SEASONS and CHANGING TIMES – A few thought from the waters edge.

Autumn seems to be setting in early this year with the salmon fishing seasons end almost upon us and no prospect of wetting a line with heavy rain bringing a big spate that has come too late to save what has been a lacklustre season as a result of low flows for much of the year. On the plus side the swollen rivers will enable salmon and sea trout to forge upriver and with no anglers or nets to impede their progress they will hopefully successfully spawn ensuring fish for future seasons.

Autumn colours are already showing on many trees on higher ground; martins and swallows are glimpsed as they head south battling the autumn gales as they start their epic journey. In a few weeks they will be swooping over a different landscape in Africa with elephants, lion and wildebeest instead of red deer, foxes and badgers. Each year these natural migrations take place and to some extent we take it all for granted expecting it all to continue year on year. Sadly things don’t always go on and we should watch with concern as nature faces troubled times. I read today of a threat to the Horse Chestnut trees and a shortage of conkers. Ash die back threatens to decimate our woodland.

As I drive around North Devon I am dismayed at the number of houses being built. Have we the infrastructure to cope? How will all of this impact upon the natural landscape and wildlife of North Devon? My recently published book “I Caught A Glimpse” reflects upon a North Devon I grew up in. Each year the stories within its pages seem far removed from the present day.

The coming months are often the best of the year for many anglers with carp already showing from our local lakes at impressive weights their bronze flanks reflecting autumns hues. Stillwater trout are likely to bring exciting sport. On the coast sea anglers will be relishing the chance to catch tope, bass, conger, Huss and grey mullet. In the estuary flounder anglers will enjoy simple fishing as rod tips rattle as bunches of ragworm are engulfed.

These autumn storms will of course pass and warm sunshine will bring reminders of summer warmth. November generally gives those first chill days but even then garfish and mackerel can bring a pleasant surprise on the coast. Part of the joy of angling is not knowing what will happen next and being out there by the water is a constant adventure. What better place to watch the drama of life on earth unfold?

Volunteer Required – Can you help to enable a gentleman to continue his fishing passion?

I received an enquiry from Samantha Mathews who works for Valorum Care asking if I knew of anyone who could help a gentlemen to prolong his angling experiences. I know from my interviews with several senior anglers that the passion for angling is still there years after they are forced to leave the waters edge. I am sure that the below opportunity would be very rewarding.

Volunteer Required – Can you help to enable a gentleman to continue his fishing passion?

We are looking for a person, or people, to help a gentleman continue his passion for angling. He loves to spend hours fishing and returning the fish to its environment.  Due to physical disability he cannot do this without company and support.  He would love the opportunity to spend time outdoors with like-minded people.  You would ideally need to be a driver willing to drive one of our Valorum Foundation vehicles – for which we would give you training.  We would also give training in how to support a wheelchair user and any other areas you feel useful.

We are based in Braunton but could reimburse your fuel costs to us.  If this sounds like something you could do or would like to ask any questions please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sam Mathews on [email protected] or telephone 01271 815915

It would be fantastic if you could place an advert for Francois.  I’m running ideas around with regards to the social meeting idea as well so please feel free to pass my details on to anybody who you think may be interested.

Great off-shore sport on Bluefin

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

Many thanks to Pete Gregory and Toby Bassett for allowing me to use their pictures and words following a successful trip on Bluefin out of Ilfracombe.

Fishing Ilfracombe aboard John Barbearys boat ” Bluefin ” and what a fish packed day it was . Lots of Dogfish as you would expect but in the morning when your hooking and landing more Bull Huss than dogs , you know its going to be a good day . Its always good to fish with Troy and Toby and as well as loads off fish between us , great laughs and banter all day long . We moved out to deep water to get amongst the Spurdogs and conger and ended up with forty to fifty spurs and a couple of half decent conger . Unfortunately with a spring tide and a little swell we had to head back in , but thanks john and the lads for a good day!

The Heart of Devon

The Heart of Devon

Game Fishing

The River Torridge starts its journey at Meddon near Hartland surprisingly close to the source of the Tamar that in contrast journeys to Devon’s South Coast flowing into the English Channel at Plymouth. The Torridge flows through the heart of Devon’s rural interior. Rolling hills, lush green fields and abundant woodland it is famed for its association with Tarka the Otter. Otters are fortunately still a common site for anglers as they cast their lines for salmon and sea trout on the many miles of water that are available to fish.

The Torridge is a smaller river than its sister river the Taw and is perhaps less daunting to fish with plenty of excellent fly water. Day Tickets for salmon, sea trout and brown trout are available from the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash that boasts a rich fishing pedigree with several beats available throughout the river. The Little Warham Fishery also offers excellent fishing opportunities for salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout.

LITTLE WARHAM FISHERY

Whilst many focus on the Torridge as a salmon and sea trout river its dry fly fishing for brown trout can be superb with great sport to be enjoyed on both the main river and its many tributaries.

The West-Country Angling passport scheme offers a wealth of opportunities.

Coarse Fishing

There are plenty of opportunities for the coarse and carp angler in this heart of rural Devon with a variety of waters. The famous Anglers Paradise complex owned by the notorious Zyg Gregorek and family offers a vast range of opportunity with everything from gudgeon to huge carp, catfish, pike and trout. Whilst renowned for its holiday complex the venue also boasts some superb day ticket fishing with Anglers Nirvana and Eldorado home to catfish over 60lb and carp in excess of fifty pounds.

Close to Holsworthy are Thornbury Fishing Lakes that offer carp to double figures along with tench, bream and other coarse fish. Day tickets are available for the two lakes that are set in a tranquil rural setting.

Stafford Moor Fishery close to Dolton has a well deserved reputation for its prolific carp fishing and match fishing. The lakes are well established and run by the Combe family who have invested much time, effort and money to build upon the sound foundations laid by the previous owner Andy Seery. The Match lakes regularly produce ton up bags of carp with Open events held on a regular basis throughout the year.

Carp anglers have the choice of two lakes Beatties and Lodge Lake both of which contain carp to over thirty pounds with twenty pound fish frequently gracing the bank.

The lakes also hold a variety of other species to specimen size including perch, eels and a few surprises.

Reservoirs

Melbury, Jennets, Darracott, Upper and Lower Tamar are all controlled by South West Lakes Trust and all hold some impressive stocks of coarse fish. Specimen Carp are caught in all of the venues with multiple catches of double figure fish common. These waters tend to offer more of a challenge than the heavily stocked commercial venues and are often less crowded as a result. Though this is not always the case at weekends when news has spread regarding good catches.

Carp are not the only specimens to dwell within these waters with some huge perch to over five-pound present in several of the lakes. These long-established waters are also home to some huge eels that offer a serious target for the dedicated eel angler.

Lower Tamar also holds a good head of bream to double figures.

Match fishing on the reservoirs brings bulging nets of silver fish with Upper Tamar considered one of the best venues for silver fish in the West Country.

Tope runs off with rod!!!!!

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

Keith Armishaw of River Reads sent me this story abut a recent boat trip. When the tope are about hang onto your tackle!!!!!

Has anyone seen this rod which was heading to Lundy? Monday was a day spent sea fishing. After a slow couple of marks, we finally anchored off Welcome and must have been in a middle of a shoal of tope. In a couple of hours, I had 7 and lost about 5, Jonathan had 4 and lost as many, Mike was feathering and never managed to get a fish to the top although he had tope on several times his tackle just wasn’t strong enough. Lee had 5 but… as I was unhooking one of mine in the sea, Lee got nudged and loosened his grip on his rod and a tope ran off with Greys Spinflex and Shimano baitrunner in tow. It was last seen heading for Lundy. Should you be tope fishing and hook it up, he would be delighted to have it back!   Keith Armishaw

A Glimpse into the past – Combe Martin

SEA FISHING – The fishing at Combe Martin is varied and excellent; and not the least delightful aspect is the opportunity afforded the visitor of seeing from a new angle the magnificent cliffs. Motor boats and rowing boats are available in good weather at any state of the tide: though it is sound policy to listen to the expert advice of the local boatmen as to the most suitable conditions and the most profitable fishing hours. With the constantly varying tides of this channel they are perfectly familiar; and their favourite fishing marks are productive of good sport.

Bass, pollock, pouting (locally called “glowers”)  wrasse,codling, tope, conger, grey mullet, plaice, dabs, and mackerel are taken in spring and summer.

The herring season is from mid-September to Christmas. Cod, large conger, skate, ray and dogfish are caught in winter. bearded rockling and whiting also occur: sea-bream has been scarce of late years and hake has not been obtained for several years past. A weever was caught off Ilfracombe in 1932 and a sturgeon near Clovelly. Sunfish are sometimes seen resting on the surface. Small sharks, seals and porpoises come up the Bristol Channel at times. Lobsters, crabs and prawns may be added to the list. Squids are fairly plentiful.

A conger of over eighty pounds was caught about 1880. Two halibut were taken on “long lines” one night in early December, December 1919, one weighed 60lb., the other about 16lbs. This is the only occasion remembered for halibut locally. A bottle nosed shark sixfeet long and about three hundred weight, was caught in herring nets, November 1931. A skate (“rooker”), five feet across and weighing one hundred weight, was caught on December 2nd 1931. An angler fish was taken some years ago and a strange fish, possibly another angler, was washed ashore dead on February 7th 1933.

FLY FISHING – Fly Fishing may be had at Hunters Inn. Tickets being obtainable at the hotel; and on Slade Reservoir. Ilfracombe’ permits being issued at the Municipal Offices, Ilfracombe. Good fishing is also available on the East Lyn, the Barle and the Bray. For fishing on the Exmoor Reservoir apply at the  Ring Of Bells Inn, Challacombe. 

Perhaps if we had taken good care of our fish stocks we would no longer need to go to Norway to catch a halibut!

Whilst having a tidy up I came across an old holiday guide to Combe Martin. The back cover advert below gives a fascinating glimpse of the past. Reading through sections of this book brings thoughts as to what we have lost in the seas off North Devon. I was born in Combe Martin and can see see glimpses of my youth within the pages of this old guide within which I can frustratingly find no publication date. My guess is that it is early 1950;s. It is a sad reflection that the waters off our coast once held fish that we now travel to far off shores to catch.

There is of course much that has not changed along the majestic North Devon Coast and for this we should ensure that we pause to savour what remains and reflect upon change and what the future holds.

COMBE MARTIN  (Scene of Marie Corelli’ s Mighty Atom)

For SUNSHINE and HEALTH and the Ideal Sea Side- Country Holiday.

UNRIVALLED MILD WINTER CLIMATE

Express Train 51/2 hours London – Ilfracombe, thence Motor coach connection (20 Minutes) Direct Booking.

Spring Time

Its seems that spring is slow to arrive and just as we think its getting milder another cold snap is forecast. But any day now we will get that first real day of spring when warmth prevails and balmy air descends.

There are of course signs that spring is here as daffodils, primroses and celandine’s line the hedgerows and roadside verges. Frogs spawned a couple of months ago now and their spawn is already transforming into tadpoles. It will be soon be the turn of the toads to converge onto lakes and ponds their birdlike croak echoing around. Any time now we could glimpse that first sand martin and then that true harbinger of spring and summer the swallows.

As anglers we are of course very aware of nature that is around us and this is all part of what fishing is all about. I am always filled with optimism as the days grow longer and the chance to fish evening sessions in daylight arrives. Of course many plans are made and time is as ever less plentiful than desired. In just a couple of weeks the clocks spring forward.

There will be the chance to cast a fly across the river for spring salmon. Flick a dry fly upstream for wild brown trout or fish a buzzer on a Stillwater for hard fighting rainbows.

Carp anglers will relish the warming water knowing that carp will become more active and as a result will search for food maybe even coming onto the surface where a chum mixer will be slurped down with that delightful sound of summer evenings.

If you’re a sea angler your thoughts will be turning to bass, smoothound and ray. It will of course depend upon your favourite angling style what you seek. The bait angler will enjoy sitting back waiting for the nodding rod and screaming reel. The lure fisher will be more mobile searching for fish casting here and there searching for that electric tug on the line.

I could ramble on but I am sure you get the vibes that I am trying to convey that excitement at the arrival of new a season and fresh piscatorial adventures. I hope to report on your catches over these coming months, not just the fish but also an appreciation of all that angling means. So please feel free to send me your successes, stories and any images of the angling world you enjoy.

Many thanks go to those who sponsor this site and support this project.