British Float Tube Association
January 24, 2022, 11:51:57 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: First meeting has been confirmed, sign up now for Toft Newton.
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]
Author Topic: Wimbleball Report - April 1st  (Read 1580 times)
Forum Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 1166

« on: April 02, 2017, 07:36:14 PM »

The venue: Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor in Somerset, England, is a water supply reservoir constructed in the 1970s and completed in 1978.
Area: 151 ha
Mean depth: 50 m
Water volume: 21 million m³
Inflow source: River Haddeo
Outflow location: River Haddeo

As you can see from the above statistics this is a very big and very deep water. Rainbow trout were stocked for many years until cessation of this policy last season. The water has now been downgraded to a low cost fishery, with a £10 / take 3 fish, ticket. The water also holds a very substantial head of wild brown trout, which will have been hatched in the river Haddeo and then migrated into the water. These trout are claimed to be up to 5lbs in weight, but from our experience we know that the occasional big double is also present. These browns always give the angler a good fight and must be returned unharmed to the lake.

The water level at this fishery can vary enormously throughout the year, depending on whether it is drained down to feed at least one other reservoir. When it is around half full it is an astonishing sight to see how steep the banks are and how deep the water still is. It also gives one a little food for thought about ensuring that lifejackets are securely buckled and crotch straps locked in place.

The size of this place is very deceptive when standing on the bank. On Friday I was looking across Cow Moor and watching some brown animals, wondering whether they were deer or a speciality sheep breed. They were in fact fully grown horses! It isn’t until you trying to get back down the length of an arm against the wind that you realise just how long it is. Alternatively try and spot a float tube on the far shore from the End of Cow Moor or Bessom’s – some ten power binoculars might just help!

The weather: It could have been a lot worse. Variously cloudy or sunny, with winds reckoned to be varying between 6 and 18mph. The water surface was either well rippled or very lumpy and waved depending on the breeze strength. Throughout the match the occasional few spots of rain dropped but nothing very wetting until 3.00pm when a slightly more substantial shower soaked everything ready for packing up later.

Nature notes: It is now very definitely spring time. Trees are now beginning to be covered in a myriad shades of green where the leaves are bursting. Pussy willow and hazel catkins, seen together with various blackthorn and wild plum blossoms make a lovely contrast to the fresh greens. The roadside banks are full of the light yellow primrose flowers and small white or purple wild pansies will be seen by those who look closely. The hillsides and rough patches of land are covered in the bright yellow flowers on gorse bushes.

I was hoping to see sand martins or house martins having arrived early from Africa – these didn’t appear in Cow Moor arm where I spent most of my day. However, Andre and Gary, (whose ornithological skills have come on in leaps and bound this year), saw some down at Bessom’s Bridge. A couple of cormorants appeared, as did a family of buzzards. Several pairs of geese and ducks, mainly mallard, were seen. Surprisingly, there was no obvious sound or sign of the early spring warbler and flycatcher visitors one might have expected to come across. (I have heard these singing around my garden for ten days or so now). There were however a couple of hundred or more gulls thermalling at the end of cow moor and then dropping down onto the water there.

The most obvious natural phenomonen was the huge hatches of big black buzzers throughout the day, millions and millions of these creatures were constantly in the air - and the surface of the water covered in their shucks.

The fishermen: Members from all over the country were present; ones I knew were from the far SW of Cornwall, another from Mansfield area, a couple of Leicester lob wormers, Basil Fawlty and his itinerant lodger from South Devon, a gentleman from Oxford, a rat catcher and piscatorial enthusiast with wide interests from Wiltshire, et al. Sadly our Mancunian representative and his sidesman couldn’t make it, after a wayward wheelie bin apparently chased after him and bit him badly on the shoulder – sounds an unlikely feeble excuse to me - but who am I to judge these matters. Our Yorkshire based traveller appears to have pulled out as a result of his missus nicking the duvet overnight in those cold arctic wastes up north where they live, and him getting pneumonia as a result – mind you the amount of alcohol he appears to shift as evidenced on his facebook pics, must have killed any germs long before they could settle in, so I’m not convinced about that excuse either.

The fishing: None of us realistically expected huge bags of fish. However, there are some pretty good trout anglers in this bunch with what must amount to hundreds of years of experience between them. Mine alone would be pushing near sixty years, and there were other aspiring old gits there as well. The first major decision was where to fish, each member having their own ideas on this matter. Sometimes the decision had to be taken on matters of practicality, with a disabled pair heading for a launch area near the boats opposite cow moor. Russ and Kevin decided on a spot a little further down towards the dam at the other end of the boat park as this was apparently the prime spot to cook bacon baps. No -  I didn’t ask why either! The Leicestershire lot headed off to Bessom’s, probably because they were getting homesick and this was the nearest spot to some strange football team which they seem to idolise. The Cornishman joined them, and lurked about getting pulls under the causeway. I’m not quite sure what to make of that report – perhaps it’s just as well it is not SF we are talking about here otherwise we would all know!? (One of the Leicester lot did want me to put a report in the nature section about a bird in Lycra, but I didn’t think it appropriate – but must admit to spotting it running away further round the lake).

You must understand here that Wimbleball is a very big water, and it is very difficult to even spot other float tubers unless they are of a particularly sociable nature, or like Andre and want to get into you swim and nick the fish off your fly - so he can win the match if he has seen you get one or two. It is with this in mind that I will have to report my own thoughts and progress to give an indication of how the fishing went.

Now I reckoned that the fish would have seen quite a lot of flies in 12 months or more and if they had been caught and released a couple of times they wouldn’t be so keen to repeat the experience. Therefore, I started off with a couple of nomad and damsel fly variations which might be a bit different to others they had experience of. These proved to be NBU flies, so I changed to a Dave Carrie inspired ‘fly’ which I had tied up a couple of years ago. This could fairly be called a zonker, but made with a pinky/mauve and black fur strip and a gold head in front of a silver ribbed black body. A little different don’t you think? I already knew that on its day this was a killer fly because I p*****d Andre off a couple of years back after bagging up on some nomads etc. when he was finding it difficult to catch. I was heading back home and put this thing on for curiosity, then promptly hooked three fish in four or five casts as I finned away. (At this point I took it off and stopped fishing before it got me into trouble). The same fly also hooked a lot of fish for me at Sweethope, when I was fishing near Brian on a difficult day, (although on that occasion they all came off the hook for some peculiar unknown reason).

Opposite the life buoy at the entrance to Cow Moor and about 8 yards from the bank I got a double pull so knew the theory for putting this fly on was valid. I had three or four more pulls in the first hundred or so yards going up into Cow Moor about the same distance from the bank then I hooked and netted a fish, it was a nice brown trout about 1.1/2 lbs. another pull and then finally another fish on about a hundred yards short of the trees. A few seconds charging about and flashes of gold under the water and it all went slack. Then absolutely nothing all the way up past the farm and its side lane. By now the wind had increased to a good gale and was blowing straight up the valley containing the Cow Moor arm. It was driving water over the back of the tube and was very uncomfortable and left me trying to fin against the blow while being driven further down the arm to the weeds and shallows at the end – not good news. In the middle of all this I changed rods and went over to a Hi-D with a nomad and Cat’s whisker – when the line was as near as dammit straight down below the tube I had a very strong pull which unfortunately did not connect. At this point I had to stop fishing and park the rod while I invoked my motorised ‘get you out of trouble system”.

Now the motor does work well mounted on the centre line of the tube, and if you can reach the steering arm is actually very manoueverable. The downside is that low speed will just about help you hold station against the wind if you continue finning hard. By selecting the more battery hungry higher speed, you can make a little headway. Then I got brain in gear and decided to tack at 45 degrees to the wind, at this point I made fairly reasonable progress by finning at the same time. Eventually I worked my way back to the clump of trees beyond where I had been getting pulls and fish. I had another pull, nothing more and then once again got a fish on for a few seconds, once again flashing gold under the surface and pulling very strongly before it got off too. I eventually met up with Ivan, who had had a couple of pulls with nothing connecting and then as I went away from him I had yet another good pull. With motor assistance on low speed now as the wind had dropped quite a lot, I exited the arm and was contemplating heading up to Bessom’s but then got a seriously painful chronic cramp in my right leg which stopped me completely. I couldn’t even steer the tube. At this stage the motor really did do what I had intended, and it took me back across the main water to the bank below the car – otherwise I might have been there yet! I must admit however that after the desultory day which I had at Toft without even getting a pull, that I was very pleased to find that I could still generate some fishy interest and that DC hadn’t really stolen my Mojo!?

Russ and Kevin met me having cooked and devoured more bacon baps. We were astonished to see that the bow end of the float tube was swimming in water. The supposedly waterproof kit bag supplied with the tube doesn’t stop the water getting in, but it makes a very decent water carrier!? (Ivan discovered his similar bag fitted to his new tube and containing his coat had also filled with water and made a passable washing machine). What was more surprising is that I had put my battery inside one of the lock sealed cake boxes and glued a grommet into the side to bring the cable out (and it was inside this bag) – you could not have got another teaspoonful of water into the box and yet the battery was still working fine. These float tubes really do need a mesh area somewhere under the bow to let the water out – for seriously expensive FT’s the design is totally inadequate.

Russ and Kevin stayed fishing in the boat park area and across to the opposite lower point of the Cow Moor entrance, and again had had a couple of pulls but no fish. I think John had started off in the same are but had definitely travelled fairly far up Cow Moor after I had left. He had caught one brown trout and a rainbow.

In the meantime Gary and Andre had found fish in the causeway and bessom’s area. Andre had a fish very soon after launching and another much later in the day. Both caught on grey buzzers with a black rib fished on a floating line. Gary also caught quite a decent rainbow in this area but I believe on an intermediate line.

In the area where I was, I never saw a fish rise all day. The first fish I saw rise was after I had finished, it rose about 25 feet behind me. However, the fish were apparently rising all day at Bessom’s and under the causeway and also in the boat park. Ivan had seen some rise in the main arm a little way up towards Bessom’s. Andre had spent considerable time casting buzzers in front of rising fish without tempting any takes. There were millions of buzzers hatching off, so it may have been that the trout couldn’t be bothered to move off course a couple of inches to snatch one with a hook in it. The real enigma is why would a natural born brown trout which generally feeds on larvae and insects, even bother to look at as weird a thing as a zonker, let alone try and eat it. I am convinced that all the fish I had pulls from, and the three I hooked, were all brown trout. I am equally convinced that The DI-3 was fishing for them very near the bottom, as I occasionally had to clear detritus from the hook. The pull I had on a DI-7 was definitely way way down deep. The rainbows which were caught were apparently in the top few feet of water. Kevin had his pulls on a floating line.

When we woke on Sunday morning and went for breakfast at Holworthy farm, the surface of the lake was like a sheet of glass in Cow Moor. The first thing I saw when opening the curtains was a fish rise just below the garden, and then they were regularly rising all over the place in the area where there appeared to be nothing the day before. There are definitely still a lot of fish in this water, but I will hazard a guess that it will take a very clever and devious fisherman to catch them; although I suspect that buzzer and dry fly enthusiasts will do well in the coming weeks on fairly calm evenings with a gentle breeze.

Andre won the match by catching two rainbows for the heaviest legitimate bag. (We were fishing a three fish ticket taking rainbows only). Gary came second with a heavier single fish and John third with a single rainbow. John had also returned a smaller brown which sounded to be around10ozs to three quarters of a pound. Tony had netted and returned a brown of about 1lb 8ozs and probably had more pulls than all the rest put together. It is surmised that the pulls came from curious brown trout just tail nipping the zonker which was tied on a short hook – if it had been a snake with a tail hook the story may have been very different, but probably still wouldn’t have won the match.

Asides: As can be seen from above, the motorising a float tube experiment has actually worked in its MK-2 bow mounted version. On a moderate breeze the tube can be moved quite well by the motor, although I would now say that the bigger 24 lbs Watersnake version would probably be more effective if you were prepared to sacrifice the battery life. On this day the battery lasted a good hour and was still going strong, despite being totally submerged in water, and for half of this time running on the higher speed at probably 15A draw. It will now be necessary to design a remote switch box and to come up with a practical method of steering the motor - the former problem should be relatively simple, the latter may be more tricky if it isn’t to get too complicated. Did the motor help an old cripple? Yes it definitely did on this day; and on any day where it is windy, any assistance is better than none!

It is a shame that SW Water have decided to downgrade this fishery. It is the best centrally placed water with relatively easy access for much of the Country. It will be missed by both serious fishermen and beginners alike when the fishing inevitably drops back to being extremely difficult. On this day eight very experienced fishermen caught four takeable rainbows between them for a cost of around £100.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to SW water and its staff for letting us loose on this brilliant water yet again.

Thanks also go to Gillian at Holworthy Farm for giving some of us board, plus brilliant breakfasts and evening meals.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2017, 08:13:36 PM by bracken » Logged
Pages: [1]
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.13 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!