Andrew Clements secured victory in Bideford Angling Clubs monthly sea rover with a specimen thick lipped grey mullet of 4lb 10oz. Runner up was Dick Talbot with a ballan wrasse of 4lb 11oz and third Graham Snow with a thick lipped grey mullet of 3lb 10oz.
Josh Atkinson won Appledore Shipbuilders rover with a black bream weighing 2lb 4oz. Richard Boon was runner up with a ballan wrasse of 4lb 13oz and Graham Snow third with his thick lipped grey mullet of 3lb 10oz.
Combe Martin SAC member Kevin Legge took a trip to the Somerset shoreline were he enjoyed sport with smoothound, sole, ray and silver eels.
Combe Martin SAC’s annual Fun Fish was once again held In conjunction with the Sea-Ilfracombe Festival at Ilfracombe Pier after a one year break. This year the club had not promoted the event to the extent of previous years as concerns about COVID still linger amongst many across society.
I arrived early to secure a parking place on the pier and called in to speak with Dan at the aquarium as they had offered some containers to hold any donations to the aquarium we could catch.
This event is as stated a fun event aimed at families and those happy to try something a little less serious. The format is a species competition with 10 points for the first of each species with 2 points for the next two after which any more of that species do not count.
We had eleven competitors dominated by the Stanway and Welch families who had come armed with a variety of baits and light tackle. The event was due to cast off at 10.00am and I took the inevitable snap of Verity towering above the pier dividing opinion as ever among both visitors and locals. It was loaned to Ilfracombe in 2012 by the well known artist Damien Hurst and is due to remain until 2032.
A brisk North East breeze was sweeping down the channel causing some concern that fish would be reluctant to feed. These fears were soon dismissed as rod tips started twitching as soon as baits hit the sea bed.
Young smiling faces soon followed as a succession of small pouting and pollock were swung ashore. I was kept busy with the camera whilst club secretary Nick Phillips made busy with the score sheet. Dan from the aquarium made regular visits throughout the morning to take the required fish back to their new home in the aquarium. I am pleased to say that numerous pouting and poor cod from previous fun fishing events still reside safely in the aquarium’s tanks.
The morning proceeded with the species tally growing steadily to include pollock, pouting, poor cod, shanny, smelt, scorpion fish, rock gobies, ballan wrasse and corkwing wrasse. Many of these small fish are handsome creatures with an amazing array of colours decorating their flanks.
A rather concerning observation was a total lack of mackerel or garfish, species that would historically have been abundant at this time of year. General consensus is that this year is one of the worst for mackerel in living memory.
I am sure that by the end of the four hours fishing mums and dads were glad to take a rest after working hard detangling rigs, retackling and unhooking fish. The results are as follows.
1st – Jake Stanway – 90 points
2nd – Charlie Stanway – 70 points
3rd – Ross Stanway – 66 points
4th – Effie Welch – 64 points
5th – Solly Welch – 52 points
6th – Paul Maxfield – 26 points
7th – Malin Marcus Young – 24 points
Longest fish – Solly Welch – Pollock 27cm
An array of quality prizes donated by the clubs sponsors High Street Tackle were presented to the top five competitors. Ilfracombe Aquarium kindly donated family tickets for the two competing families enabling them to visit during the autumn and see the expanded layout and new exhibits.
Combe Martin Sea Angling Club plan to repeat the event next September once again working with the Sea Ilfracombe Festival organisers. With luck COVID fear will have subsided allowing a higher profile event welcoming back those VIP guest anglers and the local coastguard.
An unusual guest appearance at this years event was that of a rather wet and bedraggled grey squirrel that swam onto the pier steps and bounded energetically past competitors!
The competition prize giving was followed by the declaration of winning fish in the club’s lure fishing competition once again generously sponsored by Danny and Pauline at High Street Tackle.
Daniel Welch and Ross Stanway enjoyed an awesome day on the boat with good numbers of bass and a couple stunning porbeagle shark. Dan and Ross both bringing fish of over 200lb to the side of the boat. Dans son Solly was at hands share the experience. The three anglers also enjoyed sport with bass.
Many thanks to Dan for allowing me to use the splendid images.
Daniel Welch has taken the lead in Combe Martin SAC’s Lure Fishing competition that is sponsored by High Street Tackle. The competition ends on September 5th with presentation of prizes coinciding with the clubs annual fun fishing event on Ilfracombe Pier.
1st Daniel Welch – bass – 72cm (Boat)
2nd Wayne Thomas – bass – 67cm
3rd – Daniel Welch – bass – 62cm
High Street tackle sponsor Combe Martin SAC,s annual lure fishing competition that runs from July 1st until September 5th. The competition is open to paid up club members with a first prize of up £200 of quality lure tackle with £100 for the runner up.
Longest bass – To tip of the tail, overall length.
Mark Jones did a solitaire shark fishing foray off the North Devon coast and hooked a huge porbeagle shark estimated at 310lb (89″ from nose to fork of tail). The shark took close to an hour to bring to the side of the boat where it was released.
Sometimes as I put these pages together and see what everyone is catching I wonder where I am going wrong. In the past few months, I have persisted lure fishing for bass despite blank after blank. I have fished ground that I have enjoyed success at in the past confident that it would eventually come right.
Calm conditions, interspersed with rougher water and masses of weed. I fished early, late and at different states of tide. Its seldom that everything is right after all. One morning I arrived at the water’s edge on the early morning flood. Third cast and wallop a heavy fish hit the lure hard. After a few strong runs the bass that I estimated to be between 8lb and 10lb was wallowing on a short line. All was going well until in a sickening moment the hook hold gave way and the lure flew back towards me. The big bass was gone with a flick of its tail to linger hauntingly in the minds eye. Strange how the loss of a big fish often remains etched in the mind far longer than a successful capture.
The loss of the bass spurred me onto more sessions and yet more blanks. On one occasion I arrived to find a huge swell surging into the shoreline. Despite this I persevered and found a slightly calmer area with no weed. I caught sight of a few mullet their flanks catching the evening sunlight. After two hours still no bass; a move to a second mark brought the same result.
A couple of days later I return to the same mark. A brisk North West wind is blowing into the shoreline but there is little swell just a fizzy wind driven sea. I wade out and flick out a dark coloured Mega bass spindle worm lure. Third cast and bang the rod tip slams round the line zipping out to sea the rod pulsing in the hands the reels singing in protest. After a short exhilarating encounter a bass of 67cm ( just over 6lb) is secured. In the next two and a half hours I beach another five bass estimated at between 3lb 8oz and 6lb. Three of the fish are close to 6lb. I pack away after darkness has descended my soft lures depleted by the aggressive bass.
Confidence is restored in the marks, the lures and my own judgement. It would be easy to just plan trips based on tide, weather and time of day. Problem is sometimes we can only go when it suits us. Choosing those perfect conditions would be ideal but getting tide times, weather, water clarity and time of day to fall into place is difficult. Then of course there is lure choice or bait choice plus location.
The following day I headed to Ilfracombe Pier for a short LRF session with my good friend Keith Armishaw of River Reads and Angling Heritage. After a later than planned start we fished the rising tide to tempt a few miniature pouting and pollock. Keith added a shanny to list and totally out-fished me using fragments of mackerel. I stuck to ISOME imitation ragworm and failed to connect with several good tugs.
Grey mullet were next on the agenda and we headed off to our chosen mark electing to fish the sheltered area out of the brisk North West breeze. A friend arrived on the opposite shoreline electing to fish into the teeth of the wind. Lesson learnt four mullet to 5lb 1oz on the windward shoreline – Nil, from the sheltered shoreline!
Remember the fish will be where the food is and not where you are most comfortable.