Anglers Paradise – Get Fishing Family Fun Day

            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.

Dean Asplin from the Angling Trust with Zenia Drury Gregorek

            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.

Roly
John Thompson
Mark Thorneycroft – Angling Trust Volunteer
Tony King
Joe Dietrich
Hassan Khan & Steve Manley

Andy Payne

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.

Tony King and Andy Payne with the Ezsias Family proudly displaying their certificates. ( many thanks to Tony King for the above image)

            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.

Leon Mortimer with a fine double figure carp
Leon Mortimer with his dad Floyd Mortimer with the biggest fish of the day.

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.

Joe Drury of Fat Mammoth with a family of happy anglers with a fine koi carp

            During the day I attempted to capture a few images of the fishing that will hopefully do more justice than words alone.

Hugo Clayton with a golden tench

Tony King and Oscar Ody

Dillion Bandy with fine perch ( Image – Kevon Jefferies)
Dillion Bandy with a golden tench ( Image – Devon Jefferies)

Zenia Drury Gregorek would like to say a special thank you to Get Fishing and the Angling Trust for helping and supporting this Event, also to Zyg and Rose Gregorek for letting us hold the wonderful event at Anglers Paradise’s Day Ticket venue Eldorado Big thank you to Shakespeare Fishing for sponsoring the Event with prizes for the kids. Dynamite Baits for providing all the bait, and to the Angling Times & Improve Your Coarse Fishing for providing copies of their awesome magazines to all that attend!! Not forgetting the volunteers to help on the day – Dean Asplin from the Angling Trust, the Angling Trust Coaches, Hassan Khan, Joe Drury, Tony King, Andy Payne, Steve Manley, Joe Dietrich & any that I have forgotten – THANK YOU!! It really was a wonderful event to see so many smiling, happy families & share the MAGIC OF…FISHING!
Anglers Paradisehttp://www.anglers-paradise.co.uk

Chasing Pike on the Fly

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.

Calm waters on a Spring Morning

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.

Early success for Steve Dawe

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.

A second jack for Steve

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.

Bideford and District Angling Club Monthly Coarse Competition results:

Tarka Swims 23 fished
1st Keith Mountjoy  21lb 4oz
2nd Martin Turner 17lb 10oz
3rd Stephen Craker  15lb 6oz
4rd Colin Gorman  14lb 9oz
5th Les Polden 14lb 1oz
6th Kevin Shears 13lb 7oz
A fantastic turn out , just 3 short of a full house, enjoyed an interesting day on our club lake. The forecast poor weather didn’t materialize and reasonable conditions prevailed.
The deeper pegs have once again dominant the main prize list. Last month’s winner Keith has made few mistakes to put another winning catch together on peg 9 , long pole tactics soft pellet over ground bait.
Martin , 2 pegs away on peg 11 , had a good carp, late, shallow to boost him into 2nd spot. 3rd place Stephen almost took the golden peg prize, fishing a long pole on peg 15. Committee member ,Colin had 3 good carp on peg 10 for 4th.
The next competition on Tarka will be on April 10th booking on will be required.

ROADFORD FLY FAIR – 2022

Fly Fishing enthusiasts from across the South West and beyond gathered at Roadford on March 6th for the popular Fly Fair. After a two year gap due to COVID the event was rejuvenated with an overwhelming sense of joy at a return to a sort of normal.

The event organised by South West Lakes Trust is an invaluable show case for Fly Fishing providing a platform for companies to display their products and more importantly for anglers and lovers of the waterside to mingle generating firm plans for the coming season.

When I arrived home after a day chatting to fellow anglers my mind was buzzing with talk of flies, presentation, tackle, fish and the waters in which they swim along with the extensive environmental challenges. I will try to give a brief account of the day but would urge all who love fly fishing to attend next year.

Thanks must go to South West Lakes Trusts Dil Singh, technical lead for game fishing who organised the event along with his dedicated team. The event was opened by the Fairs patron Charles Jardine who gave a warm welcome stressing how vital angling is to us all during these challenging times. The fairs main sponsor was Chevron Hackles.

Fair Organiser Dil Singh and its Patron Charles Jardine

Charles delivered a fascinating Fly Casting demonstration later in the day. This was delivered with his normal repertoire of humour with clear inspiring instruction illustrated with a few tales from the waters edge. To watch Charles cast is a true reflection of how an expert makes a task look so easy and effortless. The bitter cold North-East wind was conquered  as he both mastered the conditions and captivated the audience.

The basic principle to learn about fly fishing was the importance of relaxing and being at one with the rod and line.

Amongst the fly fishing topics covered were trout, pike and salmon. A rather sad observation made by Charles was that today salmon fishing consisted of plenty of casting practice with the vague chance of catching once a year. This is rather a poignant statement that to my mind very much describes the state of West Country salmon fishing!

Casting a fly line with broomstick!!

Charles ended his demonstration by casting a fly line using a broomstick!

Retreating to the warmth of the conference centre there was an abundance of Fly fishers to engage with and discuss the wonderful places we share and the issues that we feel so passionate about.

Fly Tying demonstrations

The environment was high on the agenda with members of the fish pass team present to discuss the many miles of water available across the South West via their fishpassapp.co.uk  The invasive species stand gave valuable information about how anglers can reduce the inadvertent distribution of species by cleaning and drying waders and nets between trips.

South West Lakes support the Invasive Species initiative

Several Fly Fishing groups and associations were well represented with Burrator Fly Fishing Association, Kennick Fly Fishers, Siblyback Fly fishers and Stithians in attendance along with the Pike Fly Fishing Association. Apologies to those I have undoubtedly failed to mention.

Simon Kidd of Snowbee gives valuable advice and tips.

Snowbee Tackle were well represented by Simon Kidd and one of their ambassadors Jeff Pearce who mingled with the many angler’s present discussing the finer points of Fly fishing.

Nigel Nunn and his wife Julia enjoy chat at the bar with Jeff Pearce of Snowbee and Wimbleball Fishery manager Mark Underhill

It was a delight to catch up with so many friends that share my passion for fishing. The planning of future forays at such social gatherings is undoubtedly vital for the future of fly fishing and it is very clear to see how valuable quality time at the water’s edge is for our mental health and well-being.

Pete Tyjas is editor of Fly Culture magazine a publication that provides a brilliant and inspiring read incorporating quality writing on fly fishing from across the globe. Pete also produces the excellent Fly Culture podcast that makes for fascinating listening on those long drives to fishing destinations. www.flyculturemag.com

John Aplin and Pete Tyjas sharing in the fun of the fair

It is always good to catch up with John Aplin Managing director at Casterbridge fisheries Limited.  I have been very fortunate to visit Johns wonderful stretch of the River Frome in Dorset and even catch some of the marvellous grayling that swim within the clear waters of this tranquil chalkstream. http://www.casterbridgefisheries.co.uk

I was introduced to Nigel Nunn from Kent who has turned his hobby into a full time job.

Pete Tyjas and Nigel Nunn

Nigel is now a full time Fly Tier crafting flies that are intended to catch trout and not anglers. Nigel is a frequent visitor to the South West with his wife Julia who shares his love of fly fishing. Since becoming a full time fly tier Nigel overcame the challenge of impaired vision after developing cataracts on his eyes. Working with fellow anglers Nigel creates flies to imitate the wild insects hatching across the country. He explained how he receives orders from across the country reflecting the timing of fly hatches that move through the rivers of the land generally from South to North.

www.nigelnunnflies.com

Fly Tier Nigel Nunn and Julia discuss the finer details of split cane craftsmanship with rod maker Luke Bannister

Luke Bannister builds high quality split cane fly rods for the connoisseur who delights in the qualities of split cane as a tool to deliver the fly. Luke relishes fishing for wild brown trout that abound in West Country rivers.

www.splitcane.co.uk

Rodney Wevill is vice chairman of the Pike Fly Fishing Association and a keen member of the Facebook group fluff chucker’s. Rodney is a keen fly fishing devotee who targets a wide range of species beyond pike.

www.pffa.co.uk

Rodney Wevill
Selection of pike flies

Rodney has enjoyed success with that most elusive of fish the grey mullet. I expressed my own frustrations at chasing these fish with the fly. Catching mullet on bait is often difficult enough without complicating matters. Rodney and his good friend discussed the intricacies of stalking these mesmerising fish using small flies to imitate their natural food.

Selection of flies to tempt the wily mullet

Shallow water and feeding fish being the key. This summer will once again see me wading in the shallow clear water of summer following wise words of encouragement from Rodney and his good friend Gary Brazier.

Alan Riddell’s stand with an impressive range of flies

I even managed to find a present to take home for Pauline!

I spent several hours at this year’s fly fair and left buoyed with optimism for the future of Fly Fishing. The challenge for the future is of course to encourage more young participants. Angling has undoubtedly received a boost as many have discovered its true value whilst escaping from COVID induced lockdowns etc. In these increasingly dark times solace can often be found at the waters edge. The ability to wander free with a rod and line is without doubt an experience to both cherish and share.

2022 Trout Fisheries Prices

View our guide to catch and release angling here

View our float tubing good practise guidelines here 

Trout Fishery Season Dates Day Ticket Concessionary
Day Ticket
Daily Bag
Limit
Catch & Release
Day Ticket
Evening Ticket Under 18
Ticket
Evening/
Under 18 Bag Limit
Burrator 12th March – 30th November £21.00 £19.00 5 £15.50 £14.50 Free with paying adult 2
Colliford 15th March – 12th October £17.00 £15.50 4 n/a £11.00 Free with paying adult 2
Fernworthy 15th March – 12th October £17.00 £15.50 4 n/a £11.00 Free with paying adult 2
Kennick 12th March – 30th November £27.50 £25.00 5 £20.00 £19.00 Free with paying adult 2
Roadford 15th March – 12th October £17.00 £15.50 4 n/a £11.00 Free with paying adult 2
Siblyback 12th March – 30th November £25.00 £22.50 5 £20.00 £17.50 Free with paying adult 2
Stithians 12th March – 30th November £21.00 £19.00 5 £15.50 £14.50 Free with paying adult 2
Wistlandpound 15th March – 12th October £11.00 n/a 2 n/a n/a Free with paying adult 2
Dil Singh of South West Lakes Trust

ANGLERS HEAVEN – Bideford

Tom Wade’s Anglers Heaven is situated close to Bideford’s Pannier Market with convenient free parking close by. Tom is a keen sea angler who has been at Anglers Heaven for nine years working closely with local angling clubs including Bideford and District Angling Club providing a valuable location for obtaining club membership allowing access to the clubs fishing lakes at Tarka Swims. He sells fresh bait for both Coarse and sea angling.

Tom Wade of Anglers Heaven

The shop carries an extensive range of tackle including Pure-fishing and other popular brands. He is a stockist for Century Rods with a good number of beach rods available to examine in the shop. Toms main focus is sea angling with an impressive display of images pinned upon the shop wall.

It is vital that local tackle shops are supported as they are a valuable meeting place for anglers giving a service that cannot be replicated on-line. With local advice on where, when to fish and what tackle is required.

In addition the shop carries a wide range of air rifles.

CHASING PREDATORS

As I write this on a Sunday morning rain is lashing down beating against the window driven by a strong South West wind, the fire is crackling in the grate. It’s a good time to reflect on two days chasing predators with good friends.

I was awoken by the alarm at 3:45am on Thursday morning eager to visit the legendary Chew Valley Lake near Bristol. The 100 mile journey proved uneventful and I pulled into the carp park at 7:30 to greet my long term fishing buddy Bruce Elston. Shortly after 8:00am we were anchored up in twelve feet of water as the morning sun illuminated the calm lake.

We both cast out dead-baits beneath crimson topped floats the baits resting on the bottom. Lures were cast to search around the boat and a pike followed Bruce’s latest lucky lure to the side of the boat before disappearing with a flick of its tail.

My float stood abruptly to attention before sliding beneath the water! I wound down immediately to feel a pleasing resistance. Chew Valleys long history as a water containing massive pike always gives a deep sense of anticipation. Is this a jack or the fish of dreams, that thirty pounder or perhaps even a forty?

The pike is a jack of five or six pounds. Ten minutes later the float slides away again and this time it’s a far better fish. As it approaches the boat it launches itself attempting to shake the hooks free. The image of the pike erupting from the water in a flurry of spray is one of those images that will be etched upon the minds eye for many years.

The pike pulls the scales down to 17lb 3oz and is no monster in Chew terms but a good result for an occasional piker like myself.

This proves to be the highlight of a great day shared with a good friend. We savour a full day upon this vast reed fringed lake. Planes fly overhead from nearby Bristol Airport a sign that the world is moving once again after two very strange years. A pair of swans fly past majestically, terns and gulls constantly twist and turn in the winter sky. The cold winter air bites at the extremities. Sausages sizzle on the stove and the kettle whistles as we enjoy the occasional warming joy of hot tea and coffee. Blood trickles from lacerated fingers after handling numerous pike as the day progresses. All of today’s fish fall to dead-baits, joey mackerel, smelt and blueys.

We end the day with seventeen pike between us and two hard fighting rainbow trout that also seized dead-baits.

We arrived back at the jetty as the light began to fade. “Any good ?” I ask a fellow angler. “A few Jacks and a low double; not what we came for”. he replied in a slightly dejected tone. Bruce and I had also come in hope of that fish of a lifetime but had enjoyed the day immensely just catching a good few pike. Savouring the atmosphere and anticipation. I have fished Chew for close to twenty years and will keep returning. One day I might just tempt that thirty pound pike but if not I will enjoy the journey and each dip of that crimson topped float.

A mid twenty conger
(Above) Les Smith with one of many spurs
Rob Scoines holds a bull huss with attitude

Steve Dawe with vividly marked huss

(Above) Brian Hopcroft with a good spur
Good eel for Chris Hodgson
Bob Hopcroft with a fine spur.
Chris Hodgson with a good spur

The next day I set sail from Ilfracombe with seven other anglers in search of spurdog. We are blessed with a calm day sandwiched between days of strong winds. The spurdog packs seven miles offshore provide an exciting day with over two hundred a conservative estimate. A few good conger to mid-twenties add to the excitement along with handsome bull huss their sides decorated with a multitude of leopard like patterns. Hopefully a full account of this trip will appear in a future edition of Hookpoint Magazine.

A TIME TO BOTH REFLECT AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE

http://www.bluefincharters.co.uk

                        A New Year dawns and an old year passes a time that we all tend to both reflect and look to the future. Hopefully anglers will have managed to get to the water’s edge over the Christmas holiday and in the days that have followed. If all goes well I will be out boat fishing when this goes to print hoping for a cod in the murky waters off Minehead.

(Trip was cancelled due to strong winds and swell)

Chris Bond with a cod from the murky waters off Minehead.

The winter cod season has been producing some excellent cod with fish to over twenty pounds boated already this season along with ray, huss and good sized conger. Archie Porter is taking anglers out from Ilfracombe on Reel Deals Sister boat “Predator 2”. Spurdog, conger and huss dominate catches in this part of the Bristol Channel with cod surprisingly scarce in recent seasons. The reason for this is open to speculation as there was a seemingly healthy cod population off the North Devon coast during the 1970s, 80’s and 90’s.

The dynamics of angling have certainly changed over the past twenty years or so as society changes. Boxing Day used to be a busy day in North Devon’s angling clubs fixture programme yet this tradition seems to have lost its popularity. I remember well when Bideford Angling Club always held a Boxing day fixture and Ilfracombe & District Angling Club held a match on Ilfracombe Pier. This decline in participation does not reflect a decline in the numbers going fishing for some disciplines of angling are in the healthiest state for many years. The COVID pandemic has perhaps encouraged many more to discover angling or rediscover its pleasures and benefits.

The angling clubs of North Devon have to some extent not seen the full benefit of this resurgence in angling participation as societies habits change. The ever changing workplace with many working throughout the seven day week has impacted upon weekend fixtures. Solitary angling such as carp fishing and sea angling is thriving whilst the social aspects are to some extent ebbing.

Anglers Paradise

Commercial Fisheries such as Stafford Moor and Anglers Paradise offer superb fishing for a wide range of species. Match anglers fishing bespoke match venues can regularly put together nets of fish well in excess of 100lb. Such huge bags of fish would have been rare a couple of decades ago yet today it has become the expected normal.

Carp fishing has boomed in recent decades with North Devon waters reflecting the countrywide increase in carp weights. When I started writing this column over two decades ago a twenty pound carp would have been noteworthy. I now report on thirty pound plus carp most weeks with forty and fifty pound plus fish included. I have mixed feelings about this as I remember with nostalgia a time when carp were viewed as almost uncatchable mysterious creatures that drifted through lakes where they were seldom caught except by the dedicated specimen hunter. In today’s carp angling World the long stay angler dominates bivvied up beside lake’s traps set waiting to hook carp that have been given names. The mystery has to a large extent been lost, a reflection that perhaps mirrors the wider world where the knowledge we gain in life sometimes subtracts from its richness.

Whilst the artificially created angling world booms the wild salmon and sea trout that once surged into our rivers have declined at an alarming rate. If the salmon and sea trout numbers continue to decline at the same rate since I started fishing for them back in the early eighties they could be all but extinct within fifty years. This is a sad indictment of how mankind has squandered the wealth of the natural world. The reasons for the decline in wild fish populations is complex though overfishing, climate change and pollution are all contributory factors driven by an ever increasing population that demands evermore from natures dwindling store cupboard.

I took my fly rod the Wimbleball Reservoir a couple of days before Christmas and experienced exciting fishing for the rainbow trout that have been stocked in this extensive reservoir high on Exmoor. This reservoir completed in 1979 is a fine example of how mankind can create a rich and diverse almost natural environment. The trout within this lake are hard fighting and fin perfect. Standing waist deep in the clear cold water looking out over a vast sheet of water as the light constantly changes it felt refreshingly wild.

I look forward to reporting on North Devon’s angling news in 2022 and would like to wish readers tight lines for 2022. Special thanks to all the sponsors of North Devon Angling News.