14lb 5 oz Rainbow from Tavistock Fishery – Russ Symons

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I love it when you are the first on a fishery…

The early light sifting through the mist, footsteps crunching the hard frost. Looking back my footprints show where I stopped and looked at the little lake, looking for signs that the fish were also awake.

But there was nothing to see. When I reached the platform that I often stake a claim to if I am early enough on Kingfisher lake, still nothing rising, no fish showing at all, the dark water totally enigmatic in its calm.

Brewed a coffee, sat quiet, calming my mind for a few minutes before tackling up, just watching, perhaps my movement had put them down. But no movement, apart from a lonely Duck at the far end tugging at some weed.


As Dick Walker so famously said all those decades ago. “If they are not on the top they must be underneath!” I had intended to straight line a pair of buzzers with a skinny Cormorant on the point, in fact I had spent best part of the previous day tying a dozen flies for just that scenario, but if you cannot see the occasional fish moving, there is little point in wasting time with a floating line!

So out came the Spectre rod with its 5 inches per second sinking line, perhaps the hard frost of the past few days had sent the fish scurrying into the more temperate deeper water.

It is easy to dig into the “naughty box”


… to find flies such as the Humongous and Cat’s Whisker, count down for a few seconds and pull the flies. Counting down until you find the layer of water where the fish feel comfortable. That is what I would normally have done, but true to my nature, I was feeling “contrary.”

After more than a few decades of fly fishing I had memories of early season fish feeding on leeches when there isn’t much else for them to eat. There are a few flies which mimic a leech, flies from the past such as the black matuka, black bears hair, ace of spades and my favourite of them all the Poodle. But all I had was a black marabou fly with a few strands of UV flash along the flank, so on it went on a 12 foot 7lb fluorocarbon leader.

After an hour, nothing. My pal Dave Minell walked past so I stopped retrieving and let the line sink whilst we had a conversation. As I re-started the retrieve I was almost certain I had a nip. The thought ran through my mind that the fish were maybe really deep, hard on the bottom. A couple more casts and a long wait till I was certain the line was on the bottom I had another nip, but this time the fish stayed on. It was immediately evident that a lift on the fly rod wasn’t going to shift this fish, so keeping a taut line it was reel hard and fast to get the fly line back on the reel, so that I didn’t have to dance the “fly line two step!” Besides which I had full confidence in the drag on the Snowbee Spectre fly reel I was using.


Playing a heavy fish on the reels drag is infinitely better than having fly line all over the place, whilst playing the fish by hand.

14lb 5 ozs the fish weighed after playing it so carefully. A fully finned, bright fish that was truly a credit to Tavistock Trout Fishery. As Abigail brightly said to the crowd which by that time had gathered. “I keep telling you there are big fish in there!”


Gear used. Snowbee 9′ Spectre RMX fly rod. Snowbee  7/8wt Spectre fly reel, Snowbee  XS plus Spectre Long Cast Fast Sink 5 ips fly line.