The Penn Cup was first fished in 2009 in Havoysund, northern Norway, and such was its success in its inaugural year that already it’s become a prestigious annual event.
For July 2010 there would be six teams of four anglers, these all associated with the Pure Fishing Company who own the famous Penn brand, with representatives from all over Europe including Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland and Britain. We came together as a collective group at the airport in Oslo and flew on to Alta taking a final coach ride in to Havoysund.
The British Bulldogs team would be Andy Williams from Pure Fishing, Gerry Foote owner of one of the UK’s biggest tackle shops, Gerry’s of Morecambe, top international match angler and sea angling journalist Alan Yates from Kent, plus my self. Each boat would have a designated skipper picked from the team who would stay with the boat permanently, but the other anglers would swap boats each round to mix it up. I skippered the British boat and it was my responsibility to record all the qualifying fish caught in each round for the anglers on board with me.
The rules were six rounds of boat fishing each comprising 3.5 hours fishing but you had to leave and return to port within that time period. Results were based on points for species within a set size limit, one point each for coalfish, torsk and haddock, 3 points for cod over 80cms, 5 points for wolfish and 20 points for halibut over 80cms.
Looking at the rules the British Bulldogs realised that to win it you would have to target just the coalfish which were present in huge numbers. But with so much big fish potential for cod and halibut we decided to target the bigger cod and halibut and just see where that took us. We also had guys who had never caught a halibut or big cod previously, so it was important to try and achieve some personal ambitions as well as to try and fish well for the British team.
Like everywhere the winter stayed long in Norway and the fish season is a good month or more later than normal. The coalfish were not too difficult to find as they were concentrated in huge numbers over and just to the side of the peaky ground that comes up to just 20-metres or so out on the open ground to the west of Havoysund. Generally speaking though, the local guides and fisherman told me that the numbers of cod and wolfish are not as prolific as normal so far this year and that cod over 80cms in length were tough to find which proved the case, yet we still all enjoyed great fishing.
We fished a variety of tackle including pirks, pilks, soft shads, giant jig head shads, gummymacks and other assorted lures all of which caught good fish, but the biggest cod and halibut virtually all came to the big shads and giant jigheads.
We also fished light spinning rods and spinning reels with small spinners and pilks to get the best fun out of the coalfish which averaged between 3 and 4lbs and fought well on this light tackle. Those targeting the numbers of coalies were fishing pilks with a gummymack sandeel above as a top dropper and were taking two fish at a time.
The individual competition winner was the coalfish king 18-years old Rudi Elsenbarth fishing for the German Executors team, and the top team was also the German Executors captained by Michael Stahlberg alongside Karsten Rothe and Johannes Dietel. Their gold medals were well fished for and the British Bulldog team would again like to heartily congratulate both Rudi and the German Executors team on their tremendous success!
The best Brit was Alan Yates who finished a brilliant third overall. The British Bulldogs team finished fourth missing out on third by just one point.
During the competition and during free time fishing, the Brits accounted for some big fish though, including 15 cod over 20lbs, the best a 30lb plus fish caught by Andy Williams who was our Cod King with no less than 5 fish over 20lbs to his credit. We also had an amazing 10 halibut in the boat the best a 25lb fish for James Robbins from the UK who was fishing for the Euro Select team in the comp, plus a host of big haddock, wolfish and torsk. Gerry Foote accounted for two cod over 20lbs, the best a near 24lb fish, Alan Yates added cod to well over 22lbs, and I had cod to 27lbs or so and six halibut to 22lbs.
Above and beyond the competition and the fishing was the genuine comradery and friendship from anglers collectively from all over Europe all fishing under the Penn banner. It was a real privilege to fish the Penn Cup and as an individual and as a team we’d like to thank everyone that helped make this event such an enjoyable occasion.