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There are rewards for those who are prepared to brave the cold and venture out onto the rocks and beaches along North Devon’s coast.

Whiting,dogfish, conger and huss are dominating catches with a few spurdog beginning to show and don’t write off the chance of a big bass.

15192609_1329604683737925_2152141824782694040_nKyle Bishop landed this 28lb tope back in October after numerous blank outing in search of these hard fighting shark. (Above) Still every chance of one of these before the end of the year!

Several bull huss have been tempted over recent days including this fine specimen to the rod of Ollie Passmore that weighed 9lb 1oz. ( Below)


(Above) Young Archie Porter with a fine 7lb bull huss caught from a local beach.



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14964040_10207853459201127_1482099491_oKyle Bishop landed this specimen bull huss weighing 12lb 5oz whilst on a trip to a local rock mark where Dan Spearman also enjoyed success landing a fine pollock of 4lb 7oz and a plump pouting of 1lb 2oz.


Ben Partridge went out after the tope and thought he was into one when the clutch screamed off, turned out to be a decent smooth hound weighing 9.2 picture taken and back she went! ( Below)



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14875429_10157658663295284_1131427848_nRoss Stanway fished Ilfracombe Pier with me on Tuesday evening and we chatted at length about tope fishing. The following night Ross was inspired to head back out to the coast with his good friend Daniel Welch. The decision proved to be a good one as Ross was rewarded with a fine tope of 34lb 1oz. The fish was tempted using half a mackerel presented on 8/0 Sakuma Manta extra hooks.




To lose what you never had!

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I read somewhere that you cannot lose what you have not had a fact that makes a mockery of losing a fish. Yet any angler will know that to lose a big fish can at that moment seem like a major disaster. Over the years most anglers will have suffered that deflating moment when the line falls slack or all goes solid when the life on the end of the line is gone.

Strangely looking back it is these lost fish that often linger longer in the mind than the big fish that are successfully landed. Losing fish is generally down to bad angling, occasionally down to bad luck.

On a calm November night several years ago I was stood upon an old stone jetty hoping to make contact with a tope. An hour into the flooding tide the rod tip nodded and the ratchet sang out as something headed out to sea with my flounder hook bait.

The rod arched over and line poured from the reel. Never before had I felt such awesome power. Stood leaning into the fish, the rod straining, the line cutting out into the dark waters of the Bristol Channel. A hundred yards or more of line melted from the spool despite the application of as much pressure as possible. Tension mounted as the reels spool began to look decidedly low on line! Eventually the fish stopped far out in the murky waters of the night.

Application of constant pressure persuaded the fish to come my way and line was gradually won back to be lost as the fish surged away making shorter runs as it began to tire. After what seemed an eternity I began to feel that the battle was going my way.

Eventually the angle of the line began to point at a deeper angle into the dark water as the mighty fish weakened. Anticipation grew as we hoped for a glimpse of mighty fish on the end of the line. Suddenly to my dismay all went solid with just twenty yards outside of the top rod ring. I pulled as hard as I dare but this brought no response; slackening the line brought a glimmer of hope as line was pulled seawards and the rod once again surged in the hands. Hope was short lived though as once again all went solid when I attempted to retrieve line. After a few minutes there was no life transmitted through the line.

Twenty minutes later I was forced to pull for a break and hope. The line parted with a crack and I was left with that sinking feeling of loss. I am sure that the fish was a huge tope fifty pounds plus or maybe more. Bad luck or bad angling, to my knowledge there were no serious snags, an old pot rope was I imagine the snag?

If I had put on more pressure perhaps the fish would have been a few vital feet higher in the water?

A couple of years later I was to lift a huge fish from the sea, a record-breaking tope of 66lb 8oz to the rod of my good friend Kevin Legge. I cannot help but wonder how big that fish was I lost that November evening for I have both held the fish of dreams and lost one too.



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Shore fishing has been hard going in recent weeks from what anglers have been telling me though some excellent fish have been landed. The next few months are generally the most productive of the year with a wide range of specimen fish available for those prepared to put in the hours and effort. I hope to have plenty of pictures and reports on here in these coming months.

Appledore Shipbuilders & Bideford Angling Club Monthy Rovers

Terry Dymond won Appledore Shipbuilder’s monthly Rover with a bass scaling 6lb 141/2oz. In second place was Heidi Green with a rockling of 1lb 61/4oz and in third Graham Fisher with a gilthead bream of 3lb 81/4oz. Chelsea Babb dominated the junior section with wrasse scaling 3lb 7oz, 3lb 5oz and a bass of 3lb 3oz.

Terry Dymond’s bass also took top spot in Bideford’s Monthly Rover.

Combe Martin SAC Fish of the month –


1st – Liam Stevens bass 15lb 8oz

2nd – Derek Ferret – bass  13lb 3oz

3rd – Ross Stanway – rockling 1lb 13.5oz

Kevin Legge has enjoyed some success in recent weeks landing a blonde ray of 10lb 1oz and several smoothound.

kev-ray kev-hounds

Dan Spearman targetted grey mullet and landed a fish of 3lb 14oz. (Below)

14183879_10207368744123553_8813351594224658264_n Dan Spearman rockling -1lb 10oz (Below)



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Where has that summer gone, those long evenings full of promise? Tonight I grabbed a couple of hours at Watermouth with James hoping for a few mackerel over top of the tide. The sun was illuminating the high cliffs of Exmoor to the East, porpoises were showing just a short distance from the shore and gannets were swooping and gliding in the evening sky.


It was good to be there with a rod in hand even though things didn’t go exactly to plan! After twenty minutes I eventually hooked a string of small mackerel, then next cast had a birds-nest!! Worst for years. Still plan “B” I launched a whole live mackerel out beneath a standard orange tipped sea float. Time to chill a bit and absorb the scenery with the rod in hand and the hope of a good fish. On two occasions on the retrieve a bass shadowed the bait.


James float-fished beside me and the float only sank once as he glanced away.

Mobiles and float-fishing do not mix!

There is a mixture of feelings at this junction of the year, a slight sadness that summer has drifted past. Optimism as we enter the three best months of the year for sea fishing.



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Tarrant Wotton secured first and second prizes in Bideford;s Fishing Festival with  fine specimen smoothound scaling 13lb 3oz and 13lb 21/2oz. In third was Nathan Clements with a thick lipped grey mullet of 4lb 101/4oz and in forth Antony Smith with a conger of 21lb 5oz.
Thirty seniors fished the event and two juniors.
       This is the second year that Taz has secured top spot in Bideford;s popular fishing festival proving that he is undoubtedly one of North Devon’s top sea anglers.
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