Open competition off Dorset for all-comers

A report from MBY photographer Lester McCarthy on the Poole Bay Small Boat Angling Club Open Competition, which he took part in just before New Year, off Dorset:

“This event finally took place in late December having been postponed due to extreme weather systems when a Force 10 was forecast.

“On the day of the event there was a strong bitingly cold south easterly wind blowing which meant putting on every available item of protective clothing to stop yourself from freezing.

“The competing boats ranged in size from small open outboard powered rowing boats up to 35ft, which meant that on this day only three of the larger boats sensibly ventured beyond the chain ferry and past the harbour mouth.

“Absent were the glamourous sportsfishers rushing off at 45knots to distant mid-Channel wrecks, returning at speed in time for the final weigh-in with some mighty tuna or massive cod.

“Instead anglers here dressed up like Michelin men huddled around the bacon butty grill soaking up the heat and smell in the bleak murk of this cold December morning. ‘Mister Average’ here is the trailerable boat, 15-20ft in length, buzzing with all the electronic gadgetry in the form of fishfinders, position fixers, and livebait tanks.

“Aerials and fishing rods festoon the outline of these boats against the awakening skyline.

“Baiter Park, Poole, Dorset, was competition HQ, and it was from here that many of the trailerable boats were launched.

“I had been invited to go out with Chris Witheford of QMarine on Anneka Rose a Fairline 24 Carrera berthed at Cobbs Quay. Once registered we returned to the marina by car, and then headed off down to the harbour entrance to check the sea conditions and sure enough it looked far from tranquil.

“We decided to fish the harbour mouth as this is a popular spot for bass. Lacking the deadly live sandeel as bait, we baited up with ragworm and then spent hours drifting around Sandbanks catching only young pre-nursery school bass.

“We then explored some of the channels around Brownsea Island but failed to get anything worth weighing in. Later on we went up to Holes Bay ‘flatty bashing’ in the hopes of a good flounder but caught nothing except crabs.

“Of the 103 entered in the competition most caught fish but this is a conservation-minded event and fish can only be weighed in if they are bigger than 50% of the local specimen size.

“This means that many fish like ours are returned alive and many anglers who weighed in returned the fish afterwards into the harbour, including a couple of large congers brought into the harbour aboard the bigger boats.

“The event was well sponsored making this a truly worthwhile event to enter. Given away were: cash prizes; expensive bits of boat kit from electonics manufacturers; quality fishing tackle and much more from local supporters. A raffle of donated quality Penn tackle took place to raise money for Myeloma UK.

“Now established for six years, the the Poole Boatowners’ Small Boat Angling Club is becoming increasingly popular.

“I discovered the club listening to BBC Radio Solent, which was promoting the previous year’s event and the numbers of boats taking part seemed vast.

“The idea of the club is to promote boat safety and friendship throughout its boat owning membership, while out fishing.

“The club has one of the best websites for clubs like this; you can find all types of interesting stuff such as where all the big fish are, who is going fishing where and when or hits and tips on tackle and bait.

“I even managed to get useful help from the site last year when I took my Boston Whaler to Poole on holiday and needed information on where best to keep it.

“The club holds other competitions throughout the year for its members but only one ‘open’ competition when anyone can fish.”

Results and prizes

Rob Francis got lucky with a flounder of 3lb 3oz(127.5% of local specimen weight) and cleaned up the big prizes. He took away £500 and had first pick of the prizes for ‘Best Specimen Overall’. He then returned to collect his next prize, choosing either £200 or have second pick from the prize table for ‘1st Flattie’. Having entered the pools he also collected a further £170 again for ‘Heaviest Flatty’.

1st Round fish went to T Mitchenson with a dogfish of 2lb 12.5oz(92.7% of local specimen weight). His prize was to collect either £200 or a pick of the remaining prizes on the table.

Heaviest Round fish pools winners went to T.Mitchell with a conger 35lb 8oz(88.7% of local specimen weight) and a win of £155

Contact: PBSBAC.
Tom Bettle. Tel: 44(0)1202 709985.
Chris Witherford. Tel: 44(0)1202 659622.
www.pbsbac.co.uk 

Click here to see some of the pictures from the day.