Sparc­tics are here!

Russ Symons sam­ples the new sparc­tic trout sport at Hawkridge Reser­voir

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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