A blindingly obvious aspect of this years bloggers fishing challenge has become clear to me: it's about catching big fish.
[Our competition is one of percentage of record weight, so convert the weight of your biggest fish for each species into a percentage of the record and add 'em all up at the end to see who wins.]
Although catching a wide variety of species is enough to build a par score there aren't enough gold dust species - ones others just might not catch - e.g. catfish, grass carp, silver bream, grayling, to rely upon to win the day. Sheer diversity is in my opinion not enough. To win this thing there will have to be a few special fish on your score card.
There is of course the bonus fifty percent up for grabs at the end of the year but to count on that is just Russian roulette. In good time we can disclose the criteria for these bonus points but for now we must remain tight-lipped and clenched.
This revelation is forcing me to adopt a two tier approach to my fishing. Tier one is just to catch something of everything and that is by far the most enjoyable task. I've become quite partial to a day on a commercial, wading through mid-double carp in recent years, and am looking forward to that day again this year but I suspect catching mid-double carp is well within the capability of all of the excellent anglers this year.
Tier two is to try and catch something truly special for at least a handful of the species, and this one is starting to get to me. You see it's almost March and although I've been on the water quite a bit of late I've yet to catch anything I'd consider truly special. If I cast my mind back to last year I'd say I had two special fish. The first was an eighteen pound grass carp from the ressy and the second was a catfish from a midlands gravel pit. The year before was different - two six pound chub and a fifteen pound barbel are highlights in my memory.
The big fish mentality is getting to me because I know how quickly time flies when you're chasing the biggies. You could spend a whole year after a thirty pound carp, a three pound crucian, a one pound dace, a six pound chub and not come close. There is often a lot of waiting and not a lot of action when chasing monsters.
To this end I've resolved to focus my big fish activities on the species I'm good at - and which are worth the most! - and to enjoy the par building days for what they are. If you can deliberately lower your expectations for a trip then you will be far more likely to enjoy things and not be disappointed. Going out expecting the magnificent on each session is a recipe for despondency.
So this is where venue selection comes in. In midweek and whilst dusk is still coming early I'm starting to choose venues where on one rod I can cement par whilst on the second I can play the lottery. If I played the lottery on both rods all week every week my numbers might never have been drawn this time next year.
On high days and holidays however I will put my big fish head on and be prepared to wait for something special to come along.
Last Thursday evening I was at Wasperton. I started with maggots on one feeder rod and persisted with pellets on a lasso on the second. Both fished and baited a line two thirds across.
The maggot rod didn't stop jiggling until sunset, but all I could connect with was a small roach. There were hundreds of small fish topping across the river and I saw two predator strikes on them on the surface.
I had a pike of two pounds seven ounces (fair and square in the chops) on a pellet.
And then as the sun sank I had an incrementally weighty bream of five pounds eight ounces.
Once the sun had sank I moved the maggot rod across to a different bait......
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