Got a bit of time on my hands at the moment, the cancer treatment side effects are really kicking in now and I can see the next 3 or 4 weeks being a bit nasty. My treatment comes to an end next week so at least that means I won't have to visit the BRI every day, anyway I think every nurse in the radiotherapy department has seen my bottom by now!
Back in 1991 (as a healthy 21 year old!) I was itching to go fishing after the big freeze, and I was told of an open match being held on the Wednesday on the Avon in Bath around Windsor Bridge. I drew below the donkey field and just round the bend on the straight before the trees started. I knew nothing of this part of the river and with the temperature now +5C at best decided the wag would be the best way to catch and keep me warm! I set up for the expected 13 foot deep swim with 1 no4, 1no6, 2no 8 and 1 no9 down the line with a 22 to 1.8lb tectan. I started by loose feeding maggot and hemp and after 6 runs through without a bite or the float dragging under I added a foot of depth, then 6 chucks later I added another foot of depth! At 15 feet I started to get bites, but it was an effort to cast this out on a 13ft rod. I later heard the angler below me reckoned he had got 18ft of water in front of him, back then I never plumbed up, I just looked for the fish. I caught a steady procession of roach and chublets, nothing bigger than 8oz, nothing smaller than 2oz. This was a really enjoyable day and after feeding 1/2 pt of mag and 1/2 pt of hemp I ended with 16lb 11oz which was only good enough for 3rd. As I recall Pete Sivell won with chub from just below Windsor Bridge and John Bradford came 2nd with a big chub and bream to go with roach from just above the railway bridge. This day proved to me how fish react to an increase in water temp even when it is still bloody cold.
On the following Saturday I was booked in for the Bathampton open at Newbridge, I drew peg 72 which was the first peg above Newton St Loe railway bridge. Confident from Wednesday I set up a waggler again with the same shotting pattern, but the hook size went up to a 20. This peg was only 13 feet deep and so easy to cope with casting! I started by feeding lightly with mag and hemp but for the first two hours I was struggling. As the match went on I fed more and more maggot and cut out the hemp all together and the fish responded well. Fishing double maggot on the hook I was getting bigger roach and more chublets, and in the last 15 mins I reckoned I put 3lb in the net! This late burst was crucial and I ended up 4th overall (behind 3 bream weights) weighing 13lb 12oz.
Those two enjoyable matches were followed by junk, 1 bream the following day in Bath for nowt and 2.5lb in the Upper Avon Champs the following weekend again for nowt! February was completed with a pleasure session at Bitterwell where in four hours I amassed 16lb+ which included 3 tench, 3 skimmers, rudd and roach to 12oz, again on wag but with caster....I might try that again sometime soon.