It was time for the 2018 Swanage Classic. The forecast was looking to be fantastic for once and i had 3 days to spend on the water. The fishing was great on the days leading up to the competition and i managed several new PBs. The competition proved a little more difficult but i just managed to sneak into the top 10....
The wind was brisk but dropping all the time so after a slow and steady set up we launched late morning under glorious blue skies. There was still a reasonable swell rolling into the bay.
The tide was ebbing and it soon became apparent the bottom was covered in drifting seaweed. The rigs were not down for more than 2 minutes before huge clumps of weed was wrapped around the line and choking the rig. It became a bit of a chore cleaning the rigs every 5 minutes but we persisted. An hour or more passed when i finally had a positive bite on squid. I was soon enough hooked into a Ray!
As it approached the surface i could see that the fish was darker in colour and not the sandy colour of a Small Eyed, Spotted or Blonde Ray. It was looking like an Undulate..... nope..... it was a Thornback!
Not long after Ben was hooked into a fish and soon had a nice Small Eyed Ray on board that was close to double figures.
We headed across the bay and located a nice patch of rough and mixed ground on the fish finders. Ballan Wrasse were quick to find the ragworm baits and i managed quite a few upto the 2lb mark. Kyle had managed to find a patch of Bream so i followed him and soon enough a shoal of fish sitting just off the bottom was showing on the fish finder display.
Rigs down.... tap tap tap tap. Rattle tap. The rod hooped over and a fish was powering back towards the bottom and taking line. I held on and brought the fish clear of the bottom but this fish was going bezerk! Kyle had also hooked up and we were both playing decent bream. My fish was really testing my light tackle, taking fast dives and zooming around all over the place.
A bright flash of silver showed beneath the kayak and i finally got a look at the fish.... this was a better bream and certainly the biggest i had ever hooked. A little bit of composure whilst i coaxed the fish into my landing net..... result! I had a stunning Black Bream in the kayak!
Kyle also had a good fish around 2lb 8oz, again with stunning colouration.
All was very quiet and the seaweed was pretty thick on the bottom again, choking up the rigs after a few minutes. After an hour or so Kyle hooked into a nice double figure Undulate, and followed it up with another smaller one a short while after. My baits were being untouched but i persisted. Persistence paid off with a good bite and i was bending into a bottom hugging Ray. A good scrap and a Small Eyed Ray was pulled into the kayak.
Saturday - Competition Day
Swanage 2018 was over and whilst the competition proved difficult, i had a few lovely fish on the days before which made the trip for me more than worthwhile. I'll be back next year!