This was a day when it seemed that everything seemed to go against me (except the draw) but in the end turned out not to bad! For starters I had slept badly due to an aching shoulder (no idea why), and was a bit slow getting all my gear together first thing. I thought the draw time was 8:30am, and it was, but they wanted the money in by 8:00 so I had a call asking where I was and Gary O'Shea paid my pools!
Waiting for the draw Steve Tucker was doing his best to wind me up but I don't take the bait! Tucks was doing the draw for the team, and I was praying not be at Frys. I was more than happy to find out I was drawn one below the outfall at Swineford. Tucks was at his most favourite venue Frys, ha ha lol, but he was the downstream end peg. I was nearly the last one to leave the car park draw when I saw a lot of debate going on with organisers Ray Bazely, Paul Benson and a few of the Bathampton lads. Turned out the draw had been messed up and four teams were going to the wrong pegs, the right section just the wrong number!!! I then rang Tucks to tell him he was not on the end peg and the rest of the teams new numbers, we managed to spread the word in time and luckily for me my peg was unchanged. As I drove past the Crane I spotted Guy Manton doing an impression of a windmill. "How far away do you live Tim?" he said, "why Guy?", "I've left me nets at home". Ten minutes later the wife and kids were most surprised to see me back home....
I finally got to my peg at 9:20, thank goodness I didn't have a long walk! The outfall was really pumping out in front of peg 1 (Shaun Townsend) and my peg had a lovely flow running down the inside, whilst further out it stopped or went backwards. Andy Britt had caught 14lb from this peg the week before and he confirmed he caught mostly on the whip and then on the stick float, just what I was setting up. I also set up the gbait feeder as bream are always in the area, I set this up with 0.16 line to size 11 B711. I had to wade in this peg and fish standing up (can you remember doing that Mike and Tony?) but was badly hampered by a big tree for casting out the feeder.
On the whistle I threw 6 balls of gbait just past middle (as far as I could), well actually I threw 7 but one disintegrated when hit the tree branches! This was for the feeder line, normally I do it with a feeder but I didn't want to waste to much time today. Onto the whip (3.5 mtrs as anymore would be in the tree) and I never had a bite in the first 5 minutes so onto the stick. This was also slow, where were all the bleak? I soon realised they were further out in the slack water and whilst I was now catching them it was not really fast enough. Feeding maggot all the time the stick float line improved and I started to catch the odd dace, but throughout the match the fish came and went. Shaun was catching small roach on the wag shallow and had taken a skimmer on this, and I was sure had more than me.
With about an hour to go disaster, swinging in a dace it came off and up the tree went the rig, I got the float back but not much else. Time to chuck the feeder out! This proved harder than expected, in order to get under the branches I had to squat down and cast at an angle, accuracy was impossible but I hoped good enough. I was fishing with half a lob on the hook, this was to avoid the hordes of bleak that attacked the gbait as the feeder went in and often you would see a pike slam into the bleak! Three chucks and 1 perch was not so good, so I left the next cast in for longer and set up the stick again. I didn't get a bite on the feeder so went back on the stick, but it was now dead! Knowing I was behind I had to get on the feeder for the last 35 mins and hope for a lump, first chuck and a 12oz perch made up for the non catching period, soon followed by a 1lb skimmer. I then had another 2 skimmers and a near 6lb bream, get in there! By now Shaun was cursing under his breath about me being a lucky sod, so he chucked the feeder out, and after a couple of casts he had 3 bream in 3 chucks. I had one more skimmer and then Shaun took another bream on the whistle, git!
Shaun won the section with 27lb 12oz and I was 2nd with 23lb 14oz, This was also good enough for us to finish 2nd and 3rd overall. Kev Dicks won the match with 28lb+ of chub from Bitton Brook.
The team had some good results and some bad ones, Tucks and Gary O'Dear had 2 points each at Frys, but at least did not blank like Paul Haines. The Crane fished well again, and special mention for section winners Nick Ewers who won the section at Jack Whites with 16lb of dace from the blockhouse steps, and Martin Barrett who had 10lb to win the section in the Long Ashtip. Thatchers tied for top spot on the day with Bathampton, with Thyers a close 3rd.
One last point, I wish certain anglers from the Bathampton team would refrain from pleasure fishing Chub pegs on the Thursday / Friday before the match. Everyone knows chub do not like it up em, so all you're doing is mucking it up for those anglers that draw the pegs. I take it with a pinch of a salt if a pleasure angler has fished your peg, but when match anglers do it I think it is very selfish.