England International and Snowbee’s Simon Kidd gives his top tips to Fish our Waters

As the days lengthen and the sun warms everything up at this time of year. The spring blossom is starting to descend from the trees, like warm snow after the long cold and wet winter and the fly life on all our waters starts to come alive.

This is May time and although the waters on the moors are high up and still quite cold this year, the fishing can be at its very best from now through June. As I drive to the venues at this time of year the roads always seem narrower as the hedgerow vegetation billows and the windscreen is never clean.

Choice of outfit for me is always pretty much the same at this time of year, (unless I am after extreme distance when I will fish the 10ft #7wt rod off the shore). If I am fishing with a floating line off the bank, I have for a long time preferred my 9ft #6wt Prestige and from the boat the 10ft option. Now the 10ft #6 has been discontinued in favour of the Spectre, I use the 10ft #6 Spectre or even the 10ft #5wt Prestige instead with the #5-7 Thistle down fly line on either. The reason for this is to be able to fish lighter leaders if I have to and make less splash and disturbance when casting. Too many people try to hit the far bank or horizon when fishing off the bank, whilst many fish are less than wading depth off the shore at this time of year, unless it is very sunny or people deep wading around you. For me it’s more a question of keeping moving, we have miles of superb bank fishing across the wide range of lakes looked after by SWLT and some handsome fish come out already this year, most if not all, from the bank so far!

Siblyback

The popular spots rarely change but can be determined by the weather on the day as much as anything. With the Water skiing now gone Crilla is back in play and a favourite spot of mine. Having to be a bit careful when wading but there is nearly always a wind lane to cast into, with the prevailing South Westerly and good Rainbows always collect in the bay area. A good head of territorial browns favour the stones too. A red head Damsel or Gold head Montana on point early in the day is a good starter with a Diawl Bach dropper and Black or Claret Hopper in the top dropper or even suspender version, will always bring something up. A small orange gold head Fritz and peacock spider always make a good option to change to if the day is proving a little slow. There are other favourite spots of course, including Stockie bay where the wind is nearly always at your back and anywhere right of the sailing club down towards the marsh and feeder stream are good wading and hold fish throughout the season.

With a boat of course the options become limitless and being a relatively shallow lake for much of its area there is always some great top of the water sport before the water gets too warm and fish will rise freely to small dark flies. Claret or black Midas, Hoppers and black gnat fished dry will always produce fish and a drifting boat can take you to areas out of reach from the shore but still under 10ft in depth, where fish will hold and take off the top on most days.

Kennick

The Jewell in the crown perhaps for most anglers in Devon. Spectacular setting, lots of deep water reachable from the bank and almost all they lake fishable from the shore. An XS roll cast line in the right hands can prove a great advantage, especially on the steeper and tree lined spots where the back cast can be limited. Evening rises when they start can be something else and a sight to savour when conditions are right.

I have fished the place over 40 years and taken fish up 6lbs 8oz, all from the shore but taking a boat out on the venue can be idyllic. An orange dropper and a black and green fly of almost any design on the point can be all that is needed and of course the Kennick Killer is a popular favourite. A red head Diawl Bach too, or even a team of them fished very slowly to explore all the depths or with a weighted fly on the point can prove deadly too. A gold head hares ear makes a useful slow fished point fly on difficult days, especially when the fish are wanting something natural and virtually static. Early season, a sinking line is probably still my first choice if no fish are visibly moving. An Olive Damsel fly or even a Black & Green Booby may still be working into May with the cold we have had this year, but an intermediate line to start is probably sufficient. The XStra distance with a short head and thin running line makes a great choice for this in the tighter spaces too.

The water can be very clear if not a little coloured and fishing 5 or 6lbs Fluorocarbon leader (instead of 8 or even 10 as early season can permit) can become necessary to keep the takes coming. As the day progresses into evening the fishing can come alive. Bright sunny days can push the fish out and keep them down, but on warm overcast or cloudy days the fishing can be at its best and the fish start to return to the shore. We’ve had some cold evenings though this year and that will keep them down but as May and June progress the evening fishing will come on even more. If fish are not a taking from the top they can be I have caught them washing line stile with a slow fished black muddler on the point at one time but more recently a Fab of any description does just as good a job. When the fish are up properly a small, black CDC winged hopper is one of my first choices fished properly dry and a single fly or small dropper to keep the bulk of the leader off the surface and silver Invicta or Pennel believe it or not can be so effective on size 12 or 14 and 6lbs leader or less, especially as the sun starts to drop.

Burrator

Situated close to Plymouth this local venue is so typically South Dartmoor, surrounded by the Tors and mostly wooded shores and within easy reach of the city. The best way to fish it, a0t any time of year is without doubt from one of the two rowing boats, providing full access to all the best spots and along the wooded bank side shores. From the bank there are some great spots like the ever popular Longstone Peninsula, where the old Manor used to be situated but until the water levels start to drop, much of the best fishing from the shore elsewhere is out of reach. As the weather warms up though and visitor numbers to the area increase water demand picks up and the shores become much more accessible, and fishing can really turn on. A small black stalking bug, again a small black or black and red Diawl back on middle dropper and a Sedge Hog top dropper, can provide a perfect team and the Blue Trout in the cold clear water when you hook them can go ballistic. The banks are pretty shallow early season until the water levels really drop away, revealing some of the deeper drop offs. There have been some monster Browns sighted in the past and with double figure Rainbows already coming out, the forthcoming summer weather promises some spectacular action and evening/morning rises.

 

There will be occasions as the sun gets hot, like we saw recently in the mini heatwave, when the fly life will really kick fish into action all over the lake. Some of the best sport, although a bit early in May time, can be on ant hatch days. When the Seagulls start to take to the skies and circle high in the air this will usually signify a wonderful evenings fishing at Burrator and time to jump in the car.

As with all the moorland venues, there can be very little food at times with acidity levels high from all the peat run off but when fly life does become available the fishing becomes spectacular and you need to be there to see and enjoy it. Black, black and red, black and silver are popular colours for me here as well as anything natural but pink is a favourite of mine in the peaty water too. Amazing how effective it can be for the rainbows on overcast days in particular.

Colliford

After a fairly slow start this year, the fishing has now started picking up and weather will be a large factor in producing the best of days. Brown Trout only, the water temperature has been really cold in most of the lake but as it warms now the fishing will significantly improve. Good weather will be the largest factor. The best way to fish this superb Brown Trout water is to pack a small flask or drink in a rucksack and be prepared to walk all day long. Casting and covering the water as you go. Fish are refreshingly close to the shore generally but you can wade most areas quite safely. On breezy days there can be little cover, so choosing where to fish and watching the weather is an important factor as access is limited.

With the prospect of a long walk I would always take the 3 in 1 net with me, and attach to my back using a magnet. This is quite simply the best mobile/travel net of its kind. Now with rubberised mesh,
so no hooks get caught up and most fish friendly, with the short handle, it is just perfect.

This venue, where catch and release is encouraged and permissible with care, a great day of action can be found when the weather is favourable. I am happy personally to release some small trout without a net, but bigger fish I like to get it in the net as soon as possible rather that tire them out on light tackle, so I can release them again with least fuss. With the St Marks flies (Hawthorn Flies on the wing as I write) any Black dry Hawthorn imitation or Hopper is likely to stimulate interest on this venue at any time of day. Rather like Burrator a Black or Bibio Sedgehog that rides high and dry on any wave up here, will work through the summer months all day long and almost permanent top dropper for me on this water.

On the point fly I’ll fish a dry or a small bead headed black tadpole or hares ear and a Pennel or Diawl Bach size 12 or 14 on the middle dropper. I will rarely fish anything but three flies but occasionally I would still try a barbless black or pink snake on an intermediate line.

Fernworthy

Another favourite venue of mine I have fished since I was a boy. Single Black and Peacock Spider was my go to fly then and still would be today. There are many other favourites in fly choice that fish as well or even better at times perhaps such as a myriad of Cormorant patterns but anything small and black will always appeal to Browns and being a Brown Trout only water today, why make it complicated. Early season the fish can be lethargic and deep with the air and water temperature cold. As we go through May however the temperature improves, the fly life picks up much of it terrestrial, and so fish can be seen or ‘heard’ rising sporadically on the surface. Often ‘oncers’ though as they come from deep in the clear water to take something off the top.

Fishing light and fine gives the most pleasure for me. A fast intermediate ‘distance’ line or sink tip is also a perfect back up if nothing on the floater. Any of the XS Countdown series of fly lines works well here. I still like to fish a small wake pattern on the top dropper or a snatcher for example with a small weighted pattern on the point. Black, Black and green or a Billy on the point can work extremely well for the browns in peaty water a small Damsel too. It is amazing how quickly these flies can be fished too sometimes and still catch fish. On the middle dropper, as I will invariably fish three flies on this set up, I will put a small natural pattern or red tagged fly like a Goats Toe or a simple cormorant sometimes with a UV flash in it, which can work to great effect. Later in the year I will have a small sparkler ready. I tend not to use it so much early season but later in the year, pulled quite quickly, can have a devastating effect when nothing else working, especially around any features or the weed beds and shallows.

May into June is a super time on the lakes of the South West, perhaps the best time of the year in fact, so should be some great sport to be had in the weeks ahead, plenty of choice and looking forward to it.

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