Sunday, 20 October 2019

Teams of 4 / Open Match Newbridge

Thatchers were involved in the second round of the ATWL today which was to be fished on the K&A canal at Horton. I wasn't planned to be in the team (I was asked to fish the Comm House last week) but one of the team had to pull out and I might have to fish. In the end Mat Challenger wanted to fish it and he took the last place leaving me free to fish this match on the Bristol Avon at Newbridge. I had kept a keen eye on the river level all week and whilst it was dropping it seemed like it was going to be a bit pacey and probably a feeder match, for this reason I only ordered a couple of pints of caster and half of pint of maggots, I had plenty of dendras and lobs already so a cheaper bait bill this week, sorry Mat!

I had managed to get rid of the man flu symptoms by about Thursday and had managed three trips to the gym and 2 games of football, all this exercise would help the long walks on the river. Friday night I went to a school reunion, I saw some people I had not seen since 1985, but we all got on well and I tried to speak to as many people as possible. The 80's music and general good vibe meant the Thatchers Gold went down too easy, and I was pretty hammered by the time I got home the next morning. It was a quiet Saturday (lol) and all I had to do was make sure I had the right feeder rods, feeders, hooks and line in the box as well as get some groundbait sorted.

The draw was at 9:30 Sunday morning, meaning I woke up without an alarm and was feeling much better than I did Saturday morning. I got to the cafe in Willsbridge and had a large breakfast which was really nice, I'd like Tony Rixon to try it and see what score he gives it. Dean Harvey and Kev Dicks run these matches together and they do a really good job. Twenty eight anglers were in attendance today so a nice number for Newbridge and the match was pegged from 3 to 77. I had a number of pegs in mind that I would like to draw today, 10, 18, 24, 36, 50, 56, 59 and 61. Pegs where bream have shown / are pegs I like to fish. When I pulled out 18 I was happy, and the last time I drew this I had over 90lb, but this season it has been really poor and nobody has done any good on it. However, after a decent flood and as I have done well on this peg many times I was still going with a positive attitude.

Drove to the river and I was disappointed to find I couldn't park behind my peg, I had to walk all of three cars length to get to my peg! Plenty of time to set up then, two feeder rods were assembled, but in the event I only used the one. My Preston Supera 12ft 6" 50g feeder with 2oz tip in, with a 28g open ender with 0.15 to 14 N50. I would dearly like to fish a flat float in this peg but with the pace it would be a bad idea as you are boxed in by two trees which I believe would make landing decent fish a very difficult proposition. I mixed my groundbait straight away and today's mix was Sonubait original Super feeder, Robin Red, and brown crumb.  I mixed about 3 kilo of dry gbait, far too much for the feeder alone of course, and split it up into two bowls as one mix would be wetter and for balling in. I had the board and scales and I was the last peg in the section, so all above me today. One of the best bream anglers around was next to me on peg 16 Paul Purchase, above him on 14 was Lewis Walker on 14. Above the bridge were Warren Bates 12, Dean Harvey peg 10, Mike Martin peg 7 and Ben Matthews on 3.

The match began at 11:30, I threw 9 balls of my red groundbait in at about 14m, then underarmed in my feeder with my standard opening gambit 3 red maggots. I actually had a bite first chuck but missed it. Next cast and I had a hybrid that might have been 8oz, I then missed about five bites which were obviously roach bites. Hooked the next one and it was a decent roach not far off the pound mark. A few more roach rattles were missed before a more positive bite and something really fought back for a while. In the flow I thought it was a bream but very soon once in close it was clear it was not, but up popped a hard fighting 1lb skimmer. I had a couple of small roach and a little perch to end the first hour.

Into the second hour and I was still getting bites but I was trying different hookbaits to see what was best, it seemed clear to me at this stage that I had no bream in the peg as I was getting small fish bites. Worm was a waste on the hook, treble red maggot or treble fluro maggot was OK, I also tried two maggots and two casters which I felt gave me a chance of a bigger fish. I took another couple of skimmers and a roach but wasn't making any real inroads into a decent weight. With a lot of rowing boats launching opposite and sat in front of me I popped up to see Paul Purchase who told me he had two roach for 4lb and with a few other fish I thought he had more than me. I went back and carried on, I wasn't putting masses of bait in the feeder, about 30 casters and a tiny pinch of worm to try and keep bites coming. It was just a steady middle of the match with very odd roach, but I had changed hook bait to double caster for the roach and I hooked two skimmers on this. It became clear to me that caster was the hookbait to concentrate on, and fishing double and occasionally treble I sat it out and got the odd skimmer.

With about two hours to go I think I may have been winning or second in the match, but I always expect bream to feed late and so new I had to get lucky. It was very difficult for me in the last two hours, bites had really slowed up, and only one skimmer and a roach on the penultimate hour was not good. I then heard from Mark Harper on 59 he had 5 bream, and Ben Rendall on 24 also had 3 bream. Into the last hour and still no sign of a bream, I lost a 12oz skimmer at the net, and then had another soon after. I then fished worms for the last 30 minutes praying for a stray bream, it didn't materialise but with 15 mins to go I did have another skimmer, and this one was near to 2lb and was my biggest of the day. The match was over at 5pm, and the rumours were that Mark, Ben, Chris Ollis and Craig Fletcher had bream, with the top 4 being paid in the frame I was hoping I could win the section.

I began the weigh in up at peg 3, Ben had a large bream and some roach for 9lb 14oz, Mike struggled for 3lb 1oz. Dean had a couple of skimmers and bits for 6lb but he lost a munter, might have been a barbel. Warren went on the float late on and he did well to catch 8lb of roach. Lewis had struggled 3lb+ and then Paul Purchase weighed, his two big roach had shrunk, as together they weighed 2lb 10oz (still nice fish), and in total he had 11lb 4oz.

My turn and I had admitted to 12lb, but was well happy to see the skimmers had weighed heavy and I recorded 15lb 10oz and a section win. I had 9 skimmers in the the end.

The results were at the Riverside pub in Saltford, and it took a while to get everyone back and some people did have a fair old walk to their peg. I sat down with the lads and still assumed I had only won my section as talk was of a number of 20lb+ weights, but when the results were read out and my section was paid out to Paul Purchase I was smiling.

1st Mark Harper 30lb 5oz peg 59  6 bream in the last 90 minutes

2nd Ben Rendall 20lb 14oz peg 24  6 smaller bream mostly in the last two hours

3rd Chris Ollis  19lb 10oz  peg 22A 3 big bream and 5 chublets.

4th Me  15lb 10oz.

Finally a pick up, and in the frame on the river, a long time coming. I did enjoy today, catching smaller fish on the feeder is always more of a challenge, of course a few nice large drop backs would have been welcomed, but I had to work at it and the match went by quickly rather than a drag.

Next week it is the commercial house, Swineford, Crane, Jack Whites. The river could be really good as no rain is forecast, about time I drew a right dolly lol!

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Commercial House WL - K&A Canal Round 4

Finally I got to fish a round of the Commercial House this year, though the number of teams is well down on previous years 42 anglers are still fishing every match. I didn't have a great week as the illness I felt last Sunday on the Thames hit me hard and although I managed work on Monday I was at home sick Tues and Weds. I was still feeling well under the weather, very chesty cough, right up until Saturday, but I did get to watch Rovers and was feeling that I was turning the corner. I spent Saturday evening sorting some canal rigs, hook lengths and liquidised some bread.

I woke up Sunday to the ever present sound of rain, another soaking loading the car then lol. I got mugged off by McDonalds as they never gave me my has brown, but as I did drive thru I realised to late. Got to the Crown pub for the draw and paid my pools to Mark Harper and paid for the bloodworm and joker. The pegging was two sections either side of the George pub at Bath, and four sections up at Claverton. Now Claverton is very hit and miss, usually miss in the winter, but the peggers said they had seen a lot of fish topping. It looked like an end peg would be mega today, but our team got peg 3 and no end pegs for us. I had the end section F at Claverton, not sure I've ever fished that before.

It was a slow drive to the canal due to dawdling truck and many huge puddles on the roads. I parked in the Claverton field car park, and chatted to team mate Guy Manton who I had not seen for quite a while. Guy was C Section to the left of the bridge so not a long walk. Getting to the towpath was hard work, a tight bend on a steep slope through two gates, a lot of team work got us all there. My walk was longer than I thought, it was a big gap to D section, and then I got to Ferry Lane, and had to walk past that, and then past the old lock, and on another couple of hundred yards. I was wet through from sweat as well as the rain I guessed. I have no photos of the peg or fish today as I left my phone in the car to save it from a soaking. I was though pegged tight between two boats and it was very difficult to to ship down the side of the towpath. Both boats were occupied as smoke was coming out of them.

As I began to set up the gear I became aware of the line boats navigating the canal were taking middle to far side. Rig wise I got the 4x14 bread rig out, I plumbed around and went with top set plus one and a bit where there was a good depth. A 4x12 wire stem and tip bloodworm rig for fishing at 11.5m to the left where I found 2 1/2ft, the far bank was inched deep and steeply sloped, so this was as far as I went across. A rig for c/w and caster at top set plus two and a bit to my right, and the same distance for the left for fishing gbait and joker. Across to the right I fed casters but other than a few gudgeon no more of this.

At 10:15 we began, as the canal here was a really dirty colour (like I've never seen before) I was unsure how the bread would go but began on it anyway. It was a bit slow and I caught 3 roach and a 3oz skimmer when I then had a proper fish on, turned out to be a 1.5lb skimmer, the 18 PR311 and 0.08 accu Power line had no issue. I kept getting odd fish, never really bagging but steady, and just on the hour mark I had another skimmer, about a pound this one and it fought like a demon and I was glad to net it. I'd fed some gbait and joker to the left and was about to try this when a women on the boat threw various containers of water straight over that line and made lots of noise, I tried to make conversation but it was clear she didn't want to know me. I fed my c/w line off to the right and kept on the bread line, it would throw up the odd roach and occasional 4oz skimmer. As my other lines were not really producing much just odd small perch I stuck with the bread line, topping up now and then.

From what I could tell Mike Withey to my left was struggling, but Lee Warden way off to my right had some nice skimmers and a chub. There were lots and lots of boats today, not sure I have ever seen so many, but they made no difference to the colour and as I mainly fished away from their engine line they did not seem to cause any issues. The people on the boat started up a chainsaw and cut some branches up, and then started chopping wood. I was convinced I would catch some skimmers again over my other lines and kept trying for them, sadly I never caught a skimmer on these lines, only on the bread line.

The canal was now covered in Ash tree leaves, and shipping in and out was a right a pain, I had a few roach on pinkie over the bread line, but after this it was a real struggle. I had a run of perch and ruffe over my worm line and I took these on worm and some on red maggot. The gbait line was a big disappointment really. I had tried to catch skimmers on my far bloodworm line, but all hookbaits were ignored other then by odd small perch. I shallowed the rig up and went out with a bloodworm and the float buried, small roach, it took me four attempts to ship out again due to the leaves, but another roach. This was how the last 25 minutes of my match went, catching leaves and roach on bloodworm.

Match over I thought I might have 7lb. Mike said he had struggled, but eventually said he might have 5lb, Lee had more than me I was sure with his bonus fish. The scales started on the end peg, Rich Schollar had 7lb 9oz, then young Ryan Kiernan had 9lb 14oz which included a near 1lb roach, a 1.5lb chub and 1.5lb perch. Good young angler, one to watch for the future. Warren Bates had 7lb 1oz, then Mike Withey struggled with 8lb 10oz lol!  My turn to weigh, and as I put the fish on the scales the woman in the boat start shouting and screaming about us hurting the fish and them feeling pain, and I finally lost the plot and let her have both barrels, her husband came out and said something whilst she carried on screaming in the boat. During the row my weight was recorded at 8lb 12oz, just beatng Mike. Lee did well with 10lb 8oz, and then last peg Louis Townsend had 6lb 8oz for last in the section. That was a good section, and good news for me the two weights that beat me were in B div so I would pick up the A div section money, at last a bit of coin.

I was glad when I got back to the results and sat down with a pint, I was quite tired and feeling a tad damp. Three of the team had not come back, Mark Harper, Rob Manns and Guy Manton had all come last in section oops! However, Geraint Powell was 2nd in E section and Mat Challenger was second in D section.

The canal fished like this... A section rock hard, B section good, C section rock hard, D section brilliant, E section Hard, F section very good.

D section threw up the top 3..

1st Steve Kedge 15lb 3oz, lots of skimmers and small roach on bread.
2nd Mat Challenger 14lb 4oz. Couple of big skimmers, a chub and some good perch and roach on worm
3rd Sam Johnson 13lb 13oz
4th Nicky Johns 12lb 1oz
5th Jerry Pocock 11lb 5oz (Good luck to Jer who is having an op on his shoulder and will have to give up fishing for about 6 months)

My team was last on the day but are still winning A div. Nomads are winning the B div.

Looks like next weekend I will be up at Newbridge, whilst the river is very high today I hope if we only have showers it will drop. I'm sure it will only be a feeder match but I'm happy with that and look forward to it.

I will try to do a blog this week on some new products Preston Innovations are bringing out, I got to see them at a recent show and there are some nice looking things.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

ATWL River Thames - Round 1

Another week passes by and another with a fair bit of rain at times. After a week of plenty of exercise I was feeling good, then started to feel like I had a sore throat and by Sunday morning I had a runny nose, cough and felt piss poor, great. My youngest daughter was going to pop back home and see me the weekend but she was sick, then Friday had to have our eldest cat put to sleep. Not the best of starts to a weekend for sure.

This round of the winter league was to be fished on the Thames around Radcot and Lechlade, I haven't done that well up here in the past, a mixture of bad pegs and not on the right methods. I was determined to ensure the preparation was good and all I needed was a decent peg. I felt bleak would be really important and so made up 6 rigs for them, four for whips and two for short lining. I was up at 6am Sunday and got away with time to spare, 10 minutes from McDonalds at Shrivenham I had a call from Shaun Townsend who was running late and asked me to pick him up some brekky from McD's.

At the draw I could see the river had plenty of pace which should improve things, the Thames doesn't really flood and go dirty as it is a lowland river and not a spate river. James Carty did the draw for us and was soon back with our set of pegs, I was up at Lechlade in A section, Pegs 1 to 3 are usually the best I was told, and I was on 6 with one peg below me. Lee Trivett reckoned I was on a shit bit, well that kind of shouldn't have surprised me really, I seem to be an run of crap pegs at the moment. Anyway off I went with Shaun following me as he was in B section and also not in the best of areas.

After a bit of a walk but nice and flat and no styles I arrived at my peg, though I did walk past it at first. Once again the tree lined far bank I longed for was not there, this week though I did have features in the form of boats.
To the left of these two boats were more boats including barges with people on them, and a husky dog which barked at me constantly for an hour, not really what you want and eventually the owners had enough of it and chucked it back in the barge. I had to get in the water here to fish the peg, it was obviously a favourite dog entrance into the river by the state of the bank. Once in the water though all was good. The river flowed from left to right, I could see the bottom of the river a long way out so it wasn't looking to be deep. In fact when I plumbed up the most  could find was 3 1/2 feet. But there was weed everywhere it seemed and I was struggling to find a clear run. I found something to work with out at 13m but a fair way downstream. With the wind getting up and blowing downstream and into my bank, and the flow being pacey light rigs were a no go. In the end I set up one 2g rig and a 3g rig for here. I also set up bleak rig for short lining (whip would be a waste here) and a 2.5AAA waggler.

We started at 11am, I put 5 small balls in on the 13m line and went out with a caster on the hook on the 2g rig. Trying to get it to go through was a nightmare. Weed was still an issue and the wind was really blowing the water and float downstream faster than the flow. Ten minutes in no bites, onto the 3g rig and I put a maggot on and took 6 inches off the depth. I got a bite and a fish on, felt like a reasonable roach but I will never know as it weeded me and came off. A couple of runs through later and I hooked another and landed a 6oz roach. I had a couple more smaller roach and tiny dace, but it was clear this wasn't working.

I had a quick look short for bleak but didn't get a bite, so out went the waggler and I had some bites on this from bleak. I was getting bites most runs down and was at least starting to put something in the net regularly. After a while the bites went iffy, I tried deep on the pole but had nothing to show other than a few burst maggots so bleak were still about. I tried my bleak rig out at 13m, this was OK but I could not get them lined up really well as the wind was now battering the river and me and it was a real struggle to hold the pole at times. Red maggot on the hook was definitely the best hook bait for the bleak and odd little dace. I had to switch back to the waggler as the wind was now turning me around.

I caught on and off all match on the waggler, and also did manage a few bleak and dace at 6m, but it was literally just one fish here now and then. Fishing the waggler I still had to fish well off bottom to avoid the weed, towards the end of the match I did manage a couple of small roach on it but nothing to shout home about. By the end of the match I had about 100 fish. I had no idea what had been caught in my section but without any decent weight building fish in my net I was expecting the worst. The scales came up from peg 1 where Mark Brush made no mistakes on this noted flyer and had 15lb with some skimmers mixed in (he came second overall). Mike Bernstein had 6lb+ then there were two 11lb weights, one of roach and one of dace. The lad upstream of me was on the same shallow weedy water as me and he struggled for less than 4lb. Then I weighed 5lb 6oz. Finally the lad on the peg with lovely willow trees opposite had 10lb of roach and bleak. Sure you've worked it out that I only beat one person, so not a good day.

Some people said there "used" to be chub in the shallows, maybe if I had blasted maggots I might have hooked one, though with all the weed I'm not convinced I could have got one out. Other than this I cannot see it was possible to do anything else on the peg with the weed and wind, in fact a couple of guys back at the car park told me I'd done well off the peg, lol.

As we thought from the draw we had some tough pegs, to go with my result James Carty beat one I think, Andy Ottoway was last, and Towner beat a couple. Jack Jones won his section, Lee, Ian Pauley and Martin Barrett were second in theirs. Despite are four bad uns we scraped in as 3rd on the day, 1 point behind DGL, and I think 7 points behind Blackmore Vale, well done lads.  Winner on the day was Richard Chave with 17lb from the flyers at Radcot, I wish I could draw pegs like Rich, even if I only caught half of what he does!!!

I'm on the canal next week in Bath for the Commercial House, maybe a change will bring me a better peg my luck has to change before long.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Riverfest Qualifier River Thames Pangbourne

I was feeling better this week and was able to get back to the gym and travel with work again. Also got up to the Cross Keys for a few ciders on Friday night with Martin Rayet and Glenn Bailey (late celebration of Martin and mines birthday). Though this night out was bad timing as I had to get up Saturday 5:30 for the riverfest, so getting in bed by midnight was a bit later than planned but twas a good night out.

Saturday 5:30 I was functioning OK but was a tad wobbly at first, but I was soon completely sober and wide awake as it absolutely hammered down with rain as I loaded the car and I got soaked. I had to change my socks, trainers and coat before I left. On the way up the motorway the weather was vile and I stayed well within the speed limit, other than that it was a straight forward journey to the draw venue, Beale Park. I met up with team mates Jack Jones, Geraint Powell, and ex team mates Andrew Cranston and Tom Moretti. We discussed the bream pegs that last year threw up four or five tons, and if you drew in that zone of 20 pegs you would have no chance if not on the bream. The other two zones were going to be roach matches and were more up for grabs. The pegs to draw were apparently 32 to 37, well I didn't manage to draw there and was on peg 16. However, Jack on 33 and Andrew on 34 were potentially in for a good day, drawbags lol.

After a short drive in my car I had a fair walk to get to my peg and I was blowing and soaking wet again but this time from sweating. The peg looked OK, I couldn't get into the water and had to fish off the bank, there was plenty of cover either side of me and lots of weed in close. The river is wide here but I wasn't planning to fish far out and was told there were no bream here.

Despite all of the rain the river only just had a touch of colour in it and just a little flow. Two of the stewards who walked up with me told me that last weekend the river was tap water and full of Canadian pond weed. The photo below shows it was still clear in the margins.

My set up was based around catching silvers on the pole, and maybe some chopped worm fish as again the stewards said there were some decent perch around. First up was a crowquill set up with 18 N20 to 0.10. This allowed me to plumb the depths around the peg and I found I only had 8 feet (thought it was deeper) and in some parts of the peg it was thick with weed. Out on the pole and I plumed around and ran a rig through, I had to go to 13m to decent flow and weed was only a problem towards the end of the peg it seemed. The wind was really gusting and mainly downstream and the float was clearly being pushed downstream. Rigs would have to be heavier than required, a 1.5g pencil float which would probably need to go under on the drop, and a 2g rig for easing it through. Both rigs had size 20 N20  to 0.09 as starting points. I also set up a 4x18 strung out rig with 18 to 0.08 for fishing hemp.  Lastly a chopped worm rig, but alas as I never had a bite on it, it really needs no more words.

I was ready with 12 balls of gbait mixed (Sonubaits black roach, river, lake and soil) just before the all in, and was soon letting fly. First rig out was the 2g to fish caster, and first cast a small roach, next cast a missed bite and then a dropped off roach. A much better roach was hooked and as I took the top three sections off the elastic was slack, grrrr. Another couple of 4oz roach and then another decent one hooked and I lost this one too! However, I lost this one as it weeded me and I had to consider how I played these roach. Bites went iffy and I went onto the pencil float which helped and I was getting regular bites but fighting the wind, I wasn't bagging by any means though, but I did get a 10oz roach which I got out by taking off the top 5 playing it for a while and then took two sections off to net it. I repeated that a couple of times with roach and a perch. I had started to get a bit of bleak tiny chub trouble and soon I was forced to push the bulks down. Sadly the peg was just going away from me, I tried hemp on the hook and didn't get a bite, and a few goes topping up didn't bring me any response and the loose feed just made the bleak worse.

The middle hour was really poor for me, and I could not see where or how to sort anything out and could feel my chances had slipped away. Bank walkers were saying there were a few anglers catching decent roach and those on the feeder had little to show in my zone. The bream were showing though in the expected flyers in the middle zone.

With about 2 hours to go and having not fed any casters for ages I was still hard;y able to get a bait past the bleak and if I did there were no roach. In desperation I tried a piece of hemp again. My confidence with hemp isn't great, not helped by needing glasses which makes it fiddly hooking it. Anyway first drop on the pencil rig and blimey I'm sure that was a bite! Then a roach yay! It was a bite a chuck on this and I'm sure I should have tried it earlier now. Again, it wasn't proper bagging, I was missing too many bites and the roach weren't all clonkers like you might hope. Still it was fun and when the wind dropped I got on the light rig and was getting bites on this every drop in until 35 minutes to go when Mr or  Mrs Pike turned up. Two strikes and this unsettled the fish it seemed, and this combined with the flow slowing right down it was a struggle till the last 5 mins when it was a bite a chuck again.

I knew my effort was not going to see me do any good, and I had not fished the best of matches in reality. I had come with a plan to catch big roach on caster and I couldn't, it was though in the end good practice and confidence boosting catching on the hemp. The scalesman gave me 11lb 10oz, and this was 3rd in my 10 pegs beaten by Dave Harrell on peg 12 qith 15lb, and Ian Young on peg 19 who had a brilliant 24lb of big roach to win the zone. Ian caught all of his roach on casters over gbait, and topped up throughout, interestingly he had no bleak issues, but had 5 pike strikes.

Down in the bream epicentre the match was won by Andrew Cranston with a huge 194lb who caught all match on the feeder! Take a look at the weigh sheet below for the weights, what a shoal of bream and skimmers there is that live here! Interesting is Jack Jones, he had nothing halfway through the match and then the bream moved into his peg, and he caught bigger bream than Andy, in fact in the last hour Jack had 72lb (put in a separate net) with bream to over 8lb.

Well that's my lot for trying to get to the final, no success and not even close this year, and I know I must draw better and fish better than I have done and will keep trying. 

I did not fish the Commercial House today but on a rising river at Crane and Swineford Andy Gabb won with 40lb of bream from peg 7 at Swineford and 20lb was 6th. Thatchers won the A div only dropping one point so a good day for the team. I'm back off to the Thames next week for the first round of the ATWL, Radcot and Lechlade area, I feel I'm due a decent peg up there, well you can hope can't you!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Riverfest Qualifier - River Thames Clanfield

It seems a while since I have had to get up early on a Sunday, just my luck then that Saturday evening I developed griping stomach pains that had me concerned if I would be going fishing the next day. Whatever caused it I was up a lot in the night, but in thr morning the pain had subsided to just the occasional twinge.

I was glad to get the gear in the car in the dry, we had certainly had some rain overnight and more was forecast later. The journey to Clanfield is not so bad 55 miles and it doesn't take long to get there, I did though stop off in MacDonalds in Shrivenham to meet team mate Jack Jones. Soon we were joined by Mick Nowicki, Kev Bennett and Richard Chave. I got to the draw venue and was told I had to register quick, which I did and I paid my pools. Then said a few hellos to anglers chasing the dream, and there were plenty of top anglers here, Mark Downes, Sean Ashby, Simon Willsmore, Howard Kaye, Trevor Chalk and I'm sure I could go on! Good to see John Nobby Moody.  I was not far back in the queue, and was soon staring at the number 26. Thanks to a handy sheet I could see what permanent peg I was on, 46 which of course I knew nothing about. I didn't get any good vibes about the peg and so shot off to see it for myself.

To say I was disappointed when I got to the peg is an understatement! I was hoping for a peg with some nice tree cover so I could have a good go for a chub, what I got couldn't have been further from it. An open peg with a weedy bay and a great big red marker buoy. I'll get some more excuses in later don't want to use them all up at once lol. My view, the red buoy is of course to warn the boats of shallow water.

 I began setting up and picked out a 1gm pencil float first and used this to plumb the contours of the peg and then check the flow. The peg was another of the sort I seem to bloody draw up in this part of the Thames Deepest part at 7m and it shallowed up from there as I went across, the main flow was also about 7m to 10m. I opted to fish at 10m as there were some small fish topping but not in closer than this. The peg was about 9 foot deep here, and the rig seemed to go through well. I also set up a 4x16 with strung out shot, if bleak were an issue I had a whip set up. I plumbed up at 14.5m in the shallower water and had a 1.5g bodied float with 0.15 to 14 N50 to fish chop worm. One of the organisers came along and told me he didn't rate my chances, but said they did catch odd bream on the peg across in the winter (later another angler told me that was in 1978).  I was ready for the all in for a change, the angler below me was Simon Willsmore and I did much prefer the look of his peg, with flow down the middle and a snaggy tree over. I couldn't see the angler above me as he was up past a bend and hidden behind the many trees below him!

The match began at 11am and I cupped in 4 balls of Sonubaits, black roach, crushed hemp and soil. I fed some worm straight away across as if there was a bream it might need a bit of time to settle. I dropped in with a caster (ever hopeful) and did have a two 2oz roach, though one missed the net. After a gudgeon I couldn't get a bite on a caster, so onto a maggot trying various colours and I could get the odd bite mainly from very small roach and gudgeon, I did get my best fish a 4oz roach on this early. Simon had balled it, and I did notice on two occasions he had a bit of elastic out so something a little better, roach about 6oz. An hour in going nowhere fast so onto the worm line, 15 minutes and no bites so I fed some worms.

The heavy rain had arrived and gone, it was replaced by a pain in the ass wind right in my face. There were a few boats on the river today, and due to the bend and trees above me when they came through my peg they were very close about 5m to 6m away which didn't really help matters. A short clip below of one example.

I was not catching anywhere near enough fish or enough quality, but my plan today had been catch what small fish I could and then focus on fishing worms for a chub, each time I tried the worm line though I had nothing, the bream were not interested or not there. With about 2 hours to go I found a shoal of gudgeon further down the peg and these came fast for a while, I caught on both the pencil and the strung out rig, though sadly any roach I did catch were certainly only 1oz. I had decided to feed another long swim further down the peg, but with some gbait and soil with worm and caster.  I tried this with an hour to go and no bites on the worm rig, but small fish were topping so I shallowed up the strung out rig and tried that with a caster, couldn't get it to the bottom due to bleak! Fishing 14.5m for bleak was not going to be an option now and never was for me. Finally snared a perch though on my chop worm line, it might have been 2oz, and I spent the last hour looking for that bonus with no reward.

The scales came up from the pegs below. One angler had 15lb, 2 big chub and perch from a peg that had recently thrown up 30lb, so obviously the current hot spot. Simon weighed 4lb 6oz and then I weighed 3lb 6oz, Simon's weight was enough to win the 5 peg section and get £50, he had 4 decent roach and a 6oz dace, and those fish made all the difference.

Poor old Jack Jones had hid 4 decent fish on his chop worm, but everyone was a pike, with the last one being 15lb. What a gutter! We both fished positive as we knew to qualify you needed some chub. The weights on my board didn't make good reading and 4lb was mega. Ah well one more go for me in this competition, next Saturday on the Thames at Reading. The middle section last year was full of bream and I think four anglers had a ton, I'll take drawing one of those pegs please!