Sparctics are here!
Russ Symons samples the new sparctic trout sport at Hawkridge Reservoir
HAWKRIDGE Reservoir is a relatively small 32-acre venue providing drinking water for the town of Bridgwater in Somerset. Set in a picturesque valley on the edge of the Quantock Hills it’s one of the prettiest little fly-fishing reservoirs you might ever wish to fish. Having said that, Hawkridge dares to be different. Not only are conventional rainbows and browns stocked to double f ig ures, but there’s also A rctic char, blues, tiger trout and the ver y occasional golden trout. And 2018 sees the f irst stocking of sparctic trout, a hybrid of a brook trout and an A rctic char. Stocked at an average weight of 2lb they’re expected to grow really well in the highquality water that’s contained in Hawkridge. Hawkridge is the first water in the UK to introduce sparctic trout. There are, I’m told, populations in Holland and Italy, where they’ve established a reputation for spectacular strikes and strong, dogged fights. Having seen several dozen caught, and caught a few myself, I can see why.
White lures did best
A ll the fish were caught on a cold day as Hawkridge's season opened and the sparctics were ver y partial to pulled white lures, in particular orange or green-headed Minkies, f ished off a f loating or intermediate line, moving the f lies with a fairly brisk f ig ure-of-eight retrieve. Mind you, I took a couple of frisk y rainbows as well as the just-stocked sparctics, so the method and f ly was right for the day. It will be interesting to see what happens when these fish disperse through the reser voir and what the f lies and tactics will be as the water warms up. I can't help but wonder if they’ll respond to surface tactics or whether they’ll be a f ish of the deeps. One thing 's for sure, it' ll be fun f inding out. Early morning coffee in hand, Gar y Howe the friendly and personable ranger at Hawkridge, expects to see a sparctic caught early on. Right on cue, David Phillips – who works at the Gar y Evans' shop – gives a loud ‘whoop’ as his rod bends. We see the f ish on the surface powering away and Gar y claims that it’s a sparctic! I’ve time to rummage in my camera bag and stroll to the water’s edge before Dave is even ready to net the f ish. “That’s the first sparctic caught in the UK,” someone shouts to Dave. He looks just a little shocked to think that this is something of a groundbreaking fish. An Orange and White Minkie was his f ly, f ished about three feet down. The word spreads and the 'f ly box fumble' starts, as everyone looks for a White Minkie. Ten minutes later every time I glance along that bank there’s a rod dancing to the tune of a hard-fighting fish. There’s a weed bed about 20 yards off the bank in front of the lodge and this is where the fish have taken up residence.
Let those in the know run the show
During winter when reser voirs are shut I go to the smaller stocked fisheries such as my local Tav istock. It's there that I play with new and experimental f ly patterns and, apart from the cold, I really enjoy small water fishing. But when the season proper opens the call of the big reser voirs is irresistible. Wessex Water, with their open-minded approach at Hawkridge, have hit a winning formula. Hawkridge is big enough to host a half dozen boats as well as the bank anglers and – although some might dismiss the variet y of trout available as a gimmick – I think that Wessex Water are providing some novel and attractive f ishing for those who enjoy f ly sport. Viewing it from that aspect, I suspect that a great many f ly anglers will be attracted to the thought of adding another trout species to their bucket list – it’s all part of the fun! Some of our trout waters are under threat by the ‘bean counters’ and so it was at Wessex Water a few years ago. From what I’ve been told, the fishing was handed over to the rangers who were told that if they can make a profit they can carr y on! This is the sixth or seventh year that Wessex Water Reser voirs have made a prof it. It was a shrewd decision letting the people who know what they’re doing run the show. That astute decision has turned the whole thing around to the benefit of f ly anglers and they deser ve our support. There may well be a lesson here for others, don’t you think?
“I wonder if they'll respond to surface tactics or be a fish of the deeps?”
Russ Symons got in on the action at Hawkridge.