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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At last … a little bit of spring in the air at Exe Valley Fishery

The Beast from the East seems to have retreated and just hopefully spring is around the corner as it has been a looooong winter!  If you have had enough of it all why not head out West and wet a line, one thing is for sure the water is cold, full of oxygen and the Trout just love it.

Our anglers are making use of the Catch & Release tickets which will be held at the price of £25 for a 10 fish limit this season, with all other ticket options also held as per the 2017 rates. 

Blair Woodland makes use of the higher temps to enjoy a Catch & Release session at Exe Valley.

Blair Woodland makes use of the higher temps to enjoy a Catch & Release session at Exe Valley.

Reading from the returns archives Mr Tomkins recently tried a sporting ticket and worked nymphs for 4 fish over a few hours before switching to a stripped Blob which gave him another 5 fish in just half an hour.

Other returns mention the depth of the fish with the word “deep” used consistently along with “cold” including Mr Hobdens comment which made us chuckle “Bloody Freezing!!  But good sport!”  There is no doubt that wrapping up warm is required to enjoy a day at Exe Valley but if you put in the effort the chances are you will be rewarded with some action. 

Mr Hobden banked 4 fish during his chilly session, but John Slaven had an even more fruitful day with 5 taken and 4 released, noting that it had been a “Cold day but worth it.  Fantastic!”  Johns bag tipped the scales to 15lb 2oz with a best fish of 3lb 2oz

John will hope for an equally impressive bag in just over a weeks’ time when on Sunday 18th March Exe Valley will host its annual Troutmasters Fish Off to determine who will head to the final later in the year.  This event is already well signed up with around 15 anglers attending but if you have an invite and have yet to contact us, there is still time, if you are quick!  Please note that the fishery will be closed to regular day tickets on 18/03/18 until after the match which is due to end around 2pm.

If you are going to practice beforehand or if you are just heading to the fishery for a pleasure day it would be well worth packing Blobs, Snakes, Blue Flash Damsels, Apps Worms and a few buzzers.  Floating lines with long leaders (fished slow) will work well but in recent weeks intermediates and medium sinkers such as the Di-3 have been well worth trying.

And to round up this catch report please note that Lobbs Lake will be open by the end of the month (in time for Easter) with further details regarding the fishing that will be available on this venue posted next time.

Many thanks for reading and look our for more news soon.

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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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Exe Valley Fishery voted one of the Top 50 Stillwater Trout Fisheries in the UK

It looks like the work to improve Exe Valley Fishery and most notably Anchor Lake is paying off as the venue has just been voted as one of the Top 100 UK Stillwaters by the Trout Fisherman magazine.  In fact the fishery entered the top 50, reaching 42nd place, even better news, this year the water remains open to anglers after last year’s disastrous summer when I had to close.  There is no doubt that the cooler air and heavy rainfall have helped, but extensive work to clear weed has also assisted.

Exe Valley Fishery - Enters into the Top 50 Stillwater Trout Fisheries in the UK

Exe Valley Fishery - Enters into the Top 50 Stillwater Trout Fisheries in the UK

Just yesterday I was down teaching Robin “Cooky” Cook from Wales and he caught several fish on a mixture of Buzzers & Tequilla Blobs.  No need to pull them fast, just throw out and figure 8 slowly, using any wind present to help drift the flies. 

Cooky couldn’t believe the power of our fish, especially considering it is summer and says he will be making the journey across the border and heading South to enjoy some sessions at Exe Valley.  Today Cooky and I we were on the river (which was also noted in the TF blurb about the fishery) and he landed his first ever Grayling.  The River beat is only lightly fished and available on a separate permit although booking well in advance is essential.

"Cooky" with his first Grayling from the River Exe which flows past the fishery.  He also caught several fish the day before using Buzzers & Tequilla Blobs on  Anchor Lake .

"Cooky" with his first Grayling from the River Exe which flows past the fishery.  He also caught several fish the day before using Buzzers & Tequilla Blobs on Anchor Lake.

Meanwhile John “The Snakeman” Clarke has been back in action on the lakes using his favourite pink snake fly to good effect, bagging 5 fish to 3lb 8oz and seemed very happy leaving the comment “Brilliant morning, credit to all the effort moving the weed”.   Johns mate ( John Slaven) also bagged 5 to 4lbs fishing Buzzers and said “After a long spell of DIY it is nice to be back and not disappointed

Apologies that this current report is going to be brief, I am very busy with tuition and have to get organised ready for the next visitors.  So in summary head to Exe Valley and move around the lake using Buzzers, Blobs, Dries and nymphs such as the Diawl Bach and chances are you will enjoy some good sport. 

Anchor Lake is closed on Monday 7th August for a junior fishing day - reopening as usual on Tuesday 8th August 2017

Anchor Lake is closed on Monday 7th August for a junior fishing day - reopening as usual on Tuesday 8th August 2017

Just before I sign off please note that ANCHOR LAKE WILL BE CLOSED ON MONDAY 7th AUGUST 2017 for a junior fishing day.  The fishery is open this weekend and will be again on Tuesday 8th Aug as normal.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at one of the Top 50 stillwaters in the UK very soon!

Nick.

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