"FISHING IN DEVON" -- Crediton Fly Fishing Club

Fishing Reports 2000


On the 14th February, those who had to deliver their Valentine cards and excuses duly did so, and with the rest uf us met up at 10-ish by the swing bridge on the Exeter Canal.

This was the second year that we have had a winter fishing trip, but none of us had had much if any experience of fly fishing for pike, so it took some time to get tackled up with short leaders, wire traces and the most phenominal range of pike flies and do-hickies that have ever assembled in one place… some of them I’d swear were larger than the fish we were after, and their garish “feathers” had surely never come from any avian… Well so much for the purist in me, I soon found myself trying to cadge on of the largest lures. image of pike fly

casting a pike fly When fishing finally got under way, there was short spell where everyone tried to get used to flinging multicoloured dead rats on the end of a fly line, and then we all seemed to settle into a rhythm and cast with some expertise. Most members fished a sinking line, and retieved at a fairly slow rate as befits fishing in such cold conditions. For the first few hours there was a great deal of expectation, particularly after a three foot pike loomed from the depths and swirled after David’s apology for a fly on two occasions.
Not content with this, the secretary, on hearing of the chairman’s close encounter, devised his own devilish tale of how he was nearly hypnotised by an enormous scaly monster which followed his line (But the tale may have altered a bit by the time that I heard it because by that time we were all snugly settled in the bar at the inn at Double Locks downing our second pints).

On queue, just as it was approaching lunchtime, Mick Storer arrived with some tale or other about why he was late..(but none of us believed him).. After all, it’s quite a simple journey from Swanage to Exeter isn’t it?

Lunch was a relaxed and civilised affair.   We had been extremely lucky with the weather… The promised rain had held off, and there had even been a couple of smiles from the sun.   Crediton to the north was bathed in rainfall all morning, which seemed to make our own micro-climate even better.
Nevertheless, February is not a particularly clement month and we were quite pleased to see the inside of a warm hostelry at lunch time.   It was a good choice.   The food was excellent, and was timed to enable everyone to have a couple of bevvies first.   Jon Ponting opposite me disappeared for nearly 30 minutes whilst he fought his way through a mighty mound of food piled upon his plate.   It was like watching the sun rise as the great pile slowly went down and his happy face reappeared on the other side. image of pike fly

pike fly-fishing at lime kilns The afternoon fishing which began about 2.30pm was similar to the morning’s fishing.   We were refreshed both mentally and physically, and were certain that as the day warmed up further, the pike would come on the feed and we’d catch a good haul.   Some members continued further up the canal, and others decided to drop back down to the Lime Kilns where they had heard over lunch that a 35lb fish had been taken in the past week.   Sadly none of us seemed to have the magic touch, and by four o’clock some of us (namely me) had resorted to spinning a bait.
We all met up back at the car park just after 4pm to witness MicK Storer catch a 3lb jack pike, using the smallest lure, mid-channel, close to the surface with no wire trace… in fact everything we had been advised not to do. Jam! :^))

Some of us were very fortunate to be loaned some new CARBOTEC saltwater and classic fly rods by Exeter Angling Centre and I should like to record our thanks to them and to say that they really were ideal for the job.  Very light but powerful enough to cast the bulkiest fly accurately.   I thought my arm would be aching ater an hour or two, but the rod made light work of casting all day.

Notwithstanding the blanks for everyone except Mick, it was a grand day, and did a lot of good for club morale.   We had twelve people fishing, and another two turned up in the afternoon to see how we got on.   A lot of fun, and an experience that I will remember for years to come.

Thanks to Greg, Keith and David for their prior organisation, and to Bob Swinhoe for the inspired idea.

CFFC members



All fishing is fun.   All fishing is enjoyable even when you're not catching anything , even when you're getting wet.   Just occasionally you have an experience which is the cream, the cats whiskers, the ace, the business, the real thing such as I had at the end of last May on the lower Creedy.   You know the stretch I mean-the steep banks, the overhanging trees, the dead trees and the stinging nettles-such huge stinging nettles.   At least at this time of year the main growth is not completed and is still possible to fish this stretch.

I did not fish the very first bit just up from where the Creedy joins the Yeo or round the first slight bend but just past very overhanging trees, from the top of the bank I cast a black gnat over the nettles down into the narrow pool.   Immediately I was rewarded by the sight of 10 in. trout darting shiftilly out from under the bank and back again with my gnat.  This fish had to be hauled up bodily, so I was glad it was no bigger because my little rod could not handle anything bigger.   Then I saw it-a fluttering scuttering May fly, then another and another.   No time to waste , on with my own version-a rather drab-but I find effective-spent May fly.

Now in the river, round the next bend (cannot fish this-too grown in), fish into the next pool-a wide one on the bend, nothing! But more May flies! I wade up past the little trees and over the mud.   A short cast up the fast narrow run.   Then further up I see a rise form.   I lengthen my cast and have a fish, this a better fish and I return him after a vigorous fight.

After that I wade up a long section, mostly unfishable because of the trees growing low right over the water from the right hand bank, and come to the next bend pool.   Here there are fish rising, at least two may be three, and the nearest to me looks to be a good fish.   He ignores my first cast, slashes at the second, ignores the third, slashes at the fourth and totally ignores me from then on.   I take and return the smaller fish to the pool.  

Another long closely treed section and then another unfishable pool.   After negotiating this water along a perilous narrow ledge along the left-hand side I come to the next long pool, this with a kink half way up it.   An 11 inch fish on a static may fly and move up.   Here I cast around the slight bend-high on the back cast to avoid the trees-3 casts and nothing, so on the fourth cast as my may drifts down into the bend I lift my rod tip and cause my fly to skitter across the surface.   After a long fight I have a beautiful spotted brownie of 14 inches.

And so it goes on.   Wade through deep holes, push through dense vegetation, clamber over or under those concrete posts-fish everywhere.   In two hours of happy fishing I caught six fish including another beautiful brownie of 13 1/2 inches .

And my come uppance!!

Now that the fish were on May fly of course I could not wait to get back, so two days later I got myself duly dropped off by Dunscombe bridge at 10.30 in the morning having arranged to be picked up by my wife at 4.30 by Creedy bridge unless I phoned her before 2.30 to arrange an earlier pickup ... My wife said "Put the mobile in a poly bag in case you fall in".   "I never fall in" said I.   And so with mobile phone in top pocket , may flies, fly floatant and spool of leader material I set off up the Creedy.

I had another wonderful day catching 12 fish,   of which six were between 11 inches and 13 1/2 inches .   My best fish of the day came to a skittered may fly under the trees in the middle section just above the tree trunk.   From here I worked steadily up the very narrow stretch below the farm bridge.   Some 50 yards below this bridge I came up to a length of fast shallow water, clearly unlikely to hold fish.   I have to say at this point that I am particularly careful when wading in the Creedy and feel for every foothold before I take it.   This water was shallow-I mean I am a good judge of these things!   I strode confidently forward.   One step, two steps but the third step went down and down-and down beyond the point of balance.   The water closed over my head.   Hat stayed on.   I don't know whether I touched bottom or not-all instincts are to go the other way!   Out I got very rapidly clawing my way up through the nettles, not conscious of their stinging (until later!).   The water was cold!   I was soaked.   Everything off -almost.   Ten minutes of energetic wringing .   Clothes back on -wool next to skin, T-shirt on top (Warmer that way), Wade back in and after ten minutes hard fishing I was warm again.   Some two hours later I emerged by Creedy bridge damp, smelly and scruffy.   You could say that the trout had had the last laugh!

Bob Swinhoe


This is the time of year that is tinged with sadness.   The trout season has just passed, and there is time to reflect upon the summer months and might have beens.     This year for me there seem to be rather more "might have beens" than usual.   Most of them relate to what would seem to be the failure of plans to materialise:   plans made at leisure during the winter months, whilst fly tying and anticipating the coming season, with the previous year’s catch returns dangling before my eyes like a carrot to encourage me to get out and fish as much as possible.   As it turned out, the season got off to a poor start with very cold bright weather in March and other than a brief spell in May, I never seemd to hit the river right.   I never fished the Dart this year, nor the Avon nor the upper Exe as I had planned.   Locally, whenever I had a day off, the Yeo and Creedy were either unfishable, or the fish did not seem to be feeding, or if they were, they were not at all keen on what I was offering them.   Or if they were keen on my fly, then they were not keen on being hooked, and those that were hooked were most definitely unwilling to be landed.

Eventually I was left with the feeling that there was not much point in getting kitted out and setting off for the river because something or other was bound to happen that would spoil the day.   And this was not just on the CFFC streams.   On the Teign, I only recorded one small sea trout this year in three outings, and in the darkness I lost my favourite reel and a very nice 9wt DT floating line.   At the Drogo pool one night, I lacked concentration and the splendid seatrout that took my fly second cast jumped clean across the water and into a bush on the bank beside me, whence the hook became entangled and the fish returned to the dark waters.

In Wales, I spent a delightful 3 days and nights fishing the wonderful pools of the Dwyfor at Llanystymddy, during which time I hooked into and lost a sea trout of such magnitude that even I would have no need to exaggerate had I landed it… but I didn’t, and so I have to.

In September, I fished the Mawddach with Greg.   Conditions were perfect, the river still high, but fining down after heavy rainfall during the previous three days.   It is rare to hit the river in such a perfect state.   I think I lost about a dozen tobys and spoons, and never even saw a fish.
Such misery!   And yet I still can’t wait for the start of next season. But why?

Sitting at home now, as the dark evenings close in early, a small glass of Jameson’s puts a glow in my heart as other memories melt from their cold storage.   I can remember that glorious spring sunshine on the opening day.   The mistle thrush’s nest in the brambles, already with a clutch of identical eggs all pointing inwards towards each other… and the yellow Brimstone butterfly making an early start to the year.   In April I found a new kingfishers’ nest on the Yeo, and found crayfish claws and swan mussels left by an otter.   In May I watched a stoat quartering the edge of the field that I was walking in, and in his preoccupation he passed within a few feet of me.   I have never before seen a stoat so close up, and yet even as he passed me, he turned around and sat up still for all of a minute, and then passed back in front of me again.

In Wales, when I was having that ghastly time fishing the Dwyfor?   There were a host of happy memories,   of discovering new pools to fish, of planning how to fish them in the dark, of seeing the eery green luminescence of glow worms lighting my way along the path beside the water.   An amusing encounter with three local lads who were returning from night fishing through the woods, usually very brave no doubt, but they had been to see the Blair Witch project the night before and they were totally freaked out by the sight of the patterns and shadows that their own torches were throwing.   I laughed a lot a this, but when I had to pass Lloyd George’s deserted chapel on my own an hour later, my confidence was not at its highest and I broke into a very fast trot.

And memories of the Vyrnwy come flooding back.   Of camp fires on its banks… Of swimming in a thunderstorm.   An how it came to my rescue on several occasions this year….   At the end of my time on the Dwyfor, Greg had travelled up to fish with me, and the weather took a turn for the worse.   We retreated to Dolanog to fish the final afternoon on the Glyndwr fishery.   The river was high and a bit too coloured, but we each caught 17 trout and grayling to 17".   Mine on a nymph and all Greg’s on dry fly.
Later in the summer I saw a pair of goshawks and their young.  And in September I hooked my first ever Vyrnwy salmon even though it decided not to stay in close contact with me for very long.

Did I really find fishing so tiresome last year?


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