Colliford Stocked and Wild Brown Trout Fishery – An Angler’s Guide

INTRODUCTION

Colliford was formed in 1983 when the River St Neot was dammed. The resulting lake (when full) is just over 900 acres and is the largest reservoir South West Lakes manages. The fishing is bank only by traditional fly fishing methods. Along with Roadford and Fernworthy, Colliford forms a trio of stocked Brown Trout waters under our control. The Brown Trout ,the lakes sheer size and lack of any other watersports activities all combine to give Colliford a unique feel and, indeed, this different feel is very much part of its appeal.

THE SEASON AND TICKETS TO FISH

The season runs between 15 March and 12 October inclusive. Day tickets are available at the Jamaica Inn, Bolventor and Colliford Tavern. Permits are also available online through our website here. Season tickets are also available and for the first time we have introduced an evening ticket here which is just £10.

THE FISH AND OUR STOCKING

Whilst our stocking level has varied in the last decade, catch returns have shown us that when we maintain a stocking level of 2000 fish per year the lake is capable of providing some terrific fishing. So this year, as we have in the last two years, we have stocked 2000 Brown Trout around the seven to ten inch mark. However, in addition to these fish, and as part of our ongoing plans to further develop our Trout Fisheries, a further 2000 fish around the 3 to 4 inch mark have also been stocked in 2019. Whilst it may take a season or two before we reap the full benefits of these extra stock fish, we are optimistic these fish will thrive and that Colliford can develop into an outstanding Brown Trout fishery.

The average size of the Trout caught here is around 12ozs to 1lb. However, each year fish to over 3lbs are caught and, in the past, fish to over 5lbs have been taken by fly fishermen. In 2018, during a carp removal exercise, a Brown of 9lbs 8oz was caught and released (picture below). This huge fish gives us a glimpse of what the lake is capable of producing.

THE FISHING

The first thing anglers need to grasp is that this is a Brown Trout fishery. Catching Brown Trout is a somewhat different exercise than fishing for stocked Rainbows. Fishing for Browns is essentially a highly mobile affair. The importance of staying on the move, covering fresh water, cannot be overstated. Thankfully Colliford has many miles of fishable bank so it really lends itself to this free ranging roving approach. Its good old fashioned, time honoured, cast and walk.

The two most popular methods of fishing at Colliford are pulling teams of wet flies and also dry fly. Early and late in the season it’s wets that usually take the bulk of the fish. Traditional patterns that have been fooling Browns for years still have a magnetic attraction for the Colliford fish. Patterns such as Soldier Palmer, Bibio, Zulu, Black and Peacock Spider are all good fish catchers but if you have a favourite traditional pattern why not give it a swim.

In 2015 Colliford saw a huge explosion in stickleback numbers. Some of our regular fishers caught lots of fish on Alexandra`s and Butchers that year and, even though stickleback numbers have declined, they are still present, so a silver bodied fly could well bring success. Not quite as traditional, but highly effective, are Black tadpoles and Zonkers. Not used as much these days, Vivas have caught plenty of fish here in the past. Sometimes the inclusion of a wake making pattern on the top dropper can help things along. Muddler headed versions of traditional patterns are good in this roll, as are Sedgehogs or even Ethafoam Beetles. A range of sizes can be useful. 10’s down to 16’s will cover most eventualities with 12’s and 14’s probably the most useful.

Whilst pulled wets will catch fish all season long, during the warmer months fishing dry fly often comes into its own here. Colliford can be an excellent dry fly water. The very best of the fishing can be if you happen to be there during a fall of terrestrial flies. Throughout the season these flies could include Hawthorns, Beetles, Ants, Cowdung or Daddy Long Legs together with various other bits and pieces. Some wonderful fishing has been had here during a fall of these land based insects. There are hatches of buzzers and sedges too and these can also bring fish to the surface. Whilst it is always nice to see some rising fish, happily Colliford seems to be one of those places where the fish are often willing to come ‘blind’. It does sometimes require a leap of faith to fish surface patterns when no fish are showing but it really can work here. Fishing this way is essentially a prospecting way of fishing. Cast, leave the flies on the surface for ten to fifteen seconds, if nothing rises, pull in, walk a few paces down the bank then cast again. Once again keeping on the move as you fish. With regards to patterns the Colliford fish are usually pretty undemanding. A selection of Bits and Hoppers in various sizes and colours together with a few beetle patterns should cover most eventualities. Black, Claret and Red are really good colours and a few olive and ginger patterns can be handy too. Although it is a method mainly associated with the warmer months, some opening days in the past have seen fish caught on dries. It`s by no means unusual to see a fall of beetles on closing day so  really dry fly can work at any time of the season. Although less used than pulled wets and dries, fishing teams of nymphs and spiders certainly works. PTN`s, Crunchers, Diawl Bachs, GRHE`s and Damsels all catch fish here. Generally slim sparse tying’s seem to do best.

TACKLE                                                                                                                                               Colliford is no place for multiple rod set ups and huge tackle bags laden with umpteen reels and lines. It’s really not needed and will only hinder the mobile approach Colliford usually demands. One rod and reel, a small rucksack or sling pack to carry your food and drink (and waterproofs if you’re not already wearing them) with the rest of the stuff your likely to need for a day’s fishing easily stored in your jacket/waist coat pockets. A couple of boxes of flies, some spare tippet, sinkant, floatant, clippers or scissors and a pair of forceps, along with a pair of sunglasses, is pretty much all you should need. If you’re going to take a fish for the table then obviously a priest should be carried too.

Selecting your rod is simple, go with what you’re comfortable with. Although 7 or even 8 weights may help in strong winds, some anglers now fish with rods down to 3 weight when conditions allow, enjoying the delicacy and extra sport these light rods afford. Generally a 5 or 6 weight is a pretty good compromise. Whilst sink tip and intermediate lines can occasionally be useful, Colliford is a real stronghold for floating lines. Truth is many of our seasoned anglers rarely use anything else.

Weather you use or carry a landing net really comes down to personal choice. Some anglers like them, others find them an unnecessary encumbrance. Again, go with what you’re comfortable with.  Whilst it is not mandatory we strongly suggest the use of barbless or de-barbed hooks at all times. These days the majority of anglers choose to return all their Brown Trout but, even if you do wish to keep a fish for the table, it is probable you will catch an undersized fish or two along the way. These fish must be returned and barbless hooks will greatly help with successful catch and release. That little fish you return now may turn out to be the fish of the season in a few years’ time. Barbless hooks have the added bonus of being far easier to extract should you accidentally hook yourself too!!

STAYING SAFE

Whilst Colliford is not a dangerous place to fish it is entirely sensible to take care. Wading is generally fine in most areas but do be really careful if you’re unsure what`s under your feet. Mobile phone coverage is generally good, but we don’t recommend you wade any further than thigh depth and that you have a wading belt on. Colliford is high up on Bodmin Moor and it is often several degrees colder than at lower levels, so dress accordingly. The weather can close in quickly. Better to take your waterproofs and not need them rather than to be caught out if an unexpected squall comes through.

CONCLUSION

We hope this information will prove helpful to you. A full list of rules and regulations can be found on our notice board at the fishery and on our website. Please remember to fill in a catch return every time you fish. There is a catch return box in the car park by the old toilet block or you may find it more convenient to use our online return service which can be found here. Its really important to let us know if you have caught or not as this can influence our decisions on future stocking and development for the fishery.

Thanks for reading and good luck at Colliford – it’s an amazing place to fish.