Fly Fishing at Clatworthy – April Overview

Fly Fishing at Clatworthy

We’re now a month into the season and the fly fishing at Clatworthy has begun to settle into a more predictable pattern. Spring has finally arrived after a prolonged wet, cold, and thoroughly miserable winter.

Swallows are now on the water (first seen around 12th April), the woodland around the reservoir is ‘greening up’, Grebes and Canada geese have been displaying their mating rituals and small swarms of buzzers can now be seen on and around the water. All are a welcome sight to any fisherman and nature lover.

Clatworthy Fishing ReportsSo, what of the fly fishing at Clatworthy?

One of the most notable things is that the brown trout has formed part of the bag limit of many anglers in the season to date. Both the smaller wild, and a good number of larger (up to 5lb) brownies are being taken. Pre-season stocking of grown-on brown trout will account for the numbers being caught however, as the season progresses, I suspect we will see less of them as the water warms up and the fish become more naturalised reverting to their instinctively shy habit. They can still be caught, however a more focussed approach will be in order.

Rainbows and Fly Fishing at Clatworthy

Black Cruncher
Black Cruncher

The rainbow trout have now switched on to taking ‘naturals’. With the cold spell well and truly behind us, the warmer weather has kick started nature and we are seeing trout ‘looking up’ and taking terrestrials and water borne insects (in particular buzzers) on or near the surface. The next couple of months will see some exciting ‘top of the water’ sport for those fishing dries. The Hawthorn fly will soon make an appearance, then a little later, the Coch y Bonddu. If last year is anything to go by then it will be a fun few weeks for those who choose to target these gluttonous fish.

Buzzers at Clatworthy So, with buzzers about, those who like to fish them (and other nymphs such as PTNs) will not be disappointed. Usual presentation tactics apply, though you might have to see just what they prefer on the day. It could be either dead slow (inched at a time), a slow retrieve, static or pulled like crazy, go figure (of eight!).

Lures, boobies, and other non-imitative flies will continue to catch good numbers throughout the season. Black, or a combination of black and green, always tends to be a good choice of lure colour, as does the cat’s whisker (green and white). A little bit of marabou included in the lure pattern often provides the irrestistable trigger for the fish to take however if you are getting plucks and not connecting with the fish then you might have to trim off some of the tail or go to a smaller sized hook. Competition sized lures / hooks are well worth using (or having in your box) for these occasions.

goldhead damsel lureAnother lure and a ‘go to’ fly for many is the damsel or a version of this all rounder. Its reputation for taking fish, on both small water fisheries and the larger reservoirs, is well known and for good reason too. It often works when others don’t. The damsel will also take fish from the start right through to the end the season.

If you are fly fishing at clatworthy (from the bank) generally speaking you won’t be fishing into great depths of water. A floating line with a reasonably long leader will usually suffice (you might find a gold head or weighted lure gets to the depth and fish quicker), or if that’s not working, a slow sinker or intermediate line will find the level where the fish are holding.  So unless you are fishing a boobie two feet off the bottom, or are out in a boat, then a fast sinking line is not usually needed.

Fly fishing at Clatworthy - Rainbow Trout
Rachel Brady from Orvis with a fin perfect Clatworthy Rainbow Trout

The rod averages over the last few weeks at Clatworthy have been very encouraging with many bagging up (5 fish) and good average fish weights of 2 1/2 to 3lb. A good number of larger fish are also being taken including a notable couple of 10lb + rainbows.

Meet the ‘General’

Fly fishing at Clatworthy - brown troutI mentioned brown trout earlier in this piece and I thought you might like to meet the General!

Nurtured and named by the rangers at Clatworthy this is one of the grown-on brownies they have at the on-site fish farm. The good news for fly fishers at Clatworthy is that he is no longer on the farm but is now swimming around somewhere in the reservoir. Weighing a tad over 7lb when released, it will be interesting to see what weight and where it is when, (and if) it’s captured.

In summary, it looks like it will be another cracking year of fly fishing at Clatworthy. Regular stocking of good-sized fish is scheduled throughout the season and there’s more good news to share with you…

Look out for the Spartic Trout!

Fly fishing at Clatworthy - Spartic Trout
Spartic Trout (picture courtesy of Torre Trout Farms Ltd)

First introduced into Wessex Water’s Hawkridge reservoir you may well catch one at Clatworthy too. There has been an initial stocking of this new trout variant (a cross between a Brook trout and an Artic char) with fish weighing up to 5lb. released last week. Some have already been brought to the net by a few lucky anglers, will you be next?

It’s competition time at Clatworthy

The Wessex Water Fisheries Open Fly Fishing Competition takes place at Clatworthy Reservoir this Saturday 28th April. Get your entries in by Wednesday!

Now in it’s second year this is a well planned and run competition. Entrants names are drawn to fish in the numbered sections of the bank so each have the same chance of being allocated certain areas. The top 3 prizes are won on the heaviest bag so it will be down (in part) to luck what size fish you catch, so anyone could win it.

There are three top cash prizes up for grabs (£1,000, £500 or £250 for the heaviest bags) with a separate prize for the biggest fish. Entry is £60 which includes your fishing permit, entrance fee and refreshments following the event.

To enter and for more information contact ranger Danny Ford: or call him on 01984 624658.

Good luck if you are taking part!

And finally…

Clatworthy fly fishing clubClatworthy Fly Fishing Club has had a great start to the season. It is very encouraging to see we are close to having 50 members with people of all ages and walks of life participating in the club events and activities.

We’ve already had a few fun club competitions with more to come. Over the coming months we will be hosting social events including ‘fireside chats’ with (among others) fishing ‘gurus’ Dom Garnett and Charles Jardine. The Clatworthy Cook-off is  scheduled for later in the year and we hope to host a family open day in July (more on this later). Keep a close eye on the events list for more details.

Last Saturday I ran a beginners day for a small group of people at Clatworthy. It was good fun to host and pleasing to get great feedback from the participants (who I’m sure will be back soon ready to ‘go it alone’). We have two more of these days planned so get in touch if you know anyone who would like to take part.

Tight lines,

Wessex Water fisheries Clatworthy update 2018

2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for Clatworthy fly fishing. A record number of anglers came through the doors in 2017, and we have made some improvements over the winter to accommodate even more for this year. We have been busy over the winter months clearing more bank space in Rowes end, and also opening up Willow bay which is a great bank through spring and early summer.

We have added 2 brand new Coulam 16 boats to the fleet this season which brings the total to 10. We know a few anglers favour the older Bowitco boats, so we have left 2 on the water. The electric motors were in high demand last year, so for the 2018 season we have added petrol motors for the first time on Clatworthy. These can be booked in advance by calling the office on 01984 624658.

Although the weather has been harsh for the past couple of weeks, the winter on whole has been mild. This has meant that the fish farm can operate with a good conversion rate, and the rainbows and browns are growing on well.

Brown Trout
A nice 6lb+ brown trout, one of the many Brownies to be stocked into Clatworthy throughout the year
rainbow trout
With plenty of room in the tanks to freely swim about, the rainbows are fin perfect…

We will be doing a pre-season stocking of brown trout from the farm at the coffee morning on the 12th March, which starts at 10.30am. Our water level is at maximum with water spilling over the dam for the past few months.

We look forward to hosting the Wessex Open competition on the 28th April. This is sure to be a popular event, which anyone can win! Prize money stands at £1800 With 1st place scooping £1000! Best get up here and practice! To enter, please see the info in the lodge and complete an entry form.

We are really pleased with the momentum that Clatworthy Fly Fishing Club is gathering. 30+ members in year 1 is a testament to the hard work that Howard and the team are putting in. We are looking forward to hosting the social  events & competitions this season at Clatworthy, and encourage everyone to join in and participate.

Wessex Water fisheries are also hosting the #WessexWaterChallenge, which sees Charles Jardine taking part in a fishing marathon. Charles will start at Clatworthy on the 7th April, before running to Hawkridge and then on to Sutton Bingham. Charles must catch a fish at each reservoir before beginning the next leg of the challenge. All in 24hrs! Charles is the founder of Fishing for Schools, which has been set up alongside the Countryside Alliance Foundation, to help children with learning difficulties experience all the benefits that being outdoors and on the water can bring. To sponsor Charles, please visit or text TCAF50 with the amount you would like to donate to 70070.

We look forward to seeing you all on the banks soon and tight lines for the coming season,

Les Carter and Danny Ford
The Clatworthy Rangers
Wessex Water Fisheries

Coch-y-Bondhu Beetle = Top of the Water Sport

In the last couple of weeks at Clatworthy reservoir there has an abundance of the Coch-y-Bondhu on the water and the trout are taking full advantage of this seasonal hatch and gorging themselves on them. The beetle can be found all around the reservoir so no matter if you are bank or boat fishing it is well worth tying on an imitation and have some fun, top of the water sport.

The traditional Coch-y-Bondhu fly works well on Clatworthy and equally so does a foam beetle pattern (if not better!). Shortish leaders of 10 – 12 foot with a single fly is standard practice (though you could use a dropper if you feel inclined). Cast to rising fish or cast and leave for 20 seconds or so then repeat.

Foam backed Coch-y-Bondhu
Foam backed Coch-y-Bondhu patterns

If bank fishing a short cast parallel to the bank will often bring a fish up to your fly and at times there has been plenty free rising fish so you’ll have those to cast to as well. These are ideal conditions for ‘walking and stalking’, now the water levels are down try the bank opposite the lodge and towards the North end, from where the gorse begins is a good starting point. You’re likely to take some nice brownies along this stretch too.

If you are taking a boat out then drifting down the margins on the windward side should find you fish, as will in the dam basin and Dudderidge bay (where fish have been holding right down into the far corner). Casting close to the overhanging trees and bushes will often pay off handsomely.