Fun Fishing under the setting sun

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IMG_9205The tide had been flooding for a couple of hours when we arrived at the rocky promontory on a calm summer evening. The conditions would have probably been a total waste of time if we had been armed with standard beach casting tackle. Tonight though we had come armed with ultra light LRF tackle.

I was with my son James Thomas and Rob Sciones a relatively recent convert to sea angling. Tonight was not about specimen fish but a session aimed at maximum fun. James had just returned home to North Devon after his first year of University at Cheltenham and was glad to be out enjoying the sea air.

The mark we fished is reached after descending over two hundred steep steps to a shingle beach from which a rocky island is accessed that offers spectacular views over Combe Martin Bay and the high sea cliffs that extend Eastwards towards Lynmouth. These cliffs are reputedly the highest in the British Isles.

On arriving we hastily tackled up threading the gossamer thin 4lb b.s fluorocarbon main line through the rings of the ultra light spinning rods. I suggested that we start off using a single Marukyu Isome ragworm mounted on a small 2.5-gram jig head searching the water at our feet for a wide variety of species that could be in residence. As the tide pushes in there will be every chance of few mackerel and Pollock as the light fades but for now it’s a good idea to search in close.

There is scarcely a breath of wind to stir the surface of the oily calm sea. Hundreds of jellyfish drift and pulsate in the clear water and a gloopy like algae clings to the line as the lure is twitched back to the rocky edge. I slow the retrieve and allow the artificial worm to sink close to the bottom. The rods tip jagged down and I lifted the rod enjoying the living resistance that transmitted through to the rod. A small wrasse of little more than 8oz but despite this it put a pleasing bend in the rod.

A small Pollock follows to James rod and is followed a few minutes later by an 8oz Pollock to my rod. It then falls quiet and bites are few and far between for the next half an hour.

A small pollock for James
A small pollock for James

We sit at the waters edge casually flicking the light lures out allowing them to sink before twitching them slowly back. I have fished this coastline for over forty years and I relish the familiar panorama that stretches before us on this tranquil summer evening. A few Kayakers are exploring the bay weaving in close to the cliffs that tower all around with trees sometimes reaching close to the waters edge.

Behind the village of Combe Martin and the hills of Exmoor dark clouds loom ominously, whilst to the West the sun is slowly descending above the horizon casting a warm light upon the scene. The beauty of the evening is difficult to convey in words and we are all grateful that the pursuit of fish has caused us to linger here upon the rocks in this timeless seascape.

As the tide rises we change over to small sandeel imitations casting out onto the edge of the tidal flow that is pushing close into the shoreline. Polarised glasses enable me to see deep down into the gin clear water. I glimpse a greyish shape close in, a bass perhaps? Next cast two shadows materialise close to the lure; then the lure is engulfed the rod tip plunges over and I relish the bent rod and singing reel. Its only a school bass of a pound but a delight to play on this light tackle that allows the fish to show its fighting spirit.


After a quick picture I slip the bass back. I look down and urge Rob to cast his lure out in the hope that another bass shows. A shoal of what I think is mullet glide past over the shallow rocks before disappearing. I make a mental note to return with my mullet tackle and a bucket of bread!

We all fish with greater optimism now as the sun sank lower. James daydreaming is rudely interrupted as a fish seizes his lure. The light rod pulsates and the reel gives its rasping cry. I scramble to the waters edge and allow James to carefully persuade the silver flanked bass to the waiting net. At around 2lb it’s a pleasing sight and great sport.


We fished on relishing the setting sun. Rob is pleased to save a blank by catching a small Pollock. James hooks a Pollock that puts a good bend in the rod before coming off at the waters edge. A seals head pops up fifty yards off the shoreline; watching us watching him strangers on the shore.


It’s close to 10.00pm when we set off for home trudging across the shingle as the remnants of the sunset illuminate both sea and sky. James heads off up the steps leaving me trailing in his wake. I had ascended these same steps thirty years ago with equal exuberance. Tonight I reach the summit with pounding heart and sweaty brow the years are taking their toll. But I am glad to be here again treading familiar paths and they say exercise is good!

On this occasion sport had not lived up to expectation but the stunning scenery and setting sun had made up for it. The conditions would have been a waste of time if conventional sea tackle had been employed with little chance of success until after dark.

Much has been written about LRF fishing as a revolutionary new tactic that is taking the sea-angling world by storm. I see it as giving a valuable dimension to the angler’s world opening up the opportunity to catch a vast array of species. In calm conditions when the water is gin clear great sport can be enjoyed when traditional sea angling tactics would draw a blank.

Young anglers can start their angling journey using light tackle that gives valuable experience in the art of playing fish. This is a skill that some will never learn if they only use heavy beach casters to winch small to moderate fish onto the shoreline. The vast majority of fish caught by sea anglers weigh less than 2lb-giving poor sport on heavy gear. LRF fishing tactics offer a fresh approach and a welcome diversion.

On summer evenings or when time is short LRF tactics give the chance to grab a few hours at the waters edge. Perfect when on holiday with a family or when all you want is a bit of fun. Its never going to replace the thrill of a really big fish grabbing the big bait anchored to the seabed or the savage hit as a big bass smashes a lure. It does however offer a little fun and finesse from a wide variety of venues. From time to time of course a big fish will grab the small lure and the anglers skill will be put to the test as tackle is tested to its limit and perhaps beyond.