The paragraph below is from my Angling Column in North Devon Journal and is worth repeating here.

Once again there has been a tragic loss of an angler’s life on the North Cornish Coast an area well known for its huge swells. The North Devon coast is also pummeled by these same Atlantic surges and anglers must be fully aware of the risks. Each winter I remind anglers of the safe guidelines to follow. Always check the tide and weather before choosing where to fish taking into account the wind direction and both the time and size of the tide. If fishing from potentially slippery rocks consider the impact of heavy rain not just whilst fishing but also accessing the mark and leaving.  Ensure that you tell someone where you intend to fish and your expected time home. Carry a mobile phone and keep it in a waterproof case. Always wear suitable footwear that gives a good grip metal studs can be excellent and cut through weed and algal growth. Modern lifejackets are lightweight and comfortable and significantly improve the chances of survival if you do fall in. When it comes to landing a big fish have a plan on how you will land it and carry a long-handled landing net or drop net. Alternatively use a strong enough shock leader to give a chance of lifting the fish safely from the water. I will repeat the frequently uttered quote no fish is worth losing your life for.

Well known North Devon Angler Jon Patten recently posted this :-
Ready for the next solo rock trip being as my wing man is out with a buggered back
My new life jacket from Summerlands Tackle
I’ve surfed some monster waves in my time… But even I know that I’m not as fit nowadays and my reactions are slower
God forbid anyone being washed off the rocks or beach into the cold sea water… The weight on you is instant as the water absorbs into your clothing and senses slow down considerably as the cold winter water takes hold … Its a struggle for even the fittest of us….
It literally becomes seconds to the point of exhaustion as you fight the winter swells and cold water
I was washed overboard several years ago in early spring as the guard rail on the boat snapped as I lent against it some 4 miles out to sea in this country while sharking locally here in Devon/Cornwall ..
Cold and exhaustion took hold quickly and I was super fit back then…. It was only sheer luck that got me back in that boat…..
Note I had only just taken my floatation suit off as it was so hot… Wrong move
I now have piece of mind knowing that if I should accidently go into the water at least I stand half a chance.
Another good idea is to load the what three words app onto your mobile phone. See below advice from our local village information group.

The whole world has been divided into 10 meter squares each with a unique 3 word combination.  We are informed that all emergency services use it as well as the Council Highways dept and utility companies.

You can find the words applicable for your house (front door) and keep them by your phone for emergency use and of course with a mobile phone and the free download app you can report a fallen tree, water leak etc. very accurately as when you open the app it knows where you are and gives the 3 words.

Follow this link and it will give you the village hall

You can expand and enlarge the map to your doorstep and find your unique 3 words.

Please do use this potentially lifesaving tool as we know that Postcodes are not unique.

European Lure Fishing Show 2018

The European Lure Fishing Show 2018 was held at Bristol last weekend and I was fortunate to visit the show with fellow Combe Martin SAC members Nick and Jack Phillips.  This is the second year of the show and after hearing good reports from last year I thought it worth taking a look. The event focus’s on Lure fishing and Fly Fishing with an extensive range of products on display along with talks and demonstrations.

The best side of these shows is undoubtedly the opportunity to meet up with fellow anglers and swap tales with old friends.

We took time to listen to two talks; one on world wide fishing with Dave Lewis of Sea Angler with Dave giving sound advice on chasing those bucket list fish that take anglers to some stunning locations.

The second talk was delivered by Henry Gilbey and was a thought provoking one that revolved around the wearing of life-jackets. Henry told of two young brothers who tragically died whilst fishing off the North Cornish coast. The fact that Henry knew the mark well and that he had intended fishing it that day undoubtedly struck a cord. I know Henry and he is passionate about his fishing and has like most keen sea anglers had a few near misses.

After listening to Henry I visited the Art of Fishing stand and purchased two Crewsaver Buoyancy aids. One for myself and one for my son James. After close to fifty years of fishing I am all to aware of the statistics with anglers drowning every year I ask myself how likely am I to become one of those stats? The life jackets are not cumbersome and after a few minutes you forget you have them on. Why would you not wear one Henry asked? £70 is but a small price to pay if it saves your life?

It was noticeable that very few anglers attended Henry’s talk on safety at sea. I am sure that if Henry had been waxing lyrical about lure fishing  many would have sat hanging on his every word. Health and safety isn’t sexy but it was probably the most important topic on the agenda and most chose to ignore it!

Strangely in all the years I have been fishing on the coast I have given only passing thought to my own safety. Yet I have had nightmares about  fellow anglers being washed into the sea whilst I stand helpless on the shore. What would you say to their nearest and dearest?

Perhaps it is for others that you should don that life saving vest for lets face it if you get washed into the sea on a dark and stormy night without a life jacket your not going to worry for long.

A short film shot in conjunction with the RNLI on the North Devon Coast was a true eye opener as to what happens if you fall into the water wearing waders. I will share the film on my Facebook page when it is released. Take a few moments to watch.

Great to see Mark Underhill present and chatting to enthusiastic anglers about his first season at Wimbleball lake.

(Above) Angling Trust Blogger, Author and angling guide Dominick  Garnett

RNLI Rescue Anglers From North Devon Rock Mark

The North Devon Coast is a dangerous location especially during the winter months and keen sea anglers live on the edge. Despite plenty of warnings of the dangers of the sea events make the news every year some of them tragic. I have with kind permission of the Ilfracombe RNLI repeated their latest news post from social media.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning both boats were launched to the assistance of three fishermen cut off near Sandy Cove, Combe Martin.
The pagers sounded at 1.25am and the volunteer crew soon mustered to launch both boats despite a frosty start for their vehicles. The All Weather Lifeboat, The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and our Inshore Lifeboat, The Deborah Brown II, made their way to Broad Sands beach and soon located the casualties.
All three were caught out by the tide, although experienced fishermen they had underestimated the rise of tide, and a 1.5m swell was running in choppy seas. When realising their difficulty one took the decision to raise the alarm but with no phone signal, he moved across the rocks and was taken into the water by the swell. The casualty was wearing a flotation suit but had a backpack and waders on, so had a struggle to free himself. He managed to kick off his waders but was battered on the rocks, he then wrestled to make his way to land and picked up a phone signal to call the Coastguards and raise the alarm.
The Ilfracombe Coastguards brought him back to Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station, while his two friends were picked up by the Inshore Lifeboat and transferred to the All Weather Lifeboat, and taken back to Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station.
The injured casualty said ‘ I never imagined I’d end up in the water and had serious concerns for my safety’

These anglers normally carry vhf but felt it was such a good evening it wasn’t worth carrying. Also mentioning that 112 can be picked up more easily would be advantageous. The casualty had to climb to the main road barefoot to get a call out.
The Coastguards administered first aid and the casualties were picked up for home. Volunteer Second Coxswain Carl Perrin said ‘ it was a very favourable outcome which could have been so easily a far worse result’
Both boats were back and ready for service at 3.45am.

If we are honest most experienced sea anglers have had a few close calls. There are always lessons to be learnt and one of those has to be knowledge of the tide and weather conditions. I know Outer Stone Broadsands well and have fished there many times. It is a low water mark that I would only fish during settled conditions. Access is via a gulley that dry’s out for a short time over low water. An observation I would make is that it is easier to cross the gulley as the tide drops but far more difficult to get back if the water is at the same level on the flood. It is imperative that the rock is vacated in plenty of time as the tide floods.

The wearing of waders adjacent to deep water is questionable as falling in wearing these will make getting back to shore difficult. The wearing of flotation suits or aids is to be recommended but is not common practice. The carrying of a mobile phone to raise the alarm if all goes wrong is essential. The carrying of a lifeline is also a wise addition to the anglers pack. It is also unwise to fish alone. Always let someone know where you intend to fish and an approximate time of return.

The RNLI and Coastguard do a sterling job in rescuing those that get it wrong and are to be applauded.

Henry Gilbey- Thoughts on safety at sea

posted in: Articles, Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

I was going to write a few words about safety on the shoreline following the recent tragedies in Cornwall but when I saw Henry Gilbey’s post on the same subject I asked him if I could copy  to my site. Sharing my concerns Henry duly obliged. The sea is unforgiving and many of us have had near misses and as I get older I see the dangers more and more.

Henry Gilbey- writes on safety at sea.

Following on from the tragic deaths of two anglers the other day from a part of Cornwall I know very well and have fished plenty, well for some reason it’s really banged home to me that too many of us who fish choose to ignore the simple things we could be doing to give ourselves the best possible chance of surviving if and when something goes wrong. I have found a good contact at the RNLI and had an interesting chat with him about all this, and also why anglers like you and me are so resistant to wearing lifejackets out on the rocks for example. Also had a good talk with a lifejacket company about some of their products that would be most suitable for the sort of shore fishing I do etc. I never thought I would say this, but I am going to buy one of those compact and unobtrusive, auto inflate life jackets. Not sure which one yet, need to choose between a couple of makes and models, but I am looking at around £100-150 – think about what we spend on rods, reels, lures and waders for example. More to come about what I hope might be some food for thought. They found a body in Constantine Bay this morning, most likely the second angler who went in last week……………..