The second round of this popular league with 12 teams of 6 anglers, well some teams struggle to get 6 for various reasons. Such as one team today which could not raise Martin Rayet for love nor money from where ever he was sleeping, seriously hope he was OK.
I do not know a thing about this part of the river, having not fished up here for probably 15 years+. Tony Gilbert (4 star) gave me plenty of info before the match and said he'd like to draw F section at Barton Farm and the further down the better as bream would most likely be caught. Tony ended up drawing there on peg 5 and as it happens so did I on peg 2. Most people turned their noses up at my draw saying I would get hammered by the bream pegs at the other end of the section. Never mind I hoped I'd catch a few and enjoy the day, which was very summer like!
After a lovely walk along a concrete path (heaven) I arrived at my home for the day. As I surveyed the peg I wasn't particularly struck with hope. There were some nasty overhead branches (I did remove the lowest) which prevented me from setting up a float rod, and a tree overhanging from my inside which was bound to catch line being mended! You can see the branches overhead in this pic.
and there was no flow on the river until at least 14m out. I really didn't want to have to fish 14.5m as the path behind me would be busy with walkers, but with roach in the forefront of my mind I knew I had to get into some flow. In this pic you can see the tree coming out from my downstream inside line.
My neighbours today were mister nobody on peg 1 (someone short) and local expert Vic Abbott who'd pegged the match out on peg 3. As I started to get myself settled in and set up I knew I had to put my faith in the pole today. I set up my typical river rigs, a 1gm pencil rig with 22 to 0.08, a 2grm rugby ball with 20 to 0.09, a 4gm with 18 to 0.10, and a 1.5gm rig with 13 to 0.16 for chopped worm. I also set up a gbait feeder in case the bream showed, but it was only cast out twice.
I began the match balling it in with 9 jaffas containing not much feed at 14.5m. I went in on the 2gm float and after 10 mins had my first fish on a caster a 3 to 4oz roach. I took a couple more but it was not prolific and a switch to maggot was a bit better and the fish were about the same size. I could not get them lined up at all, bites seemed to come further and further down the peg and not in the same place and it was really intensive fishing requiring a lot of concentration. I did try the 1gm rig but it didn't seem right at all. Due to the depth of the peg, at least 13ft I had decided not to loose feed and instead would feed a small ball of gbait to try and keep things tight. After an hour I had about 2lb I thought, but I was still getting bites on the 2gm rig on maggot. I think the 2nd hour went very much the same as the 1st hour and so I probably had 4lb. The flow on the river had picked up considerably and my dead water was now flowing, I could have fished at 11m such was the flow, and that would have been a big help as I was always having to watch out as I shipped back. I nearly hit one kid off his bike, and had a few close shaves with the rather posh people on show. Thankfully a posse of 50 ramblers passed by without me getting a bite.
Things started to get tougher now. I had dropped in on the chopped worm line earlier without a sign and so had fed it again and left it. Before I tried it again I went out on the 4gm rig fished over depth with double maggot, just as I did retired angler Johnny Atkins sat behind me. I took a few nice roach on this before it died and I fed a ball of gbait. John told me Rich Whitmarsh and Tony Gilbert were catching roach but many were struggling. Trying my worm line again the float buried first drop in, but as I struck I felt a double bump, and the fish put up a bit of fight. Not long after a 6oz perch surfaced hooked in the dorsal fin! Obviously I must have pulled out of the perch but the hook then caught the fin, lucky. Another small perch and then it was all quiet, so it was back out on the long pole but this was also dead.
The next hour or so was awful, and a solitary roach and 2 tiny perch were all that I could muster. Jeff Surman down on peg 4 had been up for a walk and he was really struggling with less than a pound. I went down to see Tony who had also dried up, it seemed the river had switched off. No matter what I tried I couldn't get a response, and so with an hour to go I gave it another 6 big jaffas full of caster and worms in the hope of a better fish. What I did manage to catch in the last 40 mins was 7 roach which would have added maybe another 1lb 8oz. These fell to double maggot on the 4gm rig and a couple on pinkie on the pencil float.Sadly they didn't feed the last 15 mins of the match.
I was packing up when the scales arrived, they'd decided to weigh me first and go on down to the end peg. My efforts today went 6lb 13oz, and I was honestly very happy with that and felt I worked hard all day and only lost a couple of fish. Vic below me weighed less than 3lb and 2lb+ of that was a skimmer, Jeff had 15oz and then Tony had 5lb 10oz. I did not follow the scales down and carried on packing up and also had to look after Hadrian Whittle's rod holdalls. I later found out that Rich Whitmarsh won the section with 7lb 10oz, and Lance Tucker on the very end peg of the match came 2nd with 7lb 6oz, meaning I was 3rd in section. Not much in it today, perhaps if I had not put so much feed in the last balling mix I would have caught more roach?
It was a day of so near yet do far for me today, I got knocked out of the knockout by Nathaniel Johnson who won E section at Barton Farm with 8lb 10oz (beating Martin Barrett off the dog peg! Is that alright Stretch lol). I also came 8th on the day but never got any coin or default coin like Liam and Martin Barret did!
On the team front Thatchers A won again and we have a 3 point lead over Bathampton Invincibles. In the B division Sensas Wilts Anglers and D+W Builders are tied with 11 points.
Top individual on the day was the Karaoke King Andy Britt with 19lb 14oz of Roach on one of the 3 flyers at Staverton ( a great catch that), on the next peg Welsh sheep worrier Mike Martin-Davis had a good day too with 16lb of roach and hybrids.
3rd Kev Dicks 9lb
4th Nathaniel Johnson 8lb 10oz
5th Andy Gabb 7.11
Next week sees the start of the ATWL, with 5 teams of 8 it will be a lot easier to peg out! The match is back on the lower Avon around Keynsham. With more warm weather and no rain forecast small fish will be aplenty.