I have rather neglected this blog over recent months as I have been working hard on my other project North Devon Angling News but I realise I should still try to keep up the blog so from now on I will post a few tales from my excursions outside of North Devon.
Springtime is the time that I often target Still-water Trout and one of my favourite local waters is Clatworthy in Somerset where I was privileged to join England International Matt Kingdom and Seth Tuson who fishes with the England Youth team. Both anglers are extremely keen and far more in tune with modern fly-fishing tactics. Though what I lack in the latest techniques I probably make up for with dogged persistence and a feel for the water built up in over forty years of fly-fishing.
We arrived at Clatworthy shortly after 9.00am and enjoyed a coffee and a chat with Danny Ford who used to work with South West lakes Trust. Danny is now furthering his career with Wessex Water and from what we saw its been good move.
It was a bright sunny day with a cool wind blowing down the lake. Danny advised a good area, which meant a good, trek though the woods to the far shore.
On route we glanced over the dam wall to glimpse several good-sized rainbows cruising to and fro.
We arrived at our chosen area that looked inviting with crystal clear water. Our early optimism soon ebbed and we realised that this wasn’t going to be one of those quick bag up days. Persisting with a team of small buzzers we all eventually started to catch full finned hard fighting rainbows.
We had arranged to leave at around 5.00pm, as Seth had to meet with his father who had delivered him to the lake this morning. After fifty; last casts we eventually dragged ourselves away with a hard earned catch for the day. I landed brace with Matt and Seth landing a brace each. A hard days fishing like this with the fish well earned are often far more enjoyable and rewarding than those days when the fish are easy to catch and the limit is reached within a couple of hours.
A few weeks later I joined members of Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club on what was the hottest day of the year to date. The lake was like a mirror with bright blue sky, far from Ideal conditions.
Blagdon is a historic fishery that dates back to before the First World War when Hugh Tempest Sheringham wrote of the fishery in his excellent tome, ‘An Open Creel’. In 1905 he wrote “ I made first acquaintance with the wonderful Somersetshire Lake which has inspired so many angling rhapsodies, and then I was a yeartoo late. By that I mean a year too late for great baskets of monsters running from four pounds to eight or nine pounds. It will, I trust, never be too late for a fisherman to know and love Blagdon. It is still, and always will be, a delightful place, and though its fishing has altered in character, I am not sure that it is not even more interesting now than it was of old.”
This was my second visit to Blagdon and my first over twelve months prior to this was a blank with bitter cod North East Wind lashing the lake. Today the conditions were a complete contrast. I was sharing a boat with Matt Kingdom and I was confident that his experience at the lake would at least give us the chance of a few fish.
After purchasing our tickets in the historic lodge we loaded our boats and headed out onto the still waters. I gazed into the clear waters. As we pushed out over beds of weed I was thrilled to glimpse rainbow trout gliding through hunting for food.
I set up with a long leader fished in conjunction with a slow sinking line. On the point I fished a small black booby with two buzzers on droppers a couple of feet further back. We commenced fishing in clear areas amongst the weed beds and it was not long before I hooked into a hard fighting rainbow. Matt persisted with a midge tip line and a team of buzzers and soon joined the action.
After early success we moved on fishing large areas of the lake with limited success. The day drifted by upon a glassy expanse of water with blue sky and white cotton wool clouds. The rolling hills of lush green surrounded the lake, the Red Arrows flew over and we cast our lines. In the late afternoon the bells from Blagdon Village church rang out creating a timeless atmosphere. I wonder how much different the lake is to now to how it it was in H T Sheringham’s day?
At the end of the day Matt and I shared the honours with five fish each. Luck was on my side with a weight of 13lb 4oz two pounds up on Matt’s 11lb 4oz. Other members had struggled with a several trout to 4lb 8oz landed with third place falling to Colin Combes with a brace for just over 6lb.
I will return to Blagdon, it’s not always the easiest fishing but it has true pedigree and its waters contain fine fish and to fish here is follow in the footsteps of some of England’s greatest anglers.