Division 1 National, Bristol Avon, 4 weeks to go

My recent run of luck at the draw bag, ran out at the weekend on a river that looked better than it fished. There was still colour and flow on the river, from last weeks rain, and I was expecting it to fish a lot better than it did.

Saturdays match, on the Crane stretch, at Keynsham had a disappointing turn out of only 12 anglers, the river looked good, but very few roach showed and the first 2 weights were next to each other, near the marina mouth, 28lb and 27lb all bream on the feeder. Third was only 10lb, but the rest of the anglers were pegged in an area where there are few bream. I drew a good roach area, a draw I would be very happy with  at the back end of the season, but it holds very few bream, and my approach was a single feeder rod and hope for the best, I caught very little for most of the match until the last half an hour when I had 2 drop backs from bream for 6lb, if I had fished for roach for 5 hours I dont think I would have caught 6lb, never mind always tomorrow.

Sundays match, at Newbridge, felt like a national practice match, 88 anglers lined up for the draw, with plenty of faces from 'up north', again the river looked good, nice colour and pace, the bad thing was the bright sunshine and blue clouds, not ideal for bream but I mustnt complain after all the rain of late, it was nice to pack away with dry kit.

I drew permanent peg 104, in the trees at Saltford, not the best area at this time of year, its a lot better after Xmas. Instead of my usual one rod approach of late, I set up a pole to fish for roach and a feeder rod for bream, I figured if I could catch some roach early and a couple of bream later in the day, that might be enough to win the section, there was no chance of winning the match from this area.

I balled it on the pole with my usual roach mix, and started of quite well and probably caught a pound in the first 20 minutes before everything went dead and then all I could catch was the odd tiny perch, so I switched to the feeder and spent the next few hours with just a few tiny perch for my efforts. Word on the bank was that all the 'trees' was fishing the same, just an odd bream showing and a few roach and perch.

20 minutes to go I had had enough, I threw back about a pound and a half of fish and went home for an early bath. There was 1 bream weight in my section of 18lb and Clive Branson won the section by default with 2lb 10oz, he spent the whole match fishing for small roach on a pole and bolognese. Most of the sections in the trees were won with one bream and a few bits and pieces, this will not be a good draw on the day of the match.

One bright note was that a good friend of mine won the match, Ian Pauley, hes a really funny guy who enjoys his fishing and doesnt take things toooo serious. Ian caught 36lb from just below Newton St Loe railway bridge, 8 bream on the feeder, everybody who drew below the railway bridge caught bream until you got into the trees, Ian drew permanent peg 74, this little area of the river you are fishing on the natural bed of the river, before it was straightened and deepened, and you can still feel the gravel on the bottom.

The rest of the people who made up the frame came from 'Newbridge' 29lb 12oz was second and 25lb was fifth, for the size of the match these weights are 'poor' and I would expect the dry and sunny forecast for the coming week to see the river slow down and some colour drop out, if this happens I would expect more roach to show and the bream to shoal up more, the winning bream weight will probably be bigger, but fewer anglers will catch them, but roach will win more sections.

Next week is the £2000 Enviroment Agency sponsored match and it is already sold out and Im hoping my form at the draw bag returns.

Newton St Loe railway bridge, pictured above, is a good area to draw but on a warm day kids jump off the bridge and throw things into the water, at the moment there is a lot of sunken debris built up around the central support, brought down by the recent floods, and it is very snaggy to fish, but I would take my chance on this peg.