Thursday 22 December 2016

BFFA Christmas Supper 2016

Twenty-two members and wives met at Zuzimo's Restaurant in Plymouth for the annual BFFA Christmas Supper on Monday 12th December.  The owner, Mo, greeted us as we arrived for a start time around 7.30pm.  We had pre-ordered our meals from the Christmas menu and the BFFA had donated two bottles of wine for each table of four guests.

The restaurant has a good atmosphere, good service and good food.  As usual the hospitality was second to none and the owner, Mo, even bought some of our raffle tickets and then won a prize in the draw.  Between us we covered the whole menu and there was nothing but praise for the quality of all the courses.

Members gather in the bar at Zuzimo's.  Mo is on the right

After the meal Peter presented Kelvin with a bottle of whisky for winning the Christmas fishing competition at Newhouse Fishery a couple of days earlier on the 10th December.  He had a rainbow of 3lb 8oz in a total bag of 7lb 4oz.   See the previous blog for Peter's report of the competition

Peter presents Kelvin with the prize for winning the Newhouse competition

Next it was the turn of our chairman, Kelvin, to present the three trophies won by members during the year. 
'The Sunset Trophy' is for the biggest rainbow from Burrator and that was won by Ken Hindley with a trout of 5lb 8oz.  Ken could not be at the supper.   The new engraved glass 'Traveller's Trophy' for the biggest trout taken on an 'away day' at a fishery other than Burrator was won by Terry Denley with a rainbow of 3lb 12oz taken at Tavistock Fishery.  He  was also presented with an engraved glass paperweight to keep.  'The Three Fly Trophy' for a competition of the same name at Burrator was won by Tony Hooper with a rainbow of 1lb 10oz.  The trophy is a superb carved trout with a new one given each year by Tony Vallack.

Kelvin addresses the gathering
Terry receives the 'Travellers Trophy'

Tony is presented with 'The Three Fly' trophy

Tony Vallack, in his splendid Christmas jumper, had been selling raffle tickets throughout the evening and the draw for prizes was eagerly awaited.  The table was groaning under the weight and members were invited to select a prize when their ticket was drawn.  Some members won several prizes and generously allowed a re-draw.

The draw prizes

Mo selecting his draw prize

Pete had several winning tickets but kept just the line tray!

Another very successful and really enjoyable evening in good company!

Newhouse Christmas Competition

Bob plays a fish - with Mike in the foreground

As in previous years the BFFA held a pre-Christmas Competition on the Saturday before the Christmas Supper. This year we went to Newhouse Fishery at Gara Bridge, near Loddiswell, South Devon, on Saturday 10th December.

The weather on the day was not as bad as the forecasters had led us to expect but, nevertheless, it was intermittently wet and windy. Those overly pessimistic predictions by the weatherman had led one or two of our members to decided they preferred a warm fireside to a cold and windy valley, and who is to blame them?

In the end six brave, intrepid and hardy members wrapped up warm and dry, and with the occasional respite provided by the Newhouse Fishing Hut, persevered and were rewarded for their perseverance.

Mike fishing in the typical conditions of the day

Kelvin, our esteemed Chairman was, I understand, the first there (by his own admission he doesn't get out enough). He was also the first to catch a fish which, it turned out, was the best fish of the day at almost three and a half pounds. Also making the effort were  Bob Eccles, Pat Power, Mike Duckett, Tony Vallack and Peter Macconnell.

Officially the start time was 10.00am and the finish was at  3.00pm. We all had three fish permits. The results were as follows:
Kelvin - Three rainbows for 7lb 4oz.
Mike - Two rainbows and a blue trout for 6lb 8oz.
Bob - Three rainbows for 6lb 4oz.
Peter - Three rainbows for 6lb 0oz.
Tony - One rainbow for 1lb 10oz.
Pat - One rainbow for 1lb 8oz.
There were many more 'takes' and one or two fish lost in the fight and at the net. So it was quite a satisfactory day overall, in terms of fish and sport.

Three of Peter's fish and two of Mike's

It is quite common on these occasions for Tony Vallack to bring  his calor stove, frying pan, bread rolls and a pack of smoked back bacon. He did so today. So in addition to our own snacks and flasks were were able to have a bacon 'butty' to warm us up. Usually we also have tea from Tony Hooper's Kelly Kettle and cake from the fair hand of Linda James, but those delights remained untasted on this day. Still, a good time was had and a few fish were caught. As ever, the owners of Newhouse made us feel very welcome and were of help to Mike who, rather disabled these days, would have found getting to the waterside something of a strain without vehicular assistance.

Tony cooks the bacon

A goose and a duck - wanting a bacon butty?

I think the whole thing got us in the right frame of mind for the Christmas Supper.

Monday 21 November 2016

BFFA Competition held at Burrator on Saturday 19 November 2016

Perhaps the weather forecast had deterred members from fishing the November competition at Burrator as only four of us were there.  Calm & quite sunny conditions greeted our start but it soon clouded over.  The water level is still very low with the reservoir at something like 48% of maximum capacity.  The air temperature was about 6C and the water 9C.  

We all fished on the south facing side of the Longstone Peninsula where only an occasional breeze disturbed the surface.  Pat landed the first (and only as it turned out!) rainbow.  A rather slim and dark one of 1lb 4oz that took a "sparkly fly".  A little later I had a 10oz brown trout take my black & green Kennick Killer. The Burrator brownies really are stunning with a huge variation in markings and colouration.  By midday the cloudy skies had darkened and the first of several very cold, heavy showers spattered the lake.  The Kelly Kettle provided us with a gratefully received cup of tea - Bewleys Irish Blend - but by 2pm we decided we had had enough and declared Pat the winner. 

There had been a stocking of rainbows two weeks previously so it was disappointing not to land a few more.  I think that the odd fish we saw dimpling the surface were probably brownies - I saw no fly life at all.

A calm lake & blue skies at first

Pat into the first rainbow

My beautifully marked 10oz brown trout

Glassy calm at Longstone 

The Kelly Kettle included in a tea break 'selfie' with me, Mark, Bob & Pat

A heavy shower as were brewing tea

An even heavier shower mixed with hail

The smoke from the woodburning stove at the Discovery Centre looked inviting!

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Burrator Fly Fishers Competition at Tavistock Trout Fishery 28th October 2016

This competition was held at Tavistock Trout Fishery on Friday 28th October.  Nine members met in the car park for the start at 10am.  Permits for three fish were purchased and we spread ourselves around the five lakes.  The weather was very mild with an air temperature around 15C although it remained overcast all day.  The water coming into the trout lakes from the River Tavy was much more chilly at 10C.  The weigh-in was at 3pm.

Prior to the competition three members, Pat, Terry and David had landed trout of over 5lb while fishing other 'away days' during the season.  It had been agreed at the last meeting that the biggest trout caught by them would win the Traveller's Trophy unless anyone of us fishing here at Tavistock had a trout bigger than 5lb 3oz which would then win the trophy.

In the event, Terry had a rainbow of 3lb 12oz which was the biggest on the day so he was declared the winner of the Traveller's Trophy as well as the competition.  Other members who landed trout were David - 2lb 12oz,  BobP - 2lb 11oz,  Keneisha 2lb 11oz and  Kelvin - 2lb11oz.  Four of us were unable to land anything although some fish were hooked and lost.  An angler unconnected with the BFFA had a beautiful brown trout of exactly 5lb on a small buzzer while fishing the Kingfisher Lake.

Very few trout were moving and not a great deal of fly life was seen.  The lakes are quite deep with the Big Osprey Lake topping the list at 18 feet, the other four ranging between 12 & 14 feet. 

New member Keniesha gets ready with the net as David hooks his first fish of the day

Looking across Heron Lake

Pete  gets ready with the net as Kelvin lands his first fish from the Lower Heron Lake

Safely in the net!

Tony fishing the Heron Lake
BobE & BobP fishing the Kingfisher Lake next to the lodge

Friday 14 October 2016

Burrator Fly Fishers (& Others!) in Ireland Again

As in previous years I have resisted the urge to drive over 400 miles each way from Plymouth to the rented house in West Cork and have instead taken the Brittany Ferries flagship, Pont-Aven, from Plymouth to Roscoff and then on to Cork. A drive of about 35 miles each way. The house we rented enjoys a great location in Courtmacsherry looking up the estuary of the Argideen River, a well known sea trout stream.

Kelvin had never been to Ireland and had never fished for bass.  He showed us how it was done though, landing a nice bass on his first cast in Irish waters.  He had 5 good bass in all during his trip.  All fell to the charms of a Snowbee rhubarb & custard plug.  

Kelvin & Peter were due to hire one of Mark Gannon's 16 foot self drive boats for 5 days but the weather was anything but settled so they had just two days afloat.  There are usually plenty of pollack around the bay and we like to catch a few for fish pies, fish & chips, fish cakes etc.  This year we struggled to find any numbers even when the weather and sea conditions let us get out to the usual reefs and headlands.  

One of the photos below shows the Courtmacsherry lifeboat on a shout to assist a yachtie.  The lifeboat is a 14 metre Trent class and as they were going at full chat down the estuary one of the crew told me later that they noticed me fishing on a sandbank that was almost covered by the flooding tide.  They sounded their klaxon and realising that I may get wet I turned to wade back but at that moment I had a bass take the sandeel.  The wash looked worse than it was in reality but I did get a few photos and land the bass!  Later, in the Anchor Bar one of the crew told me that a yachtsman had dislocated her shoulder and was unable to sail the boat so the lifeboat took it and the yachtie into Kinsale.

I had been in email correspondence with Dr Ciara Wogerbauer at the Irish National Bass Program in Dublin.  Her team are collecting data to assist the Inland Fisheries Ireland in a long term bass sampling and research program to manage stocks for recreational anglers.  Unlike the UK where commercial fishermen are permitted to retain 1.3 tonnes of bass per month there is no commercial fishing for bass in Ireland.  Ciara asked if we could take scale samples from bass we landed before returning the bass to the water.  Recreational anglers are permitted to retain 1 bass per day but almost all of ours are quickly returned.  We did finish the visit with plenty of scale samples that I will be sending to Dublin with a short report.

My four and a bit weeks went in a flash while other guests came and went.  All too soon it was time to pack the car and drive to the ferryport at Cork for the return to Plymouth.  This year I landed 8 bass but in previous years I have had nearly 100 over the same sort of period.  I hope the research will discover some useful information.

The rented house in Courtmacsherry
The view up the estuary from the house

A visit to Mary O'Neill's Bar is a must - Mary on the right
and again............
And again.........!

Bassing from the shore at Barry's Point

Out on the estuary in my Avon

Tying up to a navigation buoy is not recommended when you are in the UK!

5lb+ bass

Peter & Kelvin in a self drive 16 footer

Just off Wood Point

At Rosscarbery Pier

Kelvin plugging off the shore at Wood Point

and again this time at Quarry Point with Barry's Point beyond

Tea break at Blind Strand

Off Barry's Point in my Avon - quite choppy for small boats!

The Courtmacsherry Trent Class lifeboat on a shout - less than 8 feet of water under the keel!

Peter Macconnell added a some photographs and a paragraph on 3rd November:

As Tony's guests in Courtmacsherry, Kelvin and I traveled in my car,and spent nine days there from 20th to 29th September. I thought I would add a couple of pictures, not least because they record Kelvin catching his first (and second) bass all on a cheap Snowbee plug. He caught five altogether which was more than me. I was very pleased for him!

Kelvin's first (on the Snowbee plug)

Late afternoon and a second fish for Kelvin

A nice bass for Peter on mackerel bait

Some serious fishing went on!