I don't seem to get the opportunity to fish as many Xmas matches as I did years ago, and this one was on my radar but I only committed to fish on Monday. I didn't think I would have any bloodworm and joker, but I had a call from Andy Pritchard who had ordered a pack and was happy to split it with me, thanks Andy. I had plenty of rigs already made up and just needed to tie some hooks to replace old ones and have some spares.
I had my booster vaccination on Saturday and I woke up a few times in the night with a sore left arm, it was still feeling sore when I got up but I was not feeling any other side affects. Got to the Crown in Keynsham for a brekky and paid mine and Glenn Bailey's pools and ticket money. Glenn wanted to avoid driving through Bath and getting a bill for entering the clean zone, luckily my van is cleaner and doesn't get charged. There was a good turnout of 30 people, including a lot of "pellet heads" such as Dave Willmott, Dave Haines, Neil Mercer, Andy Gard to name a few lol. It was nice to see these guys back on a natural venue. Pegging today.
The draw began and I drew and announced to those around me my peg (11), and then Glenn's, I couldn't believe it when I drew Glenn peg 19 at Claverton with the scales. Obviously I couldn't get the scales to Glenn as he was already driving around Bath, and I had drawn at the George. I got a another angler at Claverton to take the scales instead.
I got to the George pub and parked in their car park, chatted to Chris Parr (not Gappy) and Paul Purchase who were on good pegs either side of the wires past Bathampton bend. I was on the start of the bend on a wide peg, and not one I would run to as a lack of featured to fish to. As I walked along the canal Nigel Wyatt and Dave Haines both told me they had pleasure fished the canal and caught 3 or 4 fish only! As I got nearer to my peg I saw Neil Mercer, and looked at his peg, it was then I saw for the first time the water properly. The canal was gin clear and I could see leaves on the bottom of the canal a couple of metres out. Oh dear, this is not how I expected the canal to look at all and it meant only one thing to me that the match would be incredibly hard.
Got to my peg and found I had Dave Haines on 10 and Darren Gilman on the other end of the bend on peg 12. I took this picture later on after a few boats had gone through and added a tinge of colour.
I set up one 4x14 rig for breadpunch with 18 PR311 to 0.07, a positive rig for bloodworm with 18 to 0.08, a negative 4x12 rig for bloodworm with 22 PR311 to 0.07, and a chopped worm rig.
Whilst setting up Dave Haines came along to have a look at my bloodworm and joker (he didn't have any) and when he returned to his peg he realised some of his pole sections had blown into the canal. As the canal was clear we could see the sections and got them out, lucky boy.
I began the match fishing breadpunch at top set plus 3 sections. After 10 minutes I had not had a bite and the writing was on the wall already. Time to feed some other baits, a small ball of leamed up joker just to my right by a little boat, a big ball of joker at 10m off to the left and some minced worms 10m straight out. I gave the bread another 10 mins to let the other areas settle, but had nothing. Onto the chopped worm looking for an early perch, no bites here at all. Came down to the close line by the boat and with a single bloodworm on the float shot under, a very small perch saved the blank, and was soon followed by another 5 before bites ended. Back to the worm and again nothing at all, back to the boat nothing this time, out to the 10m joker line and fishing overdepth for a bonus I had a long wait for nothing, but when I lifted the rig up I had a tiny ruffe on. I shallowed the positive rig up and caught another 3 ruffe and a tiny perch here then nothing again. A pattern was clearly forming.
During the day a boat came up regularly and turned round in the bay, it was some bloke dressed as Santa, with a few decorations on the boat playing Xmas music. Not sure what the familes paid to go on it, but it looked a bit shite to me lol.
With no bites by the boat I refed some joker here, and then fed another ball of joker on a new line top set plus 4 sections just off to my right. I had a little run of ruffe again out long before an odd little perch by the boat. The new joker line also produced 5 or 6 fish quickly then nothing. With about 90 minutes to go I decided to feed a bit of joker over the chopped worm as this line was a waste. It did sort of work, it produced my best perch (about 1 1/2oz lol) and a few other tiny fish. My peg just got really really hard and I had just 4 tiny ruffe I think in the last hour. I had counted 29 fish, but what would they weigh, 12oz to 14oz I hoped. Dave had 10 fish and Darren 12, everyone had struggled from what we could tell, so I was hoping to win the section if possible.
Steve Skelton had the scales and started weighing from Darren, here's my section weights as I recall them..
Darren G 2 1/2oz
Me 11oz (those fish were smaller than I thought)
Rich Scholar 4oz
Neil Mercer 7oz
Steve S 5 1/2oz
Yes that was a very hard section, but not the hardest of the match!
The top 3 were all in a line at Claverton (not the end Glenn was at) with Andy Britt winning with 3lb, he did get a few roach on bread, then perch on bloodworm. I've put the full weight sheet on here so you can see the weights, I was 6th overall with 11oz, so a decent prize! Shaun Townsend won the section at Dundas with 9oz, a flyer of an end peg potentially, but it was ruined by a boat that got stuck in the bottom twice. 23 anglers out of the 30 caught a fish.
Despite the shocking fishing everyone back at the pub had a good laugh, Dave Willmott made the most of his end peg at the George to come 4th, but got 3rd place money as one angler did not go in the main pool. He also won three prizes on the raffle, including one when he pulled his own ticket out, now that's magic! Not sure when I will fish next or where, one thing for sure the fishing is proving tricky on many venues at present.