So the sun once again rises on the dawn of a new fishing challenge and this year I am in it. It's been a few years since I was involved in one of these blogger fuelled cannon ball runs to establish bragging rights over a few brethren. When I was asked by George Burton off of Float, Flight and Flannel if I fancied taking part I pondered the history of the challenge for a while before confirming my entry. You see I was one of the original four who pioneered this madcap challenge in its infancy along with Keith Jobling (now full time fitness fanatic and lothario), Jeff Hatt (now an international art forger know as Le Hatt) and Brummie Pete (still lives in Birmingham). Back then the challenge was simpler, rather local and fuelled by beer, oh and every year Keith won because he was the only one of us prepared to commit his entire life to beating everyone into submission. Now though this newer more complex challenge is populated by many more anglers from all over the country and makes the old challenge look a bit like village cricket match, rather than a premiership season which it has become. The top challengers are now younger and even thirstier for success and I suppose from what I have seen watching from the wings these last few years, the challenger to beat, or the Chelsea of this group if you will, is James Dension off of James' Angling Adventures. And I quite fancy joining the pack of old dogs baying at his heels to depose him from the winner's podium.
I was quite excited for the whistle to blow and the challenge to begin as the clock rolled over midnight on the 31st of April. Mind you I had already predicted that on a session the day before I would bag something which would have made a lovely first fish on my score. After choosing a brutal swim on a local reservoir I battled it out for a full three hours throwing maggot feeders cross wind onto a spot I stuck with all morning. Finally after freezing half to death on the back of the wind, my bobbin lifted positivity as my alarm sounded some definite fishy attention. Fishing a heavy rod on windswept water did nothing more than make a dull battle even fuzzier. As I stabbed the net towards the fish I was certain it was a good rudd, turns out it was a great roach of 1.10 which would have been so useful twenty four hours later.
It actually took me twenty six and a half hours to get back to the reservoir and in that time the wind had swung round from an easterly to a north easterly. On arriving I was struggling to find a peg on the bank I wanted as the bank holiday crowds were very much in it for the day. In the end I found a corner peg in the shallows of the water. It was vacant apart from the angler in the next peg who had decided to cast a sleeper carp rod across the swim to some reeds. Stubbornly and with a little griping to his mate he got the hint that I was just going to cast across him if he didn't remove it from what was now my water. Really I had no problem with the situation apart from he was fishing a rod specifically after carp but only had with him one of those small match pan nets, which would have been about as much use as a tea strainer should he have hooked a actual carp.
The fishing on this evening session was more than a bit slow, really I had expected the fish to come on the feed as the day settled down and the sun sank towards the horizon, but it took ages for the residents to get onto the bed of red maggots I had spombed out, or to find the method feeder loaded with pungent groundbait I was casting at any nice looking spots or rolling fish. It was the arrival of the rudd and small perch which signaled the change. A few smaller six ounce rudd and a hand full of perch got the alarms beeping as they moved over the patch of feed, plucking at my maggot hook baits as they did.
Once the action started it soon became almost rhythmical. Fill the feeder, cast onto the clip, sink the line, set the bobbin, wait five minutes then beep beep beep. All was well and good until a tench turned up and kited from one side of the swim to the other on a tight line. After struggling to slowly draw it back and scooping it safely into the net I was unhooking it when the second rod came to life, bending round to the right as a self-hooked fish struggled to rid itself of the rig. I didn't quite get to it in time before the fish was off and I was striking into thin air, but I had one in the net already so I wasn't too disappointed with my fish proper tench of the year, albeit a right rum looking bugger.
With the sun setting the temperature sank further putting an end to an all too brief feeding spell. In the end it wasn't actually too bad of a session to start the challenge with. I'd had to work hard in still awkward conditions but my perseverance had come good with a few nice rudd up to 10oz, load of well marked perch and one really rough tench which all add up to a few points on the board.
I feel this new challenge will serve to motivate me to doing a few things I haven't done for a while and certainly get me going after some species I have neglected the last few years, and you never know with a bit of luck to go with this motivation maybe, just maybe I can keep up with the favourites before until the sun sets on this challenge.