Draw was a rolling draw from 08:00 to 08:30 with fishing 10:30 to 15:30 and the match length was Hempstead to the Pilot Inn, 100 plus anglers were taking part, you don't see that very often.
I got to the Gordon League Rugby Club by 07:40, Chris and Don were already there so a quick cuppa and a chat and the draw got underway dead on time, sheets with postcodes for each section were available if required and it all ran like clock work. Chris drew one of the early pegs above Hempstead Bend, Don drew down by Rea Bridge and I pulled out 56 so below Hempstead Bend and the Swing Bridge over the A430. the guy recording the draw said ...oh... cyanide straight! Great start. I did know where I was going and fished around peg 65 last year and was aware the anglers above me really and I mean really struggled.
After parking up and loading the trolley with a few minutes I was on the bank. The first person immediately below the swing bridge was Thatchers bream man Gary Webber who was suprisingly positive, perhaps thats the trick, he was itching to get started. I think some of that positive attitude rubbed off for at leat 10 minutes until Bait-Techs Ian Didcote walked past and asked if I'd killed a robin on the way to the match thus deserving a poor peg!
On peg 55 was an angler from Matlock who left home with a few mates at 04:30, they were fishing the National in August so came down for a practice. We had a long chat while waiting for the all in after setting up but I only understood about 30% of what he said.
My set up was simple today... 2 tip rods, one for the far bank and one halfway plus a 2 gram rig to fish at 7 meters where it was full to 5 deep. Chopped worm, caster and dead red / pinkie for feed and bait.
No features what so ever
To my left
To my right and looks more inviting
On the all in I balled in 8 big jaffa's on the pole line full of worm and dead reds and 3 big feeder fulls half way. I baited up straight away with 2 pinkies on the hook and cast to my far bank line about 3 feet off the tins with Chop and caster in the 30 grm feeder. I had a twitch straight away but missed it (it was just a twitch). Next cast same again but hit it this time and a small blade bream of abot 1 oz was swung to hand. That was all the action for the first 90 minutes but I did see bream man Gary Webber net what appeared to be 2 bream as I was checking how others were doing. I had been using small red worms as hookers as well be changed to half a dendra and the response was almost instant with the 2 oz tip bending round like a carp had taken it. I picked up the rod and it was a solid thump which I knew was a bream but how big because in 20 feet of water even the small ones take a time to come up. I had to put the tip under the water as two old timers learning to canoe came right over my line and while I was doing this the tip remained positively bent. I did get it safely in the net and it was a good 4lb just lip hooked. Within 15 minutes I had another half tidy bite and snared a skimmer of around a pound.... happy days. Despite hitting the same spot more or less every time nothing elase appeared to be there so I cam in on the pole line at about 12:30 and got bored with that after 20 minutes, no one else was catching on that line anyway that I could see, I tried the middle with the other tio rod for 30 minutes but nothing. It was now around 13:30 ish so decided to stick it out on the far bank for the remainder of the match.
I saw Gary land another good fish and an eel on the pole and though he must be in with a shout. I had a decent eel around 14:00 of around a pound and the hook fell out when I netted it. I had a couple of twitches again but think I missed out by not hitting them immediately.
It was just after 15:00 when I had a proper bite and hit it resulting in another bream of about 3lb plus so was well happy but that was it.
Above the bridge as expected the weights were a lot better around the Hempstead Bend area. Gary weighed in just over 9lb and I put 10lb 1oz on the scales which was the best weight my side of the bridge and down as far as 63.
36lb won the match with 31lb odd second, 6th place was 19lb. Overall I was in the top 12 out of a 100 so very pleased with that. Chris has 6lb plus and Don never had a bite. Some sections were dire with just over 2lb winning them.
So.... its a challenge next week lets hope I draw Hempstead.