Spring League matchday four arrived and I really needed a good result to keep me in with a chance of a final league placing. I was stood waiting for the draw with Janders and asked which peg he fancied and he replied peg one which has to be the most consistent peg on the pond. Les came round with the draw bucket and I duly drew it! God I hate drawing flyers as you look such a dick if you cock it up. I was also wishing I'd played my joker. Also it was around now that the rain started and it was forecast to last most of the day - great!
After a short walk to my peg I surveyed the scene, it was obvious why its such a good peg, straight out in front is a large bed of lily pads stretching out to about 11 metres. Towards the right in this corner peg are more marginal lilies with a small channel at about 9 metres. Janders who won of here a couple of weeks ago said that all the fish came towards the right where a bramble hangs in the water at around 13 metres. It was blatantly obvious that the only way to land fish was to hook them and play them out in open water before netting them in the only lily free area to my left.
I set up my usual two 0.4 gram Drennan carp rigs, one with white hydro for open water and the other with black hydro for fishing to my right. Both rigs had 0.15 mm bottoms and size 18 B711's. For bait I had red maggot, caster, corn, hemp and Ringers micro pellet. I wetted these before straining them off, which in hindsight seemed rather pointless given the torrential rain!
I never fish under a brolly and for some unbeknown reason I hadn't brought wellies either and by the time the whistle went I was already drenched.
I cupped in some pellet, corn, hemp and caster on the edge of the lilies to my left at 10 metres and also in the little gully to my right. First put in with double red maggot and the float sailed away and a firm strike saw several feet of white hydro come out, whatever it was didn't feel like a carp and as I shipped carefully back a good skimmer surfaced, foulhooked up the bum! Just as I unshipped to net it the bloody hook pulled out and then I bumped off a smaller sample on the next put in, this wasn't the start I had hoped for. I did successfully land a rudd of around quarter of an ounce to avoid the blank.
Alan Dunn opposite on peg 20 got off to a flying start landing two carp but he also lost two. With only another missed bite to show for my efforts it was time to feed again before trying in the gully. I went in with corn on the hook and after a few indications a decent bite saw me hook a carp around the 2lb mark, I added some sections and played the fish out in open water before netting it. No more bites were forthcoming and after Alan had landed his third carp the call of the bramble at 13 metres proved too much. I cupped in some feed and had another brief flirt to my left while this settled. After half an hour all I had to show here was another bumped skimmer so it was on with a piece of corn and over this newly fed swim.
I couldn't really see what was happening elsewhere as I was facing towards my right, away from all the other anglers as well as being hunched under my hood in a vain attempt to keep dry (it wasn't working!). After Alan's good start he was now struggling and occasional glances around only revealed lots of miserable anglers, Chris Haines on peg 18 seemed to be doing ok as he had a couple of small carp and eels. My first two put ins on my new line resulted in two good bites and I missed them both, third time turned out to be lucky though and after a spirited battle I netted my second carp.
I was getting regular bites now and soon added two more small carp and a tench of around a pound and a half and despite being soaked was actually quite enjoying it. Chris Haines netted three bream in three put ins to look good for a podium place. My bites had by now slowed so I cupped in some more feed and had another go to my left, my only bite here resulted in a small skimmer of 3oz. After another biteless ten minutes I decided to abandon this line completely and concentrate towards the right for the remaining couple of hours. The angler to my left netted a big eel which looked like it had to be a pound and a half and the chap next to Chris lost a good fish before landing a small carp.
Dunner now couldn't buy a bite anywhere and from his grumblings I sensed he wasn't having fun. I went back out to my right and had a nice common of 2lbs or so and I was silently congratulating myself for not losing anything from the right hand side when I hooked a right lump that tore through the brambles snapping me up. While I was sorting my rig out and tying a new hook on, Janders wandered up, he was really struggling and only had a few bits. With an hour and a half left I felt if I could get another four fish I would be in with a shout.
No more bites were forthcoming and a quick go down the gully had the same result, I concentrated at 13 metres but in the back of my mind I had the nagging feeling I should stick another section on and go past the bramble in case the fish had backed off and I still don't know why I didn't do it! The whistle blew for the end of the match and I hadn't added any more fish. Steve Bush wandered up and said when he won off the peg he had gone to 14.5 metres before finishing at 16 metres to keep in touch with the fish. That confirmed it, I am a moron!, I blamed my waterlogged brain!
I was first to weigh and my five carp, one tench and two bits went 13lb 8oz and I knew it wouldn't be enough to win. Janders only weighed 14oz so at least my pound was safe and Picky didn't weigh so the pond had fished pretty poorly. Les reckoned Steve would win as he netted a good carp on the whistle, along our bank nobody had much until we got to Butch Baker and when he pulled his net out I was sure he had beaten me but the scales settled on 12lb 7oz - phew! The scales then reached the other two corner pegs and I had no idea how they had got on, Dave Lawrence on peg 10 only had a couple of fish and Les on peg 11 had 9lb exactly. Bushy's last gasp bonus carp was just under 9lb and with his other two carp and a bream he weighed 18lb 2oz to take the lead.
There were no other weights until we got to Chris Haines, he was claiming it would be close between me and him but I was sure he had more than me. His mixed bag of carp, bream, eels plus bits went 15lb and I had to settle for third place on the day and picked up £50 (plus that pound off Janders). My 18 points (out of a possible 20) gives me a total of 51 after four matches and I'm not too far behind the leaders although I still need a good joker result.
For me it was a day of if only's, if only I'd played my joker, if only I'd gone out to 14.5 metres and if only I'd brought my wellies I wouldn't have got so wet! Next week hopefully sees the first Ilminster match of the Summer league at Dillington, a venue that has been kind to me, lets hope it continues.