After a lot of heavy rain in the week I was sort of hoping the river would be flooded and we could go out Dillington, this was not to be though and on my arrival at the Crown, reports were that the river was in good condition with a nice bit of colour. As is the norm with these matches the pegs used are pegs not yet used for the Hollowlegs matches, a sort of try before you buy, if you like. Today the pegs were below Ilford bridge and at North and South Bradon.
I said to Janders that I really fancied peg 74 at South Bradon as I'd done well off it before. I also noticed peg 75 was in and really didn't fancy it as the two previous times I had drawn it I had really struggled only managing one chub. I decided not to dive into the draw bag and wait until 75 had gone. Martin Heard was the unlucky angler so I felt safe to draw and peg 74 was the result! After my previous three bad weeks I was strangely nervous to finally get a decent peg.
After reaching South Bradon I walked to my peg with Martin who was pegged just below me, his swim did not look very inviting at all and mine looked very fishy with two bushes opposite with a little alcove in between them. Martin said he reckoned I could win it from here, I wasn't quite as confident. As it obviously hadn't been fished since last year it took me a while to get comfortable and then it was a bit of a rush to set up. I only had time to set one rig up, my usual Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. On plumbing up there was a good depth above the bush and in the alcove.
On the whistle I put on a caster and started above the bush, feeding maggot, caster and hemp. I decided to leave the alcove for as long as possible as it was pretty snaggy. After ten minutes I hadn't had a bite and a brief try in the alcove resulted in no bites either. Martin shouted up that he'd had a 10oz chub and doubts started to form in my mind, could I be in for another grueller? I put another section on and went further across above the bush at ten metres, just as I was about to feed the float went and I was soon netting a 10oz chublet. 'Here we go' I thought and the next put in I hooked another, only for the hook to pull out in the flow. Another chub and a decent dace followed before I hooked a chub that took off under the bush and snapped me. Things were not going to plan.
It then went quiet above the bush so I had to bite the bullet and go into the dragons den (in between the bushes). I shipped out under the trailing branches and held back and the float dipped before disappearing, a short lift of the pole tip saw several feet of white Hydro streaming out and despite throwing the pole behind me the fish had snagged me before snapping me. This was rapidly turning into a nightmare, after tying a new hook on I went back and had a couple more chublets and another dace before this went quiet.
By this time Martin had added a decent chub, I put half a lobbie on and went back above, I had a bite straight away and hooked a decent fish only for this one to come off as well! The next two put ins resulted in two more chublets before yet another quiet spell. I tried worm in under the bush and hooked another good fish which again snapped me and the hook pulled out of the next one. I upped my hooklength to 0.14mm as I didn't intend to get done by anymore. I did manage another chub on worm but couldn't get all those lost fish out of my head. I tried worm in both places but couldn't get a bite, I felt there were a lot of fish in front of me and was scratching my head somewhat.
Time for another bait change, this time I put double red maggot on and first chuck had a decent roach, the the hook pulled out of yet another before I had another dace. After this brief purple patch all I could catch on maggot was the odd minnow, worm and caster was also unsuccessful. Time was fast running out with only around an hour to go, Martin walked up and was still stuck on two fish and now had the added joy of a jack pike taking his bomb every time he reeled in, not a happy man.
I was praying for a good last hour as I felt two or three fish would give me double figures, I did manage one more chub on double caster and was suprised to see another one of my hooks in it's mouth! At around a pound I really couldn't understand how it had broken me, these fish were obviously diving into snags and snapping me on them.
At the end my total was eight small chub, three dace, a roach and a few minnows for 7lb 14oz. I had lost eight fish, three snapped me and the hook had pulled out of five so the peg should have been worth 12-14lb. Martin's two fish went 2lb 13oz and I don't think he'll be rushing back to pleasure fish his peg! Trudging back to the cars, Martin said that he thought I'd be there or thereabouts with my weight as the wind had been fairly strong and very cold and conditions had been far from ideal for the anglers. I wasn't so sure as you normally need at least double figures to frame.
As we reached the cars, Roger Russell had just got back from peg 66 and he'd weighed seven chub for 17lb 6oz which rather knocked Martin's theory into a cocked hat! If anything, this news rather relieved me as perhaps those lost fish hadn't been so costly because even with those I wouldn't have done Roger's weight. Back at the Crown, North Bradon hadn't fished at all and I started to believe I might nick second place. This wasn't to be though as the ever consistent Justin had 8lb odd for second from peg 52 at Ilford (so those fish had cost me). However I did manage third just ahead of Barney who weighed 7lb 12oz and I picked up £28 plus another fiver from Janders who had a single chub of 2lb 12oz. So finally I've cracked the grand for the first time ever and my yearly winnings now stand at £1001. The pressures now off and hopefully I can fish the last few matches and hopefully pick up a few more times.
I've got another double header next week with Sherborne lake on the Saturday, which I've only fished twice before, many years ago and I blanked both times! I have been assured that it's fishing really well and 20-30lbs will be needed to win, we will see. On the Sunday is round four of the Hollowlegs league and to stand any chance of a league placing I need a good result so lets keep our fingers crossed.