Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Stocks Pairs Comp - pomonae - wet and dry at Halstead's - of time bonus and bag weight.

I was a bit nervous this morning when I set out in the car for nearby Stocks Reservoir. Consider the following:

1. Stocks is a good sized water which I am not very familiar with.......and my stillwater fishing knowledge is a bit sketchy to say the least.
2. I was taking part in, gasp, a competition - the Stocks Pairs.
3. I would be partnering Rob (his regular sidekick was unable to make it), who won the same comp last year.

That said, I was also eagerly looking forward to a day on the water after a mad-busy spell at work...... and a day out with Chorley's answer to Bob Church is always entertaining.

Word was that the heather fly were up in numbers, which bode well for some sport near the surface. And the warm, breezy, overcast conditions looked perfect from the off.
The format was pretty simple with each boat pairing needing to weigh in a limit of 10 fish as fast as possible. Final placings would be decided on total weight of the bag, plus 2lb per hour time bonus for returning to the lodge before the finish time of 6pm. Prizes were available for the top 5 boats, but with a strong field of 18 pairs - and fish seemingly being caught everywhere - success would require a slice of luck along the way.

So with bibio pomonae at the top of the trouts' menu, most anglers set out with some form of heather fly imitation on their cast. Most the boats motored off toward Newclose Bay where recent returns had been good. But Rob opted for a long drift up the east bank from the dam wall, along the alders to Halstead's Hike. We chose a two-pronged attack where I fished a team of hoppers tight in to the bank and Rob (over slightly deeper war at stern) fished dabblers on a slow intermediate. This worked a treat with three fish falling to my dries inside the first 20 minutes - things were looking good...and my nerves had settled down a bit.

By 11:30 we had seven fish in the boat and hopes were high. But the last three proved difficult to tempt. Takes to the dries had faded but Rob grafted away to boat the required fish to have us back in the lodge at 1:45pm. We had got a good little system going and contributed 5 fish each - a decent team effort, I reckon. Nevertheless, we knew straight away that our chances of winning had gone. We were second boat in and the pair in first had a heavier bag even without the time bonus. So second place was the best we could hope for......but with a weight of only 21lb, we knew our position was far from safe. With a couple of small fish in our bag, it would not take much to oust us if subsequent pairs in had a couple of good 'uns.

And so it proved. Not all 18 pairs managed the full limit, but of the ones who did, two weighed heavy enough to overcome our time bonus and edge us out to forth place.

With the hectic stuff over, we went out again in the afternoon and added a further 9 fish to the tally, drank a bit of whisky and generally had a fine time of it. A thoroughly enjoyable day.......and thanks to Rob for introducing me to The Dark Side!

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