No match report this week as I have just returned from a long weekend in Cornwall (seeing relations).
The Thames around Oxford was a venue that that the Bristol Amalgamation lads got to fish a few times over the years, and it suited our style of fishing of course. The Thames Champs and Flash Carter matches back then were well attended with up to 80 teams of 6 anglers fishing. The fishing was of course varied with some sections requiring a feeder approach, where as others needed float tactics, whilst we didn't know the pegs inside out you'd get enough info to know what you should be fishing for. On this particular match I had drawn at Clifton Hampden (never heard of it before!) and was on peg 2 of the eighty peg section. I was told peg 1 was a major flyer where feeder across would catch bream and chub, but my peg was totally different and it was best to fish the float. After following the written directions I arrived at the river, I was surprised how wide it was here and I doubt I had the right gear to chuck to the far side had I been on peg 1. My peg was no more than 5ft deep and it had a nice steady pace, I set up a 3AAA insert waggler with 2 no8 and 1 no10 down the line, a 22 to 1.1lb bayer. A feeder was also set up but nothing else as the wind was downstream.
The angler above me on peg 1 was a pipe smoker (I had it all day) and told me that he was a stick float angler, but he still started on the feeder. Below me was a Leicester angler Ian Barrow, he elected to fish the pole (all match) which I thought at the time was a little restrictive as I would want to be able to cover more water. I fed bronze maggot and hemp and was into dace very quickly, they weren't bad size fish either. I was giving them some bait and soon had them boiling on the surface. I fed the hemp short of the maggot as I felt it was not helping the dace fishing and hoped that it might be useful later. I reckon after two hours I had 8lb of dace but they had stopped boiling and were just easing off a bit. I then had a bit of luck, missing a bite I didn't reel straight in, instead I put the rod down and fed some bait, when I picked up the rod the float went down and a roach came out. Chucking short on the hemp line (still with single bronze maggot) I was now on a roach a chuck and these were obviously better size than the dace. I had a 3.5lb chub show out of the blue but then I started to miss more and more bites, my rhythm was upset. After a while I thought maybe I was getting shot bites, so I cast out without a maggot on and hey presto down went the float! Pushing the shot together in a bunch stopped the shot bites and I was back to catching roach, but I wasted some time not realising what was happening and hoped it wouldn't cost me... it nearly did!
By the end of the match I had no idea of the weight I had, all I could say to people was I had caught all day and thought I must have at least 15lb. The truth was I had never had a days fishing like this before so was in new territory as to guessing the weight. The angler on peg 1 admitted to 10lb and Barrow boy also said 10lb. The scales came up from about peg 20 and Ian Barrow I think had 12lb which was all dace on the pole. I weighed in 21lb 12 1/2oz, which I was absolutely flabbergasted by, just seeing the sight of all those fish in my net was itself amazing. In amongst all the "well done mate" I had nearly forgotten about the guy on peg 1 until I heard "this is gonna be close!". The little liar had netted 6 bream and a chub, and incredibly he weighed just half an ounce less than me! I thought he deserved that after only admitting to 10lb, git. Back at the results I found out that I had come 2nd in the whole section, beaten only just by 78lb of bream which had actually won the match (the angler caught on blockend feeder and caster as he had forgotten his gbait.)
The team had come 5th, a good result but just out of the main prizes, and I had come 3rd overall, beaten by another bream weight at Enysham, and was £188 better off! But whilst the money was great this day was at the time my best match ever, even now I would rank it in my top ten of most enjoyable matches.
A while later somebody showed me a copy of "Match Fishing Magazine", I'd not seen or heard of it before, and I read it with interest. Ian Barrow was one of the anglers who wrote articles in this magazine back then, and he had actually written about the match on the Thames. However, I was somewhat annoyed to read his account of the match, it was something like "This young Bristol angler above me admitted to 10lb of chub but he weighed in 21lb of Chub! I was not to happy after I had slogged out my guts for 12lb of dace on the long pole"...... I assume Ian had either had a bout of memory loss or did not want to admit to all and sundry that he had taken a right battering off the next peg by a 21 year old on small fish... You decide....
A couple of years later I drew in the same section as Ian on the Thames again, I did not remind him of the actual events, but he did remember me as he spluttered hope you don't catch too many this time. I did catch a few (nearly 8lb) and I beat him easily, again, and I'm sure he remembered that young Bristol angler for a time!
The next day I was on the Commercial House where I drew at Bathford. I fished the same waggler, same rig but the result was a little less weight, only 5lb 5oz, but still enough to win the section. Happy times!