Chris was a fantastic angler who died at a young age and Baz Morgan (one of Chris's best friends) thought a match on the River Isle would be a fitting tribute to a fantastic bloke. Alas the weather let us down and heavy rain and strong winds saw the match switched to Dillington and Perry St ponds. Chris served his apprenticeship on the Isle and loved his river fishing so it was a shame it was flooded out. The match was invite only and I felt really priviliged to be asked.
I must admit I wasn't too upset that I would now be fishing at Dillington as it's a venue I've done really well at lately. I drew peg 1 by a small stream that comes in, on my right was Justin and on my left was Adrian Green, an angler like so many fishing today, who hadn't fished for ten years and more but had come out of retirement to honour Chris. Adrian had been my fishing mentor many years ago and I even worked for him and Barney when they owned A & R Tackle in Ilminster.
Some members of Chris's family were fishing along with many of his friends including Brian Reed and Scott Russell on my pond and Alan Dunn, Stuart 'Fred' Brown and Baz among many others on Perry St. The wind was really evil and I decided not to bother with the waggler and concentrate on the pole. I set up the usual 0.4 gram rig with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. As the wind was so bad I reasoned that rather than struggle trying to hold the pole at 11.5 metres I would fish at 10 where hopefully I would be able to control things a little better.
I mixed up some Van Den Eynde Supercup and added some black Tracix to darken the mix and on the whistle cupped in three balls at 10 metres. I started with double red maggot, feeding caster, maggot and hemp over the top, hoping to switch to caster to target the better roach. First put in I had a small perch which I netted to be on the safe side, another followed next chuck. A switch to caster produced more small perch and the odd small roach, not the 'netters' I was expecting. A quick look around the pond revealed nobody doing much.
At times the wind was so bad decent presentation was nigh on impossible but I perservered and slowly but surely some better roach put in an appearance. It wasn't ballistic by any means but I felt I was doing better than most. I had 15 fish after the first hour and 32 after the second, mostly small fish with the odd net roach amongst them. I saw Justin was also catching quite regularly and Scotty Russell had netted a chub.
I carried on catching quite well for hour three but by the fourth hour all I could catch was small perch on maggot. By this stage Scott had landed a good eel to go with his chub. I was pleased with my progress and when another of Chris's friends, Phil Rainford, came around taking photos and reported that Scotty had around 4lb and Brian Reed was admitting to the same I thought I wasn't too far away from that weight. Adrian Green sat behind me for a much needed cup of coffee (it really was very cold) and a chat before saying he was going to pack up. While he was with me I had quite a good spell catching quite a few perch and a couple of slightly better roach.
The last hour was a real struggle but the wind dropped enough for me to go past my feed to 11.5 metres where I had another four roach, two of which were net fish. I also missed a couple of bites. Also during this period Scotty landed another chub and I felt he would be the dangerman. Barney blew the whistle to end the match and my final tally was 69 fish, I really had no idea of my weight as I had a lot of small fish. As I loaded my kit into my car Justin came back, I asked how he'd got on and he said he had loads of small perch but that they don't weigh much. I got the scales out of my car as I had them for the umpteenth time and walked round to weigh in.
The first peg to weigh was Pete Lonton who had loads of small perch for 2lb 5oz, Martin Heard was next and had 3lb 11oz, then came Brian Reed who had loads of perch plus some better roach for 7lb exactly (and I hadn't seen him catch a fish!). Barney had 1lb 9oz and the old fossil (Malcolm Levy) was by the pump house and had 2lb 4oz although he was moaning about a lost chub, we all thought he was practising a catch and release scheme...! Next was Scott and when he pulled his net out I thought he might push Brian but the needle settled on 6lb 8oz, the lad on the next peg had two fish for 9oz. Adrian had gone on and then it was me, Justin by this stage had finished weighing the other pegs where Jock was top weight with 7lb 14oz and I really didn't think I would be anywhere near the top weights. I pulled out my net and the scales stopped at 7lb 3oz, so I hadn't won again but was second on the lake which I was quite pleased with.
We all went back to the Cotley pub where we all had a fantastic Sunday roast cooked by the landlady Sue. Phil Rainford did a great job selling draw tickets, loads of local tackle shops had donated prizes and Baz had put up a weeks fishing holiday at his lodge in France for first prize. Perry St had fished well after a recent influx of carp and one of Chris's closest friends, Alan Dunn, was top with 19lb 12oz and won a really nice trophy made by Chris's engineering firm. My nemesis Janders shrugged off his recent bad form to catch 18lb odd for second. The bad news being he'd said in the week that he didn't want to carry on with the fiver sidebet, hard luck mate! I picked up £50 for my second at Dillington to take this years winnings to £1111, I really can't see how I will top that next year!
Lots of Chris's family came for the meal, which was nice and Baz gave a great speech during which he thanked Les Braunton for all the hard work he put in helping to organise the event. Chris's family donated a bottle of scotch for the lowest recorded weight which Les took home for catching a hard won 1oz!!! Then it was time for the draw and Martin Heard won the holiday and we all reckoned he would take Malcolm...! I won a Preston Innovations pole roller so had a really good day in all.
I would just like to finish by thanking Baz and Les for all their hard work organising the match, Sue at the Cotley, Ilminster and Chard angling clubs for the use of the waters and all the anglers for supporting the event. Around £250 was raised for charity which is fantastic and there is talk of making this an annual match, I hope so. Wherever Chris is now I'm sure he was smiling down on us and that he would be particularly pleased that Alan was victorious on the day.
Next week is Ilminster's Xmas Fayre, will we actually manage to get on the river?