I was really looking forward to this one, the first proper match of the river season. Also quite a bit of rain in the week and I was hoping there would be a nice tinge of colour to the river. Got to the Crown pub (the leagues sponsers) and had quite a shock as there were thirteen eager anglers waiting to draw. Usually we get a turnout of around eight to ten.
The pegs were spread out over most of the river utilising the best pegs. I drew peg 125 which is just above Isle Brewers bridge, later in the year you would run to this peg as massive shoals of roach move here to spawn. It framed every match at the end of last season with weights between 12lbs and 22lbs. I was still optimistic and thought I'd be in for a good day. My second shock of the day came when, after reaching my peg, I was greeted by a low, gin clear river! Barney Crockett arrived on the peg upstream and expressed his suprise, he'd walked the river yesterday and it was a foot up and coloured.
I set up a Drennan carbo rig for the pole with 0.10mm bottom and the usual size 18 B611 and a small balsa waggler shotted with the bulk around the float and just two number 10 Preston Stotz down the line, again ending with an 18 B611. Plumbing up I could only find a depth of around a foot all over the swim and I could see the bottom (and no fish!) right through the swim. On the whistle I started on the pole feeding maggots, casters and hemp and firing the odd half a dozen right down to the bridge to hopefully bring some fish up. I looked up just as Barney netted a decent roach first cast.
After snagging on weeds a few times I switched from maggot to caster and although this solved the problem of snagging I still hadn't had a bite. I tried at 9 metres to my left fairly tight to my bank where there was a little bit of a hole in the weed and the float went straight under and as a result a 2oz dace was deposited in my keepnet. I should also point out the wind was atrocious and I was sat on top of a high bank with only one ring of my keepnet in the water, which the wind kept trying to blow onto the bank! I was still getting bites to my left and had now caught six fish (dace, chublets, roach and minnows). Barney had landed some more roach and had just added a decent chub, my bites then stopped.
After an hour I had only ounces in the net and after my recent purple patch I was now back to earth with a huge bump! I switched to my right and had some tiny chublets before this too died. This was to be the pattern for the day, a couple of fish from one spot before it drying up and having to fish another area. I wondered if the pole was spooking the fish. I also had a pike take a fish which didn't help in the shallow water. Barney was also now struggling and I was slowly, and I mean slowly, catching up the deficit created by his bonus chub.
With an hour to go I had around twenty fish for a pound and a half but couldn't buy a bite anywhere. I decided to spend the last hour on the waggler, after shallowing up to six inches which was the only depth the float would run through without dragging under, I had four fish in as many chucks. Should I have fished the waggler from the start? The trouble was the wind was making things difficult and a couple of times I had to set up again after the wind had blown the line into the nearside reeds. During this last hour I had around ten fish to take my total tally to thirty and around 2lb.
Barney walked down to weigh me in and my haul took the scales around to a massive 2lb 2oz, Barney weighed 3lb 4oz, most of which he caught in the first hour. Leighton Cox below the bridge weighed 5lb+ and Rob on peg 128 had 7lb 5oz. On arriving at his peg Rob was confronted with a dead calf right where he had to sit. Undeterred he tried kicking it to move it, this was unsuccessful so holding his breath he grabbed the back legs, at which point all the skin came off in his hands! He eventually managed to throw it in the river although he said every time the wind changed direction the stench was unbearable. Still all the maggots probably served as a useful groundbait as he finished 2nd on the day.
Roger Russell won with a fantastic 19lb+ catch of chub and roach from the big bend swim at Ashford, Rob was 2nd and Neil Dring was 3rd with 5lb odd. The two sections were won by father and son duo Robin and Leighton Cox. The river didn't fish that well but I was still well down, not a good start to my river campaign. The only good news being I took yet another fiver off of Janders.
Next week is the first match of the Hollowlegs league, again on the river, so perhaps I can get back on track then. Also as you may have noticed there was no mention of my mate Andy, he fished down the Resi and was 2nd with 21lbs of bream, so I thought I'd better give him a mention. Still no more photos either, I promise I'll rectify this soon.