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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…

 

 

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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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Wrasse fishing at East Prawle

A family camping trip down in the South Hams area and glorious weather meant it would have been rude to not at least try to get out for a spot of fishing at some stage over the weekend. Late one afternoon we managed to find a small window of fishing opportunity which Jason and I grabbed with enthusiasm. We had 2 hours of rock fishing down near East Prawle with conditions looking perfect for Wrasse – Calm…

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I Lure fished with a cone weight and soft lures on weedless set up. Just bumping the lures back slowly across the bottom. This was a spot I’ve caught numerous wrasse from in the past and I was anticipating great things! As it turned out, we weren’t destined to be pulling out fish after fish and were in danger of going back to the tents fishless!

I only had one definite bite that turned out to be from a small ballan wrasse. Not any size but very welcome all the same. It saved us from a blank at least.

We had to pack up in the end as it was getting dark and our presence was required back at camp.

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Uptiding for Small-eyed Ray

Uptiding in the Bristol Channel during summer almost always throws up some ray. This months trip from Minehead was no exception. We fished an 8 hour trip over the low tide. Weather was gloriously sunny, very hot and flat calm. Couldn’t ask for better weather!

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The fishing turned out to be as excellent as the weather with plenty of ray coming aboard – there were times when two of us were playing fish at the same time.

We started on the sand off Greenleigh with us all using two rods each. Dad had a thornback that took both his baits at the same time so when he lost the fish in the strong tide on one rod he picked up the other and landed it on that rod… I’ve not seen that before.

I had probably one of the smallest baby tope I’ve ever seen, before we moved offshore to the sandbanks where we fished for most of the day.

On the sandbanks, I caught 9 small-eyed ray, whilst my father had a thornback ray, and 2 blonde rays and Chris had a further 3 Small-eyed ray. All in all not a bad selection of fish on board – 3 different species of ray! Most of the rays took either sandeel or herring baits. There was a really strong tide running when we first anchored. So much so, that I had a ray snap me up where I just couldn’t shift it against the tidal run. Most of the rays arrived as the tide dropped off slightly and started to turn.

Once the tide had picked up enough to make fishing problematic, we moved back inshore to the rocky ground off the point where we all had hounds on crab, both Starry and Common variety. All this whilst trying to fend off the hordes of dogfish!

 

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!

 

Uptiding at Minehead

Our recent boat trip in the Bristol Channel at Minehead delivered slow but steady sport. We were fishing an 8 Hour trip over low water and were blessed with great conditions: Sunny and hot, starting off windy but with the wind dying away to leave us with flat calm conditions by the end. Time for the sun-screen then!

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Uptiding with two rods I had a steady stream of fish even if I wasn’t rushed off my feet: 1 small smoothhound a couple of nice sized small-eyed rays, a spotted ray, strap conger and numerous doggies.

In amongst all the dogfish, my father had 3 smoothhounds, and a small-eyed ray whilst my brother, not to be outdone also caught a smoothhound and finished off with 2 congers so generally we had a satisfyingly productive if not amazing session.

At the start the easterly wind meant we motored down to seek shelter in Porlock bay which fishwise wasn’t that productive a spot today. As the wind dropped off we moved back to Selworthy Sands and then the rough ground near Greenleigh Sands. Despite the slow fishing it proved enjoyable.

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!

Smoothhounds Galore!

Fished out of Minehead with my Father and Brother. Only a short 6 hour trip over the top of the tide but still plenty of time to get in amongst the fish!

The weather was kind to us: sunny, warm and calm to start with although the wind picked up later on.

I had 17-18 smoothhounds and couple of bull huss along with the usual hordes of dogfish. All the hounds were a very good size which made for a cracking day’s fishing. My dad and brother also enjoyed good sport with the hounds and I think we ended the day with around 40 smoothhounds between us.

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I fished two uptide rods as usual with crab on one and fish baits on the other. Mainly used peeler crab but switched to hardback crabs once we’d run out of peelers.

A very enjoyable days fishing! Finished the day with aching arms….

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Family friendly fishing at the Waie Inn

Summer has well and truly arrived – Hot & Sunny! Took the family up to the Waie Inn near Crediton for a couple of hours of tranquility – picnic and a spot of fishing. Set up the fishing umbrella to give us some shade and set the girls fishing with float fished luncheon meat on the pole.

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True to form the Waie Inn delivered with numerous small and greedy carp. Bites were very easy to come by on the pole, so much so that we wondered if they would even take our picnic scraps, and went on to catch a carp on a piece of banana which the girls thought was hilarious.

I fly fished briefly with a dog biscuit imitation fly amongst loose fed dog biscuits. Surprisingly the fish were especially wary of floating baits which seemed to be in direct contrast to their apparent kamikaze approach to float fished baits. Whereas in the past we’ve had no trouble tempting carp from here on the fly – this time it took some doing. I switched around flies a bit and landed a few on my own scruffy self tied biscuit fly. However, the shop bought biscuit flies were rejected upon inspection by the fish every time.

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All in all we had a fun session made all the better by the fantastic weather. Whilst the majority of the fish were on the small side – Izzy did land a 5-6lb fish on the pole which really made her arms ache…

 

In search of my fishing mojo at Bellbrook Fishery.

I visited Bellbrook Fishery in Devon, with Ben – the first trip for either of us for some time. We were treated to sunny, if very cold conditions and with a gusty easterly wind blowing straight up the valley just to test our casting.

Fly Fishing Bellbrook

This was the first trip for myself in a few months. Now a couple of months without fishing for me is pretty remarkable – the kind of break from fishing that is unheard of.  I can’t remember the time when I’d had that number of months without fishing since being a small kid…. Still, this was my chance to get my fishing mojo back!

We arrived to find we had the place to ourselves and as soon as we started fishing I had two takes from trout which I landed and lost a third fish. It seemed a very promising start! However, that was as good as it got, and I had no more fish and Ben didn’t manage to get off the mark.

It turned out that either we were both unlucky, incompetent or maybe the fishing was just hard. Personally I like to put it down to the fish not being on the feed…. Either way, the conditions were testing when the wind got up and despite going home with a couple of fish, I was left feeling we could’ve done better….. Now where did I put my mojo?