After not fishing since the 20th Dec I was well up for this one although once again it was bitterly cold and the fishing could be hard going. I've got a good record in this event after being the top individual last year and coming third with my partner Justin Charles. Justin couldn't fish this year so I was with Tiverton's Bruce Hunt who can normally winkle some fish out of anywhere. We just needed a good draw now. At the Crown there was a really good turnout of 28 anglers although this did mean some suspect pegs would be in. It was great to see some faces I hadn't seen for ages like the lovely Steve Chant, Butch Baker, Mark Hollister and Darren Roberts.
After paying my pools and buying a fivers worth of raffle tickets it was time for the draw and everybody wanted to draw 125 yet again. Bruce drew for us and came back with peg 27 in the top section, which was ok and then 128 at Isle Brewers which is a stinker. Who drew 125?, Martin Heard of course! although to be fair their other peg, peg 48, wasn't so hot. Neither Bruce or I wanted to fish 128 so we decided to draw for it and luckily for me Bruce got to fish it. Although he wasn't overly impressed I knew he'd catch from it where as I would probably blank. My nemesis Janders hadn't drawn well (peg 20) so there was a chance I could take the first pound of 2010 off him.
Martin Heard (draws better than Picasso!)
I got to the river and it was low but quite pacy but the temperature was bitter. The swim is a nice gravel run with a deepish hole opposite and some far bank ivy downstream and it normally holds quite a few silver fish. I set up the same two rigs as the last time I drew, a 0.75 gram Carbo for the hole and a 1.5 gram Carbo (old faithful) for down by the ivy. On the whistle I started on the lighter rig on the other side of the flow but the rig just wouldn't hold properly and it kept boiling up. After half an hour with no bites on maggot or caster it was time to try down by the ivy. I was only feeding very lightly in the flow and also catapulting some feed upstream where there is some slacker water where the fish can sometimes be found.
Inching the float through with caster on the hook I soon started getting bites, but missed the first one before catching a small dace and then bumping the next fish. I immediately put a new hook (B611 size 18) on as I felt fish would be scarce today. I also tried double red maggot and this saw me hit more bites and after the first hour I had six dace and chublets to 12oz. I got to 10 fish (for about a pound and a half) when Andy Welch walked up from peg 28. He was freezing cold and hadn't caught yet and was surprised when I told him what I had. He also reported Butch on 29 hadn't caught either. I missed a bite while he was there before he decided he'd warmed up enough and walked back.
I had a couple more decent chublets plus some small dace and was on 15 fish when Scott Russell turned up (he'd come all the way from peg 38) and said he hadn't had a bite and nor had Graham Bulgin on 37. They can both be good chub pegs and I was sure if they turned up Scotty would catch them. While he was with me I had a purple patch and caught five more dace although I bumped a couple and missed a few bites and I'm sure he was thinking 'Why can't I draw pegs like this?'. He also reported that he spoken to other anglers on the phone and it was hard with even Martin on 125 only admitting to four roach.
After he left I got my head down and kept popping the odd fish in the net, mostly dace with the odd 12oz chublet and a solitary minnow. I was still missing/bumping the odd fish and this could have been down to the black hydro but I wanted the insurance there if I hooked a bigger fish. During a quiet spell I went back across to the hole and had two dace in as many chucks but it was short lived. I had set my sights on 40 fish which I thought would give me 4-5lb but with an hour to go I knew I'd be short as I was on 26 and decided to see if I could get to 30. In fact I ended with 32 including my best fish, a chub approaching a pound. I thought I might have around 4lb and set about packing up, after a much needed cup of coffee.
Andy turned up with the scales and said he'd managed a trout (which count) but Butch had landed three chub in the last hour - bugger. I was surprised to weigh 6lb 8oz although I knew Butch's chub would go over 7lb and all those missed/bumped fish were looking like they could be costly. Andy's trout weighed 9oz and sure enough Butch's chub went a level 7lb but with Scott and Graham not catching I still should be able to secure good points. Scotty said he'd spoken to his old man, Roger and Martin had around 10lb and Malcolm had a chub so they would be there or thereabouts, he also said Bruce had caught around a pound or so - phew!.
Back at the results and it quickly became apparent that the river had fished really hard and Butch had won the top section and I was second. Martin won his section and the match with 9lb 7oz but how had Malcolm done. I knew he'd had a chub but so had others around him and it turned out he was sixth in the section. Bruce had winkled out 1lb 15oz and it goes to show how hard the lower section had fished as he was second behind Martin! So we won with 4 points and picked up £170 between us and things got better when Janders handed over a £1 as he'd weighed 15oz (but it is a crap peg). Martin and Malcolm were second with 7 points although Martin asked me to point out that Malcolm had lost a chub which would have won it for them, he did mention something about a catch and release scheme! Graham Field and Alvin Jones were third with 8 points.
So a really good start to 2010 and to make things even better I had first prize in the raffle and won £30's worth of vouchers to spend in Yeovil and District Angling Centre, long may it continue.
1 - Jamie Rich and Bruce Hunt - 4 points
2 - Martin Heard and Malcolm Levy - 7 points
3 - Alvin Jones and Graham Field - 8 points
1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 9lb 7oz
2 - Butch Baker (Tatworth) - 7lb
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 6lb 8oz
All the anglers enjoyed a lovely buffet back at the Crown Inn. The club donated the peg fees and along with a raffle run by the Crown a fantastic total of over £342 was raised for the Rosie Crane Trust, the charity chosen by Mary Crockett.
The club would like to thank the Crown Inn for their continued support, Yeovil and District Angling Centre for donating prizes along with all the anglers who donated bottles for the raffle. A big thanks must also go to Pete Lonton, Robin Cox and Neil Dring for organising another excellent event.