Try Small Flies & Fine Leaders at Exe Valley … not everything in the box!

“Loads of fish in there, none of them taking … tried everything in the box” is a phrase that has been echoing around Exe Valley on a regular basis recently.  I have tried explaining how to be in with a chance of catching during the summer months both verbally & online.  Some anglers are taking the advice while others I meet continue to believe that chucking & chancing with an assortment of patterns is going to succeed. 

Check out this leader I picked up on the shores of Anchor Lake yesterday.  The loop is not trampled or dirty so it has not been laying around all that long but the (poorly tied) Montana is rusty, which is not great considering that the hook is also of a very low quality.  Total length of the leader; no more than 6 feet.

Not unusual!  A leader found on the banks of Anchor Lake complete with a rusty hooked Monatna.

Not unusual!  A leader found on the banks of Anchor Lake complete with a rusty hooked Monatna.

This is not unusual.  I find similar leaders, some of them thick enough to land a decent sized Cod, during my walks around Anchor Lake.  Last week I bumped into one of the anglers for a chat about his day.  Unfortunately, he was not all that happy because he wasn’t catching using the thick end of a knotless tapered leader (around 5 feet) with a large Goldhead Cats Whisker attached!  This despite explaining to him upon arrival that small flies, fished in the upper layers of water, using static tactics such as an indicator or with a very slow retrieve, was likely to meet with success.  Catching up with him later in the day I was greeted with the “tried everything” phrase followed up quickly with “and I know what you said Nick but I like fishing heavy leaders so fish don’t snap me off when I hook them!” 

Small Blobs, fished very slowly to near static is worth trying as Mike Stone with a team of young rods from Cullompton found yesterday, landing 4 fish after a late start using this popular lure tied on a #14.  Meanwhile 4 other anglers who arrived much earlier blanked!  Mike is an experienced angler but plenty of novices are also catching.  Each week I introduce several complete beginners to fly fishing who have to learn how to cast before they can have a crack at the Trout.  Often this is after lunchtime when the lake has been pressured by anglers and yet they still manage to catch. 

A 10 fish haul caught on Sunday 6th August by a team of novice anglers.  The Crawford family were enjoying a two day fly fishing course and caught using a mixture of Blobs, Boobies and Buzzers fished under indicators or slowly retrieved in the upper layers.

A 10 fish haul caught on Sunday 6th August by a team of novice anglers.  The Crawford family were enjoying a two day fly fishing course and caught using a mixture of Blobs, Boobies and Buzzers fished under indicators or slowly retrieved in the upper layers.

It could be said that my guests have the benefit of my assistance and are shown the correct techniques.  But we are using very simple tactics, a fine leader & small flies such as Buzzers.  Or we chuck out a dry fly and just wait.  Sometimes we twitch a Blue Flash Damsel in the upper layers, especially in and around the feeder stream area.  However, standing over these fish while thrashing the water to a foam will not meet with much in the way of success!  Standing to one side of the moving water and using the current to fish the flies naturally is a far better option. 

More new fly anglers.  This is John Lovick on the left with a fine Trout landed on a Buzzer while his son Stuart was very pleased to connect with a similar specimen using a Blue Flash Damsel. They caught 5 fish between them on Thursday 10th August and until then had never even touched a fly rod, let alone cast one!

More new fly anglers.  This is John Lovick on the left with a fine Trout landed on a Buzzer while his son Stuart was very pleased to connect with a similar specimen using a Blue Flash Damsel. They caught 5 fish between them on Thursday 10th August and until then had never even touched a fly rod, let alone cast one!

All of the above advice I pass on to day ticket anglers in the hope that they have a good day.  No matter how many fish I stock to make it as easy as possible at this time of year the fish are simply not feeding hard and require a little more thought if a successful day is to be had.  The water remains warm during the summer months, the same as every year, especially following a heatwave.  While the rain is certainly helping to keep the water fresh the air temperature throughout the day and night is much the same.  In these conditions the fish are more inclined to take through curiosity rather than feeding instinct.  Here is another tactic ... float an egg fly (small!) under an indicator ... inquisitive fish can’t resist taking a bite!

I have been spooning fish and sometimes there are small buzzers, often there is nothing, which is also not unusual for the time of year.  Lures & goldheads on heavyweight leaders are not going to catch these fish!

Please note that the fishery will be closed all day on Wednesday 16th August for maintenance and I apologise if this is inconvenient.  Anchor Lake will reopen on Thursday 17th August and we have a special guest arriving in the afternoon but you will have to come fishing to meet him! :-)

Nick

Keep up to date by visiting the Exe Valley Fishery Facebook Page

Last two weeks of Troutmasters 2015 plus this week’s catch report to 6th Dec

We are proud to have been supporting the Troutmasters competition, organised by Trout Fisherman magazine, for many years now. 

It’s a kind of FA cup style fly fishing contest which means that pleasure anglers have the chance to compete against (and most importantly, learn from) more experienced competition anglers.  To be in with a chance of qualifying contestants attempt to catch one of the biggest fish of the month from a host of participating waters across the UK.

Following this qualifying round, badge winners are invited to an early season fish off to determine which Exe Valley angler will head to the 2016 grand final.  But there are only a couple of weeks left as the event will close on 20th December for 2015 entries ... so be quick!  With a double figure Brown Trout swimming defiantly around Anchor Lake (I spotted the beast this morning!) there is at least one fish which could guarantee somebody’s place in that fish off. 

And here is another good thing about this friendly competition; three lucky anglers receive a badge each month and a mention in the magazine.  Steve Guscott contacted me this week to say how chuffed he was to receive his badge in the mail for his 8lb 12oz Rainbow caught during October (see that fishing report here) which formed part of a huge bag weighing in at 27lb 12oz.

Checking this month’s Trout Fisherman magazine I see that John Salter took the top honours with his 10lb Rainbow, Exe Valley regular Mary Ratcliffe was runner up with an 8lb 12oz Rainbow and Robert Grisley placed 3rd with an 8lb 7oz Rainbow.  Well done to all! (see TF issue 477, page 89)

This week I am pleased to report that we have been much busier as the weather has been a little better.  Once again the 26 anglers who decided that a day out in the fresh air wetting a line was more fun than sitting indoors were rewarded for their efforts catching a total of 70 fish for a rod average of 2.7 

   Regular Peter Bridges with the best fish of this week - 8lb 1oz caught on a Black Snake Fly.

 

Regular Peter Bridges with the best fish of this week - 8lb 1oz caught on a Black Snake Fly.

The best Trout of the week was landed by one of our new regulars Peter Bridges fishing sensibly in the margins with a Black Snake Fly to outwit a lovely looking fish of 8lb 1oz Meanwhile it is not just regulars visiting Exe Valley these days, we are noticing a lot of new faces too. 

Patrick Silk is one of them, commenting on his return card “First Visit ... there will be more”, landing a limit of 3 fish for 14lb 4oz including another beautiful example of a Rainbow Trout, weighing 7lbs.  And all of this on a light 6 weight rod, floating line and a Blue Flash Damsel in double figure temperatures! 

   Patrick Silk with a 7lb Rainbow landed on a 6 weight rod

 

Patrick Silk with a 7lb Rainbow landed on a 6 weight rod

Floating lines have certainly been catching fish but Graham Lavender wisely opted for an intermediate early in the week, after a couple of days of heavy rain which lowers the water temperature.  His successful fly was also a Blue Flash Damsel, helping him to a 3 fish total of 13lb 10oz including a best of 7lb 10oz.

Of course not every angler walks away with a specimen fish that visits Exe Valley and a few comments have said it has been “hard fishing”  this week.  However some of the anglers making these comments have bagged themselves limits, so success is here to be had.  It's just a case of using the right tactics, which is why we believe Exe Valley is now a far more interesting fishery since the big dig back in August.  

   This angler worked out the tactics & is rewarded for his efforts - Exe Valley, Sun 6th Dec 2015

 

This angler worked out the tactics & is rewarded for his efforts - Exe Valley, Sun 6th Dec 2015

But what do you think?  This is your fishery after all.  Is the fishing too hard now?  Do more anglers want to be catching their fish in a couple of hours?  Please use the comments section below to tell us what you think or contact me here.

And just before I sign off for another week, we have had several enquiries about purchasing gift vouchers as Christmas presents for both permits and tuition.  Watch this space; I am aiming to have something live on the website by the end of this week or please call 01398 323008 and we can organise on the phone.  And just before I go, the main update this week has been to improve the text font used (hopefully the site is easier to read now?) and the permit page has also been updated.

Thanks for reading and look out for more soon ... I have a few exciting bits of news lined up!

Best Fishes,

Nick.