Looking back over the last two years, it is dead easy to recall which part of my angling year I have enjoyed the most. It has, without question been between June 16th and August Bank Holiday, when I have spent most of my free time fishing the festival qualifying matches at Evesham.
There are so many great thing about these matches on the Warwickshire Avon. Firstly the turnouts – to my knowledge there is no other venue in the country that gets between 70 and 80 every Saturday and Sunday through the early part of the season. The fishing, though not always prolific is also extremely varied and interesting.
I was talking to a friend of mine, Steve Royle who I met the first year I fished Evesham. We were discussing winning methods on the forthcoming opening weekend, and quickly covered just about every conceivable style of river fishing! With a bit of extra water in the river, the match could quite conceivably be won using anything from flat float, to standard long pole fishing, to pole feeder, to normal feeder to stick float to waggler, to whip fishing for bleak! Depending on where you draw (and the state of the river) you could find yourself doing pretty much anything, and targetting a multitude of species of fish. To me this makes the experience of fishing everything it ever should be – unpredictable, varied, challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding.
The other great thing about travelling down and fishing the river is the social side – if you enjoy a beer and are willing to stop over then there is nowhere better to be! There is generally a group of anglers who meet in the Wetherspoons from about eight, and spend the evening gulping down lager and bemoaning their bad fortune from the previous day. If, like me you find that alcohol enhances your appreciation of the female form, there are also plenty of late opening establishments where you can dance the night away. And with the draw the following day not taking place until 10. AM there is plenty of time to recover from any over indulgences.
I am going to really take this series of matches seriously this year, and hope to earn a place in both finals. Being relatively new to river fishing (and not really doing it at any venue other than Evesham) the last two years have proved to be a pretty steep learning curve. However, I am hopeful that this year I will be able to build on the ground I have gained. I’m under no illusions that it is going to be easy, but I love a challenge! Bring on Evesham 2012!
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Tom Scholey is Pole Fishing magazine's Editorial Assistant, and a keen match angler.