Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year, I certainly did but am now going "dry" for January so no hangovers for a while! I spent a few hours on New Years Day getting rigs and hook lengths together for this match, that was because I was out Saturday watching Rovers grab another 3 points, UTG. Late on Saturday Nathaniel Johnson send me a text of what he had pegged out for this match, sadly not knowing the stretch it meant nothing to me lol! The stretches being used were Semington, Kings Arms and Whaddon.
It was no surprise Sunday morning when I loaded the car in wind and rain, and the forecast really was for piss poor weather and so I packed my brolly. I got to the draw at Spencers club in Melksham and it was still dark, a quick sausage sarnie and a cuppa and a catch up with the lads before the draw commenced. Nat said that peg 1 was going to be the winning team draw, well we had no chance to draw it because first angler to draw Shaun Townsend pulled it for Bathampton. Mark Harper then drew us peg 2 so we would be able to get stiff necks! I was given C2 which I was told was at Whaddon Lane and was one off the flyer on the Norfolk reeds but I was at the best end of the section. Darren Gillman was on C1 and he had been told all about the large weights that had come off it and would be likely to frame off it.
I followed Andy Britt to get to section as I have never fished it before, it was a nice easy walk once we got there even if it was a bit wet. I have no photos of the venue today because it was just so wet and I kept my phone in the dry all day, shame as the reeds past Darren would have made a nice picture. I set up 5 rigs but only used 3 in the end; a 4x14 Drennan Roach with 0.07 to 18 PR311 for punch at 5m, a 4x12 PB silvers (wire stem) with 0.07 to 18 PR311 for two spots at 11m, and a 4x10 PB silvers with 0.07 to 22 PR311 for 13m which was about .5m off the bushes opposite in 14" of water.
At the start I fed a ball of punch at 5m, a ball of gbait with some worm and caster in at 11m to the left, worm and caster at 11m to the right and that was it for now. The wind and rain were already making things difficult and I couldn't put my brolly up because the the wind was straight in my face, trying to keep my hook baits dry was therefore tricky! Dropping in a 6mm punch I had nothing for 10 mins, so I dropped to a 4mm punch and had a gudgeon, a few minutes later a little roach nearly pulled the float under. I then had what I thought was an indication and struck instinctively and the elastic came out this time, it was a skimmer 6 to 8oz. It was a loner though and only a couple of small roach and another gudgeon obliged, so 40 minutes in I moved out to the gbait at 11m. I dropped in with a single red maggot and the float buried almost immediately, it was another 6 to 8oz skimmer. Next drop and a little wait for the another same size skimmer, but then a little roach told me to rest it. Sadly the chopped worm line was not as good and I never had a skimmer here, just odd small roach and gudgeon. Alan Jones was on C3 next to me, he was struggling for a bite, and he had also had his brolly demolished by the wind, he said after it was his last year fishing winter leagues, well he is nearly 70!
With the gbait line only giving me small roach I refed it and came back in on the punch line but it was only worth a tiny roach and so I fed some gbait and squatts here, which was a waste as this line died a death. Back out to 11m with red maggot again and soon hooked a good fish which really pulled the elastic out. I hoped it would be a bream but after some hairy moments, where the wind was doing its best to blow the pole out of my hands, up popped up pound perch. After this bites were slow with just odd small roach, but changing to a small piece of worm I had a 8oz hybrid and a couple of 4oz roach. I was struggling to hook my baits and unhook fish as my hands were so cold (they are all puffed up now). At this stage I thought I was ahead of Darren as he had only had 2 skimmers and quite a few roach, so when my 11m line started to produce small roach I stuck with it, but out of the blue it just died. I refed it again and I think this is where I made mistakes, I should have converted the neat w&c line to gbait and I spent to long looking for better fish.
With 2 hours to go I fed a ball of gbait and squatt at 13m, I wanted to loose feed squatt over the top but I couldn't feed it 10m out due to the wind! I gave that 15 mins to settle and then went over it with a pinkie and I toss potted in about 20 squatts. Small roach of less than an ounce were there in numbers and it was a bite a chuck. Darren was catching small roach well too and even when he had a 1lb perch on it I still thought we were close so I went fish for fish with him. I put a maggot on looking for a better stamp, most casts it made no difference but occasionally a 1 to 2oz roach showed so I stuck with maggot, I also had a 4oz perch on it. 5 mins before the end and Darren lands a perch of at least 1lb 4oz, bugger. I came of the roach and went back to 11m with a red maggot and prayed for a bonus, with 30 seconds left the float sailed under, it was a skimmer but only 4oz.
Waiting for the scales myself and Darren looked at our own fish and Darren's estimate was a pound more than mine. When the scales did arrive Nicky Johns was top weight with just over 5lb. I beat that with 6lb 9oz which I was happy with, then Darren weighed 8lb 1/2oz to win the section. It was a good performance off the end peg from Darren as the skimmers did no show that well, but I was pleased to have pushed him.
Top 6 today
1st Robert Head 8lb 14oz (Peg A1)
2nd Liam Braddell 8lb 2oz (not an end peg)
3rd Darren Gillman 8lb 1/2oz
4th Nathaniel Johnson 7lb 8oz (F9 end peg)
5th Mike Williams 7lb 1oz (end peg)
6th Neil Mercer 6lb 14oz (end peg)
The good news for me was that Darren framing meant I won the £50 section by default and finally broke my duck in this league. The team result was messed up but it looks like my team won on the day, but I have no idea what the positions are with one match left. That match is next Sunday but I cannot fish as I am driving the daughter back to Uni again.
This blog is a little late and may have a few mistakes as I have been watching the darts final at the same time.