Angling Generations

Norman Bird was a founder member of Combe Martin Sea Angling Club and I was fortunate to join the club ten years after his son Nigel who joined the club in 1963. Nigel and I fished together with the club on many occasions during the seventies and early eighties and now fish together from time to time with the Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club. I was pleased fo receive this picture from Nigel showing his grandson George enjoying his first fishing trip with his grandad at Bratton Water where they enjoyed catching a fine bag of rainbow and brown trout.

It is great to see the generations as they discover the joys of angling. For many years I enjoyed trips out of Combe Martin on George Eastmans boat Star of Scillionia PW265.  and was also privileged to help out from time to time hauling lobster pots and taking trips around the bay. Those glorious summer days were greatly enhanced by Georges great grandad George Eastman of whom I have many fond memories . Much has changed over the years but I still feel a sense of belonging when I stroll upon the foreshore at Combe Martin reminiscing upon a lifetime of encounters within the bay.

Footnote – Nigel traced Star of Scillionia PW265 around the West Country over the years from the Isles of Scilly to the Helford Passage were she was finally decommissioned and broken up.

Day Ticket Catfish at Anglers Paradise

One of angling greatest joys is introducing your children to the joys of angling. Damion Babb took his daughter Imogen to Anglers Paradise Day ticket Eldorado catfish lake where she caught a fine cat of 20lb 12oz. “Wow my girl with her cat that she wanted 20lb 12oz & she had a right old fight with it so proud of her”.

The fish won Imogen the complexes Fish off the Month Competition!

Bruce Elston and John Hughes enjoyed success with the catfish at Anglers Paradise’s day ticket Eldorado Catfish Lake.

Anglers Paradise

Childhood Streams – By Ross Stanway

Many thanks to Ross Stanway who produced this enchanting piece for North Devon Angling News. I know that there are many who will read this and recall their own days beside childhood streams. The West Country is criss-crossed by these fascinating streams that have seen many hundreds of anglers born. The piece is illustrated with more of Ross’s stunning illustrations available via his facebook page

Great Torrington Army Cadet’s Fly Fishing for Duke of Edinburgh’s Award 2019

This year’s course started on 2nd April 2019 with a basic Introduction into Fly Fishing, over the past 7 months 4 cadets from Great Torrington Detachment have worked hard learning the different elements required to be proficient fly fishermen, these included types of Rods, Reels, Flies, Lines, Leaders & Casting.

On 16th April we had a visit from Paul Carter, Environment Agency Fisheries Officer to talk about his job and Licencing.

As well as Paul we had another visitor, Alan Crawley, River Warden for the Commons Conservators to talk about the work he’s been doing to improve access to the river by installing steps etc.

The Cadets found this evening really interesting.

15th June was our fly tying day where the cadets were instructed in the art of fly tying, this was also an opportunity for them to tie a selection of flies ready for the lake days to follow, all the cadets successfully managed to tie 6 reasonably flies by the end of the day.

13th July was our first Lake day, Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery, near Holsworthy. This day proved to be challenging and despite everyone’s best efforts no fish were caught, but the cadets did get a lot of experience.

27th July should have been our second lake days, Bratton Water Fly Fishery, Barnstaple. Unfortunately due to so much other training happening that weekend which some of the group were involved in, we had to cancel.

30th November was our third lake day, Blakewell Trout Fishery, Barnstaple. This day started with a guided tour around the farm to see and learn about the fish, how water levels, oxygen level and temperatures affect the fish’s growth & wellbeing.

Fishing was challenging with fish following lures and turning away at the last moment, the cadet didn’t let this put them off but persevered in their quest to catch and land their first fish.

By the end of the day the cadets had all caught a fish to take home, best result ever, a perfect end to the course.

The Cadets and Instructors would like to thank the following people for their continued support,

Paul Carter                   Environment Agency Fisheries Officer

Alan Crawley                 River Warden for the Commons Conservators

Paul Cozens                  Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery

Andrew Moores            Simpsons Valley Trout & Course Fishery

Mike Williams               Bratton Water Fly Fishery

Richard Nickell              Blakewell Fishery

John Nickell                  Blakewell Fishery

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – A Great Winter Read

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – Fishing In North Devon

            I have been privileged to enjoy over forty years fishing North Devon’s varied waters enjoying both success and failure. The places and the many people I have met along the way have greatly enriched the journey and as the years pass I realise that all we ever get is a fleeting glimpse of a period in angling history.

In this book I tell a few of my own stories of North Devon angling along with recollections from others; some from an earlier generation who enjoyed fishing in those good old days.

I have no favourite species of fish just the one I am fishing for at the time and this book reflects this with every discipline of angling represented. From the small crimson spotted trout of tumbling streams to the huge shark that roam the Atlantic Ocean.

Angling is in essence an attempt to reach into a different dimension. Its fascination has for me never ceased and I always believe that the next cast will be the one that connects, that marvellous moment of completed deception. The anglers I have interviewed in writing this book reflect upon past times when they too glimpsed piscatorial events that they enjoyed recalling. Stories of lost fisheries, big fish, record fish of angler’s their attitudes and love of fishing.

I hope that I manage to share and convey the joys of angling in North Devon and provide a glimpse into a century of marvellous fishing.

Just a fleeting glimpse,

Of Memories gone,

A hopeful glimpse of what may come,

When its bitter cold outside its often good to settle down by the fire to read a good book.  ” I Caught A Glimpse” has an array of fishing stories from North Devon with all disciplines catered for if your interested check out this review from Dominic Garnett and the comments from my friend Paul French.

I received this email from my friend Paul French who took the book on a cruise.

“We’ve recently returned from a cruise to Norway which provided me with ample time to read your book and what a thoroughly good read it was too! The passion you undoubtably have for this pastime of ours is embodied in the words on each and every page. The part mix of autobiographical and part historical is I believe a unique blende and certainly not something I’ve seen attempted elsewhere. It couldn’t have been an easy project to undertake and metaphorically reading between the lines the reader may understandably not appreciate the hours and days of research you have put into it. You’ve smashed it, all round my kind of book. 

All we need now is a Glimpse of the next one”.

Available from The Little Egret Press or drop me a PM via my Facebook Page or North Devon Angling News.


Combe Martin SAC’s Annual Fun Fish at Ilfracombe Pier has become a popular event within the Sea Ilfracombe Maritime Festival and this year was no exception with thirty fun fishers taking part.

Once again the weather played its part in the success of the event with warm sunshine throughout. A moderate North West breeze was fortunately at the participants backs helping the lines to blow away from the pier’s structure with a good drop to the water on one of the lowest tides of the year.

This is as it says on the box a fun fishing event with minimal rules. The competitive element is based on catching the most species with the top prizes in the points section reserved for under 18’s with adults picking up the remaining prizes. There are also prizes for the longest fish and heaviest fish. The main reward for those taking part is the social interaction and the broad beaming smiles on anglers faces.

Combe Martin SAC give thanks to High Street Tackle, Ilfracombe for their generous support of the event with an array of great prizes donated. Thanks also to Ilfracombe Aquarium who donated the family prize and engaged with participants in fish identification.

Our special guests on the day were Steve Dawe author of the book “Fishty Two weeks In A year”. A book that tells of Steve’s year long quest to catch as many species within twelve months as possible all in the cause of raising money for the stroke association.

Colin Wood and Alex Bond represented Ilfracombe Coastguard and mingled with the visiting public to talk about their valuable work as an emergency service co-ordinating rescues along the coast and beyond. Safety is of course top of their agenda with advice on good practice and safety aids readily available.

Colin Wood & Alex Bond represented the Ilfracombe Coastguard

The fishing proved to be challenging at times with the water coloured due to the low tide and brisk NW wind leading up to the event. Plenty of fish were caught however with a very wide variety of species including a few rarities. Young Solly Welch enjoyed an exceptional day with a little help from mum, dad and grandad. Solly landed an incredible eight species including a rare Cornish clingfish, red mullet, dragonet, rock goby, ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, smelt and pouting. There was also a little drama when a pouting that had succumbed to his bait was seized by a conger eel that held tightly onto its prey before letting go when it saw the waiting landing net!

Several crustaceans were also landed including two lobsters and a good sized edible crab for Danny Watson. These were not eligible for prizes but I think there could be a prize introduced next year for the most exceptional non piscatorial catch. In the past there have been octopus caught and this year one angler lost contact with a substantial oar that battled gamely twisting and turning in the tide before coming adrift.

Morgan Butterfield with his lobster
Steve Dawe displays a fearsome lobster
Danny Watson of High Street Tackle with the crab of the day

The Welch family were way ahead of the field amassing a grand total of 38 points to receive a family visit to the aquarium where they can visit the clingfish caught by young Solly and donated to the aquarium.

Lyn Welch displays a silvery smelt
Effy Welch is all smiles after catching a three bearded rockling
Young Solly and grandad with the pouting that tempted the conger that got away!

The longest fish was a 43cm garfish tempted by Matt Jeffery and the heaviest a ballan wrasse of 11oz to the rod of Matthew Dawe.

Matthew Dawe with the 11oz wrasse that won the heaviest fish prize

As part of Sea-Ilfracombe a big part of the event is the social interaction as members of the public wonder amongst the anglers to gaze at the catches and chat enjoying the ambience of the seaside and fun of the fishing.

Smile of the day had to go to young Scarlett Hart who tempted a scorpion fish just before the call for all in was broadcast. Persisting throughout the day Scarlett was absolutely delighted when the fearsome looking mini species seized her bait.

Always seems a bit sad to see the dismantling of the festival props as I drive away knowing that another summer has drifted past all too quickly. The best of the years fishing lies ahead though so embrace the coming autumn and get out there fishing.

The 2019 Fun Fishers

The Fun Fishing Event signalled the conclusion of Comb Martin SAC’s summer lure fishing competition that was won by Rob Scoines with a fine boat caught bass of 8lb 8oz.

Danny Watson presents a top of the range lured to Rob Scoines winner ion the CMSAC Summer Lure Competition

Bideford Angling Club – Junior Fishing Event

Junior results, Tarka Swims George’s Lake.

1st  Thomas Scott 10lb 8oz

2nd Charlie Evans 3lb 9oz

3rd Tyler Scott   2lb 7oz.

The Saturday afternoon 3 hour competition was fished in warm blustery conditions , Thomas drew the end peg Q and took victory with a nice carp on the feeder and a good bream on the pole and corn, Charlie’s had a nice net of smaller fish on the pole on peg U . Third spot went to Tyler on peg S. The winner of the 4 match series was Tyler Scott