Before I go back in time I have made a very tough decision this week, and that is that I shall not be taking part in the Div 1 National on the Bristol Avon. I am gutted to have to miss this as it would have been a great day to participate in the Div 1 on my local water. However, I realise that I simply do not have the physical well being required at present to tackle a river, and the team cannot afford a weak link. I wish the team well and will be walking the bank somewhere on the day trying to help them if I can.
I rarely fished during the close season of 1993, but I did get out a few times. However, one of my best memories is of a match I did not fish. Gary Bowden was going on the Veals trip to Northern Ireland and before the trip I offered Gary my Drennan feeder rod as I told him it would be better for bagging, but he refused. Gary then drew a peg on the Blackwater at Verners Bridge that was solid with bream, and he had 200lb of them but told me he couldn't wind them in quick enough and wished he had taken my rod as he reckoned he could of beaten the then 5 hour world record match weight.
I did pay a social visit (beer and pleasure fishing you could say) to Upham Farm in Exeter for a long weekend, taking 40 carp up to 10lb on one day, all on maggots of course. On April 18th I fished a small match (I called it a sweep in my diary, now it would be the size of a normal commercial open) on a venue called Oxenleaze Farm near Clatworthy. I remember the lake fished really hard and the expected carp and tench switched off. I took 2 small tench, 1 small carp and 40 rudd on the wag and mag for 6lb 14oz, that won me £25, not sure if I was 3rd? A week later and a trip down the M5 to Millhayes pond at Kentisbeare, another waggler job for me but I fed caster, 4 pints of them. It was another struggle with 2 small carp, some rudd and small tench for 10lb 14oz which actually won me the section.
My next trip out was not until the 6th of June, and it was on the Exter canal, yuk! This was a teams of 4 match, and I thought we had a good team until two of them got cold feet and dropped out a few days before! That left Andy Floyd getting two of his work mates in to bale us out. I had a good draw on the Lime Kilns area and this meant I could fish a feeder all match looking for bream / skimmers. I cast the feeder as far as I could cast it (!) and fished with a 20 to 0.08 (I can't believe I did that now!!!) with worm and maggot hookbaits. This was a 6 hour match and after 5 of them I had just 1 perch and was thinking how I was going to explain this disaster to Andy. Luckily for me I then caught 2 bream in two casts which was all the action I had! My weight of 2 kilo 800grms got me 2nd in the 26 peg section, and Andy had won his. Unfortunately the stand in lads did the reverse, last and last but one, and with no money paid out other than for the teams overall it was not a good day. I think that was my last time on that canal and remains top of my list of places never to go to again.
I went away with my girlfriend for a weeks holiday to Rhodes and spent the first proper day their feeling like death warmed up after taking up every bar's free offer of schnapps! I digress, the reason for mentioning this hol was that I was coming home on the 16th June and I'd planned to fish Tockenham on the 17th with Bob Shep, Mark Jefferies and Andy Floyd. My flight back was badly delayed and I didn't get home until just after 5am. Shortly after this the lads turned up to pick me up and off I went fishing with no sleep! Getting to Tockenham they wanted to fish a sweep, but I said I did not want to cos I wanted to have a nap during the day (and it is not allowed) but a fiver each as pairs was decided (Sorry Amalgamation). I said bad luck to Andy who was my partner as all I was setting up was a tip rod so I could fall asleep with it! However, I got no sleep and ended up with 1 small carp and skimmers for 16lb 10oz, and we beat Bob and Mark. On the way home they went to a pub when all I wanted to was go home! I finally got some sleep only to get up at 7am the following day for another day out with the lads this time at Jackie Whites with no money on it. I had a nice day with 13lb of mainly skimmers and hybrids on the crowquill and bread.
The first open I fished was on Sunday 20th June when I drew up in the Cornfield on the Crane. The river did not fish well and I had a typical 1 bream and 2 perch start of season bag. The river did not fish well but 30lb of chub came from the outfall to win it.