Another beautiful day greeted the thirteen keen river anglers for this one, as reigning Crown league champion I was hoping to get off to a flying start. Like the rest I really wanted to draw the in-form 'Tank Traps' swim, that honor went to my nemesis Janders so I was up against it to try and win my pound back that he took off me last week. I drew peg 80 at Ashford, it's a decent peg and I've done well off it in the past. After a short drive I reached the river and walking to my peg I noticed the river was very low and clear, I passed a couple of swims that were black with fish and I couldn't wait to get started.
My peg looked good with lots of farbank cover, I set up a two gram Drennan Carbo shotted with an olivette and a couple of droppers. A 0.12 mm bottom with a size 18 Kamazan B611 was at the business end and I had white hydro through the top two sections. I started off fishing in the flow while feeding hemp and caster and occasionally firing some bronze maggots right down the swim to, hopefully, entice any fish in the tail of the swim into my catching zone.
After 10 minutes with only the odd dig on the float from minnows, I started searching the swim and was a little concerned at the lack of proper bites. After half an hour I was fishing tight across to a raft of cover, still with no bites I decided to try half a lobbie. After a couple of minutes the float dipped then sailed away, a swift strike saw the elastic come out and although not a chub, the resulting roach of around 6oz at least got me off the mark. Next put in and a bite straight away saw me net another roach, this time slightly bigger at 8oz. 'Here we go' I thought but my purple patch! was short lived.
After another 10 minutes the float sunk from view and this was no roach!, the chub was desperately burrowing into the far back and the line went slack - bugger. After tying a new hook on I was back in business, worm resulted in no more bites so I went across with caster. The float buried and I was in again, this time I would make no mistakes, the fish on the other hand had other ideas as it shot off downstream. I was holding on when the poxy hook pulled out, 2-0 to the chub. I then had a tiny dace of less than half an ounce, on lobworm!!!!!
Time was running out fast and with half the match gone I had less than a pound in the net. My next bite on worm saw me hook another good fish and after a lengthy scrap I netted a trout of over 2lb and as they count in these matches, it was very welcome. Rob Cox wandered up from peg 82 and said he was struggling as there was a pike in his swim that snaffled every roach he hooked. Just after he left I missed a good bite on worm that resulted in my rig getting caught in some crap, luckily it came off easily and I made a mental note to myself to watch out for that next time. Next put in resulted in another missed bite and the rig hooked up again, again rather luckily it came free. Did I learn my lesson though? did I heck and the third missed bite saw my rig well and truly snarled up and I lost the lot.
I hastily set up another rig but with only a couple of hours left I was starting to fear the worst. Then a decent bite saw the white hydro screaming out before I netted a good chub of around two and a half pound, the score now stood at 2-1 to the chub. Ten minutes later another good chub on worm, this time even bigger at around 3lb and I started to think good things. The score was now 2-2 with an hour and a quarter to go. On this river the last hour can be very good but not on this occasion and I ended with just the six fish.
After packing up I wandered down to Robin and awaited the scales, Rob said that he'd got the pike out and had gone on to catch some nice roach. He asked what I had and I told him around 7lb and he said he hadn't got that. Neil Dring walked back from weighing in Dave Lawrence on peg 85 and reported Dave had weighed 6lb 12oz. My six fish went 8lb 12oz and when Rob pulled his net out I knew it would be close, his mainly roach bag went 9lb 4oz and I was rueing those two lost fish. Neil weighed 4lb 7oz of mainly small fish so the Ashford section had fished quite well.
Back at the results and Janders had won with 11lb 5oz and I was now seriously gutted about those chub. After paying him his pound, Robin announced the results and I had managed to hang on to third place and picked up £20. Along with my section second it hadn't been a bad start to the league.
Next week is on the Isle again and the first match in the V.E.S. Precision winter league, although I've been runner up in this league on a couple of occasions it's a league I would dearly love to win so let's hope I get off to a good start (and stop this rot of giving money to Janders!).