Whitby angler takes European open title in testing conditions

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A Whitby club angler was crowned champion of the 23rd European Open Beach Championship which took place in testing conditions along the East Coast.

Matthew Garbutt, an angler from Skelton, watched pensively as his cod of 3.240kg caught near Spurn, was weighed on the Saturday of the event.

On Sunday the sea was slightly improved but was still difficult. Matthew – who fishes with Whitby Sea Anglers’ Association – added a flounder to his cod caught the previous day and was hailed the overall winner with 3.6kg and the 2016 European Champion.

Second was Nick Welburn, of Hull, with 3.2kg and third was Alan Cammish, of Filey, with 3kg.

The championship has been renamed in honour of its late founder, Paul Roggeman EOBC, who worked tirelessly to make the match what it is today before he passed away just after last year’s match.

It was his foresight in 1993 to arrange an open beach fishing match on the coast that developed into the spectacle that is now, the largest of its kind in Europe and which boasts more participants and prize money than any others of comparable ilk.

The contest usually takes place between the pilot jetty at Spurn Point and Bridlington’s northern end of the North Marine Promenade but due to a forecast for a 9ft swell to be pushed onto the beaches by winds reaching 30mph, the River Humber was opened to competitors up to the Humber Bridge this year. The numbers of angler who had chosen the river did not bode well for the sea conditions and sure enough when I got to Withernsea the rollers were coming in with a vengeance.

Only a few of the hardiest of anglers were trying to cast against the wind, swell and the sea spray.

At the Saturday weigh-in I was amazed to see so many fish bearing in mind the atrocious conditions.

These were predominantly cod, with a sprinkling of flatties and whiting.

Some fine bass had to be returned because of the EU no bass rule.

It is estimated that since its inception the event has attracted more than £10m into the local economy.

l Latest Whitby Sea Anglers’ Association report and results on page 65.