Michael Taylor catches North Devon's biggest cod for years
MICHAEL TAYLOR has landed the biggest cod caught from North Devon in several years.
It was a fine specimen weighing 22lb 12oz.
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Taylor, a member of Combe Martin Sea Angling Club, landed the fish after a campaign that has lasted throughout the winter months with many fishless sessions.
The cod was tempted using a small whiting bait on a 6/0 hook and pulley rig.
It is hoped the next few weeks will bring more double-figure cod for those prepared to put in the hours.
Anglers hoping to target a big cod should look for deep-water marks adjacent to a strong tidal flow.
Large scent-filled baits, such as lugworm squid cocktails or peeler crab and squid, are effective choices, with large fish baits convenient and well worth trying.
I fished a local rock mark with Jon Patten and we enjoyed plenty of action with a variety of species, including dogfish, conger, whiting, rockling and a solitary small-eyed ray.
A bitter north-east wind produced a wind-chill factor of minus 10C (14F), which made fishing difficult for competitors in Rod 'n' Reelers' monthly rover.
The winner was Steve Baker with a rockling of 1lb 7oz, beating Paul Ackland with a dogfish scaling 2lb 2oz and Darren Short with a rockling of 1lb 2oz.
Baker also won the January heat of the North Devon League with his rockling.
The icy weather has made life difficult for anglers, with only the most dedicated venturing to the water's edge.
Rainbow trout seem unaffected by the cold and will generally co-operate however low the temperature.
Wistlandpound Flyfishing Club's Winter Challenge match was held at Bratton Water trout fishery.
Eight members braved the cold and each completed their three-fish limit bags.
Only the first two trout counted in the match and the winner was Colin Combe with 5lb 9oz. The runner-up was Roger Bray with 5lb. Nigel Bird was third with 4lb 15oz.
Small damsel nymph patterns, fished slowly on long leaders in conjunction with a floating line, proved effective.
With the air temperature hovering below freezing, ice was forming on the rod rings, hampering casting slightly.
It was good, however, to feel the pull of a trout through the line as they intercepted the offering.
It was particularly rewarding to catch in such cold temperatures.
Dan Spearman fished Ilfracombe's Slade Reservoir and tempted a fine pike of 20lb 1oz using a shallow diving plug.
Simpson's Valley has been providing some good pike sport with fish to double figures taking deadbaits on Upper Fuzzy.
David Howe landed a fine rainbow trout of 7lb 12oz, while fishing Simpson's Jenny Wren trout lake.
Those anglers who are not prepared to brave the conditions to wet a line will be thinking of the approaching spring, perhaps spending the long evenings tying flies or sitting at the fireside reading an angling book.
Angling is now getting far better coverage on television, with Jeremy Wade's River Monsters proving enthralling viewing.
Tonight sees the launch of a new series on Discovery Quest (Freeview 38, Sky 154 and Virgin 179) based upon the classic Daily Mirror angling character Mr Crabtree.
Renowned angler John Bailey takes various young anglers to the water to share his passion for angling and the countryside.
In episode three, Barnstaple and District Angling Club member Henry Grayling, aged 9 at the time of filming, will be seen fishing in Norfolk during one the wettest summers on record.
Ilfracombe Match Group's latest match at Legge Farm saw 13 competitors enjoy some great sport.
Jim Grogan won with 116lb 5oz of carp, using bread punch and corn on the pole.
Andy Gray was runner-up with 34lb 1oz of carp, using corn on the pole.
Andy Bailey (30lb 6oz) was third, Neilson Jeffery (23lb 6oz) fourth, Nathan Underwood (22lb) fifth and Thomas Downing (16lb 7oz) sixth.
Jeffery won the silver-fish bag with 18lb.
Saturday and Sunday: Bideford Angling Club Open Cod Festival, fishing from 6pm Saturday, weigh in 8.30pm Sunday. Entry fee £5, plus £1 pool for cod nearest to 5lb 2oz. Entries to Bideford clubhouse in a clearly-marked envelope by 6pm Saturday. For further details, call Dick Talbot on 07970 383285.
Sunday: Oaktree Ilfracombe Match Group Champion of Champions.