Well the weather forecasters got it right and the wind and rain was atrocious when I awoke 6:30am Sunday morning. It's on days like this that you hope to draw a bream peg and just chuck a feeder out! Of course the rain had come to late to change the river and it was still clear, but now a little more pacey and covered in leaves. Once again I was the first Thatchers angler from the cafe to the draw and set about writing out the team sheets. I hate doing this really, because where ever you write your name is going to decide what section you're in. After filling it out I realised I was in the knockout against team mate Martyn Reyatt, damn, should have written his name next to mine to try and be in the same area! Oh well, at least nobody could excuse me of trying to rig it! As it turned out I'd stitched myself up good and proper, as I was drawn at Frys and Martyn first peg in the long ash tip field (one of my favourite pegs). As I left with my head in my hands team runner, Steve Tucker said with a large dose of sarcasm "now catch 10lbs of roach", well miracles I can do, but the impossible is a bit harder!
I reached the river and things were not looking good, I found myself on peg 42, between the lone tree and the national peg, or the 2 best chub pegs at frys at the moment. Frys expert Warren Bates told me he had drawn this peg last week in the Commercial House and only had 1lb 7oz. I had no features in the peg and was thinking if the chub pegs fished I could be in big trouble, still you've got to try! The wind was howling and rain lashing in, as I attempted a descent down the bank with box and bucket my feet went and I slid all the way down and was covered in mud. The peg was shallow in close and no reasonable depth / flat area could be found until past half way. As the leaves were really bad on the inside I decided against the pole and set up a 14BB crowquill and a 5AAA waggler (which never brought a bite!) as well as the standard feeder. I had been unsure whether or not to ball in gbait today, but as the flow was fast here I decided it could help, so I mixed a small amount (2 kilos) and made it as black as coal.
On the whistle I threw 6 balls containing plenty of hemp and a bit of caster in just past halfway. I picked up the crowquill and did my best to cast it out in the right place, first 3 chucks went upstream, next 3 chucks good but all hooked up on leaves! Frys is hard enough without these added problems to overcome, but by casting right across and then pulling the float back I could avoid the hook ups on leaves. Next problem was that the wind direction was mostly upstream, and to get the float to move through I had to mend the line downstream which was nigh on impossible due to the wind strength and line getting caught on leaves. At times the float was being held back by the wind so much that half the body was out of the water! Eventually, by adding some more no10 shots I could get the float to sit better and I started to get the odd bite from roach and dace. I was on a size 20 to 0.1 hooklength and the best hook bait by far was a fluoro maggot. I was frustrated by the fact that I missed as many bites as I caught fish, when I say missed I really mean never saw the bite, I reeled in to find the maggot chewed. You really had to be there to appreciate how bad the conditions were, and there were many tales of woe after the match.
After 2 hours I had my last bite on the crowuill and tried a couple more balls but that didn't work. The wag was no good and the feeder produced no bites, so I went for a walk! At this stage John Smith above me, on the winning peg last week, had 3 dace and 1 decent chub, Mark Bromsgrove 100 yards below me on the flyer just above the lone tree had a couple of small chub, everyone else was really struggling. I went back and decided to fish the feeder for a good 45 mins all the while feeding heavily with bait in close, hoping to sneak a chub. Despite feeding nearly 4 pints of bait I could not muster a chub or a bite on either feeder or float and I spent the last 3 hours biteless!
I had the scales and so was packed up quick and off to see the damage. Mark won the section with 6lb of chub on maggot feeder, taking 2 chub very late on, Smithy was 2nd with 4lb 3oz, and the chub was probably 4lb! So I was battered both sides and my net of small stuff went 2lb 7oz, enough for 3rd in section as nobody else broke 2lb. I had beaten the Bathampton angler Lee Trivitt by one place in the section, it should be noted that Lee is having one of those leagues, where good draws are hard to come by. But Lee did beat the anglers either side of him. Martin Barrett won the top section at Frys from the upstream end peg, he has won his section every match so far!
The river up at Swineford and Crane had fished well, with team mate Liam Bradell winning with 80lb+ of bream from peg 3, and Kev Perry coming 2nd with 76lb on peg 2. There were good weights of roach through the crane, and skimmers showed in some pegs. Thyers did well to win the day with 52 points, Thatchers came 2nd with 51, and Bathampton 3rd with 49. So the top three in the league to date is Thatchers 4 points, Bathampton 6 points and Thyers 7 points. Oh and Martyn Reyatt did kick me out the knockout with 7lb, but somehow he let Shane Caswell beat him for the section!
This weekend is the Poppy Match, and I urge all anglers to support this match and in doing so support our servicemen heroes. If you can't (or don't want to fish the river) it is still worthwhile donating to the poppy fund. I've won this match the last 2 years so the odds of doing the hat trick are probably of lottery proportions, but after a bad draw this weekend will things even out this coming Sunday?