I always look forward to Barney's match and have done well everytime I've fished it so far, winning it individually and as a pair with Bruce Hunt. I was struggling to get a partner this year as Justin couldn't commit and finally ended up with Graham Field who has been bagging up out at Dillington and as this match was going to be split between the river and the pond, it worked out quite nicely. Rob had pegged the bottom end of the river which could make life difficult for some with strong winds and rain forecast as it's very exposed at Isle Brewers. On my way over to Ilminster it was raining quite steadily and there was loads of water on the roads, would the river actually be fishable?
There were twelve fishing today, including Justin who could now fish as his son wasn't playing football. The river anglers drew first and I was praying I didn't draw 128 as it was the only peg I didn't fancy but of course drew it! I had the choice of 129 as well but decided to stick with 128 as it's a shorter walk and I had 3lb of it a few weeks back and I reckoned that would give me decent points today. Graham drew peg 4 on the pond which is a decent peg although given the conditions and the fact there would be a few anglers around the pond, I wasn't sure he'd do double figures today!
I got to the river and was amazed to see it running clear - unbelievable! I had intended to have a look at 129 but with time running out I settled in 128. I set up two rigs, both 1.5 gram Drennan Trio's, one to fish the deep water and another to fish tight across at the top of the swim where I'd caught a few fish last time. The wind was truly awful and along with freezing rain, it wasn't going to be a comfortable day. I'd just about finished setting up before it was time to start, I decided to try and catch a minnow by fishing maggot at three sections to hand but after ten minutes I hadn't had a bite! Where were all those small fish from last time?
I eventually caught a minnow on red maggot at ten metres towards the tail of the swim and that was my signal to switch to caster to try and catch some roach. The wind was making presentation a nightmare and after half an hour it was obvious this was going to be a grueller. The rain hadn't abated and my hands were freezing cold for the first time this year so I stuck the pole between my legs and had a cup of coffee while fishing at about 8 metres. I had what looked like a bite, struck and swung in a gudgeon, at least it wasn't a minnow. I thought I might get a few more but no more bites saw me trying to inch the float through in the flow but this was made difficult with the wind trying to rip the pole out of my hands.
After a couple of hours I'd only added a couple more minnows so tried the shallower rig at the top of the swim, action had been instant last time but I never had a fish here this week, things were getting desperate. Half way through the match the rain stopped but the wind was getting worse if anything. I did try fishing at 14.5 metres further across but it was a waste of time. Then the river started rising and getting dirtier, I was hoping this might kick start some fishy action but no such luck. I had to plumb the depth again as the river was rising quite quickly now.
I won't bore you with a blow by blow account of how I caught bugger all for the rest of the match but I ended up fishing four sections out, holding back and caught around a dozen minnows and that was that. I was hoping the others had found it as much of a struggle as me. I really wished I'd gone in 129 now but to be honest neither peg really stood a chance today. I was glad to pack my gear up and take it back to the car, Steve Parker and Neil had already weighed above the bridge, Steve had 13oz and Neil had a level pound although he'd snapped his pole and wasn't a happy bunny. I walked down to weigh Pete Lonton in and he had 1lb 3oz and I was looking at last in my section as I knew Malcolm would do well in 120 and Justin would winkle some fish out of 108. My massive haul weighed 2oz and as this was the last river match it was a damp squib to end on.
Back at the results and Malcolm had caught 4lb 5oz and Justin weighed a stunning 11lb 13oz which was made up of three chub and some roach. The pond had fished poorly with my partner Graham winning it with 4lb 8oz (whoops, sorry mate) and Martin was second with 4lb 4oz meaning him and Malcolm won it with 4 points, followed by Justin and Leighton with 5 points. This was the first match Malcolm had fished on the river this year and I reckon Martin should leave him in his retirement home next time! I do think we'd have been better off up the top end today but the conditions were really against us today.
1 - Martin Heard and Malcom Levy (Tiverton) - 4 pts
2 - Justin Charles and Leighton Cox (Ilminster) - 5 pts
1 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 11lb 13oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 4lb 8oz
3 - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 4lb 5oz
Next week I'm hopefully going to fish at Summerhayes so lets hope the weather is better for then!