The Airflo Open Championship was an eagerly anticipated event for Balfron Piscatorials. It was especially important for some of our anglers who had never fished in a six-man team event before! The competition could not come quickly enough for a team of young anglers that live for their fishing.
The Lake of Menteith hosted nine of the top teams in Scotland to compete for qualifying positions. The top three teams would fish the Airflo Open Championship Final held at Rutland in October. The other two teams finishing in the top five would fish a separate final (Airflo Open Shield) on England’s Draycote water in September.
We practised as a team three days before the competition. In practice, we identified the fish were extremely high in the water column. We struggled in the first two days to get a solid method working. Twiddling was catching in certain holding areas, dries were working when the right conditions were presented, and a di3 sweep pulling boobies was effective when the wind was up. The third practice day, however, cemented most of our angler’s choice in tactics. It was found by one of our anglers that the fish on the surface were feeding on mayflies. Fishing dries from Plantation to Sandy Bay was agreed as the best drift to catch our limits on the fish feeding on mayflies. The Cages was our plan B for the aggressive stockies that were willing to chase boobies in practice on a di3 sweep.
On matchday, all teams were presented with a light ripple and overcast conditions. Conditions were certainly looking favourable for the dry fly rods in the team. This was confirmed by young Jake Gilchrist catching his limit of 12 fish before any other competitor on dries. A sensational performance considering the level of the anglers fishing in the competition. Two other team members also bagged up on dries.
All boats in the competition had to be back at the jetty by 5 pm. We counted 47 fish in total for the day. The nervousness was building up at the scales as we knew another team had the same number of fish as us. However, with a couple of the lads finishing early and some good resident fish in our bags, it was enough to put the team in first place, overall. The team was absolutely delighted with the performance. The hard work in practice made our success on the day.
The competition was smoothly run by the event organisers and the Lake of Menteith. After the dust settled it was on to planning the trip down to the famous Rutland Water.