FUN FISHING @ Sea Ilfracombe 2021

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.

Effie Welch with a wrasse
Jake Stanway with one of the three smelt that helped to a winning points total
Charlie Stanway with scorpion fish
A fearsome looking scorpion fish
A corkwing wrasse
Effie Welch displays a corkwing wrasse
A rock goby
Solly Welch with a ballan wrasse

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 Pretty corkwing wrasse

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.

1st – Daniel Welch – bass – 72cm – £200 Voucher

2nd – Wayne Thomas – bass – 67cm – £100 Voucher

3rd – Ross Stanway – bass  -55cm – £25.00 Voucher

Daniel Welch – Winning bass 72cm
Wayne Thomas – bass 67cm

Bass on lures

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Ross Stanway has taken the lead in Combe Martin SAC’s lure fishing competition sponsored by High Street Tackle Ilfracombe. He tempted a fine bass of 70cm that was estimated at 8lb 8oz. The fish was caught from a rock mark using a Black Fiiish minnow.My biggest bass to date 70cm exactly. Ross said ” Unfortunately I didn’t weigh it as I’ve taken to not carrying scales whilst lure fishing. But I estimated it at between 8-9lb. And theres a length to weight chart on uk bass that suggests a 70cm averages 8lb 8oz. It was a brilliant scrap in some pretty challenging conditions. Stiff nwly winds and a fair swell running. After a few quick snaps I slid it back in as quickly as I could. It was awesome to see it swim off. I’m over the moon to have caught what is definitely a PB for me. A little bit gutted that it happened when I was on my own but on the other hand it was a magical moment that I’ll never forget. Also landed 5 smaller ones around 2lb mark.”

Several members have been targeting the bass with Dan Welch landing several from local rock marks.

I fished a shallow and rocky beach mark in a brisk North West Wind to tempt a pleasing bass of 62cm (estimated at 6lb 8oz). The bass took a Mega bass spindle worm in water of no more than 18″. The soft plastic weedless lure enabled effective presentation in the weed strewn shallow rocky water.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0340.JPG

Bass on the lure in CMSAC Competition

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Mark Jones is leading Combe Martin SAC’s lure fishing competition sponsored by Ilfracombe’s High Street Tackle with a bass of 64cm. This 60cm beauty is his most recent success for the lure fishing enthusiast who has registered several good fish into the competition. With just over a week of the competition remaining I feel other club members will be trying to oust mark from the top spot and win the top quality lure rod that is up for grabs.

Bass from boulder strewn shores

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First day of autumn probably the finest season for angling. One more try for a bass in Combe Martin SAC’s lure competition.

As I walk to the shore a few family’s are enjoying time beside the sea as summer fades. Its a balmy air as I make my way across the familiar boulder strewn foreshore. I arrive perspiring just before low water and make my way out onto a favorite  rocky promontory. The sea is calm, clarity good and I feel confident as I clip on a patchinko surface lure and launch it 40 yards or so out onto the water. After searching the water for ten minutes or so without any swirls behind the lure I clip on my favourite candy coloured shallow diver. After two casts I feel that electrifying jolt through the thin braid as a bass slams into the lure. The rod pulses in my hands as a bass of a couple of pounds fights for freedom. I relish the sight of the bass as it swims on a tight line in the clear water.

A couple more casts and a repeat performance as bass number two hits the lure.

As the tide pushes in I hop off the rock before getting trapped by the rising water and move fishing from boulders flicking a surface lure into the shallow water. There is a swirl behind the lure and I pause momentarily before twitching the lure and get an immediate response as a small bass nails the lure hard. I lift the bass from the water and on grabbing the fish impale my finger on a flying treble hook. Bass on one hook finger past the barb on the other; Ouch!!! I really should carry a small first aid kit..

A wash off in salty water and its time to resume fishing. I search the shoreline finding three more bass as I relish the calm water and the splendid scenery. I love fishing these shallow boulder strewn shorelines and the exciting encounters as the bass appear in the clear water sometimes smashing the lure just a few feet from the edge.

I end the session as the evening sun illuminates the steep cliffs pausing as I walk back to enjoy a hot coffee from my new drink pod.

The next few months are an exciting prospect for the angler with bass, mullet and tope on the sea angling agenda.

Bass on the lure winners

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High Street Tackle have been running a lure fishing competition over recent weeks and have announced the winners of the latest.

Olly Larvin and Peter Hayes both landed bass of 70cm tempting them on Size 4 Fillish Black Minnows.

Combe Martin SAC are still competing in their own lure fishing competition sponsored by High Street Tackle but so far despite catching plenty of bass there are three members on 55cm. With three weeks to go I am sure this will be beaten!

Combe Martin SAC – Get Luring

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Lure Fishing is one of the few growth areas in UK angling with this exciting branch of angling bringing new recruits into the sport each year. The crystal clear waters along the North Devon Coast this year are ideal for searching for bass and other species. Combe Martin Sea Angling Club Members are competing in a two month long competition that commenced on July 1st and culminates on September 2nd with the presentation of prizes at the clubs annual Fun Fishing Event. The competition is generously sponsored by High Street Tackle Ilfracombe who are providing a quality lure fishing rod and reel. Danny Watson is a keen lure angler and ensures that the shop has a vast stock of lures to tempt  bass, pollock, mackerel and a range of other species.

IMPORTANT – Please remember that there is a total ban on retaining bass for the table.

https://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News&itemid=4482

Some of the clubs anglers have already enjoyed some lure fishing success with Ross Stanway amongst members to land bass to over 5lb.

3lb bass on a fiiish crazy sandeel.

I have been lure fishing for bass over many seasons now and have enjoyed success from time to time with bass to almost 10lb. The excitement when a big bass hits the lure is undoubtedly addictive and the quest for the perfect lure costly. I am certain that lures catch far more anglers than fish but that’s all part of the fun. The most important feature of a lure is that it gives the angler confidence for a confident angler fishes with conviction and belief. In truth half a dozen lures will probably be all you will ever need; a few hard plastics,:- shallow diving, surface lures, soft plastics and metal lures.

My favourite hard plastic lure -IMA Komomo SF-125 in Candy Crush Colours.

Bass tempted on a surface lure.

Shallow boulder strewn shorelines are my favourite for lure fishing

Small pollock tempted with LRF Tackle.
Time for one or two more casts!

Putsborough Open 2018 Report

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Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs annual Putsborough Open has become a popular date on the local angling calendar and this years event attracted 49 competitors from all over the West Country. Once again the club were lucky to have good conditions with heavy rain that fell in some areas of North Devon skirting the beach. A heavy swell that pleased the surfers before darkness fell made fishing a little challenging at times but did not seem to deter the fish from feeding.

Each year it is good to see familiar faces on the beach and several commented to me that it was great to be there on such a night and to catch a fish would surely be a bonus. The fishing proved to be productive for some with small eyed ray, bass, smoothound, turbot and dogfish caught from all along the beach.  No exceptional specimens were caught this year to match previous catches that have included double figure small eyed ray, tope to over forty pounds, blonde ray to over 10lb and huss and conger into double figures.

The winner of this years competition was Ross Stanway with a dogfish of 2lb one of several he landed that also won him the pool for the best brace with his second dogfish weighing 1lb 14.5oz.

The event was generously sponsored by Sakuma and Ilfracombe High Street Tackle enabling the top twelve anglers to walk away with a fine array of tackle in addition to the £100 first prize and £50 second prize in cash.

The top twelve were :-

1st  – Ross Stanway – dogfish 2lb

2nd – Andrew Atkinson – small eyed ray – 6lb 10oz

3rd – Ross Stanway – dogfish 1lb 14.5oz

4th – Julian Druce – bass 5lb 1oz

5th – Gary Andrew – small eyed ray – 6lb 1oz

6th – 7th Dan Welch & Ross Stanway – dogfish 1lb 13oz

8th – 9th – Gareth Pike & Andrew Clements  – dogfish 1lb 12oz

10th Joe Toop – small eyed ray – 5lb 11oz

11th – 12th Colin Emery & John Stanway – dogfish 1lb 11oz

The club would like to thank the owners of Putsborough beach for allowing us to hold the event and I would like to thank all those who made the effort to come and fish many traveling a good distance to be there. A special thanks to all who have sent me pictures of the event including the stunning image of two anglers admiring the setting sun taken by Callum Gove.

Jack Phillips

Fun Fishing – Sea Ilfracombe 2017

(Above)Solly Welch is all smiles with this wrasse.

Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs 2017 Fun Fishing Event on Ilfracombe Pier once again brought plenty of smiles as young anglers and families shared in the pleasure of fishing. Eighteen anglers signed up for the event and plenty of passers by mingled with the participants to gaze in fascination at the array of species caught.

A total of twelve species were registered including numerous mini species.

Special guests for the day included Mat Mander from Devon and Severn IFCA and the Marine Coastguard. The coastguard chatted with members of the public explaining their crucial role in coordinating rescues along the coast where they liaise with the other emergency services to save lives. Mat mingled with local anglers discussing fish legislation and conservation. The event always provides this valuable link between these bodies enabling valuable interaction in a friendly environment.

Colin Wood & David Harper from the coastguard.

    Mat Mander – Devon and Severn IFCA

The morning commenced under a bright blue sky with the sea a pleasing calm. The fishing proved productive with an LRF style approach bringing plenty of action with rattling rod tips throughout the morning. The competition was fished on a species basis with 2 points for the first of each species and one point for the second, only two of each species counting per competitor. This was an attempt to ensure that there was not a tied result. The top three prizes were for under 16’s only and the winner was for the second year young Charlie Stanway who amassed an impressive 18 points. Runner up was Solly Welch with 17 points and third Jack Phillips with 16 points. Ross Stanway landed the longest fish a garfish of 20”. Jack Phillips caught the heaviest a ballan wrasse of 9oz.

4th – Lyn Welch & Angela Kinish – 14 points

5th – Effy Welch – 11 points

6th – Ross Stanway – 10 points

7th – Sam Compton – 9 points

8th – Cory Payne – 8 points

(Above)The winners

The rarest fish caught was a leopard goby (Below) to the rod of young Charlie Stanway.

Everyone who caught a fish took home a prize with a splendid selection of quality tackle provided by sponsor High Street Tackle, Ilfracombe. Several other prizes were provided by IFCA and one by North Devon Angling News.

Winning angler Charlie Stanway admires part of his catch.
(Above) Lyn Welch is delighted with a rock goby.
(Above)The longest fish to Ross Stanway a 20″ garfish
(Above) Jack Phillips -Heaviest fish – Ballan Wrasse 9oz

CMSAC’s two month long species competition ended with two anglers way out ahead of the field with John Shapland registering an amazing 43 species and Dan Welch 41. To catch such an array of fish over two months is an achievement to be proud of, both anglers received quality prizes from High Street Tackle. In third place was Ross Stanway with 25 species and in forth Lee Holden on 21.

John Shapland and Dan Welch

The prominent statue of Verity always stimulates debate amongst both locals and visitors.

(Above)Safety on the coast demonstrations from the David Harper of the local Coastguard.

John Shapland with a dragonet
(Above)Cory Payne is delighted with this pouting.

(Above)Paul Hutchings holds the wrasse for young Cory who is wary of the spines.

(Above) Sam Compton scaled down his hook size to tempt this shanny.
(Above)The Welch Family had a great time catching plenty of fish.

Lure Fishing Competition

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The first few bass of the season have been tempted by lure anglers and to celebrate the fact Danny Watson has launched a lure fishing competition. Details below.

High Street Tackle are running a lure fishing competition!
The first one to run from now until May 10th.
The winner will be the biggest fish caught from the shore on a lure that has been bought from High Street Tackle.
To enter you must submit a picture of the fish, details of the lure and weight of the fish.
Pictures will be displayed on our Facebook page – we will not disclose any location information even if it is provided.
IMPORTANT – please ensure that all pictures are sensible ones – blood etc is not a good look.
It will also be assumed that all bass are treated as per the requirements of the law – we do not wish for any controversy to be raised by any of your pictures.
I understand that there may be some openings for dishonesty but hope that all who are interested in taking part can help to ensure that the winner is deservedly judged so.
We have not decided on the exact prize yet but it will obviously be related to lure fishing and be worth the effort of sending an honest photo – we would like to think that this may continue throughout the year!
Please feel free to contact us should have any suggestions etc.