The other day I fished the Airsprung AA open on the Bristol Avon at Barton Farm. This will be F Section in this year’s Division One National and it showed the importance of being fully prepared come the big day. Despite the river looking really good following the previous week’s floods the roach just didn’t feed like everyone expected them to.
The rest of the Avon is fishing really well at the moment and Melksham and Chippenham (J & K Sections) have both had high double figures of roach winning their matches recently while on the Lower River below Bath (A, B, C & D Sections), there has been a bream bonanza on the opening weekend with weights topping 80lb! To win the National you will probably need to be pegged down there, but I think that the upper reaches of the river will determine the outcome on the team front.
Going back to my match, despite carefully presenting my bait over 10 balls of groundbait, via 2g and 3g rigs all I could catch in the first hour was six roach and countless bleak, which were intercepting my bait on the bottom in 12ft of water! If I had any hair,I would have pulled it out in that first 60 minutes!
The bleak were a nuisance – but things are only a nuisance if you are trying something else. So, out came my whips. Firstly a 5m whip with a 0.3g Garbolino DS8 float for catching up in the water and later a 7m model with a slim 2g Sensas Guillaume float for catching over the initial groundbait – not your normal bleak gear! Come the end of the match I put well over 150 of the little buggers on the scales for 4lb 10oz. Not a massive weight, but when you consider that the guys either side of me both weighed less than 2lb by trying to catch fish that didn’t want to be caught!
I love fishing with whips. I suppose it goes back to my early match fishing, when they were an important method on the canals I fished at the time. Almost everyone to a man started on the inside line on a whip, before ‘going over’ for some quality fish. But now you rarely see them being used. I suppose it’s that bigger fish are now being caught in the canals which makes the security of an elasticated top kit over a fine flick tip a more sensible option? However, I still use them and it’s surprising the size of fish that can be tamed on the longer whips of 5m and more. I think this is down to the stretch in the longer length of line, the forgiving flick tip and the bend in the longer whip.
But back to the river, it was altogether smaller fish that I was targeting. Hopefully I wont need to catch them come August the 18th! Maybe some chunky redfins will settle in my peg and have a munch instead, but being prepared to catch anything will be the key to good team points. So, dust off your whips and tie up a selection of rigs. You cannot ever be over prepared just under prepared!
Results of the match can be found on the Match Fishing website here.