Troutmasters Reports & Easter Fishing Update

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

Ten year old Sam Shepherd shows us all how its done, playing a fish to granddad Stuarts net! 

Ten year old Sam Shepherd shows us all how its done, playing a fish to granddad Stuarts net! 

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...

Sam with his first two fish, part of a four fish total which won him a place at the 2018 Junior Troutmasters final.

Sam with his first two fish, part of a four fish total which won him a place at the 2018 Junior Troutmasters final.

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!

The Mockridge Brothers (fish off winner James is on the left) show off their catches.

The Mockridge Brothers (fish off winner James is on the left) show off their catches.

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. 

From left - Senior Winner Phil Duckett, 2nd place John Slaven, Rick Price & John Clarke

From left - Senior Winner Phil Duckett, 2nd place John Slaven, Rick Price & John Clarke

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. 

John Slaven looking very pleased with a quality rainbow caught while fishing deep during the 2018 Exe Valley Troutmasters fish off.

John Slaven looking very pleased with a quality rainbow caught while fishing deep during the 2018 Exe Valley Troutmasters fish off.

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.

Ben Cheeld enjoying a much more enjoyable session at Exe Valley!  Always remember to wear eye protection when fly casting ...

Ben Cheeld enjoying a much more enjoyable session at Exe Valley!  Always remember to wear eye protection when fly casting ...

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.

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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.

 

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!

Great fishing on Anchor Lake in the cold weather

Following the heavy rain last week we are now gripped by some very heavy frosts but even so we have welcomed anglers through the doors most days, 98 rods caught 294 Trout during November for a very healthy 3 fish rod average.

Top tactics have not been to strip lures, instead washing line style tactics and patterns with plenty of movement such as the Pseudo Diawl Bach have been accounting for fish in gin clear water.  Andi Avery from Bristol only started fly fishing last month but he has already enjoyed three successful trips to the venue and caught a limit of 5 on each occasion, even during the high water last week, using these subtle patterns on a floating line.  This highly mobile Diawl Bach has also been producing for Exe Valley regular John Gilmore who caught this limit during stunning scenes down on Anchor Lake.

John Gilmore - 30.11.16 - A fine bag of winter Trout all caught on a Pseudo Diawl Bach

John Gilmore - 30.11.16 - A fine bag of winter Trout all caught on a Pseudo Diawl Bach

His only companion was another regular Mr Williamson who caught 5 for 15lb including a best of 3lb 8oz.  Other notable catches include John Clarke with 5 fishing weighing in at 20lb 4oz with a top fish of 6lb 8oz, all caught on buzzers with the exception of the big one which snaffled his favourite Pink Snake!  Rick Price commented simply “BRILLIANT”, landing 5 for 14lb 8oz and Mr Mason who caught a 7lb 12oz Rainbow recently was back for more luring 5 Trout up to 4lb, with a total bag of 16lb.  He said “cold, windy day but fish-a-plenty!” 

Mr Williamson bags up one of his stunning trout caught on an equally stunning day.  Look at the tail on that fish!  It apparently went like a train!

Mr Williamson bags up one of his stunning trout caught on an equally stunning day.  Look at the tail on that fish!  It apparently went like a train!

We also had another tagged Trout make an appearance with Mr Carroll from Bristol winning himself £50 having caught the prize fish amongst his 5 fish limit.  COMING SOON - Look out for news of a special tagged Trout stocking taking place in time for Christmas! 

The Pseudo Diawl Bach - catching well on Anchor Lake in Holo Red & Holo Green rib ... especially when fished as a washing line rig.

The Pseudo Diawl Bach - catching well on Anchor Lake in Holo Red & Holo Green rib ... especially when fished as a washing line rig.

And sticking with the festive theme our Christmas party including a special catch & release ticket has sold out.  I will be joined by Pete Tyjas to host the day which will include lots of fishing, a few demonstrations, bacon sandwiches, cake & mince pies!  Please note that Anchor Lake will be closed for this event which takes place on Saturday 10th December 2016. 

Lobbs Lake will be open and is an ideal place for novice fishers and children.  This week Sue and I have cleared the banks to make casting even easier with fresh stock introduced.  Any method is allowed including small lures and spinners which are an ideal way for young rods to get into the sport.  We also offer a much reduced permit on this lake so if you are looking for something to get your children away from the dreaded X Box this Christmas we will be open!

The banks on Lobbs Lake are now nice and clear after recent clearing work.  An ideal venue for young rods this Christmas.

The banks on Lobbs Lake are now nice and clear after recent clearing work.  An ideal venue for young rods this Christmas.

Please call before you travel

If you have a long distance to travel or would just like to find out up to date info on how the lakes are fishing please call us on 01398 323008.  Many have stayed away this week during the cold snap but as can be seen from the pictures above there is often room to fish around the ice and the results can be spectacular!

Ice didn't stop this fish rising or Mr Williamson from catching a 5 fish limit of top quality winter Trout.

Ice didn't stop this fish rising or Mr Williamson from catching a 5 fish limit of top quality winter Trout.