After the high of the Superleague win in 1990 Bristol Amalgamation attention was quickly turned to the ATWL semi-final which was to be held on the Bristol Avon at Newbridge. Back then only the team winning the local league qualified for the semi final and Bathampton were gutted to have missed out on their local venue.
We didn't fish any of the open matches, instead we chose to walk them and see what other teams were doing and what fish were being caught where, of course we went out and pleasure fished a few times in the week ourselves. The river had seen a lot of floodwater and was now dropping and the fishing was excellent with many teams commenting what a superb venue this was! I fished on a Friday on my own on peg 30, and although the river was still pacey I fished a waggler just short of middle 13ft deep. Down the line I put 2 no4, 1 no6 and 1 no8, with a 20 to 1.1lb hook length. Feeding bronze maggot and hemp I took roach, a few skimmers and small chub and amassed 15lb in 4 hours. The following day quite a few of the team went onto the straight and got in amongst the bream. I had 33lb of them, up to 5lb, on double red maggot on an 18 to 1.5lb maxima. I recall Kev Winstone took the best weight of 52lb despite breaking his landing net pole trying to lift out one very large slab! Leigh Nutland landed a near 5lb chub, you don't see many of them at Newbridge these days.
On Saturday 3rd March the big match arrived, the semi back then was decided on overall weight, so really each angler had to make the best of his peg and if possible catch some slabs. Andy Floyd, Paul Lumbard, Bob Sheppard and myself all put an individual bet on with Billy Knott Jnr and agreed if any of us won some dosh we'd split it. Well my first semi turned into a nightmare, I had drawn in the trees and missed the one bite I had and so blanked. There was no point me trying to catch a small fish as the match was on weight, and in any case the river was up and to fast for the float, so I stuck to the feeder but had no joy. Bob had drawn peg 54, the bream hole, and came 4th overall with 22lb which meant our little syndicate shared £400! Unfortunately the team just missed out on getting to the final by 3lb, just one more bream, argh! I think Avon Bait won it easily as they had the individual winner and other anglers catch bream.
The following day we had to put the ATWL disappointment out of our minds as we were fishing the Flash Carter memorial on the Thames. A superb 75 teams of 6 turned out for this and I drew a section called Radley. Fishing maggot and hemp on the stick I managed 7lb 8oz of roach and dace, which was worth 72 points out of 75, great news for the team! We had entered two teams in this match and Mike Kent was the other angler in my section. Mike was right up the opposite end to me and when he drove back to pick me up I had already heard that someone near him had caught 18lb of good roach. Mike advised that it was the guy next to him and how gutted he was and that he had struggled.... then Mike broke out into a big cheesy smile gave me a big hug and told me it was in fact him! Mike had won the section and came 7th overall and was really made up, but Andy Floyd in my team did even better by coming 2nd overall with 23lb from the dreaded "carrots and Ham" section. When the team results were read out my team had come 2nd, beating many fancied river teams and we were starting to get ourselves a bit more noticed by people further afield. It was a fantastic result and perfect way to wipe out the disappointment of the day before.