I'm so fed up with this weather I have not even considered going fishing over Xmas, time to reminisce.
Back in the 90's there were frequent open matches on Saturdays, and on the 2nd March I fished a Bathampton open at Newbridge. I drew peg 27 and as the river looked good for bream I decided on a groundbait feeder approach. Fishing 2/3 the way over with an 18 hook to 2lb Smart I caught most fish on double caster. I took 4 chub, 2 skimmers and a nice 1.5lb roach during the day (not so good for bream then!) for 12lb 11oz which was enough to win the section. The match was won by Kevin Rowles who took 25lb of mainly roach on the waggler from behind the pumphouse, and it was the first time I'd ever witnessed Gurning! The following day was the annual trip to the Thames on the Ray Carter memorial match. I drew a section named Godstow and I was pegged right next to a flyover bridge. It was noisy as hell and the peg looked horrible and I was not at all confident when a few locals walked past laughing! Five hours later and 1lb 5oz was all I could muster, 1 perch and some roach on the wag / maggot feeder. There were however a lot of blanks and I gained 46 points out of 80 for such a miserly weight! The day was one I shall remember though, as Paul Benson won the match overall (and it was a 480 pegger) and helped his team, Silver Dace, to win the team event, a great achievement against so many crack sides.
The following weekend and the Avon was in flood, but as I was going to fish at Newbridge again it wasn't so bad. This match was arranged by Ray Bazeley for his holiday company back then known as Topline Tours. I drew the first peg below Saltford weir and was told I would catch bream, but 4 hours and 55 minutes in all I had was 3 eels!!! On the very last cast I had a drop back, hooked a slab and landed the bugger. My weight of 5lb 1.5oz I thought that weight would not bring me any money and I was right, but I came 12th overall and picked up a decent prize. My season ended (on the 14th back then of course) with a match on the Bristol Docks. I was drawn 3 pegs up from Princes Bridge (down below squash courts back then) and had a steady day catching 17 skimmers and the odd roach on the feeder. I put pinkies and casters in the gbait but caught mainly on single or double bronze maggot (weird) and matched the baits to a 20 hook and 1.1lb bottom. I came no where and 32lb won the match.
I did actually go fishing again at the end of March (Easter) and went for 3 days to Upham Farm Carp Lakes. I really loved this place back then, it was the nearest place I could fish due to the close season and was rammed with carp, ahead of its time. Even though the weather was still cool you could get the carp up shallow by constantly feeding maggots by hand. On the second day I took 41 carp shallow and the best fish was around 4lb in size. It was though only pleasure fishing with mates, and we did have some great nights out at the Cat and Fiddle pub just up the road. One year (can't recall if it was this one) I was sick all over Mike Kent's car, but the next day I didn't remember doing it, even when Mike told me so and asked me to clean his car! OOOPS!