Where to start? Rutland can be the best water in the country and then again it is also the biggest leveller. The practice day with Ian Pinder was fairly decent, we picked up a couple of fish fairly quickly. All the fish we caught remained deep as they had on my previous visit. The usual sketch for the Spring match was go anywhere and catch bucket loads of fish. This year this was definitely not the case and even after getting into double figures in practice I can’t say that I was brimming with confidence that the next day was going to be a fish fest!
The usual banter with Jock Kettles and the Scottish contingent was as good as I had anticipated. The speculation on the destination of the KitKat Cup was buzzing, was four in a row on the cards? I had drawn Chris for the first match day, a competent angler but he had toiled in practice only managing one fish to the boat. I hoped that I could show him a better day. I had a spot that I knew the fish were pinned into the bank but the wind had switched around. As we arrived I eased the boat into the small bay as carefully as possible and the first cast of the day produced a fish. Great start but the drift was short and as another boat approached I knew it was not going to fly and moved off.
As I moved up the bank speaking to other anglers it was very apparent things were not going so well. It seemed like perfect conditions but the fish were reluctant to join in, so I thought. I was to later find out that it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Even when I was over fish I never really felt in touch with them. I tried lots of tweaks but only managed to winkle out a few fish. I decided a move was in order and went to the Normanton bank only to find it was very coloured. Chris and I decided to go back and grind it out with the others. When we got back I spoke with Sean Hanlon he had managed ten to the boat! WTF you go away for an hour and you missed the party.
It was a long and frustrating day after hooking and playing four fish only to lose them left me in resignation that the Cup would be going North. It was just then that the man himself turned up. He was on five fish and I had four, reinvigorated I tuned back in reasoning that if I could just get to the same number the fish I had in my bag would see me right. As I buckled down Jock took another fish, not to worry just two and almost an hours fishing time left. I got another one just one more to draw level with Jocks total. Jock had moved off to pastures unknown. I went back to the bay I started in the wind had changed slightly and this made it easier to drift into. First drift another fish to the net and Chris bagged one too. Time for one more quick drift. I cast out and the line tightened it felt like a lump and indeed it was but the wrong species. The toothy critter gave me a start but I got it to the net and sent it back none the worse for wear.
"I cast out and the line tightened it felt like a lump and indeed it was but the wrong species".
We got back to the dock with minutes to spare, had I done enough? I sought out Jock how had he finished up? Bagged up, really though, apparently yes, he had found an area and caught one after the other till he reached his fourteen limit. It’s a testament to the quality of angler Jock Kettles is and is without doubt one of the finest Loch Style anglers in the country. The KitKat Cup returns North after a three-year gap and was wrestled from my grasp in style. Well done Jock I’ll get you next year ;-).
The next day the wind had changed once more, no day the same at Rutland. Armed with some information from an old friend I tootled up to a spot I had not practiced. A couple of drifts though proved fruitless. I decided to go hunting the wind was a bit tasty and building fast so I went to an area with a bit more shelter. I saw Jamie Thomas taking a fish and when I dropped in behind him he told me he had five. Happy days I dropped in behind him and moments later was playing my first fish. As I picked up the net the line went slack, my bad run was to continue into day two. I lost another only minutes later.
This is not the part where I tell you it all got better! It was a tight area and I took the boat back to the bank. Just adjusting the boat slightly, I had not noticed the loop that had blown over the end of the boat. As I reversed the boat my rod buckled over and I was quick enough to kill the engine before it ate my rod tip. A new DI7 required before next week :-( After some expletives I re-rigged and we started our drift again just before reaching the sweet spot I noted that we had slowed to a complete stop. The drogue had caught on an underwater obstruction and try as we might we could not release it. After cutting my drogue away we set up the AW drogue, I have to be honest I was feeling fairly broken at this point.
"I have to be honest I was feeling fairly broken at this point".
I composed myself again and things picked up for a while anyway and I was quick to boat five fish on the bounce before the armada of boats killed the area. We persevered for a bit but it just seemed dead. My partner and I moved back down the reservoir heading to the Normanton bank the water looked much clearer than the previous day. My luck continued my bad luck that is and although I was hooking fish I just could not get them to the net. I called it a day ten minutes early and packed my gear away.
In short, the fishing sucked, or if I am more honest I sucked and I better up my game before the AW heat next week. The organisation of the event was outstanding and it was really great to meet up with old friends and make some new ones to boot. We had a meal in the newly AW controlled café above the shop and it was a brilliant way to finish off the event. My congratulations to all the prize winners and I look forward to the next time.