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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Troutmasters Fish Off Cancelled on 18.03.18 due to Extreme Weather – New Date Set as Saturday 24th March 2018

Well so much for the Spring is in the Air post!  It appears the beast is back and more extreme weather is about to hit the West Country.

Unfortunately with forecasts of strong NE winds, snow and temperatures in the minuses we have no other option but to postpone this weekends fish off on Sun 18th March 2018.  Please do not attend as the competition will not be taking place! The fishery will of course be open to anyone mad enough to want to enjoy a Baltic session of small stillwater trout fishing...!

The new date set is the following week on Saturday 24th March 2018 which is the only date available that does not clash with other local fish offs and Easter.  We have contacted all competitors by phone to explain the situation.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you will/wont be attending the rescheduled fish off on Saturday 24th March.

Updates also available on our Exe Valley Fishery Facebook page

Exe Valley Introduces Catch & Release Permit Options

During the 15 years that I have been involved with Exe Valley Fishery, firstly as an instructor and then as the manager, the only option available has been to catch & kill any Trout caught. 

However times are changing rapidly and increasingly I talk with anglers who don’t want to dispatch fish and fill their freezers.  I also meet plenty of anglers who are put off by the thought of reaching their limit and then having to head home prematurely, cutting short their enjoyment & experience. 

Therefore after a number of successful catch & release events, such as this one in December 2016, I have decided to introduce a new trial permit.

New Year, new options.  Catch & Release is being trialled at Exe Valley Fishery during February & March 2017.

New Year, new options.  Catch & Release is being trialled at Exe Valley Fishery during February & March 2017.

The Catch & Release options will start on Tuesday 7th February 2017 and will be available until Sunday 9th April 2017.  During this time we will listen to your thoughts and welcome feedback.  If the fishery is well supported during these changes the options will be made available throughout the year, other than during periods of high water temperatures.  Full details will be available at the fishery regarding the rules applied to catch & release.  The key points include:

- Catch & Release available on Anchor Lake only

- Rubber mesh nets only (we can loan nets)

- Barbless flies only (not debarbed – barbless flies will be available for purchase in the shop)

- Fish to be released must not be removed from the water. 

- No Boobies.

- Kill tickets – Fish limit must be killed prior to Catch & Release.

Catch & Release Permit Options & Prices (07.02.17 to 09.04.17)

10 Fish Catch & Release Only - £25

2 Fish Kill & 2 Fish Release - £30

3 Fish Kill & 3 Fish Release - £35

4 Fish Kill & 4 Fish Release - £40

5 Fish Kill & 5 Fish Release - £45

Although there is an increase in permit prices, the first for several seasons, the new structure with the inclusion of catch & release offers some of the best value small stillwater fishing in the West Country if not the UK. 

Barbless hooks (not debarbed) only will be allowed for Catch & Release Fishing.  Boobies will not be allowed and modern rubber mesh nets must be used to land fish.

Barbless hooks (not debarbed) only will be allowed for Catch & Release Fishing.  Boobies will not be allowed and modern rubber mesh nets must be used to land fish.

The option to share a bag limit with a young angler, age 14 or under will continue as usual and I am also considering a concessionary ticket for over 60s, under 17s and the disabled.

Meanwhile our new cafe is close to fully functioning with a range of hot & cold food plus we have also introduced a new FREE Tea & Coffee facility for anglers.  More news to follow and meanwhile if you have any questions or would like to comment on the changes so far please call me on 01398 323008 or use the comments section below.

Moving on to how the lakes are fishing I am pleased to report that the mild weather conditions have attracted plenty of anglers during January.  117 visited in total, catching 370 fish for an average of 3.2 per rod.

Top flies include Black Nomads, Blue Flash Damsels and some anglers have been finding success with Buzzers.  Fish are being caught all over the lake and even when the weather has taken a turn for the worse the fish have been biting such as this perfectly conditioned Trout weighing 8lb 9oz, caught by John Ratcliffe using a Black Nomad on 2nd Feb. 

8lb 9oz of  Anchor Lake  Rainbow Trout for John Ratcliffe, caught in early Feb 2017 using a Black Nomad.

8lb 9oz of Anchor Lake Rainbow Trout for John Ratcliffe, caught in early Feb 2017 using a Black Nomad.

We hope that the Wistlandpound club enjoy such good sport when they bring one of their club competitions to our shores tomorrow, Sunday 5th February 17.  Please note that the lakes will be closed all day for this event.  Apologies if this will cause any inconvenience. 

The fishery will also be closed on Monday 6th February while we stock and get ready for the introduction of the new catch & release permit on Tuesday 7th February 2017.

Yesterday the phone also began to ring as competitors booked into our Troutmasters Fish off which will be held here on Sunday 26th February 2017.  If you caught one of our big fish last season, winning a Troutmaster badge, a letter should have arrived this week so please give us a call to book in on 01398 323008.

This is going to be a big week for Exe Valley as we open up the opportunity to Catch & Release fishing. Please come and support the fishery and look out for more news on these pages soon.

Many thanks for reading & good fishing, Nick.

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Exe Valley Troutmasters Heat 2016 – Results & Catch Report to 28th Feb

It has been a busy week at the fishery as the improved weather inspired anglers to get ready for the new season.  62 fished during the last 7 days, catching a haul of 211 fish, slightly improving last week’s average to 3.4 per rod. 

Overall up to 28th Feb the 3.4 fish per rod average was maintained by 140 anglers catching 475 Trout, a new February record.  This is a great total and I would like to thank everyone who has supported the fishery during not only poor weather but the A396 road closure (more later). 

Ready for the off - Troutmasters pegs for the Exe Valley Fishery 2016 Fish Off

Ready for the off - Troutmasters pegs for the Exe Valley Fishery 2016 Fish Off

Main event this month was the first of our competitions as 15 anglers got together to decide the Exe Valley Troutmasters Fish Off winner for 2016.  The field consisted of 13 adults and two young rods, William Gentle &  James Mockridge.  No stranger to success, James landed himself a prize during the Greys Junior Bank National in October 2015 while Will took fish to 5lb 8oz during his last visit.

At 9am the whistle was blown and the entrants (who qualified by catching a big fish in 2015) began fishing the first of 8 half hour sessions, moving 4 pegs every 30 minutes, to ensure everyone had a fair chance to try different areas of Anchor Lake.

It was dry but a bitterly cold NE wind was making things tricky, as the late winter sun cast a harsh light across the water.  Tough conditions to say the least, especially after the mild temperatures we have been experiencing recently.  Even so, a few rods began to bend and it was clear, from the off, that fish were spread around the lake.

A rare sight this winter - the sun!  It was cold in a brisk North East wind but 11 year old James Mockridge (above) didn't let the conditions stand in the way of success.

A rare sight this winter - the sun!  It was cold in a brisk North East wind but 11 year old James Mockridge (above) didn't let the conditions stand in the way of success.

Some competitors stuck it out with floating lines, but the most successful tactics required an intermediate or medium sink line to be fished deep and slow.  The new depth and areas of fishing has really changed how matches play out and throughout the day several competitors were in with a chance.   By the end of the 4 morning sessions Alan Jukes was out in front with 5 of a possible 6 fish limit caught using Bead Minkies & Squirmy Worms, while several others were on 2 or 3 Trout. 

Meanwhile junior angler James Mockridge was off the mark with a lovely Rainbow he landed using a Black Lure.  There were tense moments as a very fit Trout made a determined effort to throw the hook but eventually James had his prize nestling safely in the net.

Proud Dad - Dean Mockridge with his son James and the Trout which helped him to win the 2016 Exe Valley Junior Troutmasters Fish Off

Proud Dad - Dean Mockridge with his son James and the Trout which helped him to win the 2016 Exe Valley Junior Troutmasters Fish Off

Following a change of tactics to an intermediate Mary Ratcliffe got her first and as it turned out, only fish of the day, although it was the heaviest of the match at 4lb 12oz.  However it definitely was not the biggest hooked.  That prize would go to Richard Burt who has had some great bags in recent weeks, although this time his luck ran out when a huge fish lured by a Black Snake Fly thrashed at the surface, crash dived and threw the hook.  It turned out to be a costly loss as Richard was one of three anglers to land 4 fish and the specimen would have earned him top spot and a chance to fish the Grafham final.

Mary Ratcliffe with the best Trout of the match - a beautifully marked Rainbow weighing 4lb 12oz

Mary Ratcliffe with the best Trout of the match - a beautifully marked Rainbow weighing 4lb 12oz

Eventually the winner turned out to be Alan Jukes, a previous winner back in 2014, he had to hang on by the skin of his teeth as he struggled for his last fish while several other competitors began to catch up in the afternoon, most notably Mike Kennedy who qualified with this 10lb Trout in November last year.  Mike ended on 5, followed by John Ewington with 4, Richard Burt with 4 and Rob Grisley, also with 4.

A last gasp Trout for Rob Grisley fishing Peg 9 in the afternoon

A last gasp Trout for Rob Grisley fishing Peg 9 in the afternoon

Overall it was a very fair competition with the top 5 anglers all in with a real chance of taking the crown in a match that produced 35 fish for an average of 2.3 fish per angler.  Huge congrats to Alan and good luck in the final plus I would like to make a special mention of our young entrants, James & Will. 

Unfortunately Will didn't manage to catch and James could not add to his first Trout, but neither of the boys gave up in very cold conditions.  They are a credit to young anglers and it was fantastic to see how much encouragement the adults gave these boys.  We need more like them!

Exe Valley Fishery 2016 Troutmasters Fish Off Winners - James Mockridge (Left) and Alan Jukes (Right)

Exe Valley Fishery 2016 Troutmasters Fish Off Winners - James Mockridge (Left) and Alan Jukes (Right)

Lots of other news and great comments but this post is lengthening quickly so I will finish off the fishing for this week with Ivor Topps lovely Brown Trout of 5lb 8oz.   It’s much bigger brother continues to evade capture (tantalising anglers again today!) and I have also stocked 3 more tagged Trout.  One of these fish was caught yesterday but two more roam Anchor Lake winning £50 for just a £1 entry fee.

Ivor Topps lovely Brown Trout of 5lb 8oz

Ivor Topps lovely Brown Trout of 5lb 8oz

Finally, I had posted details of a diversion via Stoodleigh to Exe Valley following the closure of the A396 at Cove.  Due to dangerous driving and accidents these directions are no longer valid as one of the lanes featured in the original directions has been closed by Highways. 

However there is a very convenient route via Tiverton Old Road which is available by looking at this page and can also be printed by clicking this link – Tiverton Old Road Directions to Exe Valley Fishery.  Use these directions if you are approaching from J27 of the A361.  Thanks as always to the anglers who have made the detour.  The full closure is not going to be in place for much longer as the road reopens on 12th March 2016.

I can’t quite believe that February has been and gone.  We have welcomed a record number of anglers for the time of year and as the nights begin to draw out we are looking forward to some more great fishing at the lakes and some additions to the services that we provide.  Sign up using the form on this page (see top right) for regular updates and if the Troutmasters report has inspired you to have a go at fishing in a competition why not get involved with our Bank Masters heat on 20th March?  Find out more about the bank masters competition here.

Thanks for reading & best fishes,

Nick

01398 323008

(Below) Full Results - 2016 Exe Valley Fishery Troutmasters Fish Off