This was the first match of a double header for me this weekend and a venue I only fish a couple of times a year. The reservoir is mainly trout fishing but open to coarse fishing a few times a year to enable the owners, Wessex Water, to remove some of the huge stocks of carp and roach. Teams from the water industries enter with the entry fee going to Wateraid. My team, the Environment Agency South West, consisted of myself, Ben Evans, Steve Woods, Damian Mason, Rich Dearnley and Danny Williamson and we were up against teams from Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Bournemouth Water.
I drew the shortest walk in 'A' section and the reservoir, although low, looked nice with quite a few small fish topping. My plan was to fish the waggler with sweetcorn on the hook while feeding corn and maggot along with regular balls of groundbait. I was hoping to sort out the better roach and the carp. Lots of anglers were setting up whips as they had caught big bags of roach in practice. I mixed up some Sensa Magic groundbait and when the all in was called I balled in six jaffas and cast my 3AAA Drennan waggler over the top, at the business end I had a size 18 Gamakatsu barbless carp hook.
Sutton Bingham Reservoir
With corn on the hook I was getting loads of indications and getting the odd better roach of around 4oz, I could see the anglers on my right all catching a fish every chuck. Although they were well ahead I was hoping that when the carp moved in I would be able to overtake them. I was also feeding some Sensas pellets hoping this would draw the carp in. After a hour I had around 20 roach for around 4lb or so and then had my first carp, a fish of around 3-4lb. I reckoned I now shouldn't be too far behind the whip anglers.
It was quite windy and we were having some torrential downpours quite regularly but the wind wasn't too much of a problem, yet! I was still catching roach, including the odd fish of 8-10oz but was missing loads of fish and pricking too many and every time I looked around the whip anglers were swinging in fish. With no more carp I was beginning to think I'd got it horribly wrong. I changed my hook to a 14 Mustad Stillwater Power barbless and I started to hit more bites but still not setting the world alight.
The lull before the storm!
We were still having the odd shower but the wind had now turned up a notch and was trying to blow my keepnet out of the water. I had another carp but this time of only 8oz and was having a nightmare, besides making regular trips to lay my keepnet out again, I was also hooking the keepnet, hooking the bottom and having to untangle the line from around the rodtip. To top all this my catch rate was still poor and I was being battered by my right hand neighbours.
The anglers on the left hand band seemed to be quite sheltered and I was starting to wish I was there or anywhere else but here really. I had now put a large rock on the bottom of the keepnet and this worked for a while. The wind was whipping up a tow and dragging my float along at quite a rate of knots and this obviously wasn't aiding presentation. I then hooked a good fish, excellent had the carp arrived?, no they hadn't and I landed a 3lb trout after some aerobatics. Of course they don't count and I went on to land two more of a similar size in quick succession, I was now sure this wasn't too be my day.
Two of my colleagues from the EA turned up, Paula Sage and Chris Stratton, to do a licence check, Paula asked how I was getting on, after a few expletives she left to check the next angler. The rock on the keepnet thing had stopped working so I put a bankstick through the ring on the bottom of the net (why hadn't I done this five hours ago?) and this at least kept the net in the water. I was know looking forward to the all out, with half an hour to go bites on corn were quite hard to come by, so I started fishing maggot and was getting a fish (albeit smaller) every chuck. I was wishing I'd done this from the start but I still don't think I would have been able to compete with the whip.
With ten minutes to go the insert on my waggler snapped off, I really couldn't be bothered to change the float so soldiered on to the whistle. I ended with 83 fish (2 carp and the rest roach) for 16lb 10oz, the two anglers on my right weighed 33lb+ and 51lb+ (which won on the day individually) so I had been right royally spanked! The only saving grace was I beat the Wessex Water guy in my section.
After packing up we went back to the fishing lodge where Wessex had kindly laid on soup, rolls, pork pies, crisps and chocolate cake which for me was the best bit of the day. Our team had done quite well with Danny, Damian and Rich all winning their sections (getting 4 points each), Rich was 2nd overall with 40lb odd. I had 2 points as did Steve and Ben came back with 1. It wasn't to be though and we finished 2nd with 17 points behind Bristol Water with an excellent 20 points out of a possible 24. We picked up £12 (£2 each) for our 2nd place. Although the real winner on the day was Wateraid who we raised £400 for.
So my quest for the grand continues and todays £2 takes my winnings to £903, so £97 to go. Will tomorrows match help me knock a hole in it?, we're supposed to be on the Isle but as I write the rain is running down the window so we'll have to see. Also it's supposed to be even windier tomorrow - oh goody!