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Salmon, sea trout and brown trout in Devon
Fishing Breaks offers sea trout, salmon and brown trout fly fishing in Devon.
The briefest glance at the county map immediately reveals two things about Devon: the first is the vast empty spaces of Dartmoor and Exmoor; the second is the huge number of rivers. For the fly fisherman both these facts are important.
The many, many miles of water means an angler can easily go a whole day without catching sight of another person, let alone another fisher, and once you get away from the well known ‘hot spots’ many parts of even the most prestigious rivers are barely fished.
As you travel west the dominance of the brown trout as the primary game species lessens, with salmon and sea trout becoming equally important. But one of the magical things about the Devon rivers is that you have the chance for all three; you can quietly venture upon a pool where the little brownies peck away on the surface, the sea trout buzz around like silver jets while the dark, torpedo shadows of the salmon wait at the tail of the pool.
Devon may have won its spurs in fishing literature for night-time sea
trout, but there is plenty more to this West Country county to be discovered
for the discerning angler.
The River Dart starts life as two rivers, the East and West Dart high up on Dartmoor. The two come together at Dartmeet and after leaving the moor flow southwards past Buckfast Abbey until they reach the sea at Dartmouth.
Below Dartmeet the river cuts its way through wooded and often steep-sided valleys with fast runs and rapids. When heavy rain falls on Dartmoor, the river can come into spate very quickly, with the water level rising by several feet within an hour or so. Obviously, these conditions can be very dangerous. Wise anglers will keep a good eye on the water level when such weather is forecast. It is usually possible to fish again within a few hours of the peak of the spate.
The river supports populations of salmon, sea trout and brown trout, but there are no grayling or coarse fish species present.
Our local Fishing Guide has a lovely yurt a few minutes from the river. See more details via this link
The delight of Devon is the diversity of the game fish – the dilemma can be the right outfit to carry.
In medium water from June onwards a 10ft rod and lighter lines are quite adequate. Popular flies include the Black and Copper Darts, Ally's Shrimp (including Cascade) and Stoat's Tail, both in tubes; and Esmond Druries, sizes –1¾ and 6–12, or even smaller for grilse in drought conditions.
It is possible to catch sea trout during the day, especially in high or coloured water. Fish lightweight tubes through the glides and tails of pools as the bigger fish will adopt the same lies as their larger brethren the salmon. During the summer, when the river is low, it is best to fish late into the night with small flies, moving up in fly size as it gets darker. Generally the best time to catch ‘peal’ is when the foxgloves are in bloom, the bats come out to play and when everyone else is in the bar!
A #6/7 9-10ft rod, intermediate or floating line, 7lb leader and smaller flies, size 8-6 or small plastic tubes. In addition to the above patterns try Mallard & Claret, Peter Ross, Teal, Blue & Silver. Some reservoir patterns will also take fish.
A #5 8ft would be suitable for general trout fishing, with floating and, if using wet fly, intermediate lines. During the early part of the season the classic fly to use on the Dart is the Pheasant Tail Nymph, especially useful during colder spells. A GRHE nymph is also a good bet, perhaps in gold-head form. Wet flies such as March Brown or Blue Upright could also be productive.
As the weather warms up the trout will start to rise to a fly. As implied above, there are no great hatches of up-winged flies so the fish tend to be rather opportunist feeders, with dry flies such as BWOs, other olives and Klinkhammers often being successful. There are usually plenty of sedges about so any sedge imitation is always worth a try, with Elk Hair Caddis being a good general pattern. The latter can be used to good effect especially later in the season, fished in the faster water. In high summer the trout can become a bit fickle and a tiny Black Gnat of about size 20 may be required to tempt them.
Top local hotel: Prince Hall
Top local inn with rooms: Church House Inn
Top local pub: The Rugglestone Inn
1 Hannaford Fishery River Dart
Fishing Breaks Ltd, The Mill, Heathman Street, Nether Wallop