Thursday, 27 November 2014
In the world of day ticket fishing it's always refreshing to find someone doing something a little different. Our native species quite often miss out when it comes to stocking policies, whether it comes to filling lakes with carp or rainbow trout. Hence it was a welcome return to Bratton Water Fishery, near Barnstaple, today where the focus is now firmly on brown trout. Indeed, the river season might be long gone, but you can still have a go for the triploid browns here, which are cracking fish that run from a couple of pounds to the low teens.
In the company of Neil Edgar, who took some snaps and film clip into the bargain, I began with a quick net dip. Brownies might be catchable on lures but at a fishery with such abundant invert life it seemed a shame not to start in more natural fashion. The margins were crammed with corixa (water boatmen, to the layman) and freshwater shrimp, so I began testing the edges with either a small corixa or size 16 Tan Shrimp (my own pattern originally tied for roach and now made by Turrall).
It had been such a cold, foggy morning I was slightly taken aback to feel the first little pluck after just ten minutes or so in. I lifted the rod and a small explosion took place! These browns fight every bit as hard as rainbows. It might have been me, but if anything I found them more willing to come to the surface and thrash.
Brownies do have a few differences to rainbows, and as owner Mike was telling us, they can prove a little more challenging- not always such a bad thing to my mind, because fishing can be dull when it's too easy. These fish were well keyed into natural food and certainly responded well to small natural patterns. Great fun teasing these to life by counting down and employing a "picky" but not overly fast figure of eight retrieve.
Another feature of browns is that they don't cruise in quite the same manner as rainbows. Sure, they will move areas to feed, but they are definitely more territorial. This is why it pays to move spots quite regularly and I found that quite often if I wasn't getting bites, a change of areas quickly led to a response.
Ok, so these browns might not be wild river creatures, but it really shows that these fish are raised on site with TLC here. Powerfully built and beautifully marked, these are beasties to give the brownie addict sport right through the winter. They're more fussy in terms of raising and more expensive to farm due to their slower growth, but £30 for a 5 fish ticket is still pretty good value and I think I actually prefer them to rainbows.
Talking of rainbows, it was perhaps inevitable that we found one or two of them. I had switched to a Black Woolly Bugger, partly out of sheer curiosity, and after two further browns had launched themselves at it I hooked something that went on an absolutely searing run. I have long since avoided gossamer thin tippets for fisheries that hold big trout and on this occasion I was supremely glad to be on six pound fluorocarbon as I held on for dear life. A great way to round things off, this fish was absolutely stunning. Just the one rainbow then, but a fabulously coloured six pounder:
A very enjoyable day at a great little fishery overall; this place comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a good days fly fishing in North Devon. More details here: www.brattonflyfishery.com
In other news, I'm also thrilled to see that "Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide" has made the shortlist for the Angling Times "Angling Book of the Year" award. The winner is decided by a vote, so you know what I'm going to ask you next: please, if you value what I write then be a sport and give me your vote in the following survey:
ANGLING TIMES 2014 AWARDS
I cannot put it any more blatantly than that. Please. Pretty please. I'll buy you a pint and let you fish my favourite swim with illegal bait. Nor do you need to vote on every single thing in the survey, just the bits that you're interested in. Do such accolades matter? Well, it would partly make up for the omission of "Flyfishing for Coarse Fish" in the same awards list of two years ago, left out on the grounds that the title contained the words "fly fishing" presumably.