River Mole polluters not off the hook yet
River Mole polluters not off the hook yet
I was pleased to take my friend Rick fishing at Horwood Lakes taking advantage of the Angling Trust & Environment Agencies joint Take a Friend Fishing Campaign.
Rick had not cast a line since 1985 and had been inspired to return to the water’s edge after reading my book “ I Caught A Glimpse”. We started off taking a walk around the the venue with fishery manager Neilsen Jeffery who has transformed the lakes in over a decade of hard work. Trees and rushes have been planted around the lakes perimeter where we observed several large hawk moth caterpillars feasting upon the willow leaves. These were collected from the juvenile willows and moved to the more mature willows on the upper Lake.
Swallows and martins swooped over the water as the summer sun beat down upon the reed fringed waters.
We set up in adjacent swims and selected a float from a float box that contained a pleasing array of balsa floats that had not seen the light of day for close to forty years.
The depth was set so that a grain of sweetcorn rested lightly upon the lakes bottom. A handful of corn was sprinkled around the float. Moments later the float bobbed and disappeared, a tiny tench was swung ashore for a smiling angler reconnected immediately to the joys of angling.
After an hour catching tiddler’s we spotted a few larger carp slurping down offerings of floating crust. Repositioning the weights to sit beneath the float we cast out segments of crust.
The carp toyed with the offerings often rejecting our hook-bait whilst devouring the free offerings. Persistence paid off though and throughout the day we caught half a dozen carp each the biggest an immaculate common carp its flanks glowing bronze and gold in the late summer sunshine.
It was a perfect day’s fishing using simple tactics that should be savoured by all anglers from time to time.
As we left the fishery we paused for a moment to reflect upon the memorial to young lives lost when a Wellington Bomber crashed nearby during the Second World War.
Sometimes as I put these pages together and see what everyone is catching I wonder where I am going wrong. In the past few months, I have persisted lure fishing for bass despite blank after blank. I have fished ground that I have enjoyed success at in the past confident that it would eventually come right.
Calm conditions, interspersed with rougher water and masses of weed. I fished early, late and at different states of tide. Its seldom that everything is right after all. One morning I arrived at the water’s edge on the early morning flood. Third cast and wallop a heavy fish hit the lure hard. After a few strong runs the bass that I estimated to be between 8lb and 10lb was wallowing on a short line. All was going well until in a sickening moment the hook hold gave way and the lure flew back towards me. The big bass was gone with a flick of its tail to linger hauntingly in the minds eye. Strange how the loss of a big fish often remains etched in the mind far longer than a successful capture.
The loss of the bass spurred me onto more sessions and yet more blanks. On one occasion I arrived to find a huge swell surging into the shoreline. Despite this I persevered and found a slightly calmer area with no weed. I caught sight of a few mullet their flanks catching the evening sunlight. After two hours still no bass; a move to a second mark brought the same result.
A couple of days later I return to the same mark. A brisk North West wind is blowing into the shoreline but there is little swell just a fizzy wind driven sea. I wade out and flick out a dark coloured Mega bass spindle worm lure. Third cast and bang the rod tip slams round the line zipping out to sea the rod pulsing in the hands the reels singing in protest. After a short exhilarating encounter a bass of 67cm ( just over 6lb) is secured. In the next two and a half hours I beach another five bass estimated at between 3lb 8oz and 6lb. Three of the fish are close to 6lb. I pack away after darkness has descended my soft lures depleted by the aggressive bass.
Confidence is restored in the marks, the lures and my own judgement. It would be easy to just plan trips based on tide, weather and time of day. Problem is sometimes we can only go when it suits us. Choosing those perfect conditions would be ideal but getting tide times, weather, water clarity and time of day to fall into place is difficult. Then of course there is lure choice or bait choice plus location.
The following day I headed to Ilfracombe Pier for a short LRF session with my good friend Keith Armishaw of River Reads and Angling Heritage. After a later than planned start we fished the rising tide to tempt a few miniature pouting and pollock. Keith added a shanny to list and totally out-fished me using fragments of mackerel. I stuck to ISOME imitation ragworm and failed to connect with several good tugs.
Grey mullet were next on the agenda and we headed off to our chosen mark electing to fish the sheltered area out of the brisk North West breeze. A friend arrived on the opposite shoreline electing to fish into the teeth of the wind. Lesson learnt four mullet to 5lb 1oz on the windward shoreline – Nil, from the sheltered shoreline!
Remember the fish will be where the food is and not where you are most comfortable.
The East Lyn River is one of my favourite locations a beautiful river that holds an array of personal angling memories accumulated over forty years. I arranged to catch up with North Devon’s new Environment Agency Fishery Officer Callum Underhill so this venue seemed a logical location to meet up and exchange notes.
Callum is filling the shoes of Paul Carter who retired from the Environment Agency after more than three decades patrolling and safeguarding North Devons waters. It was immediately apparent that Callum brings a great deal of dedication and passion to the role that involves a vast patch of North Devon with the Rivers Taw, Torridge and Lyn at the heart of operations.
A keen coarse angler originating from Somerset he is keen to expand his angling forays to include both Fly Fishing and Sea Angling. Before moving to the South West Callum worked as a fishery officer in the Midlands.
We walked the Lyn exchanging many fishy tales and lamenting the decline in salmon and sea trout stocks across the region. In particular we discussed the fabulous East Lyn and its excellent wild brown trout fishing that is available at a very reasonable £5.00 per day. This season has also seen several salmon caught and released close to 10lb.
We discussed a vast range of issues relating to North Devon including law enforcement, pollution, Climate change, regulations, Rod Licences and bylaws. We also discussed coastal issues and the work of IFCA and the overlap in responsibilities. Callum has a vast knowledge of the issues and the politics behind them and will I am sure prove a vital asset to North Devon assisting both anglers and conservation interests.
Anglers are encouraged to report any concerns regarding illegal fishing activity, poaching or pollution to the Environment Agency
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.
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.
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.
A quick picture in the water
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?