Fly fishing on the Torridge

The River Torridge

The Torridge is a river of about 50 miles from source to sea but where it starts is remarkably  only about 12.5 miles from the estuary as the crow flies. After rising on Welsford Moor in the northwest corner of Devon near Hartland and, incidentally only about 4 miles from the source of the Tamar, it flows in a south easterly direction past Putford, Milton Damerel, and Shebbear. Just downstream of Sheepwash Bridge is its most southerly point and beyond Hatherleigh, having been joined by the River Okement, turns north to Torrington, Bideford and the estuary which it shares with its sister river, the Taw.

The most famous pool on the river is below Beam Weir between Great Torrington and Weare Gifford. Walking along the Tarka Trail from Torrington to Bideford you can look down at the weir and the pool below and often otters can be seen. Much of Henry Williamson’s famous book “Tarka the Otter” and the subsequent film was centred around this stretch of river.

The Half Moon Water

The Half Moon is the place to go on the Torridge. This famous fishing inn used to be owned by the Inniss family and Charles still looks after the fishing. There are 10 miles of fishing available both for guests and for day ticket rods.

The hotel water at Sheepwash is ideal for brown trout fishing while the beats further downstream provide classic salmon and sea trout water. Flowing through a steep and often wooded valley the river with its streamy runs and slow flats makes varying demands on the angler’s skill. With long shingle beaches much of the water can be fished with comparative ease.

The brown trout fishing is at its best in May and June. The best time for salmon is as the river is falling after a spate. September is often the best month with the arrival of the first autumn rains. Sea Trout start to enter the river in May with June and July being the best months. Most of these elusive fish are caught in the last hour of daylight and during the hours of darkness.

To conserve stocks the fishing is “fly only”. Waders are essential, preferably chest waders. The Inn has a rod room, drying facilities and has a stock of suitable flies.

All salmon must be released before 16th June. As part of many initiatives to help fish stocks recover, the River Torridge Fishery Association encourages the release of all fish.

For trout fishing a rod of about 8 foot is ideal and for salmon/sea trout about 10 foot. Unless the water is high and coloured a floating line is best.

For more details about the river and the fishing go to www.rivertorridge.org.uk

And don’t forget you must possess the appropriate national rod licence. These are available at any Post Office, The Half Moon or online.

Enjoy your fishing!!

Charles Inniss