A weekend of fishing and fun in West Cornwall, the Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet is held on the August Bank Holiday Weekend and attracts kayak anglers from across the country. This year we were blessed with 5 days of very calm and settled weather. That meant for lots of fishing and lots of great fish!
I had taken a week off work to fish with those who had also made a week of it! It is always a risk with the weather and indeed early in the week the forecast was looking horrific to say the least. We have had week after week of windy weather and i was keeping everything crossed we would have a break for the meet. Luckily by Wednesday the forecast was showing a huge settled spell over the weekend with no wind, very low swell and sun.... It really couldn't be any better!
Ben and Kyle were already down and on Wednesday went to Sennen to scope out the fishing. They found the Pollack with fish up to double figures....
We pedalled out on the glassy water and watched thousands of shearwaters, gannets and other seabirds swirling through the air searching out the next bait ball to feast upon. Even the little Storm Petrels were dancing on the water in front of us. The water was very calm.... the perfect offshore conditions.
Kayak fishing offshore is not to be taken lightly and much planning goes into an offshore session to ensure we fish within a big settled spell with minimal risk of the weather blowing up. The tides are closely read and drifts planned accordingly. There is not much room for error when you are over an hour from the coast. Luckily the Revolution 16's are just about perfect for long distance offshore trips. The efficient Mirage Drive will push the hull along quickly even if the weather does get up a bit. Still, we are primarily relying on the Mirage Drive for propulsion. If one of the drives packed in whilst offshore we have paddles as a back up, or if needed we carry towing equipment so that one of the other Revo 16's could tow another if needed. We all carry VHF radios and mobile phones for contact with the coastguard and other water users if required. GPS chart plotters allow us to monitor distance from the coast, drift rates and drift routes. Kayak fishing offshore is carefully planned and we often wait months for the right conditions.
As it happened the drift ended up taking us 7 miles offshore at one point before the tide turned and brought us back as planned. Land becomes a fairly small strip on the horizon when you are 7 mile off.....
Saturday - PZ Meet Day 1
A group of experienced kayak anglers headed around Lands End for the day, although tempting to join them i wanted to put some time into bait fishing within the bay in the hope of catching flatfish and rays. Kyle and Ben stayed around the reefs and i headed off to find some Mackerel. There were lots and lots of fish showing on the fish finder but these were mostly sandeels which weren't interested in my hokkais. Some shoals were huge and i was beginning to see why the Pollack were slow on the reef - they were probably stuffed full of sandeels!
I found a good shoal of Mackerel with fish averaging a 1lb which went really well on my light lure rod. I soon had plenty of bait.
My rods were not out for long before the live joey was munched. The unmistakable weight a ray soon had the rod bent over. A good scrap and a small Blonde Ray was in the kayak.
Catching up with others in the car park and it looked like some had struggled to find fish and others had caught well. All sorts of species were caught and some lovely specimens including a 24lb Blonde Ray for Baz, a 5lb Ballan Wrasse for Kyle, a 12lb 12oz Pollack for Steve, 11lb Small Eyed Ray, Bull Huss to 10lb+, Bass to 6lb+ amongst other fish. A couple of Fin Whales and Mine Whales had been spotted off Lands End too! A great first day! Here are some photos from others....
Sunday - PZ Meet Day 2
It was hard work. I was making headway at about 2 knots but it didn't look like i was moving at all. Luckily having a GPS chart plotter allows you to visually see the ground you are making. Without it, giving up would be that much easier. The Longships Lighthouse is one of the most dangerous marks i fish - notorious for its tidal rips and today, during flat calm water i was given a gentle reminder of its wrath. This is not a place to be when the wind is up, the swell is running and/or when the tide is against you. It is bad enough on a neap tide.
I pedalled hard for about 30 minutes before the tide started to ease closer to shore. 45 minutes and i was back at the slipway some 2 miles from the lighthouse. Kyle and Sean were now also heading back in. A quick trip to the shop for some drinks and a pasty and i was back on the water!
The meet had been a great success with an excellent turn out and plenty of species and specimens, despite the fishing being slower than usual.
30+ species were caught over the weekend and on the days running up to the meet including:
- Bull Huss
- Conger Eel
- Tub Gurnard
- Grey Gurnard
- Megrim Sole
- Poor Cod
- Small Eyed Ray
- Blonde Ray
- Tompot Blenny
- Lesser Sandeel
- Ballan Wrasse
- Cuckoo Wrasse
A phenomenal list including mini species and some bigger specimens. Many people caught firsts and PBs too. The weather was superb and i think that most had a great time! I'm happy with that. That's what the Penzance Meet is all about, having fun in a relaxed setting. No pressure to perform or abide by rules.... just fishing with friends! A big thank you to all who made the effort to attend and make the meet what it is.
Fingers crossed that the weather is as good for the 2018 meet! Details about the 2018 meet will be posted to Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet Information in the near future.