On the 7th March I participated in the BLAC Q3 2015 river Thames qualifier which promised to be a great event with the stretch of river being chosen known for throwing up big perch and sizeable pike.
As a reminder BLAC stands for British Lure Angling Championship, which is an annual tournament in its second year put together by founder Julian Chidgey and sponsored by Fox Rage and the Angling Times. In my view it is the best lure fishing competition in the country at the moment. You can find out more about BLAC on their website link below or follow them on Facebook.
As usual it was an 8am arrival which was great on this occasion as I only had about an hours drive compared to the usual 2+ hours. I did also have a passenger with me in the shape of my mate Ziyaad, another chap originally from Zimbabwe and a great all round angler. The drive was over quickly and we were in the club house having a cup of coffee and catching up with other anglers whilst we waited for the draw to take place.
I was lucky enough to get drawn with a real gentleman of an angler in Gareth Finney who has already qualified for the grand final on the Gloucester Canal. Both of us having not fished this stretch of river before had decided to target both perch and pike.
I took with me three rods and reels to cover my bases some would consider this over the top but I am lucky enough to have a really handy rod tote that I brought from the Bass Pro store in Las Vegas in 2014 whilst on holiday. This rod tote allows me to easily transport 4 made up rods when walking the banks. The rods I had with me were my Quantun Exo spinning combo, Quantum smoke spinning combo and finally my Quantum Tour MG and Quantum Exo bait casting set up. Both the spinning set ups were going to be my main tools for the day to target the perch and the bait casting set up to target pike. Gareth and I moved to an area that looked promising and I began to pick the swim apart with my small lures for perch with in about half an hour I had my first fish, a perch on a 1inch Kopyto in Chartreuse tight to the far bank on a 3.5g jig head fished as slow as I could.
Having landed this first fish of the day measuring a healthy 34cm I thought I was going to have a good day but as the hours started to pass I began getting more and more frustrated as I heard of anglers catching numbers of fish and I could not buy a bite. Until just after 1pm where I struck into what looked like a 10lb+ pike which took a Quantum Crawling Jack in 10cm rigged on a weedless jig head also from Quantum. The line was coming of my bait caster and after about 10 seconds of fighting this fish I had a glimpse of what looked like a good 80cm+ fish no sooner had I started stretching for my net did I get the dreaded slack feeling in my rod…. I had lost the fish I fell to the ground on my back swearing with frustration. I had just lost a big fish that could have really helped me. I remember telling myself I would catch him again I just needed to get a different lure in the water so I changed the lure to a smaller 8cm Quantum Battleshad in Salt n Pepper pattern. And sure enough 10 minutes later I was into another fish but this was much smaller that the one I had originally hooked I made sure that I struck properly this time and had the net at the ready. As I leant down to easily slip the decent jack into the net my line went slack and I watched the fish make a splash and swim away. I could not believe it dropping my rod and net as I sunk to my knees swearing in frustration asking what I had done to deserve this. I do apologise to the anglers near me who witnessed this I hope you can understand loosing 2 decent fish in the space of 10-20 minutes in one swim during a competition can be soul destroying.
It took me until the end of the day to get over loosing those 2 fish, which would have probably seen me qualifying for the grand final. If I am honest with myself I am still mad about the whole thing I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and practise as hard as I can to do well in these events and I have lost fish at key times on more than one occasion that would have seen my qualify. Is it bad luck or is it a sign? I don’t think I am a bad angler but it seems I have a lot to learn to catch up with some of the best anglers on the circuit at the moment.
Its back to the drawing board for me and the next qualifier which will be the mighty Chew.
Well done to Paul Parnell and all the other anglers that qualified for the final very well deserved. Thanks to Julian Chidgey for organising the event as usual it was very well attended and great to see the other anglers.
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