Friday, 3 July 2009

The Summer of '89

Just before some more memories of 1989 an update on Sedges. I spoke to Thatchers team mate and Queens Head Landlord Martyn Reyatt this week to ask how his match behind me on Sedges Brick lake had finished. Shaun Townsend won the match with approx 116lb (liar, he told me he had 70lb!) Bob Sheppard also had a ton and consistent carp angler Alan Oram was 3rd (Martyn was 4th). "What did Anton weigh?" I asked... nothing was the answer, turns out he (unwisely) pulled out his keepnets to leave the top rings on the side of the bank, but 70lb+ of carp decided they could swim in unison and dragged the net in! He did retrieve the net but only a couple of little uns left, WHOOPS! Perhaps that was all the foulhookers that swam away!!!

Back in August 1989 the weather was very good, with temperatures in the 70's (we were still using Fahrenheit back then) but as we all know bright sunshine can make the fishing tricky. I had my first visits to the Taunton & Bridgewater canal as this was a venue for the super league. The team had caught very little in practice but we got Kevin Lawler (squeeker) to show us how it was done and it was a Revelation. This was the first time I'd seen very small pole floats, we used 4x10 milo papyrus floats and at the time I was taken aback how small they were. Bread punch was the method we were fishing, and, as it was before pole cups we were throwing in the odd big ball of liquizied bread, if you were good you hit your float, if not you fished where the ball went in! In the match itself I was getting a roach a bung but they were tiny, it was very narrow where I was and I felt the larger fish were elsewhere, in the last hour or so I caught on hemp across and the fish were a better size. My 4lb was only good enough for 6 points, but our runner on the day Kev Winstone cheered me up by saying he thought I had fished the bread the best but was done by the stamp of fish. The team came 5th on the day but with one match left we were leading the league by 3 points.

The final match was on the River Avon from Avoncliffe to Limpley Stoke, and on the Saturday the whole team walked the venue and pegged it. We then walked back down the venue and gave the pegs "expected" points to try to work out what would be a good draw. So the next day I had drawn the team peg (I was considered a bit of a draw bag) and we were going through every peg we'd drawn. I was gutted when I saw I was at AvonCliffe below the pill box on what was then called cyanide straight and we had predicted this peg would be last in the section! I walked to the peg with heavy heart, passing all the flyers in my section where I expected decent roach and bream to be caught. I had runner Mike Ainger for company, he set up base camp behind me, and I said "why aren't you watching someone else on a good peg its crap here", Mikes wise words were "no you'll do alright here Timmy, just catch what you can and don't worry about the other people in the section they don't know the pegs." It was good to have Mike there and we chatted about this and that and he was interested to know my approach. I decided there was no chance of big fish so I set up light tackle, a small waggler for right across fishing on the drop and stick float for right down the middle where there was a small amount of flow.

On the whistle I started on the wag, firing just 6 maggots across I was catching bleak and bits on the drop straight away, all the while I fed a tiny pinch of hemp and maggots on the stick float line. After about 30 mins on the wag of catching tiny fish I decided to look on the stick, this was slower but I was catching 1/2oz to 1oz fish, mainly Gudgeon, Roach and perch. I stayed on this for the rest of the match, never increasing the feed and if anything cut back when bites slowed, I just tried to continue to put as many of these small fish in the net as possible, but all the while I was really happy that I was getting bites from this poor area. After the match and waiting for the scales Mike told me that our lads had mostly done well, although a couple had just avoided a blank at Limpley! When the scales arrived I was the first to weigh, most anglers in the section had come down to followed the scales and were all moaning about their day. I weighed 6lb 14oz and was well chuffed with this but still not expecting to do that well (a lot of these teams were big liars), but as I followed the scales back up one by one I kept beating them, until the last peg to weigh in. This was the peg Mike had thought should frame in the match, and it was a Swindon angler on the peg I recall and he weighed 2oz less than me, but only had about 20 fish compared to my 170! I felt on top of the world at winning this section, and local knowledge had really paid off.

When I got back to the results I walked in all glum, the lads were sat round a table full of drinks, adding up the points. Glenn Bailey asked "How did you get on?" I just simply raised my index finger in the air, "One point, we thought so" Glen said, "No, 1st in section." I replied plainly. I think it took about 10 minutes (until Mike Ainger arrived back) for the team to believe I had won the section and what I had caught, I remember the sheer disbelief. But the final twist was that the whole river had fished really tough and I had come 4th overall picking up £85, simply unbelievable. Of course the most important thing was the team, we won the day and we won the league! That meant that we were promoted to the top division of the super league in the South West and we got to fish in the "All Winners Final" supposedly on the River Trent the following year (I will feature this match in a future blog, it's a cracker!)

A couple of weeks later on the 24th September 1989 I fished the first round of the Commercial House, although quite how I managed to do so I don't know. The night before I had my 21st Birthday party, in a barn on the farm where I lived, disco and all! It went on very late, the Police visited to ask us to turn the music down, I had 21 bumps fully clothed and another 21 naked (cheers lads). Trying to do a bit of a speech I was rather wobbly and lost my balance, I fell back into the DJ and we both slid down the side of a wall and couldn't get up! The DJ was as pi55ed as me! I recall Phil Harding and Paul Benson stayed the night as did many others and I think it was 4am before we got to sleep. I still see people from time to time who remember that party, one lady who I work with still recalls dancing with me when all I had on was my boxer shorts!

Next day (well same day really a few hours later!) my parents would not let me drive my car to the Crane for the draw, so I had to walk there. Then I drew the bottom peg on the beach at Swineford and had to walk there too! I drew next to Shane Caswell, and proceeded to swear and cuss most of the time much to his and his then girl friends annoyance. At one stage I told him to get his effing float out of my peg, "I'm on the feeder" he replied, which meant I was seeing two floats.... I had 8lb 3oz of mainly chublets on the waggler, and a couple on the maggot feeder, this gave me 2nd in the section and I'd beaten Shane off the next peg. Shane was actually distraught that even in my state I'd beaten him, I was distraught at the thought of the walk back! I think I slept well that night.

No fishing this weekend, as off to a Christening Sunday. Good luck to my Thatchers team mates who are in the ATWL final on the river Nene Sunday. I think it will be a tough match if it fishes as it has done in previous years, but I'm gutted to miss it due to the christening (honest!)....

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