Sunfish in a heatwave

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Mark Jones made a very unusual catch on Sunday off Lundy! A 52lb Sunfish hooked on baited small 3 hook feathers with Braunton Bait Box session squid. “Never seen anything like it put the rod down to unhook my sons 5lb pollock and he saw my rod tip rattle then all hell let loose. Very unusual texture and smell, quickly weighed and released.

The fish sets a new Combe Martin SAC boat record.

The British Record for a boat caught sunfish is 108lb caught off the Welsh coast in 1976. It is unlikely that this record will be beaten as the fish would need to be killed for weighing ashore something few of todays conservation minded anglers would contemplate.

Top Sport on Bluefin

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Toby Bassett reported on a great day out on Bluefin Charters with Troy Laing and John Barbeary  and the lads.. A few tope caught Toby’s biggest went 29lb along with two others within 10 mins of each other.. Also had plenty huss and a fine specimen 16lb thornback ray.

Massive tope off Ilfracombe

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Daniel Welch has boated a stunning tope of over 70lb whilst fishing from his Private boat out of Ilfracombe. The tope is one of the largest ever recorded from the area and should be considered the fish of a lifetime. The tope was tempted on a whole fresh pollock fished on a running ledger with a 300lb nylon trace and 10/0 hook. The tope was the highlight of a day that saw Dan boat pollock, bass, smoothound and bass.

Appledore Shipbuilders Boat Competition Results

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12 members in 6 different boats fished in Appledore Shipbuilders  June Boat Competition.
Weather was very kind for a change, with calm seas on an easy swell.
Plenty of Smoothounds were caught with many in the 8 to 10lb range along with a couple of Tope and several Bull Huss.
All fish safely returned to fight another day.
Winner was Michael Toogood  with a Specimen Smoothound of 15lb 2ozs.
In a very close 2nd was Thomas Atkinson with another Smoothound of 15lb 0ozs and 3rd was Kevin Pike  also with a Smoothound of 13lb 14ozs
Best Tope recorded was a near Specimen of 37lb 4ozs caught by Andrew Atkinson.
Let’s hope we get more days like this on Competition days !

The Reel Deal Team

Dan Hawkins has been operating his charter boat Reel Deal out of Ilfracombe for several years and has built a deserved reputation for putting anglers on the fish especially porbeagle shark. Dan has expanded on the waters fished out of Ilfracombe making the most of the boats capability to explore waters far to the West of Ilfracombe even venturing out into the Celtic deeps to catch blue shark.

Good news for anglers is that the Reel Deal experience has been expanded with Archie Porter joining Dan to skipper sister boat “Predator 2”. Seventeen year old Archie Pike has been assisting as deck hand for close to five years during which time he has undoubtedly been tutored well. I first met Archie as a keen junior angler participating in one of  Combe Martin SAC’s popular fun fishing events. It was apparent then that he had a keen interest in sea angling and I am delighted that he has takin this opportunity to help ensure Ilfracombe’s long term future as a charter boat destination.

I was due to join Dan on Reel Deal for a day with my camera capturing a few images for features. As is often the case circumstances dictate a change of plan and the need to fit a new engine into Predator 2 meant that young Archie was to skipper Reel Deal and was lumbered with me for the day.

On arrival at a busy Ilfracombe harbour, I was greeted by Dan and Archie who were chatting with Ilfracombe Sea Safaris the hot topic of the day being an invasion of Twitters eager to reach Lundy and tick off a rare warbler that had been sighted. Ilfracombe harbour is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for Wildlife watching and diving, operating as the stepping stone to Lundy.

Archie was taking myself and a party of anglers from the Weston-Super-Mare  area. Chatting with them I found that they ranged from experienced boat anglers to relative newcomers to the sport. Jerry Day, Raymond Galivlins, Igor Fursous, Matt Burns, Alec Hughs and Alec Gelasvili immediately made me very welcome.

As luck would have it the weather forecast was a bit iffy offering strengthening winds later in the day and low cloud. We set out from Ilfracombe and I was impressed as Reel Deal bounced across a moderate sea powered by twin Suzuki 325 engines that can push Reel Deal at a top speed of 45 knots cruising comfortably at 30 knots.

The familiar coastline West of Ilfracombe passed by quickly the cliff tops shrouded in mist. The first mark was a rocky reef close to Baggy Point where pollock and bass were on the wanted list. After several  unproductive drifts it was clear that the fish were either absent or not feeding.

I could sense that Archie was frustrated by this lack of action and overheard his enquiries as to conditions further afield. We were soon heading towards Lundy Island where we could drop anchor and target the tope that had been showing in good numbers.

https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2021/06/07/tope-feeding-frenzy/

We spent an hour drifting with lures with a few wrasse and small pollock getting the fish count underway. The steep granite cliffs shrouded in mist created an exciting Jurassic park feeling to the vista. Guillemots  were abundant along with a few puffins.

As the tide eased towards low water it was time to embark upon the days main event and target the tope. We anchored at the favoured mark with a mixture of sand and broken ground. Large frozen mackerel baits were favoured by most and were sent to the sea bed. The rods set up in holders in anticipation of rod bending tope.

After a few minutes rod tips started to nod as a succession of bull huss and dogfish found the baits. A whiting tempted on baited feathers was attacked on the retrieve by what was undoubtedly the target species. The encounter being all too brief with the whiting showing deep lacerations on its flanks where the topes teeth had cut into the flesh.

As the tide eased towards low water bull huss came frequently each one boasting an impressive pattern of leopard like spots.

By now there were only five anglers participating in the day as one had been struck down by a particularly bad bout of sea sickness.

As the tide began to flood the fish once again went off the feed and we headed closer to the misty cliffs once again for the last session of the day. With a few small pollock added to the tally it was time to steam back to Ilfracombe.

It had been a hard day’s fishing as is sometimes the case. Despite this spirits were surprisingly high as future trips were planned with those on board eager to replicate their previous success on Reel Deal a few weeks prior to this trip when they had found the pollock in a cooperative mood smashing into their lures to result in a bulging fish box to take home for the freezer.

Lets hope my next venture out with the camera coincides with good light and plenty of fish.

TOPE FEEDING FRENZY FOR SOUTH MOLTON ANGLERS

With a calm day forecast it was great to arrive at Ilfracombe harbour and climb aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin with members of South Molton Angling Club. With bottom fishing a little slow close to Ilfracombe John had suggested a trip to try the prolific fishing grounds close to Lundy Island. A trip out to fish in the vicinity of this rugged granite outcrop twenty five plus miles from Ilfracombe is a sortie I always relish as the scenery is spectacular and adds a welcome dimension to the fishing.

With reports of a few early tope showing first stop would be to anchor up and fish over low water with big baits. It was misty as we sailed out of Ilfracombe and headed West towards Lundy. As we looked back the morning sun started to burn through the morning mist and illuminate the Bristol Channel. A porpoise rolled in front of the boat. We all chatted enthusiastically about fish, the lack of fish and life in general as John delivered hot coffees and teas.

By the time we arrived at the banks and dropped anchor the sunshine had broken through and we were sat upon a mirror calm sea of blue. A variety of large fish baits were sent into the deep clear water impaled upon large strong hooks attached to wire traces or strimmer cord!

Within minutes Matt Brady was in action as a hard fighting tope seized his bait putting a healthy bend in his rod. Over the next hour or so over the low water slack a succession of tope hit our baits in a feeding frenzy giving exciting tussles and a few frustrating tangles. In total 16 tope were boated along with a few bull huss to 11lb a couple of smoothound and one or two inevitable doggies.

By the sound of the voices echoing across the water anglers were enjoying similar sport a short distance away in another Charter boat.

As the tide started to pick up general consensus was that we should try  drifting for other species using lures and baited feathers.

Drifting the West side of Lundy gave an opportunity to view the spectacular granite cliffs that were in parts decorated with patches of pink thrift. Cormorants stood drying their wings and seals basked in the warm sun. We even caught sight of a few puffins with their bright clown like beaks.

The fish finder showed plenty of fish close to the bottom yet action was slow as we drifted over the numerous peaks and pinnacles that lie to the West of Lundy. Sidewinders brought a few hard fighting pollock up around 4lb and baited feathers attracted more pollock a solitary small coalfish and some brightly coloured cuckoo wrasse.

John worked hard searching the reefs but it was obvious that the fish were not feeding well. This could have been due to the small tide we were fishing, light values or even lure choice. The complexities of angling are many and as I often say this all part of this intriguing game.

It was an enjoyable cruise back to Ilfracombe on a calm sea. The beautiful North Devon coast looked splendid with its steep green cliffs punctuated with vast sandy beaches that were undoubtedly packed with families, surfers and sun-worshippers.

The sizeable pollock were filleted a tasty and healthy reward for the day afloat.

We soon glided into Ilfracombe harbour dominated by the conversation stimulating statue Verity. Tourists were abundant and it was good to sense a feeling of normality returning to the seaside town.

Boat Sport Up Channel

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Paul Grisley sent me this report on his trip to Somerset to fish on Charter Boat Lorna Doone.

Amazing day on Lorna Doone brilliant weather and company, low point 34 dogfish but 3 blondes 13.5 to 15lb,2spotty rays 1 just under and 1 just over 4lb,2 thornbacks 9 and 12.5lb,2 smothounds 9 and 12lb and a 9lb huss blown away Tommo is some skipper ! mostly on squid and mackerel but some crab cart and bluey thrown in for a change. even honours between up and down tide.