Combe Martin SAC hosted their annual Fun Fish on Ilfracombe Pier in conjunction with the  2022 Sea Ilfracombe festival. The event was once again a resounding success with several families taking part in the Fun Species competition.

         Special guests on the day included Mat Mander Chief Officer of Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Ilfracombe Area Coastguard. The event gave the opportunity for members of the public the talk with the guests about the valuable work that they do.

         The event was generously supported by High Street Tackle, The Angling Trust  and Ilfracombe Aquarium.

         The whole aim of the event is to give the opportunity for young anglers and their families to participate in angling. The Angling Trust provided Certificates, Angling books and caps. High Street Tackle provided a top prize for the overall winner of the event along with numerous prizes for all who took part. Ilfracombe Aquarium gave a family entry to be used by the winning family at a time of their choosing.

         The competition started promptly at 3.00pm as the tide receded from the landing stages. Close to twenty anglers of all ages cast out and fish came regularly from the start. Eight species were registered including, pollock, ballan wrasse, pouting, corkwing wrasse, rock goby, tompot blennies, Shanny and dragonette.

         Smiling faces lit up what was at times a grey afternoon as dark clouds drifted above with occasional drizzle.

         Small ragworm baits proved most effective with mackerel and squid also producing good numbers of fish.

         The competition closed at 5.00pm with the prize presentation at 5:15pm.

         The winning individual was Effie Welch who was presented with a superb Rockfish LRF rod and reel donated by High Street Tackle. The winning family were the Stanway family, Ross, Charlie and Jake who received a family ticket for Ilfracombe aquarium.

         All junior anglers who took part received a prize and each family were presented with a book on Angling from the Angling Trust.

         The club hope to host the event again next year and thank all those who made the effort to attend.

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


posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0



SUNDAY September 1st

1.30pm until 4.30pm

Special Guests:

Dominic Garnett – Free Lance Writer and Angling Trust

Steve Dawe – Stroke Association – Species Fisher

Safe Fishing – With the coastguard

Fun Fishing Competition

Sponsored byHigh Street Tackle, Ilfracombe

(Below) last years winners