North Devon July 2021

North Devon report by Wayne Thomas

The general consensus seems to be that the season is running a bit late this year following the cold spring. Mackerel that true fish of summer have been very scarce so far with bass catches below par.

Despite this some good fish have been landed from both boat and shore. Daniel Welch took his Private boat out from Ilfracombe and boated a stunning tope that pulled the scales past 70lb. This is one of the largest tope ever recorded from the Bristol Channel and was tempted on a fresh pollock.

Ilfracombe’s Charter boats have been putting anglers amongst good numbers of tope, huss, ray and smoothound. Pollock and wrasse have been caught off Lundy.

Several porbeagle have been caught to the West of Ilfracombe with catches expected to increase as the mackerel eventually move inshore. Real Deal Charters have started to realise the potential of sharking out of Ilfracombe with blue shark featuring in catches each season as the waters past Lundy are explored.

The lower Taw and Torridge estuaries have produced a few bass and gilthead bream. The gilt population seems to be steadily increasing with each season though this could be a result of more anglers targeting them.

Lure fishing for bass has been slower than expected though I expect catches to climb steeply as we get into August. A few good bass have been caught from local beaches using bait.

Smoothound fishing has been excellent with good numbers of double figure fish caught from all the regular haunts. Bull huss continue to feature in shore catches amongst the hounds.

Grey mullet are present in good numbers but seem to be exceedingly difficult to tempt. Spinning for thin lips in the estuary has proved difficult with numbers down on previous years. This is surprising following the total ban on estuary netting that should safeguard both mullet and bass.

Ilfracombe Pier and local rock marks have been producing plenty of species to LRF enthusiasts. Ballan wrasse are giving good sport from many rock marks around Ilfracombe with king ragworm or crab producing the goods. Fish over three pounds seem very scarce compared to past decades when 5lb plus fish were frequently reported.

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