South West Fly Fair 2019

South West Lakes Trust once again hosted the Annual South West Fly Fair at Roadford Lake. This popular fixture in the Fly Fishers Calendar is sponsored by Turrall and Cortland and attracted a good number of Fly Fishing Enthusiast’s despite gale force winds and an unfortunate clash with the Six nations Rugby.

Casting, cooking and Fly Tying demonstrations entertained the audience with numerous trade stands offering an array of flies, clothing, tackle and art. Conservation was high on the agenda with Westcountry Rivers Trust, Wild Trout Trust and South West lakes highlighting the issue of Invasive species. Fixtures like this are vital in bringing anglers together to share in enthusiasm for the coming months. A poster declared that; “Time is Precious Spend it Fishing”; wise advice in these turbulent times.

(Below) Charles Jardine always puts on a great demonstration of Fly Casting manipulating the fly Line effortlessly even when faced with gale force winds that would ensure certain tangles for the average angler.

( Below) In the warmth of the Fly Tying lounge a wide range of flies and lures were tied up to trick the wariest of fish.

In the Main Hall anglers mingled rekindling friendships and waxing lyrical about days at the waters edge both close to home and far away. Stands included Second Hand Tackle, Dry Fly Powder, Arundel Arms,  Homeleigh Angling Centre, Invasive Species, Turrall and Cortland, Snowbee UK, West Country Rivers Trust, Luke Bannister Split Cane Rods, Rawson Fly Rods, Robin Armstrong, Wild Trout Trust, Upper Teign Fishing Club, Crediton Fishing Club, SWLT, Virtual Nymph and Milemead Trout Farm were amongst those in attendance.

(below) Raising awareness of Invasive species.

(Below) Robin Armstrong with some of his works of art.

(Below) Ben Smeeth observes as Gary Champion gives a fascinating cooking demonstration explaining the method of marinating trout in lime with garlic and ginger – Ceviche is I believe the term. The resulting trout tasted delicious ; an ideal starter to try on friends.

(Below) West Country Based Snowbee UK

(Below) An array of flies from West Country Fly Firm Turrall

http://www.swlakesfishing.co.uk

Blakewell – Catch and Release Fishing

Times are changing in the world of Stillwater Trout Fishing with more emphasis being put on quality time at the waters edge. A few years ago, there was perhaps an obsession with catching big trout and whilst there are still fisheries that cater for the big trout angler these are now in the minority. It seems that most of today’s anglers want to catch good numbers of fish relishing the key ingredients of trout fishing.

This change in angler’s approach has resulted in an increase in catch and release or sporting tickets. Blakewell Fishery near Barnstaple has after careful consideration moved to meet this demand offering a sporting ticket that allows anglers to retain a brace of fish for the table and then continue fishing on a catch and release basis for the remainder of the day.

I joined with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce for a mornings fishing at Blakewell that fortuitously coincided with a break in the stormy weather. After a chat over coffee in the tea room we headed out on the lake to try our luck.

Walking out to the lake we took a look around and elected to fish the bay with Jeff fishing the point whilst I fished the inner bay. I elected to fish a gold head PTN on the point with a spider pattern on a dropper. I extended the line across the water and on the second cast after allowing the fly to sink I saw the point of the fly line twitch. I instinctively raised the rod whilst pulling on the line with my left hand. There came that pleasing feeling of life and resistance as a trout erupted in a flurry of spray at the end of a tight line. Whilst I was using a 5wt rod I had taken the precaution of using an 8lb tippet ensuring I could bring any fish I hooked to the net quickly ensuring the fish could be slipped back quickly. The use of light leaders when catch and release fishing should be discouraged as trout should not be played to exhaustion.

Over on the point Jeff was putting a new Snowbee Spectre Fly line through its paces with impressive results punching small imitative patterns into a stiff breeze with ease. It wasn’t long before Jeff was also into a hard fighting rainbow. The fish was held briefly above the water for a quick photo before being slipped back into the water.

The next couple of hours passed by all too quickly with several trout falling to our offerings in the clear water. In the past I have often fished for trout and been almost disappointed when I have caught my bag limit for the session. Catch and release removes that perception that some anglers have in that they must catch their bag limit.

Catch and release offers anglers the opportunity to savour time at the water’s edge at a reasonable cost. It is however imperative that care is taken to ensure that a high percentage of fish survive to perhaps grow bigger. Barbless hooks are essential, fish should be unhooked in the water whenever possible and only held briefly to capture the moment.

It is advisable to use as strong a leader as practical to ensure fish are brought to the net quickly. Fish should only be handled with wet hands and should be steadied in the water for a few moments if they show any sign of fatigue.

Those anglers who do not wish to practice catch and release can of course elect to purchase a standard five fish ticket for the same price enabling them to take home all they catch. The two options cater for the vast majority of anglers. Over the next couple of months Richard and John plan to stock Spartic trout and a number of big brown trout.

Spring is a marvellous time to be at the water’s edge as green growth signals the onset of spring. The first swallows and martins will soon be swooping low over the water feasting after their long migration from warmer climes. The trout will also be rising setting those delightful rings upon the water. A carefully placed fly will be sipped down in that delightful moment of deception to be relished by the fly fisher.

As the morning grew to a close it was time to enjoy the first BBQ of the spring. A hot sausage in a fresh bread roll was the perfect end to a great mornings fishing. Jeff took advantage of a new clearing to demonstrate the art of roll casting.

Litter an ongoing issue

Last year I reported on a local angling clubs efforts to clean up their local sea angling venue following threats to close it off following unacceptable litter left by careless and uncaring anglers.

Litter a sad reflection!

Anglers embark on Beach Clean to show they care

Sadly a year later I still get reports of issues relating to angling litter and whilst anglers are not exclusive in leaving litter they should be appreciative of the environment that is surely an integral part of what angling is about? I recently received this sad image of a popular North Devon Rock Mark the angler who sent this is to be commended for picking up the rubbish and removing it from the venue. We must all make every effort reduce litter and leave nothing at the waters edge accept memories.

Line is one of the major angling related litter issues and a new scheme is being launched to encourage responsible disposal. I will be speaking with local tackle shops and perhaps clubs to see if we can get access to the scheme here in North Devon.

Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme see link below :-

https://www.anglers-nlrs.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR1lhCN-VIzOq5YTBezeiWD5i_V7CCzMeJAoOrrddA6fx-cpFXfE46nsw20

North Devon Match Group Championship No.2 @ Jennetts Reservoir

North Devon Match Group Championship No.2 @ Jennetts Reservoir :

Results

1st Neilsen Jeffery 26lb

2nd Mark Richards  22lb 14oz

3rd Kevin Shears 13lb 12oz

4th Graham Currington  13lb 5oz

5th Peter Slade 12lb 6oz

6th Andrew Gratton  10lb 12oz

The miild ,damp conditions locked perfect on the SWLakes Trust Reservoir in Bideford, but the shoals of roach and bream proved quite tricky to catch. The walk around the far side was worthwhile as the top 4 weights came off the higher numbered pegs.Neilsen Jeffery managed to sort them out on peg 10 on the point . He landed some nice bream on the groundbait feeder on red maggots, Mark Richards drew the end peg on the far side and had a great net, of mainly roach, on the pole on white maggot for 2nd . Kevin Shears was best of the rest with another feeder catch. The section A, near bank, winner was Peter Slade with a nice net of small roach, section B winner was Graham Currington  with a feeder and slider net on peg 9.

Seven miles off Ilfracombe -spurdog

Its always far easier to get out of bed on a fishing morning than a work day morning especially on a February day with light Southerly winds forecast and a few sunny spells. Once again I was heading out of Ilfracombe aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin this time  on a trip organised by Keith Armishaw of River Reads bookshop.  We had a mixed group of anglers on board most of whom I had met on previous occasions.

A large ground swell was running despite the light winds which was to bring on a touch of sea sickness for one or two anglers on board throughout the day. The steam out to the spurdog grounds around seven mile offshore was an enjoyable journey full of optimism for the day ahead and a chance to chat and catch up.

With the North Devon Coast line fading into the distance the engine note changed as we reached our destination.

This was deep water and with the tide still flooding close to 2lb of lead was required  to take the baits to the sea bed.

It wasn’t long before the rod tops started to rattle as spurdog attacked our baits giving a good account as they were persuaded to the boat.

The tally grew steadily as the day passed and as the tide eased the catch rate increased with several spurdog on the deck at times keeping John and his assistant busy with the T-bar.

Whilst spurdog dominated there was the occasional bull huss with their vivid leopard spotted flanks.

By the time John suggested a move inshore out of a raging tide for the last hour we had boated in excess of fifty spurdog to 13lb, a few bull huss and a couple of small conger.

http://www.bluefincharters.co.uk

Fishtytwo Challenge reaches its conclusion

Congratulations to Steve Dawe on an amazing year of fishing and fund raising for the stroke association. I have already ordered my copy of Steves book recording his amazing year of species hunting and will review it within these pages. Many thanks to Steve for writing the below report for North Devon angling News.

The challenge to catch 52 UK species in 52 weeks ended on December the 31stwith a final push to track down a 3 Bearded Rockling from a mark in Ilfracombe. Despite great advice on location and tactics from two very good North Devon anglers the species remained elusive although Pollack, Pouting and Congers provided a distraction. My final total for the year long challenge ended on 77 species when I finally got one of my nemesis species the Spotted Ray while fishing aboard Mike Webbers Teddie Boy out of Minehead. The Spotted Ray alone had taken 9 sessions across the year before I finally got the target, it does sum up the challenge that targeting a certain fish species presents.

Fish just don’t read a script and despite anglers I know catching the Spotted Ray with impunity if you don’t have a slice of luck to add to the time spent on the bank then that magic fish can prove difficult. Over the year the North Devon Coast and Bristol Channel have been good to me on the species front with, Conger, Spurdog, Bullhuss, Dab, Hounds, Cod and Flounder all ticked off the list from the North coast.

This was largely down to great skippers and unconditional advice from several of the North Coast’s best anglers, you guys know who you are, and I and the Stroke Association are extremely grateful. During the challenge I notched up over 7000 miles, 115 sessions, 52 sea species, 25 coarse and game. Out of that total 44, were personal bests, a statistic I am sure I will never match or exceed again.

I must also thank Wayne who does a sterling job of reporting and promoting fishing events and achievements through his pages. Wayne invited me to attend the Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs annual fun day at Ilfracombe this summer, and it was a great few hours spent with future anglers catching mini species. This event alone raised £25 for the charity in coin donations placed in the charity box, typical of the generosity shown by anglers and their families this year. Many people I met this year know someone or have had a family member effected by a Stroke, this life changing condition can affect everyone young and old.

Last Saturday I was joined by my good friend and inspiration for this challenge Andy Adams, Andy was a dedicated angler who was hit out of the blue with a massive stroke. The stroke has left Andy wheel chair bound and in need of a full-time carer, what it didn’t take however was his fighting spirit. Together we presented a cheque for £1340.00 to Hayley Ali of the Stroke Association while at a lunch down in the port of Looe.

I was asked by several of the readers of my blog to consider writing a book of the year long challenge, I have managed to complete this to coincide with the cheque presentation. The book titled Fishty Two Weeks in a Yearis available from Amazon as a Kindle version and Paperback.

All profits from the sale of this book will also go to the Stroke Association, so anyone buying are helping this great cause. Although I may have been the figurehead of this challenge it was only possible due to the copious amounts of goodwill, professionalism and support of my fellow anglers and friends so I salute you all.

North Devon Match Group Final Championship and Christmas Competition @ Oaktree Fishery

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Results

1st Paul Elworthy 42lb 4oz

2nd Paul Morris  39lb 13oz

3rd Neilsen Jeffery 35lb 15oz

4th Stuartshelley Burridge  32lb 1oz

5th  James Grogan 31lb 5oz

6th Dave Dodgy Hooks 30lb 6oz

22 members fished our final comp of the year , 11 on each pond. Conditions were still and cold to start but deteriorated into rain. Paul Elworthy drew on peg 2 in the middle of the dam on the top pool his first fish was a near double on paste on the pole , he added 6 more and crucially 7lb of sivers to secure a victory , Paul Morris was on peg 15 on the bottom lake he also landed a large carp early he went on to net 9 fish, all on the pole, for 2nd place. 3rd went to Neilsen Jeffery with a pole and corn approach on peg 9 , The first competition for the new year kicks off on Jan 6th 2019 on Morchard Road.

Winter Carp Haul at Upper Tamar

Bude anglers Chris Hudson and Matt Pepperell enjoyed a great session at Upper Tamar lake on the Cornwall and Devon border over the weekend landing 8 carp from the Lookout Tower swim. Chris had this cracking 24lb 1oz mirror that was stocked in 2017 at 22lb. The majority of fish were mid doubles. All caught on CC Moore Live system with white pop ups fished over the top.

Chris Hudson with a fine mirror of 24lb 1oz

STAYING ALIVE AT SEA

There has been a concerted campaign by the RNLI to encourage anglers to were life jackets and this has been supported a by a few high profile anglers including Henry Gilbey. The vast majoroty of anglers do not wear lifejackets and this is something that needs to change if the number of lives lost each year due to drowning are to be reduced. I visited Summerlands at Westward Ho! recently and was delighted to see that they have embraced the campaign and are selling Crewsaver 165 Sport Life Jackets at a very reasonable price of £65.95. This could make the perfect Christmas present with the potential to save a life.

Many experienced sea anglers if challenged will admit to having near misses and with an average of ten shore anglers drowning each year it is time to consider investing in this valuable kit that could save your life.