Welsh Success At Weymouth WIBAC

by David Proudfoot

After a successful EFSA European Championships at Weymouth Andy and Charlotte Selby of Weymouth Angling Centre came up with the idea of a five day competition to be fished out of the UK’s busiest charter port. After decisions on the week long format the YYS Boat Championships was born in 2001. The competition name later changed to the Weymouth International Boat Angling Challenge or WIBAC while retaining its successful format.

Fladen logo

The competitors fish five separate competitions over the week with the bonus of an overall event based on boat percentage scores. The success of the event can be seen from the fact that the WIBAC is now in its 17th year and has a cash prize list of over £10,000. The prizes are spread out over the five days with £100 for the best score on the boat and daily cash prizes for the top three as well as the top three overall. The top fifteen anglers overall, teams and specimen fish prizes are covered by tackle sponsorship from Fladen.

With continued substantial sponsorship from Fladen Fishing and Weymouth Angling Centre the 2017 saw just under 70 entrants from all over the UK, Europe and the Scandinavian countries turn up at the start of October.

Offshore Rebel at the quayside

Offshore Rebel at the quayside. This was skipper Paul Whittall’s final WIBAC event before retirement

Despite a horrendous forecast the previous week the weather gods smiled on the Organisers, skippers and anglers and only one minor change was required to the fishing program.

High Fives at the WIBAC

The tail end of the low pressure which crossed the south east English coast left behind a lift on the sea and the scheduled big fish day was swapped out for the “Five and Five” competition. Like all days in the WIBAC, with one obvious exception, bait is supplied by the organisers. Rag, together with frozen Ammo squid and mackerel were used on this day with any fish caught during a bait stop before the start being shared among the anglers. The scarcity of mackerel meant that most boats fished only with the bait supplied and any baitfish caught during the “live” event.

Colin Searles with a Kidney Bank blonde ray

Colin Searles with a Kidney Bank blonde ray

This format allows the anglers to catch five of each species at the nominated points with a further five counting for a single point each. Pout, poor cod and all the wrasse were limited to the first five. The species points score card for each day can be seen in the gallery. The boats mostly remained inshore with a foray out to the Shambles Bank for the sandeels.

Back at the quayside 256 points saw Kevin Preston of Wales at the top of the daily list. Runner-up Michael Lorentzen from Denmark had 244 points with Rod Adamson also from Wales two points further behind in third.

Rays Shine on the Kidney Bank

On Tuesday the boats headed for the Kidney Bank to the west of Portland Bill. The plaice fishing out of Weymouth was hit a couple of years ago when storms dislodged the majority of the mussel bed and has yet to fully recover so high scoring blonde ray and turbot were the target species.

Francis Couzinet from France with blonde ray

Francis Couzinet from France with blonde ray

The ray fishing proved to be the best in the WIBAC for several years as uptide and downtide tactics produced blondes to 25¼lb. In addition brill to 7½lb and a good number of turbot fell to the mackerel and squid provided.

Chris Pucher with a nice brill

Chris Pucher with a nice brill

Previous winner of the full WIBAC event, England’s Matt Osborne headed the list with 195 points and runner-up Ernest Ripson from Belgium had 175 points. Third place went to Scottish internationalist Rob Reiach with 145 points.

Wrecked on Big Fish Day

Normally the wreck and reef or Big Fish day is fished on the first day when the tides are at their slackest. However, the weather induced switch meant that the tide and wind across it would make things difficult for both skippers and anglers. Fortunately the Weymouth fleet has some the best skippers in the country whose anchoring skills are second to none and the anglers were all able to fish at least part of the day where their baits could be trotted back to the lurking conger.

Andy Smith with the heaviest black bream

Andy Smith with the heaviest black bream

When the boats were pushed off their target fishing areas by the strong cross wind some anglers found quality undulate rays to 20lb and Joe Holland landed the biggest flatfish of the week, a turbot of 10lb. The largest black bream of the week was also landed on the Wednesday when Andy Smith boated a fish of 4lb 1oz.

Karl Dettmar from Germany proved the equal of the WIBAC big fish to win the day with 120 points. Derek Yuille from Scotland pulled out the eels and an undulate to finish in second place with 90 points five points ahead of Michael Lorentzen.

One of Each

On Thursday the anglers and skippers enjoyed probably their busiest day of the week as boats zipped from mark to mark in search of different species. Tidy decks were soon strewn with rigs and traces as the competitors tried to winkle out either the one fish that no one else had or boosted their numbers for each species.

Joe Holland with his 10lb turbot

Joe Holland with his 10lb turbot

The anglers only needed one of each species, which sounds easy until you miss out on one with the knowledge that you won’t be back on similar grounds. The fickle sandeel can be the end of many a “one of each” dream.

Welsh angler Jon Law featured at the top of the list for the first, but not last time when he took top spot from Ernest Ripson on points count back, both anglers had 14 species. Third placed Matt Osborne had 13 species.

The Lure of the WIBAC

The start of the final day of competition saw Jon Law sitting in first place overall followed by Derek Yuille and Joël Luyts of the Belgian Robby Fish squad.

For once the skippers would have clean boats at the end of the day, other than cuttle ink, sorry Jamie, and garfish scales. The Friday is a lure only day where the entrants can only use unscented and lures with no added flavours. Given their nature, Isome and Gulp types of lure baits are not permitted. The Black Fiiish minnows featured heavily, particularly for wrasse and gurnards.

Again the anglers were aiming for five of each species at maximum points with a further five worth a single point.

WIBAC Runner-up Derek with a 17lb undulate ray

Runner-up Derek with a 17lb undulate ray

Top two places on the day went to English anglers with Perry Dack finishing on 176 points one ahead of Paul Hart. Viking raider Thor Rasmussen from Denmark was third with 174 points.

Welsh WIBAC Champion

Jon Law continued his week long form to finish the event as 2017 WIBAC Champion. Jon dropped less than 15 points from a maximum 500 over the five days to emerge a worthy winner. Derek Yuille’s journey from the far north of Scotland proved worthwhile as he picked up the cash for second place. Third spot went to Belgium’s Joël Luyts who led home a strong contingent of overseas anglers.

WIBAC top three L/R Derek Yuille, Champion Jon Law and Joël Luyts

WIBAC top three L/R Derek Yuille, Champion Jon Law and Joël Luyts

So concluded another great week of competition at Weymouth. A week of species that a lot of anglers from colder climes do not get a chance to fish for and a competition format where even if you totally blow out on a day you still have a chance of picking up hundreds of pounds from the daily prizes the next outing.

Terrific organisation from Charlotte and Andy coupled with a top class fleet of boats and skippers means that, like me, the majority of competitors are already looking forward to next year’s event.

WIBAC organisers Charlie and Andy

WIBAC organisers Charlie and Andy

The photos included here were taken at anchor on the bigger fish days. Congers were released at the side of the boat and anglers were to busy for photos on the other three days.

The full list of results are available for download. An entry form for the 2018 event is included.

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