THE LINGERING ESSENCE OF SUMMER – Fishing out of Beer

The coast was shrouded in early morning mist as dawn broke, sunlight breaking through low cloud to glisten upon the calm waters of Lyme Bay off Beer in South Devon. We were fishing aboard Orca Charters skippered by Stuart Pike. A trip that had been rearranged on several occasions over the past two years due to weather conditions and COVID isolation concerns. I was joined by two previous work colleagues fishing pal Mike Spiller and my son James.

It was mid-October yet there still seemed to be the lingering essence of summer. Mackerel had only recently arrived in any number and it was indeed pleasing to catch a few strings of the fish I had always associated with summer. The weather forecast told of a change over the coming days as low pressure systems were due to sweep in from the South West. This would undoubtedly stir up sediment and reduce the water clarity signalling the transition into the true autumn season.

It is always exciting and refreshing to visit and fish a new venue. It is also extremely rewarding to meet up with a new skipper and glean valuable knowledge that can be deployed both at the venue being fished and further afield.

This was not a serious outing in many ways more of an excuse for friends to meet up and enjoy a day afloat fishing for a variety of species. Derek Walters and Simon Trapnel are not seasoned boat anglers but were very keen to learn and enjoy. Mike Spiller is a long time sea angler and has like myself been dangling a line for many decades. My son James enjoys a day’s fishing and has travelled extensively with myself and my friends in search of fish. He is not a dedicated angler but relishes the experience along with the environment and wildlife that it allows him to observe and enjoy.

This was to be very much a team effort without any competitive edge. Well only a little! Black bream were the main target using light tackle with the chance of ray and conger on a heavier outfit.

Orca is a traditional fishing boat and is ideally suited to fish five or six anglers with comfort. The skipper operates fishing trips in the Lyme bay reserve an area that has benefitted from a mission to forge valuable links between fishermen, conservationists, regulators and scientists in order to maintain a sustainable marine environment.

https://www.lymebayreserve.co.uk 

Stuart had greeted us warmly the moment we had climbed aboard and chatted enthusiastically throughout our day afloat. Imparting a wealth of knowledge learned throughout many years at sea.

I had made up numerous two hook rigs for the intended bream that Stuart frowned upon offering up one of his own bling free rigs. I passed this rig to Derek who proved its effectiveness by out-fishing the rest of us throughout the day.

Derek, Simon, James and myself all targeted the bream whilst Mike decided to focus upon larger fish using  larger baits for most of the trip. I also set up a heavier outfit with joey mackerel or large fillets. The intention was to take it in turns to land fish on this outfit giving everyone the chance of a larger specimen.

As the sun burnt off the morning cloud and mist we soaked up the ambience of the seascape. Gulls cried out, fishing boats floated at anchor, gannets dived into the clear water and porpoises rolled close by.

We lowered our bream baits to the sea bed. Stuart advised us to ignore the initial rattles on the rod tip and wait until the tip was dragged down into the water. We used size 4 Sakuma Chino hooks with slivers of mackerel. Stuart explained that frozen mackerel would out-fish fresh with the bream whilst fresh mackerel would be more likely to attract jumbo sized channel mackerel. This was to prove uncannily true throughout the day.

Shortly after lowering down the big rod its tip nodded vigorously. I took first turn and picked up the rod waiting until the tip plunged hard over before setting the hook by winding steadily until the rod was compressed. This was certainly no dogfish!

Steady pressure soon turned the battle my way and line was steadily retrieved as I pumped the fish away from the seabed. A pleasing blonde ray of 13lb 8oz was soon held aloft for a quick photo before being released. I took delight in watching the fish swim serenely back into the clear waters from whence it had come.

As the tide picked up the bream began to feed in earnest with a succession of these delightful fish coming to the boat. Their silvery iridescent sides illuminated in the sunshine. Bream after bream came to the boat each giving a spirited account on the light tackle employed.

In addition to the bream came a few good sized mackerel and a couple of vividly coloured red gurnard.

The bigger rod once again nodded and James took his turn to subdue another fine blonde ray of 11lb plus. Derek followed up with a small thornback ray. The bigger rod brought a succession of conger up to double figures and the occasional dogfish.

As the day drifted along beneath the warm autumn sun fishing slowed as the tidal flow eased . Stuart discussed options mulling over whether to make a move or stay and hope an elusive undulate ray would show as the boat swung with the changing tide.

We decided on a move higher up onto the reef. As soon as our baits touched down the rod tips signalled that the bream were present with a succession of good fish coming aboard some close to 2lb most around 1lb 8oz. A change to strips of squid brought a period of frantic sport with even my rigs bringing frequent double shots of bream to the boat.

All too soon Stuart indicated that our day afloat was coming to an end. The bream bites were by then easing as pouting started to rip into the baits.

Throughout the day Stuart had worked hard unhooking fish and untangling the occasional entwining of lines. His knowledge of the fish and their environment was outstanding and his pleasure in giving his customers a good day plain to see. Stuart is a qualified Angling Trust coach and delights in introducing new anglers to the joys of boat fishing. He is also a keen angler himself enjoying shore fishing in addition to boat fishing.

As we prepared to leave the fishing grounds a huge dolphin rolled close by a sight that thrilled all on board. We sailed back to Beer’s pebbly shoreline where the boat was driven pleasingly into the shore with a jolt before being hoisted up the pebbles over weathered planks of timber. A well-practiced routine plied by many generations of Beer fisherman.

On shore day-trippers savoured the last days of sunshine and warmth. Ice-creams and coffee, children launching pebbles into the clear waters with pleasing plops. Those simple pleasures that have been enjoyed by many generations.

It had been a perfect day enjoyed with friends, memories made and vows made to set out on another adventure next year all being well.

SEA ANGLING – Weekend Report

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October signals the start of sea anglings most exciting season with a wealth of opportunity for the angler. The choices are endless with the humble flounder offering consistent sport in the estuary along with a sprinkling of silver bass. The beaches are likely to reward persistent anglers with the chance of a big bass or ray. From rock marks tope, conger, huss and ray are all likely. Scaled down rigs can bring a range of species including red mullet, sole and whiting with Ilfracombe Pier well worth try. Rock marks and harbours will bring great sport for mullet anglers.
Bideford Angling Club
October’s 24 hour results
1st Andrew Clements  Flounder 2lb 0 1/2 101.562%
2nd Terry Dymond  Flounder 1lb 14 93.750%
3rd Tony Gussin  Thornback Ray 8lb 5 92.361%
4th Terry Dymond Flounder 1lb 13 1/2 92.187%
Combe Martin SAC – Lyn Fish
Rob Scoines took the top two places in Combe Martin SAC’s Annual Lyn Fish boating  Bull Huss of 11lb 3oz and a blonde ray of 11lb 15oz. Jack Phillips was third with a thick lipped grey mullet of 2lb 12oz. The competition was concluded with members enjoying a delicious platter of chips, sandwiches and drinks at the https://www.risingsunlynmouth.co.uk

Good Start to Flounder Season

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It’s been a good start to the flounder fishing season in the Taw estuary with plenty of quality flounder being tempted. These obliging flatfish offer relaxing fishing amidst the splendid scent of the estuary. Ian Laird caught four flounder over 1lb on light tackle the best 1lb 8oz.

Sea Angling Round Up

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Cooler temperatures a bit of fresh and the flounder season is well underway. Flattie fanatic David Jenkins has been targeting the Taw flatties catching close to 100 up to 1lb 8oz during a weeks fishing for his favourite fish. He also caught several bass with several over 3lb.

Steve Finn with a good sized Taw flounder.

Bideford Angling Clubs monthly Rover was dominated by flounder.

1st Julien Stainer – flounder 1lb 8.5oz 76.562%

2nd  Andy Sanders – flounder 1lb 7oz 71.875%

3rd Dick Talbot flounder – 1lb 5oz 65.625%

3rd Julien Stainer flounder –  1lb 5oz 65.625%

Appledore Ship-Builders

Fourteen members fished the clubs October rover. Andrew Atkinson was victorious with a Pouting of 1lb 3 1/4ozs. He also claimed second place with another Pouting of 1lb 1 1/4ozs. Michael Hammett was 3rd with another Pouting of 1lb 1oz.
 A reminder to club members that the Agm is on Friday 22nd. October. This will be held at The Royal Appledore 7pm start. Agenda will be emailed out to the members soon.
October is great month for the sea angler with a vast range of species available from both the estuary and the Open coast. The next two months offer the best chance of a double figure bass so I look forward to receiving a few reports from North Devons angling fraternity.