BACK THE BILL – Stop Sewage pollution

The Angling Trust and many other conservation minded bodies are urging those who care to write to their MP expressing the need to back this bill to end sewage discharge into inland waters.

Below is a letter from the West Country Rivers Trust

As you may know, the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is currently passing through parliament. Ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 13th of November, we are encouraging people to ask their MPs to support the Bill.

Working in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage and the End Sewage Pollution Coalition, we have developed an online tool which enables people to easily and quickly contact their MP. With a postcode, first name and email, the tool generates an email to the individual’s local MP; all they have to do is click send.

If each of our local Trusts could share this with their audience, we could see a real growth in support of the Bill. Click the button below to view the online tool and please don’t hesitate to share this with whoever you think might find it valuable.

Click on the below link to email your MP


In these troubled times time with the rod is so precious bringing a sense of stability to life that is in the shadow of ongoing uncertainty. To the East of Dorchester there are a number of small quintessential English villages nestled in the Upper Frome valley that exude that reassuring essence of continuity we perhaps need during these unprecedented times.

The River Frome is a chalk stream that rises in the Dorset downs passing through Dorchester and numerous villages before converging with the tide at Wareham before entering Poole Harbour.

For an angler the Frome has a rich and varied variety of fish to pursue with the upper reaches dominated by game fish and the lower reaches more suited to coarse fish that grow to specimen sizes. Salmon and sea trout also migrate throughout the river their dwindling numbers of concern as they are throughout the land.

The autumn and winter months are grayling season on the Upper River with the spring and summer trout season. John Aplin is custodian of several stretches of the Frome and carefully nurtures the river to provide a thriving habitat where wild trout and grayling reside within the crystal clear flowing water between swaying fronds of ranunculas.

Pauline and I were staying at the Dairy House West Stafford a well-furnished and comfortable Self catering

The accommodation is situated just a short walk away from an exclusive beat of the River Frome that has a reputation for producing huge grayling. It was these grayling that I was hoping to connect with and a day fishing had been booked to coincide with our stay.

The Autumn weather preceding our trip had been unsettled with weather fronts rushing across South West England from the Atlantic. I hoped that the rain had not rendered the river out of sorts as had happened on my previous two visits to the river in search of grayling.

We arrived mid-week and walked the river in late afternoon as the light began to ebb from the day. The river had a tinge of colour but was at a good height and certainly fishable. A herd of Sika deer were grazing in the meadow a large stag in attendance with his harem of fertile females. In the river a pair of swans searched for food gliding gracefully upon the water. Rooks swirled above the trees and leaves fluttered to the ground as the mild westerly gale swept the valley.

Rain pattered upon the windows overnight driven by the westerly wind. I slept fitfully through the night my mind full of weighted nymphs, running water and grayling.

After breakfast I assembled the tackle and chatted with John who told me that the river had dropped slightly and should be in good order despite the overnight rain.

I headed eagerly for the bottom of the beat the path winding its way through dense woodland. The river was slightly clearer than the previous day and at a good height. I was using a 10ft 3 weight nymphing rod, and  two weighted nymphs on a 4lb fluorocarbon leader.

Whilst with polaroid’s I could glimpse into the river spotting fish would not be easy. My tactics were to wade carefully upstream searching likely lies trundling the nymphs over the gravelly runs and probing the deeper darker lies. Reading the water is a skill that is learned over many trips to the river though it is fair to say that  all rivers share many characteristics and the language of the chalk-stream I waded now was not that different to the River Umber I explored as a child angler many decades ago.

Searching the water is a wonderfully cathartic experience requiring total concentration as the bright tip of the line traces the progress of the nymphs bouncing the gravelly runs. Each flicker of the line as the hook catches weed required a tightening of the line in case it is a fish that has been deceived. The wind conspires to send each cast astray, tree branches reach down to ensnare and tangle the nymphs that I have collected after succumbing to tempting emails and posts from  I hoped the grayling would be equally impressed!

After half an hour of searching I lifted the rod to flick out another cast but there came a pleasing living resistance. For a moment I was almost spellbound in disbelief as the rod plunged over, the line moving purposely upstream. The fish hung powerfully in the strong current then used the flow to gain a few yards of line heading down river. I caught sight of a silver flank and the distinctive sail like dorsal fin. Tense moments followed before the fish was safe within the folds of the net. The tiny pink nymph fell from the fishes underslung mouth, I gazed in wonder at the lady of the stream, put a number to it weighing in quickly in the net

(2lb 12oz) and took its portrait before holding the fish in the current relishing the sight of the fish swimming strongly away into the stream of memory.

I sent a picture to Pauline who was relaxing back in the Annexe. I fished on up through the beat immersed in the contentment of success. An hour later I broke away from the river for a late morning coffee.

Shortly after midday I was back in the river Pauline close at hand to take a few pictures of the river as I flicked my offerings into the stream ever expectant now having had my confidence boosted by success. One more grayling succumbed in early afternoon a feisty fish of perhaps 12oz. I caught a glimpse of a couple more grayling that had undoubtedly seen me before I had focussed upon them in the ever running stream.

The day passed away far too quickly as most days beside the water do and I packed away the rods and waders as the light faded. I will return to the river again in search of grayling and maybe even in the height of summer when the water meadows will be lush and green, the river running crystal clear and wild browns will be supping mayfly as the river meanders quietly on.

The following day we headed for home two more anglers were on the River undoubtedly spurred on by news of my grayling. The grayling of the Frome grow to record proportions with fish caught in the past to over four pounds. This autumn has seen at least three fish of over three pounds tempted but these are not prolific fish. Such a grayling is hard won and I look back upon my success contemplating how small the margin is between catching the dream  or not. There are many hundreds of casts in a day on the river and with these rare and precious fish there is often only one cast that will connect with the top prize.

Where have North Devons cod gone?

posted in: Articles, Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

Fish populations are a regular topic amongst anglers and sea anglers in particular speculate and debate the ever changing fluctuations. Whilst commercial fishing undoubtedly has a dramatic impact on fish populations there are many other factors that can influence migration including weather patterns and the availability of food.

I noticed a post on Facebook recently commenting on the forthcoming winter season and the expected arrival of cod along the North Devon Coast. I was fortunate to fish the North Devon coast during its cod fishing heyday back in the 1980s and early 90’s when each winter saw numerous double figure cod landed along with the occasional twenty. Capstone Point at Ilfracombe was amongst the hotspots with anglers packing the rocks on favourable winter tides.

Big lugworm’s baits or large fish baits were anchored in the strong tide as winter swells surged against the rocks. South Westerly winds undoubtedly brought the best conditions with coloured water bringing good results.

I have been reporting on angling along the North Devon Coast for the past twenty years and have seen a dramatic reduction in cod catches. Whilst the occasional codling is caught especially from the estuaries large cod from the open coast are virtually unheard of.

During the peak days of cod fishing whiting and pouting were also abundant and catching live-baits was never difficult.

What I find strange is that cod numbers have not shown this dramatic decline further up channel. The Minehead area upwards still has a viable winter cod fishery from both boat and shore. Whilst this fishing coincides with murkier waters I cannot believe this is the answer to question.

Climate change could well be a factor but why would this impact upon North Devon and not Somerset? Food availability could be a factor but observations would not indicate this as herring and sprats are abundant at times throughout the channel.

Other species have become more abundant with spurdog, bull huss, smoothound and ray more prolific. In addition bass can be caught throughout the year and their numbers have not declined in North Devon in the same way as winter cod.

I have no idea what has changed in the past thirty years. It would be interesting to hear readers thoughts on this?


Its over twelve months since the publication of my book “I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE” and I am pleased to say I have had plenty of positive feedback and appreciate this and the healthy sales the book has earned since publication back in September 2019. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the book it can be obtained on line via The Little Egret Press. 

I  only have a few copies left with me so if you want to purchase one for collection or delivery please PM me via Facebook or email.

Since publication I have had many interesting conversations with North Devons anglers and have enjoyed sharing their memories. One thing I have learnt is that many fishermen paths are similar though they often fail to converge.

Wimbleball – Autumn Fly Fishing

Fly Fishers are enjoying some great autumn sport at Wimbleball Reservoir with hard fighting rainbows and stunning wild brown trout. Harry Plant banked five rainbows including a stunning rainbow of 7lb 8oz. Barry Ware boated a prime conditioned brown trout of 6lb 8oz.

Mark Underhill comments
‘Receiving lovely comments like this just make our day’…
“These are the best quality and condition stocked rainbows I’ve ever caught. Certainly hardest fighting fish we’ve ever had pleasure to catch. We had a couple of real monsters break us off on 7lb fluorocarbon – buying stronger leader for next time! Trevor was super friendly & helpful. All in all a cracking days fishing – so thank you all involved.”
Tom & Max had 11 fish between them & lost several more…

Wimbleball Lake is attracting Fly Fishers from all over the country as its reputation for producing hard fighting rainbows and stunning wild browns grows ever stronger.

I was keen to get back on the Lake and booked a boat and a day off work to share with our son James in mid-October.

In life not everything goes to plan and James Fiancée’s raging toothache resulted in James staying at home leaving me to take the boat out alone.

The drive over Exmoor in the early morning light was a delight with bronzed beech hedge rows illuminated as the leaves took on their rich autumn hues.

I had arranged to launch the boat at 9.00am and arrived shortly after this to be greeted by the ever enthusiastic Trevor who told me that the fishing had been a little slower in recent days in calm sunny conditions. The brisk South East wind should improve matters and this view was reinforced as two anglers were already enjoying bent rods in the sailing club bay.

I eagerly loaded my gear onto the boat and set off up the lake. I dropped the anchor part way up the Lake towards Bessom’s and tackled up. An intermediate Line an olive damsel on the point and diawl bach on the dropper. A few casts and then I up anchored, put out the drogue and started a drift up the lake 30-yards off the shoreline. After a dozen casts or so there came that thrilling jolt through the line as a trout hit the lure. I failed to connect but there was plenty of time ahead and more chances to come.

A couple of hours later my confidence was ebbing after searching several areas of the lake. The wind was picking up and had become a little challenging at times. I changed tactics frequently. Set up a second rod and had short spells drifting a set of buzzers on a floating line. With no fish showing I went to a sinker searching with black lures and the olive damsel. The other two anglers had left the Sailing Club Bay and were fishing close to lakes inlet. Their tally was up to five each with an orange blob the successful pattern.

A moment of hope came as a large rainbow materialized behind my lure, an image that remains etched on my mind’s eye as I type this account of the day.

As the hours drifted past at an alarming rate I decided to try the Sailing Club Bay. By now the wind was uncomfortably strong and getting the anchor to grip was a challenge. With plenty of rope out I got the boat to hold firm thirty yards off the bank and sent out my lure and blob combination. First cast and I felt a good tug. Next cast another. Then after fifteen minutes I hooked rainbows on consecutive casts both coming adrift after a few seconds with the rod well bent.

A handsome wild brown trout of around 8oz eventually saved a blank. At 5.30pm I reluctantly admitted defeat. Disheartened? Not at all I often liken fishing to a game of chess with nature and on this occasion the fish had won the day. The fishing at Wimbleball is not always easy the the fish it holds are without doubt a worthy prize. I will be back in search of success as soon as possible. As autumn enters its final month the weather may be cruel and frosty mornings may sting the fingers but those hard fighting rainbow will be waiting and really need that reel to sing!

Stafford Moor Carp – Latest Catch’s

posted in: Carp Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Darren Barkle caught a new personal best  22lb 4oz mirror carp from lodge lake on a pink pineapple pop up in a day session.

(Below) David Hughes fished on the beach swim on Beatties lake and had 5 fish out up to 26lb all caught on Mainline cell boilies and pellets.

(Below) Tom Downing fishing from Cherry lodge (One of our new specimen lodges). Tom had 4 fish out up to 25lb 14oz caught on bait tech triple N boilies & krill & tuna oil.

(Below) Paul Summers  fished on swim 1 on lodge lake and had 6 fish  up to 32lb all caught on Sticky baits krill and house pellets.

North Devon Match Group versus Bude Canal Angling Club- North Devon Winners!

posted in: Match Fishing, Sidebar | 0

North Devon Match Group versus Bude Canal Angling Club

Upper Tamar Lake Results : Individual

1st Stuartshelley Burridge 24lb 8oz

2nd Steve Maynard 23lb

3rd Tom Downing 18lb 9oz

4th Paul Elworthy 18lb 5oz

5th Martin Turner 17lb 11oz

6th Nathan Underwood 17lb 7oz

26 anglers fished , Team result NDMG 206 points Bude 145 points , The pleasant autumnal conditions provided for a good match, top weights were mainly skimmers on the feeder, but there were some good roach nets recorded to the pole. North Devon Match Group overturned the 30 point defect to win back the annual trophy 342 to 308 .

Combe Martin SAC – Lyn Fish

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

Combe Martin SAC members caught plenty of fish in their rescheduled Lyn Fish competition with members fishing boat and shore.

Rob Scoines secured top spot with a fine specimen pouting of 1lb 15oz a species that is not as prolific as it once was in North Devon. ( “The local name for pouting was glower”)

Runner up in the competition was Dan Welch who fished from his Private boat with his friend Ross Stanway. Dan boated several specimens including a tope of 47lb and a bass of 8lb 12oz.

Dan and Ross also boated smoothound, Bull Huss and rockling.

Dan also targeted grey mullet during a short evening session and tempted a fine thick lipped grey mullet of 4lb 2oz

I was fishing with Rob when he caught his pouting; a session that provided a hectic few hours. During the four hour session we beached 13 Bull Huss to around 6lb, 3 dogfish,1 pollock, 1 conger and a bass.

A short lure fishing session from a shore mark on the final afternoon of the competition brought me three bass to 5lb 4oz.

A Fading Federation – BCFSA

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

The Bristol Channel Federation of Sea Anglers was founded in 1961 and was for many years a very successful organisation with a loyal following from member clubs throughout the Bristol Channel. The federation was perhaps at its peak during the 1980’s when several hundred anglers would attend the annual awards ceremony to collect prestigious awards. I remember these events with great fondness and was proud to be presented with several awards myself along with other members of the CMSAC.

Sadly recent years have not been good for federation with membership declining for numerous reasons. The hard working but ageing committee have soldiered on for the past few seasons but without up and coming young blood it became clear that the federation was ailing. As fish recorder for Combe Martin Sea Angling Club I have registered many fish with their retiring fish recorder Keith Reed who has a vast wealth of knowledge regarding the fish of the Bristol Channel. Keith has maintained a remarkable degree of enthusiasm throughout his fifty years of service. I will miss our monthly chats.

The COVID- 19 outbreak has perhaps been the final nail in the federations coffin. See letter below from the federation.

The Angling Trust now the most important organisation representing anglers and I would urge all clubs to join up.

October 2020

To  All BCFSA Affiliated Clubs.

Earlier this year we sent out a letter from our President John May, to all Member Clubs asking for help to manage the Federations business. Unfortunately, despite the fact that all the Federation events have had very good support on the day there have been no volunteers to fill the vacant Committee positions.

As you all should be aware Keith Reed the Federation’s Fish Recorder gave notice to retire at the end of the year. Keith joined the Federation in 1965 as a Delegate and took up the position of Fish Recorder in 1971. That will be fifty years’ service, with all the history that goes with it. We think Keith deserves a well-earned rest for all the hard work he has put in over the years.

Our Shore Secretary James Redman has unexpectedly had to stand down due to serious health issues. In the short period James was in this position he has put in 100%. Introducing a new format for the 4 Man Team event and had plans to make the Shore events more interesting and enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this currently just leaves four Committee Members and from January 2021 there will only be 3 (3 from 3 Clubs out of 22) and this is not enough.

This year we have been forced to cancel all of this year’s Boat Competitions due to the ramifications of the Covid crisis and are unable to make any bookings for next year due to the ongoing uncertainties. The effects of Lockdowns, Social Distancing & Shielding have particularly affected the Team Events.

The Shore Team & Open events have also been cancelled for this year and there are no plans for next year due to the same Covid restriction uncertainties & compounded by no longer having a Shore Secretary.

The Handbook is also not being produced for next year. This is due in part to the Covid restrictions & lack of manpower but also to the uncertainty of how many Clubs, Tackle Shops & even Charted Boats will survive during these trying times.

Normally in these unprecedented circumstances an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) would be called. But the ongoing Covid situation denies this. Even the Annual General Meeting (AGM) will probably not be able to take place.

We have discussed at some length & decided that we have no alternative but to suspend all Federation activities from the end of this financial year (30th November). If, as it seems a distinct possibility the situation remains as it is after a twelve month period, then the Federation will formally have to close down completely, unless any suitable ideas are put forward during this time.

The Specimen Fish Awards have continued throughout and will continue to do so until the end of November (claims to be with the Fish Recorder by the 30th December, to allow the Certificates to be sent out). Any Claims for December & subsequent months will depend on whether we have a Fish Recorder or not.

All applicable awards, certificates & badges for this season will be honoured.

There will not be a renewal fee due for 2021 (normally due by the end of the year). Your Membership will automatically be rolled over. However as a consequence the Federation Insurance which is due in February 2021 will NOT be renewed.

The Committee.