Last weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of days fishing the East Dart, a fantastic moorland river that tumbles its way across dartmoor heading south where it meets the West Dart. I’ve never fished a Moorland river before, and was initially apprehensive of the skinny water and spooky fish, as the East Dart looked to be a million miles away from my usual Exmoor haunts.
Pool, riffle, glide? Not a chance here. Massive Granite boulders give way to plunge pools and deep runs. Not to mention the bogs, midges and gorse bushes we encountered along the way, this really is a difficult environment to navigate, especially when the most un-touched fishing is at least an hours hike away. As unfriendly as this all sounds, the East Dart was actually very fishable, and I loved the challenging but also rewarding fishing for tiny Brown Trout.
The fish here are stunning, and I really mean that. Everyone one of them etched with tiny detail in every scale, fin ray and parr mark. I was particularly impressed by the size of their pectoral fins, huge wings used to keep these little moorland monsters stable in the powerful flow. The hatches were also interesting, I’ve never seen so many Stonefly species in one place! Caddis flies and tiny up wings were also on the menu on this particular day. Despite the vast abundance of flies hatching, small nymphs were favored, particularly natural patterns with a little flash of colour. Flies such as Fulling Mill’s Caddis Jig and a Pink Bead PTN (Pheasant Tail Nymph) were getting crunched on every run!
Overall I found the Dart to be unique but enjoyable fishery, for a small price you can be fishing in the middle of nowhere for truly wild fish, something that is rare in the UK these days!