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

Family Boat Fishing off Ilfracombe

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The Welch family enjoyed a superb day afloat on their boat beneath a vivid blue sky and on calm waters. Tope, pollock, bass and bull Huss all gave good sport.

Some stunning weather and good sport on the boat this weekennd , went out Saturday and Sunday for short sessions over high tide. The mackerel are still very scarce and no pollack inshore either. Saturday was all about the tope with quite a few, nothing big most around 20lb, big enough to give a good scrap especially for my wife Lyn I think it’s her first tope. Sunday was a trip out with my dad loads of bass and pollack all caught on light spinning gear the best was a 10lb 8oz pollack. All but a couple fish were returned. As the tide slackened off we decided to put the anchor down and try for some tope, no tope but we had some nice Huss to just over 13lb. I did hook and lose what felt like a really good tope but unfortunately the leader broke. Welsh boats fishing the west side of Lundy were reporting good numbers of mackerel so hopefully we will see them on the next set of bigger tides. Fingers crossed for some more good weather.

Lyn Welch with a tope
(Above) Dave Welch with a double figure pollock
Dan Welch with fine pollock
Dan Welch with silver bass
Dan Welch with double figure bass

Surprise Catch

Chris Nicol tried a local beach on the flood tide hoping for bass and it paid off with a cracking sea trout at 6lb caught on bluey and squid 30 yards into the surf fish went back to see another day. ( Note there has been some debate as to whether it is a salmon or sea trout and I have sort expert opinion and the consensus was probably a sea trout. Difficult to be 100% certain from a photo)

Boat Sport with improved weather

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Boat anglers have been able to get afloat and enjoy some great sport with some of the channels predators. James Gubb Fradgley fished from his own boat off Lynmouth to tempt this hard fighting conger of 36lb.

Stef Jones had a good day chasing tope boating four  best going 42lb, he also tempted huss, pollack, a nice plump codling about 4 1/2lb, mackerel and loads of smoothies best 12lb 6oz.

(Below) A nice tope landed on Bluefin.

Bass on lures

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Ross Stanway has taken the lead in Combe Martin SAC’s lure fishing competition sponsored by High Street Tackle Ilfracombe. He tempted a fine bass of 70cm that was estimated at 8lb 8oz. The fish was caught from a rock mark using a Black Fiiish minnow.My biggest bass to date 70cm exactly. Ross said ” Unfortunately I didn’t weigh it as I’ve taken to not carrying scales whilst lure fishing. But I estimated it at between 8-9lb. And theres a length to weight chart on uk bass that suggests a 70cm averages 8lb 8oz. It was a brilliant scrap in some pretty challenging conditions. Stiff nwly winds and a fair swell running. After a few quick snaps I slid it back in as quickly as I could. It was awesome to see it swim off. I’m over the moon to have caught what is definitely a PB for me. A little bit gutted that it happened when I was on my own but on the other hand it was a magical moment that I’ll never forget. Also landed 5 smaller ones around 2lb mark.”

Several members have been targeting the bass with Dan Welch landing several from local rock marks.

I fished a shallow and rocky beach mark in a brisk North West Wind to tempt a pleasing bass of 62cm (estimated at 6lb 8oz). The bass took a Mega bass spindle worm in water of no more than 18″. The soft plastic weedless lure enabled effective presentation in the weed strewn shallow rocky water.

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