Specimens from the North Devon Shoreline

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The last few weeks have seen sea anglers investing plenty of effort into unlocking the secrets that dwell within the deep and murky waters. When conditions come right windows of opportunity open and the fishing can be good as Combe Martin SAC members Ali Laird and Jamie Steward discovered when they enjoyed success fishing from the Rocky shoreline.

During a couple of hectic sessions they successfully landed tope, Bull Huss, spurdog and conger. The fish are pictured below.

Ali Laird – tope 36lb 6oz
Ali Laird – Bull Huss 11lb 14oz
Ali Laird – spurdog 8lb 10oz

Jamie Steward – tope 34lb 9oz
Jamie Steward – spurdog 11lb 3oz
Jamie Steward – Bull Huss 11lb. 10oz
Jamie Steward -Spurdog

Jamie Steward – conger 17lb

It is easy to glance at these images and believe that the anglers make these sort of catches every trip. I can assure you that many trips result in little more than tackle tangling encounters with small conger and dogfish. On many occasions everything feels right and yet the better fish fail to show. I invest a moderate number of hours fishing the coast and my number one priority is to enjoy my fishing. I know that if I persist the right tide will come and my bait will be in the right place and hopefully my knots will hold and the fish will be held aloft for that pleasing trophy shot and another fishing memory in life’s bank of experiences.

Angling Trust – Marine – Wyvern Region Open Shore Slapton, South Devon,

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On the 2nd Jan 2022.

The South West’s first major event in 2022 attracted 111 anglers to the South Hams to fish the annual Angling Trust Wyvern Open Festival, with some competitors traveling from South Wales & the Isle of White, the weather conditions on the day saw a strong, west / south westerly wind with occasional heavy showers for the five hour event.  Whiting, Dogfish, Pouting, flounder, dab, spotted ray & an excellent Small Eyed Ray were caught during the event, 64 competitors returned to the scales with fish to record. The results were announced within half an hour of the close of scales at the Festival Headquarters at the Stokeley Farm Shop.

The main sponsor was Julian Shambrook of Anyfish Anywhere Ltd, a major fishing tackle manufacturer, based in Torquay.  All of the sponsors for the day were thanked for their continuing support each year, also a big thank you to Stokeley for their hospitality & providing an excellent venue.

The worthy winner, was the main sponsor Julian, Julian apart from being our sponsor for the event had fished it for over 30 years but had never won the competition before, he recorded a specimen Whiting of 1.775lb & a  L.S.D. of 2.220lb (207.14%),he was presented with the top prize of £200 cash and the Brixham Bowl. The other tackle prizes were valued at over £800 and were awarded down to 12th place, these were announced by the Chairman of the Wyvern Region Alex Parker, and presented by Julian Shambrook.

The Region promotes the Angling Trust “Take Five” anti litter campaign and encourages all anglers to leave the beaches cleaner than they found them.

The first Twelve Places are as follows:-

First :                              £200                            Brixham Bowl

Julian Shambrook            Torquay                      Whiting           1.775 lb

L.S.D.            2.220 lb                Total: 207.14%

Second                             Pick of the Prize table   & Bideford Cup Cup

Claire Loder                     Newport                      S E Ray           11.245 lb

Whiting           0.965 lb“             Total: 204.91%

Third                               Pick of the Prize table &   Appledore Cup

Tony Honeywell                                                L.S.D.     1.605 lb

Whiting  1.96 lb                           Total:  194.87%

 

Fourth                             Pick of the Prize table & Sidmouth Cup

Mike Rose                       3 counties                  Whiting   1.37 lb

L.S.D.    2.415lb                           Total:  187.94 %

 

Fifth                                Pick of the Prize table

Ben Bradstock                 Honiton S.A.C.           Whiting           1.68 lb

L.S.D.            1.85 lb                  Total:  186.00%

 

Sixth                                Pick of the Prize table

Paul Rohrabaugh             Sidmouth S.A.C.         Whiting           1.705 lb

L.S.D.            1.575lb                     Total:  176.67%

Seventh                           Pick of the Prize table

Dave Lane                       Weymouth AC                                     Whiting          1.485 lb

L.S.D.            1.925lb                     Total:  176.00%

 

Eighth                             Pick of the Prize table

Marcus Ward                   T&B A.S.A                 Whiting           1.375 lb

L.S.D.            2.045lb                     Total:  173.47%

Ninth                               Pick of the Prize table

Dave Reed                       S.W.A.F.S.A.C           Whiting           1.39 lb

L.S.D.            1.965 lb                   Total:  171.27%

 

Tenth                               Pick of the Prize table

Mark Barnett                   Kingsbridge S.A.C.    Whiting           1.33 lb

L.S.D.            1.965lb                     Total:  167.27%

Eleventh                          Pick of the Prize table

Darren Newland              Isle of White               Whiting           1.505 lb

L.S.D.            1.67 lb                        Total:  167.14%

 

Twelfth                            Pick of the Prize table

Nick Snow                                                           Whiting           1.535 lb

L.S.D.             1.60 lb                      Total:  166.34%

Best Team           Team Shield:  ( Team of four anglers, Best fish by each angler)

Team:   Anyfish Anywhere

 

Rob Marshall

Julian Shambrook

Marcus Ward

Ben Bradstock

Total    394.01%.

 Pool  (best individual species) 

1/   50%   Claire Loder 140.57% Newport

2/   30%   Tony Honeywell 130.67%

3/   20%   Julian Shambrook 118.34% Torquay

Specimen spurdog, conger and huss in CMSAC Competition

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Aaron Brooker 13lb 15oz spurdog

Aaron Brooker took the top two places Combe Martin SAC’s week long Blow Away the Excess competition. A fine specimen spurdog of 13lb 15oz taking first and a 23lb 11oz conger taking the runner up spot. Shane Pavio Hookway was third with a specimen bull buss of 11lb 3oz.

Aaron Brooker conger 23lb 11oz

Shane Pavio Hookway – bull huss 11lb 3oz

Bull Huss haul

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Combe Martin SAC member Kevin Legge ventured out on to a low water Bristol Channel mark and put together this impressive bag of six double figure bull huss.
Kevin fished with AMMO squid and launce baits on Varivas Catfish hooks to make his daylight haul.
The fish were caught within a short spell of time and were placed in a deep rock pool ahead of a photo opportunity.

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.

Winter Cod

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Combe Martin SAC member Chris Bonds took a boat trip out of Watchet on Heritage Charters and tempted this fine cod of 16lb 9oz.

Fellow club member Rob Scoines also enjoyed up-channel cod action with a pleasing double of 10lb 6oz. The fish was tempted on Lorna Doone using squid bait.

Berkley Wire Cutters – Handy Snips

Berkley Side Wire Cutters

“Pike anglers are strongly advised by the Pike Anglers Club to always carry a strong pair of side cutters in case there is a need to cut through hooks to aid unhooking.” These Berkley Side wire cutters are ideally suited to this purpose and a wide range of other uses for the sea angler and lure angler.

They are excellent tools for snipping off those old rusty hooks on lures prior to replacing them.

It is also a good idea to carry a pair of side cutters for use in an emergency. I once had a large hook penetrate a finger whilst in Egypt fishing for Nile perch and was forced to have the hook cut free to remove it from my finger. Many hours away from hospital I dread to think how we could have proceeded without a pair of side-cutters.

Heavy duty wire traces used in sea angling need top quality side cutters for cutting traces to length when making traces and for the occasional instance when a hook is too deep to remove from a fish.

The Berkley side cutters have carbon steel jaws, Corrosion Resistant Composite Coating, Ergonomic Co-moulded handle, spring assisted one handed operation and an adjustable lanyard.

These smart looking side cutters are a useful addition to any  sea angler or lure fisher’s armoury.