My rain dance seemed to have worked although judging by the amount of rain forecast I think I may have over done it! It had rained steadily all night and seemed set to be with us all day, combined with strong winds this could be an uncomfortable day! On my way to the draw I went over the river and was surprised to see it looking spot on. There were only ten of us and Rob had put us all on Redbridge, Isle Brewers and Hambridge (for the first time this season). I really fancied 125 at Isle Brewers but I got lumbered holding the draw bucket and was left with the last ball which turned out to be peg 2 at Hambridge. The last time it was pegged Neil Dring won with three big chub for just shy of 10lb so I pumped him (oo-er) for info. He said he'd caught them by the stick ups, three sections out.
I got to the river and Max (fishing his first match for ages) was on the next peg down which is above the road bridge. Below the bridge were Andy Welch and Martin Heard. Mr Drawbag, Graham Field, had drawn 125 although he also had the choice of peg 124a. I fancied him and Rob on 110 (the in form peg at the moment) to do well today. When I got to my peg, the first thing I noticed was there were no stick ups! and it looked like the river had been dredged since we fished it last. Also there were no small fish topping and thought this could be a bad sign.
I got the same rig out I used last week and hoped it would be deep enough and luckily it was, there was a good depth mid-river, the trouble was if I could hold the pole there in the poxy wind! I thought about putting a couple of balls of groundbait in as I thought this could be good but with little time before the off, decided to just loose feed so I started with double maggot on the hook, feeding maggot, casters and hemp. After 20 minutes of holding it back, running it through and battling the wind I hadn't had a touch and I could see me blanking.
Then out of the blue I had a little dip and I was interested again, next put in I had a decent bite and swung in a half decent roach. A minnow sized roach followed before some more chunky ones and I was enjoying myself. Max wandered up and asked how I was getting on, told him and he said he was getting quite a few small fish and that Andy below him was getting a few as well. After an hour I had eight fish and was getting regular bites, I tried caster and had few more although they're weren't any bigger than the maggot fish. The second hour was much the same although the combination of wind and rain was freezing and I couldn't feel my hands.
The third hour arrived and it was like someone had flicked a switch and I couldn't buy a bite, I started to feed the inside in the hope I could snare a couple of chub later before having a coffee and walking down to see Max. He was fishing the stick and getting lots of gudgeon although they were very small. I walked back and had two tiny roach on the longer line before they disappeared again. Over the next hour both Martin and Andy walked up, Martin only had three roach and Andy's bites had dried up too and Max had been seen off by a jack pike and was sat in his car warming up!
The river was now rising quite fast and there was loads of floating crap coming down. I upped the feed on the inside and tried laying on there but never had a bite, back out long I added a few more small roach to finish with 21 roach and a gudgeon. It took me ages to pack up as my hands were so cold I couldn't open the drawers on my box! Andy arrived with the scales and said Martin had chucked back and Max had weighed 1lb 12oz, I wasn't sure I had that and my fish went a paltry 1lb 4oz, Andy weighed 10oz so it hadn't fished very well at our end.
Back at the results and it became apparent how badly the river had fished, Tony Newman won with a good chub plus a few bits for 3lb from 126, Max actually finished second and Graham Field was third with 1lb 5oz (bugger - ounced again) from 124a, I'm sure he'd have had more from 125! I won my section and picked up £15 and Rob won the other section with 1oz! (and he was the only one to weigh from Redbridge). The other good news was that I took a £1 off Martin for the second week on the trot.
I would actually like to fish Hambridge again, under better conditions, as it felt like there were quite a few small fish there and we know there are loads of big chub too. Well lets hope next week is better (it can't get a lot worse!). We've got to sort ourselves out next match as Rob is off to the Caribbean for three weeks, I hope he thinks of us freezing are asses off while he suns himself!
1 - Tony Newman (Ilminster) - 3lb
2 - Mark Nicholas (Ilminster Warehouse) - 1lb 12oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 1lb 5oz
A - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 1oz
B - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 1lb 4oz