I was down in Saunton with friends this weekend and our visit happened to co-incide with some favourable looking tides, so the LRF gear was thrown in the car along with the wetsuits and walking gear.
Friday night was spent catching up over a veggie chilli and several glasses of red wine, so I was a bit bleary eyed the following morning as I sneaked out of the bungalow to a dawn chorus of snoring coming from various rooms and made the short trip up to Ilfracombe. The sun was just peeping over the headland when I pulled up at the harbour and it was still chilly enough to require a coat. Made my way down to the un-occupied lower deck of the pier under the watchful eye of Damien Hirst's "Verity", got tackled up and was soon watching my gulp-baited rig descend into the depths. Tightened up and waited for the tell-tale rattle on the rod tip that could signal the interest of a number of potential species caught there previously.
In the past this has included wrasse, gobies, blennies, scorpions, pouting, pollack, poor cod, smelt and whiting. However, an hour and a half later I packed up after failing to attract a single bite! It was a very dejected angler that had to explain his complete failure to his mates several times over when he arrived back at the bungalow for breakfast. I didn't even contemplate a return the following morning after that. Instead I headed to the tiny River Caen in Braunton for some urban trouting. I had brought my 0 - 5 gramme rated lure rod paired with a 1000 size reel loaded with 4lb braid. A short leader of 3lb fluorocarbon and a 0.5 gramme, size 12 pink tungsten jig-head baited with a small dendrobaena hooked "wacky-style" completed the simple set-up.
Dropped into the river in my chesties near the fish ladder that marks the boundary with the tidal reach and slowly waded upstream looking for likely spots to pitch the worm into, avoiding the larger pieces of inevitable urban debris. The river was quite low and very clear, so I concentrated on the deeper runs that had some broken water and bankside cover to conceal me from my prospective prey. Tossed the worm up to the head of the first run and left it drift back towards me. It had only travelled a couple of feet when a little brownie shot from out from under an overhang and nailed it.
Unhooked and popped him back and repeated the process next cast with a slightly bigger one that again hammered the worm a bit further down the drift. Carried on from there in the same vein, getting bites out of most of the spots I tried, but not always connecting with the lightening taps on the rod tip - the worm getting shortened by degrees by tiny teeth.
Reached the biggest pool on the section and was just sneaking into position when I got a surprise enquiry of "how are you getting on?" from the opposite bank. Looked up to see a chap with full fly fishing gear - the only other angler I've ever seen on the river.
He didn't appear to take umbrage at my unconventional approach and we took a few minutes to have a chat and swap information - he'd been fishing further upstream and had caught a few brownies rising to some mayfly - before he headed off. Resumed fishing but the pool surprisingly only appeared to hold little 'uns, so moved on once again, passing under a graffiti-covered bridge onto a straight, featureless section running alongside and about ten feet below the Tarka Trail.
Despite the lack of cover the shallow riffles were covered in fingerling trout and a worm cast as far upstream as I could with the light gear was mercilessly harried as it trundled back towards me. Was in my own little world, the people passing on the path a few feet above my head completely oblivious to my presence. However, I was also rapidly getting through my stock of bait, so waited until I had got to the head of the section where the river changed direction by 90 degrees and had undercut the bank as a result before casting in again. Quickly had two more brownies out of this spot, including the best of the morning, before snagging up and snapping off the hookpoint of my last and very battered jighead.
The sun had come out now and with the knowledge that my friend from earlier had probably covered the water upstream of this point I decided to call it a day. Had had a total of thirteen pristine, wild Devon brownies, been mugged by at least as many again and had some great fun. Was therefore a different story when I returned to the bungalow later that morning!