This month brings exciting news with the opening of not one but TWO completely new fisheries in Devon. It has been a real pleasure to play a small part in each of them, too, with some excellent day ticket fishing for carp, trout and grayling within easy reach of most Devon locals and visitors.
Both of these new places to fish are quite near Exeter, Taunton and Barnstaple, in fact. So, where do we start? Well, that might depend on whether your first love is wild trout, grayling or carp. Should you fancy a head start on either venue, you’re also very welcome to book me for a guided session.
Bellbrook’s beautiful new carp lake
Some of you will know Bellbrook Valley as a trout fishery of some 50 years. Well, that is now all changing, with the development of Iron Mill Lake as a new specimen carp fishery. And what a place it promises to be! It has been a joy to be one of the first to fish here, in what will be a refreshingly different carp fishery, just a short drive from Tiverton.
First of all, owner Chris Atwell has gone completely against the “sanitised and stocked to the hilt” model. The site is full of wildlife, with natural features galore. He’ll leave in the odd platform, but there are no stupid rules about only fishing from patches of gravel or my personal bugbear “no fly fishing”. So, while the carpy boys will love it, so will more traditional anglers and those who like stalking their fish.
Talking of the fly fishing for carp- what an absolute treat this place is! I’ve been very lucky to be among the first anglers to target the 100 or so Emperor strain carp, which already run to over 20lbs. After a few months they are already well acclimatised to the setting and its rich natural food. This makes true imitative fly fishing for carp, with naturals such as Damsels, Spiders and Diawl Bachs, a great bet.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise because there’ll be more content and a film on the way (keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Blog and my YouTube channel) but it has been absolutely top class fly fishing without a dog biscuit in sight! Challenging, yes. Virgin fish not used to humans with rods can be surprisingly spooky, after all. But each of the half dozen fish I’ve had across two trips has gone off like a rocket in these oxygen rich, spring fed waters- and twice I’ve been run right into my backing!
Here’s a small selection of flies (including spiders and a Pheasant Montana thingy), while leader materials have also been important with powerful fish and weedy margins. The Cortland stuff is a godsend to maintain relatively fine presentation while adding extra “grunt”!
So, what’s the deal with fishing there now it’s finally open? Well, to keep the place peaceful, Bellbrook has opted for a slightly more exclusive feel- but for £25 you get quarter of the whole lake! In other words, you could book half of it for £5o or the whole thing at £100. Now, you might find cheaper day ticket fishing, but I like this approach. Less pressure on the fish, less pressure on wildlife and a complete avoidance of swim politics is priceless. And how many of us already pay £25 or a fair bit more for first-rate trout, pike or specimen fishing?
Forget angling snobbery- stalking immaculately scaled fish on a beautiful old school carp lake with natural flies is up there with the cream of the sport in my book. I would take this over the River Test any day- and I know for a fact which fish are harder fighting and more challenging! That said, even if you don’t fly fish, this lake is a gem. For anyone who prefers carp fishing a la Chris Yates as opposed to Danny Fairbrass, you’re in for an absolute treat.
Bellbrook Carp Fishery is open now. Take a look at the new website and contact Chris directly to book here: bellbrookcarplake.com
At last! Day ticket River Exe fly fishing for trout and grayling, near Exeter and Tiverton
If one fishery opening wasn’t exciting enough, how about a second with the chance to catch wild trout and grayling on the River Exe? A new day ticket fishery, run by angling all-rounder John Deprieelle, has just opened on this famous river, making the fishing accessible to all. About bloody time too!
For years I’ve probably sounded like a scratched record on this, but the Exe is a great example of how inaccessible river fly fishing can be. So much of it is either the remote bits or dregs the posh boys don’t want, only available to certain postcodes, or tied up in posh, secretive syndicates. Or you need to be bum chums with the Amory family- who own miles of Exe purely thanks to their conquering Norman ancestors (bloody immigrants, eh?). Well, finally there’s some top-notch water anyone can book for a day.
John is one of the most passionate and least elitist people you’ll meet in fishing- hence this several hundred yards of water is in safe hands. It has already produced cracking wild trout and grayling to 16″! Having sampled the fishing myself, I can vouch for the dry fly sport in summer- with little emergers ideal to tempt stunning wild fish.
It will be fly only through the traditional season, but through the winter you’ll also be able to get a day ticket to trot for grayling. Very welcome for many of you, given the private and piss-poor availability of grayling fishing in South West England for anyone who wants to use a traditional pin and stick float.
Exe Vale Fishery is now open! Please support John and treat yourself to a great day’s fishing on the River Exe: CLICK HERE