As much as it can be really fun to head out onto a big stretch of river for a weekend with your mates, I always think that the best fishing moments occur when you’re by yourself, often when there’s no one else around as far the eye can see.
When you get the opportunity to spend a day out on a beat by yourself it’s important to take it. As long as you’ve got enough food and water to last you for the day, it can be quite the meditative experience simply waiting for a fish for around 9 hours – you’ll never know when a bite might come and with nothing left to distract you, the tension can really mount from the moment that you cast your first line out to the minute that you finally call it a day.
This summer, I had the chance to take a trip down to Devon for the first time and experience what fishing in the deep south was really like. I spent a week drifting from beat to beat, checking into a number of hotels and B&Bs so I could best get an idea of what this place was like for travelling fishermen.
Close to the quiet village of Yealmpton are a number of truly unique accommodation options, all of which operate under the Sunridge Lodge brand. These options are a great option for fishermen looking for seclusion as well as luxury. Whilst their lodge is perhaps a little too expensive for one person to book themselves, their glamping pod is a perfect option for fishermen looking to relax in style. Not 50-yards from the pod itself is a decent sized fishing lake. Self-populated for decades now, this nice little spot has some big breeds of carp with the record being a whopping 28lbs.
With a name like ‘Anglers Paradise’ you’d expect the fishing to be pretty good here in Beaworthy and you wouldn’t be wrong. This is a fantastic place to come for a solo fisher looking to truly test his skills whilst not having to travel far each day. There are 38 villas on the purpose built site and with 12 holiday lakes to enjoy, you’ll never be stuck for fishing. Angler’s Paradise is a big site that isn’t open to day fishers, so if you want to fish here you need to stay here. If you do, you’ll be in with a chance of catching fish that are nearly 60lbs in weight!
Eight luxury lakeside lodges are on offer in the nearby Blagdon Lake, a decidedly smaller yet pleasant holiday cottage experience which offers as much in the way of seclusion as it does in coarse fishing. Each lodge has a South-facing balcony, looking out over the peaceful lake and are fitted with all the modern amenities that you’d expect. Coarse fish are par for the course here with a good variety of carp, rudd and roach being on offer. Whilst the weights of these fish aren’t often that big, it still makes for a peaceful place to while away a few days.
Whereas our first few trips to the River Annan had been hampered by our own rookie errors, the third time that we made the journey up North to our veritable mecca of fly-fishing was a far smoother, if not slightly more expensive, experience.
Before we’d embarked on our first fly-fishing holiday, I’d unfairly aligned the sport, with skiing and golf, as one of many upper-class hobbies that I was simply destined not to experience. All of us had come from working class backgrounds. Growing up on the grubby council estates of 1980s Essex, I’m always overcome with a feeling of pride when I think about how far us lads have come from there. My idea of leisure time growing up largely consisted of booting a tired football around and breaking glass windows – so it’s not hard to imagine why I thought fly-fishing in Scotland was perhaps a past time that I was not destined to enjoy.
Regardless of these pre-judgements in my mind, we made it to the River Annan, three Essex lads very much out of our own depth, struggling to land trout during the day and get some sleep in our poorly constructed tents by night.
Things have changed somewhat since those early days. We learnt these important lessons the hard way on our first few trips, allowing us to enjoy our later ones much more:
You only fish as well as you eat, at least that’s what we discovered on our third trip up to the River Annan. On our first trip we were subsisting off tins of beans and cereal bars, by the third trip we’d wised up and started eating out most nights.
There are a good variety of well-reviewed hotels around the local area, all of which offer great dinner menus. Whilst you might end up spending more money, we’ve found that a decent meal in the evening will guarantee that you’re on the top of your game the next day.
Although it might be tempting to knock back a bottle of wine (or two) with each fancy dinner that you consume, no one likes to spend a day hung over on the river.
When you’re fly-fishing you have to have quick reactions and sound strategy, you’ll have neither of these if you choose to over-indulge on drink every night at dinner. We’ve found that a couple of glasses are the upper limit of what you should drink if you need to be up early the next day.
Catching a monster 25lb trout is really much easier when you’ve had a good night sleep. On our first trip we really struggled to sleep each night, mostly because we’d completely failed to pitch our tents properly.
We had no trouble sleeping when we stayed at the spectacular Auchen Castle this year. Each night might have cost the same as half a year’s stay at a campsite, but the treatment we received from the staff made us glad that we’d spent the cash.
As with most things in life, the more you spend, the more you will get.
Obviously, it might not always be possible for you to spend exorbitant amounts of money on food or lodgings, but it is these touches of luxury that make the holiday that much better.…