I got to the river and you could see the bottom over much of the peg but there were quite a few fish topping. With only twenty minutes to set up I quickly assembled a 13 foot Preston waggler rod with a small Drennan Crystal waggler with just two number 10’s down the line, ending in 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. I just had time to chuck on a pole rig (yep you guessed it – Ole Faithful) and plumb up before it was time to start. I shipped out the pole to fish just past the middle and started getting indications on double maggot before catching a 2oz roach, I was off the mark. At this early stage the pole just didn’t feel right so I switched to the waggler.
I was feeding maggot, caster and hemp just upstream of me and fishing double bronze maggot on the hook. I started catching roach and dace quite well and after the first hour had 40 fish with the odd better one amongst them. I shouted up to Andy Welch above me to see if he’d caught and he replied he hadn’t had a bite yet. I carried on still catching but having to go further down the swim to get bites and added around another 30 fish by the end of hour two. Scotty and Rob turned up, Scotty hadn’t had a bite in 124 which surprised me and Rob had caught one chub and lost another in 123. Andy Welch then caught a half decent chub and Rob came back from seeing Leighton on 126 below the road to report he was catching quite well.
I was still catching but having to chase the fish around a bit, I would get a few from right under the feed then have to go right down to the tail to get bites. I was missing/bumping quite a few and most of the roach and dace were 2-3oz, not the usual ‘clonkers’. I tried caster and caught a better stamp but had to wait longer for the bites. Scotty reckoned I should try the pole as there were fish flashing under my feed, I caught a couple but the pole was all wrong, float too heavy as was the elastic. I was still catching odd fish though and seemed to be doing better than most people at our end, Andy had added a couple more fish but Scotty had been phoned by Ashley at Ashford and they were all blanking!
Scotty went back to try and catch a chub and was replaced behind me by Butch and his son (and there was me thinking Butch had forgotten how to get to the river!). I was still on the pole and getting odd fish although I did lose a chub around the 1lb mark while they were there. I even had a spell fishing two sections to hand where I caught half a dozen roach before they disappeared again. I kept thinking that a four or five metre whip would be the answer but I didn’t have any suitable rigs so carried on putting odd fish in the net on the pole and waggler.
I could see odd decent fish flashing opposite me, near the far bank and had caught a couple of net roach on the waggler there so tried the pole, but with the unsuitable rig and elastic I was missing too many. In the back of my mind I had the nagging doubt that I should be setting up another, lighter rig with lighter elastic. I was still fishing the waggler and alternating between double bronze and red maggots and single caster and with an hour to go had 120 fish. With half an hour left I finally went to the rod bag and got another top two out, attached a 0.75 gram Carbo and went across to where those big roach were flashing. First put in I hooked a good roach of around 12oz-1lb, only for it to come off halfway across – bugger.
I started getting the odd fish including a couple of netters and finished up with 149 fish, I had no clue to what they weighed as I had a lot of small fish including five or six gudgeon. I was amazed that I never had a pike strike with the water being so clear and a big snapper had a go at something above me near the end. Scotty had the scales and when I caught up with them, Rob had weighed 1lb 5oz and Scotty had found a chub albeit a small one as he only weighed 1oz! Andy weighed 4lb 5oz and then it was my turn, Scotty called my weight out at 17lb 4oz and I was hoping it would be enough. I’m sure a four or five metre whip, easing a rig through would have seen me do 20lb+ but still it was a lovely days fishing and my biggest weight so far this river season.
Below the bridge, Leighton had 4lb 4oz and Justin had 4oz and with Scotty saying they’d all not caught at Ashford, it just left the top end of the river. Back at the results and the top end of the river had fished poorly with Martin Heard top from peg 15 with 1lb 15oz. Martin paid me another £1 and said I’d won it – yes! I collected £35 and won a nice bottle of brandy and then we all had a lovely buffet (thanks Cindy and Steve). Andy and Leighton actually finished 2nd and 3rd but after last week the river had fished really badly. Still I was well chuffed to win my fourth match of the year and my first match on the river since January 2009.
1 – Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) – 17lb 4oz
2 – Andy Welch (Ilminster) – 4lb 5oz
3 – Leighton Cox (Ilminster) – 4lb 4oz
I must thank Pete Lonton for getting all the prizes and Robin Cox for organising the match and of course Steve and Cindy at the Crown for the lovely food. Next week is round five of the Crown League and it would be nice to draw 125 again! (well it worked last time!)