Posts Tagged ‘Exe Valley Fishery’

Fly fishing, you’re doing it wrong (sort of)

0, December 29, 2009
Posted by james

On the 27th of December I should have been hauling monster Pollack from the wrecks littering the English Channel. Force 8 winds soon put a stop to that.  Rather than waste another day lounging around eating turkey left overs and imbibing mulled wine we decided to go Fly Fishing.

The cold weather of winter is advantageous to those looking to scratch their fly fishing itch while waiting for the official season to begin in early spring. Most small still water trout fisheries remain open all year. They fish just as well as they do in the warmer months (if not better) and are nearly always void of those water whipping summer enthusiasts. Exe valley is one of the best small still water fisheries in the southwest. I am convinced the quality of fish to be experienced here is down to the high throughput of water.

We began fishing sunburst blobs (a killer fly here) on a slow retrieve and within a matter of minutes all three of us had landed a fish. The idea was to see if we could catch a fish using the most unconventional method possible. Lures had to be retrieved as slowly as possible while buzzers and nymphs were only allowed to be retrieved as fast as humanly possible. I managed to hook into a fish by ripping a gold head hares ear along the margins.

James turned his fishing up to ‘Eleven’ and tried a sunburst blob under a site indicator. As he very very (very) slowly retrieved the fly the water erupted and a fish tail walked 10ft across the surface of the water. “Woah woah woah” Mark yelped “that’s a good fish”. Jim managed to get the fish near the bank and at first it looked like a salmon. It was however the weirdest coloured brown trout, all 14lbs of it! A couple of minutes later Jim was in again, this time it was a ‘mere’ 9lb rainbow. While J. R. Hartley was rolling in his fictional grave we were rolling on the floor laughing.

It is extremely interesting (funny) to see how the trout are willing to take a fly fished in completely the opposite way you would traditionally work it. we wanted to try a team of blobs’n'boobies but as a previous experiment concluded they don’t cast too well.

Meanwhile during a double hook up I threw down the ’speed catch’ gauntlet and was mercifully whooped by the superior pulling power of an 8wt rod. My 5wt greys clicker-drag reel was making a noise like Donald Duck as I battled with my fish in an attempt to land it quicker than Mark.  It is another interesting reminder of much pressure you can apply to a fish with a fly rod, all too often you see fly anglers with barely a bend in the rod allowing the trout to speed towards a weed bed at warp factor 10.

Is there a conclusion to this awesome display of fly fishing? Not really, but do get out fishing, do go with your friends, do try something outside the ‘traditional’ fly fishing box and most importantly make sure you have fun. It was a short session but between the three of us we had 15 fish  (lost another 4 or 5) ranging from 2-14lb. Excellent.

For more info on Exe Valley Fishery look at my previous post found here

Here are some of the photo’s – Nikon D90 ;)

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

p.s. Another angler managed to land a 15lb fish

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery in the Autumn

0, October 22, 2009
Posted by james

Fishing in Autumn is magnificent. The unpredictable weather and glorious shades of the British countryside act as a dramatic backdrop. Sitting behind the wheel en-route to Exe valley fishery the mist rising from the lush green fields I had feeling today was going to be a good one.

In the car park handling fly fishing tackle felt somewhat alien. I focused on sea fishing towards the end of the summer and become accustomed to using 100lb mono and size 8/0 hooks. The 4lb fluorocarbon leader was as fine as spiders silk while the rod had been fashioned from air filled will helium. What was this witch craft? I wasn’t sure, but I like it, I like it a lot.

The lake was calm, almost too calm. Casting my fly through the rising mist and onto the smooth water created what seemed like tidal waves. Within a few minutes I managed to spook the lakes residents, newts and all. This was going to require ninja like stealth and a seriously gentle approach.

I fined up as much as I dare and flicked a size 16 green buzzer into the shallows and made a gentle figure of eight retrieve. Something plucked the fly, before hitting it like a freight train. After lifting into the fish it decided to jump 3ft into the air. Kaboooooom, I let out a little chuckle as the fish landed broadside shattering the silence. The 3lb fish made some powerful lunges, using light tackle in these situations is like riding a bucking bronco, uncontrollably exciting.

Although it was flat calm and bright sunshine the fish were switched on. Taking pretty much anything I presented them with. Excellent fun but soon I had landed 4 fish and decided it was time to make things a little more difficult for myself. I began trying some of the more unlikely flies, the weirder the better. The 5th and final fish had a soft spot for a water boatman imitation fly retrieved rapidly, the take was brutal.

Fast and furious fishing at Exe Valley fishery. An excellent way to ease myself back into fly fishing after the heavy duty world of wreck and rough ground sea fishing. For more information regarding Exe Valley Fishery take a look at my previous post or visit http://www.exevalleyfishery.co.uk/

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Rainbow Trout

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Rainbow Trout

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Rainbow Trout

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Rainbow Trout

Exe Valley Fishery - Autumn morning

Exe Valley Fishery - Rainbow Trout

This weekend I decided to visit the Exe Valley Fishery in North Devon, after speaking to James at Exeter Angling. He assured me that although relatively small in size Exe Valley fishery would provide me with some excellent sport on light tackle.  Sounding like my kind of place I loaded up the Turbo Wagon and set off early Saturday morning.

Exe Valley Fishery has been hatching and rearing fish on a large scale for more than 110 years. As well as the hatchery / smoke houses it is the home to Nick Hart Fly Fishing and the Hart Fly shop. Nick Hart is an extremely accomplished fly fisherman and a AAPGAI casting instructor which you can benefit from by taking up one of his fly fishing courses.

The location of the fishery is probably one of the best I have seen. The River Exe forms part of the fishery boundaries giving you a great view of the Exe bridge and a chance to see many of the wild fish rising (which can be fished for on a separate permit).  The walk to the main lake takes you over a small stream running adjacent to a series of houses with beautifully landscaped gardens.

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery- On route to the main lake

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery- On route to the main lake

Before fishing I took a walk around the main lake and was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the water and a very interesting feature. The lake is supplied by a fast flowing small stream through a channel at the shallow end of the lake. This creates conditions very similar to that of a river and a number of nice fish could be seen sat in the slack waters next to the faster flowing water waiting for food to come their way. This ‘flow’ continues across almost 1/3rd of the lake until the water deepens. Having such a high rate of water flow should mean that the fish benefit from the higher levels of oxygen and should be of quality in terms of taste and fight.

Exe Valley Fishery - Stream supplying water to the main lake

Exe Valley Fishery - Stream supplying water to the main lake

Exe Valley Fishery - Interesting lake feature

Exe Valley Fishery - Interesting lake feature

Without wanting to miss an opportunity I quickly assembled my 4wt Wychwood Truefly rod and attached a black Diawl Bach. It is always magical to watch fish oriented against the flow of water, and even more so being so close and with the chance of catching them many times over. I made a small cast and watched the Diawl Bach drift slowly through the slack water against the flow of the faster water. The fly drifted a little too far in front of the fish so I gently retrieved the line and made another cast. Disaster, the line brushed against one of the fish spooking it into the fast water. I made a third cast. The fly gently drifted towards the fish and with an extremely small tweak I induced a take. I struck and the fish exploded out of the water, jumping straight into the faster water. After receiving a face full of fly line and spooking everything (including myself) within an 8 mile radius I moved further down the lake to the deeper water.

Towards the middle of the lake there was a lot of fish activity and when the sun came through the cloud dark shapes could be seen moving. There were so many fish concentrated around this area I was constantly casting over fish and spooking them. To reduce this I decided to start with a short cast, increasing the distance each time. Despite the large number of fish I was struggling to get any positive takes and after 2 hours, some swearing and trying quite a few sub surface patterns I thought it would be a good idea to try a dry fly.

My favorite dry fly pattern has to be the Klinkhammer. For me it has always been extremely effective and consistent on rivers, streams and still waters. It remains buoyant, easy to see and if using a foam topped Klinkhammer is robust enough to be able to catch more than one fish. I started with a black Klinkhammer, applied a small amount of gink to the emerging part of the fly and made a short cast to some fish moving. As soon as the fly hit the water a fish burst from the water, I wasn’t expecting such an instant response and stuck into all the slack I had in the line.

After missing another take I struck into a fish that felt rather solid. It started to swim towards me and I had trouble keeping in contact, it turned and made a series of lunges stripping enough line allowing me play it on the reel. The fish happily swam around making my Pflueger Trion scream. After a nice 5 minute fight I had a 7lb rainbow in the net.

Exe Valley Fishery - 7lb Rainbow Trout

Exe Valley Fishery - 7lb Rainbow Trout

Over the next couple of hours I managed to catch (and lose) some great fighting fish all of which greater than 3lb in weight. My favorite fish of the day had to be a 4lb’er that was very dark in colour and in great fighting condition.

Exe Valley Fishery - Dark coloured hard fighting rainbow

Exe Valley Fishery - Dark coloured hard fighting rainbow

Exe Valley Fishery - Trout taking a Klinkhammer

Exe Valley Fishery - Trout taking a Klinkhammer

As mentioned in previous posts small trout fisheries can prove to be quite tricky to fish and many people come away disappointed because they have failed to catch. Even though they contain a large number of fish in a small volume of water they can become very wary especially after a day of fly lines slapping the surface. If you find that your are struggling, talk to other people who are catching and see what a change in approach can do.

Exe Valley Fishery provided me with a great day of sport amongst beautiful surroundings. I opted for a 5 fish ticket at £25 which is very well priced considering the size of the fish and the oxygen rich environment they have been given. Amongst the small fly fishing venues in Devon the Exe Valley Fishery is one of the best. If you are new to fly fishing, looking to improve / gain confidence or just for a place to relax and have some fun then you should definitely visit the Exe Valley fishery.

For more information on the fishery and Nick Hart take a look at the following websites.

Exe Valley Fishery – http://www.exevalleyfishery.co.uk/
Nick Hart Fly Fishing – http://www.hartflyfishing.demon.co.uk/
Hart Fly Shop – http://www.hartflyshop.com/


View Exe Valley Fishery in a larger map

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery

Exe Valley Fishery