First trip out for me it’s been a slow start, the rivers have not been particularly good so a chance to get out and do anything was most welcome. Puddle bashing is not really my thing but Ben Bangham runs a great competition and Malcolm Hunt runs a super fishery. There would be plenty people going that I knew so it was as much a social occasion as anything else. As it happens there is a good stretch of the Avon runs just behind the main pond and I couldn’t resist a wee peek. It was running clear and since my last visit Malcolm has been busy improving the stretch. I was kicking myself that I wasn’t spending the day fishing that!
The weather was very mild considering the time of year and the forecasters promised we would stay dry. I had no doubt they were wrong it looked a dreek day and I was sure some rain would come. As folks arrived there were many I knew and certainly a few familiar faces who all seemed to have overwintered well. I chatted to Tony Baldwin who has been selected to represent England at the World Championships later in the year. He was in fine form along with another Chew regular Mark Miles. Jay Curry and Dave Drake came along as well and there was a bit of a craik about the nail in the foot incident at Broadlands. Dave didn’t get too much stick……lol.
Ben shouted us all into the hut to make our draw for pegs and I ended up with Mark Miles to my right and a little further down was Dave Drake. I had set up two rods, one with a bung rig and the other just straight through to an Apps bloodworm. I could see the odd fish pushing water in front of me but there was a fair breeze coming across the lake making casting hard work. I started straight through and almost my first cast my fly was ripped from the tippet by a fish. Bad angling by me, I discarded the rod and broke out my Bung rod. In no time at all I had another fish on which promptly spat the hook. At least there were fish in front of me. Fifteen minutes in and I netted my first fish of the day a nice 2lb Rainbow. I was off the mark. Not so long after I wrestled another fish to the net a much bigger fish between 5-6lb. This is not unusual for Manningford though and I knew that much bigger would be caught that day.
The car horn blew which meant it was time to move around, we moved clockwise four pegs. I ended up nearer the lodge which is usually a good peg. The wind was playing havoc with getting any kind of distance on my cast though and the water had been thrashed to a foam by the previous angler. With no heavier line with me I persevered with the floater for a blank. Mark next to me was getting chances but at such range that it was proving difficult to keep them on the hook. The car horn could not come quick enough and I was pleased to move around and have my back to the wind. The fishing was a bit slower now but chances were there, Mark and Dave both commented that they had learned some new Scottish swear words! I managed one from this peg more by luck that judgement.
My last peg before lunch looked promising but I struggled again losing a couple in play and eventually getting one to the net through good luck. I was ripping my line back to recast when I fish locked up on the buzzer I was fishing. You need a bit of luck when you are as ill prepared as I was. The horn went for the last time to signify the end of the morning sessions. It was back to the lodge for what was an outstanding stew made by Somchad Moore. There is nothing quite like a good stew to put the heat back in your bones.
There were three sessions in the afternoon but I won’t bore you with the detail I spent most of it blanking my tits off! There was one highlight though after leaving my bung in a tree I was left with the selection of twelve or so flies that I had brought along and berating myself for not putting a bit more effort into preparing for the match. The casting was awkward and I had already lost several flies. I was just about managing to cast a small egg under the trees on the far bank. As I retrieved the fly slowly I was joined by Malcolm and we were chatting for a bit when I got a sharp pull. Bugger…. Missed it. I managed to put the fly back in the same area and concentrated hard waiting for the opportunity that would surely come.
Bang! A decent fish had hit the fly hard and was now bolting for a whole mess of tree roots. My rod tip was under a tree as it was, it could have gotten nasty but as luck would have it the fish came clear and I managed to net a very respectable Brown trout. It saved what was fast becoming a tough afternoon. The banter with Mark and Dave was great and there was a lot of laughter in the last session. Another blank for me though and it was a welcome relief when the horn sounded to finish up the day.
I took a few lessons from the day though the most important being if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! I will be back next year no doubt to try and improve on a pretty poor performance. Thanks to Ben, Malcolm and Somchad for a great day and well done to all the prize winners. A special thanks to Simon Lucas who kindly lent me some forensics which I had also forgotten.