Count down to opening day: UK reservoir fisheries dates 2018

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Fishtec

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Llyn Clywedog fishery

With the days becoming longer and lighter, it’s hard to ignore the excitement of a new trout fishing season just around the corner.

To help you get your plans for 2018 off to a flying start, here’s the Fishtec pick of our top 10 UK reservoir fisheries as the new season begins, including those all-important opening dates for your diary.

So, whether you’re an expert stillwater trout hunter, or completely new to this aspect of the sport, why not try exploring somewhere different this year?

• Stocks Reservoir (Forest of Bowland, Lancashire)

Stocks sits 600 feet above sea level in the hills at the top of the Hodder Valley, so you’ll need to wrap up warm to begin your season here. But all those extra layers will be worth it – Stocks is widely regarded as ‘the best reservoir fishery in the north’. To start your season at Stocks, try imitative buzzers, or black and white, green or orange lures, fished from the bank on a slow-sinking line in the clear, slightly peaty water.
Season opens: 24 February 2018
More information: www.stocksreservoir.com/

• Rutland Water (near Oakham, Rutland)

Seeming to float above the surface of Rutland Water when levels are high in early season, Normanton Church makes one of the greatest backdrops of British stillwater fly-fishing. A session close to this iconic building should be on every angler’s early-season bucket list. Trout grow to 15lbs in Rutland’s rich waters, and the U-shaped reservoir’s sinuous points and bays will provide you with miles and miles of bank to explore. If you’re looking for a midge hatch, the shallow South Arm is reputed to be one of the best and biggest buzzer fishing spots in the country.
Season opens: 9 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/

• Draycote (near Rugby, Warwickshire)

Surrounded by rolling countryside, yet within easy distance of several motorways, Draycote boasts the finest buzzer fishing in the Midlands – a very good reason to mark your diary for early season. You’ll need to hire a boat to drift the hotspots over Draycote’s famous shallow island ‘shoals’, but all the natural banks offer superb fishing too, and browns and rainbows grow on to sizes of 10lbs or more.
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/

• Grafham Water (near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

With its internationally-famous stocks of overwintered brown and rainbow trout, Grafham Water is one of Britain’s premier early-season fisheries. Loch-style fishing from boats for these turbo-charged fish is always popular, but taking a roving approach on foot can also be very productive, and even better access to the banks is planned in 2018. (Don’t forget, Grafham has become a stronghold for invasive ‘killer shrimp’ in recent years, so it’s vital to take careful biosecurity precautions when you’re fishing here).
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/

• Llyn Brenig (Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

If you’re craving top-of-the-water sport at the end of a long winter, the fourth largest lake in Wales may be your chance to catch a buzzer hatch. At a height of 1,200 feet in the Welsh mountains, booking a boat is often the best option to help you cover the water and take advantage of the prevailing wind. Llyn Brenig rainbows are famous for their fierce fighting qualities, and good early season flies include buzzers, cats’ whiskers, cormorants, blobs and boobies.
Season opens: 10 March 2018
More information: www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing

• Llyn Clywedog (near Llanidloes, mid Wales)

Many reservoir fisheries are operated by water companies, so it’s refreshing to find one that’s run by a local fishing club for members and visitors. Llanidloes and District AA puts all its proceeds straight back into the fishery: the club stocks around 35,000 rainbow trout each season, and provides 29 boats including a wheelie boat. For 2018, they’ve also added 4hp petrol motors to all the boats. Local anglers put most of their faith in black buzzers, up to a size 12, for the months of March to May.
Season opens: 8 March 2018
More information: www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk

• Llandegfedd (near Pontypool, south Wales)

Easily accessible from Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool, this is a Welsh fishery that’s run by Welsh Water. Llandegfedd is generously stocked with rainbow trout, but it also holds browns, as well as perch, roach-bream hybrids and big pike. Early season tactics are split between traditional floating lines and weighted nymphs, or fast sinkers with short lures or boobies. On their day, both can catch just as many fish! Llandegfedd has recently been threatened with closure, so please show your support for the fishery in 2018.
Season opens: 1 March (rainbow trout), 20 March (brown trout)
More information: www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd

• Chew Valley Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

After hitting the headlines last year (when Bristol Water threatened to wind it down as a fishery) it’s testament to Chew Valley’s popularity that anglers’ protests persuaded them to rethink. The fishery has now won a reprieve, but it’s in all our interests to continue fishing it enthusiastically for grown-on browns up to 22lbs and rainbows up to 14lbs. Early season can produce epic midge hatches from the lake’s shallow waters, and a stealthy approach with imitative nymphs, emergers and dry flies on floating lines comes recommended by regular bank and boat fishermen alike.
Season opens: 6 March (season tickets), 8 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/

• Blagdon Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

Nestling at the foot of the scenic Mendip Hills, Blagdon has a legendary reputation for the varied sport it provides with its deep basins, shallow bays, and long narrow shape that makes it ideal for both bank and boat fishing. Five rowing boats and 15 petrol-driven boats (with low power output to reduce disturbance and wash) are available to book. Very much like nearby Chew, imitative tactics with small flies, especially black buzzers, are popular from the start of the season.
Season opens: 13 March (season tickets), 15 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/

• Hawkridge (near Bridgewater, Somerset)

Wessex Water also runs other fly fisheries at Clatworthy and Sutton Bingham, but sharp-eyed social media buffs may already have noticed something new at Hawkridge in addition to the usual rainbows, browns, char, tiger, golden and blue trout this season: ‘sparctic’ trout, a cross between brook trout and Arctic char. Stocked at up to about 5lbs, with full fins and large pale spots on silver-grey sides, they’re stunningly beautiful fish. We can’t think of a better way to spice up your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed this spring!
Season opens: 28 February 2018
More information: www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

Countdown to open season: at a glance

Fishery

Open season

More information

Stocks Reservoir

(Forest of Bowland, Lancs)

24 February 2018 www.stocksreservoir.com/
Rutland Water

(Oakham, Rutland)

9 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/
Draycote

(Rugby, Warwickshire)

2 March 2018 www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/
Grafham Water

(Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

2 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/
Llyn Brenig

(Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

10 March 2018 www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing
Llyn Clywedog

(Llanidloes, mid Wales)

8 March 2018 www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk
Llandegfedd

(Pontypool, south Wales)

1 March (rainbow trout),

20 March (brown trout)

www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd
Chew Valley Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

6 March (season tickets),

8 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/
Blagdon Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

13 March (season tickets),

15 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/
Hawkridge

(Bridgewater, Somerset)

28 February 2018 www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

UK Stillwater fly fisheries opening 2018

Click to download your free handy guide

More about the author…

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

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Introducing the TF Gear Airbomb – The Future of Baiting!

We are excited to announce a brand new product from TF Gear! It’s called the Airbomb and it’s a mid-air bait distribution product that we feel is going to be a game changer.


How does it work?

Unlike a Spomb or the Fox equivalent, Total Fishing Gear’s Airbomb does not open upon impacting the water. Instead it opens in mid air, spraying the bait out in a wider pattern that is perfect for creating a nice bed of bait. It works by hitting the reel clip on the cast. This triggers a pin that opens Airbomb. The force of the cast disperses the bait in a forward arc, several yards beyond the cast. Should you not hit the clip (or choose not to) the Airbomb will land in the water and remain shut. You can trigger it to open anytime you wish by yanking your rod tip sharply.

The Airbomb from TF Gear

The Airbomb from TF Gear.


What are the advantages over other baiting products
?

There are multiple advantages, but the main one would be you can create a uniform spread of bait that you can build up quickly. Carp find this extremely attractive, and importantly will feed confidently. Other baiting rockets and baitboats cannot spread the bait as widely when they release their payloads, making the Airbomb unique.

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait.

What can it do?

Quite a lot. And there are probably a lot more things that haven’t been thought of yet!

  • Airbomb releases payload in mid-air, creating a shotgun effect bait spread
  • Stealthy no spook baiting operation – Airbomb falls well away from baited area
  • Aerodynamic design maximises casting range
  • Total accuracy every cast
  • Massive load capacity
  • Easy and quick to fill
  • Create vast beds of bait with speed and efficiently
  • Precision bait by drawing over weed gaps and localised feeding spots then jerking rod tip to open
  • No spillage or wasted bait
  • Suitable for all carp fishing baits including boilies, particles and floaters
  • Buoyant and effortless to retrieve
  • Heavy-duty and robust construction – will withstand extreme casting
  • Spreads bait forward in a scattered pattern well beyond the reach of your cast
  • Bait up far margins, snags or islands with no risk of losing Airbomb
  • Confuses nuisance birds and bait eating pests
  • Perfect for floater fishing – release floating baits with no risk of spooking carp

Check out the official video:

When can I buy one?

Airbombs are available to pre-order now, although physical stock will not be here until late March. You will be able to order here. Please note, the first batch is a limited stock delivery, so demand will be extremely high. Therefore we cannot guarantee your back order will be fulfilled from the first stock delivery.

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait.

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Urgings of a Short Month By Rene’ Harrop

The latest musings from respected American fly fishing author Rene’ Harrop.

The days of deep winter in Henry’s Fork country do not necessarily end with January. But while February can feature equally cold temperatures and even more snowfall, the notion of a coming spring can begin to accelerate with its arrival.

February On The Fork

February On The Fork

With daylight hours noticeably longer and the potential for ice free water an increasing likelihood, the state of progress on winter projects can become a source of discomfort if distractions cause me to fall behind.

For me, few things are more stressful than losing a day of prime fishing to an indoor task that must be completed before spring. This was not a problem during the big winter last year, but 2018 is shaping up to be somewhat different.

Rene’ in action on the fork!

The severely cold temperatures, deep snow, and low winter flows of 2017 have yet to materialize and much of the river is ice free as of this writing. With more water flowing in the Henry’s Fork than I have seen in recent times, I am anticipating some of the best late winter and early spring fishing we have experienced in several years.

In the absence of extreme winter hardship, past experience has shown a healthier and more active trout population and aquatic insect life has displayed similar effect as well. If I am correct and the weather pattern we have seen thus far continues, there is no question that my personal discipline will be severely tested in the weeks that lie ahead.

March looms just beyond a month that carries only twenty eight days of relatively distraction free opportunity to finish restocking depleted fly boxes in advance of a new season and to complete household chores assigned at the beginning of winter. If neglected, some of those chores can carry a penalty administered by a stern enforcer.

While a mild winter and early spring cannot be assured at this point, there are signs that could indicate the arrival of Baetis hatches as early as the end of the month and strong midge action could arrive considerably earlier. But this leaves me with a dilemma.

February Distraction

February Distraction….

It is almost unnatural for a fisherman to hope for weather that would discourage time on the water with a fly rod, but that is what I am facing right now. Reviewing a checklist, I am finding enough unfinished projects to bring urgency into the need for more time.

Being forced to remain indoors by blizzard conditions or subzero temperatures is something I have never particularly enjoyed, but I also know my weakness in resisting a pleasant February day that holds the potential for rising trout. Shirking my responsibilities at home for the sake of fishing is a character-flaw my wife has accepted for more than fifty years. The resumption of real winter weather is probably all that could prevent further testing of her patience, but I am not getting carried away in this regard. I’m ready for spring.

Rene’ Harrop is a big fan of the Airflo Super Dri Elite fly line – his ‘go to’ all purpose taper line for the Henry’s Fork and many other venues. Check them out here.

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Operation Leviathan – Fisheries Enforcement with the Angling Trust

Is your fishery under pressure from illegal angling? Is poaching rife and are people taking fish from the water? Is your club stretch being vandalized and litter being left indiscriminately? If so, there is hope. Introducing Operation Leviathan.

Prominent anglers Gareth Johns, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for operation leviathan

Prominent anglers Gareth Jones, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for Operation Leviathan at the BFFI show.

What is Operation Leviathan?

‘Operation Leviathan’ is the name of the multi-agency partnership including the Environment Agency (England), Natural Resources Wales, Police forces across the west of England and Wales, The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), Angling Trust and angling clubs to work together against fisheries crime, fish theft and illegal fishing. In the East of England, there is an identical project that goes under the name of ‘Operation Traverse’.

The main purpose of the operation is to increase confidence amongst anglers to report incidents of  illegal fishing to the EA or NRW on the national hotline 0800 807060 and/or the police as appropriate.

The lack of information coming into the authorities has been identified as a major weakness in dealing with widespread ‘poaching’ on rivers, lakes and canals across the country and consequently, the problem is not recognised in many areas.

This has led to anglers becoming frustrated when they see fish being illegally removed from the water, fixed lines being set to catch fish illegally and irresponsible or anti-social fishing taking place on their waters, making them feel unsafe.

All of these things led to the formation of the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) in England, managed by the Angling Trust to provide more ‘eyes and ears’ out on our waterways.  It’s a bit like ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ for fishing!

In England The VBS work closely with the EA and our volunteers are often invited to join them on patrols.

In Wales, the representative body for anglers is Angling Cymru, who do not have an equivalent VBS. Therefore, in Wales, anglers are solely dependant on the NRW to address issues directly without the support of a volunteer force. The Angling Trust are supportive of a Welsh VBS to work alongside the current organisation in England.

VBS is developing and in the South East of England there is currently a pilot project, in which carefully selected Voluntary Bailiffs are empowered to demand rod licences and deal with certain fisheries offences . This is called ‘Phase 2 VBS’ where volunteers are embedded in Environment Agency (EA) teams, with whom they work and directly support.  They are supervised by EA team leaders and are subject to the EA Codes of Conduct. This pilot is currently being evaluated by the EA pending their decision as to whether the initiative will be rolled-out nationally.

Interested in joining the VBS service? Find out more here.

The main message of Operation Leviathan is for all anglers across the UK to phone the emergency hotline number 0800 807060 to report illegal fishing incidents.

This gives you options to speak with the fisheries authorities covering different parts of the country.  It is crucial anglers report incidents and information about illegal fishing so that the EA (England), NRW (Wales), Loughs Agency (N. Ireland) etc.. can take the necessary action! Without this, the authorities won’t know there is a problem and no action will be taken.

A quick guide to the law

For information regarding Operation Leviathan and fisheries enforcement, please get in touch with Kevin Pearson. Mob. 07495 433620 Email. Kevin.Pearson@Anglingtrust.net

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Women who cast

More and more women are getting into angling, which is great news for the sport. And as they do, ladies are beginning to make an impact in the professional and commercial sides of the sport too. Here’s a run-down of just some of the female angling stars from across the internet.

Marina Gibson

Marina-gibson1

Marina caught the fishing bug from her mum.

“The fin was a riot of greens, pink-reds and yellows, with distinct lines stretching to a metallic finish on the flanks.” Can you guess what fish Marina Gibson caught when she headed for the headwaters of the Orvis Kimbridge beat during the offseason? Her first Grayling of course. Read all about her experience as she targets the “Lady of the Stream”.

A lady herself, Marina is woman on a mission to change the image of angling and, having given up her career in the City to move to Yorkshire, she now fishes, blogs and guides – ever accompanied by her Romanian rescue dog, Sedge.

To follow Marina, check out her website or Facebook page.

Anne Woodcock

anne-woodcock-new

Fancy a spot of angling ladies? Anne will help you get started.

“I thought my line had got stuck! It was the start of 10 minutes of salmon heaven” writes salmon angler, blogger, business woman and guide, Anne Woodcock, of her fishing adventures on the Dee. If you’re a lady who’d love nothing better than to catch her own tasty salmon, then Anne will help you achieve your goal. The driving force behind Ladiesfishing, she runs not-for-profit fishing days for ladies in both England and Scotland.

A strong voice in women’s angling, Anne is marketing director of Fishpal, the award winning online fishing leads service, and she also contributes to community radio station CVFM’s angling programme, “Gone Fishing”.

To follow Anne, check out her website or Facebook page.

Beverley Clifford

bevclifford

Here’s one I caught earlier.

Determined to do something about the lack of angling instruction events solely for women, angler Bev Clifford set up the Ladies Carp Academy which runs at Pool Bridge Farm Fishery near York. It’s a great opportunity for women to “meet and learn from one another in a social, fun and relaxed environment”, says Bev.

The daughter of a specimen angler, it’s no surprise that Bev grew up to become one of the UK’s top female anglers. She says she “grew up in a house with fishing magazines, books, pictures, stuffed fish everywhere”. A truly inspirational lady, she’s also a team angler for DNA Baits, a member of the England Ladies carp team and works in advertising and marketing for angling magazine, Carp Talk.

To follow Bev, check out her website, instagram or Facebook page.

Bex Nelson

Bex-Nelson

All I want for Christmas is…

Another female angler on the up, Bex Nelson was introduced to angling several years ago by her boyfriend. She says “I’ve really grown with skill and knowledge in the last year or so. I’ve fished for all manner of species but the carp bug has taken hold.” Her best catch so far, 29lb George – an “old warrior”, as Bex puts it, she was hoping to break the 30lb barrier before the end of 2017 – better hurry Bex! Check out her Facebook page to find out if she managed to beat that PB.

To follow Bex, check out her instagram or Facebook page.

Katie Griffiths

Katie-Griffiths

Katie loves her carp.

A designer at Total Carp Magazine, Katie Griffiths has also achieved the honour of gracing the magazine’s coveted front page spot. Pictured with title boss, Dan, she shows exactly what she thinks of his catch! She says: “You know you love carp fishing when you see someone catch their target.”

When she’s not working at the magazine, Katie loves nothing better than to wet a line – something she’s been doing quite a lot since she was first introduced to the sport two years ago. Check out some of the photos on her instagram account and you’ll see that her hobby has grown to become a passion – she says angling always “makes me smile”.

To follow Katie, check out the Total Carp Magazine blog or her instagram account.

Lucy Bowden

Lucy-Bowden

Why not let Lucy help you realise your dream of learning to fly fish?

Always dreamed of learning the art of fly fishing? What are you waiting for? Whatever your age, race, gender or ability, Lucy Bowden will teach you to fish. Dedicated to encouraging girls and women in particular into the sport, since she set up Fishing for Everyone in 2005, Level 2 UKCC Game Angling Coach Lucy has inspired many women to give the sport a try.

From “learning how to set up your fishing tackle, performing basic casts, retrieval techniques, to hooking, playing and safely landing fish,” Lucy aims to help everyone acquire the skills and confidence they need to get the most from fishing.

To follow Lucy, check out her website or Facebook page.

Casting for recovery

Ladies kicking in wellies

Casting for Recovery offers fly fishing retreats for women who’re suffering, or have suffered from breast cancer.

“It was the first time since my diagnosis that I had time to myself to realise the impact of my illness on me, and also to be greatly inspired by everyone there who has survived and recovered.” This is just one of the comments from women who’ve experienced the joy of learning to cast at Casting for Recovery, the charity that teaches fly fishing to women with breast cancer.

If you’d like to find out more about Casting for Recovery’s all-expenses-paid fly fishing retreats, or if you’d like to lend a hand helping to raise funds, just get in touch using the online contact form. The full list of retreats for 2018 can be found here.

To follow Casting For Recovery, check out their website or Facebook page.

Do you know a female angling fanatic who you’d like us to tell the world about? To let us know, just drop us a line on our Facebook page.

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Boat or Float Tube – Fishing on Gludy Lake

Ceri Thomas and Tim Hughes tackle Welsh small water Gludy lake with two different methods afloat. Which one comes out on top?

Afloat on Gludy lake

Afloat on Gludy lake

Gludy lake is a truly magical place. Situated just outside the market town of Brecon, the naturalised stillwater has been on the map for over 150 years. In a wooded hollow, a small earth dam holds back just over 7 acres of rich, fertile water that is full of invertebrate life. Couple this with abundant coarse fish fry and it’s easy to see why the stocked trout rapidly turn into fully finned backing stripping machines.

Managed as a trout fishery for the past 17 years, Gludy has always been run on a purely catch and release basis – so any stocked fish get the chance to mature and grow into fine specimens indeed. The lake holds rainbows, blues, browns and even the odd tiger. Variety is key and Chris Burgess, the fishery manager for the past decade is currently enlarging a holding pool at the top of the lake. The new pond will be lightly stocked for beginners and bank stalking next year. There is also a newly constructed boat house at the top end of the lake, next to the luxurious day lodge that visiting anglers can make full use of.

Setting up by the lodge

Setting up by the lodge

Bank fishing is a little limited on Gludy, due to the reedy, marshy banks and abundant shore line tree cover. Most anglers fish from a boat, with several different sized craft on site supplied complete with electric motors. This gives you complete freedom to fish any area of the lake you wish. Float tubing is also allowed – one of the few venues in South Wales where this special form of fishing can be enjoyed. You can bring your own or make arrangements to use one with the fishery.

Gludy Boat House

Gludy Boat House

Today we are looking to try the two methods side by side – Tim in one of the boats and myself in a tube. There are pro’s and con’s to each way of fishing, so this session should make it clearer as to which one can give you the best results on a water of this size.

Tim decides to fish from a smaller one man boat, armed with his usual stillwater outfit of a 10’ #7 weight Airflo Airlite V2  rod. He starts off with a Super-Dri Elite floater and more imitative patterns, looking for the grown on fish rather than raw stockies.

Tim's flies for Gludy

Tim’s flies for Gludy

I blow up my float tube, don neoprene bootfoot waders, float tube fins and a buoyancy aid fly fishing vest. My rod of choice for the session is an Airflo Delta Classic 10 foot #6/7. When tubing your back cast can be limited, due to your position low down on the surface. So you need to load up your rod quickly, with the minimum of false casts or you can risk clipping the water behind you. The Delta Classic is a perfect tool for today, with its deeper traditional action that loads nicely with a shorter length of line.

Ceri's flies to target fry feeders on Gludy

Ceri’s flies to target fry feeders on Gludy

Due to Gludy having a big head of roach and perch I’m looking to target the resident fry feeders that should be in fine fettle after a long autumn of eating protein. So I attach some lure patterns to start off. Linewise, I rig up with a Sixth Sense Di3 sinker, an early winter favourite that allows a versatile approach for searching through the layers. 8.8lb Sightfree G4 is the tippet, with a white hotty dancer on the point and an epoxy perch fry on the dropper I feel confident of success. As if to confirm this, we see plentiful evidence of coarse fish fry topping and jumping as we look out onto the lake – hopefully the trout won’t be far away.

Where to start?

Gludy is a predominantly shallow lake, with an average depth of 6 to 7 feet. However the Dam end goes down to nearly 15 feet, so in the absence of any obvious activity this is where we both head, with the assumption that fish will be lurking in the deeper water after the recent cold snap. Tim on the electric engine, with me kicking along at a much slower pace.

Naturally I take the opportunity to troll as I travel from A to B. By simply covering water you up your chances, and soon enough the Di3 tightens and the first fish is on. Some may call this cheating, but I call it effective!

A fish on the tube - trolling the flies

A fish on the tube – trolling the flies

As we head down the lake it becomes apparent that there is trout activity at the far end, in the deeper water off the dam. Fry are sporadically jumping clear, and with the odd boil around them it seems the trout are on the fin and interested in chasing them.

To even the odds, Tim has attached a Deeper echo sounder to the side of his boat – it confirms that the area is home to a vast shoal of coarse fish, sitting on top of a submerged weed bed in10 foot of water. He anchors up and starts to fish the area, quickly changing his point fly over to a minky booby, keeping a cruncher on the dropper.

A fish bursts out about 10 yards away, I swivel in the tube and put the flies across the spot. Stripping, the line tightens and another angry Gludy trout is attached. In fact, it is two of them at once but the fish on the dropper comes off during the battle.

A quality Gludy Rainbow trout

A quality Gludy Rainbow trout

A nice rainbow eventually graces the net, typical of the quality you can expect at Gludy. Action continues for me on the lures with a number of fish landed in quick succession. Meanwhile Tim has a number of boils under a floating fry, fished right on the surface. He bumps a couple of fish, and his line finally tightens with a nice rainbow that has taken the cruncher.

Playing a lively fish on the boat

Playing a lively fish on the boat

On a catch and release venue it is remarkable just how quickly fish wise up to lures, and the positive takes we were getting soon start to dry up, turning into just nips and follows. This is where float tubing can be a disadvantage – it is very difficult to change your fly line and leader set up over. Tim is able to adapt his tactics and change his tippet to a finer diameter (5.5lb G4) with ease in the boat – switching to a smaller nymphs, he is rewarded with several fish in quick succession that take the flies fished slowly. Meanwhile I am stuck on the Di3, which is limiting what I can do, although I am still picking up the odd fish.

A Gludy fish on the nymphs

A Gludy fish on the nymphs

We only have a short time on the water today, so have to call it quits after a few hours fishing. However a good number of fish have been caught by both of us making it a decent morning.

The Pro’s and Con’s:

Tube

Float tubes allow complete freedom of movement whatever the wind direction. They also allow you a silent, stealthy approach.

For whatever reason, fish simply do not fear tubes like they do a boat or wading angler. This allows you to get very close to them and fish into shoreline shallows where bank angling would instantly spook fish. Your low position in the water casts a shorter shadow, therefore less likely to alert following fish.

Float tubes allow you to troll your flies allowing you to cover a vast area by simply trailing your flies behind you.

Float tubes allow a stealthy approach

Float tubes allow a stealthy approach

On the downside, it takes some time to move spot using flipper power. You may also find yourself limited method wise, as I found. Changing a fly line over involves a lot of effort and time wasted as you have to go to shore.

I felt at times I could have converted many of the follows and plucks into fish by rapidly increasing the movement of the flies, but I was limited to the speed I could strip the flies back by a lack of elbow room.

Another aspect is comfort – despite wearing neoprene waders, being submerged in the water can give you a chill. I felt quite cold after only a few hours. You also need to be fairly physically fit, so tubing isn’t for everyone.

On the Boat

In a boat you are much higher up than a tube. This allows for a much better visual fishing experience. It is also better for slow nymphing techniques and for quick covering of rising fish. You have no arm room limit so if you want to rip lures back at a breakneck pace you will have no problem.

Speed is another factor – the ability to move spot quickly, with an engine is a big plus. Not forgetting being able to anchor up.

Fishing from a boat is more comfortable if you are fishing for a long day – access to food, drink and toilet facilities is made so much easier.

Boats are comfortable and easier to get around the lake in

Boats are comfortable and easier to get around the lake in

Boat or tube?

We both finished off with exactly the same number of fish – the advantages of one method over another seemed to have eventually evened out today. So ultimately, it might boil down to which mode of fishing you find most enjoyable.

Winter value

Gludy  lake offers fantastic value winter rates, with all day fishing available at £35 per head from 1st November to 28th February. It is possible to block book the fishery and stay overnight in well equipped onsite accommodation. The lodge and facilities are free to use.

For full details visit www.gludy.co.uk or call 07980 711 847

Gludy Fishing Lodge and Chalet

Gludy Fishing Lodge and Chalet

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Sandford Pool – Stalking in the Woods

In this day and age it is quite refreshing to hear of a new small Stillwater trout fishery opening its doors, rather than yet another one closing down or turning into a coarse fishing water.

In an exclusive ‘first visit’ Airflo’s Tim Hughes and Ceri Thomas sample a new brand water in Gloucestershire called Sandford Pool.

Fishing on Sandford pool

Fishing on Sandford pool

I first heard of Sandford Pool just a few months ago. The word was, that an established, gin clear water where sight fishing ruled had opened its doors in the picturesque Forest of Dean. Finding a new trout water, let alone a genuine stalking venue is a bit of a rarity these days, so myself and Tim set a date to sample the fishing at the nearest opportunity, with a first ever feature on the fishery in mind.

We were hoping for clear skies, sunshine and calm wind for the feature – the best conditions for visual fishing. Typically, the UK winter weather let us down.  As we headed up the A48 from our Brecon HQ, we were greeted by drizzle and grey cloud, far from ideal for stalking and photography. Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead with the feature and found the fishery fairly easily, just off the main road.

Situated just outside Lydney, in the historic and beautiful Forest of Dean region, Sandford Pool appeared to be something rather special.  Our first glimpse of the lake was down a recently made wood chipped track, into a deep hollow where the pool sat, surrounded by mature trees.

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

We were greeted warmly by Sami, the Fishery manageress, who explained that the lake was once completely neglected and forgotten, the surrounding land like a jungle and the pool itself almost fully choked with weed.  We could see that immense time, effort and dedication has gone into making the venue fishable – careful tree cutting, new paths and sturdy, well laid out wooden platforms surrounded the lake. A portaloo toilet, wooden hut, picnic tables and a robust looking otter proof fence completed the picture.  Everything looked tidy and well kept, with nothing to spoil or clash with the original secluded charm of the venue.

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

Sandford pool only opened in April 2017 and is stocked regularly with quality rainbows and blues supplied by Exmoor fisheries, ranging from 2lb to 7lb in weight. The pool also holds a head of natural wild brown trout that have been there as long as anyone can remember.

Completely spring fed by groundwater flows, the acre or so pool was indeed crystal clear – and despite the poor light we could see plenty of fish to cast to, as well as tree roots and submerged weed. With depths up to 12 foot, the venue is fishable all year even in hot conditions due to the cold, oxygenated water that you can actually see bubbling up from the lake bed in some areas.

Tackle up for stalking

I favour a lighter approach to this sort of fishing – a 9’ #5 is perfect for accurate short and mid range work, with the added benefit of being great fun when you hook into a fish. Far too often have I seen anglers turn up on small fisheries with 10’ #8 weights – vastly overgunned and much harder to fish with delicacy. I set up with an Airflo Airlite V2, Switch Pro reel and 5 weight Airflo Bandit fly line, a stealth line with the added benefit of offering take detection by watching its brown banded tip.

Tim has set up with an Airflo Streamtec 9’ #4/5 and a WF5 Forge Fly line, which again is nice and subtle for stalking with its olive head section.

Stalking essentials

Stalking essentials…..

One essential that we both need today are yellow tinted Polaroid sunglasses. Yellow is the best colour for low light, which today is very poor indeed. With these on we can pick out a quite a lot of detail in the clear spring fed waters of the pool, allowing us to spot and target fish.

As we rig up Sami offers us a most welcome cup of coffee – complementary for any visitors to the fishery! Bacon rolls are also available on site, for a very reasonable cost.

Where to start

There are about a dozen pegs to choose from, I pick a peg right in front of me, where I can see a submerged weedbed about 20 yards out.  I add a clear 5 foot polyleader and 10 foot of 6lb G3 fluorocarbon tippet to my fly line. The floating Airflo polyleaders have been vastly improved in recent times. Now glass clear, they have no memory with improved welding technology, perfect for improving your presentation and turnover – so important if you are stalking!

Flies

To begin, I opt for a more natural pattern. I tie on a weighted gold bead damsel and make a few exploratory casts. Despite the pegs being surrounded by trees, there are lots of gaps for you to make casts, with side and over the shoulder casts being possible, allowing you to cover the water from all angles. For me the trees added to the challenge, causing me to slow down and think about where to direct my back casts rather than just blast the line out.

Into the action

In front of me I can see the odd dark shape ghosting over the weeds. Almost straight away I feel a bump through the line, and see a broad form materialise behind my fly. The water is so clear that I can see every follow. And believe me; it’s happening almost every cast! It becomes apparent that these fish are inquisitive but also wary. I try fishing slow but that seems to be totally ignored. Speeding up the fly up causes them to chase, but as soon as I stop the retrieve or hang the fly they turn away.

The fish are here, so surely it’s just a case of cracking the code:  fly choice, depth, and retrieve. As I mull over this, the banded tip of my Bandit fly line jags forward and a feisty little wild brownie come to hand. Underneath him, I spot a pair of nice blues that have come to take a look at the commotion – a clue perhaps as to what they want?

Sandford pool wild brown

Sandford pool wild brown

Meanwhile, between camera shots Tim has rigged up with a bung. First with an Apps bloodworm and then with a tiny nymph beneath it.  He gets fish looking but no takes. He also has a dabble with dries, casting CDC’s over cruising fish. But again, they ignore the offerings. These fish are pretty wised up and perhaps need to be induced into taking.

I move to another peg and tie on a lure – a favourite pattern of mine, a black tadpole featuring a 3.8mm tungsten bead. It is a fly that has worked well for me on both rainbows and wild browns. First cast, a fish follows it back to my feet. I start to mix up the retrieve finally the line locks up with a feisty rainbow attached. What has worked is a very jerky, erratic figure of eight that seems to trigger an attacking instinct. The heavy tungsten bead makes the fly jiggle up and down quickly, an action that seems to be irresistible. The weight of the bead is also keeping the fly in the taking zone for longer, about two foot below the surface.

A pretty rainbow trout

A pretty rainbow trout

From there on sport is pretty frantic, with lots of nice blues and rainbows coming to the net. Numerous times I spot fish, cast the lure at them and start the figure of eight immediately to grab their attention. Almost invariably they follow, with a good number charging at the fly then turning away with it in their mouths.

It has to be said that the fish here fight particularly well and are in superb condition, with a noticeable silvery sheen to them.  This must be due to the pure unpolluted spring water, which provides abundant oxygen. I get taken to the backing by a particularly feisty blue – something I haven’t had for a while!

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

Tim has also switched to a leadhead mayfly nymph and begins to catch in abundance from his side of the lake. Between us we have captured well over 20 fish, in just a couple of hours angling. Great sport and at £10 for 4 hours catch and release a genuine bargain.

The verdict

Although small, Sandford Pool offers a very enjoyable and engaging experience.  Due to the trees and spring fed water, it has a different feel to it than your typical ‘hole in the ground’ venue and seems a lot bigger than it actually is. The fishery is well run, facilities good, management friendly and the quality fish fight hard. What more could you want from a new fishery?

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Fishing on Sandford Pool

Sandford Road, Alvington, Lydney GL15 6PZ
Open 8am – 6.30pm year round, Tuesday to Sunday
Contact tel: 07931115301

Catch & release:
£15 All day
£10 Four hours

For more information and ticket options visit: www.sandfordpooltroutfishery.co.uk

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Winter – Carping Thoughts by Dave Lane

Out with the old and in with the new, Auld Lang syne, New Year’s resolutions or hangovers.

However you choose to greet the new year it is generally accepted that it is a time of reflection and a time of planning, of looking ahead and considering how you might make the coming year better than the one you are leaving behind covered in streamers and half-drunk glasses of punch.

In carp angling it is probably less of a turning point than it is in normal life, that accolade is reserved for April the first, or June the sixteenth in some cases but still; it doesn’t hurt to be prepared now does it.

A winter pearler

A winter pearler

So, assuming you have your new rods, or sleeping bag, bivvy, FishSpy, toasted sandwich maker or whatever it was that Santa shoved down your chimney, you will definitely be gagging to get out there and give it go but where to, that is the question.

If it’s a quick bend of the new rods in winter you need, and you haven’t been for a little while, then staying realistic is the best option.

There is nothing quite as soul destroying in the cold weather as a blank trip on a lake where you soon realise you have no chance whatsoever; much better to lower your sights and have a quick day on a productive day-ticket lake.

Even if it’s just a small double or two in the bottom of the net at least you are back out there fishing and shaking off the winter blues and the excess mince pies.

If, like me, you are a winter stalwart and keep on angling regardless of the time of year then you probably have your venue already chosen and underway, hopefully you have chosen well and taken into account it’s previous winter form, stock levels, size and age of the fish and the realistic chance of actually catching some of them before April.

I have wasted so many months of my life, a scary amount, chasing smoke and mirrors around venues that were never, ever, going to do a winter bite. Lakes that had zero winter form, had never even seen a fish jump during the colder months let alone produced a bite. The reason for this madness was always the same, the fish were huge and the rewards if I did catch one would be beyond belief.

Nowadays I tend to be a little more rooted in my daydreams and I add a touch of reality to the mix, choosing venues that have some fantastic fish but also those that hold enough back up carp to make a bite a distinct possibility and not just a pipe-dream.

The last couple of winters I joined the Quarry syndicate in Essex. This is sort of a halfway house if you like, it’s not easy by any standards but there are enough fish to make it viable, which is good enough for me.

The first year I landed my biggest ever January carp in the form of ‘shoulders’ a huge mirror of forty-four pounds and I had a couple of other good hits with a few blanks in-between but the good times made up for the bad.

This year I am a bit more undecided on a particular venue, so I have chosen to dot about a bit instead, mainly social sessions with mates on various waters across the country.

Next week, for example, I have two nights booked on Yateley Pads Lake with Mr F, I am really looking forward to that one and hopefully a big old January carp in the net.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

In years gone by I have targeted lakes such as Lynch Hill, Hunts Corner, Linear’s Manor Farm and Monks Pit, all venues that I probably wouldn’t dream of fishing in the summer or autumn but all holding enough carp to make them decent winter waters, once the bulk of the anglers drop off.

I personally think that January and March are the hardest months of the entire fishing calendar, with December coming a close runner-up. Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold and even a little gold is better than none at all.

A perfect winter fish

Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold

A bonus like Shoulders is great, it’s a winter fish of a lifetime but it’s the others that made the entire winter enjoyable, and every other successful one before that as well.

Mates can make all the difference to a bit of winter fishing and make the whole episode far more bearable and, sometimes, that is just what you need to get you through.

In the Spring and Summer, I would rather not see another angler; nothing personal but I love fishing on my own but during the winter that all changes.

It’s also a good time to plan ahead a little further, to look into more detail what is available for the spring and summer because it will be here before you know it and lakes are not as easily accessible as they once were.

Hanging up the rods in the garage for winter, and falling out of touch with all things carpy, will make you rusty and slower to get going once the better weather does arrive and, of course, you are never going to land a winter carp if you aren’t actually on the bank trying to.

Like I said above, it doesn’t even need to be a full session, not even an over-nighter really, if you pick the right venues you can travel light, pack a flask and some sandwiches and just do a few hours to keep your hand in.

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Don’t be afraid of January by Dave Lane

Well its mid-January and the weather is as expected, cold, damp and generally miserable but that is no reason to be the same yourself.

Most of the lakes are deserted, as they usually are at this time of year and even the hardiest of anglers are looking for excuses not to venture out, but the fish are still there and on the right venues so are the chances for a bite or two.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

I think the main reason people stop fishing around now is the cold; nobody likes to get cold and I am no exception but there is really no need to if you look at the portable comforts available to us nowadays, especially when compared to yesteryear.

Yes, you may have to trudge the barrow through a bit of mud and the odd puddle or two to reach the swim but, once there, you can be almost as comfortable as you can at home, but with a much better chance of catching of course.

Bivvies have come on in leaps and bounds with thermally insulated twin skins or overwraps and even an inflatable version like the TF Gear Airflo that I have been testing out; a complete house that goes up in under a minute with built a in groundsheet and a rigidity that will withstand anything even the harshest conditions can throw our way. They now do an overwrap for this one, providing even more winter protection.

Bedchairs are so comfortable now that I honestly think my Flat Out is better than the bed I have at home, with a sumptuous thick memory foam mattress and topped with a fleece lined winter sleeping bag that keeps me warm regardless of the temperature outside.

Obviously though, outside is where we want to be a lot of the time, particularly if it involves netting a carp or two but, even then, a decent set of thermals under a proper waterproof outer layer and boots and there is no excuse for getting frozen to the bone.

I understand that the fishing is harder at this time of the year but, most of the time, you only have the carp to compete with and not the usual hoard of other anglers and anything you are lucky enough to catch will be in tip-top condition worth its weight in gold.

Darkness is another factor in the winter as there just seems to be so much of it, but I am a firm believer in having a decent bivvy light and maybe even an I-Pad or Kindle or something to offer a few home comforts during those long winter nights. Laying tucked up in a comfy bag and watching a film on the pad is not exactly a hardship now is it, as long as you are prepared to leap into action should the alarm belt out your favourite tune.

I had a couple of nights on the bank earlier this week with my old mate Marc Coulson and although we didn’t actually catch anything we still had a great time and ate like kings. I created a whole Tandoori chicken on my new Cobb cooker the first night and followed it up on the second night with sirloin steaks and a vegetable stir-fry, hardly what you would call slumming it.

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

I quite often take the barbeque along with me in the winter as well, not only is it something to keep you occupied for longer than just a pot-noodle but fire of any sort is always a natural draw and warms you up nicely in the evening.

As long as you pick a decent venue that has a very realistic chance of a winter bite and banks that aren’t submerged in the mire then there is no reason to shy away from winter angling. You won’t need a ton of bait either, in fact I usually catch more on single bright pop-up’s than anything else with the odd fish on a zig during the day if I am lucky.

I’ll be out there myself again in a few days’ time and probably the week after that as well, it sure beats sitting at home every day staring at Facebook, the telly or dreaming my life away waiting for spring.

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10 Reasons You Need To Join The Angling Trust

Are you a member of angling’s most important organisation? If not, there’s no time like the present to join Angling Trust & Fish Legal, says Dom Garnett. With more threats than ever to the fish and fisheries we depend on, there’s never been a greater need to support the future of the sport you love. Here are ten excellent reasons to get involved, from protecting fish stocks to superb member benefits.

1. Because we’re stronger together

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Game and coarse anglers meet on the bank. Angling is stronger when the different branches unite!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Does it sometimes feel like fishing has too little say as a sport, given how many of us are out there? In the past, we tended to split up into many different groups, fighting our own little corners. The Angling Trust is the only body to bring everyone together, from sea anglers to carp fishers. The result? A more powerful voice and real progress for us all.

2. To inspire the next generation of anglers

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Angling Trust coaches have inspired thousands of youngsters to go fishing.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Perhaps the most important reason of all to join the Trust is to inspire and encourage the anglers of tomorrow. By giving quality, affordable training to coaches in sea, coarse and fly fishing right across the UK, we can bring in the new blood that fishing depends on. You might even want to get involved yourself.

3. To get discounts on tackle, day tickets, bait and more…

If you thought that joining the Trust was all about supporting fishing and doing the right thing… well, you’d be correct, but it’s also more than that. Members also get some cracking discounts, whether that means tackle, bait or the latest fishing books for less.

4. To help fund projects and bring angling into the community

Even in times of austerity, there are funds available to strengthen the vital work done by fishing clubs and organisations. The Angling Trust works hand in hand with a range of brilliant projects to bring the positives of fishing to communities right across the UK.

5. To fight polluters and restore fisheries

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Without Fish Legal, many cases of criminal pollution would go unpunished, with no compensation to restore damaged waters.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Have you ever wondered who puts things right when waters are polluted or damaged? In so many cases, it’s Fish Legal, which you support by joining the Angling Trust. With Environment Agency success rates for prosecuting offenders and getting compensation as low as 3%, Fish Legal is not just important – it’s vital!

6. To make sure angling isn’t ignored by the politicians

Even if you consider current politics as dirty and divided, it’s absolutely vital that fishing is brought to the attention of decision makers. The Angling Trust works tirelessly to communicate and lobby key figures at local and national levels, effecting real change. Never mind Facebook rants, the Trust takes coordinated action on the issues that matter to you.

7. For healthier seas, rivers, lakes and ponds

With threats like pollution, over-abstraction, hydropower, overfishing and habitat destruction, it’s crucial that angling is represented in discussions about the future of our waters. We can’t win every battle, but without an organised body to represent thousands of anglers, who will fight for change and sustainability?

From protecting marine fish populations, to working directly with policy makers and groups like WWF, the Angling Trust makes sure we are heard. Find out more about some of the Trust’s current campaigns.

8. To educate European anglers and reduce poaching

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Image courtesy of the Angling Trust.

With more European anglers than ever living in the UK, it’s crucial that those from other cultures are made aware of British laws and the importance of catch and release fishing. Along with better information and signage, the Building Bridges project has been a huge success, bringing anglers together to create better understanding and create a clear message.

9. To put more bailiffs on the bank and protect fisheries

Whether it’s the theft of carp, pike or threatened populations of salmon, our fisheries need protection. As important as the police and Environment Agency are in this, they need information to target their scarce resources. Set up directly with Angling Trust, the Voluntary Bailiff Scheme (VBS) has been an innovative and effective answer to provide really valuable intelligence and help the police tackle waterside crime. Nearly 500 volunteers have been recruited and they are making a big difference.

10. To combat predation and invasive species

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Image courtesy of the Angling Trust.

With populations of creatures, including cormorants and goosanders, rising to alarming levels in some areas, there has never been a greater need to campaign for sensible measures to protect fisheries and, where necessary, reduce numbers of predators. The Angling Trust is one of the only major organisations that campaigns for this on a national scale, using an evidence-based approach with projects such as Cormorant Watch.

Don’t delay, join the Angling Trust today!

At just £29 a year (or less for OAPs and young anglers), membership doesn’t cost a fortune and makes a huge difference to the sport you love. In fact, for the sake of all the great work the Angling Trust and Fish Legal do, it’s an absolute bargain! It’s easy to get onboard too; all you need is five minutes to join online or call directly on 0343 5077006.

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