Salmon are the fish that made Exeter, with the name of the city a deriving from the Roman name meaning, ‘full of fish’. Most wandering the city’s streets today might not have the same association with this once abundant species, yet these fantastic fish still make their way off the tide into the Exe at Exeter.
The Exe was historically a popular spring salmon fishing river, with a dominance of large multi-sea winter fish making their way into the river early in the year. Though the size and numbers of these ‘springers’ have declined in line with the sad national decline in salmon numbers, anglers still connect with these fish annually within weeks of the season opening date on February the 14th. Later in the season, these larger fish are joined by grilse; smaller salmon that have spent only a single season at sea, typically in the 4-6lb bracket. Towards the back end of the summer, fresh grilse continue to run into the lower Exe to join the resident fish in their upstream migration. A lift in water levels at this time can be very favourable for stirring fish into taking interest in a fly.
This year, we are very pleased to offer club members some of the best value salmon fishing in the West Country, with several miles of prime salmon fishing included with membership. The beats extend from the lower tidal waters, where salmon will push in and out on each tide, to more settled holding pools above the city centre. Most of this water is covered well with a short double-handed (switch) rod, though a single hander covers some of the pools well in lower summer flows and offers a more stealthy approach. It is worth bearing in mind that every fish that swims through into the more expensive and exclusive beats up the Exe and Barle must first pass through the lower river, offering our anglers the first chance.
There is also a good run of sea trout in the lower Exe, though these historically have not been particularly targeted by anglers. These enigmatic fish can be targeted in the hours of darkness by the obsessively sleep deprived, with a run of larger fish appearing in April / May.
Those wishing to fish for salmon or sea trout should register their details with firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can confirm catch returns and fishing effort as part of our agreed lease.
We will also keep anglers aware of any temporary closes to fishing resulting from extreme heat and low flows as experienced in the summer of 2022, which result in an unacceptably high risk of mortality to these precious fish.