I spent most of the Bank Holiday Monday making up canal rigs, tying hooks and changing elastics as I had not fished a canal since a year ago. When you spend a lot of time preparing for a match you really hope the draw makes it worth while, would it though?
I got to the Rugby club at Saltford with plenty of time to spare and sorted out the team sheet and pools so we would get a fairly early draw. There were a few ringers out today including Des Shipp and Calum Dicks, oh and Paul Dicks was there too, I know cos I stood on his foot and he got me back! As Gary O'Shea did the team draw the last round (when we won) we decided he should draw again. Gary came back with peg 3, and we had what looked like 2 flyers, Gary in Darlington bay, and Martin Barrett the bay at Malthouse. My section was D and this is the section on the Bath side of Meadow Farm bridge. When I got to the canal I was somewhat deflated, peg 9 was the flyer between the bridge and the wires and Dave Haines was sat on that, and the next peg on the recycle tree was Nick Chedzoy. Peg 7 was Darren Gilman, and he said to me in all honesty the further down you went the worse he thought it would be.
Setting up I couldn't see how I could beat those top 3 pegs, and maybe a couple next to them, unless the fish had moved home of course. I debated my tactics in my head, and decided that I would go for a mainly small fish approach as I didn't expect bonus fish. First rig set up was for bread punch, I used a Drennan 4x14 Roach, it has a fairly thick tip compared to most canal floats, but it will support a piece of punch fished off bottom without sinking. I had a 18 PR311 to 0.07 at the business end. A 0.4gm and a 0.2grm PB Silvers (forgot the number!) for bloodworm were assembled with a 20 PR311 to 0.07. A caster rig on another PB silvers float with 0.08 to a 18 B511 finished things off. I never went with any worm rigs!
I started by feeding liqqy at 5mtrs and went straight over it (I also fed joker at 11 mtrs in 2 places and some caster and joker right over), it took me about 5 mins to get a bite and then gradually bites came a bit faster. I only caught roach here and they were mainly 1/2oz but I did pick up a few 2oz fish. I managed to stick on this for the first hour but it was now to slow and I fed a bit more liqqy, it didn't really improve things that much and so I was going to have to look on the joker line. I picked up the 0.4 grm rig to start as the wind had got up and from one swim I took 3 tiny fish, but swapping over to the other 11mtr spot and I had 3 net roach! At this stage I thought I was ahead of my neighbours.
Though I never had anymore net roach I plodded on with the joker lines until 3 hours of the match had elapsed but now needed to rest them and so I tried the caster across. I was just thinking of giving it up when I had a bite and landed a lovely 6oz roach, next chuck same result! Of course I went on to bag...not, I never had another bite on the caster. In fact the last two hours just got more and more difficult for everyone, I had fed some joker in closer but all that produced was a few wasps. I just kept rotating swims trying to get a bite, but it was almost impossible, should I have put some worm in? Well in the end there were no bonus perch caught and my bag of fish had the best quality roach in the section. I weighed 4lb 7oz beating Steve Priddle to my left who had 2lb 10oz and Mark Lloyd to my right with 1lb. Steve spent a long time on worm for just 3 small perch. In the end I was 4th in the section, beaten by Hainer 7lb, Darren 6lb 2oz and Chedz 6lb. So I feel I did the best I could for the team and I enjoyed the fishing to boot.
Overall the match was paralysed by Martin Barrett who had 16lb at the Malthouse, he had 7lb of roach on punch, then 7lb of dace on the wag plus some bleak and bits. Eddie Wynne was 2nd next peg to Martin with 11lb.
In the A div Thatchers A and Bathampton Red tied for 1st, with my lot Thatchers B in 3rd. With 1 round left my team are in first but we only have a 1.5 point lead over Bathampton Red, so we still have it all to do. The last match is next Sunday.
On the 22nd January there is a memorial match on the canal for Bob Warden, with money raised going to the Emphysema charity. Nicola Goodhind has tickets.