Team mate Ian Harris and I arrived in Hellevoetsluis, Holland a few days early in the hope to try and find some good fishing marks before the World Predator Classic kicked off. We were keen to at least catch some fish to ensure our mojo’s were with us.
During practice you want to find fish and catch one, to ensure they are feeding, before moving onto the next mark. Ian was first to catch at all the marks in the first couple of days and although we had some cracking catches for the team, I had yet to catch a fish. On the last day of practice I finally had a cracking hit on a shad in 14ft of water. It was a cracking perch that weighed in at 3.5lb’s a fish of a lifetime in the UK, but just a good fish in Holland.
Then what should have been a day of rest turned into rushing around, sorting out the tackle, rigging lures and registering at the Tournament HQ.
The event then started with a boat and kayak parade down the main channel to the lake and a flag march with all the competitors and a brass band, we marched through the town and up to the Cannons on the shore of the lake. The organisers and local Mayor made speeches and then the guns were fired which was very impressive, despite the rain.
First day of the competition started with a safety briefing and changes to some of the rules, no trolling, Ian and I use the method to find fish, a major blow, the area we could fish was reduced significantly to an area which we had only spent an hour in during practice as we favoured other area’s, another blow. Oh and the wind was howling and the rain pouring down.
We started in a shower from the harbour and all raised up canal to the main entrance, keeping close to shore as turned into the first bay, I peeled off to fish the weed beds and Ian continued to the far side of the bay where we knew there were some fish.
The day was hard in very rough conditions. I finally found zander in 11m of water, they hit the lures but wouldn’t take them, so I added a stinger, a short length of wire attached to the main hook with a small treble hook which was attached towards the tail of the lure.
Finally a fish, a zander, not particularly big, but I was on the score board, I continued to fish for another 30 mins with a few missed fish, but no more to the kayak, then we were instructed off the water, somebody had capsized.
Day 2 and we were woken to high winds. At the briefing it was decided that we would be fishing a canal that ran through town for safety reasons. This was excellent news, as the locals don’t fish it. I spoke to the local fishing tackle shop owner as we went past the dock, his wife was on our team, he told me where to try and I shared the zander mark from the day before for his wife.
After we went through the main lock we all raced down through the harbour, everyone had the same idea of fishing the structure under the shopping centre that spanned across the canal. I gave it 30 mins then left and moved to the next bridge which was almost empty, first drift along the wall under the bridge, one hit, then again, then fish on. I had very light line on and the reel was screaming. I had had to lay all my rods down on the deck, as the bridge was very low, this meant I couldn’t get my net out from under them so I lay a hand under the fish and lifted it on board, it was a lovely zander. As I was measuring and photographing one of the other competitors who had been watching did the same thing and caught a monster of a zander, the biggest of the day.
Apart from a few more hits on the lures there was nothing else for me.
Day 3 arrived and we hoped to be back in the canal, the overnight leader board put our team in 1st place and I was personally in 8th place. Ian was 3rd, we were both quite nervous.
We were told to head to a marina on the far side of the lake. After the safety briefing we started off out the marina. This was a new area outside the kayak zone, the locals had fished it before and we knew that Gary on our boat team had a 125cm pike from the left hand size close to shore so we headed that way, others went right.
We needed zander to keep our position safe, but only found perch, we knew we might lose some places in the individual comp, but were hopeful our team position was safe.
In the afternoon we moved to the other side of the marina to hunt for the zander and heard of big catches, as we both got set up to fish the marshals came over and stopped the event, a weather warning had been received and all competitors had to stop fishing.
Then the long wait for the results, we knew we had beaten our closest rivals the Westin Team who were in second place behind us as one of them had failed to catch. Then the results came in.
We had dropped a place but still 2nd in the Team event, a fantastic result for the Trokar Reuben Heaton Kayak Fishing Team. We both dropped places in the final individual competition, Ian getting an excellent 4th place and I at the very last minute as I was waiting to go on stage for my 10 place was shunted down to 11th… still not entirely sure why!
Roll on 2017, hopefully we will be back for more.