Open Beach fishing championships are cancelled for first time since they began in 1994

Pre-Covid, I normally announce the dates of the Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championship at this time of year.

The Championships have been cancelled for the first time their inception in 1994

My friends in the events department of the East Riding of Yorkshire County Council have had to cancel it for the first time since its inception in 1994.

Spare a thought for the team who make the match possible starting the process last September. It will be sadly missed by the anglers and the local economy but a choice between fishing or possible death? A great match with lots of fish just scraped in last year from March 6-8.

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Back to this year and my colleagues who live ‘local’ to the beach have reported some good cod, whiting and bass catches. Keeping a keen eye on the Government’s rules re recreational fishing which has been classed as ‘exercise’ I found a good summary on the Canal and River Boards Trust website.

The rules are to fish alone, with members of your household or support bubble or with one other person from another household whilst observing the two-metre rule. The emphasis is on ‘local.’ A 30-mile drive to my nearest beach is a definite no-no, despite fishing being excellent medicine for one’s mental health. My mental health was boosted when I received 0.5ml of the AstraZeneca vaccine in my right deltoid in York three weeks ago.

My last fishing trip before the lockdown entailed a drive to Mappleton, just south of Hornsea. It was freezing when I walked along the long sandy beach with even the salty sand frozen white near the cliffs. With cut-out finger gloves, long John’s, several layers of thermals and neoprene-lined wellington boots, I braved the elements.

After setting up one rod with mussel and squid bait, I warmed my hands in my trouser pockets. When thawed out I nimbly set up a second rod with lugg and squid bait. Keeping warm doing star jumps and knee bends the bait was refreshed every 15 minutes.

It took until an hour before the top of tide before my rod tips began to bounce. I thought it might be a shoal of juvenile whatevers. Changing to small hooks and bait produced two small whiting. Then came two bigger whiting, well over the ‘take-home’ size of 11 inches.

The whiting is an underrated fish and is normally returned. Every now and then I take a few home as very tasty fishcakes can be made from the delicate white flaky flesh. They always remind me of Lewis Carroll’s Lobster Quadrille poem in Alice in Wonderland. “Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail. “There’s a porpoise close behind and he’s treading on my tail.”

It makes me smile in these difficult times and I hope it does the same for you.