Melbury Reservoir in Devon- Spring to summer 2021by Tim Thornton
In April 2021 following the lockdown restrictions being lifted I decided to pay some attention to Melbury Reservoir in North Devon. Melbury is a very picturesque reservoir of about 12 acres, bordered by woodland and farm land with amazing views. Indeed some of the best sunrises I've witnessed on the bank have been whilst on this water. I hope I'm beginning to paint a picture.
I'd previously fish Melbury a couple of times with a little success and some failure but decided this year the time was right to put some ghosts to rest and put some time in there. I spent some time at the water observing carp movements, feeding areas and putting a bit of bait in. I deduced that the carp in the lake spent a lot of the time near the no fishing bank which is shadowed by a steep woodland bank. The carp however did move on a new wind but this area always seemed to hold carp. Plenty of sun in the morning, a relative safe haven in that it was a good 140 yards chuck from the fishable bank which most anglers couldn't achieve. There was food in abundance falling from the trees along with big bloodworm beds. There was a long gravel bar running parallel with the main bank some 60 yards out too which the carp moved along and favoured as a feeding area. The first couple of sessions were quite a chilly affair as the last remnants of the winter chill were still clinging on in the form of some cold easterlies but with light accurate baiting on the 60 yard bar and match the hatch hookbait presentations I managed a couple of nice scaley mirrors to upper double and then a cracking 27lb stocky hard fighting mirror which took forever to get in the net but the Scorpion Crank hook from carptackleonline held firm. This carp took a hookbait mid morning in a very cold easterly strong wind and was probably triggered into feeding by the strong sunshine in the crisp cold air. I've often found this to be the case in spring.
My next couple of sessions saw me change tactics and present long range traps along the no fishing treeline. I figured as there were always resident carp here, that also frequently showed their presence a bite at a time approach was needed. As it was still spring and I figured the carp were on the lookout for food i opted for 18mm snowman presentations with pink toppers to make the hookbaits scream "Here I am". Plus I was told high vis dosent work so I guessed it was something different to everyone else. Anyway baits were cast out 100 yards and baiting was done to the spot by trotting along the high bank accurately baiting a light scattering of 18mm boilies around hookbaits. This resulted in a nice scaley upper double fully, followed a short time later by a cracking common of 29lb 4oz known as the 'Crafthole common' due to a hole in it's dorsal fin.
The bites slowed using this tactic after a couple of sessions so I switched to match the hatch wafters again and results began to pick up again. I took a number of really good carp from margin spots on new winds and also picking off three or four fish each session to the treeline spot. As the season progressed I continued with the match the hatch tactic over a light scattering of baits resulting in some twenty carp over 20lbs with a number of fish in upper twenties. The lake also contained a number of oriental koi which were also caught and a pleasant surprise. Simple tactics fishing for one bite atxa time, but also ensuring I was on the fish. Melbury certainly is a hidden gem in the South West.