FAVOURITE PLACES –  I  have fished Part 1

There is plenty of reminiscing going on at present and I guess that’s inevitable in these strange times when our freedom has been taken away. Looking at a wide range of pictures on social media has prompted me to put together this short article highlighting a few of the wonderful places that angling has taken me to. I will add that North Devon and my home waters are far higher on the list than these notes indicate. The reason for this is that on trips away there is perhaps a fuller emersion in the angling dimension.

You may notice that each section contains a photo of the expedition party as we all know its not just about fish and places its also very much about friendship!

SARK

            Arrival to this Island situated out in the English Channel takes one to a world apart where life runs slower. There are no cars, no street lights and few shops. Steep cliffs descend to clear waters where huge grey mullet were our target. Sadly, the numbers have declined since our early visits when we often glimpsed double figure specimens. We also caught black bream to over 4lb on float-fished bread-flake. On our early visits we took the ferry from Weymouth and carried huge packs of gear. We fished all day for mullet then retired to our accommodation for tea before heading out to fish for the huge conger that lurked at the base of the harbour jetty. It was then the then hike back up the harbour hill the autumn leaves smelling of decay as they collected on the path. It was then time to dine on cheese on toast, enjoy a last brew and crawl into bed for 1.00am.

Up at 7.00am,  fry up and back out on the push bike for another day watching floats bob upon the water disappearing from time to time followed by a bent rod and screaming reel.

There were of course the occasional visit to the Islands two pubs. The Belle-air ( The Tourist Pub) or the Mermaid Tavern that was like stepping back into the 1970’s. Sadly modern times had started to catch up when we last visited but I remember fondly the smoky haze and nicotine stained décor that reminded me of my youth.

IRELAND

            I have been to Ireland on three or four fishing excursions. A week plugging for bass on the Copper Coast. A week fishing for grey mullet on the Copper Coast around Dungarvan and a week on the West Coast with the Combe Martin SAC. Ireland is a beautiful land to cast a line an angler’s dream. In a week long bass fishing trip I managed to blank! But I loved every minute.

When I went back a year later I caught a PB mullet of 6lb 15oz and glimpsed several mullet that would have crashed the scales to over ten pounds. I really must return!

There is a wonderful valley where the River Tay meets the sea at Stradbally Cove. As the tide floods into this tranquil sheltered cove grey mullet drift like grey ghosts into the river mouth. I remember seeing a large sea trout sadly languishing with disease and wondered what treasures this river had once held as it ran through the green and pleasant land on its journey from high in the mountains that the sun set behind each evening as we relaxed after a hard day on the coast.

This wooded valley hidden on the Copper Coast is  a place I often wander to in my minds eye. A boat moored upon the bank and mullet browsing as they move in on the flooding tide. The quiver tips poised expectantly as we wait in the peaceful valley far from the troubles of the world.

Norway

            The land of the midnight sun. Clear cold waters, big fish, snow-capped mountains, glaciers. Almost too much for words to describe or to do justice for as I write I realise there is so much to say and so little time.

So many highlights from our two journeys to this spectacular land. Our fishing was largely divided into day time fishing with lures for cod and coalfish searching the mighty Fjords with deep and mysterious waters that teamed with life. Or drifting the shallows in the long evenings for the mighty halibut with fresh dead-baits bounced over the sand.

On one memorable night we fished through a windless night on glassy tranquil waters catching huge numbers of hard fighting cod the best falling to Rob Scoines a mighty fish of over 40lb on a light bass rod. I will never forget that night with mist hanging in the air as we savoured  a twilight of delight to the sound of sheep bells drifting in the cool clean air.

Another highlight had to be climbing a mountain to gaze across a vast vista of mountains and fjords.

Iceland

            A fish every cast I was told by our hosts! To my disbelief this was not too far from the truth for at most marks the rod tip bounced within moments of the bait hitting the sea bed. Codling two at a time, plump dab most over a pound. I also witnessed a shore caught plaice of over 7lb.

The many highlights of this trip included a whale watching excursion where we found several pods of humpback whales getting so close the spray from their blow spume drifted on us in the arctic air.

We fished a competition on a beach and as darkness fell the Northern Lights danced mesmerizingly above the mountains. We bounced back across a rugged road to the hotel and the presentation night as Motorhead blasted out on the car radio; “Born to Raise Hell”. A truly memorable fishing trip and I came second in the competition catching 52 fish if my memory serves me right.

Egypt

            In total contrast to the cold lands of Norway and Iceland in 1997 Nick Phillips and I ventured to the vast Lake Nasser in search of Nile perch. We enjoyed a week long adventure camping each night in the desert and fishing in temperatures that at times exceeded 100 Degrees Fahrenheit. At the time the comet Hale Bop was traversing the night sky. It was strange to think that the last time this had been seen from earth the ancient Egyptians were building pyramids.

I guess one highlight had to be catching a Nile perch of 83lb whilst casting from a rocky shoreline. The huge fish smashed into my Rapala lure its body erupting from the water as it shook its head violently before diving deep into the lake. Twenty minutes later I struggled to hold the mighty fish aloft for a photo!

Then there were scorpions, crocodiles and feasts under the midday sun. The Nubian guides were great people and showed great warmth and friendship.  I remember clearly an Island we fished one day where snake skins littered the boulders upon which we stood. Cobras we were told; get bitten by one of those and it’s probably the kiss of death!

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Scariest moment had to be when I was unhooking a Nile perch of around thirty pounds. The loose treble found the middle of my finger going right through! The perch was still on the other treble and thrashed around in the boat. A big 3/0 treble and thick gauged wire with a big barb was not good. I have to admit I felt a little dizzy as the blood oozed. A pair of pliers came to the rescue, an oily rag stemmed the blood flow. A hospital was far away; at least six hours and there were fish to catch. Amazingly by the end of the week my finger had healed and all I have is a scary memory.

The first night of our stay was in a luxury hotel I remember the heat and buzzing of a mosquito in our room. Music seemed to drone on in the distance until the early hours. We got to bed at midnight and were on our way into the desert to begin our adventure shortly after 4.00am in the morning. We stayed on safari boats camping at a different location each night as we fished our way along the vast Lake Nasser. I loved the remote desert but I cannot say I relished the craziness of Aswan and Luxor. Dining on a boat moored up beside the Nile was however a memorable experience.

Anglers Paradise

Norway Chiller !

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Combe Martin SAC member travelled to Norway where his party enjoyed success despite some brutal weather conditions. Keeping warm with  Chillcheaters of Braunton’s thermal under fleeces Kevin landed a halibut of 24lb,  26lb cod and stunning coalfish scaling 24lb 4oz. Kevins fishing buddy Photos Yianni also enjoyed success landing cod over 40lb. All the fish were caught fishing from deepwater shore marks.

Home and away shorelines

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Combe Martin SAC member Kevin Legge enjoyed a weeks fishing from the shore in Norway where he and his companions from Veal’s Mail Order landed some notable specimens including cod to 38lb, halibut to 32lb and a fierce looking wolf-fish of 14lb 2oz to Kevin. To combat Norways hostile climate the team chose to wear clothing from North Devon based  Reeds -Chillcheater.

Pheotos Yianni with a 38lb cod
(Above)Kevin Legge with a 14lb 2oz wolf-fish.  

(Above) Damien Close with a 32lb halibut

Twenty fours hours after arriving home from Norway Kevin was out on the local shoreline where he banked a stunning brace of bull huss scaling 13lb 9oz and 11lb 1oz.

Dave Brooke – bull huss 10lb

North Devon Company cheats the Norway chill!

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Combe Martin SAC members Kevin Legge and Craig McCloughlin joined the Veals Mail Order fishing teams excursion to Norway where they enjoyed some excellent shore fishing success despite being battered by some severe arctic weather. Fortunately they were kitted out with extreme weather clothing from North Devon based Reeds Chill-Cheaters. Kevin ; Told me that the, “conditions were very testing and proved to be a real testing ground for the Chillcheater gear that came through with no wind or rain breaking through the outer layers with the thermal lining holding the core warmth in”

Norway Success Beneath the Northern Lights

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(Above) Kevin Legge with a fine halibut.

Combe Martin SAC members Kevin Legge and Craig McCloughlin joined a party of anglers in Saltstraumen Brygge Fish Camp,Norway. In search of cod, halibut, haddock and coalfish from the shore. They enjoyed success with several halibut, double figure cod and also enjoyed the spectacle of the Northern Lights with temperatures well below zero throughout the trip. Both anglers were kept warm with specialist clothing from Braunton Based company Reeds – Chillcheater.

(Above) Even in Norway Kevin found the inevitable dogfish!

Fish from cold climates

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(Above)10lb + halibut for Craig

North Devon anglers Craig Mcloughlin and Kevin Legge are enjoying fishing in Norway where temperatures are minus 6 during the day and there  are just three hours of daylight!

Craig hopes to capture the Northern Lights before they come home. One of angling joys is the adventures it takes its participants on.

(Above) Double Figure cod for Craig

(Above)Kevin Legge with a double figure cod

A fine specimen haddock for Kevin

North Devon Angler lands 41lb Cod in Norway – On a spinning rod!

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Apologies for the short break in output due to a week long fishing excursion in Havnnes Handelssted, Northern Norway. I will put a blog post up on the event in due course but in the mean time here are a few pictures of our adventures including the capture of a huge cod weighing 41lb to the rod of North Devon angler Rob Scoines who tempted the huge fish on a lure and light spinning rod purchased from Summerlands Tackle in Westward Ho!

(Below) Wayne Thomas cod 38lb

Coalfish 32lb 5oz – Wayne Thomas
Cod 32lb – Wayne Thomas
Rob Scoines -cod 31lb 11oz
James Thomas – 26lb cod
47lb Haiibut – Wayne Thomas

NORWAY BELOW ZERO ADVENTURE

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North Devon Anglers Kevin Legge and Craig McCloughlin of Braunton Baits made the long trek to Norway for a week fishing at Saltstraumen Brygge Fish Camp in search of the specimen fish that reside within the prolific icy waters. Fishing from the rocky shoreline in temperatures as low as minus15 degrees they landed numerous halibut and cod. The highlight of the trip was a huge cod of 51lb 12oz to the rod of Paul Rogers of Rock Grip.

(Above) Paul Rogers 51lb 12oz cod

Fishing is about more than just fish its also about the places and sights you see such as the spellbinding Northern Lights.(Above)

A stunningly marked cod for Craig

(Above ) Kevin Legge with a fine cod

Shore caught halibut for Kevin and Craig

A rocky shoreline big fish and snow capped peaks,

How do you thaw your bait in frozen rock pools?

Back From the land of the Midnight Sun

Apologies for the lack of updates over the past week normality will return very soon with all the latest news from North Devon plus a summary of a fabulous trip to Havnnes Handelssted in Northern Norway. A blog will also follow. Special thanks to Craig Butler for organizing the trip to all at Havnnes for there kind hospitality and to the group of anglers whose company made it extra special. Thanks also to Jon Patten for a wealth of advice prior to the trip, to Alex McDonald at Sakuma for providing some quality tackle, Veals Mail Order for great service and to St Leger Custom Rods for the use of three quality rods that performed beyond all expectations. Full write up to follow soon when I have sorted the tackle and caught up with all the latest from the North Devon fishing world.

Havnnes Handelssted
Havnnes Handelssted
101lb halibut - Craig Butler - Fish of the Week!!
101lb halibut – Craig Butler – Fish of the Week!!
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Midnight Sun
Rob Scoines 20lb plus coalfish
Rob Scoines 20lb plus coalfish
One of several 20lb plus coalfish tamed on a St Leger Renegade Lure Rod
One of several 20lb plus coalfish tamed on a St Leger Renegade Lure Rod
11lb 2oz wolf fish
11lb 2oz wolf fish

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James Thomas with a small Norway cod!

The Magnificent 12!
The Magnificent 12!