From the River Bank

Frosted grass as I walked to the river, stark trees and the river running a steely cold blue green.

The Fly was swung across familiar lies the line drew tight and it felt good to feel a fish throbbing with life on the line. No silver bar but a pleasing out of season wild brownie of perhaps a pound.

A skein of geese flew over their calls drifting through the cold March morning air. It was good to be out by the river; though I do look forward to those warmer days when the sand martins will be swooping low over the water.

On arriving back at the car, I met a fellow angler arriving to fish. We chatted and he told me he would have got here earlier but his wife was working and he had to walk the dog. I quipped that walking the dog was better than working. “Not so good as fishing though”  came his swift reply.

Whilst relishing the joy of fishing the river I will mention that it is well worth tuning onto BBC 2 on Sunday night at 8:00pm when Paul Whitehouse is presenting a documentary about the state of our river’s.

Paul Whitehouse travels through the north of England, looking at the impact water companies have on its rivers.

Our Troubled Rivers

Paul explores the change in the water industry since privatisation in 1989 and what regulations are in place when it comes to sewage discharge into rivers. He meets concerned locals in Yorkshire looking to highlight the health of the River Wharfe, a conservationist who warns of the ecological decline in iconic Lake Windemere, and the man at the front of the battle for the country’s waterways, Feargal Sharkey.



A new Season underway – With silver success

March 1st is the first day of Spring and salmon fishing on the Taw and Torridge. I was keen as always to get out on the river despite the chill North East wind that was blowing. With the rivers on the low side after one of the driest Februarys on record I figured that the club water on the Taw would be as good a place to try as anywhere. I was in no rush to get to the water’s edge as I figured the salmon would be likely to respond as the temperature began to rise later in the day. In truth I was not expecting to hear much but my optimism was boosted when I received news of a fresh run salmon from below Umberleigh caught by Simon Hillcox.

I pulled into the layby at Newbridge to find keen river angler Chay Boggis setting off . He had already caught a kelt and reported that river keeper Don Hearn had caught a fresh run springer.

Don Hearn enjoyed first day success tempting a springer on a spinner

I donned my waders, and started to take my rod from its tube when realisation of my first blunder of the season dawned ! I have forgotten to pack vital items of gear on a few occasions. This was the second occasion in over fifty years that I have forgotten to pack my reel. I cursed loudly; should I go home and get the reel or just take a walk along the river bank to catch up with fellow anglers. Fortunately; Chay saved the day grabbing a spare reel from his truck. An 8 Wt floating line would be fine with a fast sinking braided leader added to get the fly down.

Chay Boggis with one of several kelts caught on opening day.

It was good to once again wade out into the cold river that was running clear after weeks without rain. Whilst it was cold, signs of spring were all around pussy willow bursting forth and birds singing beside the river.

I swung the fly, across the river  and after a few casts the line momentarily tightened. Was that a pull? I drifted the fly across the same spot and felt no resistance so maybe it was  a chance or just a trout….

It was good to  be out a new season ahead. I strolled down the bank met up with Don Hearn, John Webber and other club members. It was good to talk of the river and its salmon. The club is enjoying a revival with a strong membership with efforts made to improve river access and promote fishing. The club has for many years given the opportunity for local; anglers to enjoy salmon, sea trout and trout fishing at a very reasonable cost. For full details visit their website; –

Barnstaple Club members gather on opening day

The first visit of the season always tell a tale of the winter floods. Lies change new snags appear yet much remains as it has always been. The deep water of some pools are almost certain to hold silver treasure and the hope to connect is strong as the fly is drifted.

Several club members have elected to try a spinner a method that can be effective in cold water of early spring. Spinning is permitted on the Taw and Torridge until March 31st with single hooks mandatory. Always check individual fishery rules as many are fly only.

Club Chairman – John Webber stands beside new steps giving easy access

            I fished a couple of hours and did not connect with that spring dream. It was good to get news of several fresh run fish and kelt’s. The kelts are welcome sight as they are evidence that fish have spawned during the winter months. The coming couple of months will see the downstream migration of smolts. Great care should be taken to return both kelts and smolts carefully.

Debris tells the tale of winter floods

            Salmon face an uncertain future and need anglers to campaign hard for cleaner rivers and habitat improvement.. We must do all we can to protect and nurture the rivers for the future.

( Above) Ever changing yet constantly flowing

The Lower Torridge looking great as the season starts.


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Thirty seven anglers braved a cold wet and windy River Taw to fish for the Dan Miles Redmore Memorial Trophy

19 fish were weighed with the event raising over £300 for Childrens Hospice South West.

Results were

1st Julian Stainer 1lb 6.8oz

2nd Julian Stainer 1lb 4.8oz

3rd Wayne Hill 1lb 3oz

4th Kirk Thorne 1lb 2.7oz

5th Nigel Gullen 1lb 2oz

6th Nigel Gullen 1lb 2oz

Thanks to the generous sponsors :=


Quay Sports

Riot Baits

Bullet bait and tackle

Ebberley arms

Royal exchange 

Mattys Barbers

Blackmore Barbets

Fremington Quay Cafe

The Techout

Grattons Butchers 



Dan was a very popular and succesful North Devon based angler who loved his fishing joining many local clubs and catching a wide range of specimen fish from boat and shore. He also enjoyed trips to local still waters catching some superb rainbow trout. His passing in 2022 brought much sadness to those who knew him who will remember his passion for life and angling.

Christmas Flounder Competitions on the Taw

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Triple Hook Fishing Club 2022

Xmas Open Flounder 

Sunday 18th December

8am – 1pm

£5 entry

Book in with Dennis Toleman tel.07815009260 or any committee member together with the entry fee before the event.

Must be back and present fish at weigh in by 2pm at rear of Barnstaple Social Club (formerly Royal British Legion), St.Georges Road, Barnstaple


Boundaries – Iron Bridge at Rock Park, Barnstaple to The White House, Crow on either side of the River Taw

Flounder must be at least 12” with prizes for the heaviest fish weighed in, only heaviest fish per angler counts

Maximum 2 rods per angler with total of 3 hooks. Juniors (6 – 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult

Decision of the Weighmaster is final

Please call Mark Beer 07796230674 if you have any queries

Weston Outcasts visit the Taw

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Many thanks to Weston Outcast’s for allowing me to use their match report.
Saturday the 19th of November was the Outcasts annual trip to the river Taw in North Devon.
This time of year the flounder fishing can be excellent in the Taw with the right conditions , recent heavy rainfall small neap tide a nice frost giving way to a lovely settled day , it did look very promising.
Match 11 in the league calendar & being the penultimate match it would make for an interesting one with only 4 points separating the top 3 in the league!
A decent peg draw & a good days fishing where on most peoples Christmas list.
A few phone calls to our North Devon branch put us amongst the best bait possible, getting maddies can sometimes be a headache but a must for the flounder fishing in the estuary.
15 members turned out to fish the match & with the clubs prestigious Flounder cup still up for grabs every one was hoping for that bigger fish to take the cup.
Results on the day would be decided by the total aggregate length rather than weight . Recent years have seen large numbers of fish so this makes the results a little easier to work out.
The fishing on the day turned out to be a little patchy. Some pegs where rewarded with better bags of fish where as some struggling to land a single fish. No blanks where recorded so I guess that’s something.
Mainly flounder made up the catches with a few schoolies thrown in the mix .
There was an early flurry of fish as the tide still ebbed, gradually slowing until it switched to the flood . The fishing picked up with the flood as a steady head of flounder was being landed along the section. Top of the tide did bring a few schoolie bass as expected but also a large amount of debris & weed sat in the water which was a pain for some !
The Biggest flounder of the day was landed by Morgan & is currently winning the Flounder Cup with a lovely fish of
1lb 11oz, not massive by river Taw standards but a a decent fish on the day.
1st place on the day was Keith Warren with 17 fish for a total length of 525cm cracking bag of fish Keith as always ever consistent 🙌 Keith’s bag also included the longest fish of the day winning the fish pool with a Bass of 39cm
2nd was our North Devon branch member Kev Legge with 11 fish 355cm
Top angling Kev 🎣
3rd Morgan bagging an impressive 10 fish 334cm from the slower end of the beach , Well done mate superb angling 👍
4th Andy C 7 fish 231cm
5th Nath 7 fish 229cm
6th Jock 7 fish 208cm
7th Bob 3 fish 100cm
8th Jase 3 fish 97cm
9th Dallow 3 fish 86cm
10th Andy s 2 fish 62cm
11th Dave G 1 fish 31cm
12th Dave P 1 fish 30cm & Si 1 fish 30cm
14th Chazz 1 fish 23cm
15th Scott 1 fish 19 cm
So going into the last match things have definitely turned around at the top of the league, which will make for a very interesting final match!
Next & final league match is the 4th December at the mighty Bossington beach , Porlock will be the back up venue if we are blown off
Thanks to all the members who fished today & continuing to support the matches.
Special mention to the team at the Heanton Court Braunton for use of there carpark, also for a very warm welcome after the match where a couple of well earned beers & nibbles went down well while the results were worked out.
Thank you


If you follow my writings over several years you will have read my ramblings regarding the Barnstaple & District Angling Clubs hut situated beside the river at Newbridge. During what was perhaps the clubs heyday this fishing hut provided a welcome meeting point where members could meet and socialise as the river glided slowly past. The river then was thriving with salmon and sea trout and the club was also thriving in unison with the healthy river.

As catches dwindled a generation of anglers drifted away from the river and the hut sadly fell into disrepair. In recent seasons the club has seen an influx of enthusiasm and just maybe some sentiment from my writings stirred a will to resurrect the hut. I have spoken with the clubs river keeper Don Hearn on several occasions and was delighted to hear that the hut is to be restored.

It was very sad to recently receive news from Don via an email that vandals have visited the hut setting fire to the old bench and wood saved to help in the restructure.

Don asked if I could highlight the issue in the hope that police could be informed to help with their enquiries.

My initial reaction at hearing this was anger; but as I thought more it was sadness that replaced the anger. The world is sadly full of angry and intolerant people. Anger is contagious hitting out in anger and frustration just extends the problem. I have to ask what is gained by vandalising and inflicting damage to the dreams and efforts of others?

I look forward to enjoying the new club hut with fellow members. There are still a few salmon in the river and we can only hope that efforts to curb pollution and the many other issues that face the river eventually  bring rewards. I hope to write a full article on the huts history and its resurrection in due course.


A River Alive

It was good to be there; walking into the river surrounded by the vibrancy of late Spring. Lush green growth lined the river bank and birds flitted to and fro disappearing into the dense foliage to feed their broods. I stood in the river and put a line across the flow allowing it to drift before imparting a bit of life to the fly with a few pulls on the line. The river was very low but a few spells of light rain had perhaps put a slight tinge of colour into the water.

I was delighted to note large numbers of swifts swooping in the evening sky occasionally swooping low over the water  emitting their characteristic screeching cry. Sand martins too in profusion with an abundance of insect life propelling a feeding frenzy.

After fishing the first run I moved on down and noticed a fish bow waving at the tail of a pool. Sea trout or shad I wasn’t sure; it wasn’t a mullet that can often be glimpsed here on the club water well above the tide.

I waded out into the next run and was thrilled to see a salmon leap from the water opposite. This brought about a feeling of expectation that was fuelled further as two more salmon leapt from the river further down the run. The river felt alive and for a the next half an hour I believed it could happen.

Then a cool wind picked up blowing upriver making casting more difficult. The river seemed to switch off and my confidence ebbed away. My phone rang; “Are you heading home its getting dark”.

I walked back to the car across the the field as drizzle began to fall. It had been good to be at the river and to see a salmon leap was reward enough for it renewed the belief and showed that silver prizes still await.

Always worth a cast !

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The Taw and Torridge are both running very low and most anglers have given up hoping for fresh fish. It is however always worth having a cast as Simon Hillcox found out when he drifted a fly across a middle Torridge beat. In a short half an hour spell he hooked and landed three fresh run salmon. There are also reports of a few fresh fish lower Taw beats. I addition a shad estimated at 3lb was hooked and carefully returned by an angler fishing the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beat on the Taw. With fish seen jumping in the estuary anglers are hoping for some heavy rain to encourage a good run of fish into the rivers.

Footnote :- Inspired by the news of Simon’s salmon Paul Carter headed to a Lower Taw beat to catch a 9lb sea liced salmon.


Migratory Fish other than salmon !

Whilst the Rivers are very low a few migratory fish are still forging upriver. An encouraging story has been two rare shad caught by anglers fishing the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats on the River Taw. Several of this herring like fish were caught last year an indication that there is a breeding population surviving on the river. Next month it is likely that anglers will see spawning sea lamprey digging redds into the river bed. These prehistoric creatures seem to doing well on both the Taw and Torridge.

River Taw – April Update

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A quick update on the River Taw and any events coming up

Dear Members,

I hope that you are all well and enjoying the beautiful weather on the river even if the water is getting a bit low. There are now numerous reports of fish on the Taw. Mark Maitland Jones has connected and lost another already beating my last two seasons put together! It would be great if you would be able to email in any catch reports so that we can forward them to the members.

Also, if you accidentally come across any Shad (Allis or Twaites) it would be great to be kept in the loop. As a protected fish if we can show evidence that they run the Taw it could work wonders for conservation funding!

A few things to report below

Tight Lines


The Catch – Mark Wormald

Our newest committee member Will Martin was recently invited to Pembroke College Cambridge by Mark Wormald on account of Mark’s new book The Catch. Following Ted Hughes through his fishing diary the catch features the Mole (‘the wonderful river Mole’ as described by Ted Hughes), the Taw, and the Dart. Mark even managed to land a fish out of Watertown at his first time of asking – a feat I am very envious of! Ted Hughes clearly loved Devon and the book is a fascinating read about a fascinating poet and a great deal of mentions of lots of Devonians!


EA Update from Callum Underhill

First off, and most important is a reminder to please report any suspicious or concerning activity to us at the EA or local police, whichever is relevant for the offence that may be taking place. We have a saying that if it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen – because if we don’t know about it then we are obviously unaware it has occurred and thus cannot do anything about it. If you believe you have seen something you may be concerned about in terms of illegal fishing, please call us on 0800 80 70 60. This number is also helpfully printed on your rod licences.

We have a good working relationship with our local Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. As many of you will know, much of the work of protecting salmonids occurs around estuaries and tidal waters, this often overlaps with the work of IFCAs in their protection of marine species. For this reason, we are both cross warranted in Devon. We have powers under marine fisheries legislation and IFCA officers have powers to enforce salmonid legislation. After sharing intelligence between us and IFCA, I was able to locate two individuals netting the estuary illegally towards the end of last year. I reported them for the offences, and I seized the net as evidence. IFCA have now issued both with sizeable fines for the offences – a good deterrent and a strong message to those who may wish to do the same.

As many of you know, illegal fishing is not the only threat to fish in Devon. My colleagues in other departments are working hard to address other contributory factors to salmon declines, including habitat degradation, water quality and barriers to migration. Some factors are beyond our control, such as survival at sea, but we will do the best we can with our (very) limited resources.

Unfortunately, we had a disappointing outcome on the previous River Mole pollution case, which as you know caused much damage to already sensitive fish populations. We are at the mercy of the courts when it comes to sentencing and some days are better than others. On a positive note, we are now lucky to have some specialised colleagues in the area who will be looking at improving water quality by looking at local businesses and ensuring they are meeting legal requirements. These officers will compliment our other Environment Officers Albert and Andrew.

Many anglers are unaware that we at the EA hold much of the rights to the River Lyn around Watersmeet – a challenging yet rewarding water! We operate mandatory catch and release on our fishery and are able to bring in relevant restrictions when necessary to protect the fish in the river. I am in the process of modernising our fishery, with the potential for digital tickets and well as paper for example. Please feel free to try the Lyn if you haven’t before, or even visit for just a walk and support the local rural businesses up there.

Finally, thank you to RTFCA for being so engaging. All of the members I have met have been friendly and welcoming and the Taw is one of the areas in the patch I am always happy to visit.

I hope to see many more of you over the coming seasons.

Tight lines!