As much as I loved my fishing, I never used to do much prep and it undoubtedly cost me on numerous occasions, I had a few floats made up but certainly not the trays and trays of rigs and multiple hooklength boxes of today. Also my pole only had a few top kits so it was rare I set up more than a couple of rigs for a match and if I lost a hooklength I used to tie another one on the bank which all seems hard to believe looking back now.
For the majority of my river fishing I used to use a 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo (the first one I bought had a green body), sometimes it was too heavy for the conditions and at other times it wasn’t man enough but it caught a lot of fish in its lifetime. It lead to a fair bit of mickey taking with people asking after matches whether I’d used ‘Old Faithful’ again!
Every Xmas when I sat down to write my ‘wish list’ to Santa I asked if I could have a drawing arm like the Tart’s and when I drew Chard’s peg 20 in one of the first matches of the year, it looked like my letter had finally made it to Lapland! I had a lovely day catching two decent skimmers to 2.5lb, two hybrids, chub to 2lb plus, four perch plus dace and roach for 21lb 2oz and first place on the day which also saw me go top in the Ship Inn winter league. Of course I came in for some stick in the match report when the result was published (and they got the weight wrong!).
The following week it was the open where I drew the first bend below North Bradon (now peg 96) and got off to a great start catching four roach and a chublet in as many put ins. The next fish was a good chub but any thoughts of making it two wins on the trot soon disappeared when a rather large pike put in an appearance several times during the day. It was still a nice days fishing though, with three chub to 3lb along with roach, chublets, gudgeon and minnows for 11lb 3oz. I thought I had a chance of framing but the river had fished really well with 19lb winning followed by 17lb, 15lb and 14lb, I did win the section and picked up £40.
My drawing arm was still on fire when I drew ‘The Tank Traps’ (peg 14) in the next match and it was a golden peg as well. To be honest I didn’t do it justice and my 10lb 12oz was only good enough for a section win. Things started to go downhill in the next winter league match when I pulled out peg 17 at Horlicks and only managed a solitary 4oz roach (and four trout which didn’t count). I was still leading the league but with two rounds to go I needed to avoid another blow out in the next one.
For the penultimate round it was a draw and choose match and I ended up with eighth choice and went for the swim known as ‘Kingfisher’s’ at Donyatt (peg 39). A decent roach quite quickly settled the nerves and then a pound chub had me thinking I was in for bumper day but I should have known better as I then couldn’t buy a bite (apart from trout) until the light started to fade when I added a few more roach. My fish went 2lb 1oz and I thought I’d won my section but Bish pipped me by an ounce, on the plus side, Les confirmed I’d won the league with a match in hand.
The final match on 5th March was also draw and choose and this time I went for peg 37 and had a steady day catching mainly roach along with a couple of chublets, gudgeon and a perch for 3lb 12oz which saw me get my revenge on Bish, beating him by a ounce for second in the section and £32.50 plus £100 for winning the league.
Through April and May I was mainly fishing Sadborow, Perry St and Howley with varying levels of success. I never really got my head around Perry St but Howley continued to be kind to me (although drawing nearly as many end pegs as the Tart always helps!). A really nice day on peg 1 with four carp (including a 7lb 6oz ghostie), perch to 1.5lb, skimmers, roach and a little tench for 22lb 12oz saw me finish in second place. A few weeks later I pulled out the opposite end peg and had nine carp, a decent perch and some roach for 28lb 9oz and second spot again.
I then suffered a prolonged lean spell where I didn’t catch very much at all on a variety of venues including Sadborow, Chard resi and the Huntspill, there was one small ray of light amongst the gloom when I fished a well attended charity match at Stathe drain in July. I drew peg 69 which was one from the end and had two decent bream on worm in the first hour and then caught roach, perch and the odd decent skimmer to finish with 4kg 900g which was enough for fourth on the day and a nice pick up plus a Browning carryall.
The barren period continued and due to other distractions I wasn’t fishing as much and when I did go, I wasn’t particularly, shall we say, match fit!
The river matches kicked off and there was no let up in my poor form, I drew several what I would consider decent pegs, 17 at Coxes resulted in 3lb 3oz, peg 27 (first one in the copse) saw me catch a few chublets and dace for 2lb 12oz, Chard’s peg 23 (3lb 13oz) and peg 85 (the big bend at Ashford) for a dozen small fish which weighed 1lb 3oz.
In a Chard draw and choose match I went for ‘Kingfisher’s’ (peg 39) and after a decent start, I struggled for 3lb 1oz of roach, gudgeon, dace and minnows plus the obligatory trout. I was really dehydrated from the night before and walked up to the George pub in Donyatt and bought a coke! I finished fourth on the day and moved up into joint second in the league.
The Ilminster match the following weekend was cancelled with the Isle flooded and we had no back up venue like Dillington in those days. The next Chard match on November 5th was also touch and go after more heavy rain. I drew peg 23 (the weirpool at Horlicks) again which had a nice bit of slack water and hooked a good roach soon after the start but like an idiot I tried swinging it and the hooklength snapped! After I gave myself a good talking to, I started to catch some nice dace and roach along with three chub up to a pound before the incessant rain took it’s toll and the river became unfishable. The decision was made to finish the match an hour early and my 7lb 8oz was the top weight on the day, ‘Old Faithful’ strikes again!
All too soon December arrived and it was time for the Xmas Fayre matches, Ilminster’s was first and I drew peg 42 (which I think was the high bank below Selvidge weir), it was hard going and I managed 36 roach and minnows for 13oz (mainly small fish!) and took home a bottle of brandy for my trouble. The following Sunday, it was time for Chard’s festive fixture and this year we tried something a bit different and had a section on Rob’s pond. I drew the pontoon and had quite an enjoyable day catching roach and perch to weigh 3lb which won the £50 section money along with a nice hamper and for good measure I had a bottle of wine on the raffle to finish the year on a high.
Next up – 2001