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Some nice fish from the specimen lakes (Feb 2009) Bellbrook is a North devon trout fishery about 15 minutes off junction 27 of the M5. It's a series of 7 small lakes set in a steep wooded valley that makes for a beautiful backdrop to the day's sport. The lower 4 pools are deemed 'specimen' lakes, with the smallest fish being around 3.5lb. When I've fished, the majority of trout seem to be between this weight and 4.5lbs; the biggest I've had is 5lb 4oz, but I've seen double figure fish caught when I've been there.

I must admit, it's not a place I fish frequently, but instead once a year in early spring. I've always caught, in fact the last visit saw me completing 4 fish limits on two tickets within about three hours. It can get a bit pricey at that rate, but it's bloody good fun! It's never too busy, either, early in the year, and as the pools are all relatively small -- circa 0.75acre I'd estimate -- I think that it could get a bit cramped in the summer. That doesn't suit my style of fishing, which is to keep on the move spending 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there that seems the optimum way to tackle a fishery of this nature without spooking the fish.

As for lines and flies, a sure fire tactic seems to be a neutral line with something small, black and lightly leaded. Cast out, let it sink for a few seconds, then try a steady figure of eight retrieve. As the day warms up, you can speed this up or even try longer pulls, rather than the figure of eight. One year whilst fishing in late February, the sun was out in the afternoon, and the fish could be seen up on top, occasionally taking items from the surface. They were a bit cagey, so I tried a size 16 buzzer on a floating line, which seemed to do the trick. It's always worth remembering that if they seem reluctant to take later in the day, dropping down to very small flies will often produce.

Feb 2009 update.

I fished Bellbrook again the other day. The bottom lake, Ironmill, has been enlarged and is now about an acre or so. There's a picture below. The next lake (Bellbrook), nearest the house, is now not fished. The water in all the specimen lakes was a little cloudy when I visited, but that didn't stop me getting four trout to 4lb 8oz in a few hours fishing. That was on a stick fly on a neutral line about 3' down with a fast figure-of-eight retrieve. The takes were mainly confident, although I had a few taps at the fly, as well.

The newly-dug Ironmill lake