Evesham Festival Practice Weekend

Last weekend I spent 2 days at Evesham practicing for the forthcoming Evesham Festival Weekend, as I,ve got an invite for the Saturday and Sunday matches.

Last Saturday was a knock up, not a qualifier, and only about 15 anglers turned up, with bloodworm and joker not allowed everybody was expecting a tough match, and they were right. Luckily for us all there was a couple of inches of extra water in the river along with a tinge of colour, this could only make the fishing better???

I drew peg 61, people who know the river better than me didn't have anything positive to say about the peg, it was deep and there was a few roach there. I went there with a plan to concentrate on the bleak, thinking that 4-5lb would be enough to win the match, but while I was setting up I could see the odd roach topping in front of me, so I decided to change my plan and ball it for roach and any perch that would come along, I still set up a feeder rod, bleak rigs, hemp rigs and chop worm rigs. By the time I had everything set up, my peg looked more like a tackle shop.

When the match started I balled in 9 babys head, about 2 kgs of Gros Gardons black, which had been riddled to remove the coarsest pieces, with some pinkies and a pint of hemp in it. I also bait droppered some worm down the inside and started to throw some sloppy Sensas Surface for the bleak.

First run down over the ground bait I was well pleased when the float buried and I caught a small roach, followed next run down by a small perch, the first hour I caught small fish steadily and this was better than I expected, I tried the chop worm rig down the edge after an hour and caught a couple of small perch on that, but this soon dried up. I then tried the bleak rig and had a quick run of bleak before that died and then back out over the ground bait and I had a run of small fish. By keeping swapping lines I was able to keep bites coming for most of the match, I even managed a few hemp roach in the last ten minutes.

I should have caught more roach on the hemp, but my rigs weren't right, Steve Pierpont was at the next peg and half an hour from the end he came up to me and had a quick chat, I asked him about hemp rigs and he was very helpful, he even went and got some of his for me to look at. With 10 minutes to go I adjusted my rigs, like Steve suggested, and I caught 3 roach before the end, up to that point I hadnt had a bite on it, real nice bloke is Steve, my dad knows him from when he used to fish Evesham, 30 years ago.

I weighed in 3lb 10oz, never had a fish big enough to net, and won the section by default. 7lb of hemp roach won the match, that was Ian 'shep' Shepherd, he also won the wednesday match with 10lb of hemp roach, good angling!

Sunday was the last of the Qualifiers, and it was a sell out, apart the few who never turned up. Everyone wanted to draw in the town, into the draw bag I went and out came peg 60, next peg to yesterday, I was not happy, but at least I knew what to expect, or so I thought.

The couple of inches of extra water that was in the river yesterday had run through and it was back down to its normal low level and the tinge of colour had gone and the sun had come out. I set up all the same rigs as yesterday hoping to fish a similar match and try and catch some more fish on the hemp, after what I learnt yesterday.

How different two days can be, I never had a bite over the ground bait, never had a bite on the worm, never had a bite on the feeder, never had a bite on the hemp all I could catch was the odd bleak. After 4 and a half hours I barely made a pound of bleak so I threw back and hoped I never drew there again, the section of 25 was won with 2lb 6oz, Tom Scholey caught 2 eels and 2 perch on a maggot feeder, thank god we can use bloodworm and joker for the festival.