Saturday we had a team line up on the the Competition reach, this was our last and for some of us, the only weekend we had to practice, the recent changes by the angling trust meant that we had to choose between practicing for the semi or fishing the Sensas Challenge final on the Gloucester canal, I would sooner have fished both.
The line up went well, with different anglers trying different things, we all caught well and the best on the day was 16lbs skimmers, the pegs without skimmers caught about 8lbs roach, little did we know what was to come the next day.
The Sunday morning started off with an unexpected frost on the windscreen, which put a little doubt in my mind as to how it was going to fish. I drew A section at Wolf hall, a stretch I had never seen before, some of the locals thought the match would be won from here, so off I went to my peg full of optimism and a set of sat nav co-ordinates.
End pegs are golden on this canal, I had drawn 2 from an end with team mate Darren Davies on the end and Michael Buchwalder in between me and the end peg, in our 10 peg section there was 4 Dorking anglers, not ideal preparation for the match, we would sooner have seen a number of different sections.
My match was typical for the canal at this time of the year, start on the bread and then switch to squatts, I caught small roach for most of the match and weighed in 8lbs 12ozs, Darren beat me on the end peg with 9lbs 8ozs and Simon Wilsmore won the section with 10lbs 1oz. The 4 Dorking anglers made up the top 4 in this section. At the weigh in we had no idea how the other sections fished and we when we got back to find that my team mate Lee Edwards had won the match with 39lbs of skimmers, there were 4 weights over 20lbs and 10th place was 12lbs 4ozs, absolutely awesome fishing, this has to be one of the best stretches of canal in the country, 94 anglers averaged 6lbs 8ozs per man, bring it on.
The only downside to such great fishing is that nearly all the top 10 weights came from end pegs. The semi is being pegged so that every team gets the same number of end pegs, the same number of end but one pegs and the same number of end but 2, and so on, to make the match as fair as possible, not that every end peg is full of fish, so we hope we get the right ones.
The team match will be won and lost on the pegs in the middle of the sections, the end pegs will look after themselves, so that is where my thoughts will be for the next 2 weeks until the semi. I think the match organiser, Nigel Franks did a really good job with a very well run match, everything went smoothly, with 90+ anglers travelling from all over the south of the country, it is nice to see maps with sat nav co-ordinates to help you find your peg. I only live an hours drive away and have never seen the stretch I had drawn, some people were travelling over 150 miles, what chance did they have of finding some of the sections.
Saturday, Im off to sunny whiteacres for the Baitec festival and a carp or 2, then back on the following saturday and fish the semi final on the sunday, so its non stop and hopefully I will catch a few fish along the way.