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.


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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.


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


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

European Lure Fishing Show 2018

The European Lure Fishing Show 2018 was held at Bristol last weekend and I was fortunate to visit the show with fellow Combe Martin SAC members Nick and Jack Phillips.  This is the second year of the show and after hearing good reports from last year I thought it worth taking a look. The event focus’s on Lure fishing and Fly Fishing with an extensive range of products on display along with talks and demonstrations.

The best side of these shows is undoubtedly the opportunity to meet up with fellow anglers and swap tales with old friends.

We took time to listen to two talks; one on world wide fishing with Dave Lewis of Sea Angler with Dave giving sound advice on chasing those bucket list fish that take anglers to some stunning locations.

The second talk was delivered by Henry Gilbey and was a thought provoking one that revolved around the wearing of life-jackets. Henry told of two young brothers who tragically died whilst fishing off the North Cornish coast. The fact that Henry knew the mark well and that he had intended fishing it that day undoubtedly struck a cord. I know Henry and he is passionate about his fishing and has like most keen sea anglers had a few near misses.

After listening to Henry I visited the Art of Fishing stand and purchased two Crewsaver Buoyancy aids. One for myself and one for my son James. After close to fifty years of fishing I am all to aware of the statistics with anglers drowning every year I ask myself how likely am I to become one of those stats? The life jackets are not cumbersome and after a few minutes you forget you have them on. Why would you not wear one Henry asked? £70 is but a small price to pay if it saves your life?

It was noticeable that very few anglers attended Henry’s talk on safety at sea. I am sure that if Henry had been waxing lyrical about lure fishing  many would have sat hanging on his every word. Health and safety isn’t sexy but it was probably the most important topic on the agenda and most chose to ignore it!

Strangely in all the years I have been fishing on the coast I have given only passing thought to my own safety. Yet I have had nightmares about  fellow anglers being washed into the sea whilst I stand helpless on the shore. What would you say to their nearest and dearest?

Perhaps it is for others that you should don that life saving vest for lets face it if you get washed into the sea on a dark and stormy night without a life jacket your not going to worry for long.

A short film shot in conjunction with the RNLI on the North Devon Coast was a true eye opener as to what happens if you fall into the water wearing waders. I will share the film on my Facebook page when it is released. Take a few moments to watch.

Great to see Mark Underhill present and chatting to enthusiastic anglers about his first season at Wimbleball lake.

(Above) Angling Trust Blogger, Author and angling guide Dominick  Garnett

The Fascination of Ilfracombe Aquarium

As an angler I guess it is inevitable that I have always been fascinated by aquariums and can remember clearly the excitement of viewing fish at close quarters within seaside aquariums whilst on holiday in Cornwall. The aquariums at Looe and Fowey were always fixtures on our annual family holiday to Cornwall especially if the weather was a little inclement.

During the Combe Martin SAC Fun Fish in September the Ilfracombe Aquarium team got involved and an invite to visit the aquarium that is tucked away in a corner of the pier car park followed. Hard to believe that the aquarium has been running for over fifteen years and is expanding its range of exhibits each year.

Pauline and I were greeted by Senior Aquarist Steve Corcoran who immediately made us welcome and infected us with his enthusiasm for the venue. The aquarium displays an amazing array of over 75 species to be found in the waters of North Devon from rivers high on the moors to the sea off Ilfracombe.

The exhibits are carefully chosen with only fish that are suitable for a captive environment selected. The welfare of the fish is undoubtedly paramount with all the fish in good condition and the tanks exceptionally clean.The aquarium are working to assist CEFAS based in Lowestoft with species acquisition. Several dragonets have been donated this year for breeding trials. They, however do not regulate our zoo license as such.  A zoo license is issued through North Devon Council with  practices needing to comply with Secretary of State ‘Standards of Modern Zoo Practice’ 2012. DEFRA are the public body that regulates these standards. . Any fish that outgrow their tanks have to be transferred to other aquariums such as Plymouth. For this reason large fish such as conger are not kept as they can grow very quickly and become aggressive if not fed frequently.

The whole place had a sort of Tardis like feel with far more on display than the exterior appearance of the building suggests. The display boards on the walk around are filled with fascinating facts about the environment, history and the array of captive creatures. Partnership with environmental groups such as the Marine Conservation Society and Exmoor National park is clearly evident.

The large seawater tank held a splendid selection of good sized fish from local waters including thornback ray, small eyed ray, spotted ray, pollock, bass, tub gurnard, grey mullet and plaice.

Surprisingly though it was not the big fish that we found to be most captivating but the smaller fish such as the dragonets with their  stunning sapphire eyes and bristling demeanor. Pipefish, gobies, topknots, sole and sand smelt were amongst other fascinating fish on display.

Other fascinating creatures were the tiny cuttlefish that had an almost alien appearance as they hovered within the water coming alive when Steve added some particles of food to the tank. Watching the way fish feed is an interesting aspect of the aquarium that will I feel fire the imagination of any visiting angler. Ammo Frozen baits are amongst the suppliers of food to the aquarium who are keen only to use fish that are caught using sustainable methods.

I was delighted to discover that some of the pouting swimming in the tanks were provided by anglers taking part in one of our previous fun fishing events.

The complex has a pleasing top deck where a coffee and a snack can be enjoyed alfresco with a lower eating area if the weather is not kind.

The gift shop has an array of quirky and fishy goods to tempt members of the family. I would highly recommend a visit before the venue closes for the winter at the end of November.

A matter of perspective

A matter of perspective

Fishing is at times a complex pastime full of paradoxes’, dilemmas and moral issues that can stimulate passionate debate. Fly Fishing by its nature is perhaps even more prone to this than other forms of angling though I say this in part because this article is aimed at the Fly Angler. As an all round angler I am far from a fly fishing purist and resist the elitist view that fly fishing is somehow superior to other forms of fishing. Many hold fly-fishing in esteem as a more worthy style of fishing when compared to bait fishing or lure fishing. But where does this view come from?

As a young boy I fished a tiny stream and caught plenty of wild brown trout with buttercup flanks and crimson spots. My chosen technique was a wriggling red worm or pinch of bread flake. It was beside this tiny stream that I learned to read the water and develop that knack of knowing where to cast. Sadly that wonderful stream of my youth is devoid of fish but that’s another story.

As time went by I learnt to cast a fly and find fly-fishing an invaluable string to my angling repertoire. On its day it can be a very effective way to catch fish and on most days I would expect to catch more trout from a small stream armed with a lightweight fly rod than with a pot of worms. It is true that the worm might tempt that big trout living deep in a shady pool or one that has grown large as a result of cannibalistic tendencies but in general the delicate fly fisher will out fish the bait dangler.

When I developed a love for angling literature I delved into classic tomes that told of chalk streams and water meadows. In classic books such as “ A Summer on the Test” by John Waller Hills or “The Book of the Dry Fly” by George A.B Dewar these authors and others of that era were of course members of the upper classes who lived privileged lives that enabled them to cast into the almost sacred waters of the Test and Itchen. It was in these waters where the dogma of Halfords Dry Fly Purist attitudes where born.

I fished the Test once several years ago and whilst it was a costly days fishing I enjoyed every minute of it. I caught on both dry fly and upstream nymph. It was a privilege to fish from manicured banks and tread the path of those with more money than I. I almost used the word wealth at that point but held back for money and wealth are different. The fishing was very enjoyable but in truth not as challenging as I had expected. These were not wily wild fish but stockfish in what has become an artificial fishery like many small Stillwater fly fisheries.

Trout waters are many and the trout within them varied. Each river, lake, loch and reservoir has its own peculiarities and it is this rich variation that gives fishing its fascination. There are different approaches to trout fishing and we as anglers contrive to introduce a complex web of rules and values.

Modern trout fishing has many parallels with society reflecting morals and desire. The put and take trout fisheries that emerged in the late seventies brought an expectation amongst many to get their limit of big trout. As a result prices were driven up as fishery owners tried to cater for the demand for big trout. Anglers measured their success with the size of the fish they caught a plump 10lb or even 20lb rainbow being the dream.

Sadly as time has passed by many anglers have developed unrealistic expectations and have lost sight of the true essence of fly-fishing. Fortunately I see a slow change as many are now seeing the value in wild fish in tumbling brooks and streams. A fishing world in miniature where it is not the size that matters, more the beauty of the quarry and the natural surroundings from which it is caught. The brief admiration of a jeweled trout before it is slipped carefully back into clear water.

There is undoubtedly a place for well-stocked artificial waters and at times it is fun to catch a big stocked trout. It is also exciting to catch stocked rainbows from reservoirs using modern methods but it is surely that moment of delightful deception that is equally thrilling from a rambling brook especially if the whole act can be witnessed in clear and healthy water.

The measuring of fish by sheer size is perhaps that reflection upon society where we want it all bigger better and now. Surely utopia is a day of fishing ahead where there is no rush and all that matters is to momentarily connect with the pulsing life in that world beneath the surface. To put it in monetary terms where lies the best value? A full day wondering the stream for priceless spotted jewels surrounded by natures finest or a dash to catch a limit of stockies in a well kept stew pond?

Wayne Thomas


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Salmon and sea trout anglers have been hoping for rain all summer to bring the local rivers into spate and bring fresh run migratory bars of silver into North Devon’s rivers. The rain that fell on Sunday whilst welcome was not enough to bring a substantial rise despite washing a great deal of sediment into the rivers. The Taw and Torridge both came up and ran dirty but have dropped back quickly. It is to be hoped that a few fish have been encouraged to move up river. A few anglers have cast a fly on the Taw and experienced rod John Kenyon fished the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw to tempt a fine fresh run salmon of 15lb using a Willie Gunn micro tube.

A few sea trout have been reported from the Torridge but no reports of salmon to my knowledge.

One of my favourite local rivers is the East Lyn that tumbles to the sea from Exmoor through the Watersmeet Estate. The riverside walk has been made even more popular following the TV appearance of Julia Bradbury in a program that showcased the beautiful wooded valley. I have many fond memories of the River Lyn and walking its rocky banks brings mixed feelings. The Lyn was undoubtedly an amazing salmon and sea trout fishery that offered splendid fishing at a low cost. I fished the river extensively over a twenty year period and landed a good number of salmon and sea trout. When I first fished the river back in the eighties individual local anglers often caught in excess of fifty salmon in a season. I never approached those figures but often walked away from the river with a brace of salmon caught on worm or spinner. Back then following a spate the river would be lined by anglers who traveled from far and wide to enjoy the short window of opportunity that followed each spate . When the river flowed with a colour of a fine ale salmon would seize the anglers Mepps spinner with gusto fighting the rod and line in a flurry of spray in the confines of the boulder strewn water course. As the  water cleared the worm reigned supreme as anglers stalked individual salmon. Spotting the salmon is of course an art in itself with a keen eye required to locate the salmon in the turbulent flow. Experience built up over many seasons helped greatly for the salmon would frequent the same lies year on year enabling the anglers to target the right spots.

Pauline and I walked the river on August Bank Holiday following a day of heavy rain the water looked perfect as it tumbled towards the sea. Surely a Mepp’s flicked across the pools would bring a silver reward? But time has passed by and we saw no anglers searching the water. There was once a thriving community of anglers who fished this river who would meet up each season to share stories of past seasons and other waters. There was a darker side to fishing on the Lyn with snatching of fish endemic before the fishery bailiffs stamped their authority.

There are of course a few salmon still running the river and the occasional angler practicing catch and release. As we walked the river we came upon EA Fishery Officer Paul Carter who was hoping to glimpse a salmon as he walked the banks  ensuring that any anglers fishing had their rod licence. Paul also has a vast array of memories of North Devon’s rivers and many characters who have trodden the fishermans paths. Today Paul has the latest technology to help record any hostile reaction from poacher or unlicensed fisher. Sadly the precious salmon stocks have dwindled and it is so important the present stocks are protected. Ironically the anglers who chased those silver bars for many years are those that care most for the future of the iconic fish.

We did see two fishers on our walk, a trout fisher and a heron. Long may there be fishers on the Lyn for a river without fish or fishers is somehow rather empty.