I realise I've left off writing about the past for some time, that's mainly due to me being rather busy, but today sat at home and not watching the Ryder Cup cos of the weather is a good time to catch up.
January 1991 started with a proper winter storm, very heavy rain and wind speeds recorded up to 100mph. The river was in a terrible state, and then on the Friday before the next round of the ATWL we had a hard frost, and then on Sat it was -5C. I was filled with dread on the Sunday at Newbridge despite drawing peg 39 (always a good area) as the river looked awful. I imagine I set up just one feeder rod back then, and my result was just one hybrid which weighed 9oz. This was enough for 8 points and I recorded that just 15oz was needed for 2nd in the section. The match was won with 6lb and most importantly the team won on the day, and with Silstar coming 2nd that meant we held a 2 point lead with two matches to go.
The weather did its worse the following Friday and it rained all day and night, not a problem for my Saturday match which was on the K&A canal at Darlington. I only caught about 1.5lb of fish on the punch and wandered off to watch Mike Stone do it properly using a plain crowquill to catch 256 fish for nearly 8lb. Sunday and the river awaited for the Commercial House, I drew in the long ashtip and managed just one roach for 1.5oz.
As ever in January if it didn't rain it went cold and the following week was all frosts, lovely! The river was now sensible in terms of colour and pace but the fish were going to be shoaled up, so good draws required. Saturday was an open at Conham, I took 30 fish for just 1lb 13oz which was enough to win the section, I fished a stick float in 12 feet of water and fed about 6 maggots every chuck. Sunday was the 5th round of the ATWL, and I got a peg on the 2nd high wall up the crane (no peg there now). I had a bad match, unable to catch on the float I chucked the maggot feeder across hoping for chub. Unfortunately I was only able to pick up the odd dace and my 1lb 9oz only beat 2 people in the section (which was won with 5lb). My result was mirrored by many others in the team and we came a disastrous 7th on the day. From being 2 points in front of Silstar we were now 3 behind, and with one match left we had blown it.
On the 31st Jan we had very heavy snow, I couldn't get my car up the lane from where I lived and wondered if the ATWL match would go ahead. However, as can often happen the snow went as quick as it came and on Saturday I snuck in two hours on the stick float on the cattle grid peg at the Crane. I quickly caught 7lb including 2 roach of over a pound, all I fed was 4 to 6 maggots every cast. This set me up nicely for Sunday and I didn't really mind the long walk I had drawn, I was in the 2nd field below the railway bridge at Avoncliffe! The peg looked lovely, if a tad fast, and I remember that Bela Bakos was below me and his peg was wider and slower. I had a big slice of luck on this day..... I had no idea of the depth, but thought to myself it looks about 10ft and so set up a big waggler at this depth with 3 no6 and 3 no8 spread down the line. I cast it out to check the shotting and the float eventually settled perfectly, which was nice! I quickly set up a crowquill (without checking the depth or shotting) and a lead rod as I had little time to get ready. I started the match on the wag with a 20 to 1.7lb and fed 10 maggs a chuck. I was getting the odd roach but not as many as Bela, so I upped the feed a bit to try to improve things and put two maggs on the hook. I was soon rewarded with a chub, but then hooked and lost another under my feet. I felt there were more chub in the peg and decided to try the crowquill for a different presentation. I had this float set at the same depth as my wag, so I was surprised when it lay flat on the surface! It turned out the peg was 6ft deep, and on my wag I was dragging most of the shot on the bottom, this obviously slowed the floats passage through and improved presentation, jammy git eh! I ended the match with about 6lb of roach and 3 chub for a total of 13lb 6oz, this was 2nd in the section, beaten by the late great Ian "Bloke" Pulsford on the railway bridge who had 14lb of chub. However, I had the consolation of coming 5th overall, and the team duly finished 2nd in the league behind Silstar.
More snow was to come and my 2nd weekend of Feb 1991 was spent at home!