Time to go back in time, well I've got to do something!
What with the complete close season to contend with back in 1991, fishing was limited to trips to Devon or Cornwall (to the original commercial fisheries) or of course Ireland. If I wasn't fishing on a weekend I was probably in the pub!
On the 21st April I travelled to Devon to fish a match at Hogsbrook lake, this match was on the smaller bottom lake. It was a bloody long way to go to catch just 2lb 12oz, but that was enough for 3rd place, as it fished crap! I had 6 roach and 6 skimmers on either pinkie or maggot hookbaits, fishing a light waggler with 2 no8 and 1 no10 down the line. I fished double baits in the hope the fish would find them easier in the dark red coloured water.
I spent the next week preparing for a trip to southern Ireland, this was not a festival but just pleasure with a group of mates. Not sure if I can recall everyone who went but here goes.. Greg Harvey, Paul Benson, Martyn Woodington, Martin Leonard, Andy Leonard, Nigel Brookes, Andy Floyd. Sorry if I forgot someone, memory is not so good after the anaesthetic. The trip was booked via Ray Bazeley's company Top Line Tours, and we were going to a place called Bailieboro. This trip had many hilarious moments, and the first was when we arrived and couldn't find the guesthouse, Nigel stopped a local and asked for directions and got no where, so he asked if he new Topline Tours? "Ah to be sure, I never heard of Topline Tours!" he replied, no I don't think he would Nige and we just pissed ourselves. The guest house was great, but we were disappointed to find the nearest pub was a fair distance away, and with a policeman (Garda) being the owner we couldn't risk drink driving (which was common in Ireland back then) and faced a long walk there and back.
The group split into two immediately, this was because a few wanted to get a few hours fishing in while the rest of us went to the pub! Our first proper days fishing was on Monday 29th April, on Drumkeary lake. The weather was awful, with driving rain, and I along with most others had a handful of bits. We found a great pub on the night (where a kid about 10 served when his dad was having tea or a snooze) which had a pool and snooker table. I played pool once against Nigel, he broke off and potted the lot, so I never bothered again! We got a late drink in this place, and the owner would let us out the back way which meant walking through into his living room and out his front door! The following day we tried our luck at Castle lake, the weather was better but the fishing worse as I managed just 3 small fish. Still we were having a great craic in the pubs! Some of us went home early and went to a pub to watch Ireland play a footbal world cup qualifier. The pub was heaving, and the policeman was also in there. When it was finished the owner said "come on fellas dinner will be on the table soon". He then proceeded to get in his car after 6 pints and drive home....
Day three and Benz got us to lake Eonish, but because of the high water levels he could not recognise the pegs! You could wade out a long way and cast as far as you could and still not find more than 3 feet of water. Once again the weather was even better and yep the fishing worse, 1 perch for me! This was not what I had expected of Ireland, where were all the bream? Truth was the lakes were all full to overflowing after weeks of cold rain, we needed to find a venue where the fish would be in range of our casting and quick! As luck would have it on our drive back we bumped into some Brummies going home, they had been catching up to 50lb bags of bream on a local lake and gave us directions. Despite Benz, Greg and myself providing this info later the rest of the guys wanted to stick with one of the other lakes we had fished.
So it was on day four just the three of us lined the banks of Church Lake. This place was deep, at 30 yards out it took nearly 30 seconds for a large Drennan feeder to hit bottom! I fired out 12 balls of gbait and caster and chucked the feeder over the top. Slowly I started to get bites from hybrids, skimmers and late on a couple of bream. I had 15lb, which whilst not a lot felt good after all the previous shite! We all fired some more gbait into our pegs before we left. After another heavy session on the Guinness I returned to the guest house for some reason alone. When I got back I couldn't open the door to my room, then I heard a shout from within asking who it was, "It's Tim, let me in my fecking room!". Inside a number of the lads were up to something, and it transpired that Woody was sabotaging Benz's feeder reel. He pulled off some line, bit it off, and then wound it back on, biting it again and winding the remainder back on. So Benz was going to have a few problems when he started fishing!
Next day and we're all at the lake in anticipation! I got ready super fast and was already into a bream before Benz (next to me) had tackled up, he was a bit hungover! Of course Benz was now really excited and rushing to get ready at the sight of bream coming out. He was ready to cast, and I shouted the signal "Benz is going for the bream now!" he said something like "Come on then you effing Irish slabs you're having some!" and WHOOSH out went the feeder... off to the horizon! "I don't believe it I've cracked off!" and he did swear quite a lot and we were all laughing our heads off! As Benz set up again I had another bream and so did some others which only made Benz even more traumatised. He was now set up again and ready for action, I shouted out again, and once again his feeder zoomed out to the horizon no longer attached to his rod again. "Effing Rixon, this line is shit!!!!" he said and he threw his rod behind him up a tree. We were all in fits, in fact Greg laughed so much he fell off his box into the margin of the lake, I could have been close to really pissing myself! Benz went for a walk and calmed down enough to retrieve his rod, and later in the day we told him the truth! As it turned out Woody was sat on the bream shoal just to my left, and then to my right the fishing got worse. Woody was making quite a lot of "easy" or "not another bream" type comments when Martin Leonard shouted "Woody, there are two things wrong with you; you breathe in and you breathe out!". Whoops! I ended with 45lb of hybrids to a 1lb and bream to 3.5lbs. I used a 16 to 2lb maxima hook length with either triple red maggot or worm and maggot.
On the last day, Greg, Benz Andy L, and myself did not fish, we had a lie in before the long journey home later, the rest of the lads went back to the lake. We visited them and tried to sabotage Woody's reel, but messed it up and he caught us! I was driving the other 3 lads home in Greg's car, and we found our way into a Dublin pub. We met a nice bunch of blokes who were working for a television show in the church across the road, they invited us over after they had finished 6 pints and went back to work! We went into the directors room, and he showed us the microphone from which he could talk to everyone on set, Andy L grabbed it and started to sing "tie a yellow ribbon.." and across the bank of TV screens we could see many puzzled faces!
When we finally got on the ferry, my 3 passengers kept on the beer while I tried to get a few hours kip. When I returned the three of them were in a mess, and Greg threw up just as we got off the ferry! I had to drive home through North Wales in the middle of the night with them fast asleep. I did have one scare, I farted and I was convinced I had followed through, so I stopped the car and dropped my trousers in front of the headlights to check, but phew I was all clear! The lads remained snoozing and so it was my secret, but about 20 mins down the road Andy L opened one eye and said "Don't think I didn't see you drop your trousers, you thought you shit yourself". Boy was I glad when I finally got home and went to bed for about 2 days!
That isn't quite the end of the story though, because just before the start of the river season that year I pulled out my tube full of peacock wagglers only to find they had turned red and soggy! Woody had taken his revenge by stuffing a load of red maggots in the tube when we were back in Ireland, the floats were ruined!