It was many weeks ago that I handed over my money to Dean Harvey for a Frys Xmas match ticket, but the weekend weather forecast made me think I shouldn't have been so keen.
Waking up Saturday to a -7C frost (and a bit of a sore head due to works do) wasn't going to help matters on Sunday, and I was struggling to keep my bait from freezing to death! I made a quick phone call Sat night to Warren Bates as I didn't know the draw time, it was a good move as Warren had helped peg the match. They had spread 38 pegs out from peg 2 to peg 62 which sounded wise, but I did not want to draw in the bay and felt it a must to draw a chub peg, or at least one with a feature in it that might hold a chub!
Sunday morning and just a bit nippy at -4C when I arrived in the Frys car park. There were all the usual Frys lads there, and if anything I was a foreigner in this crowd. It was good to see Pete Sivell and Ray Cooper again and many of the other old uns!
Draw time, and out I pull peg 7, top peg in the bloody bay, there goes my chance of a chub then. I was given some words of encouragement that I would catch roach, skimmers, perch and chublets, but I felt these well wishers had not really recognised the severity of the conditions. I enjoyed the relatively short walk to the bay in the company of Eddie Wynne and Steve Hutchinson who had drawn next to each other on peg 2 and 4 respectively. A name from my Silver Dace past was on peg 5, Julian Pinkett.
I couldn't get excited about my peg, it was just swirling around in front of me and boiling up. I set up a big crowquill (but it was not right and hence only used a couple of times) and a small gbait feeder. I started on the feeder with a 16 B611 to 0.13 powerline and in the feeder I used white crumb with a little liquidised bread mixed in. I used a large piece of punch on the hook for the first 30 mins, and did get 1 bite but I did not connect and wondered if that would be my lot! I then put on 2 red maggots and plopped a straight lead over the top, after waiting for 10 mins I had another bite and missed this too! The bait was hardly touched and I guessed that as the bite was very shy it was from a tiny fish.
On the hour mark I changed to an 18 B611 and 0.11 powerline (as light as I dared) and with a single red maggot I connected with a bite and took a small dace! That was a result as far as I was concerned and I rang Warren to tell him I was on for a prize! Warren was still biteless as was Tony Rixon at Landsend who I had promised to call if I did catch a fish! About an hour later after a couple more missed bites I took another similar sized dace. Julian below me had 2 dace but both Eddie and Steve were blanking, there were though as expected the odd angler further upstream with chub, but not many! I realised I was not going to go anywhere trying to catch another couple of dace and stepped the gear back up to try for a better fish. Despite trying caster, maggot, worm and bread flake nothing produced a better bite, just a couple of nips on the end of one maggot! I kept to the white crumb mix, but did pass a few casters through it for the last 2 hours.
The last hour was very cold as the sun disappeared and I was forced to go for a short walk to warm up, the lad 2 above me had taken 1 chub, but the next two were blanking although Dean Harvey on peg 13 had lost two chub. When 3pm arrived I was quite happy to shout "all out" and pack up as quick as possible. For obvious reasons I have not been able to talk much about my match cos there isn't much more to tell! Dean arrived with the scales and gave me 2oz, the same as Julian, Dean himself had caught 1 roach late on for 3oz, I think this was the only roach caught in the match!
Back at the results and it soon became obvious how hard it had been with most people not having a bite. I think in total 12 people had caught and I was joint 11th with Julian and picked up a big box of Stella, nice! Overall winner was John Macey who had snared 4 chub for 12lb on the maggot feeder from peg 40, in 2nd place from peg 26 was Mervyn Sivell who had 2 bream for 7lb odd. A number of people had chub on their first cast, Pete Sivell had one on bread feeder, and Derek Coles (drew the peg I fished last week) had one on the float first chuck, then lost one next chuck! Warren did well to catch one good chub on the waggler, his only bite, and Frys Stalwart Keith Firks could have won the match from peg 18; he had taken a chub but lost a good carp which snapped him as went to land it.
I enjoyed the banter and the buffet at the pub, and I can confirm that Pete Sivell has not changed one bit, he is still a wind up merchant and able to obtain free beer! Thanks also to Warren's son for pulling me the last raffle prize!
I think that unless this weather lets up I shall leave the rods alone over Xmas, but if the mild weather returns then I'll be out. As this may be my last blog before Christmas, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that the angling Gods are kind to you in the New Year.