A TIME TO BOTH REFLECT AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE

http://www.bluefincharters.co.uk

                        A New Year dawns and an old year passes a time that we all tend to both reflect and look to the future. Hopefully anglers will have managed to get to the water’s edge over the Christmas holiday and in the days that have followed. If all goes well I will be out boat fishing when this goes to print hoping for a cod in the murky waters off Minehead.

(Trip was cancelled due to strong winds and swell)

Chris Bond with a cod from the murky waters off Minehead.

The winter cod season has been producing some excellent cod with fish to over twenty pounds boated already this season along with ray, huss and good sized conger. Archie Porter is taking anglers out from Ilfracombe on Reel Deals Sister boat “Predator 2”. Spurdog, conger and huss dominate catches in this part of the Bristol Channel with cod surprisingly scarce in recent seasons. The reason for this is open to speculation as there was a seemingly healthy cod population off the North Devon coast during the 1970s, 80’s and 90’s.

The dynamics of angling have certainly changed over the past twenty years or so as society changes. Boxing Day used to be a busy day in North Devon’s angling clubs fixture programme yet this tradition seems to have lost its popularity. I remember well when Bideford Angling Club always held a Boxing day fixture and Ilfracombe & District Angling Club held a match on Ilfracombe Pier. This decline in participation does not reflect a decline in the numbers going fishing for some disciplines of angling are in the healthiest state for many years. The COVID pandemic has perhaps encouraged many more to discover angling or rediscover its pleasures and benefits.

The angling clubs of North Devon have to some extent not seen the full benefit of this resurgence in angling participation as societies habits change. The ever changing workplace with many working throughout the seven day week has impacted upon weekend fixtures. Solitary angling such as carp fishing and sea angling is thriving whilst the social aspects are to some extent ebbing.

Anglers Paradise

Commercial Fisheries such as Stafford Moor and Anglers Paradise offer superb fishing for a wide range of species. Match anglers fishing bespoke match venues can regularly put together nets of fish well in excess of 100lb. Such huge bags of fish would have been rare a couple of decades ago yet today it has become the expected normal.

Carp fishing has boomed in recent decades with North Devon waters reflecting the countrywide increase in carp weights. When I started writing this column over two decades ago a twenty pound carp would have been noteworthy. I now report on thirty pound plus carp most weeks with forty and fifty pound plus fish included. I have mixed feelings about this as I remember with nostalgia a time when carp were viewed as almost uncatchable mysterious creatures that drifted through lakes where they were seldom caught except by the dedicated specimen hunter. In today’s carp angling World the long stay angler dominates bivvied up beside lake’s traps set waiting to hook carp that have been given names. The mystery has to a large extent been lost, a reflection that perhaps mirrors the wider world where the knowledge we gain in life sometimes subtracts from its richness.

Whilst the artificially created angling world booms the wild salmon and sea trout that once surged into our rivers have declined at an alarming rate. If the salmon and sea trout numbers continue to decline at the same rate since I started fishing for them back in the early eighties they could be all but extinct within fifty years. This is a sad indictment of how mankind has squandered the wealth of the natural world. The reasons for the decline in wild fish populations is complex though overfishing, climate change and pollution are all contributory factors driven by an ever increasing population that demands evermore from natures dwindling store cupboard.

I took my fly rod the Wimbleball Reservoir a couple of days before Christmas and experienced exciting fishing for the rainbow trout that have been stocked in this extensive reservoir high on Exmoor. This reservoir completed in 1979 is a fine example of how mankind can create a rich and diverse almost natural environment. The trout within this lake are hard fighting and fin perfect. Standing waist deep in the clear cold water looking out over a vast sheet of water as the light constantly changes it felt refreshingly wild.

I look forward to reporting on North Devon’s angling news in 2022 and would like to wish readers tight lines for 2022. Special thanks to all the sponsors of North Devon Angling News.

TIME TO VISIT YOUR LOCAL TACKLE SHOP

The local tackle shop is an integral part of the angling scene and we are very fortunate in North Devon to have a network of excellent shops offering anglers a wide range of the latest tackle and bait. Recent years have been very difficult for the tackle trade with tackle shops like many other High Street outlets suffering from on-line competition.

Many shops have adapted to this and have successfully combined the at front shop outlet with an online presence combining the best of both worlds.

The tackle shop has always been an important meeting place for anglers where social intercourse leads to more fishing trips as a result of enthusiasm generated from fishy chats. There is nothing to beat face to face conversations even if it is behind a mask in these strange times.

Angling is fortunately booming in many areas as a result of COVID impacting upon many other activities. The joys and benefits of outdoor pursuits have been brought to the fore and it is to be hoped that this has a long lasting impact on angling participation.

I would like to thank the local tackle shops and the wider tackle trade who support North Devon Angling News via sponsoring the site. As Christmas looms ever closer perhaps the ideal gift for a loved one is a  gift voucher for your local tackle shop.

QUAY SPORTS is North Devon’s latest tackle outlet conveniently situated on the Roundswell Industrial estate near Sainsburys. The team offer up to date friendly advice on all aspects of angling with an extensive range of tackle and bait in stock.

SUMMERLANDS TACKLE North Devon’s long established family run tackle shop in Westward Ho! Always has an extensive stock of the latest tackle with a friendly greeting to all.

BRAUNTON BAIT BOX Craig Mc Cloughlin runs this tackle and bait outlet in Braunton and offers a flexible service for anglers unable to visit a shop during normal office hours. Focusing on sea angling Craig is a friendly and knowledgable  point of contact for advice on where to fish and what is being caught. He also  provides rod repairs and reel servicing.

HIGH STREET TACKLE Danny Watson and Pauline Chard run Ilfracombe’s tackle shop specialises in lure fishing stocking a very impressive selection of all the latest lures to tempt the bass that lurk along the North Devon Coast. They also stock quality live and frozen bait for the sea angler. They have an extensive selection of sea angling rods and accessories working closely with the Ilfracombe Charter Boat fleet.

 

Stafford Moor Late Autumn Thirty

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Dan Gunn banked four carp up to 30lb 2oz from swim 1 (three island) up on Lodge Lake. Dan has smashed his personal best three times in the last 4 times visiting the Moor so a huge well done to him !
Dan was using dynamite hit & run red wafters and Sticky Baits 20mm Manilla active wafters.

INVASIVE SPECIES _ADVICE

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

www.nonnativespecies.org

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.

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/fishing/related-articles/the-fisheries-and-angling-team/tackling-the-topmouth-gudgeon

The Mainline Baits carp open singles at Upper Tamar

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The Mainline Baits carp open singles at Upper Tamar has been won with a record breaking 19 fish for 240lbs by Matthew Pepperell. Fishing peg 20 he made no mistake to claim the £1000 top prize.
Richard Sanders was second with two fish for 43.01lbs and he won £500
Barry Lee completed the top three with two fish for 39.08lbs to win £250.
The other anglers to catch were:
4 – Ben Cooper on peg 35 with 2 fish for 35.08
5 – Andy Woon on peg 8 with 2 fish for 26.02
6 – Scott Bowden on peg 26 with 1 fish for 17.06
7 – Dan Gay on peg 34 with 1 fish for 14.08
8 – Mark Brett on peg 28 with 1 fish for 12.15
9 – Matthew Bridgen on peg 10 with 1 fish for 8.08
10 – Daz Walter on peg 32 with 1 fish for 5.04
Massive thank you to Mainline Baits for sponsoring the competition and throughout 2021.
Also a massive thank you to Gary, Bob, Jamie, Ian and Rich for marshalling the weekend. Awesome job as always.

Autumn Carp Sport at Stafford Moor

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Nick Banwell caught 9 carp up to 24lb 12oz from swim 14 (beach 1) up on Lodge Lake. Nick caught on Sticky baits manilla wafters.

(Below)Richard Roberts banked 10 fish from swim 2 (sunset) swim up on Lodge Lake and now has a new personal best of 31lb 4oz well done Rich ! All fish caught on Sticky baits Manilla boilies.

(Below) Phil Holt who had 17 fish out up to 30lb 2oz from the beach swim on Beatties lake. Phil was fishing with Vader baits Satan.

TEAM WORK AT ANGLER’S PARADISE

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

Fishing Match – Jordan Whitfield – £60

Quiz – Paul Tegg – £74

Fart fund, Yellow dress party & Ghost 👻 Hunt – Wendi Postma & Friends – £251.85

Charity Wine – Zyg & Rose/ Anglers Paradise – £380

Darts and Pool Competition – Johnathon Arnold & Nicky Lock – £90

Raffle – EVERYONE 💖 – £947

MAKING IT AN AMAZING TOTAL OF –

£2,763.35 🥳🥳🥳🥳🥳🥳

Just WOW!! We want to take this opportunity to THANK EACH & EVERYONE OF YOU & FOR EVERYONE’S GENEROSITY.

To have raised this amount in just a week is pretty awesome & we couldn’t have done it without all of your kindness!!

We will be donating the monies to various Charities & will announce the chosen ones soon, so watch this space!

  

Anglers Paradise