North Devon angling scene with Tony Gussin...

I’m getting a little tired of saying it, but the world and his oyster is still waiting for things to pick up on the sea angling front.

Some bass are being caught in the Taw and Torridge estuary now – places such as Crow and Greysands are worth a go if you have fresh peeler crab, or frozen at a pinch.

The first smoothound could hit our shores any time in the next two to three, with peeler the best bet if you want to connect with some of this early run.

Out on the boats, John Barbeary of Bluefin in Ilfracombe reports he has not been able to get out much, but when he has there are still plenty of spurdog out there, as well as huss and conger to keep the rod tips nodding.

If you want to while away a few hours, why not try floatfishing for garfish or possibly an early mackerel?

We can expect the mackerel shoals to turn up this month, but garfish tend to arrive a little ahead of them and can be caught from April onwards.

Use sliding float tackle with an appropriate light rod and reel. I prefer to use floats which take half to three quarters of an ounce in weight because they can be cast further and cope better with wind and tide.

Rather than running all the components up the line, tie in an extra piece of 40-60lb line between float and trace to put the weight on – this prevents the weight running up the line and avoids tangles nine times out of 10.

So your rig would be: Rubber band or float stop, bead, float, bead, swivel, bead, 12 inches of thick line, weight, bead, swivel, hook trace with size 1-4 hook.

I prefer to put beads between all the components to protect the knots, but it isn’t essential.

For garfish, set your float depth at no more than three to six feet below the surface, as they feed very high up in the water. For bait, use a sliver of mackerel to imitate a small baitfish.

If trying for mackerel of pollack, something like 10-12 feet deep is advisable.

Unless kept for bait or food, handle both as gently as possible with a wet cloth and not your bare hands. Unhook above the water if at all possible.

Garfish as well as mackerel make excellent bait for other species, not to mention good eating.