After it rained all night on Friday with more forecast, I just couldn't see this one being on the river but with a dry Saturday the river looked perfect on Sunday morning, with pace and colour and everyone expected it to fish well. As Steve and Cindy have taken over the Royal Oak I turned up expecting everyone else to be there, Justin turned up but we were the only ones! We went up the Crown and everyone (well the other four) were there waiting to draw. The depleted turnout was in part due to Robin being on his holidays and Heardy fitting a kitchen although I suspect the fishing hasn't helped.
With Neil in charge, he had done exactly the right thing by using the top end of the river and he'd put some really good pegs in. I really fancied 14, 15 or 85 and actually pulled out 85! It's a peg with form although it's blanked the last two times it's been in, I haven't fished it for years and was quite looking forward to it. For company I had Bob Hammond on 82 and Leighton on 79, both pegs are capable of producing and looked good. I got to my peg and it had changed quite a bit since the last time I was here. There was still a bush opposite and more branches in the water below which looked really fishy. The only problem was, it looked a bit pacey and there were quite a few boils, there was some steadier water under my feet.
I got old faithful out and plumbed up and there was a nice depth by the bush, shallowing up to the branches to my right. There was a deep hole in the steadier water under my feet which would give me a second line. I started with double maggot to try and catch a minnow to avoid the blank but couldn't get one! So it was on with a caster and out to 11.5 metres. The gram and a half Carbo was just about holding in the flow and as I inched it towards the bush, I had an indication which looked decidedly fishy, it didn't develop though. I went to move the rig only for it to be snagged - bugger! and then the snag started kicking before the bloody hook pulled out, not a good start.
Next put in and a proper bite saw black hydro come streaming out and I safely netted a 2lb chub - get in. At this point I really fancied there were quite a few fish there and that I could do a big weight. I had a few more indications but the caster was only nipped and then I had a minnow so it was time for half a lobbie. Nothing for ten minutes so I let the rig go right under the bush and the float buried and chub number two was on. After a healthy scrap, I netted it and this one was 3lb plus. So after an hour I'd had two and lost one and it was all going to plan.
Back out with lobbie on, no more bites and twice I got snagged and lost the hooklength and it was obviously very snaggy under the bush. After tying on another hooklength I went back out with the hook buried in a caster but no more indications so I tried the hole on the inside, which I'd been feeding since the start. Nothing here either and I was amazed no small fish were showing. I tried below the bush where it shallowed up and had another minnow on caster but also got snagged here a couple of times too. I was starting to run out of ideas.
Leighton turned up, he hadn't caught and Bob only had a small trout, so at least I was leading the section for now. He also said that when he'd done a weight off this peg early in the season, he'd caught above and below the bush. After he left I went back above the bush with single caster and out of the blue the float disappeared, I struck and at first I thought I was snagged again but it was another big chub and at 3lb, it gave 8lb or so with two hours to go. The river was actually dropping and I thought this might improve the fishing but the fish had other ideas.
I kept trying below the bush and would get indications off minnows but it was really snaggy, I did hook a tiny silver fish here but it came off as I was shipping back. With the light fading I upped the feed and ten minutes before the end, the float went under and I struck and my elastic came out briefly before pinging back and I'm really not sure whether it was a fish or not and that was that. I was actually a little disappointed after such a good start and I was sure Fieldy on 14 and Neil on 15 would both beat me and as Neil was only paying the top two, I'd miss out. Leighton arrived with the scales and said he hadn't caught and Bob just had the one trout of 8oz so when my three chub and two minnows went 8lb 2oz, I knew I'd won my section, which would help on the league front.
As I was loading up my car, Neil arrived to pick Leighton up and said the top section had fished terribly and Justin was top with 1lb 1oz!!! So I'd actually won and picked up £45 and I'm now three points clear in the league with 13 points followed by Graham on 16 and Neil on 17 with one match to go. I was really chuffed to have won my first match of the year although I can't understand why the river fished so poorly. It fished quite well up until Xmas but it's nose dived since. I don't think it helps that there are so few anglers which means very few pegs are used but I can't see that changing.
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 2oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 1lb 1oz
3 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 13oz
Next week is the last V.E.S. match and I'm currently third although I don't think I can catch Neil in second unless he blanks and I win my section although the way the river is fishing I'll settle for catching a fish!