A cracking near-15lb cod secured the 16th European Beach Championships at the weekend, attended by 1300 competitors and the OnlineFishing.tv cameras.

OnlineFishing.tv was there to capture the mood of the biggest match of the year in any fishing discipline, for the first of its new ‘Sea Watch UK’ series due for broadcast in April. This will be the only TV series aimed exclusively at the UK’s sea angling community.

The event was fished over a 40-mile stretch of coastline from Bridlington down to Spurn Point on the Holderness coast, with the winning cod of 6.71kg falling to the rod of Suffolk angler Dave Richardson.

However with a total prize fund of £25,000 there were plenty of categories to go at, with the championships attracting at least 200 anglers more than the previous year and bringing competitors from as far afield as Holland and Belgium. 

The dates are chosen to coincide with small, rising neap tides and most of the competitors ‘in the know’ headed for the beaches south of Withernsea. As you would expect it was peggy, but dabs, whiting, cod, thornbacks, flounder and even a lumpsucker were all caught.

Hilda Weesenbeek made the trip from Belgium worthwhile by taking the Ladies category with a cod of 1.695kg, while the team event was won by Julian Shambrook, Shane Russell, Keith Lamming and Keith Weatherstone. Alix Lyle took the Junior event. Word is that the 2010 event will attract and even bigger field and be held sometime in February.

‘Sea Watch UK’ presenter Andy Ford said: “It was quite a challenge to cover and event over a 40-mile coastline, but I think we got a real feel for what the European Open is all about and did some great interviews with anglers on the bank, including the 24-7 crew who travelled all the way from the south west, but only caught one fish between them!”

The European Open is supported by Total Sea Fishing magazine and editor Barney Wright will be showing how to tie the ‘Portsmouth’ rig he used in the match in the forthcoming episode.

Barney said: “The event was brilliantly run and goes from strength to strength, and it was great to meet so many of the competitors.

“The beauty of a match like this is that because it’s decided by one fish, anyone really can win it and everyone is in with a chance. It was great to see the OnlineFishing.tv cameras there, not only to give the European Open extra kudos, but also so that other anglers can get a flavour for it, which might encourage them to give it a go themselves next year.”

* Sea Watch UK: The European Open is due for broadcast exclusively on www.OnlineFishing.tv , the only channel exclusively for anglers,  in mid April.