Although some rain was forecast for the weekend, it was still looking good for a river match and Terry ‘The Toast’ said he’d come down and help me peg it on the Saturday. Torrential rain overnight had me worried and when we got to Coxes it was up and raging, Isle Brewers was spot on but all that extra water hadn’t got there yet and as we walked up to Redbridge, the river was rising and coming up fast!
We still had hope though as it was supposed to be dry for the rest of the day and no more was due on Sunday, it would be touch and go and Rob very kindly said he’d pop down in the morning and would let me know the state of play. I was checking the river levels online all night and it looked like it was dropping fast and as I loaded the car the following morning, I chucked in my feeder rod and a couple of bags of groundbait, almost as an afterthought! As always, I stopped to get a paper and noticed Rob had text just saying ‘Pond mate’ along with a couple of photos of the river which was almost bank high – gutted!
I got to the bowling club and two of our lot dropped out when they heard it was on the pond and we were down to six which is really disappointing when the host club can only field half a dozen anglers on their home water! I’d like to say a huge thanks to ‘The Magnificent Six’ (including me) who stepped up to the plate to try and defend the clubs honour, so take a bow, Tony Newman, Dave Phillips, Terry ‘The Toast’ Morgan, Steve ‘The Pole’ Parker and Phil ‘Digger’ Denslow, thanks chaps. It was great to see the Stoke lads again, especially John Simms who was wearing his rather fetching lucky hat!
Deciding on which pegs to use, I put in all the usual swims but needed one more so stuck in peg 10, it doesn’t get used that often as it’s in a bit of a corner and can get hemmed in by the pegs either side, especially if they fish the feeder. I got the draw underway and with a few pegs left, I asked Dave to pull one out for me and I wasn’t overly impressed when he handed me peg 10! With Terry ‘My glass is always half full’ Morgan on my right and Steve P on the other side of me, we’d all be able to keep a close eye on the side bets!
We got out the pond and it was chocolate coloured especially where the stream comes in by peg 16, there were plumes of silt all along the bottom bank and after the last match, I had visions of another tough day. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to do, I got both of the previous matches horribly wrong, in the first one, I’ve fished all out for skimmers and managed one but with only 4lb 15oz winning, I felt I should have fished for small fish and then in the last match, I’ve tried to catch roach but they just haven’t fed and I should have fished the feeder for skimmers, decisions, decisions!
As I hadn’t prepared any groundbait the night before, that was the first job so I quickly mixed up some Bait-Tech Omen and Pro Nat Bream Dark and left it to fully absorb the water while I got the rest of my kit ready. I set up a feeder rod with a 20g Guru feeder for a gentle lob of around 20 metres, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for 10 metres straight out and a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti to fish 11.5 metres angled to my left. For bait I had a pint and a half of casters, half a pint of red maggots, some dead reds, hemp and a small tin of corn.
I borrowed a bank stick from Steve but it wasn’t quite long enough but thankfully Terry let me use his feeder arm which was just the job, after much faffing around I wasn’t quite ready at the start so shouted the all in while I got myself sorted. Finally ready, I potted in a single ball of groundbait at 10 metres and then three at 11.5 metres before baiting up with two dead reds and starting on the feeder. As expected it was a slow start with no indications in the first thirty minutes although I had seen Chris White over on peg 19 catch a couple of small fish and Terry reported James on his right had caught a roach as well.
I started getting the odd tremble on the tip and came back with just the very end of the maggot looking squashed and over the next hour I had a few more little knocks but I couldn’t hit them, Steve had caught a few small fish to go into the lead for the side bets. After an hour and a half, my resolve was starting to wane as I thought about going out on the pole and even Terry’s glass wasn’t as half full as earlier! Then a slightly more positive pull and as I struck I could feel life on the end, not a big fish but a 4oz skimmer was very welcome. Next chuck I missed a decent bite and then had a small perch but bites tailed off and I didn’t add any more over the next thirty minutes.
A quick look on the pole and first put in with single red maggot, the float settled and then slid away as a small perch took the bait, a couple of even smaller roach followed but then I looked right and saw Terry net a decent skimmer on the feeder and all of a sudden his glass was filling up again! I decided to try the more positive line with a grain a corn on the hook but a biteless ten minutes had me reaching for the feeder rod in a bid to catch the skimmer I needed to draw level with Terry.
I’d only just cast out when I noticed loads of elastic streaming from James W’s pole tip in peg 8 as he had a big fish on, before the start he’d said his pb bream was 3lb and it looked like he’d just eclipsed that as a big dark fish slid over the rim of his landing net. Once again I didn’t know what to do, stick it on the feeder or persevere with the pole! We were now over halfway through the match and I only had ounces in the net but as several people had fished for small fish from the off, it was pointless trying to catch them now, so feeder it was then!
The next bite resulted in solid resistance on the strike and I carefully played a nice skimmer of 1.5lb to the net, then I missed a good bite before catching my second skimbob and a third followed quickly which pulled the tip round just after the feeder had hit bottom, this was getting interesting! I still felt James was ahead as he was catching roach to go with his bream. A quiet spell followed and my next two fish were 3oz roach, perhaps those skimmers had moved on?
Derek Goad on peg 7 was catching roach up in the water on the waggler and then landed a decent skimmer, James also had a skimmer to pull even further ahead, my next fish was a smaller skimmer of 8oz but hopefully there were a few more about. I started getting a few indications again and over the next hour or so I added two more decent skimmers and I didn’t think there was now much between James and me. I thought my five decent skimmers would go 7.5lb plus the two smaller ones and bits would give me another pound while James had the big bream of 4-5lb a 1.5lb skimbob plus roach.
There was still an hour to go and I was hopeful of getting a couple more, I had my sixth decent skimmer which I thought edged me ahead, Derek added another skimmer and then I could James’s yellow elastic again and he had another skimmer to go ahead once more. Thirty minutes left on the clock and I still thought I might get another but it didn’t happen and I was sure James had beaten me. I packed up and took my kit back to the car and as I passed Steve P he said he had loads of small fish and Mike Goad on 14 said the same.
John had gone early from peg 18 so his lucky hat didn’t work today, Chris W on 19 had lots of roach and a skimmer for 3lb 10oz, Tony on 20 also had a skimmer plus roach for 2lb 10oz and then Julie had also gone on peg 21 so with nearly half of the Stoke team weighed in or gone home, they had 3lb 10oz on the board. Then I got to Dave Pope on 22 who said he’d had a lovely day catching skimmers and a small chub on the pole and caster before plonking 15lb 7oz on the scales, a cracking net of fish to put Stoke into a commanding lead with 19lb 1oz.
Next was one of our boys, Digger on peg 2 who had two nice skimmers and roach to add 6lb 9oz to our total and then Cannonball Dave had 1lb 10oz of roach on peg 6. Derek G on 7 had those two decent skimmers and lots of roach for 5lb 11oz before we got to James, he had a nice net of fish weighing 12lb 4oz which would seal victory for Stoke. The bream was 4lb 8oz so a new pb for him as well! Terry had 2lb 14oz and needs to work on his fish holding pose! My fish went 10lb 10oz and as I suspected, I needed another skimmer to beat James.
Steve P was next and it was going to be close for the side bet between him and Terry, he had loads of small fish but the needle settled on 2lb 7oz which put a smile on ‘The Toast’s’ face as his glass was back to being half full although he gave Steve’s pound straight to me. Mike G was last to weigh on peg 14 and had loads of small fish on pinkies to weigh 1lb 10oz.
1 – Dave Pope (Stoke) – 15lb 7oz
2 – James White (Stoke) – 12lb 4oz
3 – Jamie Rich (Ilminster) – 10lb 10oz
A – Chris White (Stoke) – 3lb 10oz
B – Digger Denslow (Ilminster) – 6lb 9oz
After the top six weights from each club were added up, Stoke ran out comfortable winners (even with a blank) with 38lb 10oz to our 26lb 12oz, well done guys, it was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed the day. I’m looking forward to next year already, as I’ve said before I love these inter-club matches, a chance to fish different waters and forge links with other clubs, it’s just a shame they’re not better supported.
Club chairman Chris White sent this lovely message via Facebook,
‘Thank you for a great day. A lovely breakfast to start the day at the bowling club, the draw and then on to the pond. Some good weights for some and great result for Stoke – honours even. Please send on our thanks and appreciation to the lads and we look forward to meeting up again next year. In the meantime Tightlines.’
I picked up £35 plus the £2 in side bets and I enjoyed fishing the tip again although I’ve missed quite a few indications and I’m still not getting it quite right at the moment.
Hopefully we’ll get back on the river next week!
Next up – River Isle (fingers crossed!)
Coming soon – My next interview
Check Out – My last review (below)