22 September – Meavy

The Devon Brown Trout season ends on 30 September and I wanted to fish as much as possible before the boredom of the closed season set in. I examined the OS map, covered in highlighter pen and notes. I had visited the Beats on the River Meavy but never with a rod. I had also walked around Burrator Reservoir but had never fished there. Madness. I would explore the river and reservoir with a rod.

The river rises at Meavy Head near Princetown, runs past Walkhampton Common, under Black Tor and into the northern end of Burrator Reservoir. It spills over the dam and runs south to join the River Plym at Shaugh Bridge.

The Defender rattled around the narrow lanes, over Norsworthy Bridge and weaved through the hordes of Lycramaniacs, runners and dog walkers. It eventually lurched to a halt on a grass verge under Peek Hill, a favourite place to watch the sunset. I wandered through the woods and onto the sandy beach. The landscape reminded me of Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw on a much smaller scale and without the snow. Along the northern shore ran the old wall of the reservoir, submerged in the late 1920s when the reservoir was enlarged. The drop-off was just visible under the water and I decided to fish there in the evening when everyone had gone home.

My next stop was the ford near the village of Meavy. I wandered down the true right bank with my rod, flicking the nymph into the deepest parts of the river. They were not deep enough.

I drove downstream, trying to find the Beat between Clearbrook and Shaugh Bridge but gave up, confused by a lack of road signs and a profusion of warnings about trespassing and guard dogs. I returned to the cottage for lunch and to buy a permit, there’s no mobile signal at Burrator.

I returned to Burrator filled with confidence, conditions were perfect and most of the visitors had gone. A couple of fish rose while I was setting up my rod and I had a catch-and-release ticket, the scene was set for a productive evening. A south westerly breeze ran parallel to the bank and was just enough to put a slight bow in the fly line. I cast a weighted GRHE nymph as far as I could and wiggled out a few yards of line to lay under the rod tip. The breeze stretched the line into a beautiful curve and I allowed the fly to drift across the bay on my left, ending the drift with a retrieve along the submerged wall. Perfect Arthur Cove style nymphing. My heart missed a beat when I snagged the rock wall. I persevered but the fish had not read Arthur’s book, ‘My Way With Trout‘.

As the sun dropped behind Yennadon Down the breeze died and I swapped to a lighter nymph, then a dry sedge. Trout rose but the flat calm made presentation difficult. Flocks of cormorants arrived and my confidence plummeted. I took a short detour on the way home to watch the sunset which is always uplifting.