Saturdays Division One was a match I had mixed feelings about, whilst it was on my doorstep and have fished it for years I knew how patchy and moody this piece of water can be. My first 3 matches of the season I averaged over 60lb per match, the next 5, I never broke 7lb. The walks can be horrendous and I am sure that was one of the reasons so many teams dropped out, had all 70 teams fished the walks would have been even worst and even more anglers would have practiced the day before.
The rain during the week leading up to the match saw the river come over its banks at Beanacre on the thursday and the phone lines were red hot as everyone wanted to know what was happening, I practiced on the wednesday at Saltford and there was plenty of bream and roach to be caught, I went again on the Thursday and all I could catch was eels, the river was a similar height and pace just more coloured, as I said earlier, a 'moody' piece of water.
Come the day of the match the river looked good, bit of pace and some colour and I thought it would be a decent match, a lot better than a low and clear river. At the draw I was given H section at Scotland Rd, Melksham, I had a short walk and I had avoided the pegs near the foot bridge, these pegs are a decent draw normally but because of the easy access they have been hammered. One of the stewards, who lives locally, told me that the 6 pegs below the footbridge had been fished every day that week, I did not want to draw here. The new rule that has come in this year, that allows anglers to practice on the venue the day before may work OK on a commercial but on a natural venue that has a lot less fish and the fish dont need to eat every day is madness in my book, and so it proved when one of the anglers on these pegs caught one small skimmer for 160g, I bet he had a wonderful drive back to Wigan, 3 hours on the motorway wishing the rule had never changed. I hope lessons have been learnt.
My peg was a short walk to a swim called the 'the arm chair', it looked alright and a few of the locals told me that the peg has some form, I just hope it hadn't been hammered that week. For the first national ever I wouldnt have moaned about a long walk, nobody walks a long way when practicing.
My peg was about 6ft deep running down to some trees hanging over the water, it looked good, but a lot of pegs on the upper river look good, but dont produce fish. I set up a chopped worm rig for down the edge, a waggler and my main approach was to ball it on the pole
for roach. When the whistle blew I threw12 balls of Sensas
roach groundbait at 11.5m and then fed my chopped worm line. First run down over my groundbait the float buried, I hooked a small roach and it was taken by a pike, wonderful!. This was the pattern for the first couple of hours, I regularly lost roach to the shoal of jacks, I must have hooked at least 20 pike, or maybe a small number of pike, many times. They were not big pike as they were taking 3 inch roach, after 2-3 hours of this constant frustration I had approx 50 small roach in the net, then the peg dried up, a look on the chopped worm produced 2 bites, a 6oz eel and a perch that dropped off swinging in. the last couple of hours of the match were spent running a waggler or pole through the peg trying to get the odd tiny roach.
At the weigh in I had 2kg 450g which was 4th on my scales of 26 anglers, most anglers in my half of the section struggled to top the kilo, the other half of the section at Whaddon was not any better and 3 anglers there beat me, I had 45 points for the team. Melksham proved to be one of the worst sections in the match, the average weight of the 51 anglers was not much more than 1kg.
When I got back to the draw, the rest of my Dorking team mates had similar results to me, we only had one angler out of the the top 10 in their section, we then had an anxious wait for the results to find out if we had won our second division 1 on the trot.
Another happy day.