21/05/2014 - Trophy trout from neglected streams

If you're familiar with Glen Pointon's blog (see my blog list) you'll have seen that he has been catching some massive trout from a relatively small and underfished river. It's certainly encouraging in this day and age that these waters and, more importantly, these fish still exist. That, along with Theo Pike's enthusiasm about urban trout rivers (see my links), has really inspired me to pick up the fly rod again and get out and explore. My latest trip was over to Derbyshire to fish a club water on a small tributary of the River Derwent. Took the morning off work when, with hindsight, I should have had the whole day. Had never been before but knew that a bit of jungle warfare was going to be involved, so took the 7 ft #4 outfit and the chest waders thinking I'd be spending more time in the river than on the bank.

Gateway to the unknown!

Dropped into the river and waded up underneath the railway bridge at the lower boundary. There were blizzards of gnats hovering above the water in places, but no visual signs of any fish, so opted for the upstream nymph approach with a size 14 goldhead GRHE. Had a couple casts into some likely looking spots with no interest from the fish before coming to the first proper run into a little pool. First cast - bump! Second cast - fish on! A decent one to start with as well. 


Carried on wading slowly upstream, picking off fish here and there, with the deeper runs next to submerged tree roots almost guaranteeing a take, along with the odd obvious "suicide swim"!

 Hit and hold!

The fish were quite variable in terms of colouration, but were all fin perfect and the ones from the more inaccessible spots from the bank probably had never seen a hook before. 


Some of the pools were suprisingly deep. I was stood up to the front pocket of my chesties in one of them, casting up along some more tree roots, when I had a thump on the rod tip. Knew it was a good fish, but was conscious of snags, so really gave it some welly, pulling it by the nose into the main body of the pool. Let it charge around until it was ready for the net. Have to admit letting out a shout of "Yessss!" as I lifted it clear of the water. At about 41 cm this was easily my biggest, wild  brownie and a fantastic surprise.


Took a couple of photos and slipped him back into his tree root-lined hole to recover while I had 5 minutes myself!

Look at the paddle on that!

Could have quite happily finished and gone home at that point, but I still had a bit of time before I had to go to work and I hadn't reached the upstream limit of the fishery, so carried on. There were a few visual indications by now, with the odd fish rising and bulging under the surface. I'd spotted just one "proper" mayfly resting on the bankside vegetation earlier, but I couldn't really see what they were after apart from the millions of gnats, so carried on with the nymph. Had a few more fish including a couple of "fingerlings", a sign of a healthy population hopefully, and a really pretty, heavily spotted fish.

Derbyshire leopard

My time was really up at this point, so regretfully had to leave, having to ignore several more juicy spots to try another time. However, slogged it back to the car along the road well pleased with a dozen fish in about three hours of fishing, including my own trophy trout! 

04/05/2014 - At last, a Devon bass!

After my successful session after those Braunton brownies next up were those elusive, Devon bass. Headed off after breakfast to meet up with Joel Squires down on the estuary again. Had a quick catch up in the car park. Things sounded promising. The coastal marks weren't really producing yet, but Joel had been exploring the estuary and found a few fish. Continued our chat as we walked down to the shore. Was surprised to see that whole sections of sand dune had disappeared since my last visit. The old, wooden shipwreck had taken a battering as well - all evidence of the recent storms that had also demolished the beach hut at Saunton.

Seen better days!

It was slack water after high tide when we arrived, so we started off on the surface lures. Didn't take long for the tide to start to turn, so we slowly moved along with it. Joel quickly had two "basslets" in consecutive casts on a Patchinko, but with nothing more coming after that it was time to move further down the shore and for a change in method. Off came the surface lures and on went 4" Daiwa D'Tails on 14g swimmer jig heads. With the tide now ebbing strongly, it was a case of casting slightly "upstream", tightening up when the jig hit the deck and then keeping in touch with it as bounced along the bottom in the flow. We'd been casting and moving for a while, when I Iooked up to see Joel hit into a good fish.

Joel into one

He had just seemed to get it under control when........it came off, much to his disgust! However, it wasn't long before he'd had two more small bass and a flounder (hooked fairly in the mouth). Glanced over a bit later to see his rod bent over yet again and was wondering what I was doing wrong when I had a good solid, unmistakeable clonk on the rod tip. Phew! Was just a small one, but my first Devon bass after a while trying and therefore very welcome.

D'Tail does it...

...at last!

Joel's turned out to be about 2 lb. However, his next one was even better and the biggest of the day - a nice looking fish of 3 lb+.

The big one goes back

Unfortunately that fish also proved to be the last one of the day, the chances of any more ebbing away as we hit low tide. We'd covered a huge distance in a few hours fishing, so the walk back to the cars seemed to go on forever.

Big spaces

I'd also forgotten to put any sun cream on when we started, so was glowing as well as knackered when I got back to the bungalow! Was great fun though and thanks again to Joel. Check out his website via my links, or his new blog at http://joelsoul.com/, and look him up if you're ever in North Devon - he knows his stuff!

03/05/2014 - Braunton Brownies

Bank Holiday weekend saw me down in Saunton with the lads for our bi-annual surf trip. As well as catching a few waves and continuing the search for an elusive Devon bass, I also had my mind on the trout I spotted in the River Caen in neighbouring Braunton the last time we were down, so had thrown in my 7ft #4 brook outfit in the car along with the wetsuit and the lure rod.

Welcome to Braunton!

The river in question runs right through the middle of the town before dropping, literally, into the estuary via a fish ladder (apparently the river also has a run of sea trout).

River Caen fish ladder

Immediately upstream of this point the river meanders through an overgrown bit of a no-man's land between industrial units and a superstore. It was this section I decided to try, so set the alarm clock to get there nice and early before the general population of Braunton were up and about. Ignored the boring, uniform bit near the fish ladder and waded upstream. Bare patches on the banks of the first decent pool I came to indicated some local fishing pressure. However, carrying on up the less accessible tree-lined channel revealed more pools and loads of hidden runs, riffles and pockets. 


Woody (and plastic!) debris

Even though it was early in the morning and still quite cold, there was even a couple of small trout rising to some small midgy things in the first run I came to. Catapulted a gold head GRHE up to the head of the run and let it trundle back towards me. Second cast I had my first wild Devon Brownie in the net.

Braunton Brownie

Carried on upstream, flicking and catapulting the nymph into any likely spots, picking off a fish here and there, but bumping many more that were just too quick for me. Had a better fish from a run just upstream of a graffiti-covered bridge proclaiming, amongst other things, that "Goths are c***s"! 


Urban artwork

Hooked and lost a couple in the occasional bits of urban debris littering the bed of the river before tempting one out from right under the footbridge over to the superstore.

Urban Spotty

A few early morning shoppers had started to appear by now, but none expressed anything other than mild curiosity at me as I sneaked around in the undergrowth underneath their feet. However, had one more from a run in front of a block of apartments before I started getting self-conscious and decided to call it a day.

Last one

Headed back to the bungalow to find the others just starting to emerge from their pits and feeling pretty smug about my trip into the "Dalek Zone".


Roll on October when we'll hopefully be back again.......