Back to the canal to search out some early points to kick-start my Blogger's Challenge campaign. With the rivers out of action it gives me a good excuse to sample waters I wouldn't normally get out of bed for. That's not to decry them - it's just horses for courses really.
This is often the fun part of the challenge for me, where points can flow freely and I target anything and everything. Armed with a couple of straight lead rods, a helping of groundbait and half a pint of red maggots, this was a simple catch all session.
I kicked off with both rods, but in the end I had to scale back to just one. Bites were proving hard to hit and I felt one rod fished with full attention was better than trying to juggle my focus across two.
It proved to be a steady session, mainly built around skimmers of just over a pound. I only managed one fish north of two pounds - 2lb 8oz being the best of the bunch.
The stand out fish was a silver bream of 14oz. A personal best and a few tidy points for that.
Although generally a laid back character, I still have a competitive instinct lurking within - even when pleasure fishing. Totting up the weight as I went along, I'd got myself to 8lb 8.5oz. Time was nearly up, so I gave myself an extra half hour to reach double figures.
I thought I'd cracked it when I hooked another skimmer, but it only saw me up to 9lb 12.5oz. Beyond time, I gave myself a last cast to get the job done.
Anyway several last casts later and deep into overtime, the tip rattled and I was in. Bloody typical though - a tiny perch of 2.5oz to take me to a tantalising 9lb 15oz. I graciously called it a day and figured it wasn't meant to be.
More canal points in four hours though than I earned in the whole of the last challenge. Moreover, quite enjoyable canal sport again.
Sometimes opportunity knocks and you have to grab it. Quite often it's these unplanned spur of the moment decisions that deliver special moments.
I was due in hospital for a spot of day surgery, which was also set to knock out any hope of weekend fishing or alcohol consumption! To cut to the chase, it got called off at the last moment and my mind was quickly working out how to salvage some fishing out of it.
My wife was due at the gym that evening and I hatched a plan to get a lift to the canal. I'd only have about 1.25 hours of actual fishing, but that was 1.25 more than I'd have had normally. With just a handful of maggots and a small offering of groundbait, I headed off with a single rod.
Tactics were the same as previously and it took nearly half an hour to bank a bog standard pound skimmer. Rain was now setting in and I had no brolly for this whistle stop session. I donned the waterproofs, gritted my teeth and figured it would soon be time to go. Sanity was being questioned!
And then it all came together. Out of adversity came 30 minutes of manic fishing that left me gobsmacked. Bites flowed easily as the fish presumably settled over the bait. A few skimmers, a tiny tench, a roach / bream hybrid and a pb nudging silver bream of 13.5oz, came in quick succession.
With time running short I entered last bite territory. Sopping wet, I struck into a fish and my heart started racing. A big roach I thought, but those hopes were dashed by something equally appealing. It was a huge silver bream that looked close to two pounds.
I double checked it across both the Avons and a digital scale and both confirmed 1lb 14oz. A massive pb for me and in terms of percentage of British record, my best ever catch by a mile. The Avon scales in the photo below are 6.25 inches long,
Sadly, little hope of any great photos in the wet and gloomy conditions, but one that will live long in my memory. I've done some identification checks (along with a second opinion) and it seems to stack up. If anyone spots any doubts, please share them though. I don't want to lay claim to anything dubious.
Attention will briefly turn to stillwater soon, but with bank work to do on the river and the obvious lure of the canal, it might just have to wait a while longer.