Friday 12th - Practice Day
The competition weekend started with a practice session on Friday and with strong winds forecast for the competition day i decided to play close in. I met Mark and Martin of the Jackson Team at Mountbatten Centre at 10 and there was talk of the competition boundaries being brought in close if the wind was as forecast. We launched and stayed within the limits of Mountbatten Pier in case the boundary was cut back that far the following day. I paddled up along the Pier and dropped anchor to see if the Wrasse would play. Soon enough the rod tip was rattling as a small fish attacked the ragworm bait. A Goldsinney Wrasse was soon onboard for species number 1 of the day.
Soon followed up by a couple of stunning little Corkwing Wrasse in vibrant mating colours, one with a particularly turquoise mouth
A Ballan Wrasse made for species number 3
Plenty of little fish were now attacking the baits and the spot looked promising for tomorrows competition if i needed a close in sheltered mark. A Tompot Blenny was next to arrive and showed off for a photo
Steve (Woodnut) was fishing off the end of the pier and i managed to snap this photo as a Type 45 destroyer passed behind
Mark and Martin were fishing over the other side of the river so i up anchored and went to see how they were getting on. They were getting in amongst the Wrasse and a few other mini species so i decided to try a few spots over this side to see if a couple more species would play ball. More Goldsinneys took the bait before a little Long-spined Scorpionfish grabbed the bait
Then it started to rain....i wasn't sure how long i was prepared to stay out in the rain but gave it 30 mins and managed a small pollack and more Ballan Wrasse. We all headed back in.
By now it was chucking it down. We got changed and packed away super fast and legged it into the Mountbatten Centre bar/cafe. We talked fishing, and kayaking over coffee and food for the next hour or so. It was apparent the mini-species were going to play a major part of the species count in the competition but with 50+ kayak anglers on the water what would the day bring?
Kieren arrived late in the evening and we talked tactics and prepared gear for an early start the next day.
Saturday 13th - Competition Day
Up, breakfast, coffee, car loaded, kayaks strapped down and we were heading off to Seaview Angling to pick up fresh bait for the day. We made our way to Mountbatten and were greeted by the sight of a car park filled with kayak anglers all setting up for the competition. We found the last space in the car park and unloaded. It was Kierens first competition and was soon being introduced to the familiar faces of the UK kayak angling scene.
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.
A map of the boundaries was on display. Zone 1 out near the breakwater, Zone 2 from Fort Bovisand back to Mountbatten Pier and then alongside the shipping channel to Mountbatten Slipway and Zone 3 from the slipway up the River Plym to Laira Bridge. More decisions. Zone 1 was on the very edge of where i would expect to catch a Red Band fish but its a very long paddle in less than ideal conditions if they were out of the zone. Decision made, play it safe and stay close to Mountbatten.
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.
We couldn't resist a photo of the RTM kayaks lined up on the slip, me with my Abaco, Kieren with my Black Tempo, and Mark and Ben with theirs.
Event organisers Keith, Ian and Dane of the Ocean Kayak team welcomed everybody and explained the rules before giving a safety briefing and giving the go ahead for everybody to launch and line up infront of the slipway ready for the start. 80 kayak anglers prepared to paddle off to their fishing spots.
I told Kieren to head to the end of Mountbatten Pier as he was likely to get ahead of me on the Tempo. The starting horn went and the Tempo leapt into life as Kieren powered off trying to break a new Tempo speed record! No one had a chance of catching him! He was sat waiting on the end of the pier wondering where to drop anchor as the rest of us were still 500 yards away. I eventually got there and we dropped anchor as the rest of the pack filtered around and past us, some also opting to fish off the end of the pier. It was choppy with the occasional wave breaking over the stern. Lets see if the fish would play.
Species number 1 was in the kayak just as the pack had past. A Goldsinney Wrasse.
Kieren found himself a Goldsinney, Corkwing and Pollack before my second species took the bait, a Corkwing Wrasse
A photographer (www.sophiephotos.com) caught a brilliant photo of us fishing
Plenty more Goldsinneys and Corkwings were finding the bait. A couple of Pollack eventually made it species number 3
I had expected a Ballan Wrasse to come along by now but instead Poor Cod and a Tompot Blenny were species number 4 & 5
A familiar face was paddling towards me. Mark (Snapper) had been hiding up the river and was now battling through the chop rolling around the end of the pier. It really was choppy in the strengthening wind and here is the proof, the tempo slicing through it with ease
www.sophiephotos.com snapped our photo as we exchanged how we were fairing with Dane about to crash into us as he tried to unsnag his anchor!
Mark had been hiding up the river and had 2 species. I told him we were having a few and he dropped anchor just round the corner, a move that would pay dividends for him. Amos was on the outside of me and pulled up a contender for the most unusual species prize..... it gave quite a fight in the wind!
Much the same came my way with Goldsinneys, Corkwings and Tompots taking the bait. Time for a move, i needed to find a Ballan. Anchor stuck hard in choppy water and despite pulling with all i had it would not budge, neither was there enough room to paddle uptide to break the weak link. One anchor lost to the rocks.
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!
Another 20 minutes past without much luck. Do i move again? Is 6 enough for a place in the prizes? 5 more minutes. Glad i did because look who eventually turned up....better late than never!
Now i was really thinking about coming in.... no, its only 14:20 with a good hour left fishing. Time to head up river to search for a gurnard. I paddled up near the slipway and saw Mark of the Jackson Team clock me and make a surge for a landing. Bugger it, I'm heading in too then! I might be ahead of him, if we are on the same i may beat him. We landed at the same time. "how many you had?", "I'm not saying" next thing he is sprinting up the slipway with me hot on his heels. After sitting for hours my legs were like jelly and despite pushing hard i couldn't catch him let alone overtake him in the couple of hundred yards to the registration.
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.
10th place with 5 species..... Kieren Faisey!! Not bad for his first competition and he picked up some tackle bits and a reel
9th place with 6 species..... Martin Collison of the Jackson Team
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!
3rd place with 7 species..... Mark Radcliffe for the Jackson Team
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.....
This was followed up by a raffle for Heroes on the Water to raise more money for a very worthwhile cause. Afterwards everybody started to disappear so it was time to go. Ben made the mistake of asking where the nearest tackle shop was, Amos was soon tagging along and i showed them the way to Seaview Angling. I forewarned them that money would be spent and had been told of Amos and his tackle shop antics. Dangerous as he needed a rod and reel to replace one lost overboard earlier in the day.
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
Another early start took its toll. A strong coffee was downed and the car was loaded. We would be paddling to the Breakwater, approx. 2 miles from the slipway so it was time to take the Tempo for a spin. We were ready to launch by 8 and wished Mark Radcliffe luck on his hunt for a Mullet up the River. The Black Tempo Crew ready to launch!
Black Tempos look the business, especially with colour-coordinated paddlers! Passers by were seen going weak at the knees!
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!
Next it was Bens turn....
and then Marks......
Mission accomplished, we had all caught a Red Band Fish. We stuck around for another half hour and had a few more each. They are a stunning yet bizarre looking fish
Ben also found his first Mackerel and i had one jump off the hook beside the kayak. We headed back to Mountbatten Pier to fish for mini-species for Mark to take back for his native marine tank. After an hour he had a tiny Ballan Wrasse and some Goldsinney Wrasse to take home.
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.
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