Saturday and went by train to Exeter with the wife and former fishing team mates Paul Benson and Mark Jefferies. Surprised the daughter who did not know we were going and she burst into tears of joy, how I kept it a secret the day before I never know! Watching the Gas in the stand was a pleasure, they played well and the strong wind and rain were kept well away from me. Same couldn't be said for Benz and Podge who were stood in the open exposed to the elements, I think I may have mentioned it once or twice after as they dried out in the Wetherspoons and we got wetter inside lol!
After all this fun I was looking forward to day 3 of the long weekend on the last ATWL match, this time bloodworm and joker were allowed. It was forecast to be windy with very strong gusts and a draw out of the wind would be nice, the town was pegged today with 4 sections down there, good fishing but peggy as hell. John Harvey did the team draw and he came back and gave me D5, which was end peg at Darlington. Sounds good, but there were 3 pegs in the tunnels which can be very good and would definitely be sheltered.
Got to Darlington and nearly lost the car door as the wind ripped it from my grip, hmmm. Pushed the gear past the gate, and onto the towpath, peg D4 was just as you got to the towpath and was sheltered from the worst of the wind, my peg a mere 50 yards along was in the wind, hmmm. It was bad, very bad and I decided that other than top sets only my short no4 and 5m section were being gingerly removed from the holdall. I tried to get everything as close and as tight to me as I could. The picture doesn't do it justice, the video below may, but believe me it got much worse towards the end!!!
10:30 arrives and I do my best to feed a ball of bread on my long line top set +2, then a bit of joker on my topset line. Starting on a large punch I never had a bite, but the presentation was piss poor with the top foot of the canal towing with the wind. I tried a smaller punch and caught a few small roach, but it was all wrong and I was missing bites due to presentation. I stuck the rig 3 inches over depth and put a pinkie on, the float was bobbing up and down in the breakers but I did see it go under and a 2oz roach was netted, and I took a few more although it was not really fast. I stuck on a big red maggot to see if I could increase the quality, and it worked as I hit a skimmer of about 1lb but sadly it was a loner.
After about an hour the boat on my left moved off giving my peg another churn up. I fed some more bread and now some chopped worm to my right, the small roach, gudgeon and odd little perch were soon back over the bread and it was a good battle of the elements. Of course it died about 20 mins later when the boat returned and moored up again in the same place only facing a different way, more churn, fer fecks sake!!! I dropped in on the top set and was catching little roach on pinkie, would you believe it was even hard to present the rig right here. I did get a couple of net perch of this line, 4 ouncers. I was thinking about what to feed on my long line when the John Rennie came through, huge boat this and it gave the peg another churn. Once it had all settled down I feed a decent amount of joker and caster just to the left of my bread line (down wind!).
It was probably around now that my no4 and 5 section were picked up by a gust and landed against the wall behind me, somehow they did not break. Had a look on the chopped worm line and had an immediate response with 2 perch and 2 ruffe, but then nothing, so a refeed and back to the top set which would be alright for a few quick fish and then nowt. I wanted to feed a bit of gbait but alas I'd not mixed any, and trying to pour some into my mixing bowl was futile as it was blown out before I could wet it, hmmm.
A boat came down and the owner said she was going to moor in front of me, I explained politely that she wasn't but she could at 3:30pm. She wasn't happy and as the rear of the boat was in front of me here husband opened the throttle (ask Mat Challenger he saw it happen!), more churn!!
The wind was now gusting with increased strength and I was a tad concerned, my pole roller had been knocked over by a large piece of insulation board, no idea where that came from, and bits of wood were being blown of a boat to my right towards me. I had to remove the stake from the bottom of my keep net as it was being blown clear of the water with the fish losing vital oxygen. Holding on to my pole 2+2 was becoming almost impossible, I took off the 4x18 rig and put on a 0.7g rig for fishing over the joker. Fishing about 4 inches over depth it was quiet at first, but with about an hour to go I had a little flurry of bites, a near 8oz roach and a 8oz skimmer were netted with great difficulty and unhooked with even more difficulty as everything was being blown around. N
I had some barren spells and some when the float kept going under with little roach, I think if I could have fished longer I would have caught a lot more, but it would have been folly to do so. About 5 minutes from the end, as the darkness and worsening winds made me think hell had arrived, one major gust managed to snap my no 5 section in my hands. OK I give up time to pack up.
I was trying to keep a brave face on things but knew the tunnel pegs would beat me. In fact Paul Purchase won the match from the tunnel with 16lb 8oz, he only had 14lb of that in the first hour, big skimmers on bread! Jammy git lol! Next to him Nicky Johns had a high 7lb thanks to a bream which pulled the elastic out of his pole when he was trying to get his brolly out. My weight of 5lb 10oz was much more than I thought, and meant I was 3rd.
Back at the results and some lucky anglers had enjoyed a peaceful day, others had endured the wind, but I can assure you had the match been pegged further down Darlington today it would have been carnage. Top 4
1st Paul Purchase 16lb 8oz
2nd Vince Lunn 15lb 5oz (end peg Richardsons, no wind)
3rd Shaun Townsend 14lb 13oz (end peg Long Pond he said "I won't catch 1lb out of this peg it is shit!")
4th Colin Dance 14lb 5oz (on his own in horseshoe pond, a lot of big roach all caught on top 4)
Team wise Thatchers won on the day by a single point from Bathampton and that meant Thatchers won the league. Top individual was John Harvey and Liam Braddell won the knockout.
I was a tad peed off after, I feel luck has really deserted me this Autumn on the winter leagues, despite having some good days often it has been a challenge. However, this happens in fishing and things will change again I am sure.
I think after today I deserve one of these..