After a freezing day yesterday I was hoping it wouldn't be as cold today and as I was loading my tackle into my car it certainly felt quite mild. I got to the draw and had a quick look at the weighboards and Rob had put all good pegs in today, 27, 28 and 29 at Lower Coxes and 123, 124, 125 and 126 at Isle Brewers. I really fancied 27 or 126 with the latter being a golden peg, to be honest I didn't really want 28 and Heardy drew it and walked off moaning that he just can't draw a good peg. I pulled out 124 and had mixed feelings even though I'd won off it twice at the end of last season. I had also drawn it early last year and struggled for 4-5lb on both occasions.
I got to the river and it was back to it's normal level and quite clear, my peg looked nice although there wasn't as much cover as there was last year. I set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and plumbed up across towards the far bank at 11.5 metres. There were also some reeds at the bottom of the peg where I'd caught a couple of chub last time at about 13 metres but this year the peg was cut out further up and 14.5 metres was required to reach them and I couldn't see me doing much of that! I was ready 10 minutes before the off and walked up to see Justin in 123 where I'd won last week. His swim looked a lot lower than it did last week although I still fancied him to catch a few.
I got back to my peg and started with caster on the hook at 11.5 metres, feeding casters, maggots and hemp. I had a chublet first chuck and then started getting the odd small roach and chublet but was missing/bumping quite a few. I came in to 7 metres to see if I could catch them a bit quicker and after two or three fish I had to go back to 10 and 11.5 metres to get bites. After the first hour I had 12 fish for maybe a pound but I wasn't too concerned because I know there's a big head of chub in the swim and thought they would show at some point. Hour two was much the same and I just couldn't catch any quality. Justin wandered down and he'd only had a gudgeon and minnows so maybe it was fishing hard today, he went off to see how Pete in 125 and Rob in 126 were getting on.
I decided to try half a lobbie to see if I could snare some better fish, I shipped out and held back in the flow and the float buried only for me to miss it! I was getting a bite every chuck on worm but the fish weren't much bigger than those I was getting on caster, I even had a chublet of half an ounce! I went to 13 metres across to the far bank but the result would be the same, a small chublet or dace. Justin came back and said Pete was struggling but Rob was catching well in 126 and there was a good chance the golden peg would go today. I was now fishing caster at the head of the swim at 9 metres and getting odd roach but time was flying by and I wasn't sure I had much in the net at all.
I felt there were a lot of small fish in the swim I just couldn't seem to catch them quick enough, with an hour and a half left I decided to up my feed and fish double caster to try and catch a couple of chub. I even tried going right down the peg at 14.5 metres by the reeds but after two small roach in two chucks, that was enough of that! I did manage a slightly better roach and a few chublets on double caster and was up to 47 fish when Justin turned up again, he'd packed up and had brought his catch down in a bait box! I didn't add any more fish and was left wishing I had scaled down and concentrated on those small fish with single caster but then again if I'd hooked and lost a big chub, I'd have been gutted.
I took my kit back to the car and met Rob who said he didn't think he'd done enough to win the golden ball. We walked back to my peg and weighed Justin's haul of gudgeon and minnows and the scales read 5oz, my fish went 4lb 3oz and I knew I wouldn't be picking up today. I was still kicking myself though as I reckon my peg was worth 5-6lb of those small fish today. Pete had really struggled and weighed 1lb 3oz of mainly minnows! Rob had a nice net of roach and chublets weighing 7lb 15oz and was in with a chance of claiming a bumper payday. He did say he hadn't had a phone call from Heardy which normally means he's been catching well so we'd have to wait and see.
Back at the results and Heardy had weighed a superb 20lb 9oz of mainly dace (from his crap peg!!) to win again and the golden ball rolls over to the next match. I did start to think I might sneak third place but Steve Parker had 4lb 12oz from peg 27 and I was left kicking myself twice as hard! So despite a couple of frosts some good weights were recorded and lots of small fish are still showing.
1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 20lb 9oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 7lb 15oz
3 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 4lb 12oz
At this early stage in the league it's very tight and with dropping the worst result there are three anglers on one point, Martin, Justin and Rob. I'm on two and dropping a two as well so with five matches to go it's all to play for.
There's no match on the river next week so I'm either going to the Wye with Justin after barbel and possibly pike (weather permitting) or failing that I'll go and give Summerhayes a go. Come back next week to see how I get on.