Thankfully I was fit for round 2 of the CH, but it was no lie in this Sunday. I was in Matty's cafe in Bath at 7am for an excellent brekkie. It was a popular place with many of the Thatchers lads present, as well as Bathampton anglers. For those who get up late with 10am draws it was rather foggy Sunday morning!
I was looking forward to this match, but hoping to avoid Jack Whites which I had heard was fishing hard. When the draw was made it was very difficult to know what pegs we had drawn as the pegger had made no list of the main pegs! Take a bow Jerry Pocock, of the three pegs I asked you about none of them were no where near where you said! I actually drew on the Crane section, 1st peg past the cow drink in the bay. For company I had Phil (Fabio) Harding upstream and Bath stalwart Chris Ollis in the cow drink, both pegs I have fished before with some success. Pegging was tight here with Andy Floyd and Sean Townsend between Chris and the style, I didn't fancy their chances at all. The section started up in the long ash tip field, and last year the best weights came from here with skimmers and roach. My peg was out and out roach and I set myself a target of 10lb to 12lb of Roach and hope the skimmers didn't show!
I set up my gear very simply, a wag 4 ft deep for across by the boats, a 2grm bulk and a 4x16 strung out rig for for the pole line. I ran the line through my feeder rod but did not attach anything to it as I hoped not to have to use it. I cannot tell you why, because it was just gut feeling, but I decided not to ball it and instead loose feed hemp and caster on the pole line. I set up nothing else as I was going all out for roach! I had to remove a pike bung that Chris had pointed out was holding mid river, I snagged it 2nd chuck and out it came trebles and all! Sean said there were a lot of pike anglers out the day before, and this looked like their gear as it was clean as a whistle.
At the start of the match I began on the wag, all the time loose feeding the pole line which I expected to take a while to get going. However, I was onto the pole after only 10 casts on the wag because 1) I had no bites and 2) a very crazy old boat owner decided he needed to fix an engine on his dingy! I kid you not, every word he said was a swear word, he cursed his boat, the engine, his dog and I think he would have cursed me if any maggots had got that far! He eventually tried to siphon some fuel out and got a mouthful of diesel, he swore a lot more after this and then decided to completely take out the engine..... Anyway, onto the pole with the 2grm rig to start, it was slow, 4 small roach and 2 perch were all I had in the first hour. But things started to improve and I started to get a bite most casts from 1oz to 2oz roach. Then inexplicably after about 20 mins of catching the swim died and I had no bites at all for 15 mins. I decided to have a quick chat to the three lads below me, Chris was doing well reckoned to have 5lb after 2 hours, Andy and Sean only 2lb. I returned to my peg after just a couple of minutes and tried the pole again, I was on the strung out rig looking for bites anywhere, but it was still dead. Then out of the blue I had a bite and hit a big fish, it slowly moved off to the far side and the hook pulled out, damn! Amazingly only 5 minutes later I was back getting a bite a chuck from roach, I think that maybe a big perch had come into my swim taking the casters and had put the roach right off, maybe that was what I had lost?
The swim improved in the 2nd half of the match, dropping the light rig in I would feed hemp and caster drop the catapult and sometimes the float was already under! By now the grumpy old man had disappeared and so I fired the odd pouch of maggots across when ever I had the chance to do so! The roach were now bigger and I was netting every third fish, then 20 mins to go I trashed the rig. I tried the bulk rig but it wouldn't work so out went the wag, I had 4 chublets and a roach and then the whistle went!
I weighed 14lb 11oz and had thoroughly enjoyed the day. I think I would have caught more if I could have caught on the wag in the first hour, however, my weight was enough to win the section and bag £30. Tony Goodland came 2nd with 13lb (including a 6lb pike) and Chris Ollis was 3rd with 10lb. Sean Townsend had a mare with only 3lb, he lost 2 pike on the worm which bit him off, and they were both less than a pound! Fabio had only 2lb and was last seen nursing his blisters on his feet, whilst Tony Rixon has put a "For Sale" sign on Fabio's river gear in Avon Angling.
Swineford fished really well, with bream, skimmers, chub and roach showing. Jerry Pocock won off peg 5 with both bream and skimmers on feeder, Andy Pritchard had about 24lb of chub from below Bitton brook. Steve Hutchinson had skimmers on the wag from peg 18 and Guy Manton had about 21lb of roach from the peg in the reeds. Plus there were lots of other double figure weights here except for Eddie Wynne and Darren Gillman that is. Jack whites was good in the shallows with Martin Barret and Graham Hunt both recording 13lb+ of dace, but it was hard in the deep water.
Team wise Avon Aquatics beat my Thatchers A team by a single point on the day and lead the A division. I think Maver Veals were joint last on the day, missing their new lucky mascot Bob Sheppard who is in China, apparently Bob has had a Chinese every night, but not food, if you know what I mean!
Matt Parsons in the Thatchers B team was in my section and caught Paul Daniels (not a lot!), to be fair he was distracted all day by a couple of lezzers on the boat opposite him who kept indulging in kissing and discussing battery powered toys! You don't get views like that down at Viaduct Matt.
First round of the Angling Times Winter League this weekend, and it's exactly the same stretch of river. With no sign or rain in the forecast it should be a similar match.