DAY OF DES­TINY

A visit to the Scar­bor­ough An­gling Fes­ti­val comes with a hair-rais­ing de­scent of a 300ft cliff face

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS -

A hair-rais­ing cod ses­sion for Andy Webb.

Hav­ing seen some An­gling Ad­ven­tures footage of me ab­seil­ing down a cliff to tar­get rays, I was set a chal­lenge by top York­shire an­gler Paul Medd. He wanted to in­tro­duce me to a mag­i­cal venue known as the ‘Bemp­ton Bird Dash’, which I’m told is one of the best cod fish­ing venues in York­shire.

Not for the faint-hearted, it in­volved me turn­ing into a moun­taineer and us­ing a har­ness and at­tach­ing my­self to ropes to de­scend the 300ft cliff face.

It was some­thing, I was told, that had never been cov­ered by any mag­a­zine writer. Many have reached the point of the en­trance to the mark and re­turned to their car.

My date with des­tiny was dur­ing Septem­ber’s 108th Scar­bor­ough An­gling Fes­ti­val. In the his­tory of UK sea an­gling, the week-long event is one of the old­est of its kind, host­ing a wide range of shore and boat events.

Be­lieve it or not, this was some­thing I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to tak­ing on while cov­er­ing the event for Sea An­gler and Sea An­gling Ad­ven­tures. Along with Nick Pan­ther, I’d driven from Devon to Scar­bor­ough, where we’d ar­ranged to meet Paul at Coso’s tackle shop. Tag­ging along would be Liam Costins and Pe­ter Atkin­son to film part of the fes­ti­val.

We spent a few hours in the store, where it was great to wit­ness the ban­ter and hu­mour be­tween the shop own­ers and the an­gling cus­tomers. It was a good vibe ahead of the fi­nal week­end’s fish­ing of the fes­ti­val.

HOP­ING FOR COD

At that stage Paul was lead­ing the score­board, but things were close, and he would have to be on his game to re­main at the top against some of the best north­ern an­glers. Big­gest fish of the week so far had been a cod of 16lb to Penn Sea League fi­nal win­ner Steve Wil­liams.

The Fri­day night match was the Scar­bo­ri­ans’ Tro­phy, which was a rov­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the sin­gle heav­i­est fish. With the match start­ing at 6.30pm, Nick and I had a few hours to spare, so we booked into our B&B at Hil­ford House, at Cross­gates, Scar­bor­ough, be­fore head­ing out to look around the town. The cas­tle was amaz­ing, with breath­tak­ing views of the coast­line.

At 5pm we made our way to a mark known as ‘The Land­ing’, where we met Paul and his fa­ther David Medd. Both were keen to get the Fri­day night event un­der way, and made their way up the steps on to the har­bour wall from where they would fish off large rocks into deep wa­ter over a kelpy seabed. They hoped to see plenty of cod.

Af­ter spend­ing an hour film­ing, it was time to get the rods out as the rest of the an­glers spread out along the coast­line, stepped for­ward and blasted their baits sea­wards. It was not long un­til we saw the first bite, when Paul’s rod tip arced for­ward. Rigs were very sim­ple with ba­sic rot­ten-bot­tom tac­tics and crab baits.

Paul reeled hard to keep the fish off the bro­ken ground and up­wards to­wards the sur­face, and mo­ments later a nice codling ap­peared. The fish­ing seemed to be very quick here as the an­glers started to pull in fish af­ter fish, which also in­cluded a small coal­fish. There used to be a few coalies in my area down in the South West many years ago, but they seem to have dis­ap­peared over the years.

At around 8pm, Paul and David packed up so they could get an hour on an­other lo­cal venue. Nick and I headed back to meet the an­glers re­turn­ing to the An­glers So­cial Club

in Scar­bor­ough. Soon the club was a hive of ac­tiv­ity as lots of an­glers joined the queue to the weigh-in, but there were no huge fish to trou­ble the scales. In­stead, first place went to a vis­it­ing an­gler with a fish of 4lb 8oz.

START­ING YOUNG

With a very early start for Satur­day’s ju­nior event, the Robin Jack­son Cup, we headed to Cay­ton Sands where we were greeted by an on­shore breeze and a very choppy sea. It did not look like an ideal day for the ju­niors to have their com­pe­ti­tion. How­ever, these young­sters meant busi­ness.

It is likely that most an­glers head­ing down to fish this beach in these con­di­tions would have had one or two casts and packed up and headed back up the hill. How­ever, the ju­niors, who were all part­nered with an adult for safety rea­sons, were lov­ing it. They had been fish­ing an hour, and the only ju­nior to catch a fish was young Isaac Cone, aged five, who had caught a small codling and could not wait to claim some win­nings.

It was great to see the adult an­glers get­ting in­volved with bring­ing the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion for­ward into this fan­tas­tic sport. Ed­u­ca­tion is a ma­jor part in this sport, and start­ing them young will help build their an­gling skills from the start. I re­ally wish I’d had ex­pe­ri­ences like this to re­mem­ber when I was a child.

Young Isaac and his grandad Pe­ter de­cided to call it a day with half an hour to go, but with min­utes left, 12-year-old Wil­liam But­ter­field pulled out a codling live on the Sea An­gling Ad­ven­tures Face­book group page.

His fish was the same size as Isaac’s, so first place was shared.

HIGH-SPEED RIDE

Af­ter­wards, I man­aged to get Nick to agree to go on a high-speed boat ride around the bay. Know­ing his fear of boats, it was a hi­lar­i­ous 15 min­utes that had 17,000 Face­book view­ers in tears of laugh­ter. Af­ter the boat ride we headed off to get ready for the evening’s Scar­bor­ough Open An­gling Cham­pi­onship, which is a rov­ing com­pe­ti­tion for great­est weight of fish.

The evening saw us back at the har­bour, where an­glers were start­ing to turn up and bag their spots. As Nick and I made our way up the line chat­ting and in­ter­view­ing an­glers, ev­ery­one seemed to be full of hope.

About halfway into the match we got to­gether with David Medd, who had caught a small codling, and was fish­ing along­side one of the ju­nior win­ners, his grand­son Wil­liam But­ter­field. At the evening’s weigh-in, lo­cal an­gler Ian Thomp­son se­cured first place with 15lb 13oz 8dr. Af­ter the awards, we headed back to the B&B to get a good night’s sleep ready for a very early start on the Sun­day morn­ing and the last day of the event.

THE BIG EVENT

The All Eng­land Codling Cham­pi­onship is a pop­u­lar com­pe­ti­tion within the fes­ti­val, and the fi­nal shore event, so it at­tracts a de­cent turnout. This year 111 an­glers took part.

Nick was due to meet up with a few lo­cal an­glers at the har­bour, but I, on the other hand, was about to visit the fa­bled Bemp­ton Bird Dash, where a lad­der has been bolted to the side of the cliff to make the shore be­low ac­ces­si­ble.

It was very im­pres­sive to see how the an­glers had put so much ded­i­ca­tion into the safety of fish­ing the venue with rope points and safety at­tach­ment ar­eas. I felt like I was about to go on a roller-coaster for the first time. It was that strange feel­ing of the un­known. Af­ter a 20-minute walk, David, Paul and I ap­proached the side of a cliff face, which was around 300ft high. The first part of the climb looked nerve-rack­ing be­cause it in­volved de­scend­ing around 20ft and then edg­ing our­selves around the cor­ner of the cliff be­fore climb­ing down a triple ex­ten­sion lad­der.

As I ap­proached the top of the lad­der, I looked down to see about a yard of space from the foot of the lad­der to an­other 200ft drop. I walked to the side and set up the cam­eras. An­glers were al­ready queue­ing to head down and take ad­van­tage of the su­perb cod fish­ing at this venue. Af­ter the lo­cal an­glers reached the bot­tom, I started to go down the cliffs us­ing the ropes. The venue re­minded me of the Bris­tol Chan­nel. The an­glers would be fish­ing over kelp and rough ground tar­get­ing cod, but, due to the weather, the venue was very weeded out. Again, big crab baits seemed to be the key. Af­ter reel­ing in a lot of weed on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, David de­cided to move fur­ther down the rocks to the other side of the an­glers to our left, where it looked like they were not hav­ing so many prob­lems with the weed.

GREAT AT­MOS­PHERE

Af­ter an hour or so into the ses­sion, David’s rod tip showed signs of a bite. A cod was at­tack­ing his bait. Mo­ments later David had

reached down to pick up his catch. The lads to the right were also into a few codling and it seemed that in no time at all I had to head back up the cliff and meet Nick for the weigh-in.

Back at the an­gler’s club, the con­tes­tants started to turn up with some im­pres­sive bag weights of fish.

First place went to lo­cal an­gler Mark Thomas with 34lb 8oz 12dr, in­clud­ing the heav­i­est fish of 5lb 9oz.

At the awards that evening, the at­mos­phere was amaz­ing. To see how they all fished against one an­other all week, but then came to­gether for a few beers at the end was su­perb.

It’s a re­ally great part of the coun­try to fish, and has some su­perb an­glers.

As the awards were read out, it seemed fit­ting for us that top spot for the most points dur­ing the shore an­gling events in the fes­ti­val went to our guide Paul.

All I can say is roll on next year’s event. ■

Paul Medd fish­ing at Scar­bor­ough

... with ba­sic rot­ten-bot­tom tac­tics and crab baits

Rigs were kept very sim­ple...

Work un­der­way at the weigh in

Film­ing for the Sea An­gling Ad­ven­tures cam­era

Dave Medd keeps out the cold and catches the cod

Above: Isaac Cone with dad Pe­ter and Wil­liam But­ter­field with his grandad Dave Medd

Be­low: Miles I’An­son with the tro­phy for the big­gest fish for a ju­nior an­gler

A codling for Wil­liam But­ter­field

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