These cold winter days are delightful on small Stillwater’s where rainbows seem to feed hard. Just wrap up warm and enjoy.
Paul Carlisle with a cracking 13lb 4oz rainbow caught at Blakewell.
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”
So goes that song by Joni Mitchell
Long time North Devon anglers will remember the old Ilfracombe Pier and many have fond memories of fishing from the old Victorian structure that was built in1873 at a cost of £10,000. The pier was the base for Ilfracombe & District Angling Club for many years its members holding regular competitions from a venue that was safe and easy to fish from. I remember many wild winter nights fishing from the North End waiting for the rod tip to lunge forward as a cod seized the bait. One of the joys of the old pier was that you could go there at any-time and meet up with other anglers catching up with the latest angling news. It was also an ideal venue for Junior anglers and I am sure many caught their first sea fish from the safety of the pier.
I was chatting with Keith Reed fish recorder for the Bristol Channel Federation of Sea Anglers. Keith was reminiscing about his fifty years as fish recorder with the federation. Back in 1941 young Keith aged 9 or 10 caught his first fish; a pouting from Ilfracombe Pier. The fish was taken back to be eaten at a time when catch and release fishing would have been unheard of. Evacuated from Bristol after their house was bombed young Keith started an angling journey that has lasted to this day with Keith in his mid 90’s. I wonder how many other anglers began their fishing lives at the venue.
Looking back the old pier was a valuable asset to the anglers of North Devon. But did we really appreciate it at the time? As a member of the Combe Martin SAC I only tended to fish the pier when it was too rough to fish from the rocks in safety. Many of my keen young friends would deride the pier saying it was a Noddy’s venue. It was true that a range of anglers fished the venue and a stray cast would often entangle more other angler’s lines than fish. This was however one of its greatest values, for it was a safe place for those anglers starting off and very often after a few tangles they would get good advice and learn quickly as a result.
The Pier always seemed to have big fish stories and the stories of huge conger dwelling in the caverns beneath are legendary. Even now the occasional conger is tempted from the base of what remains and in 2014 Mark Frith landed a conger of 43lb.
The landings that remain still provide a useful fishing platform but only over low water. Each winter it still brings rewards for those who fish it and it still has that community feel about it. But it will never be the same as the Old Pier where you could take a walk at any-time to chat fishing. In summer visitors would of course stroll along the pier watching the anglers gazing upon brightly coloured floats bobbing in the sea. It was a place of life the heart of a seaside angling community… “Don’t It always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.
Tony Irwin wrote on a recent Facebook post : “I fished with my brother in law in a storm there once during the night we fished into the channel inside from the parapet wall the tide was and one cast (and we were using 8oz leads to combat the wind and tide) was blown up onto the pier as it was pitch black we had no idea until I tried to reel in at first We thought I had a massive fish on! I then realised the line was tight going right . My brother in law climbed up on the pier and my lead and rig was jammed right on the top that’s how strong the winds were but we did finish up with at least two or three doubles if I remember rightly. It was a wonderful winter fishing venue and anglers were always welcome in the hut to have a hot soup. They loved anglers back in those days not like owners of piers these days.”
Combe Martin SAC member All Laird to trip up channel hoping for a blonde or cod last night/this morning had a dog on main hook and this 21lb 5oz conger.
Daniel Scranage has recently put in a bit of time on Upper Tamar. This weekend his efforts have been rewarded with mirrors of 25lb and 23lb, these were backed up with commons of 18lb and low double.
The South West Lakes well stocked shop at Upper Tamar is open Friday, Saturday and Sundays 8am-4:30pm. If you have any enquiries please give us a call on 01288 321 712
Local Torridge District Councillor, Dermot Mc Geough and now a 5C’s member,(The Crazy, Crafty, Cunning Carp Catchers) fished the Main Lake at Anglers Paradise for his first proper fishing trip and managed to bag this 21lb 2oz Mirror Carp on 20mm Scopex Squid boilees. He was overjoyed as this was his first 20lb’er before this he had only small fish under 10lbs.
All rounder Aaron Bunning had a cracking session on Lower Tamar this week with his targets being a 2lb roach and 10lb bream! Amazingly he caught both!! here’s his report: ‘Decided to target the roach and bream for a change, awesome fun on the light gear. had 15-20 roach to 2lb 4oz, 3 bream including 2 doubles of 11lb 6oz and 10lb 4oz as well as a few trout and perch. all fish were caught on 12mm Scopex Squid boilie or maggot hookbaits over quite a lot of maggot, caster, hemp, pellet and groundbait’.
Combe Martin SAC member Ali Laird has been enjoying success along North Devons rocky coastline and sent me these catches made throughout November.
Including spurdog of 14lb 6oz, 11lb 8.5oz, conger of 18lb 3oz, Bull Huss 8lb 6oz and a blonde ray of 8lb 4oz.
The River Torridge Fishery Association
President: Lord Clinton
Chairman: Paul Ashworth Secretary: Charles Inniss
e-mail: [email protected]
NEWSREEL: WINTER 2020
The salmon hatchery:
Sadly the hatchery programme for this winter is currently on hold. The hatchery team was ready to trap the broodstock from the fish pass at Monkokehampton Weir when the second lockdown restrictions were announced early in December. We have not given up hope and if the restrictions are lifted on 2ndDecember will endeavour to catch up at least a few broodstock, which by then should almost be ready for stripping.
Steve Phelps, our vice-Chairman, has been working closely with William Entwistle, the vice-chairman of the South West Rivers Association, to develop a South West Hatchery hub at the Colliford hatchery on the River Fowey. This hatchery is currently funded by South West Water in mitigation for the loss of spawning streams on the Fowey catchment when Colliford Reservoir was constructed. Initially the Torridge and the Axe will be the two rivers directly involved. With the support of the Colliford hatchery team, the Axe Association, South West Water, The South West Rivers Association and the EA we have permission to grow upto 50% of our eggs to the swim-up fry stage at the Colliford hatchery. Their progress will be monitored under almost laboratory conditions. Last year we achieved a very high success rate at our own hatchery and it will be very interesting to compare the results.
As salmon stocks in all the rivers in the South West continue to decline there may will be a need to develop and expand the Colliford hatchery so that it can support all the rivers in our region.
A new Fisheries Enforcement Officer:
Some good news to cheer you all!! Following the retirement of Paul Carter in the spring, the EA has appointed a new Fisheries Enforcement Officer (FEO) for North Devon. Callum Underhill is fully trained and skilled as a FEO and for the last five years has been based in North Wessex. Callum is very enthusiastic about his new appointment. He is a keen fisherman!! Paul Carter has been very supportive and will continue to do so. I am sure next season many of you will meet Callum on the riverbank.
The Annual Dinner and Raffle:
Sadly we were not able to hold the Annual Dinner at The Half Moon, but the raffle did go ahead and as usual it was wonderfully well supported: thank you all very much. The raffle, together with several generous donations, raised over £2,000 which will go a long way towards funding our own hatchery and the costs involved at the Colliford hatchery.
The winners of the raffle prizes were as follows:
1st prize: £100 wine voucher: Richard Henry, an extremely experienced and successful angler who has fished the Torridge and been a regular visitor at The Half Moon Inn for over 50 years.
2nd prize: £50 Snowbee voucher: Robert Clark, a friend of James Mumford. James has been fishing the Torridge for many years and still travels from his home in Somerset to fish for salmon and sea trout several times each season.
3rd prize: a day’s fishing on The Half Moon beats was won by Bill Blake from Somerset.
4th prize: a bottle of wine donated by Reg Lawton was won by Tim Birkbeck, a committee member.
5th prize: a day’s fishing on the famous Madeira beat was won by Nick Gunn, one of our newer members.
The Fishing Season:
For the first three weeks of the season the river was in spate and then all fishing stopped until the end of May, by which time the river, after a spring drought, was down to summer level. For the latter half of the season the weather was changeable and river levels held up reasonably well. Fishing effort has been very light, but those anglers who have fished regularly have been rewarded with some good catches. Barry Mills caught a salmon in excess of 20lb on the Little Warham water while Martin Weeks and his brother Ed enjoyed some excellent night sea trout fishing. Catch totals seem to have been similar to last year: about 30 salmon, 100 sea trout and plenty of good-sized brown trout.