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Close, But No Cigar!

Richard Chave looks back at a gripping Winter League Semi Final…


Ok I was wrong. Last week I thought that no team would dominate the southern semi on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Great Bedwyn, especially with the fair allocation of pegs to each team. But I didn’t take into account just how brilliant Daiwa Dorking are! 75 points out of 90 put them 17 points ahead of Maver Image in second place, but it was the battle for second and third places that was interesting.

As I already mentioned Maver Image had 58 points but Preston Innovations Thatchers and my team, Garbolino Blackmore Vale, tied on 56, with Thatchers edging it on weight, mostly due to Nick Chedzoy’s second placed 21lb.

Chatting to each of our anglers after the match, showed just how close it was, and with a little luck we could have easily came second. Points being lost by single ounces and fish lost at the net were mentioned, and it was a case of what could have been?

So how did I get on? Last week I mentioned just how dominant end pegs have been on the canal, and the team thought that the most we were looking for in the middle of the section was seven points. So I was a little disappointed when I drew C6 in the middle of the Beeches section where Lee Edwards had taken 39lb from on the previous match from end peg C9.

On surveying the peg I set my stall at 4lb, but Dorking’s Gary Pook who wandered along (from C1) before the start, said he had drawn this area the previous week and thought that 2lb would be a massive weight!

After the first hour and six tiny roach in the net I was beginning to believe him, but the sun eventually got above the tall trees which line this part of the canal and warm the water up, and by constantly loose feeding squatts, the small roach started to come more regularly until, with about 90 minutes to go, it was one a chuck. Mostly taken in 2ft of water close to the far bank at 11 metres. The best rig was a dumpy little 4x10 Garbolino DS16 float with strung out No12 shot, a 0.06mm hooklength, size 26 Image IM1 hook and No2 elastic.

With this part of the canal having such a tight towpath, I was glad I had made my job of unshipping easier with a bit of pruning that Alan Titchmarsh would have been proud of! I would recommend anyone who fishes this section to pack a pair of secateurs with them!

I also managed four small skimmers, one at around 4oz, two at 6oz each and a 12ozer all on multiple bloodworm hook baits. The rig was a 4x12 Richard Lattimer Squatt float with a size 22 Image IM1 and a 0.06mm hooklength, fished over a line I had fed with neat joker and finely chopped redworms.

On the whistle I weighed 5-6-8, which put me fourth behind Pooky on Peg 1 with 18-13-0, Danny Grimsey on Peg 9 with 11-14-0 and Steve Townsend on the next peg to me with 6-3-0. After that there were two 3lb weights, a 2lb, and two 1lbs.

So, we haven’t made it to the final, but with such a congested summer of matches, and a four-hour-plus trip to fish at Partridge Lakes a week before the Division One National on the Bristol Avon, it’s probably a blessing in disguise!

Good luck to the three teams that got through, and well done to the organiser Nigel Franks, who runs a very efficient match! Well except this week when he mixed up the top five teams, and there was an embarrassing five-minute wait when he ditched his normal laptop and got out the pen and paper.

Hopefully it’ll be more reliable for the forthcoming Spring Teams Of Four league on the same venue starting on the 15th of April. If this series of blogs has wetted any of your appetites for some super canal fishing, I’m sure you can still get a team in! Currently there are 23 teams of four down for the first match and with 22 anglers weighing in over 10lb this weekend and a 7lb average weight it’s not a series to be missed!


Richard Chave is a silverfish expert from the south west of England and now writes a regular monthly column for Pole Fishing magazine.

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