The England Home International Boat squad travelled to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland to fish the SALC Home International Boat Sea Angling Competition from 21st – 22nd June. The team consisted of Ian McLean (Bridgewater) and Rob Shattock (Southampton), who had one previous cap each, along with new caps Gareth Croft (Isle of Wight), Steve Batchelor (Lymington) and Kev Sampson (Isle of Wight). The team was supported by first time reserve Matt Osborne (Cobham, Kent) and new Manager Richard Russell (Isle of Wight).
Even getting to the Home International for the England team was hard going with the journey to the competition taking two days each way and even when at Stornoway, there was a 40 mile round trip each day to the fishing boats at Carloway on the west coast facing the Atlantic. The most travelled member of the squad completed 1800 miles by road plus four ferry crossings.
Three days of practice identified that, along with the rest of Britain, the summer season in Lewis was running late with the mackerel only just starting to arrive. Instead of the expected good sized cod, ling, pollack etc, the target species for the competitors were going to be the smaller dabs and gurnards, along with a smattering of haddock, whiting and other species. The bait supplied was frozen mackerel and squid but sufficient fresh mackerel were caught to provide the competitors with more than enough for their needs.
The scores were very close throughout both days, and on day one, each country’s scores on the second 8 man boat were within 4% of each other (170% to 174%). At the end of the first day, Ireland was in the lead with 436.82% with England lying second, about 4% behind, with 432.23%. Scotland was third with 403.00% and Wales fourth with 397.04%, a total spread between the teams of just 40%. The England team were naturally delighted to have done so well, but also very aware that they still had a job to do.
The wind was slightly stronger on the second day resulting in the boats drifting faster, and as a result the catches were slightly down, with the total fish point score being 1032 instead of the first day’s 1214. As each boat arrived back in port, the scores were calculated and the excitement rose despite the knowledge that a bad result by any angler would have a major effect on the team result. In the event England won the day with a fantastic score of 427.14% beating Scotland into second place on 417.21%. Ireland were third on 398.10% with Wales fourth again on 385.70%.
The final results were first England (859.37%), second Ireland (834.93%), third Scotland (820.21%) and fourth Wales (782.74%). This was a superb result for the England team being the first time since 2006 that the home team has failed to win.
The Angling Trust and all the England team would like to offer their thanks and appreciation to the Scotland Federation for a superbly run, honest and fair competition.