The one match I always look forward to more than any other is without a doubt the Poppy Match. The biggest match on the river Avon and for a very fitting cause, all of those people who gave their lives so that we could have our way of life, it simply cannot be forgotten or underestimated.
Friday night was a superb night out, celebrating Glenn Bailey's birthday, safe to say it was a brilliant night out, and I am not allowed to mention that Glenn was still being sick until 2pm on Saturday. My head was a bit sore but not so bad, and I did not need to do much prep other than mix some gbait and get my bait from Scotts.
Saturday was an alcohol free day and I awoke Sunday morning feeling fine and excited. It was good going back to Frys after many years for the draw, the new social club is very nice and has some very nice Polish staff, the breakfast was in my opinion great value for money and very nice. This match is so good for seeing anglers who love to support it and I hardly see otherwise, Mike Spence, Mike Shellard, Bob Price, and many many more.
Whilst enjoying my breakfast I was indebted to Mark Harper who paid my £20 pools for me. I also had to sort out a ticket for the legend that is Andy Power, and fair play he turned up and paid me for it. Before the draw Brian Lloyd read out the citation for the 2 minutes silence, this was impeccably observed by all the anglers, but it went on and on until Paul Benson asked who was timing it, and neither Ray nor Brian was! A huge roar of laughter went round after that. Draw underway and I was really hoping for a peg at Newbridge as the river was a great colour for bream, a draw at Jack Whites or Crane would mean fishing for your section. Well blow me if I didn't go and draw peg 1, this meant I was on peg 3 at Newbridge the same peg I had two weeks ago, what are the chances of that!
After giving advice to a number of anglers I got on my way, my thoughts were a decent peg but not one I could win off. When I got to the river at Newbridge and looked at it I was even more convinced bream would feed. Got to my peg and thought well I won't do any good fishing for roach today, but will there be any bream in the area.
I set up a gbait feeder with 0.165 exceed to 14 PR355 which is one of my favourite bream hooks for feeder fishing. I did consider setting up a pole rig for a while but talked myself out of it and decided to go all out for the slabs! On the all in at 10am I threw in 14 balls of gbait containing 1/2 pint of caster and plenty of chopped worm on about the 16m line. I then underarmed my feeder over this with 3 red maggots on. Think I missed a bite first chuck, next chuck a good drop back bite and fish on, as I brought the fish a bloody pike grabbed it as it came to the surface and then let go. I netted a
6oz roach. During the first hour of the match I had regular bites on maggots and worms all from roach, these were from 4oz to 1lb like the one below (thanks to Lee Trevitt for the photo of this roach he caught).
On the hour mark I hooked a good fish and it had to be a bream I thought, but soon after the line went slack and I lost it, balls. I wound in to find no hook and I am sure it was the pike bit me off as I no pressure on the hook to break 6lb line.
The next hour for me was slow, I had a few hybrids that were only 2oz each and a gudgeon and as the second hour approached I thought this was not going to be my day. Glenn rang me to have a chat and I had another drop back bite and when I hit the fish tore off downstream, what was this, another sodding pike I thought, but they do count. I took my time and got the fish in close, I was shocked to see an upside down bream surface, it was hooked under the body and it went into the net! Catching that bream I put a dendra on the hook with two dead red maggots, and 10 mins later I was playing another bream and all of a sudden I was excited. The next 40 mins went past without any action, I decided to put two dendras on the hook and this was a good move as I took two 3lb bream in two casts. Again the bites ceased and I tried various hookbaits and at at 13:10 had a 1lb skimmer on 3 red maggots.
With nearly two hours left to go and 20lb+ in the net I was more than happy, I knew other anglers had more bream than me but I thought a few more might get me in the money. Darren Gillman came to watch me for a while but I was unable to catch a fish for him, and alas I had one more bite which the worm doubled over the hook and that was my lot, not a fish. I sat there thinking of all the late bream that would be caught pushing me down the frame.....
I had the scales and the lad below the board (nice cos that means a free bottle of wine after lol) and I said go to peg 10 and weigh back to me. On permanent peg 20 was Craig Pinker who had fished a lobworm all day, and he had 9 bream for 37lb, mega.
Jan Mazek had 10lb on 16 and then a lad on 14 had 18lb 8oz. Gerry Welsh on peg 8 had 8lb and peg 5 had less than a 1lb. My turn and I was pleased to have two weighs for 23lb 10oz. The fouled bream went 6lb 9oz, here it is.
I knew Kev Boltz had 12 bream from peg 54 and was going to be hard to beat, and a few others had bream, I hoped I would get in the frame.
Back at Frys and I was really pleased to hear that Kev had won with a brilliant 59lb, he had bream to over 7lb, well done Kev, you've kept my record intact as the only person to win this match more than once!! Craig Pinker was second and Andy Curry was 3rd from peg 28 with 32lb, well done lads. It was then my turn, so 4th place today, and a nice pick up of £145, dead handy. I also won a prize on the raffle which was a box of 50 hook lengths pre tied, new Preston hooks with pellet bands, happy days.
I stayed behind to have a beer with the lads, and thank Ray and Paul for another well run Poppy Match, probably raised £1700 again for the Poppy fund, brilliant.
I have to finish by saying that Swineford, Crane and Jack Whites really fished poorly, with only a couple of double figure weights. Mat Challenger (man of the moment) had a bream first cast and an 8lb carp to be beat weight with 11lb. Shaun Townsend drew the best dace peg at Jackies and caught less than 2lb, bad luck Shaun, right peg wrong day.
Next week is another challenge all together as it is the K&A canal at Bath, new rigs, new elastics, new bait.
Tight lines everyone, and as the citation says..... "With the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."