Sunday, 25 July 2010


Another quick session at Jubilee on Thursday evening and after the fruitless trip to Ryton I was looking forward to getting a Carp on the bank, it's been a few weeks now. I could see several fish on the top sitting motionless and I thought I would try a few casts to see if I could get a take without throwing out any freebee's. A few false casts were thrown to get the range then I cast in the direction of one of these Carp, at first I thought I'd just spooked the fish but all it was doing was dropping down to turn and rise at the fly, that was probably the quickest take I've ever had off a Carp. It was a good heavy scrap and it wasn't long before I was taking a picture of a 12lb 8oz common before quickly releasing.

I fed this swim to try and get some other fish to show some interest but all stayed quiet so I moved to a swim on the other side of the point behind me and started to introduce some freebee's, a couple of fish showed some interest and it wasn't long before I had several fish competing for the free snacks. After casting out I kept being buzzed by some fly like creatures but being focused and ready for the next take I didn't let it bother me. After hooking a small Carp, it was when the fish was on the mat that the buzzing around me came into focus and I realised that sound was coming from several Wasps. 

Some people have a fear of flying, others fear dentists, I can't stand wasps.

I stayed calm as they didn't seem to be that angry and continued to deal with the fish and release it before freaking out, after letting the Carp go I looked back and could see that the population of wasps around the mat had increased then I noticed where they were coming from, right next to the mat was a small earthy patch in the grass and a small hole which had several of the stripey beasts exiting rather quickly. I stood at the waters edge thinking about how to escape this swim without being followed by an angry buzz but then realised that the wasps weren't around me, I think being dressed head to toe in realtree might have helped, maybe they couldn't see me?
I grabbed what gear I could lay my hands on without taking my eyes off the wasps and walked very quickly round to the next swim continuously looking over my shoulder. Observing from a distance I made a plan to rescue the rest of my gear from the buzzing hoard of Jasper's, it was a close one, I had several enquiries whilst picking up my bag but I resisted the temptation to run up the bank, hands aloft, screaming like a girl and made it back without being mobbed.
It took a while to calm down from that experience and I won't be fishing from that peg again this year.

When I eventually calmed down and my casting returned to normal I had a take from a fish that took loads of line on it's first run, onto the backing at one point and after a very heavy fight the reward was a lovely looking Carp, almost a leather at 13lb 2oz's

Friday, 23 July 2010

Between the showers.

What with one thing and another, wetting a line over the last couple of weeks has had to be put to one side, however, I did get onto the bank last Friday and chose Ryton as the venue. Just before the Devon holiday, I'd noticed a couple of spots that had seen regular visits by something fishy and thought it would be worth setting a couple of traps when I had some time and the weed wasn't to heavy around this spot so extracting a Carp shouldn't be too difficult, the weed appears to be starting to die back which is a good thing. Weather wise, Friday had been a bit hit and miss with a few showers during the day but the outlook for the evening was good with clear spells forecast.
I arrived at the lake and wasn't too keen on the dark clouds approaching, I'd just got myself sorted and cast out and the heavens opened complete with a couple of rumbles of thunder, typical!!
I was travelling lite and there was no space for the large umbrella but from experience on past trips it's always worth taking some sort of shelter if heavy showers are forecast and a golf umbrella fits in the landing net stink bag rather nicely.

It was a bit of a squeeze but the stuff stayed dry.

The session was a blank but the place came alive after the heavy rain with plenty of fish showing and a couple of spots seeing some heavy feeding.

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Few Bass.

Last weeks morning tides were spent chasing Smoothhounds so I was glad of a change in the evenings when the rock marks were full of the after work anglers. I made my way round to Grey Sands at the far end of Northam Burrows and a channel called the South Gut, at low tide this was empty, it's as the tide starts to flood that the Bass move up this channel and into the Taw and Torridge estuaries and this is the perfect place to set a trap for a Bass or two. Last year I found the magic bait that gets the bites, the humble lugworm. I'd spent hours trying Crab and Sandeel as bait and failed to get any takes but as soon as I swapped over to lug the rattling bites came thick and fast and this was the only bait I was going to use for the Bass this year, the lug was dug at the same place I collected the crabs which didn't help with the bad back.

The rough weather on Sunday had disturbed a quantity of weed which did clog up the line after about ten minutes in the water but this was enough time to get a rattling bite, the only trouble being that most of the schoolies were small and very quickly stripped the hook bare without feeling the point.

I had a couple of what I call 'Tesco' sized fish but none were taken for the table. This one is on the top of my camo bucket which has a twelve inch lid, the fish was about fifteen inches.

Another small one

and this one, even smaller.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ho! Hounds.

Last years holiday to Westward Ho! saw me fail to bag one of the Smoothhounds that frequent this part of the coast at this time of year. The bits of local info I'd received from some of the anglers I'd met on my last trip and was unable to action were now to be put to good use, but, there were a few more things to learn before I could bag my first Smoothhound.

On arrival last Saturday, my first job was to gather enough soft and peeling crabs for a few sessions during the week, it was hard going and not good for the back but I gathered enough baits for a couple of morning sessions.

The first session was on Monday morning, I arrived at the rock mark I was told about last year and no one else was around, 'great stuff' I thought but there was still a heavy swell pounding the rocks after a weather front which had moved through North Devon on the Sunday. It was low tide and was just on the turn so I had about two and a half hours before I'd have to retreat up the rock as the tide rose to cover them.

Not long after my first cast I was joined by a local angler who was just out for a walk and he enquired as to whether I was fishing for hounds which I replied 'yes' and that I'd never caught one before, the next thing he asked was if I was fishing with the drag backed off as several people had lost rods around hear after the takes from the smoothies had sent their rod javelin like into the sea, I immediately backed of the drag and switched on the ratchet. After a couple more casts I received a short run and enquired as to whether this was normal and apparently some days it can be a nightmare to hook the fish as they just pick up the bait and run with it only to drop it after a few metres, the scream of the ratchet certainly wakes you up. I had a few more runs like this during the couple of hours I had and decided to return on the next low tide that evening, however, every fishable rocky point along this stretch, and there's not many of them, was occupied by anglers such are the popularity of Smoothhounds in this area.

I was up early on Tuesday to get on my mark just as the tide exposed it. The first cast went out and almost immediately I had a couple of hard tugs on the tip, a short run, then nothing, another crab was bound to the hook and cast out and again I had another dropped run, I was told that I'd just have to wade through these until I had a proper take and I would know about it when this happened. On the next cast, it happened, the rod tip tapped a couple of times then pulled forward till the drag allowed the fish to take line, like a Carp on steroids, off it went, I grabbed the rod for fear it would disappear in the direction of Lundy and tightened the drag, the tip of the rod just continued to pull round as I leaned back into a heavy pounding weight. I tried to remember everything else I was told about playing Smoothhounds but I just kept the pressure on and pumped and wound when I could until it was close enough to use the swell to bring it in to the rocks and land, what a fish, it went all over the place even taking line at one point when I thought the drag was at it's tightest.

I sat down, legs like jelly, and watched as my first Ho! hound of around 7/8lb swam around in one of the many rock pools that double up as saltwater keepnets. A fish of 12lb had come out the week before so I was more than happy with this one.

After an hour, I had another run which didn't sound as fierce as the first but the fight was much more hectic, at one point I thought I was going to loose the fish as it ran off to my left behind a rock that kept being exposed by the swell but I kept the pressure on and heaved just as the next wave came and was able to pull the hound clear of the rock then heaved again on the next wave and it was mine. 

This fish was around 6lb and when I put this fish in the pool with the first I realised that I had caught both species of Smoothhound, the common and the starry which has small white spots down it's back.

The session soon finished and both fish were released, on my way up the rocks I was met by another angler on his way down, it was Kevin, I'd met him last year and he remembered me and congratulated me on catching my first smoothhound, I thanked him for the info he gave me last year and telling me about this spot.