Barnstaple & District Angling Association held their AGM on line consulting the membership via email. The club Chairman John Webber reported on a very successful year with positive developments on the upkeep of the waters on the Lower Taw and at South Aller. The club launched it new website last Tuesday evening that will provide a valuable working link to the membership. http://www.barnstapledistrictangling.co.uk
The B&DAA formed in 1941 is one of North Devon’s longest running clubs and it is good to see that it is thriving thanks to the dedication of its long running committee. The club gave special thanks to Colin Ashby who has been membership secretary for at least 25years. Don Hearn and Alan Jump also deserve credit for the work that they have undertaken on the club waters.
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
Quay Sports fishing Tackle & bait Store have recently purchased North Devon Tackle.
An agreement was reached last week and the North Devon Tackle store will be closed as from Monday,November 1st.
All of the popular products and brands that were previously stocked in North Devon Tackle will be available very soon in the Quay Sports store.
A Quay Sports team member said, “We aim to offer the same great service and choice of products that North Devon Tackle have over the past 6 years and would like to wish Jamie all the best for the future.”
The move comes at a time when the High Street continues to contract with larger stores on the edge of town offering free parking and a wider range of products in larger premises. As angling’s popularity continues to grow it is great that a shop front style shop is available for Barnstaple’s anglers.
North Devon Angling News wish Jamie all the best for the future. The advice he gave freely to local anglers was very much appreciated.
There is always a feeling of intense anticipation as a visit to Chew Valley lake approaches. The vast water undoubtedly holds numerous pike of a lifetime but the reality is that such fish are hard to come by. Catching a big pike is like most specimen fishing a combination of being in the right place at the right time. A slice of luck can play its part and ensuring that everything is in place for when connection is made seals the deal.
I was very fortunate to have been invited to join my good friend Bruce Elston who had secured tickets to fish the boat trials. Early October and the weather was set fair with a blue sky and calm waters.
Due to other commitment’s, I didn’t arrive until late morning and climbed into the boat to find that Bruce had boated two jacks and had several follows. We started off with a bit of trolling using Bruce’s electric outboard. After a short while Bruce boated a jack of 5lb or so which was an encouraging start.
The rest of the day was spent using varied tactics. Anchoring up for periods we put out a float fished dead-bait and searched around the boat using various lures. I experimented with some of my soft plastic bass lures and had a few hits without contacting the culprits. A change to a bright orange shad pattern also brought a few tugs, pulls and follows from small jacks and trout.
We also enjoyed spells drifting with a dead-bait suspended a few feet above the bottom whilst searching with the lures.
As evening approached and the sun sank lower we savoured the scene. We chatted about lures and I dug a bright orange and yellow spring dawg from my old lure bucket. “They have gone out of fashion” commented Bruce. A few moments later a jack hit the lure and was brought to the boat side. To my relief it saved me unhooking it by erupting from the water to shower us in spray, shaking the hooks free. I was pleased to have avoided a blank trip.
The cry of Bruce’s reel alerted us that a pike had taken a mackerel dead-bait. I watched hoping that this would be a big un as Bruce set the hooks. Unfortunately, it was another jack. A few moments later I boated my second pike of the day a small jack of a couple of pounds tempted on a wobbled smelt.
As the sun slowly sank we were forced to head back to the lodge another enjoyable day chasing dreams and creating memories.
Good to call into Quay Sports today and drop off a load of old line for recycling. Good to hear that there is a 10% discount off new line for angler depositing their old line. This worthwhile scheme is supported by the Angling Trust and helps reduce line getting onto landfill sites where it can ensnare wildlife,
The calm expanse of Chew Valley Lake on an Autumn morning is an inspiring location to start a day if you are an angler. I have fished this renowned water on numerous occasions with mixed success but always relish the challenge that it provides. The water renowned for its huge pike brings a mixed response for as with all famous waters it brings with it the politics and traits of human nature born of egos and a desire to succeed.
I first fished the water for pike during the season it first opened to this branch of the sport and remember those early trips with fondness. Early morning breakfasts in the Lodge prior to loading the boats with tackle. The room packed with the big names of the day; legends of the pike and specimen angling world.
Even then the fishing wasn’t always easy despite the headlines in the angling press. Plenty of twenties, lots of thirties and even a few forties. These fish made the news but nobody read of the blank sessions that demoralised those who went to the lake expecting the fish of their dreams.
The seasoned specimen hunter eagerly spent hours on the phone trying to secure a day on the water that is presently run by Bristol Water. In those days there was a certain amount of friction between the trout fishers and the pikers. Fortunately, I think those days have to some extent gone as the angling world contracts and different disciplines to some extent diverge.
I had joined an online Facebook Group named the Fluff Chucker’s after speaking with my good friend Bruce Elston who is like me an all-round angler and occasional fly fisher. A species competition at Chew Valley Lake armed with the Fly Rods sounded fun so I messaged Bruce and suggested we give it a try.
And so, we found ourselves at Chew Valley Lake as the morning mist lifted from the water and low cloud hung in the autumn sky. An eager group of anglers assembled tackle and climbed into the flotilla of boats. The lakes surface was mirror calm with barely a breath of wind.
The boats headed off to various areas of the water as anglers used their intimate knowledge of the lake or followed their instincts. Bruce and I were somewhere between the two as we had both fished the lake on numerous occasions and knew the topography well.
We spent the first hour exploring the deep water in front of the Lodge hoping for a perch or trout without success. Deciding that we should get a pike under our belts we headed off to fish the shallower weedy areas where we expected to find the pike.
Casting a big pike fly into the vast waters of Chew Valley Lake is always filled with expectation and hope. The fish of dreams dwell within and each cast has the potential to connect so it is always particularly thrilling when the line draws tight as a pike hits the fly.
It only took a few casts before that exhilarating pull came as a jack hit the fly giving a spirited tussle before sliding over the rim of Bruce’s capacious net.
Pike came steadily to our flies throughout the day. I used a large black lure with marabou that pulsed tantalizingly as it was retrieved. Bruce swapped and changed using various pike fly patterns tempting several pike throughout the day. To be honest I’m not too convinced the choice of fly is that important when targeting pike. I just persist with a fly I have confidence in hoping I drop it in front of a feeding pike. Depth, speed of retrieve probably more important than the actual pattern?
We ended up sharing a haul of eight pike between us nothing over 5lb but good fun.
The trout proved harder to tempt. Bruce had a rainbow chase a large white pike fly which inspired me to try stripping a white cat’s whisker. Bang! A hard fighting rainbow trout of just under 3lb.
A steady stream of posts appeared on the phones telling of big pike and a few rainbows. The thought of that big pike lurking in wait somewhere kept us fishing hard until the competition closed at close to 5:30pm.
By now I think most anglers knew the result. The biggest pike caught was an impressive 28lb. Many thanks to Rodney Wevill, Jethro Binns, Bristol Water and Orvis for putting the event together.
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.
Set in rolling rural Farmland.
2 Stunning Lakes very well Stocked with just carp and tench.
Bottom Lake :-
Carp to double figures ranging from 2 lb to 19lb
Tench up to 3.5lb.
Carp ranging from 1lb to 19lb
small tench (lots of )
Drive to your peg so no walking ,
Come and relax at what are 2 stunning lakes .
Limited membership is available at £30 for the year from Neilsen Jeffery (phone 01237 421123) Please Note there are no day tickets available for this water.
South West Lakes Trusts head of Coarse Fishing Ben Smeeth is leaving the trust after close to twenty years of sterling service. Ben will be missed by many in the angling community having contributed to a thriving Coarse fishing portfolio that includes several of North Devon’s favourite angling venues.
“After nearly 20 years with the Trust it is time for a new challenge. I have made many friends and have worked with some fantastic colleagues during that time and am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given within the organisation. I feel very lucky to have worked on and around the amazing lakes for so long and I am very proud of the achievements that have been made. I am leaving to take up a fishery manager role with another organisation but leave with a heavy heart. I wish everyone at SW Lakes and everyone I have come to know during my time here a very happy, safe and prosperous future.
Ben Smeeth – Visitor Experience Manager North / Head of Coarse Fishing.”
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
Telephone: 0800 80 70 60