Unfortunately for me this match meant a 0500 start as I had to pick John up from Andover at 0630 and the draw was at 0800, we made it with time to spare even with a stop for breakfast. We paid our money and managed to have a chat with the rest of the team about the venue, the general consensus was that you would need roach for section points, bonus fish for individual glory and that there are a few bleak along the river. I was reliably informed that the best pegs were all of the Radcott down pegs and the bridge at Lechlade, so I stuck my mitt into the box and pulled out Radcott Down, peg 1!!!. I was a bit excited so I bundled John into the van and dropped him off at Lechlade (3.5 miles away) before driving back to unload my kit, I needn’t have worried as it only took about 15 minutes as the road in between was quite nice and I was able to follow Barry on the way there and Nick on the way back. It actually took me longer to walk to my peg as the car park next to the river had been locked, but I made it to my peg at just before 0900.
First job was to roughly plumb the peg so out came the Bolo rod and stick float, this showed me that at around 11m I had about 8ft, this continued across to about 14.5-16m where it started to shallow, it also got shallower the closer in you came and was around 5-6ft a rod length out. The depth was pretty constant as far down as I could cast so now I could set up my box and start a plan.
My plan was to fish a groundbait line at 11m; a worm line at 5m and a waggler across, Groundbait was a simple roach mix that I planned to put some damp leam in to add weight and cloud in the clear water. My first rig was my bagging/holding back rig, 1.5g on 0.11mm mainline to a 0.1mm bottom and an 18 B511; this was set on No.5 elastic through 3 sections of my Z9 and set touching bottom with the ollivette 15 inches from the hook and all the droppers as a second bulk at the top of the 6” hooklength. Rig 2 was my running through rig, with 8 ft of water and a strengthening wind I decided on a positive float so set up a 1g DS14H on 0.11 mainline to a 0.098mm bottom and a 20B511, again on No.5 through 3 sections. This rig was shotted with a bulk of no.8 shot and no 10 droppers, although they later changed to no.12’s. Finally I decided to set up an OTD Hemp rig so a 0.3G inter 2 was set up with 0.11mm mainline and a 0.08mm bottom to a 20B511, This was set on no.5 through 3 sections again and was shotted with spread styls throughout the full 8ft depth. My worm rig was a 0.5g float on 0.15mm mainline to a 0.13mm bottom, this was set on No.6 elastic through 3 sections as I had left all my proper elastic top kits at home, but since it was mainly a backup line I was not too worried. Finnally I set up a 14ft waggler rod with 2.5lb mainline to a 4bb Browning loaded waggler and a 0,1mm bottom with a 20 B611 for fishing Caster across.
At the all in I potted 10 balls of groundbait with Caster, hemp and pinkie onto my 11m line and went straight over the top with my bagging rig, this gave me 4 roach until my first of many bleak appered, I tried changing to my running through rig with caster and also went back out with my bagging rig and 10 inches from olly to hook but all to no avail, bleak were proper smashing me up and I had no come back. I looked at the situation and decided to slip a grain of hemp onto my running through rig after just 40 minutes, third run through and bingo, my first hemp roach. For the next hour I caught roach between 2 and 6oz (usually the smaller ones) steadily but I decided to rest the swim and have a look on the inside line for some perch. I fed with about 6 worms and 20 caster and caught small perch straight away, after 5 fish though the swim went quiet and some bubbles came up, I thought it would be a cray but a slight bite and lift saw 20 feet of no.6 pouring across the river and a 3lb Tench was stuck on the end. I was amazed in the fact that the bite had been so slight but the fish was deep hooked so I took 2 inches off the depth, refed and looked for a few more roach on the long line. The rest had done the swim good and I had a quick run of net fish before the swingers came back, it was in this spell that Phil my bank runner tipped up and gave me the good news that the rest of the section was fishing hard, so just to keep on putting fish in the net. I rested the long pole line a few more times with 2 more Tench and a few perch and roach coming on the short line and only bleak showing on the waggler but come the end of the match I felt as though I would have 12-14lb depending on how big the Tench were. I was on scales for the 4 pegs below the bridge and my job was made even easier by only two of them having been drawn.
I weighed the guy on peg 3 first and he had 20lb 8oz made up of 2 Bream for 9lb, some half decent perch and some roach. I thought he had battered me until I lifted my net out of the water; 19lb 1oz was my final weight and consisted of 60 non bleak fish including 3 Tench. I was well chuffed as I thought that this would be enough for 2nd, then at Lechlade car park Richie off the bridge had taken 21lb of skimmers , so third? No, another 20lb weight had come from up at Lechlade again skimmers so I came in 4th out of the 53 odd anglers and would have been second in my section of 2!!!!
I learnt that hemp and tares are a good way around bleak, don’t forget your proper top kits even on the river and a few other bits about presentation and feeding. I caught my PB River Match weight and all I need to do now is repeat it in rd 1 of the winter league next week.