First round of the Angling Trust winter league today and the match was going ahead on the river as it was still well within its banks if a tad coloured and pacey, OK that's an understatement! Thatchers had been struggling to put a team together for this with quite a few of the team down at Whiteacres, so commercial expert Mat Parsons was drafted in today. Mat had managed 45 minutes sleep after a late night party but to be fair he looked OK on it and so he did the team draw. Mat found himself just above the cattle grid and he put me on the mouth of the marina end peg (same as 1st round of commercial house). Both our pegs had to be fancied with some steady water present, although I have known in the past the roach and eels to feed better in consistent flow pegs.
It didn't take me long to get to my peg and I was soon met by a grumpy Jerry Pocock whose peg was very pacey, though I did see a fish top in his peg before the match. I set up the usual two feeder rods both with 0.16, one with a 14 B611 and the other with a 13 B711. I also set up a top 3 pole rig for bleak as I had seen one or two top in the peg. I chopped up some lobs and dendras and cast the feeder out downstream and on the edge of the flow where I had seen a couple of fish (roach I think) top. I started on the 14 hook rig and went through various hook bait permutations but after an hour I was biteless, I'd not even managed to catch a bleak which I'd assumed would have been a synch! At this early stage I decided to cast in 10 quick feeders of bait and then popped up the bank for a walk to see that both Nicky Johns and Leon Hubbard had a couple of eels and a roach. Back to my peg and on with a tail of a lobby and a roach hung itself to get me off and running. Err no, what looked like an eel bite that stopped was all I had for the next hour! I picked up the pole and this time I was rewarded with a few bleak, though it was tough and I ended up having to add pole sections on to chase them around as well as constantly changing depths. After an hour or so the bleak completely vanished and I was sure they had backed off into the leg.
I spent the remainder of the match on the feeder (well I did have one more unsuccessful look for bleak) when I probably had 4 bites for just 1 more roach. The bites were just nipping the end of the worm and even if I left the bite to develop it didn't, I guess it was tiny eels.
After 5 hours I was gutted to have only taken 2 roach on the feeder and was fearing a last in section, fortunately for me I did beat two people with my 2lb 3.5oz, one was Leon who had endured a torrid time losing a dozen feeders during the match. Chris Higgins won the section and Jerry beat me AGAIN to come 2nd in section with 4lb.
The match was won by Karoke legend Andy Britt with 2 bream for 11lb, Andy was in the long ash tip field and said he lost 2 other bream. Mat Parsons was kept awake with (he told me) a bite on most casts and weighed 9lb for 2nd place, Gary O'Shea was 3rd with a high 7lb from peg 29. On the team from Bathampton and Sensas Wilts tied for first with 40.5 points, Thatchers were 3rd with 40 points!
I'm having a difficult time at the moment on the river, and things are not going right for me, maybe I'm doing it wrong but I can honestly say I am not sure what to change. I'll keep going and I expect it will be another feeder match next Sunday when round 2 is at Newbridge. One thing I've learned is never give up!