For the past three years my team has entered the Kennet & Avon Canal Teams Of Four Spring League, and since its inception three years ago it has grown from just a dozen teams to 22 this year.
It's fished on what has got to be the best piece of canal in the south of England, the Marlbrough water around Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire. Running up to the last match both of our teams of 4 were in contention for a payout at the end, lying in 2nd and 3rd spot behind Garbolino Blackhorse.
So, with all to play for Jonno, was sent up to draw for my team, as he has been in a bit of form lately! He came back and thrust B9 into my hand, which was on the Station length. I had a quick chat to team mate Mike Berntsen who had been on that section on the previous round and found that although the section had produced the winning weight off of the end peg with 24lb, mine had just produced 4lb odd, but Mike thought that a target of 6-7lb should be enough to secure decent points!
When I got to my peg, which was one short of the big bush that comes out into the canal on this length, fish were crashing around in the reeds opposite, and swirling all over the canal, but on the pegs either side of me there was less activity. So it looked like I had drawn the knocking shop! The fish obviously had sex on the menu, so I just hoped that my pinkies and maggots would be good enough for dessert?
I set up a multitude of rigs starting on the inside with a 7x12 Lattimer Squatt, at 11m I had a 0.3g Sensas Jean-Francois for decking maggot or double pinkie as well as 4x12 and 4x10 Lattimer’s for squatt fishing, across against the reeds I set up a 0.2g Garbolino DC15 for chopped worm and a Lattimer Caster for... yes you’ve guessed it, maggot! Oh, and caster!
I started on the inside over a ball of groundbait and had a 2-3oz perch first chuck, which promptly fell off on the way back. Then next chuck a 4oz skimmer. More skimmers followed which made me change the original hook from a 24 Image IM1 to a 22 Colmic B957 which was a bit tougher and more suited to the red Maggot hook bait which I had now switched to.
While I was catching on the inside, Gerry Blunt who was pegged on my left had had a great start at 11m where he had caught a skimmer most cast, and was saying that his float hadn’t gone down yet, as all of his bites had been hold ups! There were clearly a lot of fish in his peg, but I held off moving out to 11m just yet just keeping it topped up with regular pouches of squatts and the odd ball of groundbait. However after an hour the inside had slowed and I shipped over, but unfortunately the action was slower.
The fish were still crashing around in the reeds so I fished the chopped worm and had a couple of skimmers and the odd perch up to 4oz. Although I hadn’t bumped any, the worm rig of 0.10mm hooklength to a 18 B560 with No8 elastic felt a little over gunned for the size of the fish I was catching, so I swapped to the caster/maggot rig with a No4 elastic and a 0.08mm hooklength and a 20 colic B957. Adding a sprinkle pot meant I could feed next to the reeds without spraying the bait into them, as I wanted to lure the fish away from their sexual activities!
So by continuing to feed and swapping between the three lines I managed to put 65 fish in the net with about half of them skimmers, but to be honest I didn’t really know what weight I had – maybe 8-10lb? I knew both sides had more as they had bigger fish towards the end by fishing right over, in an area I couldn’t reach due to the reeds sticking out opposite me. Mark Lloyd on the bush peg to my right weighed 21lb 4oz and Gerry to my left had 17lb 10oz, comprising of 55 skimmers, for which he said the float only went under three times all day! So my 14lb 9oz was a 'little' over my estimation but thankfully so, as the rest of the section had fished well with 6lb 1oz being the last weight in the 11 pegs! So much for Mike’s 6lb for good points prediction!
Back at the results we added up the points and with Rob and Gary coming 3rd in their 11 peg sections, my 4th and Jonno’s 6th we had 32, which should be there or thereabouts, as we had won with 35 the previous round. That’s where we came again, although equal with Drennan Banbury Gunsmiths. More importantly Garbolino Blackhorse had had a 'mare' (boom boom!), and dropped to 13th on the day which meant we jumped two spots on the overall places to claim top spot for the 2nd time in three years! Our other Garbolino Blackmore Vale team winning it in between. However this year they dropped to bronze medal podium slot with Blackhorse into the silver medal position – well it is Olympics year!
So, with over £1,200 in team winnings plus my £60 for a triple-defaulted section win(!) we went home happy bunnies!