Halliford Mere Trout Fishery

In this blog smallwater specialist Stuart Smitham visits Halliford Mere trout fishery, situated on the outskirts of West London. Read on to find out more about this interesting venue and how the fishing was.

Where it all started for us. I was posted to Hounslow in or around 1998 for public duties and by chance had heard of a small fishery, offering trout fishing on a Catch & Release ticket. Situated near Heathrow Airport and near the bustling M25 and M3 motorways, this venue was a gravel pit. It’s stones and gravel no doubt used to build the surrounding road ways, that are now a familiar feature in our day to day lives.

Halliford mere fishery

Halliford mere fishery

Some months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Michael Valler, when he mentioned he wanted to try another trout fishery, so I put Halliford Mere forward as a choice of destination for a future day trip. I phoned the fishery on the 25th April and spoke to the owner/ manager Bill who runs the fishery with his brother Gerry. They also run the very successful restaurant which won a Les Routiers award for Venue of the Year 2017. With a full a’la Carte menu and Seafood, you could be spoiled for choice.

With around 15 acres of fishing and utilising four lakes, this fishery has a lot to offer, for a slim £20 C&R ticket. Three of the lakes offering up and Perch & Trout fishing and Lake 4 is a predator lake with some very large Pike lurking the depths. One thing is for sure, we’ll have to work hard to get a fish to the net today, as the sun starts burning the low cloud away and the all too familiar sound of jets streaking to sunnier climes. Having gleaned some info from Bill on the previous Tuesday, we arrive on Saturday having travelled the short journey from Michael’s house.

Mrs Valler isn’t keen on us losing weight today, so she has put a snack bag together to feed a small Army. We have lots of flies to try, so as we drive in the fishery we park up and go to meet Gerry in the restaurant and pay for our day tickets. There’s a chap on the main lake, trying to tempt fish that are on the fin, in the lake centre and they’re having none of it. Some of these look like lumps, plus there are brown buzzer coming off, right now?

Gerry gives us the run down on the lakes and some idea on depths we can expect, stating the main lake is around 22 feet, so I get some idea leader length? We get to the car with fumbling fingers and hasty tackle ups. Some of the better casting points on the main lake are already being used, so we opt to wander off to Lake 2 for a sniff around. There’s a regular here who feeds us some info on what he fishes, then tells us about the 30lb Pike he lost on the main lake the other week. Now a pike is one thing, but a 30lb pike is quite something else. We start a wander, to find feeding fish and end up walking past the houses that back onto the main lake and lake 2.

Ending up directly opposite the chap we just spoke to, Mick has the Airflo Super Dri Bandit, 10 feet of 7lb G3 tippet and a single black buzzer with a gold rib and red tag. He’s also using and airlock indictor, which float really well and can be adjusted up or down the leader, without affecting the leaders strength. Me, I opt for Super Dri Mend, which is a great line for supporting heavy flies, being slightly thicker and is Hi Vis in the sharp sunlight. I have 14 ft of 7lb G3 and I put a dropper on, around 5 feet from the fly line tip. A #14 Black Mirage Cormie on the dropper and a Pearly green buzzer on point.

From our area on a spit, we can see fish moving and smashing buzzers coming off on a wind ruffled segment in the middle of this water. Try as we might, we get nothing so opt for some fun. There are fish moving with a rod length of us, so Mick now puts on a green beaded shammie and I have a red beaded one to try to get a reaction. Mick makes a cast and starts moving his lure in toward us. I leave mine static. Mick makes re-cast and starts talking to me, when he misses a hard pull and starts cursing! I then miss a take too. Serves us both right for not watching eh?

Missed take!

Missed take!

We continue this for a while and see more fish starting to rise to buzzer. We make a bold move up to Church Bay on Lake 3, after getting some hot info from our friend, but when we get there, there’s a lot weed and the banks side fringes are choked with weed, so we wander back to the main lake. After a few tentative casts into some very dark deep holes, we can hear our bellies talking, so a brew and some scotch eggs are very welcome. Re-energised we start a cast and peek around the bottom of the main lake near the road in.

Mick now has an Olive Damsel knotted on with a silver Tungsten head and silli legs trailing off it. I have changed to 17ft of tippet and a single tanksie lure, in black and green with a black 4mm brass bead at the head. I can hear this whistling past me as I cast, so I check the position of my glasses before starting the retrieve. I am fan casting in short and medium length shoots and spot a faint shadow on right heading for me. I stop retrieving and regret it straight away! A brown of around six pounds just sidles by as I’m left pulling line in, to make a re-cast in front of this beast. Nothing?? We move to the opposite side of the Lodge and restaurant and some other chaps are trying to tempt the trout in the lake centre. These fish have seen a line or two before and are out of my range, because we have restricted back cast room with hedges and trees.

Moving up a peg, I can get a line out and miss what I think was a fish. Then bring back some weed about three-foot long. With weed choked lake fringes at the top end of the main lake, we wander again. As we walk into what looks like a secluded section on lake 3, Mick heads for a point and I make for some tree covered bank, that offers an opportunity for challenging casting. I now have about 18 feet of tippet and a Yellow hot body with a white tail. This little gold head works well and has a fluttering action in the tail. Second cast to the far bank and I lock up, the see a small brown around 2.5lb spit the hook and give me the fin. Gutted yet ready again, I make another cast to the same spot. I watch the fly come back then see the flash, Instead of waiting to feel the hit, I line strike straight down chopping my line hand away. That’s when the rod tip comes to life.

Winning combo. Hot body and G3

Winning combo. Hot body and G3.

That was some take, so I ask Mick to pop a few picks off while I play the sprightly Halliford Bow. After a few snaps it streaks back down into the dark water. I lengthen my cast and shoot about 40 feet of line under the trees. Success straight off and Mick comes over to see the hustle and bustle, as a hard-scrapping bow sparkles the water surface with a splashy head thrash.

Into a fish...

Into a fish…

Mick moves ahead of me and starts small casts into the margins. Most of my fish are deep but just visible in the gloomy water. Mick misses a take and so do I. This little hot bed area is pretty cool with lots of activity. I miss several takes because I’m watching Mick then glancing back and catching the pluck on the my fly.

We move to a point which is a great area for casting a long line. I start joking with Mick about getting a smiley pick with a fish, when he locks up! He is well chuffed and fights this fish hard. Rod bent and smiling like a Cheshire cat, he just releases the pressure on the hook hold slightly. Just enough for the feisty bow to slip the hook as Mick is ready to net it. Supremely gutted, Mick checks is rig then changes his leader to about 12 feet long and casts out. I make a long cast with the hauling zone outside the tip ring. That’s over 60 feet of line out, then thump thump and my rod tip starts dancing. What a hit that is! I start gaining line then lose it again? I’m now thinking big fish, so play it safe and gain line slowly. The fish is coming in, so I reel in the line on the deck and gain the upper hand. My line banding is shooting in and out of the water as we both try attempt the battles wits. Then it pops the water surface in a splashy scrap and I slide the net under. What a tussle and this fish is around 2.5lb so nothing massive, but a nice tail explains the fights all to clearly.

A fine Halliford mere bow'

A fine Halliford mere bow’

I rest on the peg as my toes are killing me! Before anyone says anything, I don’t have feet like a hobbit. Because the points of the lakes are slanted, you end up pushing your feet into the front of your boots. Hence me taking a rest Lol. I encourage Mick to watch his line, he is fishing one of our fave flies, the techno cat. A Cats whisker with a red bead head. Mick is using the FTA method and makes a long pull, after some plucks and stops, then just brings the fly back to the surface and misses a splashy follow and take.

I tell Mick to make a long cast near the reeded far bank. He is about to start a retrieve when I stop him. I tell him we don’t know the depth there, so let it sink few seconds more, then make a pull. As soon as he starts the pull, he gets hit and the fish spits the fly at the surface! Unbelievable or what? He makes another cast just to the right of his last cast and the banded starts juddering? Mick strikes and he is in!!! Keeping up pressure with no let up, I give Mick my net as I’m shooting pics off like mad. He leans down and pushes the net out and this bow pops the hook!! You couldn’t write this could you?? Don’t answer that.

One that didn't get away

One that didn’t get away

As the afternoon starts ebbing away, we both realise that time is not on our side. We have to negotiate the M25 and M3 again, but this time when everyone else is driving on it? We have the last, last casts and walk toward the lodge at 4pm. Catching Gerry at the lodge and Bill who looks very dapper in readiness for an evening in the restaurant. We tell them about the Brown at the bottom of the main lake, then find out that they haven’t stocked Brownies for a few years, yet we’ve seen two??

A good day and one Mick will remember as the day that could have been? I would have loved to see Mick with a fish in his hands, but that was not to be. From my perspective, a nice fishery with £20 for a C&R ticket. Dark water bright fly worked a charm for us. It did take a while to cotton onto the ideal method, but it was good fun trying different approaches and tactics.

Super Dri Mend came through again for me. It just floats like a cork and shoots really well, even with heavy flies. G3 came up trumps! Zero breakages, even on the hard pulls and lunges. Impressive

So, if your ever in London and stuck for a place to wet a line, give Bill & Gerry a buzz. Take the Mrs and enjoy the evening stroll after your meal. Whatever you think of Halliford Mere, all I can do is give you a flavour of what we enjoyed on our day. Lets hope yours is, as enjoyable as ours.

Best regards

Stuart

Fishing in Wales – Find a Welsh Angling Club or Association

Wales is a fantastic destination for fly fishers, abounding with lakes and rivers full of trout, sea trout and salmon. As well as offering beautiful scenery, our pristine waterways provide some of the very best game fishing available in the British Isles.

The Fishtec tackle shop is based in Brecon, Powys, in the very heart of Wales, so naturally we take a keen interest in the fishing our local area offers, and indeed throughout the principality.

As well as the sheer quality and quantity of fishing in pristine scenery, what makes Wales stand out as a prime game anglers destination is the ease of access and low prices offered by many Welsh angling clubs, associations and other organisations. Here we have shortlisted various Welsh angling clubs to make things easier for visitors, or for local anglers who have no idea of the quality of fishing available on their own door step.

Using the information here, you will be able to find the right fishing water to suit your requirements, should you ever pay a visit to Wales, or the Fishtec shop!

If you are a Welsh fly fishing club or association and would like to be included in the directory – it’s free, just send an email to Ceri at ceri@bvg-airflo.co.uk or fill out the form here and we’ll be in touch.

Find a Welsh fishing club or association per region:

North West Wales
North East Wales
Mid Wales
South West Wales
South East Wales

Welsh Regions

Bucket List Fishing – The Lough Corrib Experience

Every serious angler should have a bucket list, a select wish-list of places to be fished before we head off to the great rivers and waters in the sky. Here Chris Ogborne ticks another one off his already impressive tally. He packs his fly fishing gear and jets off to Ireland’s mighty Lough Corrib to sample the infamous early spring duck fly fishing. Read on to find out why this place is so special and how he gets on!

Although I’ve been privileged in my angling life to fish so many amazing places, traveling literally all over the World with the England Teams and also on business, I’ve never managed the infamous duck fly on Corrib. It’s partly oversight but somehow the diary has never been free enough. I’ve always meant to go, I’ve always wanted to go, but pressure of life has conspired against it. Until last week. Some very special friends said ‘lets do it’ and so I did!

The vast expanse of the mighty Lough Corrib

The vast expanse of the mighty Lough Corrib

Nothing prepares you for the first time you see Corrib. At just under 40,000 acres it’s over ten times the size of Rutland and you could fit the whole of Chew Valley Lake into one of its bays. It’s a vast body of limestone lough, a huge expanse of water that is overwhelming at first, daunting at best, and one of the few true remaining challenges in our sport.

I’d fished it once before when the World Championships were held there in ’95, but that was in ‘normal’ months when traditional wets and pulling flies were the order of the day. This time it’s early season and we’re here for the explosion of fly life that takes place every year in March and is known the World over as ‘duck fly time’. To quickly dispel any myth about it, the duck fly are simply buzzers. Black ones. Millions of them. It’s a miracle of nature that this phenomenal hatch takes place each year, providing the first real feast of the year for the trout, the birds (the Ducks love them, hence the name) and various other forms of life in the lough. The numbers are beyond definition or imagination, as columns of the insects rise like smoke above the islands, trees and bushes in their mating dance. Clouds so dense you feel you could cut them with a knife. And when the breeze takes them out over the lake they fall to the water and occasionally, in those elusive moments when conditions are just right, the trout go mad!

There are many schools of thought on how to fish for them, and that’s not the purpose or intention of this article. These words are intended as a simple tribute to the place. Dry fly works well, and so does imitative nymph. Some suspend a buzzer beneath a floating dry, whilst others fish just a singleton. Some cast far from the boat or bank, others fish a short line with great stealth   Fine leaders are a must for me, although stories abound of fish taking happily on heavy lines. In truth it matters not – you’re there, and you’re fishing the duck fly hatch. That’s all that really matters.

A rare calm morning on Lough Corrib

A rare calm morning on Lough Corrib

The key is weather, and thankfully I just happened to get lucky last week. Amidst a period of high wind and rain there was a day, just one day, when it all fell calm. Intermittent sunshine was coupled with a mix of gentle breeze and flat calm. Temperatures rose and in the afternoon it felt more like June than March. The flies drifted onto and over the water and if you had a good boatman. as I most certainly did, then it all came together.   I took fish of 2lb, just on 3lbs, and one trophy fish of 5lbs 1oz, the latter being one of the most beautiful browns I’ve ever had in my life.   After weighing and a picture, it was returned to the water to fight another day.

A stunning 5lb Lough Corrib duck fly feeder

A stunning 5lb 1oz Corrib duck fly feeder

The amazing backdrop of countryside and stunning scenery makes an impact and enhances the day. At every turn of the boat a whole new part of the lough becomes visible, with the vista changing completely in the space of a hundred meters. Islands appear, large and small, some covered with vegetation and trees and others little more than a collection or rocks. You’re constantly amazed at the skills of the boatman, guiding the boat with innate skill and avoiding submerged rocks just inches beneath the surface. The micro climate changes, as does the clarity of the water. You drift past spots with evocative names, some famous for generations an others merely a private mark stored carefully in the boatman’s mind.

The amazing light on Corrib

The amazing light on Corrib

It was over by late afternoon as the chill returned to the water, but that didn’t matter. I’d had the red letter day, fulfilled the big tick on my bucket list, and enjoyed one of the ultimate angling experiences of my life. With the very best of company and a little – OK, a lot! – of the black nectar known as Guinness it was, as they say in Ireland, a great Craic.

Beyond that it was emotional, and I use that word carefully and in full knowledge that not everyone will understand.   Fishing Corrib is a humbling process, as you’re always aware that the lough can and will have the final word. But if it goes right, just once in your life, then you are a happier angler and a richer man for having been there.

Spring Trouting on the River Usk

March the 3rd was the fishing opening day on the Welsh rivers for trout. Unfortunately for Fishtec employees this was during the week, so for us the fly fishing season could not start until the weekend!

The fly fishing gear was eagerly dusted off and we hit the local river Usk for a few hours. Marketing director Tim Hughes chose a river Usk beat near Brecon, and landed 9 nice wild trout, all on deeply fished nymphs tied on jig hooks. Check out his cool video using a GoPro here:

Tim captured his fish on an Airflo Streamtec nano rod, 10 foot rated 3/4 which is ideal for short line nymphing.

10 miles further upstream near Sennybridge, Ceri Thomas battled a brutal head on wind which made casting and line control extremely difficult, but still managed to land a nicely marked 15 inch brown trout on a deeply fished nymph, presented under an airlock strike indicator.

River Usk brown trout

River Usk brown trout

The conditions were still very cold and blustery, with few flies hatching in the upstream reaches to bring the fish near the surface. As the conditions warm up the fly hatches the river Usk is famed for will kick into life – and should provide some world class dry fly sport.

River Usk early spring

River Usk in early spring

For those looking to book an early season river fishing trip in Wales we recommend the Wye and Usk foundations booking office.  Their superb online system makes selecting and then paying for your chosen stretch extremely easy, with up to date river level information and anglers reports readily on hand.

 

 

 

Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report 25/05/14

Cwm Hedd Fishery Report 25/05/14

Cwm Hedd had been fully stocked for the bank holiday with hard fighting fish from Exmoor fisheries.  Open Wed/Thurs 7am-5pm, last admission 2pm; Fri/Sat/Sun and bank holiday Monday 26th May: 7am -9.15 pm:  last admission 5pm

Please remember that if early anglers have left by the last admission times then the gates will be closed.

Tel 07813 143 034 or (during fly fishing opening hours) lodge:  01633 896854

Sunshine, thunder and lightning, hail, rain, rain/sun, rain/sun/rain etc etc must be summer!  The contrary weather has made for difficult fishing at times: on Wednesday anglers struggled in the bright sunshine and climbing temperatures, then the return to monsoon conditions for the rest of the week tempted only the stalwarts or the stir-crazy.  Top anglers were Lee Ashcroft, Roger Martyn and John Belcher, with John taking two and returning 3 on suspended buzzers and a floating line, while Roger and Lee each took one and returned 4 on an emerger (Roger) and a hare’s ear nymph (Lee).

When fish are showing Ken Bowring recommends black emerger patterns, hook size 14 and 12 fished in the surface film; when fish are not showing, buzzers are worth a try. In flat calm go right down and fish very slow.

It was a pleasure to welcome visitors from further afield: better luck next time to New Yorker David Peraino who did his best to outwit the Cwm Hedd rainbows that cruised past and spurned all David’s offerings; Tristan Vratil from Chicago fared better to take one on a hare’s ear and a floating line. Liverpudlian John Macdonald, on a combined rugby and fishing holiday, was delighted to take one and release two on a buzzer and a floating line and will be equally delighted to see his name in print! We hope all will return on their next trip to Wales.

Photos on facebook are of John Belcher and Jack Webb (together in a pic with their fish) John Macdonald and Paul Jones in individual pics with their fish. Also one drenched angler caught in one of Thursdays downpours, although he’s unrecognisable in all the waterproof fishing clothing!

£200 tag fish still for the taking £1 entry: will someone please catch it!!!

Poppy fish: British Legion Competition 16th November 2014. £30 entry fee plus sponsorship. Cash prizes totalling £215.00.  Entry forms available at Cwm Hedd lodge or download at  http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/counties/wales/events

Visit the Cwm Hedd website : www.cwmhedd.co.uk

Visit Cwm Hedd on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cwmheddlakes

 

Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report 18/05/14

Cwm Hedd Fishery Report

A beautiful Cwm Hedd rainbow caught on a cat’s whisker

How is Cwm Hedd fishing?

The roller coaster weather in the last few week has made it all the fun of the fair for anglers, who have rummaged through fly boxes and more obscure places in the quest to find flies to tempt the fickle rainbows. The soaring temperatures on the weekend mainly brought out the sun cream and hats (plus a mellow rendition of Summertime drifted across the lake at one point), but on Friday it was a damsel, cat, black buzzer, a bloodworm, an orange lure and a bucket load of experience that brought top anglers of the week Ken Bowring and Roger Martyn 19 rainbows between them:  Ken on an intermediate line and Roger alternating an intermediate with a floating fly line.

Other top anglers of the week were Colin Cox and Dave Eckett, Colin taking two and releasing 5 on a bloodworm and Dave taking one and releasing 5, also on a bloodworm; Paul West and Lee Ashcroft each took one and released four, Paul on a gold buzzer and floating line, Lee on a hare’s ear, diawl bach and a tadpole on a mini tip fly line. Paul Elsworthy and Alan Powell each took one and released three and one respectively on a bloodworm and mini montana, each angler on a floating line. John Belcher took 3 over two visits and released one on a spider and floating line, then a cat and intermediate line. Keith Cox took one and released one on an intermediate line and a black and green tadpole. Early morning or evening fishing is advisable, or a bit of both with a long siesta at the lodge in between!

£200 tag fish still for the taking

Still evading capture is the wily £200 tag fish, the £1 entry is going to make one angler very happy any time soon.  Still, while the tag fish is still out there the donation that will be going to Velindre Cancer Centre is growing and is now over £100

Poppy fish: British Legion Competition 16th November 2014. £30 entry fee plus sponsorship. Nearly a quarter of the places have already been taken, so early entry is very important if you don’t want to miss out. Cash prizes totalling £215.00. Entry forms available at Cwm Hedd lodge or download at  http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/counties/wales/events

___

Open Wed/Thurs 7am-5pm, last admission 2pm; Extended hours for bank holiday weekend: Fri/Sat/Sun, plus bank holiday Monday 26th May 7am -9.15 pm:  last admission 5pm

I’m considering being open Thursday evening this week (in the words of Joan Armatrading ‘I’m open to persuasion’):  ring me on Thursday afternoon to check, or let me know beforehand if you definitely want to fish that evening.

If early anglers have left by the last admission times then the gates will be closed, so don’t be late or it will make you very grumpy when you can’t fish!

Tel 07813 143 034 or lodge during fly fishing opening hours:  01633 896854

Or visit the website : http://www.cwmhedd.co.uk/ 

Fishery Reports

Fishtec Fishery Reports

Looking for up to date information on some of the best fisheries in the United Kingdom? Here we have a selection of the top fly fishing venues and their latest fishing reports, highlighting how many fish have been caught, what fly lines anglers have been having most luck with and what flies you should fish for a great day on the water.

Wales

Cwm Hedd Fishery Report
Llyn Brenig Fishery Report

England

Blagdon Fishery Report
Chew Fishery Report

*under construction*