite this, I had numerous takes on small sparsely dressed sandeel looking flies and landed several small pollack. Just happy to catch something on the fly rod at least.
With the easy fishing and greater success on the lure rod, I found myself reaching for the lure rod rather than the fly rod for the majority of the holiday so didn’t really manage to do as much fly fishing as I had intended. Will have to be a little bit more single minded in future perhaps.
Salt Water Fly Fishing for Pollack – Isles of Scilly
Following my recent success with catching mullet on the fly rod I was bringing to feel a certain confidence that, as it turned out wasn’t justified as my two most recent trips proved. For the first, I took advantage of the calm and warm conditions to chase the mullet again with my fly rod. I ended up walking along the river Exe and fishing every dozen yards or so for the mullet that were plentiful along the whole stretch of water. All to no success it has to be said. Nothing I tried made the mullet show even the slightest interest. After an couple of fruitless hours in the heat I made my way dejectedly back to the car and on the way got chatting to a group of coarse anglers. They were all float fishing – generally trotting baits down the far bankside. It turned out that they had been fishing this stretch for a couple of days now with some success; generally chub, dace & roach, although they had caught several mullet. This piece of information coupled with my complete failure spurred me to try coarse fishing tactics for the next trip. A light float rod with a pint of maggots and half pint of pinkies seemed a sensible approach. Again, the weather was fantastic and the mullet were visible & feeding everywhere. Bites on the other hand were far from plentiful. A couple of dace and chub fell to the float fished maggot but other than that I remained fishless. The mullet could be seen feeding in the clear shallow water, and were clearly ignoring maggots and pinkies. Loose feed remained on the bottom with the mullet seemingly feeding on the weed / algae around the maggots. It only took a couple of hours of frustration to lead me to conclude that today wasn’t going to be the day I nailed the mullet on maggot. For a second time in the space of a couple of days I found myself heading home, mulletless….
Chasing mullet on River Exe with Isobel. The water level lower than of late but this could possibly just be a result of the tidal affect on this part of the river rather than low rainfall; I didn’t check the tide times. We were treated to blue cloudless skies and scorching hot sunshine even by 8am in the morning.
Mullet were feeding everywhere along the river in small groups but would scatter as soon as I got near. By sitting quietly on the bank and waiting patiently, the fish would return and continue grubbing around feeding on the river bed allowing me to sneak a cast or two before they would spook again at which point the waiting would have to resume.
As ever, the mullet were frustratingly difficult to tempt with a fly, with fish after fish simply ignoring the flies. I did eventually catch a thin lip mullet on a red tagged dial bach. I cast slightly upstream of the feeding fish and watched the end of the line as the flies drifted down through the feeding fish – a swift 6inch or so movement on the line signalled that one of the fish had grabbed the fly and I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish put up a very spirited fight on the #5 rod in the shallow water. It was a slightly better fish than my previous one, so I was more than satisfied.. Flushed with success and starting to wilt a bit under the sun, we only fished for about 2 hours before calling it a day. Still – 2 mullet on a fly now proves it isn’t a fluke.
Fly caught Thin-lipped mullet
Thin-lipped mullet on fly
I met up with Jason at the river Brue; after yesterday’s solo fishing I was looking forward to having a fishing companion. Much like the previous day, the weather was quite spectacular. The wind had died to a slight breeze and with cloudless skies and blazing sun, temperatures were scorching hot. We started off fly fishing; searching out shoals of chub visible amongst the lilies & reeds. We caught a steady stream of chub, mainly on bead headed flies but some fell to dry fly. Nothing big graced the net but we did see some very large bream basking near the surface obviously enjoying the sunshine too. The larger chub were all very skittish and would inevitably melt away before we could get within casting distance despite our best efforts at stealth and the help of the verdant bankside vegetation.
A few hours of stalking chub in the sunshine was enough for us, and we moved along to the West Lydford stretch of the river Brue to try some more sedentary fishing. The glorious weather had brought people out bridge jumping & swimming, so we put as much distance between us and them as possible. We settled into a couple of swims and tried float fished maggot and bread baits but after an hour or two had little to show for our efforts. Some good chub were visible on the surface lurking under the far bank vegetation so with a lack of action on the float rod, I switched to fly fishing with a large wasp dry fly. Almost the first cast one of the larger chub idled over to the fly and slurped it down – somehow in my eagerness or possibly surprise I mis-timed the strike and pulled the fly out of it’s mouth..! Cursing my stupidity I recast only for one of the smaller fish to intercept the fly, which after playing and landing meant that every other fish in the vicinity had become instantly more wary. No more fish followed after that.
With evening approaching we jumped in the cars and headed to another section of the river hoping for some of the large perch we had encountered there several times previously. We arrived to find a section of the bank and a large tree had fallen into the river right at one of our favourite and most productive spots, but set up anyway on the basis that the tree would only provide the fish a nice bit of cover. I found I’d left my rod rest in the car and could face the trudge back to the car in the heat, so had to improvise with a conveniently shaped and proportioned stick. Who says you need to spend a fortune on fishing tackle?
Jason built up a swim opposite the new feature and had a steady procession of bites and fish; numerous chub, roach and gudgeon – & even a cheeky little brown trout not to mention a decent sized eel. In the meantime I float fished maggots at various spots and really struggled to get bites, eventually concluding with a small chub, roach and a solitary gudgeon. The days exploits were nicely finished off with a fantastic Chub that Jason tempted on a ledgered lobworm from beside the new submerged tree feature.
For me the evening ended with a half chewed gudgeon that was savaged by something with teeth on pretty much the last cast. Whilst not the spectacular end to the day I might of wished for, we could at least face the drive home with memories of a varied and fun days fishing.
The magical 16th of June arrived bringing excellent weather with it for once – the fishing gods must be smiling on me I thought. Seemed only fair to have a day off work to make the most of this unusually auspicious start to the coarse fishing season.
This year I decided to invest in an annual license for the Glaston Manor waters and had purchased my license from Thyers tackle shop in Highbridge before hand which meant I didn’t need to chase around trying to get a day ticket and could instead just crack on and go fishing from the off. I dropped the kids off at school and hit the road taking care to set my alarm to ensure I didn’t get carried away fishing and forget to pick up the kids.
Arriving at the River Brue I discovered that despite the cloudless skies and tropical temperatures, there was a pretty serious wind to contend with. Having only brought a couple of fly rods with me, I would just have to do my best in the windy conditions. The aim of the day was to travel super light and work my way along the river sight fishing for chub as I went. As it was the fishing wasn’t easy and there wasn’t masses of chub visible with those that were generally on the small size and easily spooked. Each sighting of fish would invariably give me 1 or 2 casts before they would make themselves scarce leaving me to continue my wanderings.
I caught a good few chub in the course of the afternoon, struggled with the wind and suffered in the heat, and generally despite the adversities thoroughly enjoyed myself. I guess thats what comes from being able to fish the eagerly awaiting start of the season whilst others are working..
The fishing was difficult but that just made the capture of each fish all the more special. I found that the most successful fly today was a scruffy gold bead headed fly which would invariably be grabbed as soon as it hit the water. If an immediate response wasn’t received it generally meant no fish. A couple of chub were tempted on the dry fly, with a wasp pattern being their downfall. I only used the wasp pattern because it was big and bright and easy to see rather than for any other reason. The chub didn’t seem to mind no matter how small they were.
Whilst not spectacularly successful in terms of numbers of fish caught or their size, the day was hugely enjoyable and also proved a good opportunity to scout the river in anticipation of the following days planned trip.
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..
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.
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.