With a few hours to spare on my day off before I had to take Lily to the fracture clinic to have her wrist replastered having broken it whilst doing the hurdles at school, I decided a short fishing trip was in order. Having hurriedly thrown a couple of made up rods, net and a bag of bits I headed for my local tackle shop for a pint of maggots- and came out with much more! Back in the van I suddenly found myself in a bit of a quandary. Where to go?
Lily was in Exeter on a school trip and I had to pick her up at two pm prompt in the city centre. My usual spots on the Culm were quickly dismissed; due to the time it would take to battle through the hordes of sweaty shoppers. As the van rattled down the dual carriageway, I made up my mind for the tenth(or eleventh) time and decided on a spot that I have driven past, or rather over, when heading to north Devon on a surfing trip. The confluence of the rivers Exe and Creedy just outside of Exeter- perfect to cut off and nip back into town. I hadn’t fished there for over twenty years; so a quick reconnaissance trip would be the perfect solution.
Crossing over the bridges as slowly as I dare without stirring the angst of the drivers behind, I glanced over at the rivers. On the plus side there wasn’t the usual field of heifers that seem to wait for me where ever I fish. The rivers though were both very low. Not surprising with the lack of rainfall (not complaining, folks.) Even from my moving vantage point I could see that the Bankside vegetation was very tall and very dense. Luckily I chose a long sleeve shirt!
I parked up the van in the lay-by next to a couple of rusting vans which didn’t appear to have moved in a long time- therefore my van didn’t look to conspicuous. As I unpack my few items of tackle I couldn’t help but notice how hot the day had become.
So there you go- I’ve got my excuses for blanking out of the way early! Very hot day, very short session, very low river, very tall and foreboding vegetation, and a very crap angler to boot!
The rivers could not be more dissimilar if they tried. On the left we have the Exe, a river that seems to be in a hurry to enter the sea. In comparison the Creedy seems to be in no hurry at all. A wide slow paced and deep affair that seems resigned to it’s fate, save for it’s brief “last huzzah” in the shape of a lovely weir and a very enticing looking pool below it, which is sadly out of bounds to us anglers.
Firstly I tracked the Exe downstream, with the return journey being the upstream ramble along the Creedy. From the road bridge the Exe was a collection of shallow rapids interspersed with a few deeper glides; some flowing deliciously under the roots of the willow and ash trees that sporadically inhabit it’s banks. Peering through the holes in the jungle, disturbing the myriad of resident damsel flies (I spotted Emeralds, Southern, Blue tails and Azures,) I spotted a shoal of small chub chasing each other for no apparent reason apart from to entertain me, and more excitingly a large grayling at the tail of one pool rising freely to take what appeared to be caddis flies. It’s huge dorsal fin being the give away sign. No signs of any larger fish, the hopes of a fleeting glimpse of the few resident barbel were extinguished by the high noon sun and the heat (have I mentioned the heat?) The confluence of the rivers was not reachable. I could hear the rapids in the distance calli, but there was no way I was going to burrow through about twenty yards of impenetrable head high nettles, teasels and pollen heavy grass- especially as I hadn’t taken my daily hay fever tablet and I was an extremely hot and sweaty, nettle weary wreck already. It was here that I remembered that I had a flask of iced water in my bag. Better late than never.
Fully replenished, I set about the return leg up the Creedy. the shallows below the weir pool and the pool itself were inaccessible without a scythe or industrial strimmer, but just above the weir there was a small trampled path which led to a large sycamore tree, its branches providing a shady natural umbrella to the slowly flowing waters beneath. I peered into the darkness for several minutes whilst offering a few tempting maggots and corn to any residents but to no avail. Moving upstream I came across a huge flattened out area, about the size of a bivvie, along with a broken v shaped stick rod rest. A positive sign albeit that the swim had obviously been created by a carp angler. Directly opposite was a row of trees and some lilies with deep slow flowing water beneath their branches. Ideal habitat for the carp which inhabit this stretch which apparently get hammered for the first few weeks of the season. Time for cast I thought- I’d been here for over two hours and I hadn’t yet wet a line.
How a rod that was hurriedly disassembled after a last moonlight cast on the Culm back in June can suddenly have a twisted line between rod ringsI shall never know. All I did was put the hook in it’s keeper ring and separate the two sections and securred them with a couple of stolen glittery hair bands from Lily. But after my cast plopped beside the tempting tree and the worms were allowed to do their thing, I realised what had happened. “Sod it” I thought and took a chance. I needn’t have worried, and anyway it gave a couple of damselflies something to laugh about. Feeling slightly better for finally having a cast I wound in and progressed up river. I must have passed a half dozen more bivvie sized pitches, having a cast here and there but to be honest I was just happy checking out a different stretch of water.
Eventually I arrived at the road bridge, the last swim available. Here I trotted baits downstream and each cast bought a fish. Mainly huge minnows which happily devoured a couple of bronze maggots on a size 16 hook. Pausing for a drink I glanced down at the water by my feet; it was teeming with minnows and small chublets. I spent the last half hour feeding a steady stream of maggots to the hordes. Great fun to watch the small fish battling with each other for the wriggly spoils. After a while the small chub started muscling in and the minnows disappeared. At this point it was time to go and meet Lily.
I headed back to the van where I met a fellow angler who informed me of the number of small barbel being caught on the Creedy and the large grayling and roach on the Exe. The field between two rivers and the best of both worlds for an angler like me.