Tackle Shops Essential for the Angling Community

Many thanks to the Summerlands Team for welcoming me into their treasure trove of fishing tackle to promote my book “I Caught A Glimpse”. It was an enjoyable couple of hours spent chatting with local anglers and reminded me of the importance of tackle shops in maintaining angling rich community.

Book Launch Delay –

Due to circumstances beyond the control of myself and the Little Egret Press we are forced to delay the launch of my book “I Caught A Glimpse”. A problem with the printing process has resulted In a minor defect in the books that we are not prepared to accept. Please rest assured that the  book will be well worth the wait and I anticipate a new book launch date within a few weeks. Please accept my apologies for this unfortunate delay.

Focus on Barnstaple and the Taw Estuary

Focus on Barnstaple and the Taw Estuary

The market town of Barnstaple straddles the River Taw that meanders from its sources on Dartmoor and Exmoor to converge with its sister River Torridge before flowing into the lower Bristol Channel. There are many opportunities for the angler in and around Barnstaple with the estuary providing sport all year for a variety of species.

The Autumn is very popular with flounder anglers whose season traditionally kicks off around the time of the towns famous fair that visits the town in mid-September. The humble flounder offer relaxed fishing from Rock Park above the towns bridge down to Fremington Quay and beyond.

During the summer months the upper estuary provides good sport with thin lipped grey mullet that can be tempted using spinners baited with ragworm on light tackle. Thick lipped grey mullet are also present in the estuary and provide a real challenge for anglers prepared to persist with light tackle and freshwater tactics.

Bass can be caught throughout the estuary from April until late autumn with the lower estuary proving most productive with a variety of tactics working. Fly-Fishing for school bass has become increasingly popular with large numbers of these silver flanked sport fish caught. Lure fishing is also very popular with a wide range of patterns bringing success.

The lower estuary also holds increasing numbers of gilthead bream with fish of over 5lb caught each season to anglers using small crab or worm baits. May through until early autumn is probably the best time to target these hard fighting fish.

During autumn and winter the lower estuary once produced good catches of codling and these fish are still occasionally caught but sport is a shadow of what it once was. During the 1970’s several outsize cod were caught from Crow Point the best over 30lb.

Recent seasons have seen smoothound and dogfish caught in the Lower estuary.

The estuary around Braunton where the River Caen flows into the estuary also brings success for anglers targeting grey mullet and bass.

GAME FISHING

Salmon and sea trout

The River Taw is an iconic game fishing river famous for its salmon and sea trout fishing. Whilst much of the river is Privately owned day tickets are available via the Rising Sun at Umberleigh and via the West Country Passport Scheme. The Barnstaple and District Angling Club gives access to water at the top of the tidal section of the river at a very reasonable cost. Day Tickets can also be obtained at the Fox and Hounds, Eggesford and from Highbullen Hotel., Chittlehamholt.

For information on the Taw visit the River Taw Fishery Associations website. http://www.rivertawfisheries.co.uk/index.html

River Trout

Brown trout are to be found in the majority of rivers in the Barnstaple area and can provide great sport on light weight fly tackle. In some instance’s permission can be obtained by asking the landowner. The Lower Taw has water available via the Barnstaple and District Angling Club. The West Country Angling Passport provide access to some fine trout fishing via their Token scheme: –  westcountryangling.com

Stillwater Trout

The Stillwater Trout anglers is well catered for with two of North Devon’s top fisheries located within five miles of the town.

Blakewell is a well established trout lake situated just off the B3230 road to Ilfracombe.

The fishing lake is generally crystal clear and is well stocked with quality rainbow and brown trout to specimen size. Additional stocking is also made with both spartic trout and tiger trout.

The fishery is an ideal venue for both the experienced fly fisher or the novice with fish responding to a wide variety flies. Small imitative patterns are generally favoured with floating fly lines effective throughout the year even during the depth of winter when longer leaders and bead headed nymphs a wise choice.

There are two main day ticket options available including a catch and release option that allows the first two fish to be retained with fishing then allowed on a catch a release basis for the remainder of the day. A standard five fish ticket entitle the angler to retain five fish and then stop fishing.

The fishery has well stocked tackle shop on site that sells a variety of flies suitable for the venue and a range of tackle from West Country Tackle company Snowbee. The tea room is open throughout the day with delicious cakes, tea and coffee to enjoy during a break from the fishing.

http://www.blakewell.co.uk

The few miles North of Barnstaple is Bratton Water situated in a steep wooded valley it is well sheltered from most winds and boasts crystal clear water and some stunning brown trout that can often be tempted on dry flies or small nymph patterns. This water is also suitable for novice or experienced fly fisher with its small acreage proving less daunting than the larger reservoirs.

COARSE FISHING

There are numerous Coarse Fisheries in the Barnstaple area including Furzebray Near South Molton a fishery that has a well-deserved reputation for producing some stunning carp approaching fifty pounds.

Hacche Moor Fishery near South Molton opened to day ticket anglers in April 2019 and has already produced carp to well over thirty pounds.

Riverton Fishery also has day ticket opportunities for a wide variety of coarse fish.

Barnstaple & District Angling Club have fishing at Aller Pond near South Molton for details contact:- John Webber [email protected]

The Heart of Devon

The Heart of Devon

Game Fishing

The River Torridge starts its journey at Meddon near Hartland surprisingly close to the source of the Tamar that in contrast journeys to Devon’s South Coast flowing into the English Channel at Plymouth. The Torridge flows through the heart of Devon’s rural interior. Rolling hills, lush green fields and abundant woodland it is famed for its association with Tarka the Otter. Otters are fortunately still a common site for anglers as they cast their lines for salmon and sea trout on the many miles of water that are available to fish.

The Torridge is a smaller river than its sister river the Taw and is perhaps less daunting to fish with plenty of excellent fly water. Day Tickets for salmon, sea trout and brown trout are available from the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash that boasts a rich fishing pedigree with several beats available throughout the river. The Little Warham Fishery also offers excellent fishing opportunities for salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout.

LITTLE WARHAM FISHERY

Whilst many focus on the Torridge as a salmon and sea trout river its dry fly fishing for brown trout can be superb with great sport to be enjoyed on both the main river and its many tributaries.

The West-Country Angling passport scheme offers a wealth of opportunities.

Coarse Fishing

There are plenty of opportunities for the coarse and carp angler in this heart of rural Devon with a variety of waters. The famous Anglers Paradise complex owned by the notorious Zyg Gregorek and family offers a vast range of opportunity with everything from gudgeon to huge carp, catfish, pike and trout. Whilst renowned for its holiday complex the venue also boasts some superb day ticket fishing with Anglers Nirvana and Eldorado home to catfish over 60lb and carp in excess of fifty pounds.

Close to Holsworthy are Thornbury Fishing Lakes that offer carp to double figures along with tench, bream and other coarse fish. Day tickets are available for the two lakes that are set in a tranquil rural setting.

Stafford Moor Fishery close to Dolton has a well deserved reputation for its prolific carp fishing and match fishing. The lakes are well established and run by the Combe family who have invested much time, effort and money to build upon the sound foundations laid by the previous owner Andy Seery. The Match lakes regularly produce ton up bags of carp with Open events held on a regular basis throughout the year.

Carp anglers have the choice of two lakes Beatties and Lodge Lake both of which contain carp to over thirty pounds with twenty pound fish frequently gracing the bank.

The lakes also hold a variety of other species to specimen size including perch, eels and a few surprises.

Reservoirs

Melbury, Jennets, Darracott, Upper and Lower Tamar are all controlled by South West Lakes Trust and all hold some impressive stocks of coarse fish. Specimen Carp are caught in all of the venues with multiple catches of double figure fish common. These waters tend to offer more of a challenge than the heavily stocked commercial venues and are often less crowded as a result. Though this is not always the case at weekends when news has spread regarding good catches.

Carp are not the only specimens to dwell within these waters with some huge perch to over five-pound present in several of the lakes. These long-established waters are also home to some huge eels that offer a serious target for the dedicated eel angler.

Lower Tamar also holds a good head of bream to double figures.

Match fishing on the reservoirs brings bulging nets of silver fish with Upper Tamar considered one of the best venues for silver fish in the West Country.

Fishing around Ilfracombe

CASTING ABOUT IN NORTH DEVON – WHERE TO FISH

FOCUS ON ILFRACOMBE

Ilfracombe is a town with a Victorian heritage located on the North Devon coast that has a wealth of opportunities for the angler. Sea Anglers are well catered for and there are several Coarse Fishing lakes within the surrounding area. The town has plenty of facilities for visitors which makes it a good base to explore North Devon with plenty of scope for family fishing and for more serious angling excursions.

Anglers visiting the town can benefit by calling into the towns only tackle Shop – High Street Tackle. The shop carries a wide range of sea angling tackle for both boat and shore along with essential items for the coarse angler. Owner Danny Watson is an enthusiastic lure angler and ensures the shop has all the latest lures to tempt both angler and fish. The area has plenty of opportunities for the bass angler with lure fishing productive from mid April until December depending upon sea conditions.

SEA ANGLING

SHORE FISHING

The Pier

The Pier is Ilfracombe’s most accessible shore venue and has provided a fishing platform since Victorian Times.  The original structure was demolished at the end of the last century and landing platforms built to enable boats to land at various states of the tide. The famous Damien Hurst Statue Verity has raised the profile of Ilfracombe and its Pier in recent years and is a stop off point for hoards of tourists who debate its merits.

These landing platforms provide easy access fishing for anglers of all abilities. The venue is one of very few places in North Devon with good disabled access.

The Lower landings can be safely fished 2.5 hours either side of low water in settled weather. The right-hand side by the Stone bench can be fished over High Water but only allows casting access to the less productive harbour area.

Anglers must be aware of boat traffic at all times and ensure they take care when casting and always retrieve lines as boats approach.

There is a vast array of species caught from the pier each year with target species varying throughout the seasons. Standard beach casting tackle can be used to catch dogfish, conger, ray, bass, flatfish, Pollock, pouting, whiting and codling.

Float-fishing tactics will bring mackerel, garfish and Pollock.

The pier is a popular venue for species hunting with many mini species caught. LRF tactics are at times very productive with blennies, dragonets, wrasse and clingfish amongst catches.

Grey mullet can be tempted using light freshwater tactics with bread flake the number one bait.

There is ample parking adjacent to the pier and the Aquarium located at the rear of the Pier car park is well worth a visit.

ROCK FISHING

There are plenty of rock marks close to Ilfracombe that provide access to a wide variety of sea bed ranging from sand to rock and kelp. Capstone Point is a popular mark that gives access to deep water with a strong tide run. Great care needs to be taken here as the point is exposed to treacherous swells that have swept anglers into the deep water. The rocks here are also very slippery ensuring the need for studded boots especially if attempting to net fish.

There are also various marks between the pier and Capstone including Cheyne Beach and Salty Dog that can yield a variety of species.

Six miles East of Ilfracombe is the village of Combe Martin that has a sandy beach that is seldom fished but has in the past rewarded anglers with bass, flounder and the occasional conger.

There are several rock marks between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin most of which are on Private property where a permit is required. Broadsand’s Beach and the rocks to the East of the beach can be productive but care must be taken not to get cut off by the rising tide. Fishing is possible over low water with a variety of species available.

Boat Fishing

There is a small fleet of Charter Boats operating out of Ilfracombe giving access to a wide range of species throughout the year. Recent years have seen several boats venturing to new ground with porbeagle, blue shark and thresher shark brought to the boat.

The summer months give the opportunity for anglers to catch mackerel, pollock, bass, ray, tope and many other species. The winter months see spurdog, conger and bull huss dominate catches with the occasional cod.

Coarse Fishing

Lower Slade Reservoir is run by South West Lakes Trust and boasts an impressive range of specimen fish including carp to 25lb, pike to 25lb, bream to 7lb, perch to 5lb and large numbers of roach. The six-acre reservoir with depths of up to 25ft is set in a tranquil valley that was once adjacent to the Ilfracombe to Barnstaple railway.

Mill Park Campsite is home to an attractive former Mill Pool that teams with quality roach offering some of Devon’s best silver fish sport. The lake also holds carp and bream.

Mill Park – Stunning nets of silver from tranquil waters