So began three days of early morning starts!, up at 0500 every Championship day, right through to evening socialising… it was a tiring three days that’s for sure!.
Daily briefings started at 0630, followed by some last minute rigging as required, prior to slipping into the water from 0700 onwards with the competition horn sounding at 0730. It was well organised and things ran smoothly.
There was always a few bits to sort out prior to launching, Hobie H-Crates were carried across from the accommodation with final rigging and tweaks required daily before launch. The competition start was held back to 0730 due to lack of light, with some early daylight required before the organisers were happy that it was sufficiently safe for the Championships to commence.
We all lined up at the ‘Power Pole Start Line’, waiting eagerly for the start horn to sound. It was a great atmosphere, anglers chatting, good humour and wishes of good luck.
With the horn sounded the line surged forward and we were off!.
I fished with Ian Harris and we tried along a promising looking drop off, first cast I missed a hit!. There was a light wind pushing me along a favourable drift though it proved fruitless. I tried it again a couple of times and was finally rewarded with a hook up… or was it?. The line just went solid, though it seemed to be moving under pressure. I was unsure for a few seconds before the line started to head off towards deeper water, yup, fish on!.
It came to life and it quickly became apparent that it was a decent fish, so I took my time, not rushing the fish to the kayak. Eventually is came towards the surface and sure enough it was a good sized Pike, quite lightly hooked as well!. I fumbled a bit with the folding landing net before getting it deployed and the fish safely netted.
Now came the tricky bit, measuring and photographing the fish without screwing it up!. Top of my ‘must do’ list was to ensure that the ‘token’ was place visibly on the fish. It’s not easy to photograph a metre Pike lying across your lap on a large measuring board. I took a few shots and also called in my Team mate to get a couple just for good measure.
It was a cracking pike of 98cm, a great start to the Championship for me. Something had clearly taken quite a large chunk out of it at some time!. With the Pike quota for the day fulfilled I turned my attention to Perch, leaving my Team mate chasing Pike.Well that was until I notice a lot of blood over the kayak deck, had I damaged the Pike somehow?, after all it had been lip hooked. It was then I noticed that the blood was increasing and a quick body check highlighted a cut thumb. It was bleeding heavily but didn’t look like much. I gave it a light squeeze and fat bulged out.. ok, deeper than first thought!.
A closer look revealed it was close to the bone, thank you Mr Pike!. I always take my first aid out out with me, though in 7 years it’s never been used in angler. Today I left it out of the first time ever, talk about sods law!. A tissue paper, a piece of plastic bag and a small length of Velcro produced a make shift bandage. I managed to get it bandaged up a little more professionally when I call a safety boat over sometime later, it really needed a couple of stitches but I wasn’t leaving the water for that!. Lesson learned, always take a first aid kit, however unlikely the chance that you’ll require it.
I switched over to my light spinning rod and secured a small crank bait to the trace. I returned to the spot where I’d caught numerous Perch during the practice day and started fishing. The weather deteriorated, though the wind was still light.
Sure enough I started to catch some Perch, though they we all too small. Most were averaging around 20cm, the biggest I could manage was 23cm, 2cm short of the minimum size!. If I’d had a rolling pin to hand I’d have been very tempted to flatten that fish somewhat!. I managed nine Perch in total, all too small. I moved around and tried a few more marks though I just couldn’t catch a sizeable Perch to save my life, it was extremely frustrating!
With the competition time drawing to a close it was time to head back to check in. Being late would mean getting a time penalty, something I really wanted to avoid. With one Pike in the bag and no other species my hopes weren’t exactly high, though word from the safety boats had pointed to somewhat difficult fishing across the lake.
My Team mate Ian Harris had struggled to find any sizeable fish, though he had been catching. The weather had once again deteriorated with the wind become quite blustery at times,… conditions were certainly challenging.
I checked in and returned to the accommodation the get changed, later heading over the the clubhouse for the evening meal and to get updated on the results. With everyone checked in, photographic submissions checked and approved, the first day results were posted up. I was amazed to find myself in 5th position, especially considering the calibre of the anglers taking part.
It was a great start, though I was under no illusions. To have a chance of success in a three day competition you really need to be catching fish everyday. A poor result in Day 2 could easily seem me slip down to mid-table or below, the big question was could I keep the momentum going?.
Part 4 sees me head into day 2 of the Hobie World Championships.