What an incredible year we have had as a team in the freshwater competition scene.
Earlier on this year, team member Ian Pickering managed to storm through some incredibly tough fishing at Wraysbury to secure first place and an entry pass to the Hobie Worlds Competition!
Last weekend saw myself secure a victory in first place at the World Predator Classics-England on the immensely challenging Grafham Water which is owned by Anglian Water.
After last years WPC, I came away completely destroyed. With the weather being completely against us, and a combination of not knowing the water and being unable to anchor, I was destined to struggle!
This year, I knew I had a huge advantage over last years performance, in the shape of my new kayak, the Old Town Predator PDL! What a game changer this kayak is!
The competition was spread out over two days, the Saturday being the practice day and the competition taking place on the Sunday.
So in true form, the weather was against us on the Saturday, with gusts of up to 30mph and some serious waves being created the further you travelled down the lake. During the practice we managed to locate plenty of Perch shoals, many of which where over the required size for the competition.
We witnessed plenty of boat anglers catching lots of Zander but I was unable to produce the goods on the practice day.
We got of the water at about 4pm and got our gear ready for the Sunday. At 6pm we had a competition briefing with Gary Palmer to run through the rules and conduct for the competition.
That evening something strange happened. Myself and Ian did not frequent the pub! We had a beer in my van, mulled over the tactics for the competition and ended up having an early night!
I woke up at 6am on the Sunday with a lot of clarity, I think this is where things started to go right for me!
After a couple of bacon and egg rolls, we then headed of for a 7.30am launch and waited for the horn to go at 8am. There was plenty of banter amongst the kayak anglers which is always a laugh!
On the sounding of the horn, the kayak anglers shot off in various directions. Myself, Ian Pickering, Mike Haywood and Shaun Milner all proceeded to shoot off down the lake to where we had caught perch the day before. Mike and Ian stopped in front of the sailing club over a shoal of fish whilst Shaun and Myself carried on to the perch spots.
On arrival to the spots that produced the previous day, we quickly discovered, the Perch where either not there or not playing ball.
I left Shaun to carry on with locating the Perch whilst I set about hunting the Zander.
I spoke with a couple of Boat anglers who where catching plenty of Zander, and where eventually happy to let slip some of their tactics in the form of use a green split tail lure!
A quick rummage through my lure box, I found the right lure for the job!
Using my Abu Garcia Veracity rod and a 30g jig head to 15lb Fluro and 6lb braid, loaded on to a Abu Revo spinning reel, I set about vertical jigging whilst drifting on my drogue.
Within 10 minutes of changing tactics, I had a huge slam which was definitely a decent Zander! I got the fish up to the side of the boat and realised it was a PB! With an open mouth thrash on the surface, my lure, complete with stinger came flying towards me minus the fish…. Gutted doesn’t even come close!
I persevered with this method for another half hour when I had my second slam! I struck and stood up in to the fish, bring the Zander to the side of the boat and safely in to the net, nearly falling in the lake as I got hit by a wave, much to the disappointment of the watching boat anglers!
After photographing this Zander at 51cm, I quickly released the fish to then pursue 2 more.
By 1o’clock Id had all three of my Zander and let out a huge cheers once I had safely returned the fish to the water.
Whilst all of this was taking place, we had a photographer whizzing around taking photos of competitors catching fish.
After securing the 3 fish, I continued with the vertical jigging and also managed a 32cm Perch.
This is where I feel I then made the wrong decision to go to a different Perch spot which worked the previous day. I bumped in to Ian here who had caught a few Perch but not many over the required size so I then decided to have a go in the bottom bay out of the wind for Pike.
I spent an hour thrashing the water with plugs and crank baits in a hope of landing a Pike which I hoped would secure me the win. This idea quickly went sour and I decided to continue on the Zander so headed back to my mark to try there.
I had felt I had wasted valuable time at this point and after a quick pep talk from Ian, I went off in search of Perch near to the dam.
By 3.30pm, I hadn’t found any more Perch and knew I had to get back up the lake to be back in time for 4pm and to register my catch.
On arrival to the lodge, the usual questions between the kayak anglers flew around, trying to see who had caught what.
I became apparent very quickly that there where a number of anglers who had caught similar numbers of fish, so it was going to be tight at the top!
The awards presentation couldn’t come quick enough and at 6.30pm, Gary Palmer started the proceedings with the kayak anglers.
As he read out the names of the different angler, the anticipation was immense! Then when he got to the top 3, I then realised I had achieved something that I never really thought I would do!
With the second place going to Shaun Milner, I knew there and then I had not only won my first competition, but one of the biggest competitions in the UK fresh water scene, and by the skin of my teeth as there was only 3cms between me and Shaun!
The prizes I received where no less than amazing and consisted of rods, reels, tackle from various sponsors! I also won a Lowrance Elite TI 7″ Fish Finder which I am incredibly grateful of, but the real icing on the cake is amazing! It is a free golden ticket to the WPC 2018 which is to be held in Holland!
I cannot thank Gary and his team enough for making this years WPC incredible. Anglian Water have once again shown how they are at the forefront of the Kayak fresh water scene and and more than happy to embrace this side of the sport.
The event sponsors who have helped Gary and have supplied an incredible prize table also need to be thanked! They included the following:
- Rueben Heaton
- Ardent Tackle
- The Lure Box
Also a huge well done to all the kayak and Boat competitors, and a huge well done to Mike and James who won the boat competition for the second year running!
I cannot wait for this event next year and honestly cannot wait to get over to Holland and take part in my first international kayak fishing competition.
Thank you for reading and watch this space for further kayak fishing adventures!