Thursday 11 December 2014

Burrator Fly Fishers Christmas Dinner 2014

A good turn out of members met at The Jack Rabbit  at Derriford on Monday 8th December for the Burrator Fly Fishers Christmas dinner.  The Jack Rabbit is part of the Vintage Inn group.  I had not been there previously and was impressed with how welcoming it felt as we walked through the door.  We selected our own meals from the menu and several of us arrived with Vintage Inn wine vouchers that entitled us to a free glass of wine.  A little negotiation by Peter and we had enough for three bottles of wine which was a very good start!

The food was excellent, the staff polite and helpful and the evening passed very quickly - always a good sign of an enjoyable time.  Awards for competition wins, biggest fish of the year etc. were handed out as follows: Peter Phillips won the wooden fish plaque for the best weight in the annual Three Fly Competition, Pat Power won the new Geoff Riley Memorial Trophy (The Sunset Trophy) for the best fish of the year from Burrator and also won a bottle of Scotch for the best fish from any venue, with the same six pound plus wild brownie he caught and released at Burrator. And finally, Mike Duckett won another bottle of Scotch for the best overall weight in the Bake Christmas Competition. Mike also did a brilliant job of organising the raffle.

Sue & I had decided to take a taxi to the pub as our usual arrangement of sharing the driving  - me to the venue, Sue driving back home - was a little contentious!  Peter's wife Gill volunteered to drive us back to Compass House on the Barbican which was very generous particularly as they drove past their front door on the way - thank you Gill, much appreciated.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Christmas Competition - Bake Lakes

The 2014 Christmas Competition took place at Bake Lakes. Unfortunately there was a disappointingly low turnout by members. It is difficult to understand why this should be so. The weather was lovely. It was one of those bright and still winter days that, though a little chilly early on was easily warmed up by some splendid winter sunshine. So for those who chose to stay at home or go Christmas shopping we can only say that you missed a good day out and the chance of a fish or two. Six members came and all caught fish.

Not a breath of wind

Walk this way

Pat Power was the first to get his brace. He weighed in two rainbows for 3lb 13oz, which eventually gave him third place. Mike Duckett was the winner with two fish for 5lb 6oz, and Peter Macconnell was second with 4lb 9oz. Tony Vallack, John Jeffrey and David Lye had a single fish each.

Pat Power with two fish for 3lb 13oz.

A two and a half pounder to start the day for Peter

David about to land his first fish of the day

The proud captor!

Inquisitive wildlife

Thursday 4 December 2014

Recent reports from Bake Lakes

A beautiful day at Bake Lakes

In anticipation of our Christmas Competition at Bake Lakes this coming Saturday I thought it might be quite useful to share some recent information received about the fishing there.

Tony Vallack and Mike Duckett went about ten days ago, and they were followed by Kelvin Nikulin and Mark Clark last week. Tony reported that both he and Mike had rainbows of around three pounds while fishing fairly deep and slow with booby nymphs.

Mark then sent me a couple of pictures and a brief report from the visit he and Kelvin made last Monday. He described the fishing as difficult but the fish were there to be caught and were in superb condition. Again they fished deep and slow and in the end Mark had three fish and Kelvin one.

Three nice ones for Mark

It sounds like it will pay to try a sinking lines as well as floaters for the competition on Saturday. I hope to see as many of you as possible there.

You must be Codding!

Captain Vallack brings the SS Samaki alongside

After our somewhat foreshortened visit to Burrator last week (see previous post) Tony Vallack and I decided that we were more likely to be able to top up the fish drawer in our freezers with a bit of  sea fishing. Pollack and even the possibility of a late season bass were on our minds when, on Sunday morning , we set out in Tony's boat SS Samaki to see what was swimming around just outside the breakwater.

Once again the weather was kind to us in so far as there was no rain or wind to speak of. We were in for another bright but chilly day.

Tony with a nice codling

We used light lure rods to fish soft plastic jig-headed lures in water between 30 and 50 feet deep. Allowing the lures to fall to the bottom we then worked them slowly towards the surface. Unfortunately the pollack were not interested, or not there. However we did find a few nice codling between one and a half and three and a half pounds. Easily the most successful lure was something called the Black Fiish Minnow. It was best fished fairly close to the bottom.

Peter with one of the smaller fish

Fishing for these smallish cod is nowhere near as exciting as catching even medium sized pollack on the same gear. Where the pollack really dive when hooked, the codling have nothing like that turn of speed. Nevertheless they are dogged little fighters and, as you can imagine, make delicious eating.

Tony is not only a first class boat captain, he also shines on the culinary and domestic front. Firstly he rustled up lunchtime bacon sandwiches and cups of coffee with the stove in his little cabin, then, at the end of our short day, he gutted and filleted a few of the fish. These are now in our freezers and soon to be defrosted, battered and deep fried.

Ready for filleting

November Competition at Burrator

'Bloody Hell its cold in here!' - says Pat

Those of your that attended the last club meeting will know that, because of the very windy and wet weather in the week it was due to take place, our November competition was rescheduled for Wednesday 26th November at Burrator. In the event it proved a very good decision because the original date, Thursday 13th, turned out to be very stormy indeed. By the 26th the storms had gone but the cold weather had come in instead. So on the day we had only a small turnout of four members for what was a beautifully bright but seriously chilly early winter's day.

The winners!

In the end the four intrepid souls, Tony Vallack, David Lye, Pat Power and Peter Macconnell caught only two fish between them, though numerous other trout were hooked and lost. No one fished on beyond about three o'clock at which time Tony and Pat were declared joint winners with one 'schoolie' each, and we all went home to sit in front of our respective fires with cups of coffee or perhaps glasses of whisky.

Here are some more pictures:

Tony looks in vain for signs of rising fish
Pat wrapped up against the cold
'Is it time to go home yet?'

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Autumn Update

Fancy a bit of cold weather fishing? - It might be worth it this Autumn and Winter
Even though we are at the end of what, traditionally, would be thought of as the trout fishing season, there are a few things going on both with the fishing at Burrator and with the Burrator Fly Fishers Association (BFF) that will, I am sure be of interest to you all:

Winter Opening
As many of you will already know Burrator is staying open for fishing throughout the winter. The only time the water will be closed is the first two weeks of March 2015. What is more SWLT intend to stock the reservoir over the winter on a monthly basis. A stocking for November went in last week. The cost of fishing will be £8.00 per day and there will be a two fish per day limit. (More than one permit can be purchased if wished). Season Permit holders can continue until the end of November, after which there will be a three month season permit available (December, January, February) for £75.00 with a four fish per week limit. This will be available online and by phone from SWLT. Alternatively Season permit holders can purchase day permits during that three month period. Personally speaking, I shall do that since it is very hard to predict what the winter weather will be like and how consistently fish-able it will be.

Day permits will be available from the self service hut at Burrator which will be open every day. I am also given to understand that the sale of permits at the petrol station in Yelverton has now ceased because of their availability on site. The thing to remember when using the self service system at Burrator is that you will need to have the correct money (£8.00) or a cheque for that amount. There is no facility for obtaining change. This is exactly the same arrangement as operates at Siblyback and Kennick.

I have already been up and talked to a few anglers making use of this extension and seen some fish caught. So, in my view this arrangement is a very welcome initiative from SWLT and the more we use it the more likely it is to continue in future years.

Boat Fishing
The boat fishing on Burrator has now finished for this season. The two boats are to be removed in the next week or so and, according to Kit Hancock, taken to Kennick to be stored, and repaired if necessary, until the 2015 season when they will be back with us. The use of the boat by BFF members, guests and the occasional visitor from Kennick has been reasonable. It has been out  twenty two days between late April and mid October; on average once a week; not as much as I had hoped but an improvement of last year. Obviously, the winter fishing reported above will be bank only.

November Competition - Revised Date and Venue
We were due to have our November competition at Rose Park the small 'Put & Take' fishery near Alturnun, Cornwall, this coming Thursday 13th November. However the unanimous view of the membership present at our club meeting last evening was that this should be postponed until later in the month because of the dreadful weather forecasts for the rest of this week, and we should change the venue in the light of Burrator still being open and stocked which, of course, we did not know when our competition programme  was made out in February. So The November competition will now be at Burrator on Wednesday 26th November, and will be for the best two fish. I hope to see as many of you as possible there.

December Competition
This regular pre Christmas event will take place at Bake Lakes as usual. The date is Saturday 6th December. Again it is a 10.00am start and the prize will be for the best two fish. There will definitely be mince pies, cake and glass of sloe gin or something similar. So be there!

Christmas Meal at the Jack Rabbit
As has been the case for the last two years, there will be a Christmas meal on the evening of  Monday 8th December at the Jack Rabbit. Drinks from 7.00pm and sit down to eat at about 7.30pm. There is no set meal. It will simply be personal choice from the pub's normal menu. Though the club funds will run to paying for at least some of the wine. By popular request spouses/partners of various kinds are welcome to attend also and thus far four members, at least have indicated that their better halves will be coming along.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

September in Ireland Part III

I thought I would post about my own trip to Ireland the week before Peter's trip to join Tony in West Cork. Myself and two friends, brothers Phil and Kevin Stuckey, headed some 60 miles further west from Courtmacsherry to the Beara Peninsula. This is a rugged finger of rock that pokes out into the North Atlantic between Bantry Bay to the south and the Kenmare Estuary to the north. The three of us have been going to this area for several years now to fish rock marks, mostly with soft plastic lures on 40gm spinning rods for large Pollack, Wrasse and anything else that will take a lure. We also do a bit of bottom fishing for Conger, Ling and other species and float fishing for Mullet and this year Trigger Fish. We had a great time catching Pollack to over 11lbs from the rocks, loads of Wrasse and some big Conger. Mullet proved hard to tempt though Phil and Kev managed a few from a deep water mark. The Trigger fish were weird and we caught quite a few. It has to be said these do not present much of an angling challenge, on the day we encountered them, using mackerel as bait, we caught and returned every fish in the shoal before they wised up and departed. I recommend Beara, the scenery is superb and the fishing terrific, though as can be seen from the photos many of the marks are rugged and hard to access requiring fairly long hikes over rough ground. I have caught quite a few fish on fly, I've included one photo from a previous trip. Didn't get any on this trip though it has to be said I was not trying very hard. Photos below are a mix of this year and last time we went as I forgot my camera this time so only had my phone.

Monday 13 October 2014

September in Ireland Part II

Tony Vallack plays a bass while Mike Duckett waits with the net

Following Tony Hooper’s earlier report here are a few further notes and pictures of our Irish adventures.

I was lucky enough to be able to go to West Cork for 10 days from 10th to 20th September. I went the long way round; Plymouth to Pembroke Dock in South Wales, then on the ferry from Pembroke to Rosslaire, and then overland through Wexford, Waterford and Cork to Courtmacsherry.

For the first week I stayed with Tony Hooper, his wife Sue, John Williams a mutual bass fishing friend from West Cornwall, and his son Chris, at Anchor Bay Cottages in Courtmacsherry; very nice digs indeed, and excellent company. Tony, it seems knows everybody, and most of the pubs, in West Cork and they all know him, so that made it all the more fun.

Guinness or...

...Murphy's - the hardest decision of the week?

As well as catching the bass shown in his report together with one or two others somewhat smaller, I managed to lose my passport and my driving licence! It happened like this:

In preparation for a trip with Tony in his inflatable boat, I was sorting out my fishing bag at the back of my car. On noticing that my passport and driving licence were in the bag I thought ‘Oh, I need to take those into the cottage where they will be safe’. So I temporarily put them on the roof of my car while I finished getting my gear ready. I then forgot they were there. Well, you can guess what happened next, yes, I drove off down the road with them still on the roof! Two days later my passport turned up after someone had handed it in at the local lifeboat station and my driving licence ended up being posted back to Plymouth, courtesy of a kind lady from Dublin who found it on the road to Timoleague! Anyway, despite the anxiety that they might not let me leave Ireland without my identity papers, I had an excellent time.

Now, where's my passport?

After that I went down to Rosscarberry to stay with Mike Duckett and Tony Vallack in their luxury rented bungalow; which was also very nice. They had arranged to fish with a local guide, Pete Aspinwall, from his small boat. It turned out he was taking them to one of the places I had been with Tony Hooper earlier that week. Sure enough he put them on a few bass as well as a bonus sea trout.

Tony with a nice bass...

...and a seatrout

Mike Duckett with bass and Pete Aspinwall

In the latter part of my stay I had hoped to catch some mullet, possibly on the fly, from the saltwater lagoon at Rosscarberry, a well know Cork mulleting spot, but it was not to be, and after ten days and many pints of Guinness and Murphy’s I made the long journey home via the Rosslaire to Pembroke Ferry. 

Friday 10 October 2014

September in Ireland Part I

Yet another away trip for some BFF members!  

I make an annual September bass fishing pilgrimage to Courtmacsherry, West Cork in Ireland and this year I was joined for a week by Peter Macconnell.  We also  met up with Mike Duckett & Tony Vallack who were staying at Rosscarbery – about 15 miles west of where our cottage was. Peter later stayed with Tony & Mike at Rosscarbery.

I take my Avon inflatable & outboard which gives another dimension to the fishing.  I had almost four weeks of sunny weather but the wind was firmly in the east for the first couple of weeks.  My wife, Sue, travelled over with me but flew back early to resume grand parenting duties.  She landed the first bass of our trip – a 3 pounder – and declared that “this bass fishing is easy, I may well take it up…………”

I took Peter out in the inflatable to fish the estuary.  It was quite breezy and as the tide was ebbing strongly I tied up to a handy buoy.  Peter had a positive bite and a bass raced downstream with the tide.  In the excitement Peter lost his hat (never to be seen again!) while I quickly let go the buoy to follow the bass.  Luckily it stayed the same side as us of the numerous buoys as we were carried along by the current.  Peter eventually got it to the boat where we netted it, took some scale samples and weighed it at 7lb 8oz before returning it to the water. Result for our chairman!

Driving from Plymouth to West Cork via Fishguard or Pembroke and back is a round trip of about 900 miles so Sue & I travelled on Brittany Ferries’ flagship from Millbay Docks.  The 41,000 tonne MV Pont Aven sails from Plymouth to Cork via Roscoff at weekends as well as doing two trips to Spain during the week.  Total driving was about 34 miles each way!  The extra cost of this route was offset by the saving of three tanks of diesel for the Jeep and a relaxing cruise.

Sue had the first bass of our trip - a 3 pounder

5lb 8oz bass for me

and a 7lb 8oz bass for Peter

This is the tougher side of Irish bass fishing!

Monday 18 August 2014

An August day at Kennick

Kelvin looks pleased

Our August competition was held at Kennick Reservoir. There wasn't a large turn-out. In fact Tony Hooper, Kelvin Nikulin and I were the only ones who turned up at the fishing lodge in the early afternoon of Thursday 14th August. I suspect several members were put off by the Met Office forecast which predicted some fairly heavy downpours, but in the event they needn't have worried because though the temperature was fairly cool and the wind a bit blustery, it was otherwise bright with only a couple of light sprinklings of rain throughout the afternoon, which actually brought the fish on! 

Tony had stopped at the boat lodge on the western side of the reservoir en route and had spoken to a couple of chaps there. They reported the fishing as being hard despite a stocking of fish the previous day. Only one fish had been caught during the morning. A hand in the water showed immediately that it was still like a lukewarm bath. Ominous !

Tony decided to fish from the western bank so the wind was at his back, while Kelvin and I made for the lawns area on the east side, where the wind was pushing a healthy ripple on to the shore. 

Fishing into the wind

Kelvin began with a floating line, nine foot leader, and his trusty orange and blue weighted damsel nymph on the point. I opted for a fast sinking line and fished hard on the bottom using a combination of buzzers on the dropper and an orange booby nymph on the end. After just twenty-five minutes Kelvin hooked the first fish. As he pulled line off his reel for a fresh cast, with just two yards still out in in the water, something took his fly and headed off across the reservoir. It turned out to be a plump two pound rainbow trout and he quickly had it on the bank.

Seeing that Kelvin was having some success on the floating line I changed to a similar set-up. As we moved moved further up the lawns to a spot opposite the lodge we could see several fish ‘tailing’. They were only ten or fifteen feet out from the bank so, despite a freshening wind, it was still possible to cast at about a forty-five degree angle from the bank and get the fly out just behind them. After about fifteen minutes I got my first fish when a short stripping retrieve induced an eager take.

The Deadly Damsel

Shortly after this Tony appeared on our side of the reservoir and stopped to exchange information. As he moved further up towards Hawthorne Point near Clampit's Bay, things started to get a bit more exciting. Fish came on to feed more consistently and several were hooked and lost as initially they seemed to be taking short. However persistence paid off in the end and I saw five fish safely landed to my rod in the following two hours. Kelvin was was a little less lucky with only three fish netted but perhaps his were bigger than mine. 

A very interesting aspect to catching these fish was the way they fought once hooked. In each case the fish made only one hard run and then gave up the struggle, coming easily to the net. Surely this was a sign that the warm water was low in oxygen content and therefore the fish found it difficult to sustain the fight for any length of time. 

In  the end we were pleased to take a few fish in less than ideal conditions and, anyway, Kennick in August, like any other month, remains a lovely place to visit and to fish.

Half a dozen of Kennick's finest