After spending all Summer on Dillington and carp puddles I was really looking forward to getting back on the ditch (Isle) again. But with no rain to speak of, the river was painfully low and clear and I fully expected this match to be a grueller. I got to the Royal Oak and it was really disappointing to see only six of us fishing today (sign of the times I suppose). Rob had spread us around with two pegs at Upper Coxes, Ashford and Isle Brewers and gave choices of pegs in most cases as well. With peg 27 not in, I really fancied peg 14 and only went and bloody drew it!!!
I had the choice of 14 or 15 and people have been catching loads of fish in 15 and with no water in the river I made sure I had a good look at it before deciding on 14. You could see the bottom across most of 14 but there was darker water by the tank traps. I set up 'Ole Faithful' and also a lighter 0.75gm version in case 1.5gms was too much for the minimal flow. I plumbed up and there was nearly three foot by the traps which was better than I thought, as well as by the traps it also looked fishy where it ran out to my right.
10:15 arrived and I started with single caster on the size 18 B611 and shipped out and inched the float through while feeding some maggots, casters and hemp. I was soon getting bites but only from poxy minnows, I eventually caught a small chublet but it was hard going. The poxy minnows were even having a go at double caster, I tried half a lobbie but never had a proper bite on it. I searched down in the tail of the swim but nothing there either. After two hours I had eight small chublets and one slightly better one of about 6oz for probably less than a 1lb in total! Things most definately were not going to plan.
Graham Field was down on peg 23 and I guessed he was catching as he hadn't been up for a walk. I had a sandwich and a bit of a rethink, I knew there were plenty of fish in the swim but where were they? I plumbed up back towards the weir and there was about the same depth just off the flow as I had by the traps. I went up there with single caster on and held the float back and I didn't have time to feed before the float shot under and a decent fish was on. It wasn't on long though and the hook pulled out - bugger! Next put in I had a decent dace and then it was a fish a chuck and I hardly had time to feed before getting bites. I was catching quality dace and chublets and had three chub around 1.5lb each. I thought if I could get to 50 fish I would have around double figures.
I had about an hour of catching really well before it started to slow, I also added two perch and three trout (which count) for another 2lb or so but lost another good fish. Ned arrived for his usual Sunday walkabout but by this time things had slowed right up again, I did catch another dace while he was there to put me on 46 fish. He said he would pop down to see how Fieldy was getting on and come back to let me know. I did try back down by the traps and added another tiny chublet before the minnows got back in on the act again.
I went back up towards the weir and it was a case of putting odd fish in the net, Ned arrived back and said Fieldy was struggling and moaning rather a lot. I caught a couple more while he was there and ended on 52 fish (plus minnows) and I was admitting to 6-7lb but hoped I had nearer 10lb. I packed up and as I was loading the car Fieldy arrived back at the cars, still moaning as he had the scales as well. He reckoned he had a couple of pound. We went up to weigh me first and I was surprised when the needle settled on 12lb 2oz! We walked down to peg 23 and he had a nice net of dace and chublets which went 5lb 11oz (he's worse at estimating then me!), now I just had to see how the others had got on.
Back at the results and the river had fished really well considering how low and clear it was. Martin Heard had a good chub plus bits for 8lb from peg 85 at Ashford and Steve Parker had 4lb 8oz from 83 while at Isle Brewers both Rob and Neil weighed 6lb 8oz from pegs 126 and 124. Neil had a good chub and some quality roach and Rob had mainly roach and had suffered some pike trouble too. So I'd won! and picked up £40 to take this years winnings to £1250.50 and my best year ever. It was great to see so many small fish showing, lets hope this continues and with some colour on the river I think you would see some cracking weights.
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 2oz
2 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 8lb
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 6lb 8oz
3 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 6lb 8oz
There was one down side to the day though, Rob said at the draw that after today the rest of the Royal Oak series will be on the pond, I hope this isn't the case as I've fished it all Summer and just can't face fishing a load more matches over the winter. I know Neil won't fish the pond either, I don't mind odd matches when the river's flooded but why don't we fish the river when we can get on it. We could even alternate between the Isle, the canal and the pond which would be good. At the end of the day it's Rob's decision though.