This season has been really hit and miss for me so far for various reasons. Home and work commitments have definitely affected things and this year I just don't think I've had a run that's got me 'into' certain venues or styles of fishing. Normally by now I'd have had several matches in a row at somewhere familiar but this year that just hasn't happened. I've actually had lots of one-match weekends and travelled here, there and everywhere to do it. It's nice to have such a diverse amount of places to fish but it doesn't help you put a run of form together. Despite that, I've still been catching a few fish lately, if not setting the world alight.
It seems I am doomed to near misses and second places so far, though. Second in a Match This qualfier and second in a Fish 'O' Mania qualifier are my two biggest 'what ifs'. I did badly on the Saturday in the Evesham Festival (off the same peg I won the Wychavon Champs off last year, no less!) but I made up for it with a good performance the next day, beating everyone around me with a satisfying and hard-earned 6lb+ from a poor area... but sadly still missing out on a section envelope.
The first round of the UK Champs really kicked me in the teeth as despite being well prepared I fished poorly. In my defence, I was the only person with an angler either side of me, but I still should have scored one or two more section points.
Since then I've had a 2nd and a 3rd in subsequent rounds, which I'm fairly happy with. I've still got a chance of a top-10 finish but it all boils down to the last round at Barston Lake. I won my 11-peg section there Sunday so fingers crossed I can repeat that performance!
I've actually been winning a few envelopes recently so perhaps I'm settling down again? I was just out the frame at Heronbrook two weeks ago and was 4th on a rare visit to Cudmore last Saturday. That last venue really opened my eyes. The people there were all dead friendly and welcoming while the fish all fought like they were on steroids; many you'd swear were foul-hooked were actually nicked squarely in the mouth! I enjoyed the day there on Suez Pool and will definitely be back this year.
It was refreshing to have a couple of six-hour matches to fish, too. It seems commonplace the further north you go but round by me its mostly 5-hour jobbies. Both have their merits. Six hours is a long time if you're on a duff 'un though!
So, the last few weekends things have started to gain momentum. I'm really up for my first winter league campaign with my new Maver Midlands team. There's some amazing talent in that squad, young and old, and there's so much I have already picked up from fishing with the likes of Les Thompson, Jamie Hughes, Wayne Mellings, Stu Ballard, Dave Brown, Martin Leck and rising talent, Craig Goldstraw. They're definitely a team to keep an eye on!
I've also managed to make the top-three in my County Champs division so I've got a nice Final at Heronbrook to look forward to. As soon as I weigh in from that, I'm bombing down to White Acres for the Preston Festival. I came 15th out of 180 anglers in this year's Dynamite Baits Festival (in the usual 'section of doom'!) so I'm hoping to match that effort with a top-24 spot to earn a place in the £25k Parkdean Masters.
I just need a good final round of the UK Champs before that and then 'hopefully' keep the run going for as long as possible. I don't want this to be the first year for a long time that I haven't won something substantial. I am a big believer in fate so if it's meant to be it will happen... but it still wont be for a lack of trying!