Brightly Coloured success at Ilfracombe

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Toby Bassett enjoyed a great afternoon with his good friend Rob Pearson. Their target originally was mullet and they found a few nice ones feeding but only 1 take for Rob. Toby turned his attention LRF tactics with king ragworm baits. This resulted in some stunning brightly coloured wrasse. Toby also caught a flounder of 1lb 2oz. All caught in and around the Ilfracombe Harbour area.

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.

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.

Plan “B” Brings A Pleasing Twenty – Lower Slade

The weather scuppered the boat trip out of Minehead with the wind due to swing West to North West by midday. A difficult call for the skipper but the right one as the weather men got it right. And so it was plan B. I had loaded the carp gear into the van the previous night thinking I might set out early but it was 6.30am by the time I woke up and close to 8.00am by the time I was on the road with dark thundery clouds in the morning sky.

It was precipitating down profusely when I arrived at Lower Slade and I watched a fellow angler pushing his barrow into the bay. With this area no longer an option I settled on a roadside swim that gave access to areas where I had previously enjoyed success. Whilst I haven’t fished Slade much for carp in recent years I don’t believe they change their habits to dramatically frequenting the same old areas with the wind influencing this.

By the time I had three rods out and some bait scattered about it was around 9.30am. The showers had passed by and the sky was blue with wisps of white cloud and the lush green growth of late spring was all around. A robin alighted upon the rods and searched for crumbs of bait around my feet.

After an hour or so I decided to check one of the baits and recast. As I prepared to recast the bite alarm on the right rod blipped and the bobbin bounced a couple of times. I grabbed the rod and wound down to feel a heavy weight as a good fish shook its head. The fish gave a good run around giving a few anxious moments as it found some weed, becoming solid for few moments before steady pressure coaxed it free. Eventually it swirled close to the bank and moments  later it was safely within the net.

The scales put a number on it of 21lb 14oz; a pleasing result and another carp ticked off my challenge to bank a carp from each SWLT North Devon Lake this season. I had charged my camera battery the previous night and had remembered to grab the camera on the way out of the house but had forgotten to put the battery in! Fortunately these days we always have our phone with a camera! Hence the slight grainy image.

The rest of the day drifted past and for a while it seemed as if summer had arrived as the call of the cuckoo echoed around the valley. I packed up late afternoon as a cool North-West wind sprung up as predicted.