Its been very quiet from the shore over recent weeks with poor weather deterring many anglers from venturing forth. The water temperature is up for the time of year and this could encourage a few fish close inshore to start feeding. Ollie Passmore found success landing this fine small-eyed-ray of 10lb 4oz. His good friend Kody Chugg also succeeded landing a fine bass of 8lb that was carefully released after a quick picture.
As we enter the Spring and summer season it seems a good time to promote good practice when handling members of the shark family. Please take note of these guidelines handle all fish with respect and consideration. I will take this into account when publishing images on this site so please follow the above when trying to capture those memories.
Combe Martin SAC held their presentation night at the Ebrington Arms at Knowle where members enjoyed a delicious meal followed by the presentation of awards. It was especially pleasing to be able to present young Joshua Jeffery with the award for best catch by a Junior and the the award for the best specimen grey mullet a fine thin lip scaling 4lb 6oz. The full list of award winners are listed below with some fine fish registered throughout the year.
Cod Trophy Rob Scoines Cod 12lb 4oz
Bass Trophy Ali Laird Bass 9lb 12oz
Mullet Cup Joshua Jeffery Thin Lipped 4lb 6oz
Conger Cup Kevin Legge Conger 28lb
Flatfish Cup Matt Jeffery Flounder 1lb 14 3/4oz
Shore Shield Kevin Legge Conger 28lb
Medway Cup Rob Scoines Spurdog 18lb 2oz
Ray Shield Jonathon Stanway Small Eyed 11lb 2oz
Specimen Shield Dan Welch 646.737%, Ali Laird 634.913% and Matt Jeffery 622.537%
A fellow Combe Martin Sea Angling Club member contacted me recently asking me to write a few words about grey mullet and why they should be given more respect.
I have put a link below to the National Mullet Clubs page that gives plenty of scientific data explaining why the grey mullet is so vulnerable so I suggest you read through that after reading my personal comment.
I started fishing for grey mullet during the early 1970’s whilst on holiday with my parents in Looe on the South Cornish coast. As a teenager who also coarse fished I found the grey mullet that haunted the harbour a great challenge and relished the hard fight they gave on the light tackle used. When I returned home to Combe Martin I was amongst a small number of anglers who targeted the species from many marks around Combe Martin landing numerous fish to over 4lb. Even back then I only kept the occasional fish for the table as fresh mullet from the sea do make good eating. I am ashamed to admit that I also killed fish to weigh in at competitions something I have not done now for at least ten years.
Whilst I believe anglers should have the right to take the occasional fish for the table I no longer do so. I value the fact that mullet provide exciting sport and whilst they can be very frustrating to catch at times they are also one of the most satisfying fish to catch.
I have seen a dramatic decline in numbers of mullet in some areas and know that the fish are very vulnerable to overfishing. I visited Alderney in the Channel Islands on several occasions when mullet where prolific and grew to a large size. From what I hear there has been a dramatic decline on this Island and on the nearby Island of Sark that we fished over several seasons catching several specimen mullet and glimpsing fish far larger.
In the past grey mullet were often overlooked by commercial fishing but dwindling stocks of other species due to overfishing has increased interest in these fish. Grey mullet are very slow growing fish not maturing to breeding size until close to ten years old. The fish also return to the same haunts year on year making them extremely vulnerable.
If you value the sport that mullet provide then please return them carefully to the water. If you don’t value them don’t fish for them.
I have memory’s of sad days in the past when I witnessed the despicable act of snatching mullet using large treble hooks. To see these fine sporting fish impaled on hooks dripping blood was a sad sight and gave genuine anglers a bad name.
When fishing for mullet handle the fish with care. Unhook carefully use a weigh sling or plastic bag to weigh the fish and don’t let the fish flap about on the rocks where they can dislodge scales increasing the risk of infection.
The current need for management measures as the consequence to the gross overfishing for bass can be argued in exactly the same way for grey mullet – the factors which make the bass population
vulnerable are not only applicable to grey mullet but arguably apply in even greater measure to them:
Mullet aggregate to spawn in areas that make them very easy to find and exploit.
Grey mullet have a very slow growth rate and mature at a relatively old age.
A proportion of the mullet population may only spawn every two years.
They are very easy to net in harbours and estuaries especially with monofilament gill nets.
They have high site fidelity resulting in fished-out areas being slow to recover.
Minimum landing sizes are either non-existent or inadequate.
No other management measures exist as they have always been considered to be of limited
Commercial fishing is increasing due to the restrictions on bass fishing and that they are
targeted as a means to justify a high bycatch of bass.
As commercial fishing increases, the stock decreases leading to increased value which further
increases fishing pressure.
The available data on the populations of the three native UK grey mullet species (Chelon labrosus, Liza aurata and L. ramada) is limited compared with that for more southerly populations (which tend to be faster growing and earlier maturation). However, enough is known to conclude that their slow growth and late maturation will not support high levels of commercial activity, as is evident from the large decline in catches, both commercial and recreational, and other evidence. Tulkani (2017) argues that there are no quotas set and there are no management plans currently in force to regulate either fishery. Clearly future research work should focus on providing the biological data required for the development of sustainable exploitation plans. As research takes time, which grey mullet arguably have not got, then the precautionary principle should be that rigorous measures are taken now to severely curtail, if not eliminate, commercial activity.
Statement from the mullet club
We at the NMC believe these are special fish. As a recreational species they are enigmatic, a challenge worthy of any angler’s attention and fully deserving their reputation as the ‘British bonefish’. Mullet take over ten years to mature, live over twenty-five years, and migrate hundreds even thousands of miles returning to their previous haunts year after year. Their lifecycle makes them extremely vulnerable to overfishing; evidence shows this is already happening as commercial and recreational landings shrink as commercial effort increases.
North Devon based Jon Patten Kindly sent this report on his recent trip fishing for England in the World Big Game Championships in South Africa.
The English Big Game fishing Team recently fished the World Big Game Championships in Sodwana Bay South Africa. They secured a marlin early in the competition where 28 of the best teams from around the world were competing. This catapulted the team straight into the lead position over the 4 days of competing. However a couple hours prior to the end of the competition the Spanish team pushed the English team into silver medal position. All 7 team members were overjoyed to have gained a silver medal for their country. The next championships will be held in Senegal in approximately 14 -months time where we will be doing battle yet again in the world championships.
I called into Summerlands Tackle at Westward-Ho! to pick up my Sponsorship Form for Neilsen Jeffery’s charity Match later in the year. ( More on that later) I also took along a bundle of old line keen to make use of the line recycling scheme I helped promote earlier this month. Line is the vital link between angler and fish. It is prone to damage and degradation over time and for this reason it is prudent to change it on a regular basis. Line both mono and braid is particularly hazardous to wildlife and should be discarded with care. In the past I have cut it into short lengths or burnt it. This new scheme is a great idea and should be embraced by all anglers. North Devons premier tackle shops are all participating in the scheme.
Matt Jeffery secured top spot in Combe Martin SAC’s Six Hour Rover landing a conger of 18lb 6oz. Conditions proved difficult at many marks along the coast with a large swell pounding the coastline. Fish were hard to find with several of the competitors failing to catch. Runner up was Kevin Legge with a rockling of 1lb 6.5oz and third Ross Stanway with a dogfish of 2lb 3oz. Jonathon Stanway caught a conger of 14lb 8oz and David Jenkins a dogfish of 1lb 9.5oz.
This competition signals the end of the clubs winter fixtures. The coming months will see attention turn to spring ray, bull huss and grey mullet.