A disappointing number of only 94 anglers fished the match this year, many of the people fishing were club anglers and mostly above 40 years of age. I think this illustrates clearly the lack of young people coming into club / match angling. To many distractions these days for kids; computers, gaming, bowling, etc, they don't spend the time near water so never get the inclination to fish....
I had seen the river on Friday and it was very coloured and looked brilliant, by Sunday this was gone and the river was only slightly coloured, but the vibe was it would fish well! I was at the front of the draw queue as one of the organisers Paul Benson wanted me to draw his peg, don't know why he thinks this is my lucky match! I drew what looked like 2 pegs that couldn't win, Paul at the crane and me at Rotork peg 15. The middle of Rotork is always the worst part of Rotork I feel, and the last match up here had been grim, but I was hoping the rain had moved some fish around. I arrived at the peg to find 2 pike anglers fishing in my peg with 4 rods out, great! I politely asked them to move on, but one of them was not to happy about this, thankfully his mate was sensible and they packed up. As this was no team match I was going for it, and set up only a 4gram flat float, normal pole rig and a feeder rod. I was going to throw in 14 big balls of gbait worm and caster and hope! 15 mins before the off two cox less fours coming in opposite directions crashed right in my peg. They were going at full pelt and an oar snapped in half and one boat sprang a leak. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I put the balls of gbait in and went straight in on the 4grm flatty with 3 red maggots on a 14 B611 to 0.13. I needed to add 3 no1s to the float to get it to sit right as the river had picked up pace, later I would have to remove them when the pace slowed (that bloody automatic sluice gate!). After 15 mins the float buried and yes a 1/2oz perch was swung out. A change to dendrabena produced a similar sized perch, but after an hour that was it. I tried the feeder but beyond halfway was a snagpit, so I also tried it over the pole line, but that was to no avail. The running through pole rig produced no bites either and so it was back onto the flatty, triple red produced a nice 8oz perch but as it turned out this was my last bite! I won't bore you with what I tried after this as it don't matter a jot, Rotork is just not fishing at present! What did surprise me was just how hard the rest of the river was fishing, Swineford in particular was not producing with many anglers blanking, even the crane was not throwing up to many roach, and Frys, well Frys is Frys !
I decided to call it a day with 45 mins to go and have a look about, in the ten pegs at Rotork there were three guys further down admitting to 1lb+ but the rest had already gone, time to go as I couldn't win the section. I took a walk down Newbridge and this was just as bad with most people only having 1 or 2 perch, once you got past the pumphouse there were a few more fish but not a lot, roach were absent but the odd skimmer had been caught.
Back at the results I was one of the first people back, "Have you won it again?" someone asked, "being back this early what do you think?" I replied. Once the results came filtering back in it became clear how bad the river had fished. I can only think the influx of the rain water had chilled the fish (first cold water for a long time) and they shut up shop.
The results were:-
1st Dave Stiff 21lb (bream from peg 54)
2nd Ray Bazeley 18lb (1 pike and 4 bream from just above Newton St Loe bridge)
3rd Martin Barrett 11lb (Roach from the high wall on the Crane)
4th Derek Coles 10lb (1 4lb chub and roach from top of the long ashtip)
7lb 6oz was last in the money, Paul Benson weighing 7lb 2oz from the flyer I drew him just missed out, and a lost skimmer cost him a few quid! My bad day was further compounded when I found out that the sections were every 5 pegs (not 10 as I thought) and nobody weighed in my 5 pegs, so I missed out on £20 for not sticking it out, I hope that's the luck balanced out now!
I can't finish without mentioning Jeff Surmon. For those that don't know Jeff, he is the gentleman of angling, a nicer bloke you will not meet, but he's having a bit of a tough time of late. I can't imagine how Jeff felt when he realised that he was walking the wrong way to his peg, he'd walked from the Crane to the first peg in the 2nd field at Swineford!!! That is a very, very long way, Bob Shep told me Jeff arrived with 10 mins to set up. It was good that Ray Bazeley decided to reward this achievement with a bottle of wine for Jeff, your luck will change Jeff keep fighting mate.
The main reason for the Poppy match is of course to raise funds for the appeal, and it looks like the match will raise very nearly £1000. Well done to the organisers and peggers, as well as all the sponsors. But... why oh why did you have to peg Rotork and leave out Jack Whites, Hainer your a knob head!
It's the last match on the river this Sunday for the winter league, it's at Newbridge, how it will fish I don't know!