Clatworthy fly fishing offers the angler one of the most idyllic and peaceful settings in which to pursue both rainbow and brown trout. Bordering the nearby Exmoor National Park, this upland reservoir is set among the gently rolling Brendon Hills in West Somerset. Enclosed by native woodland and rich meadow pastures, the 5-mile perimeter walk provides access to a wide choice of locations from which to fish.
The 2018 Clatworthy fly fishing season runs from Wednesday 14th March to Wednesday 31st October 2018 (closed 28th April for Wessex Open)
As in most fishing lakes and waters, there are the more popular spots that seem to hold the fish. Fortunately, for anglers who don’t want to walk too far at Clatworthy, these are only a little further along the same bank as the fishing lodge. However, for those who do enjoy walking and fly fishing, the reward will not only be the chance of hooking into a wild brownie (as well as the rainbows) but also the experience of peace and tranquility accompanied by a beautiful birdsong soundtrack.
All around the lake there are headlands, bays and wooded banks and as the water level drops throughout the season you can access some of these points, many of which won’t have been fished for months. In some places you might find there is little room for your backcast, don’t however be put off as fish cruising the margins for terrestrial insects can be caught just a few rod lengths out from the bank.
For the boat angler there is deep water in front of the dam where you can try to coax out one of the resident big fish. When the aerators are are on it’s always worth trying a cast or two into the bubbles, but keep in touch with your leader if you can, as it’s often when your flies are just out of the ‘turbulance’ they will get hammered by the hungry fish lying in ambush. When the reservoir is full the water in front of the dam is roughly 29 metres deep, a long way down but who knows what lies in the depths between you and the bottom…
Talking of boats, there are 10 available from the fishing lodge. You can hire them on an all day or half day ticket (from 3pm), and there’s a choice of rowing or electric motors (supplied at extra cost or you can bring your own). The reservoir isn’t too long or wide so rowing isn’t arduous. If for example you want to go up past the dam to the north end of the water whilst you are up there (if it’s the dog days of summer months) try drifting along the banks with a singly dry fly, of course if it’s blowing a gale and you are rowing against a headwind then it might be worth considering fishing in one of the bays closer to the fishing lodge where the boats are hired from. For anglers with disabilities (and their companions) there is a wheelie boat with petrol motor also available to hire.
Clatworthy Fly fishing Tactics:
Being an upland reservoir things like the water temperature and insect life can take a little longer to get going compared to other lower lying fisheries…
Having said that, here’s a typical bag limit of 5 hard-fighting, early-season fish caught using a midge tip line with a pheasant tail on the point and a black buzzer on a single dropper.
Free rising fish provide good targets to cast to and lightning takes followed by long runs are not uncommon on this upland water.
Lure fishing is practiced by many anglers at Clatworthy; Damsels, Cats Whiskers, Boobies, Tadpoles, and the ubiquitous Blob all seem to be popular.
If that’s not your style then a team of nymphs or small buzzers will often catch when others are finding it hard going.
A combination of Diawl Bach, Pheasant tail, Black Buzzer or small Crunchers can often prove deadly. Hook sizes ranging from 12 – 16 seem to work better for the PT’s and Buzzer than 10’s or larger.
Dry fly fishing at Clatworthy
This method of fishing is well worth trying. Many anglers choose to fish dries throughout the season and for good reason too. Around the end of April / start of May you will see the Hawthorn fly hatching and the fish rise readily to these as well as to the smaller midge type flies that are in abundance.
Towards the end of May and for a good few weeks onward the Coch-y-bondu will prove to be an excellent choice when the trout are feeding on Phyllopertha horticola, or what is commonly known as the Garden Chafer. This terrestrial is easy to recognise, about 10mm long, with a black head (or upper part of the body) and a shiny dark chestnut / brown wing shell covering, the trout just love em!
A foam beetle is a fly well worth using and can entice fish to rise not just when this particular beetle is about but throughout the year too.
(image credit Charles Sharp)
See our page on the most popular fishing flies to use at Clatworthy.
Many of the Rainbows are grown on at the Clatworthy’s own fish farm, in addition to regular stocking this allows ‘trickle feeding’ larger than average fish into the reservoir over the course of the season, so don’t be surprised if you hook into a double-figure weight rainbow.
The average weight of stocked Rainbows is 2lb plus. There is also a good number of wild Brown Trout in the reservoir and stocked Brownies of 2lb+ are often caught throughout the season.
Brownies under 12″ are to be carefully released back into the reservoir, any over that size count as part of your bag limit and should be taken.
Are you new to the area or a visitor and would like have a chat with a member of Clatworthy Fly Fishing Club to find out more about the fly fishing opportunities? We might even be able to accompany you for a boat or bank session. If so please use the contact page to get in touch.
Clatworthy Fly Fishing Costs 2018:
Day permit £23 (5 fish)
Day concession £20.00 (5 fish)
Evening ticket (start at 3pm), no concessions £14.00 (2 fish)
Season ticket £370 4 days per week. Total 100 fish limit, max 4 fish a day (one venue only)
Book of 6 day tickets, any venue £120 – Concessions £105 (5 fish per day)
Boat (rowing) per day/evening £15.00
Wheelchair accessible boat £11.00 per day
Electric boat motor hire per day £10.00
In addition to the fishery permit anglers must have an up-to-date
Environment Agency rod licence
For more information about the fishery or to book a boat contact the rangers Les or Danny. You can leave a message if the rangers are not available when you call.