Day 2 of practice saw me out with the fish magnet Warren Gain and the south arm (Gibbets, Browns Island and Manton Bay) provided a fruitless morning. Other faired little better and our afternoon free practice confirmed the findings of the previous day. There were a few flies to be considered, including the sparkler booby, various crunchers, daiwl bachs and hares ears. We were happy with our practise and looked forward to the first day of the competition.
132 anglers in 66 boats is a lot! I note that because even the logistics of finsihing a brief and getting everyone into boats takes longer than you might imagine. I was drawn with Joel Beeney, a young angler with youth and adult international caps who was happy for me to take the engine. It was a bright, sunny almost windless day as the talking ended and the fishing began. I took Joel to the sailing club frontage and we were into fish immediately, I am delighted to report. Getting a fish into the net early sure does settle the nerves on this sort of occasion. We were fishing to a 4 fish limit, with C&R thereafter, with all fish returned to be recorded on a card signed for each fish by your boat partner. Around 11.30 I took Joel to Spud Bay (where we had founf fish the night before) and were not disappointed. We each had 4 fish by 12noon, and my bag included a cracker which I reckoned to be over 4lb. I would have been gutted if it had been my fifth fish and I would have had to return it and see it counted as only 2lb! Joel continued to catch fish throught the afternoon as we drifted centrally in the south arm and I took anothe couple to take my tally to 6. After day 1 (and a weigh in completed in under 70 mins - remarkable) the RAF team was in 9th place. My 6 fish took me to 33rd place individually and we had 34 fish as a team, Warren the fish magnet leading us with 8 fish.
Day 2 was cloudier and I was drawn with Brian MacKenzie of the Scottish Saltires. I had met Brian before (at Harelaw, among other venues) and knew he was an excellent angler who was part of the Neilston FF team which came 3rd in the Anglian Water/Airflo event last year. We fished the same locations as previously, with Brian accumulating on a midge tip and me not getting any takes! I eventually switched to a Di3 and got a fish - on a blob! Later in the day we found fish drifting towards Yellowstones Bay, but by the early finish time of 5pm I was on the wrong end of an 8-3 scoreline. However, Warren had had another good day and despite Dave Newing and me each only weighing in 3 fish, Warren's 12, Dave Eames 9, Si Morris's 7 and Paddy's 5 fish gave us a total of 39. In the end this gave us a very satisfying position of 6th overall, although we were well behind the team in 5th place. The winners were team tightlines with 96 fish, followed by the Rio Masters with 91 fish, although Rio were only 1lb 8oz behind Tightlines. Our total was 73 fish, which puts the result in perspective. Airflo and Team Nymph-a-manics Gareth Jones was the top individual with (I think) 25 fish. The biggest weighed-in fish of the competition was caught by some bloke called Dave Ogg of the RAF Fish Hawks and weighed 4lb 9oz. Some bigger fish were caught by unfortunate anglers who had to release them if they were their 5th or later fish.
This was a fantastic competition to be involved in. While I was disappointed with my personal 2nd day result, to finish 78th out of 132 is by no means a disgrace, and I was delighted, as ever, to be part of the RAF Fish Hawks Team. In all honesty, I don't think I would change much if I were to fish the 2 days of the comp again - like many comps, it either happened for you on the day, or it didn't. On day 2, it didn't quite happen for me. So - a Bothwell and Blantyre Team in the Lexus next year?
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