Malta European Shore November 2015
Our intrepid party of 14 adventurous souls with 12 wives and girlfriends travelled to the beautiful island of Malta to partake in the EFSA European shore event.
On Monday, the day after we arrived it was the official practice day held just outside our hotel on the rocky ledges around St Pauls Bay. The bait allowance for the practice which was the same as in the competition consisted of 2 small boxes of 25 ragworm, a bowlful of prawn, 4 small mackerel, 2 large sheets of doughy bread, a large bag of plain ground bait mix and a 1kg bag of strong smelling cheese based ground bait, an enormous amount in total that filled a bucket!
With a tidal fall of less than a metre and no discernible tide, leads of less than 1oz were all that was required and as the delicate 0.28mm clear 2 way bead paternoster rigs were flicked out 20 or 30 yards baited with small pieces of ragworm, they were immediately grabbed by hungry rainbow and peacock wrasse the vast majority of which didn’t make the minimum size of 15cm. To avoid these, the anglers soon started trying different rigs and using larger baits.
Tony Porritt caught a garfish at range as others cast out a little further (if they didn’t lose the rig in the snaggy bottom) being rewarded with painted comber, bream and parrot fish that often exceeded the 15cm mark. Although we all caught fish, relatively few made the size limit and even though we saw the garfish only Tony landed one with Paul H having one on before it jumped out of the water and shook off the hook.
On the second we went on a sightseeing trip to Valetta, Medina and other places of interest which was very interesting and informative and culminated in 2 hours at a tackle shop to stock up with tackle (which would soon to be left in the rocks) followed by a trip to a vineyard for wine tasting.
Competition Day 1
Saw us travelling to the furthest venue at Marsaskala one hour away. The venue consisted of rocky ledges with gullies and a shelf in some places that fish had a habit of diving under leading to many lost rigs. Ragworm and shrimp were the main baits and species were many, varied and often very colourful consisting of rainbow, peacock and brown wrasse with several species of bream along with blue runners, painted comber, parrot fish and scorpionfish which due to their venomous nature were credited at 15cm and returned without being measured irrespective of size and many were very small indeed and some anglers had up to 10 of these mini-stingers. Although many rigs and hooks were lost all anglers had recorded sizeable fish but the Maltese, Italians and Dutch had dominated the top positions in each section, a trend that was to continue over the remaining two days. David Evans had recorded an impressive 2nd in section using long distance tactics to locate the bigger fish with Jerry Knight a 3rd place and Richard Russell and Stuart Evans 4th places having found areas of scorpionfish to boost the catches. England B finished the day in 6th place, 5 points ahead of England A in 8th.
Competition Day 2
Day 2 was fished along the rocky ledges of Sliema where the severe underwater shelf made tackle losses high but generally better catches with Stuart finishing 2nd in his section but no other individual English anglers in a position better than 5th in section. Float fishing or long distance casting seemed to be the most effective methods due to the rocky overhangs with hook sizes 8 or 6 to minimise the undersized fish (less than 15cm) that swallowed sizes 10 and sometimes even the size 8’s. Top places were once again dominated by Maltese, Italian and Dutch anglers that seemed most used to this type of fishing with 7 metre rods and small floats just under the rod tips.
Competition day 3
The 3rd and final day was fished at Bahar ic Caghaq along a very uneven and treacherous inlet where the fishing ground was less snaggy but large areas of eel grass proved to be a haven for fish and lost hook lengths. As the onshore wind picked up in strength it made float fishing very difficult and once again longer distance casts avoided snags and picked out the larger fish. With 15 fish caught at distance Dave Lovelock finished an excellent 2nd in his zone, Reg Clough 3rd and Paul Hart 5th to give the England A 7th place just 4 points behind Netherlands A in 6th and 4 points ahead of England B in 8th.
The top 3 individuals were Stewart Jones in 21st, Reg Clough 23rd and Paul Hart 27th with most of the other English anglers within 5 zone points of these. We didn’t expect to finish high on the results but there were some notable individual days and we would be much better prepared for this type of fishing in the future learning a lot in a short space of time.
However in the socialising competition we were big winners. The hotel and facilities were excellent and the weather was sunny throughout with temperatures in the mid-70’s every day. EFSA Malta were very welcoming hosts and organised the fishing and transfers well with plenty of stewards on hand to record our fish promptly. This was a learning experience for them too having not hosted an event such as this before and special praise must go to Charles Caruana and his organising committee who did all they could to make our experience as enjoyable as possible and the food at the Gala Dinner was without a doubt one of the best spreads any of us have seen, and we have been to quite a few. Breakfast was varied and the staff had no problem with us making up packed lunches to take along each day of the competition. Local restaurants were many, varied and excellent and the happy hour every evening from 7 was always well supported as we took full advantage of the 2 for the price of 1 offer to start the evening nicely loosened up. The entire 26 English section contingent enjoyed our stay with many large groups dining together every night at various locations and we all felt this was a social event with a little fishing thrown in rather than the other way round. Most of us were 1st time visitors to Malta and had a great time on this interesting, historic island and all vowed to return one day soon with or without our fishing rods.
21st. Stewart Jones 23rd. Reg Clough
27th. Paul Hart 28th. Allan Jones
30th. David Evans 32nd. Jerry Knight
34th. Richard Russell 36th. Kim Bowden
39th. Dave Lovelock 40th. Paull Curtice
44th. Barrie Senior 50th. Anthony Porritt
Due to injuries Dave Clarke was only able to fish one Day and Budge Booker was not able to fish at all and even spent a night in hospital with a knee injury but both played a full part in the socialising each evening.
An enjoyable trip was had by one and all as we slapped on our factor 30 sun creams as those at home shivered in the rain and snow.
Report by Paul Hart