Take the bait and join in the fun

Big-time beach angling comes to Yorkshire at the end of this month. Stewart Calligan offers a practical guide to the European Championships.

Yorkshire is preparing to welcome the biggest three-day fishing festival in Europe. Formerly known as the British Open Beach Championship, it now attracts a host of stars from the European match circuit competing for a total prize money of 25,000.

Now in its 17th year, the Bridlington-based competition has long been number one with the British sea anglers. This year it has an even more exciting flavour due to the record size of the overseas contingent.

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Besides rubbing shoulders with anglers from Ireland, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, each angler will be able to pick up valuable information, tactics, skills and new techniques.

It's a superb way of networking with sea angling experts and making friends. It's also a golden opportunity to bring in much needed revenue for local businesses at a lean time of year.

It begins on Friday, February 26, with a fun flattie bash competition for the junior anglers. Saturday and Sunday are the main days for all ages and consist of the biggest fish, most weight and team events.

A fishing match of this quality and size is a rare event. It is like the Cup Final, the Wimbledon or the Oscars of the fishing world. The main areas of preparation, after sending off the entry form, are tackle, bait, and safety.

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Anglers are only allowed to use one rod and reel, but it is wise to take a spare of everything. A good tip is to have one or two baited

hooks ready. I use a clip at the end of my reel line and unclip the old and on with the newly-baited juicy worm or squid etc. for each cast. Time is of the essence in match fishing and thought must be given to having a freshly-baited hook in the sea for the maximum time.

Over 2,000 anglers are expected to take part, so get the bait ordered in good time. Fresh lugg worms are the bait of choice. Contact your tackle shop or arrange to dig your own bait in good time. Worms can also be obtained via the internet and posted to your door.

Venue is of the utmost importance. Take into account where the fish have been caught the previous days and weeks, the weather and the state of the tides. The usually quiet East Yorkshire coast will be inundated with anglers and vehicles, so think about parking and how to approach the beach. A dummy run is a good plan at low water. You can look where the gullies are and where the fish will congregate in search of food. Remember to think of local residents when parking and do not trespass on private land to access the beach.

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Safety is paramount. Places like Spurn Point can get cut off when the spring tides are running. If winds and weather push the sea in, a mini tidal surge can cut off the Spurn road. Even if access is all right in the morning the road could be cut off in the evening.

Check to see where the previous high tide came up the beach and make sure you have an exit route planned should the sea wash right up to the cliffs. High water on the Saturday is at 3.28pm at Bridlington (one hour later at Spurn) and is a big tide of 5.99m. On Sunday it is at 4.12 pm and is even bigger at 6.36m.

Fishing is normally from 10am to 4pm. Give yourself plenty of time to drive back to the weigh-in which usually stops promptly at 5.30pm.

Match headquarters for the weekend is at South Cliff Caravan Park, near Bridlington. Entry can be made on the day and the weigh-in of catches is there. A restaurant and bar is available and prize giving is in the evening.

If you wish to enter the match, contact Paul Roggeman. Tel 01482 391668/9. Email [email protected]