A glassy calm Lake greeted competitors in this years Blakewell Christmas Open competition. This enjoyable festive competition is always enjoyable with the chance to catch up with angling friends whilst putting a healthy bend in the fly rod.
A glass of port and a hot coffee made a welcome start to the day as we all drew our pegs for the day ahead. The day is split into three morning sessions and three afternoon sessions. Four trout can be caught during the morning sessions and two during the afternoon sessions.
On arrival at my first peg I selected an olive damsel nymph with goldhead and tied it to a long leader of 8lb b.s fluorocarbon. This was cast out into the lake and the fly allowed to sink before starting a slow erratic retrieve. The first interest in the lure comes on the third cast when the line tightened momentarily. I failed to contact with this fish but connected with a hard fighting rainbow of a couple of pounds on the next cast. Number one achievement ticked off a blank trip avoided. A few more plucks and a pull followed before I added another similar sized rainbow to my bag.
The next peg I had drawn was one of my favourites and enabled me to cast out into the lakes main bay. Second cast and the line draws tight as another hard fighting rainbow of around 2lb seizes the damsel . Two casts later and I hook another similar sized rainbow, this fish comes adrift and I comment to my neighbouring angler that it’s a good job it wasn’t a big fish!
On the next cast the line tightens with a heavy tug and I glimpse a large shape in the water. The rod bends as the trout shakes its head; a moment later the trout launches itself partially airborne and I see a large head, a golden belly and the red of flaring gills. I suspect that I have hooked a large brown and landing the fish suddenly becomes very important! For several minutes the battle ebbs and flows as the rod absorbs the head shaking and short powerful runs. As the trout nears the net there are a few anxious moments before the battle is won and I gaze into the folds of the net giving a quick shout of triumph.
It is rare for a trout to give me the shakes but this one has and I spend several minutes admiring my prize and getting a few pictures from fellow anglers who are sharing in the joy of success. It is without doubt a new personal best brown trout and weighs an impressive 10lb 8oz.
Jim Barnes has also connected with a big brown trout of 11lb 6oz and it is a pleasure to share in his success holding a brace of doubles for the camera as fishery owner Richard Nickel clicks away with the camera eager to capture images to promote the fishery.
The capture of the brownie has rounded my morning off well, and I spend the next hour and a half before lunch chatting to anglers around the lake. Lunch is a hot plate of chilli and jacket potato accompanied by hot punch, mince pies and cream.
Suitably refreshed we all head out to the lake to resume the days fishing. Some seeking their first trout of the day others like myself aiming to complete the six fish limit. After an hours break the trout soon succumb to my offering and my limit of six is complete.
Another couple of hours follow chatting to fellow competitors before the weigh in at 16:00.
The weigh in proves a close run thing with many anglers having completed their limit bags.
Winner of the match is Phil Colwill with 23lb 1oz; Phil landed a last gasp brown trout of 11lb 2oz to clinch his victory ahead of Jim Barnes on 23lb.
All competitors are given a 2 fish ticket to use on a further trip to this prolific fishery. It seems hard to believe that its twelve months since we all sat together in the Blakewell tearoom as Richard and John handed out the prizes, thanked everyone for their custom, wished all a Happy Christmas and talked enthusiastically of plans for the New Year.