iGhillie Virtual Fishing Guides to the Westcountry Angling Passport

We’re very excited here at the Trust to announce the launch of five new virtual fishing guides, known as iGhillie guides, to some of the beats available on our Westcountry Angling Passport scheme. The videos are now available via the Westcountry Angling Passport website (links below). Dave Chapman, Angling Development Officer here at the Trust, said, “The plan is to have around 10 short film clips with each film following a ghillie around a beat.  The ghillie will discuss how best to approach the beat in question, the best techniques to use and the main areas to concentrate on.  The aim is to give prospective anglers the feel for a beat and some confidence in how to get the best of the fishing available.

“Filming on six beats has taken place with the films for four of these available below; the other two films should be available soon.  Filming for the other clips is being programmed to potentially include grayling fishing, late season salmon fishing and fly tying.”

Please read on for further information on the five films we have produced so far and for links to the clips on Vimeo…

iGhillie 1 – Booking Office Beat 7, The Dairy House Fishery, River Frome, Dorset

This is a wild fishing chalk stream beat with a central fishing hut and circular path around the main river. It’s a great beat to fly fish with friends, the fishing hut is next to a pretty bridge pool with plenty of room to relax and enjoy lunch. The beat makes up around 1300m of challenging fly fishing comprising main river and a section of feeder stream. These combine for great sight fishing in the crystal clear water. This fishing is for totally wild fish and has never been stocked. You’ll enjoy exciting and challenging fishing on this beat, a haven of perfect chalk stream conditions surrounded by stunning scenery. To watch the iGhillie film clip for this beat please use the link below: 



iGhillie 2 – Booking Office Beat 8, The Castle Hill Estate Fishery, River Bray, Devon 

This beat comprises just over 2km of double bank fishing set within the Castle Hill Estate. The beat has only been lightly fished in recent years and is quite overgrown in places although tree management works are ongoing.

The River Bray derives its headwaters from the slopes of Exmoor, as such the water quality is good and benefits from fast flows. The beat is easily accessible from South Molton and Barnstaple, and comprises a number of pools and glides interspersed by riffled sections.

It has a good head of brown trout up to 12 inches and provides a good chance of salmon and sea trout given adequate water, particularly give the recent fish passage works that have taken place downstream. Last year was its first in the Passport and it was lightly fished. Nevertheless, 98 brown trout were recorded with a best of 1lb.  To watch the iGhillie film clip for this beat please use the link below: 



iGhillie 3 – Booking Office Beat 3, Sydenham, River Lyd, Devon 

Arguably the most picturesque and popular of all Passport beats!  2.6 kms of double bank fishing in superb Elizabethan Estate surroundings with 12 good pools and many nice runs for both fly fishing and spinning.

The Lyd derives its headwaters from the western slopes of Dartmoor and is one of the most productive of the Tamar tributaries. Because of its origins it is quick to clear after a spate meaning you can get fishing before many of the other Tamar tributaries have cleared. There is the possibility of a salmon from mid May given adequate water; the beat is best fished as the river clears after a spate. The best of the salmon fishing really comes from late August with September spates really spreading fish out. Sea trout from late June and best fished for at dawn/dusk although there is usually a run of larger fish from mid April, which can provide good day time sport.

This really is a lovely fishery and year on year angler’s write-in to say how much they have enjoyed the fishing and the beautiful surroundings. Wading is generally easy through cobbled pools and runs but take care when deep wading over rock/slate substrate.  To watch the iGhillie film clip for this beat please use the link below:



iGhillie 4 – Night Fishing for Sea Trout at Rothern Bridge, River Torridge, Devon

Night fishing for sea trout is perhaps the most exciting way to catch this most enigmatic of fish.  Sea trout, often known as peal in the Westcountry, are basically brown trout that decide to go out to sea to live much of their lives.  There are a number of theories on why some trout decide to do this and research is ongoing in an attempt to better understand this fish.  What we do know is that they can put on weight fast and return as bars of silver muscle either as sea trout proper, fish of 2lb or more that have been out to sea for somewhile (or in and out repeatedly), or as schoolies.  Schoolies, often known as School Peal, are young fish that headed out to see around April time and return in the same year anytime from June at a size of anything between 3/4lb to 2lb.  Further info on fishing for Peal can be found at www.westcountryangling.com/sea_trout_fishing_info.php, with important safety information athttp://www.westcountryangling.com/index.php?area=viewpage&id=12.  To watch the iGhillie film clip of local guide, Derrick Jones, discussing night time fishing please use the link below:  



iGhillie 5 – Brown Trout Fishing at Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

This popular Cornish brown trout fishery offers traditional fly fishing for wild and stocked trout with grown-on fish of over 2lb frequently caught (and occasional fish up to 5lb).

Traditional fly patterns (Sedge patterns, Soldier Palmer, Hoppers, and Bibios) work well. Fish the margins and walk the banks to cover as much water as possible. ‘Catch and release’ option available (barbless hooks to be used), otherwise up to 4 fish over 7″ may be taken in a day.

Fishing is from the bank only and wading is not advised. O.S Explorer 109 covers the fishery.

The season runs from 15 March to 12 October so can be a good alternative to the river beats should they be in spate or at times of low water.  The later closing date also helps to extend the season a little.  Westcountry Angling Passport Tokens can be used as part payment to purchase day tickets, currently £14/ day with concessionary and children’s tickets also available.

Car parking is free, day permits available from Jamaica Inn at Bolventor, 01566 86250 and Colliford Tavern PL14 6PZ, 01208 821 335.  To watch the iGhillie film clip of local guide, Gerald Spiers, fishing the lake please use the link below: