Purgatory, if for some reason and I can’t think why ( nobody ever went to hell for being grumpy surely) I don’t reach the pearly gates then I will probably spend eternity on Rutland water in the conditions we had for this match! It was nothing short of a complete waste of two days of my life and I’m not getting any younger. Anyway, let me try and put some meat on the bones of this blog entry, it’s going to be no mean feat!
With the most glorious Summer I can ever recall it was always going to be a tough gig and after a pretty gruelling weekend on Dartmoor the last thing I fancied was Rutland. The reports from the previous days….weeks were not promising a good time for all was not on the calling letter. A few teams had dropped out and credit to them for having the foresight to do so. Those that were left and there were not many, seven teams three of which were Army teams picked up the gauntlet.
The good news if that’s the right sentiment was that I had been paired up with Ben Worley for the day. We had not yet fished on a Stillwater together and this would give us a good chance for a catch up. We were given the basin area to fish and try and work something out. In short, we did our best and Ben even managed to get one. I am glad I got a photo it’s the only Rainbow I saw both days! We could see people catching in the boils but resisted the temptation to join them as they would not be in bounds on match day. I had not had an offer all day and Ben had one take and got it, before throwing myself overboard I thought to back drift through the boils just to get my string pulled.
I still managed to not catch a fish and when I reeled in I found the fly I had been back drifting for the last half hour neatly wrapped around my fly line……. I laughed jovially and packed my kit away with a cheery whistle. That’s not what happened but let’s just say it did. The team brief was just that BRIEF, with only three fish not in the boils between eight of us there was not much to discuss. The rumour was that they were going to allow the boils to be fished which may or may not have made a difference. If I was not so knackered I may well have spent the rest of the evening getting bladdered.
"I was continually berated for my negative attitude and lack of faith that we would be OK"
The next day was to be a little cooler with a bit of a stiffer breeze, maybe it would switch on, the guys were in an optimistic mood! I was continually berated for my negative attitude and lack of faith that we would be OK, I was being realistic though I am usually always confident of getting one or two. I can honestly say I have never been so confident of a blank in my entire life! I had been paired up with Mark Searle from the in-form Invicta team who are currently topping the AMFC group one. He had drawn the engine and had also practiced. We agreed that it may well be like ice skating uphill but we would give it a go.
During the brief we were told it was to be one hundred meters from any boil. Someone asked how will you know when your too near only to hear someone else say you’ll know because you will catch a fish. I must say other than dry flies Mark and I tried about every conceivable tactic available in our armoury at least twice. Mark took two half decent perch at the same time which nearly felt like a trout. I caught a small perch that for a split second made my heart pump only to almost instantly lift the small fish into the boat. We were not alone every boat we came across was making the international sign for the donut. The odd boat had one fish and one boat even had two, the dizzy hights!
Well into the afternoon Mark reported an angler sitting on his hands, no I said that’s not possible as I looked up I could tell it was one of the Army team. He did seem to have stopped fishing but when I brought my binoculars to bear I said to Mark he has got his head in his hands he’s not sat on them. The match was the longest eight hours I have ever spent in a boat and I have fished Chew in the Summer! Mark and I finished our day up as a huge and ominous looking cloud came over the water threatening to soak us through for our troubles. Not a follow nor a take for either of us other than perch.
Hindsight is a great thing but perhaps this is one of those occasions where discretion would have been the better part of valour and AW could have postponed the event or even cancelled the match. Well done to the RAF for winning the match with three fish, I would like to say good angling but it was just a lottery and it may well be that we would have been better served drawing straws at the start of the day. It’s going to take a considerable amount of time before I get over the trauma of the last couple of days and once I have posted this I am going back to the corner of the room to continue rocking back and forth for a while.