Sea Fishing: European showdown proves a big success

Graham Elliott of Hull, champion of the 2017 Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championship, holding aloft his winning catch of a thorny backed ray
Graham Elliott of Hull, champion of the 2017 Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championship, holding aloft his winning catch of a thorny backed ray
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In the City of Culture year what better culture for the seafaring city of Kingston Upon Hull than around 1,000 anglers competing for the European beach fishing crown? A jewel in that crown would be, if only a local Hull angler could beat the best fisherpersons in Europe this year - please read on.

Hull’s year in the limelight has already seen a sculpture unveiled to the 6,000 lost trawlermen of Hull at Zebedee’s Yard on the site of the former Trinity House School Chapel. It comprises 90 stainless steel replica ship’s bows and complements a new memorial to the lost trawlermen on St Andrew’s Quay made of steel showing larger than life silhouettes of genuine Hull trawlermen looking out across the Humber River.

In other noteworthy developments, Jenny and Lee, Hull’s ‘Gogglebox’ couple have appeared at a City of Culture event and a giant wheel is to be erected in the city centre next month. A controversial circus performance of trapeze style dance at the city’s historic cemetery has been given the go ahead, and Spencer Tunick’s sea of Hull’s naked SKÍN exhibition of photographs in Ferens Art Gallery will depict the 3,200 naked blue people in Queens Gardens.

Back to the fishing and the weather forecast on the day of Paul Roggeman’s European Open Beach Championship (EOBC) was for rain in the west of the county and for finer and brighter conditions towards the coast.

At 10am I drove the 50 miles from North Cave to Spurn in continuous rain. The anglers taking part in the 24th EOBC had been fishing since 8am and some had been on the beaches since 5am to secure a good position.

Sea conditions were described as moderate but at Kilnsea I saw waves breaking 50 yards out with a stiff south westerly blowing out to sea.

The unusual aspect, which really tested the angler’s skills, was that low water was halfway through the match and we all know that we catch more fish over high water. This, coupled with a lively sea, saw some anglers wading out waist deep to cast that bit further but as they say, it was the same for everyone.

The best fish on the Saturday was a 2.485kg - 5.5lbs - cod caught by Phil Harrison of Sunk Island, Holderness.

On the Sunday the weather was much kinder, lowering the seas, less wind and some sun. More fish were caught including a very tasty Dover Sole weighing in at 0.76kg - 1.6lbs - from Richard Hoe of Patrington, East Yorkshire, but the very best catch was a handsome thorny backed ray landed by Graham Elliott of Hull and weighing a whopping 4.325kg - 9.5lbs - to give him the coveted title of the Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championship Champion of 2017.

Well done to all: the competitors from across Europe, the organisers, the sponsors, the general public who find their quiet seaside lanes and car parks full of anglers, tackle and bait shops, weather gods and finally the obliging slippery sea creatures that make this annual match such a unique occasion.

This year’s catch was 85 per cent whiting, with a small mixture of cod, flatties, skate and bass - which had to be returned to the sea in compliance with European Union rules.

In the evening presentations of £35,000 in prizes were distributed to the winning anglers, the local economy was boosted at a quiet time of the year and I got to make whiting fishcakes, a great Yorkshire delicacy. On the plate with orange boiled carrots and bright green garden peas, it both looks and tastes good.

Will Hall, of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and his team including Tez, the widow of the European Open’s founder Paul Roggeman, did a sterling job and I’m looking forward to the ‘Silver’ 25th EOBC in 2018.