I was looking forward to this one, the first match of the Ilminster summer league. At the draw there were only six of us fishing, including my nemesis, Janders. I drew peg 6, by one of the inlets and although normally a good peg, nobody knew how it would fish. There were fish topping everywhere and loads of fry about so it looked good.
I set up a waggler to fish up in the water at a depth of about three foot and a o.4 gram rig for the pole, both had 0.12 mm bottoms and size 18 B611's. The pole had blue hydro elastic through the top two which is soft enough not to bump off the small fish but man enough to land any bigger fish that should come along. I also set up a Drennan Roach float to fish up in the water and the for the inside, this top two had number two elastic. For bait I had maggots, casters and hemp and I also mixed up some Sensas Magic groundbait.
On the whistle I cupped in two balls on the ten metre line and then started on the waggler. While loosefeeding the waggler line I was also feeding maggot on the inside, to hopefully keep the hoards of small perch occupied. I started catching roach from the off, mainly small fish around the 1oz mark with the odd better fish and also the usual small perch and by the end of the first hour I had 20 fish. Looking around the pond most people seemed to be catching and 'Big Frank' on the point was catching more than most. Things slowed on the waggler and I was disappointed that none of the venues chub had showed.
A brief flirt with the inside line using just my top three saw just two small perch grace my net so it was time to try the pole. With caster on the hook I shipped out to ten metres and started feeding hemp and caster, the rig didn't have time to settle properly and I had six roach in as many put ins, mostly on the drop. Some of the roach were good fish, approaching 8oz and perhaps slightly bigger. By the end of the second hour I had 34 fish, Frank shouted over to ask how I was getting on and I told him, he replied that he had 50 fish although I think my fish were a better stamp.
Graham Field was opposite and was catching small fish on the whip and Neil Dring on peg 4 landed the first chub of the day. My third hour was ok but it was noticeable that I was catching better while there was a ripple on the water and as soon as the wind dropped my bites slowed right up as well. Robin Cox wandered up from his peg next to me and he was struggling to catch anything apart from small perch. Janders was getting the odd fish and I saw him net a decent eel. Frank was fishing the whip and his fish seemed to be getting bigger as well and he landed two chub in quick succession, which by my reckoning put him in the lead.
Going into the fourth hour and I was still catching fish in fits and starts, so I cupped in two more balls of groundbait and went back on the waggler. They still weren't having it and I only had a couple of small roach. Another go on the inside saw the float bury and number two elastic come streaming out, after a decent scrap I netted a very welcome perch of 10oz. No more bites so I went back out to 10 metres and was still getting the odd roach and perch but things were slowing right up. Frank had balled in more groundbait a couple of times and was still catching quite steadily and even landed his third chub. Robin shouted up that he had just landed a perch of a pound and a half.
With half an hour to go I had reached 70 fish and was hoping that, with the light fading, the roach might get their heads down and I could reach 80. This wasn't the case and no more bites were forthcoming until five minutes from the end the float disappeared and I was hooked into something substantial. The fish was really pulling and I was convinced I had hooked into one of the ponds really big perch. Robin blew the whistle to end the match and I shouted 'fish on', I was starting to get the upper hand and dreaming of the ideal end to the match. I took off a couple of sections and a big swirl made my hands start to shake with nerves. Robin came up to watch and asked what it was, I told him I was sure it was a big stripy.
The other anglers started to shout encouraging comments like 'Make sure you don't lose it' and 'It could be a money fish', thanks very much! The fish swirled again and to both Robins and my suprise my big perch turned out to be a large foulhooked bream! I had unshipped to my top four and really felt I was in with a chance, the fish kited to my left and then the elastic went slack - shit, shit, shit! The fish was around 3 or 4lb and with it I might have had a chance of beating Frank. I was really gutted although from the other anglers reactions I don't think they were!
I packed up thinking of what might have been and then Robin arrived with the scales, my fish weighed 9lb 5oz which was more than I thought, Robin's mostly perch net went 4lb 4oz. The scales got to Frank and his fish pulled the scales round to 13lb 12oz, which made me feel a little better as, even with that bream, I reckoned I'd have struggled to do that. Graham had nearly all small fish plus a couple of eels for just under 9lb and the others weighed between 4 and 5lb which meant I was 2nd on the day and picked up £33 plus another nugget off Janders.
All in all, a very enjoyable day although that last gasp fish would have been the icing on the cake, oh well, there's always next week. Talking off next week, it's the last Chard spring league match and I really need a good result with my joker to stand any chance of a good final league placing, wish me luck, I must be due some.