I woke up to be confronted by the heaviest frost of the year so far and coupled with the river being low and clear all the signs were for a hard match. At the draw the turnout for Ilminster AA’s Open was poor with only twelve hardy souls awaiting their fate for five and a half hours. Before the draw I said I fancied pegs 125 or 74 and of course the usual suspects, Martin Heard and Justin Charles drew these. I drew peg 72 which is also known as ‘Hell hole’, Graham Field won an earlier match off it with 17lb+ but also drew it a few weeks later and struggled for 6oz! I was hoping it would fish well again.
I got there and it looked nice, a big sweeping bend with a dead tree opposite and lots of little cutbacks and eddies. I know Graham had caught his fish in a little slack just off the main flow which was to my right. I set up the usual gram and a half Drennan Carbo with 0.12 mm bottom and size 18 B611. I plumbed up all over the peg and there was a nice depth but I was intending to start off in the little slack. On the whistle I baited up with single caster and went into the slack, I was fully expecting to catch straight away but didn’t, after half an hour it was time to try somewhere else. My next spot was by the dead tree, still nothing and despite trying caster, maggot and lobbie I was still biteless.
After an hour and a half I started to explore all the other fishy spots but to no avail and after three hours I was at a loss, it was time for a walk. I wandered down to see Martin on 74 and he’d had a couple of chub, further down the river Pete Lonton was still blanking on peg 82 as was my nemesis Janders on 85. Pete also reported that Justin was struggling on 125. I walked back past Martin who hadn’t added any more and sat back on my box going through the motions. Out of desperation I scaled down to 0.10 mm bottom but still no bites, not even a minnow. With an hour to go I was all out of options and ready for the finish. I took a section off the pole and stuck it between my legs so the float was in the slack just in front of me.
I was just reaching for my flask for yet another cup of coffee when the float went under, after a short scrap I netted a decent chub of 2lb or so. I’d like to report that I bagged up but that was it for half an hour. My next bite saw a decent fish plodding around which I thought was a chub when all of a sudden it lept out of the water! It was a trout and a good one at that, they count in our matches so I played it with kid gloves, mindful of the 0.10 bottom. The pace and power of this fish was incredible and I was convinced it would snap me. After a mammoth fight I eventually netted it and was shaking (not with the cold).
I had visions of catching a couple more but it wasn’t to be, I packed up hoping Martin hadn’t added to his earlier fish. I walked down to weigh him in and he’d had two more to give him 9lb 6oz, which I reckoned would get him in the money. My trout weighed 2lb 4oz and with my chub gave me a 4lb 5oz total. Back at the results and the river had fished really hard and Martins weight was enough to win, his third win on the trot. I was amazed to find I was actually third and picked up £25 plus a pound of Janders so hopefully normal service has resumed. Justin was second with 4lb 6oz (a poxy ounce yet again!).
Next week is a Crown league match and I really need a good result to put the pressure back on Janders who is currently leading with three matches to go.