The Best Summertime Fly Fishing on Anchor Lake for 10 years

This morning I walked around Anchor Lake following another day working with Blair Woodland to keep the venue as weed free as possible.  Blair who travels up from South Devon to help out has pulled literally tons of Canadian pond weed and so during my checks this morning it was incredibly pleasing to see how much our efforts have achieved.  Considering it is July and we have experienced some pretty high temperatures coupled with low rainfall (until late last week) ... Anchor Lake is in fine form.

The cooler water which followed the rain on Thurs 20th & Fri 21st July has most certainly helped with the lake receiving a proper freshen up from the Barle River which feeds the fishery from high up on Exmoor.  Now that the algae has nothing to hold on to as we keep the Canadian Pond weed in check, it is struggling, especially in the deep water areas excavated over the last couple of years.  Even though the contractor did not fully complete the work correctly last year, requiring time consuming management this season in the form of several days raking and netting, the result is that Anchor Lake is offering some great sport and it is late July!

Exe Valley regulars Keith & Mary Ratcliffe said on their return “Brilliant Fishing.  Off the Top.  100 times better than this time last year” having caught a 5 fish limit each in mid July with the best fish weighing 5lb 4oz.

Keith & Mary with their fish - 100 times better than last year they say!

Keith & Mary with their fish - 100 times better than last year they say!

And following his most recent visit another regular, John Akhurst emailed his thoughts.

Just read your last report 7/7 and was a tad disappointed to read that fellow fly fishers have complained / reported their individual poor experience visiting your marvellous facility.

I concur wholeheartedly with your stance in that article and consider water & weather conditions to be part of the pleasure of fishing with the fly. Not catching is not the fault of the fish but in my opinion is solely down to the guy holding the rod. The fish are there and it's down to the individual to present the flies to induce a take. This time of year ripping lures may work occasionally and can induce some exciting follows but no take. So rarely the right choice for a pleasurable day.

I acknowledge and appreciate how difficult and how much effort it takes both in time and money to keep the water fishable and if it means anything I am very grateful to have continued access to be able to fish for I consider to be a very affordable £.

My last visit with my old colleague (a novice) was a brilliant day, as you earlier advised conditions were challenging, but adapting and applying the approach with rig and flies the fish do oblige with takes.”

Thank you to John and all the anglers who have continued to support the fishery.  Several seem to have decided to forget fishing here after the price rises and the introduction of catch & release but many regulars continue to visit and there are many new faces trying the fishery out including Mr Delaney who said “Only had 1, but well worth the 100 mile round trip.  Great fishery, well done!”

Please forgive me but I am also going to post up another map of Anchor Lake and following is some advice about fishing here during the summertime.

Two years of excavation work have resulted in a whole new section of water which was previously unfishable.  Try the North Shore, Stream End, New Bay and The Snags ... especially during the summer months.

Two years of excavation work have resulted in a whole new section of water which was previously unfishable.  Try the North Shore, Stream End, New Bay and The Snags ... especially during the summer months.

Back in 2014/2015 areas North Shore, Stream End, New Bay and the Snags were little more than 2 feet deep.  These areas are now 8ft to 12 ft deep and have constantly moving water, which means they are virtually clear of algae and of course we have cleared large amounts of other water weed.  On hot, still days in particular this is the place to fish, especially along the deep drop offs that don’t need much more than a roll cast to target fish.  Often you will see Trout cruising right below your feet - very exciting and a chance for stalking.

During the last few weeks I have seen many anglers head straight to Exe Shore, Boards and Pipe and then stay there for the day.  If it is very hot, and calm, these areas can be affected by algae although once again in comparison to seasons that I can remember spanning over a decade the “fishabilty” is better than ever, even in these areas.  As per my last report, small dries and buzzers will often do well in the summer months or if you like to pull, twitch a Damsel.  And if you are not into imitative fishing or slow retrieves try and arrive before the sun is high, which is when the fish are most active.

Just before I sign off ... this morning I bumped into an angler using heavy weight dark Maxima line, which the fish can see in such clear water so my advice is use low diameter fluorocarbons by companies such as Fulling Mill, Rio, Airflo or Froghair.

Thanks again to all the anglers who have visited so far this summer.  Unlike this time last year, Anchor Lake is open and I will add more reports soon.  Meanwhile Lobbs remains closed although I hope to have a favorable update in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you on the shore soon.

Nick 

Nick Hart is a full time fly fishing guide & the fishery manager at Exe Valley Fishery.  Find out more about Nick on his dedicated web pages.

Keep up to date with everything happening here at the fishery by going social on the Exe Valley Fishery Facebook page.

 

(Some) Frustrated Anglers at Exe Valley

On Tuesday I arrived into work and collected the returns from the anglers fishing the day before.  It was not a great start to the week as I read comments such as “Novice fisherman and really struggled, will not travel 2 hours to fish here again”

Other comments included “A very poor day, I will not be coming again”, “very disappointing” and “the weed did not help at all” I don’t think any fishery manager in their right mind would hope for this sort of feedback, especially after removing 50000 tonnes of silt/rock in the last two years and spending £1000s on weed removal, not to mention the time involved.  The most confusing comment was “Ranks as one of the worst 3+3 fishing days ever.  No takes on all flies offered right across the spectrum.  Plenty of fish, just not feeding, ran out of energy”

We have been in the grip of nearly constant high temperatures (both day & night) ranging from 20C to 30C during the last month with little in the way of rainfall.  The resident Exe Valley fish farmer recently reported that the water temperature in the morning (23C) was several degrees warmer than the air temperature.  In these circumstances the stock fish will often decline pellets so persuading them to take flies requires an element of thought.  Right now the water temp is regularly 15C to 17C+

Why head to banks where the water has the least amount of movement and algae is on the surface when other areas are completely clear?  Why use a sinking line when fish are rising?  Why use a long leader and a very heavy goldhead in areas of weed?  Why pull lures fast when the fish are visually lethargic?  I could ask many other questions because the fact is many anglers are using the same old tactics in their usual favoured locations around the lake and expecting “miracles”.

This isn’t the case for all anglers such as Tom Butt, fishing the day after the barrage of negative comments.  He managed 9 fish, all on tiny dry flies and filled in his return with “Brilliant day yet again”  While a new regular John Morgan landed 8 saying “Thanks again – excellent day”  Meanwhile Mr Honey might only have got a single fish but sensibly noted “nice fish observed, too HOT for them to feed”

Last year on June 29th I closed Anchor Lake and many asked why because they felt it remained in a fishable state, considering that it was summer.  This summer I am happy to report that we are open and Anchor is looking better than ever for this time of year.  It is not perfect and I continue to strive to improve the environment and fishing after it was neglected for in excess of 30 years.  In fact just before typing up this post I got off the phone having discussed possibly aeration solutions and by next week I will have a new algae skimmer to add to the pond weed rakes and nets recently acquired.

This is just one corner of Exe Valley weed raked during a morning session.  Since this picture was taken a new rake, twice the size of the original has been acquired and three days were spent clearing the lake.  More work is planned.  The lake is more "fishable" this July than it has been for the last 10 years ....

This is just one corner of Exe Valley weed raked during a morning session.  Since this picture was taken a new rake, twice the size of the original has been acquired and three days were spent clearing the lake.  More work is planned.  The lake is more "fishable" this July than it has been for the last 10 years ....

Last week I was due to be away fishing in Scotland with friends but felt that the lake needed attention so my trip was cancelled.  Instead my time was spent coordinating a weed drag with the result that large areas of the lake continue to be fishable.  Further work is planned.  Despite the planned work and maintenance already undertaken it is up to the anglers visiting to select the right tactics, observe where the fish are located and try to catch them.  I freely provide advice and assistance but largely it seems to be disregarded in the hope that the same old Montana & Cats Whiskers on leaders fit to land a decent sized Cod will suffice!  In warm water conditions these tactics simply wont work very well and in fact during the colder months this approach rarely succeeds either.

Even in warm water it is possible to catch Trout as 19 year old Jake Gransbury found out during one of his first ever trips.  Taking part in one of my two day fly fishing courses he latched into a few fish including this double which took a #16 Buzzer connected to 5lb fluorocarbon on a super hot, flat calm day.  Tactics to try in the warm weather are Buzzers under Bungs, washing line style (Booby on the point, buzzer on the dropper), Dry Fly and twitched Damsels.  Scale down pattern size, go for light leader and be prepared to fish slowly.  Concentrate efforts in flowing water areas; look for fish which you may be able to target with a stalking bug and where possible fish water that has not been affected by surface algae.  As can be seen from the picture below the algae is very minimal in comparison to past seasons ....

If in doubt and before travelling long distances please call 01398 323008 for an update.  I cannot promise that you will receive an immediate answer but please leave a message and I will get back to you.  Alternatively try emailing, (contact details are available on this website) and it is also worth checking out and getting involved with the Exe Valley Facebook Page

Fly Fishing is many things; mostly wonderful but just sometimes perhaps a trip doesn’t quite hit the mark.  Let’s be honest none of us like to part with our hard earned and walk away from our experience with anything but happy memories of lots of hard fighting fish.  I want nothing more than the anglers who visit Exe Valley Fishery to have a pleasurable day but in extremes of heat the chances are that the fishing will be difficult in comparison to the cooler months.  Some fisheries may benefit from consistently cool water but in fact most small stillwaters do not ... and many close.  Exe Valley has more fishable water than I have known than in over a decade and plenty of anglers continue to enjoy their visits.

Finally one important notice is that Catch & Release is no longer available until water temperatures return to a safe level.   I apologise to the large amount of anglers including holiday makers who have been visiting the fishery to enjoy a “sporting day” but fish welfare is a primary concern and in the current conditions I do not feel it is safe to continuing offering the service. 

Thank you for reading and please remember to call 01398 323008, instant message or contact me via the website before travelling long distances.  In between guiding I shall also endeavour to keep the fishery website ticking over with updates.

Tightlines, Nick.

Another great month of Fly Fishing action

Another month has passed far too quickly at Exe Valley with the first taste of summer now upon us.  Although some inevitable weed has appeared during the hot spell Anchor Lake continues to provide excellent sport.  The deep areas are looking in better condition than this time last year and up to today, 27th May 17, 147 anglers have caught 547 Trout for a very healthy rod average of 3.7 fish per person.

Rick Price with a fin perfect slab of a Rainbow Trout caught while fishing Anchor Lake

Rick Price with a fin perfect slab of a Rainbow Trout caught while fishing Anchor Lake

Thank you to Rick Price of Taunton for sending in the picture of this cracker which he caught in Littlebrook Bay.  Rick said “What a brilliant day.  Thank you!”  And there have been plenty more happy anglers with a lot of new faces amongst them, often commenting on their returns that they will be returning to enjoy the hard fighting fish we offer here at Exe Valley in beautiful surroundings.

Rob Weaver from Bishops Lydeard caught and released 4 fish and said “Great mornings sport – 4 fish all around 2lb.  Daughter caught her first Trout!  We will be back” while Jeff Evans from Burnham on Sea said “Great Day Fishing.  Great Surroundings.  Will be Back.  5 Star”  Andrew Seal drove all the way from Radstock and was not disappointed landing a total of 8 fish to 5lb 8oz, returning 3 of them and leaving the comment “First time here & will definitely be back.  Lost more than I caught but great fun on the surface”

Andrews comment is a positive take on the need to use the right tactics to catch.  Quite a few returns simply said “Hard Fishing” although many of the anglers commenting as such had caught their limits!  My aim here at Exe Valley Fishery is to provide good sport which requires some thought about tactics.  15lb leaders and great big goldheads are unlikely to work.  Leaders of 6lb to 8lb and a much more subtle approach are likely to score, with a great deal of fish now succumbing to dry fly tactics and nymphs such as the Diawl Bach.  Mr Bellamy from Wiveliscombe put it perfectly after releasing 6 fish with the comment “Good Fish.  Good Challenge”

Andy & Carl caught 8 fish between them using washing line tactics, Hopper Booby on the point and Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.

Andy & Carl caught 8 fish between them using washing line tactics, Hopper Booby on the point and Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.

Just this week I used imitative tactics while guiding Andy & Carl from the Birmingham area.  We had to experiment with a couple of different fly patterns and in the end enjoyed some great sport using a washing line consisting of a Black Hopper Booby on the point and a simple Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.  Fish fell to both patterns and the takes were fantastic; not to mention the fighting qualities of these fish!

If you are interested in improving your casting techniques please see my website Nick Hart Fly Fishing for details and check out this recent article written by the editor Russell Hill and published in the most recent issue (496) of Trout Fisherman magazine. 

Find out how to get started fly fishing - see Trout Fisherman magazine Issue 496

Find out how to get started fly fishing - see Trout Fisherman magazine Issue 496

Talking of the magazine many congrats to the most recent Troutmasters badge winners (issue 496 & 497) who will be invited to attend next year’s fish off competition

Richard Quick, 10lb 0oz Rainbow, Snake Fly  

Alan Jukes, 8lb 14oz Rainbow, Damsel

Keith Ratcliffe, 8lb 8oz Rainbow, Alley Cat

Michael Wright, Lympstone, 8lb 0oz Rainbow, Damsel

Daniel Stocker, Ashburton, 7lb 0oz Rainbow, Black Buzzer

Oliver Smith, Surrey, 5lb 8oz Rainbow, Orange Pheasant Tail Nymph

More updates are posted to the Exe Valley Facebook Page during the month and please make note of Saturday 3rd June 2017. 

Anchor Lake will be closed for one day on SATURDAY 3rd JUNE 2017 for a special event and I would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience.  The lake will reopen for business as usual on SUNDAY 4th JUNE 2017

Thanks for reading and I hope the next month offers you some great fishing.

Nick Hart.

Exe Valley Catch Report: Top of the water sport has started!

With the May bank holiday upon us I am pleased to report that top of the water fishing is taking off on Exe Valley.  Just yesterday I helped a complete novice catch his first ever Trout and we used dry flies exclusively.  Even during the cold wind the fish have been on the surface!

Visiting from America, first time fly angler Derek Beckman with his first ever Trout and he caught it using a dry fly!

Visiting from America, first time fly angler Derek Beckman with his first ever Trout and he caught it using a dry fly!

Indicator fishing has also been successful with a size 12 Black or Olive Buzzer set at 2' to 3' depth.  No particular area seems to be producing better than any other although my first choice would be somewhere in Littlebrook Bay or fishing right in front of the Snags over the deep water area.  Chuck out a tungsten buzzer, let it sink and then retrieve ensuring a slow deliberate lift up the ledge.  Watch carefully and often you will see the fish grab the fly ... very exciting!  Not sure where these areas are?  Check out our map below.

So far to today Friday 28th April 188 anglers have visited since the beginning of the month catching a total of 599 Trout to set a very good rod average of 3.2 fish per rod.  Amongst them have been some great fish such as the specimens shown below and we were also pleased to see that one of our Trout was selected by Trout Fisherman as Fish of the Month.  Well done to the captor John Ratcliffe.

Fish of the month in the most recent copy of Trout Fisherman magazine went to John Ratcliffe who caught this stunning Rainbow on Anchor Lake using a Black Nomad 

Fish of the month in the most recent copy of Trout Fisherman magazine went to John Ratcliffe who caught this stunning Rainbow on Anchor Lake using a Black Nomad 

We receive so many lovely comments that it is impossible to print them all but thanks to all those who have visited in recent weeks, there are plenty of old faces but also some new ones including a few younger rods in their 20s keen to take advantage of the £25 Catch & Release Permit.

Paul Mattin put it simply “Fantastic!!” after catching 3 fish for 9lbs including a four pounder while Mr Gilbert said “Great Days Fishing.  Nice Size Trout” after weighing in 2 fish for 13lb 4oz including the 9lb 1oz below ... and he went on to release a further 2 fish. 

Mr Gilbert from Barnstaple with his 9lb 1oz Rainbow which he caught using a Dry Fly!

Mr Gilbert from Barnstaple with his 9lb 1oz Rainbow which he caught using a Dry Fly!

Ian Robinson lost 7 but did release 5 all on imitative patterns commenting “Great Day Fishing!  Taking on Dries & Buzzers just under the surface” Alan Lewis from Cullompton was also pleased after banking 2 for 5lbs and once again commented “Great Days Fishing.  Will deff be coming back

Meanwhile Jonathan Lewis enjoyed his first ever day fly-fishing with his son, catching 2 fish weighing 5lbs and left on cloud 9 with the comment “First time fly fishing for myself and my son, absolutely fantastic time.

Simon Curtis with another fulled tailed Rainbow which he caught on Anchor Lake, part of a 4 fish bag for 20lb.  Simon also released a further 2 fish.

Simon Curtis with another fulled tailed Rainbow which he caught on Anchor Lake, part of a 4 fish bag for 20lb.  Simon also released a further 2 fish.

This weekend the temperatures are due to increase once again and although wind has been forecast this can actually improve the fishing.  There is no need to cast a long way and techniques such as the Roll Cast can be used to present flies to fish that will relish the oxygenated surface.  Throw out a buzzer let the current do the work or fish close range with a nice bushy dry fly. 

If you are stuck on what to use please ask us as we have been improving the fly display with a variety of patterns including new dries, bungs and a great selection of barbless.  The Blue Flash Damsel is still a favourite but we have currently sold out so the Hothead Straggle or even an Olive Snake would be my choice for pulling.

More news soon and if you would like to see regular updates please visit the Exe Valley Fishery Facebook Page.  Have a great bank holiday weekend and many thanks for reading.

Nick.

Dan Stocker not only bagged this cracking Rainbow but also won himself an Easter Egg & £20 when he found the specimen fish was also tagged.  Troutmasters is going to be hotly contested this month!

Dan Stocker not only bagged this cracking Rainbow but also won himself an Easter Egg & £20 when he found the specimen fish was also tagged.  Troutmasters is going to be hotly contested this month!