Wowed by Wim­ble­ball

Nick Hart and Eng­land’s Matt King­don sam­ple a re­ju­ve­nated Wim­ble­ball reser­voir dur­ing early sea­son...

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

A re­ju­ve­nated Wim­ble­ball reser­voir pro­duces su­per­charged early sea­son sport

the sea­son, some good news be­gan to cir­cu­late. A lease had been ad­ver­tised for ten­der and it seemed that f in­ally South West Lakes Trust were ac­tively seek­ing a so­lu­tion to the fate of this once great fisher y. En­ter Mark Un­der­hill, a Devon fish farmer with decades of ex­pe­ri­ence pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity trout and per­haps, more im­por­tantly, a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man. Could Mark be the per­son to bring back Wim­ble­ball from its demise? If my re­cent ses­sion in the com­pany of good mate and Eng­land In­ter­na­tional Matt King­don is any thing to go by the an­swer is a re­sound­ing “yes”!

Proof of the pud­ding

Tack­ling up on the eve of Easter it doesn’t seem pos­si­ble that just the day be­fore our trip the cho­co­late box scener y sur­round­ing Wim­ble­ball had been cov­ered in snow. Giv­ing way to heav y rain through­out the night and early morn­ing, the snow has dis­ap­peared, but the low tem­per­a­tures re­main. Cladding our­selves in multiple layers it re­quires a de­ter­mined ef­fort to assem­ble the tackle and tie up lead­ers in air tem­per­a­tures be­low 5 de­grees C, low­ered fur­ther by a bit­ing wind chill. Early so­cial me­dia re­ports were favourable re­gard­ing the sport that we might en­joy, and it seems crazy that there’s just one other an­gler who’d braved the el­e­ments, but then again per­haps we’ve lost our mar­bles! I must con­fess to ask­ing my­self this ver y ques­tion when on my sec­ond cast the Di-3 medium sinker snaps tight. All thoughts of cold van­ish in split sec­onds and I’m at­tached to a su­per­charged force head­ing out into the mid­dle of Ruggs Bay. A few min­utes later both Matt and I gaze at a stun­ning spec­i­men rain­bow, weigh­ing over 4lb, heav­ilyspot­ted and f in per­fect. It’s the best Wim­ble­ball fish we’d seen in years! De­spite f ish­ing catch and re­lease per­mits Mark’s pol­icy is to ask for the f irst t wo f ish to be dis­patched to en­sure a turnover of stock. Priest ad­min­is­tered I ask Matt to pose with the fish as I’m on cam­era duty and must have looked quite a sight hid­ing be­neath the fuch­sia pink um­brella I’d bor­rowed from my daugh­ter! As it hap­pens my far from cam­ouf laged shel­ter is much needed be­cause the Ex­moor cli­mate does ever y thing it can to ruin our day, al­though – to be honest – that one f ish has already made it. While I clean up the lens and check the SD card, Matt gets back to fish­ing and of course you know what hap­pens next … fish on! An­other screamer of a run and Matt re­ally strug­gles to keep con­trol as a solid rain­bow thrashes the sur­face and dives deep. One of 5,000 fish stocked to kick-start the venue after its brush with ‘death’, we can’t be­lieve our eyes when an­other f in-per­fect rain­bow f in­ally gives up and suc­cumbs to the folds of Matt’s net. Less than 15 min­utes into our ses­sion and already we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced some phe­nom­e­nal sport. Like ex­cited chil­dren we chat about the prospects of dr y f ly f ish­ing for such f ish on a sum­mer’s eve. Count­ing down his sinker for 10 to 15 sec­onds three more fish are caught, fooled by his team of Blobs and Boo­bies brought to life with a fast, snappy f ig ure-of-eight re­trieve. Mean­while I hide be­neath my

“An­other screamer of a run and Matt strug­gles to keep con­trol as a solid rain­bow thrashes at the sur­face and dives deep. One of 5,000 fish stocked.”

lit­tle pink house feel­ing cosy and happy that we’ve some images for the ed­i­tor, al­though I wish that I was on the other side of the lens en­joy­ing this Wim­ble­ball re­nais­sance. When sport slows we move on from Ruggs around the cor­ner to the deeper wa­ter next to Bes­soms Bridge. I can stand it no more and grab the 10ft 8 wt Sage and send out along cast. Cov­er­ing as much wa­ter as pos­si­ble im­proves catch rate but we of­ten find the fish within a few yards of the shore, pa­trolling the ledges, so hang­ing the f lies at the end of each re­trieve is im­per­a­tive and ac­counts for many hook ups. I man­age a quick fish to a Black Booby and have just added it to the bass bag when new man­ager Mark ap­pears. Gab­bling ex­cit­edly both Matt and I must seem like school­boys as we ap­plaud the bril­liant morn­ing we’ve had, de­spite the wet, wind and cold. This is one of our most mem­o­rable Wim­ble­ball ses­sions ever!

The stock will be main­tained

We quiz Mark on the stock and ask if he can main­tain qual­ity as the fish sofa rare some of the best we’d seen in the last few years fish­ing across the coun­try. Just as Mark says that stock will be main­tained and that he has 10,000 fish ear­marked for next sea­son our talk is in­ter­rupted by Matt’s rod curv­ing yet again into a 3lb-plus rain­bow, which erupts from the wa­ter in a flurry of spray. Five ex­cit­ing min­utes pass as Matt strug­gles to sub­due this sil­ver tor­pedo be­fore the bar­b­less hook is re­moved and the fish re­turned. I ques­tion why Mark would take on a 374- acre lake with a rep­u­ta­tion in tat­ters, es­pe­cially with so many other busi­ness in­ter­ests to take care of. Suc­cinctly he replies, “I had to have a go to see if I can turn things around and would have re­gret­ted it forever­more if I didn’t at least try ”. Judg­ing by the stock in­tro­duced, it seems as if Mark has already achieved this goal, but he has even more plans to put into ac­tion in­clud­ing in­tro­duc­ing a f leet of boats. Matt re­leases an­other f ish, we leave Mark to catch up with a few more an­glers and head off for a warm cup of cof­fee at the lo­cal Duck Café.

Search for shal­low wa­ter

Re­ju­ve­nated by our break, the rod racks and a 4x4 fa­cil­i­tate our move­ment and by trav­el­ling with min­i­mal tackle we adopt a rov­ing ap­proach. Now on the western shore­line we can’t re­sist a quick trip to one of our favourite lo­ca­tions, Farm Bay, but we can’t find any fish. Fig­ur­ing that we need shal­lower wa­ter we jump back in the truck and re­turn to the north side, stop­ping off to try out Bes­soms Bay, one of the most pop­u­lar hotspots dur­ing high wa­ter lev­els. The fish are here, and Matt has the method di­alled, switch­ing to a float­ing line ,11 lb two-fly leader and his favourite Beaded Bleed­ing Dam­sel lure on the point with a Jelly Blob on drop­per. It’s a deadly method that he’s used in the past to win the South West Lakes Best of the Best com­pe­ti­tion. Cast­ing out, count­ing down to 10 and then re­triev­ing with a se­ries of very short snappy pulls ac­cel­er­ates his catch with four more crack­ing rain­bows re­leased, one of them with a ‘spade tail’. Images in the can I seize my chance, ex­tract one of Matt’s deadly flies and pass over the cam­era. The sport is so good that we don’t want to leave, ad­ding sev­eral more fish that we play to the net, quickly fa­cil­i­tated by heavy fluoro­car­bon and bar­b­less hooks. It’s the weather that fi­nally beats us as the much-im­proved af­ter­noon gives way to bit­ing cold once again, send­ing us off in search of an open fire and beer. We com­plete our catch re­turns be­fore join­ing a packed bar, speak­ing of noth­ing other than the day we’d just ex­pe­ri­enced and the ne­ces­sity for an­glers to sup­port Wim­ble­ball if such sport is to re­main avail­able. The anger, sad­ness and frus­tra­tion are gone, Wim­ble­ball is back and bet­ter than ever be­fore!

Matt with the kind of stock an­glers can look for­ward to.

MATT’SBLOB/DAMSELSET-UP Float­ing fly line 5ft Or­ange Jelly Blob 5ft Beaded Bleed­ing Dam­sel www.troutfish­er­man.co.uk

A lively stripped re­trieve proved suc­cess­ful. Deadly early sea­son reser­voir pat­terns.

BLOB&BOOBYSET-UP To a Di-3 fly line 10ft of 12lb fluoro­car­bon 5ft Or­ange Blob 5ft Black & Green Booby

Rod hold­ers are a use­ful investment for your ve­hi­cle.

A chunky, strong rain­bow is slipped back to the wa­ter.

Strong fluoro­car­bon helps to get fish in fast ready for re­lease.

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