Its always with a degree of trepidation that I head off for the annual Open at Putsborough beach as this year as most I seem to have the chief role of booking in and weighing in. Whilst this not major stress there is always the potential for mistakes especially at the weigh in. Leading up to the competition weather is the prime concern and the weather forecast is studied with care for if its diabolical it may be wise to cancel. We had not had cancel in over twenty years and in May or June good weather should be the norm.
This year the wind was forecast to be light southeast the dampener was heavy rain forecast to arrive during the evening. Well they were not far off; the rain arrived at 9:30 and the wind forecast to be light built as the night went on increasing to a force 4 to 5 westerly.
The booking in went OK despite a slight last minute shuffle due to a miscommunication with the landowner. Anglers arrived steadily paying their entry before striding purposefully off towards the retreating tide.
Shortly after 9.30pm I set off with Kevin Legge, Riichard Budge and Dave Brooke aiming to trudge to the end of the line. After twenty minutes or so we arrived at a suitable gap in the line of anglers. Not to far from the end of the line and probably closer to Woolacombe than Putsborough.
I tackle up eagerly, bait up with a thawed out sandeel and wade out into moderate surf punching the baits out into the dark waters. It feels good to be in the surging water despite the cool rain that is being driven by the moderate breeze.
The rods are set in the rests tips bent slightly towards the weight that is anchored seventy or eight yards out. I ring home to give a report but before the call is answered the rod tip give s nod before plunging seaward the reels ratchet rasping pleasingly. I pick up the rod; and tighten the line feeling for an indication of life on the end of the line. Feeling weight I lift into the fish and start retrieving line pumping steadily enjoying the sensation of the fish pulsating on the line attempting to hug the bottom.
Walking out into the surf I lean over to lift a small-eyed ray from the cool water. At 6lb 1oz it’s a good start to the night.
Dan Spearman is fishing next to me and is soon striding over for me to witness his first ray of the night a fish of just over 5lb. Half an hour after my first ray I am in action again beaching a small eyed of 7lb 1oz this fish gives a spirited account as I persuade it towards the shoreline.
A few dogfish follow before all goes quiet as the tide floods in. With the rain beating down its not a hard decision to make packing away my gear to get back and arrange the prize table before the competitors arrive back.
I do not have to wait long before competitors arrive to hand over their soggy entry forms listing the fish they have caught and the relevant weights and witness. I scribble the details down and ask for assistance in ascertaining the relevant specimen ratings. Callum Gove does a grand job. Matt Jeffery offers to help sort the placings and after fifteen minutes or so we are ready to announce the winners.
I thank everyone for fishing and read out the winning names inviting them to select one of the many excellent prizes donated by Sakuma Tackle, Braunton Baits and Ammo.
Dan Spearman is the winner with his ray of 10lb 4oz. Graham Snow runner up with a bull huss of 9lb 11oz.