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Bidefords March  48-hour results.

1st Andrew Clements  Bull Huss 12lb 9oz 125.625%

2nd Graham Snow  Thicklipped Mullet 3lb 6oz 84.375%

3rd Graham Snow Thicklipped Mullet 3lb 4oz 81.250% 

Bull huss from Ilfracombe

Combe Martin SAC member Paul Lorrimore landed a personal best bull huss of 12lb 5oz whilst fishingf an Ilfracombe shore mark.


Combe Martin SAC Junior member Lenny Lake fished from John Barbeary’s Bluefin out of ilfracombe to boat a fine bull huss of 12lb 2oz.

Billy Evans won Appledore Shipbuilders league competition with a smoothound of 9lb 6oz. Andrew Atkinson was runner up with a smoothound of 9lb 0.25oz and Graham Snow third with a thick lipped grey mullet of 3lb 6oz.

Tope and mackerel bring summer sport

After several weeks of strong North Easterly winds, I was lucky to get out on board John Barbeary’s Bluefin with fellow members of South Molton & District Angling Club. The water was crystal clear when I arrived in the harbour shortly before 8:00am. Large numbers of jellyfish were pulsing in the harbour. This was the second calmer day and with reports of mackerel close to the shore prospects were good. My friend Bruce Elston had fished on Predator 2 the previous day and was delighted to have boated his first tope.

We steamed out of the harbour the spectacular North Devon Coast draped in a misty morning haze. The forecast was for warm sunshine with hardly any wind and the chance of thunderstorms later in the day.

First stop was close inshore off the Tors point where we found large numbers of mackerel. It was very encouraging to drop down the feathers and haul up strings full of writhing mackerel. It has been several years since we have seen good numbers of mackerel showing like this and it is to be hoped that this bodes well for the summer ahead.

After twenty minutes we had more than enough mackerel for the day ahead. We set off to our next mark where Feathers and lures brought a few pollock and more mackerel including a jumbo mackerel of 1lb 4oz.

It was now time to drop anchor and try for tope, the main target species for the day.

I used a 10/0 Sakuma Manta, with a wire trace and lip hooked a whole mackerel its flanks lacerated to release scent into the water.

            After a few dogfish, huss and small conger I felt a strong pull and set the hook into what was undoubtedly a good fish. After a strong battle with a well bent rod, I was pleased to bring a tope of around 25lb to the waiting net.

The fish was released after a quick picture and a fresh bait sent down. Minutes later I enjoyed a repeat performance from a second tope that scaled 32lb.

            As I rebaited I noticed Kevin Harris doing battle with what was undoubtedly another tope. This proved to be an even better specimen that gave Kev several anxious moments before being safely netted. The fish was carefully weighed in the boats weigh sling and registered an impressive 42lb.

            As the tide eased several bull huss were brought on board along with the inevitable dogfish. After a lull in sport John decided it was time for a move further out. On the way to our next anchoring mark, we had a few drifts over reefs and added to the tally of pollock.

            The next mark had been producing a few tope before the winds had curtailed fishing. We were optimistic as we lowered fresh mackerel baits to the seabed. Bull huss to around 9lb provided a few bites and the inevitable dogfish found our baits all too quickly.

Jim Ricketts with a good huss
Chairman Ed Rands with a brace of dogfish!

            We fished over the high water period and made one more move in search of the tope that appeared to be absent from the deep water marks. John speculated that they were likely to be close inshore chasing the mackerel. After several weeks of strong winds, it could take time to find where the fish are located.

Rob Kingdon with rockling caught close inshore

            As the tide began to pick up it was again time to move and with the tide ebbing we headed close inshore. The cliffs towered from the water and I noted that there had been some significant landslips. Several club members took the opportunity to fillet out a few mackerel and pollock. The gulls soon homed in on the opportunity of food and gathered eagerly behind the boat. They were joined by a young gannet that dived frequently into the clear water feasting upon discarded remains.

            It was time to head back to Ilfracombe and savour the splendour of the wild and rugged coast of North Devon.

            We climbed from Bluefin and thanked John for a great day. The fish had proved hard to find but Johns extensive experience had given us the opportunity to boat several hard fighting tope. We also had several mackerel for the freezer and a few pollock fillets for tea.

High Street Tackle has a vast range of lures on display.

Skippered by the legendary John Barbeary

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Many thanks to Troy for allowing me to use his words and pictures.
Troy Laing and his Ilfracombe fishing buddies enjoyed a great day fishing on the Bluefin Charters . “Skippered by the legendary John Barbeary . He done well from start to finish as always. Putting us bang on the pollack over at lundy island..All of us fishing getting 1 each every drift on the silver dreams. Even pulling out 2 and 3 at a time.Then as we ran out of tide for the drifts. Steamed over to the tope grounds. With Paul Lorrimore pulling us out fresh joey mackrel on the sabiki lures..With the encouragement from the skipper john barbeary to put a live Joel on the hook. Advice was spot on. As i managed to pull out a 36lb tope. Only my second ever tope and a new personal best..snapped some quick photos. Then swiftly retured until the next time. Then Bill Cassar managed the next one of 20lb.
Also 2 beautiful cuckoo wrasse of amazing color. Pretty fish with rainbow colors..what a day. What more can i say. And thanks guys for the banter…until next time. Thanks guys..tight”

South Molton Anglers Off Ilfracombe

I joined South Molton Angling Club for a trip out of Ilfracombe aboard Bluefins skippered by John Barbeary. On assembling on the boat we discussed our options for the day. We could head out to Lundy and target tope and pollock or perhaps fish closer to our own coast targeting bass, tope, huss and conger. It was one of the biggest tides of the year and the big tides had coloured the water raising a question mark over the likelihood of good lure fishing for bass,

After a short discussion we decided to fish closer inshore hoping for tope in Woolacombe Bay followed by a session after bass over a reef and then to anchor at various marks for some general bottom fishing.

It was one the club members first boat fishing trips so even a dogfish brought a broad smile to the face of George Belcher-Truss  as he swung it aboard. A few huss followed with Andy Gray and Ed Rands boating huss of close to 10lb.

As the tide eased away we  moved a couple of times and at each mark enjoyed sport with huss and small conger.

A move to fish a reef saw several scad brought to the boat but no bass. The scad were welcome as fresh bait to tempt tope on our next session at anchor.

Stephen Edmunds swings in a string full of scad.

The next mark at anchor saw Richard Power boat a pleasing tope of around 25lb that gave a good account of itself. Several other fish were hooked at this mark but managed to shake the hook free.

As the tide pull increased John suggested a quick drift over a wreck where he had received reports of pollock. This proved to be unproductive.

John was undoubtedly frustrated at the lack of fish in numbers and tried several marks in an attempt to locate feeding fish.A few more huss were tempted over rough ground close to the rugged and spectacular More Point.

John Barbeary ponders another move.

With warm sunshine and a calming sea it was good to be afloat off the spectacular North Devon Coast, a Coast that can at times be challenging with fish hard to find. Fishing is often unpredictable with each season different. I chatted with John about this summers season and John told of a good summer with large numbers of mackerel in June and July bringing back memories of the good old days. The next couple of month offer the chance of good tope, bass and constant good numbers of Bull Huss.




As I write this on a Sunday morning rain is lashing down beating against the window driven by a strong South West wind, the fire is crackling in the grate. It’s a good time to reflect on two days chasing predators with good friends.

I was awoken by the alarm at 3:45am on Thursday morning eager to visit the legendary Chew Valley Lake near Bristol. The 100 mile journey proved uneventful and I pulled into the carp park at 7:30 to greet my long term fishing buddy Bruce Elston. Shortly after 8:00am we were anchored up in twelve feet of water as the morning sun illuminated the calm lake.

We both cast out dead-baits beneath crimson topped floats the baits resting on the bottom. Lures were cast to search around the boat and a pike followed Bruce’s latest lucky lure to the side of the boat before disappearing with a flick of its tail.

My float stood abruptly to attention before sliding beneath the water! I wound down immediately to feel a pleasing resistance. Chew Valleys long history as a water containing massive pike always gives a deep sense of anticipation. Is this a jack or the fish of dreams, that thirty pounder or perhaps even a forty?

The pike is a jack of five or six pounds. Ten minutes later the float slides away again and this time it’s a far better fish. As it approaches the boat it launches itself attempting to shake the hooks free. The image of the pike erupting from the water in a flurry of spray is one of those images that will be etched upon the minds eye for many years.

The pike pulls the scales down to 17lb 3oz and is no monster in Chew terms but a good result for an occasional piker like myself.

This proves to be the highlight of a great day shared with a good friend. We savour a full day upon this vast reed fringed lake. Planes fly overhead from nearby Bristol Airport a sign that the world is moving once again after two very strange years. A pair of swans fly past majestically, terns and gulls constantly twist and turn in the winter sky. The cold winter air bites at the extremities. Sausages sizzle on the stove and the kettle whistles as we enjoy the occasional warming joy of hot tea and coffee. Blood trickles from lacerated fingers after handling numerous pike as the day progresses. All of today’s fish fall to dead-baits, joey mackerel, smelt and blueys.

We end the day with seventeen pike between us and two hard fighting rainbow trout that also seized dead-baits.

We arrived back at the jetty as the light began to fade. “Any good ?” I ask a fellow angler. “A few Jacks and a low double; not what we came for”. he replied in a slightly dejected tone. Bruce and I had also come in hope of that fish of a lifetime but had enjoyed the day immensely just catching a good few pike. Savouring the atmosphere and anticipation. I have fished Chew for close to twenty years and will keep returning. One day I might just tempt that thirty pound pike but if not I will enjoy the journey and each dip of that crimson topped float.

A mid twenty conger
(Above) Les Smith with one of many spurs
Rob Scoines holds a bull huss with attitude

Steve Dawe with vividly marked huss

(Above) Brian Hopcroft with a good spur
Good eel for Chris Hodgson
Bob Hopcroft with a fine spur.
Chris Hodgson with a good spur

The next day I set sail from Ilfracombe with seven other anglers in search of spurdog. We are blessed with a calm day sandwiched between days of strong winds. The spurdog packs seven miles offshore provide an exciting day with over two hundred a conservative estimate. A few good conger to mid-twenties add to the excitement along with handsome bull huss their sides decorated with a multitude of leopard like patterns. Hopefully a full account of this trip will appear in a future edition of Hookpoint Magazine.




Hectic Spurdog Sport off Ilfracombe

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John Barbeary’s Bluefin has been taking anglers to deep water marks off Ilfracombe where packs of spurdog are giving great sport along with huss and conger. Catches exceeding one hundred spurdog per day between eight anglers is not unusual with plenty of fish into double figures. Pete Robinson boated one of the biggest so far this season at 17lb. Craig McCloughlin also joined a party of anglers taking numerous fish to 15lb.

Craig McCloughlin spurdog 15lb
Pete Robinson – spurdog 17lb