It was round three of the Royal Oak league today and after winning the first two matches I was hoping for another good draw today. The trouble was we'd had the first real hard frost last night and combined with a low and clear river, it could be a struggle today. Rob had pegged Upper and Lower Coxes and I really fancied pegs 14, 15, 23 and 28, everybody fancied 23 after Heardy's weight off it last match and Justin was the lucky angler to draw it. I pulled out 28 and was well pleased as it's probably been the most consistent peg with weights around 8-10lb. Heardy drew 29 and did his usual moaning about it but if the fish are in 27 and 28, they've got to be in 29 as well!
I pulled up at the river and walked past Steve Parker who was setting up in 27, with the river being so low, I felt he might struggle today. My swim looked good and I was soon setting up my rigs, a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio for the deepest water in the main flow at 11.5 metres and a 1 gram rig for fishing this side of the flow where it was a few inches shallower. With a few minutes before the start I wandered down to see Martin who was on the opposite bank on 29, he was still grumbling which would probably mean he'd catch 20lb today.
I went back, checked my watch and it was time to start, my opening gambit was double red maggot on the the lighter rig at 10 metres, I was feeding maggots, casters and hemp sparingly and it took me a little while to get my first bite, which I bumped! I then started getting odd chublets along with a couple of spotties by inching the float through just off the flow towards the branches across the river to my left where it starts to shallow up. After an hour I had 13 fish, mainly chublets and trout along with a small roach and a few minnows (which I don't count). I wasn't going to break any records but if I could keep this catch rate up I would have around 8-9lb which is what I had the last time I drew this swim.
Sport slowed a bit in hour two but I still added another seven fish which included a couple of 8oz trout and my first dace, although I'd bumped a couple too. Heardy walked up on the far bank and he hadn't had a bite yet!, he said he knew he wasn't going to catch today and wandered up to see how Steve was getting on. On his return he said Steve only had a few small dace and that he couldn't see himself sticking it out for the duration. My 10 metre line was now dead as a dodo and maggot only resulted in minnow bites so it was time to try further across with the other rig.
I started getting odd fish from this line including some small roach but I was fairly happy as long as I was putting silvers in the net. I had eight fish in the third hour to put me on twenty eight with two and a half hours to go. This line soon faded though and I had to keep swapping lines to get bites and was only putting odd dace and minnows in the net. At the end of the fourth hour I had only added three more fish and was in trouble! I was also worried that Heardy hadn't packed up and I thought he might have found a couple of chub, Steve wasn't walking either and after another good start I was struggling again.
Time was running out and I was only up to 33 fish and way off my target, with half an hour to go I started getting bites across and added a couple more although I missed several as well. I ended up with 35 fish and was hoping I might have 5-6lb but felt sure this wouldn't do any good today. Just as I had finished packing up Steve arrived and said he'd struggled for eight or nine fish. We walked down to see how Martin had got on and he'd had a grueller and said he had a pound or so and was going to chuck back (which saved me from having to walk round to weigh him!).
I grabbed the scales from my car (yep I had them again!) and weighed Steve in who had 1lb 5oz which made me feel better after I struggled on it last week, my fish went 5lb 6oz which I was a little disappointed with and felt sure pegs 14, 15 and 23 would all beat this and I'd finish just out of the frame. We loaded the cars up and Martin admitted he'd bumped a good fish which was probably a spottie and he'd missed several bites as well. We drove up to meet the others and I was amazed when Rob announced I'd won it! The upper section had fished really hard and Rob was top there with 1lb 8oz which meant Steve was third and Heardy had possibly chucked back a framing weight! and he'd missed/bumped enough for second! Justin only had 14oz off 23 which just goes to show that those dace do move around.
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 6oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 1lb 8oz
3 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 1lb 5oz
So the frost really knocked sport today and this was the first match so far where double figures didn't win, although I had an enjoyable day.
In the league I'm still leading with 30 points followed by Rob on 27 and Fieldy on 25. Next week it's back to the V.E.S. league and I really need a good result to stay in touch with the leaders, so come back next week to see how I get on. Also we really need some rain or it could be another grueller!