Nestling in glorious scenery in the Medina Valley south of Newport are the Isle of Wight’s biggest and best stillwater fly fishing lakes. Formerly a syndicate members only fishery, a small number of rods are now available for visitors to the Island with priority being given to residents of Marvel Cottage and other self catering and Bed and breakfast properties within the Isle of Wight Farm and Country Holiday Group.
A cracking copper rainbow from Blackwater Lake
About the Fishery
A brace of winter fish
|Stocked with full finned, fighting fit fish bred and reared for the fishery – no blunt-nosed, finless stockies here – the fishing is superb and until now one of the Island’s best kept secrets. There is only one other small fly fishing water open to the public on the Island and with 5.5 acres (2.2 hectares) of water to play with here, and a strict limit on the number of rods attending, you are guaranteed an exclusive and uncrowded fishing experience surrounded by stunning scenery and wildlife. Rainbows, including fabulous blues and coppers predominate but there are also a number of elusive brown trout in the waters. Fish are stocked at weights of between 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg) and 4.5 lbs (2 kg) and on the 6 and 7 weight outfits ideal for these waters they provide tremendous sport. Very occasionally you may hook something bigger (the owner’s record [that’s not me below!] is a 15.5 lb [7 kg] common carp on a #4 rod!).|
|Fishery rules require fishing with a single fly only and lures are not permitted. Generally, except in the depths of winter, fishing a floating line is the most productive method. With good hatches of midges and sedges and, at the right times of the year, abundant terrestrials on the water, including hawthorn flies and daddy long legs, dry fly fishing can be spectacular. At other times a buzzer fished almost static can be deadly and with a huge damsel population, the banks are often blue with them in the summer, a damsel nymph can be guaranteed to do the business (well almost!). During the hot slow days of high summer, while awaiting the evening rise, great fun can also be had fishing with small drys for good sized dace comprising, at their last visit, the Environment Agency’s only known stillwater breeding population of this species.|
Stunning wildlife and an unexpected bonus
Naughty fox cub on the banks of Shide Lake
Fishing is from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset and the fishery is open year-round. Catch and release is permitted subject to special guidelines but there is also an option to retain two fish for the table. Tuition, and tackle hire for (the later for two persons) are available subject to prior arrangement. Flies are not provided but a selection of the most suitable patterns can be purchased prior to arrival from a number of suppliers. Car parking is available close to one of the waters where there is also a fishing hut containing the fishery records book. Level access to part of the fishery from the car park makes it suitable for those with mild disabilities but no other facilities are provided. Careful note should be taken of the safety notice included in the fishery rules.
Fabulous scenery: Home Pond, Blackwater Lake and St. George’s Down beyond
Blackwater Island through the irises
Tackle and Flies
The best dry flies for these waters are: black gnat, hawthorn fly, daddy long legs and hoppers, klinkhammers, grey wolf, CDC shuttlecocks and shipmans, G&H, elk and deer hair sedges.
The best nymphs and wet flys are: buzzers, damsels, GRHEs, pheasant tails, drowned daddies, green montanas and bloodworms. If fishing a floating line it is best to have a variety of weighted and unweighted and/or goldhead patterns.
Advice will be willingly given as to the best patterns to use either immediately before your visit or when you arrive.
The nearest tackle shop with a small selection of fly fishing supplies is Scotties Fishing Tackle (IOW) Ltd. They are located at 11 Lugley St, Town Centre, Newport, PO30 5HD. Phone: 01983 522115. They also have a shop in Sandown at 22 Fitzroy St, Sandown, PO36 8HZ. Phone: 01983 404555. They do not stock flies.
The best sources of both tackle and flies are the well-known mail order companies. Here are just a few:
If you have never done it before, fly-casting is a bit like learning to ride a bike. You wobble at first but once you have got the hang of it it is something you never forget. A little help at the start can vastly speed the learning process, steer you clear of potentially bad habits that are difficult to eradicate once got into and prevent you from acquiring unwanted piercings! Most importantly, it will rapidly put you into a position to start catching fish.
Two need to know knots
Sometimes you need more than a little help from your friends
|Lessons can be tailored to your particular requirements but are aimed at beginners and more experienced anglers unfamiliar with fly fishing or fly fishing small stillwaters. For beginners tuition in basic fly-casting is provided together with essential entomology and the artificial flies used to imitate the trout’s favourite foods, fly presentation and retrieval techniques, knots, fish behaviour and the affects of weather and light conditions on this. General watercraft and fishing techniques, including how to play and land a fish, are also covered. Tuition is available for both adults and children but in the case of the latter they must be accompanied by an adult responsible for their safety and well-being.||First lesson, first fish|
|Marvel Cottage is just a stone’s throw away from the lakes. For those accompanying anglers, the beautiful, peaceful setting provides an ideal place to relax and enjoy the wildlife or just sit and read a book but its central location also makes it an ideal base from which to explore the Island.||Entrance to Marvel Cottage.|
Marvel Farmhouse with Marvel Cottage to the right as seen from the banks of Blackwater Lake.
Visitors’ Fishery Rules and Tariff
- Fishing is permitted from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset. Visitors are required to enter and leave the fishery quietly and dive at very slow speed. Please leave no litter. A bin for this is provided in the fishing hut.
- The fishery records book is to be signed prior to fishing and completed at the end of each fishing session irrespective of whether or not fish have been caught.
- Catch and release of rainbow trout is permitted subject to adherence to the guidelines set out below
- All brown trout caught are to be returned to the water. Brown trout are stocked in both lakes and consequently barbless or debarbed hooks are to be used at all times.
- Fly fishing only is permitted using a single fly except when fishing a ‘static’ nymph when one dry fly on a dropper of no more than 6 ins. (15 cm) total length may be used for depth control.
- Maximum hook size for dry fly patterns is size 10.
- No lures are to be used and the maximum overall dressing size for wet flies is 1 inch (254 mm).
- Cars are to be parked on the hard-standing provided near to the fishing hut.
- For safety reasons, see below, wading is not permitted.
- The owners of Marvel Farm accept no liability for any accident, damage, loss or injury suffered by visitors, their friends and family whilst attending the fishery and members are encouraged to arrange their own insurance cover. (The Trout and Salmon Association offer insurance for anglers). See below for particular warning concerning deep water and slippery banks.
- Except by prior arrangement, visiting anglers may bring no more than three non-fishing friends / members of their family to the fishery at any one time. The angler is responsible for their safety and behaviour at all times and both the angler and other members of his/her party may be asked to leave if an acceptable code of conduct is not adhered to. No refund will be made.
- There is no public right of way around the lakes or through the farm. Visitors and their guests are asked to keep to the track leading to the lakes and to the banks. If anyone unconnected with the fishery or holiday cottage is found around the lakes please report the fact immediately to the farmhouse or by telephone 07860 499851.
- Visiting anglers are to ensure that they are in possession of a valid Environment Agency Rod Fishing Licence before fishing. This can be obtained from the Post Office or via this website:
WARNING: DEEP WATER, STEEP AND SLIPPERY BANKS
Anglers are warned that the banks are often slippery and all shelve away quickly into deep water. Anglers and anyone accompanying them are strongly advised to wear a lifejacket at all times. As a matter of common sense, suitable footwear and eye protection should also be worn while fishing.
Catch and Release
Apart from the use of barbless hooks anglers are asked to adhere to the following additional rules and guidelines:
a) Any fish deeply hooked and/or with a bleeding wound is to be dispatched and is to be paid for at a cost of £5.00 per fish irrespective of weight. If such a fish constitutes the third fish killed by an angler, the angler is to stop fishing.
b) Knotless (as currently required by law) and preferably micromesh landing nets must be used.
c) Fish are to be unhooked in the water, and to aid unhooking and minimise handling of fish, all visitors are asked to carry and use a catch and release, unhooking tool. A suitable instrument manufactured by Stonefly can be purchased by mail order from various suppliers including Sportfish: www.sportfish.co.uk
d) Fish are at all times to be handled with extreme care and with wet hands which are uncontaminated with synthetic products of any kind.
e) Fish are not to be played out and are to be taken to the net as soon as possible after hooking.
f) Any fish incapable of energetically swimming from the net is to be allowed to recover by being gently held immersed in a normal swimming position until it swims free of its own accord.
g) In very hot, still weather catch and release of rainbow trout may be temporarily suspended.
i) Fish caught and released are to be recorded in the fishery records book.
j) Visitors are asked to report any fish showing signs of disease. Please telephone 07860 499851 or call at the farmhouse.
Retention of two fish and unlimited catch and release £35 per day, or part thereof.
Unlimited catch and release £25 per day, or part thereof.
Tackle hire £10 per day.
Tuition £30 per hour.