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.

Keep up to date online here at the website and also on the Exe Valley Fishery Facebook page

(Some) Frustrated Anglers at Exe Valley

On Tuesday I arrived into work and collected the returns from the anglers fishing the day before.  It was not a great start to the week as I read comments such as “Novice fisherman and really struggled, will not travel 2 hours to fish here again”

Other comments included “A very poor day, I will not be coming again”, “very disappointing” and “the weed did not help at all” I don’t think any fishery manager in their right mind would hope for this sort of feedback, especially after removing 50000 tonnes of silt/rock in the last two years and spending £1000s on weed removal, not to mention the time involved.  The most confusing comment was “Ranks as one of the worst 3+3 fishing days ever.  No takes on all flies offered right across the spectrum.  Plenty of fish, just not feeding, ran out of energy”

We have been in the grip of nearly constant high temperatures (both day & night) ranging from 20C to 30C during the last month with little in the way of rainfall.  The resident Exe Valley fish farmer recently reported that the water temperature in the morning (23C) was several degrees warmer than the air temperature.  In these circumstances the stock fish will often decline pellets so persuading them to take flies requires an element of thought.  Right now the water temp is regularly 15C to 17C+

Why head to banks where the water has the least amount of movement and algae is on the surface when other areas are completely clear?  Why use a sinking line when fish are rising?  Why use a long leader and a very heavy goldhead in areas of weed?  Why pull lures fast when the fish are visually lethargic?  I could ask many other questions because the fact is many anglers are using the same old tactics in their usual favoured locations around the lake and expecting “miracles”.

This isn’t the case for all anglers such as Tom Butt, fishing the day after the barrage of negative comments.  He managed 9 fish, all on tiny dry flies and filled in his return with “Brilliant day yet again”  While a new regular John Morgan landed 8 saying “Thanks again – excellent day”  Meanwhile Mr Honey might only have got a single fish but sensibly noted “nice fish observed, too HOT for them to feed”

Last year on June 29th I closed Anchor Lake and many asked why because they felt it remained in a fishable state, considering that it was summer.  This summer I am happy to report that we are open and Anchor is looking better than ever for this time of year.  It is not perfect and I continue to strive to improve the environment and fishing after it was neglected for in excess of 30 years.  In fact just before typing up this post I got off the phone having discussed possibly aeration solutions and by next week I will have a new algae skimmer to add to the pond weed rakes and nets recently acquired.

This is just one corner of Exe Valley weed raked during a morning session.  Since this picture was taken a new rake, twice the size of the original has been acquired and three days were spent clearing the lake.  More work is planned.  The lake is more "fishable" this July than it has been for the last 10 years ....

This is just one corner of Exe Valley weed raked during a morning session.  Since this picture was taken a new rake, twice the size of the original has been acquired and three days were spent clearing the lake.  More work is planned.  The lake is more "fishable" this July than it has been for the last 10 years ....

Last week I was due to be away fishing in Scotland with friends but felt that the lake needed attention so my trip was cancelled.  Instead my time was spent coordinating a weed drag with the result that large areas of the lake continue to be fishable.  Further work is planned.  Despite the planned work and maintenance already undertaken it is up to the anglers visiting to select the right tactics, observe where the fish are located and try to catch them.  I freely provide advice and assistance but largely it seems to be disregarded in the hope that the same old Montana & Cats Whiskers on leaders fit to land a decent sized Cod will suffice!  In warm water conditions these tactics simply wont work very well and in fact during the colder months this approach rarely succeeds either.

Even in warm water it is possible to catch Trout as 19 year old Jake Gransbury found out during one of his first ever trips.  Taking part in one of my two day fly fishing courses he latched into a few fish including this double which took a #16 Buzzer connected to 5lb fluorocarbon on a super hot, flat calm day.  Tactics to try in the warm weather are Buzzers under Bungs, washing line style (Booby on the point, buzzer on the dropper), Dry Fly and twitched Damsels.  Scale down pattern size, go for light leader and be prepared to fish slowly.  Concentrate efforts in flowing water areas; look for fish which you may be able to target with a stalking bug and where possible fish water that has not been affected by surface algae.  As can be seen from the picture below the algae is very minimal in comparison to past seasons ....

If in doubt and before travelling long distances please call 01398 323008 for an update.  I cannot promise that you will receive an immediate answer but please leave a message and I will get back to you.  Alternatively try emailing, (contact details are available on this website) and it is also worth checking out and getting involved with the Exe Valley Facebook Page

Fly Fishing is many things; mostly wonderful but just sometimes perhaps a trip doesn’t quite hit the mark.  Let’s be honest none of us like to part with our hard earned and walk away from our experience with anything but happy memories of lots of hard fighting fish.  I want nothing more than the anglers who visit Exe Valley Fishery to have a pleasurable day but in extremes of heat the chances are that the fishing will be difficult in comparison to the cooler months.  Some fisheries may benefit from consistently cool water but in fact most small stillwaters do not ... and many close.  Exe Valley has more fishable water than I have known than in over a decade and plenty of anglers continue to enjoy their visits.

Finally one important notice is that Catch & Release is no longer available until water temperatures return to a safe level.   I apologise to the large amount of anglers including holiday makers who have been visiting the fishery to enjoy a “sporting day” but fish welfare is a primary concern and in the current conditions I do not feel it is safe to continuing offering the service. 

Thank you for reading and please remember to call 01398 323008, instant message or contact me via the website before travelling long distances.  In between guiding I shall also endeavour to keep the fishery website ticking over with updates.

Tightlines, Nick.

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first Exe Valley Fishery Catch Report of 2016.

A Happy New Year to all our anglers and thank you for visiting in 2015.  There were some big changes to the venue last year and during 2016 we aim to add even more to the Exe Valley Fishery experience.

Christmas seemed to zoom past with an influx of people fishing the lakes, no doubt keen to get out of the house.  One angler even fished on the day itself!  The fairly settled, mild weather attracted plenty of anglers from 27th to 29th, before once again the heavens opened.

The first few days of January were quiet but by last week a few anglers with New Year cabin fever decided to chance a day at the waters edge and were rewarded for the risk!  Chatting with Rob Wilkinson from Exeter enjoying a Tuesday session he almost didn’t make the journey due to the forecast of high winds/rain but the risk paid off as he was greeted with a flat calm and glorious blue sky!

Anchor Lake - Tuesday 5th January 2016

Anchor Lake - Tuesday 5th January 2016

At this time of year we are often asked if we have flooded and I am pleased to report that despite the Rivers Barle & Exe being high, the levels have been well short of the height which we encountered during the Dec 2012 floods.  So if you haven’t visited fearing that the lakes are underwater, please be assured that they are not.  And if you would like to check water conditions, the current weather or to find out how the lakes are fishing before you travel please call 01398 323008

During conversation I have heard various suggestions regarding the reasons why the local area has not flooded to such an extent during the last few weeks, despite the volume of rain.  My own opinion is that the Exmoor National Park Mires Project is taking effect.  The restoration of the moorland that had lost much of its water holding abilities is now holding the runoff back.  This can be seen in the height of the River Exe which has remained at a fairly constant level throughout the rain, rather than going through the sudden and massive rises which so often lead to flooding.

We have been installing temporary paths at the fishery this week

We have been installing temporary paths at the fishery this week

Digging the main Anchor Lake has also had a major impact on how long the venue takes to colour & clear up after heavy rain.  In fact keeping the lakes clear and fishable has never been so easy, which means we needed other jobs to do!  Working with my wife Sue we took advantage of some great conditions last week to create temporary paths and we even managed lunch by the water on one of the days!

It has been so mild that we enjoyed a picnic by the lake while constructing the new paths ... in January?!

It has been so mild that we enjoyed a picnic by the lake while constructing the new paths ... in January?!

Last week the top flies were definitely lures with Palmered Cats Whiskers and Black Taddys being favoured as go to patterns.  Goldhead Daddies have also taken their fair share of fish and one or two anglers have caught on Dry Flies!  Best fish of the week pulled the scales down to 7lb 8oz and was caught on a simple Red Buzzer.  Floating lines are working but increasingly we find our visitors taking advantage of the greater range of depths to experiment with intermediate lines and even full sinkers.

Brian Richardson called in on his way to the 2-2 draw between Exeter City & Liverpool, pulled out a super light 3 weight rod and picked up a brace ... not a bad day!  He said of his visit “A great few hours on a lovely fishery.  V good quality fish.  I will be back” meanwhile on the same day Chris Swain dusted down his rods for the first time in several years to keep his resolution to start fly fishing again in 2016.  His visit to Exe Valley set him off again with a 5 fish limit that was taken at various locations around the lakes.

Chris Swain completing his first limit of Trout for many seasons under a glorious blue January sky.

Chris Swain completing his first limit of Trout for many seasons under a glorious blue January sky.

This is an important point to consider when fishing Anchor Lake, the Trout no longer stay in just a couple of hot spots as the new depth (area available) encourages fish to spread themselves around the venue.  Which also means we are seeing far more resident fish than ever before including two huge doubles figure Trout, one a Brown the other a Rainbow. 

Both were stocked before the New Year and must have seen hundreds of different flies that have been cast at them during that time.  Judging by the frequent angler stories of being smashed up by our fish it wouldn't surprise me if both these specimens haven’t been hooked for brief periods at some point!  They have been spotted on a few occasions during the last week and must be getting hungry so its only a matter of time before someone gets very lucky indeed!

Other notable catches include Bob Stoneham with a bag of 5 caught on a Goldhead Daddy weighing 14lb, 6 between Jono & Dennis Enticott weighing 19lb and 4 weighing 15lb 8oz, including a best fish of 6lb 9oz to Exe Valley regular Chris Short while Pat Lehain forgot to pay for his tagged Trout entry and then managed to catch one!  Even so he was pleased with his 4 fish bag and said “Great day as usual, fish fighting well in cold water”  There are still 3 fish worth a £10 prize swimming around the lake and another 3 worth £20!

Thank you for reading as always and once again we hope that you have a very happy new year with plenty of fantastic fishing to enjoy.

Nick.

For real-time weather & fishing reports: Call 01398 323008

Fantastic Christmas Sport at the Valley & Latest Report to 31st Dec 2015

I hope you have had a fantastic Christmas and have now turned your attention to ushering in the New Year!

Here at Exe Valley it has been the busiest Christmas I can ever remember with 60 anglers fishing between Christmas Day and 29th December. 

Well done to John Akhurst who swapped a Christmas morning at home for a session by the lakes ... and what a gift he received, a two fish brace weighing 9lb & 8lb, caught on an intermediate line.  The larger Trout succumbed to a home tied Orange Tadpole and the other to a Black & Silver Cats Whisker aka The Humungus.

 I was of course at home with the children, so sadly no pictures of John with his catch, although he kindly emailed me this picture.  Even better one of the fish had a Red Tag and so John finished his Christmas day session with 17lb of Trout and a £20 prize!

Christmas Day Crackers!!!

Christmas Day Crackers!!!

On Boxing Day the crowds began to arrive and it was to prove to be Christmas day all over again for Tony Ponting when he managed to tempt the elusive blue tagged Brown Trout, netting not only a fine fish of 6lb 12oz but also £100 in cash.

The 26th was busy, but by 27th even more anglers turned up to fish as news has travelled about how much extra water there is to enjoy at the valley these days, along with the chance of not just some great sport, but also the opportunity to win a tagged trout prize.  Visiting for the first time, Terry Bridgman from Crediton not only managed a 4 fish limit but also won himself a tenner; landing a green tagged Rainbow using a drab nymph fished slowly in mid water.

Terry Bridgman with his £10 winning tagged Trout

Terry Bridgman with his £10 winning tagged Trout

The 28th was busier still and with more fresh stock added to stir up the residents the 12 Trout of Fishmas continued to put in an appearance as 13 year old Alex Cottam from Plymouth found when he won £20 for catching a Rainbow using a size 10 International Straggle Cat, assisted by his Dad Andy Cottam, himself an England International fly fisher.

Alex fished a Straggle Cat to bag not only this Rainbow but a £20 note.  Well worth the visit from Plymouth!

Alex fished a Straggle Cat to bag not only this Rainbow but a £20 note.  Well worth the visit from Plymouth!

Shaun Whitehead didn't get a tagged Trout, but he was very pleased to land his first ever Blue Trout in the deep water near to the feeder stream while Andrew Scragg got his 5 fish limit for 14lb and said on his return “Was able to catch fish everywhere” Meanwhile another first timer at Exe Valley, Mr Metters from Exeter landed a brace and said “First Time. Lovely Fishery. Will definitely come again

By 9am on 29th there were already 8 cars in the park and the anglers were treated to a day of glorious blue skies ... and some cracking Trout!  Simon Autton has not been fly fishing for much more than a year but he really uses his head and when the going got a little tough he pulled out the intermediate and fished a Flash Tag Orange Blob ultra slowly to finish with 3 (although he lost 3 times as many!) including this beauty of 8lb, describing his day as “Brilliant”  And it was about to get better as this Green tag fish was worth a tenner!

What could be better than a big blue sky & a big Trout?  A big blue sky and an 8lb Trout worth £10!  

What could be better than a big blue sky & a big Trout?  A big blue sky and an 8lb Trout worth £10!  

Richard Price from Taunton also seemed to enjoy his day saying “Brilliant – first time fly fishing, I’ll be back” ... and little wonder as one of his fish weighed 7lb 2oz!  Returning for another visit following his recent success, John Slaven bagged another 5 fish limit, including a best of 4lb and said “It gets better & better, see you next month”.

With several fish over 5lb and a couple over 7lb and one of 8lb the 29th Dec 2015 was already shaping up to be a pretty good day at the lakes, until winter season ticket holder Paul Grisley’s rod suddenly took on an alarming curve and something pretty substantial bolted for the middle of the lake ... 3 or 4 times! 

Nearly there!  A crowd gathers to watch as Paul lands his big fish.

Nearly there!  A crowd gathers to watch as Paul lands his big fish.

Without any rib tickling from me whatsoever I mentioned to Paul that he didn’t want to lose this fish as he had attracted an audience to watch the battle unfold!  But he held up under the pressure to net an absolute rugby ball of a Trout that proved to be the best of the day at 8lb 14oz.  Awesome Paul ... well done and many thanks for your kind words received by email.

Paul survived the pressure to land an 8lb 14oz Rainbow under a perfect Blue December sky.

Paul survived the pressure to land an 8lb 14oz Rainbow under a perfect Blue December sky.

I thought I had to put finger to keyboard to thank you for a wonderful mornings fishing, the lake performed wonderfully considering the number of people fishing it that day, and the day before.  No-one wants to just dangle a line in the water and catch fish but you seem to have got the balance right

And on that note I will bring the last report of the year to an end, but just before I go, I must say thank you to the many people who have helped bring the lakes back to life this year including Chris Short and his son Pete for the platforms, Henry Godfrey the awesome chap who masterminded the big digGreg the amazing digger driver who did the dig, Sam Baycock for never ending enthusiasm, Derek for maintaining the gardens, Fred for keeping the lakes stocked with such fantastic fish and to my family for putting up with the crazy hours that I do to keep this place going.

But of course my most profound thanks must go to those of you who turn up and fish Exe Valley every week in all kinds of weather.  It has been incredible to see the response to the improvements and quite honestly I am blown away by your support.  This month we have welcomed 135 of you to the lakes so far resulting in a catch of 367 Trout for a rod average of 2.7 What a way to finish 2015!

There is more to come and we expect to continue improving the lakes well into 2016, with the website also receiving further updates.  Please keep checking back on the exe valley fishery reports and if you would like to have information delivered straight to your inbox there is a sign up form up on the top right of this page.

There are still a few days of the holidays to go and we will be open throughout including New Years Eve & New Years day.  With a double figure Brown, a mid double Rainbow, 7 tagged Trout and more stock introduced why let the weather stop you?  As always if you would like a live update on water conditions, please don’t hesitate to call me on 01398 323008.

Happy New Year!

Nick.