Any competitive sport requires a professional approach, to be totally focused on the task and make sure all preparations are to the highest standard possible. My sporting background is Motorsport and for twelve years I competed in Rallying as both a driver and co-driver winning over twenty events over the years. I also competed in Rallycross at which I was lucky enough to win the BTRDA British Championship back in 1988. I also competed in Motorcycle Enduro events but with costs spiraling skywards I finished serious Motorsport competition back in 92. Although still involved to a degree with the sport until 96 I needed a much cheaper but still rewarding and competitive pastime ………Fishing!!!
Some of my friends did question my sanity but I found fishing to be an ideal balance between relaxation and the competitive environment I was used to. I started fishing when I was 8 years old but it had only being a hobby. After moving to Spain permanently in the early millenium I stood fishing for hour after hour with little or no result for my efforts. I trolled web sites, read every book I could get my hands on, watched all the fishing programmes on satellite television until my eyes were square. I could not glean any information on fishing here in Spain. I did learn a lot of fishing craft though; Matt Hayes and Mick Brown on Discovery Home and Leisure have become heroes of mine. Their descriptions in layman’s terms of what they are trying to achieve makes excellent viewing. So in desperation I translated what I required to know and showed it to Luigi Mateos at the ANJU fishing shop in Puerto De Mazarron. How he laughed! Following this first admission that I did not know what I was doing here on the shores of the Mediterranean I was invited by Luigi to a round of the local fishing club championship to see how it was done. This changed everything, no longer did I just want to catch fish, I wanted to compete also. A month later I was taking part in my first competition - my long suffering partner Cherrill really did want me to seek medical attention!
Competition fishing is now a major part of my life and I struggle to describe the pleasure and the buzz I get when competing alongside forty to a hundred other fishermen and women all struggling for the same goal, to catch the most or biggest fish. Just as with Motorsport it all comes down to preparation, being focused and tactics. Together with my weekly columns in the Round Town News I have also along with Luigi just finished the first book in English on the subject of Mediterranean shore fishing, a beginner’s guide. We are also just filming a one hour DVD on the subject so at least some information will be available for newcomers to these shores and they will not have to waste so much time and effort finding out the basics of shore fishing here as I did.
Preparation for a competition starts at least the week before. This year I am competing in around twenty five competitions, local club, Regional, Open and hopefully a National competition. I always try and fish at the venue of the competition a week or so before to get the feel of the terrain under the sea, sand or rocky patches, maybe weed beds. Obviously I will not know exactly where I am fishing until the draw of the peg number on the day of the competition. During a trial five or six hour session at the venue I will make notes of important factors that come to my attention, for example if there are rocks out to sea and how far to cast to avoid getting caught up in them. Remember most competitions take place at night and it all seems very different casting into darkness so any knowledge of the location is beneficial. On the Monday before a competition I order my worm baits. This decision can be a difficult one, as I may not know what bottom I will be fishing and it is crucial to have the correct bait so a compromise may have to be sought. On the Tuesday preceding a competition I prepare terminal rigs suitable for the location. The preparation of these rigs is very important as any problems with tangling or breakages are time wasted. If you have bait in the water and it is not attractive to fish then the clock is ticking. Six hours can pass very quickly especially if fish are scarce. The first two rounds of the Puerto De Mazarron Championship this year have proved that. Bad weather meant over half the competitors did not catch fish, so every second counts. On the Wednesday I will go fishing for casting practice and test a couple of rigs under hard casts. On the Thursday I will simulate the competition, fish for the exact time of the contest and treat as if it were the competition itself. Friday I check every line, spare spools, weights, replace shock leaders with new and make sure every piece of equipment is functioning correctly. In other words try and remove all risk of problems occurring on the night of the competition. Quite simply a malfunctioning reel is either a fish lost or time wasted with the line out of the water when a fish could be caught. Then a good nights rest and look forward to the challenge of the following day. Next week I will describe in detail the competition itself.
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