Pike Fishing at Simpson Valley Coarse and Trout Fishery.
We had heard rumours about the Pike fishing at Simpson Valley in early November 2018 and what we had heard certainly did intrigue us.
Simpson Valley Coarse and Trout Fishery is set in the stunning valleys of Devon and consists of 7 lakes. Some are fly only, three are coarse ponds and then they have two predator lakes.
The news coming through the grapevine was that due to some excellent fishery management by the manager Andrew, who graduated from Sparsholt College in Hampshire, the Pike in one of his lakes were growing to huge sizes. The whispers going around echoed 4 possible 30lb + fish in a lake of only a few acres in size! These were young fish and had put on staggering growth gains in the past few years due to the large amount of food available to them and the quality water running in off the hills.
Sometimes you just have to act on a hunch and with a 2 day window freed up in the diary, Ollie Johnson and myself arranged a road trip to see if the rumours were true. I left my house in Brighton at 4am and picked Ollie up in Romsey before heading down to Devon on a mission. We had arranged to meet Dean Asplin at the lake and when we arrived late morning we found him firmly set up in one of the middle swims. His swim looked good and controlled the middle area of the lake. We couldn't believe the size of the lake, it was only a few acres yet the swims were nicely kept and the lake had snag bushes in most corners and a few islands dotted at each end of the lake. Dean had received a delicate pick up that morning but it didn't result in a hook up and Ollie and Myself soon set off for a walk around. We both had the same idea when it came to tactics and that was one of mobility. With the lake being so small I wanted to explore every snag, bush, margin and likely looking spot. We set about catching some live baits and even though the weather was cold, it was no problem catching ideal size bait, including a few small trout. It was no wonder the fish were growing so big and also proving so hard to catch with this amount of bait fish in the lake.
Once we had caught the bait we set off in different directions and explored the water. I fished both my rods on simple float set-ups, using a Clearwater 40g Domed Slider, a 10g ollivette above the trace and a single size 4 hook at the business end. I opted for the 40g float as I like to fish so that the float makes the bait work. If you use a light float which the bait can submerge, you can cover more water before the bait becomes tired, but i feel a more buoyant float makes the bait act more erratic and often prompts a strike from a Pike.
The afternoon was spent doing two full laps of the lake, and resulted in a few small jacks for me. Ollie had a few fickle bites but didn't land any and Dean had a small fish also.
The light levels started to fade and the time felt right for one of the big girls to go hunting. In the top left corner of the lake is the monk, and here the lake is at its deepest. There is a large snag bush in the corner and it looked ideal. The only problem was that Dean was fishing the swim! I decided that with everyone being friends there would be room for a little one so trotted round to the point swim and squeezed my bait in between Deans rods and as if I had a remote control bait my float sauntered off towards the bush and parked itself right next to the overhanging branches just as the light faded.
We stood there chatting and discussing the day and the topic turned to the number of small fish we had caught. We knew the big girls lurked beneath the surface but had yet to see any evidence of them. I mentioned to Dean that normally when a big girl takes the bait the float bobs and then just vanishes, unlike the jacks that played around. Literally 30 seconds after saying that, with both of us looking at the floats, my float twitched and then just buried! I Hit the take straight away and felt a heavy resistance on the end. It kited out to the right and infront of the island and I played the fish out from the end of the point. It made a few powerful runs but nothing too explosive, it was just a game of give and take as the heavy fish stayed deep and ploughed up and down. I netted the fish myself and as I drew her over the cord I thought she may go 20+. I was buzzing. The long drive and effort had been made worth while. Andrew and Ollie took the rod and net and I set about setting up the weigh and camera equipment. It was only when they started talking about how big the fish was and asking what my PB was that it started to dawn on me that I might have something pretty special in the net.
We lifted her up onto the mat and the true size of the fish became apparent. She was super wide and had a massive frame. We weighed her and she went 26.04.
With photos done she was quickly returned to her home and hand shakes were dished out. It had truly come together in spectacular fashion.
We went to the local village and enjoyed a meal and a few beers before heading back to the fishery and sleeping on the bank.
At first light we were up and fishing again as we had a few hours before we had to leave and make the long journey home.
I didn't have any more fish but Ollie found a group of feeding fish near the right hand island and had a great mornings sport taking around half a dozen fish up to mid doubles. I was more than happy to play gillie. His fish were all taken on Roach baits fished under the smaller 20g Clearwater Oval Slider.
We left thoroughly impressed with Simpson Valley Coarse and Trout Fishery and will be coming back soon for another go at the Pike fishing. The complex also holds some cracking Perch and they also have a dedicated lake for lure fishing for Trout which I am super keen to visit.
If you want more info on the fishery give Andrew a ring on 07881 764 655. He's a super nice guy and will fill you in on how its fishing etc.