WELCOME to our Friday blog. Every Friday we hand over to Carl and Alex Smith – known online as simply Carl & Alex. These super keen youngsters have a passion for making a variety of fishing videos, and provide a youth dimension to our new blogging mix.
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Super summer holiday in Devon
WE recently enjoyed a week’s holiday in North Devon and although it was supposed to be a family holiday, we still managed to sneak in a bit of fishing. In this blog I will explain about the different types of angling we did and how it all went…
On arriving at our grandparent’s house the weather was miserable. Our uncle, who lives nearby, had agreed to take us sea fishing but we decided to postpone the trip to the next day because of the heavy rain.
We slept the night in the conservatory of our grandparent’s house. Thanks to our Nash H-Gun bedchairs that we had brought along with us, sleeping was made much more comfortable!
The next day we headed towards the Taw estuary in search of hard fighting bass. An hour of digging harbour worm at Fremington Quay was hard work but gave us enough bait for the day, and was free! As for tackle, we actually used our carp rod as it was tough enough to cast out 3 oz leads but was more sensitive to bites than the sea fishing rods.
The harbour worm seemed to work and by the time the light started to fade we had managed a bass each. Alex’s fish – following the tradition – was a fair amount larger than mine!
Later that evening the weather gradually worsened and the wind made it difficult to spot bites. We drove home very happy having caught a new species which is always exciting for us.
Later in the week our grandparents treated us to an early birthday present: a two-fish ticket at Blakewell Trout Fishery, near Barnstaple. As you can imagine, we were extremely keen to have some further fly fishing practice as a whole year had passed since our sessions with Denis Cronin in Ireland last summer.
Arriving at the venue I noticed that they also had ornamental fish for sale, trout ponds where they breed fish for food and even a koi and goldfish pond. This was more than a fishery, it was more like “Fish Land”!
Renting a couple of fly fishing set ups, we strolled down a grassy path to the lake. It looked a little busy but that may have been due to the amount of room you require when casting. At the furthest end of the lake there was a free spot where the surface was flat calm and a number of carp and large trout were basking just beneath the surface.
We tried almost all of the flies in the box, but not a single one of them would tempt a trout. Several hours later and still no luck, I returned to the shop where I had a look at all the pond equipment, fish food and trout for eating. I got chatting to a fellow angler and he reckoned I needed a daddy long legs dry fly… and kindly gave me three of his. Top man!
After returning to the lake I gave the flies a go and had one follow and then a take. The rod hooped over before springing back… the line had snapped right next to the knot! It all happened so fast that I was not able to give the powerful trout the line it needed. I was gutted but continued fishing. Alex meanwhile had hooked another fish but it came off after jumping clear of the water.
A very kind angler who had been fishing just along the bank from us gave us a couple of his trout as he did not want to eat them. At least we had our supper!
We spent the last half an hour of the day catching a couple of small trout each on dry flies, in the easier pool. Although I was disappointed to blank on the big lake we hope to return one day, as we have so much still to learn about fly fishing.
Back to base, and our grandparents decided that buying us the fly fishing birthday present was well worth it; they had enough fish to feed us all for the week! Over the next few days we ate smoked trout, fried trout and baked trout…
Later in the week Uncle Paul took us to a rocky beach where he reckoned we could catch a dogfish. Using ragworm, which I believe is the same as harbour worm (comment below if you think I am wrong), and mackerel strips as bait, we successfully caught a rockling and a dogfish. It was awesome to try such different types of fishing and we definitely enjoyed ourselves.
Having said goodbye to our relatives we headed for home via Winchester. We had been invited by our friend Tom to fish a little stretch of his local river, the Itchen.
To start, we needed bait which was to be minnows. We all had great fun seeing the minnows pouncing on our worms. Once we had our minnows we walked down to a deeper channel, which Tom knew held perch.
First cast, a perch came out of nowhere and snatched my minnow just as I twitched it over some thick weed. The perch fought very well and it was such fun to see it diving towards snags in the clear water. Just as Alex was about to take the photo, my 12oz perch flipped and fell back into the water I was holding it over. “Noo!” I cried, “that was a beauty!” The colours of perch in clear water are always more impressive than when they have been living in murky water.
Not to be defeated, we all took a walk upstream and found a super spot where the river joined with a smaller stream. We spotted a shoal of small roach and knew there would be perch nearby. I saw one of about 2 lb sitting under some willow branches so I flicked my minnow under and gradually let it flow underneath. BANG! The line was pulled from my finger and a fish headeddownstream with the bait. I yanked my Micro Muscle Waggler rod back and hooked into a mental fish. It flipped around and dived towards the snags. This was no perch!
Alex walked slowly alongside the small tributary and gradually dragged his minnow with him. All of a sudden he hooked a perch that then came off. Leaving the minnow in the water seemed to attract the attention of another tiny pike that grabbed Alex’s minnow. It was Alex’s smallest ever pike but put up a good fight on the waggler rod.
By this point we were out of time and had to continue on our journey home. But what a varied week of fishing! Our thanks go to Tom who invited us to fish his stretch of river and of course to our grandparents and Uncle Paul for introducing us to fishing in North Devon.
- If you want to see more of the lads’ videos for free, now, just browse the Carl & Alex channel in this website’s new TV player.
CARL & ALEX’S NEXT BLOG WILL APPEAR ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14.
MONDAY: Carp crews on rotation – Korda, Fox, Nash and ACE.
TUESDAY: Steve Collett, Mail contributor and ultimate all-rounder.
WEDNESDAY: Angler’s Mail HQ – yes, us!
THURSDAY: Specialists from Pike Anglers Club, Korum and Pallatrax, on rotation
FRIDAY: Carl & Alex, Angler’s Mail juniors and video diary makers.
SATURDAY: The Angling Trust – guys at the governing body.
SUNDAY: Colin Mitchell, veteran coarse angler and top journalist