Reflections on Turbulent waters

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We took a short evening walk beside the River East Lyn. The water tumbled over boulders as it raced to the sea. The valley was in sombre mood with mist hanging in the warm summer air. The vivid vibrant green of summer was subdued in the early evening gloom.

I fished this beautiful river frequently for close to thirty years and caught my first salmon in 1981 a silver bar with sea-liced flanks. When I say the River valley is in sombre mood what I really mean is that I am perhaps in a sombre and reflective mood myself. The river holds a wealth of memories of fish and fishers. Whilst salmon and sea trout still forge up through the vibrant tumbling water’s they are far scarcer than they once were.

Today all salmon must be returned to the water and whilst I am happy to fish with a fly on the Taw and Torridge, I have reservations about spinning and worming with the dangers of deep hooking. The Lyn is not a river for the salmon fly fisher.

It is not the salmon anglers that have decimated the salmon of the Lyn but it is mankind I feel sure that has contributed to a sad demise. So when I walk the banks of this river the memories come thick and fast. To think of the river with no salmon or sea trout is like a book with no words or a candle with no flame. As an angler I have taken gleaming salmon from the river and extinguished their life. I remember that momentary sadness as that vibrant hue faded from silver flanks. I will never forget the power of the salmon as it battles on the line, the rod bending frightfully in my hands. Strangely this direct contact and interaction with the salmon brings the angler close to the fish and its environment.

I guess what I am saying in a clumsy sort of way is that as angler on the river I feel that I have been in the film instead of watching from afar. I fear that day when no salmon swim the river and that glimpse of silver is no more.

Learn How To Fish at Anglers Paradise – Junior Fishing

**GETTING KIDS FISHING DAYS WITH NASH AND ALAN BLAIR AT ANGLERS PARADISE**

Zenia Gregorek says –

“We are very excited to announce that the Nash Team with Alan Blair will be joining us at Anglers Paradise on 23rd and 24th July to encourage more Kids to go Fishing!

On Tuesday 23rd July we will be hosting the Kid’s Fishing Day for the Anglers Paradise Kids that are staying with us and on the 24th July it will be open to “All Kid’s” and we will be fishing at Anglers Eldorado.

All tackle and bait will be provided by Nash, they’ll be a goody bag for each Kid to take home and they’ll also be Prizes to be won! Our whole aim is to show Kids how much fun fishing is and start them on their fishing journey the right way!

If you would like your Child to join in then please contact Zenia on 01409221559 to book their place ASAP before it gets fully booked! ”

Time to share our passion for angling with the future generation! — with Alan Blair Urban Banx, Nash Tackle and Zenia’s Fishing Adventures.

Anglers Paradise

Focus Group on Special Places on the Northern Devon Coast

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I am posting this information on North Devon Angling News as anglers are important stakeholders in regards to the North Devon Coast and most have a deep appreciation for its beauty and natural diversity.

Focus Group on Special Places on the Northern Devon Coast

Local residents in Northern Devon are invited to take part in a Focus Group about Special Places on the Northern Devon Coast. The focus group is part of a wider study, being undertaken by Collingwood Environmental Planning (CEP) and ABPmer, on behalf of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The focus group will be held in Barnstaple on Thursday 6th June 2019 at 7pm.

The purpose of the focus group is to gather feedback from local residents (adults aged 18 or over) on their experiences and perceptions of places on the Northern Devon coast which they consider to be special and to explore the reasons why. This information will be used to help the Marine Maritime Organisation (MMO) to understand how coastal views contribute to enjoyment of the coast so they can consider this in future planning and projects.

The focus group will last a total of 2 hours, and light refreshments will be available. As a thank you, a £50 cash incentive will be provided to participants upon completion of the session.

To register your interest to participate in a Focus Group please email: Sian Morse-Jones at s.morse-jones@cep.co.uk as soon as possible.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, there is still time to complete the online Survey on Special Places on the Northern Devon Coast, which is live until Friday May 31st 2019, by clicking the link here: https://vision.abpmer.net/seascape/map

Pledge for Nature!

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Hello North Devon Angling News

I’m a keen freshwater and sea angler, and also passionate about nature.

The North Devon UNESCO Biosphere is launching a Crowdfunder https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/nature-needs-you to raise funds for a ground-breaking local initiative called Pledge for Nature! – to engage north Devon’s communities in nature’s recovery. We are extremely concerned by rapid declines in the quality of some habitats and populations of some of our key species like breeding cuckoos, lapwings and curlews in our farmland, salmon, sea trout and freshwater pearl mussels in the Taw and Torridge river systems, and even commoner species like hedgehogs, swallows and house martins, wildflowers and insects.

Nature needs more space and wilder areas to thrive. Pledge for Nature! aims to engage citizens and particularly farmers across north Devon in practical actions to tackle the damaging effect that decades of development and intensive land use have had on North Devon’s precious ecosystems. Their actions will help to boost wildflowers, insects and birds in farmland, gardens and greenspaces, plant trees and woodlands, and improve our rivers.

We are asking the National Lottery Heritage Fund to cover the majority of the coordination costs (and have passed the first round in the application process), but we urgently need to raise at least £10,000 as match funding to demonstrate to them that our community cares. Anglers are a really important group to help address some of these problems, and many are already very active (eg I’m a member of the Taw Fishing Club which is doing lots of habitat work).

I’d be really grateful if you could share the link to the crowd-funder site through the North Devon Angling website and social media and help spread the word in any way you can to friends and colleagues. I also attach a poster that can be printed and put up in community centres etc..

Many thanks for your help, and fingers crossed we can beat our target!

Mike

CLICK ON THE POSTER BELOW FOR FULL DETAILS

Mike Moser

Chair, Nature Improvement Group

North Devon UNESCO Biosphere

Deep Sea Angling – Bluefin off Ilfracombe

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Its early February and minus five as I drive to Ilfracombe ready to sail out in the cold light of dawn in search of spurdog in the depths of the Bristol Channel. I am joining fellow members of South Molton Angling Club who enjoy several boat trips each year from various North Devon ports.

As I parked the car the famous Verity was standing tall against the sunrise. I greeted fellow club members as they arrived; some strangers to me other familiar faces. The normal friendly banter started to flow from the start and continued as we climbed aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin.

I always appreciate this part of the day as the boat steams out and we embark upon a new adventure full of promise. Today we are heading up channel and I relish viewing the familiar landmarks that I have grown up with. A landscape full of good memories mostly involving fishing. The ebbing tide and its swirling waters are illuminated as the sun rises above Combe Martin and the towering hangman hills cast their shadows across the water.

We are to fish close inshore to start the day intending to head out to deeper waters as the tide eases. The anchor bites in and we lower our baits into the greyish water allowing the weight and bait to hit the bottom with a pleasing bump. The wind has swung towards the South but the air is still chilled from an arctic blast that brought heavy snow to the hills that still decorates their crowns.

Holding the rods, the wind chills the fingers despite wearing gloves, it’s a relief when John passes round steaming hot teas and coffees. The grandeur of the cliffs and swirling sea gulls gliding on the thermals are a pleasing backdrop as we await life to surge through our lines from the mysterious world beneath.

After half an hour or so of limited sport its time to head out. I sit and chat with Kevin who has recently moved to Devon after working in Dubai for over thirty years. We chat about fishing, fish and life in different lands. We also chat about fishing books and different authors inspiring each other to go out and buy new books to add to our collections. This is one of the many joys of boat trips. Over the years I have enjoyed many  conversation’s absorbing glimpses and learning of far off lands through another’s eyes.

The time passes quickly as the shoreline becomes ever distant. We must be five miles or so out in the channel before the note of the throbbing engine changes and the anchor is sent down.

Hooks full of herring squid and mackerel are sent over the side and lowered to the sea bed far below. Once again, the leads bump bottom and we again anticipate that tug through the line. It’s not long before a savage tug signals interest in the bait. I wait until I feel that the fish has the bait within its jaws and then steadily wind the reel handle until I feel the weight of the fish. Slowly I persuade the fish to the boat and the waiting net. It’s a spurdog, the first of over thirty to succumb throughout the day. As the tide pull eases, we are able to reduce the weight and the battle between angler and fish is less hindered. The spurdog average around ten pounds and are undoubtedly present in good numbers far below hunting for prey fish.

A brisk west wind creates a lively sea; large ships pass by and I wonder where they are heading. We chat from time to time and go about the business of fishing each with our own thoughts or perhaps just savouring the moment. From time to time a hot drink is welcome to wash down the sandwiches and snacks.

As the tide turns the bite rate eases and the numbers of fish decline with a few conger and dogfish starting to find the baits. All too soon it takes 2lb of lead to hold bottom and John suggests we head back closer to land.

Bluefin rides the waves comfortably as we head towards ground to the West of Ilfracombe where we drop anchor off the rugged cliffs close to Lee bay. I am not so confident here but it’s not long before the fish start to come aboard. Kevin is thrilled to battle a conger of around 15lb to the boat. I hook a plump bull huss of 12lb that refuses to pose for the camera using every sinew of muscle to twist and turn frustrating my efforts to get a decent picture before returning the fish. More spurdog show, my best of the day a respectable 12lb 8oz. Eddie Rand’s locks into battle with something substantial and eventually persuades a 25lb eel to the boat.

Moments later I hook into a fish that strains the tackle the rod absorbing savage lunges as the fish is reluctantly allowed to gain a few yards of line. A few minutes pass and the fish I assume to be a conger is almost to the boat when the hook pulls free and I am left wondering? A fresh bait is sent down and soon there is a repeat performance. This time the battle goes my way and a big dark eel appears beside the boat. With a strong catfish hook, 175lb wire trace to the hook and 150lb mono to the top swivel I suggest John pull the eel through the door. We slip the hook out and drop the eel into a sack to get a weight. At 30lb it’s the fish of the day and a pleasing end to an excellent trip with good sport and great company. Roll on the next trip.

Looking Back Ten Years ago!

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I will publish the occasional old Journal column from ten years or so back as its often interesting to look back and see whats changing.

(Above) Blonde ray caught by John Avery in February 2008

ANGLING REPORT  January 27th  2008

Spring on its way

The recent mild weather is bringing many signs of spring. Frogs have already deposited plenty of spawn in many ponds and bird song is already ringing out. Spring bulbs such as snowdrops and primroses are already out with daffodils well advanced. In lakes and ponds fish will also be stirring and starting to feed more frequently. Whilst many anglers will be targeting carp it could be worth trying a float-fished lobworm in the margins for perch. Attract them with a steady trickle of maggots and chopped worm. The perch is surely our most handsome fish and some huge specimens reside in our local Stillwater’s. Perhaps there lurks a fish to beat the new British record scaling 6lb 2oz that was recently landed from the River Thames.

Bideford Angling Clubs January Coarse match at Riverton saw Nielson Jeffery secure victory with a net of mostly carp totalling 19lb 9oz. Steve Baileys net of 12lb 9oz took the runner spot. John Lisle’s net of silver fish weighing 11lb 2oz taking third.

Stafford Moor continues to provide excellent sport with some impressive weights coming from Tanners and Woodpecker. Nathan Underwood took top spot in a recent Sunday open match with 127lb of carp. The carp took 8mm pellet fished beneath a waggler float. If conditions remain mild then some of the specimen lakes larger residents should be banked. Fishery owner Andy Seary has invited any angler who lands the thirty pound carp stocked recently the opportunity to name the fish. The angler will also receive a weekend’s free fishing.

On the open coast anglers continue to hope for a cod or two. I fished two sessions last week in what I would have termed ideal conditions for cod. A few dogfish and Pollock were all that succumbed to my offerings. Cod are now very scarce in comparison to ten or twenty years ago when devotees landed double figure fish on a regular basis. I have heard of a 16lb fish but have no confirmation. A few anglers have also reported losing fish into double figures. Lets hope I can report on a big cod before the winter is out. Marks within the estuary are giving a few codling to 5lb along with several bass to 6lb. Fresh crab is the most successful bait.

Whilst there are no cod there are plenty of other species to fill the void. In Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs roving match last week it was Kevin Legge who continued his recent run of form landing a specimen conger of 26lb 4oz. Paul Widlake took the runner up spot with a bull huss of 9lb 8¼oz and Andy Joslin third with a conger of 15lb 9oz. Members reported taking plenty of dogfish, whiting and pollock from various marks along the coast.

Combe Martin SAC member Guy Sprigg’s landed a fine blonde ray of 15lb 4oz from a local rock mark.

Bideford angling clubs latest mid week rover saw Stuart Bailey take a 1lb 15oz dogfish for top spot. A nice whiting of 14⅞oz for Nick Jobe took second with Jazza John securing third with a doggie of 1lb 13⅝oz.

Tony Gussin secured victory in Rod N Reeler’s monthly Rover landing a specimen small-eyed ray of 11lb 15½oz. In runner up spot Julian Stainer with a dogfish of 2lb 10½oz and in third Tony Werner with a doggie of 2lb 9oz.

The recent conditions are ideal for targeting trout on small Stillwater’s. I seldom find it necessary to use a sinking line relying on a nymph pattern fished on a long leader in combination with a floating line. A slow retrieve generally proves effective with an occasional twitch often triggering a take. Bratton Water is an ideal choice offering clear water and hard fighting rainbows. Owner Mike Williams tells me that visitors to the water have been enjoying some good sport recently with fish taking dry flies on a regular basis. Best fish in recent weeks was a rainbow of 7lb 8oz to the rod of T.Evans. Several five fish bags to 17lb have been taken.

RIGS FOR TOOTHY CRITTERS – Article by Kevin Legge

Kevin Legge as a well earned reputation for catching specimen fish from the North Devon shoreline and having fished with Kev for close to forty years I know he is meticulous in his preparation and leaves nothing to chance. Kevin has been testing the latest terminal tackle from Veals Mail Order and sent me this short article.

I have been asked recently about wire traces for toothy critters. I have been using the Mason Wire for a few years now in 175lb b.s this wire is both strong and extremely kink resistant a plus when the straps and dogfish are about in plague proportions.For hooks I use good old Varivas extras or the recent catfish hook. I have always been a fan of stainless steel swivels and the latest from Seadra are exceptionally robust with the 1/0 crane swivel rated at 525lb! To connect the trace to hook and swivel I have been using Seadra double barrel crimps 1.2mm. The crimped joints are protected using Mustard shrink tube (3mm) this creates a neat finish and protects the fingers from shards of wire that can give a nasty cut.

At snaggy marks Kevin often uses a single hook instead of the more commonly used Pennel rig.

TEN YEARS AGO!

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I was looking around on my computer and found the Journal report from Ten Years ago. Might be of interest I thought. A few points of Interest.

Flounder fishing was Ok but ragworm digging hard going.

What happened to Barnstaple Rod N Reelers?

A few familiar names in the report and interesting comment on the state of angling at the time. Is this feature worthwhile if popular I could make it a regular feature?

Comments on NDAN’s facebook page please.

ANGLING REPORT

Where are the fish?

Sea anglers are having a bleak time at present with fish hard to find all along the coast. The cod of past winters are virtually non existent and even the dogfish are not prolific. I am hearing more and more concerns about foreign trawlers plundering fish stocks ever closer to our shores. The lack of saltwater sport is of great concern to all connected with the sport. The estuary is a traditional retreat for sea anglers to seek the humble flounder that are showing in reasonable numbers in both estuaries. There is certain appeal to the estuary landscape in winter with its flocks of bird and ever changing sky. Bait digging has been particularly hard going this year with ragworm in short supply. Of course nature is cyclic and has a habit of coming good eventually, as I feel sure it will this time.

Bideford Angling Clubs latest mid week rover saw Damien Babb secure victory with a dogfish of 2lb 1½oz. Close behind was Mike Grayson with a doggie of 2lb 1¼oz. Dick Talbot’s dogfish of 1lb 14¾oz was third.

Barnstaple Rod N Reeler’s November Rover saw Steve Baker take top spot with a fine rockling of 1lb 13½oz. In runner up spot Julian Stainer with a dogfish of 2lb 7¼oz and in third John Passmore with a doggie of 2lb 4oz.

Andrew Atkinson won Appledore Shipbuilders Christmas Competition last Sunday with a flounder of 1lb 8½oz. In runner up spot was Graham Fisher with a flounder of 1lb 7¼oz. Junior member Cameron Atkinson took third with a flattie of 1lb 7oz. Thirty-Three anglers took part, which included 9 juniors. Chelsea Babb was amongst the other juniors to catch landing a flounder of 15⅛oz and Millie Ayres aged four was thrilled to catch her first ever fish a flounder of 11¾oz.

Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs annual general meeting at Braunton Cricket Club saw members vote for a radical change in competition format. The coming year sees the club adopt an optional catch and release policy for all club competitions. The club are also introducing month long competitions to help enable members to enter competitions whatever the restraints placed upon them by this demanding 24/7 society.

There was also an in depth debate regarding the forthcoming Marine Bill and the need for involvement in the consultation process. The club is to join the Angling Trust in the New Year which is the national body set up to represent all anglers.

Wistlandpound Flyfishing Clubs AGM saw members pay respect to their late Chairman Terry Hulland with a minute of quiet reflection. Terry had been a keen supporter of the club for many years and his presence and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.

Bob Gooding has been elected as the clubs new Chairman with David Eldred stepping forward as vice chairman. Nigel Bird continues in his joint role as secretary and treasurer. A full calendar of events was compiled at the meeting with most fixtures at the clubs home venue of Wistlandpound.

The clubs Tony Lovemore cup for the most consistent angler in competition was awarded to Colin Combes with 1610 points. In runner up spot David Eldred with 1567 points with Terry Hulland third with 1546.

Members had enjoyed a good season at Wistlandpound with members averaging 2.56 fish per rod in competitions. Anyone interested in joining this small friendly club should contact Nigel Bird on 01271 883252.

Cold winter weather seldom puts rainbow trout off the feed and great sport can be enjoyed at small still water trout fisheries. Southern Wood fishery is nestled in a wooded valley near Bratton Fleming and has been fishing well with several big rainbows gracing the net. Dave Mocks recent visit to the fishery was rewarded with a three fish bag for 19lb 8oz the best trout scaling 8lb 8oz. Dave Richards also landed a three fish bag for 17lb with a best of 7lb 8oz. Neil Roulde secured a fine double figure rainbow of 10lb 12oz in a four fish bag that totalled 31lb and also included a 9lb specimen. David James from Derby landed a brace for 17lb and Paul Cossey of Cambridge a four fish bag for 27lb. Brown trout have also been giving good sport with fish up to 3lb 12oz that have to be returned of course as they are out of season.

Ilfracombe Match groups two-leg match against Bude Pirates saw a very close finish with Ilfracombe securing victory by one point with 242 points. The second leg was fished at Highampton lakes last Sunday when a bitterly cold wind suppressed the fish’s appetite. John Pyle of Ilfracombe secured individual success with a bag of skimmers totalling 2lb 6oz. Kevin Hill of Bude took runner up spot with 1lb 13oz and his team-mate Ade Larkin third with 1lb 4oz.

Donald Kyte caught this cod off Lynmouth in November 2008

DIARY DATES

December 7thBlakewell Fishery Christmas Competition – Sold Out

December 7thBideford Angling Clubs Rover

December 7thAppledore Shipbuilders Rover

December 6th7thCombe Martin SAC – Christmas Competition

Fishing 6.00pm Saturday to 7.30pm Sunday.

Weigh in at Braunton Cricket Club 7.30pm

December 6th7thRod N Reelers Rover

December 7th– Triple Hook Club – ladies and Junior Flounder Open

Fishing 9.00am to 1.00pm Weigh in at Royal British Legion