Loads of Rays

This trip out of Minehead through up loads of rays but not so much when it came to the Smoothhounds. My father and I had the boat to ourselves and made the most of it by spreading out and fishing two rods each. It was a big tide which meant we spent a bit of time in close before moving out onto the sand as the tide dropped.

We both had a smoothhound each along with a few dogfish in close before we moved off. Surprisingly the dogfish weren’t around in any numbers today which was very reminiscent of the trips we usually have in August. August being the time when the doggies seem to thin out a bit here in the Bristol Channel. Seems this years the warm weather has packed them off early maybe.. Anyway, after our modest success in close on the rougher ground we switched to sandeel and herring when we anchored off on the sand in the hope of some rays.

My fish fish was a nice Blonde Ray and then it was Small-eyed ray all the way, with another 10 or so ray coming in. To add a bit of variety I had a couple of small congers whilst my dad had a baby tope. It may of been small but was totally voracious – tackling a sandell nearly as big as it. These little tope look perfectly formed mini versions of their mothers. Wouldn’t mind hooking into one of the bigger ones at some time….!

We stayed out on the sand until the tide picked up again and forced us to move back inshore onto the rough ground, where we both landed another hound each. I then proceeded to lose a couple of sets of tackle before we called it a day once there was enough water in the harbour to get back in.

One more trip booked this year – next month. Maybe the doggies will have another month off? We’ll see.

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Upham Farm, Devon.

To me, fishing is all about getting away from it all and enjoying my surroundings (as well as catching a few fish). Whilst catching fish is obviously the main aim of the day, it doesn’t matter how many fish I can catch at a venue – if it isn’t a nice place to be I just don’t see the point of sitting there. To me fishing isn’t all about catching the fish – it’s more than that, and for my coarse fishing in particular, I want to be relaxing in picturesque, quiet surrounds, away from the crowds.

That said, I decided to fish Upham farm with the kids today. The reason for highlighting my wider reasons for fishing may be to do with my memories of this place. I haven’t fished at Upham farm for a long time! Last time I fished there I got the impression that it was a relatively new venue, quite open and barren with very little in the way of bankside vegetation or features. A bit like fishing in a field. I can’t recall what I caught and don’t remember much about the venue other than it was quite barren and uninviting. Suffice to say, despite being one of the nearest coarse fishing venues to me, I hadn’t returned…. until now, probably a gap of some 10 years. It’s not like I recall having a bad time, or that I’d forgotten it existed – I just always go elsewhere…. I think it must of been the sub-conscious thought of sitting in an open field, fishing that put me off.

Quite a few years have passed since that fist visit, and on our return to Upham we were greeted by the sight of several quite attractive and inviting ponds before us. Everything was well maintained, clean and just looked really fishy!. The banksides were practically manicured, and surrounded by mature trees with the ponds lined with reeds. All very nice looking and obviously cared for.

The Upham Farm Website had, as is the norm with all venues nowadays majored on carp, however what caught my eye was that pond 3 was listed as containing tench and the website boasted of “some of the best Tench fishing around”. Now, I can go to any of the ponds or lakes in the south west and catch carp – The thought of catching tench however did wet my appetite. We therefore headed straight to Pond 3 – past all the other ponds that were to be fair, pretty busy with serious looking anglers either kitted out with full specimen carp hunting set ups or looking like they were ready to represent England on the match fishing circuit. Seemed odd that we had pond 3 to ourselves… perhaps no-one else likes tench and that carp really are the only fish that any self respecting anger should fish for? As if to ram home that thought, we saw a number of carp being landed as we walked past. Wow! we thought – this is looking very promising! Full of optimism, we started to set up our gear at pond 3, not quite believing our luck at having it to ourselves. upon plumbing the depth, I found that it was about 2 foot deep wherever I plumbed. Not very encouraging.

We float fished maggot then tried luncheon meat. No bites. the pond looked like it should be heaving with fish, and on top of that, everyone else on the other ponds were catching carp. We persevered, and loose fed regularly until we eventually started pulling out small carp each chuck on double maggot. These looked recently stocked, judging by their regularity of size and abundance. Fishing luncheon meat kept the little carp at bay, but on the flip side lead to no bites at all.. After chatting to the chap collecting the money, who mentioned that this pond “wasn’t fishing that well at the moment”, we moved up to try pond 1 at his suggestion.

Pond 1 is quite small, and again we had this place to ourselves – Maybe this should of raised my suspicions given that all the other ponds had a number of people fishing them.

Straight away we started to get bites. Bites that were really hard to hit…. I eventually hooked and landed a small carp that put up a spirited fight, before loosing a bigger one at the net. The girls than proceeded to catch a couple of skimmers before I finished of by taking more baby carp and some roach. Not an impressive haul by any means but ok for a couple of hours.

The above appraisal may sound negative, but we caught plenty of fish and had fun. Our failure to excel was probably more down to my own skill, luck, judgement, approach to the venue – call it what you will. The venue is certainly nowadays an attractive and welcoming place and I can see myself returning with more regularity to try to learn it’s nuances. My one big gripe however, as is the case with all the coarse fishing lakes in the South West is the over emphasis on carp. Why when there are 7 lakes like here at Upham Farm, do the people running the place feel the need to stock each and every lake with carp? Why not try something radical and have at least one lake, maybe more with no carp? No carp at all. I’m not against carp as such, as I like catching them when I fell like it. It’s just there seems to be no choice. Every pond has carp in in, and they seem to out-compete all other fish to get to the baits. It’s the lack of choice that feels somewhat frustrating. Anyway, that’s possibly a rant to be had in another blog someday. For now, I need a lie down as I feel all carped out…

 

 

Windy Fishing at the River Brue

Met up with Jason to fish the River Brue, but I arrived late due to the summer holiday traffic. Met Jason at the Cowbridge stretch of the river, where he’d been fishing for a little while by the time I eventually arrived. A pretty lively wind was blowing straight down the river making conditions not exactly idyllic. Jason had been catching roach and rudd for a while and drawn the attentions of one of the resident pike which was trying periodically to snatch fish as he brought them in. Fortune was smiling on him, as he managed to hook and land the marauding pike on his coarse gear before I’d even managed to wet a line. Nice angling! not that I was jealous, honestly….

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With this success recorded for posterity we decided to move on in search of some shelter from the wind. Given the rather exposed nature of the Somerset levels, we didn’t really manage to find much in the way of shelter from the wind so just had to persevere. One of our favoured spots was showing quite clearly the affects of our long hot summer with the weir running dry and actually leaving dry steps from which to fish.

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We both float fished maggot and had a steady stream of fish (chub, roach, gudgeon, perch and minnows) – although nothing big. Still – all good fun.

It was really strange because despite looking insanely fishy, the weir just didn’t produce the quality of fish it has done in the past for us. Maybe it was the low water levels, lack of flow or just “one of those days”.

As dusk approached the wind did finally drop to give us some nice fishing conditions and at this point I had a small chub decide to take a minnow – showing its not just the pike and perch that the little fish need to look out for!

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Summer time on the River Brue

What a summer! It’s been so hot for so long! Today’s trip was no different – very very hot and sunny although a bit breezy at times.

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I mainly concentrated on fly fishing although without massive amounts of enthusiasm. I think the heat installed a general malaise in me that sapped my willingness to perservere after the first few casts at each new place.

I did catch a couple of small chub on fly. Although it wasn’t until I switched to float fishing with maggot that I started to catch a little more regularly with gudgeon, perch and minnows.

Jason coarse fishing throughout and had a good variety of fish including: chub, rudd, roach, perch, gudgeon, minnow and hybrid.

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We started off at West Lydford in the hope of making use of the shade of the trees we knew were along that stretch, before ending up at the Cowbridge stretch. I had fun stalking large chub that could be seen on the surface basking in the sunshine, and managed to tempt one of the biggest to take a daddy-long legs fly, only for me to miss the take! If only!

 

Start of the Fishing Season on the River Brue

It’s that time of the year again – the start of another coarse fishing season. As has become a bit of a tradition for Jason and myself we headed up to the river Brue on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. I love the fishing in this part of the world and as usual had really high hopes for the start of the season. I’d really been hoping for some still and sunny conditions so that I could stalk some chub with the fly rod.

The weather unfortunately wasn’t quite as good as we’d have hoped for and we had to make the best of the conditions. The weather was cloudy and breezy with a short spell of heavy rain.

Caught a couple of gudgeon, numerous minnows, chub and roach. All on float fished maggots.

Jason had a nice chub amongst his steady procession of chub and roach. Probably the highlight of the trip, not for size, but due to it being a first was that Jason caught a Ruffe. Quite a pretty little fish and very similar in appearance to a baby perch. Now there’s something for me to aim for in the future!

Whilst we had fun, the fishing was undeniably difficult all day – possibly not helped by the long spell of dry weather we’ve had and the amazingly low water levels. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the water level as low on the Brue as it was. It also didn’t help that despite the hot weather of late, the temperature did drop in the evening and it actually got a little cold – first time we’ve felt that sensation for a while!

River Brue – Summer Roving

I met up with Jason at the river Brue; after yesterday’s solo fishing I was looking forward to having a fishing companion. Much like the previous day, the weather was quite spectacular. The wind had died to a slight breeze and with cloudless skies and blazing sun, temperatures were scorching hot. We started off fly fishing; searching out shoals of chub visible amongst the lilies & reeds. We caught a steady stream of chub, mainly on bead headed flies but some fell to dry fly. Nothing big graced the net but we did see some very large bream basking near the surface obviously enjoying the sunshine too. The larger chub were all very skittish and would inevitably melt away before we could get within casting distance despite our best efforts at stealth and the help of the verdant bankside vegetation.

A few hours of stalking chub in the sunshine was enough for us, and we moved along to the West Lydford stretch of the river Brue to try some more sedentary fishing. The glorious weather had brought people out bridge jumping & swimming, so we put as much distance between us and them as possible. We settled into a couple of swims and tried float fished maggot and bread baits but after an hour or two had little to show for our efforts. Some good chub were visible on the surface lurking under the far bank vegetation so with a lack of action on the float rod, I switched to fly fishing with a large wasp dry fly. Almost the first cast one of the larger chub idled over to the fly and slurped it down – somehow in my eagerness or possibly surprise I mis-timed the strike and pulled the fly out of it’s mouth..! Cursing my stupidity I recast only for one of the smaller fish to intercept the fly, which after playing and landing meant that every other fish in the vicinity had become instantly more wary. No more fish followed after that.

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With evening approaching we jumped in the cars and headed to another section of the river hoping for some of the large perch we had encountered there several times previously. We arrived to find a section of the bank and a large tree had fallen into the river right at one of our favourite and most productive spots, but set up anyway on the basis that the tree would only provide the fish a nice bit of cover. I found I’d left my rod rest in the car and could face the trudge back to the car in the heat, so had to improvise with a conveniently shaped and proportioned stick. Who says you need to spend a fortune on fishing tackle?

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Jason built up a swim opposite the new feature and had a steady procession of bites and fish; numerous chub, roach and gudgeon – & even a cheeky little brown trout not to mention a decent sized eel. In the meantime I float fished maggots at various spots and really struggled to get bites, eventually concluding with a small chub, roach and a solitary gudgeon. The days exploits were nicely finished off with a fantastic Chub that Jason tempted on a ledgered lobworm from beside the new submerged tree feature.

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For me the evening ended with a half chewed gudgeon that was savaged by something with teeth on pretty much the last cast. Whilst not the spectacular end to the day I might of wished for, we could at least face the drive home with memories of a varied and fun days fishing.

Emerald Ponds

A short session at Emerald Ponds near Highbridge in Somerset produced a few fish for My daughters and me. A match on the pond we had been hoping to fish meant we had to make do with one of the other ponds – a much smaller and shallow one that we hadn’t fished before. We set up the pole and fished with worm and spam and had a steady trickle of fish from a spot tight against the reeds of an island feature. We landed a couple of small tench along with a few good sized roach, rudd and skimmers. Isobel was delighted to catch her first ever tench along with a skimmer / roach hybrid?.

Sadly the session was cut shortchanged by the need for the small people to use the toilet combined with the fact that neither of my daughters or wife would use the toilet on site. At 3 against 1, I knew the odds were stacked against me so beat a hasty retreat to a local pub for a first class Sunday roast and pint.

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Autumn Perch from the River Brue

Our fishing on the River Brue, to date has always taken place during the summer months, where we can rover around fishing various stretches of the river and often stalking chub in the clear waters. This latest trip was to be a bit of a departure from the norm, slightly later in the year than usual with autumn seeming to have well and truly settled in. The leaves are falling, the temperature has dropped, and the weed growth begun dying back. On top of it all the river itself wasn’t quite as clear as usual, but slightly coloured. The weather forecast wasn’t ideal either, with heavy rain showers forecast – but we decided to brave it anyway with waterproofs and fishing umbrellas on hand just in case we needed them.

We didn’t have a particularly encouraging start with the fish just not seeming to be feeding and struggled to get a bite for an unnervingly long time until a move of location and a bit of patience, paid off. We both began catching small chub and roach after building up a swim with a steady flow of bait.

The promised rain eventually came, and we spent the next hour under umbrellas. At this point I thanked my lucky stars that I’d had the foresight to come prepared..

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I mainly fished single red maggot on the float rod and started to consistently pull in chub of around 8oz or so. A switch to the ledger rod however brought instant results with a cracking perch of around 2lb, followed by another slightly smaller one which I promptly lost in a raft of reeds under the rod whilst I was being a bit blasé about things and chatting to Jason rather than concentrating on netting the fish.. That’ll serve me right!

After that I missed a few more perch before landing another, whilst Jason also had  lovely perch on ledgered worm. The fading light brought an end to proceedings and the end a what turned into a good days fishing.

Kia Ora Lakes and the Squirmy Worm

The weather today has been amazing for October! Amazing full stop in fact. Hot and sunny and not a breath of wind. Isobel and myself headed to Kia Ora lakes near Cullompton this afternoon for a chilled out session.

We set up on the smaller of the two lakes to fish for the ‘Silver fish’ and proceeded to pull out a steady stream of quality roach, rudd, skimmers and small tench along with a few hybrids and gudgeon. All were on a short pole and double maggot. Isobel really got into the swing of things and amazed me not only with her patience (not a quality 9 year olds usually have), but her enthusiasm for pole fishing. I would have to admit that she definitely takes after me when it comes to striking bites though… not exactly lightening reflexes shall we say. In fact she made me look positively on the ball… Still – loads of fun and she enjoyed herself.

The ‘Gold’ lake containing the carp was just a couple of yards away from where we were fishing, so I popped over there to stalk a few carp with the fly rod, whilst Izzy was making a dent in the food supplies.

Floating baits aren’t permitted at Kia Ora and as I didn’t want to fall foul of the bailiff should he visit, I fished a sinking fly – my squirmy worm fly.

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There wasn’t that many carp to be seen, but I did spot and get to cast to a few that were sunbathing or just cruising around. I probably managed to cast to half a dozen, and hooked 3 of those. It was really satisfying to cast to a stationary sunbathing carp and land a fly a foot in front of his nose then watch him suddenly swim purposefully forward to take the slowly sinking ‘worm’. All close range stuff and pretty arm wrenching.

I had 3 carp in total, the biggest 8lb and the others around 6lb.

Izzy did’ take that long to demolish the sandwiches and before I knew it I was called back to catch more of the ever obliging roach and rudd. Will have to bring more food next time to buy myself a little more time to myself…

Family Fishing at Luccombes

Sunday morning and after an early morning bike ride we headed out to Luccombes Fishery on the outskirts of Exeter. Today was family time, so a picnic and more stuff than anyone could possibly need for a fishing trip, accompanied me to the lakes. How I managed to make space to fit any fishing gear in the car is beyond me!

The weather was sunny and breezy, but it was still quite nice to sit around on the grass watching other people catching fish… We did have a few fish ourselves but it was hard going. We fished with Rhianna’s little 4m whip, pole float and maggot / luncheon meat and in hindsight this may not have been the best tactic. The lakes were pretty packed with fishermen so moving to another swim was pretty much out of the question so we had to make the best of where we were.

We had a few nice sized roach and skimmers, along with a smattering of small rudd and perch. Rhianna was quickly bored, and I couldn’t blame her considering how much slower bites were to come by when compared to last weekend’s fish-fest.. Isobel however did really persevere when she had a turn with the pole, and was happy with a little rudd. Along the way she insisted on holding and then returning most of the fish caught proving she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.

The highlight of my day was watching a chap on the next lake catching carp on the fly rod. He was fishing with a pellet fly on the surface and feeding dog biscuits and pellets out into a patch of reeds. He had a couple of fish including one particularly large carp, despite losing a few fish along the way.

This is far from the first time I’ve fished here and every time except for the first visit several years ago, I’ve struggled for fish. There’s obviously fish here, but I’m doing something wrong. Think I’m going to rename this place ‘no-luckumbes’.