Lee Trivett and Andy Ottaway had pegged out the match and messaged the pegging, when I saw it on Sat night I thought well anywhere but G section will do, G was bottom of the Crane which as not been good of late. Anyway come Sunday morning and I felt like shit and the wife said I shouldn't go, but it was a team match and we all know we have to do the necessary for the team. I now wanted to draw a short walk and really don't think I could face Swineford, so G section would be nice and short. After another decent brekky the draw was done, and it turned out we had the same peg from the earlier round, so all of us on pegs another angler in the team had drawn. Blow me if I didn't get my wish, G5, the first peg above the cattle grid at the Crane about as short a walk as I could get. The peg has not won the section of late but it is always one I'm happy to draw being an end peg, no chance of framing but a decent section peg.
I set up the pole to fish at about 13m as the flow here is across more, a good thing today as the river rose and got pacey and I was less affected than most. The flow was OK, and so a 2 grm and 1gm rig looked OK to me, and they went through the peg OK. A 14BB crowquill and and Gbait feeder were also set up. The wind was a nightmare, into me and a bit upstream, and I could see that it would make life difficult. The picture below does not do justice, but at times it was a right b'stard.
I was just about ready on time and let fly with 12 balls of gbait full of caster and hemp. I was quite positive with the feeding as I thought with the river having extra pace it might fish well. I went out with the 2g float first and stuck on a single bronze maggot, the float ran down past where I thought the gbait had settled and then some more and then went under, 1oz roach. The next 4 or 5 rns through produced nothing, but then I had a small dace. It was not a stellar start by any means, but bites started to come on and off from small roach and dace. The first hour was not prolific by any means and I reckon I only had 1lb 4oz by the end of it, not great at all but Darren Gillman who was a couple of pegs above was also struggling. Darren has been the king of the section so he was my paceman, if I could keep up with him I should do well.
Second hour and I hit a pike, I had it on for a few minutes and did my best to piss it off, I finally broke on it and hoped I had given it a tooth ache. For the next two hours I never had any pike strikes, but the fishing was still really tough, there were clearly fish there but I was having to work hard to get bites. Aaron Britnell came for a walk up to watch his mate Mat on the peg above me, and he also spent some time watching me. I might get 4 or 5 fish in as many chucks on the pole, then nothing, changing to the crowquill might do the same, but then nothing. Changing hookbaits, maggot colours, caster would also make bites, I couldn't believe how much I had to change. Of course then the pike came back, the 2g pole rig got trashed and I needed to set another up, I chucked the feeder out for a bit whilst I put a new rig on and had bites but didn't connect, roach.
The crowquill got the pike treatment, and so another new hook etc, and I kept battling the elements, the wind was a joke, I was in and out of the tree on my left and suffering a lot of tourettes trying to fish a tidy match. I kept throwing small balls of gbait in and hoped better fish might turn up, but they never did. Thanks to Aaron and the many other people who were walking the bank I knew my section was not fishing well, I therefore stuck to trying to catch the small fish and avoided going on the feeder. Mat above me had lost a bream on the feeder and lost another late on, but I stuck to my guns. With about 30 mins left I hooked a little fish I thought, but when I shipped back the rig was solid and I assumed I was in a snag I had hooked before. I started pulling hard for a break, as you do, and then the rig started moving upstream and not long after bit me off, that was a bloody big pike!
When the all out was called I was tired, aching, felt like shit and just hoped that I might have won the section to make it all worthwhile. The scales were operated today by legend Dave Lewis, and he weighed my fish first and called out 7lb 10oz, not sure that would be enough. However, Mat had 2lb, and then Darren had really struggled and had just over 4lb, Vic Abbot had 6lb+ and on the gantry Dave had 5lb exactly which included a nice 3 1/2lb chub. A section win, yay, worth it after coughing my guts up all day, lol. Thanks to Aaron for the photo.
I was one of the first people back to the results, and was glad I could get a seat to rest. As the lads started to come back it was very obvious we had done well today, in fact we had 7 section winners and one who was 3rd in the section (Martin Barrett). Obviously we won the day by a long way, but with Bathampton scraping second place by 1 point we are tied at the top with them overall.
Top anglers today
1st Mark Harper 35lb 6oz, bream from peg 6 at Swineford
2nd Tom Morretti 26lb 10oz Jack Whites (same peg Glenn had last week)
3rd Randy Branston 22lb 5oz Jack Whites (same peg Ivan Currie had last week)
4th Lee Trivett and Matt Challenger 17lb 12oz.
The river was more coloured by the end of the match, and had more pace, and for some anglers their pegs were a bit too fast for the float, the river still fished well in most places.
Newbridge next week, hopefully I feel better.