After last weeks poor match and more freezing weather during the week I was fearing the worst for this match but was pleasantly surprised to wake up and see we hadn't had a frost, the air temperature wasn't too bad either. I got to the pub and there was a half decent turnout of ten including Tony Newman, Andy Welch and even Graham Field had turned up although I think that was mainly so he could take the micky about Everton beating Chelsea yesterday! Rob had put in the bottom end for today and I fancied most of the pegs apart from 128 or 129. In fact Neil and me were talking about how we didn't want either of them and we were convinced we'd talked ourselves into drawing them!
Rob announced the draw and got Steve the landlord to draw for Justin who had disappeared and he pulled out 128 - whoops! Still that meant there was only one nightmare peg left, I drew and didn't look while other people pulled their pegs, nobody was admitting to it and I was sure I had it but opened my hand to reveal peg 124. It's been a consistent peg and I've drawn it twice already and managed 4-5lb off it both times, I would still rather have had 120 though! Steve Parker was the unlucky angler to get 129 and as for Neil, he had 120, so his drawing hand is even better than Rob's!
I got to the river and was surprised to see it carrying hardly any colour, my peg looked quite nice although much of the far bank cover has gone now after the couple of occasions we've had high water. I got myself comfortable and set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611, the peg had a nice depth and I set the rig so it was a few inches overdepth. I was ready and drinking a quick coffee before the start when I saw a figure walking up towards me, it was the Hoff, his match on the resi had been cancelled due to it being iced over so he'd come down for a wander. I wasn't sure he'd learn anything about river fishing watching me!
It was soon time to start and I fed some casters and maggots upstream before inching the float through in the flow and was amazed when I didn't get an early 'mug' small fish. In fact I couldn't buy a bite!, I tried going to 13 metres against the far bank and also towards the tail of the swim. I did have a couple of slight indications which looked suspiciously like bites but the caster wasn't marked. After an hour Hoff said he had a cold bum and wasn't going to learn anything and was off to see if the resi had defrosted. I was by now fishing the head of the swim just past where the main flow comes in and missed what looked like a good bite but again the bait was untouched. Next put in I had a proper bite which I missed but this time the caster was mashed and my interest was back.
My next visitor was Justin who said he hadn't had a bite in 128 and Steve in 129 was in the same boat but Tony in 126 and Andy in 125 were catching small fish. I was just telling him about my missed bites when the float sailed away and a substantial amount of yellow elastic streamed out of the pole, after a spirited battle I netted a chub that looked to be around 3lb, I just needed to catch a couple more now. Justin said he'd seen enough and walked back to his peg. I missed another couple of bites before visitor number three turned up in the shape of Ned, it was like Piccadilly Circus today! I then had my second chub which was around the same size as the first. I thought if I could get one more it would put me on 9lb and I'd be there or thereabouts.
Ned reported that Tony and Andy were still catching small fish but not exactly bagging before he headed off. No more bites so I tried double caster and then half a lobbie without any success. I then stuck two red maggots on and was holding back in the flow when a really positive bite saw me net chub number three, number four soon followed and I started to feel I could do a big weight. But then typically, I couldn't buy a bite. Another bank walker arrived, this time a chap down on holiday, he stayed for a bit before leaving me to get on with it. We were now into the last two hours but I still felt confident I'd get another before the all out. I did lose a couple of hooklengths in snags further down the swim so decided to concentrate on the top of the swim for the remaining time.
Justin came back and said he hadn't caught and was going to pack up, he also said he'd spoken to Pete Lonton on peg 83 and nobody in that section had caught but Neil in 120 was getting a few. I was now back on the maggot and started to get a few indications in the last half hour, I missed a couple of bites before connecting with a minnow! so spent the last twenty minutes on caster but no more bites and that was that. Steve Parker came up just before the end (my sixth visitor!) and said he'd packed up so if I could beat Andy and Tony I'd at least be assured of the section win. I packed up and took my gear back to the car and collected the scales before walking down to weigh Tony in, he had a nice net of roach along with several chublets for 4lb 9oz and reckoned he'd lost quite a few as well. Then Andy pulled his net out and I knew it would be close between him and Tony, the needle settled on 4lb 6oz and Andy was left cursing the loss of three good fish, one of 2lb which did him under his keepnet!
Then we walked up to my peg and I was sure I had 10lb but was hoping it would be a bit more, I plonked my fish on the scales and they went 12lb 5oz which I was well chuffed with, but would it be enough to win?
Me with my four chub (and a minnow!)
Back at the results and the top section had fished really poorly with Neil Dring weighing 4lb 10oz to take second place, leaving Heardy to win the section with an ounce. So I'd done it!, I picked up £45 plus a £1 off Heardy (although I haven't had it yet) and got my first win of the year.
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 5oz
2 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 4lb 10oz
3 - Tony Newman (Ilminster) - 4lb 9oz
A - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 1oz
B - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 4lb 6oz
So I've had a pretty good weekend fishing wise, my first grayling on Friday and my first win of the year today. I felt I'd fished a tidy match today, I did miss a few bites but hadn't lost any fish. Next week is the last match of the Tacklebox/Royal Oak league and Heardy can't be caught and I'm not sure if Rob is paying the top two so tune in to see how I get on.