3rd joint Andrew Clements & Stephen Found Flounder 1lb 13 1/2 92.187%
Appledore Shipbuilders Monthly Sea Rover Results
15 members fished the November Rover today.
Some challenging conditions both at sea and In the rivers but most anglers managed to find a few fish. Reports of a lot of tiny bass pinching the baits for the people targetting Flounders and several flounders caught around the 1lb mark.
Best Flounder weighed in was 1lb 10 1/2ozs which wasn’t quite big enough to place.
Winner today was Josh Atkinson with a Bull Huss of 9lb 8ozs. Josh also managed to take 2nd place with another Huss of 9lb 3 3/4ozs.
Andrew Atkinson picked up the final place also with a Bull Huss of 8lb 9 1/4ozs.
Barnstaple Triple Hook Club Open Flounder – Result
Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs Open competition generously sponsored by Quay Sports was won by Daniel Welch who landed three blonde ray scaling 8lb 11oz, 8lb 6oz and 7lb 9oz to take first, second and fourth place. Third was taken by myself with a grey mullet of 2lb 14oz. Competitors also caught conger, dogfish and rockling.
I will be hosting the film Riverwoods with the National Trust at Loxhore Village Hall on Friday. October 6th at 7.00pm. Tbe film will be followed by presentations and discussion on rivers salmon and wildlfe. A very relevant evening in light of the latest news highlighting the dramatic declines in nature. I look forward to catching up with a few of you on the night. Tea, Coffee and biscuits will be provided.
We had been looking forward to our trip on Reel Deal targeting Porbeagle shark for months and with the weather set fair I climbed out of bed eagerly at 5.00am. It was still dark when I set off to pick up fellow sharker Peter Robinson. I had offered to pick up Peter so that we could share the extortionate cost of parking on Ilfracombe Pier for the day. A £15.00 charge to park for a day during the summer season is likely to deter visitors and adds a significant cost to a day’s boat fishing.
We arrived at the harbourside and greeted Bruce who had booked the trip over twelve months ago following on from a successful excursion after the shark last Autumn when Bruce and James had brought shark boat-side between 100lb and 175lb.
In addition, Dan Hawkins skipper of Reel Deal had just recorded the first two blue fin tuna to be caught from the Bristol Channel. They had also caught a fine porbeagle estimated at over 200lb. In addition, earlier in the season several thresher shark had been caught and it was likely that these could still be present in the rich feeding grounds at the mouth of the Bristol Channel.
The weather forecast gave light winds of less than 10mph. I was slightly concerned as I felt a chill breeze as I stepped out of the car. There was also white water visible opposite the pier as a large swell pounded the rocks.
We greeted Dan quayside who seemed confident that all would be well with the wind forecast to drop later in the day. We were joined by three other anglers and we set off out of the harbour heading West towards the sharking grounds that are situated an hour or so steam beyond Hartland Point.
It was immediately obvious that the wind was brisker than forecast and it was more than a little lumpy as we bounced across the tide race off Morte Point. A good number of gannets could be seen diving into the turbulent waters a clear indication that mackerel and bass were present.
Dan eased off the power and gave us a bad prognosis. The wind was far stronger than forecast and images of Bude via surf cams showed a wall of white water. Sharking would be unpleasant and very likely unproductive. It was up to us but Dan thought we would be wasting our money and suggested we abort. He left us to ponder for a few moments and after a short debate we decided that the skipper generally knows best.
And so rather deflated in spirit we bounced back on the waves to Ilfracombe. Bruce and I started to think of plan B. Lure fishing off the shore could be worth a go with plenty of bass in the estuary?
On arrival back in Ilfracombe we clambered off the boat and within minutes Dan told us there were a couple of places on the Charter-boat Carrick Lee fishing locally. There were a few trigger fish being caught. Bruce had never caught a trigger fish so within minutes we were buying fresh king ragworm from the harbour Kiosk and handing over cash for a day on Carrick Lee. We said our goodbyes to Peter who was going to catch the bus home to Barnstaple. Pete had endured a very slow days boat-fishing a few days previous and wasn’t keen for a repeat.
We jumped on board ‘Carrick Lee’ to be greeted by the owner and skipper of the boat Paul Simon. There were six of us on board three who were visitors to the area and Paul Lorrimore who I know through Combe Martin SAC and his excellent Bay-side Burger Bar in Ilfracombe. Between us Bruce and I had enough tackle to combine efforts and put suitable rigs down to the sea bed. First stop was to the bay of my home village Combe Martin where we used small hooks and small baits to try and target a range of species with trigger fish high on our wish list.
The calm waters of Combe Martin Bay were certainly more tranquil than the wild waters off Hartland Point. It wasn’t long before Paul was into the first fish of the day a ballan wrasse of perhaps 2lb. There were plenty of gentle raps on the rod tips but fish were hard to find. Paul followed up with a lovely little red mullet a species I have yet to catch. I really need to do a bit more light species fishing this Autumn.
As the tide eased away sport was slow with just a couple of strap eels seizing baits. Skipper Paul pulled up the anchor and we set off for pastures new. After a short stop in the bay beneath Little Hangman we headed out to fish beneath the spectacular towering cliffs beneath Great Hangman. Paul put us on a bit of rough ground off Sherricombe Waterfall a mark I knew to have been productive over the years. Sherricombe Waterfall has a fascinating history. It is said that during the Second World War submariners from German U-Boats visited the craggy shore to collect freshwater during the cover of darkness. Many years ago, there was a path down to the sea near this point where locals would access the foreshore to gather laver. There were also rumours of smuggling activities. This path has long since crumbled along with the memories of those who walked the treacherous path. Mining was carried out deep within the cliff’s and it is still possible to see the remains of shafts on the sheer cliff face.
Whilst the scenery was spectacular the fishing wasn’t and after a few hours trying various rocky marks at anchor. We also tried drifting the well -known reefs at Copperas Rock. It was apparent that if the fish were present they were not feeding. The boat was buffeted by a strong offshore breeze, reinforcing the knowledge that our shark fishing trip cancellation had been a wise move.
Paul our skipper had tried very hard to find fish but is was undoubtedly a hard task. A return to Combe Martin Bay was welcome and again we hoped for trigger fish. After a couple of moves we eventually found success. Bruce’s rod arched over as he made contact with a hard fighting fish that was safely netted. A fine trigger fish of perhaps 3lb was held up and admired. A fish that always looks so unreal in British waters a visitor from warmer climes that is often linked to climate change. Their numbers fluctuate year on year and any link to climate change is tenuous.
Five minutes later I too added a trigger fish to the days tally.
We hoped for more trigger fish over the remaining couple of hours but they proved elusive. Paul had tried hard throughout the day. We had caught nine species between us, small tope, wrasse, pouting, pollock, strap eels, poor cod, red mullet, scad and trigger fish.
It has been a very mixed season for Ilfracombe Charter boats. Early summer had seen huge numbers of mackerel with calm weather. Occasional calm periods during July had allowed Reel Deal to venture to the shark grounds where several thresher shark were caught along with large porbeagle. During August poor weather and disappearance of the mackerel ruined the opportunity to take tourists on the short fishing trips that can boost the bank balance for charter boat owners in these increasingly difficult times of rising costs. The life of a charter boat skipper may seem like living the dream but it’s a far from easy way of making living.
The River Test in Hampshire is undoubtedly the worlds most revered Chalk Stream its gin clear waters flowing through country estates whose names are steeped in the history of fly fishing. Its waters fished by the likes of F M Halford who penned the classic tomes Floating Flies and How to Dress Them in 1886 followed by Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice in 1889. Halfords Dry Fly Tactics were controversially questioned when G E M Skues published his books Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream and The Way of the Trout with the Fly.
A century later Fly Fishing rules on the River Test still reflect the tactics employed by Halford and Skues. In truth these codes of conduct ensure that a degree of sportsmanship and etiquette are practiced on a River that is trout fishing equivalent to Crickets Lords or Tennis’s Wimbledon.
So, what is it like to fish the River Test? I was privileged to be invited for a day’s fishing on a beat a few miles below Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley.
We arrived at the River for a 9.00am start assembling our tackle beside the fishing hut. Fishing beats on the Test invariably have well equipped fishing huts where anglers can share tales of fishing forays, discuss tactics and put this ever changing world to rights.
It is early September and I noticed the onset of early autumn colours as I drove the country roads shrouded in trees. It is the end of a record breaking September week of high temperatures with over 30 degrees recorded for an unprecedented seven consecutive days.
It is exceptionally warm and humid with thunder forecast later in the day.
Talk is that the fishing is going to be hard with the trout uninterested in feeding during the heat. We set off to search the water peering into the gin clear flow, lush water weeds swaying in the current. Its not difficult to spot our quarry if you’re tuned into the task.
I cast a small bead headed hares ear nymph up into the first pool I come too. After a couple of casts, I see a fish rise and change over to a grey Wulf dry fly. First cast the fly disappears in a delightful ring of water. I lift the rod and feel the pulsing of a hard fighting River Test brown trout. I am using a 7ft Snowbee 3/4wt Classic, with a 2/5 WT Thistledown Line, the light rod absorbs the lunges of the trout protecting the gossamer 3.7 lb tippet I am using. At a couple of pounds, it’s a delightful start to a glorious day.
The banks of the Rivers are carefully managed to provide a perfect experience for the angler. A strip of mowed grass provides a delectable fishers path, the rivers edge is buffered with a strip of grass reed and wild flowers. This provides a haven for bees, pollinators and brilliant blue and green damsel flies. In parts the river dissects thick lush growth of reeds trees and bush that are a haven for birds and other wildlife.
When the light is right peering into the gin clear waters is like looking into an aquarium, fry are abundant flitting around in the calmer eddies. The focus for the fly angler is of course the trout a mixture on this beat of wild browns and stocked brown and rainbows fish averaging 2lb with good numbers of fish between three and four pounds.
The river here meanders through a maze of carriers criss-crossed by wooden bridges. It is a delight to stroll the banks spotting the trout that haunt the mesmerising waters. The clarity often disguises the true depth of the water and I need a long leader to ensure my tiny weighted nymphs can reach the trout suspended in ever flowing waters.
After a couple of hours exploring the river we meet up in the fishing hut for a welcome coffee. There is no rush in this haven of tranquil riverside retreat.
I catch more than my share of fine brown trout returning several to the river after spirited battles. In the afternoon the sun illuminates the river enriching the colours and exposing the shadows of trout resting between swaying fronds of ranuculus. I cast a nymph above a group of good sized brown trout, The biggest of the trout moves and I glimpse the white of its mouth. I lift the rod and the fish lifts in the clear water shaking its head. The light rod hoops over, the reel screams as the trout dashes into weed beds. I put on as much pressure as I dare with the ultra-light tackle, the trout leaps from the water droplets of spray glisten in the hot afternoon sun. The trout’s image is imprinted forever in my mind’s eye a bar of gold and fiery copper leaping from the Tests revered waters. Eventually the big brown trout is almost beaten as I ready the net, it’s mine I think, but as I coax it to the net it gives a last shake of its head and the light tippet parts. The magnificent trout of perhaps five pounds sinks slowly back into its home and I watch it recover before swimming back to its station in the middle of the river.
I sit back and contemplate my loss for a few minutes. The river flows majestically on its never ending journey. I tie on a new nymph and catch a couple more consolation fish the best a shade over 3lb.
Its mid-afternoon and I have a long drive home. I savour a precious few moments sat absorbing the scene. It’s truly a riverside angling heaven, crystal clear waters, hard fighting trout and total peace. Once in a while it’s good to visit these legendary waters casting in the shadows of those who have created a tranquil stage in which to immerse and gather those piscatorial dreams.
Before driving home, I take a short walk with my camera to try and capture the essence of the river. Its good to visit perfection from time to time but is it any more rewarding than those clear waters that tumble from the moors back home in Devon?
As a child I dangled a worm in the tiny river Umber in Combe Martin a lifetime away from casts on the revered Test. Those butter bellied miniature brown trout were every bit as beautiful as those of the Test so sad that their numbers have been allowed to dwindle.
Rivers are the arteries of the land and it is so vital that we care for them by fighting pollution and over abstraction on every stream and river from the revered Test to babbling brook.
It was an hour before dawn and I was going fishing at Roadford Lake to take part in South West lakes Trust carp removal project. A fox dashed across the road as I drove through the quiet undisturbed Devon countryside. These early mornings often offer glimpses of creatures as they head for cover after their nocturnal meanderings.
I was fishing with my good friend Bruce Elston who like me is just an occasional carp fisher. Roadford is a vast lake of over 700 acres and offers great sport fly-fishing for brown trout. https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/roadford-lake
At some point carp have got into the lake and have thrived providing South West Lakes with a problem for there has never been any intention to have coarse fish within the lake. The lake is the main source of water for North Devon so it can never be drained and netting the fish is not a viable option. SWLT have therefore open up a limited carp fishing removal project. Anglers paying to fish for these carp over a limited period are funding game fishing improvements for the future. The health checked carp are being carefully relocated to waters across the South West lakes portfolio where they will provide improved sport.
Following its introduction in May, we are excited to announce the return of carp fishing at Roadford Lake for September
Just off the A30, Roadford Lake is a naturally beautiful location perfect for anglers living in both Devon and Cornwall and this unique opportunity should not be missed!
Throughout the month, we’ll be removing carp from the lake for restocking purposes elsewhere, and we ask that all fish caught are placed in the floatation pen situated in the water, where they will be collected each morning.
Carp fishing will only be available in a designated area of the lake and all anglers are advised to bring a pair of waders.
Bruce and I arrived at the lake as the sun rose in the eastern sky bathing the entire scene in a rich golden glow. Some anglers were already bivvied up and it looked like they were enjoying some early morning sport.
We hurried to the water’s edge and started to set up. The normal process of plumbing the depth was undertaken using a marker rod and float. After deciding what contour to fish over we both embarked upon the task of spodding out a bed of bait. I was using a mixture of pigeon conditioner, sweetcorn and maize.
Hook baits of maize and tiger nuts were fished amidst the particles on standard hair rigs. This process of getting fishing took well over an hour and it was good to eventually sit back and take in the view. Swallows and martins swooped above as the early autumn sun heated the day. It seemed a little spiteful that as many children returned to school a heatwave was forecast and due to last at least a week.
We didn’t know what to expect as each day is different and the lake has not been extensively fished for carp. We knew that some outstanding catches had been made with fish to over twenty pounds.
There is always an added excitement when fishing a water for the first time and with a water as big as Roadford you just don’t know what will turn up, if anything?
At around 8:30am my right had rod was away the alarm screaming as line was torn from the bait-runner. I jumped up and grabbed the rod disappointed when no contact was made.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long before another screaming run resulted in a hard fighting common carp of around 7lb. This was the start of an exciting mornings fishing for me with four more carp banked to 12lb 8oz. I also lost two fish to a hidden snag that I assumed was a tree long since submerged when the valley was flooded back in 1989.
During the morning Bruce had only hooked one carp, a small common of around 3lb.
It is always frustrating fishing with a friend if all the runs seem to come to just one of you. The rest of the day panned out much as expected with the carp going off the feed and neither of us getting any runs after early afternoon.
We were curious to witness Ashley Bunning and fellow ranger Mervyn Beale arrive to remove some of the carp already residing in the retaining enclosures close to the bank. The carp were pristine full tailed fish that will provide welcome stockings across South West lakes Trust Coarse Waters.
Ashley Bunning Head of Angling at South West Lakes Trust displays carp destined for other waters.
It was relentlessly hot for early September and I was glad that I had brought along a brolly to provide some welcome shade.
I was due to leave at 7.00pm and as the day drifted past I envied Bruce who had extended his ticket to allow a night of fishing. At close to 6.00pm Bruce had a screaming run to a bait fished in the margins to his right. After a good tussle I slipped the net under a stocky common carp that pulled the scales to 15lb.
I left the lake as the sun started to sink beneath the horizon. Bruce went on to bank another dozen carp overnight to mid doubles. He told me of a tropical night sleeping under the stars. Shortly after the break of dawn he was thrilled to watch an osprey gliding majestically over the lake.
In 2012 over a decade ago Combe Martin Sea Angling Club had an idea to hold a fun fishing event at Ilfracombe Pier in conjunction with a Marine festival entitled Sea Ilfracombe.
The idea was to bring various angling interests together with the aim of promoting angling to young people and providing an opportunity for some social interaction. On this first event I invited Ben Field from the Art of Fishing, Mat Mander and Jeremy Boyd from the newly formed Devon And Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and Nick Payne Devon Development Officer for the Angling Trust.
This event on a murky day blighted by drizzle ran from 1.00pm until 5.00pm. A dozen or so took part in the competitive aspect of the event whilst many more came along to chat and mingle with our guests.
A good number of fish were caught some of which were donated to the Ilfracombe Aquarium who supported the event with prizes and shared knowledge regarding the fish caught.
Over a decade since the first event, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all who have supported the event since its conception.
This year’s Fun Fish saw us once again welcome Mat Mander from the D & S IFCA, along with Dean Asplin from the Angling Trust and Jo Eames from the RNLI. The format of the competitive aspect has been tweaked slightly over the years but the general concept of a family fun day of interaction remains.
Each year on the run up to the event I have my concerns for there are always things that can go wrong that are too many to mention here and if we undertook an in-depth risk assessment we would undoubtedly have to rule out any fun! That said involving the Coastguard and RNLI over the years has provided a valuable opportunity to share common sense safety advice to all who enjoy being at the water’s edge.
Two of the main factors impacting upon the event are tides that dictate the times and of course the weather that is totally unpredictable. This year’s event was set to run from 2.00pm until 4.00pm a couple of hours shorter than the inaugural event back in 2012. One lesson we have learned is that young angler’s attention will start to wander if sport is slow and its also exhausting running around with a clip board keeping a tally of catches for the species competition.
Luck was certainly with us on Sunday September 3rd 2023 for we were blessed with a light breeze, warm sunshine and a blue sky reflecting upon a calm sea. We met up with our guests in the Aquarium Café an hour before the event to greet and run over the days format.
For Dean Asplin of the Angling Trust and Jo Eames of the RNLI this was their first CMSAC Fun Fish. I explained that the format was rather loose and that whilst there is a competitive element its really just about having a fun day. Rules are minimal and we have no idea how many will turn up on the day.
This year’s event was generously supported by Danny Watson of High Street Tackle who supplied a splendid array of tackle prizes to add to the club’s funded prizes and additional support came from the Angling Trust.
Arriving at the pier we regretted the oversight in not having our club papering table to work from. I had assumed Nick would bring his, Nick had assumed I would bring mine and Dean Asplin from the Angling Trust said he would have brought his if he had known. There is surely a lesson to be learnt there. I vaguely remember something on a training course referring to an Ass of U and Me!
We strolled onto the pier with an array of spare rods leaflets and boxes of prizes. A good number of anglers were already set up some of them fishing and others getting ready for the fun fish to commence. Dean Asplin joined with me in grabbing details of the competitors and I invited those who just happened to be there fishing to join in the fun. After twenty minutes or so we were ready for cast off with over twenty competitors ranging from three years old to a more senior stature.
In truth it was a bit chaotic but it wasn’t long before a variety of fish started to be swung to hand. I dashed around with the clip board keeping a tally and grabbing a few images. Nick Phillips the Clubs long suffering secretary assisted keenly measuring fish when requested and offering advice and tutoring when possible. Jo Eames from the RNLI chatted keenly with anglers and members of the public displaying a vast knowledge of safety at sea and the history of the RNLI. Mat Mander was at hand to assist throughout and take any questions relating the sterling work undertaken by the Devon and Severn IFCA to help manage and police inshore waters for the benefit of stakeholders and the complex marine ecosystem.
There were twelve species of fish registered during the event including, mackerel, pollock, ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, smelt, blenny’s, shanny’s, rock gobies, garfish, pouting, whiting and even a small tope.
The results are as follows : –
Junior Winner of top prize – Ben Clark – 17 points
Overall winner – Anna Stavrakopoulos – 27 points
Heaviest Fish – Paul Chamberlain – tope 11oz
Longest Fish – Paul Maxfield – garfish 56cm
It is true to say that everyone who took part in this year’s event was a winner. It was perhaps one of the best Fun Fishes we have held over the years though there have been some very special memories made and I hope just a few new anglers have been set on a journey of fun and adventure.