At last we had the rain we needed to get the rivers up a bit, only it ended up being a bit too much! I spent a large part of Saturday taking calls from my Thatchers team mates as to whether the match would be on, and if so what would the river be like. The match was always going to be on as long as the river was in it's banks but this was not to some peoples liking, and a few thought going ahead on the river was a silly idea. However, the river at Newbridge was completely fishable, yes it was very coloured and a few feet up, but I have fished it a lot worse than this! Kev Dicks put Kelston in today, which I thought was a smart move.
Normally after the draw I go through with the lads what they should be looking to catch from the pegs they have drawn (more important down at Keynsham) but today I told them how I would approach the match and to look at their peg and make the best of it. A draw in the trees would be nice I thought, or at Kelston, as well as peg 10 in the little field, but none of those came my way. I was handed E3, and it turned out this was permanent peg 65 (2 below the Norfolk Reeds) and a peg that has shown bream previously. To get there I had to walk across the Rugby field and then go past 42 pegs, which was nice, well it walked the breakfast off! I was at least able to view my section on the journey and see what I was up against; end peg 7 (peg74) was Bathampton's Graham Hunt, and after a run of bad draws Graham was happy as he had some steady water. I said to Graham that I felt to beat him I would need to catch 2 bream and went on my way. For company I had Frys expert Dean Harvey below me and Thyers Tony Goodland above me, Eddie Wynne was in the Norfolk reeds and said he had always wanted to draw this peg, but he wasn't to impressed with the walk, especially as he reckoned to have walked past 30 great swims that were not pegged!
I was vey happy with my peg, the water was moving through steady in close, though I still needed an ounce to hold bottom here. Plumbing the depth there was a very pronounced shelf, and it was over this into 14ft of water I chose to fish. I set up just two feeder rods (confident or lazy?) but in the end only used one, this was a Drennan DRX Carp Feeder rod with a 3oz tip pushed in. 4lb maxima reel line was used to attach a large gbait feeder in the loop method. I used a snap link swivel on the end of the loop to allow me to swap between hook sizes, these were either size 13 or size 11 B711 both to 0.15 Power Line. I wouldn't normally use a swivel, but I thought it would give me more flexibility and help keep the line on the bottom. I mixed up one bag of river and one of red lake gbait and made it quite wet. I always use red gbait on flooded rivers, not sure if really helps, but it never usually does any harm.
On the whistle I simply swung the feeder out about 8ft past the end of the rod. The good news was there were no snags, and although there were leaves and weed coming down and catching the line it was very manageable. I filled the feeder with chopped worm and caster and big plugs of gbait, and started with the smaller hook and a dendra hook bait. It took about 30 mins for my first bite and the vibrating quiver tip told me it was an eel, so I waited for a bit and then hit it and out came an eel no more than 2oz. I decided that it was now right to try a piece of lobworm, and had a similar sized eel a couple of casts later. Then the fun started, I had a spell for about an hour of getting a bite nearly every chuck on the lobby but could not hit them! Leaving the bite to develop simply resulted in me retrieving a baitless hook, these bites were definitely eels. Trying other hook baits produced no bites, and so I had to stick to the lobby. I suppose after 2 hours I had 4 tiny eels, and It was the small size of eel that was causing the missed bites.
I then went about an hour with hardly a bite when team mate Liam Braddell came down the bank and told me the river was fishing hard. Liam had walked from peg 1 and he told me Tony Goodland had taken a couple of roach with 4 eels. Not long after Eddie Wynne came down for a short walk (he was really struggling and decided to ball it) and said Tony had just landed a proper roach and was now getting virtually a bite a chuck. This was doing my head in! With an hour to go I tried my 20th hook bait combination a dendra plus 2 bronze maggots, and I got my first, and only, roach! No more bites, so I decided to change it to a dendra and 2 fluro maggots which resulted in a 3 1/2lb bream which fought like a bloody chub (I did shout out "get in there!" when I landed it). At 3pm (30 mins to go) I tried a lobby again as the dendra produced nothing else, first chuck and a good bite and the rod doubled over with a 4 1/2lb bream, they do go a bit in a strong flow! Two better eels in the last 30 mins and that was it.
I weighed 10lb 8oz which won the section, Tony did very well to weigh 6lb 6oz with his net of roach, but admitted he though he could have doubled that, Graham was 3rd with 5lb 1oz. Eddie didn't have a good day and would like to draw the Norfolk Reeds on a normal river, bad luck Ed.
My old, very old, team mate of the past Paul Benson managed 3rd with 14lb from peg 12 in the little field, he had this peg a few weeks ago when it was clear and had a couple of bleak and a gudgeon! My weight was good enough for 4th overall and that meant another round of drinks for the team. Nick Chedzoy was parched as he waited until I splashed the cash before having a tipple, well that's what Nick Ewers told me!
The river fished very topsy turvy and nothing demonstrated this better than the winner Paul (body perfect) Isaacs who weighed 18lb on a gbait feeder and said he had bites all day, whilst next door Bob Sheppard had just 1 eel! Thatchers had a fair set of mediocre results, including recent star Martin Barret being brought back to earth with a last in section. Thyers won on the day, but in fact they tied for the win with Sensas Veals (well done lads a great result) whilst Thatchers and Bathampton tied for 3rd! That means the league is now very tight :-
1st Thatchers 7
2nd Thyers 8
3rd Bathampton 9
There's a tear in my eye now, as that is now the end of river fishing in the leagues, after which I framed 3 times. Now it's on to the canal which I really do enjoy and the team are looking forward to. Last drew I drew poorly on the canal with never a chance of framing, I hope that changes this year! Skimmer me up Landlord!