Morning of the match and got to the draw early enough to have a breakfast, my bait was dropped off but minus any worms, so I had to buy some from Kev Dicks. It was nice to see the regular faces, ones I only tend to see at the winter leagues, such as Shane Caswell, Mike Kent, Kev Boltz etc. Soon the draw was underway and Liam came back with our set of pegs, as ever I wanted to be at Swineford, as ever I was up the bloody Crane again! Liam drew himself the best peg on about 15 at Swineford.
As I just got to my parking spot by the Marina I had a call from Andy Ottaway to tell me I had left all my bait in the Rugby club..... what a twat! Anyway he brought it for me as he was pegged next to me as it turned out. Turned out Ian Pauley also forgot his bait and Andy had that as well! Not the best of starts to the day and I was still feeling rushed like the rest of the week. Then when Andy was fixing his gear on his trolley a bungee slipped off and hit him in the face. Thankfully he caught him just below his bottom lip, bad enough and it was bleeding and very sore, but at least not his eye. Luckily the start was 10:45 so plenty of time to spare. Walked up the river with Andy and I was on the last peg in the little ashtip field, whilst Andy was on the first peg in the long ashtip, one of my favourites.
I set up a 2g pole rig with 0.10 to 20 B611, and a 4g rig with 0.117 to 16 B611, these were to be used at 13m. A 1g rig for chopped worm with 0.15 to 13 B711 was also put up. A 3 1/2 shallow wagg with 18 B611 to 0.12, also a feeder rod was put up. I've had this peg before, it can be very good but the bottom is awful with it shallowing up by 2 feet over about 6m, so I would ball it away from the shallowest bit.
On the whistle I balled in 12 balls Sonubaits, River, Lake and black containing hemp and caster. I picked up the 2g rig and started with a single caster, I didn't have to wait to long before a 2oz roach was swung in. In the first half hour I had a few roach and dace but had a pike take a fish then it switched right off for 15 mins. I was about to think about feeding the worm line when I had another run of roach on the pole, but again it slowed right down. I then let the float go to far down the peg and on the shallow part snagged up and lost the hook. Time to feed the worm line at 10m and angled down the peg. I was feeding maggots now and then for the waggler line but seeing bits taking them I wasn't keen on trying it. Andy was struggling like me, but Shaun Townsend on peg 1 in our section had 7lb after 2 hours having had a bream and decent perch on the float.
The wind was picking up and as it was downstream and into me it tried to push the pole float through, I decided to give the 4g rig a go although I really wasn't sure it would work. I fished this rig over depth and either eased it through or tried to hold it still. I tried double caster but had not bites, so on went double red maggot and I had a couple of 1oz perch and tiny roach hmmm. Then, just before the shallow snag, the float went down the hole proper and I had a bit of elastic come out of the pole. Turned out it was a 12oz skimmer which really perked me up, and perhaps more would follow. Sadly it was a one off and the swim switched off again.
Time to try the worm line with a dendra, the float settled and twitched but the bite didn't develop, so I lifted the rig out and laid it in again, soon after it twitched and went under, 1,2,3 strike. A fair bit of hollo 10 elastic came out so it was a decent perch, it stayed on the hook and was not far short of 1lb. Dropped in again and nothing.
A few roach on the pole and then nothing again, they wouldn't settle. With 2 hours to go I picked up the waggler, why I didn't do this earlier I do not know (well I do really, I thought I needed decent fish to do well) as there were clearly plenty of fish there on the surface. I could get a bite a chuck, probably hit one in three bites, from bleak and dace and I kept myself busy for an hour. A few boats and canoes then gave me cause to try for a perch again, and I had an 8oz fish, but again that was it. I also tried the pole and a run of little roach, and as soon as though died I went back to the wagg. There were still plenty of fish there, but it was very hard to a) see the float as the light was awful, b) keep a tight line in the bad wind. With 15 mins to go the line caught some foliage in close and after a tug of war I ended up with a trashed rig. No time to set up again so I tried the pole lines and had sod all. I had a feeling that might cost me.
Andy was admitting to 10lb, I said I had 9lb, below me Bath stalwart and all round nice guy Chris Ollis had struggled for about 4 to 5lb he said. Shaun had not caught so well for the rest of the match but with his couple of bonus fish plus 7lb of bits he had a high 12lb to win the section, 2nd was Andy with 10lb 10oz and I was 3rd with exactly 10lb. The last 15 mins on the wag might have been worth 10oz, but we will never know. However, I think my peg was worth 15lb of dace and bleak on the wag, so I messed up trying to catch roach and skimmers, hey ho.
I did not go back to the results as it was the in laws 50th wedding anniversary party and I was the only relation missing! I went straight there from the match and soon most people had left, did I smell? lol!
I found out that the match was won by river legend Darren Gillman from the outfall at Swineford with 29lb of dace and bleak on a whip. Darren had a dream last night that he drew that peg and so it seems he's now mystic meg! Second was Liam Braddell with 28lb, he had 22lb of dace and roach on a whip and 2 bream on the stick float. Think there was another three 20lb weights and plenty of doubles at most places. Frys and Crane were the hardest places as I expected.
Right I need some sleep tonight as I'm off the Frankfurt working for the whole week, no fishing next weekend as I think I need a rest and will sort a bit more gear out.