Chris Connaughton enjoyed a great early spring campaign perch banking several stunning perch from an undisclosed local Stillwater. A big perch is surely one of the best looking fish to swim in UK waters.
Eel enthusiast Alan Jump tempted this awesome 6lb eel from an undisclosed North Devon Stillwater. The fish was tempted on a roach deadbait on a dyson rig.
Big eels are elusive fish with a big sense of mystery being totally wild they often lurk undetected within a water with no one aware of their presence. This mystery is the allure of eel angling a total contrast to the commercial side of modern coarse angling.
Quay Sports are amending their opening hours to offer an even better service. This friendly tackle shop boasts a vast range of tackle for all disciplines with good solid advice available from experienced local anglers.
“We are condensing the hours so we can have 3 or 4 members of staff in the shop more of the time at the busier periods. This will mean we will have more time to offer advice, demo products and serve customers more efficiently.”
As I walked down to the dam at Wistlandpound I was surprised to see just how low the reservior was so early in the season. After a long dry spring and a relatively dry winter it will need a lot of rain to regain the levels with water pumped from the River Bray near Challacombe.
This was only a short session that was to prove far more productive than I expected. I tied a small black lure on the point and black spder pattern to a dropper. Walking to the point on the West Bank I started putting out a line and started a slow retrieve. After each cast I took a step to my right planning to cover plenty of water. After half a dozen casts I was encouraged by a boil on the surface as a fish swirled at the fly without connecting.
A few cast later came a solid tug as I connected with a brown trout that gave a spirited account spending plenty of time leaping high out of the water before coming to hand. During the next 45 minutes another five trout followed all pristine looking fish of around 10″.
I decided to walk to the far end close to the inlet to see if any rudd were showing. After a couple of casts another brown trout siezed the fly and was brought protesting to Hand. I caught sight of swirls close to the weeds and put the flies into the area. The line pulled tight and I lifted into my first rudd of the season. During the next thirty minutes a dozen or so rudd were brought to hand. These were beautiful fish the light bouncing off their scales and fins glowing red. Th size of the rudd was encouraging with the average size bigger than those caught last year. The best was around 12oz and I have heard runours of fish well over 1lb.
I walked briskly back to the car after a short but rewarding session.
Many thanks to Mark Lamude at Quay Sports for this delightful contribution on the joys of spring tench fishing at one of North Devon’s hidden gems.
“So after neglecting a springtime Tench for many years, I dusted off my favourite waggler rod and headed out to Rake myself a swim amongst the spring Lillie growth. After applying some classic simple tactics I managed to build a lovely little swim full of roach and skimmers throughout the session. Fortunately after several hours of plugging away the rod hopped over and I had my first Spring Tench on the end of my rod for a long time and it fought hard, much harder than I thought it would anyway. I had Three nice fish in the end, they were all around the 3.5 to 4.5lb bracket but the size mattered not it was just incredible fun. It’s amazing how good a packet of quality groundbait and a pint of maggots can be when prepared and applied in the right way.”
The Angling Trust are always at the forefront of events to promote angling ensuring its future for generations to come. Anglers Paradise was founded by Zyg Gregorek over forty years ago and has undoubtedly sowed the seeds for many anglers who have visited the venue with their families. On Easter Sunday 2022 I attended a family fun fishing day at the day ticket Eldorado complex that was supported by Anglers Paradise, The Angling Trust, Shakespeare, Angling Direct, The Environment Agency, Dynamite Baits and Nash Tackle.
Zenia Drury Gregorek was undoubtedly the driving force behind the event that attracted over seventy eager participants. Coaches from the Angling Trust were joined by keen local anglers to introduce families to the joys of angling. All tackle and bait was provided at this free event with a wealth of expert advice on tap for both total beginners and the more experienced angler. All juniors who took part earned a Get Fishing Certificate Award and badge from the Angling Trust presented by Dean Asplin who is Angling Development Manager for the South of England and South West Angling Development Officer.
I arrived at the venue shortly before the start and enjoyed chatting with the coaches who had travelled from far and wide to assist and support on the day. Amongst the coaches were Roly, Tony King, John Thompson, Andy Payne, Joe Drury, Hassan Khan, Steve Manley, Dan Murrell, Joe Dietrich, Callum Regan and Mark Thorneycroft.
It was to prove a busy day for the coaches with families descending on the venue from far and wide. The event was blessed with warm sunshine during the morning session with the sounds of children’s laughter and adults banter filling the spring air. A few swallows swooped over the water as the coaches explained the finer details of fishing. The majority of families gathered around a lake stocked with a wide variety of smaller fish with whips used in conjunction with float tactics. The young anglers were fascinated by the brightly coloured wriggly maggots and soon focussed upon the brightly coloured floats that bobbed optimistically upon the water to disappear delightfully from time to time as a bejewelled fish from another dimension was lifted from the cloudy waters.
Many caught their first fish and it was great to see the joy and fascination upon so many faces. The coaches gave guidance on how to unhook the fish carefully and return them to the water with minimal harm.
On the lower Lake Hassan Khan of Nash Tackle was joined by Steve Manley and Dan Murrell of Catch to explain the complexities and technicalities of carp fishing. During the morning session the carp showed on the surface in abundance allowing Hassan and his friends to demonstrate the frustration of carp fishing as the carp ignored the carefully presented hook baits. They made up for this in the afternoon session helping a young angler to bank two fine double figure carp.
The event proved a huge success with many families being introduced to angling for the first time. For some this could prove the gateway to a lifetime spent in the great outdoors gaining an in depth appreciation of nature. Angling is recognised as providing a great deal of well-being with significant benefits for mental health.
During the day I attempted to capture a few images of the fishing that will hopefully do more justice than words alone.
When my good friend Steve Dawe expressed an interest in fly fishing for pike it seemed a good idea to arrange a trip to that mecca of pike fishing Chew Valley Lake. This large expanse of water in Somerset has a well-deserved reputation for producing huge pike. It is also a water that has shattered more dreams than it has made for its rewards are not always easily won.
It’s a venue I love to visit when I get the chance though rising fuel costs are certainly a cause for concern when travelling outside of North Devon in search of fish. We seemed to have struck it lucky when we arrived at the Lodge to look over a flat calm lake. The previous two days had seen all boats cancelled as a result of strong to gale force Northerly winds.
Early April is perhaps a little early to target the pike on the fly as they will still potentially be recovering from spawning. May is probably the best month before weed growth and high water temperatures put paid to pike on the fly until September when the water starts to cool again.
We were encouraged by reports of a few pike seen in the weedy margins and decided to head to these areas first. I have enjoyed some success in the past targeting pike on the fly and tend to stick to the flies I have confidence in. Medium sized black lures with perhaps a bit of lure flash added.
Confidence is key to enjoying fly fishing, especially pike fishing with the fly. The allure of Chew is that you know that the next cast could bring the fish of your dreams. Thirty pound plus pike are present with twenty pounders likely. The reality is of course that the majority of pike caught will be jacks. These give exciting sport and help to maintain that interest.
In the first hour the pike were certainly feeding with several hits that resulted in a nice jack to get Steve off the mark. I hooked and lost one and had several follows. Moving into deeper water we had several fish follow the fly to within a few feet of the boat. Some of these were good fish certainly upper doubles maybe bigger. Steve added a second jack to the tally.
By mid-morning the takes dried up a bit and we searched the lakes known hotspots. Each area brought a hit or follow with good sized trout also attacking the large flies from time to time. We both had a brief interlude with the trout gear but our hearts were not in chasing trout we wanted a big pike and soon returned to casting the big flies despite aching arms.
The weather seemed to be going through all seasons with calm conditions early changing to cold and windy later in the day with a brief shower that abated as soon as we got our coats on.
By late afternoon I was starting to contemplate a blank session. I still believed though and persisted. Each move brought a little hope that we could find that big pike that was on the feed.
At just after 5.00pm after eight hours of constant casting I put the boat into a reed fringed bay and put out another cast. The line was jerked savagely tight the rod hooping over and the water surface erupted in a flurry of spray. The pike looked far bigger in the water than the scales would tell. At 12lb 8oz it was no monster but it was reward enough for a long hard day of persistence. Steve captured the image in the late afternoon sun and we fished on for another hour before deciding to pack up with a long drive home ahead of us.
Back at the Lodge we chatted with trout anglers who had been practicing for a big competition over the weekend. They had caught several pike on buzzers whilst fishing for trout. Perhaps we should have scaled down on our big flies! We will hopefully be back in a few weeks when the waters have warmed up a little.
Hope to see you there!
Joe Dietrich was woken from his slumbers on a cold spring night by this 44lb catfish at Anglers Paradises Day Ticket Eldorado Catfish Lake.