Today was I believe the 17th running of the Swanswater “day after” Christmas charity fishing competition, in aid of funds for Strathcarron Hospice.

While its run like a competition, you can take it as seriously or light-heartedly as you like, there is no major prize, just the satisfaction that your participation helped in some small way to raise funds for a worthwhile cause. This year’s event, helped raise part of an overall contribution towards the hospice, or £1000. Some of the funds are raised from “donations” made for tea or coffee at the fishery, some comes from the post competition raffle, where participants donate items to be raffled, and the amount is topped up by some individual donations and the fishery itself.

Today the weather was the best I remember it in the 4 or 5 years I have been involved, it was pretty cold but as the saying goes, there is no such thing as too cold, just under dressed!

My day got off to a bad start, I successfully managed to awaken my entire household by setting off the smoke alarm when I opened the kitchen door after making a quick bacon roll, for which one and all were hugely grateful for else they might have had a long lie, and then having arrived at the fishery, found that my reel was nowhere to be seen, despite me carefully packing all my gear in the car the night before( including sorting out my lines and giving the reel a wee bit maintenance.

I had to make a rushed trip back home via the short cut public right of way ( frozen dirt track lucky I have a 4×4) and a frantic search throughout the house and garage ( which the family once again were immensely grateful for being awakened a second time in case they had accidentally found they had drifted off to sleep again, before finding that the neoprene reel pouch had fell out my tackle bag lodging itself under the similarly coloured neoprene sock of my waders, which were hanging to get properly dried out at the foot of the stairs. Duh!

I raced back up the dirt road and was just through the gate heading to my peg when the starting whistle blew. It did afford me the opportunity to see the first two fish of the day being caught as a result.

It was a pretty tough day, there were a load of fish caught in the first 30 minutes  and then it got very hard. I managed one Brown Trout off my first peg to an Okey Dokey buzzer and then never seen another fish until after lunch ( hot sausage rolls, soup, ham rolls, shortbread and tea/coffee, served up by Morna)  when I lost a fish on one of my tiny size 18 buzzers or nymphs fished under a sugar cube emerger dry-fly. I had two other pulls here too, and then had a fish just turn away to the dry-fly too! Amazing for sub-zero temperatures.

There was a bit of a frenzy with a few fish caught in this window ( I don’t know if the wee 45 minute break rests the fish or if it was just it happened to coincide with the fish feeding), though plenty fish were showing out by the boat mooring buoys in the middle most of the day.

There was a points system of 2 points for the first fish off a peg and then 1 for each subsequent fish up to a max of 5 fish on a peg, it was all catch and release and as such Brownies counted too. In the end I think something like 6 points won the day ( 2 fish on different pegs with 2 others) though one angler had 5 fish on one peg early on. It was a hard day fishing wise but lovely to be out and good fun with the prizes well shared. Well done to all turning out.