After what seems like a long journey my book ” I Caught A Glimpse” has finally been published and I am delighted with the end result. The launch day at Blakewell Fishery proved to be an enjoyable event with a good number of local anglers attending to meet with publisher Wayne Cryer from the Little Egret Press and myself. The lush water gardens, pools of swirling trout and tea rooms bathed in bright sunshine proved the perfect setting. There was a steady stream of anglers arriving throughout the event and it was pleasing to see generations of North Devon Anglers mingling and reminiscing with several old friends reunited.
The book will be judged by its readers so I await feed back confident that I have produced a worthwhile tome. There is of course far more that I could have written about and this becomes increasingly obvious as I talk further with the anglers of North Devon.
A big thank you to all of those who attended the book launch from both Wayne Cryer and I.
On a hectic day Pauline and I then attended the Annual River Torridge Dinner at the Half Moon Inn. After a wonderful meal with members of the Association I was pleased to sign a few more copies of “I Caught A Glimpse”. Special thanks must go to Charles Inniss who wrote a foreword to the book and promoted the book enthusiastically to the Torridge Fishery members.
I must of course give a very big thanks to all who assisted me in writing the book for it was by no means a solo effort and those who helped are acknowledged within the book. Though I have to say I have undoubtedly missed a few.
Dan Cornwall caught a personal best 25lb 4oz Mirror and 24lb Common from the Specimen Carp Lake and won our JRC Fish Of The Week competition. Dan’s story –
“Having waited all year for my holiday at Anglers Paradise, the time had finally arrived! I had booked Julian Chidgey to help me during my trip, and we started on the Koi Lake. We patiently fed the swim, and I was over the moon when my first cast resulted in an 8lb 4oz Koi. I was keen to try for a big carp and Julian suggested the Main Carp Lake, I was really excited as this was only my second ever night fishing session. We looked at various rigs, methods and the Shimano Isolate boilies Julian suggested smelt amazing. We caught two Carp, the biggest was 18lb 8oz only just short of my PB.
Rounding the session off with my first Catfish. One method I really wanted to improve my skills with is surface fishing. Julian suggested trying Fat Boys and through steady feeding we soon had some carp feeding. We used a controller set up, and Julian showed me how to mend the line to allow for the strong wind and tow. We landed two doubles to 13lb 8oz before heading back to the lodge for breakfast.
After this, we went to the Specimen Carp Lake and Julian explained that free lining was really effective here. The carp were very wary but eventually we got a bite, only for the fish to snag me up. Julian was straight in the lake with the net and was soon swimming back with the fish of my dreams a 25lb 4oz dark, scaley Mirror! We then moved to another spot on the Lake and it was a repeat performance as it took ages for the carp to gain confidence. This time a big Common took the bait and again headed straight for the lillies, Julian was on hand to paddle out again and this time my prize was 24lb. Having spent all year trying to get my first 20lb, it was amazing to get two in a day! My trip to Anglers Paradise has been amazing, and I’m already looking forward to coming back next year!”
(Above) Chris Trethewey has been coming to Anglers Paradise for 20 years now and in all those years he’s been trying to catch a 8lb+ Koi but never succeeded…Until THIS year!!! Here he is with his personal best 10lb 8oz beautiful Koi from the Koi Lake.
(Above) Regular to Anglers Paradise David Trethewey had a session on our day ticket Xanadu Lake and caught not 1 but 3 Carp! He had a 19lb 12oz Common, a 18lb 14oz Mirror and a 15lb 6oz Common. David also caught a 27lb 8oz nad 26lb 5oz Mirror from the Specimen Carp Lake, he went home a very happy chappy!
(Above) Here is the charming Billie Jobi, age 4 with myself (Zenia Drury-Gregorek) who caught her first ever Perch from our recent ‘Nash Getting Kids Fishing Days’ at Anglers Eldorado, caught using some lovely wriggly maggots on a whip. She’s now hooked for life!
GIRLS FISH TOO AND DO IT BETTER!!
(Above)Here we have the lovely Eloise Wyatt with some of her stunning Koi catches from the Koi Lake giving her husband a run for his money again!! It really is great seeing so many more females enjoying the sport, here’s to seeing many more!
(Above) Great to see another couple enjoying Fishing together. Emily Wearden is new to Fishing but now she is loving it more than ever along with her partner James. To put the icing on the cake, she caught her 1st ever Catfish at 19lb 2oz from the Easy Access and her partner James also caught his first ever Cat of 19lbs.
James also proposed to Emily during their stay and she said YES!! Congratulations to you both!
BIG CAT ALERT!
(Above)Scott Brown had a session on Nirvana’s Day Ticket Specimen Cat Lake before starting his week’s holiday with the Family at the Anglers Paradise Complex and caught a personal best 65lb 2oz Catfish using big chunks of luncheon meat
Stafford Moor continues to provide top carp fishing with numerous quality catches with a new lake record one of two fish to top thirty pounds.
(Below) Mark Wheeler banked 19 fish from swim 14 (beach 1) up on lodge lake in a 48 hour session up to 26lb 3oz all caught on TNT streamies , the best session he has ever had was Marks words!
(Below) Adrian Carnell and Geoff Waring who fished up on the dam wall on lodge lake on a day session and had fish up to 28lb caught on Sticky Baits Krill & Manilla boilies.
(Below) Ash Whitehouse who now has our new lake record on Beatties lake of 33lb 12oz !!!! Caught from peg 2 (the triangle ) Beatties lake on C C Moore Pacific tuna & Nash tangerine dream.
(Below) Dave Hadland who was fishing on the beach swim on Beatties lake with friend Dave Morris. They had 26 fish out between them ! Up to 28lb 14oz all caught on pellet and Sticky Baits Krill Walters on Ronnie rigs.
(Above) The newest 5C’s Member Dean Garland caught a 23lb 6oz Common from Nirvana’s day ticket Xanadu Lake.
Dean shared – “After being rained off from work on wednesday, I turned up at anglers paradise knowing I’d be fishing 1 of the day ticket lakes but not sure which 1. After speaking to Richard in the shop, I decided to go down to xanadu. I had un-finished buisness with this lake…I have caught some stunning carp from there previously but the 20 pluses had always evaded me!
After a quiet first day and night and the possibilty of going home blanking i decided to change a few things up. Within 30 minuites my rod went off.
It fought very hard and i knew i was in to a decent fish. And when i pulled it out i saw why, it was like the fish hadn’t grew into its own fins.
It weighed in at 23.6 lbs and seriously was in prestine condition. Gorgeous fish. Safe to say it made my session!!”
(Above) Pheobe Deacon has been coming to Anglers Paradise with her Mum and Dad for years but normally doesn’t fish until this year…And now she’s hooked! She managed to catch this amazing personal best 5lb 1oz Golden Tench too!
(Above) Nick Dudaniec not only won fish of the week with Silverback at 52lbs but he also caught a 26lb 8oz Common and 30lb Mirror during his epic session on Nirvana’s Kracking Carp Lake. Nick caught all fish using Essential Baits Shellfish B5 boilies fished over hemp and sweetcorn.
(Above) Rob Steele caught this 24lb Mirror Carp from the Specimen Carp Lake using a hinge stiff rig with Cell as the hookbait. He said it’s one of the prettiest fish he’s ever caught.
(Above)Paul Richmond from Plymouth fished the Kracking Carp Lake and had this stunning personal best 31lb 4oz Leather Carp from peg 1.
Paul was using a bloodworm pop up trimmed down topped off with pop up corn. Using minimal bait, a few handfuls of corn crushed boilie and 4mm pellet.
(Above) Dean Wyatt caught this absolutely stunning 6lb 6oz Koi from our famous Koi Lake, it may not be the biggest fish, but size is irrelevant when they look like this especially!! And you know the saying…Size doesn’t matter!!! He caught the beauty on a 12mm Nash strawberry crush boilie. Dean also won our Fish of the week competition with this beautiful catch!
SON OF SILVERBACK AND 1ST EVER CATFISH!
Well done to Aaron Trethewey who caught what looks like Silverback’s son – a 10lb 14oz Mirror and his first ever Catfish at 21lbs 6oz both from the Easy Access Lake.
I have been privileged to enjoy over forty years fishing North Devon’s varied waters enjoying both success and failure. The places and the many people I have met along the way have greatly enriched the journey and as the years pass I realise that all we ever get is a fleeting glimpse of a period in angling history.
In this book I tell a few of my own stories of North Devon angling along with recollections from others; some from an earlier generation who enjoyed fishing in those good old days.
I have no favourite species of fish just the one I am fishing for at the time and this book reflects this with every discipline of angling represented. From the small crimson spotted trout of tumbling streams to the huge shark that roam the Atlantic Ocean.
Angling is in essence an attempt to reach into a different dimension. Its fascination has for me never ceased and I always believe that the next cast will be the one that connects, that marvellous moment of completed deception. The anglers I have interviewed in writing this book reflect upon past times when they too glimpsed piscatorial events that they enjoyed recalling. Stories of lost fisheries, big fish, record fish of angler’s their attitudes and love of fishing.
I hope that I manage to share and convey the joys of angling in North Devon and provide a glimpse into a century of marvellous fishing.
I received an enquiry from Samantha Mathews who works for Valorum Care asking if I knew of anyone who could help a gentlemen to prolong his angling experiences. I know from my interviews with several senior anglers that the passion for angling is still there years after they are forced to leave the waters edge. I am sure that the below opportunity would be very rewarding.
Volunteer Required – Can you help to enable a gentleman to continue his fishing passion?
We are looking for a person, or people, to help a gentleman continue his passion for angling. He loves to spend hours fishing and returning the fish to its environment. Due to physical disability he cannot do this without company and support. He would love the opportunity to spend time outdoors with like-minded people. You would ideally need to be a driver willing to drive one of our Valorum Foundation vehicles – for which we would give you training. We would also give training in how to support a wheelchair user and any other areas you feel useful.
We are based in Braunton but could reimburse your fuel costs to us. If this sounds like something you could do or would like to ask any questions please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sam Mathews on [email protected] or telephone 01271 815915
It would be fantastic if you could place an advert for Francois. I’m running ideas around with regards to the social meeting idea as well so please feel free to pass my details on to anybody who you think may be interested.
The otter below can be seen by appointment at Blakewell Fishery where they are working with the UK Wild Otter Trust.
I visited Blakewell Fishery recently where I met Dave Webb a founder of the UK Wild Otter Trust. It is fair to say that in recent years the otter situation has been contentious in some areas with anglers and otters with their natural predatory instincts causing concern. As an angler I always take delight in catching that rare glimpse of an otter and have some good memories of encounters beside the Rivers Taw and Torridge. The otter population in the South West is I believe far healthier than it was a few years ago but this cannot be said of fish populations in some of our rivers. The European eel population has plummeted in recent years and the eel was one of the otters prime sources of food.
The increase in otter populations has coincided with a decline in some natural habitats whilst at the same time there has been a growth in commercial fisheries providing recreational fishing for anglers. When an otter stumbles upon a well stocked pond it feasts on the expensive fish that are precious commodities for the owner and anglers that fish there. The sensible solution to this is to erect otter proof fences around the lakes. Costly but necessary to protect valuable stocks of prime fish. The more contentious area is on rivers where barbel and other coarse fish are present and otters are blamed for decimating stocks.
I do not have in depth knowledge of the issues or of the nature of otters and can see both the view points of conservationists and anglers and fishery owners who seek to control the otter population.
In my view otters and anglers require healthy rivers and habitats and every effort should be made to address the environmental issues that decimate our rivers. The rivers should maintain a healthy enough stock of fish for both otter and angler.
I asked Dave if he could share information about wild otters to improve understanding of the issues. He kindly agreed and sent me the following informative and balanced article.
CAPTIVE BREEDING PROGRAM OF THE EURASIAN OTTER (Lutra lutra) & ITS EFFECTS
We have been engaging recently, sometimes quite fiercely but always emotively with the Barbel anglers. Agree or not, the rivers that hold Barbel amongst other fish species have been subject to many factors thus causing a decline in Barbel stocks primarily but also other fish & wildlife. The captive breeding program started by Phillip Wayre of the original Otter Trust in Norfolk did not exacerbate this issue as some believe
The original otter Trust was established in 1971 and during the 1950’s otters were presentthroughout Britain. Despite the banning of chemicals, by the late 70’s the only healthypopulations were to be found in Wales, Northern & South West England. Organochlorines were the main cause for decline as it affected the reproduction systems within the otters. A survey of almost 3,000 one time positive sites for otter presence was re-surveyed and only 170 positive sites were found. Whilst the spraint surveying method is only a geographical indication, it did indicate that otters could be dropping in numbers geographically, so whilst the project had some consultation missing, it did play an important part and helped to shape otter conservation for the future
Whilst there were relatively few actual releases made in the grander scale of things (thought to be 130 from the Otter Trust and a further 49 from the Vincent Wildlife Trust)
The first 3 captive bred otters were released in 1983 to the River Blackwater in Suffolk and by 1996 there had been captive bred releases to Suffolk, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, and Cambridgeshire and to the Upper Thames area. The Otter Trust closed in 2006 as it was then proven to be a successful program in terms of otter conservation. One of the issues surrounding the captive releases is that as far as can be seen, there was no thought given to the sustainability of the rivers that they were being released into but this would have proved difficult to assess correctly. Unfortunately, where such rivers are NOT sustainable (and that is approximately 76% of the rivers in the UK at present) and then an apex predator like the otter is returned there, then that can have a devastating impact on the existing fish stocks. The problem, in particularwith Barbel stocks is that there are indeed plenty of large fish that have grown on … butthere is not the smaller fish coming in behind them and this is due to poor water quality, habitat, otters, cormorants and uncontrolled invasive species particularly mink and signal crayfish. Coupled with this, the eel population is known to have diminished by some 90% so UKWOT would most certainly support the banning of commercial eel harvesting as more
eels in rivers can only be good for otters as we are all aware that the Eurasian otter prefers the eel in preference to any other fish species due to its high protein content.
First and foremost, we are an Otter Trust ourselves and are not associated in any way to the original otter trust, but we recognise & acknowledge that there were some important and much needed input & thoughts not put into this program. We cannot say that the captive bred few that were released did not have any impact on fish stocks in rivers orStillwater’s because there was an impact albeit in our view a smaller impact than could have been. During the captive program, otters were still breeding and without doubt the captive program helped to secure that progress in areas that may otherwise have struggled. Was the captive program necessary? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but in our opinion andknowing what we know now I don’t think it would have been needed and that it would havebeen better to let the population regenerate naturally. Of course, they could have held some in captivity ready for a breeding program if at any time the wild population was categorically & scientifically proven to be at an all-time low and by monitoring the actual issue as opposed to the knee jerk reaction that was taken. One thing that irritates me personally, is the lack of importance shown by people in not worrying about how many we do have – how can we actively promote the protection of a species if we don’t know how many exist? Population estimates are done via spraint counting and recording but this tells us nothing apart from the geographical range of the otter, which in itself is important but it does not give us any idea as to numbers
How can we say that the captive breeding program was needed at that time because wedidn’t know numbers then and we don’t know now? Equally, how can we say that it was notneeded then? … it is without doubt that the Eurasian otter population have recolonised naturally, but even given the fact that the population did recover naturally after the banning of organochlorines, it may also have struggled so the captive program did have a place. We still rely on old data and number estimates of 12 – 15,000 …. That was then, and we know that they are now in every county so how can we still rely on that figure which personally I think is very inaccurate. It seems to me that some 40 years later, we are still in denial – that must stop. We are still making mistakes – that must stop. Otter groups AND angling groups need to present to the public as professional organisations to gain support to safeguard angling and otter conservation. Perhaps during the captive breeding program, the technology was not around but what I do firmly believe is that there was without any doubt a serious lack of consultation and impact studies carried out. There should have been full media coverage of the plans, there should have been full consultations with river keepers, beat keepers, and lake owners as their input would have been invaluable.
There should have been ongoing impact studies and pre-release monitoring of the proposed release sites. There should also have been post release monitoring to establish that the welfare of the released otters and the existing populations would not be affected in any detrimental way. Its now easy to sit back and criticise how or what was or should have been done then but we are talking now – otters can, and do cause huge financial and emotional issues for many. We must now learn from the mistakes of the past and work together to improve that. If we are unable to work together, both anglers, fishery owners, Barbel
anglers and otter organisations then we should consider hanging up our otter boots and fishing rods for good because the sport of angling will be lost as would one of the most important species of the UK.
The EA often get blamed for this and as far as I am aware, they were not in favour of a captive program originally. The other thing that is very clear and rightly so, is that the Eurasian otter is here to stay – being one of our native species it rightfully, has a place amongst our wildlife and therefore it is important that anglers understand that a cull will never work and that energy should be channelled into riparian habitat restoration to give the UK back healthy, sustainable rivers that will happily hold plentiful fish stocks, predators and the facility for sport fishing.
REHABILITATIONS OF INJURED/ORPHANED OTTERS
Whilst we know that many would like to see the banning of otter rehabilitation centres, a cull or farmers right to shoot for angling we know realistically that those suggestions are absurd and will never happen and nor should they.
Rather than call for banning the actual rehabs we need to concentrate on regulating the ones that are released after rehabilitation periods. It would be impossible to ask the Government to ban the caring of one species and not the other.
Rehabilitations should be logged at point of collection and ongoing care should be recorded to include behavioural traits in that particular animal
Proposed release sites during rehab should be monitored and assessed for any potential issues that may impact or prevent the final release
There should be a second release site agreed in case the original one gets filled by a transient otter
Releases should be recorded and only done providing the area is vacant or to the best of the monitoring process will allow
All records and data should be made available to anyone with a vested interest in those releases
Any otters taken in for rehab that display any humanised traits, (and some do naturally) should be held in captivity to ensure their welfare (this does already happen but it needs to be regulated)
All aspects of collecting, caring and the eventual release program should only be carried out under licence
Importantly, any subsequent releases should involve full consultation with any fisheries or river keepers for that specific area. This need not be grid referencespecific but at the very least information given such as “a Female otter is being released on the River Otter within 5 miles of your fishery” This would enable thefishery to prepare should they not have suitable protection in place. This would be more difficult for the Rivers but it is as equally important that they also know of releasesSUMMARY INFORMATION
Some avenues believe that the otters are churning out many cubs …. In reality, otters arenot sexually mature until approximately 2 years of age. The average lifespan of a wild otter is 5 – 6 years old which has been discovered via post mortems carried out at Cardiff University by teeth analysis. As the cubs stay with the Female for approximately 12 to 18 months, it is likely that they only have one litter in their lifetime. Furthermore, they are capable of having 1 – 5 cubs, 3 being the norm of which it is probable that only 1 or 2 will survive.
There were once self-sustaining fish stocks in many of the rivers and it should be noted that it is recognised that this is no longer the case for many of our rivers. Combined with a 76% fiqure of rivers being environmentally unsustainable for fish stocks, other wildlife will suffer if we do not work on improvements. With the contact that UKWOT have with many angling groups and fishermen, it is clear that the success of the otter has not played a hand in this decline but we need to accept that fisheries and rivers will continue to suffer with or without them as an apex predator. We all know and understand that scientific data to support this is important however, it is real and it is happening and being reported by those on the banks. Otter groups need to be supporting this initiative as the otter, relies on fish stocks being sustainable and rivers being healthy – without that, the otter faces a very bleak future as the otter relies on fish stocks being good as part of its dietary requirements
It is further important for all otter groups and supporters to acknowledge that the otter does cause financial and emotional impacts and as such can provide social media sites with a contentious difference of opinions. We should not under any circumstances hide behind old data or denial as this will prove counterproductive for the species in the long run and we try to be transparent and open and supportive of those that suffer predation. Only then will we gain trust to progress and only then will we be able to work together for the future of otter conservation and angling
The UK Wild Otter Trust would not support any action towards a cull, farmers rights, reduction in numbers because the dynamics of otter control is not easy, nor would it be effective. This is why we need to concentrate on the river sustainability to ensure that they will hold all species and predators and then, otters will indeed find that natural balance that is very much required. This will ensure that we have healthy, sustainable rivers full of prime fish and apex predators such as the otter along with a varied list of other wildlife. It is clear to me that this is not just about otters or angling alone, but a bigger picture is paramount to success in the way in which we move forward and the way in which we change peoples perceptions of angling and anglers perception of otters by working together
UKWOT have invested huge amounts of time and effort to work with anglers and fishery owners to reduce predation at their waters. Fencing for stillwaters is still perceived to be an expensive option but it should be seen as part of the business plans. It can be very costly to have fencing installed to protect against otters in particular, but here at UKWOT, we can offer advice on installing fences, the costs, the labour, the best ways to protect and itneedn’t be as expensive as some think. We are happy and committed to visiting as many lakes as we can to provide support and advice and even labour to help where we can. We
make no charge for this as its important to us that both sides work together to make effective change
UK Wild Otter Trust – Founder
IUCN Otter Specialist Group Member
Otter Predation & Fishery Advisory Group – Senior Board Member
Otter Welfare Advisory Group – Citizen Science/Board Member
IFAW International Fund for Animal Welfare – Conservation in Action Award Winner 2017 Otter Advisor to the Ornamental Aquatics Trade Association
The views expressed within are solely that of the Author and do not represent the views of
Famous Actor, who has starred in Two Pints of Lager and a packet of crisps, No Offence, Line of Duty and Hollyoaks to name just a few joined us at Anglers Paradise with his beautiful wife Michelle and their son and daughter to enjoy a few days Fishing and relaxing in the beautiful Devon Countryside.
They caught lots of Fish, and simply enjoyed quality time as a Family of 4 and in the evenings enjoyed the delights of our famous African Safari Bar along with our residents of the week.
Will is a regular to Anglers Paradise, he has a pretty hectic schedule being an actor so this was a well needed break for him and his family.
Anglers Paradise isn’t just about fishing, they also enjoyed our indoor heated swimming pool and visiting the local delights of Cornwall & Devon and the beautiful beaches we have to offer nearby.
Nick Dudaniec here with his partner Sarah from Manchester. Nick has been visiting Anglers Paradise for many years, even before Kracking Carp was built. He fished our Kracking Carp lake and managed to catch a stunning 52lb Mirror Carp. Here is Nick’s story:-
“We chose to spend our week at Anglers Paradise fishing the Kracking Karp lake, where the largest carp on the complex are resident. I setup in swim 2, and on Tuesday morning had a screaming take from the right hand rod. After a long fight (and some luck) the large mirror known as ‘Silverback’ slid into the landing net. The fish weighed in at 52lbs exactly – a new PB and my first ever UK 50. I managed to land two other fish during the week: a 26,8 common and a 30,0 leather carp. Needless to say I am delighted with this result! Essential Baits Shellfish B5 boilies fished over hemp and sweet corn produced the runs”.