The 2023 Sportquest Halibut Competition took place over two days at the beautiful destinations of Å on the Lofoten islands in Norway, with the teams of four anglers battling it out for over £5,000 in prizes. With a £4,000 prize up for grabs for the winning team who caught the longest accumulative length of Halibut and a £1,000 prize for the angler who caught the longest Halibut.
All the competitors had two free days before the competition to familiarise themselves with the boats and to go out fishing to find some spots, ready for when the event started. The fishing hours were between 7:00am and 5:00pm (weather permitting), and the boats had to be back by the dock at 6:00pm to hand in their scores.
The teams fishing the event were:
- Cool Reelings
- Iver Bigun
- GB Sea Monsters
- Is Harry On The Boat
- Dirty Oars
- Georges Seaman
After two excellent practice days, all the teams were excited and ready to go on the first morning of the competition. As the horn sounded, they raced out to their chosen spots, full of excitement and anticipation for what the day and event might bring.
With the low-pressure weather system dominating the opening day, head guide Alex believed fishing with smaller baits and trying to fish for bites would be the best option, with the building high pressure the following day, prime for sitting and waiting for the bigger fish.
The first few hours of the first day were dominated by smaller Halibut, with ‘Dirty Oars’ landing a couple of quick fish, catapulting them into an early lead. However, ‘Iver Bigun’ carded a cracking fish of 132cm, which knocked their friends off the top spot. While the two boats were competing fish for fish, slightly further afield, ‘Is Harry On The Boat’ had a steady run of fish throughout the day, including a lovely specimen of 128cm around an hour before the end, which wasn’t quite enough to top the biggest fish category, but enough to see them top the table at the end of day one. The 2022 competition winners ‘GB Sea Monsters’ had a couple of fish last knockings, which put them 6cm ahead of ‘Georges Seaman’. With the only team not to record a Halibut ‘Cool Reelings’, but they managed some nice Coalfish and Cod to over 40lb.
By the end of day one, ‘Is Harry On The Boat’ topped the leaderboard with 436cm. Sitting in second was ‘Iver Bigun’ with 330cm, then less than 100cm separated the next three spots. ‘Dirty Oars’ sat third with 216cm, followed by the 2022 competition winners ‘GB Sea Monsters’ in fourth with 188cm and then ‘Georges Seaman’ in fifth with 174cm. It was still all to play for on day two.
1.) Is Harry On The Boat – 436cm
2.) Iver Bigun – 330cm
3.) Dirty Oars – 216cm
4.) GB Sea Monsters – 188cm
5.) Georges Seaman – 174cm
6.) Cool Reelings – N/A
The biggest fish landed on the first day was a specimen of 132cm landed by Simon Fagg.
The second day of the competition had been scheduled for the very next day, but due to deteriorating weather and the arrival of an unsettled weather front, it was moved back 24 hours. Despite this, the boats were still allowed out fishing later that afternoon as the weather improved and the wind dropped.
The following day, despite the wind blowing fresh, it was fishable, and all the boats could get back out and try to add valuable centimetres to their scores. However, the swell from the previous day and a vast band of rain almost continuously throughout the day made everything more difficult. But despite being wet, the team spirit, banter and enthusiasm were incredibly high.
Unfortunately, due to the conditions, three teams drew a blank for the Halibut and finished on the scores from day one. The 2022 champions ‘GB Sea Monsters’ scored 74cm, which wasn’t enough to take them out of fourth place. Georges Seaman were the big movers, climbing up the leader board from fifth to second, with 235cms of fish, including the biggest of the event, a 161cm specimen for Graham Lewis. However, ‘Is Harry On The Boat’ has another excellent day, measuring 368cm, cementing their place at the top, giving them a total of 804cm and the winner’s trophy.
The final standings were as follows:
1.) Is Harry On The Boat – 804cm
2.) Georges Seaman – 409cm
3.) Iver Bigun – 330cm
4.) GB Sea Monsters – 262cm
5.) Dirty Oars – 216cm
6.) Cool Reelings – N/A
The biggest fish landed on the second day was a specimen of 161cm landed by Graham Lewis.
Later that evening, everyone enjoyed a few drinks and a fantastic meal in the local restaurant for the presentation, where the team and individual trophies and cheques were presented.
Winning Team £4,000 – Is Harry On The Boat 804cm.
Biggest Fish £1,000 – Graham Lewis 161cm.
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