I know I said I was going to keep the rods hidden away over a Xmas, but I was badgered into this match. I spent a few hours down the Queens Head Christmas Eve celebrating the marriage of Martyn and Tanya Reyatt, and it was there I was talked into this match.
Waking up early was a shock after 4 days of "lay ins" and the first job was to get some bait (had planned to get some Boxing Day but I was to hung over to drive) and I popped into Keynsham Angling. Back to the draw at the QH pub and no sign of the promised burger van so I made a few purchases in the local Tesco Express to keep me going.
Jerry Pocock was running this match and as it turned out only 11 people turned up, I think at least 4 people who had bought tickets failed to show and another 5 who had said they would come didn't arrive. This meant Jerry was going to be out of pocket as he bought prizes for at least 20 people, so a good raffle would be in order later then! People not turning up meant Jerry could also leave out some pegs, but then came the dilemma which ones to leave out? Everyone had an opinion, but with Jerry not really remembering what pegs were where it was not clear what to do. In the end the last 3 pegs were left out and the parrot cage would be left out plus a couple of others. I wanted a low or high draw, but got middle peg 8, and guess where that was... in the bloody parrot cage! Jerry had got mixed up, but he did not mix himself up when he advised he was on the peg where 13 bream were caught from the day before! It seemed obvious that Jerry, his down stream neighbour and Martyn Reyatt on the cattle grid all had a chance of skimmers. Shaun Townsend in the lane was also on a peg known for bream, and I fancied the first peg in the long ashtip. As you can tell I did not fancy my peg at all, and bascially I was faced with a similar swim to that I had in the Frys Xmas match, a deep swirly peg. The river was pacey and a greenish colour and was very cold!
I set up one rod, a gbait feeder, pointless doing anything else as you cannot lift fish out due to trees over your head. I was hoping that a few skimmers had swum round the corner and taken refuge in my peg, so I went for 0.12 to a 16 B611. I mixed a bit of bream 3000 with brown crumb, and added a dash of crushed hemp. On the peg downstream I had Kev Boltz for company, he faced a similar swirly peg and just went with the one rod too. The next peg above me was in the bay in the next field!
Starting the match I added a little chopped worm and caster in the feeder and plugged it with the groundbait. I was at least pleased to find that the peg appeared to be clear of snags, but it also seemed clear of fish as I didn't have a bite in the first 1.5 hours. A quick walk showed Kev Boltz biteless, Jerry had 3 skimmers, his neighbour 1, whilst Martyn had 2 skimmers. I returned to my peg at least knowing I was fishing for the right species! A little while later Glenn Bailey came along for a walk, advising that Shaun and Craig Fletcher in the lane were both blanking, but Jerry and Martyn had caught another couple of skimmers. Whilst Glenn walked off upstream I decided to leave the feeder out in my peg for 20 mins with 2 red maggots on the hook. I never saw a bite, but I picked up the rod and felt something on the end and a 4oz roach was netted, jammy or what! I felt somewhat relieved to have avoided the blank, I knew I was not going to do any good but there is a sense of satisfaction to overcome the elements and catch something!
Glenn returned from upstream to advise it was generally better up there, with odd skimmers and roach coming out, Leigh Trivett catching some tidy roach on the top peg in the bay. I went for a walk with Glenn and found that Jerry had another couple of skimmers, as did the guy next to him and Martyn had taken a chub. I returned to my peg and tried fishing across the river into the steady water, it was difficult as I had to cast 2oz of lead on the feeder under arm to get over there. An hour over there was fruitless and no bites were forthcoming, but dropping back in the boils saw me take a specimen gudgeon on triple red maggot! But then I hit into a snag and lost the lot, and whatever this snag was it now made an appearance on most casts. As I had no more bites and just snags I packed up with 15 mins to go, Kev had already gone home after not getting a bite.
In the end it was Jerry who easily won with 32lb, he took some proper bream in the last 2 hours to go with his skimmers, weighing 32lb. Martyn came 2nd with 13lb, 6 skimmers and 2 chub, and he missed lots of bites he confessed, third was 12lb from the first peg in the long ashtip. Leigh had a nice day winkling out 10lb of roach.
So another bad draw for me, but I think I made the right decision to go to this match, 8 of the 11 pegs had thrown up a few fish, and a bit of luck in the draw bag would have seen me had a decent day I'm sure. I suppose though that the 18 bottles of Stella and a tyre foot pump and accessories that I won, made the 5oz I had a bit sweeter!
More snow and cold weather is forecast, I think this time I will really keep the rods locked away...won't I?