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.

Top Winter Weights at Stafford Moor

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 Stafford Moor’s Christmas Match on Tanners and Woodpecker lake’s, had a continental payout.
 Top weight of the day was 141lb 13oz by Nick Jones fishing peg 11 on Woodpecker Lake.
In 2nd place with 71lb 8oz was Stuart Hathway peg 20 on Tanners Lake.
In 3rd place with 108lb 12oz was Steve Ford peg 9 on Woodpecker Lake.
In 4th place with 70lb 15oz was Zac Newton peg 14 on Tanners Lake.

North Devon Quay Sports AC – Christmas Match Result

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North Devon Quay Sports AC 

Report from Barry Lee

Xmas 🎄 Match Results.
Wooda Lakes. (Lake 3 and 4)
Fished very hard over the both Lakes today for many, but a very good turn out of 14 very happy festive chaps! And some new faces to the bank today which hopefully will be joining us again in 2022 and our new match calendar of events is out now!
Lake 3 top2.
1st Steve Barrell 48lb 12oz.
2nd  Andrew Gratton 29lb 2oz.
Lake 4 top 2
1st Phil Bailey 68lb 7oz.
2nd Kevin Wilton 36lb 2oz.
Full results sheet on the pictures.. very well done to all,great day out Merry Christmas 🎅 🎄 and happy new year to you all..and see you all on the bank in 2022 or in the Quay sports shop!


The local tackle shop is an integral part of the angling scene and we are very fortunate in North Devon to have a network of excellent shops offering anglers a wide range of the latest tackle and bait. Recent years have been very difficult for the tackle trade with tackle shops like many other High Street outlets suffering from on-line competition.

Many shops have adapted to this and have successfully combined the at front shop outlet with an online presence combining the best of both worlds.

The tackle shop has always been an important meeting place for anglers where social intercourse leads to more fishing trips as a result of enthusiasm generated from fishy chats. There is nothing to beat face to face conversations even if it is behind a mask in these strange times.

Angling is fortunately booming in many areas as a result of COVID impacting upon many other activities. The joys and benefits of outdoor pursuits have been brought to the fore and it is to be hoped that this has a long lasting impact on angling participation.

I would like to thank the local tackle shops and the wider tackle trade who support North Devon Angling News via sponsoring the site. As Christmas looms ever closer perhaps the ideal gift for a loved one is a  gift voucher for your local tackle shop.

QUAY SPORTS is North Devon’s latest tackle outlet conveniently situated on the Roundswell Industrial estate near Sainsburys. The team offer up to date friendly advice on all aspects of angling with an extensive range of tackle and bait in stock.

SUMMERLANDS TACKLE North Devon’s long established family run tackle shop in Westward Ho! Always has an extensive stock of the latest tackle with a friendly greeting to all.

BRAUNTON BAIT BOX Craig Mc Cloughlin runs this tackle and bait outlet in Braunton and offers a flexible service for anglers unable to visit a shop during normal office hours. Focusing on sea angling Craig is a friendly and knowledgable  point of contact for advice on where to fish and what is being caught. He also  provides rod repairs and reel servicing.

HIGH STREET TACKLE Danny Watson and Pauline Chard run Ilfracombe’s tackle shop specialises in lure fishing stocking a very impressive selection of all the latest lures to tempt the bass that lurk along the North Devon Coast. They also stock quality live and frozen bait for the sea angler. They have an extensive selection of sea angling rods and accessories working closely with the Ilfracombe Charter Boat fleet.


Bideford Angling Club – Christmas Coarse Match Result

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Coarse Section Christmas Match Results:
1st Stephen Craker  33lb 14oz
2nd RogerAckroyd  28lb 12oz
3rd John Lisle  16lb 15oz
4th Keith Copland 12lb 1oz
5th Keith Mountjoy 10lb 14oz
6th Nathan Underwood  10lb 2oz
7th Adam Wheeler  9lb 1oz
18 anglers fished. This was also our final match of the season, Stephen’s third victory of the series moved him into 3rd place in the league, Nathan’s 6th spot was enough to ensure top spot and win our matchman of the year. Kevin Shears settled for runner up 5 points behind the winner.
Stephen drew on peg 17 and landed a great net of carp on pole fished red maggot over micro pellets, Roger ,on the peg nextdoor ,also had carp plus a good bream on similar tactics. 3rd placed ,John fished on peg 12 . Once again the deepest pegs dominated the overall results, although this match we paid 4 sections which ensured that the shallower end had something to fish for.
Thanks to you all who have supported our competitions, stay safe have a good Christmas and see you all next match ,on January 9th. 2022


A Riverfly Monitoring volunteer alerted me to what he thought could have been a Killer Shrimp whilst carrying a survey on the River Torridge. I passed the details to our local E.A Fisheries officer who alerted the relevant bodies. Fortunately on this occasion it was a false alarm but the relevant bodies are always grateful of reports in their fight against invasive species that can devastate the local eco-system. The EA can be contacted via their Hotline – 0800 807060


KIller Shrimp Species Description

Scientific name: Dikerogammarus villosus AKA: Killer Shrimp
Native to: South-east Europe
Habitat: Still or flowing freshwater and brackish water, often among hard surfaces or vegetation.

A highly invasive shrimp, with only a few known populations in GB. A key ID feature is the presence of cone shaped protru- sions on the tail. Often larger than native freshwater shrimp species and sometimes with a striped appearance.

It is a voracious predator, killing invertebrates and small fish. It quickly dominates habitats it invades and can significantly alter their ecology.

It is tolerant of poor water quality and can survive in damp conditions for up to five days. It could therefore be spread in ballast water and also by people on kit used in the water, including an- gling gear, boats, kayaks and trailers. Good biosecurity is essential to reduce the risk of spread.

As a non-resident species it could be an offence to release or allow the escape of this species into the wild.

Suspected records of this species should be sent with a photograph to: [email protected]

Another species of concern is the top mouth gudgeon see information and links below.


Bideford & District Angling Club – Coarse Match Results

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BDAC Tarka Swims November Monthly Coarse Section Competition
1st Martin Turner 33lb13oz
2nd Steve Johnson 28lb 2oz
3rd Craig Crash Lamey 28lb 1oz
4th Roger Ackroyd  26lb 10oz
5th Stephen Craker  22lb 7oz
6th Keith Mountjoy 16lb 9oz
7th Colin Cherrington  16lb 8oz
18 anglers fished. Another well attended match on Tarka, unfortunately it was a match of two distinct halves, pegs in the deepest water dominated and shallower water struggled for bites.
Top weight on the day was peg 10, maggot over micros on the long pole. Steve drew on peg 5 and put a nice net together mainly on maggot over groundbait just 1oz behind on third was Craig on peg 11 and caught on worm . Fourth spot went to Roger on peg 18.

North Devon Tackle – Superb Silvers net

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Norman Martin put together a fine bag of silvers weighing 30lb 8oz to win North Devon Tackle Clubs Match at Jennets Reservior. M. Seward was runner up with 20lb 11oz.

Conditions were exceptionally calm and mild for mid November. Quay Sports continue to support North Devon Tackle AC following the recent purchase of the store.