When I heard that Ian Harris was organising a competition at Wraysbury Lakes in London, I just knew I had to be there. In fact, I think I was one of the first to register and had been looking forward to it all year.
I arrived on the Thursday evening and met up with the usual crowd for a few ‘refreshing drinks’ after a busy motorway drive down. We blew the froth off a couple and got our heads down full of excitement for the practice day. I was allocated Lake 2 for practice day and also for day 1 of the comp.
We only had 4 hours on practice day so as not to overfish the lake. It was more about exploring the lake and formulating a game plan than trying to catch loads of fish. I managed one Pike on a Smiler Lure at the top end of the lake so I knew a rough plan on where I was going to go on Day 1 of the comp.
DAY 1 (Saturday 10th June)
We launched 7am and could fish until 3pm. I decided to fish the margins as I made my way up to the target area, casting at every ‘Pikey’ looking spot. The sun was due to come out so knew I needed to try and find the fish early before it put the fish down.
Hundreds of casts later and not even a touch, I arrived at my planned spot. Lars and Shaun were already up there and had got off to a flying start with two decent fish each. The word was that there were catches all round but nothing was happening for me. I soon returned to near the launch and tried fishing an area with a patch of weed I’d eyed up on practice day. The Predator PDL is perfect for standing up and it helped me see the weed bed really well, I cast towards it and had a big fish follow but it bolted off at the side of the kayak without taking my lure grrr….
I kept plugging away and was eventually rewarded with a fish of 77cm. I could only count 76cm though as the measure only went up to that. I wasn’t too worried as I knew other folk had 2 and 3 fish already. If you caught a bigger fish, the Marshall boat would attend and measure for you but for 1cm I chose not to worry as I thought I was out of the running anyway! Just before 3pm I fished just out from the launch and hooked into a Perch that was about 1 ¾ lb. I had it on the surface and a couple of splashes later it returned back to the depths after spitting the hook!
3pm arrived and we landed to clock back in at HQ. One fish for me but several had 3, including the fishing machine, Lars. This put him in pole position Saturday night and I was down in 14th with my single Pike. We’d heard that only 3 fish had been caught in the other lake (the lake I would fish the next day) out of 35 anglers. My chances of catching the others on Sunday looked even more unlikely.
Day 2 (Sunday 11th June)
A bit woolly from the night before, I launched with Dane and Mike and fished not too far from the lodge. I was thinking to myself that if I could pick up an early fish, I maybe in with the chance of getting into the top 10 and could change my day. Again the conditions were getting bright so I fished hard and after half an hour I had a Jack wallop my lure, swiftly netted and measured in at 65cm. Interesting I thought… Game on!
We then set to and covered most of the lake without another touch. Dane went off to find a Perch and I set to and persevered in the margins. Just after lunch I had a take and it totally hammered my lure. It had a couple of runs and took me through loads of weed before netting and being measured by the Marshalls at 84cm… Double Game on!
What would be the chances of me finding a third…. Slim or so I thought! It was 2.30pm and only half hour or so left to go, I drifted between 2 islands just as the film crew for BT Sport came round the corner. I had a take, it came off, it took it again but again came off. It took it for a third time and guess what, it came off! I was gutted. The film crew muttered that ‘would’ve been the money shot’ I cast again to the same spot, it followed but didn’t take, I cast again, it took it but didn’t hook up AGAIN! 5 times this fish had now taken or followed my lure. I changed my hook for brand new one and cast out again and whack…. Fish on! 6 attempts for this fish and I netted it and measured at 75cm. I think it was on film too? Crazy stuff right at the end.
This put me on 4 Pike for the weekend but would it be enough? I thought maybe top 3 if I’m lucky… Words can’t describe how I felt when I found out I’d won with 300cm total length! Absolutely amazed and totally stoked.
And what a prize I’d won…. I think it’s still sinking in. A trip to the Hobie World Championships and a stunning Westin W3 rod. I’m still waiting to hear which country the competition will be in but I cant wait!
Many thanks to Ian Harris for organising an amazing event and thanks to RK Leisure for hosting, you did everyone proud. The TV programme they made that day will be on BT Sport on the 26th June. I’ll let you know how I get on in the big boys competition.
A couple more pics….
Dane in the zone….