The good news before this match was that some of the Bathampton lads had cleared swims on the section below Saltford weir, and this was to be pegged instead of Rotork. That was a good bit of thinking and pegs 3 and 4 in this section were, I was told, full of chub! Although despite this excellent work Kevin Dicks did not peg the match out an instead wrote the pegs in a matrix, good idea eco friendly. Seems like the organisers didn't think so and wouldn't pay Kevin the "peggers" money has he hadn't "physically" pegged the match out, whoops!
At the draw I handed over my money to Tucks for some of the best Russian joker I have ever seen, I hoped it would be worth it! I never used to take B & J to river matches but in the last couple of years I have caught with it and it does no harm. It was certainly likely to be needed today, an already gin clear river had now been subjected to a frost. Gary O'Shea brought back the team draw and I was the 1st peg in the weir field section with peg 2 empty, that will do I thought. Getting to this part of the river is tricky with a trolley, as you have to negotiate steps down from the cycle track. I didn't to a good job and ended up snapping a mud foot of one of the legs! By the time I got my gear over the gate I was already rubbing my hands trying to warm them up!
My old 'team mate' Andy (shitbag) Floyd was on the end peg next to the bridge, one that usually always throws up some fish, Jeff Grant and Andy Ottoway were on the chub pegs. As I surveyed all the pegs on the way to mine I had noticed bleak topping in Jeff and Andy's peg, but no others, I thought that 20lb of chub could win this section so I was going to go for that. Despite being below a weir the flow here was still slight, proving how low the river is. I decided on 3 lines of attack, pole at 11 mtrs, waggler down the middle and feeder across to the boats. The pole line was no more than 6.5ft deep, but there was a lot of silk weed around which made running a rig through tricky, 1.5 grm was OK here and I tied a size 20 PR34 to 0.08. The waggler was shotted with a couple of no 10s and no 8s and a 20 B611 to 0.11 was my starting bet. I set up a gbait feeder as I have known bream and chub come off this peg and this way covered both options.
I was ready bang on time and deposited 12 balls of gbait and joker on the pole line, and fed maggot on the wag line. I ran the pole rig through hoping for the initial burst of fish, but it didn't happen and after 15 mins I picked up the waggler. 45 mins of running the wag through produced nothing, so another look on the pole line, nothing. Well I think I'd better get some bait in on the feeder line so I gave this 45 mins and ended up with no bites. Flippin heck I wasn't expecting it to be this hard! It was about now I decided to see if it was me or the peg, so a quick walk to Jeff and Andy was in order. They were catching odd roach and perch but being pestered by bleak. The anglers below them were either blanking or had 1 fish.
I think it was about 2 hours in when I saw a perch by my keepnet and dropped a pinkie in front of it to break my duck, it was only an ounce but a fish! On the gbait feeder I caught another couple of small perch on worm, but there were no signs of anything decent. With just over 2 hours to go bleak started topping taking my maggots on the wag line, I thought that might be with a few ounces but it would be hard work, so I looked on the pole line first. The float did not settle and a bleak was hooked, and so were another dozen, where had they come from? Then amazingly I caught a couple of small roach. I pushed the bulk down further to get through the bleak and was now getting a roach a chuck, small at an ounce but it was bites. The fish were off the bottom (even though I had not loose fed here) by some way, just below the bleak it seemed, perhaps they were above the silk weed?
I fed more gbait and joker and the fish just kept coming and I started to get the odd 2oz fish. It did slow down once when I fed, so I had a few chucks again on the feeder but a couple of small perch were all that showed. Going into the last 30 mins I would get bites as soon as the float settled from roach, although the bleak were still a nuisance. Pinkie was by far the best hookbait, anything bigger and the bleak saw it and had it. I reckoned I had 4 to 5lb which I was hoping could get me 3rd in the section, as Glenn Bailey phoned to tell me Andy (lying b'stard) Floyd had also finished with a fish a chuck and was admitting to his team mate to have 3lb. I weighed 6lb which was not bad for just over 2 hours of sprat catching, certainly warmed me up! Jeff won the section with 10lb+ and Andy was 2nd with 9lb, they didn't have the expected chub but still plenty of fish. Andy (brain dead) Floyd was 3rd in the section with 8lb+, if ever Andy tells you a load of bull about his weight don't take it personally, he's been doing to his mates for 30 effing years!
So how did the river fish? Well the bream did their usual cold and clear water appearance in some pegs, with two 40lb weights, both of those weights were caught on the pole line. The winner was on peg 65, same peg that won a super league, and the pegs in the 30's produced bream, some over 7lb. The little field was dire, with Shawn Kitteridge winning the section with 9oz and Guy Manton catching 2 roach for 2.5oz for second. That summed up the river, some sections needed only a couple of pounds to win them, while others threw up fish in a few pegs.
On the team front Thatchers pipped Bathampton to 1st place by a single point, a great result on a patchy river. Martyn Reyatt helped the cause by avoiding a blank and snaring a 1lb 8oz perch in the last hour! Thyers were again close behind in 3rd. So after two matches Thatchers have 2 points, Bathampton 3 and Thyers 6.
Commercial House this weekend and rain is now forecast this week for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, let's hope they've got it right and it tips down! The two thatchers teams have been struggling to get the numbers for this match, it is the thought of being pegged at Frys!