With fish few and far be­tween in the big match, a dra­matic change of for­tunes in the clos­ing stages proved de­ci­sive

Sea Angler (UK) - - SEA ANGLER | CONTENTS -

Dis­cover the win­ner of our an­nual event.

When many of the na­tion’s lead­ing an­glers do bat­tle, there are al­ways twists and turns, par­tic­u­larly if the fish­ing is tough and few fish be­ing caught. It means for­tunes can change dra­mat­i­cally, and those who never say die pull a great re­sult out of the bag, of­ten as an event draws to a close. This year’s Penn Sea League fi­nal proved an ex­cel­lent demon­stra­tion of never giv­ing up in the hope of ei­ther a late flurry of fish, or that one, big, match-defin­ing spec­i­men. Once again, 40 top an­glers from the 2017 Penn Sea League had qual­i­fied for the big fi­nal, held this time at the rugged boul­der beach at Boss­ing­ton, in Som­er­set. With con­di­tions not ideal for top-class ac­tion from this pic­turesque venue, it never looked like any­one would run away with the pres­ti­gious event as fish proved hard to find.

It left the match wide open for a dra­matic fi­nale. And so it proved, as both of the two zones were won by an­glers who, with an hour to go, had caught noth­ing. Sud­denly, in no more than the last 45 min­utes, there was late drama.

The big match, fished to a mea­sureto-weight con­ver­sion sys­tem, started in over­cast con­di­tions, with a slight breeze and with the wa­ter hold­ing a slight green­ish tinge rather than what would have been a favoured murky sea. That cur­tailed any chance of an early surge of dog­fish. Peg 1 was lo­cated in front of the bunker mid­way along the curv­ing beach, while peg 40 was close to the im­pos­ing Hurl­stone Point.


Even with­out pre­ferred con­di­tions, there were a few fish caught on the first cast, such as An­drew Dug­dale on peg 2 land­ing a 36cm pol­lack on a sandeel bait, and Si­mon Dray­ton, on peg 10, tak­ing a 20cm wrasse, also on a sandeel be­fore adding the first of two strap con­gers.

In zone B, Rory Jenk­ins, on peg 25, also caught on his first cast, tak­ing a 27cm codling on a crab bait, and adding a 31cm rock­ling, but he was un­able to add any more fish on his match card. On peg 33, Steve Smith, who has won the Penn fi­nal twice, used a rag and mack­erel bait to catch a 55cm dog­fish on his first cast, adding a 44cm sil­ver eel on his third cast.

Gary Pye, on peg 13, caught a 58cm dog­fish on peeler crab on his sec­ond cast, but failed to find any more fish dur­ing the match. On peg 14, Chris West­garth, who won Di­vi­sion One in 2018, caught two rock­ling on crab baits to make a good start, but again failed to add to his match card. On the next peg, Eng­land In­ter­na­tional Saul Page caught a 35cm rock­ling early on to a sandeel bait, but could only add a small wrasse. Match or­gan­iser James Mad­sen, who had qual­i­fied for his first Penn fi­nal, caught 54cm dog­fish on his sec­ond cast, also to a sandeel bait.

An­other an­gler to make a good start was Ian Dancey, on peg 35, where he caught a 45cm strap con­ger on his first cast and added a 20cm pout­ing on the next, both on crab baits, be­fore man­ag­ing to add a 56cm dog­fish later in the catch-and-re­lease event. Oth­er­wise, it was look­ing like many of th­ese top an­glers would fail to regis­ter a fish.

The match was fished from three hours up to high wa­ter and two down. Ac­cord­ing to those who reg­u­larly fish the venue, there was an un­usual lack of strong tidal move­ment on the ebb.

An early pace­set­ter in zone B, at end

peg 40, was Gareth Gar­diner, who took a dou­ble shot of a 33cm rock­ling on crab and a 53cm strap con­ger to sandeel on his sec­ond cast. How­ever, he couldn’t im­prove on that, but mid­way through the match, on ad­ja­cent peg 39, Nathan El­liott, regis­tered fish on his score­card, as first one and then an­other dog­fish took a lik­ing to his sandeel baits.

Black clouds be­gan to move in from the south west in the fi­nal hour of the match, and per­haps a slight change of light con­di­tions prompted a few more fish to feed. For Nathan, it pro­duced the bites and hooked fish, but he lost them in the snaggy ground. Good for­tune was de­sert­ing him.


Back in zone A, it seemed that An­drew Dug­dale, from the Isle of Man, had put him­self in con­tention as a zone win­ner with four fish for 115 points, but Steve Wil­liams, who had been run­ner-up in the Penn Sea League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion in 2017, sud­denly turned the match on its head.

Fac­ing the prospect of a blank, the an­gler from Jar­row stuck it out with his three size 2/0 Ka­masan Up­tide hooks baited with pieces of sandeel. It paid off as, with 45 min­utes left, his rod sig­nalled a thump­ing bite. As he re­trieved the fish (he was us­ing a Zzi­plex Dymic HST rod and Penn 525 Mag reel loaded with 20lb Daiwa ST line), the Ge­ordie knew he had a de­cent fish. Soon he beached a 94cm bull huss, worth a mas­sive 452 points, and sud­denly the match was go­ing his way. With 15 min­utes left, he added a 33cm pol­lack, to fin­ish with a com­fort­able match-win­ning 478 points.

A relieved Steve, who col­lected a £1,000 Penn tackle voucher for his first Penn fi­nal win, said: “I thought about go­ing for small fish, but stuck to my guns with three hooks and big­ger baits.”

That left An­drew Dug­dale in sec­ond in zone A, with Roy Tap­per, on ad­ja­cent end peg 1, tak­ing a 35cm codling and 58cm dog­fish for third. Dar­ren Bond, who had caught a 30cm pol­lack, added a last-cast 59cm dog­fish

to snatch fourth in zone. Next in zone A was Si­mon Dray­ton, who caught the most fish, five. An­other an­gler to have a late change of for­tune was Neville Charlesworth, on peg 16 in front of the breach in the boul­der bank, with his switch to crab baits pro­duc­ing a dou­ble shot of a 32cm pol­lack and 33cm codling, fol­lowed by a small 35cm dog­fish to see him sixth in the zone.

It was a sim­i­lar story in zone B, where Billy Buck­ley, of Glas­gow, on peg 36, was blank­ing with 40 min­utes of the match re­main­ing, but caught a brace of dog­fish on sandeel baits and added an­other shortly af­ter­wards to win the zone and pip Nathan El­liott, on peg 39, who missed five fish late on. A last-cast fish paid off too for Eng­land In­ter­na­tional Ken McCoy, of Sun­der­land, on peg 21, where he se­cured third in the zone with a dog­fish of 66cm, and it also proved to be the big­gest fish in zone B. The say­ing “It’s never over un­til the fat lady sings” was cer­tainly true for this event. In the Penn fi­nal, the large vo­cal­ist cer­tainly kept ev­ery­one wait­ing.

Saul Page and Neville Charlesworth fish­ing at pegs 15 and 16

A small wrasse for Si­mon Dray­ton

Steve Wil­liams lands a pol­lack, shortly after tak­ing the huss (above) A late brace of dog­fish for Billy Buck­ley

After fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Pre­mier Di­vi­sion, Steve Wil­liams wins the Penn Fi­nal

A sandeel bait ready to go out for a dog­fish

A rot­ten-bot­tom rig armed with a fish bait

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