First of all it seems some of my words on my last post were misinterpreted. Anyone who knows me will know I had no intention to vilify Andy Floyd or bear a grudge, and I said those things about Andy because he's a mate for over 25 years. If you can't take the mick out of your mates who can you! He won't change his estimations, he can't help it!
This match was fished from the top of the Cornfield at the Crane, down to the mouth of the marina, Jack Whites and Frys. With the rain we had in the week some people were expecting a coloured river, but all that had happened was the river had picked up some pace. I had been asked before where did I want to draw, but I honestly didn't know, although I knew pegs where I didn't want to draw. Funny how things work out some times, I was the first Thatchers team member at the draw, so I started to write the names out on the sheet, and then when Mark Harper drew peg 1 for us that put me the peg above the blockhouse at Jack Whites. Lee Trivett had caught 16lb of dace and roach from this peg last time so I was looking forward to a busy day. Just as I was leaving the car park in drove Dave Haines, how anyone can be so late on the day you get an extra hour in bed is beyond me, but Dave's your man for being late!
As I pulled in to the marina car park it was full, but I spied a dog walker returning and took his vacated parking space, a lucky start for me! Shane Caswell was moaning because he had yet another long walk, and he was even more upset when he realised I had a nice short walk! I made it worse by saying I had the time to go and have another breakfast...
Unfortunately for me there was a carp angler in my peg (he told me he had taken carp to 28lb and barbel to nearly 16lb from this area in the past) and I had been warned by Andy Britt this could happen, so I moved downstream and got in the next available peg which was right on the fence. There was a lovely looking willow opposite but lots of leaves over there. I set up a 7no4 stick float, a waggler and a feeder. 0.12 to a 18 B611 was terminal tackle for the floats, with 0.18 and 13 B711 for the feeder. As I was setting up I noticed 3 crows trying to mob two much larger birds, as they got closer I realised these large birds were ravens. I have never in all my years seen ravens in this area, quite amazing. The sound of church bells was soon drowned out by bike scramblers and they were in for the day!
To start the match I had 10 chucks with a big feeder over to the willow just to get a bit of bait in, I wasn't sure I would need to fish here but it was a bit of insurance. I started on the stick and feeding maggots and hemp I was into dace from the first cast. The first hour was steady, but I was missing bites and losing a few fish of the hook. By altering the shotting pattern and changing depth I started to hit more bites, I also had 2 no 8 above the float to sink the line as there was a nasty downstream wind. I stopped feeding the hemp as no roach were showing and concentrated on maggot, in the end feeding around 2 pints.
The next 2 1/2 hours were great and I was catching really well, with some dace up to 6oz, but most around 2oz to 3oz. I also took a 1lb chub and a 1lb perch in this time. Then with 90 mins left the fun started with a very big pike taking every 2nd or 3rd fish. Interestingly the dace never spooked, but then when the pike took about the 8th fish the hook transferred into its mouth and I was in to the biggest pike of my life. I played it for about 12 to 15 mins and had it up wallowing on the surface mid river, I honestly believe it was a near 20lb fish, it looked over 4ft long!! Trying to drag this huge dead weight toward me I straightened the hook and pulled out, not sure how I would have landed it the beast if it had come in! Anyway playing the pike had the desired effect and he never showed again, but the dace had gone too and I only took 6 in the last 30 mins.
I weighed 21lb 1oz to win the section, Steve Skelton had 18lb of chub also on the stick 3 pegs below, Bob Sheppard had 4 late chub for 14lb and Guy Manton on the next peg to me on the steps had 10lb of Dace. The match had fished hard in places, and bream didn't show, and I was chuffed to find out I was 2nd overall, but I know the pike cost me the match because the winner Andy Ottaway (with 7 chub at Frys) had 22lb 11oz. Quite a few pike were caught, with Kevin Dicks landing his 2nd successive Commercial House pike to frame again, fair play though this one was 13lb and took some landing.
Something went wrong on the team front, as my team came last on the day, with Mark Harper having blanked in the Cornfield which apart from 2 pegs was dire. So Avon Aquatics win on the day keeps them up at the top.
Lastly I was obviously asked what weight did I think I had by my next peg neighbour Guy Manton, I said 15lb (tricky to know when catching dace) and so he was a tad upset when I doubled his weight and had underestimated by 6lb! Andy Floyd you're a great teacher!