Angling: News from the sea and shore with Mike Millman
THE saying nature will prevail is currently being proved at offshore wrecks and reefs where cod, a species said to be in short supply generally have become unexpectedly numerous.
The opportunity is being pursued in good weather windows and skippers have found it is unnecessary to go much beyond 20-miles from the coast.
Seafarer SAC members have done particularly well fishing from Malcolm Jones' Sea Angler 11 at wrecks.
Richard Ing tallied up a fair number of fish to a best weight of 26lbs and also got his lures into the mouth of pollack, the best of these a fish of 17lbs.
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Rob Boyes had them to 19lbs 8ozs and Mark Popperwell took cod to 17lbs 6ozs and several good pollack. Roy Strevens' Tamesis II was in the fray, with son James at the helm.
Steve Duke winched up the best cod weighing 27lbs while James Nieto brought up fish to 22lbs. The skipper found time to fish on his own account and took a very good ling of 25lbs, pollack to 16lbs and other fish.
The remaining party members all had cod and pollack of lesser weights but still quality fish. All of these cod, however, bow to a mighty specimen of 42lbs taken at a wreck in Lyme Bay.
Its captor was Newton Abbot's Jeff Baker who was aboard Kevin Tate's Torquay-based Ann Clare. The current Wyvern Record covering Devon, Somerset and Dorset has been 39lbs 6ozs for the past 44 years.
This was also a Lyme Bay cod and was taken from the former Torquay charter boat Girl Alison.
Considering that recreational angling with rod and line in UK waters, both salt and fresh, stretches back more than 150 years, it verges on disgrace that the activity lacks a National Museum dedicated to it.
By contrast there are several, both organisation and privately-owned displays in the USA, that are open to the public.
The most significant being that of the International Game Fish Association at Dania Beach on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale.
This multi-million complex combines the organisation HQ with the Hall of Fame museum featuring principally replicas of around 150 record fish including Britain's 133lb 4oz conger eel, a library of some 20,000 books, line-testing facility and fish laboratory.
It also processes world record applications and is the body responsible for International Games Fishing Rules.
When the British Sea Angling Society was formed back in 1893 a museum was part of its Fetter Lane HQ.
By all accounts its contents became substantial as the years went by until unfortunately in 1941 the premises were destroyed in a London blitz.
A few exhibits were salvaged and subsequently sold at auction. One of the survivors was the case containing four giant wrasse caught off Looe in 1912 by the colourful F A Mitchell-Hedges of 'Crystal Skull' fame.
In the 1980s I tracked down the fish then minus the case in the ownership of the Vectis Angling Club in the Isle of Wight.
The mounts were then in a tea chest kept in the secretary's roof space.
Today, the only angling memorabilia display in Britain is part of the Scarborough Natural History Museum and recalls the great era of the British Tunny Club which flourished from the 1920s until its demise in 1954.
The display is comprehensive and features every aspect of fishing for this giant species and includes the mount of 853lb fish caught off Whitby in 1949.
Here, in the South West, there are many spectacular 'mounts' of fish that attained UK record status in the ownership of clubs and tackle shops.
Veale's in Bristol has Potter's 109-6-0 conger and Premier Tackle in Plymouth displays Clausen's eel of 110-11-0 and Larkin's shore caught fish of 68-8-0. Slater's bass of 18-4-0 and Goodacre's wrasse of 9-6-0 are at the city's Osborne & Cragg while a museum in Penzance houses Blewett's opah of 128-0-0.
Brixham SAC has Evans' monstrous conger of 133-4-0 and Martin's cod of 53-0-0. Up the road at Paignton SAA's HQ are coalfish of 33-7-0 and 33-10-0 by Saunders junior and senior plus Solomon's gilt head bream from shore of 6-15-0.
What an impressive display all these would make if they could be drawn together.
On Saturday evening is the Presentation of 2012 Shore League awards held at the Stonehouse Centre (7.30) and will be shared with the Plymouth Federation of Angling Clubs Prize-giving. A buffet follows the awards.