ALTHOUGH MAY was fairly dry, there were small spates on some rivers while others saw hardly any appreciable rises in water levels. Once again the Taw and the Torridge had the best of the salmon fishing, but some rivers in the south of the county have hardly seen a fish. Sea-trout fishing was rather slow but there was some good brown trout fishing to be had. On the Torridge, salmon anglers at the Half Moon Hotel enjoyed a very good May with a total of ten fish, despite generally low water. Seven were caught on the lower reaches below Beam Weir, two came from the middle reaches at Madiera, and one was caught at Okement Foot. Most of the salmon were between 10 lb and 12 lb, with three of them caught by Ron Burton. Seatrout fishing, however, was disappointing, with only about six fish in the 3 lb-4 lb range reported. Brown trout fishing improved late in the month, though the fish often ignored the hatches of Mayfly. Persistent low water on the Taw through May, apart from a small rise of about 1 ft on May 20, kept angling pressure at a low level but some salmon were caught right through to the upper reaches. On the Weirmarsh and Brightley beats three salmon were caught, the best a fish of 10 lb for Toby Tibbles. The other two were 7 lb for Len Francis and 5 lb for Bruce Price. On the upper Taw at the Fox & Hounds, May produced some very good trout fishing with a total of 125 fish. There were some sizeable fish in the catches, including a 14-inch brown for Simon Poutney, and two trout of 15 inches and one of 14 inches for hotel regular Gavin Welsh. James Dumont, visiting from the USA, had a guided day when he caught three browns of around 1 lb 8 oz and one of just under 2 lb. He also hooked a sea-trout on a Mayfly but failed to land it. The dry-fly fishing was very good and the Mayfly hatch arrived exactly on time. Seatrout and the odd salmon were starting to appear in the hotel waters and Tom Butt landed an 8 lb salmon on a Stoat’s Tail. Rods at the Arundell Arms enjoyed some excellent trout fishing in May on the Tamar and tributaries, with a total of 391 wild brownies and 38 grayling. The best of the trout was an outstanding fish estimated at 2 lb for Mr Belcher from Beat 2 of the Lyd, taken on a Pheasant Tail. Many other good trout between nine and 12 inches
were recorded, several rods catching up to a dozen or more in a day. The Wolf, Ottery, Thrushel and Lyd all provided some great sport, as well as the hotel’s beats on the main Tamar. The best grayling was one of 14 inches for George Seymour from Beat 3 on the Lyd, taken on a small brown Klinkhamer. Fly hatches were impressive at times, with black gnats throughout the month and increasing hatches of Mayfly from mid-may onwards, plus plenty of smaller olives. Water levels fell steadily all month, only relieved briefly by a short spell of rain in the third week of May, which raised the rivers a few inches. This small rise of water brought a few salmon into the Arundell Arms water, but the low flows did nothing to help the fly-fisher and only one fish was touched and missed. Seatrout were also appearing and one was lost on the Tamar by a pupil on a troutfishing course, and three more were hooked and lost on the Lyd by night-fishers. No sea-trout had actually been landed by the end of May but that situation was expected to change quickly with the arrival of June. With increasing numbers of salmon showing in the estuary, and the sea-trout season just getting going, a decent spate to flush out the river and get more fish on the move was hoped for. On the Tamar at Endsleigh, eight salmon and a couple of sea-trout were caught on a variety of flies in May. The biggest fish was a salmon of 14 lb for Mrs Sandra Burling on a size 14 UV fly, and Andrew Frost had two salmon of 13 lb each on a Stoat’s Tail. The other double-figure salmon were fish of 12 lb for Sir Richard Dearlove on a Cascade, 11 lb for Mark Izzard, and 10 lb for Martin Stone. The best seatrout, 3 lb, was caught by Roger Holmes. The Tavy below Tavistock produced good numbers of sea-trout but no salmon in May. The sea-trout ranged from 2 lb-4 lb and, while some were caught at night, others were taken in the day after a couple of small spates. The Tavy, Walkham & Plym Fishing Club has introduced a catch-andrelease rule on the Plym following a big fish-kill caused by pollution on the Meavy, a very important spawning tributary. May was a slow month on the Dart for members of the Dart Angling Association, with a few sea-trout caught at Totnes Weir pool and the occasional fish farther upstream. Good numbers of sea-trout were present at times but they were very reluctant to take the anglers’ flies. Some salmon were spotted but there were no reports of any caught. Sea-trout fishing on the Teign was difficult, with only the occasional fish caught, and there were no reports of salmon. On the Lower Teign Fishing Association water the most successful members appear to have been Eddy Gray with six seatrout and Bob Michael with five. Neil Yeandle reported only one pull in three outings – an indication of how reluctant the fish have been. Fishing was also slow on the upper Teign, with even the brown trout fishing surprisingly poor for May. However, Simon Kidd, who was fishing on a day permit, caught a splendid brown trout of 15.5 inches well up the Upper Teign Fishing Association fishery above Mill End Bridge. He was using a very small nymph with a silver beadhead, fished upstream. The first sea-trout caught on fly at night this season – fish of 2 lb 11 oz and 2 lb 3 oz – were taken by Richard Jackson on May 4 and 9 on a Silver Stoat tube. On the Exe, May was yet another month of very low water, resulting in only a few salmon seen and no reports of any catches. The storms forecast for the middle of the month produced only a small spate and the lower river became particularly dirty. On May 28 there was a reliable report of a large shoal of smolts in the middle river, which although late was encouraging. However, considerable numbers of goosanders with chicks were causing concern. There was some good brown trout fishing on the East Lyn but very low water discouraged salmon from coming into the river and the only report was of a fish lost. On the South West Lakes Trust reservoirs water temperatures continued to rise with the warmer weather and by the end of May were around 16 deg C, resulting in an increase in insect activity and trout feeding at the surface. Anglers at Kennick averaged just over two fish per visit in May, with plenty of rainbows over 4 lb. The best fish of the month was a 7 lb 1 oz brown trout caught by Barry Ware Jnr as part of a full bag, which also included a rainbow of 4 lb 4 oz, while fishing from the bank. Darren Everitt caught a 5 lb 12 oz brown trout from the bank on a Damsel nymph. The best May rainbow was a fish of 5 lb 6 oz caught by Mike Steer on a Damsel nymph fished from the bank in Boat Bay. Clampitts Bay, the Narrows and the Lawns were the most productive locations for both boat and bank anglers, and when hawthorns were blown on to the water or buzzers were emerging on the warmer days there was plenty of surface activity. At other times the usual variety of nymphs and lures caught fish. The level started to fall at Burrator and boats became available through the Burrator Fishing Club. Anglers averaged 2.4 fish per visit, with the Longstone Peninsula still the most productive area. Buzzers, emerger patterns and Hawthorns fished on the surface produced some good sport, while most fish were caught on various nymph patterns fished on intermediate or sink-tip lines. The best fish of the month was a 3 lb 13 oz rainbow caught on a small black pattern fished on a floating line from the bank at Longstone. Jonathan Rood caught a 3 lb 4 oz rainbow at Longstone on a small Damsel nymph fished on a floating line. At Wistlandpound the water level was two metres below full by the end of May and the fishery was producing some fine sport, rods averaging 11.5 fish per angler on a catch-andrelease basis. One boat returned 50 browns to 1 lb 8 oz, with Damsel nymphs, Sedgehogs and weighted mini Tadpoles all doing well. – MIKE WEAVER.