I spent a few days in Plymouth this week visiting my eldest daughter who is at the University, think she's learning as much as she is drinking, lol! I had a phone call from Shaun Townsend whilst there, he told me he'd lost a bet with Tony Rixon on weight last Sunday, and I'd lost him the bet as I refused to weigh in the couple of small fish he left in his keepnet. I did offer to pay him the £1 he lost lol!
I woke up a couple of times Sunday morning and heard some heavy rain, and I was sure the river would rise during the day, how this would affect the fishing I wasn't sure. Team draw didn't look so hot today, and I felt I was on a bad un and right up against it on peg 65. For some reason this season from here down to the bridge has been shocking, in years gone by I've had some good weights of roach and bream from here and would have run to the peg. With 3 bream pegs (54, 56, and 61) in my section it was going to be tough, above me on peg 63 was in form Rich Whitmarsh, and he said he had not done any good off his peg and was not happy either!
This part of the river is deep, around 14ft, and I had to tie some extra line on my rigs which today were 2grm, 4grm and 4grm flat float. I also set up a 14BB crowquill on a long rod, and feeder rod. Leaves were already very visible on the surface and they got worse as the day went on. I began the match by casting out 10 big feeders towards the far bank, which was a mistake. I then threw 14 balls of gbait in at 11m, I only went this far as the peg is very flat and deep and this was on the edge of the leaves. I started on the 2gm float with a caster on the hook but only 1 roach on this was a bad sign. I was soon on a maggot and now getting bites from 1/2 to 2oz roach and perch. It was steady for the first hour and I thought I had 1.5lb. Things went iffy and noticing that Rich had taken a few fish on the crowquill I switched to this method too. It was a good move and I was taking small fish on maggot with a 20 to 0.10. However, bites were coming further down the peg and the fish were getting smaller and were mainly perch. Steve Skelton walked up the bank and told me not much was happening so I plodded on, but the swim was going away from me. I fed another ball of gbait on the pole line and then tried the feeder across. Sadly the leaves were making it near impossible to get my line below them and catching a leaf would bend the rod tip round and the feeder would roll.
About 2 hours to go I thought I was beating Rich, but Derek Coles on peg 61 had walked down to tell me he had 3 to 4lb and so he was doing well. Dave Stiff sat behind me and watched for a while and he noticed when Derek went back that he landed a skimmer / big roach (it turned out it was a 6 to 7lb bream!). I tried the flat float over the pole line and a few small perch on worm, but as a bit of colour came in the river the perch dried up, I tried the feeder over the pole line but alas it did not work.
I carried on working the crowquill loose feeding casters and hemp and was getting the odd bite here and there, still only from small fish but I did pick up 1 roach of 8oz. With an hour to go I threw in another 6 balls and tried the pole rigs but none produced a bite. Only the crowquill was getting me bites and I plugged away on this to the end of the match with a few small roach and a gudgeon hitting the net.
My section today was won by Kevin Boltz on peg 56 who had 1 big bream and some roach for 11lb+, Derek was next with 9lb 9oz and I was next with 5lb 11oz. Rich weighed 4lb 12oz and last in the section with 3lb 3oz was Kev Dicks. I did a team job today and went for 3 points and got them, had I sat out for bream I may have been last. The 2 pegs below me in the next section had 1lb and 3lb (Brian Melksham and Shaun Townsend) and so I think it just proves how poor this area is at present.
Winner on the day was Frys expert and all round nice guy Dean Harvey. Dean was on peg 40 and was struggling but in the last hour he had 9 bream for 46lb. Second place went to John Fughe on peg 7 in the little field with 43lb. John told me he read my blog and did the same as I did and caught bream on the feeder over the pole line. Mark Harper was 3rd with 16lb+ from peg 3 in the little field. Darren Gillman was first out of the money with another 16lb. Apparently Mike Goodhind came 5th and included in his weight a bream of 8lb 7oz!!!
Thatchers only had 1 section winner today (John Harvey with 11lb of roach in the trees) but still we managed to win on the day and now we have a 4 point lead over Bathampton with just 2 canal matches left.
Next week it is the Poppy Match, sadly one of the stalwarts of that match will not be present. Bill Milton died this morning in hospital, I think pneumonia took him from us. Bill had suffered from Menigitis, cancer and leukemia in recent years, prior to this Bill despite being in his 70's was a strong fit bloke. He was a great bloke, a great laugh and loved his fishing. He boxed my ears on more than one occasion when I was young, mainly for being cheeky, but it was all a laugh and I loved his banter and wind ups. Lots of memories of Bill, one I recall is him winning a Billy match up at Laycock with 40lb of bream on the feeder, he said he had 1 chub too. That chub was a 2 1/2lb roach! RIP mate.