Today I was pleased to meet an old friend whom I haven't seen for a long time, THE RIVER!
Mark Harper had rang me mid week to ask if I could fish for the team at Newbridge. I had stayed away from rivers due to having a small hernia after my op, as it is hard graft carrying all your kit and tonnes of gbait for long walks! However, the team were short, and with the promise of a short walk and pre mixed gbait I couldn't refuse! So it was I found myself (eventually, after a long wait for brekkie at Wetherspoons) at the Rugby club in Salford with the Super League clan, lots of talented anglers and Glenn Bailey's new Bathampton team mates, only joking lads!
Thanks to the generosity of the organisers I was allowed to swap pegs to have a short walk, thank goodness for that as peg 65 would have been a right sweat! My home for the day was peg 107 right in front of the arch, it did mean a bit of abseiling to get into the water but once in it was fine. I was going to ball it on the pole at 13 mtrs (no shit Sherlock!) and assembled a 1grm pencil float with 18 B611 to 0.11 exceed, a 2.5grm Preston Silvers thingy (rugby ball shape) with 16 B611 to 0.12 exceed. A 1.5gm rig for chopped worm (no more about this), a waggler (no more about this) and a gbait feeder with 0.14 to 14 B611. I must say at this stage I was very humbled by the many anglers who enquired as to my well being, it was nice that so many people were pleased to see me again.
I was just about ready for the start, and on the whistle I made 10 casts with the feeder across to get some bait in, then threw in 10 big balls of gbait containing some caster and hemp. Picking up the 1grm rig to begin I was soon thinking maybe it was too light a float as the upstream wind was getting up, and it got worse during the match. After an hour I think I may have had 1.5lb of small roach and small perch, this was way behind the anglers either side of me. I tried the heavier rig but caught the same small fish and bumped more as I was on a double bait. Back in on the pencil float and things started to improve, with caster on the hook I was now catching roach of 4oz steadily. This kept up for the 2nd hour before it went iffy and so I started to loose feed hemp and caster. The bites in the 3rd and 4th hour were much less frequent but the quality was good, and I had 2 roach over 12oz. Most of the time I was getting bites as soon as the float settled (on the drop), and it was almost impossible to get a bite with the rig just running through. I kept changing depths and the way I laid the rig in to try to fool the roach, and fishing off bottom for me was best. I did catch a few on maggot when bites went quiet but in all honesty caster was best.
The last hour was not so good and I even had a few casts on the feeder which produced a perch and a roach, so I stuck to the pole where I was catching now smaller roach but at least I was putting something in the net! When the match finished I thought I had 10lb, Dave Haines, who had watched me for a bit, thought I had more than this. I was indebted to Dave as he helped me get my gear up the bank afterwards. As the scales approached Dave Wride below me was leading with 11lb 3oz (a net of big roach) thankfully my net of more but slightly smaller roach went 13lb 1oz and was enough to win the section. That was a good thing as it is £70 for winning a section in this league! I was 5th overall to so not a bad return on my first visit back I guess? Interestingly the guys either side of me caught well in the first and last hour, whilst I caught best in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, you work it out!
Back at the results and the word was peg 140 had won, 15lb of bream and 20lb of roach, there was a 16lb of roach on peg 16, and team mate Ian Pauley had 15lb 7oz of roach from peg 49. It had certainly been a day when the roach had fed fairly consistently, and the skimmers were conspicuous by there absence! The team had a few bad results, but at the end of the day still hold an 18 point lead going into the last match (next week) on the same venue. Unfortunately I cannot fish as I am away with the family, so for many of the lads next weekend will be a double header, as they have the Div 2 national on the Basingstoke Canal on Sat.
I must just finish by saying this, I really enjoyed being back on the river today and it was lovely to be fishing flowing water. I enjoy both commercials and rivers (and canals) but to be honest 13lb of roach today was great fun and I was in my element.