News is breaking regarding a serious pollution incident on the River Taw. The Environment Agency have been informed and are investigating. Local anglers are dismayed at this incident that is impacting the river just as levels fall  following months of rain. This simply is not good enough at a time when water quality is high on the public agenda. It is surely time that all those with a passion for rivers to get together and demand adequate protection for our rivers the vital arteries of the land. I will update as soon as I have more details but witnesses report discoloured water, strong odour and foam at the waters edge.

Exe Predator Concerns – Reporting Details

Anyone who cares for the ecology of our rivers will be concerned about potential damage to fish stocks by predation especially when the salmon is now classed as endangered. The River Exe and Tributaries Association is anxious to obtain some science-based evidence as to the extent of this problem and has asked for assistance from DAA members, amongst others, to help gather information which will be relevant to any such studies.

In the first instance, whilst an online recording facility is awaited on the RETA website, please can you report any sightings of otters, cormorants or goosanders to Alistair Langford ([email protected]) the information should include:

An 8-figure grid reference for the location of the sighting –

The date and time 

Number sighted

In the case of a goosander whether it was male or female and if there were any chicks and if so how many.

The river adjacent to which the sighting took place.

Many thanks for your assistance

Lance Nicholson

Fishing & Guns

9 High Street


TA22 9HB

01398 323409

At Last the salmon season is underway

After one of the wettest Springs in living memory the rivers have eventually dropped to a good level and the first salmon of the 2024 season have been caught. A superb fresh run springer estimated at 20lb was caught from a middle Taw beat at the start of the week and several others have been hooked and lost on both the Taw and Torridge. I visited the a middle Taw beat for a short early evening session and the river looked perfect.

The latest River levels can be found on the GOV UK website :-

The link is the Umberleigh Guage and anything below 0.75 is considered generally fishable. The river levels should remain good for at least a couple of weeks but with trees absorbing plenty of water we will be hoping for rain by mid may!

Dulverton Angling Association have secured fishing on new beat “Old Woman Beat” offer trout, grayling and the chance of salmon later in the season. Visit their website for the latest news.


         Lord Clinton: it is with sadness that I have to report that Lord Clinton, the president of our Association, has passed away after a short illness. Lord Clinton was very much the brainchild in the setting up of our Association in 1979. He was chairman for five years and has been President ever since. He was passionate about our river, attended committee meetings whenever his busy diary permitted and always gave sound advice when asked.

            Change of Name: those members present at the agm voted in favour of the proposal to change the name of the Association to Torridge Rivers Association. The previous name was rather long and often caused confusion for those paying their subscription by BACS. Your committee discussed at length a possible name change and considered that the new name would represent not only our fishery interest but also our support for the health of the river and all the catchments.

            The AGM: was held at The Half Moon Inn on Friday 22nd March. 26 members attended. The Chairman welcomed everybody, especially Ewan Wallace (Devon Wildlife Trust) and Sam Fenner (North Devon Fishery Enforcement Officer). Ewan Wallace, the project manager for the North Devon Improvement Project, outlined the work of the Trust with particular reference to our catchment. Sam Fenner explained that there were now only three fishery enforcement officers for Devon and he alone was responsible for the Torridge Taw and Lyn catchments as well as the estuary. Sam stressed the need for our support: we must be the eyes and ears of the river and to let him know of any concerns.

            The Salmon Hatchery: for the first time for four years we were able to operate the hatchery again. In order for the EA to give us permission to use the fish pass at Monkokehampton Weir to trap our broodstock we had to provide a very detailed risk assessment document, take part in a training day as well as purchase a hoist and harness. Trapping the broodstock was not easy but we eventually caught up five hens and three cock fish. Four of the five hens were stripped and 22,000 fertilised eggs were laid out in the incubating trays. Despite the problems of warm water (often as high as 10C) and silt covering the eggs, hatching was successful and over 20,000 swim-up fry have been stocked out in the headwaters of the Torridge, Lew and Okement. Izzy Moser from the Devon Wildlife Trust advised on the stocking sites and helped with the stocking.

            100% salmon catch and release: once again the EA has deferred making a decision. However with stocks of salmon and sea trout at all time low your committee strongly recommends that all migratory fish are released without where possible removing them from the water.

For those who missed the Riverwoods evening at the Half Moon there is a chance to see the film and another talk. See poster above.

            The season so far: the river was bank high on 1st March and has been in spate for the whole of the first month. Salmon have been seen both at Beam and Madeira. When the river finally settles there will be a good chance of a fresh spring salmon.

            The Egg Box Dinner: Saturday 28th September at The Half Moon Inn. Book early with The Half Moon to avoid disappointment. Tel: 01409231376 e-mail: [email protected]


         It seems to have been a slow start to Spring this year with relentless rain resulting in bank high rivers. Even the Upper reaches are pushing through hard making fishing challenging.

         With the rivers eventually dropping back and running clear I headed out to enjoy a couple of hours chasing wild browns. It was delightful to revisit the familiar river valley as new born lambs frisked in the fields.

         The river was racing past high and clear as I walked the bank looking for slacker water to drift my heavy nymphs.

It was good to feel the cool water as I focussed on the sight tip of the leader. In the first pool I fished a small trout was on briefly before wriggling free.

         I moved on relishing the smell of wild garlic in the fresh spring air. Chiff Chaffs song drifted through the valley and early bluebells were in bloom.

         I worked my way upriver searching for trout enjoying the spirited tussle that even the smallest trout gave on the light tackle. A good fish of perhaps 10” came off its crimson flanks glimpsed as the rod flexed.

         I drove away contented with a brief reacquaintance with the river.

         A few days later I joined Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club at Bulldog Fishery. As we threaded the line through the rod rings the lake lay mirror calm fresh green trees reflecting in the calm water.

         We chatted for a while before heading to the water’s edge. The water was gin clear and I decided to adopt an imitative approach presenting a PTN and buzzer beneath a foam buzzer that acted as an indicator.

         As I worked the flies slowly through the water I caught sight of a large bird of prey. After a few moments I was able to ascertain that I was witnessing the rare and exciting view of an osprey. These majestic birds migrate North from Africa each Spring and are occasionally glimpsed over large lakes and reservoirs.

         In addition to the rare osprey it was reassuring to glimpse swallows and martins arriving in the valley, a true sign that spring has arrived.

         My quest for trout proved harder than expected with no indications or pulls. Fellow club member Andre Muxworthy had caught a brace of fish and I wondered what he had been using.

         I changed to a gold headed damsel nymph on the point with a longer leader and moved to another area of the lake.

Andre walked over for a chat after completing his three fish bag and generously shared information as to his choice of fly.

         Fishing close to where Andre had enjoyed success my line zipped tight and a decent fish was momentarily hooked before shedding the hook.

         As is often the case a few casts later a hard fighting rainbow was brought to the waiting net. The next fifteen minutes I enjoyed several near misses as trout followed the fly their shadowy forms visible deep down in the clear and sheltered water. A spartic of a couple of pounds seized the fly and was netted after a pleasing tussle.  A couple of casts after landing this fish I watched the dark shadow of a trout following my fly, I paused allowing the fly to sink slowly before twitching it teasing the fish as it moved towards it. The fish appeared to lose interest and I again let it sink.  The trout promptly followed it down and I saw its mouth open, lifting the rod briskly I delighted in the life on the line. A tiger trout its vividly patterned flanks completing a pleasing three fish bag.

         Andre and I watched on as fellow club member Colin Combe hooked into his final fish of the morning.

A pleasing spartic of a couple of pounds that would give him a total bag weight of 9lb 4oz and most likely first place in the competition. Andre’s three totalled 7lb 13oz and mine 6lb 7oz. One club member remained fishing when we left so hopefully he went on to catch his bag.


Talking flies and lures

Lyme Disease: Bloody Patients And why they’re always wrong.

Lyme Disease: Bloody Patients And why they’re always wrong.

Many thanks to Richard Wilson for sharing his wise word from his substack musings.


The first time I didn’t have Lyme disease was back in 2016. I took a tick bite with a classic circular Lyme rash into my local doctor’s surgery and was told it wasn’t Lyme because it was the wrong sort of round. It wasn’t a bullseye.

There then followed several years of not having Lyme disease, despite symptoms that suggested otherwise. So I was sent for scans, endoscopies top and bottom and saw specialists in everything except Lyme.

Controversially, I wondered out loud about Lyme (bloody patients with Google, eh?) and, over the years, asked for 2 tests which came back negative. Nobody told me how inaccurate the Elisa test can be (15-25% false positive/negative).

Then, early last year, my aching guts put me in front of 2 different gallbladder specialists. Why two? Because our chaotic health system sent me to 2 consultants, about a week apart. Both agreed that my gallbladder was full of stuff called sludge which explained all my ills. So it was true: I didn’t have Lyme Disease (again). I had sludge.

Unfortunately, the only way to get it removed, without waiting several years for a National Health Service operation, was to pay. So I saw a private surgeon, who confirmed that my bolshie gallbladder was indeed to blame for all my ills (see! no Lyme!) and, for the price of a small car, duly whipped it out.

I woke up post-op with no gallbladder, considerably poorer and with a full set of Lyme symptoms.

A few months later I paid, privately, for a 3rd Elisa Lyme test. This one came back positive. OK, almost 7 years had passed, but it seemed urgent to me. Although, as I soon learned, not to my healthcare providers. Which is where my problems now coalesced. My doctor’s surgery is guarded by reception staff whose mission is to keep the Bloody Patients at arm’s length. They told me that because I had arranged the test privately, I couldn’t see my own doctor and would have to wait 30 days for a phone call with somebody else’s. The official Lyme guidelines say that Lyme should be treated immediately. So emails were exchanged which included words like ‘unethical’ and ‘breach of guidelines’. My doctor intervened, a blood test was booked for the next day, and within 48 hours I had another positive Elisa backed by a positive, confirmatory Western Immunobolt. Suddenly I had Lyme. It was official, something would be done and I was going to get better. The sense of relief was enormous.

Ah. Not quite so fast, pal.

I was prescribed 4 weeks of Doxycycline and then 4 weeks of Amoxcyline. My symptoms subsided, somewhat.

Within weeks it was all back and worse than before. My blood pressure went through the roof, I was covered in a skin rash and my heart was intermittently, rhythmically deranged. I felt like shit most of the time, and it could get especially bad at night. Sleep became elusive. Since then my blood pressure has dropped and become erratic while my heart is more regular, but little else has improved.

My doctor is a decent, overworked man who I rather like. He referred me to the Infectious Diseases unit at the Big City Hospital. Sounds good doesn’t it? Experts. What could go wrong?

It turns out that this specialist unit seems to have a Lyme Guru romper room where they share spliffs and blend mind-wave communications with milk-shake flavours.

These experts reached out to me via the cosmic aura of the aether-net. They didn’t need to see or talk to me. They’re so good at this that I didn’t even notice they’d made contact. Anyway, they inhaled long and deep, and then they sent this to my Doctor:

“Mr Wilson has had adequate treatment for possible Lyme disease and further antibiotics would not be beneficial. There is no need for our service to see him. If the referral to the Care of the Elderly Team does not help then please consider referral to the ME/CFS service.”

This is real. Seriously. It’s not a joke. The appropriate anagram is: What a bunch of Fickwuts. Curiously, there are no amusing anagrams of the word ‘morons’. And how was I to know that if you ask a gaga old geezer (me) for an anagram of 2 random words like S**t*m**d and Hospital the answer would come back Medical and Negligence. Crazy! Bloody Patients, eh?

I think there are 4 reasonable comments they could have made, but didn’t:

First, that the bacteria are dead and I’m suffering from the damage they did. It’s going to be unpleasant, but my condition will improve. 2nd, I’m experiencing an overreaction by my immune system. 3rd, tick bites very often deliver bacterial co-infections. Let’s test. The 4th is a possibility acknowledged by leading medical academic institutions: The Lyme bacteria may have survived. With time, the little bastards can dig in deep and are very hard to get at (medically). If so, further antibiotics are suggested, even by our regulatory authorities.

Unfortunately, the Big City space cadets have now tied my doctor’s hands. So I’m back on the referral treadmill. I have 3 new appointments upcoming in the next month or so:

  1. I’ve been booked in to see a Gallstone specialist. It seems my gallbladder may be playing up.
  2. Next will be the Care of Older People and Specialist Falls Clinic. When they ask me why I’m there I’m going to have to say I don’t know. Which gets me halfway to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
  3. I’ve been referred to a Gastro-Intestinal clinic. Perhaps to investigate the missing Gallbladder? I may never know because the health service ap is blocking the booking.

It should all be funny. But isn’t and I’m stuck.

A lot of people have emailed me to say I should fly to the US and see a specialist. I would, but it’s very expensive and the gall bladder surgeon’s partner is now driving around in my savings.

Bloody Patients, eh? I really should be more grateful that, for example, I haven’t got Lyme Disease. And, in the last 8 years, I only had it for 10 weeks. Phew!

Don’t you just love a happy ending?

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Ilfracombe Aquarium


Ilfracombe Aquarium is located on Ilfracombe Pier and offers a fascinating glimpse into the world beneath the waters surface. There are many fish to seen that live within Ilfracombe Harbour and along North Devons coast. There are also insights into local freshwater eco systems and the creatures that live within. An ideal place to visit in conjunction with a fishing trip to Ilfracombe Pier where members of Combe Martin SAC club recorded over thirty species during February and March of 2024.

Ilfracombe Aquarium consists of Local Aquatic Exhibits, Pier Café & Gift Shop. It is a much loved, award winning, and ever evolving, all-weather, family fun, educational attraction. It is located in the Old Lifeboat House on the pier. Conveniently located, it is surrounded by Ilfracombe’s picturesque & historic harbour which is home to Damien Hirst’s Verity sculpture and 14th century St. Nicholas’ Chapel. Ilfracombe town is located on the dramatic and spectacular North Devon coast. It is 20 mins. drive from Barnstaple, 10 mins. from Woolacombe. It is set within the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).