CMSAC – Where have the mullet gone?

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During the writing of my book “ I Caught A Glimpse” recorded the memories of several anglers and one particular place that had a big impact on many anglers lives was the bend at Bishops Tawton. I wrote a piece on this a while back ; https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2016/08/27/the-bend/

I returned to this location once again with members of the Combe Martin SAC in search of thin lipped grey mullet. On this very pleasant and sunny summers day it was good to cast a line once again into familiar waters. This was the one of the clubs first events since lockdown and only a handful of us were present.

Strangely the entire estuary from Rock Park up past Bishops Tawton seemed devoid of mullet with not a swirl or glimpse to be seen. A couple of small bass succumbed to our baited spinners and solitary flounder. Plenty of mullet had been caught from the estuary back in June but they have disappeared since. Where have they gone? There is no legal netting in the estuary so I can only assume they have migrated elsewhere.

On the big bend I was intrigued to find an angler in a bivvy. It turned out to be an angler who has been fishing the river for several years trying to unlock its secrets and see if those ancestors of those big roach still dwell.

Walking the riverside patch beside Venn Stream to the river there is a sense of timelessness with the gurgling waters and the resting tombstones in the churchyard.

Reel Deal Sport off Ilfracombe

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Anglers have enjoyed some superb sport off Ilfracombe aboard Reel Deal with Skipper Dan Hawkins. Tope fishing as at times been hectic with a few larger predators showing including blue shark to 90lb plus and a some chunky porbeagle. One large porbeagle even enjoying a chunk of fresh bass for dinner! The anglers have also enjoyed frequent glimpse of dolphins and whale in the deeps.

Old Trophies bring back a few memories

We had a bit of a lockdown clear out like many others and in the shed was a box of old trophies many of them from a while back. Whilst Pauline suggested it was a shame to throw them out I decided the re-cycling centre would be their resting place but just to preserve them a bit longer I took a few photos. I hope the images bring back a few happy memories.

Lynton Rodbenders, Barnstaple Rod N Reelers, THe National Federation of Sea Anglers. Wyvern Division, South West Federation of Sea Anglers

( Above)Peter King was the owner of the tackle shop in Bear Street Barnstaple and an active member of several North Devon Sea Angling Clubs. He was also a keen salmon angler.

(Above) A selection of trophies from the Ilfracombe Fishing Festival that was organised by the Ilfracombe and District Angling Club. Looking back those week long festivals were amongst the happiest days of my fishing life.

The North Devon Sea Angling Association ran a competition league encouraging friendly competition between the regions many clubs.

Combe Martin SAC competitions back in the 1970’s were all bag weight competitions like most clubs of the time. My 52lb 13oz haul set a club record for a 6 hour match. 6 mullet and 3 conger if I remember correctly from Camels Eye!
(Above) Pauline pointed out that I really have been fishing the North Devon Coast for a long time!

Bass on lures

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Lure fishing enthusiasts are enjoying some superb sport from various marks across North Devon with baitfish starting to show the next couple of months are the peak of the lure fishing season.Combe Martin SAC member Mark Jones enjoyed an action packed session tempting over 30 bass several over 4lb the best 60cm and just over 5lb.

Paul Hutchings and Andrew McKenna enjoyed an early season lure fishing session on the estuary and caught a brace of 55cm bass.

Benyon Review on Highly Protected Marine Areas – Angling Ban looms!!!

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Many of you will have heard of the Benyon Review on Highly Protected Marine Areas. Whilst I support the general principles of these reserves I do not believe that recreational angling should be included in proposed restricted activities. Now is the time to have your say for if you cannot be bothered you may find angling banned in large areas that have always been fished. The loss of sea angling along the North Devon coast would be a tragedy for many depriving many of a much loved hobby and putting many local businesses out of existence.

My Letter below:-

Dear Selaine Saxby,

                                         I am writing to you to express grave concerns regarding the recently published Benyon Review on Highly Protected Marine Areas. I have been a keen and dedicated sea angler for close to fifty years and it has always been a big part of my life. I was born in Combe Martin and have fished the local coastline since being introduced to the pastime by my late father. I have been a member of the Combe Martin Sea Angling Club since the age of thirteen and have served as both Secretary and Chairman of the club for over forty years. In addition I am a regular contributor to angling magazines, an author and write the weekly column in the North Devon Journal. I also run a popular local website North Devon Angling News.

               Sea angling is a popular pastime in North Devon and supports numerous businesses including Tackle Shops, Charter Boats, Holiday accommodation and many other local businesses. The Benyon report itself estimates a national spend of £847 million.

        I personally have always believed in the value of Marine Conservation Zones and fully understand the principles behind them. I have witnessed a dramatic decline in many species of fish during my long recreational angling life. I like most anglers now practice catch and release for most species taking only the occasional fish for the table. I do not believe anglers have a significant impact on fish stocks and should not be included in the same category as commercial fishing that has undoubtedly decimated fish stocks and caused severe damage to marine life with destructive fishing methods.

      I suggest that angling bodies should be consulted regarding these proposals with the Angling Trust engaging with the relevant bodies to seek a way forward with anglers working with conservation interests to promote improved fish stocks.

The template for such cooperation can be seen across the world where angling works with conservation bodies to protect fish stocks supporting a high value recreational resource that in turn supports many local businesses.

        I urge you to consider the value of sea angling in North Devon and the importance in providing a healthy pastime that is good for both mental and physical health. I’m writing to ask if you would write to the Rt Hon George Eustice, Secretary of State at DEFRA, and ask him to reject the proposals to bring in an automatic ban on sea angling in all of the new HPMAs and to support the recommendations of the Angling Trust’s response to the Benyon review.

Yours sincerely, 

                                         Wayne Thomas

Visit the Angling Trusts website for guidance on how to respond. I have sent a letter to our local MP and suggest you do the same its only takes fifteen minutes. Take time to write and save our wonderful pastime.

https://anglingtrustcampaigns.net/blog/angling-trust-response-to-hpma-benyon-review