The day after the Div 5 national on the Trent I was back on the Bristol Avon for round one of the South West ATWL. I drew at Jack Whites, on what would be today about 2 "fishable" pegs below peg 123. I didn't fancy the peg as back then the bream fed well at Jackies and they were being caught further upstream. I fished the feeder in vain for half the match for one solitary bream, and then went on the wag to try and get a few points. Fishing 6ft deep with a 20 to 1.7lb line and double maggot I had some small chub, dace and roach. My 7lb 15oz was never going to win the section and I only managed 5 points out of 12. The river had fished well and 45lb of slabs won the match. On the team front my side won and Silstar Bathampton came 2nd.
The following Sunday saw me at Newbridge on peg 15 for the Commercial House. The river was slow and clear and there was a strong gusty wind, I set up a waggler as I thought it would be the only thing I could pick up the flow on, and a maggot feeder. I fished light with a 22 hook to 1.8 Tectan on the wag, there were no bleak bothering me and I just fed maggot steady all day. I caught the odd bomber chublet and an occasional roach, fishing half depth on the drop was best. I did manage one small chub on the feeder and a better fish did me, but the wag was best as what fish were feedeing seemed to be shallow. I weighed 4lb 12oz which was enough to the win section, that sort of weight in October today would probably be way down the section.
A Superleague match on the Huntspill (on a Saturday!) in nasty wind and rain greeted me next. Back then my approach to the spill centred around the waggler fished over depth, and of course the feeder for the then big bream. It was a right grueller and I had to put 6 no 8 shot down the line and fish them on the bottom to try to get a bit of presentation. All I caught was the very, very odd roach, and would you believe that my 1lb 4oz gave me 8 points from 12! I think we anglers tend to forget how hard matches were, so many people say the fishing was better years ago, I don't think so. I think our angling techniques have improved tremendously and the pole has been a major part of this.
The following day saw me on round 2 of the ATWL, to be fished on the Avon above Bath. I drew Limpley Stoke 8 pegs up from the downstream end peg and didn't really know much about this peg other than it wasn't normally a good area. The river had a lot of colour from previous rain, but it was not pushing through really fast. I started on a wag about 3 ft deep looking for bleak or whatever, I had just over 1lb of bits in the first hour when it died. Onto the maggot feeder and I spent nearly an hour without a bite, but I was feeding the peg. Then our runner for the day turned up, none other than Dave Haines (yeh he was crap back then too) and within minutes of him arriving I had a chub of 3lb. Dave went off for a walk of my section and he came back to tell me with 4lb I was winning the section. Not long after I added another Chub near 4lb (which Dave was giving it the old "okey coke" fist pumping when I landed it) and 4 decent eels. With no lost fish I'd had a good day, and the 10lb 10oz I weighed easily won the section. The team result was a repeat performance of round one with us 1st and Silstar 2nd.