In 2022, I took part in the biggest lure fishing competition in the UK – Lake Challenge. As in previous years, the grand prix lasted all season and consisted of four days divided into: Zander Challenge and Pike Challenge in June, Perch Challenge in September, and Big Fish Challenge in October. Each of these days had its own separate classification (e.g. 7 perch during the Perch Challenge), but this time I decided not to distract myself with these smaller competitions and focus on the overall event, which included catching 2 pike, 4 zander, and 5 perch over the course of these four different days. A new feature this year was the team classification, so in addition to competing individually with my partner on the boat, we also formed a team.
The first two days were the Zander Challenge and the Pike Challenge one after the other. It turned out that the zander were already very deep despite it being the end of May, and only individual fish were left in shallower water. We didn’t want to catch them deep due to barotrauma, so we focused on shallower water and pike. We were also counting on the fact that individual zander would come out. The plan worked mainly for Marcin, because practically everything he hooked he pulled out. He only missed one big pike, but the zander were landed beautifully. I, on the other hand, was loosing fish one after another. I suspect that this was because I was using larger pike lures, and the zander were unable to bite them well. Marcin’s fish, on the other hand, had everything swallowed. So my colleague already had a full card of zander, while I only had two. We were also able to catch one perch, 40 cm. However, we did best with the pike. Marcin caught 97 and 116 cm, while I caught 107 and 111 cm. I also had one more meter-long pike and a few fish over 85 cm. The result for the entire tournament seemed more than decent, but there were people who caught even better. It promised to be a beautiful fight until the end.
On the third day of the September Perch Challenge, the goal was to catch 7 perch, and this was aligned with the remaining fish we needed for the full Lake Challenge, so we focused on perch and planned to catch zander if we noticed any in the area. Plans are one thing, but the fish just wouldn’t cooperate. Of the 86 participants, only 11 people caught perch, and the best result was only 5 fish. I also had 5, but one (31 cm) jumped out of the boat when I was taking a picture on the ruler, which cost me the victory and I ended up in third place. I was angry because it was a stupid mistake, but these things happen. Besides, that fish didn’t make a difference in the context of the entire Lake Challenge, but only the Perch Challenge. We started the day by fishing in shallow waters targeting large perch, but we couldn’t hit anything. In the afternoon we moved to deeper areas where we found a lot of perch, but we had a problem catching them. We mainly used drop-shot, so of course we also caught a few zander, including two over 70 cm, but the perch were very picky. We saw dozens of them coming to the bait and just looking. I also tried SDRs, very heavy vibes, chatterbaits, and even managed to catch two fish that way, but DS was definitely the winner of the day. Not only for me, but also for other people who caught their perch. It’s a shame that I don’t like DS and had to spend so many hours doing this difficult and boring job 🙂
In the end, in the overall Lake Challenge classification, I took a clear lead individually and in the team classification with Marcin.
The last October day was about catching the remaining fish for the card and exchanging individual specimens for larger ones. I already had a full card, and Marcin needed to catch some perch, but since I also wanted to exchange my perch for larger ones, the choice was easy – we go for them. And then something happened that I always fear of – I caught a beautiful fish on the first cast. A 46 cm perch came out and I was afraid it will bring bad luck. Although it strongly reinforced my lead, you can never underestimate bad omens 😉 I was wrong… I hit it like never before and caught a dozen perch between 40 and 46 cm that day. Interestingly, the fish were very poorly feeding that day and despite the horde of boats around us, only my rod produced fish. I won’t pretend that this didn’t give me great pleasure. I know, I’m a jerk 😀
At the end of the day, I caught a 76 cm pike and we went back to the port as the first ones sure of our results – victories in both categories with a large margin. It was a beautiful finale to the UK season!
Full results on the Lake Challenge website.