Salmon Seasons of The South West

River Avon Apr 15 to Nov 30
River Axe Mar 15 to Oct 31
River Camel Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Dart Feb 1 to Sep 30
River Erme Mar 15 to Oct 31
River Exe Feb 14 to Sep 30
River Fal Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Fowey Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Frome Mar 1 to Aug 31
River Lim Mar 1 to Sep 30
River Looe Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Lyn Feb 1 to Oct 31
River Lynher Mar 1 to Oct 14
River Otter Mar 15 to Oct 31
River Piddle Mar 1 to Aug 31
River Plym Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Seaton Apr 1 to Dec 15
River Sid Mar 15 to Oct 31
River Tamar Mar 1 to Oct 14
River Tavy Mar 1 to Oct 14
River Taw Mar 1 to Sep 30
River Teign Feb 1 to Sep 30
River Torridge Mar 1 to Sep 30
River Yealm Apr 1 to Dec 15

Rivers Need Rain Now

The West Country rivers are getting very low again with all the hot weather we are having.

The last river still hanging on to some water from the rain of 10 days ago is the Tamar with this nice fish of 11lb coming to a blue, black and silver 15mm tube on Monday 22nd May.

The fish came from Woodtown Pool on Beat 2 of The Endsleigh Fishing Club water at 2:22pm.

A Great First at The Rising Sun

Continue reading

Hawkridge Char

Hawkridge had a fantastic weeks fishing with plenty of fish being caught all over the lake. The lake record for an arctic char was broken by Matt Hopkins which weighed in at 6lbs 3oz, D Plumridge had four fish totalling 33lbs 3oz with the largest fish weighing over 13lbs, Kev Perry bagged a cracking rainbow totalling 12lb 4oz, plenty of brown trout and arctic char are being caught by the life buoy on the far side.
Fishing the deeper water by the dam from boats or bank is highly recommended.  Anglers who fish floating or intermediate lines with Blue Flash Damsel, Gold Head Montana or Cats Whisker return with good catches.

More brown trout are going to be stocked within the next week or so!

Matt Hopkins - Arctic Char
Matt Hopkins 6lbs 3oz Arctic Char

Winter Fishing on SWLT Lakes

Here are the prices for Rainbow Trout fishing in November. All prices will stay the same throughout October.


November Only

Kennick £8.50 for two fish

Wimbleball £8.50 for two fish

Siblyback £8.00 for two fish

Burrator £8.00 for two fish and £10.00 for three fish

Wistlandpound £7.00 for two fish

Stithians £7.00 for two fish

Drift £7.00 for two fish

Anglers may buy more than one permit if they so wish.

Burrator is the only lake which will be open all winter and it will be stocked. Tickets will be £8.00 for two fish and £10.00 for three fish during December, January and February. Burrator will then close at the end of February for two weeks until the new season starts in mid March 2016. Permits for Burrator will be available from the permit room in the Warden’s Yard opposite Burrator Lodge. A winter season permit for Burrator will be available for £75.00 for four fish per week from 1st December to the end of February. It will be available to purchase by telephoning 01566 771930.

A Recent Rise = Fish


A 7.5lb sea trout from the Torridge.


The various bodies that look after the main reservoir fisheries have announced their pricing and season dates for 2014.

There are no big shocks on either score, except some rather radical changes to the Wessex Water seasons, with Sutton Bingham starting and finishing early and Hawkridge starting a fortnight before previous years: –

Sutton Bingham Reservoir:                            12 February 2014 – 7 September 2014

Hawkridge Reservoir:                                     28 February 2014 – 19 October 2014

Clatworthy Reservoir:                                     12 March 2014 – 5 October 2014

For full details click on the corresponding link in the left hand margin.

South West Lakes Reservoir Levels

An excellent resource for ascertaining the hight of the water in any of The SWLT reservoirs can be found at Have a look if you a planning a fishing trip to Devon.

It is clear that at the moment the levels are very low indeed, which is why, as of early September, the boats are out fishing the bank on a lot of waters.


Ok so the rains didn’t come in August; but be not down-hearted. September is THE month for salmon fishing in the West Country. Given rain then all rivers will fish, with the Taw, Torridge, Tamar and Exe leading the way. The Dart can produce good numbers of fish too as can the tributaries of all the above.

Experimental extensions excluded, September is the final month to try for a salmon on most Devon rivers and is normally the best time too, along with the first two weeks of October on the Tamar system.

There is no need to change tactics too drastically. The intermediate line is a useful tool and bigger flies can be brought back into service. The sink-tip is still the favourite choice and if used with sinking poly leaders of varying densities or flies of varying weights, most depths and lies can be searched for that autumn fish.

The border and Cornish rivers carry on into October and beyond, but for September salmon stick to the big four.

See links on the left and also the individual river pages for availability of rods.

Workshop Pool

This is Workshop on The Rising Sun Water, River Taw


September is also the last month for trout fishing in all West Country rivers and anglers should concentrate on fishing the Daddy Long-Legs during the day and sedges late afternoon and evenings. The former will often take school peal too that have been in the system for a while but have an underlying silver tinge that distinguishes them from their permanently resident brethren.

On stillwaters the Daddy is also a key fly this month and general nymphs will continue to fish well. There should be good sport on sedges in the afternoons too in calmer conditions. Rain will liven things up and floating/intermediate lines will do the business. The water temperature is very warm and sinking lines should not normally be required – although always have a range of them to hand just in case.

Tight Lines everyone.

A Lovely Day At Clatworthy 2012

A Lovely Day At Clatworthy 2012



The sea-trout fishing is still ok and if we get a little rain the salmon will be encouraged to move up river. The brown trout fishing is limited to early and late in this hot weather, but catch a day with cloud cover and a slight breeze and the dry fly action is great.

There is still plenty of time to plan a break here in the West Country so have a look around and get in touch.

Tight lines all.

It’s All Coming Together At Last

Well the rain has stopped, the weather is warming up and the flies are starting to hatch. The hawthorne eventually arrived and the first mayflies have come off in sufficient numbers to bring up the odd fish, but only in a few isolated areas. The medium olive hatches are quite good in some areas and are a reliable taker of fish when matched with a decent imitation.

One good legacy of the recent rains is that the sea-trout are making it through to the upper reaches of some of the rivers and also salmon have been able to push through to water that low water prevents them from reaching. Essentially this means that the hotel waters of The Fox & Hounds on the Taw, The Half Moon on the Torridge and the Arundell Arms on the Tamar should all start fishing well very soon.

Plan a fishing break in the West Country for June and you should be A/OK.

FTW’s Mark Catching A Fish

This is mark catching a fish last summer. Bellbrook is a small Stillwater consisting of several big fish lakes and several “normal” fish lakes. Have a look at their web-site via the link here.

It’s Raining and Cold……….Surprise Surprise

The Spring was a long time coming, it lasted long enough to kick start the growing process…………….and now it’s gone again!

The cold weather and east winds that preceded the three days of sunshine we had in early May held back the normal springtime growth and so for the first time for many years we have daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells all out together.

The water temperature is at last rising but very slowly and the current rains, which are needed as the rivers were approaching summer level, are accompanied by a cold wind from the SE and fishing on a lot of the reservoirs is still very slow. The rise in water that will hopefully occur tonight and tomorrow will bring salmon up into the rivers from the estuaries but the water temperature needs to continue to rise to encourage them upstream.

There is a decided lack of fly life still to encourage the trout up to the top of the water and the mayfly will undoubtedly be late as we haven’t even seen any Hawthorne fly as I write this in the second week of May!!

All the above makes deciding tactics for any kind of fly fishing rather tricky plus of course one has to take spare layers as the weather can go from warm to cold and back again at the drop of a hat.

Assuming things now take a turn for the better and more normal service is resumed then the end of May will see the mayfly finally appearing on our rivers and the olive hatches strengthening. The large sea-trout that come in before the peal should arrive before month’s end too. In June we should start to see the evenings liven up with sedge hatches and sea-trout numbers increasing, with the school peal starting to feature in catches more readily.

Bank fishers on the reservoirs will start to score and floating line tactics will become the norm.

Tight lines to all that venture west and any queries drop us a line.

River Taw – Opening day

Well the new season dawned cold and damp with the river at 0.5m on the gauge. Not really enough to encourage fish to run and as the air temp was 6 degs and the water 5, connecting with any of the few fish already in was always going to be a tall order.

Rods were out on most beats below the junction, but as yet there have been no fish reported.

Woolhanger Farm beats have suffered a little bit of damage during the floods of 2012 but others further down seem to have escaped. There is an awful lot of detritus high on most banks – a scary reminder of how high the water came up.

For details of fishing on the river Taw, see our links on the left.

Tight lines for 2013.

Numb Fingers on The Exe

It’s February. The water and air temperatures are still very low and spring salmon on the Exe will be few and far between for another month yet.

We did have a couple of hours on the river the other day – after escapee rainbows washed into the river during the floods. If you are fishing the Exe, either now (as the EA has granted dispensation for the rainbows to be taken out) or later in the season and you catch any of these rainbow trout, please dispatch them as they are not wanted or welcome in the river.


If I were you I’d wait a while before you fish. It was so cold the day we fished, your correspondent failed to realise he had embedded a fly in his hand – even when it got ripped out again, on the forward delivery, taking half a hand with it!

If you are fishing in the West Country during the spring then we wish you tight lines; but – PLEASE BE CAREFUL ON THE WATER!!


Time To Check Your Tackle!

It’s nearly February so only a maximum of a  month left to check that all your tackle is oiled, cleaned treated and generally ready for the season ahead. Trout fishing starts on 15th March on most rivers but there is the opportunity, if not the prospect of great success, to get on the Dart and the Teign after salmon from 1st Feb and so if you are planning a trip to either of these rivers then everything should have been checked already.

Reels should be taken apart and old grease and grit removed. They should then have a light coat of oil on the spindle and then left.

Lines can be taken off of the reel and cleaned with warm soapy water and treated with a line conditioning solution.

Flies should be checked for rust and inspected. Any straightened bends or damaged patterns should be disgarded and it really helps (and is an enjoyable thing to do) if the remainder are sorted into type/size order.

A very important check to make is that your tippet material is not suffering the effects of the sun or direct heat and that you have plenty of it. Also there should be no sign of any leaders from last year still attached to fly lines! The loops at the business end of any poly leaders need checking and it is ofetn wise to reform them if possible, or replace thewhole leader if they are getting a littel too short.

There is nothing more annoying than getting to the river and then realising something is awry.

It’s Raining Again!

It is raining very hard here in Somerset (it’s December 29th 2012). It has been doing so for a couple of days now. The ground was saturated already so this lot has just flooded all the rivers in short order.

There will be no fishing for a while on the Levels for pike and grayling fishers trying their luck on The Exe are doomed to failure as there is just too much water.

Nothing we can do about it obviously, except hope the redds don’t get washed out and that it does actually stop at some point!

September – The Last Two Weeks

It’s the last two weeks of the season on may West Country rivers. As I write this there has been yet another huge down pour and ALL the rivers have plenty of water. There will be good salmon numbers all over the area, but the water is running fast and cooling down a bit. Get the fly down with sinking tips/leaders or a fast intermediate line.

Trout fishing will end well if there is a drop in levels. There are daddy long-legs simple everywhere and all rivers were fishing well to them before the latest spates took hold.

The reservoir season continues for a while yet and the daddy will score well here as will fry imitations fished in the margins. Sedges will feature on warm evenings.

If you are out in September don’t forget it can get cold quite ealy in the day and that it might rain at at a moment’s notice. If you are salmon fishing in high water then a life preserver is adviseable and a wading staff essential.

Tight lines.

Fishing In August

August is producing a good amount of rain to keep our rivers fuelled with water. The problem is the hot, humid high pressure that accompanies it. If the sun appears too then it is very much a question of picking one’s moment or concentrating on the first and last two hours of the day. Having said that, it is getting towards Autumn and with the water there is a good chance of a fish throughout most systems.

Very often during the months of August and September a build up of fish in estuaries can occur in dry weather. These are, by September, the larger late summer and autumn fish and sometimes if the rains come after a prolonged period of dry weather, they can run straight through in one fell swoop and then it’s season over. August rains keep the influx, progression and distribution of fish steadier and more even.

Sea trout are still entering the rivers in reduced numbers, but towards the end of the month fresh-run fish encountered will be much fewer. The good thing about fishing during the “back end” is that school peal can be targetted and caught using a dry fly – the best chances usually coming to the daddy long-legs.

Night fishing is still viable to pick up a fresh sea trout or two, but as usual any colour to the water CAN render the effort wasted. If you happen to be there though as the water comes good then it could be very productive.

In short, the rains we are currently experiencing mean that August is a fishing month and not a lying on the beach month!

Tight Lines all.

For up to date river levels click the Farson Digital link in the side-bar or check the EA website.


ENJOY – and don’t forget to e-mail us any questions you might have.


Take a look at Mark’s account of his trip to Dartmoor.

Duchy Of Cornwall Fishing

Go to one of the agents listed below. You will be handed your fishing permit and blank catch return. Fill in your details on the permit.

After fishing – please complete a catch return – and drop it into one of the agents or post it to: Westcountry Rivers Trust, Rain-Charm House, Kyl Cober Park, Stoke Climsland, Callington PL17 8PH.

Dartmoor fishing prices (season, week & day permits)

Salmon season: £150
Salmon week: £85
Salmon day: £30

Trout season: £70
Trout week: £30
Trout day: £10

Fishing Seasons

Salmon: 1 February to 30 September

Sea trout: 15 March to 30 September

Brown trout: 15 March to 30 September


Dart Permit Outlets

Name Town / City Postcode Telephone
The Forest Inn Yelverton PL20 6SG 01364 631211
Badgers Holt Princetown PL20 6SG 01364 631213
Arundell Arms   Hotel Lifton PL16 0AA 01566 784666
Princetown   Stores & Post Office Yelverton PL20 6QE 01822 890212
Buckfast Post   Office Buckfastleigh TQ11 0ED 01364 643034
Two Bridges   Hotel Yelverton PL20 6SW 01822 892300
James Bowden   & Son Chagford TQ13 8AH 01647 433271
Prince Hall   Hotel Princetown PL20 6SW 01822 890403
The White Hart   Hotel Moretonhampstead TQ13 8NF 01647 441340
Postbridge   Post Office Yelverton PL20 6TH 01822 880201
Exeter Angling   Centre Exeter EX1 1BN 01392 435591
Ilsington   Country House Hotel Nr Newton   Abbot TQ13 9RR


Don’t Take Our Word For It……………

Alex is a friend of ours and has been down with his father and bestest chum to have a go at the Clatworthy rainbows.  The West Country has some of the hardest fighting fish in the country and here is a report of the day from Alex:-

Easter Sunday Outing:

This Easter we decided to go and fish Clatworthy reservoir, it was a place that we (Charles Jardine, Rob Thomas, and myself) had never fished before although had heard good things about it. We set off later than planned, as usual, the journey there was almost a test in itself, and the winding West Country roads had us doubting our directions and the ability of satellite navigation! Just as we had given up all hope of finding water in the rolling hills we stumbled across a mass of 130acres of water which looked stunning with shards of golden light breaking the clouds and catching the pristine waters.

On arrival we spoke to a helpful chap from Wessex Water who advised us on the best spots and flies, we then set up paid our fees and headed up the shoreline with hopeful steps. We eventually stumbled upon a shoal of fish working their way across the wind in a bay, first of all catching on the deeper set-up of an intermediate line and teams of nymphs. Then when the sun broke through the clouds for minutes at a time the fish would move up in the water feeding on the hatching Buzzers making the floating line tactics highly effective. Each fish hooked fought harder than any other Trout I have encountered this year and they made for a brilliant days sport. They are now all prepared for a barbeque!

I will definitely be going back here, I would imagine it is a superb top of the water fishery later in the year, and I would like to find some of the Brown Trout that hide in the lake too. My message to anyone looking to go here for the first time, don’t give up on the journey there really is a pot of gold at the end!

Alex Jardine

So there we go – but don’t even take AJ’s word for it…………………………..COME AND TRY FOR YOURSELVES.


Kennick is fishing well by all accounts. The mornings are still cold and so it is the afternoon sessions where anglers are reaping their rewards for perseverance.

The bank anglers are on floaters with buzzer/Diawl Bach combos and the boats are fishing slow sink/intermediates with tadpoles or nymphs and small lures.

Blagdon and Wimbleball news

Blagdon is fishing very well and with the fish feeding on Daphnia, finding the correct depth at which they are lying is key. Buzzers and Diawls are scoring well as are goldhead damsels on intermediate lines. For an up to date report on fishing and conditions see:-

Wimbleball is also fishing very well, but here the emphasis is more on finding the area where the fish are rather than the depth. Since opening day they have been concentrating in the margins but only in certain areas. At first with the wind blowing up the lake it was in Ruggs Bay, then Bessoms came into its own and the floating lines were finding the fish as the Diawls and buzzers started to score.

Last week the wind changed and started blowing down the lake from the bridge to the boat yard and the fish moved round to Cowmoor and it is this area that has started to score well this week.

For an interesting report on a day afloat see:-

The winning flies are buzzers and Diawl Bachs in the calmer areas from the bank and black tadpoles/olive damsels from the boats. The fish are so close in that floaters are scoring well, but there are still plenty falling to the sinkers too.

Fly life is very good in the Upton Arm and so given a few more days of this wind coming from the north the fish should spread out to there very soon.



EVENT – BFCC Casting Day – Cullompton


Sun 1 April 2012 at Cullompton Cricket Club  Landspeed Meadow  Duke Street  Cullompton  Devon  EX15 1DW.

10am – Tuition (until 3pm), 11.30am Distance Badge Scheme (optional) and Competition entry (optional) fee £15.00, payable in advance. B100, #5, #7, #9, T38 and T120 Distance Competitions – Members competition entry £5.00, but tuition and Badge entry FOC as usual. Refreshments available, tea or coffee £1.00, sandwiches £1.50. For more details and bookings for a good day out, please email Mike: or ‘phone 01277 214568 (9am – 9pm please).

Directions: Leave M5 at J28. From round about travel west on Station Road B3181 for 400yds. Bear left south west into High Street then straight on into Fore Street B3181 for 250yds. Turn left south east into Duke Street and travel 400yds,  the Cricket Club is 100yds on the left past Chestnut Avenue. There is a sign at the narrow entrance.

Satnav will take you a short way into Duke Street, then follow the directions above.

For Google Earth users enter EX15 1DW  – the entrance is 100yds past Chestnut Avenue on the same side.

For a full calendar of events see:

News From Wimbleball

Good news for all you top-of-the-water fans. The Wimbleball trout have been wnticed to the surface by this lovely weather and the amount of buzzers hatching at the moment.

On 24th March 9 of the 10 boats out were occupied by regular Wimbleball anglers who, normally quite rightly, fish lures on sinking lines until the weather and hatches bring the fish up in mid-April. The 10th boat was occupied by a couple of visiting gentlemen who thought that the weather would have brought the fish up, even though it was only the second day of the warm sunny conditions.

The morning was all about the lures. The bright sun meant that the fish were deep. However this was short lived and by lunch time the warming margins had brought the fish to within a few yards of the bank and they were taking buzzers with alacrity – only the only people that were aware of the fact were the two chaps in boat 10 fishing their floating and intermediate lines with Diawl Bachs and buzzers on the end. Enough fish were still taking the lures to keep the others occupied and it wasn’t until late afternoon when someone saw the rod of one them in a permenant state of “arch” that everyone cottoned on. By then the visitors had both caught their 7 and returned a further ten each!

It just goes to show that we can get too set in our ways, and it often pays to fish according to the conditions and not just according to the water we are on.

Having said all that – the lure boys still did ok and one of them caught a double bag limit without changing his black tadpole/humungus combination all day; so it cuts both ways.

News From The Reservoirs

The season has started very well indeed on the majority of The West’s premier reservoirs and larger stillwaters that have opened. The levels are good to excellent with the bodies of water in the far west being full and the levels decreasing only slightly as you go east with Sutton Bingham being at the lowest level of them all. Wimbleball and Clatworthy are fishing very well and bag limits are being taken from both boat and bank from both, but with Wimbleball being the best performer of the two. Blagdon had one of its best opening days for ages despite being slightly down in level.

All in all a promising start to what some are worried might become a difficult season should the weather predictions come to fruition. Let’s hope it continues.

Opening Day Of The 2012 River Trout Season

Pete Tyjas reports that great fun was had with the brown trout of the Taw at The Fox & Hounds, Eggesford on this rather foggy opening day. There were 37 fish caught and this figure included a couple of 10″, a 13″ and a whopping 19″ fish, all fit, in good condition and all safely returned. The latter is a real corker, and later in the season could possibly be a 3lb plus beauty. The day saw a temperature of around 9 degrees Celsius (42F) and good hatches of midges and Large Dark Olives plus the odd March Brown for good measure. A few fish were caught on the dry fly but it was nymphs that scored more heavily.

The 15th March sees the majority of rivers in Devon and Cornwall open for trout fishing. There will be similar reports to the above from the Torridge and the Exe systems and The Otter and Axe in the east of the region will have featured more success for the dry fly as they are much lower lying and can have quite heavy hatches of the naturals from the word go.

Although open for business, some of the loveliest and most remote stretches of our West Country streams will not really start producing the goods until the temperature rises just a little bit more. Areas of Dartmoor especially can be several degrees cooler than further down river and it is usually April before we venture out for a serious try up there. Until then the lower lying waters of the Teign, Torridge, Taw and Exe and their tributaries will occupy our time along with the aforementioned waters in the east.

A number of rivers in Somerset and Dorset don’t open until April 1st, and the Camel, Fowey and Fal systems in Cornwall join the fray on this date too but all in all, it has to be said, March 15th is, to most of us fly fishing folk down here in the West, one of the most important dates in the calendar.

The game is well and truly afoot. Fantastic!

NOTE: The majority of SWLT lakes opened today too – so the 15th was a real double whammy this   year!…………………………..(What exactly is a whammy?…………………….)


There has been some confusion over the SW LAkes opening day dates. Below is the final list of definate, confirmed dates.

2012 DATES














































































       31ST   OCTOBER  **





**Wimbleball bank only goes ‘til 30th November


It’s December and still very mild, but the weather office people say the cold is coming.

There is nothing more bracing or invigorating than walking a Somerset river early on a winter’s morn with a  fly or spinning rod and a couple of lures, in search of the pike that inhabit the waterways of the Levels.

Day Tickets

The Taunton Angling Association waters – These include stretches of the River Tone and West Sedgemoor Drain.


The Bridgwater Angling Association waters – An extensive choice of venues including the North and South Drains, The Huntspill River and King Sedgemoor Drain.


Glaston Manor Angling Association waters – These include stretches of the North and south drains and the River Brue.



There is no need for a huge amount of kit. The main thing is to be mobile as you need to search the waters to locate the likely areas and thus the fish.

Pike are agressive preditors and all you need is something that they will find irresistable and the rod, reel and line with which to chuck it. A powerful rod of 9 feet will be perfect, preferably one rated for an 8 or 9 weight line if fishing the fly or able to cast up to 40gr if spinning; a big knotless meshed net with a long handle (some of the rivers and drains have very steep banks), really good kevlar glove and some needle nose pliers or really heavy duty forceps. That’s really it. Take some predetor traces or some very strong nylon if you prefer and two or three bid pike flies or Rapalas and you’re away.

One thing I would say in addition to all this. The pike has a reputation of not only being aggresive but also tough. It is a fact though that they are no more able to stand poor handling than any other fish and with all those teeth it can be easy to get it wrong. ALWAYS WEAR A GLOVE, USE YOUR PLIERS AND BE AS GENTLE WITH A PIKE AS YOU WOULD WITH A SALMON OR A CARP. Allow a fish a minute or two to recover in the water before letting go completely.




Here’s a link to a video I made of the trout in Cheddar village centre. The water is filtered through the limestone of the Mendip Hills, beneath which the Cheddar Yeo forms the largest underground river system in Britain.


The Middle and Upper Exe

The middle and upper reaches of the river Exe offer some of the best fly water in the West Country. Above Tiverton, given water, the river is wide enough for the double-handed rod to be used if salmon fishing, but not so wide as to discourage the user of the single-hander. There is excellent trout and grayling fishing too and all set in some of the most beautiful countryside Britain has to offer.

I was lucky enough to fish a private beat near Dulverton recently; a beat that is considered by some to be the best on the river.  I tackled up with a double handed rod as I was fishing the Taw at Umberleigh later in the day and tied on a small editor (fly) tube made of something heavy and fished the water thoroughly through two lovely looking pools (there were half a dozen all together but obviously time was limited, so I took a chance). As I was going about this rather pleasurable business I considered other options worth exploring next time – should I be invited back of course. These would hold true on any of the water from around Dulverton down to Tiverton.

The water was holding at about a foot on the gauge and clearish, with just a hint of colour. There were some very obvious possible lies apparent like rocks and shelves and in the conditions I wished I had been fishing a single handed rod and concentrated a bit more on working the fly over these. There is nothing nicer than progressing down a beat spey casting a line both squarely and at various angles to forty-five degrees with the two-handed rod, but sometimes water cries out for casts of very varied lengths and angles in quick succession, over very specific features. With a ten foot rod and a double taper seven line one can still spey cast quite happily (and in much tighter spaces and with a much shorter line), but also retrieve a square cast over a likely looking drop off very quickly. These square casts on a river like the Exe can be very short but angled casts of longer distances can also be required and the shorter one-handed rod is much more adaptable, especially as the fly can be worked close in and a longish cast re-presented with little or no effort.

Then there is spinning. I don’t generally spin as the rivers I fish either tend to be fly only or have obvious spinning pools that are deep and sluggish, which I avoid as I find them uninteresting. This was great fly water but at the height it was on the day of my visit, a lot was bound to be fishless. The aforementioned rocks and shelves, did not produce a fish to my flies that swam very nicely above them, but did that mean there were no fish in any of them?  I couldn’t help but think, on another day, a small mepps with a little added weight, dropped into the lies from various up and down stream positions, then worked through and out of them, may have at least tempted a fish to betray its presence. It has in the past on other, far less productive beats on other, far less productive rivers.

These were just a couple of things I thought of in the time it took to fish the bit I fished. We are very lucky here in the west, to have rivers like the Exe and they really do deserve your best shot. If you come and fish them, be imaginative, be adaptive and be positive. Small river salmon fishing is intimate and interesting. It’s a real thinking person’s game and one that I can thoroughly recommend. We have several professional guides who specialise in fishing them – give them, or us, a call.


River Exe

The river Exe is producing a few fish at the moment. Several have been caught in the middle and upper beats and the water is at around a foot and holding its level nicely. I had a day above Tiverton on Saturday and saw several fresh fish.

For opportunities to fish consult FISH THE EXE.

Don’t Forget Your Passport

For great wild brown trout fishing try the Westcountry Angling Passport

Farson Digital Watercams – Hi-def webcam on River Exe, at Exebridge

Farson Digital Watercams – Hi-def webcam on River Exe, at Exebridge.

Farson Digital Watercams – Hi-def webcam on River Taw, at Umberleigh

Farson Digital Watercams – Hi-def webcam on River Taw, at Umberleigh.


The Devon fishing hotels’ water will be fishing well now as August is prime time. Two of the best are The Arundell Arms

and The Fox and Hounds

For sea-trout fish at night, but if you don’t fancy that then fish the streamy water with small sea trout patterns at dusk and under the tree shaded edges of small pools (Westcountry streams are often small and have a lot of trees!!) that might not be any good for night fishing.

Our web site is getting better by the day. Still a lot to do and not a lot of spare time . Never mind. We will keep pluggin’ on.




Bored? Try Recycling.

The rivers have finally had some rain and they are looking very good. I would love to say that this means I am so busy fishing that I have no time to write anything, but no, here I am…….writing.

I have been in my sick-bed for several weeks now and I can’t get onto the water, which isn’t too bad when the rivers are on their bones and not very promising, but when the rain comes it’s most frustrating.

Anyway, to help pass the time I have been watching Davie McPhail tie flies on You Tube. He really is a master of his art. Have a look.

So inspired was I that I got my fly tying kit out and set about knocking up some flies myself. In itself this is nothing out of the ordinary – I have been known to bind fur and feather with silk and call the resulting ensemble “a fly” many times before – but this time I found that I had no salmon double hooks on which to bind. What I did have though (after a lot of searching through boxes!) were several old shop bought efforts that had fallen to bits without ever even being sniffed at by a fish. These, I decided, would be recycled.

Stripping these sorry looking things should have been easy you might think, especially as they had started to fall to bits by themselves, but you would be wrong. The whole thing was very tedious and time consuming (although the latter was in essence the idea in the first place). Still, it was eventually done and I ended up with half a dozen good as new double hooks.

Some salmon fishermen and women down here use only two flies. One is the Cascade and the other the Silver Stoat’s Tail. The latter is used by an awful lot of sea-trout anglers too and has to be one of the most often cast flies in the whole country and so my new hooks were destined to become versions of this classic.

Here are a couple of pics to show you the process.


This is the sorry state of a shop bought Stoat’s Tail. Utter rubbish!

Here is the stripped hook – I think it looks better already! Don’t you?

The finished fly is, I am sure you will agree, in a slightly better state than the original one!

Although not a Stoat’s Tail in the traditional sense, it has all the attributes of a successful salmon and seatrout fly for the waters of The West Country. The body is pearly tinsel and the beard hackle and tail are orange cock hackles. The wing is black squirrel and I have run the 6/0 thread tight against the stem of the underside  of the wing to make it stand a little away from the body and pulsate more in the water.

So there you have it. Recycling is good!

A Grand Day Afloat


Friend Marc – he works for Musto you know, which musn’t be held against him – and I launched our boat on Kennick Reservoir in beautiful sunshine and a nice breeze.

For those that don’t know, Kennick is a lake of about 50 acres on the southern edge of Dartmoor. It is stocked with excellent rainbow trout and has a good head of brown trout too. It is a beautiful place and offers ample compensation for the continuing lack of water in our salmon rivers.

Normally we would look through our fly boxes, discuss the various patterns and their relevance for the time of year, pick out the ones that take our fancy from an imitative point of view and then discard the lot in favour of a black tadpole or an olive bugger/damsel type thing and think no more about them! Last time we even coupled them with sinking lines for the complete package.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with fishing a lake for rainbows in this fashion. It is easy and effective and very little can go wrong. But this time, in my continuing efforts to make the most of my fishing I decided to actually read some catch return cards and formulate a plan based on something more considered than the devil I know so well. Said catch returns, submitted by other people who have fished the lake over the past days and weeks, pointed to flies that actually resemble something – in most cases buzzers, which are imitations of emerging midges – and these I have in spades. They are widely employed, but being an active sort of fisherman I find they need to be fished in too sedentary a manner for my liking and thus I have rarely used one and NEVER caught anything on one or a team of them.

But this day use them I did, on a floating line to boot, for the entire morning and guess what………….I caught fish. Ok, Musto Marc on the other hand didn’t change his tactics and caught twice as many – um yeah – but I felt more virtuous.

So there we are. Never be afraid to experiment and there is nothing wrong with trying something new.

Proper Preparation Prevents Pathetically Poor Performance

I have just been to Bellbrook trout fishery. I do not quite know why. I paid £35 to catch three specimen fish and came away having caught nothing more exciting than a mutant trout and slight chill!

I have to say that I was ill prepared. I had an old line that should have been changed ten years ago. It purports, or rather purported, to be an intermediate. This means that it sinks very slowly, much slower than a slow sinking line, but it definitely sinks, so is mid-way between a floater and a sinker – thus “intermediate”. Ideally a line of this sort should gradually drop beneath the surface on a nice level plain with no one part sinking any faster than another. My version rather resembled the sinking of a piece of rotten string, parts of it didn’t sink at all. No amount of jollop or fullers earth could persuade it to behave like it should and so, I am afraid, I removed it from the spool at the end of the day and hurled it with considerable force – not to mention malice – into the nearest bin!

I was fishing with my best friend Marc. Musto Marc we call him because he works for this popular clothing brand. (IT SHOULD BE MENTIONED HERE THAT I WORK FOR LE CHAMEAU – A FAR SUPERIOR BRAND OF COUNTRY CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR, THAT HAS SHAPED THE WAY WE DRESS WHILST SHOOTING. Well…………….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) He caught his three specimen fish very easily. Actually I say “specimen” but by this I mean they came from one of the Specimen Lakes. They were neither extraordinarily large nor, it has to be said, perfect of fin; but he he caught them. We were fishing the same flies on the same lakes and at the same time. The only difference was that his nice blue Cortland Intermediate did exactly what it says on the tin.

I could have gone salmon fishing for £40 and expected to catch nothing. If I had connected – OH the joy. This small stillwater debacle was the exact opposite – and it was all my fault.

I left the fishery feeling most dejected.

P.P.P.P.P.P………………………Remember this for a more stress free life.