During the three years I fished this league with the Chard Remains team we have been runner's up twice and winners of the knockout cup, could we go one better this year? After loads of rain for what seemed like weeks I was sure this one was going to be called off. To my suprise the river actually looked in pretty good nick.
The other four members of the team for todays match were my mate Andy Langdon, Alan Dunn, Dave Lawrence and big name (but short in stature!) Nicky Collins. As team captain I have to draw for the team and as per usual I drew nearly all middle pegs with the exception of end peg A8 which went to Dave. My peg for the duration was B4 below Stuckeys, after a mammoth walk I arrived and surveyed the swim, the river looked pacier than I first thought and there was loads of weed coming down and along with the strong wind and more forecast rain, I was beginning to think this could be a washout.
I mixed up a bag of Van Den Enyde Turbo and set up a gram rig for 9 metres and a gram and a half rig for the five metre whip. After plumbing up and running the 1 gram rig through I realised it was woefully undergunned for the conditions, the gram and a half wasn't much better. Without any other rigs suitable and no floats above 2.5 grams I was starting to realise I was stuffed! My initial plan was to cup in two balls at 9 metres and ball it in on the whip line but I decided to forget the longer line and make do with the whip.
On the whistle I chucked in four balls on the whip line and started running the rig through with single bronze maggot on the size 18 B611 hook. I soon realised holding back was a waste of time as the float kept riding up, even so I still expected to catch quite quickly as the Parrett is full of roach. When this didn't happen I really started to panic, Andy Ankers on the peg below caught a couple on the whip so I perservered, not that I had a choice really! I had a couple of sucked maggots where I didn't even see the bite before catching a couple of small roach, phew! blank avoided!
I then had a tiny roach drop off and if definately wasn't happening, looking around the pegs either side weren't having much luck either. Andy was switching between the whip, a stick and the crowquill and was catching odd fish on all three. To be honest the crowquill looked the best bet on the day and of course I didn't have any with me! I was going through the motions running the rig through and taking all the weed off the line when the float buried and I hooked a right lump, the whip was bent double and I was sure something was going to give. I first of all thought it was a chub but slowly but surely I started to get the upper hand and started to realise it was probably a big bream. The trouble was I couldn't get its head up in the flow, it surfaced a couple of times and it was indeed a good slab of around 5lb.
Eventually the fish was beaten but a 5 metres it was just laid on top in the flow and I couldn't bring it towards me, I telescoped the whip down to 4 metres and this enabled me to net it, I was shaking and the pressure was off. Also this was the first bream I'd ever had on the Parrett and it was very welcome. I carried on catching the odd small roach and tiny skimmer and after a couple of hours I noticed the bank I was sat on which was dry to start with, was now underwater! The river was rising and more and more crap was coming down, odd showers of rain weren't helping either and the wind was horrendous.
Andy had caught a couple of decent skimmers on the crowquill and the chap above me was also getting odd roach on the rod and line and I was really glad I had that bonus fish. All I could catch was the odd small blade skimmer and not very many of those. By the half way mark I had around 35 fish but I just couldn't get a run together. The river had now risen about half a foot and despite making depth adjustments I was still only picking up half ounce skimmers with the odd roach of 1-3oz.
With an hour and a half to go I was on 39 fish and the water level was now up about a foot, I saw a couple of anglers move their kit back up the bank and decided to do the same. I went to move my Tardis box and it wouldn't budge and I realised the base was full of water! In eventually moving it I not only nearly put my back out but managed to tip both my casters and hemp into the river! So for the final portion of the match I would be feeding bronze maggots then! To be honest I just wanted the match to end as I wasn't enjoying it one bit.
I balled in my remaining groundbait just past where I was originally sat and waited for the end, the river was still rising, chocolate in colour and every run through saw the rig come back looking like a washing line with all the weed hanging off it! Nobody seemed to be catching now and most people had abandoned ship and were now sat up the bank. I did manage three tiny blips before the end to take my final tally of fish to 42. The angler above netted a bream on the feeder on the whistle which was a real get out of jail free card. The whistle finally blew much to the relief of the anglers and I quickly packed up my gear (and emptied the water from my box).
The weigh in started on peg B1 and he had around three and a half pound but as the scales were funny money (kilos and grams) I'm never quite sure. On B2 was Alan 'Picky' Gage of our main rivals over the last two years, Team Focus and he only weighed 150 grams which was good news (for my team anyway!). The chap with the bream weighed two kilo something and then it was me, my fish weighed 3 kilo 150 grams and I thought it might be a close thing with Andy below me but he weighed two kilo something as well. There were no suprises, even from the end peg, B8 and I won the section and picked up the all important 9 points.
In hindsight I think the crowquill or a lollipop float would have caught me more fish today but in the three years of fishing the river I'd never fished it in conditions like this (and I hope I never have to again!). After another mammoth yomp back I got to the Langport Arms sweating like a pig. The team filtered back with tales of mixed fortune, the ever consistent Nicky came back with 8 points, Alan had 5 points, Dave had 4 and the lowest scorer was my mate Andy with 3 and would be dropped for the next round. The river had fished really well and a lot of the venue regulars had fished the feeder and caught bream with the top weight being Baz Morgan with over 13 kilos. Talking of Baz, check out his blog at allezb-bazfishin.blogspot.com, it's a very good read.
Teamwise we had a total of 29 points which put us 4th on the day, I picked up £40 for my section win and Nicky £25 for his section 2nd. The Trotters team won with an excellent 37 points. Another plus for us was that Focus finished 6th with 22 points.
Next week I'm back at Dillington so lets hope the weathers kind to me!