A ROYTON soldier has helped net a big prize by skippering an army side to a big win without any force.
In fact, there was not even any bloodshed as Captain Derek Smalley did the business in a sea fishing competition.
The military man, who has taken the salute in his home town’s Armistice Day service for the past eight years, is secretary of the Army Angling Federation Sea (Boats) and manager of Team Army.
They scooped the prize of beating Team Wales National Squad in the two-day event fished out of Weymouth in Dorset.
Both teams were accommodated at 17 Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps in Marchwood, Southampton.
With scoring determined by the number of species caught and not on the size of the fish – with larger, rarer species attracting more points than other more prolific fish – Team Army came out on top.
Most importantly, they caught more of the fish that earned them the required points.
The two teams battled it out over a total of 12 hours on the charter boats Snapper and Flamer IV, with Team Army amassing 1097 points to Team Wales’ 1041.
Species caught included conger eels, rays, wrasse, smooth-hounds, turbot, gurnards and plaice – almost 800 fish in total caught by the 18 anglers and all returned to swim another day.
The competition went right down to the wire yet when the final scores were totted up Team Army came away as winners, with three of the top five anglers Team Army members.
“There are a lot of things to take into consideration when match fishing from boats,” said Capt Smalley, who has been associated with the armed forces for more than 40 years.
“Things such as what species may be in the area you are fishing, size of hooks, tide strength and your position on the boat.
“It’s not just a case of throwing a chunk of bait over the side and hoping for the best!”
Capt Smalley served in the Regular Army and is now a serving member of the Reserve Forces near Oxford.
Born in Royton, he has served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.
Even though he is based down south, he still has a house in Royton and after doing his duties on armistice day, he catches up the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion.
He has been a keen coarse angler since a child yet took up sea fishing about 10 years ago.
After a few years competing in the Army Boat Championships he was selected for the army team and competed in the annual Inter Services Competitions against the best anglers from the Navy and RAF.
In 2017, he was selected to represent the United Kingdom Armed Forces (UKAF) team made up of the best anglers from the three services and has been picked every year since.
Following the competition, a presentation dinner was held at the warrant officers’ and sergeants’ mess at the Royal Logistics Corps.
But for Capt Smalley, who describes himself as an operations officer working with a specialist unit, the thrill of winning did not dull.
He added: “The competition was really good and hard fought over the two days.
“Thankfully conditions were good and it’s always good to win!”