Basingstoke Canal, Teams of Four
Saturday was the fourth round of this league and the canal looked in great shape, for the first time this year it had colour in it and was flowing, all previous rounds had been still and clear and a lot of people struggled. I had my breakfast in McDonalds at Fleet and there were 3 other anglers in there and all the talk was about how well it should fish, there was even talk of 20lb being needed to win, a big improvement on the 3 other rounds.
The sections that were being pegged, covered some good areas and a lot of good pegs were being used, so I was really looking forward to it. At the team draw, I was on peg 35 which was the most downstream section at Fleet. Last year Will won one of the rounds with 50lb of skimmers and bream, I was 4 pegs away from his peg and lucky Colin Dance, the tackle dealer from Crowthorne, was bang on it. To my right was a noted carp peg, a couple of seasons ago, team mate Dave Guntrip won a round of this league with a 12lb carp caught on floating crust in March, it was a very mild day and the spot he was fishing is regularly fed by 'duck' lovers, this peg also won the last National that was fished on this canal with 60lb of bream and carp.
I was not disappointed with my draw, but I knew that there was a lot better pegs in my section. I set up my usual canal rigs to fish the bread for roach plus another rig in case the bream showed up, this was a heavier float with a bigger hook for a larger piece of bread.
At the whistle I cupped in a big ball of liquised bread at top 6 straight in front of me and fed some chopped worm at 13m down the peg to the left and some more at 13m to some overhanging cover on the far side. I started on the bread line, first drop in the float didn't settle correctly, due to the bristle being dry, so I lifted out and dropped back in again, the float went straight under and I had my first roach of the day, the next 6 drops I had 6 roach, 2 of them were net table, then I started to get funny bites and started to miss a few, they were very tiny roach, the great start didn't last long and after 30 minutes I was really struggling with the roach, so i tried the worm for perch, I tried both lines and never had a bite, so back on the bread, the next rest seemed to do a lot of good as the first 2 drops I caught a couple of better roach, but it didn't last long before it was back to the very small roach.
After an hour a very cold wind got up, probably easterly and the fishing really slowed up, speaking to some anglers after the match they never had another bite once the wind got up. I kept trying my worm line but never had a bite, when I went on the bread line I would get a few tiny roach before it went quiet again, this was the pattern for the rest of the match, I would try the worms every half an hour without a bite but could catch a few roach on the bread.
The word crept along the bank that the downstream flyers weren't fishing, they had caught a few skimmers and perch in the first hour, after a couple of hours it obvious if I was going to do any good in the section I was going to have to catch some perch, so i spent quite a bit of time trying for them. At the end of the match I never had a bite on the worm and my small roach weighed 3lb 4oz, the section was won by John Light who had 5 perch and a 2 skimmers for 6lb 2oz, all caught in the first 90 minutes, then he never had a bite for the rest of the match.
My weight was good enough for 4th in the section of 10.not my best day on the Bazzy, but at least I had a few bites on a very difficult day. On the way back down the M4 we saw a crash where an old lady had lost control of her car and smashed into the central reservation, the accident had only just happened before we passed it and the emergency services had yet to arrive, it was not a pretty sight, it made me appreciate that my day was a lot better than hers.