I admit it, I bottled it this weekend. I hadn't been that well all week and then the wife got really ill, and I couldn't see the point of driving on ice to then break ice and all that shit! So I stayed at home and looked after the wife and watched the football. I think I made the right choice, cos I just read Tony's blankers blog, lol! Fair play to all those who did go out today.
March 1st 1992 and I found myself driving to Oxford for the Ray Carter memorial match on the River Thames. This was a big team match, 80 teams of 6 anglers (yep 480 pegs!). I was pleased to be handed a peg at Clifton Hampden that I was told had bream form. When I got to the peg I was told by a local that the bream had been hammered during the week on the pegs in my area and he didn't think they would show. Unfortunately this area was notorious for holding no small fish and so I sat on a groundbait feeder for most of the match. I used 1.5lb maxima with a 20 hook and double red maggot and cast 3/4 the way across. I had my first bite after 2 hours, a small bream, my 2nd bite exactly 1 hour later, a small bream, and my 3rd bite exactly 1 hour later, I missed! That was it! 5lb 11oz gave me 74 points out of the 80, mega points for the team and we had some good results and came 3rd overall. The bream fed well in other sections with the top individual weight being 87lb.
I next endured two poor matches, firstly 3oz on a heavily flooded Warwickshire Avon, and then 1 bream from Saltford on the Topline Tours open match at Newbridge. I had a couple of pleasure fishing sessions at Bitterwell to cheer myself up, catching 15lb of roach on the wag the first time, then next time out only 5lb and I watched Tony Rixon catch 15lb of mainly skimmers on the pole. On the last day of the season I packed up on a Docks match and then sat on a mooring for 2 hours in front of the Chequers pub at Hanham on the Avon and took 7lb on the pole including a 2lb chub.
Thursday 19th March and off on the Veals trip to Northern Ireland on the Bann. If I recall we used to arrive after a night of no sleep, dump stuff at the hotel and then on to the Bann. My first day and I bagged an impressive ..... 2lb 11oz. Well it was 4 big roach! As the trip had a decent overall payout and it was decided on weight I needed a lot of luck now to do any good. If my memory serves me correctly this was the trip where Dave Haines, Mike Kent and myself hardly slept as we had a disco in our hotel! Day 2 and we were off to a completely different place, the river Blackwater at Verners Bridge. I drew right next to the bridge itself, and on my bank the wind was in our faces but the bridge afforded me some shelter. As we were setting up a storm came out of nowhere and terrific rain and winds battered us, well not me as I stood next to the bridge along with a few others! When the storm passed the old boy below me (other side of the bridge) went back to his peg only to find his glasses had been blown in, and he had to fish the feeder as he couldn't see his float! I went all out for bream and the win on my peg, with a big Thamesly open ender, size 12 Drennan Specimen hook to 3lb maxima hook length. First cast and I hooked the bottom, but then it came towards me. Eventually the end of a plank of wood surfaced, and Mike Kent leant out and grabbed it and then we pulled it out! It is the biggest thing I have ever caught. The rest of the match thankfully was better, I started catching roach and the odd hybrid on the feeder, and then in the last 2 hours decent skimmers. I finished with 77lb 15oz and won the day, I think Andy Floyd came 2nd from 2 below the bridge with 60lb+ of roach on the pole, though he had lost a few in the field behind him as the wind blew them off the hook as he swang them in!
Day 3 was a write off, the river had risen 3ft and was chocolate and I only had 1 roach and 1 gudgeon. Still one great day, and three cracking nights was well worth it. Apologies but I do not recall who won overall as I slept through the results on the ferry (I slept for about 20 hours straight!), probably Mr Rixon won it, well that might cheer him up after his blank today.
No fishing again next weekend due to a big night out raising money for cancer charities Macmillan and Orchid.