Something’s never go to plan ... having just got home from China, I had a week to prepare for The Hobie Predator Open at De Banaan, Ooltgensplaat, Holland.
Ferry was booked for midnight on Thursday, the DFDS website was showing the 10:00 pm crossing as full. Never mind we might need the extra time as my car was back with the garage for the third time in less than a fortnight and wouldn’t be finished until 5:00 pm, so no time to test drive. Ian and I got the car loaded up and headed off early just in case we broke down. We didn’t, we got to Dover and might have just scrapped onto the 10pm if we were lucky. We sailed through passport checks, both UK and French, and headed towards check in. Then we were waved towards Border Security and a car search, I got a body pat down whilst Ian chuckled in the car.
We got to check in five minutes after boarding had been closed, so we waited for the midnight ferry.
After a two hour crossing we were on our way again, a couple of hours into the drive I was struggling to keep my eyes open, we pulled over and slept in the car for a few hours.
At 7:00 am we woke, I had a quick coffee and we were back on the road, heading to the tackle shop on the way for a few jig heads and anything else that might grab our attention.
We then headed to the campsite and off loaded some of our gear before driving the short distance to the Tournament launch site at De Banaan.
We had 3 hours prefishing, a few fish were found, Ian having plenty of fish whilst I explored more areas.
Tournament registration and briefing was later that evening along with a cold beer, some grub and chatting to old friends and new.
5am alarm call and we were up and off in the dark to set up before the mornings briefing and a 7:30 am launch from the beach. Only nineteen kayak fishermen entered things were looking good for a top five finish.
We all raced off from the start. It wasn’t long before I was into a fish on a blade/vibe lure, it was one I’d brought back from China, sadly it was just 10 cm perch, well under the legal limit. A few more casts and I hooked something better, I saw what looked like a nice perch at first, then I noticed there were no stripes, it was a bream, my first on a lure and another time I would have been chuffed to bits, but not during a comp.
The search for legal fish continued for the rest of the day with only a few knocks on my lures, all in all disappointing. Ian hadn’t faired much better with a couple of nice Asp, but no legal fish.
We headed straight back to the campsite as we had some work to do before the morning including having a couple of beers and food.
Overnight the rain moved in and boy did it rain, Noah would have started to put the hours in with the amount of rain we had… it would continue all of the next day as well.
The rain let up whilst we rigged the kayaks and readied for the launch, then it came and went for the rest of the day along with a very strong wind. Gero and his team decided to keep both zones open with the possibility of reducing zone B if things got a little crazy.
I headed straight to an area where I had seen fish pulled out the day before and started to fish, I was soon joined by Michael from Germany and we fished hard for two to three hours with only a couple of bites and an Asp for Michael.
Then the reason for no fish was obvious, a seal appeared. What the hell was he doing here in freshwater? Anyway that was the fishing done in that area.
Ian was having as much luck as I was. I tried vertical, casting, surface, mepps, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits, softplastics, UL lures, big old lures, light colours, dark colours, bright colours, Ian finally got a legal perch before the end of the comp, I had only 2 bites all day.
Some competitors had more productive days including Felippe Esser who had blanked on day one. He managed an incredible 328 cm to finish in fourth place overall
Well done to Wolfgang Schulze with 437 cm of fish, he took third spot, Ronald Traas in second with 477 cm and getting a place in the Hobie Fishing Worlds and finally Tomasz Kurnik, who came in with 510 cm and won himself a airline ticket to the Hobie Fishing Worlds in Louisiana.
What went wrong with our fishing, we have no idea, maybe we had both run out of fishing mojo? Maybe we didn’t prepare enough. We know we were fishing productive marks, others were pulling out fish, although not many. Who knows, hope it never happens again.
As we packed away all our fishing gear the rain poured down, really poured down, it was crazy weather. So glad I hadn’t changed out of my paddle gear.
We missed the 10:00 pm ferry again and I had to get up at 6:00 am for work!