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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for May, 2011

Devon Fly Fishing

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

It feels like the mayfly went in a blur of slashy takes and big fish!  I have been amazed by the good numbers of sizeable fish that have come out of the river as the more wary fish, that we don’t get to see a lot, shake off their normal shyness and hit the big mays as they drift down stream.

We have had plenty of fish in the 10 to 12 inch range and more than a few that have hit 13 inches only to be beaten again by a great 16 and a halfer that was caught last Friday. The sea trout have been starting to show and when guiding Richard from Hampshire for a couple of days it was great to see a pool switch on for a few moments and to watch a sea trout rise to the dry and then, just a few casts later, watch Richard’s rod get almost yanked out of his hand by a fish that we thought must have been a good sea trout. It just goes to show you don’t always have to fish at night, or when the river is coloured to catch them.

RFH works his magic

Richard is turning into quite the river angler now, putting exqusite casts into the hard-to-reach places and getting rewarded with some nice fish. I was also out with Russell and his friends – James, Charlie and Kelvin who were making the shift from stillwaters to rivers on a 2 day fishing course.

It was great fun and the guys all did really, really well. All of them caught some nice fish and a special mention has to go to Charlie for catching the season’s best fish of sixteen and a half inches!

The end of the day....

It’s always great when we have Dave from Portland join us, which he did on Friday, weaving his usual magic and troubling somereally nice fish, followed by Mike on Saturday who wanted to learn how to fish a river. I suspect the fish on the Tone will have something to fear now.

The deep concentration of Mike the river angler!

It was great to meet up with Clare, Fiona and Bev who wanted to learn to fish and, as ever, the ladies showed us guys how to make fly casting look easy!

Fiona, Clare and Bev hit the river

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Fly Fishing School

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I am afraid the old memory is not as good as it once was( and I have also been out on a long spell of guiding and instructing) forgetting to tell you that we were thrilled to be included in The Field’s list of top fly fishing schools in the country. As a new kid on the block (in our current form) it means a lot to be included with the big boys and hopefully means we are doing something right in showing our guests a good time and catching a few fish too.

We have worked really hard this year on making the teaching process a more modern one, getting our students casting a fly rod with ease and confidence from an early stage allowing them to tackle any fishing situation they might encounter. We are so lucky being based at the hotel which lets us offer some great and varied water right on the doorstep and our lake has also been fantastic. It is great having it at the back of the hotel and then just making a short walk back to the hotel for something to drink and some excellent food too.

We also have taken on some new water this year which has really been amazing. It is lightly fished and there is lots of it. We really pride oursleves on being able to offer fishing that will be yours for the day. As the beats are private we know who has been fishing them and why. We don’t offer guiding on day ticket or club waters.

I am so pleased with the team we have this year. The guys have been outstanding so far and we have had some great feedback from happy fly fishers. They are excellent guides and instructors but most of all great guys to be on the water with and I love fishing with them too!

Fishing reports to follow!

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Mayfly fishing in Devon

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Wow, the mays keep coming along with the fish. Big patterns rule right now and we have been working the slower stretches of water with size 8 may patterns. The hatch starts at 11am and I have still seen duns coming off of the water as late as 7pm.

Nearly a photo of a biggie for Don!

I have only been using one pattern for the last week that has been working really well for us in a good mouthful size 8. I think we are lucky that we don’t get as big a hatch as they see up in the chalkstreams but this works really well as our fly is not lost in the cast of thousands that can sometimes hatch on some of the famous rivers up country. We have been covering fish that have been on the mays or making speculative casts into where we think the fish might be holding and sometimes it works but you just don’t know where the take is going to come from. Cast to the likely spot and hold your breath…

Alexander plays a big one we think was a sea trout that wrapped us!

We are lucky having miles of private water to guide on so you know if the fish are biting you are not going to have someone step in front of you. We are over the moon that our newest beat is on fire right now and has a really good mix of deeper water and there is miles of it!

My good friend Luke works a pool

It probably sounds like guide speak but I really can’t remember a more exciting time to be on the river. I have a long stretch of guiding without a break coming but just can’t wait, man, I love the Taw!

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Fly Fishing Devon

Monday, May 16th, 2011

It has been another great week of helping reach new milestones in their angling careers from beginners up to the experienced. There is nothing more exciting than seeing everything slot into place!

Caroline has always wanted to try fly fishing and had 2 days with us bought for her by her husband Terry. Despite never holding a fly rod before she was throwing some really nice loops in no time and had a rainbow in the freezer at the hotel to take home with her. Next day she was on the river and made the step with ease, catching a few nice Taw brown trout. Caroline re-strings violin and cello bows for a living and was intrigued to see if the skills she employs on a day to day basis would be of use in fly tying. They would be and after showing her how to tie a couple of flies we tried them out on the river and the fish thought they were pretty good too. Really well done Caroline!

Caroline plays a Taw brown on.

I had Paul down for a Spey Casting session and showing him a few casts that he can put into good effect on the Wye in the next few weeks should have the salmon a bit worried. I think he did fall in love with my switch rod though and I had to prise it out of his hands at the end of the day!

Nick had tried some still water fishing and wanted, with his Dad Rod, to learn how to tackle moving water. We covered the casts and tactics and took them down to where they put what they learnt to practice.

Nick ready to strike!

Geraldine had tackled river fishing a bit before but wanted to get all of the bases fully covered so that she can set out on even more fly fishing adventures.

Looks like a big fish Geraldine

We spent the weekend covering everything needed to maximise success and enjoyment and how well it all slottted into place. Her timing was perfect as the trout are really starting to lock on to the mayfly and were really taking them confidently. She caught some really nice fish and also had our first sea trout of the season on a French Partridge.

It was a big one!

We did the same last year and had sea trout on dry flies. I have tomorrow off  (Tuesday) and haven’t cast at fish for almost 3 weeks so am itching to get going…sea trout on dries will certainly be on the agenda!

Lastly a special mention has to go to Mark. I guided him a few weekends ago and know how much he loves the Taw. I was amazed to see him in the Hotel car park as Paul and I stopped for lunch. Apparently he had got the 9am train from Paddington and then took a train to Eggesford where he had booked in to fish for 4 hours and was then getting the train home again….Dude, you are a hard core fly fisher and worthy of the Trout Bum label!

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Lessons from fly fishing

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

The low water we currently have has made the fishing a little more testing than usual, but it also makes my job even more enjoyable, as it means we get to fish more outside the box than normal.

Gary on days guided fishing

There have been times this week when I have been switching fly size from an 8 to a 24. There is a pool on one of the beats at the hotel that has just about everything for an angler. A nice lively tail, a slower belly with a nice bank where the fish can hide and a really nice riffle at the head. The belly has really been the interesting bit and the place where most of my fly changes have happened this week. The flow is slow and the fish have all the time in the world to make the choice if they want to take the artificial fly or not. It runs right up against a few root systems from trees and it breaks the flow a little where micro drag can be an issue. Just about every time I have been there a few fish have been rising and it has been great fun getting them to take.

Paul on one of our learn to fly fish days

I have also been checking water levels on the Taw before I go to work each day and since the trout season the most the river has risen is 1/4inch. I think the rain on Friday and Saturday night has brought the river up a similar amount but the fish have seemed to bite harder when there has been just a drop of rain. I have also started watching water temps a little more and the water has been sitting between 11 and 12 deg c. Sometimes though I think we might just think about things too deeply and we can get bogged or influenced a bit  by things we see and hear.

Rennie puts his switch rod through its paces

At the end of the day all the fish needs is food, oxygen and shelter and as long as the requirments are fulfilled they’ll be happy. Our job is to get the fly to them without them becoming alarmed and if we do, we’re in the game. It reminded me of last weekend when I was guiding Gavin and we fished a dry fly on a 5ft 13lb level leader. You know what? He cast the fly to them and they were happy to rise to it!

Tim lets one fly on a learn to fly fish day

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Devon Fly Fishing

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Pheeeew! Well, it seems like we have been pretty non-stop with myself and members of the team out on our lake and river fly fishing with guests of our fly fishing school.

The really nice thing is the amount of people who like to come back and spend time with us. I think it is probably because we have so much water to show them that there isn’t always enough time to see it all on the first visit!

The timing of this post has been perfect as I have had a spell of returning guests who have wanted to get to grips with the trout of the Taw.

It was great to see Neil again after he joined us for a group course last year. He fished really well and with great skill to make sure he maximised his chances of success. It was great to see him back on the water!

Neil back on the Taw again

I guided Gordon last year and he was back to do battle with the trout of the Taw again. It was such a pleasure to see him get his fly in the hardest of spots and get the reward he deserved for it. I think the new Orvis rod helped, but that would sound biased coming from me!

Gordon with a brownie

I was with Gavin for two days. Gavin has been a great supporter of our little fishing school and I always enjoy guiding him. He is at the top of his game and fished just about the best I have seen him fish. We had a great time and I love that Gavin likes to fish a bit outside the box and always loves to be a part of my wild eyed plans. Last time it was sea trout on dries but this time we thought it would be fun to try and catch a fish on a mayfly on 1st Mayand after catching a few the day before we thought it was worth a try. He almost did it but the nice trout came adrift at the last moment…what are we going to do in June?!!

Gavin plays a fish

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