Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs annual fun fishing event on Ilfracombe Pier always brings plenty of smiles and this year was no exception. The title of the event explains what the day is all about nothing too serious just a few hours fishing with the chance to meet fellow anglers and special guests. The event focuses on young anglers so the competition is geared towards under 16’s accompanied by a responsible adult.
This years guests included Dominic Garnett who writes a regular column for the Angling Times and works with the Angling Trust to promote angling. https://dgfishing.co.uk/
(Above) Dominick Garnett gets involved coaching young anglers
Steve Dawe is an all round angler who has a particular interest in species fishing and is raising funds for the Stroke Association.
This years event was once again a success with a really friendly atmosphere and plenty of fish caught to give the young participants encouragement. One of the events main targets is to introduce young people to a pastime that can provide a lifelong interaction with the environment as Dominick said to me if we recruit one young person into a life of fishing we have been successful.
The below pictures give a view of the event that is made successful by those who take part.
Tim Poat has set a potential new British Record landing a 15.8 gram connemara clingfish whilst fishing North Devon’s top LRF mark Ilfracombe Pier. The current British record stands at 10grams and Tim has submitted a claim to the Angling Trust’s record fish committee.
Tim tempted the fish on a piece of ragworm fished down the side of the wall on a very calm evening as the tide was ebbing.Tackle was Impact Ajing 5762 Lrf rod Shimano Sahara c2000s reel Gosen 9lb Maxbeat braid All purchased from Art of fishing in Wadebridge Hook size 16 tied directly to the end of the line 7 gram weight about a foot above the hook.
LRF(light rock fishing) Fishing has grown in popularity over recent years and offers a whole new perspective to sea angling with the use of ultra light tackle and finesse not traditional associated with sea angling. One of the joys of LRF fishing is catching an amazing array of species.
Another aspect of LRF fishing is that even moderate sized fish give a spirited tussle on the this tackle and you could call it Light-Rod Fun Fishing.
George Stavrakopoulos is a keen species enthusiast and enjoys trips to Ilfracombe Pier. Their latest venture saw them land whiting, pouting, poor cod, pollack, shanny smelt, rock goby, 3 bearded rockling, shore rockling, conger, tadpole fish and a cling fish it was non stop action. A big surprise was the sight of four big mackerel trapped alive in the pool behind the pier. These out of season visitors were soon caught and dispatched by local anglers who either enjoyed a tasty meal some quality bait for the freezer.
Ilfracombe pier is not a venue I often fish these days but it is a venue that has a certain appeal. I have many fond memories of the venue that has to be the most heavily fished venue along the North Devon coast and it is undoubtedly for this reason that it has over the years produced an outstanding track record.
Being a veteran I can of coarse remember the pier in its heyday when you could fish from the Victorian structure at any state of the tide in pretty well any weather conditions. The beauty of the pier was that you could turn up and fish being confidant that you would have company. It was the social hub of North Devon’s sea angling community easily accessible, safe and at times productive.
Of course back then we didn’t value what we had taking it for granted like many things in life that are only really appreciated in hindsight. I value the memories of those cold winter nights on the pier and witnessing some fine fish caught. I also look back with a tinge of sadness at the lovely people and characters I fished with who are no longer with us; I won’t mention names but those who were there will share my sentiments.
Ilfracombe lost a huge asset with the demolition of the pier a place where people fished and others strolled to watch us watching our rod tips. Some inquiring what we had caught, some understanding the fascination; others perplexed at the fools who wasted hours staring out to sea.
Those who were there in those distant days will still remember and visualize how it was when anyone mentions the North End or by the Club hut. Beneath the water there were of course always tales of the mighty conger that lurked within the structure eels that divers glimpsed as they explored. Strange that the biggest eel recorded at 42lb was caught from the pier in 2015 long after the pier was demolished.
( Note Chris Wilson refers to an eel of 56lb has anyone got a record of that?)
I fished the pier with Rob Scoines on October 26th the main reason I chose the venue was because I had a few leftover harbour ragworm left from a flounder fishing excursion. With news of a few red mullet being caught I thought why not try the pier might even catch a sole. It was a very calm mild night after a week or so of easterly winds. We offloaded the van and ambled the few yards to the lower landings. There were a handful of other anglers already set up in the hot spot on the corner so we set up where there was space.
I fished two rods one with small worm baits the other with a larger offering of mackerel, to be exchanged for a fresh pouting shortly after catching one on the worm baits. The worm baits brought a steady succession of small whiting, tiny pouting and a solitary dab. Danny Watson from High Street Tackle chatted enthusiastically about prospects for the coming winter. Fellow CMSAC member Ross Stanway turned up with his young son Charlie. We chatted about old times and made plans for future forays. Young Charlie caught a few whiting; bringing a smile to his face.
When we packed away at the end of the night beneath the deviant structure of Damien’s Verity Rob commented that it wasn’t his favorite venue. It’s not mine and the fishing was poor but it still has a certain value as an easy sociable venue where good fish are sometimes caught.
Combe Martin Sea Angling Clubs Annual Fun Fishing event on Ilfracombe Pier was once again a highly enjoyable event with twenty competitors taking part and plenty of onlookers taking an active interest. Special guests for the event were Libby Ross from IFCA and representing the local coastguard Deputy Station Officer Dave Mannering and Coastguard Rescue officer Jodie Smith.
The event was unfortunately delayed as a result of a delay in the birthing of the Balmoral which was running late after a delay on the Welsh side due to inclement weather. This gave the opportunity for the coastguard officers and Libby to engage with the fishers discussing fish conservation, regulation and safety at sea.
When fishing eventually got underway competitors soon started to get a few bites and swing fish ashore to be admired briefly before being returned to the water. Species caught included tub gurnard, pollock, wrasse, rockling, shore rockling, poor cod,pouting,smelt,grey mullet,rock goby, tompot blenny, and mackerel. Despite the small size of many of the fish caught beaming smiles on young faces made the event well worth while.
Charlie Stanway – Winner of the Event
A little light rain began to fall at the end of the event but not enough to dampen enthusiasm as everyone gathered for the presentation that was kindly carried out by Jodie Smith from the coastguard.
Winner of the top prize was young Charlie Stanway who caught five species for 7 points. Runner up was Sam Davison who caught four species for 7 points. Winner of the over 18’s section was Lyn Wilson with 7 points and runner up Ali Laird with 5 points. The heaviest fish was a 1ln grey mullet caught by Dan Welch. Special thanks go to High Street Tackle who kindly sponsored the event. Prizes were also provided by Combe Martin SAC and North Devon Angling News.
Ollie Passmore enjoyed a session on Ilfracombe Pier landing a fine bass of 7lb 1oz that was carefully returned to the water after a quick photo. The fish was tempted using a large mackerel bait. The water clarity is reduced along the coast now and as a result bait anglers are enjoying improved sport with mackerel squid or crab baits best.
When the water clears lure anglers will start to catch again. I visited High Street tackle recently and was impressed with their wide selection of bass lures both soft and hard plastics from top brands.