The weather during the last few weeks has resulted in our quietest March on record with just 44 anglers visiting (yes, that’s correct …just 44!) ... 11 of them for the Troutmasters match which had to be rescheduled due to snow. Despite the lack of customers, we continue to maintain and stock the fishery as always, shown in the catch figures of 153 fish caught by the 44 anglers up to 29th March resulting in a rod average of 3.5
With the continued changeable conditions and lack of footfall we have regrettably taken the decision to delay the reopening of Lobbs Lake until such time that we feel the venue will have the support required to operate the lake on a day to day basis. Enough of the bad news and on to the Troutmasters...
Rescheduling to the following Saturday after the snow unfortunately reduced the field from 18 anglers to just 11, although three of the competitors were juniors which is very pleasing to see, especially as between them they caught 14 fish. Thirteen-year-old James Mockridge was the eventual winner with a bag of 5 fish plus one extra he caught when the match had finished!
The two remaining juniors, Max Mockridge & Sam Shepherd both caught 4 fish using a mix of orange and black lures eventually tying weights at 9lb 12oz. Huge congrats to both on such a good result and as up and coming England junior James is heading off to training during the weekend of the junior Troutmaster final it looks like both Max & Sam will have their chance to compete at the Thrunton Long Crag fishery grand final in July. Best of luck and tightlines to both!
First time senior fish off winner at Exe Valley was Phil Duckett who caught his fish with 2 hours to spare, gaining a 2lb time bonus and a final winning weight of 16lb. Good luck in the final to be held at Draycote in October Phil! Close behind was first time competition angler John Slaven and both of his regular fishing companions John & Rick also had good days landing their five fish limits.
Without doubt the tactics which came out of that match (and I have mentioned in previous reports) was to go deep, often counting the fly down for at least 20 seconds on an intermediate or medium sinker before using a mixed up snappy figure-of-eight retrieve to induce takes. If you can feel the fly clipping weed at depth you are in the right zone and will often experience a violent take as the fly pulls free.
Orange Blobs are winners but so too are Black Snakes, Apps Bloodworms and really any highly mobile lure. Black is my favourite go to shade if the water has coloured up, don’t rely on bright lures in these conditions and remember that a stripped fly can suddenly disappear from view so that your trout has no chance of taking it! Try deep, try slow and go for dark highly mobile patterns if the brighter stuff isn’t working!
Amongst the poor March turn out was Ben Cheeld who is relatively new to fly fishing. When I caught up with him on the bank he had released 2 fish .... but as he explained that was several hours ago. I explained the above tactics and suggested he was fishing his flies too high in the water. Within an hour Ben had lost two fish and banked one. We also got to talking about his previous experience at Exe Valley when he had not been wearing glasses and how he had narrowly escaped a serious injury when a fly pierced his unprotected eyelid, resulting in a trip to A&E. A few millimetres away and Ben would have been in serious trouble so please do make sure you wear eye protection when casting a fly.
Rounding up I have uploaded a bunch of photos here to show the quality of fish being caught and well-maintained banks, despite the harsh winter conditions experienced. The Easter weekend weather does not look perfect, but the fishery is open for business as usual. We hope to see a few anglers because with rumours of another well-known UK fishery closing its doors to fly fishing going around and the poor footfall we have experienced during the last 6 months it is only a matter of time before we will need to re-evaluate whether catering for anglers or using the site in an alternative way is best for us as a business. It is indeed time to use it or lose it!
Thanks for reading & good fishing.
Sue & Nick.