Coarse and Carp Fishing Articles

'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!

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.

Travelling Light

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

I was chub fishing the other day, sharing the river with a friend as we went from swim to swim, leapfrogging each other in our search for the fish. With stops for lunch and of course the obligatory photographing of the best looking specimen, we must have taken five hours to fish two miles of river.

We only landed three chub, all over four pounds, but with our surroundings changing every few minutes we'd enjoyed a fascinating day of varied challenges and varied sights and scenes. Yet despite the different demands from all the dozen or so places we fished, we carried all the tackle and bait we needed in our jacket pockets, with just one rod each and a net between us.

At the end of the day we came upon another angler fishing close to a bridge, only 50 yards from where he had parked his car. He was sitting on one of those all purpose seat boxes which, when each drawer is filled with equipment, must weigh a ton - more like a fishing wardrobe than a seat - and he was surrounded by bait buckets, rod rests and several rods.

The Get Hooked Top Five Tips

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

I have been catching fish around the country now for over 30 years so hopefully I've picked up a few useful tips along the way! So what I propose today is to give you my top 5 bait tips to catch more and bigger fish.

1) Without doubt my number one tip is to learn how to loose-feed correctly. Too often anglers will have the most expensive rod and reel, the most up to date bait but don't know how to feed a swim. All the great anglers I have fished with like John Wilson, Dave Harrell and Bob Nudd all have the ability to feed the swim correctly. Unfortunately there is no easy way to lean this skill it only comes with experience. The only advice I can give is don't keep doing the same thing if you are not catching fish.

I know that sounds a silly statement but so many unsuccessful anglers keep doing the same thing week in week out and catching nothing. Why not change the amount of bait that you are putting in at the start?

A Taste of Angling in Somerset

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

Richard Blackie, Somerset Gazette Columnist

For over 40 years I have fished all over the British Isles, in fact all over the World, as for the first 14 years of my working life I was a sailor. This job took me to every corner of the globe, and I took every opportunity to get ashore and fish.

I have caught tiger fish in the Malayan Jungle, shark off the beaches of Australia, barracuda in Bermuda, fresh water bass in the rivers of the USA. So when I got married and wrapped in my sea going life a decision had to be made as to where to settle down and live. As my wife is a Somerset girl it was decided that Somerset would be the base of our new home. As for fishing it was a decision I have never regretted, as this county is awash with great fishing and places to fish.

When I was on shore leave I stayed with my mother in London and I thought nothing of a two hundred mile round trip drive to fish the Trent or Norfolk Broads. Now I consider a 20 mile drive to be distance fishing!

Over the past 10 years commercial fisheries have come into their own in this County, with year round good fishing for most species (although on some waters carp predominate). As an example how well stocked these fisheries are, some even hold Sturgeon, a fish that twenty years ago was so rare in this country that any caught had to be offered to the Queen(Emerald pool has lots of this species).

Around my home town of Taunton there are four good commercial fisheries that are well worth a visit. The first is Fishponds House which is about mid-way between Taunton and Honiton. The three lakes that are there (only two can be fished) are among this countries' oldest stew ponds. They were originally built by the monks to hold carp for food. Now the monks have gone but a good head of carp remain. Apart from the carp there is a very good head of roach, rudd, bream and tench. The top pool is the biggest, and ranges in depth from five to twelve feet. Best fishing is in summer, although 60 to 70 pound nets are not uncommon in winter. In summer the top lake fishes well in most pegs. In winter, it is best to fish the deeper swims. The smaller pool is very weedy, but tremendous sport can be had with small carp and silver fish. The best swims to fish on this pool are those at the end furthest away from the house. Best baits on both pools are maggots, corn, meat, casters and bread. Fishing one of these baits over a bed of hemp is good for carp. A lot of fun can be had on a warm summers evening with floating crust.

Next we visit Follyfoot Farm which is between Taunton and Bridgwater. This three acre lake is heavily stocked with Koi, common and mirror carp. Although most of these carp are on the smallish side, but there are plenty of double figure fish. Most of the usual baits will catch, although maggots will pull mostly small carp. One day I watched an angler having good sport with carp between 8 and l0lb dog biscuits. Like most commercial fisheries you may only use barbless hooks on this water.

HBS Fisheries, which is also just off the Taunton to Bridgwater road, is another fishery well worth a visit. HBS is made up of two pools, one for specimen fishing and the other which they call the match pool. The specimen pool is stocked with large carp which are caught regularly on various baits, boilies are probably the most successful. Fishing to features or stalking fish are two top methods on this pool. The smaller match pool has carp up to 17lb, although most are in the 8oz to 2lb bracket. There are also some quality roach, tench and the odd surprise fish like the 5.5lb bream my friend caught there last week. For one-a-chuck catch rate maggots are the top bait whereas for the better specimens worm, corn and boilies are tops.

Just the other side of Bridgwater we come to Dunwear lakes where carp and bream feature heavily in this four lake mixed fishery. Apart from the bream and carp there is good all round sport with perch and roach. The north lake, at three and a half acres, holds six known 20lb plus carp, and is heavily stocked with tench. This and the south lake are waters for the specialist carp angler. The south lake, which has produced a 31lb specimen, also has double figure carp which are most frequently taken on boilies. No junior anglers are allowed on the 18 acre seniors lake where swims are cut into the undergrowth. Carp to 30lb are present but rarely caught. Expect mostly commons in the 6 to 9lb range. Roach and rudd show to maggot and caster and bream have provided several 100lb plus bags to feeder with maggot and worm. The two and a half acre railway lake has roach, bream from 4 to 5lb, tench, perch and carp from 8oz to 1lb and has been developed primarily as a beginners water. The corner with the tall reeds is a hotspot and maggots will catch most species Corn tempts bream and perch to 2lb are in all pools. There is disabled access.

Avalon Fisheries, at Westhay, is a 17 acre, two lake complex set among peat workings. Number one lake has 50 pegs and averages eight feet in depth. Number two has 20 pegs, and is of a similar depth. Both pools are well stocked with bream, roach, rudd. tench, perch and carp. Number one has also been stocked with barbel. Both pools have recently been heavily stocked with bream. Be aware that boilies, nuts, bloodworm and joker are banned. Best baits for carp are corn, luncheon meat and bread.

Thorney Lakes, Nr Muchelney Langport, is an established coarse fishery that spans two acres and averages three and a half feet in depth. There is a good head of carp, tench, roach, rudd and bream, which most anglers fish for with pole, using ether corn, meat, maggot or caster. Best pegs are on the island. Shelf life boilies and cereal groundbaits are banned. This is another water where floating crust does well in summer.

We now move across to Wedmore to one of the best kept fisheries I have ever seen. The name of this haven for angling is Lands End Farm Fishery. There are two lakes there; Tadham, which is the specimen lake, and Tealham, the match lake. All the swims on both lakes have rubbish and fag end bins. Tealham lake has a big (and I mean big) platform in every swim and both lakes are heaving with fish. Tadham contains Commons, mirror and ghost carp from 5lb to 22lb, grass carp to 16lb and bream to 8lb. Tealham is stocked with common and mirror carp, tench, golden tench, crucians, ide, roach, rudd, perch, golden orfe, chub, bream and barbel. Best baits are maggot and corn which are best fished on a long pole close to the island or between the pegs close to the bank. This fishery has good paths leading up to the swims (wellies not needed).There is a good car park and toilets and I personally highly recommended this venue.
At West Huntspill near Highbridge there is a fishery called Emerald Pool. This one and a half acre pool is a family run coarse fishery that boasts big, big catches and a hundred pound net of fish is common. Species include carp up to the mid twenties, bream, perch, roach, golden orfe, rudd, barbel, and sturgeon up to four feet long! Most of the swims have concrete platforms to fish from, the car park is right next to the pool and there is a toilet on site. Most of the usual baits score, although pellets are one of the best. There is disabled friendly holiday accommodation available at this fishery.

Back to Bridgwater now and the Sedges. This fishery was once a brickworks and has two pools, one three and a half acres, the other two and a half acres, with both having an average depth of eight feet. The Tile Pool has carp in the low doubles, and the Brick Pool is stocked with carp to 25lbs and also contains crucians over 2.5lb. Other stock in these ponds includes lots of skimmers and bream from 5 to 7lb, tench to 9lb, roach and rudd to llb, big eels and a good head of perch with specimens up to 2lb. Boilies are good for carp throughout the season but in the summer months corn and meat are the tops for this species. Maggots catch lots of small fish and hemp is good for roach. This fishery is disabled friendly, in fact the 45 platforms on these pools will accommodate wheelchairs. Unhooking mats MUST be used.

Staying around Bridgwater we move to Westhay Lake which is between Westhay and Shapwick. This three and a half acre lake was originally dug for peat and its main species is carp (mirrors and commons) which go up to the mid thirties. There are also superb crucians which go up to 3.5lb, tench to 4lb, roach and rudd to 1lb, perch and goldfish. 50 to 60 Ib nets are common. For carp. boilies or tiger nuts fished over a bed of hemp works well. Use maggot for smaller fish and pegs 10 and eleven are known hot spots. Carp anglers must have an unhooking mat and no bent or barbed hooks are allowed. There are no pike or bream in this water.

These are just a few of the commercial stillwater fisheries available to anglers. There are plenty more, and this article just gives a taste of the fishing on offer. Browsing the adverts and the directory in the Get Hooked guide will give you information on ALL of them.

Apart from the fisheries above there are a multitude of rivers in this county that offer excellent fishing. The river Tone in Taunton, which has free fishing between the top of French Weir down to the end of the Market car park. The Tone at French Weir, especially above the weir, gives really good sport with a big head of chub, quality roach, bream, grayling and trout. Maggot is a good bait for most of the species although I have caught some thumping big chub on elderberries. The river just below the weir gives a lot of small fish, and this area is popular with youngsters. Between the weir and Priorybridge (the start of the market car park) gives mostly small fish, but be aware there are a number of big carp in this section and the market car park gives some good bream and roach catches. If you accidently catch a grayling or trout (and you will at French Weir) don't put them in your keepnet as you will need a national game licence to do this.

Not far from Taunton, in fact just the other side of Bridgwater, is the river Huntspill. A lot of people call this a drain, but it was originally a river that was widened out to drain water off the levels. It runs from the bottom of the south drain to the tidal Parrett. It is famous for its bream fishing, and it is these 'slabs' that most Huntspill anglers are after. A number of 5lb fish are frequently caught but there are some specimens that are a lot bigger. As in all 'drain' bream fishing finding the fish is always the hardest part of catching them. Top method on this water is feeder fishing, with groundbait feeder and worm and caster on the hook. There are also lots of roach and skimmers on this water, and the preferred method is waggler with maggot hookbait. In the winter months bream seem to hold up in the Gold Corner area whearas in the summer the bream spread out all through the river.

Going towards Weston-Super-Mare we come across the river Axe. This delightful little river meanders through the Somerset countryside until it exits into the sea south of Weston. Not always a great favourite with matchmen, as it never seems to produce on the day, but pleasure fish it and you will probably be surprised at the good quality bream and roach you can catch. Another big surprise on this small river is the depth of some of the swims - up to 16 feet! Above Bleadon bridge, between Shiplate and Loxton is usually good, especially on the bends. Below Bleadon bridge is another good spot although it gets very muddy on this section.

Not far from the Axe is Cheddar Reservoir which holds some really big fish. Tench to well over 6lb, 30lb pike, lots of 3lb plus perch and shoals and shoals of quality roach. This water is very clear, so the best way to get among the lumps is long cast straight lead or feeder. Top baits for tench are corn, worm and luncheon meat. For the perch worms and maggots and maggots for the roach. There are brick towers coming out of the water about 50 yards from the bank and these seem to attract the perch, a line cast next to them usually gives good sport with these great fighting fish. I frequently fish successfully to the right of the Yachting Marina.

Back towards Bridgwater we come to one of the best drains in the West Country, the Kings Sedgemoor Drain. This drain has excellent access points at Crandon Bridge, Bawdrip, Parchey, Greylake, and Henley and this water is noted for its good bream, tench and roach fishing. My favourite spot is Greylake Bridge. Upstream from the bridge gives you some big bream and a lot of tench and downstream some very big tench have been caught. If you are feeling lazy fish next to your car in the car park. The last time I fished in the car park I saw a 4lb plus eel caught and a bream just over 6lb. If you feel like a bit of a walk go downstream until you are opposite where the Langacre Drain and the Sowy river enter the main drain as this is a very productive area. Further down stream Parchey is another area where good catches of bream are common. Down stream on the big bend is usually good. Down from Crandon Bridge is a section known as Silver fish. This is another very productive area although it is a bit of walk from the car park.

I have given you only a rough idea of some of the fabulous fishing to be had in Somerset. There is terrific fishing around the Bath area especially on the river Avon. Ilminster has the river Isle running through it (this little river is a chub hotspot). In South Somerset there are the rivers Yeo and Parrett. Try above Yeovilton Weir which is along side the Naval Air Base. Just over the border into Dorset there is Sherborne Castle lake, home to bream the size of dustbin lids. The list goes on……

If you are reading this however you have in your hand the definitive guide to fishing in the south west and with over 800 venues listed in the directory you really are spoilt for choice!

A Wealth of Fishing for the All-Rounder

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

Editors Note: This editorial was submitted by Mike and the following is an extract from the accompanying letter. I feel it encapsulates the principles of Get Hooked - anglers working together, putting something into the sport for other anglers to enjoy.

.... First I want to congratulate you on the Get Hooked Angling Guide. I have a copy of every edition and it has gone from strength to strength, it is as invaluable to me as my fishing Diary. Now I want to put something back into it and enclose a small piece for your consideration' ....;

Born, bred and living as I do in East Devon there is a breadth and width of fishing so great that it is often difficult to decide where to go and what to fish for.

In the 'good old days' of Carp fishing back in the late fifties and sixties I was a founder member of the original 'Devon Carp Catchers Club' and seldom fished for anything else. Carp waters were few and far between here in those days. That was until I spent several weekends fishing the Upper Great Ouse at the invitation of Richard Walker at his fishing hut on its banks at Beachampton. Those experiences and his influence broadened my outlook and I've never spent a whole season fishing for just one or two species again.

In January I now spend my 'angling time' fishing for flatties in the Exe and Teign estuaries and for Pike in the Exeter and Tiverton canals. During January and the first half of March I spend as much time as possible fishing the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour for Chub, Pike and Roach. As a biologist I voluntarily observe the old coarse fish close season on all freshwaters. The latter half of March and April is devoted to trout fishing on Dartmoor streams, chalkstreams and small stillwaters. These I fish with the dry fly and nymphs, some of my home tied 'killers' being the Dark Blue Upright, Kite's Imperial and, on the odd trip later in the summer, Tup's Indispensable, Blue Winged Olive and Caperer. Also Crowherl, Green Damsel, Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear and Mayfly nymphs work well for me.

By May and early June the Mackerel and Bass are usually back inshore at Sidmouth, Branscombe, Beer and Seaton. Fishing for these from the shore and a small dinghy gradually takes over from sport with the Trout.

From 'the glorious 16th' of June until the middle of August I mostly fish for Carp, Tench, Bream, Eels, Crucians and Chub - interspersed with some Trout and sea fishing as the freezer empties! I love 'Chub chasing' with freelined slugs and lobworms, hiding in the lush bankside growth of summer, as much as watching the needle bubbles burst around my Tench float on a muggy, overcast dawn. I fish for Carp in the 'primitive' ways, with floating baits and with float tackle and centre-pin reel, scouring the margins.

Come late August I return to the rivers to fish for Barbel interspersed with some time on stillwaters. This style of fishing continues into November, if the weather is right, with the addition of sport with Perch and the first of the year's Pike fishing. Autumn is also the time for big Bass and I manage to squeeze in a night or two on East Devon beaches when the tides are right.

During December the Pike fishing starts in earnest along with days after Chub and Roach. By the end of December the flatfish in the estuaries get some attention and the year has come full circle.

For me variety is the spice of fishing and I enjoy every moment of it, whether it be by a hurrying Dartmoor stream, a lush Carp pool, a silkily furling chalk stream, wading in storm beach surf or bobbing in the dinghy.

Good fish are just the icing on this already rich cake for there is so much more to enjoy in fishing in South West England than just catching fish!

Red Letter Day

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

Graham Sleeman is the editor of the Get Hooked! Guide
I extracted this editorial from a fishing diary I dug out the other day. It covered 1981, a year when I was single, no responsibilities, and lots of spare time! It details what was a great day, by our standards, on our local pond Dutson Water which has always been pretty difficult. The map, drawn at the time and with all the swims as we named them, helps set the scene. Reading it 20 years later it brought back real memories and I could almost feel the morning mist on my face. Apologies for the picture quality. Oh, and I was right about never improving on that day’s catch.

My alarm did not even have to go off this morning as I woke two minutes before it sounded, a very rare occurence! Martin met me at my place and we set off at 4.30am.

By the time we started fishing it was almost light, a perfect Tench fisher’s dawn and what a date to go Tench fishing. The glorious 16th, the traditional start of the coarse fishing season although in Cornwall there is no close season for coarse fish.

We both started fishing in the same area using very similar tactics, float fishing with the bait on the bottom, 15-20 feet out with size 12 hook. Martin was using sweetcorn as bait and I was trying small dungworms (brandlings). After 15 minutes or so Martin started to get bites so I changed to sweetcorn as well. Before long the float slid away and I was into the first fish of the day, a nice Tench of about 1lb 8oz and a good fighter. Well, I’ve never known such good sport at Dutson and the fish continued to feed fairly consistently until they ‘went off’ at about midday. Our Total so far was: Me 8 Tench Martin 3 Tench and a 2lb Common I was really pleased as my previous best was 5 Tench in a session and we already had about 20lb of fish in the net.

We picked up and went home for some lunch and also got some bread with a view to doing some ‘crusting’ in the afternoon. We returned to the pond at about 3pm to find it predictably quiet. Martin almost immediately went to sleep in the A40 (An Austin A40 was our mode of transport at the time).

A couple of hours earlier I had seen a couple of Carp under the trees in ‘carp corner’ so I wandered off to have a go. I first tried a small bit of crust on a size 12 for the Rudd but they were as frustrating as ever, taking every bit of bread in sight, except for the bit on the hook. I changed to a bigger hook and tried to get a crust under the trees for a Carp but cocked up the first cast and put all the fish down!

I returned to my original swim and threw out a couple of crusts in the area of the pit and one of these was taken quite quickly. Straight away I took the crusting rig to the swim by the reeds just next to the pit and cast out to let the crust drift nicely through the taking area. Two crusts drifted right into the bank undisturbed but I was not paying attention when the third crust was about 4ft from the bank and I heard a loud ‘cloop’.

I grabbed my rod and could still see the crust on the water so after a couple of minutes I decided the fish must have gone and reeled in to re-bait. As I started to retrieve I noticed the line entered the water nowhere near where it should have and as I tightened it became apparent the fish had hooked itself.

My first thoughts were that the fish would have already buried itself under the trees that hang in the water but, by keeping the rod tip well under the water, I managed to get the fish into the open where it put up a fine fight before Martin netted my first Carp of the season, a nice Mirror of 7lb.

That fish took at about 5.40pm and put me back in the mood so I started fishing hard once more. I had a few bites from 6 to 6.30 and as the evening drew on the fish started taking the bait more confidently, in fact by 8pm they were almost taking on the drop!

By 9pm the fish had stopped feeding after two hours of the best Tench fishing I have ever had. My brother turned up to take my photos (this was the only one I found). As I’ve said this was the best day’s Tench fishing I’ve had and I am never likely to improve on it at this water.

I finished up with 15 Tench and that bonus 7lb Carp while Martin had three Tench and a 2lb common. We reckon our total weight for the day was at least 50lb which, on this difficult water of just over an acre, was really excellent.

Why the fish should feed so well today I do not know. I suppose it is early in the season and they have not been ‘hammered’ yet and we’ve had a lot of bad weather keeping the anglers away. Strangely I was the only angler catching fish consistently, in fact I caught seven fish in the evening while Martin (same bait, terminal tackle etc.) was in the next swim and hardly had a bite!

I do feel the brandlings gave me an edge as in the morning the fish went off the sweetcorn only hookbait and the sweetcorn/brandling cocktail really got them going!

Net Standards - A Real Success Story

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

Picture: The correct keepnet - essential for every angler! Alex Murray at Viaduct Fisheries

The correct keepnet - essential for every angler! Alex Murray at Viaduct FisheriesIt seems hard to believe that it is only three years ago that the Angling Foundation launched its Nets Accreditation Scheme for keepnets, landing nets and allied equipment. The scheme was formulated because of increasing concern by observant fishery owners over the abrasiveness of certain types of nets and the effect this could be having on their fish.

In the initial months, in early 2003, the initiative was the subject of public comment because of the mistaken belief that there would be moves to prohibit poorly designed nets. True, fishery owners did - and still do - reserve the right to examine anglers' equipment to ensure that it does not jeopardise the welfare of their fish, but the scheme was always voluntary and remains so.

Teaching Good Habits

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

I have to say at the outset, that I was amazed by the amount of interest. Even given some small degree of apathy amongst the other teaching staff, that resulted in four forms not finding out about this new opportunity, 32 pupils signing up for my fishing tutorials was beyond my expectations.

Brixham is traditionally a hotbed of sea fishing, so when I put a note in the register at the Community College where I work suggesting pupils come to find out about coarse fishing, I wasn't really expecting the response I received. Still, it was very encouraging and dates were set for four groups of eight to attend an evening session in the classroom to look at the basics, followed by two sessions on the bank at local fishery New Barn Farm Angling Centre.

One or two of the pupils had experienced some kind of coarse fishing before, but really, all were raw beginners. First lesson was to be a very simple look at the kinds of venue available for coarse fishing and the kinds of tackle needed to fish effectively.

Angling & Conservation Developing partnerships to improve habitats

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

Allan Frake, Fisheries Recreation & Biodiversity, South Wessex

It is fair to say that over the years Angling and Conservation organisations have not always seen 'eye to eye' or been the best of 'bed-fellows'. Fortunately, things have been changing in recent years and the word 'conflict' is seldom heard echoing up the Avon valley. Both Conservation and Angling interest groups are working extremely hard in the South Wessex Area with a number of exciting initiatives underway and success stories reported.

Opportunities for promoting river management and habitat enhancement to benefit wildlife are achieved by working with those people who make a vital contribution to caring for the river system namely landowners, managers and fishery interests along the river.

On the upper Hampshire /Wiltshire Avon catchment above Salisbury the Wessex Chalk Streams Project Partnership has been running for 3 years focusing on river enhancement and management on the tributaries upstream of Salisbury.

Day Ticket Waters in South Wessex

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

The South Wessex area is famous for it's big fish waters be it the chalk stream waters of the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Frome or the clay filtered Dorset Stour and its tributaries. Much of the fishing on these waters are controlled by angling clubs and syndicates, but there are some stretches that are open as day ticket waters or free stretches and these can give anyone a chance to capture that fish of a lifetime.Tickets and more information on all the waters can be obtained from this guide or local tackle shops in the relevant areas.

The Hampshire Avon

Starting on the Hampshire Avon to the north of Salisbury at Amesbury there is a small stretch of river that offers roach, dace, grayling and pike.

Salisbury & District Angling Club offer two of their waters to day ticket anglers. The first is a three mile stretch to the north offering the angler a chance to catch the rivers specimen roach and grayling with the odd big chub. The second is a two mile part of the River Nadder.

The Match Fishing Scene

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

As a match angler of nearly 30 years I have seen changes to the sport I could never have envisaged when I started. From catching Roach, Bream and Chub from a sluggish Bristol Avon to the sometimes frantic sport encountered on the modern-day commercial waters.

I have not fished a river for about 4 years, not because they are not as good as they used to be (as there still seems to be plenty of fish in them) and I see many anglers in my shop who still fish rivers every week - with some good returns. As with a lot of the nation's rivers the Avon seems to have had an upsurge of fish to specimen proportions. Carp to over 30 pounds, Barbel to 15 pounds plus and chub to 6 pounds seem commonplace.

Carp on a Dry Fly

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

Mike Weaver

When I started fishing over half a century ago, carp had an almost mythical quality. Carp fisheries were few and far between – and when you found them their inhabitants had a reputation for being almost impossible to catch.

All of that has now changed. Wherever you live, there are likely to be several carp lakes within a short drive. The popularity of carp fishing has encouraged numerous fishery entrepreneurs to dig a lake, stock it with carp and open up for fishing – as this publication readily demonstrates. Check virtually any of the stillwater coarse fisheries in Get Hooked and you will find lakes that are stocked with a variety of carp, including common, mirror, ghost, koi or grass – and the good news is that they will all readily take a dry fly in the right conditions.

And the ideal conditions for catching a carp on a dry fly are just when fly-fishing gets really tough on the rivers.