I was really looking forward to this match as this lower bit of the river is rammed full of small fish at present, and the bream aren't showing. It was a shame the real heavy rain we were promised in the week did not materialise as the river needs a few days of it, as it turned out what rain we did have made little difference. As ever I was hoping for a draw at Swineford, or one of the flyers at Jackies, but back came the team draw with me up the crane again. I found myself pegged in the middle of the bay in the little ashtip field, a peg where you have to wade out (cheers Andy Ottaway!). It can be a very good roach peg, and there's a chance of chub across, but I'd prefer it with more flow on if i'm on honest.
I donned my waders and worked my way out to as far as I could go and then waited to see how far I sank.... It seemed safe where I was stood "up to my chunks" so that would be my station for the day. I then went to get out my long bank sticks and remembered I had not put them back into the holdall since fishing the commercials, doh! I managed to borrow one from Nigel Saunders, and one from Shane Caswell (who was one above me). I did ask Gary Cross (one below me) but he had forgot his too, and he borrowed one from Liam Braddel. Then Nigel Saunders had to borrow a landing net handle from Gary, and to be honest there was so much swapping going on I got confused, lol! I thought long and hard about what to set up, having to stand up was not going to work for long pole, so up went a 3AAA wag, a 6 no4 stick float, a feeder (not used) and a 1grm pencil float on 7m of pole. 20 to 0.10 was my standard set up, but 18 to 0.12 on the wag.
Although I had my balling mix with me I decided against using it in order to try to get some response feeding hemp and caster, I threw about 4 handfuls of each in to start with. Second run down on the stick and I had a dace on a maggot hookbait, and gradually bites got more regular with more roach than dace coming to the stick. 2lb after the first hour was OK as I expected the peg to build up during the day, and going into the 2nd hour things remained fairly consistent but the roach were all around 4oz and some came to the pole rig, I probably now had 6lb which was better than my neighbours. Unfortunately what little flow I had now greatly reduced and so did the bites, and from here on in it was real hard work to get bites. Maggot was getting me more bites than caster today, and various tries with hemp only resulted in one roach.
From the beginning of the match I had been feeding maggots over to the boats, so I picked up the wag and was really hoping it would bury with a chub. It buried but a dace took my double maggot, and another dozen casts were fruitless so back to the inside. This line was really iffy, and if I did get a couple of bites or roach that would be it for a while, and I had to keep swapping between rigs and depths and hookbaits, but as the match went on the fish just got smaller and smaller. Another couple of looks on the wag were only rewarded with an odd roach or dace, and I set up a chopped worm rig as things were so touch, but that only yielded 3 small perch. With the end of the match approaching I knew I was behind Shaun Townsend, but beating Gary Cross who was looking for his phone (he left it in the car) to ring the Samaritans. I stuck to fishing the wag for chub, still feeding plenty of maggots, and for the last 20 mins had a bite a chuck from roach, swinging one in on the whistle. I suppose it was the time of day they started to feed, but I also thought perhaps I had made a mistake fishing to close in with the stick, maybe a long rod with bolo float down the middle would have been better?
After the match I gave Shane's bank stick to Shaun, and then gave Shane Nigel's bank stick, but he sorted it all out! Nigel Saunders on peg 1 weighed 4lb and lost 30+ hook lengths to pike, Shaun then had a section winning 15lb, Shane 8lb 15oz, myself 10lb 3oz and Gary Cross 3lb something. I forget what Gary weighed as his captain Lance Tucker gave him a load of stick for being crap and I was pissing myself! I then went back to my peg and couldn't find my bank stick, I have a feeling Shane has hid it somewhere, arse!
I got back to the draw feeling knackered, standing up in silt for 5 hours is bloody hard work (I wish I was 20 again!). The team had done OK off what I thought was a poor draw, but Bathampton did very well and won the match beating us by 1 point. Here is the top 6 overall, all small fish bags on the float:-
1st Mark Bromsgrove 18lb 3oz from below Bitton Brook (worh £230)
2nd Mark Harper 17lb 13oz, top of long ashtip
3rd Paul Purchase 17lb 1oz, Swineford somewhere
4th R Whitmarsh 16lb 1oz (next to Mark Harper)
joint 5th Shaun Townsend and Nathaniel Johnson 15lb 9oz.
In fact today every 5 peg section was won with at least 12lb 7oz, now that's good fishing in my book,
Next week is round two at Newbridge, and with no rain forecast it could be a struggle if not drawn on a few, fingers crossed then!