Fly Fishing Devon: An introduction to the Upper Yealm Fishery

The Upper Yealm Fishery

The Upper Yealm Fishery is managed by Russell Weston and Paul Kenyon.

We appreciate that finding a local river that offers a day ticket to fish for wild brown trout, sea trout and occasional salmon in South Devon can be difficult.

However we have some of our own water, on the upper reaches of the River Yealm, available to visitors and locals on a day or season ticket basis.

Located in the South Hams on the southern edge of Dartmoor, the fishery is conveniently located for visitors to, and residents of, South Devon.

The Upper Yealm is a superb location for beginners, experienced anglers, and those looking for access to fly fishing on a Dartmoor river.

A visiting angler commented: 20’ish brown trout (lost count in the teens), 6-11 inches. A few 10 inchers and an 11’incher being the highlight. Mostly on PTN. A great day’s fishing.

Access & parking

If you are travelling along the A38 take the exit for Lee Mill. Take New Park Road out of the village. Outside the village, the turn marked Venton takes you along a single track road with views of Dartmoor in the distance.

Take care on this narrow winding road. The locals are friendly and actually pause and thank you for considerate driving. Turn right at the 'Hump Bridge' road sign before 'Mark's Bridge'.

Go down the track and park by the field gate.

Welcome to the Lower beat.

Yealm roadside Yealm roadside

The Lower beat runs along the edge of this meadow. The path and adjacent car parking provide easy access to the fishing.

Yealm Lower beat

The Lower beat

The Lower beat starts at the upstream corner of the meadow.

Easy access from just above the weir. Wading upstream is straightforward, but a wading staff is useful. It helps to use a short rod and think 'roll cast'.

The river deepens in places against the banks under a protective canopy of trees.

A long and productive stretch of the river for brown trout with sea trout throughout the summer.

The Lower beat has an impressive number of wild brown trout.

You may be lucky and hook a sea trout during daylight - a truly memorable experience.

This page has advice on   fishing for sea trout on the Upper Yealm

Spotting sea trout

That dark shadow may be a sea trout lying in the pool above the weir – and between June and September there will be more hidden beneath trees tight against the banks.

Sea trout can be difficult to see. This video explains how their shape, behaviour and colour can help reveal their presence.

As you walk down the meadow the river opens out and slows as it is held back by a weir.

This 18th Century weir was built to serve a mill downstream at Lee Mill – long gone now.

As you walk downstream of the weir you pass a succession of small but perfectly formed pools.

Each hold brown trout, but they must be approached with extreme stealth.

Inevitably flies get caught up in bankside vegetation.

Here is a tip that can be used to retrieve a fly.

The trick is to vigorously wiggle the rod horizontally from side-to-side. This works surprisingly often.

It is important NOT to try to pull the fly free - that only embeds the fly further into the obstruction.

Be prepared to break off rather than disturabing the pool by crashing across it. You can always mark the spot and retrieve the fly later.

The Upper beat

Drive up the road a few hundred yards to skirt the gardens of houses that back onto the Yealm and pick up the river again by crossing Fardel Moor Bridge. Park by the gate marked 'Private Fisherman's Path'.

There is a carefully maintained private fisherman’s path on the eastern bank. In several places there is good access from the path into the river.

One visitor wrote: The upper section is really quite incredible - Like stepping into a different world. I don’t know how much it has been fished this season, by it felt quite untouched and the perfect habitat for happy trout!

Managed to fish the upper beat too with dad taking a 12” fish out of the last pool before the upper limit. We also took a few double digit trout out of the upper bit also.

The Upper beat is more challenging. It is darker in places and seems to have darker coloured trout than the Lower beat. It has deep pools worth trying for a salmon.

Snowbee's retail outlet

Snowbee dry fly selection

Snowbee river nymph selection

Upper Yealm beat map

Upper Yealm Fishing Permits & Regulations

Subject to availability Day (£15) and Season Permits can be purchased from Snowbee

Snowbee's retail outlet is conveniently located about 3 miles from the Upper Yealm Fishery:

Drakes Court Langage Business Park

Plymouth PL7 5JY UK

Tel: Snowbee UK Ltd:  01752 334933

Website: Snowbee UK Ltd


Day tickets to fish the Upper Yealm (Beat #39) are also available through the Westcountry Angling Passport scheme.

Fishery regulations

Please do not bring dogs to the fishery

  1. Fly fishing only
  2. Catch & Release for salmon & brown trout
  3. Two sea trout, over 12”, may be retained per day
  4. Please use barbless or de-barbed hooks
  5. Sorry, no dogs
  6. The river between the Upper and Lower Beats is strictly private
  7. Please show consideration for other anglers, local residents, the riparian owner’s family (Mr & Mrs Josh Dalton) and follow the Countryside Code

The Yealm is one of Paul's favourite rivers, here are some videos showing the reasons why it is a great beat for instructing and guiding ..

The Flybrary (Fly Library) Project

The Flybrary project inspired me to create a Flybrary Fly Box for anglers visiting The Upper Yealm Fishery - Westcountry Angling Passport Beat 39.

The project started in America in 2018. One of its founders, Larry Littrell, described the aims of the project as follows:
"The Flybrary Project idea is simple, create a small repository in your local neighborhood where everyone is encouraged to share fly patterns by simply leaving one if you have one to spare, or to take one if you need it or want to use something that was left by another angler. "

The Flybrary Project philosophy is very simple:

If you need a fly - take one
If you have a successful fly - leave one

I have started the Flybrary Fly Box collection with flies that have been successful for me in the last few weeks. They are a bit scruffy (my tying style) and well-chewed (the trout seemed to like them)

Don't worry if you loose one of my flies. They are 'guide flies' - easy and quick to tie. Here is a reassuring article on   'guide flies' from our friend South African fly fishing guide Tim Rolston.

The Flybrary Fly Box is in a plastic bag inside the old rusty ammunition box beside the Westcountry Angling Passport token box on Beat 39 The Upper Yealm Fishery

Paper and pencil are supplied for your comments or suggestions.

Rusty box contains 'Flybrary' ...

Flies on foam patch
If you need a fly - take one
If you have a successful fly - please leave one

Fly patch, paper & pencil in plastic bag

If you are unsure about which fly to take, check this page for up-to-date   Catch Reports  on flies that are popular at the moment

More about Flybrary

Article by Flylords team member Wills Donaldson   What is The Flybrary Project?

The Flybrary Project on Instagram   Building Community One Fly At A Time

Create your own Flybrary project

YouTube video about the   Flybrury Project  Remember the Fish Gods are watching !

About us: Paul Kenyon & Russell Weston

Paul guiding ITV News reporter in June 2019

with sea trout in camera range ...

Paul Kenyon lives in Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor about 6 miles from the Upper Yealm Fishery.

Paul devotes more time than is reasonable to his love of all things associated with fish, fishing, instruction and guiding on Dartmoor rivers.

He retired in 2006 from the Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth where he lectured in behavioural neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.


Russell Weston is the managing director of Snowbee UK Ltd

Russell founded Snowbee UK Ltd in 1984 and currently distributes its fly fishing products in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Tel: Snowbee UK Ltd: 01752 334933