Barnstaple & District Angling Club

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Barnstaple & District Angling Club is one of North Devon oldest clubs and has a rich history stretching back to its formation in 1941. The club is now primarily and a Coarse and Game Fishing Club with a beat on the Lower Taw just above the tide and an old quarry lake near South Molton. Details below.
Secretary,  Sheridan Toms,     Upcott Farm  Brayford. EX32 7QA.   Tel. 01598 710857
Membership Secretary,  Colin Ashby.    Tel 01271 323017       e-mail   the [email protected]
Treasurer , Jim Crawford . Tel 01237 476887    e-mail  [email protected]
Vice Chairman & Facebook Contact,  Alan Jump,  Tel 07548108350    e-mail    [email protected]
Chairman, John Webber.  Tel 07740 786003      e-mail    [email protected]
The club owns on the river Taw  near three miles of fishing on the left hand bank  (looking downstream) ending at the disused Old Iron railway bridge and 500 yards of the right hand bank ending at what is known as Big Pit.
The beat  commencing at Newbridge where the road  crosses the river on the A 377,  a mile or so past the village of Bishop’s Tawton towards Crediton. Post code. EX32 0EW
River is known for it’s  game fishing, salmon , sea trout & brown trout although coarse anglers could find  roach, dace and eels which have been recorded in the past.
The Clubs water at Newbridge
South Aller Pond, is our coarse fishery.
South Aller Pond
Club has stocked pond over the years and it contains carp, tench, bream, roach, rudd, perch, eels & silver fish.
Membership of club is £50 for seniors and Juniors £15 which allows members to fish both venues.
More history of B&DAA can be found in my book available from “The Little Egret Press”.

History of the club

John Webber sent me a few details relating to the clubs long history and some of its founder members.

Details of reforming the club attached  July 15th 1941.
I know of two original members
Dr. Harper, the President was a well know GP in  Barnstaple. His surgery was opposite which is now the goods entrance into Green Lanes shopping area, Boutport Street.
The Harper Ward at the ND Hospital was named after him.
Dr. Harper had a hut below my house where he came to relax and fish on the Yeo. The family  still own the wood and right hand bank fishing  here at Snapper. His wife, also an avid dry fly fisher woman, wrote a record of his life in the privately printed  book  ‘Dr. Richard Harper of Barnstaple’  which records his life story and includes his efforts for the health and well being of the poor of the town. 


The Chairman was H.S. Joyce.  Author of  several fishing books, such as ‘By Field and Stream’, ‘ Holiday Trout Fishing’, 
‘By Field & Stream’ and ‘A Trout Anglers Notebook’ plus many articles  in periodicals  of the day ‘ Game & Gun’, ‘The Fishing Gazette ‘
and  ‘Angling’
His son Peter was my next door neighbor here in at Snapper for many years and lent me his father’s  notes written on the back of wall paper due to paper shortages in the war years
Harry I understood  moved to Dorset and lived in a mill called the ‘White House’, which was left to the National Trust when he died and all his original books were then  bound in leather and gifted to them by his late grand-daughter Judith.


The forward to H. S .Joyces book Holiday Trout Fishing

South Aller by Andrew van Koutrik

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Many thanks to Andrew for allowing me to re-publish this article first published by Lakebed Leads on their website. It is always good to obtain interesting local articles on North Devon Angling so please feel free to send your articles to me @ North Devon Angling News.


South Aller by Andrew van Koutrik

22lb 4oz 1988


South Aller for those who do not know it, is a deep two-acre pool shrouded in trees and steeped in mystery. It had everything that attracted me to carp fishing. A point divides the lake, creating a small pool a third of the size of the main lake. The banks are steep, the swims cramped, the margins snaggy and the carp unknown, at least they were to us in the mid-1980s. There had been a few odd captures over the years, but it was Paul, a good friend who was the first to exploit the pool’s potential.

Inspired by his initial success I was lucky enough to catch several fish over the next couple of years, and by the autumn of 1990 we had an idea of what the pool held. There were 10 to 12 mirrors present including several twenties and 8 to 10 single-figure commons which, although frequently seen, were rarely caught.

Up to then all the fish had been caught in the summer months, with no record of any carp being landed during the winter. This seemed like a good challenge to go for, so I set about exploring possible areas. A gap in the overhanging trees growing out of the cliff opposite peg 24 was the first area investigated. A clear spot was found, sloping from 18 to 22 feet, it seemed perfect. As did a shallower spot in front of peg 3, again casting against the cliff. These were previously unfished areas so I started pre-baiting them as this had been key to my summer success.

After a couple of weeks the first trip was arranged, accompanied by Mark Frith we arrived at the pool for first light. I set up in peg 24, and Mark opted for a swim known as The Weedbed, which wasn’t so aptly named because the weed had vanished some time ago. My plan was to fish two rods in the gap, which was made possible by trimming the ash tree at the side of the swim. It was still a difficult cast for the left-hand rod, but a gentle flick followed by holding the rod tip out towards the centre of the lake prevented the line catching on the overhanging branches. The 11ft 2lb tc rods we used at the time were perfect for this; very different from the heavy duty rods of today.

A third rod was cast along the margin in 15 feet of water. All three rods were baited with boilies made from a combination of bird food and milk protein, flavoured with ethyl alcohol-based cherry flavour and bergamot essential oil. The left-hand gap rod had a critically balanced pop-up tied to a swimmer type rig made from Kryston Merlin, the other two had boilies on line aligner rigs tied from Kryston Multistrand. The main line was the old faithful 11lb Sylcast.

Conditions were perfect, however Mark’s early confidence soon faded, with the pool looking dead, he wound in and walked round for a chat. As we drank tea discussing the situation, to our amazement, my middle rod had a steady take. Disbelievingly, I grabbed the rod and what was definitely a carp kited out into the centre of the pool away from danger. After a short spirited tussle, a mirror carp was drawn into the waiting net. The fish was soon recognized by the lump on its head;

a fish I’d caught before. At 15lb 6oz it had put on a couple of pounds, but its significance was far greater.

No further action occurred that day, and with no night fishing allowed, we packed up at dusk. The following weekend I set up again in peg 24 at first light. With two rods in the gap, the third rod this time, was cast towards the main pool side of the point. A spot where I had seen fish crash out in the summer. Although it seemed too deep to fish a bottom bait on then, it didn’t now. It was bitterly cold with odd showers of sleet, poor conditions and prospects looked bleak. Again I had a take mid- morning on the rod in the left-hand side of the gap. Again the fish kited obligingly out and into the centre of the pool and I remember vividly how deeply it fought. This time a much larger fish was guided into the net, at 24lb 7oz and unrecognized it was a special moment.

I went on to catch many more winter fish at South Aller from peg 24 casting into the gap, and from peg 3, casting to the cliff, but nothing surpassed those early pioneering captures and the sense of achievement they gave. The fishing there was so very different from most venues now. The cramped swims, a far cry from the wide open swims of today which are often big enough to erect a marquee.

The last fish I caught from the pool was a mirror of 23lb 11oz in November 1995. Other anglers came along after me and did well, Adrian Furse and Shaun Passmore are two that spring to mind. A couple of years later the club took advantage of some free carp and stocked over 80 carp up to mid- doubles. The older fish struggled and the big fish disappeared. Although things can’t stay the same it felt a shame that the club had accelerated their demise.

Most venues have a golden period and I was lucky to have been fishing South Aller during its ‘golden years’.

Andrew van Koutrik 2016