Big Gilthead from North Devon Shoreline

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Combe Martin SAC member Ollie Passmore has been targetting gilthead bream and enjoyed success with this awesome specimen of 6lb 10oz. The fish has a local specimen rating of 220%.

Ollie commented on his facebook page.
“Still absolutely buzzing with this unit of a gilt head bream from a few weeks back.  Fallen in love with catching these fish!! Still lots to learn and lots of blanks involved, trying to work out there feeding patterns and locations. Such an amazing fish in the flesh and feel blessed to have caught such a big local one  6lb 10oz
@sakuma_fishing Top bits from sakuma using 25lb fluro for hooklenth and mini manta extra size 2s nailing them every time.”

A new chapter for North Devon’s anglers.

Quay Sports closed on June 14th after trading for close to three years it has been a valuable stop off point for North Devon’s Anglers providing a wide range of tackle for all disciplines. Fortunately the shop manager Chris Connougton is opening a new tackle shop  that will ensure that Barnstaple still has that vital ingredient to enable a social hub and source of those essential items of tackle and bait. It is essential that local anglers support this new venture and all other local tackle shops. We are very fortunate to have a range of tackle shops across North Devon a fact that I will promote in the coming weeks.

Last day of the shop today. Come and grab yourself some last min bargains. We would also like to say a huge thank you to you all for your support over the last 3 years, we have made some great relationships and friends. We wish Chris all the best for the future with Barnstaple Bait & Tackle and sure will see some of you on the bank.
Quay Sports

( Above) Mark Potter and Chris Connaughton on their last day at Quay Sports

“I am proud to announce that I will be opening a fresh new bait and tackle store at 6 Queens House, Barnstaple, EX32 8HJ. I am hoping to be open by the 1st of July but more will follow on this.
There will be all the usual sea and freshwater baits available along with a vast range of tackle from leading brands.
My aim is to create a local social hub where like-minded people of all ages can meet, shop and chat about all things fishing!
It hasn’t been easy so come show some support when open and keep a tackle shop in Barnstaple for many years to come.
Watch this space for further details, a new facebook page, deals and events.
I look forward to welcoming you through the door
(I would also like to say a massive thank you to Mr Pinn of Pinndart for all his help with the logo etc).”

The Impact of Pollution – Ask The experts

This event at the end of February offers a unique opportunity to learn about water pollution across North Devon with representatives from across the region. I will be on the panel representing anglers though I do not profess to be an expert, just someone with a passion for angling  within a healthy eco-system.

Kyle Tempts Big North Devon Cod

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Combe Martin SAC Member Kyle Bishop tempted this fine 18lb 5oz cod from a North Devon rock mark. The cod is one of the biggest caught from the coast in over a decade. Kyle tells me that the fish was long and thin and would have weighed considerably more if it was in top condition.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s twenty pound plus cod were a regular feature of catches along the North Devon Coast. Recent decades have seen the fish almost disappear from this area. Cod  numbers have been holding up further up channel but there is concern that numbers are starting to decline there too. The recent cod boat fishing competition held at Minehead saw just two cod registered from most of the Minehead Charter Fleet. This will undoubtedly result in the competition format changing in future years to reflect this and other species will be targeted.


posted in: Carp Fishing, Sidebar | 0

As we pass the Autumn equinox carp anglers are enjoying success across North Devon with some stunning bronze flanked specimens caught.

(Above) At Lower Tamar Lake Oli Dietrich banked common carp of 33lb 10oz, 32lb 8oz, 28lb and a mirror carp of 21lb.

(Below) At Hacche Moor Fishery Dave Jenkins banked carp of 30lb 14oz and 29lb 8oz.

(Below) Chris Budd banked nine carp to 29lb during a session at Stafford Moor.

 At Torridge carp lakes Kai Smith banked a 26lb carp and Joey Gould banked a 34lb 10oz mirror.

(Below) Shaun Thorne fished the lakes to bank a mirror of 29lb 12oz.

(Below) Bull Dog Carp Lake is also fishing well with Adam Atkins banking several carp including a new personal best of 29lb 3oz.



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COMBE MARTIN SAC –  Bass Lure League

Mark Jones – Bass – 63cm   53cm    50 cm Total   = 166cm

Reece Woolgar – Bass – 59cm 57cm    Total –  116cm

Mark Tossel – Bass 69cm

Mark Jones has taken an early lead in Combe Martin SACs Lure Fishing league being the first club member to register three bass of over 50cm.

COMBE MARTIN SAC are co hosting a lure fishing weekend with High Street Tackle first prize is £100 cash with £50 for runner up. See poster below. Details of presentation venue TBC.

If the event is well supported there will be additional prizes from High Street Tackle.

Braunton Baits – June Specimen Competition

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Craig announces Braunton Baits June Specimen Competition

Right guys and girls
Sorry it’s been a manic couple days but this months….
Fish Of The Month Competition (June)
Target species :- Any Specimen Fish From The South West Coast
To enter – All you have to do is purchase your bait from the shop and you’ll receive a sticker for June simples
Winner will receive a £20 gift voucher for the shop and a box of bakes from Bake and Brew Bakery
Please share away people
*You must pop in the shop to register
*to enter- the fish must be caught on bait bought from our shop
*you must send in a photo of you holding the fish along with a photo of the scales weight and the bait sticker
*have a great time
*please take your litter home
Happy fishing

Stafford Moor – One of Devon’s most prolific carp waters

I have been visiting Stafford Moor for over forty years collecting a wealth of memories from its banks. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the fishery was one of the top Stillwater trout fisheries in the country. When I first fished there the lake was owned by Andrew Joynson and managed by Gordon Eveleigh. The lake was well stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout to over 10lb . I well remember tempting a rainbow of 12lb from the lake which is now Beatties. The fishery was extended in the eighties with the higher lake excavated to offer more scope for the trout anglers.

In 2001 the fishery started a new chapter when it was bought by Andy Seery who transformed the lakes into an outstanding coarse fishery offering superb match and coarse fishing.

Today Stafford Moor is owned by the Coombes Family who have invested much time and energy and money into the fishery ensuring it remains one of the country’s top match and specimen venues with luxury Canadian style lodges.

            I had been intending to pay a return visit to target the venues carp for some time and arranged a visit in early May. Joanne Coombes and her daughter Millie offered a warm and cheery greeting as I walked into the shop to purchase some bait and bits for my trip on Lodge Lake. The shop is extremely well stocked with bait and tackle for both match and specimen anglers. The shop also has fresh milk, bread and snacks.

            I was very impressed with the clean and well maintained onsite facilities that include toilets and showers for anglers to use.

            I parked up in the Lodge Lake car park and had a scout around to choose a swim to occupy for the next 24 hours. Fortunately, I had several to choose from and settled for the Big Island Swim. With a gentle breeze blowing into the corner and the odd fish showing I felt confident that this would produce.

            I loaded the barrow and wheeled my ridiculous mountain of gear to the swim. First job was to have a cast around with a lead and float to find the depth and potential features. The Island directly out in front was an obvious point of interest and I decided that I would put a bait on each end of the island fishing a third bait out into the clear water to my right.

            On the left of the island, I found around three foot of water close in with around five foot to the right side. I carefully measured the distance to my chosen spots and spodded out a mixture of pellets and broken boilies.

            I then cast out  my baits into each of the chosen spots and set about erecting the bivvy as ominous rainclouds started to build. With the bivvy set up and tackle sort of tidy I put out a few more boilies with a throwing stick. The middle rod was suddenly away the indicator screaming its warning! I lifted the rod to feel a momentary heavy weight. Sadly, the fish came off within seconds and I cursed my luck. Encouraged I hoped this wouldn’t be my only chance of the session.

            The swims are well laid out with a gravel base ensuring you do not end up fishing amidst a sea of mud. I put the kettle on and made a fresh brew of coffee sitting back on the bed chair to savour the tranquil surroundings.

            When I first fished this lake for trout close to forty years ago there was only sparse vegetation with the banks showing the scars of recent excavation. Today the lakes have matured with the lush greenery of late spring all around. My mind drifted back over the years at the fishery and how it has matured into a haven for wildlife and a fantastic venue for anglers and their families.

            Ominous rumbles of thunder came from nearby as the storm clouds gathered. Rain started to fall with intensity and I was glad of the bivvy’s sheltered interior. I love looking out across lakes as the lights and shades play upon the water. At times the rain pelted the surface with great intensity and I sort of dreaded a run for to leave the bivvy would result in a drenching.

            I hadn’t expected any extensive rain with the met office forecasting 10% chance of showers! I looked that the rain radar and noted that the rain should eventually move away by late afternoon.

            At around 6.00pm the rain did indeed stop and weak sunshine broke through the clouds. Surely the carp would come on the feed anytime soon. I cast out fresh baits and spodded a few more boilies

            As darkness eventually descended I expected a run at any moment. I soaked up the atmosphere relishing the onset of darkness as owls hooted in the nearby trees. The occasional star could be glimpsed in breaks in the cloud. I snuggled into the sleeping bag ever hopeful that a screaming alarm would wake me from my slumbers.

            A breeze picked up overnight and the occasional single bleep came from the bite alarms raising expectation as I woke sporadically during the dark hours.

            The soft cool light of dawn brought with it a sense of disappointment. The confidence that is so vital was ebbing slowly away. I expected to see signs of life as the temperature climbed but all was still except for the ducks and robins that frequently visited my swim.

            I reeled in the middle rod and checked the bait that was all good. I put on a fresh bait and topped up the bait in the swim with a few boilies and pellets. The other rods were left in place as I was confident that all would be present and correct with the baits.

            I brewed a fresh coffee and sat back to survey the lake and analyse why I had failed to connect with any of the lake’s residents. It would have been interesting to know how other anglers on the complex had caught during the 24 hours I was present. I had a degree of confidence in my bait and rigs. The swim I had chosen seemed to be likely to hold carp with good features and a gentle breeze blowing into the corner.

            Perhaps the heavy rain had resulted in a dramatic drop in water temperature suppressing the fish’s appetite? It was possible that the carp were preparing to spawn?

            I compared notes with a good friend who told me that his mate was fishing a prolific water and had not had a run for 36 hours. So maybe the conditions were just not conducive for good fishing? Or was I just a bad angler?

            I am not a regular carp fisher and fish very few longer overnight sessions. With many species of fish to target I am wary of the addictive nature of carp fishing. The desire to hear that bite alarm scream out and subsequent bending rod is a strong compulsion.

            Non anglers struggle to comprehend the whole notion of spending days trying to catch a fish that is returned to the water. I have given up trying to explain or justify the obsession. There is certainly something rather special about carp fishing that attracts a huge number of devotees.

            I am looking forward to my next visit to a carp lake when I will hopefully get it right and bank a fish or two.

Recent reports at Stafford Moor show some very impressive specimens with several carp of over 30lb banked.

(Below) Andy & Jack Burrett  fished on swims 1 and 2 on Beatties lake and banked 43 fish  including a new Common lake record ! ………….. a stunning 36lb 3oz common.

( Below) Ben Smith banked 7 fish out up to 31lb 12oz from the inlet swim on Beatties lake , Ben used pva bags with pellet and 12mm pink wafters.

            I called into the shop after packing away having to admit to Jo that I had blanked on what is one of Devon’s most prolific carp waters. I joked that I was able to blank and still leave with a smile. The fishery owner’s life is certainly not easy as Jo quipped that she could write a book on the strange comments made by visiting anglers. “ How many fish can I expect to catch in a 24 hour session?”. Or “I am off now; I have been fishing for nearly three hours and caught too many fish! Meeting the needs of anglers is certainly a challenge.

My own impression of Stafford Moor is that of a very well run fishery that offers the chance to catch some superb specimens. Next time I intend to put things right!


On Fishing and Falling In – Recollections from Barry Bassnett

I met Barry Bassnett on several occasions whilst fishing for trout at Blakewell Fishery. We exchanged stories of angling in North Devon and I was delighted to record some of Barry’s recollections in my book “ I Caught A Glimpse”. Barry recently expressed his opinion on fishing styles after I posted an image of static fishing.  Fishing methods can to an extent be split between a trapping approach where the bait is positioned whilst the angler waits for an audible or visual indication before reeling in the fish. The other approach is to hold the rod and feel for the electrifying pull as the fish moves away with the bait or lure the angler driving the hook home with a strike. Many thanks to Barry for allowing me to reproduce his comments and recollections.

I use both approaches depending upon my preference or to what I think most likely to succeed. I remember my father preferring to hold the rod at all times waiting for that magical pull transmitted through the line. Barry’s comments and recollections are reproduced below.

A musical fish perhaps. Ha ha. But I can’t just sit there. Waiting for a buzzer to go off. It would drive me mad!! 

I also can’t sea fish with a rod rest. I like the feel of a rod in my hand waiting for the bite. I want to lure fish this next summer. I’m hoping my neighbour Andy. Across the road will help me get started and I want to get out on the Lyn again .

I found out I’d got a Morecambe book about fishing. The Morecambe of Morecambe and Wise. It’s a brilliant book 

And a great read. 

I also have somewhere, an old book of old salmon fishing flies. I’ll have to try and find it some time. 

Does Barnstaple have an angling club. And if it does what waters do they have and do they have many waters. And sections of the club is coarse fly and sea. Included. 

Barnstaple & District Angling Club

Do you remember Bill Leg? A chap I fished with many many years ago. 

We were with Owen another friend. It must have been in the seventies. We went to an open sea competition at Saunton. And there was a severe gale blowing. They decided to stop and cancel the competition. But our bunch decided they were all soft. So, we had to wade all the way to where we decided to fish .it was extremely hard going even up on the dunes was deep sea water. The wind was so strong. All along the beach we were wading in our waders. The water knee high. 

When we decided we’d trudged far enough to start fishing. We got set up with four ounce weights on the end and started to cast 

But however hard we tried to throw the weights out they ended up on the beach behind us. The odd one did get into the waves a couple of yards out. 

Of course, eventually we had to give up it was humiliating as we had told the rest we were going to fish it. As it couldn’t beat us. 

It was a struggle to get all our stuff in hand and make our way back to Owens car. It seemed miles in the very strong gale. Walking against the wind. We got back to the car soaked and shattered. And totally beaten. 

It was so great to be let out of the car outside my home. 

And into the warm again. 

I learned my lesson .

It was years after since I was young and had fallen into the river East Lyn. And spent the day with wet clothes on And soggy socks. Fishing. 

But this experience was far worse. I don’t let myself get soaking wet now. I’ve a full waterproof suit now. That floats me. 

Happy memories. I often sit and smile of my times in the water. When I’ve fallen in or been out in storms too stupid to give in and stop fishing. 

And I now also stop fishing during lightening storms.

But in the early days I was using my mother’s old greenheart fly rod. That was safer it was only six foot six long and a great rod for under the low trees and bushes on the Lyn on our own stretch. Casting over my  shoulder with my right hand. Holding the rod. That was back when I lived at Millslade in Brendon. I used to get a lot of free flies on the Lyn back then when there were loads of visitors staying at the Staghunters. And they used to lose their flies up in the trees and bushes from where I collected them. 

(Above)The old bridge at Brendon

Oh, happy days! Back then the Staghunter’s rented all the Halliday water . The water now known as the Glenthorne fishery was connected to Glenthorne down beside the sea below county gate. My great grandfather. Used to be the butler at Glenthorne before he bought the three cottages that he turned into the Staghunters Inn hotel in Brendon. Of course, that did mean I got to fish all of the East Lyn for free plus we had two fields with our own fishing with Millslade. It was paradise for me for all my childhood days. I so miss it now.

 It’s such great memories. And I fell into the east Lyn many times. When I was young or got a boot full of water. 

On one occasion I was in the field opposite Leaford. One field up and I was stood on a narrow pointed stone and one of the old hunter air craft flew up the valley extremely low. Just above me and I lost my Ballance. And of course, fell in. .and again was wet for most of the day. My feet didn’t dry out. .but if I went home to change my father would put me to work. Again. Mowing the lawn or gardening or cleaning the shippens out moved a huge amount of cow muck over the years. When I was young on to a large heap to rot down a bit for the fields and the veg garden . 

Take care Barry

(Above) Old days on the Lyn


Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas looms ever closer and if you have not purchased all those Christmas gifts yet why not visit your local tackle shop.

We are very fortunate to have several superb fishing tackle shops in North Devon all offering a vast array of quality tackle and bait. The local tackle shop is of course more than just a shop its also a social hub where anglers meet and talk fishing an essential ingredient for the future of angling.  I always try and do a short piece each year to highlight North Devons tackle outlets.

Quay sports has a friendly team of local anglers behind the counter willing to offer useful advice on all disciplines of angling.

(Above) The superb FoxArt limited edition prints are now available in store, only four of each print available
Will make lovely Christmas gift. all prints signed and numbered. More designs coming soon.
Summerlands Tackle in Westward Ho! is  a long established family run tackle shop that carrys a vast range of tackle. A warm greeting is always given and it is rare to walk into the shop without meeting a fellow of the angle.
Anglers Heaven is conveniently situated adjacent to Bideford’s Pannier Market.  Owner Tom Wade is extending the shop with a grand opening of the extension in the New Year. The shop carry’s a large stock of sea and Coarse tackle and works closely with Bideford Angling Club to promote local fishing.They also carry a wide selection of air rifles.
High Street Tackle in Ilfracombe offers one of the largest selections of lures in North Devon and is the domain of Danny Watson and Pauline Chard. Danny is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the latest lures for bass fishing and has many contacts throughout the lure fishing community. The shop also stocks a range of essential tackles and baits for coarse and sea angling.
Danny is a keen supporter of Combe Martin SAC and plans to co host an open Lure Fishing competition in the summer of 2023. Danny is also a supplier of tackle for Reel Deal
Braunton based Chillcheater supply high quality clothing for outdoor enthuiasts with warm under layers and tough, wind and water repellent outers.