Mark Radcliffe 14/05/2019 | Posted in Fishing, Internationalisation, UK
The UK has a great tournament scene for kayak anglers, offering a variety of formats, venues and styles of fishing. Some of these have very large prize tables and attract up to 150 kayak anglers from around the country. Others have no prize at all but are fought over equally as hard.
The Plaice Chase is one such event, there is no prize except to have your name added to the Cam Clearie Memorial Trophy, yet often over 50 angler travel hundreds of miles to try and attain this feat.
Unfortunately, this weekend the forecast wasn’t looking good and many people were put off traveling to fight the wind. The fortunate thing with Poole is that if the weather doesn’t allow a sea launch, there is always the harbour that offers some protection, so a launch is always possible.
As it was 24 anglers set off at 8am to hunt for big plaice.
I immediately headed over towards the harbour mouth, an area I had caught fish in the previous years. However, it soon became apparent that conditions were going to be hard. The harbour was emptying through a very narrow channel, with the water pushing through at around 3 – 4 knots. Anchors weren’t holding, lines were tangling and with a busy shipping lane just 50 meters away I was having an absolute nightmare. I fought the conditions for a couple of hours, but in truth it was absolutely miserable.
A change was needed. I headed in to a beach to regroup. A cup of coffee, twenty minutes to relax, every rod stripped and re rigged, anchor warp untangled, and the deck tidied up. I had just two hours to try and turn this competition around.
I headed slightly more into the harbour and anchored successfully on the edge of a bank. Within ten minutes I had a bite, not a plaice bite but the definite hit and run of a bass. However at least it was a sign.
Shortly after there was another nod and this time it was defiantly a plaice bite, and a nice fish was soon on the yak. Not huge but at least I had a fish.
Just ten minutes later the right-hand rod bounced, and I struck into a much bigger fish. After a short scrap it was on the surface and was a big plaice. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my landing net that morning and a friend had lent me a make shift one. On reaching for it I realised it was tangled behind me, so I decided to gently lift the fish on board. As the line took the pressure, I felt the hook ping from the mouth, my heart sank. The fish hovered in the water and I felt sure it was just a mater of a moment before it flicked its tail and swam away. However, it stayed there? It took a minute or two before I realised it had swallowed both baits on the rig so was still attached to the bottom hook. No mistakes this time and it was soon on the yak. How lucky was that.
Another half hour and time was up. As I headed in I knew I was in with a chance, but had heard of some other big fish. On landing I was told there had been two 46cm fish already, this was going to be close. On the board my fish went 48.7cm, two cm bigger than the rest and actually the biggest plaice ever caught in this event.
As said, there are no prizes for this comp, but I’ve tried for many years to get my name on the trophy and finally I’ve achieved it. Deep down that means a lot more that prizes that you don’t really need.
Kayak fishing is a unique sport in the camaraderie you find between participants, and sometimes this gets lost in the big competitions. Events like this bring back some of the basics, a group of people having great fun, launching into ridiculous conditions to try and catch fish and compete in memory of a fellow kayak angler who sadly left us some years ago.