I had decided that I was not going fishing this weekend since it was going to be a busy and emotional long weekend. Friday was my birthday and my eldest daughter's last day at home, so lots of things to do. Saturday travelled to Plymouth where said daughter now resides at the University, the journey home was a bit of tear jerker as the wife will testify. Ended up having a cracking meal out on Sunday in Hallatrow with Warren Bates and his family, that took my mind off a few things including the coloured Bristol Avon which might have thrown up a few bream today. Anyway back to 1995....
Saturday December 2nd 1995 saw me taking another ride in the Steve Mayo mobile with the legend that now is Des Shipp as we had another round of the Moorlands Winter League. Once again I found myself on Bank Pool but today I avoided the corners and was sat on peg 7 where I could fish pole and waggler comfortably. Starting on the pole all I had was 1 skimmer and after 30 mins the wag was flying out towards the middle along with regular amounts of maggots. I took a few carp on this but it was by no means hectic, but I was doing as well as anyone else at this stage. Back in on the pole line where I had been feeding casters and 3 carp in 3 drops got me going, but it also got the carp going out of the peg! I stuck it out on the wag and had a few more small carp and a skimmer to end with 31lb 3oz and that was 2nd on the lake, beaten by Leigh Nutland. The team came 4th on the day and were still in 3rd place overall at this stage.
On Sunday I was fishing the Bristol & West Xmas match on the Bristol Avon, I drew a peg at Jack Whites down below the stream heading down towards Chequers in a peg called the cow drink, which was just before the river went into a bend. Below me was Ian Spriggs. The river was dropping after a flood but still had some nice colour and all I set up was a groundbait feeder as it was too fast for the float. I had a nice day with odd bites throughout but mainly from chub up to 3lb, Ian came up for a walk at one time and said I had a bit more than him, and when I had 2 skimmers and another chub towards the end I was happy. I finished with 21lb 11oz and a lovely net of fish, but that was not good enough to beat Ian who took an 8lb barbel in the last 15 mins after losing one a bit earlier. We were first and second on the day, and I think Ian had won a match on Frys the day before so he was on fire and had a full wallet that weekend!
The following weekend was going to be a tough affair as the weather had turned with some snow and temperatures at night down to -6C. I fished an open at Moorlands Farm, drew on Meadow lake and struggled for a skimmer and 3 roach for 4lb 8oz, I lost a roach of over 1lb that day that cost me a section pick up. The next day it was the Bathampton Xmas match, and I drew peg 49 in bubbly bay at Newbridge. I had 1 bite on the tip and missed it and went home early. Not such a good weekend as the previous eh!!
The weather stayed cold and when on the 16th December I found myself on corner peg 1 on bank pool for the winter league I was gutted! Just catch something was all Mayo said. Well I did, I caught a carp in the tail on the pole (lol) and 2 roach in the last hour for 4lb 11oz. There were 4 blanks around me but the other end of the lake was alive and produced two framers. I got 11 points out of 22 and the team were only 7th on the day, however it was a tough day and we improved to 2nd overall in the league so far. Sunday saw me travelling with Vic Bush to the Bath Xmas match, I didn't fish this part of the river Avon much and so when I drew my peg I didn't have a clue where it was let alone what to fish for! Luckily Vic knew where the "piggery" was! The river had a nice bit of flow here and I set up a stick float, waggler and gbait feeder. I caught some roach on the float but with 90 mins left all was quiet until I saw a big fish (I thought bream) roll a long way down the peg. I chucked the feeder down where this fish showed for the rest of the match but the tip was motionless. Then with 15 mins to go I had a decent bite and landed a 12oz perch. Last cast on single caster the tip slowly pulled right round and I thought I was into a massive bream. Very gradually I got this fish infornt of me and then up popped a pike which I netted straight away, then the whistle went. As I waited for the scales I was elated and then Vic arrived as he'd done no good, but when the scalesman arrived he refused to weigh my pike saying they didn't count. Eventually after a lot of debate Vic and I managed to get him to agree to at least weigh the pike separately, and it went 9lb 14oz and with my other fish my "potential" total was 17lb 8oz. Back at the results the talk with the rest of my mates was all about my pike and if it counted, then Vic heard that Bath angler Steve Stretch Saunders had weighed in his fish including a pike and said he usually knows if they count. Eventually one of the organisers came out and asked if I was Tim, he said Pike don't count in Bath matches but as we forgot to say anything at the draw they had to count! This chap had a bold head and I gave him a kiss on his bold bonce and thanked him. I came 2nd overall and had a lovely hamper.
Saturday 23rd December and the Masterclass Xmas match was on the canal at Limpley as the river had now burst its banks. I only managed 12oz for bugger all as I was still avoiding fishing bread punch. Christmas Eve saw me fishing the Docks Xmas match, I drew at Half Penny Bridge and was told forget about wining anything as there were no skimmers there. I fished the pole most of the match loose feeding maggot and caster, it took a long while to get bites but eventually I started to catch a few small roach and dace and was quite enjoying myself. I was fishing double white maggot on the hook and also caught an eel of a pound and a couple of tiny skimmers. I tried fishing the feeder over the pole line and out of the blue had a 2lb skimmer but nothing else. I won the section with 7lb 7oz and came 6th overall which was a nice bonus.
Over the Christmas period the cold weather returned with a vengence, it was only a maximum of -2C in the day! I did venture out on the 28th and had 2 to 3lb of roach on a maggot feeder at Bath gravels, the river was too fast for the float. On Saturday 30th I stayed at home and this was a day I shall never forget, when I looked out in the morning there was light rain, but the ground and air was freezing and the rain froze instantly. I had never seen freezing rain before, and I never want to again, it caused carnage on the roads and dozens of people fell over breaking bones.
My very last trip out was on New Years Eve, I fished at Bath Gravels again and although the river was still pacey a peg with a long trot meant I could fish a crowquill with caster and maggot. Using light gear a 22 to 0.08, I had roach to 10oz and ended with just under 8lb. It was still very cold though and Dave Haines tried fishing the pole next to me, but his pole elastic kept freezing up lol!
Happy days, back to the present, next week the 2nd round of the Commercial House is on the Avon at Bradford-on-Avon and Staverton. I've not fished there for a very long time, so will have to take the kitchen sink and hope to get a local to give me a clue as to what I should target.