Spurdog to 18lb and double figure bull huss are featuring in catches off Ilfracombe with John Barbeary’s ‘Bluefin’ taking anglers to the proven marks.
Calm weather has enabled John Barbeary to take anglers off Ilfracombe to enjoy some frantic sport with spurdog and bull huss. Each winter huge packs of spurdog prowl the Bristol Channel hunting for whiting, herring and sprats. The commercial ban on fishing for these members of the shark family has resulted in a population explosion that is generally welcomed by anglers who return the fish to the water.
Keith Armishaw enjoyed a Red letter day off Ilfracombe on Bluefin . Thanks to Keith for this report .. I had the chance to escape for days fishing with son Lee who had never caught a spurdog – so we got on board Bluefin out of Ilfracombe with John Barbeary. I took plenty of muppets seeing the difference they made to the catch rate last time out. We started trying for bass but only had a couple on the flood tide, so it was on to the spurdog. Lee had a two bait rig and I used a single bait and what a trip it turned out to be, we had around 90 on the boat between 7 of us with Lee catching 30 up to 14lbs against my meagre 18. Jonathan weighed in with a couple of good huss and a conger but what a session. We then tried for bass on the return trip catching around around 30, and only 5 dogfish caught all day. We even headed in early as we were all fished out and didn’t fancy an inshore mark after the bass as this is where the dogs were taken. An unbelievable day…
Spurdog and bull Huss are giving sport off Ilfracombe with John Barbeary putting anglers on the fish. The early arrival of spurdog will bring hope amongst shore anglers that this season could be a good one for the species that have filled the winter gap in shore sport from diminished cod runs.
Steve Dawe enjoyed a trip out of Ilfracombe aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin:- see his report and pictures below…
“So nice to get out again with so many cancelled trips this year, today was aboard Bluefin chasing Spurdogs. Not as prolific as they can be but we still managed several double figure fish. The Eels were a bit scarce and a few Huss turned up but my fish of the trip was a lovely Starry Smoothound right at the death. Great company Chris Hodgson, Steven McDonald and as usual John delivered some great skippering. Next week we are back out from Ilfracombe on Bluefin with Holsworthy Sea Anglers.
I joined seven fellow members of Combe Martin Sea Angling Club aboard Ilfracombe Charter Boat Wild Frontier Two skippered by Mark Hutchings. With a brisk South West Wind forecast and a substantial swell surging onto the coast I was a little apprehensive regarding the day ahead as we climbed aboard. Any fears soon evaporated however as we steamed out of the harbour appreciating the stability of the broad decks of the catamaran that gave plenty of room for all anglers on board.
Heading up channel we all gazed at the towering cliffs East of Combe Martin that are I believe amongst the highest sea cliffs in the UK. It was apparent that the recent weather has impacted on these wild and rugged cliffs with plenty of scars indicating recent rockfalls.
Our first stop in the lee of these cliffs brought only limited action with just a few dogfish grabbing our baits. A strong wind made fishing difficult at times causing the boat to swing on its anchor as it swirled with gusts riffling the sea as they sped towards us. The sound of the mighty swell pounding the foot of the cliffs provided a dramatic soundtrack as we savoured a hot drink whilst watching nature acting out its daily drama.
The easing tide signalled time to head out deep to target the spurdog packs. We lowered our baits into deep-waters and soon started to get savage indications as hungry spurdog seized our offerings. The sun broke through, rods bent and life felt pretty good out there on the water.
Hectic sport continued until once again the increasing tide pull forced a move to more tranquil waters. Closer inshore sheltered once again by the towering cliffs we targeted ray on sandy banks. Club secretary Nick Phillips was first into action boating a pleasing small eyed ray that was followed a short while later with a tackle testing blonde ray of 14lb 2oz.
A few conger and the inevitable dogfish followed before we once again headed out to deeper water for a second time rounding off the day with more action landing spurdog to 14lb 8oz.
The next couple of months should see spurdog sport continue with every chance of some bigger specimens close to twenty pounds. Ilfracombe Charter Boats Wild Frontier 2 ( www.bristolchannelcharters.co.uk) and Bluefin will soon be joined by Reel Deal moving down after the winter season out of Watchet.
Its always far easier to get out of bed on a fishing morning than a work day morning especially on a February day with light Southerly winds forecast and a few sunny spells. Once again I was heading out of Ilfracombe aboard John Barbeary’s Bluefin this time on a trip organised by Keith Armishaw of River Reads bookshop. We had a mixed group of anglers on board most of whom I had met on previous occasions.
A large ground swell was running despite the light winds which was to bring on a touch of sea sickness for one or two anglers on board throughout the day. The steam out to the spurdog grounds around seven mile offshore was an enjoyable journey full of optimism for the day ahead and a chance to chat and catch up.
With the North Devon Coast line fading into the distance the engine note changed as we reached our destination.
This was deep water and with the tide still flooding close to 2lb of lead was required to take the baits to the sea bed.
It wasn’t long before the rod tops started to rattle as spurdog attacked our baits giving a good account as they were persuaded to the boat.
The tally grew steadily as the day passed and as the tide eased the catch rate increased with several spurdog on the deck at times keeping John and his assistant busy with the T-bar.
Whilst spurdog dominated there was the occasional bull huss with their vivid leopard spotted flanks.
By the time John suggested a move inshore out of a raging tide for the last hour we had boated in excess of fifty spurdog to 13lb, a few bull huss and a couple of small conger.
Many thanks to Pete Gregory and Toby Bassett for allowing me to use their pictures and words following a successful trip on Bluefin out of Ilfracombe.
Fishing Ilfracombe aboard John Barbearys boat ” Bluefin ” and what a fish packed day it was . Lots of Dogfish as you would expect but in the morning when your hooking and landing more Bull Huss than dogs , you know its going to be a good day . Its always good to fish with Troy and Toby and as well as loads off fish between us , great laughs and banter all day long . We moved out to deep water to get amongst the Spurdogs and conger and ended up with forty to fifty spurs and a couple of half decent conger . Unfortunately with a spring tide and a little swell we had to head back in , but thanks john and the lads for a good day!
Offshore boat anglers are enjoying some hectic sport with spurdog with a party aboard John Barbeary’s Ilfracombe based Charter boat Bluefin landing over sixty in a trip last weekend. These members of the shark family bring welcome sport each winter with their numbers recovering following the ban on commercial fishing.