CATCH AND RELEASE ON THE RESERVOIRS
Catch and release is an increasingly popular approach and we are lucky that Bristol Water do allow it. But it is crucial that we all do it properly and ensure the best survival of the trout. They are after all a vital asset to the season long success of the lakes.
Throughout the season it is very important that everyone follows the correct catch and release procedures if you are returning fish to the water. This is especially so in the first few weeks when we know that fish can often turn up in much greater numbers.
The following guidelines are issued by the Stillwater Trout Fisheries Association:
Guidelines for better catch and release
Check The Rules
Always follow the fishery rules before attempting catch and release, and ask for advice from the fishery staff and wardens if you are not sure.
Use Barbless Hooks
Catch and release is made easier if you use commercially available barbless hooks, or de-barb your own.
These types of hooks can be quickly released with the minimum of trauma and stress to the fish.
If you are de-barbing your own hooks make sure you squash the barb sufficiently flat with a pair of flat-nose pliers.
Play it Quickly
Catch and release is not for light line enthusiasts.
Avoid using very light tippets and leaders as these allow you to play the fish in quickly without it become exhausted.
Light leaders are also more likely to break. If you know you are going to release the trout then play it quickly so it has enough energy to recover quickly and swim off once released.
But be careful not to play the fish in so hard that you risk breaking the leader.
If you are fishing from the bank and can easily wade or reach down into the water then you shouldn't need to remove the fish from the water or handle it at all.
Use your fingers, forceps or a catch and release (disgorger) tool to free the hook and watch the fish swim away.
Do not use the tip ring of your rod to dislodge the hook or you risk breaking the rod.
If you have to use a net opt for a soft mesh landing net as these reduce the risk of damage to the fish.
Catch and Release From a Boat
The best way to release a fish from a boat is to ensure it does not leave the water.
Use a shallow pan-shaped net that will allow you easy access to the fish, and make sure the net has a soft knotless mesh.
Guide the fish into the waiting net but don’t lift it into the boat. Keep the net in the water, but make sure the fish doesn’t bang against the side of the boat.
Lean over, taking care not to overbalance, release the hook using forceps or a catch and release tool and tip the fish back into the water.
Never release a fish into or near weed as it could become entangled.
Try and release a fish into deeper water where there is more oxygen present. If the fish looks like it is in difficulty, cradle the fish in the water, hold it by the tail and gently move it back and forth until you can feel it gain strength.
If you want a picture of the fish then carefully lift it from the water for just seconds at a time and never more than a couple of feet from the water’s surface.
Hold it with one hand around the tail wrist and the other supporting the fish behind the gill area.
Always wet your hands before handling the fish.
Guidelines for Despatching Your Catch
If you are killing a fish then again keep it in the net as it's much easier to grip the slimy critter through the net mesh.
Turn the fish so that it’s upright and then whack it hard on top of the head and a little behind the eyes with a decent weighty priest.
Do it quickly and use the priest like you are knocking in a four-inch nail.
Reflections on the 2017 Season
Posted by Bristol Water Fisheries on 27.02.2018
With the 2018 trout season underway this week it seems like a good time to reflect on season 2017 as well as look at changes in season 2018.
Our 2017 season summary can be found HERE.
We hope you enjoy the read and look forward to welcoming both old and new customers in 2018.
Bristol Water Fisheries
9/2/2018 at 9:09am ·
A message from Steve on behalf of BW senior management:
“I am delighted to announce the promotion of John Harris to Fisheries & Recreations Manager at Bristol Water.
John continues in the successful tradition of Fisheries Managers at Bristol Water that have worked their way up from Ranger to Manager. Including Ian Williamson, Kim Lucas, Bob Handford, and of course Alan Dymock who continues in his existing role today as Operational Manager for Lakeside and Fisheries.
John’s first working encounter with Bristol Water was back in 2006 on a work experience week with Fisheries. John officially joined the team as a Seasonal Ranger 4 years later in 2010, having completed his degree in Environmental Science.
In 2011 John was promoted to a full time Ranger position, before being promoted again to Senior Ranger in 2012. 3 years later John stepped up into an acting Officer role; being subsequently recognised through promotion to Fisheries & Recreations Officer in January 2016.
John is known within the team for his genuine character, positive determined attitude and his passion for customer service, and of course, fishing!
John represented England at the youth level for fly fishing and has a passion for fishing in the wider sense.
Please join me in congratulating John on his deserved promotion and in wishing him every success in his new role.”
3rd January 2018
30th January 2018
Message from Mark Lloyd
Chief Executive, Angling Trust & Fish Legal
2017 has been another year of great progress for the Angling Trust and Fish Legal. We’ve won several battles to win greater protection for freshwater and marine fisheries and the freedom to fish for them. Fish Legal has taken numerous polluters to court and recovered tens of thousands of pounds in compensation for our member clubs and fishery owners. We have taught tens of thousands of anglers how to fish and run countless successful competitions. We have recruited nearly 500 volunteer bailiffs to support the work of the Environment Agency’s enforcement teams. Our partnership work with the Police goes from strength to strength and has transformed the way they deal with poaching, fish theft and other illegal activity. We have organised regional forums throughout the country to give anglers the chance to have their say. We have advised hundreds of fisheries about how to manage predation and prevent the spread of invasive species.
Although we receive some funding from the Environment Agency and Sport England for many of these activities, we remain fiercely independent and committed to representing our members’ interests fearlessly. Our campaigning and legal work has grown substantially in scope and impact over the past nine years and it’s only possible because of the funds that you, our members, give to us through subscriptions, donations and legacies. Thank you so much for your support and to the thousands of volunteers who give up their time as bailiffs, to serve on committees, to teach people to fish and to help organise matches. Thank you also to our dedicated and expert staff, who work tirelessly and regularly above and beyond the call of duty.
The fish and fishing we all hold dear face countless threats at a time of political turmoil but by standing together we can protect them for the next generation and seize the many opportunities to make them better.
Merry Christmas to you all and here’s to another successful year in 2018!
Not yet a member? Please join the Trust today
The Angling Trust represents anglers and protects fishing. The more anglers who join, the louder our voice becomes. By becoming a member, you help fund our work to promote angling and its future, to fight for better fish stocks in both the marine and freshwater environment and to campaign against threats to angling. Membership of the Angling Trust runs for a year from the date of joining - and you'll also receive great membership benefits including £10m public liability insurance, discounts on products and services, and at least 10% off day and season tickets at almost 100 fisheries.
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Fly Fishing on Blagdon: Top tips and flies for tricky conditions
Chris Ogborne is a lifelong fan of Blagdon Lake, but encountered tricky conditions on a recent day of flat calm and high temperatures. Nevertheless, challenging sessions can often be the ones that teach us the most. Here are some of his recent reflections and top fly fishing tips for difficult days on the reservoirs.
“The Turrall team had been planning their recent day out on Blagdon for some time. You know what happens: we day dream about perfect conditions and top class fly fishing. But you don’t always get what you ask for! A whole series of factors conspired against us on this occasion. Nevertheless, with spring turning very quickly into summer I couldn’t resist the pull of this wonderful place so I took myself up there to sample the colours and atmosphere, whilst everything was fresh and green."
The only problem was, the water had switched rapidly to sultry full summer mode! As we motored out, it was clearly set to be one of those days when hardly a ripple troubled the water surface all day. The sun shone relentlessly, and temperatures soared to the high seventies. Hardly the best conditions for fly fishing!
But Blagdon seldom disappoints even when it challenges the angler. And although there was no surface activity, it was obvious that fish were feeding a few feet down, with plenty of swirls and nervous water giving a sure sign of fish taking buzzer pupae in mid water. There was only one place to go – there is only ever one place to go for me – and that’s Top End. With an average depth of less than eight feet, the whole of this shallow end of the lake can always be relied upon to give sport, and so it was on our day.
We used a combination of epoxy buzzers (above) and small damsel nymphs pretty much all day, and whilst I’d have loved to try the dries it just wasn’t that kind of fishing. The simple rule at Blagdon is always to find the feeding depth as once you’ve done that then it’s just a matter of getting the fly right.
My partner took a stunning rainbow on a size 12 red epoxy buzzer, and then I took one on a black. We tried larger flies through the day, but the fish wanted them small, as so often happens in a flat calm. Long 5lb fluorocarbon leaders were essential, as was a stealthy approach with the boat. Quite often we overlook this factor, but one of my essential fly fishing tips for the boat angler would be not to clunk about, because any careless noise or clatter might send the fish away for half an hour or more. This is never truer than when it’s calm and there are no waves or windy gusts to cover your presence!
It was almost a stalking day, just moving the boat quietly amongst the semi-submerged withies and keeping an eye out for any kind of sub-surface water movement. Very calm and fairly tricky, but I absolutely loved it! To my shame, I hadn’t been to Blagdon yet this season and it reminded me again, as it has so many times over the years, that this is still the very best Stillwater trout fishing in the land. The natural beauty of the valley, the fact that the lake feels like a lake and not a man-made reservoir, and then the simple atmosphere of the place. Nothing comes close and I honestly think nothing ever could.
We returned all our fish, including a lovely brown (above) that gave by far the best fight of the day. It was absorbing fishing but I have to confess that I spent almost as much time just simply soaking up the unique Blagdon ‘feel’.
For me, it’s England’s spiritual home of still water fly fishing without a doubt, but it’s also still the benchmark by which others are judged. Blagdon fully deserves it’s place at the top and I suspect these images will stir happy memories in many angling hearts. It has a very special place in mine, whether it’s a bite filled session, or one of those challenging sessions that really sharpen our skills.
Until next time, I wish you enjoyable fishing and urge you to get out there while you can.
Further Information & Top Flies for Blagdon & Bristol Water Fisheries
Blagdon Lake is open right through the season and also into the winter for top quality fly fishing. Rod averages are excellent throughout the year, with a range of bank and boat tickets available, including discounted fishing for young anglers. See the official Bristol Water Fisheries site for further details.
For a great range of the best fly patterns for Blagdon and other stillwaters, you’ll find a terrific selection from Turrall stockists. For the best value of all, our boxed selections and Fly Pods are packed with proven fish catchers that are sure to put a bend in your rod this season! Current selections include patterns by the likes of Chris Ogborne and fellow competition angler Gary Pearson’s stillwater specials (above).
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page for the latest news, tips and special giveaways!
Our thanks to Turrell.com and to Chris Ogborne for this Article.
Don’t go changing: Why you must fly fish Blagdon Lake this spring
Blagdon Lake is the seat of learning for stillwater fly anglers around the world. This month, Chris Ogborne takes a snapshot of his favourite lake in springtime and reflects on the permanence of this beautiful water.
Increasingly these days I’m finding time to reflect and enjoy the finer aspects of fishing. In an angling career that has been intense at times, and even frantic with the unique atmosphere that only top level competition can generate, it’s only in my later years than I have been truly able to sit back and appreciate some of the things we so easily take for granted. And so it was this week when I allowed myself a few hours around Blagdon’s hallowed shores. A meeting in Bristol finished early and I arrived at the South Shore as most of the boats were heading for home. It was incredibly peaceful, not an angler in sight and I had nothing but the resident and visiting bird life for company.
I hope this doesn’t happen because Blagdon is, has been and always should be the best stillwater trout fishery in Britain. It has certainly stood the test of time and from way back in 1904 when it opened its doors to anglers it has hardly changed in any material way. The photos I took today could truly have been taken fifty years ago, when I first fished this lovely water. Apart from a slight change in the tree line there is virtually no change at all to the skyline. There’s no change to the number of houses on the slopes of the Mendips, the farms are still viable and traditional. It was then, as it is now, stunningly beautiful.
Personally, my early days on Blagdon involved the development of the fly patterns I was evolving here. I worked on buzzer patterns, variations of the infamous Diawl Bach, my own Stick Fly, Bristol Hoppers, and so many more. I pioneered a ‘light line’ philosophy which stood me in good stead in so many competitions around the world. I developed my own tactical approach that led to success in home, international and World Championships. It allowed me to create and develop a unique business. And I owe all this to Bladgon.
Blagdon is the most demanding, the most scintillating, by far the most challenging and undoubtedly the most beautiful lake I know. Set in the rolling Mendip Hills and yet barely a stone’s throw from the thriving conurbations of Bristol and Bath, it’s also so easily accessible. If you’re not already a fan, I urge you to try the fishing here and I urge you to do it now, before it’s too late.
I saw my first migrants of the season, in the form of a flock of sand martins that had almost certainly arrived on the favourable southerly winds. I saw grebes performing their mating dance, crowning and presenting strands of water weed to each other in one of nature’s most beautiful ceremonies. There were no end of ducks around the margins and coots that had ceased quarrelling were quietly building nests in the withies. The daytime breeze had dropped and calm water around the margins just begged to be fished with a floating line.
But beyond this I also had to reflect on the future of this beautiful fishery, and that we anglers so often take it all as given. My friend Danny McNicol always said that ‘Blagdon will always be Blagdon’ as he dismissed the thought of any real change at the lake. But today there are pressures that even the far-sighted could not have anticipated. Water companies are not charities and the temptation to make a profit from resources such as Blagdon must be intense. It would be all too easy to let this lake become a pike fishery, running at high profit with minimal cost. It would be oh-so-easy to take it down the franchise route, without the worry about summer weed growth that saps the revenue or the cost of constant re-stocking against an ever-present cormorant problem.
Not that Blagdon is the only precious place at risk, because ALL our fisheries, yes, all the amazing places that we enjoy with scarcely a second thought, are under pressure. Water authorities have no obligation to provide anglers with a place to enjoy their favourite sport . Their first and overriding priority is water supply and they, like any other business, need to make a profit. If revenues from fishing drop – as they most definitely are – then our sport could be at risk. Angler numbers are shrinking, it’s a fact. The average age of anglers is rising, another alarming fact. We so desperately need to foster the next generation of anglers if we are to survive.
There is nothing completely inevitable about the decline of angling, but I’m afraid as a group we anglers are notorious for taking our sport for granted. In real terms a day on any of our lakes is ridiculously cheap, yet we are all too quick to vote with our feet if the weather isn’t to our liking, or the summer weed growth renders our favourite spot unfishable, or if we don’t agree with the current stocking policy. But you only have to look at Wimbleball on Exmoor to see what can happen if anglers fail to support a fishery. It’s not scaremongering to wonder ‘where next?’
Have a look at the images here. It’s Blagdon, on a perfect early spring evening. If you want your children to enjoy this same view, with the option for them and their children to fish the same spot, then PLEASE support the fishery by going fishing more often this year. Most importantly of all, take a youngster with you, because new blood is what we need most of all.
Use it or lose it. It’s our choice and I so fervently hope that we don’t fall under the spell of apathy that affects so much in our sport these days. More than anything, I pray that Danny McNicol’s words are upheld and that Blagdon will always be Blagdon.”
Chris Ogborne Spring 2017
For some great patterns to try on Bristol Water Fly Fisheries, take a look at our previous blog with top fly patterns and presentations from Turrall’s Gary Pearson.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page for all our latest news, views and the best fly patterns and accessories!