Combe Martin SAC – Lure Fishing League update

Ross Stanway has established a healthy lead in Combe Martin SAC’s Lure Fishing league being the first member to register the required five fish. His total length for five bass is 273cms the best three bass all 56cm.

League standing at present is :-

Ross Stanway – Five bass – 273cm

Reece Woolgar – Three bass – 175.5

Mark Drewer – Two bass- 130.5 cm

Wayne Thomas – Two bass – 108cm

                                                Kyle Bishop – One bass – 59cm

Barnstaple Bait and Tackle Opening Saturday July 13th

Barnstaple Bait and Tackle Opens on Saturday July 13th ensuring that Barnstaple anglers continue to have a well stocked tackle shop to visit for all their needs. I called in to the shop prior to its opening and chatted with Chris who is full of enthusiasm for the new venture. The shop carries on the legacy of Quay Sports where Chris was the manager. A wide range of bait and tackle from well-known brands is stocked. The shop caters for Coarse, Carp, Sea and Fly Fishers. It is essential that anglers use all of our excellent local tackle shops that provide far more than just bait and tackle. Friendly advice, a social meeting hub and convenience add value not found on line.

Chris Connaughton
So, after a lot of hard graft from friends and family, we are 99% kitted out, stocked up and ready for your presence at our grand opening on Saturday (13th)!!
You will find us at 6 Queen Street, EX32 8HJ. Currently, the large carpark nearby is closed but you will find a smaller one to the rear of the shop and another, Belle Meadow, just the other side of the bus station.
We should have a full compliment of baits for sea and freshwater, both frozen and live.
Can’t wait to see you all!!
Opening Hours – Monday       9:00- 18.00
                            Tuesday.      9:00- 18.00
                            Wednesday  9:00- 18.00
                             Thursday     9:00- 19.00
                             Friday.         9:00- 18.00
                             Saturday      9:00- 17.00
                             Sunday.      10.00 – 14.00

COMBE MARTIN SAC – Open Lure Competition Result

(Above) Seth Tuson won Combe Martin SACs Open Lure Fishing competition with a fine bass measuring 62cm. The fish was tempted on a black back sparkle Chappy surface lure from High Street Tackle

Ross Stanway registered several bass up to 56cm and I caught four bass up to 52cm.

The competitors were hampered by strong North West Winds on the Saturday making fishing difficult across large sections of the coast.

(Above) Seth Tusons winning bass
(Above) Nick Phillips with a good bass caught in shallow water

A small bass caught in the surf


(Above) Ross Stanway with one of several bass he caught during the competition



Its half way through the year; a good time to put out an update on club events. What’s happened and what is planned for the rest of the year.

I think its fair to say that many sea angling clubs are going through a difficult time. Times are changing and it seems that COVID had a lasting impact on the angling scene and perhaps society as a whole.

Combe Martin SAC are one of the longest standing sea angling clubs in North Devon established back in 1962. At the end of last year our membership was around forty, Nick will give details in his update.

At the start of the year in February the club launched a species league to encourage participation in the Ilfracombe area and a sector of the club that offers a bit of fun and community. The club has a serious side with a dedicated band of  successful anglers chasing the big specimens. Whilst we need to cater for the hardcore angler we also need to encourage new blood and perhaps cater for the older generation who can no longer hop around on the rocks like mountain goats.

Thanks must go to Toby Bassett whose energy and passion has invigorated a new section of the club. Amazingly club members have caught 32 species from the pier since February 1st. At present Toby Bassett is leading the league with 29 species. Runners up are Ross Stanway and Dan Welch with  23 species each. Solly Welch is third with 14 species and Lenny Lake forth with 13 species. Paul Lorrimore and Gary Prout fifth on 12 species and Ted Childs sixth on 10.

         Apologies if I have made any errors I would ask all members of the group to list their species with their images.

         The league is sponsored by several local business including High Street Tackle, Turton’s Butchers, Ilfracombe Aquarium and numerous others. I will organise a get together with Toby to formulate things a bit more. We try and have a pop up fishing event each month alternating between Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. The first few have attracted a good number of members. The last one clashed with a strong wind and summer business. I did manage a mackerel and a few blennies. The Autumn months should see a surge in species and it would be good if club members can get past fifty species.  The tally so far below! This is quite an achievement and it is fascinating what can be caught with some anglers dropping down to size 20 hooks to tempt the mini species.

Club Species total

Common Shanny
Rock Goby
ballan wrasse
shore rockling
tompot blenny
scorpion fish
poor cod
cling fish
small eyed ray
thick lipped grey mullet
3 B Rockling
corkwing wrasse
spotted ray
bull huss
Leapord goby
top knot
montagu’s blenny
grey gurnard

The clubs specimen fishing has been good with  the clubs dedicated anglers catching some superb fish. Kyle Bishop seems to be in a league of his own recording 15 specimens so far this year. Including spurdog to 15lb 3oz, cod of 18lb 5oz, tope of 36lb 15oz, bull huss 10lb 5oz, smoothound 13lb 4oz and blonde ray 10lb 3oz.  Fish of the winter was Kyles cod of 18lb 5oz a specimen rating of 152.6%. Fish of the Spring was Kevin Legge’s conger of 26lb 9oz. Leading the summer so far is Ollie Passmore with a stunning gilt head bream of 6lb 10oz.

         The clubs competitions were well attended early in the year but have dropped off as the summer approaches. The Putsborough Open attracted thirty anglers from across the West Country and the meet up at the end revealed that it had been an excellent night with most competitors registering fish including smoothound, small eyed ray, blonde ray, bull huss and the inevitable dogfish. Winner was Simon Springell with smoothound of 12lb 2oz. The club would like to thank sponsors of the event Sakuma and Quay Sports. Full results of this competition and all other competitions can be found on North Devon Angling News.

         Peter Robinson has done a sterling job in trying to organise club boat trips. Sadly the weather has conspired to cancel a couple. We  did get out in early May with Steve Webber and enjoyed a great day with good numbers of ray brought to the boat.

         The clubs boat fishing activitys should receive a boost with club member Daniel Welch now operating out of Ilfracombe with is charter boat Predator 2.

We have several events to come throughout the rest of the year. The Ilfracombe Fun and Harbour Species league continues with pop up fishing competitions in July and August along with the Fun Fishing Event on September 1st.

         The clubs bass lure fishing league competition sponsored by High Street Tackle is well underway after a slow start with bass hard to find. The competition is for the best five bass by length. Current leader is Reece Woolgar with three bass for 175.5 cm. Runner up at present is Mark Drewer with two bass for 130.5 cm.

         An Open shore lure fishing competition is being held on July 5th, 6th, 7th. Fishing commences at Midnight. Entry is £10 winner takes all for the longest bass. Book in via club pages and contacts or at High Street Tackle.  Meet up for prize giving at Ilfracombe Pier 6.00pm

         July and August – Summer League best three specimens mixed species. Prize to be announced from local sponsors.

August 10th – Summer Evening Fish
Fishing 6.00pm to 11:30pm £10.00 Entry
– Meet up Ilfracombe Pier Midnight

Very Best wishes to all Club members from myself (Wayne Thomas – Club Chairman) and Nick Phillips Club Secretary)


Thank you Wayne for an excellent round up of Club activities so far this year.

Membership does fluctuate slightly year on year but we are at a strong point now with membership already at the forty mark, only halfway through the club’s year.

I do get enquiries on how to join the club and on our website are details of our BACS and don’t forget members can of course leave membership monies and details with Danny at High Street Tackle, Ilfracombe and of course with Craig at The Braunton Bait Box. The website contains our calendar, specimen and minimum size lists and details on up and coming events. An interesting area is the history of the club, which will be updated soon. The website is new to me so bear with me in some areas.

We are still members of The Angling Trust and Wyvern Division and members can benefit from this including the award scheme and knowing that a national body is working to help protect our sport in many ways.

I can only reiterate your thoughts and agree that so far this year club events have exceeded expectations especially the targeting species around Ilfracombe Pier which has generated a great interest. This can only bode well for our Fun Fishing event on the Pier in September. Of course our Putsborough competition went very well back in May, so many thanks to all those involved, especially all at Putsborough.

There are some great events coming up in our calendar with the Lure Fishing Weekend, Lyn Fish Mullet Weekend and of course our Flounder competition in November which of course always creates interest. Don’t forget running through the summer is our Lure Fishing League.

It only Takes One Cast on target!

Sunday evening low water at 7.40pm. A light North West Wind blowing into the coast; the lure of the coast is strong.
I am no follower of football but after enduring an hour of frustration watching those highly paid athletes kicking the ball around I was about to head out of the door. Then with thirty seconds to spare they went and scored. I guess I should watch the extra time and put the kettle on. After fifteen minutes I decided to head for the coast. Pauline questioned if it was worth it? I replied “that it only needs one cast in the right place just like the footballers only needed one kick on target!”
Forty five minutes or so later I was at the water’s edge as the tide started to creep in over the weed and boulder strewn shore. Water clarity was good and I found that I could work a weedless soft plastic without too much weed fouling it.
After half an hour and several casts I was rewarded with that savage tug as a good bass  hit the lure. At 56cm it was a pleasing a result.

I fished on into darkness failing to contact with three other bass that hit the lure in the shallow water. The tug is undoubtedly the drug that keeps you casting! It’s been a slow start to the lure fishing for bass this summer but they are there and prospects for next weeks Combe Martin SAC Lure competition are good.


Old Goat Gropes the Internet – Etiquette, Irony Trolls & Bottom Feeders

Many thanks to Richard Wilson for his wonderful articles filled with humour and comment to make you laugh and cry. Excellent observation of the human condition on this occasion.

Do you know any old goats?

See link below to Richards Fishrise page.

Even if you’ve never met Old Bodger in the flesh, you’ll know his ilk. In person, he’s socially awkward and his opinions are closely guarded. He’s also no spring chicken. The mullet went south years ago and the replacement comb-over is struggling.

But don’t be fooled: Old Bodger has secret superpowers.

At home, alone with his computer, he morphs into an Internet Warrior and owner of a snarling V8 hotrod (a relic, like Bodger, with far-distant echoes of the Beach Boys). Bathed in the blue light of his screen, he becomes a loud and proud throwback to a time when the world was a better place.

In his shaving mirror, Bodger sees a master of withering irony. A silken-tongued enforcer of online righteousness. This is odd because if there’s one thing Bodger can’t do, it’s the deft and gentle humour of irony. Subtlety is not his friend.

Instead, Bodger has two thrusting attributes: His rage against the modern world and his pride in his car, which is accumulating value at an astonishingly boastful rate. It’s a late ‘50s Barris-built Kandy-Kolored Streamline hotrod.

Of course it’s not all open road and wind in his hair. As we shall see, Bodger’s life is riddled with provocations, and the price of fuel is just first among many. And oh how Bodger rails against the cost of gas. It’s not fair, is it? If there’s one thing that really sets Bodger apart from most of us, it’s that he does outraged grievance with heavy-breathing ecstasy. His neighbours hear him pounding his keyboard late into the night.

There is, of course, a paradox in this. Despite the low-fi worldview, he’s spending a lot of time on the internet. Mostly on the arcane and genteel Vintage Split Cane Fly Rod Forum, where he stamps on heresy.

It is in his warrior DNA to wield his sword of truth and mightily slay imposters lurking on the VSCF-RF. You’d be shocked by what he finds there. Bodger stands proud against hordes of woke wussie, coal-hating, EV-owning, global warming, diet-Coke drinking, vaxing, barbless morons. It’s enough to make a warrior spill his coffee in foot-stamping rage (even his trouser stains are someone else’s fault).

What’s odd about this is that fishing etiquette matters a lot back in the real world. We all care about how we, and others, behave in person. Most of us can manage to listen politely to people we meet along the way while avoiding shit-talking with, or worse, at strangers. We try to be nice to each other, and mostly it works.

Somehow this all goes wrong online. Or, rather, it all goes wrong for Old Bodger and his scathing own-brand irony. Because when he calls someone a fracking nut-job, that’s ironic. Bodger also posts his irony in torrents. Which is OK because it’s all done for laughs: It’s full-frontal irony (I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to deal with that image).

So if we po-faced dullards worry he’s mired in twaddle, he tells us we’re numb-knucks who wouldn’t know irony if it hit us in the po-face with a broken bottle: Lighten up! FFS. This is usually flagged by multiple rictus grin emojis 🤣🤣🤣. So, obvs, it’s all hilariously funny. Geddit 🤣 idiot?

Bodger has a small posse of camp followers, all lost in the same drear-life crisis.

Collectively they muster the charm of 13-year-old schoolboys, clumping on the back seat of a bus and lost in the hilarity of farting noises made with clammy hands wedged in each others’ armpits. Tee-hee. Somehow this humour always fails to impress the other passengers. Which, if you’re 13, is why you do it.

They’re a heavily ironic crowd, with names like Curmudgeon, Farter, Whittler and, inexplicably, Blue VerruKa. You don’t know it, but they own you and you’re dancing to their tune. And just in case you’re wondering, ‘Owning’ people means: ‘I dunno what you’re talking about, but I bet I can really annoy you if I vomit on your carpet’. Ah, the delicious irony of it all.

The posse is so lost in their jokes-on-you irony that we must assume that Bodger has never read The First Rule of Goats. He should. It is succinct, if a little crude.

For readers unfamiliar with the Rule and who don’t like to see the word ‘fuck’ in print, I have substituted ‘grope’.

So, the (sanitised) First Rule of Goats says: If you grope a goat, even if you say you’re doing it ironically, you’re still a goat-groper. You don’t get off scot-free just because you say ‘I was only being ironic’.”

The corollary Rule to this is:

“If your rhetoric is all about goat-groping, even if you’re doing it ironically, you’re liable to attract a following of goat-gropers

And finally: A mint Kandy-Kolored Streamline built by the legendary George Barris is a special beast. An original would, you’d think, make Bodger’s home a magnet for well-heeled ‘50s car collectors. After all, the Barris Batmobile last sold for $4.2m.

Weirdly, nobody calls.

And that is ironic*.

*Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

—- —- —- —-

Post Script: For more on the very real George Barris and the equally real Kandy-Kolored Streamline hot-rods, Tom Wolfe’s essay of almost the same name is a great read. Thanks also to Ken White for the First Rule of Goats.

Old Bodger, Curmudgeon, Farter, Whittler and Blue VerruKa are, of course, fictional characters.


After getting lucky enough to catch a salmon in April from the Torridge this year, many further fruitless sessions followed, leading me to switch my attention to bass fishing earlier in the season than I normally would. It was obviously a lucky April for me, as somehow on my second session of the year I managed a 67cm fish, and I am yet to catch a bigger one this season in the pursuit of a 70cm+ fish on a lure. However, because of all the time and effort I have been putting in, I have managed some nice fish, albeit not monsters for some, which can be seen in the pictures shown. The excitement never wears out for me with these fish, particularly when caught on surface lures.

As I’m sure is the case with many others in the North Devon area, bass are probably my favourite fish to target throughout the season and I feel we are blessed as anglers to have so much different ground to fish from the estuaries to the open coast. I’ve been a member of the North Devon Bass Lure fishing page on Facebook for a couple of years now, but last year I started to post fish I caught on the page. This resulted in me getting chatting to a couple of good lads who I’ve subsequently done some sessions with, sharing marks and as always learning new things about people’s preferred tactics and lures etc. As much as I love the solitude of fishing, going out with others has been thoroughly enjoyable and I believe social media pages such as this are going to be crucial in getting the younger generations into fishing going forward.


 In addition to the local page, I would also give mention to UKBLF where people from all over the UK chat all things bass lure fishing and share their catches. Through this Facebook page, I discovered we are lucky enough to have one of the leading stockists of bass lures in the UK in Ilfracombe at Highstreet tackle. A lot of the fish I have caught so far this year have been on Savage Gear gravity stick paddle tails or the IMA Chappy, both of which I purchased there. It really is like a sweetshop in there however and easy to get carried away as a prewarning.

As is usually the case, I anticipate the bass fishing to only get better as the season progresses and hopefully, I’ll surpass the 70cm mark as it gets towards September/ October. Whilst Bass fishing can be hard graft at times, it is all made worth it when you put the leg work in and it pays off in the end.