These hot summer nights and days seem to suit the wels catfish that dwell in the lakes at Anglers Paradise. Local angler Bruce Elston enjoyed a session fishing overnight on Anglers Eldorado’s catfish lake where he banked catfish of 16lb, 30lb 5oz, 36lb 10oz and 40lb 6oz.
Some of our amazing supporters at Quay Sports in Barnstaple donated money raised at their 1st Anniversary Fundraiser. They raised an impressive £1122 in ONE day and we’d just like to say a massive thank you to Toby, Harrison, Chris and Mark L and the rest of the store team for continuing to fundraise for Children’s Hospice South West.
Joe Dietrich fished Anglers Paradise’s Eldorado Catfish Lake to tempt 5 catfish the best scaling 63lb 9oz. The other cats weighed with a 47lb, 32lb, 27lb and 21lb along with 2 mid double carp! All from an overnight session on Eldorado Carp and Cat 2 (bottom lake) Best fish came at dusk and dawn.
I joined a group of friends at Anglers Paradise fishing the Eldorado day Ticket Catfish Lake. We had booked the lake for the weekend ensuring we would have exclusive use throughout our stay.
The weather forecast predicted high temperatures, unbroken sunshine and light winds, perfect for catfish based on Bruce Elston the groups organisers previous experience.
Due to other commitments I could only attend for the first full day of the session which reduced the need for bivvies and associated camping gear.
We met up on the Saturday morning off-loading a mountain of gear and assembling on the lakeside for a discussion on where to set up. This was based around likely location of fish and the focus on enabling a vital social aspect of the fishing.
By the time we had debated where to fish, tackled up and baited swims it was late morning and the sun was beating down from a cloudless sky upon calm waters. Lush summer growth surrounded the lake with many summer flowers in full bloom.
Five anglers two rods each. The wait began with a steady intake of cool water and snacks. Anticipation was high as we soaked up the sun with the England versus India Cricket match results punctuating the day.
The sight of a grass snake crossing the lake was appreciated by all present an indication of the rich diversity of nature provided by the vast complex of lakes nestled deep in the heart of Devon.
Whilst we all shared a deep passion for angling I think we all appreciate the vital role being with nature plays in supporting our mental health during these strange and challenging times.
It was late afternoon when Bruce’s bite indicator sounded the alarm as something moved off with his bait in the far margin. The rod hooped over as Bruce began persuading what was undoubtedly a good sized catfish to the waiting net. Large swirls in the lake raised expectations as Bruce put his tackle to the test. Eventually a large eel like shape emerged from the murky water and was coaxed over the waiting net to a round of congratulations.
The fish was kept in the net for a few moments whilst the unhooking mat and weigh sling were drenched with cool lake water. The scales were checked and zeroed and cameras switched on in readiness with some thought given to where the sun was and its likely impact with shadows etc.
This first cat of the weekend scaled 30lb 12oz and was one of five catfish to be landed by Bruce over the weekend.
Anticipation grew with the capture of this specimen catfish and it was a happy bunch of anglers who wound in their rods to savour a delicious pizza delivered by Bruce’s wife from the local Inn at Halwill Junction. https://www.thejunctioninnhalwill.co.uk/pizzamenu/
As the sun slowly sank below the horizon it was time for me to leave and head for home. The rest of the party remained and I was sure more catfish would grace their nets over the remainder of the weekend.
The following morning, I was delighted to check my phone and find an array of images showing catfish caught by Bruce and John Hughes. The total catch for the weekend was eight catfish. Bruce landing cats of 38lb 10oz, 37lb 10oz, 30lb 12oz, 22lb 5oz and 21lb 12oz. John Hughes banking three cats the best scaling 20lb 8oz and 15lb 4oz.
Bruce with a fine catfish of 38lb 10oz
Despite Mitch, Ben and myself blanking it had been a pleasure to relax in Paradise with good company beneath a cloudless summer sky. Plans are already being made for a return next year or maybe sooner.
Paul Brennan who caught a PB 46lb 5oz Wels Catfish from Nirvana’s Specimen Cat Lake.
Paul shared –
“We came here last year where I caught my first ever 16lb catfish and knew we wanted to come back again with the intention of getting a new personal best. On the second night of fishing we went into the speci cat lake where I ended up catching 17lb trust me to catch 1lb more than last years…I wanted bigger as that was just a tease so for the third night stayed there again and at around 7 o’clock in the morning i had a nice wake up call of getting into the freezing cold water to bring in my catfish, after 20-30 mins it was worth it as it was finally in my net and Weighed 46.5lb. Thanks anglers paradise be back soon to get another big one.”
I was delighted to look in at Quay Sports on their first year anniversary celebrations. Tackle shops have always been a central part of the angling infrastructure where anglers meet to exchange stories and plot future forays. There is nothing better for the sport and the industry than this social interaction. In addition to coffee, cakes and raffles there were fun casting games to test the skill.
Chris Connoughton of Quay Sports commented
“Quay sports would like to thank everyone for their support since opening. The backing we have received is amazing and to see the community come together like it has, is a joy to be a part of.
To see everyone smiling and to help a cause such a Children’s hospice southwest makes us proud.
In the end with Mark potters kind generosity and Chris Connaughton’s organisation and planning combined withthe effort of all staff and customers kindness, we managed to raise £1000 for the cause which is phenomenal!
We should also give thanks to all of our suppliers for providing some great prizes.
We are so pleased to have built up such a great store and group of people who enjoy the shop and the friendship and camaraderie that comes with it, it’s been great to see local people, anglers and non anglers alike creating their own fishing hub, where we can all meet and talk and tell fisherman’s tales to each other, it’s been fantastic.
We hope that our head quarters will remain central to the local angling community for many years to come.
So we will keep building, keep listening, and keep helping people enjoy our wonderful pastime.
Many thanks to everyone who has supported us we can’t thank you all enough.”
I have been visiting Chew Valley Lake on a fairly regular basis since it opened to pike angling on a limited basis in October 2001. Since those early days the lake has built on its reputation for producing huge pike and I have long dreamt of catching one of these huge fish.
Whilst I have tempted several twenty pound plus pike on lures and dead-baits during the annual pike trials my most successful days have come whilst fishing with the fly. My best pike being a fish of 27lb 12oz caught on a fly in April 2008.
Spring time from late March through until late June and September are the months I try to visit with the fly rod. During the warmer months of summer pike are potentially susceptible to stress with water temperatures high and weed growth extensive.
On each visit to this vast 1200 acre lake there is the knowledge that the pike of a life time could be just a cast away. The desire to catch the elusive thirty pound pike has resulted in many years of heartbreak for dedicated specimen hunters who visit the lake year after year enduring many blank trips and days when just jacks seize the bait, lure or fly.
I have always enjoyed fishing the lake and whilst I always hoped to catch the monster I generally just enjoyed the fishing. The lake has an abundance of wildlife and the vast sheet of water always provides a spectacular back drop throughout the seasons.
On June 18th, 2022 my luck was to change when I fished the lake with my good friend Steve Dawe. As is often the case when catching a big fish there was a big slice of luck involved with circumstances combining to bring about success. Several big pike had already been landed earlier in the season. Bruce Elston a long time fishing companion boating a huge pike of 33lb 13oz in May. Steve and I booked a boat for June 14th and were looking forward to a day on the lake despite the forecast of hot sunny weather. The afternoon before I received a call from Bristol Water to say that due to staff shortages they would have to cancel all of the boats. They offered us alternative dates of the following Friday or Saturday. The only day that both Steve and I could make was the Saturday so on Saturday morning I met Steve at the fishing Lodge for 8:00am.
We steamed out onto a flat calm lake beneath a dark and cloudy sky. This was perhaps our first stroke of luck. The previous day had been the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures into the high twenties. The cancelled day on Tuesday had also been hot and sunny. These conditions seemed far more conducive to the search for pike.
As we steamed out we talked of the Chew Valley giants and of the lake’s history and the expectation that always lingers. There is much talk of the pressure of fishing for these pike yet when you steam out you realise that this is a vast body of water and locating pike is not always guaranteed. Add to this that the pike needs to be feeding and you soon appreciate that finding a big pike is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Basing location on previous experience and instinct we headed for a favoured area and commenced a drift. At first there wasn’t a breath of wind to move the boat. We knew that this was to be short lived as the forecast gave a strengthening northwest wind.
As predicted within half an hour the wind picked up and the drogue was employed to slow the drift. An hour into the trip and we had not had a pull or seen a follow. After five minutes of starting a drift I observed a boat that I thought we would drift closer to than we would like. This was perhaps the key stroke of luck. I pulled in the drogue and motored fifty yards closer to the shore. As we set off on a new drift I noted that the boat we had moved to avoid had motored elsewhere!
We need not have moved but this new drift line proved to be fruitful beyond our wildest dreams. A few minutes into the drift the line was jerked tight as something big hit my fly. There was nothing I could do initially as what was undoubtedly a big fish surged away stripping line from the reel. I tend to play fish hard and piled on pressure as soon as I could. The fish circled the boat fortunately on a long enough line to miss the drogue that hung behind the drifting boat. The fish made repeated powerful runs against maximum rod pressure. We both knew that this was a big fish but were still shocked when we eventually glimpsed the magnificent creature in the water.
At this moment the wire trace seems worryingly thin. This is the fish of dreams; how good is the hook hold? Fear and anxiety play on the mind for these vital final moments of drama. Steve sank the net beside the boat and I coaxed the pike closer until it was over the net. Steve lifted and I gave a shout of triumph; YES !!!!
A warm shake of hands in celebration of shared success.
I held the net as Steve prepared the unhooking mat dousing it in cold water. The scales were readied and weigh sling set up. Both cameras were switched on in readiness. I lifted the pike from the water shocked at its weight. I slipped the barbless 6/0 from its jaws and lifted the fish from the net. I rested the huge fish onto the weigh sling and allowed Steve to witness the weight. The reading fluctuated between 42lb and 43lb so subtracting 4lb for the weigh sling the weight of the pike was a minimum of 38lb.
I cradled the fish briefly for a couple of photos then held the fish in the water for a few moments. I released the fish when I felt it was ready and watched as it sank slowly before swimming strongly away coming to the surface just in front of the boat to disappear with a defiant swish of its tail.
Such moments in a fishing life always seem slightly surreal. To catch early in the day is perfect as for the remainder of the day you can just bask in the reflection of success. There is of course the knowledge that the conditions are good and that just maybe another big pike will succumb.
We had several more drifts in the same area catching numerous jacks of between 3lb and 4lbs. Even these small pike give a surprisingly good account on fly tackle.
We tried drifts around various areas of the lake finding a few jacks at each location often at the edge of deeper water where weed growth provided some cover.
It was good to note large numbers of swifts swooping over the water feasting upon the prolific fly life that helps make this a superb trout water.
We returned to the area that had produced the big pike and after a couple of drifts I was pleased to add a 16lb 5oz pike to the days tally. This was followed by Steve hooking into a fish that powered away stripping line form the reel at such an alarming rate that Steve feared he would run out of line. I pulled in the drogue just in case we had to follow and was relieved to see Steve’s backing knot approaching the rod tip. After several more powerful runs a large pike eventually appeared beside the boat was soon safely within the waiting net. At 20lb 5oz it was a best on the fly for Steve and cemented a highly successful day.
We fished on as dark clouds gathered adding a few more jacks and a low double to the total. The tally when we packed up shortly after 6:00pm was 23 pike. A fine day’s fishing by any standard. We will be back in the autumn once again to continue chasing dreams and perhaps catching them.
The main lake at HORWOOD has now been completely cleaned out and around 1,500 tons of silt removed, we have created a number of wide shelves all around the edges which should be perfect for bait presentation. The lake despite the dry weather has now almost completely filled and we are starting to gradually stock, 110 carp have been added for a total weight of 750lb, and we are looking to double this in a few weeks time when these have settled. The stocking so far has included 18 double figure carp up to 20lb. We now have toilet facilities on site which should be up and running by the end of next week.
The top lake is fishing very well and in a competition on Friday, June 10th over 400lb of fish came out with the top weight of 116lb going to Exeter angler Steve Barrel, mainly caught on the waggler at depth and on 8mm pellets, second was Graham Curno with 94lb 10oz and mainly caught on the straight lead and again pellet on the hook. Lots of tench showing as well and these will for now be kept in the top lake.
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.