The final match arrived and after a cracking week's weather we were confronted by strong gusty winds and the possibility of rain, hail and even snow! Only seven anglers were at the draw and as per usual the match was to be split into two sections, I drew peg 3 which was in the section of four anglers which included Martin Heard who was two points behind me in the league. Basically as long as Martin didn't win the section with me last I would win the league.
I had popped down in the week to have a look as I hadn't seen the place for a year or so and there were fish topping everywhere, roach, rudd, skimmers and the odd small carp could be seen cruising everywhere. I could hardly wait for this match but would the colder weather have an affect? Although there are loads of fish in the venue the last two matches I had fished here were won with only a couple of pounds but it had been fair if hard.
As we reached the canal it became obvious we would be sheltered from the worst of the wind which was a godsend. I plonked my box down and over a coffee surveyed the scene, there was the odd tiny fish topping and I still fancied catching a few fish. Opposite me at about 13 metres I had two tree stumps and to my right was the remnants of a reedbed. I set up a light rig with a Drennan squatt float, 0.08 mm bottom and size 20 B511 for just past the middle at 7 metres, a 0.4 gram rig with 0.10 mm bottom and size 18 B611 for my chopped worm line at 10 metres just off the tree stumps and a little dibber style float with 0.12 mm bottom and size 18 B611 for tight across against the reeds.
I had Digger to my left on the favoured end peg and Neil Dring to my right. On the whistle I cupped some chopped worm and casters in on the 10 metre line and a few casters by the reeds. I picked up the light rig, baited with a single red maggot and started to loosefeed pinkies, the float settled and then went under, a small perch was the result and when I caught three small roach on the next three put ins I thought we could be in for a good day. At the draw it was decided we would weigh any carp caught and put them straight back. With only quarter of an hour gone I could see activity on pegs 6 and 7 as Graham Field and Barney netted fish and as they weighed them in before releasing them I knew they must be carp. They looked to be a pound or so apiece.
I slipped on a caster and started to introduce a few on my 7 metre line, a bite saw me snagged straight away and I lost my hooklength. I tied a new hooklength on a fished to the left of this underwater obstruction. Bites were forthcoming and I started to catch some lovely roach up to about 12oz. Most people seemed to be catching and I saw Barney, Graham and Martin all net fish. I was pleased with my catch rate and was ahead of both Digger and Neil. Digger then started to catch some better roach as well and I had to get off my box four times in quick succession to weigh in four carp, the best weighing 2lb 5oz to give Digger a healthy lead. Rob Cox and Martin both landed decent skimmers.
My 7 metre line was slowing and to be honest I couldn't wait to go over my chopped worm, where hopefully the skimmers and carp would be queued up! I went over it with a single caster and couldn't get a bite!!!! Thankfully after the hectic start the others seemed to have slowed up although I could see Graham swinging in small fish. Another try at 7 metres produced the odd fish and I did lose one shipping back. At the halfway mark I had around thirty fish. I fished at 10 metres towards the reeds and was putting the odd good roach in the net although I was having to wait for bites.
Digger had now added two decent skimmers and was winning easily, with an hour to go I was on about forty fish and was slowly but surely pegging back Barney and Graham although my main concern was to stay ahead of Martin which I think I was. I had been feeding caster across to the reeds and decided it was now time to give them a go, although Neil had been fishing this line without too much success but he had bumped four good fish. I went across and it just didn't happen, I did manage the odd smaller roach and missed a few bites but the gusty wind was making things difficult.
On the whistle I had ended up with 49 fish (mostly roach with 2 perch and a couple of small rudd). Digger's four earlier carp weighed nearly 5lb and his silver fish net went 9lb something to give him a total of 14lb 2oz which I knew would be enough to win. I weighed 6lb 8oz to comfortably beat Neil and Martin who had just under 4lb, so I knew the league was safe. Graham was second with 8lb odd and Barney had over 7lbs for third. So no money on the day for me but I really enjoyed the day and can't wait to get back down here again.
Final league positions
Jamie Rich - 13 points
Martin Heard - 16 points
Barney Crockett - 17 points
Next week I'm at Landsend fisheries and as I've never fished it before I don't hold out much hope of winning anything, we will see.