Cast of the Month – May 2014

Another month done & dusted already!  I am always sad to see the back of May, everything comes alive and the river fishing can be on fire.  But this month has been cool again, not as cold as 2013, but certainly below average.  Occasionally there has been a mini (very mini – which means anything over about 15C!) heat wave, but generally it has still been wise to go thermal under the waders.  Here are just a few of the people I have had the pleasure of guiding & teaching in May’s monthly round-up.

Sam Maynard commenced a two week holiday away from his hectic lifestyle with a day out fishing.  What better way is there to relax than to focus attention on the therapeutic qualities of a river (and its fish) rather than the most recent inbox arrival?  With thoughts of work far away I began Sam’s detox.

First up was a quick lakeside tune up of Sam’s casting, always a worthwhile exercise before having a go for real.  Roll casts, overheads and plenty of side casting kept us busy and in particular our focus was on loop control & line speed.  I love guiding but seeing somebody improve their casting skills before my very eyes is also incredibly satisfying.  Sam was a quick learner, so soon enough we had completed our practice and were hot footing it over to the wonderful River Mole.  The river was falling off the back of a spate, the air temperature held steady and most important of all Sam cast out of his skin!

Sam Maynard with a Mole Trout - May 2014

Trout detox!

This was only his second ever trip to a river but the fish obliged his skills; the Mole once again producing super quality Browns.  Most fell to a nymph and tried everything in the book to snap Sam’s leader up in the snags, using the high water to their advantage.  Very exciting!  A few fish also fell to dries and one very large fish nosed a Sedge pattern before sinking slowly back to his lair.  Perhaps he will get it wrong sometime this month?

One of the real pleasures about my life as a guide is the variety.  So in complete contrast to my day spent with Sam I welcomed back Paul Willing from Jersey, this time with his wife Nanou.  Keen to learn how to cast a fly and land her first Trout, the weather could not have been more unpleasant!  We spent two days on Exe Valley dodging strong winds and squalls of rain.  Paul got in amongst the fish but despite Nanous best efforts the Exe Valley Trout were not going to oblige.  Something needed to be done!

With just one day remaining it was time to take a risk and see if a change of scene might be the answer.  A boat was loaded up and we set out for a day on Clatworthy, my favourite local reservoir and in my opinion one of the most beautiful venues in the UK.  If Nanou was going to end up with a golden duck at least it would be in style!  Instead not only did she get to enjoy the scenery, she also found out why Clatworthy fish are so renowned in the local area, bred on site … they don’t half pull!

Nanou, a lady angler from Jersey with a Rainbow Trout

Third time lucky – Nanou and one of her Clatworthy Trout

By early afternoon Nanou had two fish in the boat and seemed to be enjoying the fact that Paul wasn’t on the scoreboard.  There was no ribbing of any kind whatsoever as you can imagine! Struggling for a take it was time for that oh so simple yet effective technique, straight line Buzzers, fished ultra slow from an anchored boat.  Drifting was almost impossible as the wind just wouldn’t make up its mind so the static option allowed Paul to control his flies perfectly, landing 5 fish including this stunning overwintered specimen.  Phew, thank you Clatworthy that was a close shave!

Paul willing with an overwintered Clatworthy Trout

A proper Clatworthy overwintered Trout & very happy Paul!

Fly Fishing seems to becoming increasingly popular with ladies and this year has been no exception, with several grandfathers visiting with their granddaughters, and father & daughter teams, such as Ken & Liz Jackson.  Liz by all accounts is a bit of a thrill seeker enjoying Scuba Diver and Skiing amongst other things; so would fly fishing be a little too sedentary?

Not a bit and in fact by the time we had reached day 3 (all too quickly) we had to drag her from the water!  Casting in excess of 60 ft on a regular basis Liz was not content with being able to cast with just her left hand, she also went on to duplicate her casting skills with her right hand and catch more fish.  Ken on the other hand was happy to watch his daughters success before a peaceful visit to Clatworthy.

Liz Jackson with an Exe Valley Trout caught in May 2014

The right hand Trout!


We encountered a short thunderstorm and a very changeable wind, with just one fish lost and one to the boat by late afternoon.  Keen to see Ken land a bag of Clatworthy Trout it was time to dispense with the floaters and go searching with a sinking line and a Sunburst Blob.  I am not sure if Ken will ever forgive me for stringing up the fly he fondly referred to as the Yellow S**T which finally did the business but I think we would both agree that fish or no fish it was just a privilege to be there at that moment and witness a scene like this.

Clatworthy Reservoir - May 2014 - Photo by Nick Hart

Fly fishing really does take us to some amazing places – Clatworthy – May 2014


If you haven’t tried Clatworthy yet, I urge you to have a go.  And my thanks to Ken who said of his trip “The week did go very quickly after looking forward to it for so long, but it was just great and all I’d hoped for (and more), thank you.  The relaxed atmosphere and the way you put people at ease certainly helps, and we seemed to have a lot of laughs so a great success all round I thought”.

Other memorable moments include Jim Parrotts contact, all be it brief, with a Sea Trout, George Alders introduction to upstream dry fly fishing and of course there was also the Tale of Mr CoCane.  A few days were lost due to high rivers which is always disappointing, but other than that it has been a very successful month.  Have you noticed how hard the Trout are pulling this year?  I asked our fish farmer here if he was feeding them something different because honestly they are fighting like they have been swimming in Red Bull.

Ian, Tom & Henry Langer bag themselves a catch of Exe Valley Trout

Hooked for life!

And finally I cannot close May 2014 without adding a quick snap of our great friends the Langers.  In the middle is Ian with his two sons, Henry on the right and Tom on the left.  Tom landed his first Trout during a birthday party fishing bash I organised for the family 10 years ago when he was just 4 years old.  How very cool to see that he continues to enjoy time spent fly fishing with his family.

So here comes June and hopefully the Sea Trout.  Reports of this fish, one of my absolute favourites, have been thin on the ground but that wont stop me heading out for a night time session wherever possible.  No doubt there will still be a few Mayflies about and as the sea temperature rises so the Bass gear will also get an airing.  Lets just hope the weather listens!  Have a great month and look out for more posts soon.

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