Final Fling of Trout Season on the Rivers

With the end of the season for trout in our local rivers approaching and a couple of tokens for the Westcountry Angling Passport Scheme to use up, I headed up to the River Culm near Hemlock (Beat 4) for a quick after work session. Beat 4 is only 2 tokens which was perfect as that matched up nicely with how many I had left. Glorious weather and an hour and a half to spare before it got dark, I was feeling cautiously optimistic when I did eventually find the venue. Despite having lived in this area for a few years before we moved to Exeter, I still had real trouble finding the token box.

Upon arrival I noticed another chap fishing his way back up to the car. By the time I’d set up my rod, he’d arrived back at the car and was calling it a day. I spoke to him briefly to sound out if he’d had any success (which he hadn’t) and found out that he knew the river pretty well, having fished it on and off for the last 30 years. Apparently his last 6 sessions over the course of September had brought him a grand total of 4 fish – Now while catching vast numbers of fish isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for an enjoyable days fishing this news sent my hopes plummeting. No one likes the prospect of blanking and as most fishing is an exercise in sustaining the optimism that the next cast is going to result in a fish, hearing this news put a bit of a damper on things.

The River Culm on this section is pretty but tiny. Overhanging trees severely limit places to fish, and the fishing was from the bank, with waders not really offering any advantage. The flow was clear and quite fast with shallow sections and a few narrow but very deep areas.

Getting a drag free presentation with the flow proved difficult. I tried dry flies before switching to a nymph under an indicator but had no takes. In fact I saw no sign of any fish whatsoever, resulting in a less than satisfactory end to the river trout season for this year. Not quite how I’d hoped to finish it off. Still, it’s always good to try different venues and all helps to build up experience for the future.

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Beat 19 (Druxton), River Tamar

Fished Beat 19 (Druxton) of the Westcountry Angling Passport scheme near Launceston midweek. Great to be out fishing rather than in work. The weather was perfect but the river was quite fast and coloured with not much sign of fish rising. Only had 2 trout rise to take dry flies which I missed, and also hooked and lost a very small one. No interest from the fish at all on any nymphs or wet flies and certainly no sign of any grayling that I’d been secretly hoping for.

Being the first time I’d fished this river I really have nothing to compare it against but I’m assuming it’s not usually as coloured as I found it. Whilst the river was generally comfortably wadeable, there were a few deeper sections that given the fact I couldn’t see the bottom to tell how deep it was, I decided not to brave.

The river was picturesque and peaceful enough that I would consider returning – but overall I finished the day feeling less than satisfied with my efforts and had that nagging feeling I could of enjoyed myself more elsewhere. Maybe that’s not a fair assessment of this charming water and maybe the next time I visit will be a different story….

Brown Trout on Ham Mill, Beat 22

Having had some recent success with Brown Trout from the River Dart my appetite for small stream fishing for wild brownies had been wetted of late, so being ever on the look out for new venues to explore I set my sights on one of the Westcountry Angling Passport Scheme waters near Launceston. I settled on beat 22 – Ham Mill on the River Ottery – being a suitably picturesque spot with not only trout present but the possibility of Grayling. Grayling is a species I’ve never fished for and never caught so was to be the days ultimate quarry.

The River Ottery and Ham Mill is a cracking little river. Amazingly picturesque and peaceful. The water on the day was running reasonably clear and for the most part around knee deep with the odd deeper section. In a few places I found myself in waist deep water so would certainly recommend chest waders for this particular venue.

River Ottery, Ham Mill Beat 22

Peering over the edge of the bridge near where you park, I could see a grayling below straight away. Alway promising! After tackling up and getting down to the water, I started to work my way upstream towards the bridge where I my mind, a hungry grayling awaited. Alas, it wasn’t to be quite so easy and no suicidal near ravenous fish of any description seemed to be present. That’s not to say there weren’t fish feeding because there was loads of activity further upstream with fish rising. But no matter how carefully I waded the activity was always further upstream…

Eventually after trying various dry flies and nymphs, I had a result with a tiny beaded nymph below an indicator cast into a section of fast flowing water. As soon as the fly had touched the water, the indicator shot under and a quick lift of the rod meet with a feisty little fish. Disaster struck however just as I reached for the net – a stunning little grayling slipped the hook!! many, many choice words were spoken at that point!!!

Nevermind, where there’s one there’s bound to be more.. Not! I only had two further bites, and those were on dry flies, both of which brought beautifully marked brown trout, which whilst magnificently pristine fish, were not the greatly desired grayling.

Brown Trout, River Ottery.

In the end it was the River Ottery’s hungry brown trout that made the day. Neither of them big but both supremely energetic. A small brown dry fly cast into a riffle proved their undoing. Not a very technical description of a fly which undoubtedly has a name, but then hey – I’m a sea fisherman….

Dry Fly