I was chauffeured to the venue today by Paul Elmes and sat squeezed into my seat by Bela Bakos. A very nice ride down, but for some reason we started talking about car accidents and very quickly all seat belts were on the conversation was changed!
No early draw for me today, as I can pull my trolley along now, and so into the scrum for a peg. Tony Rixon reckoned pegs 1 to 10 would be the best (wind into them) and I pulled out 16, but I thought it would be OK as it is in the middle of the lake. On my right was Ron Hardiman and to my left the Gimp John Bradford. I've had some good weights on this lake over the years, but Ron had fished the week before and said it was hard. With the wind blowing and no signs of spawning I thought the fishing wouldn't be that bad this week. I set up a pellet wag which I was going to start on in the hope of mugging a few early carp, a 4x18 rig with 16 B911 to 0.14, a 4x18 with 16 PR36 to 0.16 a margin rig and a shallow rig. I decided against paste due to the wind.
On the whistle I cupped in a pot of 4mms out to 13 mtrs and began loose feeding 8mm pellets on the wag. I did't get a sign on the wag and after 15 mins the pole line was fizzing so I went out on soft pellet. In my first three casts I had three 1.5lb skimmers and as I have done here before I fed some 4mms with a catty over the top. I caught a few more smaller skimmers but things slowed right down and I could see Tom Thick bagging on skimmers on peg 14. I tried altering how I fed and how much but nothing got them lined up, I got the odd bite but was missing as many as I was hitting and also losing a few which I'm sure were fouled. I went on the wag to rest the pole completely and lost one fouled carp on this, and I never had another bite on the wag all day!
It was a bit frustrating, I knew I had fed far too much bait at the start for skimmers and no car responded, I had cocked the peg up. Eventually I managed to get the odd skimmer by feeding a few 4mm pellets in a toss pot (like winter feeding) and by opening up another line. Ron had taken 2 carp and some good skimmers on the straight lead, and I was wishing I had set one up! I knew I was miles behind Tom in the silvers stakes but was hoping I could reach the 2nd prize. However, despite my frugal feeding (in the last few hours) with 45 mins to go both my pole lines produced 1 carp each and the skimmers vanished. My skimmers weighed 26lb+ and the 2 carp went 9lb+ (I think). Tom Thick won the silvers with 45lb but only admitted to 25lb (no comment) and I was edged out of 2nd place by Steve Hutchinson who did well to hang onto to his pole on the far bank and had 28lb of skimmers. My chance of coin was gone, and Tony took the section by default with 42lb. So I ended betwixt and between and a straight lead may have done me better than the wag, but my feeding was wrong and I lost enough skimmers to easily had 30lb+, damn things were flying everywhere!!!
Chris Davis won the match from peg 18 with 7 carp and some skimmers for 72lb. Taking fish from various lines and depths and the margin. See Tony's blog for the full and detailed result. Either side of my the gimp DNW and Ron's lead tactics beat me by 5oz, well done Ron.
I did manage to pick up £2 from the van sweep, Paul really struggled opposite me and DNW, Bela had a creditable 21lb of skimmers. The skimmers I caught were very rough and had sores on them, sure signs of the ravages of spawning, perhaps they need a bit of R&R before they feed properly again? Anyway, as Bela rightly said we caught plenty of fish, and if we had that weight on the river we'd been chuffed, keeps things in perspective.