Standing beside the river in springtime as wild daffodils decorate the riverbanks and birdsong reverberates through the air is an uplifting experience. The river relentlessly flowing towards the sea is reassuringly constant and at times being within its spell is an almost spiritual experience. Casting a fly across the river in search of a fresh silver springer is often a token of hope akin to buying a lottery ticket. However as with the lottery you know that someone somewhere will win the prize. With a whole season stretching ahead it is a time of optimism as yet untarnished by numerous blank outings. Besides who really minds a blank day when relishing the countryside as it awakens from its winter slumber.


I have just received news of a huge sea trout from the Taw estimated at close to 16lb. Proof that dreams can come true.


In total contrast to the riverside I enjoyed a trip out off Ilfracombe aboard John Barbeary’s ‘Blue Fin’. A cool west breeze ruffled the channel as we steamed out in Verity’s shadow beneath blue sky. We dropped anchor half a mile offshore in the hope of a huss or two before steaming out to the spurdog grounds in mid channel. A few dogfish and small huss obliged but we knew this was just passing time as the tide eased. After a brew or two it was time to head for the deeps.
Seven miles or so offshore down went the baits with up to 2lb of lead. The next couple of hours were hectic with close to fifty spurdog boated up to 16lb. In addition there were a couple of small huss and a cracking conger for Chris Martin of 26lb.

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I seemed to be having one of those off days attracting the entire boats allocation of dogfish to my baits. A thornback ray of around 8lb did put a bend in the rod and a spurdog came adrift at the side of the boat. On eventually hooking a decent fish presumed to be a spurdog my braided line parted as it brushed against the abrasive skin of another spurdog being battled to the boat. Perhaps I need to change from the current brand of braid I am using. 60lb b.s Berkley Whiplash in bright orange, whilst this has generally served me well it has not got any abrasion resistance as I previously discovered when a topes tale caught it a fleeting brush with its tail.
It was an enjoyable day tempered by the fact that I had not fished well. A combination of luck a weak link in the tackle and who knows what else? In the longer term the bad days make you a better angler; don’t they?

About piscator2

An all-round angler I fish for fun and enjoy sharing my experiences and adventures at the waters edge. Each week I write a column for the North Devon Journal and occasional articles for various publications.
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