I woke up at 2:30am and left Leicester at 3:30am to get me there in time for the registration. After a long drive the road eventually led to the Gower Peninsula and opened up into Oxwich Bay - a welcome sight after 200 miles of tarmac.
Plenty of kayak anglers were already there and setting up. I found Mark and Ben on the beach and had my first look at the venue.....
Calm sea, light winds and the sun was out.... all was looking good!
The Black Tempo's were set up and were looking the business, in fact they looked so menacing other anglers kept there distance....well it was either that or the smell of Marks liquidised lugworm!
Shudders of fear swept through the crowd and screams of terror were heard as Team Black Tempo rocked up to the registration....oh how we laughed as they scarpered in front of us! (Photo: Dom Whiting Media)
Entries formed signed, rules read, boundaries noted, £15 paid and the photo token handed over....
Everyone was starting to line up on the beach so it was time to get down there....but not before the warpaint was applied.... Team Black Tempo ready!
The beach as soon full with 129 kayak anglers - what a sight to see!
The final preparations were made before heading off to the safety briefing
The rules were read and boundaries re-confirmed. It was time to launch with rods in at 10 giving just enough time to paddle out to a mark and get the rigs tied onto the rods.
I didn't have too much idea where to try. The majority of people headed off in the direction of an inshore wreck. I decided to avoid the crowd and head further out to clean ground and anchor up. Within minutes a couple of other competitors had ended up anchored beside me and a bit to close for comfort so i moved further out.
All was quiet for a while and i was wondering if i had made the wrong decision. Eventually a familiar face showed itself. Species number 1 - Dogfish
another 30 minutes passed by without a nibble and that was enough. Anchor up and i was drifting. The bites started to appear. Species number 2 - Tub Gurnard.
....closely followed by species number 3 - A Grey Gurnard
and number 4.... a Dab
That little run lifted the spirits! Another drift produced much the same with plenty of Tub Gurnards finding the bait including a slightly bigger one
Time to trying fishing at anchor again in hope of a Thornback or Smoothound. Instead i got plagued by Mackerel. 5 or 6 full sets and i had enough. I couldn't get a bait through them and they were tangling rigs. Up anchor and head for this wreck everyone was going on about.
I headed over to Mark on the way to see how he was getting on. He had lost his bait bag so he relieved me of some fresh mackerel. I headed over to a cluster of kayak anglers who i assumed were near the wreck. I didn't really know where it was but the ground become considerably rougher on the fish finder on approach. I dropped anchor amongst them and started fishing. Bites straight away but ridiculously difficult to hook. I soon found out the culprit..... micro Poor Cod. Species number 5
They were stripping baits in seconds and were difficult to get through but other species eventually found the bait. Number 6 was a Ballan Wrasse
Ah... Theres the wreck! The tide had dropped enough to expose its upper section and I had dropped anchor right beside it!
Something different.... a Smelt for species number 7
then a colourful Corkwing for number 8
I could see the Jackson boys Mark and Martin catching well and knew i still had to get a good few more to get near them. "How many you had now Mark?"...."Can't say, what about you?"....."had a few"......like drawing blood from a stone! Anyhow species number 9 was coming onboard... Mr. Tompot
Dave (Starvinmarvin) must have smelt the fish and was soon getting cosy beside me on the wreck! I jousted him with my rod but he was having none of it! I winkled out a Pollack for species number 10.
It was now approaching 2pm and spent 15 minutes without a new species. The anchor was stuck solid but the weak link snapped out so thankfully didn't lose it. Back to drifting, maybe a Plaice or Red Gurnard would play ball...... nope.....several drifts with more tub gurnards but nothing else. 45 minutes wasted and i was getting annoyed. Time to head in.
I clocked Martin further inshore heading in too. He saw me and the race began. I had a good feeling he was well ahead of me but i'd make him work for it!! Hang on.... the tide is out....right out too...thats a wide beach! A 12m tide had bottomed out leaving several hundred metres of sand to race up in sweltering sun. I landed and the PFD and cag were thrown off. I started running up the beach but the 2:30am start had taken its toll, i was knackered and Martin was way ahead.... 4 species ahead in fact!
We registered our species at the Palm tent and he had totalled up an impressive 14 to my 10. Mark Radcliffe was on 12 too and with well over an hour left to go i could see me slipping down the scoreboard. Not to worry i was surprised i had managed 10 species considering i had never been to Oxwich before!
Annoyingly i had forgot to put my C-Tug in the hatch of the Tempo in the morning with the waters edge so close to the car. Now i had to walk all the way back to the kayak to get my car keys and then the same trip up and down the beach again to get the C-tug. I wont make that mistake again!
I packed the gear and kayak away and returned to the scoreboard to see how i was doing. Lozz had snuck in with 10 species 5 minutes before me but i was holding 4th with 15 minutes to go. A figure appeared on the horizon.....
No C-Tug for Mark either! He had finished up with 10 species too. Back to the final scoreboard and someone had registered 12 species in the last half hour. It meant i had finished up in 5th place with Mark behind me on 6th! Awesome!
I caught up with a few friendly faces and waited for the results
It was confirmed, 5th place in the Oxwich Bay European Championships and my prize - a HTO Rockfish Revolution Lure rod, a HTO Lure Game reel and HTO braid and tackle! That will be perfect for the mini-species fishing at future competitions. Well done to Martin for the win, well deserved too!
It was time to leave to make the journey back to Leicester. I had a taste of Oxwich and wanted to stay but couldn't this time round. Next year i will plan for the weekend! I said my goodbyes and made my way as everyone else was heading back to the campsite for the evenings events and party. I had great time, fished a new venue with a top 5 finish and caught up with friends....all in the sun, i can't complain! Well done to Ed and the Organisers for a great day and a very well organised event. I can't wait for next year!
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