With loads of snow in the week and freezing conditions forecast, I wasn't looking forward to this one. At the pub there were only six brave souls (idiots) and when the draw was announced I hung back and when there were only two balls left and 14 was one of them I was about to draw when Justin turned up! Rob had to put another peg in and we had to draw again. The golden ball was drawn again and this time it was 14 (it was 20 first time around) and Rob offered Justin first draw to see if he could pull out 14 for the third match on the trot. He pulled out a ball and we waited while he opened his hand and yes he'd drawn 14 yet again - unbelievable! I drew peg 20, a swim that hasn't really been in much and definitely not a match winner.
I got there and it actually looked nice with some deepish water above me and some brambles on the far side downstream. Steve Parker had drawn 24 and trying to turn around had got his van stuck! - not a good start. Pete Lonton was above me on 18 (at least I hadn't drawn that again). Heardy had got peg 15 and I fancied him, Justin on 14 and Neil on 27 to fill the three frame places today. I only set 'Old Faithful' up and after a quick coffee was ready for the start. I was fully expecting it to be really hard and thought a couple of pound would be enough to frame.
I started with caster on the hook and inched it down in the flow and then held it back against the brambles but nothing. Then out of the blue a fish topped in the flow, I switched to double bronze maggot to see if I could get a bite, even a minnow would do. I was holding back in the flow and went to move the rig and there was a decent dace on! I shipped back really slowly only for it to come off - bugger! I started to get little knocks on maggot and thought they were minnows but then I had a little 2oz chublet - blank avoided. I then had a tiny dace before catching a minnow so I switched to caster and then hooked another good dace only for that one to come off as well. My elastic didn't seem to be coming out so I checked and it had frozen inside the pole!
Pete came down, he'd only caught minnows and his line kept freezing in the rod rings. He said Heardy was catching in 15 but Justin was struggling. I actually felt there were a few fish in my swim as I was getting regular indications, I had three decent dace quite quickly, all on caster. A small fish topped above me and I went up and was sure I'd catch but never had a bite. Steve came up, he hadn't caught and was searching for logs to put under his wheels to try and get his van out, he wasn't a happy bunny. My bites dried up and in between copious cups of coffee, I tried maggot but only had a couple of minnows and a bullhead.
I did hook another little dace only for it to drop off when I went to swing it! It was really cold and I just wanted the five and a half hours to end. I did manage another small dace right on the whistle to give me six fish (plus minnows) and I was pretty sure I didn't have a pound. I went to start packing up and my landing net had frozen to my keepnet! then my landing net pole was frozen solid, fully extended and I had to pour precious coffee on the joints to free it. I walked down with the scales to Steve only to meet him on his way up, he hadn't caught. We then met Justin who said he'd only had 7oz!, Martin had weighed 4lb 6oz and would be a clear winner with that. My fish went 13oz (bagger!) which actually put me in third place behind Dringer who had 3lb from peg 27 and I picked up £14 although I had to give Heardy the pound back that he'd given me this morning.
We all then trudged down to try and get Steve's van out, which we eventually did with Rob using his car to tow it out - phew! If Steve never sees peg 24 again, I think it'll be too soon. On the plus side it's nice to see lots of little dace and chublets showing but where have all the big chub gone? I haven't hooked one this year yet! On the league front Neil and Martin jointly lead with perfect three point scores followed by Fieldy (who didn't fish today) on six and then me on seven.
1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 4lb 6oz
2 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 3lb
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 13oz
Lets hope it warms up a bit before next week!