The next big competition of the year had arrived - the Ocean Kayak Classic, a catch, photo and release competition held in Plymouth. The competition had been on the cards for months and Kieren would be coming up to fish it too. I had been for a couple of exploratory sessions a few weeks before but the venue was still largely unknown. Would we come away with any prizes?
Friday 12th - Practice Day
Kieren arrived late in the evening and we talked tactics and prepared gear for an early start the next day.
Saturday 13th - Competition Day
The forecast was as predicted, a strong southwesterly would be blowing into the Sound. I watch over the Sound everyday from the Marine Biological Association so knew the water would be whipped up into a fair chop. I assumed the boundaries would be brought in close to Mountbatten Pier but news was spreading of the boundaries being thrown open all the way out to the breakwater! Hmmm.... now do i battle out there to the Red Band fish, knowing it would be at least an hour round paddle or stick in close and hope for an extra species. Decisions.
We walked down to the registration to pay and pick up our token to be included in each photo.
The kayaks were loaded and set up and we made our way down to the slipway ready for the safety briefing and start of the competition.
Back to the spot i had tried yesterday which produced several fish including a Ballan. It was much shallower here and bites were very few and far between. Hmmm, had i made a wrong call. The rod tip rattled. Bait gone. Back down again, fish on! and its species number 6 a Scorpionfish!
We registered our species with Peter and Aisling from the Marine Biological Association who were their to identify the catches and we had both finished up with 7 species. Mark had pipped me but where would we place in the competition. We would have to wait and see.
Kieren landed 30 minutes or so later with 5 species. We packed up the gear and waited for others to land to try and gauge how we had done. All was looking good for a top 3 finish until fellow RTM team member Mark rocked up with 9 Species! He had done really well where he had anchored off the pier. Great stuff!
The last few stragglers landed just before the 4pm finish deadline and everyone chatted and waited for the results.
8th place with 6 species..... Dane Wood of the OK Team
7th place with 6 species..... Kyle Waterhouse
6th place with 6 species..... Keith Ward of the OK Team
5th place with 6 species..... Ian Pickering of the OK Team
4th place with 7 species..... me for Team RTM! Yes, i was well happy!
2nd place with 7 species..... Graham Shaw
1st place with 9 species..... Mark Crame for Team RTM! Excellent and his first win of a competition.
What a great result. Kieren in 10th, me placing in 4th and Mark placing 1st for Team RTM! I walked away with a Railblaza visibility kit, Railblaza Rod Holder, a dry bag, a fly tying box and a kayak washing kit!
Mark being his usual mad but generous self had planned a back wax to raise money for Heroes on the Water - the charity benefiting from the event. The wax strips were applied infront of a large audience and ripped off by those putting money in the collection tub. His face says it all.....
Rods were picked up, reels were played with, lures drooled over, coffee made, coffee drank and Amos was still buying stuff! Ben had found himself a lush little Japanese carbon lure rod too for a bargain price. Bait was sorted for the next day and we were off. We would meet again at 7am to find Mark and Ben a Red Band Fish.
Sunday 18th - Red Band Time
We headed out to the Red Band mark but as we round Mountbatten Pier a shore angler asked me to pick up a lost float. He let me keep it so that was ok. Meanwhile Mark had dropped a rig down and pulled up some pollack. We carried on out to the mark. Mark and Ben were trolling sabikis so i arrived a couple of minutes before them. First drop down and a fish was on! Mark and Ben spotted that i was into a fish and headed over to take a photo. Result!
Mark Radcliffe appeared on the pier and had accomplished his task of catching a Mullet, excellent stuff!
What a great weekend. Plenty of fish, albeit mini-species, but still fun and with great company. 4th place for me and a 1st and 4th for Team RTM. I can see why these competitions are the highlight of the kayak fishing year. Even if the fishing isn't up to much the social side of it is always excellent. Im already looking forward to the next one. Fingers crossed i will make it to Oxwich although if i do it will just be for the competition day as time that weekend will be limited. Fingers crossed.