Reece Woolgar was the worthy winner of Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs Lure Fishing league sponsored by High Street Tackle Ilfracombe, Reece recieved a Gift voucher to spend in store to the value of £150. Reeces best three bass totalled 200cm just 1 cm ahead of runner up Mark Jones.
Combe Martin SAC will be running the competition next year and give thanks to Danny Watson for agreeing to sponsor the event again. The league is free to all CMSAC paid up members and is awarded to the member who catches the best three bass throughout the league on a lure boat or shore. Next years league will run from April 1st until October 31st. The presentation will be arranged to be at High Street Tackle at a convenient weekend.
The club plan to hold a couple of lure fishing sessions in the summer of 2024 with the intention of sharing knowledge and social interaction.
(Below) Reece Woolgar with some of the bass caught during his lure fishing season.
(Below) Mark Jones runner up with three bass total of 199cm
Combe Martin SAC member David Brooke tempted this stunning bass of 12lb 6oz. The fish was tempted on a whole joey mackerel presented on a 6/0 Seadra Octopus hook. The fish was caught on one of the biggest tides of the year following a recent storm.
The tide was flooding rapidly into the River Axe estuary when I arrived to park up and I took note of what looked like a potential mullet fishing venue. This was confirmed later as I chatted with the skipper John Wallington.
There is always something particularly exciting about visiting a new fishing destination. I had been invited by Snowbee ambassador Jeff Pearce who had brought along a few Snowbee Deep Blue Rods to test out. https://www.snowbee.co.uk/sea-fishing.html
There were six of us fishing on the boat Jeff and I knew none of them but as always anglers are a little like super glue gelling quickly to become friends sharing an adventure within a short time. Names are banded about at the start of the day, Mark, Martin, Mick and Zee but in truth I am terrible with names and by the time we left the harbour they could have been Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Those grey mist shrouded cliffs of the Jurassic coast soon faded into the distance as we headed out to wrecks deep beneath the grey waters of the English Channel. Bass were our target with the chance of pollock. I always find it fascinating how many Skippers have their own approach and special tricks. John is very keen on safety and had given a very thorough briefing before leaving the port. Focussing on how to use the ship to shore radio if he was to become incapacitated a factor that I have often thought of but never actually asked any skipper about.
John explained how we would be drifting the wrecks using lures on long traces of up to 6 metres. The ball weights used must be inserted into their holders when the fish is retrieved and the fish is then handlined carefully to the waiting net. Flailing weights can be dangerous. When lowering the tackle into the water the weight is lowered first the lure held carefully until the weight has taken up the slack in the trace.
( take care not to get hooked by the inertia of the sinking weight- It hurts! ) The set up incorporates a simple anti tangle tube with the weight attached to a weak link. ( Well, mine was as I was using 50lb b.s braid mainline!) The other technique/protocol that was different to many charter boats was that we were all to fish on the same side of the boat with the lines all trailing away, ensuring none of the tangles associated with lines coming under the boat.
It was a very grey murky day but fortunately the sea was calm with just a gentle breeze. John spotted a few tuna leaping from the water. Gannets soared gracefully in the dark sky.
After forty minutes or so we reached our first wreck with the shoreline now hidden by mist. We sent our lures to the sea bed and followed the drill. On reaching the sea bed wind up slowly for thirty or so turns then send it back down and repeat. If a fish started to attack the lure keep retrieving until all locks up and then thump the hook home by lifting the rod positively.
The morning started slowly with a few bass and pollock from the first two or three wrecks. I was pleased to get off the mark with a decent pollock and bass.
The fishing was steady then as we covered a couple more wrecks. As the tide eased the breeze dropped away and we were entranced when pods of dolphins appeared to play around the boat passing within a few feet clearly visible in the clear water.
Several martins flew overhead as they headed South on their migration to Africa. A warbler of some type circled the boat another tiny migrant heading south its survival surely against the odds.
Sport began to pick during the afternoon as the tide picked up with each drift bringing multiple hook ups keeping a smiling John busy with the net.
Despite dark skies and intermittent rain, we were all surprised when a flash of lightning was followed by an impressive rumble of thunder. The storm persisted for around fifteen minutes with huge thunderclaps and some spectacular flashes of lightning. We fished on in shock and awe. This failed to deter the fish that were hitting our lures with gusto.
Not sure how many bass and pollock we eventually caught but I ended with seven bass and three pollock. I did lose a very good fish that hit my lure hard putting an impressive bend in the Snowbee Rod, the reel screaming before the hook pulled free.
We headed back to Seaton bouncing across a dark grey seascape as gannets plunged into the water. We all climbed from the boat a little weary and said fond farewells thanking John for a great day.s sport.
It’s very rewarding introducing young anglers to the joys of fishing as experienced local angler Kevin Legge discovered when he took his twelve year granddaughter Grace Joslin to a local beach in search of bass. Kitted out with chest waders and headlight Grace was soon reeling in her first bass a beauty that was carefully released after a quick picture. Kevin said “that taking a twelve year old fishing is as simple as herding cats”. “It is it always this easy?” asked Grace as she sat down on the seat box to view the latest on Tick Tok.
September October and November are undoubtedly the most productive months for sea anglers fishing the North Devon Coast. Put out a big bait make sure your tackle is up to the job and the fish of a life time could come your way.
Paul Chamberlain tempted this fine bass of 9lb during a low water session at a local surf beach. The fish took a large sandeel at range, “strangely the whole joey on my other rod came back at the end of the session completely untouched.”
BIG TOPE estimated at over 70lb!
Don Hearn from Barnstaple & District Angling Association sent me this message :- “here’s one for the kayak crew. I was out on my rib last Wednesday just past the outer pulley, drifting through the shoals of joeys and baitfish. I put a joey on looking for a bass on an 11ft Abu spinning rod ,Daiwa regal reel and 20lb mono .Had a complete screamer taking 80m first run. We went after it in the rib and after a thumb burning scrap finally got it lying along side. We had a tope estimated at 27″girth 6’6” long .We had to release in the water ASAP as it was going nuts and too risky along side the rubber tubes. We used the Tope Calc. of girth squared 27″x27″=729 x length 78″=710775 divide by 800 = 71.07 lbs. Just stunning ,there were people kayak fishing alongside using joeys and that would have been an even greater experience for them than we had!!!! Alas we never got any proper pictures as we just wanted it released ASAP.
Combe Martin SAC member Kyle Bishop fished a North Devon beach to tempt this stunning bass of 10lb 6oz. The coming months offer the best chance of big bass from the North Devon shoreline. Big fish baits are the tried and trusted go to tactic.
FACTSHEET: Bass Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) Why a Bass FMP?
Bass is of substantial social, cultural and economic importance to local coastal communities.
The Bass FMP seeks to ensure stocks in English and Welsh waters are maintained at sustainable levels, and the full benefits of bass fishing can be realised by the communities that depend on them.
What does the Bass FMP do?
The Bass FMP collates the evidence on bass stocks and the bass fishery around England and Wales. It identifies existing management measures and sets out short and medium-long term policies and actions needed to manage the bass fishery.
Summary ————————————————————————————————- Current Management
Joint UK/EU management measures were implemented in 2015. These include a Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS), domestic authorisations system, seasonal closures and catch/bycatch limits for commercial and recreational fishers.
Three gear types are authorised for landing bass. Regional byelaws provide inshore (<6 nautical mile) management, and a network of nursery areas also provide protection for juvenile bass.
Bass is currently fished within sustainable limits aligned with ICES advice. Goals of the FMP
The overarching aim of the FMP is to ensure stocks are harvested sustainably whilst benefiting a diverse range of environmental, commercial, recreational, and social interests. There are nine detailed goals:
1) Inclusive stakeholder engagement structures to inform management of the bass fishery.
2) Equitable access to the bass fishery, while prioritising stock sustainability.
3) Minimise discarding of bass bycatch where survival rates are low.
4) Encourage and facilitate full compliance with bass regulations.
5) Maximise the benefits of bass fishing for local coastal communities.
6) Sustainable harvesting of the bass stock in line with scientific advice.
7) Protecting juvenile and spawning bass.
8) Minimise the impact of bass fishing on the wider marine ecosystem.
9) Mitigate against and adapt to the impact of climate change on bass fishing.
FFM LIVE! factsheet v1
Proposed Actions in the FMP
Key elements of the plan include:
a) Improving the evidence base: Gaps identified include data on commercial discarding, recreational removals, and the social, cultural and economic benefits of bass fishing to local coastal communities.
b) Initial management measures: The FMP identifies actions to build on the existing bass management framework via:
The establishment by government of bass management group(s) with balanced stakeholder representation.
A review of existing management measures to determine whether alternative approaches better align with FMP goals (priority measures for early consideration include the current bass authorisation system and the timing/duration of the closed seasons).
The development of adaptive management systems (e.g. making more use of licence conditions rather than legislation).
c) Longer term measures: Additional measures proposed for review as evidence and monitoring improve include appropriate size limits, the regulation of shallow inshore and shore-based netting, and alignment of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and Marine Management Organisation powers to ensure consistency in enforcement.
climate change related issues and
The bass fishery has an impact on the marine environment primarily through bycatch
of marine mammals, seabirds, and fish, as well as
What does this consultation mean for me?
This is an opportunity for you to have your say in the future of bass management in English and Welsh waters. We want to receive your input and views throughout the consultation and beyond.
or scan the QR code to visit the page.
The consultation is open to 23:59 on 1 October 2023.
What happens next?
Your feedback will be analysed and considered as part of the consultation process. Following this the Bass FMP will be updated as appropriate.
The aim is to have the final Bass FMP published by the end of 2023.
Ask many sea anglers which is their favourite species and my guess would be that many would answer bass. This would come as no surprise as the species ticks many boxes. Bass certainly look the part with their streamlined bodies silver flanks and defiant spiky fins.
They are also reasonably prolific and can be caught from the warmer waters of the South West throughout the year. Their biggest attribute is perhaps the fact that they can be caught using a wide range of tactics that suit different angling approaches.
Bass can be caught from a wide range of terrains across the region from deep water rock marks, shallow, rocky beaches, harbours, estuaries and those classic sandy storm beaches. The topography will to a certain extent determine the methods employed to catch bass and of course what is currently on the menu. Bass and all fish will go where the food is so this is ideally where the angler should head choosing bait that matches the hatch.
My own bass fishing approach is to some extent determined by who I fish with, what method is likely to bring results and what I enjoy most. In recent seasons lure fishing has to some extent been my go to method producing good numbers of fish over shallow rocky shores.
But to some degree I have always associated bass with shallow sandy surf beaches inspired years ago by the writing of Clive Gammon and others who fished the famous surf beaches of South West Ireland. The evocative picture of a loan angler stood in the surf holding the rod whilst waiting for the electrifying tug of a silver bass hunting in the third breaker.
Whilst this approach has its appeal the modern angler tends to fish in a lazier yet perhaps more effective way. My good friend Kevin Legge has fished North Devon’s surf beaches for several decades and I always enjoy a session with Kev whose confidence and experience always inspires. Kevin’s approach is in some ways similar to that of the modern carp angler anchoring baits far out in the surf relying upon the large sharp hooks to self-hook the fish against the breakaway lead.
A brisk westerly breeze was blowing when we arrived at the beach to coincide with a rising tide and the onset of night. A moderate surf was pushing in and at times it surged up the sand making fishing a little difficult. Kev doesn’t relish a surging push like this as it seldom results in good catches. But persistence can pay off in fishing and with a bait in the water you never know what is lurking out in the dark.
We fished fifty yards or so apart each anchoring two baits out in the surf. I had elected to use joey mackerel on each rod casting out as far as I could and then walking back as the tide flooded until depleting line on the reel forced a recast.
After a couple of hours Kev wandered over with a smoothound estimated at 8lb and tempted on a squid bait. Apart from this the baits had been untouched throughout.
The brisk breeze drove spells of rain and drizzle into the beach and I pulled up my hood whilst I watched the rod tips for signs of life. The distant lights of seaside towns and villages flickered from across the bay and ships lights shone from out on the sea. Standing alone on the sands was liberating immersed in the natural world. Bright eyes shone in the headlights beam as a fox approached. Ever resourceful they have learnt that anglers bring bait that makes a tasty meal. For this reason, a tough bait box is essential to repel their efforts to steal from the bags left away from the incoming tide.
As I removed old bait from the hooks the fox showed little fear and came right up to me despite my initial efforts to drive it away. The fox was certainly persistent and at times sat patiently behind me on the wet sand like a dog waiting for his meal. Eventually I warmed to my companion and allowed him to take the discarded bait each time I reeled in to refresh.
The best time for bass is often close to high water which was at 01:40am. We decided to call time at around 1:30am and as I watched the rod tips intently a gentle nod of the tip caught my attention. I picked up the rod and felt a slight tug followed by a slight slacking of the line. Another slight tug followed and I suspected a dogfish. I raised the rod and began retrieving not sure if anything was attached. A few lunges on the line as the tackle was brought into shallow water indicated that a fish was attached. A pleasing silver bass of around 3lb 8oz was dragged across the sand. I despatched the fish, descaled and gutted it as it was a perfect eating size. I return all bass I catch of over 6lb keeping the occasional fish for the table as it is one of my favourite eating fish.