Memorable Matches

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Memorable Matches. Hello all of fishing lovers, Today’s post is “Memorable Matches”. We hope this article is helpful for you, all fishing lovers.

Memorable Matches

While I have your attention I thought I’d go through a few matches that stick in my mind. Some details like dates/years are hazy but the actual matches I can recall quite well.  There will hopefully be something you can draw from my experiences.

The first is memorable for a few reasons, and because of that I know the date precisely.  It was Wednesday June 16 1976.  First day of the new season and being a Wednesday the ABC match group in Tottenham ran the first of their midweek evening opens on the Lea just off the North Circular road.  This date remains my lowest point financially since starting work.  I quite literally spent my last few pounds on bait and the £5 match fee.  It was a week before pay day, going overdrawn wasn’t an option as that was against the rules for bank staff.  So it would mean me having to ask for help from my parents to see me through the next seven days.  Something I didn’t look forward to.  But I still entered the match.

The Lea at this point is basically a canal and was permanently pegged.  THE peg to draw was 40, and that’s what I drew.  The problem was though that to catch the resident chub that would win a match you had to cast a waggler under the overhanging far bank brambles (no 14 metre poles then).  If you were two foot short you wouldn’t get a bite.  This night it was blowing a gale straight down the canal from the North and very cold.  So much so that I hadn’t taken a coat, being June, and I ended up fishing in my suit jacket.  The wind made it impossible to cast accurately or for the float to stay still long enough to get a bite.  So I had to fish the pole.  In those days that meant seven metres of Lerc fibreglass.  I hadn’t bothered packing a feeder as it wasn’t usually needed.

With around 45 minutes left the wind died and I was able to cast accurately at last.  Three or four accurate casts saw me land three or four chub and I won the match.  A close call.  My first ever open match win but more importantly £25 to see me through to pay day.

The next one is a team match on the upper Thames. I like team fishing. With a good captain and team around me I normally have orders to follow and that is when I fish best, when I don’t have to take the decisions. Most times I have found the orders worked well for me and didn’t have anything else to do but execute them.

The orders for this match were to fish maggot on the waggler about 15-20 yards out and keep catapulting maggots over the top. The peg I drew was best fished standing in the water. So I got myself comfortable with bait waiter and rests for the rod. The rig was simple, just a plain waggler with three No.8s half inch apart just above the hooklength dragging bottom to slow the bait down. I prefer three smaller shot as I feel that they have a better braking effect than one larger shot.

The day went like clockwork for me and I soon settled into a rhythm. Cast, rod down, feed, pick up rod, wait, strike, land, re-bait, cast. The fish were not big and as I recall I ended with between three and four pound for third in section. The team came third overall. But I was satisfied that I had done my bit. I love those days when you get into that fish catching routine and you can almost predict where the float will go under.

Another day when team orders worked to perfection was a third division national on the drains around Boston. This was the year that the venue was switched, I think from the Witham, at the last minute because the river was fishing so poorly.

Luckily we had a team practice planned for just after the venue change was announced. So we were able to switch our practice sessions onto the drains. We split our three days into five half day sessions on different parts of the drain system to be used on the day. Pretty soon we discovered an interesting if frustrating phenomenon. You would feed the usual balls of groundbait at the start and catch for two hours then bites dried. After a couple of sessions this was doing our heads in until one of the better anglers in the team worked it out. The fish were coming up in the water. So the team plan for the day was to fish on the deck until the bites slowed then switch to a half depth rig and feeding a loose, just damp groundbait. I managed to fish the practice sessions well and forced my way into the team. The captain told me that before the sessions he had me marked as a reserve.  Funny how I always seem to be underestimated, perhaps because I underestimate my own ability.

On the day I drew on the Sibsey Trader in front of the windmill that gives that drain its name. I fed the swim and put a staight lead out for ten minutes to see if I could snare a mug bream or tench but nothing materialised. From that point on the match went precisely to plan. I caught on the deck for two hours, bites slowed so I picked up the half depth rig, fed some loose groundbait and was soon catching again. It became apparent that after that the fish were moving up and down the water column. I got into a routine of catching five at half depth then five on the deck and back to half depth for another five.

Come the end of the match I had 75 fish including one skimmer of around four ounces (100 grams). I was going to be the second last to be weighed in on my bus (25 to a bus, three busses per section). Before the scales arrived I spoke to the guy on the next peg and he told me that his fish stopped biting after two hours but he had noticed I had caught the entire match. I told him of what we had discovered in our practice. When the scales arrived I asked what was best out of the first 23 to be weighed – 750 grams. A quick calculation had me smiling, I knew my 75 fish averaged more than 10 grams each. Weight was 1.4 kilo. So just about double the best so far. The last peg didn’t have as much as me so I was top on my coach. A great feeling while travelling back to HQ. I ended up sixth in section, my best ever National result. Unfortunately other members of the team either didn’t stick to the plan or it didn’t work for them and we came middle of the table.

Interestingly a couple of years later I was speaking with someone who fished the same match. His team was gutted that the venue had been switched as they had sorted a team plan for the river. Apparently they had discovered that if you fed a kilo of chopped worm at the start the bream would move in after a couple of hours.

I have fished the Northants County Cup only twice. First time in 2009 I managed second on the canal near Market Harborough. This was purely down to some good if odd (for a canal) advice from a good angler. I drew a fairly tough section at Lubenham. The advice I had been given was to feed a line with pellets for the skimmers. I had never thought of using pellets on the canal and to be honest felt a bit foolish cupping them in. Four hours later and with just six pairs of eyes in the net I suddenly remembered feeding the pellets. I had got blinkered into trying for the small silvers and forgot the pellet line. I swung the far bank rig I was using round, it had a single pinkie on, and dropped it over the spot I had fed the pellets. Within thirty seconds the float buried and I was gingerly playing a skimmer of around a pound. In the last hour of the match I landed four more and weighed in 7lb. Enough for second (first was a team mate with 9lb). I had been put into a makeweight team comprising individuals who wanted to fish but didn’t have a formal team. We placed second in the team event!

Second place to “teammate” Mark Lane. 
Not bad for my first appearance in the Northants County Cup

Another canal match proved to be the place I would finally win a trophy I had been looking to win for about thirty five years.  Each year I fish a two day event. The club I fish this with started life as part of Barclays Bank’s sports & social network. Each region and head office department had its own team. Originally we just fished a one day team event. Quite a nice set-up as we were funded from sports & social funds and granted extra days off for events. In time an individual day was added and this has continued even after the company withdrew its S&S funding. A chance to meet up with old adversaries and friends. Due to lack of numbers from Northants I now fish with Yorkshire, and have the shirt and lock on my wallet to prove it.

In recent years the matches have been on commercials but in 2010 we somehow found ourselves on the Calder & Hebble canal at Brighouse. I had never fished it before and was startled to find it as clear as tap water and very few boats. I am used to the always coloured Grand Union. Luckily one of the organisers took me on a tour of the sections the day before so when I drew “Kossets” I at least knew the bonus fish were tench. I set up to fish two lines. One would be a silver fish line about half-way and just short of an overhanging willow. I would feed the swim with sloppy groundbait laced with a few squatt & pinkie. Hopefully the cloud of groundbait would hang in the clear water and give the fish confidence. The second line was under the willow with chopped worm for the tench.

I fed both lines and was fairly quickly putting a few fish in the net from the silvers line. Not many but better than anyone around me. A bankwalker who fished the canal with the organisers and knew about the match told me that my eleven fish were probably winning the match, it was hard everywhere. After around three hours I got to eighteen fish when the silvers line went dead. So time to try the tench line. I had tackled up for this using one of my carp margin rigs – 0.17 line, 0.2g float and a fairly large hook. Half a worm on the hook and the float settled for a second or two before disappearing. It was one of those comedy moments when I wondered what had happened until it registered in my brain as a bite. Lifting the pole saw me contact something large and angry. I shipped back safe in the knowledge that the rig was plenty strong enough and soon had about 10 metres of 12 hollow yellow elastic stretched across the canal. Two minutes later and I was netting a dark tench of just over two pound. I cheered.

I don’t think I had another fish for the remaining 90 minutes or so. But I need not have worried. My total of 4lb 6 ½ oz was enough to see me picking up the trophy as individual champion. I had been third three times previously but at last my name went on the trophy alongside a lot of anglers whom I had admired and respected through the years.

Pleased?  You bet your life.  Thirty five years of trying finally snagged me the trophy.

A final canal memory completes the set. Again the works annual event, this time on the Stainforth & Keadby, or was it New Junction? I know it was the smaller of the two. At that time I was living in London and fished with the London East region. We were lucky enough to have a couple of really good anglers (Gareth Young where are you now?).  Arriving the afternoon before the match we had a brief watch of a local fishing the canal and then a couple of hours evening practice. Team captain instructed me to fish chopped worm.  I had never used chopped worm before. Caught a few fish on it including some roach and so I was told it was my tactic for the team event.

Next day it was blowing a hoolie straight down the canal. Impossible to hold a long pole I opted to fish the worm at around four metres. I caught steadily with bites dropping off as the match progressed, all small perch. Suddenly the elastic was streaming out of the pole and I was praying everything held. It did and I had a nice bonus of a chub around a pound. Not much but on a difficult day a welcome addition to my weight. I ended up second in section. The lad who was first would eventually become a team mate in Northampton. His bonus was a skimmer slightly bigger than my chub. In the team of six we had no-one worse than fifth in section and so won the team event for the first time. I have since won the team trophy twice more with Northampton and Yorkshire.

Finally my first ton. Whittlesey’s Decoy fishery, Cedar lake, peg 13, July 2011. A corner peg with a nice 18 inch deep margin shelf towards the corner to the left. The right margin went straight down to around three-four foot. Started the match trying to catch shallow in front as it was warm, still day but soon realised that this wasn’t paying off (not a method I am good at). Switched to the margins and soon was catching regularly. Most fish came from the left margin and I had a few bigger fish from the deeper right on paste but the bites were not coming quickly enough for me that side. Can’t say too much really as for me it was simply a case of finding the right bait on the day – 6 mil expander and feeding soaked 4 mils. Even with my first ton recorded (107-10) I still only managed third. Winner had 205.

So, some good memories, a couple of trophies and some coin. But most importantly some really enjoyable days fishing. Makes up for the mid-Winter blanks.

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