A few dabs away from the abyss?

The humble dab makes a change from whiting or dogfish at this time of year

The humble dab makes a change from whiting or dogfish at this time of year - Credit: Archant

North Devon angling scene, with Tony Gussin

The sea angler will soon be staring into that abyss where the winter fish have all but gone and the summer fish yet to arrive – rockling beckon for the next couple of months.

Bideford’s monthly rover saw Antony Smith take first with a dogfish of two pounds two ounces.

Antony was also second with a whiting of 1lb 1oz and Andrew Clements took third with a dogfish of 1lb 15 3/4oz.

There are still a few fish to be had out there, hopefully. If anyone is going to land a lunker cod off the shore in North Devon, then January or February is likely to be the time when it happens.


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Even 10 years ago, several double figure fish were landed after Christmas by anglers prepared to put the hours in, but they seem a bit thin on the ground now.

It’s possible that over-fishing is to blame, or perhaps it is simply part of a natural cycle.

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Another underrated but very sweet-tasting fish is the dab – these flatfish don’t grow very large but if they are about they’re not difficult to catch.

Anywhere with some sand on the bottom is worth a go.

Clovelly is a popular dab mark but spots such as Watermouth (assuming you have permission to fish) or the sandy beaches of Woolacombe of Putsborough could be worth a look.

A two hook flapper rig with short snoods and size 2 or 4 hooks is ideal.

Worm baits will be scoffed gleefully, but dab aren’t fussy eaters and will happily take strips of mackerel, herring or squid.

The average minimum takeable size for these fish is 20 centimetres or eight inches, but below that they are hardly worth taking anyway.

The two hook ‘scratching’ rig is equally likely to pick up whiting, pouting and possibly even larger fish such as bass, cod or rays, so you never know what might take your bait.

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