After four consecutive frosts the canal was always going to be much harder than of late, and I knew that an end peg would be a godsend today. At the draw I picked up some excellent bloodworm and joker from Colin Dance and expected that to be my main bait for the day. A surprise face at the draw was Steve Tucker who had come along to watch Nick Chedzoy and have a walk about. The match had been pegged from Dundas down through Diggers and on through Claverton. I don't rate Claverton in the winter it goes very clear and the fish shoal up tight or seem to go elsewhere (great place in the warm weather though), and if proof were required of this two anglers fishing it on Wednesday both had ounces. The draw was done and I was handed J5, cyanide straight at Claverton with two end pegs (either side of the bridge) in my section it was not what I wanted! I've drawn here a few times before and thought a 1lb would be good.
Going into this match I was surprised to see I was in 4th place in the individuals overall, but the priority today was to get a team win and hope Bathampton dipped out. The anglers either side of the bridge in my section were Graham Hunt and Jerry Pocock (on my side of the bridge), Nigel Saunders and Division 1 champ Steve Priddle were either side of me. I had been tipped off that most fish caught here in the week were at close range (top set) and so I plumbed two swims for bloodworm left and right, and another 5 metres down the bank to a moored boat. I had a bread rig for 5 metres, and two bloodworms swims tight across to the reeds. A chopped worm swim was readied for 14 metres up to my left well away from everything.
To start I fed some licky at 5m and some leamed up joker in close, and then a boat came through almost straight away, not good! I waited to gauge the response before feeding again and across.Thirty minutes in and I had not had a bite on the bread and neither had most people round me. Dropping in on the close in lines I took 1 small perch off each of the two top set lines and then no more. No bites from the boat and after an hour I fed some joker across and my chopped worm. I took a small roach, a very small roach, from the top set and at this stage I was doing OK as the anglers either side were blanking! Two hours in and I had taken a tiny perch and then missed a bite next to the boat, I dropped the rig in again and missed a bite again, and dropped it in again and had a small roach. Dropped in again and nothing.... must have been the one fish in there! No more bites anywhere, and I was forced to refeed some small amounts of bait and went for a quick walk. Graham Hunt was easily winning the section with 20 fish, whilst three of us had 4 fish and so I had to keep trying. A shoal then arrived (I exaggerate) when I took 2 perch in two chucks on the top set but no more. After dozens of tries across I had just 1 bite and another small perch. The owners of the boat then turned up, and they began chopping wood inside the boat and made a hell of a noise. They then proceeded to fire up the engine and Foxtrot Oscared up the canal leaving Steve and my peg in a mess, as Steve said "They killed my peg stone dead, oh hang on it was already stone dead!"
An hour to go and I just carried on trying all the lines in the hope of a bite, when I hit a bite in close and the elastic came out of the pole, shit! Well it was a fish I guess about 4 to 6oz, a perch most likely, but I shall never know because as I reach for the net it came off. Oh dear, how sad, never mind! Oh bollocks I can't keep writing about catching naff all, I ended with 5 perch and 3 roach for a paltry 4oz. Steve Priddle ended with a flourish taking 8 perch for 5oz (2nd in section) and Nigel had 7 perch for 4.5oz, Jerry had 4oz and Graham had 6oz+2lb to win the section, lol! This part of the canal lived up to it shit reputation, and the next section below me was also poor, although 4 anglers did break into double figures, in ounces that is.
The match was won with 6lb+ and in second place Darren Gillman filled his piggy bank as he also won the league individually overall, a feat he has done before, well done mate being married has not affected your (drawing) ability ;-) Another Bathampton angler won the knockout, Kev Dicks and this really provided the bedrock for them to win the team event on the day and overall, so fair play and well done to them because this league has been very tough due to floods and frosts. Thatchers came 2nd overall and so will go to the semis but we have no choice of venue, Thyers clung onto 3rd after a late charge by Sensas Wilts.
So that is it for another year, I feel very sorry for the anglers this year as the rain has really messed up the river for everyone, with float fishing hardly possible. I do have hope for the river towards the end of the season as I think the fish will be very hungry before spawning, trouble is there will hardly be any matches. There are two commercial house rounds left on the canal in the New Year, which I hope will not involve Claverton! I'm having a rest next weekend, so good luck to all of you out braving the elements.