After some fairly rough weather in the week, the forecast was actually pretty good for the weekend. I got to the Royal Oak relatively early for me and the usual bunch were there apart from Richy who was off playing golf. I pulled out peg 6 on the field side and it was a bit of rush to get set up in time, I set up a 4 metre whip rig and a chopped worm rig but didn't have time to set up a shallow caster rig which I had intended to do. In fact I was still chopping worms when Rob blew for the all in.
When I was eventually ready I cupped in some choppie mix at 10 metres before starting on the whip, I tossed in a small nugget of groundbait and fed some casters and hemp over the top. I had a bite first chuck and swung in a 2oz roach, the first hour was pretty steady and I had 25 fish including some nice rudd and thought if I could keep that catch rate up I would do a decent weight. I couldn't really see what the others were doing but I guessed they would all be catching too.
The second hour started okay but rapidly went down hill, the first calamity happened when a decent roach came off and the rig ended up in the tree above me, I had to pull for a break and lost my hooklength. I untangled the rig and tied on a new hooklength and started catching again before the float went and I struck and it was just solid! I'd obviously hooked a big fish (perch or chub?) which then woke up and tore off, I stuck the whip under the water but it just kept going and then it snapped me, taking my rig and everything! I didn't know what to do next as I didn't have a spare whip rig (piss poor preparation) so shallowed up my chopped worm rig and tried fishing that on my whip line.
It just wasn't right though and I was bumping fish because the elastic was too heavy and I just knew I was falling behind the whip boys. Then up popped my whip rig just to my left, I managed to hook it with my pole but unfortunately the fish had gone. Clutching at straws a bit, I decided to set up the whip rig on a top three with a lighter elastic. I also fed my chopped worm line again as there were obviously some bigger fish about. Using the top three as an elasticated whip saw me hit more bites but going into hour three the bites were slowing up. I had struggled up to 46 fish after two hours and reached 70 after three.
The trouble was I felt I must be well behind Fieldy and Martin and was itching to try my chopped worm line. I got to 90 fish and couldn't wait any longer and slipped on a piece of worm and went out to ten metres and I was feeding casters quite heavily over the top. I had a few roach and tiny perch but no sign of any eels or big perch so for the last part of the match I came back on my short line. I actually caught quite well for the last half an hour and ended with 120 fish. I was convinced it wouldn't be enough for a pick up today though as Rob was only paying the top two and I knew Martin and Graham would have just got their heads down and fished the whip/short poles all match.
As I packed up Rob made his way round with the scales, Steve Parker had 7lb 6oz but had lost two chub which would have seen him weigh a lot more, Martin had 12lb 12oz (which was over 180 fish) and I knew I had nowhere near that, my fish went 9lb 7oz and then Fieldy said he didn't have 12lb but might push me and I knew that was that as all anglers are born liers! He actually weighed 12lb 11oz (around 140 fish) so it was pretty tight for the top two places although I reckon I'd have been a lot closer if I hadn't spent ages fannying around! Rob was last to weigh and had 4lb 10oz although he was suffering from a heavy night so had a good excuse!
1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 12lb 12oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 12lb 11oz
Well that's me done at Dillington now as I miss the next two matches and I can't say I'm too upset. I'm at Summerhayes for the next four matches and I can't wait! I must say I'm also looking forward to getting back on the river, I hope it fishes well this season and the weather is kind to us.