As planned another weekend off fishing and I got to spend some time with my family, a nice trip to Oxford yesterday, UTG! Just back from a nice walk with the wife, so time to warm up with a nice cuppa and a blog post from the past, just as 1999 was beginning.
Sunday 3rd January 1999 ATWL at Newbridge on the Bristol Avon. The river was very high and rising so conditions were poor and a draw on a deep peg with a bit of slack would do. Unfortunatley the team draw put me on peg 22 which was and is still, behind the pumphouse. I cannot think of a much worse peg to draw in flood on that stretch as there is no slack water and lots of snags. I was blanking for 4 hours and then had an eel on a lobworm, I managed two more in the last hour and that was it. I didn't record my weight, but just the fact that I only beat two people in the section, but as the team won on the day it ended OK.
The following Sunday and the Commercial House was on the K&A canal near Dundas, the weather had been very cold all week and on the day of the match after -4C in the morning it got to 4C in the day, brrrr. I was drawn at Limpley Stoke, a peg walking down from the road bridge past the straight and round the bend a bit. I didn't know if it was any good but it had a nice bit of a bush on the far bank. The match was a grueller. I had a few small roach and gudgeon on punch bread, then on pinkie at 9m. I also took a few gudgeon on the whip as back then there were quite a few gudge in this stretch. Back on the 9m line and I had a 12oz perch on a pinkie but that killed that line. All tries around the bush had been fruitless on caster then late on I hit a good fish but pulled out, guess it was a perch. Unbelievably I later had a 1lb tench on a pinkie next to the bush, a real bonus on a very cold day. Roy Garland the Evening Post reporter walked up and said the canal had fished poor, and when I weighed in he took a photo of me as he said I would frame with my 3lb 6oz, but I couldn't see that. However, Roy was correct, and in fact I won the match which was a shock. Sadly I cannot find a paper cutting of the photo Roy took.
Sunday 17th January and the final round of the ATWL with my team in first place but anything could happen. The match was on the canal again as the river was still flooded. Some of the lads in the team had fished the canal in the week, and one of them Pete Sivell told us the fish were shying off the gbait and not to feed too much, and that he had caught dripping in just squatt. I was pegged just past Dundas Aqueduct on the end of the bend before the old lock, not the best. I fed a little bit of liquidized bread down the middle to my left and one small ball of gbait to my right. I had 4 roach on bread and that was it. It was very tough, and bank runners confirmed my section was fishing poorly so plugged away catching the odd gudgeon and also two tiny perch on chopped worm. I had 1lb 4 1/2oz and that was good enough for second in the section and team job done. The team did well and we came second on the day and that ensured we won the league and would be fishing a ATWL semifinal on the Avon at Newbridge in February where we thought we would have our best ever chance of getting to the final on the Trent. I think some of us sank quite a lot of beer that night lol.
Only had a little match the following Sunday at Keynsham AA Century Ponds, I blanked and left early so not much to say. On the very last day of January 1999 I fished the penultimate round of the Commercial House League, it was back on the river, at Frys so another tough match to look forward to as every peg would be in. I was the downstream end peg but one, and an area that was pacey and not noted for bream in such conditions. However, all I could do was fish a feeder, so I went with a gbait version as I was confident catching everything on this. During the match bites were at a premium, and all I managed was 1 dace, 2 roach and 2 chub, but I did get snapped by a big chub near the end of the match, serves me right for fishing 0.12... I got 12 points from 14 and the team were now winning the league with one final match to go.
The final match of the CH league was the very next week and we were back on the canal at Limpley, oh dear. I was on the straight past beeches bay and past the old lock. A dire match for many, remember none of us had (or were allowed) to have bloodworm and joker back then as it was against the fishery rules. I took 3 roach straight away on the bread and then had to endure a long 5 hours nicking the odd gudgeon from all over the peg. I could only must 14oz but incredibly I got 12 points from 14 for this. The team won on the day and so we won the league too, I topped the team and was 4th individual in the league. Happy days.
The next two matches were both at Newbridge to practice for the ATWL semi-final. My form was rubbish blanking in the first match. The second open was mired by toilet paper coming down the river and I had 4 bleak until the last 15 mins when I had a 3lb bream from right in close. That bream though may have given the selectors a good vibe and I was picked to fish the semi.
February 27th ATWL semi final at Newbridge. The river was in a better state than it had been for ages but would be dominated by the feeder we though. Mark "Podge" Jefferies was the captain of our Avon Angling team and he did the draw and put me on peg 134 in the trees. This brought back dreaded memories of my last semi when I drew the trees and blanked, I had to catch this time. There were 21 teams fishing this match, and the top two teams would qualify for the final so it was going to be an intensive day. I threw some balls of gbait in at about 11m but started on the gbait feeder down the middle. Two hours in on a 16 to 0.14 and I had not had a sign of a bite and nerves and bad thoughts were creeping in. I dropped the feeder over the gbait at 11m and had one good bite but didn't connect, it was the only bite on that line, damn. Two hours to go and I dropped down to an 18 to 0.12 a few casts later a drop back, I netted a chub of about 1lb and felt a lot better. An hour later I had another slightly smaller chub and then I hit a big un, I could not get it under control and eventually I lost it, gutted. As we had no mobile phones you relied on runners and people watching the match, I was told there were a lot of blanks in my section so I hoped I would do OK for the team. My two small chub weighed 1lb 13oz, that was enough for 15 points out of 21, OK but the lost chub would have put me in the top two in the section for sure, I hoped it would cost the team. Back at the results the section winners and frame were read out, with the winner on the day being captain Podge who had 36lb of bream from about peg 26 I recall, that was great. Then the long reverse order of the team position.... we were called out in third place and had not qualified, gutted is an understatement and all I could think about was the chub I lost. However, we had a lifeline, as after all the semis (more than two lol) of all the teams in third place the one with the best points would go into the final, and after all the matches that was us! We scraped in to the final yay!!!
Back to 2018 and next week I am on the Viaduct league on Campbell lake, currently pegs at the bottom end (110, 111, 132, 131) have been where all the carp are holed up. A draw away from there will mean a very hard day.