Coarse and Carp Fishing Articles

photo
'Kez' with a nice Carp
from Avallon Lodges

Our Coarse fishing articles and tips offer Carp and Coarse Fishermen advice on fishing in our Westcountry region

Some concentrate on specific areas and techniques for the coarse angler, others are of a more general nature. There are also contributions from the Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Salmon and Trout Association, Angling charities, Trusts and associations. We hope you enjoy reading, and find useful angling information within. The South West of England offers so much for the coarse angler to enjoy!

Stillwater Fish Ageing Surveys April 2013

Submitted by Mandi on June 19, 2013 - 2:24pm

Stillwater Fish Ageing Surveys
A service to stillwater fisheries April 2013
Understanding how the fish in your water are growing can provide vital information to help you manage your fishery. Our Fish Ageing Surveys are a quick and easy way of gaining vital knowledge about the growth and health of your fish. The service is free and easy to use.
Improving fisheries management - Improving angling
If you are concerned about how well your water is fishing, or if you just want to know more about the growth of your fish, using our Stillwater Fish Ageing Survey Kit may provide you with vital information for the management of your fishery. If you are thinking about stocking more fish because catches are poor, it could save you money.
We will send you a "kit", containing everything you need, including advice, to measure and remove scales from your fish. We will age the scales (counting the yearly marks the fish lay down on their scales), calculate growth rates and send you a specific report on the growth of those fish and recommendations about fisheries management steps that may be valuable.
Taking samples

Learn to Coarse Fish For Free 2013

Submitted by Mandi on May 21, 2013 - 3:10pm

Learn to Fish for Free

Coarse Fishing Events 2013
Exeter & District Angling Association
Harper’s Lake
Opposite Double Locks, Exeter
Sat 13 July 2013
10:00am to 4:00pm

Newton Abbot Fishing Association
Rackerhayes Ponds
Behind Tesco, Newton Abbot
Sat 10 Aug 2013
10:00am to 4:00pm

Free tuition, loan of tackle and bait.
Event is covered by an Environment Agency temporary licence so no need to purchase a separate licence. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult
For more information contact Mike Holland on 07557 633742 or email [email protected] or just turn up on the day

Level 1 Course Dates 2012

Submitted by Mandi on October 12, 2012 - 12:04pm

 Angling Trust 

  

           ************** Level 1 Course Dates 2012 *************

Level 1 courses are taking place on November 18th and December 1st at the Watersports Centre, Roadford Lake in Devon.

  Details and application forms etc are available on the Angling Trust website.

     Applications need to be submitted to the Angling Trust by 20th October.

South West Lakes Trust 2011

Submitted by Mandi on September 22, 2011 - 2:21pm

South West Lakes Trust manages around 30 lakes as fisheries in the South West of England. The Trust was formed to provide, promote and enhance sustainable recreation, access and nature conservation at these lakes. One of the most popular activities for visitors is angling for both coarse and game fish. Each of the lakes has its own unique character. Some lakes are found in wild and secluded settings, or you may choose to fish at locations which offer other amenities such as campsites with modern facilities, and cafes. The lakes are regularly re-stocked with good-sized fish, and regulars will be familiar with the legendary large fish landed at some of the coarse fishing sites.

Bank, boat and more

We aim to provide great fishing for both experienced anglers and beginners. New ventures introduced during 2010 included a new branch of the South West Fishing For Life scheme at Kennick, in addition to the already successful branch at Wimbleball, which gives a people living with breast cancer an opportunity to experience fly fishing, which can aid their physical and emotional healing (all equipment is provided, and novices are welcomed). In conjunction with a local instructor based at Wimbleball, we have introduced kayak fishing, and will be offering introductory experience days. There are now improved access facilities at Kennick, along with a replacement wheelyboat. Our successful training and family days are held regularly throughout the year. Juniors will be encouraged to fish for both coarse fish and trout with the parent/child ticket again being available allowing youngsters under 12 years to fish for free, sharing the parent bag limit. Please note that children under 14 years should be accompanied by an adult over 18 at all times.

Fishing on SWLT Waters

 

Tuition for beginners

Beginners’ Days are held in conjunction with local qualified professional instructors and the Environment Agency. They include national Fishing Week family events at Siblyback and Stithians, as well as Beginners Days, Junior Days, Ladies’ Days and Family Days at Kennick, Siblyback, Wimbleball and Stithians. For more details contact 01566 771930 or click on fishing at www.swlakestrust.org.uk These events have been very successful over the past seasons, with many novices taking up the sport, including the formation of a Ladies’ Club at Wimbleball. Equipment can be provided and a local professional instructor will share his knowledge and experience in the use of equipment and where to catch fish. The Trust held a series of coarse fishing junior days during 2010 which attracted more than 120 young people and these will run again in 2011/12. The tuition days are very popular, so prior booking is essential. Individual tuition can also be arranged with local, qualified instructors.

Access for all

Through its partnership with the Wheelyboat Trust, South West Lakes Trust is able to provide wheelyboats suitable for wheelchair access at Roadford, Upper Tamar, Wimbleball, Stithians, Siblyback and Kennick. These must be booked at least 48 hours in advance. There is also a Wheelyboat at Wistlandpound, which is operated by the Calvert Trust. We provide facilities for disabled anglers at some of our fisheries.

Competitions

  The Trust holds three main trout fishing competitions each year: The Peninsula Classic bank competition at Kennick in June, supported by Fly Fishing Tackle, Crediton; the Snowbee Team bank competition at Siblyback in July; and the Wimbleball 2000 boat pairs competition in September, supported by Orvis. Dates and booking information are available from the Angling Centres at these lakes or click on fishing at www.swlakestrust.org.uk The Trust also holds its successful Carp Fishing weekend competitions at Upper Tamar. Details of these may be found on the website. Porth and Upper Tamar are both popular coarse fishing large competition venues which may be booked in advance by contacting 01566 771930, along with other coarse fisheries. Details of all competitions at these sites and other Trust waters in the region may be found on the website on the Fishing Diary page. Fishing news and catch reports may also be found here – photos of your successful catches, or articles, are always welcome.

Season permits

In addition to pay-per-visit, you can also purchase a season ticket. These are available locally through the Trust’s ‘Outdoor And Active’ Centres, on-line from the Trust’s website, or through Summerlands Tackle in Westward Ho!, either in person or over the phone on 01237 471291. Westcountry Angling Passport tokens, which are available through the Westcountry Rivers Trust and other outlets, may be used as part-payment for fishing on the trout fisheries. This payment option may be used at self-service lodges and at ticket agents.

What’s going on?

If you would like to receive a copy of the Trust’s Coarse or Trout Fisheries Newsletter, please email: [email protected] or phone 01566 771930 to be included on the mailing list. The Trust is committed to angling and creating the best possible experience for its visitors. So any comments are welcome to help us provide what you, the angler, really wants. For information on sites, facilities, instruction and competitions please contact our specialist Fisheries Managers:

Coarse fishing:

  Ben Smeeth - 01566 771930 [email protected]

Trout fishing:

Chris Hall - 01647 277587 [email protected] or visit www.swlakestrust.org.uk

Off The Top

Submitted by Mandi on September 22, 2011 - 10:59am

Of all the types of fishing I have sampled, taking fish off the surface has to be my favourite.
I must have been about 15 when I caught my first carp on a crust. I had spent many fruitless hours lobbing crusts (boilies did not exist) at the carp that cruised around the middle of my local lake.
These fish invariably appeared in the summer months during the heat of the early afternoon, materialising ghostlike from the depths to hang just below the surface. Of course these fish were not feeding and had no intention of taking any sort of bait, but the temptation to chuck a crust was just too much. I had no knowledge of bubble floats and the like so the crust would be dunked to add a bit of casting weight.

This had to be quite precise as too much water would soften the bread and cause the crust to fly off the hook when casting, frequently vertically. Amusing when you are 14 and it descends from 30ft up to land on your mate in the next swim!
Through observation (so often the key) I became aware that the carp spent a lot of time underneath a particular patch of bushes that overhung the lake by 3 or 4 feet. You could not get to these fish from either side of the bushes so the cast had to be from the opposite bank. By drifting 'freebies' in on the wind I could get these fish to feed. I also noticed that there appeared to be an invisible line that the fish would not cross.
Getting a baited crust inside this line involved the wind being just the right strength and direction and the cast being perfect first time to allow the bait into the 'taking area' before too much slack developed in the line.

Eventually I managed and finally got my first carp off the top.
Over the following years I got better at it and realised distance casting was, more often than not, pointless. Particularly at first light the carp could be caught right against the bank and I frequently tempted them by standing well back, dropping the crust in and crawling forward to peer over the edge. This was really exciting stuff as you could see the fish so clearly. Sometimes it would nose the crust five or six times before taking it, on other occasions it would appear from nowhere and take in one movement, disappearing instantly with the bait. Of course on many occasions it would mouth the bait once and never return.
I also learnt the trick was to find a feeding fish. Only experience will teach you this but a 'feeder' will behave differently. Moving a little quicker and more deliberately, seeming more alert and switched on. You can also find fish (I'm talking small west country stillwaters here) by dropping crusts around the margins of a lake in likely spots and waiting for a fish to come on the feed.One that's really going for it will happily take half a dozen freebies before you drop in a baited hook. That's as close as you will get to a guaranteed fish.
It's not just carp either. Dry fly fishing for trout is also awesome fishing, requires considerably more skill though.Of course there are many other variations; plugs for pike, poppers for bass, muddlers and the like for fry feeding rainbows, and more.

Graham Sleeman editor of Get Hooked.

This article was inspired by the picture below (I had hair!) from an old photo album and,some 32 years later, I get exactly the same feelings of heart fluttering anticipation when that nose and those barbuled lips nudge a baited hook just a few feet away from my own nose.
That's fishing and that's why I love it!

Giving ' Nature A Nudge'

Submitted by Mandi on May 27, 2009 - 12:55pm

Chalk rivers are recognised as being one of the most managed types of river system in the UK, having suffered from excessive dredging and channel re-alignment for land drainage purposes, resulting in watercourses which are too wide and deep for natural river flows. This has destroyed habitats, damaged fish and vegetation communities, silted up gravels and disconnected the river with the flood plain with the resultant loss of wetlands.

In the Wessex area the Hampshire/Wiltshire Avon is a well known classic chalk river, famous for its coarse, trout and salmon fishery as well as its large number of nature conservation designations. It has its source in the Marlborough Downs flowing though Wiltshire, the city of Salisbury and continuing through Hampshire and the towns of Fordingbridge and Ringwood, finally discharging into the sea at Christchurch.

‘STREAM’ (STrategic Restoration And Management) and ‘Living River’ are two collaborative, partnership projects involving Natural England, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water and the Wildlife Trusts and are funded by the European Commission's LIFE-Nature fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of £2 million. The STREAM project is focussing on river restoration and aims to restore channels to a more natural size and shape, thereby improving their ability to support the multitude of aquatic habitats. In essence by mending or creating new habitat and giving ‘nature a nudge’ both fisheries and the wider conservation interests can be significantly and sustainably improved.

During the last few years over 7km of river have been restored by introducing new ‘physical features’ into the river channel thereby re-energising the river and creating new habitats. Over-wide river reaches have been narrowed by creating artificial berms improving the velocity of the main river to encourage healthy weed and fish populations, but leaving quiet backwater areas suitable for lamprey and the infamous protected Desmoulins or ‘Newbury by-pass’ snail. Steep banks resulting from historic dredging have been re-profiled to create a gradual slope encouraging colonisation by emergent vegetation much loved as food and cover for ‘ratty’- the endangered water vole. Where dredging has left over deep channels, bereft of features essential for many species, river bed raising has been the answer by introducing many hundreds tons of gravel, now much appreciated by salmon, trout, chub, barbel and even the bullhead, all of which are now using these fast flowing riffles for spawning and nursery areas. The ‘wiggle’ has been put back into straightened channelised sections of river creating the beginnings of a more natural and habitat rich meandering river.

This has been achieved by introducing a series of flow deflectors made of natural woody material in-filled with pre-planted coir or recycled textile mats to encourage the establishment of vegetation. Trout fishermen are finding the end of these structures which bounce the flow from one side of the river to the other particularly good fish lies. Fallen trees were once an incredibly important habitat in rivers but a preoccupation with tidiness has encouraged their removal from the river over past decades. The STREAM project has experimentally re-introduced over 25 full sized trees to the river at a number of sites, securely anchoring them to the bank and allowing nature to take its course, but already they have created fantasic fish refuges for both fry and adults. Management of the floodplain inevitably impacts what happens in the river and STREAM has also looked at ways of managing the plethora of historic channels associated with the old water meadow systems to benefit, where possible, both fish populations and wetland birds. Similarly with over 100 hatch control structures, weirs and sluices on the main river alone, the management of water levels is absolutely critical to the wellbeing of flora and fauna of the river, and therefore hatch operating protocols have been developed to ensure that these interests are not compromised.

The Lottery funded Living River project is closely integrated with, and is running alongside the STREAM project however is more ‘people focussed’. Its aim is to increase awareness of the River Avon and its tributaries involving the people and communities who live and work in the river valley in the conservation of the fantastic natural and cultural heritage of the river and valley. Dozens of river related events have been held throughout the valley from enthusing hundreds of volunteers to remove invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam, training events to engage people in river restoration and learn how to identify and measure the quality of invertebrate life in the Avon. Artistic theatre performances have been produced; ‘The River is Revolting’ is a comic theatre piece for the Salisbury International Arts Festival to highlight issues that the river is facing, and an audio river archive, REverberAVON has also been very popular.

Even sculptures inspired by the river have been constructed; look out for the ‘Dragonfly’ made from a Gazelle helicopter by the apprentice mechanics at QinetiQ as you head south on the A303 at Amesbury. Allan Frake, Project Manager for the Environment Agency commented “I have been particularly impressed how this project has integrated both fisheries and the wider conservation interests, engaging angling interests, conservationists and landowners, but also the lengths to which local communities and the general public have been actively and enthusiastically involved throughout the project…it has been brilliant fun and really made a difference to improving the river and raising awareness to local people” For further information on both projects, visit the websites: www.streamlife.org.uk www.livingriver.org.uk

Improving Fish Stocks On The Middle Dorset Stour

Submitted by Mandi on May 27, 2009 - 12:30pm

Historically the Dorset Stour between Blandford Forum and Wimborne Minster has provided a highly valued coarse fishery. However in recent years catches have fallen dramatically and poor fish recruitment has been detected by the Environment Agency’s monitoring teams. This has led to local angling clubs, Landowners, the Barbel Society and the Environment Agency to work together to develop a strategy to improve the resident fish stocks. This strategy has developed into a two pronged approach. The first is to address the reduction in key fish habitats and the second is to re-introduce fish species that otherwise would have little scope for returning naturally.

 

Habitat improvement works

In the past, flood risk management dredging of the River Stour removed vital habitat features and in high flows created deep, fast channels rather than allowing the river to dissipate its energy across the flood plain. The result was fish spawning habitat has been reduced and that young coarse fish survived poorly during high flows, as they were unable to find refuge in slack water areas.

In consultation with the National Trust, Test Valley Angling Club, Southampton Piscatorial Society and other interested parties the Environment Agency has, for a number of years, been carrying out a wide range of habitat enhancement projects in order to ameliorate the effects of the dredging and provide protection for the fry. Works over the last 2 years have been carried out on the stretch between Eye Bridge, Wimborne and Crawford Bridge, Spettisbury.

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Habitat improvement techniques involve re-introducing gravel shallows and creating refuge areas for fish at times of high flow. Projects range from simply digging out a side channel to introducing many tonnes of gravel and rock into the river. Each potential habitat improvement site is assessed to determine the best technique to achieve the required aims of that site and all are assessed to ensure they do not increase the flood risk.

The ultimate aim of these on-going works is to achieve a diverse range of habitat types that fulfil the needs for the fish species present in that locality and generate an environment that ensures fish populations are sustainable and resilient.

Re-establishing the barbel population

The original introductions of barbel to the Avon and Stour river systems occurred in the early 1900s where they quickly established self sustaining populations. The Environment Agency’s historical monitoring results for the Stour indicate that barbel had reached a good level of abundance as far as upstream as Blandford by the end of the 1970s and with their numbers peaking in the early 1980s. However, they have since declined to sporadic pockets of fish in the Blandford to Wimborne reach.

The significant factors causing this decline are considered to be the dredging of this part of the Stour in the early 80s and fish kills associated with pollution incidents.

The habitat improvement works carried out by the Environment Agency, the natural processes of the river and improved environmental legislation aimed at reducing pollution incidents should now provide suitable habitat for barbel once again.

To kick start their recovery the Barbel Society, together with the Environment Agency has implemented a three-year stocking programme with 3000, one year old barbel being stocked annually into three locations in this reach. The aim of this is to establish a solid base from which a self sustaining population can be built.

The barbel have all been provided by the Environment Agency’s Calverton Fish Farm and range in size from 10cm to 20cm. Each of the fish stocked has been marked with a coloured elastomer resin on their head. The colour and location of the mark corresponds to the time and place stocked so that when these fish are caught in the future we can identify where they were stocked and how well the fish are doing. The marking of the barbel has been jointly funded by the Barbel Society and the Environment Agency.

It is hoped that anglers and angling clubs will report all barbel catches to the Agency - so if you catch a barbel on the Stour – look out for a bright splash of colour, about 2 – 3 millimetres long, near the eye. Please note the colour, the position of the tag, the river location of capture and an estimate of the size of the fish - and report your catch to the FRB team, Environment Agency, Rivers House, Sunrise Business Park, Blandford DT11 8ST Telephone 01258483454.

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Environment Agency, Wessex Area

 

Angling & The Environment

Submitted by Mandi on May 26, 2009 - 3:40pm

Anglers have always been the first to notice when rivers and stillwaters are suffering from pollution or over abstraction. Their keen eyes and ears are needed more than ever.As with most fieldsports, angling is dependent on a healthy environment. The abundance, size and condition of fish are indicators of the quality and quantity of water and the health of aquatic habitats. These ingredients all need to be in place to make going fishing worthwhile and therefore Britain’s 3 million anglers are more concerned about the state of our rivers, lakes, canals and ponds than most.

Of course, clean, plentiful and wild waters are of benefit to everyone. They provide water for the home, industry and agriculture, habitats where many food chains begin and unique places for quiet reflection. They are also places which have been convenient dumping grounds for sewage, noxious chemicals and rubbish. Many rivers have dried up completely from too much water being taken out to fill swimming pools, wash cars, drip from unfixed taps and to water crops. Many others have been dredged and encased in concrete to try and stop them flooding or drain fields. All these things cause fish numbers to decline.

The way we look after water affects not just fish, but also our families’ health and well-being, the whole economy and the risk of homes being flooded. Angling is a very obvious direct example: it generates about £3.5 billion for the UK economy each year and employs tens of thousands of people. It provides a healthy, outdoor activity in city, town and country which can be practiced by anyone between the ages of 3 and 103. It instils in youngsters a great understanding of the natural world and the mysteries of life beneath the water, without them having to go to a coral reef.

An angler is someone who fishes with a hook. Over the past 10,000 years, a huge number of ways of using hooks to catch fish have been developed and this is apparent from the daunting array of equipment in fishing tackle shops, which is the best place to go for anyone wanting to get started. The good news is, you don’t have to buy everything in the shop and for less than £50 you could get enough kit to go fishing for either coarse, game (trout & salmon) or sea fish. Anyone over 12 years old also needs an Environment Agency licence to fish. Daily, weekly and annual licences are available online and from most Post Offices.

Apart from tackle and a licence, anglers need clean, plentiful, wild water with fish in them. The ACA has been fighting for this right for nearly 60 years, by using the law to make polluters pay for the damage they do to our members’ waters. Our in house lawyers represent our 1,000 member angling clubs and river owners completely free of charge. We have won more than 2,000 legal cases and have secured millions of pounds in compensation which has been used by our members to restore their damaged fisheries. In 60 years, we have lost only 3 cases. Our reputation means that many thousands of pollution incidents have been avoided as water companies, farmers and industrial plants have thought twice before using rivers as dumping grounds.

Thankfully, much of worst pollution has now been stopped and many of our rivers are seeing fish populations on the increase. When people imagine pollution, they think of big pipes spewing out poisons and sewage. In fact, this type of damage is now much rarer, but still happens sometimes. However, new problems have arisen which are impacting seriously on the angling economy and society as a whole. Pesticides like cypermethrin sheep dip wipe out insect life, the main food of most fish, in rivers. Endocrine disruptors washed out of sewage works make male fish become female. Silt pollution from construction and agriculture increases flood risk, puts up the cost of treating water for public supply, smothers gravels where fish breed and insects live and makes it necessary to dredge estuaries and ports much more often, which is both expensive and damaging to these sensitive habitats. What looks like a bit of harmless mud causes millions of pounds of damage to river systems.

The average person’s water consumption has increased by 30% since 1970. If we continue to waste water in this way, the construction of millions of new homes in already water-stressed areas will put great strain on the ability of natural water systems to support fish, other wildlife and other uses of water. Similarly, all this new development will mean a lot more hard, impermeable surfaces like roads, driveways and roofs. Instead of soaking into the ground, rain landing on these surfaces rushes towards the nearest drain to be carried efficiently to the nearest watercourse. Unless these new developments are designed sensibly, with sustainable drainage systems and the latest water efficiency technology, Britain is on a collision course for widespread water shortages and hugely damaging flooding. We got a taste of both these future scenarios in the last two years, with drought in 2006 and floods in 2007.

To make a difference, all anglers should join one or more of the bodies which represents their interests. The Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT) has a list of all the angling organisations on its web site at www.factuk.co.uk. Membership of the ACA is just £22 a year for individuals, £6 for juniors and more for angling clubs and riparian owners who benefit from our unique legal protection service. More information at www.a-c-a.org or from 01568 620447.

Keeping The Tills Rolling

Submitted by Mandi on May 26, 2009 - 2:42pm

For many in the wider community, angling is nothing more than a worm at one end and a fool at the other. In actual fact, angling drives a huge economy, which is very important for our region, particularly when it comes to attracting visitors. Some of the larger fisheries cater exclusively for holiday makers. Although the lakes are not available for locals to patronise, the anglers that fish them bring trade to our tackle shops, restaurants and pubs and enable us to enjoy the better service that is offered as a result of plentiful trade. 

Clawford Vineyard near Holsworthy in Devon has been recognised nationally for the quality of both the accommodation and the fishing. Similarly, smaller sites bring tourists on a regular basis to both fish and spend down here in the south west. Everything from a holiday park to a B&B to a camping site, if they have water to fish, anglers will flock to them all year round.

As a photojournalist who concentrates mainly on the match fishing side of the sport, I have seen first hand the numbers of anglers who come down our way to chase the money on offer at the region’s fishing festivals. The Torbay Sea Angling Festival, held in September each year, sees over 400 anglers battling for the prizes. Something like a quarter of the field travel from all corners of the country to pit their wits against the local hot shots. This event is backed by the local council, who recognise the impact it has on the economy of the bay, and are proud to support it.

Parkdean, who own several holiday centres around the UK, host a number of large events every year at their Whiteacres complex near Newquay. For many of this country’s top match anglers winning one of the spring or autumn festivals is the best way to become a name. The climax of these yearly events is the Parkdean Masters, a £25,000 winner-takes-all match fished by 24 of the very best UK match anglers in front of the Sky Sports cameras. To qualify for the match, you first have to win one of the resident’s matches or win a lake during a festival week. This gives you an invite to fish the Preston Innovations Festival, held in October, along with 179 other hopefuls. Pitting your skills against the likes of former World Champion, Tommy Pickering; Fish A Mania regular (former winner and Parkdean Masters winner), Steve Ringer; Drennan Team England star and last year’s Parkdean Master, Des Shipp, you may hope to finish in the top 24 at the end of five day’s hard work. Saturday dawns and you can make your way to your peg on Jenny’s Lake for a titanic five hour struggle against both fish and the cream of the UK’s match talent. Who knows? Maybe your name is on that cheque?

These types of events have become almost a circuit, where regular faces crop up time and again. Not only is this a wonderful way to make new friends and rub shoulders with some of the best in the business, it is also testament to the quality of fishing we have on our doorstep. Clint Elliot at Whiteacres, John Candy at Todber Manor and Andy Seery at Stafford Moor, know how to make people welcome and also know what it takes to keep them returning.

In August 2006, Stafford Moor saw the first event in the ‘Maniac’ series that now sees two matches per year. 80 tickets are sold on a first come first served basis for £50. On the Saturday, those 80 anglers line up across the whole complex in sections of 10. The aim is to finish first or second in your section and thus qualify for the Sunday final. On the Sunday, those 16 anglers fish on Tanners Lake for a £2,000 winner-takes-all pot. It sounds simple enough, but who could have foreseen the way the fishing would go on all three of the events to date? Andy’s fishery has a reputation for ton-up weights in the matches and the first Stafford Maniac final saw three tons hit the scales, with a lowest weight of 44lb. Incredible fishing, but even more incredible was winner Paul Garrett from Glastonbury pipping Midlands based visitor, Mark Saunders by a solitary ounce; 131lb 1oz to 131lb 0oz. Paul went home a happy man; Mark vowed to return...

The second event was held in August 2007 and once again had a nail biting finish, this time between the two youngest competitors in the final. Keeping the money local was Bristol’s Rory Andres, who saw off Matt Parsons from Somerton by 121lb 6oz to 119lb 9oz. 18 year old Rory has not been match fishing for long, but helped by his dad, John, he has watched some of the visiting stars to help him improve and can now compete with the best.

November 2007 saw the first Silver Maniac match, fished using the same format, but with carp banned. So popular was this event that Drennan Team England Manager, Mark Downes, headed down the M5 from his Redditch home to take part. Another close fought battle ensued, with less than 5lb splitting the top four. Exiled Mancunian, Harry Billing, saw off two international stars in third placed Paul Filmore and fourth placed Des Shipp, and Mick Dagnell, the husband of Team England Lady’s international Claire in second, with his 63lb 2oz net of roach and skimmers. This event is one that is sure to be a sell out every year, with plans already afoot to run it twice a year from 2009. Other Stafford Moor fixtures are spring and autumn festivals plus regular fish-ins organised from angling forums. They know when they’re onto a good thing, so book their places well in advance. What a boost to the local economy in that little part of rural mid Devon.

Harry Billing used to travel to Whiteacres to fish the festivals there twice a year and, to misuse a phrase, liked it so much, he moved down here permanently. Silver fish were always one of his strong suits, so the December Silver Fish Festival at Whiteacres was a big draw. This is a week long event, but only 60 tickets are available for this one, although it may expand this year to offer 72 places. 2007 saw Andy Dare win to follow in the footsteps of Garbolino’s UK boss and Drennan Team England star, Darren Cox and Fox Match backed Derek Willan from 2006 and 2005 respectively. Andy is another to settle around the Newquay area having enjoyed his trips from Nottinghamshire to compete in the festivals.

So not only do anglers from all over the country visit our region to stay, fish and soak up the unique Westcountry atmosphere, some of them become a permanent fixture. I landed in Devon in 1998 from Leicestershire (albeit with Somerset in my blood) and it doesn’t take long listening to accents on any weekend match to work out the numbers of ‘blow-ins’ who are a part of the wider community. Brummies, Cockneys and Yorkies make up a healthy number of the coarse fishermen and women who add life to the whole Western peninsula.

It’s time to stand up and be proud to be an angler. To help visitors to our region appreciate the fantastic fishing we have down here and to be an angler who supports local businesses and keeps those tills rolling.

Steve Lockett has worked supplying pictures and articles to most of the major angling publications in Europe for the last ten years.

He is now in partnership with fellow photojournalist Brian Gay. Together they run V2V Angling Productions Ltd, filming high quality DVDs for the angling market.

 

The Light Fantastic

Submitted by Mandi on May 26, 2009 - 12:40pm

You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut or a flamethrower to cook a steak. So why do anglers of all disciplines use such heavy tackle to land relatively small fish? It’s time to put the fun back into fishing and join the light tackle revolution says Dominic Garnett.

One of my favourite scenes from Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a sketch where machine guns and rocket launchers are used to kill a mosquito. It was about the daftest case of overkill conceivable. But how far off this scenario are some of today’s anglers? From specimen carp set ups on half acre ponds to the powerhouse rods used to tame undersized sea fish, where will it all end?

Naturally, tackle choice is a highly personal issue. The golden rule is to use “balanced” tackle, fit for the job. But somewhere into the equation must come sporting consideration, since we are all here to enjoy our fishing, aren’t we? Most fish will put a pleasing bend in our carbon, given the chance; but set up too heavy and playing all but the biggest specimens becomes a chore rather than a thrill.

Something to carp about…
Brilliant though they are, carp have changed the entire mentality of coarse fishing towards big fish tactics. But whilst a trio of 3lb test curve rods may be ideal for a gravel pit, the same set up is now being found throughout the land at day ticket carp fisheries. Whilst the tackle companies cash in, anglers are missing out on a lot of fun, hauling in carp as if they were bream.

It is not just for the sake of fun that I would advocate a change of approach in these circumstances however; replace the tackle mountain with a lighter set up and you will often find a far more effective method. A light float rig will earn more bites and spook far fewer fish than casting around with heavy leads. It needn’t be a small carp method either and it’s interesting to note that carping pioneers such as “B.B” and Dick Walker often used 5-8 lb line where conditions permitted. My other half consistently beats the bivvy crew with a waggler or free lined bait on our local ponds; to the point where they sometimes get sick of watching her catching and pack up.

All well and good, you might say, but what happens when you hook a double figure carp? Not a problem with today’s high standard of tackle; just take your time, set your drag carefully and play fish sensibly but firmly. In fact, even some of the specimen boys are now stepping down their tackle in search of better enjoyment and more bites. Running rigs and lighter lines are clearly the way to go when action slows on conventional tackle.

Or otherwise, next time you fish for summer carp, I dare you to take a single rod and reel and free line a mixer or piece of crust. If you find a more straightforward or exciting method, let me know.

Sea the difference?
With specimen sized fish in short supply around our coast, sea anglers too are beginning to see the sporting benefit of light tackle. And although a beach caster may be essential for distance work, there are plenty of places where big lumps of lead are totally unnecessary. Rocks, piers, estuaries and harbours are all ideal for light tackle, if you can be bothered to experiment.

The hard-fighting mackerel is probably the best example of a species undervalued because of crude conventional tackle. If you don’t rate the mackerel as a fighter, try swapping the feathers and beach caster combo for a spinning rod and 8lb line. Any metal lure will also work, but to my mind there is hardly a finer sight in shore fishing than a float surging off as a mackerel takes the bait, followed by that serious looking curve in the rod. Equally, with worm or live prawn baits, the float is a thrilling way to take wrasse, pollack and even bass.

Just remember to keep tackle balanced and avoid crude rods, oversized hooks and those gruesome floats that could almost be used as buoyancy aids. That carp rod could also come in handy…

Flying Away
Bring game fishing tackle into the picture and the light approach becomes even more thrilling. Today’s anglers realise that fly fishing is about far more than catching trout and can offer unbeatable fun and excitement for carp, bass, pike, pollack… you name it, the chances are it can be taken on the fly.

Once again though, provided the tackle is balanced and appropriate, stepping down our approach can be the key to a healthier fighting arc. The small stream fisherman, for example, might find using his 7-8ft wand terrific fun for still water rainbow trout. Your river tool might take on a dangerous looking curve, but in actual fact is ideal for presenting small dries and a light blank is the ideal shock absorber to protect light tippets. Fighting a two pound rainbow will never be the same again!

Seeing the light
In these size obsessed times it is all too easy to fall into the trap of gearing up too heavy. Fun becomes a secondary consideration and we forget the fighting qualities of many of the fish we catch. Yet the technical excellence of specimen tackle shouldn’t dictate our fishing, which is at its most fun when we keep it simple. More often than not you’ll find that straightforward, balanced tackle is perfectly capable of landing bigger fish, and scaling down a little will earn you more bites into the bargain. Clearly the final choice is yours. But for the sake of enjoyment alone, why not lighten up a little?

A Season On The Hampshire Avon

Submitted by Mandi on May 26, 2009 - 11:52am

Living on the Hampshire, Dorset border, I am fortunate to have an almost infinite number of choices when it comes to angling location.

Not a million miles away, the Stour winds its way through the hills of the Dorset countryside and offers excellent sport. The ever-growing need for aggregate has culminated in a large number of gravel pit fisheries, offering anglers who prefer to fish still water, the opportunity to do so on a grand scale. Finally, and not least, the Hampshire Avon; a much changed and sometimes maligned river that should satiate the needs of most anglers.

With choices come decisions and while some divide their time between all three, I chose long ago to devote my time almost entirely to the Avon. When anglers visit her banks today they do so increasingly, not in search of the huge bags of roach and dace on which her reputation was built, but in the hope that their prayers of big barbel and chub will be answered. Be it the nostalgic wish for roach or the real possibility of big barbel, the Avon, whether viewed in the throes of harsh winter or the untroubled days of midsummer, remains a jewel set perfectly into the landscape to be cherished and preserved for future generations.

Avoiding the rush
June 16th always poses a quandary for me; I should be straining at the leash that is the close season, too excited to contemplate fishing anywhere but the river. But if you consider the fish and the flurry of activity after three months of relative peace, it must seem to them, like the bombardment of Dresden. Gallons of hemp, caster and maggot are bait droppered into each likely looking swim, along with “front lead” “back lead” and bulging PVA bag. Therefore, I stay firmly welded to my tench swim, content to let the hordes do battle, while avoiding the rush for favourite swims. Within two weeks most will return to the daily grind of “nine till five”, leaving us “reglers” in relative peace.

First love
Barbel are my first love, probably because for years they were my nemesis and because when my duck was finally broken by a fish of 7lb 8oz pounds from the Royalty, the milestone of a double was almost as insurmountable. I used to delay my barbel fishing until August however, my impatience to bank my first fish of the season increased yearly until the procrastination lead to frustration. The carpet bombing of bait isn’t as effective on the Avon as it once was and it took ages before I committed the ultimate betrayal of using boilie and pellet in the river and longer to accept the guilt for doing so.
Times change however, and the fish, having been weaned onto the high-protein offerings by other angler’s, voted with their stomachs. My uncle Dick suggested one particular variety of boilie, the results proved remarkable and I was hooked. It’s so important to have confidence in your bait, especially on the Avon where you might wait all day for just one bite.

Started with a bang!
My season started with a bang and a totally unexpected barbel of 14lbs 1oz. Although my mate Pete, who had decided not to fish this particular swim and was walking away as I arrived, predicted a “big un”. The fish was a strikingly perfect creature that fought like a lion and presented me with a new personal best that had previously stood at exactly 13lbs. I wondered, could the season get any better? In fact, for a while I was jinxed, perhaps for daring to consider that it might. Such fish cause you to question line strength and, although it was landed safely, I wondered if I should consider replacing my line. I was offered an alternative to try and re-loaded the spools on both reels. Circumstances dictate that I fish with a mate and Trev suggested a change in hook pattern, to a purpose made barbel hook.

What followed was an advertisement for sticking with what you know and over the next few weeks, I blanked, missed bites, dropped, snapped off or pulled out of fish time and again. Eventually, I lost my cool, had the line ripped from both spools, grabbed a spool of 10lb Sensor, a packet of my favourite pattern hooks and went back to what I knew. It’s as important to have confidence in your tackle, as it is in your bait. Almost an entire month had been lost, along with three doubles, plus others, it’s not a mistake I shall repeat.

All but one of last seasons chosen swims were determined by their distance from the car park. The first, we called it the “sheep dip”, had definitely not had any angler attention, there being not a blade of grass out of place. On close inspection, we were thrilled to spot three good barbel that we estimated to weigh approximately 9lbs, 12lbs and 13lbs. In the same swim was a big sleepy carp, well over 25lbs and several chub of varying size, one of which we referred to as a “bloody hell, bloody hell” chub. I’m sure most anglers will recognise that description, it happens during one of those double-take moments when you can’t quite believe your eyes; we couldn’t put a number on it, it was that huge.

Eager anticipation
Our first day on this swim was largely passed tea drinking and bird watching, our attention taken by a peregrine hunting way up in a late August sky and It was mid-afternoon before we lowered a boilie into the swim and settled back in eager anticipation. The bite came almost immediately and although we didn’t see the culprit, the bend in the rod and the ferocity of the initial run, pointed to the carp. The next bait found a bream, and then, in comparison to the big fella, a small chub of 5lb 8oz and finally the smallest of the three barbel, which weighed 9lbs10oz confirming our estimations.

I would like to report the capture of the two bigger barbel and indeed the chub, but we couldn’t induce them to feed, despite changes in bait and tactic. They remained tantalisingly close, skulking just beneath the surface water crowfoot. Finally, humiliated by defeat having persevered for weeks, we limped away, vowing not to return until next year. Instead, we went upstream to an old favourite swim of Trev’s, where a shallow run drops into a deepening pool of some repute.

Over the next few sessions, I caught bream, a few chub and two stunning barbel of 10lbs 10oz, and 12lbs 4oz and lost another double at the net. One other swim, into which we had thrown a few baits, lay in a small meadow and was crying out for further exploration. Remarkably, it too had seen little attention and despite my being sceptical of its credibility as a barbel swim, just into darkness the net was slipped under another beauty of 11lbs 12oz. We vowed to spend more time there next season, especially as my final double, a fish of 11lbs 4oz, came from the same swim a week later.

An impromptu session, grabbed after a couple of hours of centre-pin tuition for my little brother, just about topped off my season. I hadn’t fished this particular swim for several seasons and had only chosen to out of nostalgia. I decided to show it one of Dick’s boilies, which, on my second cast, snared what we initially took to be a barbel and which fought like one for about 20 seconds.

Something special
However, when what could have been initially taken for a grass carp, save for its big white lips, slipped over the rim of the net, we gasped in unison. Both Trevor and I shared PB chub of 6lb 12oz and we knew that this one was something a bit special. We gave my brother a shout; there was a strong possibility that none of us would witness another of its size in our lifetimes and when, along with our nerves, my scales settled on 8lbs 1oz, I was fairly convinced that we wouldn’t! She lay in the shallows at our feet, recovering with her head to the current for some seconds and we agreed that, even at over 8lb she was still outsized by the “bloody hell, bloody hell” chub we hadn’t dare put a number on. The urge to return to the river next morning, was outweighed by my anxious preoccupation with verification of scale accuracy, I needn’t have been concerned, the weight stood.

The Avon barbel’s powerful, pugnacious, obstinate and unrivalled determination in combat would test the abilities of most anglers, all in all not a bad season. Roll on next year.

Coarse Fishing in the South Wessex Area

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

Tom Carter - 5lb Avon Bream

The Hampshire Avon

The Hampshire Avon rises in the Vale of Pewsey and, with its tributaries the Bourne and Wylye, drains the chalk of Salisbury plain. The River Nadder, which is joined by the Wylye near Salisbury drains part of the South Wiltshire Downs and (more significantly for anglers) the clays of the Wardour Vale.


The River Ebble and the Ashford Water enter the Avon downstream of Salisbury and Fordingbridge respectively.
Below Fordingbridge a number of New Forest streams enter the Avon. The Avon flows into Christchurch Harbour where it is joined by the River Stour.


The total fall from Pewsey to the sea is 110m, the average gradient downstream of Salisbury is approximately 2m/km. The flow is characterised by a high groundwater component derived from springs rising in the headwaters of the Avon and its major tributaries.


The river and its tributaries are of national and international importance for their wildlife communities.

Prized Predators from the Exeter Canal

Submitted by admin on December 9, 2008 - 4:08pm

A 29lb plus fish caught on a large deadbait.

For the last thirty years I have travelled and fished the length and the breadth of the UK for many different species, both in freshwater and in the sea. As I grow older and my passion for angling increases as each year passes I find myself chasing an even wider selection of weird and wonderful species. Travelling to various countries within mainland Europe, to Africa and beyond to north and south America. Seemingly though our fondest memories often lie with our experiences as a young lad at grass roots level.

For the majority of my thirty eight years the backbone of my angling apprenticeship was formed in and around Exeter and particularly on the Exeter Ship Canal where I have landed every species of fish present over the years but my first love is, and always will be, predatory fish.

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