2016 Season Summary – Westcountry Angling Passport

Thank you to everyone who fished on the Passport last year, we really hope you enjoyed the fishing.  As you probably know, the scheme is run ‘not for profit’ with much of it relying on the good will and work put in during spare time; needless to say, this is all very much appreciated by all involved.  With all funding extremely scarce this is the nature of things at the moment but we really do hope to keep the scheme running pretty much as existing.  Having said that we will be losing two beats next year, Boyton and Druxton on the Tamar, which is really unfortunate but unavoidable.  

Apart from losing these two beats, things look set for this year.  2017 Tokens are available from us and will be out with the Agents soon, 2017 beat details will be available to download shortly and we hope to have brochures ready for purchase by the end of February.     

Thank you again for your continued support and we hope you are looking forward to the season as much as we are.  Hopefully the weather will be kind to us and there will be plenty of fish about, fingers crossed……

Fishing – people who don’t fish will probably say we didn’t have a good summer weather wise in 2016 but anglers will know that, if not that hot, it was pretty dry.  This resulted in migratory species, salmon and sea trout, being in relatively short supply and made the brown trout fishing very challenging at times in low and clear water.  No surprise then that catches overall are a little down although many had some excellent sport.

As is always the case, if you spend enough time on the river you will eventually hit gold.  In terms of numbers of fish, the usual Beats stand out – Sydenham, Ham Mill, Lane Barton and Castle Hill all produced lots of brownies.  Interestingly this year there were others getting close to these; South Yeo produced 85 trout to 12”, Blue Fox Glade produce 51 fish although still comparatively lightly fished, Knowle Farm recorded 74 fish and several grayling with the West Cornwall beats, Grogarth and Tregeagle, producing 63 and 106 fish respectively (with 2 decent sea trout also caught at Tregeagle!).

One of the highlights of the year was very late in arriving, we did post a news item but if you did miss it, the backend grayling fishing looks to be some of the most productive for many years.  This is no doubt linked to the very good river conditions we had, with good bags of fish reported on all the Tamar beats that remain open for Autumn / Winter sport.  The Westons beat on the Batherm, a tributary of the Exe, also fished well and produced some of the larger grayling up to 14” in length.

Overall numbers of people fishing on the Dartmoor Fishery were also down a little on previous years.  In turn fish numbers are also a bit below average.  More detail below.

Token Beat Highlights – the Sydenham beat was the top spot with 275 brownies, 38 grayling and 1 peal. Ham Mill and Lane Barton were tied in second with around 150 trout each although Ham Mill also produced 50 grayling including one of 14”.  After these, the Upper Culm Fly Fishing Club, Caste Hill on the Bray, Rake Water on the Avon, the Boldford and Jays beats on the Carey and Tresarret on the Camel all recorded over 50 brownies.

No salmon were recorded (although a few returns are still awaited so there maybe one or two to report later?) but a few sea trout did sneak up the rivers.  Catching a sea trout at any time is thrilling but hooking up on light tackle is very exciting.  4 were recorded at Tresarret on the Camel to 2lb, with a brace each at Clam End on the Inny, Berrio Mill on the Lynher and Tregeagle on the Tresillian.

Dartmoor Fishery – if you are into wild brown trout fishing this Fishery can offer superb sport for usually smaller but very hard fighting fish on the East and West Dart rivers and their tributaries.  It is an extensive fishery set in beautiful surroundings but, like the Token beats, didn’t receive as much attention from anglers in 2016 as usual.  Catches did stand up though despite long periods of low water, with a mix of nymph and dry fly techniques proving successful.

Reports suggest that there weren’t many hatches of note, particularly in the early part of the season, which ties in with the nymph seeming to be the most consistent method if you were patient.  However, the dry fly scored heavily when the fish where looking up – if your visit coincided with a hatch, a good bag of fish was often the result.

As perhaps to be expected, the tributaries didn’t fish that well with even the normally reliable Cherry Brook proving tricky.  The main rivers offered the best sport with both recording over 300 brown trout each with a several fish to 13”.

Who knows how it will fish this year?  What can be sure is that it is highly sensitive to prevailing conditions so let’s hope for a settled summer weather wise and hopefully an increase in hatches.

Westcountry Rivers Trust, January 2017