A Riverfly Monitoring volunteer alerted me to what he thought could have been a Killer Shrimp whilst carrying a survey on the River Torridge. I passed the details to our local E.A Fisheries officer who alerted the relevant bodies. Fortunately on this occasion it was a false alarm but the relevant bodies are always grateful of reports in their fight against invasive species that can devastate the local eco-system. The EA can be contacted via their Hotline – 0800 807060
KIller Shrimp Species Description
Scientific name: Dikerogammarus villosus AKA: Killer Shrimp
Native to: South-east Europe
Habitat: Still or flowing freshwater and brackish water, often among hard surfaces or vegetation.
A highly invasive shrimp, with only a few known populations in GB. A key ID feature is the presence of cone shaped protru- sions on the tail. Often larger than native freshwater shrimp species and sometimes with a striped appearance.
It is a voracious predator, killing invertebrates and small fish. It quickly dominates habitats it invades and can significantly alter their ecology.
It is tolerant of poor water quality and can survive in damp conditions for up to five days. It could therefore be spread in ballast water and also by people on kit used in the water, including an- gling gear, boats, kayaks and trailers. Good biosecurity is essential to reduce the risk of spread.
As a non-resident species it could be an offence to release or allow the escape of this species into the wild.
Suspected records of this species should be sent with a photograph to: [email protected]
Another species of concern is the top mouth gudgeon see information and links below.
I was fortunate to grow up in North Devon and as a teenager in the mid to late 1970’s I realise looking back how lucky we were. I wrote a short piece a few weeks ago reflecting upon the wild brown trout that were abundant in the local rivers including the River Umber that runs through Combe Martin.
As youngsters we also enjoyed the freedom to explore and fish the local coastline. In those days access to the coast was far more readily available and even were land was private a courteous request would generally secure access. In many cases free access was taken for granted as normality as it had been for many generations.
Over the years I have seen these freedoms slowly eroded partly due to the ignorant actions of the few and partly due to the ever increasing population of this crowded isle.
We took a stroll along the Old Coast Road near Combe Martin a familiar path and part of the Coastal Path. This old road provides access to several fishing marks that have been a pleasure to fish over the past fifty years. Many memories came flooding back as we walked beneath those old trees where as a young angler we paused to catch our breath after trudging up the steep steps from the rocky foreshore.
Sadly, the signs of restriction have appeared forbidding vehicular access. Physical barriers to prevent access and numerous signs stating the area is now out of bounds for vehicles. I understand that this was in part caused by an influx of people following the first COVID lockdown combined with articles in the National papers extolling the beauty of this stretch of coast.
The loss of freedoms once enjoyed have been brought about by many factors including a combination of an increased population, Lack of respect for land and an intolerance of landowners.
Access to vast areas of the coast have been lost or restricted over the years. As anglers we need to do our bit by ensuring we leave no litter and respect landowners only crossing land after gaining permission or perhaps paying the relevant toll.
This sense of loss can also be felt inland with many old lakes and ponds lost to angling. Whilst we are fortunate to have a vast number of commercial fisheries those smaller club waters have dwindled.
I revisited a local pond once rented by Barnstaple & District Angling Association. The deep dark waters were surrounded by trees their leaves resplendent in rich autumn colours. Fallen limbs disappeared into the depths and the brooding atmosphere held a certain fascination as I recalled those days of forty odd years ago when I had fished in the weekly matches held by B&DAA.
The glimpse of a kingfisher brought a flash of colour to the day. A couple of pheasants rustled through the brambles.
I read on a sign of the plans to turn the area into a holiday complex. Supposedly eco- friendly and in tune with nature. I cannot help but think that the place would be far better left alone with perhaps the occasional angler contemplating the disappearance of a crimson topped float. These neglected corners of the countryside are precious and should not be sacrificed without serious consideration.
As Autumn fades and the chill of winter approaches sea anglers are looking forward to potentially productive nights on the North Devon coast. The key to enjoying winter fishing is keeping warm and dry and the correct clothing is essential in meeting this requirement.
Braunton based Reeds Chillcheater’s manufacture an impressive range of clothing for dealing with extreme weather conditions. I visited their premises for a chat with assistant manager Nigel Beattie.
The recent uptake in outdoor pursuits post COVID lockdowns has resulted in a busy time for Chillcheater’s with sales of the companies Storm Jackets and Storm trousers surging. Worn in conjunction with the companies transpire fleece inners they will keep the angler warm and dry in the harshest of conditions. Other items in the transpire fleece range include socks, long trousers, short trousers, long sleeve tops, zipped or unzipped tops, beanies and balaclavas.
Nigel assured me that after sales is an important factor and in the unlikely event that any clothing fails to meet expectations or is damaged then repairs can be undertaken to rectify the issue.
The company continues to develop new products for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts for the UK market and far beyond. With Christmas looming orders will need to be placed in good time to ensure delivery before Christmas. My own Storm Jacket is still in use and repelling water effectively after at least four seasons of use.
Followers of North Devon Angling News can obtain a 10% Discount just enter the code – BC10 when ordering on line.
Anglers Paradise near Halwill Junction is a well known complex of fishing lakes and holiday lodges founded in 1981 by the ever colourful character Zyg Gregorek. Boasting over thirty lakes there are a wide range of options for anglers with tiddlers to specimens of many species. The core value of the venue is family oriented with many families returning year after year to enjoy the friendly atmosphere and excellent fishing.
A fishery like Anglers Paradise requires careful management of stocks and maintenance to each lake. A popular event in the Paradise calendar is the annual netting event that takes place in early November. Each year regular guests, members of the 5 C’s
(Crazy Crafty Cunning Carp Catchers) and staff embark upon the netting of a nominated lake.
I was pleased to attend this years netting and record the event for North Devon Angling News. Each year a different lake is netted the fish removed and kept in stock ponds whilst the lake is de-silted. The fish are sorted and distributed across the venue ensuring that the diverse nature of the fishery is maintained.
This year’s nominated lake was Octopussy last netted over ten years ago. The stock consisted of specimen carp, catfish and numerous silver fish.
I arrived shortly after 9.00am and followed Zenia and her son Zee Jay to find a busy team already at work lakeside hauling nets and floundering about in glorious oodles of thick cold slimy mud. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon as heavy squalls passed frequently to be punctuated by sunny spells that created spectacular rainbows. The leaves glowed in full autumn glory as laughter and banter filled the air.
I was immediately impressed at the smoothness of the operation. The net was drawn in by those on the ropes. The catchers catching the fish and placing them in soft sacks and slings. These were then elevated to the top of the bank by a human conveyor belt and then placed in tanks of water. When the tanks were full of precious cargo they were taken to a series of stock ponds ready for sorting and restocking over the coming weeks.
As I walked from Octopussy to the stock ponds I was thrilled to catch sight of a kingfisher, its vivid electric blue colours a magnificent sight in the autumn sunshine. The complex is undoubtedly an oasis for wildlife within the rolling Devon hills.
It was fascinating to witness the range of fish present in this moderately sized lake. Specimen carp to over twenty pounds, catfish nudging forty pounds and plenty of doubles. There were also huge numbers of golden flanked rudd, the occasional golden tench, tiny fry a few good sized eels and several grass carp.
Zenia chatted enthusiastically about Anglers Paradise, her work with the Angling Trust and her role with tackle giants Shakespeare promoting fishing for families and children. The COVID pandemic has had a positive impact on many aspects of angling with many people discovering the pastime and others rediscovering its joys. The contact with nature and the outdoors is acknowledged as having huge benefits for mental health.
The role of social media was also discussed with both positive and negative aspects considered. An integral part of the modern world it can at times distract from the core aspects of fishing feeding egos with some fishing for likes instead of fish!
Ashley Bunning has been a part of the venue’s fishery team for several years and his passion about the fishing and the future of Anglers Paradise was apparent as we chatted. Ashley is like myself a keen all rounder casting his lines in both fresh and salt-waters across the UK.
As the mornings work drew to a close I asked Ashley if he could gather the forty plus team together for a team photo. Fortunately, the sun broke through as the muddy masses posed together as one big happy team celebrating a job well done.
Minutes later the rain belted down in epic proportions as I walked back to my van to climb out of my waders and waterproofs. I called into the Safari Bar for a chat with Zyg who greeted me warmly before proceeding with recollections of his years at Anglers Paradise and beyond. The walls of the bar are a fascinating testament to a lifetime of fishing and adventure enjoyed by a larger than life character. Photos of famous anglers, celebrity’s, a fine collection of taxidermy and casts of the many fish caught by Zyg along with other treasures collected on his travels around the globe. Anglers Paradise shows what can be achieved with determination, hard work and perhaps a touch of mischief along the way.
The 2021 Netting week raised an impressive £2,763.35 for local charities. The week culminating with a firework display on bonfire night. Chatting with the guests I know that many will be back next year to once again frolic in the mud and wrestle with the fish.
Zenia’s summary of the week below
NETTING WEEK FUNDRAISING SUCCESS 🥳🎉🥳
Well, what can we say – what a fantastic week it has been!!
We are truly blown away with everyone’s generosity and are overwhelmed with how much we raised in a week!! Here is a rundown of what ‘we all’ raised…
Burgers and hotdogs (kindly donated by Warrens’s Butchers in Launceston) – £138
Bingo – Mick & Dawn Whitfield – £405
Nail painting – Cristal – £45
Curry Night – Zyg & Rose/Anglers Paradise – £199
Badges – Di Mepham – £74
Race Night – Paul Beamont, Tackleshop Goblin aka Richard Flynn – £100
I joined eight members of South Molton and District Angling Club at Bulldog Fishery where a good days sport was enjoyed. It was a surprisingly mild and sunny day for early November and several good sized trout could be seen cruising in the clear water.
Bulldog is a small water and eight members is close to the maximum comfortable number for the water. But with all members being friends and it being very much a social event the fact that lines came close at times didn’t matter.
The hotspot seemed to be close to the lake inlet where several fish were showing including a large fish well into double figures. Small imitative patterns seemed to be the way to go with several fish tempted on montana nymphs. My first fish of the day succumbed to this pattern with a further three falling to small gold head PT nymphs.
I believe at least half the members ended the day with four fish limit bags with most fish weighing between 3lb and 5lb.
Bulldog is an intimate water that is stocked with rainbows averaging over 3lb and browns into double figures. It is a perfect winter venue that offers good sport and a good chance of a double figure fish.
Eleven years ago on November 6th I was with Kevin Legge when he landed his then British Record tope of 66lb 8oz a fish that broke his own record tope coincidentally landed on November 6th, 2006. Interestingly in November 1979 Combe Martin SAC member Barry Hill landed a British Record coalfish scaling 18lb. These historic captures were in our minds as Kevin and I set out for a shore fishing session on the anniversary of the capture of that record tope.
Confidence is a vital ingredient in all forms of fishing and whilst the fishing has been difficult recently with catches poor it only takes one fish to lift the spirits and restore the faith.
We arrived at our chosen mark in daylight and were all set up with baits in the water well before high water. It was good to be at the shoreline watching the rods and taking in the ever flowing waters of The Bristol Channel. Bites came from the off with the rod tips rattling as we targeted rockling or pouting to use as bait for larger predators. A succession of rockling and small tackle twisting conger were swung onto the rocks. An hour before high water as darkness descended we both cast out fresh rockling baits and set the rods on a shared tripod.
We continued to catch small conger and rockling leaving the rockling baits anchored out in the tide.High tide came and went and the tide ebbed away. On the welsh coast fireworks lit up the sky at Port Talbot and Swansea. Two hours after high water Kev’s rockling rod nodded slightly raising hope. We intended to fish until 8:30pm and packed away one rod each at 8:00pm concentrating on the rockling baits that had been out for close to two and a half hours.
At 8:15pm there came a rasping call from my reel as the rod tip pulled over positively. We both thought tope and I picked up the rod with a degree of trepidation. For a moment the run stopped and at that same moment my headlight decided to falter! Kev passed a spare and I held the rod until another strong pull came. I engaged the reel, wound down and lifted the rod. I felt life on the end of the line then for a moment all was solid as I leant back hard expecting a strong run. There came a sickening moment as something gave way then once again I felt a decent weight as whatever I had hooked swam free from a potential snag. Kev scrambled down the rock with net in hand as a silver flank appeared in the searching beam of the headlights. As the fish came closer its head looked huge as it gills flared.
Safely in the net we admired a fine bass that pulled the scales to 7lb 5oz. After weighing and a quick photo I slipped the bass back and watched it swim strongly away. Not quite a specimen but a reasonable fish and a pleasing catch to restore the faith and renew the drive to get out again.
Kev wound in his rockling to find that a small conger had been hooked.
Quay Sports fishing Tackle & bait Store have recently purchased North Devon Tackle.
An agreement was reached last week and the North Devon Tackle store will be closed as from Monday,November 1st.
All of the popular products and brands that were previously stocked in North Devon Tackle will be available very soon in the Quay Sports store.
A Quay Sports team member said, “We aim to offer the same great service and choice of products that North Devon Tackle have over the past 6 years and would like to wish Jamie all the best for the future.”
The move comes at a time when the High Street continues to contract with larger stores on the edge of town offering free parking and a wider range of products in larger premises. As angling’s popularity continues to grow it is great that a shop front style shop is available for Barnstaple’s anglers.
North Devon Angling News wish Jamie all the best for the future. The advice he gave freely to local anglers was very much appreciated.
Late October and I am excited to be heading across Exmoor on a mild murky morning to target the hard fighting trout of Wimbleball. I am meeting with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce.
The news reports from the lake indicate that catches have been good in recent weeks with the lower Autumn temperatures encouraging the trout to go on the feed. Jeff had fished a match the previous day when some competitors had registered catches into the lower teens.
We were greeted at the boat pontoon by the ever helpful and enthusiastic Trevor who chatted about the day to day complexities of running the fishery and where we might find a few trout.
As we chugged out onto the lake it was soon apparent that the wind was going to be a bit challenging. A force 4 to 6 South Westerly was whipping up white horses on the water. We set up a drogue to slow the drift but even with this in place progress was brisk.
We commenced drifting the narrows casting our offerings close to the shoreline. Jeff was into a hard fighting rainbow first drift. Whilst I managed a couple of tugs. A repeat drift brought a second rainbow for Jeff and yet more pulls and tugs for myself.
On the third drift a savage pull resulted in connection to a pristine rainbow to my rod estimated at well over four pounds.
At this stage it looked like we were heading for a bumper day. But as the wind increased we decided to try our luck elsewhere on the lake. The wind was blasting into the shallows of Bessom’s and Rugg’s where we tried a couple of drifts before deciding to head up to the Upton Arm where we could enjoy more sheltered waters.
The wooded slopes of the Upton Arm were showing the distinctly Autumnal shades of golden browns. We drifted close to the shore where we tempted several beautiful wild browns each admired in the net before being released.
After a couple of hours without a rainbow we decided to head back into the wind. A drift across Cow Moor resulted in me hooking two good sized rainbows that came adrift after a lengthy and enjoyable scrap.
With the day ebbing away fast we headed back to the Narrows. A good sized rainbow teased as it followed the lure to the side of the boat before turning away at the last moment. This was repeated by a blue trout as we contemplated our last casts of the day.
Once again we had enjoyed a fantastic day with plenty of chances not converted into fish in the net. The strong wind had made everything hard work with difficult drifts, tangled lines and hard to find trout.
The joy of fishing these large waters is that they feel like truly wild lakes. The fish fight hard with their full tails and jewelled flanks. I hope to squeeze at least a couple more trips before the seasons end savouring the challenge of Wimbleball.
The Angling Trust have been working hard to influence MPs to vote against the dumping of sewage into our rivers.
A personal view :-
The inadequate sewerage systems are a legacy of years of underfunding by water companies with much of the infrastructure outdated and unable to cope with the extent of development across the country. This is a complex issue and it is easy to blame the politicians and water companies in truth we all need to accept that it is us who produce the product and it is all of us who must foot the bill. The privatisation of the water companies in the 1980’s allowed the government to dodge the issues along with the successive governments that have followed. The need for housing in an ever growing world has exceeded the capacity of a sewerage system built for a much smaller population. The challenges of climate change and severe weather events add additional urgency to the situation. Anglers at the waters edge are well aware of the state of the nations rivers and have long campaigned against pollution with some success. It is essential that the wider public appreciate what is happening to the Rivers of North Devon and beyond.
Briefing from Jamie Cook of the Angling Trust
A big thank you to all those who took the time and trouble to write to their MPs on the issue of sewage discharges into our rivers and to everyone who supports the work of Angling Trust, Fish Legal and our Anglers Against Pollution Campaign.
As you may have heard, the Lords amendment to beef up the Environment Bill and force more action to tackle storm overflows was defeated in the House of Commons on Wednesday (20th October). But that’s not the end of the story.
Thanks to the many anglers and supporters who wrote to their MP, 22 Tory MPs defied their party whip and joined the Opposition in support of our campaign by voting for the Lords amendment. This will be key to us keeping the pressure on the government to act, especially if we can increase this number next time around.
You can see which MPs voted “No” to the government’s attempt to block the change here.
The Environment Bill now goes back to the House of Lords for further debate tomorrow (26th October). Discussion is taking place between campaign groups, including the Angling Trust, and members of the House of Lords around another attempt to secure action.
And Anglers Against Pollution continues to fight on other fronts. We are calling on the government to take bold action in giving new guidance to the regulator, OFWAT, to allow more investment in cleaning up our sewage systems and make water companies do more to tackle pollution. We set out the case in our recently published joint report, Time to Fix The Broken Water Sector which is gaining a lot of support and attention.
You can rest assured that we are not giving up the fight for cleaner rivers and will continue to press for meaningful action to tackle the scandal of sewage pollution. Thanks again for all you did and we will keep you informed every step of the way.
All the best, Jamie Cook, CEO – Angling Trust and Fish Legal
Download a copy of our Time to Fix the Broken Water Sector report HERE
To find out more about our Anglers Against Pollution Campaign click HERE
The coast was shrouded in early morning mist as dawn broke, sunlight breaking through low cloud to glisten upon the calm waters of Lyme Bay off Beer in South Devon. We were fishing aboard Orca Charters skippered by Stuart Pike. A trip that had been rearranged on several occasions over the past two years due to weather conditions and COVID isolation concerns. I was joined by two previous work colleagues fishing pal Mike Spiller and my son James.
It was mid-October yet there still seemed to be the lingering essence of summer. Mackerel had only recently arrived in any number and it was indeed pleasing to catch a few strings of the fish I had always associated with summer. The weather forecast told of a change over the coming days as low pressure systems were due to sweep in from the South West. This would undoubtedly stir up sediment and reduce the water clarity signalling the transition into the true autumn season.
It is always exciting and refreshing to visit and fish a new venue. It is also extremely rewarding to meet up with a new skipper and glean valuable knowledge that can be deployed both at the venue being fished and further afield.
This was not a serious outing in many ways more of an excuse for friends to meet up and enjoy a day afloat fishing for a variety of species. Derek Walters and Simon Trapnel are not seasoned boat anglers but were very keen to learn and enjoy. Mike Spiller is a long time sea angler and has like myself been dangling a line for many decades. My son James enjoys a day’s fishing and has travelled extensively with myself and my friends in search of fish. He is not a dedicated angler but relishes the experience along with the environment and wildlife that it allows him to observe and enjoy.
This was to be very much a team effort without any competitive edge. Well only a little! Black bream were the main target using light tackle with the chance of ray and conger on a heavier outfit.
Orca is a traditional fishing boat and is ideally suited to fish five or six anglers with comfort. The skipper operates fishing trips in the Lyme bay reserve an area that has benefitted from a mission to forge valuable links between fishermen, conservationists, regulators and scientists in order to maintain a sustainable marine environment.
Stuart had greeted us warmly the moment we had climbed aboard and chatted enthusiastically throughout our day afloat. Imparting a wealth of knowledge learned throughout many years at sea.
I had made up numerous two hook rigs for the intended bream that Stuart frowned upon offering up one of his own bling free rigs. I passed this rig to Derek who proved its effectiveness by out-fishing the rest of us throughout the day.
Derek, Simon, James and myself all targeted the bream whilst Mike decided to focus upon larger fish using larger baits for most of the trip. I also set up a heavier outfit with joey mackerel or large fillets. The intention was to take it in turns to land fish on this outfit giving everyone the chance of a larger specimen.
As the sun burnt off the morning cloud and mist we soaked up the ambience of the seascape. Gulls cried out, fishing boats floated at anchor, gannets dived into the clear water and porpoises rolled close by.
We lowered our bream baits to the sea bed. Stuart advised us to ignore the initial rattles on the rod tip and wait until the tip was dragged down into the water. We used size 4 Sakuma Chino hooks with slivers of mackerel. Stuart explained that frozen mackerel would out-fish fresh with the bream whilst fresh mackerel would be more likely to attract jumbo sized channel mackerel. This was to prove uncannily true throughout the day.
Shortly after lowering down the big rod its tip nodded vigorously. I took first turn and picked up the rod waiting until the tip plunged hard over before setting the hook by winding steadily until the rod was compressed. This was certainly no dogfish!
Steady pressure soon turned the battle my way and line was steadily retrieved as I pumped the fish away from the seabed. A pleasing blonde ray of 13lb 8oz was soon held aloft for a quick photo before being released. I took delight in watching the fish swim serenely back into the clear waters from whence it had come.
As the tide picked up the bream began to feed in earnest with a succession of these delightful fish coming to the boat. Their silvery iridescent sides illuminated in the sunshine. Bream after bream came to the boat each giving a spirited account on the light tackle employed.
In addition to the bream came a few good sized mackerel and a couple of vividly coloured red gurnard.
The bigger rod once again nodded and James took his turn to subdue another fine blonde ray of 11lb plus. Derek followed up with a small thornback ray. The bigger rod brought a succession of conger up to double figures and the occasional dogfish.
As the day drifted along beneath the warm autumn sun fishing slowed as the tidal flow eased . Stuart discussed options mulling over whether to make a move or stay and hope an elusive undulate ray would show as the boat swung with the changing tide.
We decided on a move higher up onto the reef. As soon as our baits touched down the rod tips signalled that the bream were present with a succession of good fish coming aboard some close to 2lb most around 1lb 8oz. A change to strips of squid brought a period of frantic sport with even my rigs bringing frequent double shots of bream to the boat.
All too soon Stuart indicated that our day afloat was coming to an end. The bream bites were by then easing as pouting started to rip into the baits.
Throughout the day Stuart had worked hard unhooking fish and untangling the occasional entwining of lines. His knowledge of the fish and their environment was outstanding and his pleasure in giving his customers a good day plain to see. Stuart is a qualified Angling Trust coach and delights in introducing new anglers to the joys of boat fishing. He is also a keen angler himself enjoying shore fishing in addition to boat fishing.
As we prepared to leave the fishing grounds a huge dolphin rolled close by a sight that thrilled all on board. We sailed back to Beer’s pebbly shoreline where the boat was driven pleasingly into the shore with a jolt before being hoisted up the pebbles over weathered planks of timber. A well-practiced routine plied by many generations of Beer fisherman.
On shore day-trippers savoured the last days of sunshine and warmth. Ice-creams and coffee, children launching pebbles into the clear waters with pleasing plops. Those simple pleasures that have been enjoyed by many generations.
It had been a perfect day enjoyed with friends, memories made and vows made to set out on another adventure next year all being well.