Friday, 20 March 2015

An Eclipse

This mornings activities in the cosmos ( barely visible through thick mist at Lifton, just a Cheshire Cat smile from the rim of the sun) were eclipsed by Alex and David's endeavours on Beat 13 of the Ottery today. The last major obstruction is now gone, and for anyone who loves small-river fishing the beat is now looking very tempting. Once the mist had cleared, and the moon retreated to its rightful place, songbirds and butterflies revelled in a bit of Spring warmth. If only this nagging north-easterly wind would back to the south-west, the trout would also respond.
Tadpoles are hatching at the lake, and the toads are now spawning there. The Equinox is also upon us, longer days than nights again - pass me the fly rod.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

In Like a Lion...

March is living up to its reputation, the first few days being cold, wet and windy, with rivers high and dirty. But now, despite a grey day, signs of spring are everywhere. Hazel catkins are bursting, classic lamb's tails swaying in the breeze, and spring flowers, including the rare parasitic Purple Toothwort, growing on the roots of alder and willow. There was even a fish rising in the tail of Black Doctor pool on the Lyd, although not much of a hatch of fly was seen.
There are rumours of salmon down on the lowest beats, trout fishing opens this weekend, midges are bringing trout to the surface on the lake - where the rooks are building high in the trees. Oh to be in England.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Winter Update.

David and Alex have braved the crossing into Cornwall and been working on the Arundell Arms' Ottery waters. The Ottery provides some of our most delicious and tranquil water in which to fish for wild brown trout. Come May there will be no finer place to be.

In need of a trim.

Otter tracks in the sand

Spot the salmon redd.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Re-arranging the furniture.

There is always plenty of work to do on the rivers in preparation for the encroaching season. The Wild Trout Trust manual for habitat improvement is very keen on the installation of large woody debris, but we think this may be going a little too far. Hopefully the offending ash tree will not be in one of the best trout pools on the Tamar by the time serious fishing is under way.

David and Alex have already done some trimming on the Lyd, and as soon as conditions are suitable they will be making forays into Cornwall and working on the Ottery. Dartmoor lies under a blanket of snow this morning, with more to come over the weekend, but the snowdrops are out and a cock blackbird is singing his heart out in the hotel garden.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Fish for the Future

A quick look around some of the main spawning sites a couple of weeks ago revealed plenty of sea trout on the redds, and a few salmon. Another look yesterday in the same areas confirmed that while salmon numbers are still below average, a few more fish have now spawned, and the seeds are set for the grilse of 2018, and the salmon of 2019.  What makes this all the more encouraging is that this winter's spawning has taken place in reasonable heights of water, and not the howling, thrashing floods of the past two seasons.
We have a decent winter spate raging now, after heavy rain overnight, but at least most of the eggs are now already in the gravels, and will take their chance with Nature. One thing over which we do have some control is rod exploitation, and after two poor salmon seasons, and a nationwide collapse in salmon stocks, we at the Arundell Arms are willing to stand up and be counted, and will be implementing a 100% catch-and-release policy for salmon as from next season. In reality this doesn't change things very much, as we are pretty well doing this anyway. Major rivers around the country, including the Wye and the Scottish Dee have already gone down this route.
Catch-and-release may not be the answer to all the problems which our salmon face, but at least gives us the comfort that what fish have made it to our waters, and back into their natal rivers, will not be killed by our fishers.                                                                                                                            
The debate on this is opening up everywhere, other fisheries on the Tamar are now talking about it, and if a voluntary agreement could be achieved it would hasten the end of netting on our estuaries. Meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas to everyone, and great hopes for a good season in the New Year.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Winding down for the winter.

With all the river fishing now closed, except for grayling, tackle is being put away for the winter and things are much quieter at the hotel.
2014 has to go down as the worst salmon season since 1959, which for those with very long memories, was a drought of biblical proportions. We managed just 4 salmon, all released, with 2 more from our rod at Endsleigh. The season was spectacular for lack of both water and fish during the normal salmon-producing months.
Sea trout fishing, by contrast, was rather good, with a total of 172, of which we released 124. Had it not been quite so scorchingly hot from late June until the end of the season, no doubt we would have had several more. The whole Tamar system was stuffed with sea trout, on the last day of September I fished at Endsleigh, and eschewing the pleasure of trying to catch one of a very few salmon in hopeless water, took the trout rod and hooked 4 sea trout on dry flies.
Brown trout fishing was also good, and would have been a lot better without the sky high temperatures and dead low water which persisted for much of the season. We had 1,537 wild brownies from our rivers, one notable feature being the scarcity of fly life after the raging winter storms, and the success of nymphs.
We also had 127 grayling, more than usual, and possibly because more people fished nymphs, which are always very attractive to the Lady of the Stream.
Currently the rivers are settled after a decent spate in mid October, running quite clear and in fine order for grayling fishing. Sitting at the computer may have to be shelved for a couple of hours!
Tight Lines. David Pilkington