Late Saturday afternoon I received the good news that in the semi at Monk Lakes Thatchers had qualified for the final after coming second. The lakes were quite patchy and team mate Mark Brennan blanked in his section. Mark Harper drew a good peg and finished 2nd overall with 54lb. Mark told me that he was late starting as his watch was 15 mins slow, only team mate Guy Manton who was pegged behind him gave him the heads up just before the start! So on the whistle Mark cast out a groundbait feeder and put it in the rests while he set about setting up the last few bits, a few seconds later he noticed the reel was spinning backwards with a 1.5lb carp. He had about 20 fish in the first 2 hours (carp and barbel) but only 3 more in the remainder of the match. Also in the frame was Gary O'Shea who took 40lb of skimmers on the feeder, he was 2nd in his section beaten by the overall winner who had 56lb. As I understand it Delcac were 1st, Thatchers 2nd, Dorking 3rd, not sure who got the 4th qualifying place.
On Sunday I picked up Glenn Bailey early and drove to the Bathampton Mill to meet Andy Britt and Vinny Lunn. We were handed the last three sections to look after which were either side of Diggers Yard. Our first job was to walk all the pegs to check no boats had moored in pegs, but we cocked that up as we missed a peg and it was the only one blocked by a boat! We soon had it sorted though and no one was upset. We stood on the swing bridge and shouted the all in at 10:15, spending the first 15 mins looking around for signs of fish. The angler on the end peg Bath side of the bridge was bite less, but on the Warleigh side the other end peg and Darren Gillman took a few fish on the punch, but it was slow. As we walked up some runners told us the pegs towards the top of the end section were catching skimmers. We got there in time to see them catch some roach and a few 8oz skimmers. At this stage 3 anglers in a row seemed to be standing out.
Walking back down after an hour it was apparent that the other side of diggers was rock hard, and when we got to Andy Ottoway he was blanking, but a ruffe whilst we were there cheered him up... a bit! I'll skip the next hour and a bit, cos Vinny gave us a lift to the George where we had a Sunday roast and a pint with Aidie Crawley, Rich Lacey and Dave Haines, but it was very nice!
We now faced the long walk from the George all the way back up to Warleigh! On the way we saw a few small fish being caught, Graham Hunt had a decent perch on the wag from the start of Bathampton bend, he was to catch two more to end 3rd in that section with 6lb+. The section from the bend onto the swing bridge was very poor, Starlets Simon Fry won this with 2lb+. There was then a big gap all the way to the pegs just before Claverton bay. There were four "Garys" in a row here and all had been blanking, but Gary "Dame Edna" Etheridge had caught a 8oz perch. Either side of him were two canal experts Gary Barclay and Gary Miller and they were both to end up blanking whilst Edna took a proper perch late on for 3rd in this section. Two proper perch for 4lb 7oz won this section from the bay, and Paul Issacs had a near 3lb bream on single bloodworm to boost him into 2nd!
As we got back to Darren Gillman he told us that Dave Micklewright had got 9lb after taking a couple of big hybrids, Glenn thought Darren was spoofing us! However, it was true, and Dave had once again picked up bonus fish on lobworm, the two hybrids were beautiful fish, golden in colour with big scales, and very thick set, and the biggest was well over 4lb. Dave had 9lb 7oz, and as it turned out he won the match by just 1oz, well done Chief, nice to see a local do well! Dave's section was easily the best in the match, with two 7lbs, two 6lbs and many 5lbs. Stand out performance for me (up this end) was the guy on the Bath side of the swing bridge, he weighed 7lb 14oz of small skimmers, all caught on bloodworm in the last 1 1/2 hours, to his right the Starlets lad was last in the section.
The team result was very tight, and there were quite a number of bonus fish that showed that changed the results, none more so than for the winners. 51 penalty points were enough for Diawa Gordon League to win, well done lads! In H section DGL's Brian Pollard took a nearch 2lb perch 15 mins to go, that took him from nearly last to 2nd in the section! The next three teams all had 53 points and so positions were decided on section wins etc,
2nd GOT Baits
3rd Kamasan Starlets
4th Garbolino Blackmore Vale (Ednas perch got you in the final Chavey and bailed you out!)
Bathampton improved on their last place in last years semi to come 8th out of 11.
Well that's it for the ATWL now until the final on the Nene, this year the final has been moved out to September, in the hope that the weed will have died back and the fishing will be better, I hope so!
One more chance on the river on Sunday 14th, open at Newbridge, let Kev Dicks know if you want to fish.