Hooked on Angling by Mike Winter

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:20 17 June 2010

I ve just spent a long weekend in North Devon, near where I used to stay with my great aunts during the summer holidays in my school days.

I've just spent a long weekend in North Devon, near where I used to stay with my great aunts during the summer holidays in my school days.I caught many of my first bass, pollack and flounder here on somewhat primitive, ramshackle tackle! So I put two rods in the car, rather than those I used when my great aunts were alive!If tide and weather were right, I might find time to leger a lugworm in my once favourite bass fishing spots or cast a plug from the rocks for bass.The weather was perfect and, after visiting my cousin, we had a very pleasant stroll along the coast path right round Morte Point. Next day the tides seemed suitable - low water about 11.30am, a nine metre tide with high water around 6.30pm.After another pleasant amble across the Braunton Burrows, I started fishing at noon on the lonely north shore of the Taw and Torridge estuary.There were seven other anglers fishing, all, like me, after bass. One was fly fishing for them; others were spinning and some bottom fishing.Motoring up towards the bar and drifting back down with the tide were at least six boats, making at least another dozen anglers fishing for bass.I started off legering with lugworm on a flowing trace, changing to a surface popping plug and a shallow diving plug as I worked my way over a patch of weed-covered rock as I moved down the shore to the south corner of the burrows.But there were no tell-tale bow waves bulging up behind the plug - a sign that a bass will smash into it hard at any second!None of us working our way along the beach landed anything of note. One said he'd hooked a small fish that fell off. I had a little 'rattle' of a bite on lugworm that I missed - which could have been a small school bass or other fish.Nor did I see any of the boat anglers wielding landing nets or hauling any flashing bars of silver aboard.It seemed to me, as I trudged back through the sand hills to the car, that either this particular tide for some reason was a poor one for bass, or more likely there were far fewer around than in my youth. No doubt commercial exploitation is responsible for that.Back then it was quite usual to catch half a dozen school bass (all returned to grow bigger) and one or two 3 - 5 pounders on legered lugworm during a flood tide, 6 to 9 pounders not being rarities.I'll never forget the sight that greeted my father and me one evening near the old coastguard hut at Westward Ho! A shoal of big bass herded a mass of small fish up against the pebble-ridge. The slaughter lasted several minutes before the bass moved on.Never have I seen so many big bass together again. Alas, we had no tackle with us!

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