Archive for August, 2009

The River Exe winds it’s way across Devon and Somerset for more than 50 miles before reaching the Sea at the substantial Exe Estuary ria in Exmouth. This large body of flowing water is home to a large number of coarse, game and sea fishing species making it a challenge to anglers all year round. The River Exe always has been, and still is, a favourite among those who fish it – not really surprising when it contains legendary fish like the 64lb Salmon Richard Voysey caught in 1924!

As mentioned previously I have an Exeter Angling Association annual permit granting me access to a great number of fisheries in and around the Exeter area. The Countess Wear Fishery is 1 of 4 fish-able stretches on the River Exe included on said permit. Located a couple of miles up stream from the Exe Esutary it is influenced by the tides in terms of fish species and water levels. Changing conditions make the fishing a little more challenging and often requires a change of tactics upon each visit.

Within the short stretch of the River exe from the Countess wier bridge up to the first bend it contains a real mixed bag of species. You can expect to catch Bream, Mullet, Carp, Chub, Dace, Brown Trout, Eel, Par Salmon and Roach offering you a better than average chance of catching a lot of fish.

This particular fishery is less than a mile away from where I live, an ideal place to fish in the evening after work or whenever I have only a few hours to spare. I set up around 5pm, 100metres up stream from the bridge. Please be aware of the overhead power cables, they are a lot lower than you think. I have witnessed someone cast right over the top of the cables without realising until they saw a swim feeder swinging 7ft above the water surface.

I decided to take my two Chub Outkast Twin Tip rods fitted with the 5oz quiver tips and Shimano Exage 4000FA reels. The flow of water between low and high tide can be somewhat rapid, using a heavier tip and feeder allows me to fish through the periods of strong flow. The end tackle is very simple, A Drennen Oval 2oz feeder that can run freely up and down the mainline on a Korum Feeder Bead. The main line is attached to a swivel with the knot protected by a Drennen swivel stop bead. To finish a size 12 Drennen Super Specialist hook is tied to a 2ft long fluorocarbon 3lb hook link.

I started with 2 maggots on the hook, clipped up my reel and began to feed the swim by recasting every 5minutes for the first 4-5 casts. The tide was on it’s way in and the action was instantaneous, as soon as the bait hit the water the rod tip would start to twitch. During the first 20 minutes I had to resort to using one rod as I simply couldn’t keep up with the bites! Brown Trout, Chub, Par Salmon and Dace made up the majority of the catch. A hard fighting brownie of 1lb and a Chub of 1.5lb made an appearance along with some decent size Dace. The par salmon looked wonderful in the setting sun, each spot on their flanks glistening like a ruby.

River Exe - Brown Trout

River Exe - Brown Trout

River Exe - Par Salmon, beautiful

River Exe - Par Salmon, beautiful

As the tide reached it’s highest point fewer bites gave me the opportunity to change one of my rods over to a large chunk of luncheon meat and 1oz lead. I cast this out with the hope of catching something larger and allow me to keep up with all those bites when the tide started to turn. If you are going to fish the River Exe when the tides are large you will need to wear waders, the entrance to the field gets submerged under a few feet of water cutting off  access to the car park.

River Exe - Entrance to field floods when tides are high

River Exe - Entrance to field floods when tides are high

The tide began to turn and once again the bites came thick and fast. After landing another Brown trout the tip of the rod baited with luncheon meat slammed round. Frantically picking up the rod and reeling into the fish I felt two very powerful lunges before the line went slack. Probably a 30000000lb mako shark, oh well better luck next time.With the sun well below the horizon darkness closed in rapidly, I packed up and went home wondering what took that luncheon meat in such a hurry.

For more information take a look at the Exeter Angling Association Website.


View River Exe – Countess Wear Fishery in a larger map

River Exe - Countess Wear

River Exe - Chub Outkast Twin Tip

RIver Exe - Countess Wear

RIver Exe - Countess Wear

River Exe - Countess Wear

River Exe - Countess Wear

This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited on board the Anne Clare of Torquay with Mark and James from Exeter Angling. Leaving the harbor at around 7.30 we were on our way to the first of many wrecks. The Anne Clare is capable of a cruising speed in excess of 20knots and being a catamaran it certainly felt stable in the choppy conditions. Skipper Kevin Tate offers the best angling he can possibly provide off the coast of the UK so it is not unusual to find yourself surround by ocean 50 miles from shore.

After 3 hours of sailing we arrived at the first mark, a wreck that had recently been fishing spectacularly producing large numbers of specimen cod and pollack. There was a definite buzz aboard the Anne Clare, anglers keen to be given the nod from the skipper releasing a spectrum of coloured shads down into the depths.

The rigs could not be simpler, a 14ft 40lb Amnesia mono leader is tied to the braid using an Albright knot (amazing knot). A plastic boom (with snap link) is threaded on followed by a black plastic bead, the leader is then tied to a swivel. Because I was using braid reducing the influence of the tide dragging the line I could get away with using a small 10oz cannon ball lead. To finish the rig I tied around 6ft of 30lb Amnesia mono to the swivel and then attached a weighted white 6inch shad. A top tip to keep the skipper happy is to be extremely careful when you are lowering your rig over the side, you can do some serious damage to the side of the boat with your lead.

Kevin gave us the all clear and we started to send our rigs to the rough ground around the wreck. It is an eerie feeling setting the reel into free spool and watching the line peel off silently for what seemed an age. I was impressed by how much feel braid gives you, the lead touching bottom is so positive, you really can feel every little tap, knock and pull. The boat drifted slowly over the wreck as everyone slowly retrieved their shads between 10-15 turns before sending them back down and repeating the process. The first drift was unproductive apart from a foul hooked pouting and after a few more drifts conditions looked like they were stacked against us.

We moved on to another location and again the conditions were proving to be other than ideal. Wrecks attract and hold huge numbers of fish so you expect an instant reaction when you are dangling a delicious looking luminous orange shad within gulping distance. However when you pass over the wreck and 10 anglers don’t even get a bite you know something isn’t quite right. The skipper was becoming increasingly frustrated for all of us, he could see the fish on the echo sounder but they weren’t playing ball. After some more smallish Pollack someone landed a Ling. With tides turning and the appearance of Ling we moved to an area of rough ground around a wreck.

Ling have an awesome set of teeth inside a particularly enormous head so 100lb mono and size 6/0 or 8/0 hooks are a must. Mackerel were caught for bait using feathers and we baited up using a fillet / head section gettingt ready for the first drift.

I felt my lead touch down and made 3 turns leaving the bait as near to the snags as I dared. Towards the end of the first drift I felt a few plucks before everything went solid, having snagged the wreck previously I started to wind down and got ready to hang on and pull the rig free. The rod tip then started to violently jerk, this wasn’t the wreck, it was a fish. Line started to peel off, I placed my thumb gently onto the spool in an attempt to put the brakes on but whatever was hooked had other ideas.

For every yard I gained the fish took two, it was making every attempt to get back to the wreck. After a couple of minutes I managed to gain line significantly enough so the fish was no longer in reach of the wreck, but I was presented with the new problem of my arms potentially falling off. The skipper gave me some words of encourgement, “You’re making a meal of that”. I laughed nervously, what if this fish was a 3lb pouting? After several shoulder aching minutes something very large emerged from the depths, a 22.5lb Ling.

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare - 22.5lb Ling

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare - 22.5lb Ling

The Shimano forcemaster boat pack I purchased for this trip exceeded my expectations. The 12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster rod and Shimano TR200G reel loaded with Power Pro 44lb braid gave me all the feel and control needed for wreck fishing. As well as the Ling I caught a Conger eel, every little shake of it’s head could be felt and I was extremely comfortable with how the set up was performing.

The trip was excellent regardless of the tough conditions. Kevin Tate is a credit to the fishing charter boat industry, he genuinely wants you to catch fish and will do his best to make your trip a memorable one. I can’t wait for my next trip in September. Click here for more information about the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare - 14lb Pollack

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare - Two Ling just shy of 22lb

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare - James with a nice Ling

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Wreck fishing aboard the Anne Clare

Over the next couple of months I have two boat trips booked on the Anne Clare a sea fishing charter of Toquay. The Anne Clare skippered by Kevin Tate is a Blythe 33 catamaran powered by twin 330hp Iveco Nef turbo diesels and capable of carrying 10 passengers plus 2 crew. Offering excellent fishing all year round for cod, ling, pollack, conger, black bream, bass, shark and many other species it is an affordable way to catch some big fish. On my first trip I will hopefully be catching some cod, pollack and ling so needed something suitable in the way of a boat rod and reel.

Although I love to sea fish it is not something I get to do very often, so like many of my other purchases I wanted something that was of excellent quality, finish and performance for a reasonable price. Speaking to Mark at Exeter Angling (familiar with my approach to buying fishing tackle) he recommended the Shimano Forcemaster boat pack.

This so called ‘limited edition’ shimano boat pack comprises of…

1 x 7ft 6″, 3 piece, 12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster boat rod
1 x Shimano TR200G multiplier reel
1 x 300m spool of Shimano Forcemaster 20lb mono line
1 x Limited edition Shimano rod sleeve

12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster boat rod
The 3 piece 12/20lb class 7′6” Forcemaster boat rod is built from a fine carbon crystal blank, making it very light, powerful while still offering excellent bite detection.  The rod grip is ergonimically shaped for comfort and control and also fitted with Shimano hardlite guides. Overall the rod looks / feels great and wouldn’t be out of place next to it’s more expensive counterparts.

12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster Boat rod

12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster Boat rod

10-20lb Shimano Forcemaster boat rod

10-20lb Shimano Forcemaster boat rod

Shimano TR200G multiplier reel
The Shimano TR200G is an ideal light-medium weight boat reel featuring Shimano S.A.L.T technology, level wind and a corrosion-free graphite body. The reel is very smooth with excellent line lay making it ideal for the novice or as a 2nd reel for the more experienced angler. Like the rod the quality and feel is great, something Shimano always manage to get right. It is finished in matte black

Mark recommended that I use braid as a mainline. Using the Shimano Forcemaster mono as backing Mark loaded the reel with 135m of 44lb Power Pro braid. Sorted.

Weight – 374g
Gear ratio – 4.3:1
Line capacity – 365m of 18lb mono

Shimano TR200G Multiplier reel

Shimano TR200G Multiplier reel

Shimano TR200G Multiplier reel

Shimano TR200G Multiplier reel

The overall cost of this quality package is £99. Amazing value for such a high quality piece of kit, if you were to purchase the rod, reel, line and bag separately it would set you back at least £140-150. The only gripe I had with the package is that it appears to come in right hand wind only,  but I don’t think this will prove to be too much of a problem once fishing.

Happy with the rod and reel I now needed to concentrate on my end tackle. We would be using shads to catch cod, pollack and ling on the first of the two boat trips. Sidewinder lures have become incredibly popular amongst Sea Anglers. Combining holographic attractors in a robust plastic lure they are excellent for all types of predatory fishing. I purchased some Sidewinder sandeels, joeys, sprats and super-shads.

Sidewinder Shads - Sandeels, joeys, sprats and super-shads

Sidewinder Shads - Sandeels, joeys, sprats and super-shads

I also purchased some 10oz cannon ball leads, Anti-tangle booms, Genie main line swivels, Sakuma 8mm beads in black and some Sunset Amnesia mono in 40 / 30lb for the leader and hook links. I will show the rig in more detail on my next trip report.

End tackle

Shimano Forcemaster mono, Sunset Amnesia mono, Power Pro Braid

0oz cannon ball leads, Anti-tangle booms, Genie swivels, Sakuma 8mm beads

10oz cannon ball leads, Anti-tangle booms, Genie swivels, Sakuma 8mm beads

I am looking forward to the first trip, as soon as I get a moment I will make a post letting you know how I got on with the Shimano Forcemaster boat pack. First impression are good and hopefully I will be putting it through it’s paces with some decent size cod, pollack and ling!

If you are interested in purchasing any of the above please contact Mark Wills or James Moore at Exeter Angling – please make sure you mention this blog.
Tel – 01392 436404
Email – internetsales@exeterangling.co.uk

Shimano Forcemaster Boat pack - limited edition rod sleave

Shimano Forcemaster Boat pack - limited edition rod sleave

Shimano Forcemaster Boat pack - limited edition rod sleave

Shimano Forcemaster Boat pack - limited edition rod sleave