Tony Rixon kindly ran another open match at what is one of the best venues in the South West of England, and luckily as I had fished the previous match there I managed to get a place. Virtually no preparation for this match as I had been working long hours all week and was visiting Plymouth Friday / Saturday. A late visit to Avon Angling on Saturday to pick up a brolly to protect me from the heavy rain forecasted!
I travelled to the match with Paul Elmes (I think he should have been in the cartoon Wacky Races) and Craig "Trigger" Edmunds, two of the best commercial anglers around, although Trig said Paul was the best at drawing fliers! The journey down was certainly fun with those two lads, and we had a nice breakfast in Shipham. The match today was on the two carp lakes Ruby and Sapphire (I'd love to fish Emerald and get amongst the silvers some time), and whilst nobody was really saying where to draw Sapphire had produced the better weights last time out. Tony recognised this and announced he would pay top 3 and 1 silvers on each lake, fair enough that. Before the draw Mat Toomes asked if we were having our customary £1 bet and I accepted. Into the draw bag and I pulled peg 19 which put me somewhere back on Ruby lake again.
After the short walk I found I was on the opposite bank to my last visit here, peg 20 was in the corner and I was 1 1/2 pegs up from it! I say 1 1/2 as Tony had pegged it slightly different this time with a couple less anglers on the lake. Clive Feddery was on 20 and he would fish for silvers, and on peg 18 was Mat Toomes, next peg again! Mat was effectively fishing opposite the peg he had last time, and he had a couple of islands to fish to if needed. No pictures today sorry so I'll do my best to describe my peg. The island Mat had was just off to my right, but with the wind getting up I decided I wouldn't be going there. To my left in the margin was a nice patch of reeds coming out a metre, and last match John Baker had caught few next to it. My rigs were simple enough for this match, the same 0.4g float with 0.16 to 14 PR478 for meat on my top set plus one section at 1 to 2 o'clock. A 0.2gm with 0.14 to 16 PR 36 for banded pellet right in front of me. A 4x10 thick bristle jobby for fishing with my top set plus one jst to get over and past the reeds to my left. I didn't set up a specific shallow rig today as it was very windy.
On the whistle I potted some 8mm meat in, some 8mm pellet over the reeds, and started feeding 6mm pellet in front of me. I had a slow start on the pellet line compared to most, and my first 5 fish were small crucians and a roach, already Trig on top bank peg 14 and Leon Hubbard just round from him on 26 were catching shallow regularly against their island, and Matty was catching a few more than me too. I trued feeding a few 8mm pellets along with the 6mm but it didn't work and 6mm in the band was all I could get a bite on. I had a few small carp but then I fouled 2 up shallow. Time to change, and all I did was push my float down to the bulk and fished 12 inches deep with a long line above it. With this I could slap and also swing the rig around, also the weight helped hold the rig in place against the cross wind. I started to get a few carp on this and the odd rudd, and things were looking better and I had a good 45 mins where the float was going under. Inevitably it slowed and I expected this so switched to my meat rig and that buried first chuck and a carp was netted. It was slower on this line but I think I took another 4 carp on meat and then it went quiet.
Back on the pellet shallow and I caught a few more carp but not as fast as before, I tried another section further but this made no difference at all. Halfway through the match and I though Leon Hubbard was running away with it as he always seemed to have a fish on, I put another net as I though I had about 45lb and I hoped it wouldn't kill the swim like last time... but it bloody did!!! For 20 mins I never had a bite.
With 2 hours to go the line just past the reeds came to life and I was catching better sized (2lb+) carp here on 8mm pellet. It was sometimes frustrating as if I missed a bite I'd foul hook a motherless minnow and would have to remove the little buggers before fishing again. I had a great run on this line, and as soon as it started to slow I switched to the meat line (the pellet in front was now dead) and luckily I took a good run of fish here too, some nearly 3lb. I spent the rest of the match switching between the 2 lines, and only had 2 problems; 1) a decent meat fish put my hook into an underwater branch 3m out, 2) a margin fish got stuck in the reeds, I managed to walk round and scoop it out but this virtually knocked the swim on the head.
The 6 hours had gone by quickly and very soon being inactive I started to feel cold. Mat walked up to me and gave me his £1 before we weighed (nice to get that back lol). People were saying it was between myself and Leon for the lake win, but I reckoned Leon had a lot more than me. I helped with the weigh board (hope my adding up was correct) and so got to see most of the weights. On Sapphire Paul Elmes won with 155lb, Tom Magnal had 133lb and Tony Rixon had 125lb. There were no other tons on that lake but lots of 70lb+
On our lake Trig weighed nearly 96lb, Ron Hardiman on 17 had 76lb, Mat Toomes had 75lb, and then I weighed 106lb. That stayed in the lead until Leon was the last to weigh and he did me weighing 111lb.
Clint Wojtyla won the silvers on my lake and overall with nearly 30lb of roach and rudd.
What a lovely day that was, busy fishing where I caught on all three lines and rigs but never felt the need to go beyond my top set plus one (Mike Nicholls will be proud!). I can't rate this fishery high enough, when anglers don't win a penny with 80lb and the fish average 1 to 2lb, well nuff said. I prefer busy fishing and getting bites and you certainly get that at Emerald!
I think (I really do hope) that this will be my last blog for a few weeks as I am going for my third attempt at the reversal operation on Thursday. I must say this op has given me a lot of consternation / sleepless nights. The thing is it will be nice to get shot of the bag, but after the op it will be a hell of a difficult time recovering and basically and potentially shitting myself! I have to hope this will all settle down and I will be be able to get some sensible toilet habits, but it make 6 months to 2 years. If it doesn't work out then it will be hard to fish in a nappy, so it will be a bag for life. But hey, let's be positive and fingers crossed it all works out. I'll be looking forward to reading the blogs and seeing how the fishing pick up during spring. In the meantime tight lines!