This match was fished from Swineford to Crane and Jack Whites, in fact myself and Any Ottoway pegged the match on Saturday. We did not see a fish top all day except for the very top end of Jack Whites, so thought it might be hard, but with the river being clear chub might have a go.
The team draw was done by Gary O'Shea, and when he came back with peg F1 for me I could have kissed him! This was the top peg at Jack Whites, on the fence above the steps, I couldn't help saying that at last I'd drawn a really good peg on the river and was looking forward to a days dace bashing.
I was in for a shock when I saw the river, there was a big tide on, but thankfully it was at its peak, but it must have been all of 3ft. I have drawn this peg once before and I had 22lb of dace on the stick, I fancied more of the same today. The stick float really is my favourite style of fishing, but if I get to use it once a year I'm lucky. The plan was 6 no4 stick on a 15ft rod, and waggler on a 13ft rod, with a maggot feeder for just in case. Shite! I left my feeder rods at home, all I had was my 10ft mini carp, oh well that will do, 0.17 to 16 B90. Shite! I could not get the reel seat to shift on the 15ft rod, so I had to put the stick on my Titan with 0.11 to 18 B611 and that was it! Not a very good start to the day.
Starting on the stick feeding maggot I was expecting bites, but no, it was deadly quiet, maybe the tide had put the dace down. 15 mins in and my first bite resulted in my hooking something decent for 5 seconds before the hook pulled. I went another 20 mins before my next bite and hooked what I thought was a big chub which tore off and snapped me. Oh dear.... OK so no dace bites, time to fish for chub, onto 0.14 and a 16 forged hook. Exactly 1 hour into the match I had my next bite, and this fish nearly took the line off my reel! Eventually I landed a 6lb 2oz barbel. Exactly 1 hour later I had my 4th bite on the stick and after another healthy scrap landed a 5lb 4oz barbel! OK that's enough of maggots, I lashed in 10 handfuls of hemp and caster on the stick float and went for the barbel!
I couldn't get another bite on the stick, I also tried the feeder but nothing, perhaps I had fed to much? I had seen 3 people by now, Paul Barnfield, Jerry Pocock and Kev Dicks, all were below me and had been struggling, only Nathaniel Johnson had caught well, with 5 chub, so I needed to catch another barbel. I had noticed though that Dace had been topping upstream of me for an hour and then at 2pm a couple topped in my swim. This lead me to pick up the stick again and I had a dace first cast out, and the next, and the next..... I was still on the heavy gear, but the dace and odd roach did not care and were grabbing my single maggot every chuck whilst I carried on throwing in hemp and casters, and I swung every fish out. When the whistle went I had caught fish for 90 mins on the stick, and it turned out I had caught 9lb 14oz in that time, bagging!
It was going to be close in the section as Nathaniel had ended with 9 chub, but my weight of 21lb 4oz was just to good for his 19lb 11oz. As it turned out we were 1st and 2nd overall, result! At Jackies every peg came alive late on, at the bottom end, anglers blanking even caught a fish, Nicky Johns and Barny saw at least 9 salmon / sea trout jump clear of the water.
Back at the results it was clear the river had been tough in places, but it still needed over 13lb to frame. Mark Brennan (in my team) came 3rd from the Crane with 16lb, including a 2lb 14oz perch. In fact my team had a good day all bar one and we were clear winners on the day and are now winning the A div by 3 points. I am leading the league individually, but the next two matches are on the canal in the New year and I'm not sure if I will be able to fish them, but we will see.
I have to end by saying that today was a day I will never forget. If I could fish a stick float every day I would be a happy man. Hooking some lumps early and then catching so fast late on was a special experience for me. It was the last w/l river match today.
One final note, pegging the match was more difficult than I thought, and we did put a couple of dodgy pegs in. Shawn Townsend drew the worst one, and caught one 13oz chub 10 mins to go! When he came back he had calmed down, but he did say the match that was not pegged previously (when we did it from memory) was pegged better. PMSL, a top comment!