The River Exe winds it’s way across Devon and Somerset for more than 50 miles before reaching the Sea at the substantial Exe Estuary ria in Exmouth. This large body of flowing water is home to a large number of coarse, game and sea fishing species making it a challenge to anglers all year round. The River Exe always has been, and still is, a favourite among those who fish it – not really surprising when it contains legendary fish like the 64lb Salmon Richard Voysey caught in 1924!
As mentioned previously I have an Exeter Angling Association annual permit granting me access to a great number of fisheries in and around the Exeter area. The Countess Wear Fishery is 1 of 4 fish-able stretches on the River Exe included on said permit. Located a couple of miles up stream from the Exe Esutary it is influenced by the tides in terms of fish species and water levels. Changing conditions make the fishing a little more challenging and often requires a change of tactics upon each visit.
Within the short stretch of the River exe from the Countess wier bridge up to the first bend it contains a real mixed bag of species. You can expect to catch Bream, Mullet, Carp, Chub, Dace, Brown Trout, Eel, Par Salmon and Roach offering you a better than average chance of catching a lot of fish.
This particular fishery is less than a mile away from where I live, an ideal place to fish in the evening after work or whenever I have only a few hours to spare. I set up around 5pm, 100metres up stream from the bridge. Please be aware of the overhead power cables, they are a lot lower than you think. I have witnessed someone cast right over the top of the cables without realising until they saw a swim feeder swinging 7ft above the water surface.
I decided to take my two Chub Outkast Twin Tip rods fitted with the 5oz quiver tips and Shimano Exage 4000FA reels. The flow of water between low and high tide can be somewhat rapid, using a heavier tip and feeder allows me to fish through the periods of strong flow. The end tackle is very simple, A Drennen Oval 2oz feeder that can run freely up and down the mainline on a Korum Feeder Bead. The main line is attached to a swivel with the knot protected by a Drennen swivel stop bead. To finish a size 12 Drennen Super Specialist hook is tied to a 2ft long fluorocarbon 3lb hook link.
I started with 2 maggots on the hook, clipped up my reel and began to feed the swim by recasting every 5minutes for the first 4-5 casts. The tide was on it’s way in and the action was instantaneous, as soon as the bait hit the water the rod tip would start to twitch. During the first 20 minutes I had to resort to using one rod as I simply couldn’t keep up with the bites! Brown Trout, Chub, Par Salmon and Dace made up the majority of the catch. A hard fighting brownie of 1lb and a Chub of 1.5lb made an appearance along with some decent size Dace. The par salmon looked wonderful in the setting sun, each spot on their flanks glistening like a ruby.
River Exe - Brown Trout
River Exe - Par Salmon, beautiful
As the tide reached it’s highest point fewer bites gave me the opportunity to change one of my rods over to a large chunk of luncheon meat and 1oz lead. I cast this out with the hope of catching something larger and allow me to keep up with all those bites when the tide started to turn. If you are going to fish the River Exe when the tides are large you will need to wear waders, the entrance to the field gets submerged under a few feet of water cutting off access to the car park.
River Exe - Entrance to field floods when tides are high
The tide began to turn and once again the bites came thick and fast. After landing another Brown trout the tip of the rod baited with luncheon meat slammed round. Frantically picking up the rod and reeling into the fish I felt two very powerful lunges before the line went slack. Probably a 30000000lb mako shark, oh well better luck next time.With the sun well below the horizon darkness closed in rapidly, I packed up and went home wondering what took that luncheon meat in such a hurry.
For more information take a look at the Exeter Angling Association Website.
View River Exe – Countess Wear Fishery in a larger map
River Exe - Chub Outkast Twin Tip
RIver Exe - Countess Wear
River Exe - Countess Wear