People: me plus 25 other anglers
Duration: 1pm to 5pm
Tide: high at approx 3pm
Weather: drenching rain, strong south easterly winds and heavily coloured seas
Bait: lug, black lug, blueys, squid
Rigs: three hook flapper with size 2 hooks
Results: whiting, coalfish, dab and flounder
What a day.... my first club competition of the year and I was totally unprepared. I was disappointed in myself as I swore I was going to improve on last years results. I was very consistent to be fair, picking up zone placings in almost every match. But I want to push things on. Luck will only take you so far.
I finished work at 7am got to bed for an hour and then hit the road to get to pick up bait and any supplies needed. As I said earlier I had no preparations made as I hadnt been fishing for a few months. I hadnt even opened the seat box in a few weeks. Arriving in Arklow later than I would have hoped my fears were realised... it was miserable. Horizontal drenching rain, strong south easterly winds and heavily coloured seas, with breakers every second wave.
I drew my peg and got down to the mark to cobble together some scratching rigs. As luck would have it I had all the components to hand. After setting up and laying out my bait I shot a line out. This was quite literally all I could do as the wind was that nasty. Talk about adapting your casting style to the situation! I was swinging in a arc parallel to the beach and no more than six inches off it.
I gave up watching the rod tip. It was totally futile as any fish interested in the baits on size four and two hooks had no hope of competing with the erratic waves. Instead I concentrated on distance, bait combinations and length of time soaking the baits.
The tactic paid off and I was inundated.... with undersized whiting. Doubles, tripples, singles. This continued until I registered a dab at 20cm. Then a flounder at 21cm. After getting these fish measured and signed I understood that I was leading my zone. It was only the halfway point though and as Ive seen time and time again, it can all change in an instant.
And it did. The weather worsened. So much so that several anglers left the beach thining the zones. I decided to continue targeting whiting, sure that a couple over the minimum size would bump me up the rankings. Time continued to drip away in between my rod being blown over (twice) and my bait table toppling too.
An hour left on the clock and I had only two fish marginally above the limit. I was desperately sorting through undersized pin whiting with no positive impact on my match card. Suddenly I saw what I thought was an anomaly in the erratic nodding of my rod. I sat on my hands. And then sat on them some more. Lifting the rod tentatively I started to reel in. Then a lovely little coalfish emerged from the foam. 24cm. I was thrilled (to my own amusement). He was measured and released. The pattern of undersized fish continued until the final whistle.
At the "weigh in" it soon became apparent that I won the zone and the comp. My first outright win since returning to match fishing last year. What a slog