Dec 1st saw me on the banks of the Avon at Frys for the Commercial House Xmas match. I was drawn up in the 50's, what I call opposite the lily pad pegs on Jackies, an area that could through up bream. However, on this day the river was clear and I wasn't sure they would feed and so I settled on a crowquill approach. Using a 22 to 1.8lb Tectan I loosefed maggot and hemp I caught dace, roach, perch and small skimmers for 6lb 5oz and a section win. However, bream had fed in many pegs and I should have spent some time on the feeder, but the trouble is I love catching on the float!
The following day and it was back on the Avon for the Portcullis Xmas match at Crane and Swineford. I had one of the shortest walks when I pulled out the boys hole! I decided to fish exactly the same method as the day before (since bream had disappeared from this ares by now) and ended with an improved 7lb 15oz. Whilst that got me a prize it was not good enough for any coin, as the pegs by the cattle grid produced 12lb and 14lb of roach on the stick with caster. If I recall correctly the heavier weight was caught by Mark Harper, and it was a lesson in the quality caster could produce. But did I learn the lesson, no, I put it down to the pegs and would stick to maggots and hemp for a while longer!
1990 must have been a very dry year, because I have recorded on the 3rd Dec that a hose pipe ban was still enforced in Bristol, and that Chew Valley lake was only half full. On Saturday 8th December I fished the Silver Dace Xmas match, again this was from Crane to Swineford, and I drew 2 pegs into the cornfield (walking upstream). It was a cold day and it snowed all day, but it didn't pitch, and my match was awful with just a solitary 1lb 7oz chub to show for my efforts, although I did lose 2 chub to a 10lb+ pike! I walked a bit that day, and saw Leigh Nutland catch 30lb of chub of the "beach" peg on the waggler, and an angler had 40lb of bream in the middle of the cornfield. My next day on the Bathampton Xmas was even worse, I could only manage 2 roach and 1 gudgeon from peg 217 at Kelston straight.
I had only 2 Xmas matches left now to try to put some decent fish in the net, and next up was the Bristol Sensas Xmas match fished from Chequers to Jack Whites. I drew at Chequers, opposite the concrete outflow on Frys. I was not happy with this draw as I wanted to be at Jack Whites on a big fish peg. It was freezing on this morning and for the first 2 hours of the match the rod rings were freezing. Fishing once again with crowquill hemp and maggot I was amazed to catch 7lb 4oz of all roach, virtually unheard of in such conditions. Although this won me the section the river had fished well at Jackies, with bream weights of up to 30lb, chub weights of up to 18lb and there was even a 12lb carp caught. Looking back I never gave myself a chance of big fish in these matches by not fishing the feeder, but perhaps I benefited in the long run by working at catching on the float.
The last Xmas match was at Bristol docks and I drew at "halfpenny Bridge" OK where the f%ck that I asked! After finding someone to follow I was told it was only worth fishing for dace. I imagine I put together a rig on the day for this but I don't know what sort, but I used a 20 to 1.1lb bayer. I fished at 7 metres but went to 10 metres of pole to control the float. By loose feeding just maggot I caught for 3 1/2 hours, but then the flow picked up tremendously and the fish went with it. I'm guessing I framed as I picked up £41 but I did not record my position. On the day 30lb of roach won the match from the then famous lightship.
I did not fish the following weekend, as I went to Nottingham for a Xmas piss up with Paul Benson, Kev Winstone and Nick Tutty. I remember regretting wearing a white shirt one night when drinking Murphys, as I spilt loads down me! It was also rather funny on Xmas eve when the B&B owner came into our room to fix a blocked sink, unfortunately for him this was about 2 minutes after Nick Tutty had taken a dump. He came out of the bathroom glassy eyed and struggling for breath, but he was a good spirit and saw the funny side!