CORNISH VENTURE

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I have always had a love of Cornwall enjoying many holidays to the county over the years and have recently returned from a very enjoyable week staying at Mixtow near Fowey.
The house we stayed in had a rich history the author Kenneth Graham once stayed within and was inspired to write his classic children’s book “The Wind In the Willows”. Pauline and I hired a boat and enjoyed several excursions out onto the river.
We were fortunate to have a pontoon on the river where I was able to fish for grey mullet. We shared the pontoon with a good natured angler called Tim who also had a passion mullet. Tim was fishing with a twenty-foot match rod and told me that he could only catch mullet fishing within inches of the riverbed. Listening to this I set up with quiver tip rod and fished bread flake on the bottom. My first session saw the rod tip rattle but I failed to connect.

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Early next morning I set up with my standard float fishing gear and introduced a few handfuls of ground up bread. Several mullet were present and I was hopeful of success. Tim came down to jetty to launch his boat and while we chatted I landed a brace of mullet the best close to 3lb.

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The early morning sessions were a joy with the river calm and still and the cooing of doves reverberating through the valley.

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Fowey and the surrounding area have a rich angling history and I was fascinated to be staying opposite the China Clay Jetties were previous generations of anglers had enjoyed success with large conger. Whenever I visit Cornwall I take along my old copy of Sea Fishing In Cornwall by Hugh Stoker.These fascinating angling guides are excellent reads giving glimpses of fishing history and also illustrating how times have changed.

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I addition to the Fowey estuary we were also close to some spectacular rock rocks where I had a few casts for wrasse using soft plastics. On my second cast I had one lure bitten clean in half but failed to actually hook the fish.

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A return visit will need to be made as there is so much fishing potential around this beautiful Cornish coastline.

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LIVING THE DREAM

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I have fond memories of childhood days spent in the Cornish fishing town of Looe in Cornwall for it was there that my obsession with angling began. We went there for our family holiday each autumn and I caught small Pollock, mackerel and garfish float fishing from the Banjo Pier. As I grew older I caught mullet and the occasional bass and wrasse.
There was at this time another factor that held my attention and filled me with fascination. Each evening the boats would return from their day at sea. Charter boats with catches of Pollock, whiting, ling and conger from a day ‘Deep Sea Fishing’. Commercial boats with all manner of fish to admire as they were boxed up on ice ready for distribution, but top of the agenda for me was the sight of the shark being brought in by the shark anglers to be weighed in at the headquarters of the ‘Shark Angling Club of Great Britain’. These huge fish filled me with awe as they were hoisted aloft blood dripping from their gills and wounds. After putting a weight to the carcass the bodies were carted unceremoniously away to be used I assume as fertilizer. The men who worked there were hard working macho characters, their skin sun burnt and wrinkled like old leather after years of exposure to sea air and sunshine.

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I imagined what it would be like to venture far out to sea beyond the horizon in search of these mighty fish. Those days were the ending of an era. Days when many believed the oceans bountiful fish stocks to be endless; that god provided an endless inexhaustible harvest for mankind.
Looking back now the slaughter of these magnificent creatures for a trophy shot at the weighing station was a disgusting waste,typical of mankind’s destructive ethos, the same ignorance that had wiped the dodo and many other creatures from this magnificent planet. But it is  wrong to judge those earlier generations who had a different mindset to today built upon the values of a society at the time.
Close to fifty years on I have lived that boyhood dream but without the senseless slaughter. Today blue shark are caught, admired and released to continue there nomadic existence wondering the oceans.
I had caught porbeagle shark off the North Cornish coast and on one occasion fished for blue shark off Looe without success. This was the third August James and I had travelled to Penzance to fish aboard the renowned Charter Boat, ‘Bite Adventures’ skippered by respected shark expert Robin Chapman ‘Chippy’. The two previous years we had been beaten by the weather but this year it was systems go.
Chippy has brought a degree of finesse to the shark angling world providing anglers with quality balanced tackle from his sponsors “Fin-Nor”. None of the old style broom handles and fifty pound class plus gear used in the olden days. This gear enables the anglers to do battle, enjoy it savouring the power and speed of the blue shark.
Five of us set out from Penzance, on an early August Sunday. Nick Hart, Pete Gregory, Chris Lambert, My son James and I. After stopping off to fill the bait box with fresh mackerel in the bay it was time to open the throttle and head for the horizon.
The twin hulled catamaran bounced over the lively sea, we clung on grimly. I heard someone comment; “This supposed to be fun??” James took it in his stride likening it to an exhilarating theme park ride. I was just pleased to be heading out to fulfill a child hood dream.
Eventually we arrived having found water clarity to Chippy,s satisfaction. Lots were drawn from 1 to 5; I drew number 1! James number 5. I offered to swap with him but he was content to learn as he watched the other more experience anglers do battle. The top came off the rubby-dubby tub and an aroma drifted through the air that undoubtedly contributed to one member of the parties’ bout of sea sickness.

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Out went the baits; fresh mackerel flappers on 14/0 circle hooks suspended at various depths beneath brightly colored pop bottles. The oily slick from the dubby bags spread out in the wake of the drifting boat. Storm petrol’s swooped low over the sea, fulmars bobbed on the water. I hummed silently to myself a song I remembered from my childhood days.
So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine

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The daydream was soon interrupted when the bottle plunged beneath the waves and chippy thrust the rod into my hands. The rod took a pleasing curve; the reel sang its song and the battle commenced. The shark eventually came to the boat and I was thrilled to pose with it for a quick photo before watching it glide majestically away in the clear water.

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Sweeter than my own triumph was to see James playing his first shark; rod bending, reel singing, arm aching and eventual triumph holding the fish aloft with me at the tail end.

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We went on to share 35 shark, seven each averaging 50lb to 60lb. My biggest estimated at 70lb, James biggest at 85lb and the biggest of the day to Chris Lambert at around 100lb.

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The whole day was very much a team effort lead by Chippy who both found the fish and hooked the fish.
The day goes down as one of life’s best the fulfillment of a childhood dream one off the bucket list I guess. Though I will of course be back to catch that 100lb plus fish and to once again float in anticipation upon a sea of green beneath a sky of blue.

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An adventure in the land of the midnight sun

IMG_2795There is far more to fishing than catching fish a phrase I have often uttered especially when success has not been as forthcoming as I perhaps hoped. But on our recent excursion to Norway we enjoyed success with big fish along with adventure in a far off land with spectacular scenery and great company of like minded anglers.
Havennes Handellsted is a trading post in Northern Norway established in the 1800’s it has a unique atmosphere situated on an Island between the Lyngen fjord and the Rotsund Fjord, a spectacular backdrop of the snow capped Lyngen Alps to the west and the towering mainland to the East. The journey from South West England is a grueling one lasting close to twenty four hours. We flew from London Gatwick to Oslo, from Oslo to Tromso and then close to four hours transfer by mini bus before collecting a boat for the final furlong across the Rotsund.
There were 12 of us on the expedition that had been well organized by Craig Butler who spends much of his working life in Minehead Harbour, manning West Coast Tackle, carrying out harbor Master duties or guiding anglers. We were a mixed bunch from varied backgrounds sharing a love of fish and fishing. My son James and our mate Rob Scoines were sharing a house with three total strangers. Jaky the Chef, Steve Perkins and Mike Spiller, they were of course strangers for a very short time becoming good friends and sharing good humored banter as if we had know each other for years.
Its always difficult knowing where to set expectations on such an adventure as the stories of huge numbers of big fish can be misleading. I know from experience that big fish do not generally come easily and have to be earned wherever you seek them. There is also the question of what constitutes a big fish?
The fish we could expect to catch would be fish of a lifetime in the UK and it is important to keep a true perspective. My son James had no expectations just hoping to catch a few fish larger than he could catch at home. I set my sights a little higher hoping to catch a halibut, a wolf fish, twenty pound plus cod, big coalfish and a few other bonus species. Top priority was of course to enjoy.
On arrival at Havenness we embarked upon a little fun fishing from the pier casting out small jigs to catch a succession of small coalfish and haddock. Others targeted specimen dab landing numerous fish to well over the 1lb. The waters are crystal clear and it was obvious from the start how rich in fish life the waters were with haddock and coalfish abundant and visible.

First fishes

First fishes

After moving into our accommodation we were given instructions on how to drive the boats and given advice on safety and allocated a reassuring GPS emergency alarm to summon help if required. It has to be remembered that the environment can be hostile the sea demands respect and does not tolerate fools.

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On that first afternoon we overcame fatigue quite easily and set out to explore the calmer waters of the Rotsund. This was a steep learning curve and whilst we listened intently to advice we had a lot to learn. On that first afternoon we did not venture far content to search the margins looking for features and casting our lures into depths generally less that 30 meters. Numerous plump cod up to around 8lb brought pleasing sport. Eventually my lure was seized by something larger and after an exciting tussle a double figure wolf fish was swung aboard twisting and gyrating whilst flashing its formidable dentistry. At 11lb 2oz it was pleasing start to the week and one of my goals achieved.

Wolf Fish

Wolf Fish

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The second day saw us heading further up into the Rotsund exploring the deeper waters. Success came to us fishing depths of over 100 meters using standard sized sidewinder lures fished on a long flowing trace. Lowered to the bottom and retrieved slowly to the surface. The takes when they came were spectacular savage tugs followed by a crash dive that set the reels singing. My son and Rob used 12lb to 20lb class boat rods whilst I used a 7ft St Leger Custom made Spinning rod that enhanced each battle. I had at first doubted the wisdom of using such light rods but soon realized that the American blanks had far more backbone than first impressions had given and I felt confident that I could tame any coalfish I hooked given a little bit of time. There were after all no snags to worry about. In addition to the coalfish we also caught several cod though not as big as we hoped for with fish averaging between 6lb and 10lb.

Big Coalfish for James and Rob

Big Coalfish for James and Rob

The coalfish were awesome fish averaging close to twenty pounds my best on the spinning rod a pleasing 24lb. The only downside to the spectacular scarps offered by the coalfish was that few of them survived and had to be taken back to Havnnes where they were donated to anyone who wished to make use of them.

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The spectacular surroundings were well worth exploring and the boats enabled us to venture over a wide area weather permitting. Well know fish producing areas were visited with huge shoals of fish often visible on the fish finder. A visit to the North of the Island rewarded us with several cod the biggest to our boat a pleasing fish of 22lb 2oz.

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The shallower waters close to our base have a reputation for producing giant halibut and it was from here that Craig Butler brought ashore the fish of a lifetime. We were fishing from the pier when we heard excited calls from their boat as they approached the harbor. Some of our party feared there had been an accident but fortunately it was cries of anguish they heard but cries of triumph.

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The witnessing of the fish Craig had caught was to be one of the highlights of the week, the mighty fish weighing in at 101lb 7oz. IMG_3023

The thought of such huge fish residing within the waters you are fishing is both inspiring and slightly scary. We of course set out ourselves to fish for halibut most evenings and sometimes during the day. We landed five in our boat for the week James the biggest at 15lb whilst I managed a couple of 13lb flatties. The loss of a big fish by James early in the week taught him a vital lesson regarding the importance of carefully tying knots!

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The nights were magical afloat on the boat drifting in the hope of outsize halibut whilst the sun sank only partially on the horizon illuminating far off mountains to create a vista fit for a Lord of the Rings type epic. The cry of the arctic terns and the thrill call of oyster catchers on the shore adding to a magical and surreal atmosphere.

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Midnight

Midnight

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The Lyngen Fiord stretched to the West the Lyngen Alps towering above the sea glaciers providing a constant feed to waterfalls that plunge spectacularly into the deep clear waters. When the weather permitted we travelled to fish beneath the towering cliffs where we caught a variety of species including ling, cod, torsk, redfish, haddock and coalfish. Within a few meters of the cliffs the water was over a hundred meters in depth dropping to over well 200 meters.

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Sea birds were often the key to locating fish puffins with their comical brightly coloured beaks often struggling to get airborne their crops full of sandeel or whitebait. On the last day of our stay we were heading for a mark made known to us by a friendly party of Irish anglers. We came across a population of birds on the surface. James insisted that we should drop our lines. I suggested it better to forge on to our intended mark. The water was over two hundred meters deep and no fish were showing on the sounder. We gave it a try and as I declared it a fish-less zone my rod tip jagged down as a large coalfish smashed into my lure. The next hour and a half saw us enjoy some hectic sport with eleven coalfish coming to the boat with James landing a nice brace of doubles using his St Leger Renegade lure rod.

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Sadly the wind picked up and we were forced to retreat back to the comfort of the halibut grounds where we enjoyed the final few hours of our week. This session resulted in another small halibut of around 7lb.One of the other boats managed to bring in 50lb plus fish highlighting the small margin between success and relative failure for it would seem that the size of halibut you hook is all down to luck of the draw.
The week passed by all too quickly and there was a degree of envy when our friends arrived on the Island with a week ahead of them and the water like a sheet of glass beneath a brilliant blue sky.

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The long trek back to England gave plenty of time to reflect on catches made and start to make plans for a return trip. Whilst we had been successful we knew that there was potential to catch more and bigger fish. I had planned the trip as the trip of a lifetime with the added pleasure of taking along my son James who had just finished University. The lure of big fish and far off lands is strong and life is short I have a feeling this lifetime will see a return trip!

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A DAY ON CHEW VALLEY LAKE

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There are certain venues that have an aura about them that captivate and Chew Valley is one such place for many anglers. It is a venue that has a reputation as one of if not the countries best pike water. This is perhaps contrary to the wishes of some who treasure the venue as a trout fishery foremost. The trout anglers and the pike anglers have however to a large extent grown to tolerate each other and in many cases to share the water in harmony. The big fish allure has however brought its inevitable darker side with politics and petty disagreements that I have no interest in.

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It is a big expanse of water and not an easy water to succeed on at times with its treasures often elusive. I have been rewarded in the past with several pike to over twenty pounds and have glimpsed far larger fish when water clarity has permitted. I have also witnessed fish other than pike including a roach found dead at over 3lb and some massive tench. It perch population is also impressive with four pound fish relatively common.
I joined long time friend Jon Patten in late June to have a go at the venues pike on the fly. After an early start and breakfast in a local pub we arrived at Chew Valley Lodge to pay for our boat. We launched full of anticipation for the day ahead with talk the massive pike that dwell within. It was great to be there afloat taking in the scenery as the cuckoo’s call echoed around the quintessential lush English countryside. It appeared the perfect fishing day with broken cloud and a light breeze. The water clarity varied indifferent areas with algae bloom and run off from recent rain impacting upon some areas.

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The search began with us selecting favoured flies and casting enthusiastically as the boat drifted slowly its progress controlled by a drogue. The hours passed and the pike remained elusive after eight hours our confidence was ebbing away yet still will persisted. My fingers developed blisters and I wondered how many casts we had made and how many pike had seen our flies?

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The weather also contributed to our woes with rain showers of cloudburst proportions punctuating the day. We did see a couple of pike swirl at our flies and we knew that the next cast always had the potential to produce the fish of dreams. Jon and I are undoubtedly stubborn and persistent anglers and able to absorb hours of failure remaining consistently upbeat as we know that angling is a journey and its rewards hard earned at times.

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At around 6.30pm Jon eventually hooked a jack pike of around 5lb and saved himself from a blank day. An hour later in a different area of the lake he hooked another of around the same size. I continued to work hard at searching the water without success.

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The evening saw the lake grow calm, dark clouds and blue sky reflected on the vast expanse of water and rainbows decorated the horizon. Rising trout dimpled the surface; I was by now fatigued and accepting of defeat but at same time savoured the atmosphere of the surrounding and already looking forward to a return in the autumn.

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We spent the last hour of the session fishing the deep-water near the lodge where Jon hooked his third pike of the day. I too enjoyed a moment of triumph when my fly was seized and a pike momentarily boiled on a tight line before coming adrift. An expletive expressed my immediate frustration after close to twelve hours of continuous casting.
A chat to the fishery warden gave us a few pointers as to fly size and retrieve speeds that we will consider carefully when we return.

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BITS AND PIECES

DSCF2723The last few weeks have seen limited trips to the waters edge with little reward fish wise though it’s always good to be there. An after work session at Watermouth with Rob Scoines brought a blank for me. The water was murky with May bloom and this could have contributed to a lack of success. This was an LRF session; an excuse to get out and put a bend in the rod seeing what was about. We tried three marks before ending up at the mouth of the harbour where Rob connected with a fine 6lb 3oz bass on a king ragworm presented on a jig head. The smile on Robs face made the trip well worth while and the scenery on a summer’s night more than compensated for the lack of fish. It was good to see so many visitors enjoying camping out with the aroma of burgers and sausage lingering in the air.

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The annual CMSAC Putsborough Open proved a successful event for the club with close to forty entrants and some good fish weighed and released. I even managed a ray myself first cast as the light was fading. As is so often the case the winning fish came from the centre of the beach which proves it’s often worth the walk. Though I was glad Rob Scoines had staked a spot far from the centre as I was suffering from a bad back at the time and did not need a mile hike with seat box on my back.

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Pauline and I headed to Dartmouth for a short break a few days later and the LRF gear was packed just in case. We did manage a short session on the waterfront before enjoying fish and chips in Rock fish restaurant. A small goby was tempted on my Isome worm and Pauline did manage a couple of bites. Fishing light tackle off the harbours of South Devon and Cornwall always reminds me of my young days fishing the banjo pier at Looe in Cornwall.

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Next trip was short session after mullet that resulted in another blank.
I was due to join Keith Armishaw and party of anglers on board Clive Pearson’s boat ‘Jessica Hetty’ off Clovelly. The day off work had been booked well in advance but the weather failed to play ball and a North West wind spoiled our day. As always the day was taken up with other matters and it was not until evening that I headed out with the lure rod for a short session after a bass.
As ever Rob Scoines was keen to join me and we headed back to the scene of his previous success. A brisk westerly was blowing and conditions seemed perfect with a nice bit if fizz in the water!
We spent close to three hours casting and retrieving without a pull. It is getting very frustrating as I have been testing a brilliant new rod. A 7ft St Leger – Renegade that casts like dream will I am sure handle any bass with ease. http://www.stlegercustomrods.com/ I am hoping to give the rods a good workout in Norway where we will hope to hook fish far larger than our UK bass!

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Fishing can often be hard going and when fish stocks are low you perhaps need a bit of luck. Not catching when conditions seem perfect is a frustrating game. Past experience has shown however that success comes eventually if you just keep plugging away.

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EVERY FISH COUNTS

Angling is a diverse sport in many ways with variations even within different branches of the sport. An interclub species competition based on a boat was a first for me and I had been looking forward to the trip after finding myself stepping forth due to other club members being unable to make it. After a call for volunteers I was delighted when John Shapland offered to join me as John loves his species fishing making him the perfect team member.

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The event was fished off Minehead aboard Steve Webbers ‘Osprey’ son Michaels boat ‘Teddie Boy’. We all met at the harbour at 8:15 to draw our boat and position. Rules were read out; 3 hook’s one rod, five points for the first of each species, one point thereafter for each fish with the maximum tenth fish earning 7 points. Team members would be in different boats with the results combined to give the club position.
I was pleased to draw a day on ‘Teddie Boy’ as I have fished many times on Steve’s boat and was pleased to meet his young son who is probably the youngest charter boat skipper in the UK at the age of 18. It was obvious from the start that young Michael had been well trained by his father handling the boat with an air of confidence far exceeding his years.
We started off dropping anchor at a mark in Porlock Bay just a few hundred yards off Bossington Beach. Three hook rigs were the order of the day; I had elected to fish a two up one down rig, a 3/0 Sakuma Manta on the bottom baited with squid and sandeel with a mix of king ragworm segments and squid strips on the two upper hooks consisting of size 2 and size 6 Sakuma Manta’s.
Looking around the boat at my fellow anglers it was clear that they were all geared up for this species fishing with a multitude of varied rigs and a selection of quivertip rods designed for targeting a wide range of species. Size does not matter in this game its all about catching different species in numbers.
My neighboring angler got off to a flying start bringing three fish to the boat on his first drop, a rockling, pollock and dogfish if my memory serves me right. I take note of the rig with three small hooks.
It was not long before my rod tip was nodding and I was into my first fish of the day. It was no surprise that was a dogfish, but on this occasion a welcome one as it put five points on the board. For the next hour I concentrated on catching ten dogfish. I also landed a bonus poor cod, the only other species I managed on this mark. Team members from other clubs have managed their quota of dogfish plus a few pouting, rockling, small Pollock, tiny huss and a couple of smoothound.
With the sea calm beneath a bright blue sky it was good be to out there on the water as always. Young Michael ensures we all have tea and coffee as required and we all chat amongst ourselves as anglers do with a little banter between those who know each other and friendly chat between new acquaintances.

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The next mark is off Ivy Stone between Porlock and Foreland Poin.t Michael informs us it’s worth a try for bigger species using the up-tide rods. This was more like normality for me and I felt confidant casting out a pennel rig of 6/0 sakumas baited with squid and bluey. I also attached a short flyer with a size 6 hook baited with a segment of ragworm in the hope of tempting bonus species. It was not long before my rod tip nodded and a smoothound of 5lb plus gave a pleasing account on the up-tide rod. Successions of dogfish ensured that everyone’s quota for the species was maxed out times over. These fish must pave the seabed it seemed. A change to crab and prawn brought me a second hound and the flyer a miniature bull huss born just a short time ago.

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As the tide turns a thornback ray is tempted by one of the competitors and was surprisingly the only one of the day. All eyes then turned to Pete Austin whose rod was bent well over as something large and powerful lunged on the end of the line. After an epic struggle a large eel surfaced and was scooped into the net. Pete’s big fish approach with big fish bait large hook and heavy trace accounted for the day’s biggest catch a fine conger that weighs 39lb 7oz. Strangely its worth the same points as my tiny bull huss.

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By now it was a glorious late spring day with a blue sky and lush green trees straddling the steep cliffs of the Exmoor coast. As the tide pull increased we added a few more fish to the tally until it became uncomfortably strong as a strong westerly wind rocked the boat. A move close inshore was decided on. It was deemed time to scale down and try for those small species that could make all the difference to the final scores. I got a few more dogfish and missed a few rattles. Rockling, pouting and poor cod brought a few more points around the boat but it seemed our sport for the day was ebbing away.

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17:00 was lines in and time to steam back to Minehead. The boat rode comfortably back with the wind at our back. Seagulls gathered to swoop and collect discarded bait from the day, twisting and turning, emitting a familiar cry that mingled with the chugging of the boats engine and surging of the water. Blue sky’s, fresh vivid, green woodland, white topped waves, life felt good bobbing along on the crest of the waves.

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THORNBACK FROM MURKY WATERS

 

Combe Martin SAC’s annual spring boat trip off Minehead is always anticipated keenly as it has produced some fine sport over the years. As always it’s scary how the time flies past each year and it’s once again time to clamber aboard Steve Webber’s Osprey.
With fine weather forecast I have packed the sun cream and the waterproofs. Just as well as it’s raining as we steam out of Minehead Harbour forging across a calm Bristol Channel to a mark off Blue Anchor.
Out go the baits and on goes the kettle. Banter flows among a familiar gang of anglers. First into a decent fish is Ian Laird who brings a thornback of around 7lb aboard. For the next hour there is steady stream of dogfish and a solitary smoothound.

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As always this far up channel the water is thick and murky with nil visibility into the water.
As the tide begins to ease Steve suggest we wind them up and move to the next mark a series of banks off Minehead where we have enjoyed some fine sport in previous sessions. Down go fresh helpings of sandeel, squid, herring, mackerel and crab. Over the next three or four hours it’s steady sport with the busiest period as predicted close to slack water. Strangely we only land a couple of small eyed ray with thornbacks dominating catches with fish to over 8lb putting a pleasing bend in the rods.

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Those who persisted with crab baits  also landed several smoothound the best just over 9lb to the rod of John Shapland. The weather improved as the day went on and by mid afternoon it was warm and sunny.

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As the tide pull increased on the flooding tide the fish stopped feeding and it was time to contemplate a move. After discussion with Skipper Steve we decided upon a move back up off Blue Anchor where we hope for a big hound.
After a quiet start we started to get a few fish on board with a few more thornback and one or two more ray. With the day ebbing away Matt Jeffery started to collect the pool monies for the days biggest fish. At that moment I was leading with a ray of 8lb 5oz. But Matt’s early collection of money collecting proved premature when Dan Spearman landed a ray of 8lb 6oz! Moments later Chay Boggis landed a thornback of around 7lb providing the opportunity for a pleasing brace shot.

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A few minutes later my rod tip pulls over and I hook what at first feels like a dogfish. As the fish comes closer however it obvious that its no dogfish. The rod bends and I even have to give a bit of line when the fish is near the boat. At 11lb 13oz the thornback is clear winner of fish of the day and pays for the days boat trip!

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A good days fishing with around twenty ray boated and several smoothound. The noticeable thing about todays trip compared to previous spring boat trips was the large proportion of thornback ray. On previous trips at this time of year we have landed over fifty ray with small-eyed ray , spotted ray and blonde ray dominating catches. Was this a result of ray populations or an east wind?

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