FISHING as a pastime, rather than a necessity, had been extremely popular on the Isle of Wight for the best part of a century when the Shanklin Deep Sea Fishing Club was established almost six decades ago.

In those days, it was common knowledge sea fishing and angling were more popular pastimes than football, nationally.

The Island has a handful of clubs that have managed to keep interest in the sport going into the modern era — against the odds — and Shanklin Deep Sea Fishing Club (SDSFC) is one of them.

When it was established in 1964 by keen Shanklin fisherman, Gordon Phillips, the club started modestly, but grew and thrived as its popularity — alongside that of fishing itself — intensified to the point where membership bulged in the 1980s.

Isle of Wight County Press:

However, interest in fishing declined sharply in the decade to follow, to the point where the club became a shadow of its former self — and within such a relatively short space of time.

There were even fears at that time it would fold and that the history it built up, would wash away with the tide. 

But today, in 2023, SDSFC is reborn, like a phoenix from the flames — surviving and thriving again thanks to some of the club's stalwarts and new members — notably its chairman, Kelly Way, who has driven the club forward, with huge enthusiasm, into the 21st century.

SDSFC is back on a positive trajectory, with a comfortable, beautifully refurbished clubhouse — work all lovingly done voluntarily by many of its 50-plus members.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Since its rebirth last year, there has also been significant recognition of the club's development with the award of coveted Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) status.

Funded purely through its membership fees, SDSFC has embarked on two major projects, totalling £23,000, to make the ground safer and easier to pull the boats out from the sea, and to replace the clubhouse roof.

By achieving CASC status, it also means the club stand a fighting chance of being able to tap into funding to further develop the club's facilities, and to therefore attract new members.

Although you need a boat to become a member, the club is keen to attract youngsters again — the future of fishing — and lure them away from computer gaming.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight County Press:

Back in 1964, Gordon Phillips hatched the idea of creating somewhere he and a group of like-minded friends could store their tackle and other equipment.

The Colenutt family, who famously created Shanklin Chine, played their part in helping it all happen.

The family, who lived at Fisherman's Cottage, granted permission for a small hut to be built in their garden, just beyond the Palestine Slipway.

When built, it was no bigger than an average-sized sitting room, with box seating and lids to store equipment. 

The beach came right up to the cottage, which is where the fishermen kept their boats.

However, all that has changed with the rise in sea levels.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight County Press:

When the beach began to recede, members funded and built a revetment to protect the clubhouse, with an area to rent space for boats.

Over the years, interest in the club increased, with funds generated through jumble sales, raffles, dances and competitions.

After a mammoth effort, the clubhouse grew, with an extension added to the hut — a project led by John Hardy. 

In the 1980s, the club hit its a memberships peak, more than 80, which included social, junior and shore fishing members, following further renovation to the clubhouse.

Around that time, the club attracted the attention of local TV personality, Jack Hargreaves, and the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight County Press:

Unfortunately, the club went into decline in the 1990s and lost members due to a lack of interest — and came close to being dissolved as it battled with financial difficulties. 

But members helped regain momentum over time, new fishermen joined and, slowly, but surely, the club was on the up.

Then Covid-19 struck!

Throughout the pandemic, the club stayed afloat, until Kelly took over the reins as chairperson in 2021 — an army veteran, mum and new boat owner, with admittedly very little fishing knowledge.

"I made a pledge to reorganise the club after a very turbulent pandemic. The club lost traction, regulation and direction," she said.

But the creation of a diverse new committee, voluntarily managing the club's day-to-day business, believe in inclusivity and preserving the club's heritage.

The clubhouse was recently refurbished, again, thanks to dedicated volunteers. 

Two stalwarts who have seen it all over the years has been Dave Cassell, who joined in 1971, 52 years ago, and became club president, and ex-Royal Navy man, David Everson, was 13 when he joined the club, —becoming its treasurer in 2014 — a role he still holds today.  

SDSFC invites adult memberships for boat fishing and kayaking and will be considering junior membership this month. 

There will be an open day on May 21.

  • If you are interested in joining, contact either Kelly on 07712-430371, secretary Lee Cook 07875-477104, or treasurer Dave Everson 07875-023921, or