Beat the blues

Damsel Nymphs tempt bat­tling blue trout at Corn­wall’s Si­bly­back Reser­voir

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

SI­BLY­BACK Reser voir is about 20 miles from where I live in Devon, on the other side of the River Ta­mar. Just the other day, as we were driv­ing down, my pal Paul and I tried to work out how long we’ve been f ish­ing ‘Si­bly ’. The f irst reser voir keeper and bailiff, as they were known in those long-ago days, was my friend Lawrence Em­mett who was in charge from when the reser voir opened in 1969. South West Wa­ter took over from the Corn­wall Wa­ter Board in 1974 so, plus or mi­nus a year or two, we’ve fished Si­bly­back for knock­ing on 50 years. To say that it has changed would be an un­der­state­ment. It’s now what is eu­phemisti­cally called a ‘wa­ter park’, which in real terms means that there’s now a cleared, hard path all the way around the reser voir for ever y man and his dog to ask if you’ve “caught any thing yet”, while the dog, which should be on a lead, sniffs around your bag to see if there is any thing to eat. Then, if you’re un­luck y, it sprin­kles some­thing nasty on it! I must also men­tion the wind­surfers and pad­dle-board­ers whose ob­ser va­tion of the rules leave a lot to be de­sired when they come a tad too close be­cause they don’t care. You might well have gath­ered by now that I’m not a fan of these multi-use wa­ter parks! Hav ing said all that, Si­bly­back is still a vi­able f isher y if you get there early and late in the day, be­fore and af­ter the prett y peo­ple have graced us with their pres­ence.

Early & late

Early morn­ing at Si­bly­back Reser voir is quiet. Those few hours be­fore the ‘leisure ac­tiv ities’ send ever y f ish in the reser voir head­ing for an air raid shel­ter is the time when the f ish are up in the wa­ter, ac­tively feed­ing. Late evenings can be good as well, but for me it’s the morn­ings. Per­haps it is be­cause I’m ‘get­ting on’ and f ind my­self ly­ing awake from the early hours wait­ing for the rest of the world to wake up – much bet­ter I think to get up and go f ish­ing! We tramp our way around to the Marsh End, which – if you stand in front of the Lodge look­ing at the wa­ter – is away to your right. That bank, all the way along to the trees at Spar­rett’s Copse, is a good area. There are of­ten f ish all the way along that bank to the copse; af­ter which the go­ing gets a bit rough on that bank. If you then fol­low the path along and over the lit­tle bridge, it will take you around the bank to the bits of the reser voir which are least trou­bled by the rub­ber suits on a plank (see how po­lite I am). It’s a bit of a walk but well worth it. You can catch fish all sea­son through by pulling lures, as you can on most reser­voirs. But if you want the sat­is­fac­tion of t y ing f lies and f ish­ing rea­son­ably im­i­ta­tively, then Damsels and Buzzers are top of my list at Si­bly­back.

It’s a Damsel day

Paul f ished an in­ter­me­di­ate, and I set-up with a sink-tip line and a Bead­head Damsel to get it down a foot or two. I don’t

want to go too deep be­cause there’s the oc­ca­sional fish show­ing on the top, most likely mop­ping up some buzzers. But, what gives the game away to me, is the oc­ca­sional bow wave of a fish high in the wa­ter homing in on some­thing not far un­der the sur­face. Now, call­ing on past ex­pe­ri­ence, a Damsel Nymph has worked not far down with a fast f ig ure-of-eight re­trieve, and so it does to­day. What we’re not pre­pared for is that this tac­tic pro­duces three or four blue trout, which ham­mered into the Damsels. A fter los­ing a f ish to a sav­age take, I up my fluoro­car­bon leader from 6lb to 8lb, which I have to say doesn’t ap­pear to make that much dif­fer­ence to the num­ber of takes. We also take sev­eral browns on the Damsels, but they’re small and are ver y care­fully re­turned. I think South West Lakes Trust have in­creased the num­ber of brown trout stocked, which is in­ter­est­ing, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fact that Si­bly­back of­ten has some sen­sa­tional late-sea­son f ish­ing to dad­dies and ver y dark sedg y ty pe f iles.

Gramp’s Green Ass fly

An­other pat­tern that works ex­cep­tion­ally well at Si­bly­back is the Gramp’s Green Ass, a close cousin of to­day’s Cor­morant. A ll those years ago in the early 1970s we bought fi­batube blanks from the Hardy fac­tor y and built our own f ly rods and plas­tic cov­ered f ly-lines. I used to f ish Fri­day evenings af­ter work at Si­bly­back. Ever y time I went along the south bank to­ward Stocky Bay, I’d en­counter an older gent who would an­swer to the name of ‘Gramps’. He had a f ly which lives on in West­coun­try leg­end, known as Gramp’s Green Ass, a sort of nymph/mini lure hy­brid that bears more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the f ly we now call the Cor­morant. The story goes that Gramp’s f ly was the in­spi­ra­tion for the Viva, a pat­tern de­vised by Vic­tor Furse who drove down to hol­i­day in East Corn­wall in his Vaux­hall Viva! The Gramp’s Green Ass f ly still works as well to­day as it ever did.

“What we’re not pre­pared for is that this tac­tic pro­duces three or four blue trout, which ham­mered into the Damsels.”

Fish also came from Si­bly­back’s east bank near the wooded copse .

Rain­bow caught at Stocky Bay on the Gramp’s Green Ass fly. IN­SET: A bead­head bee­tle nymph also works well at Si­bly­back.

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