In an effort to break out away from the Easter Eggs and risk of overdosing on chocolate, I dragged the family down to Luccombes Ponds this Easter for a quick fishing fix.
Being a bank holiday weekend, the place was understandably busy and we had to settle for whatever swims were available. I selected a spot next to a reed bed that had quite a bit of fish activity visible, and set up a float rod as well as a fly rod with the intention of switching between the two as the need arouse. The pond was quite shallow, and the spot I fished next to the reeds was only 2 – 3 foot deep. Despite being able to fish only one or two rod lengths out, the proximity of the reed bed would mean I’d have to bully any fish from the start.
I started off with the float rod using luncheon meat hook bait fished on the bottom. Bites were pretty much instant and it wasn’t long before I had the first fish on the bank. This turned out to be a modest sized bream. After this the carp moved in and a steady procession of carp around the 2lb mark came out.
Loose fed dog biscuits with fly fished pellet fly tempted one carp but apart from this solitary fish the others for the day all fell to float fished spam. Looking around at the other anglers on the other ponds and it seemed that floating dog biscuits or bread were the baits of choice which probably accounted for the wariness of the fish when presented with dog biscuits on the surface.
Amongst the array of carp, I caught a couple of small skimmers and a fish that looked a lot like a large rudd but could possibly have been a hybrid of some description. All in all we had a nice couple of hours with no shortage of fish and fairly decent weather. Certainly beats being at work.
We had a family day out at the Waie Inn near Crediton today. Easter half term and glorious sunny weather seemed too good to be true. We popped out to the Waie Inn to sample easy fishing alongside pub food.
The pond here is quite small, but is well stocked with fish, making it a perfect place to get the kids catching. In fact it really did prove to be so full of fish that bites are pretty much guaranteed every cast – perfect for the younger members of the family.
We started fishing with Rhianna’s little pole, using maggots for bait and loose feeding small amounts each cast. For the serious angler it’s one of those locations which is just too easy – but for the kids this proved perfect; plenty of ravenously hungry little carp – all a nice size to put up a scrap on light tackle without proving too much of a handful.
Once the thrill of catching the gluttonous carp on pole waned, we switched to the fly rod to get to see the more visual spectacle of watching the fish slurp down the fly.. We used my little #4 rod with a self tied dog biscuit fly and loose fed 3 or 4 dog biscuits each cast. The carp switched to surface feeding immediately and were so numerous they were properly competing with each other for the loose feed.
I did try fishing natural flies, but the fish seemed well and truly conditioned to expect bread or dog biscuits and all ‘natural’ baits were rejected. Nevertheless, the dog biscuits did the trick and really gave the kids the fishing fix we were looking for. Both Rhianna and Isobel got the hang of flicking out the fly for themselves as well as hooking and playing each fish. The fly rod definitely proved to be the favourite method of the day. Not a bad day considering the day ticket only cost £3.50 and the Inn has a fantastic play park for when small people get bored along with the option of a pub lunch and beer to refresh the weary angler.
Today saw our first boat trip of the year out of Minehead up on the North coast of Somerset. We had been due to fish the previous month but the trip had been cancelled due to bad weather, so we were relieved to be able to get out today. We were fortunate to have wall to wall sunshine, even if it did start off with a biting cold wind.
There was a strong tide which meant we wouldn’t be able to fish too far offshore, so we started off hugging the shoreline just off of White Mark, before heading further out onto the sand banks as the tide slackened.
Being creatures of habit, Mike and myself settled into our usual positions on board with two uptide rods apiece. We both decided to fish fresh peeler crab on one rod and fish baits on the other. It is early in the year for smoothhound here in the Bristol Channel but we thought it worth testing the waters as it were. I thought the gamble had paid off at a couple of points during the day, when nice bites on the crab rod caught my attention. Sadly each time the hook was returned stripped of bait.
The rays thankfully were more obliging. I fished big fish baits consisting of half a herring, a generous strip of squid and a sandeel, all bound on a pennell hook set up with bait elastic. This big bait approach worked, with the endless procession of dogfish that this drew in, invariably brought up half choked on the bait without the hooks actually in them – which made returning them that much easier. It also reaped rewards in the form of two big blonde rays both double figure fish, a thornback ray and a conger. Mike topped up the ray tally with a pair of thornbacks too.
The day ended all too soon, and we got back into the harbour with just enough water to float the boat.
Looking forward to next months trip – May being one of the most prolific months for catching smoothhound in our part of the Bristol Channel. Think this year I’m going to renew my hardback verse peeler crab test to see if there really is any discernible difference when it comes to fishing for hounds. Last years experiment in May time was inconclusive with both catching their fair share of fish.