After years of reading about Blagdon, I finally decided to treat myself to a day on this historic water. As its still early season and I’ve recently purchased a proper pair of waders I decided to have a day on the bank. The catch reports had been very positive for the previous few weeks and I was looking forward to a day catching on nymphs.
Unfortunately, the forecast was not great: high winds, rain and cool temperatures. However, I arrived at the lake at 7.30am to a relatively calm morning. After paying for my permit, I drove round the Green Lawn where I was only the second angler and tackled up. The lake is relatively shallow and I thought the fish might be high in the water so I started with a floating line with an orange blob on the point and two diawl bach on the droppers.
The guy who was there before me had hooked two fish while I was tackling up, so I waded in with building excitement. The first 10-15 yards at this point are quite shallow so I was able to easily wade out to thigh depth so I could cast out over the drop-off and let the south-westerly wind swing my flies around. I started off fishing the top layers with a slow figure of eight, expecting the nymphs to be the target. With no takes after 15 minutes, I gradually allowed the blob to sink before retrieving to try a little deeper down. After another 30 minutes with no interest, I was about to change flies but noticed that the other angler, who had caught 5-6 by this point, was retrieving quite quickly. I cast out again and fished the blob rather than the nymphs, with small, jerky pulls. Immediately, I had a hard pull on the line and shortly after my first blagdon trout to the net. It was a decent size at around 3lb and fought well.
Over the next few hours I picked up another three decent trout and had plenty of nips and missed takes. But, all to the blob; they weren’t interested in any of the nymphs, despite trying all different types. By mid-morning the action had tailed off so I had a wander further down the reservoir, trying a few different spots down to wood bay but with no luck.
I went back to Green Lawn and had a chat with another guy who had arrived. He was catching on traditional wets, fished just under the surface. I picked a few options from my box and had another hour but couldn’t get any interest, even though he was catching consistently just 50 yards away!
As it was my first trip to Blagdon, I wanted to explore so after lunch I moved round to Cheddar Water which is close to the dam. With large trees behind, this area was quite still which was a relief after hammering a line out across the rising wind all morning. I was desperate to catch on nymphs so decided to approach this bit of water as though I was arriving afresh.
So, I started high up with a sugar cube suspender nymph on the top dropper, a black buzzer on the middle dropper and a diawl bach on the top dropper. Nothing.
I changed to a blob on point and gradually counted my cast down through the layers, changing nymphs at regular intervals. Nothing.
I swapper the point fly to a heavy buzzer and counted the cast down up to 60 seconds. Still nothing.
I swapper the top dropper to a sugar cube suspender to double as a bung and fished it very slowly. This resulted in a couple of very delicate taps but no real takes.
Somewhat in frustration, I stuck a large damsel on point which had a red, tungsten bead on. I again counted the cast down, using a faster, jerky retrieve. I got down to a 20 second count and right at the end of the retrieve the line went tight and a lovely 4lb rainbow eventually came to the net. I was down to my final hour on the water but once I found the technique that worked it was an exciting time, with another three rainbows, one pike and lots of action.
So, my first day out at Blagdon and eight fish to the net (plus a pike). I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t pick one up on a nymph, at this famous nymphing water, but sometimes the fish just seem to want something pulled. Blagdon is a beautiful place; in fact its probably the most peaceful, picturesque place I’ve fished and the trout were all decent sizes (nothing under 3lb) and fought well. I will definitely be going back, hopefully in conditions more conducive to nymph, or even dry fly, fishing.