I was so looking forward to the last match of the JMA summer league. Martin Heard was 5 points clear and virtually uncatchable, I was in second place, two points ahead of Graham Field and just needed to avoid a disaster. Saturday night saw me making up two new rigs in readiness, boy was I keen! At the draw thirteen anglers had turned up, possibly because the golden peg had reached £106! After days of heavy rain the pond had a tinge of colour and everything looked set for a good match. I drew peg 15 which was the golden peg, now the pressure was on.
I got to my peg and the wind was blowing straight into the bank I was pegged on, I was on one side of an overhanging willow and my nemesis Janders was on the other side. My peg hasn't been put in very often and when it has it hasn't done a lot, still, with the hot pegs by the bush not in surely there had to be some chub by the willow? Janders' peg sometimes throws up a few so I thought they must be in the general area. I made myself comfortable (my peg is on a high, steep bank) and started setting my kit up. I mixed up some Sensas Roach groundbait and set one of my new rigs up, a 0.5 gram Drennan Quad with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. The other rig was a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp with 0.12mm bottom and another 18 B611 for fishing by the willow.
On the whistle I cupped in three balls at 11.5 metres and a cup of chopped worm and caster by the overhanging willow branches, I then put in a cup of corn and hemp for good measure. I would leave this line for at least an hour and start on the longer line. First put in with caster on the hook I had a decent bite and swung in a small roach, here we go I thought but the few chucks only produced a couple of tiny rudd on the drop. Looking round the pond a large proportion of the anglers were fishing the whip and getting their heads down for the bits. From what I could see nobody was bagging but then I certainly wasn't! After the first hour I only had 2 roach, 2 tiny rudd and a small perch and things weren't going to plan!
Justin Charles on my right had a decent perch and then lost another one next chuck. I was now by the willow with caster on the hook and after a quick couple of perch I was struggling yet again. A shout up to Janders revealed he hadn't had much either and after losing that fish, Justin was now biteless as well. I tried corn but this didn't produce any bites at all. Another brief spell out only resulted in a couple of tiny rudd and I was at a loss. Two hours in and I hadn't got a pound yet!, the whip anglers were catching odd small fish and were pulling away from me all the time.
I tried double red maggot by the tree and started catching small perch and even added a couple of roach. Any thought of winning the golden peg was disappearing fast and I really needed the chub to move in. I caught an eel around 6oz but then my bites dried up again. I kept thinking big fish had arrived but the lack of bites suggested otherwise. Woggy lost a good eel at the net and Roger Russell had caught a couple of decent perch and lost a few as well. I moved my rig slightly and there was a fish on!, after a few minutes I gratefully slipped the net under a 12oz chub, I was back in the hunt. I just needed to catch his (or hers) brothers and sisters now.
My brief elation was short lived as I reverted to catching nowt, from what I could see nobody was running away with it and a couple of people were walking about. Scotty Russell lost a couple of lumps opposite me, now I just needed them to show up in my peg. Time was ticking away fast and I just wasn't getting any bites. Another try out with maggot on the hook resulted in two more nuisance rudd. Going into the last hour I was praying the chub might get their heads down but it just didn't happen and I only added a couple more small fish. The whistle went and I only had 34 fish and thought I'd be lucky to do 2lb. I'd blown it, blown the golden peg and blown a bumper payday. But had I managed to hold on to second place in the league, I hadn't seen Graham catching much but you never can tell.
I packed up and awaited the scales (and my fate), when the scales reached Roger I asked what was top and Robin said there were joint leaders in Graham and Martin with 6lb 13oz - bollocks! Roger came close with 6lb 10oz and was cursing lost fish, Justin hadn't added to his earlier fish and weighed 1lb 6oz. I weighed 3lb 9oz so with Graham and Martin both winning their section and me already lying in second in mine (behind Roger) I needed to beat the rest of the anglers in my section. Janders weighed 1lb 8oz (so far so good) and handed over another £1 but then Neil Dring weighed 4lb 6oz, Malcolm Levy 6lb 1oz and Alvin Jones 5lb 9oz and my fate was sealed.
I was absolutely gutted, I had been in the top two of the league all through the series and to fall at the final hurdle was really hard to take. The pond hadn't fished well all year and with the whip taking most of the money I had lost my way here. I know I should've been fishing the whip as well but catching shit fish just does my head in, where have all the quality roach gone?
Hey ho, there's always next week. I would like to thank Janders for his very generous sponsorship and Tommy at the Crown for looking after us in the mornings.
1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 6lb 13oz
1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 6lb 13oz
3 - Roger Russell (Ilminster) - 6lb 10oz
4 - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 6lb 1oz
5 - Alvin Jones (Chard) - 5lb 9oz
Final league positions
1 - Martin Heard - 13 pts (£50)
2 - Graham Field - 20 pts (£25)
3 - Jamie Rich - 22 pts (no money!)