With Swanage only a few weeks ago, being busy at work and a few evenings spent on the water i found little time to prepare for this competition. I wasn't too worried as i had a good idea of where to fish. I brought a load of Sabikis to save me having to make any rigs too. Bait was ordered early in the week with Seaview Angling, which would be at the venue on the day, so that was me ready for the comp!
An early start on Saturday saw me down at Mountbatten Centre prior to the registration to give me plenty of time to get ready and sort my gear out. A few others were also there and were keen for coffee so i headed off to the cafe at the centre with Ben, Mark, Martin, Steve and some others.
Conditions were looking very very good, quite a difference to the strong winds of last years competition....
Caffeined up and ready to rock it was back to the car to sort the gear out and set the kayak up. It was really warm, overcast and muggy warm. Too warm for a cag so it was on with the Palm Atom Bib and Kaituna Neoflex top, my favourite combo to wear during warmer weather.
Time soon passed and everyone was gathering on the slipway ready for the safety briefing.
The competition is organised by the Ocean Kayak Fishing Team and soon enough Keith, Ian and Dane were giving the Safety briefing to the entrants. Safety boats would be on the water to assist anyone if needed.
Safety talk over and it was time to get the kayaks in the water ready for the start. Everyone lined up in the designated area awaiting the starting bell. Snapper had his camera out....
I do enjoy the 'on-water' starts. The water erupts around you as everyone powers off. With everyone at close quarters it can become a bit cosy amongst the pack of flying paddle blades... a lump of Jackson shaped kayaks clashed together with a Viking shaped one and rather than get caught in them i held back and went around the outside allowing me to get slightly ahead by the time they had sorted out their love affair!
3 Tempo's led the way out to Mountbatten breakwater. I stopped right off the end of the pier and dropped anchor. That would do for me. A few more anchored around me and others carried on to Plymouth Breakwater approx. 1.5nmi further offshore. Species number 1 came to the kayak as the last of the bunch were still paddling past.... A Corkwing Wrasse. As with other species comps, the OK Classic works on a catch, photo and release basis with any species counting providing they are over 8cm long (with the exception of Mackerel and Sandeels). Each angler gets an entry card with scale on to include in each photo to prove that the fish was caught on the day of the comp and is over minimum length.
Species number 2 soon followed... A Ballan Wrasse
I was getting lots of bites which is always a good sign. Number 3 was soon on board... A Goldsinney Wrasse
Well that was 3 easy species, i would need a few of the more uncommon species to stand a chance of placing. Plenty more wrasse were taking the baits and then species number 4..... a Poor Cod
And then Number 5... A Pollack
45 minutes in and I have 5 species.... i was feeling positive, but then if i have caught 5 species then others wont be far behind if they are behind at all. Looking around i could see plenty of small wrasse being caught so others were obviously catching well too. Lets hold out here in the hope of some more species.... 5 minutes later a fat Tompot Blenny was on the bait, species number 6.
Im starting to think that I'm running out of species over the mark I'm on when something different is fighting on the end of the line. A flash of silver near the surface and i have pulled it on the kayak quickly before it gets a chance to flick off. This one is a bit more uncommon... species number 7 - a Sand Smelt....
I now debated whether i was going to find any new species on this spot as nearly every fish now taking the bait was a Corkwing or Goldsinney Wrasse. There is another Wrasse species that can be caught in the area and thats the Rock Cook. A tiny wrasse that i can't seem to catch from the kayak despite others being able to catch them around me. After wading through more Corkwings a small fluttering fish was on the hook, as it neared the surface a flash of its golden body and blue tipped fins gave away its identity but before it reached the surface it had unhooked itself.....NOOOOO! That might have been my only chance of seeing a Rock Cook today.
10 minutes later and order had been restored in the Wrasse department as i brought my first kayak caught Rock Cook Wrasse and species number 8 onto the kayak!
They really are a stunning little Wrasse, the photograph doesn't really do it justice.
Awesome! Now i need to move but where too. There are Red Band Fish out near the breakwater and they were easy to catch last year. Its a long paddle but i needed a few more species to stand a chance at getting amongst the top placings. Up with the anchor which was thankfully not snagged despite the bottom being as really rough and snaggy. Time to paddle!
Half way out to the breakwater and I'm praying i get a few more species out here because its a further paddle than i remember from last year! Eyes on the fish finder looking for shoals of fish....nothing. Paddle around some more near the breakwater.... nothing. Sabikis down anyway.... nothing. Choice words were said and after about 45 minutes of fishing out by the breakwater without a bite i raged back to Mountbatten pier furious at wasting an hour and half. I paddled full pelt all the way back without missing a stroke. The sun was out and the cold water was looking very inviting!
I anchored back near the pier and bites came straight away as before. More of the same though so it wasn't long before i moved to try the other side of the pier. A good move as i found species number 9... a Black Goby - another first from the kayak.
Then it went quiet. Nothing more than a couple of Corkwings showed themselves in the next half hour. Time to head in. Surprisingly i was 2nd in to register with most still out on the water. It was only 2pm after all with 2 hours still left in the competition. I packed away and enjoyed the sunshine whilst everyone else trickled in. I looked to be doing well on 9 species but the Jackson boys and a few other contenders were yet to come in so i expected to be pegged back a few places. Sure enough Mark Radcliffe came in with 11 species to take the top spot. Others came in with 7's, 8's and a couple of other 9's.
Questionable species points were scored for some as for some reason Greater Sandeels (Launce) were being counted despite Sandeels collectively not counting in the competition!?! I tried to get my head around it but it annoyed me and i was just glad i didn't catch one as i would have returned it without taking a photo. Not sure if it would have altered prize positions but more clarification on non-counting species, down to species level, for next years competition (and other competitions) me thinks before it causes trouble amongst the top positions.
Anyhow, It looked like i had managed to hang onto the 2nd spot!
The sun was shining, i had caught fish and i hadn't lost a single piece of tackle or an anchor either! Everyone stood around chatting whilst waiting for the results. Seaview Angling had brought down their fishing simulator and Mark was soon bent into a massive Tuna.....
It was giving him a right old pasting, he went full beast mode at one point and after 10 minutes or so i wondered off to later learn that he snapped the braid during the fight!
Time for the results....
First up was a prize for the best species which was won by Edward Gibson for a particularly unusual catch.... a Tadpole Fish! A proper rare catch so a well deserved best species.
6 species was enough to get amongst the prizes and 9 species was needed for 3rd prize, but as 3rd place was announced as Neil, me and Steve gave each other a look as we both also had 9 species so couldn't both be in 2nd place! A quick word with the organisers and Steve's score had been missed off the list somewhere so everyone was bumped down a position, with Steve taking 3rd place!
As i had landed before Steve, but still having 9 species, i took the higher position of 2nd and won an Ugly Stik 6-12lb Kayak Rod, a Quantum Smoke Reel (very nice bit of kit!), a spool of braid and a subscription to the Navionics Mobile App. I was happy with that!
Mark Radcliffe took the top spot with 11 species, a big well done to him!
That left the main raffle - each entrant, upon signing off, was given a raffle ticket. The main raffle prize - An Ocean Kayak Prowler 13! and the winner was..... Roy!
And that was it. A great day in aid of a great cause, with great weather, great company and plenty of fish. Well done to all the sponsors for putting up prizes and supporting such a great event.
A bit more chatting before i said my goodbyes. Next stop is the European Saltwater Championships at Oxwich Bay in July. See you there!
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