Latest Sea Angling Results

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Appledore Shipbuilders Boat Competition

Seven anglers in 3 different boats fished the 1st Appledore Shipbuilders Boat competition of this year.
Winner was David Atkinson with a Bull Huss of 14lb 4ozs. Second and Third with Huss of 13lb 10ozs and 11lb 5ozs was Olly Whitmore.

Bideford Angling Club

Aprils 24 hour results
Eleven angler’s fished with one fish caught
1st Julien Stainer – Small Eyed Ray 9lb 9oz 106.250%

Sea Angling Round-up

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Appledore Shipbuilders

11 members fished Appledore Shipbuilder’s April Rover and three fish were registered at the weigh in.
Andrew Atkinson secured the top three places with a ballan wrasse of 3lb 8.5oz and a brace of 2lb dogfish.

Bideford Angling Club 

April Rover results

1st Antony Smith Small Eyed Ray 8lb 1oz 89.583%

2nd Elliot Clements Dogfish 1lb 15 1/4oz  65.104%

Combe Martin SAC

Wayne Thomas took top spot in Combe Martin SAC’s April Rover with a boat caught small eyed ray of 7lb. Nick Phillips was runner up with a thick lipped grey mullet of 2lb 3.5oz.


Hopefully with the oncoming Spring and warmer temperatures sport will start to pick up along the coast. Smoothound will be caught from all the familiar marks over coming weeks along with a few bass. The estuary will be well worth trying for bass and mullet with the chance of gilthead bream.

Small eyed ray will be worth targeting from surf beaches with Woolacombe and Putsborough favourites.

Thick lipped grey mullet are already being caught from local harbours and offer excellent sport on light tackle.

Fly Fishing in saltwater is growing in popularity with bass and grey mullet offering some exciting and at times challenging opportunities from the estuary and local surf beaches.


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Spring time on the North Devon Coast is often a lean time for the shore angler with fish hard to find. Anglers often move out of the area to find winning fish. Bull huss are probably the best chance of a good sized specimen from the North Devon shoreline. A trip to Somerset is often worth a try at this time for with ray and huss found even during daylight in the murky waters above the County boundary.

Bideford Angling Club 

March rover results 

1st Nathan Clements Bull Huss 12lb 5oz 123.125%

2nd Nathan Clements Bull Huss 7lb 5oz 73.125%

3rd Stephen Found Dog 1lb 15oz 1/4

Next competition 24 hour  19/20 March

Appledore Shipbuilders

13 members fished the March Rover. Only 2 fish were recorded at the weigh in.
Both fell to James Atkinson.
James’s winning fish was a fantastic Thornback Ray of 10lb 9ozs and his second fish was a lovely Plaice of 1lb 7 1/4ozs.
Well done James and all that fished.

          Combe Martin SAC


1st – Rob Sciones -bull huss 8lb 13oz


I was keen to get out on the shoreline following the big stir up from Storm Eunice and Franklin so I arranged a trip to a local rock mark with my good friend Rob Scoines. This would probably be one of my last forays in search of winter species as my attention tends to turn towards freshwater goals as Spring unfurls. We arrived at low water with a couple of hours light remaining in the day. The sea was coloured up as expected and optimism was high that fish would be foraging close to the shore. In the past such a murky sea would have screamed cod but those days are long gone. Instead we hoped for spurdog, bull huss, tope and big conger.

I have started using single hooks for most of my winter rock fishing with either a 2/0 catfish hook or a 6/0 Sakuma Manta with a short length of wire as insurance against the teeth of spurdog or tope. Contrary to general opinion this does not seem to put off the fish to any extent, particularly when the water is coloured or after dark. I was also using the new 80lb b.s shock leader from Sakuma. I will also be employing the clear shock leader as a hook length during the spring and summer targeting huss and ray.

It was good to out in the fresh air as the late afternoon sunshine illuminated the cliffs and hills. A gannet glided across the coloured water and I wondered how they manage to find food in such conditions. I also saw this as a good omen that there were fish to be caught. It was action from the start with small conger smashing into my hook baits within moments of the baits hitting the sea bed. A small pollock also took a small mackerel bait intended for rockling.

Whilst I seemed to have found a  congers nursery area Rob seemed to have found the kennel with dogfish finding this baits. The constant action continued with a fish a cast the large rock pool close to my position steadily filling with small conger and dogfish. I noticed Rob enticing a slightly better fish to the shore and was pleased to see a spotted ray swung onto the rocks. Rob also tempted a decent rockling that he decided to return instead of keeping it for bait as he suspected it might be close to spawning.

As darkness descended we hoped the bigger fish would move in. We both missed a couple of slack line bites with one fish breaking off my wink link to the weight as it tore off with the bait. Was this a better fish? If so how come it hadn’t become hooked as the countless strap eels and dogfish had been.

As the tide pushed in we moved up the rocks away from the surging swell. Strangely the bites eased off until we eventually packed away close to high water. It had been an enjoyable session with plenty of small fish. Very different from the fishing that would have been experienced twenty odd years ago when we could have expected a late cod. The numbers of small conger and dogfish now present are undoubtedly an indication of a change in our coastal waters. Whiting and pouting are now scarce; is this due to a change in the climate or an increase in predation from immature conger and spurdog offshore?

As always each session brings more questions than answers. Why for example did I catch in excess of twenty strap eels when Rob caught none yet seemed to catch more dogfish?


Watching the news this morning took me back to a wonderful time in the early eighties when for seven days we would wander the North Devon coast in search of specimen fish. The Ilfracombe & District Angling Association organised a popular angling festival each summer that was well attended by both locals and visiting anglers. The ignition for these memories was sparked by the mention on BBC news of one of North Devon’s famous rock marks.

Back then as we competed against each other to catch the biggest fish and successful marks could be a closely guarded secret with some going to extreme lengths to discover these marks. Spotting a known anglers car parked adjacent to a coastal access point was a common giveaway or a quick glance through the window would give a clue if it was an angler’s car with associated fishing bits a giveaway. Back then all cars also displayed a tax disc giving a clue as to the angler’s residential area.

This was of course long before the days of social media where anglers post their catches and often try to disguise marks using clever photo shop techniques. Not sure if there are more or less anglers these days but there are probably less fish. Coastal access has however become an increasingly problematic area. The increase in coastal walkers and those using the coast for recreation has undoubtedly increased considerably and this has in some cases impacted upon free access.

The introduction of fishing permits to gain access has been an unwelcome trend generated in part by a lack of respect for private land and the ongoing issue of litter.

Coastal erosion is also playing its part with once popular marks like Sillery Sands now inaccessible due to landslips.

In truth there are still many miles of accessible coastline that allow free access even if a long walk is required. A day walking the coast can reveal potential marks as can a survey of Google Maps often revealing areas worth exploring.

Those chasing specimen fish often follow the crowd trying to catch the fish that were caught yesterday. Whilst being at the right place at the right time is paramount there are plenty of fish in the sea! Many marks have become popular due to the reporting of good fish a major factor for the more people who fish a mark the more will be caught. Perpetuating the myth that it is the must visit mark.

I fully understand the reason for being careful with informing others of where fish are caught. We all like to have our favourite marks to ourselves but in many cases with a bit of thought it’s not hard to get away from the crowds.

Like most things in life many will always follow the crowd. Back in those days fishing the North Devon Coast during the Ilfracombe Festival I fondly remember the smirks as the competition organisers voice echoed across the harbour. Today’s winner is “ Bullshit Bov , with a fine specimen wrasse of 6lb from “ Fraggle Rock”.


Fraggle rock a popular childrens TV programme has been relaunched. It ran from 1983 until 1987.

Sea Angling News

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Sea angling seems to have entered the doldrums with calm conditions resulting in quiet fishing on the open coast. A good storm is undoubtedly required to stir things up a bit. The results of local shore competitions speak for themselves. It might pay to experiment a little during these conditions and scale down the tackle in search of dabs and smaller species that can get overlooked.

It’s always interesting to take a look at whats on the shoreline as there can be clues as to the species that can be found beneath the waves.

Mermaids purse- bull huss egg

Bideford Angling Club – Twenty Four Hour Competition Result

Many thank’s to Nathan Clements for the report.

24 hour results 

12 angler’s fished 

3 fish caught 

1st Antony Smith Dog 2lb 1oz 68.750%

2nd Andrew Clements Dog 2lb 0 1/2oz 67.708%

3rd Stephen Found Pouting 1lb 66.666%

Fishing didn’t exactly meet expectations but well done to the 3 that caught something big enough to weigh in.

Fingers crossed things pick up 

Next competition 

Codling comp 29th/30th Jan

Appledore Shipbuilders monthly Rover Result
Many thanks to Andrew Atkinson for the report.
6 members fished the January heat of the winter league .
Only one fish of size was caught.
Winning with a Whiting of 1lb 2 1/4ozs was Josh Atkinson. Anglers reported catching Small codling Congers other Whitings and Poutings.
Well done to all that fished.

Variety on the coast

I often comment that one of the joys of sea angling is the unexpected. During late Autumn and winter the coast certainly has a few surprises along with the target species. Kevin Legge tempted this specimen pouting of 1lb 9oz on a recent visit to the shoreline.

The beaches can still produce bass when the conditions are right but its not always bass that find the bait. This small turbot was a welcome surprise on a recent trip.

This conger estimated at 18lb put a good bend in Kevin legges rod on recent session on the rocks.

On the same session I was pleased with this small spotted ray.

December mullet were once rare yet mullet fishing now seems well worth the effort throughout the entire year.


14 members fished Appledore Shipbuilders December Rover.
The winner was Andrew Atkinson with a specimen Flounder of 2lb 4 3/4ozs.
James Atkinson secured second spot with a club specimen 3 bearded Rockling of 1lb 8ozs and Josh Atkinson was third with a Dogfish of 2lb 5ozs.
As winter storms sweep in its time to take great care when fishing North Devon’s Open coast. Rather than repeat previous words on safety please see link to a previous article that still holds good.
Between winter storms with the water stirred up there is every chance of catching good sized winter specimens. I relish the winter shore fishing at this time launching big baits out into the dark waters hoping to tempt a predator hunting the food rich water. I enjoyed a session on a rough night recently choosing a mark that gave some protection from the strong North West Wind. As the light faded a couple of small whiting seized my mackerel and squid bait. Then as darkness descended dogfish and small conger rattled the rod tips. As the tide pushed in and large waves pounded the shoreline we moved to a more elevated position and cast our baits into the rocky bay hoping for a late bass. A few more small conger were tempted along with a pleasing huss of around 7lb.
     Spurdog should show soon with every chance of a tope, big conger, huss or ray. Reports of a few whiting are encouraging as these fish will undoubtedly have those big predators in pursuit. It’s time to fish heavy, wire traces, heavy leaders and a tough main line of at least 20lb b.s.
Combe Martin SAC member Alex Mcleish tempted a specimen rockling weighing 1lb 9oz during his latest trip the coast.

Bideford Sea Rover Results

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December Rover results

11 angler’s fished 

10 fish registered

1st Andrew Clements Whiting 1lb 12 1/2oz 118.749%

2nd Dick Talbot Small Eyed Ray 9lb 10oz 106.994%

3rd Andrew Clements Whiting 1lb 7 1/4oz  96.874%

4th Julien Stainer Bull Huss 7lb 15oz 79.375%

5th Terry Dymond Flounder 1lb 7 1/2oz 73.437%

6th Terry Dymond Flounder 1lb 7oz  71.875%

  ####### NEXT COMPETITION #######

Bidefords annual Christmas competition 

It’s are biggest one yet.

Around £1000s work or prizes/draw prizes 

Optional pool for £1 winner to be drawn out the hat.

Please make sure all Buckets/bags have their  tags on.