I was awoken by the alarm on Sunday morning, which meant no time for breakfast. I had decided that if I had a good nights sleep and woke early then fry up it would be, alas the night was spend mostly awake as the wife was not well at all. A couple of weetabix and a banana were soon scoffed and the gear loaded, I got away without scraping the ice off the car thanks to the Ford Mondeo heated windscreen! The drive to the draw was in thick fog and I was wondering if the canal would have frozen over.
At the draw it was good to see the team and the other anglers some for the first time since early Dec. I pulled together the team sheet for Thatchers A and wrote my name on the sheet last of all. Steve Tucker drew for the team and put me on peg A3, this was at Darlington Wharf on the narrow peg with thick reeds just before the bay. To my right was Martin Barrett for Thatchers B and to my left Andy Turton. I have known Andy since the days of Silver Dace Juniors, Andy told me he has moved to Hemel Hempstead due to work and will not be fishing in this area anymore, good luck Andy hope the Grand Union throws up a few fish for you.
Chatting to Martin as we set up, I said I felt my peg would be good if the skimmers didn't show but I could be battered if they did show! I assembled one punch bread rig (4x14 Drennan Roach), a bloodworm rig (.4grm Desque), a chopped worm and a caster rig. The depth hardly changed all across the canal so the rigs could be used for near and far. I saw one fish top before the start and this gave me a lot of confidence as I have always thought a fish topping on the canal to be a good sign.
On the whistle I cupped in some liquidized bread and went straight in on a 4mm punch. I had 2 small roach in the first two casts but then nothing for a couple of minutes, so I dropped the size of punch and took another 3 roach before a 4oz skimmer showed up. At this stage a boat came through and I feared the worst, but I resisted the temptation to feed again and after about 10 minutes the roach were back. I had another 2 small skimmers, 1 about 12oz and about 35 roach all in the first hour and a half. At this stage the boats started to become a bit busier and I was forced to refeed the bread line as well as feeding some joker against the reeds. Only a few more roach showed on the bread so I went across over the joker lines and took a couple of net roach on pinkie. Unfortunately straight after this the joke of a boat for this canal came through, the "John Rennie". So wide is this boat that it actually went right over the reed bed and left me with oxtail soup and bits of reeds every where. I could see the peg would take a few minutes to settle so I went for a quick walk. Andy and Eddie Wynne in the bay were struggling as were the next two anglers, but as I arrived to Andy Ottaway he was landing a 10lb pike! He already had a 4lb pike in the net and then told me another pike had been caught a couple of pegs up, brilliant not!
I spent the rest of the match trying to catch roach on bloodworm as well as trying chopped worm, I had just one bite on the big worm rig and landed a near 1lb eel! I knew I had no chance against the pike weights but just tried to be the best of the rest. When the weigh in came I followed the scales down to my peg; Robbie Mann had taken 4 pike for 18lb, next peg Shane Caswell 2 pike for 9lb 9oz, next peg Andy Ottaway 4 pike and a couple of perch (one superb specimen of 2lb 15 1/2oz) for 27lb 5oz and next peg Paul Barnfield 1 pike for 5lb 9oz. The next 3 anglers weighed 1lb+ and then I weighed 6lb 6oz before Martin weighed 3lb 8oz. It was gratifying that a few anglers said I had the best net of fish and had won the section without pike, but as pike count in the CH, well..... The pike were all caught on worm of course, lobs on the hook and the anglers who caught them also lost a few.
I had come 4th overall in the section (best of the rest) and in the A division my weight had come 2nd to Andy, and so as he had won the match I got the £30 A div section money by default. I think I was probably just a couple of places out of the frame. Unsurprisingly the 3 anglers with pike were 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall. Paul Barnfield got the B div section by default, even after a visit by two policemen who had received a complaint that he had been foul and abusive to passer by! On the team front Maver Veals must have had some Viagra because they won A div, Thatchers A & B and Avon Aquatics were all joint 2nd, so Avon Aquatics are still way out in front and odds on winners with one match to go. The canal had been peggy today and some areas had iced over with some anglers only managing ounces even with B&J, so despite being piked off I was more than happy with the day I had.
Hopefully next week the weather will be kind to us and the last match of the CH will go ahead on the canal and the weights will improve. Better take some sprats next time methinks!
Bathampton, who rent this section of canal, do not allow "sweeps" on any of their waters, and in a previous blog I had thought Martyn Reyatt was considering running a sweep on the canal but this was in fact wrong and I had been misinformed by another angler.