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

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Winter fishing is always productive at Exe Valley - latest catch report

“Winter fishing is always productive at Exe Valley” is the comment left by father and son team Jono & Dennis Enticott this weekend after a successful session, landing a total of 6 fish between them for a weight of 20lb 8oz.

Sadly not everyone is prepared to brave the elements so it seems with just 15 anglers visiting during the last week; but haven’t they been rewarded!

Local angler Rhys Roberts dropped by on the 1st Nov and caught a nice brace, including a best fish of 4lb 10oz saying “very good improvements to the lake” 

On the same day Roy Irvine on holiday all the way from Newcastle banked a couple for a total bag of 8lb using a tiny Beige Spider to lure the first Rainbow in the outflow area before changing to a Cats Whisker fished in the middle of the lake for his second.

Meanwhile Lobbs continues to introduce people to fly fishing as Mr Shield from Kings Nympton found, catching a two pounder which inspired his comment “My First Fish!”  The first of many we hope Mr Shield.

On a day when the weather forecasters promised Armageddon I took no notice, having seen them get it totally wrong throughout the year!  Instead I welcomed more new anglers to the lake, Chris Obern, nephew Will Gentle and his father Bob Moore on Weds 4th Nov for a one day fly fishing course

   A rugby ball of a Trout and one of Bob Moores first ever fish.  Caught on a  Pink Egg  the very well conditoned specimen weighed 6lb 8oz

 

A rugby ball of a Trout and one of Bob Moores first ever fish.  Caught on a Pink Egg the very well conditoned specimen weighed 6lb 8oz

The conditions were perfect, often Anchor Lake was flat calm, the air temp was just right and yet we had the whole place to ourselves!  After a morning spent casting the guys were soon fishing and had a bonanza landing some stunning Trout.  Bob took the best of the day at 6lb 8oz, with Chris and Will a pound behind, both luring Trout of 5lb 8oz.  Will, just 11, bagged the most fish finishing on 3 for a total of 13lb exactly. 

   Gales had been forecast, but look at that lake - the word millpond springs to mind!  Three generations of the same family visited this week despite the inaccurate predictions and were rewarded with some fine Trout.

 

Gales had been forecast, but look at that lake - the word millpond springs to mind!  Three generations of the same family visited this week despite the inaccurate predictions and were rewarded with some fine Trout.

And my personal thanks to Chris for the lovely email we received following the family day out. "It was a fantastic day, even if the old fella got the big one, we will definitely be coming back.  On a personal note you really know how to make people feel welcome and we all agreed that we would have no hesitation in recommending yourself and your establishment to anyone, thanks for a day I truly needed,"  It was my great pleasure Chris and we look forward to welcoming you all again soon.

Mike Kennedy returned to Exe Valley on bonfire night after a couple of seasons lay off due to major surgery.  And he came back with a bang (sorry – couldn't resist!!) christening a new Orvis rod with a colossal bag of 30lb 2oz for 5 fishing including the month’s first double at 10lb! 

Not only was this a serious fish to land on a light line rod but Mike stalked the fish for half an hour in the gin clear water before finally tempting the specimen Rainbow to suck in an Elk Hair dry fly right off the surface.  An epic battle then took place!  Mike was often fishing in the rain, but during conversation with him he said that the fish were frequently active at the surface hence his dry fly approach.

   Novembers first double figure Trout - exactly 10lbs to  Mike Kennedy  and he stalked it on a dry fly.  Note the calm conditions once again!

 

Novembers first double figure Trout - exactly 10lbs to Mike Kennedy and he stalked it on a dry fly.  Note the calm conditions once again!

Also proving that there is no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing was Jason McPhee from the Taunton area, fishing the day after Mike he got 4 fish, all on a Palmered Cats Whisker with a goldhead and said “Really good day fishing in the rain” And to round off the week regular Richard Buckingham landed a 5 fish limit for a total weight of 15lb

Last week 49 fish were landed for a rod average of 3.3  The current weather forecast is as would be expected for the time of year, but Exe Valley continues to be well stocked and there is exciting sport to be enjoyed, especially in the newly refurbished Anchor Lake. 

Please don’t hesitate to call us to check on conditions (the forecasters are often way off!) including wind, temperatures and water clarity.  01398 323008

Thanks for reading & good fishing.

Nick

11lb Trout landed, Greys Junior Bank National & New Catch Report up to 16th Aug 2015

I have to say, it only seems like yesterday that I was writing last week’s report! The summer is marching on and September is knocking at the door, but the lakes are looking beautiful and the fishing has been excellent. So, here I am again sifting all of your lovely comments and catch returns to bring you another weekly update from Exe Valley.  First up some stats - 56 anglers visited this week catching 108 fish for a rod average of 1.93

Thank you for visiting and sending in the photo Duane - what a bag of fish!

Thank you for visiting and sending in the photo Duane - what a bag of fish!

I’ll open the comments and catch returns with an email we received from Duane Prentice. Duane pays us an annual visit whilst on holiday from Ipswich, and has done so for the last three years since he first visited and took out one of our hire kits, progressing with his skills and interest he then upgraded a year later to one of our Hardy Jet fly rods!

Duane often succeeds at Exe Valley and this week was no exception as he completed a cracking limit of 5 fish, the heaviest being a 7lb 8oz hog! All fish fell to an indicator set up using a blob for bite detection and a smaller fly on the dropper. Four of the fish took an Olive Buzzer and the largest took a red and gold Diawl Bach Nymph. He was clearly chuffed with the sport he experienced and rounded off his complimentary email with “I would just like to say a big thank you on a superb fishery and for getting me that fly fishing bug back”. Well Duane, thanks for visiting and we look forwards to seeing you again next year!

Duane was not the only angler to bank some our beautiful and hard fighting fish this week, as Lewin Heaven-Ince took 5 fish for 18lbs, accompanied by Ben Roberts who also had five fish but for a total of 21lbs including a stunning 6 pounder. David Wood fell one short of his limit but still enjoyed his day as he commented “Very good, lovely spot”.

The biggest fish of the week was landed by Tim Ahern who banked a 11lb beast on Tuesday and continued the day by catching four more fish, reaching a total weight of 25lbs and said “Great day thanks!” The big fish continued to be fooled by our anglers as Will Atkins took a plump 6lb 2oz fish as part of a 14lbs 2oz bag of three and Jenny Harris had a single 5 pounder. Not only have we seen a lot of big fish landed this week, but the average stamp of fish has been up to the usual Exe Valley standard as Adam Smale found out during a trip to celebrate his birthday (which he did in style!), leaving with 5 fish for 16lb.  Regular Peter Bridges had another cracking day on Anchor lake taking 4 fish for 13 ½ lb and noted “Great fishing, great fish, good value”. Another regular Paul Tiso also paid us a visit and did his usual damage on the buzzers ending the day with 5 fish for an enormous 27lb 8oz, accompanied by Paul Stark who had a lovely 3lb fish from Anchor and proceeded to bag up on Lobbs lake finishing up with 12lbs on the nose.

Best Fish of the Week - 11lb Rainbow to Tim Ahern of Collumpton

Best Fish of the Week - 11lb Rainbow to Tim Ahern of Collumpton

Now comes some very exciting news!  Last week we hosted the annual RETA Junior day and now we have more news regarding our efforts to inspire young people to go fly fishing.  It is with great pleasure that we can announce that The Greys Junior Bank National will be coming to Exe Valley Fishery for the South West regional heat on Sunday 25th October 2015. In this competition organised by the Angling Trust and supported by Sport England, under 16’s have the chance to qualify for the national final in Shropshire!

Enter the South West heat of the Greys Junior Bank Fly Fishing Competition - coming to Exe Valley Fishery on Sunday 25th October 2015

Enter the South West heat of the Greys Junior Bank Fly Fishing Competition - coming to Exe Valley Fishery on Sunday 25th October 2015

Three junior anglers will qualify for the final from each heat, and with only 15 entrants allowed be sure to come and see us to get yourself signed up without delay! Entry forms available at the lakes or we can email you a copy.  Over £100’s worth of prizes have been supplied by Greys for the heat and the final event has prizes of over £1,500! It’s brilliant that competitions and events like this are now being organised to encourage young anglers into the sport; it’s just what Nick & I love to see and we can’t wait to host the event.  Oh and did we mention the entry fee ... just £5 per head and that includes the fishing permit!!!

Father & Son team Steve & Adam Morley with the result of their 1 day fly fishing course.  Well done guys!

Father & Son team Steve & Adam Morley with the result of their 1 day fly fishing course.  Well done guys!

Nick has also been very busy hosting fly fishing courses on the shores of the lake and during this week the diary has been particularly packed.  Best catch went to father & son team Steve & Adam Morley from Hackney who stayed at the renowned Swan Inn and managed to bank 5 fish including a six pounder for Adam on his first ever day spent fly fishing!  It was a particularly memorable course and we have found that Adam is not just a talent with a fly rod ... believe it or not he has also helped Jamie Oliver show the world how to Chop an Onion!  Yes Its Funny!

Rounding off this report with a little bit of meteorology, our local readers will know that we have had a lot of rain lately! Don’t let this put you off.  We are fed by the river Barle, and a little extra water flowing through freshens things up, introducing cool oxygenated conditions which the fish love! Water clarity is fantastic as usual. It looks as we will have some variable weather arriving this next week, with rain showers & changeable winds so pack your coat!! If you are new to the sport or struggle with casting simply position yourself with your back to the wind. If you visit during over cast conditions dry flies should not be ignored; especially on a warm flat calm day.

That’s it from Nick and me ... Sam Baycock, for another week, we hope to see you soon & Best Fishes!