Coarse fishing in and around Exeter

0, August 5, 2009
Posted by james

Having made a post in every other category on my blog the coarse fishing section is looking rather neglected so this is going to be a place holder of things to come. Exeter and the surrounding area has a large number of coarse fishing venues, each of which can provide the keen angler with a wide range of species and opportunities to catch them using different techniques.

I first cut my teeth on the Exeter Canal, a free permit can be obtained from the council (here) allowing you to fish from the Basin to the Double Locks. This large stretch of water contains pike, perch, carp, tench, roach, eels and bream. Carp (up to 40lb) and pike (up to 30lb) have been caught in the past making it a stretch of water extremely rewarding to those willing to put in the time, or a shock to those hooking into a fish of that size without realising what the canal contains. I started off by catching roach and perch, progressing to pike of varying sizes. Although I don’t really fish the canal very often I do like to catch perch on the fly when I have a few hours to spare in the evening.

After rekindling my passion for angling I started to research and explore other locations. I eased myself back into carp fishing at Darts Farm which although quite small in size still holds some very big carp (30lb+). On one occasion after becoming frustrated with catching eels and being rained on  I landed a 20lb common carp in perfect condition. I had great fun fishing Luccombes Ponds in the summer months, catching fish after fish off the surface on light tackle. Luccombes again is not very big in size but the 5 ponds are well stocked with some nice carp to 20lb. Over the period of about 2 months I targeted a number of different fish from each pond, including Koi, ghosties, commons over 10lb and mirrors to 14lb.

During the Autumn I decided to purchase an Exeter & District Angling Association permit for the insanely cheap price of £36 (for 1 year). The permit allows you to fish the entire stretch of the Exeter canal,various parts of the river Exe, a large section of the river Culm and a number of ponds. I really recommend this to anyone in the Exeter area, it would take you the best part of a year before you had even scratched the surface of the fishing potential.

Using the Exeter Angling Association permit I found that I had a particular soft spot for the river Culm, and spent a good few months exploring the Killerton stretch. Containing a good head of pike, perch, chub, roach, trout, and the occasional Barbel. One sunday I was fishing for Perch  when I spotted an exceptionally large salmon making it’s way up the shallow part of the river, the Culm is full of suprises. Again even though the Culm is small in size it contains a lot of pike from tiny jacks up to 20lb’ers. Fishing is best when the water level starts to drop after a flood, in one day I caught 6 pike in around 3 hours, the largest of which being 17lb.

Over the next 2 years I visited most of the fisheries and stretches of river, spending a great deal of time trying to catch all the different species each location had to offer. I plan to revisit a lot of these and share my findings both new and old. It is also a good time to thank Exeter Angling and the staff for all their expert advice which has always been offered so enthusiastically.

River Culm Pike

River Culm Pike

12lb Luccombe Pond Carp

12lb Luccombe Pond Carp

9 Responses to “Coarse fishing in and around Exeter”

  1. I was impressed with this article and thought the photo’s were great i will be adding a link to it on my fishing blog

  2. Simon Rogers says:

    Hi James keep up the good work, it’s great to see good quality information and someone promoting fishing in the area, keep it up

  3. james says:

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the comments, always appreciated.

  4. dogmax says:

    Awesome site mate, nice one!

  5. Ian Powell says:

    Hi James, just found your site and realy enjoyed the local input and the honesty. No stories of massive catches on the River Culm for instance. I have fished the Culm on and off for 15 years or so with mixed fortunes. Initially it was the Killerton stretch but the last few years have concentrated on Beare Gate. Only once had a genuine 4lb chub, one roach of a pound, have had some reasonable days with a few fish on bread or maggot but plenty of disappointing days with few bites. Th ehigh point was probable about 4 years ago when over a couple of seasons myself, my sone and a friend encountered a few of the illusive Culm Barbel. We probably had about 9 or ten catches between us best to 9lb 15oz by my son Sam. The picture is in the gallery of the Exeter Angling Association’s web site. We also caught a rogue bream that varied between 10.5 lbs and 11lbs+. Sinc ethat time we have found the fishing has deteriorated badly no sign of barbel for at least three seaons. Lots of sessions are now recorded as blanks. For example I wandered with maaggot yesterday afternoon and had two gudgeon.
    I wanderd if you had any thoughts on this apparent decline or whether you had experienced the same. Keep up th egood work



  6. james says:

    Hi Ian, thanks for your comment.

    I don’t think that I have been fishing the Culm long enough to really confirm wether or not quality of fishing is on the decline. On the first couple of visits I did find it a bit of a struggle but soon began to find the fish. I only really fish the Killerton stretch during the Autumn after a flood or a lot of rain. Some of the swims gain 1-2ft in depth and the fish really do pack themselves into the back eddys and slower water. I have had a nice pike of 17lb from the first bend of the Killerton stretch, it is incredible what a small river can contain but I guess that is the Culms appeal. I do find that some of the popular (looking) swims hide a network of snags the majority of which having a tackle shops worth of lost gear attached to them.

    I must explore the beare gate stretch some more. I rarely have a decent amount of time to commit to the Culm so I always find myself pike fishing for a couple of hours in my favorite spots.

    If you do catch anything interesting then drop me a line and I will add them to my blog.



  7. Tim says:

    Hi James,

    great site and nice photos. Interested to read that you fly-fish for perch on the canal. I live down at haven banks and lure fish the canal (usually clapperbrook to double locks as the water is clearer) for pike a bit. Really interested in targeting perch but told by everyone I meet that there are no decent ones in the canal and only had up to 8 ouncers. What are your experiences, is it worth persevering for larger fish?



  8. james says:

    Hi Tim

    Thanks for the comments, it is always great to hear from a local angler. Fly fishing for perch on the canal for me has not produced any monsters, I tend to use the short sessions as a means to improve my casting. However I have managed to catch perch to 1.5lb using worm and I am certain there are larger fish to be had.

    One of the main problems with the canal is that the best features (the swing bridges etc) get absolutely hammered. Locating a decent fish through the rest of the canal would require some serious dedication.

    Have you ever thought about giving the Culm and the Exe a go for pike and perch? I like the canal but the foot traffic and dog poo can take the edge off an otherwise awesome fishing location.

  9. Tim says:

    1.5lb sounds like a decent perch for the fly, haven’t seen anything that size since my days fishing as a kid in kent.

    To be honest the coarse fishing takes second fiddle to kayak fishing at sea even though I live within 20 yds of the canal. I think you’re right that it gets hammered with lures and I’ve always found both pike and perch have mainly come from fairly featureless stretches.

    I’ve fished the Countess Weir stretch quite a bit but never seen a pike yet and only a few tiny perch. It’s should be an awesome mullet fishery when they’re in the mood, sometimes you can’t reel a lure across the river without it bouncing off the mullet. I’ve had the odd one and some good chub and it is alleged that there’s a good perch swim but it’s pretty awkward to cast to. Definitely need to go further upriver and onto the Culm. If I see someone fly fishing the canal I’ll say hello!



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