Over 10,000 people attended the first day of the Bexhill Sea Angling Festival’s big weekend on Saturday September 22nd – surpassing the organisers’ wildest expectations.
Glorious weather on the day saw anglers, non anglers and families arrive in droves to enjoy the sea angling and seafood events that were on offer.
As a partner in the festival the Angling Trust has been working hard over the last nine months to ensure that, since the bylaws restricting angling were proposed by the Council, the festival showcased the very best of sea angling in East Sussex and demonstrated why the council should be supporting and encouraging sea angling rather than trying to limit it.
Thanks to Total Sea Fishing’s Editor, Barney Wright, and Reg Phillips from the Sussex Sea Angling Network for their support and help on the Angling Trust stand. Many anglers and non anglers were keen to speak to us and find out more about the Angling Trust and what we do for anglers.
The pegged beach competition on Saturday, which was covered by Sky Sports’ ‘Tight Lines’ TV show, was won by England junior angler Jack Hayes with a superb Golden Grey mullet while on the lawn beside the famous De La Warr pavilion beginners and experienced anglers of all ages were fighting tuna on the SIMFISH simulator, learning how to cook and prepare fresh seafood and taking advantage of free coaching sessions with top international coaches.
Anglers have often been accused of being very good at talking to themselves but not engaging with the wider community – the Bexhill festival was an excellent example of how that might just be changing.
Many of the non anglers there enjoying the seafood and demonstrations by the Billingsgate Seafood Training School now have a much better appreciation of sea angling and the wider social and economic benefits that it brings to Bexhill on Sea and the community. Others will hopefully take up sea angling as a result of meeting the friendly and helpful individuals who opened a door to angling that might otherwise have remained closed.
Unfortunately the worst September storm in 30 years put an early end to the Festival on Sunday. Had it not we were forecasting similar numbers attending for a second day and an astonishing 20,000 people attending the first staging on the festival.
Feedback from the nine day festival has been superb with the big weekend and the five competitions, which began on Saturday September 15th with the boat fishing competition, providing something for everyone.
Cllr Martin Kenward, who developed the idea of a sea angling festival with local anglers, said: “On the sheer number of visitors alone we can safely say this event was a huge success.
“Sadly we can’t control the weather, but, in the end, Sunday’s rain didn’t matter, Saturday’s sunny celebration was magnificent and the response from the public and local businesses was staggering.
“It shows what the council and the community can do by working together. We listened to what the anglers wanted and we both delivered with this event.”
Congratulations to all those involved in helping to organise the festival – particularly Rother DC and local tackle shop owner Steve Hanks’ tireless dedication over the last 9 months – and of course to all those who showed their support by attending and taking part. See you all again next year!