This match was to be the last of the winter league matches on the river, a shame because it has fished well mainly this year. After two hard frosts the river would be clear but still pacey and I really wanted to draw a chub peg today, Swineford would be best for that. As ever I was armed to the teeth with various baits, rigs, rods to cover all situations, I even had last weeks joker which I thought I could stuff in my groundbait if on a roach peg. I was in the knockout today, against Nathaniel Johnson, and the team were tied at the top with the B team so there was plenty to play for.
Team captain Mark Harper did the draw and told me I was on peg 4 in B section which was at Swineford, yay! I was worried though that this peg would not be far enough down the river for the chub (Bitton Brook down is the place). Pulling up at Swineford I was parked next to Nick Coles who told me he was on B4, what! After a few phone calls I finally find out the team peg was 11 not 4, that meant letting everyone in the team know lol! I was on chub then, so I left the pole and most of my gbait in the car.
I helped my team mate Mike Williams (from Wales) by giving some advice on his peg in A section and then carried on walking, and walking and walking until finally I collapsed on peg B11. I was 2 pegs below Bitton Brook (Andy Power was on that flyer) which was 1 above the beach, and with a long trot it was perfect for fishing for chub. Time was short and all I got set up was a feeder rod with a blockender with 0.16 to 13 B711, and an 11BB crowquill with 0.148 exceed to a 17 B711. The view of my peg from the top of the bank, if you look carefully you can see some reeds stuck up to the left, and there were more to the right. Any chub hooked would head for the reeds so I had no choice but to wade into the river, and it was freezing!
Just before the start Andy Ottoway came walking down with his little girl, he watched me make my first cast a few minutes after the whistle and I think we were both surprised when the float went under and a little fish was hooked but it came off. Next chuck another bite and a little dace snaffled the double maggot and not long after a tiny roach. I was firing maggots and casters (about 20) out about a third of the way across where the flow was fairly consistent (not boily) but had a bit of pace. After about 20 mins I hooked a chub about a 1lb and on my trusty original Normark Titan it stood no chance and it was netted. Within another 10 mins I took another chub slightly smaller from right in front of me just as the float settled, and another couple of dace and another chublet gave me a nice first hour.
Bites were very few but this can be typical with chub fishing and you have to stay confident and keep working the float and feed to try and trick them. I kept the feeding at the same rate as I saw no need to change just yet, and in the second hour I caught a fairly similar amount (I thought) as I did in the first but some of the fish were caught a very long way down the peg. The chub I was catching were all smaller than a 1lb but still good weight builders, I had to vary the colour and combination of the maggots on the hook but in general a red and a bronze was best. I bumped a couple of fish during the day and pulled out of two reeling them back, I think this was due to hooking them so far away, and so I stepped up to a 15 B711. I still caught the very odd dace and had a nice 8oz roach, maybe I could have caught more of them if I had gone lighter but I daren't risk going lighter in this peg. I now started to up the feed as I felt the peg was slowing down and I also started casting further across into the fast water, this proved to be a good decision as I hooked my biggest chub, perhaps 2lb and took a few more of the sub 1lb fish. During this time I only had one chub get in the reeds and I couldn't budge him, so I walked over with my net and tried to scoop him but the reed was stopping it, so I made a big thrash with the net and the hook pulled out. However, as I pulled the net back there was the chub, that was lucky then! I also had a pike take a chub but I held on tight and Mr pike spat it out and I landed it, lucky again. I also saw something I have not seen for a long time, a bloody mink, he was trying to get my banana that I left on the bank, despite shouting the bastard did not back off, until I tried to hit it with the rod!
With an hour to go my feet were frozen, well I couldn't feel them, but this also coincided with the peg dying on me and I never had a bite on the float in the last hour even when I was ladling the maggots in. I tried the feeder over to the tree and with 10 mins left had a drop back and felt a solid resistance but then nothing, I reeled in to find only 1 of the 4 maggots left but I think the feeder was in a snag and I didn't hook the fish. As soon as the match ended I went for a walk to warm up my feet!
When the scales arrived 11lb was caught below me on the beach, then I plonked 18lb 5oz on the scales and it looked a lovely net of fish, no photo as it was now quite dark. Above me Steve Skelton had 3lb, and then the Ginger Ninja Andy Power had 16lb off the brook, so let the be a lesson, lol! I think Kev DIcks had 7lb from peg 27 and there were no more weights to worry me so I won the section. Now it was time to walk back, and f&ck me it was hard work, 3 styles and mud and now pitch black, I was certainly toasty when I got back to the car, in fact I was soaking with sweat through 3 layers....
When I finally got back to the rugby club I found out the river had fished OK considering the frosts, but there were some blanks at Jack Whites, and Nathaniel had 1/2oz there so I progressed through the knockout a tad easily ;-) Also at Jackies Martyn Rayet hooked a monster of fish that he played for 30 mins but nearly ran out of reel line and lost it, we reckon it was a salmon as one was seen jumping and a few trout were also caught.
Results on the day
1st Shaun Townsend (he's getting boring now) 22lb of roach from the long ashtip, a great result
2nd Me 18lb 5oz
3rd Mark Leader 17lb (1st peg at Jackies dace and a 4lb chub)
4th Andy Power 16lb
Bathampton won on the day, Thatchers A 2nd, and as Thatchers B dipped the A team team have now got a few points lead with the two canal matches left. I have drawn Mark Harper in the next round of the knockout and that will be very hard as he's very good on the canal. Apparently I'm top in the individual scores now, so I am really going to have to get the canal sorted out!
Well that was a really nice way to end the river and I've been waiting to catch some chub for ages as I love that sort of fishing.