My meeting with "general anaesthetic"on Wednesday (and what they did to me) left me feeling very tired even unwell. I was therefore glad that I did not have any winter league matches this weekend, painting doors was much less strenuous! Next trip to the hospital is mid January and I dare not tell you what they plan to do next time, other than mention an ultrasound, probe and a balloon, yikes!
Back in January 1996 my first match of the New Year was another round of the Moorlands Farm Winter League on Sat 6th. I drew Bank pool peg 13 and was expecting a tough match. Chopped worm was a great bait up here back in the day, and it was what I put my faith in for most of the day. I fished really light with a 22 to 0.08 and had 1 chub, 3 rudd, 6 roach and lost a carp. However, I rested this line on and off by fishing a maggot feeder which had yielded only 1 small carp, but in the last 45 mins I had 4 more carp all on double maggot on 20 to 0.12. My 12lb 9oz was enough to take second in the 22 peg section and helped the team to win on the day.
The following day saw me fishing an ATWL for Thatchers on the upper Avon, the river was flooded so a good draw was required. I took a small roach under my rod tip in the first 15 mins to avoid a blank and then cast a gbait feeder out in the main flow. After 20 mins I had a huge bite and a fish tore off miles downstream and I waited for the line to snap or the fish to snag me, but it didn't. With rod bent double the fish just held in the current, I pulled as much as I dared but I couldn't make the fish move. After 20 mins I gained about 6 turns on the reel and then the fish took it back again. Basically I held onto this fish with rod bent double for 90, yes 90 minutes!!! I was gaining more and more line on this fish but then it just swam off downstream again and into a snag. Talk about being gutted, I would have loved to have seen it, I wondered if it was a big barbel, or something fouled, I'll never know. I never had another bite all day and my roach of 2oz was only worth 3 points, the team won the league so that was the main result.
A trip up to Woodlands View lakes the following week was not much cop, I had 5 carp in a short spell half way through the match and lost 5 foulers, end of! Saturday 20th January found me back at Moorlands for the w/l, this time I drew on Meadow pool, and peg 18. My pole line at 10m was fed with chopped worm but I struggled on this whilst others caught a few, a skimmer and 2 roach were all I could muster and with nothing on the maggot feeder I was right down the section. I'd been feeding maggots at 12.5m but this has also been dead, so I upped the maggot feed as the last roll of the dice. This trick paid off with 4 carp in the last 40 mins, 2 coming in the last two drops prompting quite a lot of swearing from the anglers next door. My weight of just 11lb 15oz was enough to win the section, the team came 3rd and we were still hanging on to 1st overall.
For the next two weeks I abandoned all fishing as winter arrived with day time temperatures below zero, everything was frozen!
I managed to get out in February with a ATWL semi practice match on the Grand Union canal around West Drayton. I had to break the ice and in the end only had bites on joker from tiny perch, plenty of bites but they only weighed 1lb 8oz. My diary says on Feb 6th we had lots of snow, but it must have cleared because on the 10th I was back up the GUC for a team practice. I had a disaster with a mass of ice floating around in front of me, trying to push it out the way too far I fell in, that was cold! The next day we fished an open on the canal and I drew by the cement works. Once again I caught on joker, but this time small roach, a weight of 2lb 2oz was about halfway and a few better fish came out around me and I'd fished to negatively but learnt a lot.
Saturday 17th December I fished in the final round of the Moorlands w/l and with the team in the lead I must admit to feeling a bit of pressure! Peg 3 on Meadow Lake did not ease my nerves, but I was told to fish the worm and catch what I could. Effectively I fished the same as the match before, but this time my worm line yielded about 6lb of roach, my maggot feeder 1 crucian, and the long pole and maggot line a 1 1/2lb carp. 8lb 7oz was worth 17 points out of 22, the rest of the lads did well and we came 3rd on the day and won the league!, My winning team mates were Des Shipp, Steve Mayo and Vic Bush, not to shabby then!
I had little spare time that night as the next day was the last ATWL practice on the GUC! I was on the helipad section which was know to be crap and it meant I had to fish negatively with joker and forget all else. I fed tiny marbles of joker in various areas and caught 12oz of perch for 4th in the 10 peg section. I was absolutely gutted when the following week on the semi, Mark Harper did the team draw and I was on the helipad section, balls! I fished the same as the previous week and the canal was fishing really hard again and the bank runners were saying every fish was crucial. I caught 18 perch for 11 1/4oz and that was worth 15 points out of 25. Sadly I was really in a bad area of the section, I beat the 3 anglers to my left, 5 to my right, with the 6th angler beating me by 1/4oz, a certain Will Raison. I took a lot of positives from my result that day, even though the team shit out and came 16th!
Last round of the ATWL on the canal next Sunday, team have already won, and barring a boat sinking in his peg Liam Braddell will be individual champion!