I love my tournament fishing in the U.K and we are very lucky to have a full calendar of events covering the whole country and pretty much every angling style.
The final event of the year takes place in Poole Harbour and is the Flounder Hunt – competing for the Ben Saville Memorial Cup. Its a simple format with the heaviest flounder winning. Whilst everyone there obviously wants to compete and do well, it is also a great social and a nice round up to the year.
Unfortunately over the last few years the flounder population in the harbour has crashed. There are lots of theories why, over netting, warmer water or an explosion in the bass population but in truth no one has a definite explanation. Four years ago I had over a dozen fish in the event but for the last two years have struggled to find a bite. Reading recent catch reports I had no expectation that the fishing would be any easier this time, so I knew it was a case of fishing for one bite and one fish.
7am and everyone was tucking into bacon butties and coffee whilst half heartedly preparing their yaks. 9am when the whistle went and everyone disappeared off in different directions to their favourite marks. I headed a mile down the harbour to where a large sand spit creates a hole. It was an area I’d caught well in a few years ago. Two hours later, with just a few bass to show for my efforts it was definitely time for a move.
I headed to a river entrance and anchored on the edge of a boat channel. One rod was placed in the channel in 8 ft of water and the other in a shallow bay of 2ft. This was it, I was just going to fish this area out until the end. Keith Ward of the Ocean Kayak team came and anchored alongside me and for the next two hours we chatted away as absolutely nothing happened on the fishing front. Then finally I had a distinct nod on the left hand rod… I knew it wasn’t a bass bite and was sure it had to be a flounder. Again the rod nodded… with flounder fishing you have to let these bites develop so I sat on my hands and waited… and waited ….and waited….and nothing else happened.
There was only half an hour to go. Both rods were rebaited and cast to the same spot I had the bite. Keiths baits followed suit to the same area and still nothing happened.
Twenty minutes to go…
Fifteem minutes to go and then the right hand rod tapped… and again… and again.
I sat on my hands waiting for it to develop. My heart was going mad when finally the rod bent over and I struck.. Fish on, but was it the right species. A couple of minutes later and the flounder was in the net. Never has such a small fish brought me such joy.
That was it. I had ten minutes to get back to the beach and in the queue for the weigh in.
Back on the beach it became clear that the fishing had once again been really hard. There had only been one other flounder caught, not a big one at 13oz by David Froy. Taking mine to the scales I knew it was bigger but it was a great relief to see the scales register 22.8 oz, easily enough to take the winning spot. It was also the second flat fish event this year that I had bumped David into second spot which he reminded me of repeatedly.
Chatting to people on the beach it was amazing how many had given up after a few hours and returned to the shore.
I always think that as long as you have a bat in the water you have a chance especially when you know one fish will probably be enough to win so it makes sense to fish right until the end. On this occasion I really couldn’t have stayed out any longer and got back to the weigh in on time, but cutting my fishing short by even five minutes would have cost me the competition. To fish effectively you have to fish until the very last minute because as this competition showed, its never over until its over.