Sorry it's been a while since I've posted an old story, Clayton Hudson reminded me of this last week at Viaduct. It gets harder and harder to get on my computer when you've got a wife and 2 kids who live on social networks!
The month of October 1990 started with a four day session on the river Trent which was practice for the forthcoming division 5 National. We started the practice by fishing an open on the Wednesday from Holme Marsh to Winthorpe. Back in the 90's you needed to draw in the weir field and fish a feeder to win, I drew no where near it! I struggled all day up at Winthorpe for just 2lb 7oz of roach on waggler and pole that still put me 3rd in the ten peg section.
Thursday and off to Caythorpe for a practice on the feeder. On this stretch you had to chuck a maggot feeder across to the far bank which was absolute miles away! You had to have a shock leader and a decent rod to chuck a 2oz feeder full of maggots all the way across and keep it fairly accurate. Using double maggot on an 18 hook to 1.5lb maxima I managed to catch chub up to a 1.5lb for a total of 14lb. When you had bites on this method you had to simply pick the rod up, if you struck you came back without a hook or hook length! You'd also get snagged up bringing the fish back, but one trick that worked a lot was to pay off loads of line and then reel it all back in again. This created a different angle and often the fish came free. I can't remember exactly but I think we had a great night out in Nottingham, with it being 1 man to 6 women!
Friday saw us at the famous Ferry Field stretch of the Trent and we fished here for 3 hours. The wind was horrendous and in order to catch I fished a stick float quite close in with 3 no10 back shots. Dace, roach and gudgeon all came to maggot (disco maggot best) on a 22 to 0.08. I weighed 4lb 2oz and was one of the better weights in this short practice. We then fished for a couple of hours on the road stretch at Burton, this was a bit better with 4lb weights coming to the pole in close in just the two hours. It seemed we had hit on the fact that you could catch small fish in close on the pole / whip before going out further in search of better roach. This method would turn out to be useful for me in the National itself.
The last day saw me fish at Shelford where I could only manage 2.5lb of bits on the pole in close, plus 3 decent roach on the waggler. The wind was even worse today and many people struggled to get bites. Anyway this was the end of our practice sessions for the National and there was no more we could do.
The following Friday we were back in Nottingham, and spent an hour or so on the embankment half fishing half setting up rigs. I set up a rig I had read about in the Angling Times, it was for catching gudgeon. It was a 1 grm rig, with just an olivette and 1 no6 dropper, finished off with a short hook length of 1.8lb Tectan to a 20 Drennan Hook. It was a smart move......
The big day arrived and as usual the nerves kicked in, I don't know if you've ever fished a National, but for me as a young un it was a massive chance to get glory and it gave me goosebumps. Glenn Bailey felt the National nerves more than most and was nearly always sick on the morning! I forget who did the draw on the day for the team, but I was hoping for a peg either in the weir field or up at Hoveringham. I was instead handed a peg at Caythorpe and was told to fish for chub on the far bank on the feeder. As I sat on the coach I recalled the first practice match I had fished and the local guy next to me that day said "there's a lot of gudgeon on some pegs at Caythorpe". The coach stopped and we got off at peg 98 (end of section) and as I was on about peg 16 I had a bloody long walk!
Arriving at my peg I was dismayed to see a club match on the far bank, forget the far bank feeder then. However, my peg was a bit different to most as I was in a bit of stony bay. The guy two to my left had the only bush on the inside line I had seen walking to my peg and he was hoping for chub. As I surveyed my peg Pete Sivell came staggering past (he was pegged another 8 pegs down) he was fishing for City of Bristol, and he declared I was fishing in the "Bay of Biscay". I decided that a 4mtr whip and my freshly made 1grm rig would do for the inside, a 7 no4 stick and a maggot feeder (for down the middle as a last resort) would do.
To start the match I followed the AT instructions and fed 6 maggots regularly on the inside line and within minutes I was getting bites from gudgeon on single disco maggot. This line was very good and I was on it for half the match before they went right off, but as I had been feeding the stick line with a catty I was confident it would be solid, WRONG! I never had a bite on the stick, despite fishing it as one of the stewards told me "like a pro". Well you can look good and catch nowt can't you!
During the match I had seen Paul Benson and Dave Haines briefly, and they'd told me to just keep catching the "gudge". So after 15 mins on the stick and 15 mins on the feeder I was back to the whip. Whilst I had been on the stick I had decided to feed a little gbait with maggot on the inside, and the gbait worked as the gudgeon were back. At one stage the float was burying as soon as the float settled, and the stewards were sat behind me watching for quite a while so I guessed I was doing OK. I stayed on the whip for the rest of the match.
When the match finished I only knew I had beaten the guys either side, with the guy on the bush having 2 chub that could be close. When the scales arrived 2 kilo was top, and I weighed 3 kilo 300grm of gudge. Hiking back to the coach I saw Steve Long of Avon Bait (now Viaduct fishery boss) and if I recall he had weighed 2 kilo+ which he told me had beaten everyone around him. Back on my coach I soon realised I was the top weight, but with 2 other coaches in the section did not know how I had fared overall.
When the results were read out my section was won with 200grms more than me, the guy had 3 chub on the feeder, damn! I found out later (in AT) that I had come 2nd in my 98 peg section and picked up £195, not bad for a bag of gudge! On the team front we were gutted, we'd come 4th out of 98, which was fantastic, but one place out of the medals is a gutter. If I recall correctly Paul Lumbard was 3rd in his section (loads of gudge on the stick) and Mark Bailey won his section, again on the stick. I think we only had one poor result and that was Gary Bowden, he could be a bit pig headed back then and I think he didn't like the whip tactics, but that is not meant as blame. I must admit I was left feeling deflated, to come so close to a team medal and section winners medal was hard to take. Avon Bait won the day, they fished wagglers and fed little and fished light to catch those elusive roach. C of B were a bit further behind us and there star anglers Tony Rixon, Pete Sivell, Warren Bates soon gave up rivers for carp puddles!
If anyone who remembers this match can recall their day, or correct anything I have got wrong please add a comment as I would be interested to know.