Shaun Thorne fished at Lower Tamar lake to tempt several double figure bream to 11lb 14oz and a tench of 6lb 11oz.
Spring into Fishing – Get into fishing this April, May and June with FREE fishing from the Angling Trust
The Angling Trust’s Spring into Fishing campaign returns for a fourth year with FREE fishing sessions to re-awaken your love of the outdoors
Come and Spring into Fishing at free, fun, outdoor activity events for families around the country that are the perfect way to discover the wonderful world of angling. Everybody is welcome, to come and try fishing – whatever your age, ability or experience level.
Never been fishing before? No problem – tackle, bait, instruction and info on fishing clubs and places to go are all included for everyone at Spring into Fishing events.
Already a beginner? Great – come back and continue your introduction to angling, refresh your basic fishing skills this spring and discover some new fishing tips to help progress your angling to the next-level!
Spring into Fishing beginner sessions are quality assured by the Angling Trust to give the best possible experience of fishing to children, families and anybody who wants to find out what you need and where to go fishing. Funded by the Environment Agency and Sport England, Spring into Fishing gives everyone the chance to get outside, try fishing and learn new skills.
Free fishing events like this let you experience first-hand how fun, inexpensive and accessible fishing is, and how it’s good for your wellbeing to get outside next to water and simply tune-in to the peace and quiet of nature.
Spring into Fishing events are happening all over the country from April right through to June at fishing clubs and venues in partnership with friendly, helpful coaches and volunteers who will show you and your children what fishing is all about.
I arrived at Anglers Paradise’s Eldorado Day Ticket complex shortly after the start of the morning session of the 2023 Spring into fishing event. It was a perfect late Spring morning with warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. Wispy white high clouds drifted across the blue sky with the water of the mixed general lake reflecting the lush green surrounds of the flag Iris and bankside trees.
The vibrancy of the Devon countryside in late May and early June is certainly to be savoured. The lake was surrounded by families sharing in an introduction to the joys and tribulations of fishing. The coaches were certainly in for a busy day as they explained the setting up of tackle to the eager pupils. The brightly coloured wriggling maggots always fascinate children who are often eager to touch and feel the writhing mass within the bait tub.
The coaches set up a selection of tackles some putting out self-hooking leger rigs whilst most opted for the simplicity of pole tackles and float. I always think that the simplicity of float fishing is perfect for beginners. A float offers a point of focus; giving delight in its disappearance and buoyant optimism whilst watched.
I wandered around the lake with my camera chatting with coaches and pupils whilst trying to capture the essence of the day. It is always a joy to witness success as the fish were lifted from the water their jewelled flanks glistening in the sunshine. Beaming smiles abounded as floats dipped frequently during the morning session.
The coaches were kept busy carefully unhooking the fish and explaining the importance of correct handling procedures. The use of unhooking matts, wet hands and correct unhooking tools was explained.
A variety of species were caught including golden rudd, perch, carp and a stunning koi carp of close to 10lb caught by Lewis Jones.
The coaches talked about each fish and pointed out its characteristics, the golden flanks of rudd with scarlet fins, the stripy flanks of perch with their spiky bristling fins and the bronze chain mail flanks of carp.
During my walks around the Lake I caught sight of a bent rod on the cat and carp lake below. I dashed down to witness Paul Hockam land a pleasing catfish. Later in the day his fishing partner Tasha Caunter banked a stunning common carp of 17lb.
The pupils ranged from families who travelled from across the South West to individual anglers rediscovering the joys of angling. I hoped that some of the young would become hooked by the fascination of angling and follow a journey through life enhanced by days in nature that can nurture mental health. It was also good to share the rediscovery of angling with a man who recalled fishing with his Grandad as a child.
Angling is a passion that can be enjoyed in many different ways. I have commented before how an angling journey can often be plotted with beginners wanting to catch fish, they then wish to catch more fish, bigger fish or maybe more than their fellow angler. At some point they perhaps rediscover the simple of joy of just going fishing.
By the end of the morning session most pupils had caught a fish and hopefully most will want to return to the water’s edge again.
During the short dinner break between the two session’s I chatted with Dean Asplin Angling Development Manager for the Angling Trust. Dean works with the trust and its volunteer coaches to organise these valuable events at participating fisheries across the country.
Dean told me that they are very busy at present with many eager to sample fishing. Zenia Gregorek of the Anglers Paradise complex is a passionate supporter of the Angling Trust and thanked Dynamite baits and Shakespeare Tackle for their generous support. Anglers Paradise continues to grow and there are many exciting plans for the future that I will continue to share here on North Devon Angling News
Before the afternoon session commenced I called for a quick group photo as another group of budding anglers converged on the water. After the busy morning the fish seemed less inclined to dine and action was less frantic. With coaches having to explain why it is called fishing and not catching.
Despite the slower fishing there were plenty of smiling faces as I departed for home with a camera full of the days images.
Edward Steward with a fine common carp
Compiling reports for NDANs I see lots of images of good fish and stories of success and these can inspire but can also raise expectations leading to disappointing days. I feel sure I am not the only one who sometimes sets out full of expectation and ends the day feeling slightly deflated.
In my case this disillusionment doesn’t last long for I know that if I keep at it long enough something good will come my way. Basically, effort equals reward and if you can afford to invest time and a little thought good things will eventually happen.
I have enjoyed a few non-productive days recently, fish caught wise anyway. There is generally a positive to be drawn from less productive days in the nature that surrounds or the company that is kept.
I have already swung a fly across the River on numerous occasions in search of salmon and have learnt to accept blank outings as the normal. The salmon just are not present in any numbers so all you can do is believe in the fly and present it to the best of your ability in the places that salmon are known to rest on their migration upriver.
A trip to Chew Valley Lake with my good friend Bruce Elston in early April proved a frustrating day. We set out on a mirror calm lake after a Full English in the Lodge. With bright sunshine and only a light- breeze we knew it was going to be hard going. Plus; we didn’t know what mode the pike would be in pre or post spawning? Local guide John Horsey told us he had seen some big fish but that they were proving fickle following the fly and then turning away.
The mighty Chew holds a certain fascination as the next cast can always bring the fish of dreams.
We drifted the water extensively that day. Twenty pound plus pike followed our flies; glimpses in the clear water that failed to connect.
We took a short break from the piking to have rest and tempt a trout on a buzzer.
But with huge pike to target I find it difficult to stop casting big flies after bigger targets.
We fished until the light faded as the sun sank below the hills. A day full of memories, we exchanged many fish tales and laid plans for future trips.
Chew is a magnet for twitchers and whilst I am no ornithologist I always enjoy hearing the birdsong and watching the many birds that haunt the lake. Grebes, swans, moorhens and coots. We caught sight of a hawk gliding over the reeds and I wasn’t sure what type it was.
We will be back later in the Spring once again.
Upper Tamar lake has been hailed as a mecca for big perch anglers. I headed there full of expectation. A couple of pots of juicy lobworms from Quay Sports a bag of raw prawns and a bucket full of ground bait mixed with mole hill soil. I had been given a tip on a productive swim and arrived at the lake shortly after 8:00am.
It was the day after Storm Noa and the wind had dropped but it was still a tad breezy and cool. Bright sunshine and a cool North West Wind. I was well wrapped up and relished the early signs of spring. It was good to see swallows and martins swooping low over the water.
The bobbins remained stubbornly static throughout the first couple of hours. Eventually I started to get a few twitchy bites on the lobworm baits. As the day drifted past I eventually caught a few tiny perch on lobworm and one on the prawn. A brown trout of around 8oz and a single roach. The fish would have thrilled me fifty years ago as a young angler but with age comes expectation.
A 3lb 8oz Perch John Deprieelle caught from Roadford this weekend. Perch fishing (by boat only) is offered alongside game fishing at Roadford. Purchase your permits and check the rules here: https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/roadford-lake #ItsYourOutdoors
(Below) Steve Dawe caught three specimen bream at 11lb 10oz, 12lb 8oz and 13lb 6oz from Lower Tamar on a recent session.
Tom Wade has been the owner at Anglers Heaven for ten years and is celebrating with an open day at the shop on Saturday, April 1st when there will be selected discounts of up to 25%.
We are very fortunate in North Devon to have a wide range of local tackle shops that are at the heart of the local angling community. Anglers Heaven has been operating for over twenty years and is a well established shop
located in the heart of Bideford adjacent to the Pannier Market with plenty of short stay free parking.
The shop has a wide range of Carp, Coarse and Sea Tackle with popular brands including Century, Pure Fishing, Thinking Tackle and many more. They also stock a wide range of shelf life baits, live baits and frozen baits for both fresh and saltwater anglers. Early in 2023 Tom invested in an extensive expansion of the premises providing a spacious bright space in which to browse.
In addition to fishing tackle Anglers Heaven is a registered fire arms dealer stocking an extensive range of air rifles and accessories. They also stock an extensive range of knives and clothing for Country sports and pastimes.
The shop is open six days per week. Mondays and Tuesdays 9;45am till 5.00pm Thursday 9:30 till 3:00pm Friday and Saturday 9:30 till 5:00pm.
Angling is a very divided pastime with each discipline having its dedicated band of practitioners. Historically angling has been split into Coarse, Sea and Game yet even within these parameters each discipline is segmented into different groups. In Coarse fishing we have specimen hunters, carp anglers, pleasure anglers and match fishers. Sea anglers can to some degree be split between shore, boat, match fishers, specimen hunters, LRF and those who fish primarily for the table.
Even within these branches there are those disciples of a particular style or method. For example, within carp fishing circles there are traditionalists who use vintage tackle and methods stalking the fish they seek. Then there are those who employ modern technics and tackle to deceive the carp using a trapping mentality that can involve long stays camping at the water’s edge.
I could write on about these differing strands of angling but hopefully I have made my point. Times change though and as always angling evolves within society and perhaps reflects the times we live in.
I am a rare breed in that I am a true allrounder casting my line into many waters for a wide range of fish. I truly struggle to say what my favourite fish or technique is often stating that I will fish for anything that swims.
In addition to fishing, I enjoy reading about fishing, writing about fishing and talking about fishing. Being passionate about the pastime I inevitably get drawn into the politics of it all from time to time.
It is probably true to say that many anglers try to keep clear of politics though there are of course numerous keyboard warriors on social media.
One issue that should unite all anglers is the dramatic decline in nature, its eco systems and of course fish stocks. In an ideal world all those who care for nature would work closely together putting their differences aside for the greater good. Sadly, this just isn’t the case at the moment. One issue is of course the moral question posed by those who think angling is cruel. Then there is the all too frequent confrontations between canoeists, wild swimmers and numerous other water users.
Fortunately, there is growing unity amongst many who enjoy the outdoors and the water’s edge. Pollution from agriculture, sewage and industry is destroying our rivers and the seas into which they flow. Nobody wants to swim, paddle or fish in filth so there is a growing desire to get those in power to sort it out.
It is fair to say that the angling sector having most influence in this area is the game fishing fraternity. In the UK freshwater gamefish are determined as Salmon, trout and grayling all of which have an adipose fin. In England’s historic class hierarchy these fish were fished for by the upper classes. The coarse fish and sea fish were predominantly the domain of the lower to middle classes.
This was put to me during a discussion at a recent meeting when I was expressing concern at the lack of engagement between sea anglers and the state. Recent restrictions on netting in estuaries that benefit sea anglers in protecting bass and mullet stocks were largely brought about by lobbying of those in power by River Associations whose members are primarily salmon and sea trout anglers.
It is fair to say that there are far more sea anglers and coarse anglers than game fishers and yet the minority who fish for salmonoids seem to have greater influence. Is this because they have more money, because they move in privileged circles, because they are better organised or better educated?
Such questions seem wrong, politically incorrect but there is undoubtedly an undercurrent with our history that perhaps lingers.
Apathy within many angling community’s and a distinct dislike and distrust of authority runs deep. Whilst angling is undoubtedly one of the biggest participant sports in the land with estimates ranging between one and five million the number who actually belong to its governing body number just thousands.
It engages huge numbers of people – estimated to involve around 900,000 fishing in freshwater in England and Wales and around 750,000 people who fish in the sea every year in the UK3.
A thorny topic amongst sea anglers has been a suggestion that there should be an angling licence . Such suggestions often result in indignant statements that fishing in the sea is free and always should be. The finance raised would not be used to protect or promote angling interests, Just another tax and so on.
Freshwater anglers have to buy a licence and revenue from this is used to protect and promote angling via the Environment agency in liaison with the angling trust.
But perhaps this is the only way that sea angling will be truly recognised and valued? Sea angling is undoubtedly of more value to the economy than the commercial sector but this is not widely acknowledged.
Licence or not sea anglers as stakeholders do not in general engage with the bodies that manage our waters. I sit on the D & S IFCA as a general member and have engaged with MMO consultations. Of the thousands who cast a line in sea water how many actually get involved as stakeholders?
The D & S IFCA website is worth a visit if you want to get a bit of background on fishy politics and management of our waters.