Sunday 27th May and most of the England competitors were able to get out and wet a line after the proposed practice on Saturday was cancelled due to the high winds. As there was no pressure on what to catch, fun was had by all. A few nice fish were caught giving competitors a taste of what to expect for the Championship in the week ahead.
The practicing anglers were back just in time for a quick wash and then muster for the opening parade. This started at the Fish Market by the quay side and was led by a drummer along the sea front road to the “Klif”, which is the local Community House. It is not worth mentioning the rain on the parade, as it was only light, especially compared with later in the week. There was a glass of wine or soft drink to welcome us before everyone took a seat ready for the opening ceremony. Helgi Bergsson of the organising committee said a few words, before introducing the Mayor of Snaefellsbaer, Kristinn Jonasson, who welcomed all to this area of Iceland and wished all good fishing and a good time. The EFSA Chairman Horst Schneider then gave an address and officially opened the 2018 Boat Championship. This was followed by a bowl of lamb stew which is a speciality of Iceland and very nice it was too.
Monday and the Championship got under way. Due to the number of boats available, the organisers had no option but to fish 2 sessions in a day with half the anglers fishing the morning for 5 hours, leaving harbour at 7 o’clock, and the other half fishing the afternoon, from 2 o’clock for 5 hours. Although it meant the afternoon fishing into the evening, it does not make a lot of difference as it is almost 24 hours daylight at this time of year. As it happened, the half of us that got there for the 7 o’clock away were told that there was an hour’s delay, so back to the accommodation for another cup of tea. Sure enough the wind lessened and at 8 o’clock the first anglers got away and the Championships were under way. Fishing was a lot harder than in previous years at the venue but there was still some good rod bending fish caught and interesting species. The species caught in reasonable numbers were cod, coalfish, redfish and dab and, in smaller numbers, catfish, plaice, whiting, haddock and small halibut, which scored but under Icelandic law no halibut can be landed, so had to be released immediately. After the morning session it was all change and the boats went out again for the afternoon session. In the afternoon the boats went to different marks and some bigger fish were recorded. When the results were in, there were 29 anglers on 100%! Of the boat winners there were 7 from England, Vernon Allen, Graham Lewis, Nigel Hearn, Andy Smith, Neil Cottington, Ash Currier and Mike Smith.
Tuesday and no one went to sea, most people being reluctant to leave their accommodation! Besides the horizontal rain the wind did not drop below a gale force 8 all day. So plenty of time to relax and to tie some different rigs, with the hope of a better performance next time out!
Day 2 of fishing was similar to first day, with different species hard to find for many. Anglers found the fishing harder possibly due to the strong wind all day yesterday. So with a maximum score of 200% there were now 8 double boat winners, including Nigel Hearn and Andy Smith. Close behind them were Ash Currier on 199.37% and Mike Smith on 197.73%.
Day 3 and it was all over for most, so it was fish for fun and the teams but hope to maybe hook a big fish for one of the biggest fish awards. The problem for many was the size limits for fish to count and when you get a double shot of coalfish under size, followed by a haddock and whiting double shot again under size, so nothing to score you realise the day is not going well!. As with many of the fish for instance whiting, on my boat about 10 were caught between the 5 anglers with just 2 over the minimum size. As with the whole Championship, many people returned to shore, with 80% knowing that one more fish, with the fish points and 15 species points and they would have been a boat winner!
Friday was a clear day, until the presentation later. At 1800hrs the presentation was held and now there were just the 3 people on a perfect score of 300%. In gold pin position was Peter Skudal from Norway, Scott Gibson from Scotland with the silver pin and from England it was Andy Smith who was proud to be presented with the bronze pin by the EFSA Chairman Horst Schneider. Just out of the pins in 4th was Ash Currier with a credible score of 299.37% and Nigel Hearn in 6th with 298.29%
England members won 3 of the best fish awards, Alan Bird with a 118cm coalfish, Rob Quinn with a 46cm redfish and Andy Smith with a Sculpin of 22cm.
The 4 man team of Colin Searles, Nigel Hearn, Ken Smith and Marcus Wuest achieved the bronze medal, with anglers from Norway gold and silver to a team of Scots and Norwegians.
To conclude, Horst Schneider handed the EFSA flag to Kim Bowden, who received it on behalf of EFSA England, as we are hosting the 2019 European Boat and Line Championships. Kim said a few words of thanks to Iceland for ensuring that we all had a good week, despite the many challenges they had. Kim then extended a welcome to all to join us next year in Weymouth.
Following the presentation there was a buffet, I can’t comment too much on that, as by the time our end of the room went up, all the prawns and sea food was gone but the meat and potatoes that remained were very good. Then there was musical entertainment and time to talk of what could have been during the week and time to say farewells to the other anglers, until we meet again with a rod in hand.