North Devon angler Ollie Passmore has enjoyed success fishing North Devon Rock marks landing conger, pollock, pouting and huss.
Combe Martin SACs January Rover was fished by ten club member with a wide range of marks fished. Bull huss dominated the result with David Brook (above left) securing first place with a huss of 7lb 13oz. Shane Pavio Hookway was runner up with a huss of 7lb 10oz and myself third with a huss of 6lb 10oz ( Above right).
The recent settled weather has resulted in clear water along the coast and a lack of quality fish close inshore. With this in mind I joined Kevin Legge and Dave Brook at a remote rock mark that gave access to thick kelp and seriously rough snaggy terrain. At times I questioned the sanity of clambering around the slippery and jagged rocks at the age of sixty but in truth I have no intention of giving up just yet. It is good exercise after all and I still love being out there in the dark night casting out in that mysterious dimension wondering whats lurking beneath the waters surface?
Strong tackle is a must with 25lb b.s Berkley Big Game Line, a single strong catfish hook and a rotten bottom. Tackle loses can be high but in calm clear conditions getting in amongst the rough stuff can pay dividends. It is very much a case of tightening up the clutch and giving it plenty of stick when a fish is hooked. With luck if a good fish is hooked it can be bullied clear of the snags if it gets stuck it will often come out after leaving the rod in the rest for ten minutes. if not more often that not the rotten Bottom link will break allowing the fish to be retrieved. I personally tend to use one rod in these situations with a second rod all set up ready to cast out if the gear is lost.
The last few weeks have seen sea anglers investing plenty of effort into unlocking the secrets that dwell within the deep and murky waters. When conditions come right windows of opportunity open and the fishing can be good as Combe Martin SAC members Ali Laird and Jamie Steward discovered when they enjoyed success fishing from the Rocky shoreline.
During a couple of hectic sessions they successfully landed tope, Bull Huss, spurdog and conger. The fish are pictured below.
It is easy to glance at these images and believe that the anglers make these sort of catches every trip. I can assure you that many trips result in little more than tackle tangling encounters with small conger and dogfish. On many occasions everything feels right and yet the better fish fail to show. I invest a moderate number of hours fishing the coast and my number one priority is to enjoy my fishing. I know that if I persist the right tide will come and my bait will be in the right place and hopefully my knots will hold and the fish will be held aloft for that pleasing trophy shot and another fishing memory in life’s bank of experiences.
Eleven years ago on November 6th I was with Kevin Legge when he landed his then British Record tope of 66lb 8oz a fish that broke his own record tope coincidentally landed on November 6th, 2006. Interestingly in November 1979 Combe Martin SAC member Barry Hill landed a British Record coalfish scaling 18lb. These historic captures were in our minds as Kevin and I set out for a shore fishing session on the anniversary of the capture of that record tope.
Confidence is a vital ingredient in all forms of fishing and whilst the fishing has been difficult recently with catches poor it only takes one fish to lift the spirits and restore the faith.
We arrived at our chosen mark in daylight and were all set up with baits in the water well before high water. It was good to be at the shoreline watching the rods and taking in the ever flowing waters of The Bristol Channel. Bites came from the off with the rod tips rattling as we targeted rockling or pouting to use as bait for larger predators. A succession of rockling and small tackle twisting conger were swung onto the rocks. An hour before high water as darkness descended we both cast out fresh rockling baits and set the rods on a shared tripod.
We continued to catch small conger and rockling leaving the rockling baits anchored out in the tide.High tide came and went and the tide ebbed away. On the welsh coast fireworks lit up the sky at Port Talbot and Swansea. Two hours after high water Kev’s rockling rod nodded slightly raising hope. We intended to fish until 8:30pm and packed away one rod each at 8:00pm concentrating on the rockling baits that had been out for close to two and a half hours.
At 8:15pm there came a rasping call from my reel as the rod tip pulled over positively. We both thought tope and I picked up the rod with a degree of trepidation. For a moment the run stopped and at that same moment my headlight decided to falter! Kev passed a spare and I held the rod until another strong pull came. I engaged the reel, wound down and lifted the rod. I felt life on the end of the line then for a moment all was solid as I leant back hard expecting a strong run. There came a sickening moment as something gave way then once again I felt a decent weight as whatever I had hooked swam free from a potential snag. Kev scrambled down the rock with net in hand as a silver flank appeared in the searching beam of the headlights. As the fish came closer its head looked huge as it gills flared.
Safely in the net we admired a fine bass that pulled the scales to 7lb 5oz. After weighing and a quick photo I slipped the bass back and watched it swim strongly away. Not quite a specimen but a reasonable fish and a pleasing catch to restore the faith and renew the drive to get out again.
Kev wound in his rockling to find that a small conger had been hooked.
Early autumn with water temperatures at the highest point of the year brings the chance of trigger fish more often associated with warmer climes. Populations of these late summer and autumn visitors to the shoreline vary each season with a few marks along the coast having a reliable track record.
Ollie Passmore and Brock Goodson had a successful session targeting trigger fish with Ollie landing a specimen of 3lb 4oz and Brock a fish of 3lb.
Combe Martin SAC member Alex Mcleish tempted this stunning ballan wrasse scaling 6lb 2oz from a North Devon rock mark. It is one of the biggest wrasse tempted from the North Devon shoreline in recent seasons.
Combe Martin SAC member Kevin Legge tempted bull buss of 12lb 7oz and 10lb 5oz during recent trips to the North Devon coast. The specimen pictured was tempted a mackerel bait whipped to a single 5/0 Varivas Chinu and reports that the fish was hooked cleanly in the side of the mouth, allowing it to be removed swiftly and the fish released quickly after a picture.