Respect the sea and stay safe. Plea from local angler

Many thanks to Combe Martin SAC member Jamie Steward for allowing me to use his account of a recent near miss on the rocks to highlight safety as we go into the autumn and winter sea angling season. Most sea anglers who have fished over many years will have had a few near misses, myself included. I have reproduced Jamies vivid account and added a few earlier words on safety from past posts. I dread having to report on the death of a local sea angler on my website or in the North Devon Journal. Please give safety a thought and consider investing in a life jacket they are not expensive. Anglers often pay hundreds of pounds for rods and reels yet seem reluctant to spend £100 on a decent life jacket.

Below Jamie Stewards vivid account of a near miss:-

Last night I saw my life flash before my eyes if it wasn’t for Ali Laird and the RNLI boats and helicopter. I probably wouldn’t be here. If you know me you know I likes my fishing and I was out with my mate Ali doing what we do, sea was rough and getting worse by the hour but being experienced fisherman we were very cautious and fished on. The session was steady catching a few fish here and there and then near top of tide I hooked a very decent Tope and managed to get it in onto the lower ledges, sea was fair angry at the point but I used the swell to my advantage and landed the tope on the ledge.. Ali wasn’t keen on grabbing it so me being me and knowing the size of the Tope decided I was gonna somehow land this beast. So off I went down to the bottom ledge timing it with the fall of the swell I grabbed her and had it in my arms. Knowing I had to get bk up super quick I turned around and boom I was smashed with a huge swell which launched me out in to the angry sea  at this point I panicked.. the swell was rolling over my head I couldn’t breathe properly and I was swallowing water  I managed to lay on my back and calm myself to think of a plan to get out and I felt the swell bump me in to the cliff a little further on so I took my chance and grabbed the rock and somehow pulled myself up far enough out of the sea and swells. This is where I stayed until the RNLI boats arrived but because the swell was so big they couldnt get near me so they called the helicopter which finally winched me out. I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved and for basically saving my life. I also wanna say to all my mates and fellow anglers please please please think twice before landing fish in rough seas and always put your safety 1st!! I will be a lot more cautious in the future that’s for sure! Respect the sea and stay safe. Ps I got away with few cuts to my hands a lost head light, bobble hat and Tope.


Henry Gilbey- writes on safety at sea.

Following on from the tragic deaths of two anglers the other day from a part of Cornwall I know very well and have fished plenty, well for some reason it’s really banged home to me that too many of us who fish choose to ignore the simple things we could be doing to give ourselves the best possible chance of surviving if and when something goes wrong. I have found a good contact at the RNLI and had an interesting chat with him about all this, and also why anglers like you and me are so resistant to wearing lifejackets out on the rocks for example. Also had a good talk with a lifejacket company about some of their products that would be most suitable for the sort of shore fishing I do etc. I never thought I would say this, but I am going to buy one of those compact and unobtrusive, auto inflate life jackets. Not sure which one yet, need to choose between a couple of makes and models, but I am looking at around £100-150 – think about what we spend on rods, reels, lures and waders for example. More to come about what I hope might be some food for thought. They found a body in Constantine Bay this morning, most likely the second angler who went in last week……………..

Once again there has been a tragic loss of an angler’s life on the North Cornish Coast an area well known for its huge swells. The North Devon coast is also pummeled by these same Atlantic surges and anglers must be fully aware of the risks. Each winter I remind anglers of the safe guidelines to follow. Always check the tide and weather before choosing where to fish taking into account the wind direction and both the time and size of the tide. If fishing from potentially slippery rocks consider the impact of heavy rain not just whilst fishing but also accessing the mark and leaving.  Ensure that you tell someone where you intend to fish and your expected time home. Carry a mobile phone and keep it in a waterproof case. Always wear suitable footwear that gives a good grip metal studs can be excellent and cut through weed and algal growth. Modern lifejackets are lightweight and comfortable and significantly improve the chances of survival if you do fall in. When it comes to landing a big fish have a plan on how you will land it and carry a long-handled landing net or drop net. Alternatively use a strong enough shock leader to give a chance of lifting the fish safely from the water. I will repeat the frequently uttered quote no fish is worth losing your life for.

Another good idea is to load the what three words app onto your mobile phone. See below advice from our local village information group.

The whole world has been divided into 10 meter squares each with a unique 3 word combination.  We are informed that all emergency services use it as well as the Council Highways dept and utility companies.

You can find the words applicable for your house (front door) and keep them by your phone for emergency use and of course with a mobile phone and the free download app you can report a fallen tree, water leak etc. very accurately as when you open the app it knows where you are and gives the 3 words.

You can expand and enlarge the map to your doorstep and find your unique 3 words.

Please do use this potentially lifesaving tool as we know that Postcodes are not unique.