WORDS ON STRANGE TIMES

These are strange times with our freedoms understandably curtailed. I am very fortunate to live out in the country with a garden and access to open countryside to undertake our daily Boris walk. Nature is all around and is a great source of comfort during these dark days.

For several weeks the wind has been blowing from the North East a cold and uninspiring direction from an angling point of view. The wind has now swung to the South bringing a warmer balmy air that stirs the angler within.

It is difficult as an all round angler to decide what type of fishing I am missing the most. The Fly Fisherman within dreams of drifting a team of buzzers and the moment the line zips tight as a rainbow intercepts. The singing reel and the leaping trout.

Or waiting beside a calm lake absorbing nature as I await the piercing thrill of a bite alarm as a carp bolts after falling for my carefully laid trap.

Wading the river searching for the elusive spring salmon? Flicking dry fly and nymph into a riffle in search of a crimson spotted wild brown trout? Launching a sandeel from the beach in search of spring ray or working a plug for a silver bass.

Frustrating times indeed. In the mean time I have been buying a few flies and have a mission to sort out the chaos of the tackle shed. I really wish I was more organised as I tend to grab fishing time and often return from the water dumping the kit with the intention of sorting in the cold light of day.

Do I really need all of this gear?  An array of lures purchased over many years some of them hosting large barbaric trebles that seem a little excessive. It is perhaps time to declutter.

I am presently reading a book called STRONGHOLD by Tucker Malarkey. The book tells of one man’s quest to save the world’s Wild Salmon – before its too late. Whilst it relates mostly to Pacific salmon there is much to relate to within its pages. Most alarming is perhaps the reference to the demise of the Atlantic Salmon for its clear that what we now have left is a shadow of what we once had. Of this I am very aware following the research I undertook when writing my own book “I Caught A Glimpse”. Which is a good read for the lockdown!

The COVID-19 outbreak is undoubtedly a disaster on many levels but there is perhaps always an upside. Not sure if it’s just my perception but looking up into the night sky the stars seem brighter than ever. Is this a result of the lack of pollution from the many planes that normally leave vapour trails crisscrossing the sky?

The reduction in commercial fishing could give fish stocks a valuable reprieve. Following on from the World Wars fishing often showed a dramatic upturn as fish stocks had recovered. As I said in my previous feature perhaps this is a time to recalibrate.

Our daily walks into the countryside have allowed a time to observe. I have a collection of books by that acclaimed countryside author BB. His prose paints a vivid picture of nature with in depth observation. In some of his writing there lingers a melancholic atmosphere that somehow resounds with me today in these sombre times. Throughout BB’s prose there is a love for nature that gives strength. Most of his books have these simple words in their cover.

‘The Wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades: these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.’

Anglers Paradise

Looking for stories?

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With fishing off the agenda there is little to report on North Devon Angling news but with everyone at home I wondered if anyone would like to take on a challenge. Several who have read my book, “I Caught A Glimpse” have commented on how it brought back memories of early days at the waters edge and how our paths have been similar.

Its not easy staying at home away from the waters edge so I thought it would be good if a few readers could take half an hour to recall your earliest angling memories from North Devon. If you could send me your contributions via email or messenger ideally with an image I will have a read through and publish.  [email protected]

Of course if your at a loose end you could always settle down in garden and read a good book!

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – A Great Winter Read

I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE – Fishing In North Devon

            I have been privileged to enjoy over forty years fishing North Devon’s varied waters enjoying both success and failure. The places and the many people I have met along the way have greatly enriched the journey and as the years pass I realise that all we ever get is a fleeting glimpse of a period in angling history.

In this book I tell a few of my own stories of North Devon angling along with recollections from others; some from an earlier generation who enjoyed fishing in those good old days.

I have no favourite species of fish just the one I am fishing for at the time and this book reflects this with every discipline of angling represented. From the small crimson spotted trout of tumbling streams to the huge shark that roam the Atlantic Ocean.

Angling is in essence an attempt to reach into a different dimension. Its fascination has for me never ceased and I always believe that the next cast will be the one that connects, that marvellous moment of completed deception. The anglers I have interviewed in writing this book reflect upon past times when they too glimpsed piscatorial events that they enjoyed recalling. Stories of lost fisheries, big fish, record fish of angler’s their attitudes and love of fishing.

I hope that I manage to share and convey the joys of angling in North Devon and provide a glimpse into a century of marvellous fishing.

Just a fleeting glimpse,

Of Memories gone,

A hopeful glimpse of what may come,

When its bitter cold outside its often good to settle down by the fire to read a good book.  ” I Caught A Glimpse” has an array of fishing stories from North Devon with all disciplines catered for if your interested check out this review from Dominic Garnett and the comments from my friend Paul French.

https://dgfishing.co.uk/winter-coarse-fishing-and-new-angling-books-reviewed/?fbclid=IwAR1STJpBKb5FDftACxckmT4Gjl9zb5UknO9M0eyvbEQuhmITPgH2TQLF5As

I received this email from my friend Paul French who took the book on a cruise.

“We’ve recently returned from a cruise to Norway which provided me with ample time to read your book and what a thoroughly good read it was too! The passion you undoubtably have for this pastime of ours is embodied in the words on each and every page. The part mix of autobiographical and part historical is I believe a unique blende and certainly not something I’ve seen attempted elsewhere. It couldn’t have been an easy project to undertake and metaphorically reading between the lines the reader may understandably not appreciate the hours and days of research you have put into it. You’ve smashed it, all round my kind of book. 

All we need now is a Glimpse of the next one”.

https://thelittleegretpress.co.uk/product-category/author/wayne-thomas/

Available from The Little Egret Press or drop me a PM via my Facebook Page or North Devon Angling News.

The fish are out there – Go get em!

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There are some good fish out there to be caught with several bass showing from coast and estuary. A few codling too. Its very much of taking advantage of any window of opportunity with the late autumn weather or just dressing up and getting out there!

Josh Atkinson landed this stunning silver flanked bass of 7lb 10.25oz whilst flounder fishing on the Taw estuary. I asked him if he was targeting bass ?

“Would love to say that I was targeting it but yeah I was targeting flounder. But as we know it is part of the wonderful by-catch that we can have whilst flounder fishing on the Taw.”

(Above) Chay Boggis tempted this 7lb 14oz bass on a mackerel tail fished in a rocky gulley at short range.

Cod for tea – Kevin Kirby landed this pleasing 3lb 12oz codling from a North Devon Shore Mark.

Hounds are still about !!

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Late October but summer species are still about. Kevin Kirby sent me this report of smoothound caught from a North Devon shore mark. The hounds scaling 10lb 6oz and 8lb 9oz were tempted using whole squid baits. I have noticed that each autumn the hounds are staying later with some specimens showing light up until Christmas they also seem more inclined to take squid baits at this time of year.

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?

Great off-shore sport on Bluefin

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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!