Was up fairly early and raring to go, everything was going fine until the poxy cashpoint machine ate my card, after faffing about for ages I finally got to the Crown in Ilminster only slightly late. Luckily people were still finishing breakfast so I had time for a cup of coffee. This was to be the first match of the Hollowlegs (formally Hotpoint) league, I would dearly love to win this league, I've come close a few times but in twenty odd years I've never actually done it.
There was a good turnout with twenty one anglers hoping for a good day, after last weeks disappointing match I was hoping for a decent draw. I stuck my hand in the bucket and peg 14 attached itself to my sticky mitt. This peg, known as the tank traps because of some ancient concrete mini pyramids at the back of the swim, can be very good although I'd never actually won a match off it.
Got to the peg and it looked nice although the river was still low and clear, set up the usual 1.5 gramme Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and B611 hook. I decided to use white Hydrolastic because some big chub do reside here. Hopefully the main catching area should be towards the traps but to the left there is a bit off a hole just to the left of the main flow from a small weir. In previous matches I'd also caught quite a few fish from here. Ilminster AA allow trout to count in their matches and this peg is usually good for a few.
The match kicked off at 10:30 and I slipped a caster on and shipped out and fed some bronze maggots, casters and hemp, the float buried straight away and a small chublet was swung to hand, next put in was a carbon copy and the one after that, I was bagging! I was catching small chublets, dace and the odd minnow. I'd started at 10 metres out in front of me, deciding not to go too close to the traps until sport slowed, my reasoning being that this left a safe haven for the fish to retreat to.
After the first hour I had caught 32 fish and I worked out that averaging out at 2oz apiece I already had 4lb in the net, another four and a half hours like this and twenty pounds plus was on the cards. Realistically I knew I could expect some quiet spells, with this in mind I kept firing some bait upstream to my left to give me another option. After the second hour I had moved to 51 fish (all dace and chublets) but sport was slowing, decided to give my swim a rest and try 11.5 metres to my left, again I caught straight away and carried on putting the odd fish in the net.
This was to be the pattern for the rest of the day, a couple of fish from one swim before resting it and fishing the other. After three hours I was still catching quite well but not to the extent of that first hour. At this point Pete Lonton (Ilminster AA's chairman) wandered up, he was on peg 24 and had only caught one perch, while he was with me I had a trout around a pound, a chub of 8oz or so, another trout of a similar size and a small rudd, all from the left hand side.
An hour and a half before the end I had reached 80 fish and reckoned on having around 10lb possibly a bit more. I then hooked a decent fish from the swim in front, which turned out to be a chub around the pound mark only for the hook to pull out at the net! I was getting less bites now but the fish were of a larger size with some of the dace pushing half a pound, I also had my first roach. The match organiser, Justin Charles was on peg 15 (the swimming pool) and came up, he was struggling and only had a handful of chublets, while he was behind me I had a real purple patch and netted several fish including a pound chub. He didn't stay long and walked off muttering something about me being a jammy sod.
After Justin's departure I had another decent chub and a quality roach, I was now on 91 fish (plus minnows) with half an hour to go. Things then slowed right up and despite trying against the tank traps which only produced two small chublets, the only place I could get a bite was the swim to my left. This produced only the odd small chublet and on the whistle I had caught exactly 100 fish. At eight fish to the pound this would give me 12lb and I thought I might have 14lb to 15lbs which I thought would give me chance of framing. I was really pleased with my match and apart from losing that chub I'd only missed/bumped a few fish.
Justin came up with the scales and when I pulled my net out I realised I might have more than I thought, the needle settled on 18lb 5oz and I was well chuffed. My thoughts turned to that chub with which I would have been on around the twenty pound mark. The other three pegs in my area hadn't fished that well with 3lb odd being next best. Got back to the Crown and as other anglers filtered back I began to realise I might have won it. My mate Andy weighed 2lb 2oz but had lost two beasts, so that was another 'squid', cheers mate! Janders weighed 8lb 1oz from the Donyatt stretch and won his section but still had to cough up a fiver to me (that's six on the trot now John!).
The results were read out and I had won, the £100 was very welcome but more importantly I'd got one section point and had started this league well. Rob (who was second last week) was second again with 11lb+ and the crafty cockney Frank was third with 9lb 9oz. Butch Baker won the other section with over 9lb so the river had fished pretty well with only one blank being recorded.
My quest to break the grand is still on course with my winnings for the year so far totally £901, £99 to go. I've got a double header next weekend with a teams of six charity match on Sutton Bingham reservoir with proceeds going to Wateraid on the Saturday and round two of the Crown league on the Sunday. The trouble is I know I must be due a sticky patch soon, will it be next weekend?