Late Season – Smoothound

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Combe Martin SAC member  Ian Laird – 9lb 15oz smoothound

Smoothound have been a regular feature of sea angling catches during the autumn months in recent seasons with hounds landed right through into December. This could be a result of numerous factors including climate change? It is however difficult to speculate. Trigger fish became common for several seasons and this was seen as a clear sign of global warming; they have been virtually non existent this year though?



Sea Angling round up

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14692092_10153945148568085_8378607473329268636_oOllie Passmore fished a local rock mark to land a personal best bull huss of 8lb 2oz.

Combe Martin SAC member Ian laird fished a North Devon Rock mark to land this brace of huss and smoothound


Whilst this should be the best time of year for shore angling it does not follow that it will always be easy. I have enjoyed two sessions this weekend one in hope of tope the other after the frustratingly difficult to tempt grey mullet. Mullet were present in good numbers a few big fish ghosting around ignoring the bread-flake offerings totally. Hundreds of tiny mullet attacking the baits if dropped into the murkier water.

My only catch was a shore rockling caught on a 6/0 hook and a squid and mackerel cocktail. Its leopard type markings unlike any I have seen previously.


The estuary has been on fine form for flounder enthusiasts but unfortunately did not fish well on the big tide fished by Triple Hook Club members on Sunday October 16th. Only three flounder were caught by the 12 anglers fishing the best to Julian Stainer weighed 1lb 23/8oz. In runner up spot was Dennis Toleman with flounder of 1lb 3/4oz and in third Steve Luxton with a flounder of 151/4oz.

If you have any news or good sea angling pictures please send to North Devon Angling News.


Holsworthy Anglers – Off Ilfracombe

14692086_1842015892751634_2167318841396943805_o(Above) Paul Cozens

Holsworthy Sea Anglers had a Club trip out of Ilfracombe  with John Barbeary on the Bluefin.
Morning started off well with quite a few bass to 4lb and pollock whilst in drifting inshore. Anchored up later produced the inevitable doggies followed by some quality bull huss, tope to 26lb and smoothound.


(Above) Steve McDonald


(Above) Andrew Braunton


(Above)  Graham Verrall

14753365_1842015429418347_4086637876469672976_o(Above) Paul Cozens


Appledore Boat Competition

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Kevin Pike won Appledore Shipbuilders boat competition with a fine tope of 39lb 8oz. Andrew Atkinson took second and third place with bull huss scaling 11lb and 10lb 4oz. Conditions during the day were fresh as a the wind swung around to the south west building a moderate swell.


A couple of days before this trip Andrew took a trip to Chesil beach in Dorset where he landed a plaice  of 2lb 10oz.


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To lose what you never had!

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I read somewhere that you cannot lose what you have not had a fact that makes a mockery of losing a fish. Yet any angler will know that to lose a big fish can at that moment seem like a major disaster. Over the years most anglers will have suffered that deflating moment when the line falls slack or all goes solid when the life on the end of the line is gone.

Strangely looking back it is these lost fish that often linger longer in the mind than the big fish that are successfully landed. Losing fish is generally down to bad angling, occasionally down to bad luck.

On a calm November night several years ago I was stood upon an old stone jetty hoping to make contact with a tope. An hour into the flooding tide the rod tip nodded and the ratchet sang out as something headed out to sea with my flounder hook bait.

The rod arched over and line poured from the reel. Never before had I felt such awesome power. Stood leaning into the fish, the rod straining, the line cutting out into the dark waters of the Bristol Channel. A hundred yards or more of line melted from the spool despite the application of as much pressure as possible. Tension mounted as the reels spool began to look decidedly low on line! Eventually the fish stopped far out in the murky waters of the night.

Application of constant pressure persuaded the fish to come my way and line was gradually won back to be lost as the fish surged away making shorter runs as it began to tire. After what seemed an eternity I began to feel that the battle was going my way.

Eventually the angle of the line began to point at a deeper angle into the dark water as the mighty fish weakened. Anticipation grew as we hoped for a glimpse of mighty fish on the end of the line. Suddenly to my dismay all went solid with just twenty yards outside of the top rod ring. I pulled as hard as I dare but this brought no response; slackening the line brought a glimmer of hope as line was pulled seawards and the rod once again surged in the hands. Hope was short lived though as once again all went solid when I attempted to retrieve line. After a few minutes there was no life transmitted through the line.

Twenty minutes later I was forced to pull for a break and hope. The line parted with a crack and I was left with that sinking feeling of loss. I am sure that the fish was a huge tope fifty pounds plus or maybe more. Bad luck or bad angling, to my knowledge there were no serious snags, an old pot rope was I imagine the snag?

If I had put on more pressure perhaps the fish would have been a few vital feet higher in the water?

A couple of years later I was to lift a huge fish from the sea, a record-breaking tope of 66lb 8oz to the rod of my good friend Kevin Legge. I cannot help but wonder how big that fish was I lost that November evening for I have both held the fish of dreams and lost one too.


There are still tope about!

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(Above ) Wayne Parkhouse 30lb tope

Anglers fishing off Ilfracombe aboard John Barbeary’s ‘Bluefin’ are still catching tope which is no surprise as these predators hunt the Bristol Channel at this time of year for herring and flatfish often moving close inshore.

14520528_972367716241942_5629966660311090980_n(Above) Troy Laing 24lb tope

It is surprising what might might be lurking beneath the surface during the autumn months! Below is a picture from the 1950’s showing a porbeagle shark that became tangled in the herring nets off Combe Martin. (Below) If you have any tales of big fish from by-gone days please email the details.28047_113735952127862_1077790431_nbanner

Appledore Away Day success

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Appledore Shipbuilders traveled to Teignmouth in search of specimen flounder.

Winner was David Langbridge with a flounder 2lb 5ozs
2nd was Michael Toogood with a flounder 2lb 0 1/2ozs
3rd was Kevin Pike with a flounder 1lb 12ozs
15 Members took part.

Teignmouth Angling Society are holding the 20th National Flounder Championships on the 5th & 6th of November. Top prize for the best flounder is £1000!!

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Many thanks to Nick Smith for allowing me to use his excellent account of a day aboard Ilfracombe based Charter boat ‘Bluefin’ skippered by John Barbeary.


Well what a great day out with John Barbeary and his boat Blue Fin, arrived in Ilfracombe this morning just after 7, to find Craig Crafty Mcloughlin of The Braunton Bait shop delivering 200 live sand eels to the boat, thanks to Craig for a great service and the eels certainly did the job….
Steamed out of the harbour in glorious sunshine with the horseshoe are first mark, but this proved uneventful so after a couple of drifts we decided to head on down channel to baggy in hope of some bass.
the water wasn’t very clear and this obviously hindered our attempts with just a few pollock and a nice scad coming over the gunnels. With fishing slow John told us to pull the lines in he’d had enough and we were going to Lundy……
When we arrived the water was much clearer and it wasn’t long before we started pulling in the pollock, I even managed to snag a rare fish it seems nowadays with a nice fat mackerel and Paul Lorrimore had his first cuckoo wrasse.
We dropped the anchor to see if there was any tope about but to no avail, with big Al landing a nice huss and young Toby Bassett managing a few doggies…..🙂
John then got a call on the radio to say they were getting bass on the horseshoe, so we steamed back and finished off the day there drifting for the bass. It wasn’t long before the first silver bar was over the gunnels falling to Tom Collingridge, with Scott Shepherd, closely behind before we all started catching them…..
Scott managed the best fish of the day with a whopping scad of 1lb 12oz, which is not only a PB but a new bristol channel record also, so well done bud.

But as always all good things must come to an end so with a bucket full of bass and pollock to clean and a rather messy boat to wash down we headed back to Ilfracombe……



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14550804_10210745186131856_1577389037_oTarrant Wotton and Lee Watts with their winning flounder

The flounder season is certainly underway now with Taz Wotton taking top spot in Bidefords monthly rover landing a flounder of 1lb 83/4oz.  Lee Watts secured second and third with flounder of 1lb 81/4oz and 1lb 7oz.

The club also held the Des Clements Memorial Competition that raised £25 for charity and was won by Taz Wotton with his flounder.

Jazza John secured the top three places in Appledore Shipbuilders Match weighing in flounder of 1lb 151/4oz, 1lb 11oz and 1lb 9oz. Jack Pike took the junior prize with a wrasse of 2lb 21/4oz.

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