With a decent blow on the resi for most of the week, the signs were good for a decent bream match. My mate Andy even phoned me on Saturday to tell how good the resi looked and he was really looking forward to it. I picked him up just after 9:00 and we got to the carpark for the draw in plenty of time. After picking up some bait from Les and paying our pools we were ready for the draw. Andy drew peg 29 and was disappointed, I pulled out 40 and didn't think it was far enough up as the pegs in the mid to high forties are normally the ones to draw.
I got to my peg to find I was set back a little from Dino Pepper who was on peg 39 so I decided I would cast further out to compensate. I had Chris Haines on my left who was going to have a chuck for the bream but also set up a waggler in case they didn't show. I set up my 12ft 6in Drennan Stillwater feeder rod with a Drennan feeder, 0.12mm bottom and a size 16 Kamasan B611 hook. I mixed up some Sensas Magic and added some Brasem and was ready well before the off. Andy wandered up for a quick chat and we could see fish bubbling at about 40 yrds and I couldn't wait.
Les finally signalled the start and I filled my feeder and baited my hook with double red maggot and cast out to around 40 yrds. I had a couple of quick casts to get some feed down and was soon getting taps on the tip. I had a couple of roach quite quickly so tried corn to see if there were any bream about. This was pretty unresponsive and looking around nobody had latched into a slab yet. I added a small skimmer and as I was bringing it in I looked up to see Les playing a bream so at least a few were about. After an hour I just had the three fish and Dino and Chris both said they hadn't had any sign of bream.
Hour two was slow with the only excitement provided by Les having another bream followed by Dave Abrams, surely it was only a matter of time before we started catching? Then Dave latched into a good fish and after a lengthy battle netted a fine carp of 13lb 2oz which put him easily into the lead. As for me I was getting ragged out by roach most casts, corn just saw the tip sit motionless and double caster provided just the odd roach. Dino had only had a few small fish and Chris was now on the waggler and getting odd roach. Andy came up to report it was a struggle on the lower pegs and wanted to see some bream being caught! I said I was sorry to disappoint him.
Halfway through the match I was resigned to another poor day and had only added a couple more roach. Hainsey was slowly but surely putting together a decent net of roach and his decision to set up the waggler was proving very wise. Despite Les's good start he'd only added a couple of net roach and Dino had a carp on very briefly when it tried dragging his rod off the rests. I was by now just sat on the corn hoping a couple of bream turned up. With two hours to go my tip slammed round and I was into a big fish which obviously wasn't a bream.
The fish ran and ran and I wasn't holding out much hope of seeing it let alone landing it, as I was backwinding I could slowly but surely see the knot attaching my line to the spool coming into view. As I ran out of line I was waiting for the inevitable 'ping' but it didn't happen and the fish stopped. I started to gain some line before off it went again, I kept thinking I was gradually gaining the upper hand when it would strip more line off the reel. Several times I was down to the knot but still the fish was on. By now half an hour had passed and there were quite a few people behind me. The fish now kited to my left past Hainsey, Dave and Les and I really didn't think I would get it out.
I was starting to get quite a few jibes from anglers close by and my arm was killing me, an hour passed and I still hadn't seen the fish. It was now not that far out and I caught my first glimpse and it was huge! I didn't think my landing net was big enough, over an hour and a half had now passed. It surfaced a couple of times about two rod lengths out and I reached for the landing net, I managed to get its head in the net and the throng of people behind me started to clap and then my landing net pole snapped in half! and the clapping turned to gasps. I managed to grab the net head and she (or he) was mine. I really had no idea how big the fish was as I unhooked it with shaking hands.
I took the fish, along with my ruined net up to Les so the fish could be weighed and released straight away, as soon as Les saw it he said it would be near to 30lbs!. We put her in the weighing sling and Les called out the weight at 28lb 4oz - wow, easily my biggest fish of all time (beating my old personal best of 12lb 14oz by some way). I held the fish in the water until it had got its breath back and swam away strongly, unlike me as I was knackered. I only had time for two more casts but didn't add anymore to my meagre tally in the net.
I quickly packed up and gave Les a hand to weigh in, Andy was on the first peg and had a level 6lb and was looking good for his section until the last peg, Dave Lawrence, pipped him with 6lb 10oz. He wasn't best pleased and even less so when he handed over a pound. Picky didn't weigh in so I claimed another nugget. The best weight from the early pegs was Mark Leahy with some nice skimmers for 14lb 6oz. We got to my peg and I added 1lb 10oz to give me a grand total of 29lb 14oz. Les said I'd won it but I wasn't so sure as Dave Abrams had caught another bream to go with his earlier bream and bonus carp. Chris Haines was next and had a fantastic net of roach weighing 21lb 8oz before we got to Dave. His net weighed 10lb odd which added to his 13lb 2oz carp, gave him a total of 23lb 10oz and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Les had 15lb 10oz and none of the pegs above him had fished with the ever consistent Mike Hosgood top with 9lb 6oz. Phew I had done it to win only my third match of the year. Back at the results I was read out as the winner and picked up £90 plus another pound off Janders who had struggled for a couple of pounds. I received loads of abuse as earlier when Dave landed his carp I shouted up that carp should only count as a 1lb! Still I was well chuffed as I had a new personal best biggest fish to go with my biggest match weight a few weeks back. Typically this was the first time in ages I hadn't brought a camera and how I would have loved to put a picture of that fish on here, mind you perhaps if I'd had my camera I might not have caught it!
1 - Jamie Rich (Chard Remains) - 29lb 14oz
2 - Dave Abrams (Weymouth) - 23lb 10oz
3 - Chris Haines (Haines Angling) - 21lb 8oz
Section A - Dave Lawrence (Chard Raiders) - 6lb 10oz
Section B - Mark Leahy (Street) - 14lb 6oz
Section C - Les Braunton (Chard Remains) - 15lb 10oz
Section D - Mike Hosgood (Chard Raiders) - 9lb 6oz
Next week we're back on the Isle and I'm really looking forward to it, it's bound to be pants now, I'll let you know.