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

Another great month of Fly Fishing action

Another month has passed far too quickly at Exe Valley with the first taste of summer now upon us.  Although some inevitable weed has appeared during the hot spell Anchor Lake continues to provide excellent sport.  The deep areas are looking in better condition than this time last year and up to today, 27th May 17, 147 anglers have caught 547 Trout for a very healthy rod average of 3.7 fish per person.

Rick Price with a fin perfect slab of a Rainbow Trout caught while fishing  Anchor Lake

Rick Price with a fin perfect slab of a Rainbow Trout caught while fishing Anchor Lake

Thank you to Rick Price of Taunton for sending in the picture of this cracker which he caught in Littlebrook Bay.  Rick said “What a brilliant day.  Thank you!”  And there have been plenty more happy anglers with a lot of new faces amongst them, often commenting on their returns that they will be returning to enjoy the hard fighting fish we offer here at Exe Valley in beautiful surroundings.

Rob Weaver from Bishops Lydeard caught and released 4 fish and said “Great mornings sport – 4 fish all around 2lb.  Daughter caught her first Trout!  We will be back” while Jeff Evans from Burnham on Sea said “Great Day Fishing.  Great Surroundings.  Will be Back.  5 Star”  Andrew Seal drove all the way from Radstock and was not disappointed landing a total of 8 fish to 5lb 8oz, returning 3 of them and leaving the comment “First time here & will definitely be back.  Lost more than I caught but great fun on the surface”

Andrews comment is a positive take on the need to use the right tactics to catch.  Quite a few returns simply said “Hard Fishing” although many of the anglers commenting as such had caught their limits!  My aim here at Exe Valley Fishery is to provide good sport which requires some thought about tactics.  15lb leaders and great big goldheads are unlikely to work.  Leaders of 6lb to 8lb and a much more subtle approach are likely to score, with a great deal of fish now succumbing to dry fly tactics and nymphs such as the Diawl Bach.  Mr Bellamy from Wiveliscombe put it perfectly after releasing 6 fish with the comment “Good Fish.  Good Challenge”

Andy & Carl caught 8 fish between them using washing line tactics, Hopper Booby on the point and Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.

Andy & Carl caught 8 fish between them using washing line tactics, Hopper Booby on the point and Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.

Just this week I used imitative tactics while guiding Andy & Carl from the Birmingham area.  We had to experiment with a couple of different fly patterns and in the end enjoyed some great sport using a washing line consisting of a Black Hopper Booby on the point and a simple Crank Shank Buzzer on the dropper.  Fish fell to both patterns and the takes were fantastic; not to mention the fighting qualities of these fish!

If you are interested in improving your casting techniques please see my website Nick Hart Fly Fishing for details and check out this recent article written by the editor Russell Hill and published in the most recent issue (496) of Trout Fisherman magazine. 

Find out how to get started fly fishing - see Trout Fisherman magazine Issue 496

Find out how to get started fly fishing - see Trout Fisherman magazine Issue 496

Talking of the magazine many congrats to the most recent Troutmasters badge winners (issue 496 & 497) who will be invited to attend next year’s fish off competition

Richard Quick, 10lb 0oz Rainbow, Snake Fly  

Alan Jukes, 8lb 14oz Rainbow, Damsel

Keith Ratcliffe, 8lb 8oz Rainbow, Alley Cat

Michael Wright, Lympstone, 8lb 0oz Rainbow, Damsel

Daniel Stocker, Ashburton, 7lb 0oz Rainbow, Black Buzzer

Oliver Smith, Surrey, 5lb 8oz Rainbow, Orange Pheasant Tail Nymph

More updates are posted to the Exe Valley Facebook Page during the month and please make note of Saturday 3rd June 2017. 

Anchor Lake will be closed for one day on SATURDAY 3rd JUNE 2017 for a special event and I would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience.  The lake will reopen for business as usual on SUNDAY 4th JUNE 2017

Thanks for reading and I hope the next month offers you some great fishing.

Nick Hart.

Exe Valley Catch Report: Top of the water sport has started!

With the May bank holiday upon us I am pleased to report that top of the water fishing is taking off on Exe Valley.  Just yesterday I helped a complete novice catch his first ever Trout and we used dry flies exclusively.  Even during the cold wind the fish have been on the surface!

Visiting from America, first time fly angler Derek Beckman with his first ever Trout and he caught it using a dry fly!

Visiting from America, first time fly angler Derek Beckman with his first ever Trout and he caught it using a dry fly!

Indicator fishing has also been successful with a size 12 Black or Olive Buzzer set at 2' to 3' depth.  No particular area seems to be producing better than any other although my first choice would be somewhere in Littlebrook Bay or fishing right in front of the Snags over the deep water area.  Chuck out a tungsten buzzer, let it sink and then retrieve ensuring a slow deliberate lift up the ledge.  Watch carefully and often you will see the fish grab the fly ... very exciting!  Not sure where these areas are?  Check out our map below.

So far to today Friday 28th April 188 anglers have visited since the beginning of the month catching a total of 599 Trout to set a very good rod average of 3.2 fish per rod.  Amongst them have been some great fish such as the specimens shown below and we were also pleased to see that one of our Trout was selected by Trout Fisherman as Fish of the Month.  Well done to the captor John Ratcliffe.

Fish of the month in the most recent copy of Trout Fisherman magazine went to John Ratcliffe who caught this stunning Rainbow on  Anchor Lake  using a Black Nomad 

Fish of the month in the most recent copy of Trout Fisherman magazine went to John Ratcliffe who caught this stunning Rainbow on Anchor Lake using a Black Nomad 

We receive so many lovely comments that it is impossible to print them all but thanks to all those who have visited in recent weeks, there are plenty of old faces but also some new ones including a few younger rods in their 20s keen to take advantage of the £25 Catch & Release Permit.

Paul Mattin put it simply “Fantastic!!” after catching 3 fish for 9lbs including a four pounder while Mr Gilbert said “Great Days Fishing.  Nice Size Trout” after weighing in 2 fish for 13lb 4oz including the 9lb 1oz below ... and he went on to release a further 2 fish. 

Mr Gilbert from Barnstaple with his 9lb 1oz Rainbow which he caught using a Dry Fly!

Mr Gilbert from Barnstaple with his 9lb 1oz Rainbow which he caught using a Dry Fly!

Ian Robinson lost 7 but did release 5 all on imitative patterns commenting “Great Day Fishing!  Taking on Dries & Buzzers just under the surface” Alan Lewis from Cullompton was also pleased after banking 2 for 5lbs and once again commented “Great Days Fishing.  Will deff be coming back

Meanwhile Jonathan Lewis enjoyed his first ever day fly-fishing with his son, catching 2 fish weighing 5lbs and left on cloud 9 with the comment “First time fly fishing for myself and my son, absolutely fantastic time.

Simon Curtis with another fulled tailed Rainbow which he caught on Anchor Lake, part of a 4 fish bag for 20lb.  Simon also released a further 2 fish.

Simon Curtis with another fulled tailed Rainbow which he caught on Anchor Lake, part of a 4 fish bag for 20lb.  Simon also released a further 2 fish.

This weekend the temperatures are due to increase once again and although wind has been forecast this can actually improve the fishing.  There is no need to cast a long way and techniques such as the Roll Cast can be used to present flies to fish that will relish the oxygenated surface.  Throw out a buzzer let the current do the work or fish close range with a nice bushy dry fly. 

If you are stuck on what to use please ask us as we have been improving the fly display with a variety of patterns including new dries, bungs and a great selection of barbless.  The Blue Flash Damsel is still a favourite but we have currently sold out so the Hothead Straggle or even an Olive Snake would be my choice for pulling.

More news soon and if you would like to see regular updates please visit the Exe Valley Fishery Facebook Page.  Have a great bank holiday weekend and many thanks for reading.

Nick.

Dan Stocker not only bagged this cracking Rainbow but also won himself an Easter Egg & £20 when he found the specimen fish was also tagged.  Troutmasters is going to be hotly contested this month!

Dan Stocker not only bagged this cracking Rainbow but also won himself an Easter Egg & £20 when he found the specimen fish was also tagged.  Troutmasters is going to be hotly contested this month!