Down West for the Annual blues trip

Penzance situated at the far West of the UK offers a gateway to the rich waters of the Atlantic and the small fleet of charter boats that depart from the port put anglers onto some of the best blue shark fishing available off the UK.

I arrived at Penzance on the eve of what has become an annual trip. The sun was shining on arrival with the bright blue agapanthus and palm trees swaying in a warm summer breeze. Timing a trip with the break of the school holidays was probably not the wisest of moves as the resort was teaming with visitors. I am not a lover of driving longish distances before and after fishing so I had booked a room at a sea front guest house.

First priority was to have a short session after the grey mullet that thrive in the local harbours. Newlyn with its busy fishing harbour always holds a certain appeal with the hustle and bustle of a working port. Float fished cod flesh soon brought plenty of bites that proved frustratingly difficult to connect with. Several good sized mullet were observed swimming close into the harbourside. Positioning my bait close in I was able to watch as they nudged the bait suspiciously. After a couple of hours of enjoyable and frustrating fishing the float sank for the umpteenth time and I felt that delightful connection. A small mullet of around 1lb 8oz was safely netted.

The shark fishing day started early at 4.55am on a sour note. A whats-App ping on the phone brings news that the trip organisers car had gone into limp mode and he would not be joining us.

At 6:45am I arrived at the harbourside ready for the 7.00 am departure. Bruce, Dan and John were all ready and eager for the day ahead. Kieran gave us all a cheery greeting. I asked how the previous days fishing had been and was told it had been a chilled day with seven shark to the boat. The result of a combination of recent weather conditions and big spring tides.

The boat set out bouncing over a calm sea. Pods of dolphins entertained us throughout the trip to the shark grounds leaping from the water often seemingly in synchronized formation. On this occasion my efforts to capture an image failed miserably.

We chatted of fish and fishing as the land slowly faded into obscurity. Far off the land gannets and other sea birds glided as they hunted the ocean.

Eventually the engine note changed as Kieran eased the boat to a halt somewhere far out in the deep blue yonder.  Bruce, Dan and I were keen to see the baits go out beneath the optimistically bobbing floats. A glance at John told  the story of that the age old curse of the sea. Pale and drained of life it was not to be a good day as mal de mer took its toll on John who had a miserable day.

The aroma of rubby-dubby probably didn’t help as the sacks were filled with a fishy cocktail of fish, bran and oils. Within minutes an oily slick appeared in the wake of the boat. The bright pop bottle floats suspending fresh whiting at varying depths.

Bruce Elston keeps the bait coming

We drew the customary straws and I was pleased to get number 1. John had declined an offer of first shark. Baited feathers were sent down the sea bed to catch a steady supply of fresh whiting for bait. After half an hour a shark took the distant bait and I tightened into the first shark of the day. A few minutes later a blue of around 60lb was at the side of the boat the circle hook neatly in the scissors.

Enjoying the battle

A pleasing blue to start the day

A day’s sharking is always exciting with a constant suspense awaiting the scream of  a reel or disappearance of a float. In the vast rolling ocean, the mystery of what lurks beneath the surface entrances. As the day unfolds there are short bursts of activity and on two occasions we have double hook ups that give a few anxious moments.

Dan Miles Redmore takes the strain

A quick picture in the water

Bruce sets the circle hook

75lb of blues power

In Penzance terms today was a slow day with eleven blues to around 75lb brought to the side of the boat. The days of bringing these fish on board has passed with all fish unhooked quickly at the side of the boat. These beautiful fish look awesome in the clear water and its great to see them swim strongly away after unhooking to disappear into the aqua blue water of the Atlantic.

We lingered for a while hoping for one more shark but as always eventually it’s time to call it a day. We motor back to Penzance glimpsing dolphins once again in the wake of the boat. Gannet’s dive into the water undoubtedly feasting upon mackerel. I always find the vast sky and rolling waters fascinating and so alive.

As we approach the harbour Bite Adventures bounces across the waves on its twin hull and a party of anglers give us a cheery wave.

Penzance is bustling with summer tourists as staycations boom. Were already plotting next year’s voyages to the deeps.

SUMMER NIGHTS

A gentle surf pushed into the beach as I strolled in the shallow water enjoying the coolness in the late afternoon heat. I searched the water for the fish I had been told would be there amongst the bathers. Amongst a slightly foamy coloured band of water, I found what I was looking for hundreds of mullet darting to and fro apparently feasting up on an algal feast.

I cast expectantly with a team of flies designed to attract the wily mullet. As the waves turned mullet could be seen in the small waves some of them a decent size. I suspected that many were golden greys though the size of some indicated that thick lips were amongst them.

A couple of times the line zipped tight but contact could not be made. As the tide started to flood the activity increased with swirling mullet all around. I cast repeatedly trying slow retrieves, quicker retrieves and static drifts. Frustration grew, the tide flooded and all of sudden they were gone.

The following night I stood upon a boulder strewn shoreline armed with a lure rod. A surface lure was cast out and worked back across the still water. The sun was descending as the day faded a golden glow of fiery light. A large swirl behind the lure gave hope. Hundreds of fish could be seen dimpling the surface. Mullet again! The fly rod was in the van but I was too lazy or too focussed on the bass to switch tactics. Another night I will return with a few bread flies and some floating crust to get them feeding. Some would say that’s cheating; but perhaps we sometimes make things too difficult for ourselves.

As the light faded expectation grew as the tide gently pushed in. An hour after dark I heard a swirl in the calm water. Next cast my soft plastic was seized, a welcome jolt of life through the line. A bass of a couple of pounds saved a blank.

The moon slowly rose above the hill, lights reflected in the mirror calm sea. The cool night air, the aroma of seaweed and fresh sea air. These summer nights are to be cherished for all too soon autumn and winter will descend bringing different challenges.

http://www.quaysports.com

‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

Hot and getting hotter; mid-July the forecast gives wall to wall sunshine with temperatures into the mid-twenties. It’s not a perfect day to be heading out trout fishing yet there are worse places to be than floating about on Wimbleball. Part of anglings enjoyment is after all working for a result when conditions are difficult.

I had arranged to meet with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce to try our luck in the height of summer. We were optimistic as we launched the boat despite the bright sunny conditions and headed for Rugg’s Bay for a drift or two. During these hot days of Summer, a boat is a distinct advantage enabling the option to search far and wide for the trout.

Plenty of water, sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses were essentials for today and Jeff had equipped himself with Snowbee’s finest.

A pleasing breeze was blowing down through the bay as we started our first drift. Jeff elected to start on a floater whilst I went down deep with a blue flash damsel on the point and a bright yellow and orange blob on a dropper. This proved to be a promising tactic as after half a dozen casts a fish was on! Then off! After I lost a couple more Jeff also went down deep  and had a couple of pulls. Eventually after a run of fish on and off I managed to get a hard fighting rainbow to the net.

As the middle of the day approached we decided to head off to the deep water near the dam where a few fish had been tempted the previous day using sinking lines and boobies. An angler there reported on some success with several follows and a couple of good rainbows.

We tried for an hour without success and decided to move into the wooded Upton Arm where we might tempt a wild brown in addition to the rainbows. After half an hour our spirits dropped as expectation started to ebb in the hot sun. We headed back to the deep water where a good rainbow followed my lure close to the boat before turning away.

It was now late afternoon and we decided to head right back up to Rugg’s and drift in the breeze ensuring we at least covered plenty of water. After ten minutes Jeff’s olive damsel was nailed by one of Wimbleball’s energetic rainbows. A blank was at least saved, reward for dogged persistence.

As we drifted the occasional fish was glimpsed following the flies. On one retrieve I was astounded to see a group of good sized rainbows chasing my team of flies before turning away at the last moment. Thinking we had found a shoal we dropped anchor and fished static for an hour giving a floating line and a team of imitative patterns a try. Whilst it was good to slow down and chill for a while I felt that the fish were not feeding and the best hope was a stripped lure or blob to stimulate an aggressive response.

We upped anchor and drifted until we ran out of water, calling it a day at close to 7.00pm after ten hours with just a fish each it had been a hard day’s fishing.

A Jamaican proverb: ‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

A phrase for the day and the reason I will be back again whatever the weather.

After a long hot day afloat perhaps a cool beer at the George Inn at Brompton Regis? https://thegeorgeinnexmoor.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR3a8bHVB5iHmbvTNTYunb_jCt1nG-rz9Nm-DLtWYL1cpV408SQdS8VD8pQ 

Images from the waters edge

posted in: At the Waters Edge, Sidebar | 0

There is far more to fishing than simply catching fish which is just as well. I don’t always want to carry a large camera to the waters edge especially when traveling light with the fly rod or lure rod. Below are few images captured on the Go Pro that often gives a totally different perspective. On a recent holiday to Cornwall I spent several hours casting a team of flies to huge shoals of golden grey mullet. At one point  hundreds of silver flanks could be seen as wave crashed onto the sands giving a window into a watery world. To blank in such surroundings is not too bad.

A short session on a shallow rock mark casting into Cornwalls crystal clear water brought some success with this colourful ballan wrasse.
 Back home I visited a local trout stream to enjoy a few hours flicking a dry fly into its clear tumbling waters. The quick splashy rises proved difficult to connect with and only a couple of small spotted beauties stayed on the hook long enough to bring to the hand and admire.
A few hours beside a summer stream is so good. To glimpse a pair kingfishers flit past in a flash of electric blue and to stand in the cool flowing waters a delight.

After the first flush of summer we now enter those calm days after the excitement of spring and early. As the days slowly shorten, the trees take on a slightly darker hue, the mewing of young buzzards drifts across the valley, the screeching of swifts are all signs of the passing year. As an angler it is an exciting time for there is so much to look forward to casting in many waters.

TWENTY FOUR HOURS IN PARADISE

I arrived at Anglers Eldorado’s Day Ticket Catfish lake where I was to join Bruce Elston, John Hughes and crew who had booked the lake for an exclusive three day fishing trip. I could only fish for twenty four hours due to other commitments but hoped I would at least witness the catching of one of these mysterious fish.

My catfish trips are few and far between as they are not abundant in Devon with just a handful of waters legally stocked. Anglers Paradise is undoubtedly the most prolific catfish venue in the county with several lakes holding the species. The Day ticket Lake hold cats to over fifty pounds with a good head of fish between thirty and forty pounds. Catfish are very powerful fish that test the tackle to the limit. They resemble a giant slug crossed with an eel and can grow in excess of 100lb in UK waters.

One of the joys of angling is undoubtedly the friendships that are forged whilst walking the waters edge. I have fished with Bruce on and off for close to forty years and knew John Hughes from my days chasing pike on the Somerset Levels in the early eighties. Angling paths so often converge with years in between yet these friendships seem timeless and are picked up as if no time has passed.

And so, we all six gathered for a walk around the lake chatting enthusiastically about the prospects from each swim and listening intently to Bruce’s intimate knowledge of the venue.

The lakes perimeter was decorated with an abundance of brightly coloured summer flowers with yellow flag iris in full bloom. We discussed the swims in detail and drew straws to see who would fish where.

We all set off with our heavy loads to set up for the vigil ahead. General tactics were to fish boilies over beds of pellets.

It took a couple of hours before all traps were set and the business of waiting began. Coffees and teas were brewed and snacks devoured. Conditions seemed ideal, warm with a light cloud. Birdsong reverberated around the lake mixed with the sound of angler’s chatter. The hours drifted pleasantly past in expectation rods poised, alarms set.

Early evening brought a welcome pizza delivery from Bruce’s wife. Rods were wound in and the meal enjoyed together on the bankside.

As the light levels began to fall so did the expectation as everyone hoped for a run. I was chatting to Pauline on the phone when my alarm screamed as line poured from the reel. I dropped the phone and grabbed the rod to enjoy a short battle with a common carp of around 9lb. Strange to be slightly disappointed when it’s not the target fish. On another day fishing the same tackle I would be delighted with the catch.

I re-positioned both rods before darkness and enjoyed the fading  of light from the day until all colour has drained. I placed my crocs beside my bed-chair, rain pattered on the brolly and I drifted off to sleep.

At around 1.00am I awoke. Glancing out I saw lights coming from Bruce’s swim and assumed he had enjoyed success. A walk along the bank with the camera confirmed success and I was thrilled to capture the image of Bruce cradling a 22lb 3oz catfish.

A couple of  hours later my alarm woke me from my sleep and I made only brief contact with either a carp or catfish.

An hour later I was again woken by the harsh call of the alarm and line streaming from the reel as the rod tip lurched hard left. Another carp was the culprit, a good looking common of around 12lb.

The summer dawn slowly broke and expectation remained high until I slowly dismantled camp leaving the baits in the water until the last minute as is my custom.

I ended up chatting at length with Bruce, John and Mitch before struggling up to the van with my barrowload of tackle.

Bruce sent me a full report the following day with the catfish playing hard to get on this occasion. The total score being cats of 19lb 3oz and 22lb 3oz to Bruce. An 11lb 7oz cat to John. A carp of 9lb to Tony, a carp of 13lb to Mitch and a 12lb carp for Bruce. Ben had a catfish that was foul-hooked so didn’t count a shame as it would have been his first.

Bruce 12lb carp

Bruce cat 19lb 3oz
John Hughes 11lb 7oz catfish

All are eager to return next year and do it all again. When perhaps the cats will be on the munch and weigh even heavier!

Anglers Paradise

Fishing Amidst Summers Splendour at Wimbleball

It was always likely to be a challenging days fishing with a hot sunny day forecast requiring the packing of sun cream and plenty of water. The drive to Wimbleball was a delight with Exmoor in full summer splendour. Bright yellow buttercups and the delicate white flowers of cow parsley lined the roadside and the trees were close to being in full leaf.

I met up with Matt Kingdon at Wimbleball’s  boat jetty at 9.00am, we were fishing in South Molton Angling Clubs annual visit to the fishery where members hoped to catch a fish that could win the Mac Trophy.

Matt had fished the venue a few days earlier and enjoyed good sport using sinking lines and brightly coloured blobs and boobies. With warm sunshine we hoped that the fish might start to feast upon the brown beetles that were present in good numbers.

During early season I am happy to fish Wimbleball from the bank where fish can generally be tempted using buzzer tactics or lures on long leaders. As summer progresses access to deeper water can be beneficial and the ability to search the vast acreage becomes a distinct advantage.

We headed to Cowmoor for our first drifts searching previously productive areas with bright blobs and boobies. The first half an hour brought no action despite covering plenty of water as we set up different drifts.

We moved to the far end of the bay and found a few fish rising prompting a change to floating lines. Half an hour casting beetle patterns at rising fish resulted in a handsome wild brown trout of around 1lb.

With fish hard to find and less fish rising we decided to head for the tree shrouded Upton Arm. We pushed up into the far end of the Upton Arm with its steep wooded banks giving an almost Amazon jungle atmosphere as a hot sun beat down and thousands of small roach massed in amongst the tree branches.

We worked our way out through the Upton Arm at times frustrated by the cyclonic wind that dropped away and veered frequently in direction. Matt was first to succeed hooking a rainbow of around 3lb that as always gave a spirited tussle.

We persevered in the Upton Arm and Matt had a few follows and added another rainbow to his tally. My flies remained untouched as I fished hard and expectantly, a rainbow did follow my flies to the surface actually leaving the water as I lifted and taking a nip at the point fly as it dived back into the depths.

Perhaps we should have stayed in the Upton Arm instead of moving on? But move we did, back to Cowmoor and then to search Rugg’s and Bessom’s for a while before returning to Cowmoor for the Final effort.

We found fellow club members Ed Rands and Steve Bendle anchored up and reporting that they had found a few fish including a stunning 6lb 8oz rainbow to Steve’s rod.

We commenced a search close by and once again Matt was in action with hard fighting rainbows and a beautiful wild brown trout.

Suddenly my line zipped delightfully tight as a 3lb rainbow hit my yellow blob to give a hard battle before succumbing.

We fished on for a while having several last drifts before eventually deciding we had had enough.

It had been a hard day’s fishing beneath a cloudless sky. Sunseekers and water-sports enthusiasts were present in large numbers but there is room for all on Wimbleballs vast acreage.

We observed how natures calendar seems to be running slightly late with may blossom still in full flower in mid-June as foxgloves bloom. Sometimes a hard day’s fishing such as this is just as enjoyable as an action filled day when the fish come easy. Is there a better place to be than bobbing about in a boat beneath a blue sky amidst Exmoor’s pristine summer landscape?

The Reel Deal Team

Dan Hawkins has been operating his charter boat Reel Deal out of Ilfracombe for several years and has built a deserved reputation for putting anglers on the fish especially porbeagle shark. Dan has expanded on the waters fished out of Ilfracombe making the most of the boats capability to explore waters far to the West of Ilfracombe even venturing out into the Celtic deeps to catch blue shark.

Good news for anglers is that the Reel Deal experience has been expanded with Archie Porter joining Dan to skipper sister boat “Predator 2”. Seventeen year old Archie Pike has been assisting as deck hand for close to five years during which time he has undoubtedly been tutored well. I first met Archie as a keen junior angler participating in one of  Combe Martin SAC’s popular fun fishing events. It was apparent then that he had a keen interest in sea angling and I am delighted that he has takin this opportunity to help ensure Ilfracombe’s long term future as a charter boat destination.

I was due to join Dan on Reel Deal for a day with my camera capturing a few images for features. As is often the case circumstances dictate a change of plan and the need to fit a new engine into Predator 2 meant that young Archie was to skipper Reel Deal and was lumbered with me for the day.

On arrival at a busy Ilfracombe harbour, I was greeted by Dan and Archie who were chatting with Ilfracombe Sea Safaris the hot topic of the day being an invasion of Twitters eager to reach Lundy and tick off a rare warbler that had been sighted. Ilfracombe harbour is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for Wildlife watching and diving, operating as the stepping stone to Lundy.

Archie was taking myself and a party of anglers from the Weston-Super-Mare  area. Chatting with them I found that they ranged from experienced boat anglers to relative newcomers to the sport. Jerry Day, Raymond Galivlins, Igor Fursous, Matt Burns, Alec Hughs and Alec Gelasvili immediately made me very welcome.

As luck would have it the weather forecast was a bit iffy offering strengthening winds later in the day and low cloud. We set out from Ilfracombe and I was impressed as Reel Deal bounced across a moderate sea powered by twin Suzuki 325 engines that can push Reel Deal at a top speed of 45 knots cruising comfortably at 30 knots.

The familiar coastline West of Ilfracombe passed by quickly the cliff tops shrouded in mist. The first mark was a rocky reef close to Baggy Point where pollock and bass were on the wanted list. After several  unproductive drifts it was clear that the fish were either absent or not feeding.

I could sense that Archie was frustrated by this lack of action and overheard his enquiries as to conditions further afield. We were soon heading towards Lundy Island where we could drop anchor and target the tope that had been showing in good numbers.

https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2021/06/07/tope-feeding-frenzy/

We spent an hour drifting with lures with a few wrasse and small pollock getting the fish count underway. The steep granite cliffs shrouded in mist created an exciting Jurassic park feeling to the vista. Guillemots  were abundant along with a few puffins.

As the tide eased towards low water it was time to embark upon the days main event and target the tope. We anchored at the favoured mark with a mixture of sand and broken ground. Large frozen mackerel baits were favoured by most and were sent to the sea bed. The rods set up in holders in anticipation of rod bending tope.

After a few minutes rod tips started to nod as a succession of bull huss and dogfish found the baits. A whiting tempted on baited feathers was attacked on the retrieve by what was undoubtedly the target species. The encounter being all too brief with the whiting showing deep lacerations on its flanks where the topes teeth had cut into the flesh.

As the tide eased towards low water bull huss came frequently each one boasting an impressive pattern of leopard like spots.

By now there were only five anglers participating in the day as one had been struck down by a particularly bad bout of sea sickness.

As the tide began to flood the fish once again went off the feed and we headed closer to the misty cliffs once again for the last session of the day. With a few small pollock added to the tally it was time to steam back to Ilfracombe.

It had been a hard day’s fishing as is sometimes the case. Despite this spirits were surprisingly high as future trips were planned with those on board eager to replicate their previous success on Reel Deal a few weeks prior to this trip when they had found the pollock in a cooperative mood smashing into their lures to result in a bulging fish box to take home for the freezer.

Lets hope my next venture out with the camera coincides with good light and plenty of fish.

TOPE FEEDING FRENZY FOR SOUTH MOLTON ANGLERS

With a calm day forecast it was great to arrive at Ilfracombe harbour and climb aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin with members of South Molton Angling Club. With bottom fishing a little slow close to Ilfracombe John had suggested a trip to try the prolific fishing grounds close to Lundy Island. A trip out to fish in the vicinity of this rugged granite outcrop twenty five plus miles from Ilfracombe is a sortie I always relish as the scenery is spectacular and adds a welcome dimension to the fishing.

With reports of a few early tope showing first stop would be to anchor up and fish over low water with big baits. It was misty as we sailed out of Ilfracombe and headed West towards Lundy. As we looked back the morning sun started to burn through the morning mist and illuminate the Bristol Channel. A porpoise rolled in front of the boat. We all chatted enthusiastically about fish, the lack of fish and life in general as John delivered hot coffees and teas.

By the time we arrived at the banks and dropped anchor the sunshine had broken through and we were sat upon a mirror calm sea of blue. A variety of large fish baits were sent into the deep clear water impaled upon large strong hooks attached to wire traces or strimmer cord!

Within minutes Matt Brady was in action as a hard fighting tope seized his bait putting a healthy bend in his rod. Over the next hour or so over the low water slack a succession of tope hit our baits in a feeding frenzy giving exciting tussles and a few frustrating tangles. In total 16 tope were boated along with a few bull huss to 11lb a couple of smoothound and one or two inevitable doggies.

By the sound of the voices echoing across the water anglers were enjoying similar sport a short distance away in another Charter boat.

As the tide started to pick up general consensus was that we should try  drifting for other species using lures and baited feathers.

Drifting the West side of Lundy gave an opportunity to view the spectacular granite cliffs that were in parts decorated with patches of pink thrift. Cormorants stood drying their wings and seals basked in the warm sun. We even caught sight of a few puffins with their bright clown like beaks.

The fish finder showed plenty of fish close to the bottom yet action was slow as we drifted over the numerous peaks and pinnacles that lie to the West of Lundy. Sidewinders brought a few hard fighting pollock up around 4lb and baited feathers attracted more pollock a solitary small coalfish and some brightly coloured cuckoo wrasse.

John worked hard searching the reefs but it was obvious that the fish were not feeding well. This could have been due to the small tide we were fishing, light values or even lure choice. The complexities of angling are many and as I often say this all part of this intriguing game.

It was an enjoyable cruise back to Ilfracombe on a calm sea. The beautiful North Devon coast looked splendid with its steep green cliffs punctuated with vast sandy beaches that were undoubtedly packed with families, surfers and sun-worshippers.

The sizeable pollock were filleted a tasty and healthy reward for the day afloat.

We soon glided into Ilfracombe harbour dominated by the conversation stimulating statue Verity. Tourists were abundant and it was good to sense a feeling of normality returning to the seaside town.

Moments

A gentle South Westerly breeze and broken cloud are perfect conditions for fishing. With Low water at 7.00am I headed for the coast armed with the trusty lure rod. The sea was calm with a moderate swell caressing the shoreline. Water clarity was good with minimal amounts of weed present in the shallow rocky water. I felt confident from the first cast expecting a take at any moment. I watched the lure intently upon each retrieve hoping to see that shadow intercepting my pulsing soft plastic. The tide pushed in and my favourite taking places passed over. A slight knock at the lure gave encouragement to persist.

The sea air, calm conditions and a pleasing backdrop made the whole experience enjoyable as I followed the edge of the incoming tide. I changed to a bright green Mega bass lure and second cast there came that pleasing jolt as a bass hit the lure hard. A brief tussle in water less than a foot deep followed and a silver flanked bass was briefly admired before being carefully released. That moment of success is etched upon the mind and encourages future casts.

Later in the day I get an offer to fish a mid Torridge beat. With the river still at a good height and colour how can I resist this kind offer? I fish the beat with care covering each known lie in expectation. A wild brown trout of just over a pound seizes my fly and gives a brief tussle.

I walk to the top of the beat and wade out into the river working a line out across the river and searching one of my favourite runs.

Shafts of evening sunlight penetrate the tree canopy illuminating a world populated by thousands of flies dancing and darting above the water including a few mayflies. I glimpse a movement on the far and bank watch mesmerised as a stoat scurries quickly along the top of the bank totally unaware of me watching from my position waist deep in the cool river. I pause briefly until the stoat disappears and then resume with a swish of the rod watching the line unfurl, the fly alighting inches from the far bank. A kingfisher flashes past iridescent blue.

The line draws tight and there is life pulsating at its end. I keep it tight as a fish surges up river before erupting from the water. It’s a sea trout of perhaps a pound and a half. I draw it towards me and it flips free, I reckon it still counts as a catch and release prize!

Such moments accumulate in an anglers life painting a picture that is etched upon the mind.  These memories draw you back to the waters edge time and time again and perhaps they even give a place to retreat to when things in life are not how we would wish.

Rare Twaite Shad caught on the Mole

Richard Nickell co owner of Blakewell Fishery kindly sent North Devon Angling News a picture of a twaite shad caught whilst fishing for salmon on the River Mole a tributary of the River Taw. The twaite shad is a migratory fish that resembles a herring and run freshwater rivers to breed during late spring. The fish have declined greatly over recent decades with ever decreasing reports of captures in the West Country. The River Wye and Severn still have good runs each year that run into top of the the Bristol Channel.

(Below) Twaite shad caught from the River Wye

James Thomas with a shad from the Wye

It is to be hoped that Richards catch is evidence that a population are still hanging on in the River Taw.

Another migratory fish that enters North Devons river is the sea lamprey an eel like fish that can grow to almost a metre in length. The fish excavate pits amongst stones where they spawn the adults dying shortly afterwards.