With a calm day forecast it was great to arrive at Ilfracombe harbour and climb aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin with members of South Molton Angling Club. With bottom fishing a little slow close to Ilfracombe John had suggested a trip to try the prolific fishing grounds close to Lundy Island. A trip out to fish in the vicinity of this rugged granite outcrop twenty five plus miles from Ilfracombe is a sortie I always relish as the scenery is spectacular and adds a welcome dimension to the fishing.
With reports of a few early tope showing first stop would be to anchor up and fish over low water with big baits. It was misty as we sailed out of Ilfracombe and headed West towards Lundy. As we looked back the morning sun started to burn through the morning mist and illuminate the Bristol Channel. A porpoise rolled in front of the boat. We all chatted enthusiastically about fish, the lack of fish and life in general as John delivered hot coffees and teas.
By the time we arrived at the banks and dropped anchor the sunshine had broken through and we were sat upon a mirror calm sea of blue. A variety of large fish baits were sent into the deep clear water impaled upon large strong hooks attached to wire traces or strimmer cord!
Within minutes Matt Brady was in action as a hard fighting tope seized his bait putting a healthy bend in his rod. Over the next hour or so over the low water slack a succession of tope hit our baits in a feeding frenzy giving exciting tussles and a few frustrating tangles. In total 16 tope were boated along with a few bull huss to 11lb a couple of smoothound and one or two inevitable doggies.
By the sound of the voices echoing across the water anglers were enjoying similar sport a short distance away in another Charter boat.
As the tide started to pick up general consensus was that we should try drifting for other species using lures and baited feathers.
Drifting the West side of Lundy gave an opportunity to view the spectacular granite cliffs that were in parts decorated with patches of pink thrift. Cormorants stood drying their wings and seals basked in the warm sun. We even caught sight of a few puffins with their bright clown like beaks.
The fish finder showed plenty of fish close to the bottom yet action was slow as we drifted over the numerous peaks and pinnacles that lie to the West of Lundy. Sidewinders brought a few hard fighting pollock up around 4lb and baited feathers attracted more pollock a solitary small coalfish and some brightly coloured cuckoo wrasse.
John worked hard searching the reefs but it was obvious that the fish were not feeding well. This could have been due to the small tide we were fishing, light values or even lure choice. The complexities of angling are many and as I often say this all part of this intriguing game.
It was an enjoyable cruise back to Ilfracombe on a calm sea. The beautiful North Devon coast looked splendid with its steep green cliffs punctuated with vast sandy beaches that were undoubtedly packed with families, surfers and sun-worshippers.
The sizeable pollock were filleted a tasty and healthy reward for the day afloat.
We soon glided into Ilfracombe harbour dominated by the conversation stimulating statue Verity. Tourists were abundant and it was good to sense a feeling of normality returning to the seaside town.
June rover results
1st Julien Stainer smoothhound 8lb 13 88.125%
2nd Paul Ackland smoothound 8ln 7 1/2 84.687%
3rd Terry Dymond smoothound 7lb 14 78.750%
4th Terry Dymond smoothound 7lb 5 73.125%
Kevin Legge secured first prize in Combe Martin SAC First Casts Out Of Lockdown competition with a fine bull huss scaling 10lb 15oz. Runner up was David Brooke with a huss of 9lb 12oz.
Third was Wayne Thomas with a thick lipped grey mullet of 3lb 1oz and forth Nick Phillips with a thick lip of 2lb 6oz.
Combe Martin SAC Member Mark Jones took a trip up channel in search of Spring ray and landed a stunning brace of small eyed ray scaling 13lb 15oz and 12lb 1oz both fish were “caught on a flooding tide both rods went at the same time the first rod I played and landed a lovely male small eyed at 12lb 1oz. Was really hectic for 20 minutes caught on Braunton Bait Box dirty squid and ammo sandeel! “.
The larger of the two fish sets a new club record for Combe Martin SAC.
Liam Loveday tempted this stunning 13lb bass from a North Devon surf beach. The fish took a peeler crab bait presented on a 4/0 Chinu hook cast 30yards into the surf an hour before high water. The fish gave a strong account for close to ten minutes before being beached safely.The fish measured 87cm.
This is an encouraging catch from the surf early in the season.