Now in it’s third year, Stoke vs Ilminster continues to be a very popular match which is great but also poses it’s own problems in that it can make pegging difficult with increased numbers. Stoke decided to use both Parrett Works and Kingsbury sections for this one with most people hoping to draw the latter. It’s was also the Axminster Cup and the final match in the Memorial Shield with realistically The Toast and The Hitman fighting it out to the death although Dave Hilton was also in with an outside chance of the title if the other two blew out.
Another excellent breakfast at the bowling club and then we headed to Martock for the draw, well some of us did, Steve P headed to Parrett Works and Tony C was at Kingsbury! After rounding up all our lost little sheep, the teams finally assembled. Jake W looked terrible after attending a wedding the previous day but he normally fishes better hungover! We had 11 a side and the top ten weights would count. With Bob holding the bucket of dreams (and doom), people began delving in and there were the usual mixed reactions. Russ looked disappointed when he pulled out end peg 32 at Parrett Works as he said it wouldn’t compete with Kingsbury. Terry drew the opposite end, number 7, a consistent peg but not as good as Russ’s so it was advantage to the Hitman.
I pulled out 35 at Kingsbury but wasn’t exactly sure which peg I was on as the numbers were different today. What I did know was that Chris White was on the upstream end peg at Kingsbury with Chris Norton on the other end so with three of the four end pegs occupied by the opposition, they were already looking like the favourites.
On arriving, I was the third peg down which hasn’t been great in recent matches, Neil P was below me where Russ had 5lb 3oz in the second round. I set up a 1 gram bodied rig for down the middle and a 0.6 gram DH16 for fishing across. I decided not to put any groundbait in today and just had casters, maggots and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp.
The Grand Wizard blew his whistle to get us underway and I potted in half a cup of hemp down the middle. Starting with single red maggot on the hook, my first fish was minnow followed by a gudgeon and it was a bite a chuck, Neil said he was catching gobies as well. After an hour I had 29 gonks and a small rudd plus a few minnows for 1lb 8oz and was enjoying myself.
Going into the second hour, bites began to slow but I did have my first roach of about 4oz and I was still chugging along nicely. I got to around 40 fish when my bites just stopped and I couldn’t even catch minnows! Neil said he was still getting a few so I had my first look across where I’d been feeding some hemp and caster but not a sniff and I knew it was going to be hard going.
Russell phoned and said he was really struggling, he’d only caught eight fish but had lost two chub, then he’s hooked one while talking to me and basically netted it one handed! A couple of bank walkers reported that Chris W and Dave Hilton below him were catching quite well. I had a nice little area of cover across and first put in I had a chunky gudgeon but it was a one off. Adding some sections I poked the rig between the branches of the tree in the water downstream but never had a bite there and didn’t know what to do next.
Neil said he’d slowed up but was still getting odd fish, back down the middle I couldn’t get a bite on maggot or caster and after a steady start I was now really struggling. With ninety minutes left I went back across at the top of the swim and the float buried, only for me to miss it. Next chuck it went again and this time I connected, not a big fish but a 2oz chublet was very welcome. Another followed next put in but again it was short lived.
I rested it before going back over and had another little chublet but time was running out and I wasn’t adding much to my net. With about half an hour remaining, the float went under and it felt like a slightly better fish but it snagged me round a bramble. I tried letting the rig go slack and it seemed to work as the fish was moving but it was still attached to the bramble. If I pulled, the bramble would lift out the water with the fish still attached – brilliant!
At this stage Dave Pope turned up to see how we were getting on and I could tell he was impressed with my predicament! I tried sticking the top kit between my legs and dislodging the fish with the rest of the pole but that didn’t work. Next I took my landing net pole apart and stuck that on the end of the pole but that wasn’t the answer, then I attached a weed cutter to my landing net handle which I stuck on my pole and went across. That did the trick and the fish along with the bramble came free but now I didn’t have a landing net set up so had to stick the top kit between my legs while I unscrewed the weed cutter and reattached the landing net. Only now the fish and bramble had gone under my keepnet and were stuck solid!
Putting some more pole sections on, I pushed the fish back out and finally managed to net a 4oz chublet, what a palaver! Clearly underwhelmed with my performance, Dave decided to leave me to it and I still had time to miss another bite before the all out. I ended up with 48 fish for around 2lb or so which I knew wouldn’t be any good today.
The Grand Wizard walked by with the scales so I went with him to get some photos, Chris N (Stoke) on the end had 2lb before Jake W on peg 45 (Ilminster) had 2lb 10oz but had lost four chub. Mark D (Stoke) and Kevin R (Stoke) weighed 1lb 2oz and 6oz respectively before Ian ‘Bagger’ Burton (Ilminster) on 41 had 3lb 3oz to edge us into the lead.
Danny Blunn (Stoke) weighed 3lb 4oz and it was all very close although with Chris W and Dave H admitting to 4-5lb, I knew we’d be behind in this section. Paul A (Ilminster) on 37 weighed 1lb 13oz and then Neil P (Ilminster) had done really well to catch 105 gudgeon plus some bits and bobs for 5lb. Then it was my turn and I added a meagre 2lb 7oz to the cause.
The last two in our section were Dave H (Stoke) who had nice net of fish for 5lb 13oz which included a 10oz roach and last but definitely not least was Chris W (Stoke) who’d caught all day to weigh 6lb 10oz. Worse news was to come when Dave said he’d spoken to Russ who’d caught a further seven chub for 8-10lb and our fate was sealed.
Back at the results and Russell had the top weight overall with 10lb 5oz (so obviously Parrett Works couldn’t compete with Kingsbury could it Russ?!) which meant he’d won the Memorial Shield in style despite a valiant effort from Terry who’d caught loads of fish for 4lb 9oz which was second in the section. Bob Newbery (Stoke) was the next best weight with 3lb 12oz from peg 9 and Cliff Gaylard (Stoke) had 3lb 9oz from 29. Thanks to Russ Hilton for the photos*
Nick Payne (Ilminster) and Matt Adams (Ilminster) both had 2lb 9oz, Big Frank (Ilminster) weighed 2lb 1oz, Jenny (Stoke) had 1lb 15oz, Tony C (Ilminster) weighed 1lb 13oz, Steve ‘The Pole’ Parker (Ilminster) added 1lb 10oz and Derek G (Stoke) had 1lb 8oz from peg 25.
1 – Russell Hilton (Stoke AA) – 10lb 5oz
2 – Chris White (Stoke AA) – 6lb 10oz
3 – Dave Hilton (Stoke AA) – 5lb 13oz
4 – Neil Purchase (Ilminster AA) – 5lb
A – Terry Morgan (Ilminster AA) – 4lb 9oz
B – Danny Blunn (Stoke AA) – 3lb 4oz
Stoke AA (40lb 4oz) – Ilminster AA (30lb 4oz)
I would just like to say a massive thanks on behalf of the club to Stoke for making us welcome and we’re looking forward to returning the favour (and getting the trophy back) later in the year.
Sunday’s Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing on BBC2 was just a delight once again and I’m looking forward to the next one already.
Don’t forget you can still bag yourself a bargain by using the exclusive discount code AgainstMenandFish10 to get 10% off when you shop online at Somerset Angling
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Next up – Dillington
Coming soon – Lots more match reports
Check Out – My last match (below)