(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.