After last weeks trip to the Avon was thwarted by an RTA I was desperate to get out and stretch a line. I was unable to get up and practice for this match which was a great shame as the best of the fishing was to be had then. The day I turned up it was windy and the sun shone brightly in the blue sky. Grafham has fished in the same areas and mostly the same methods all year. It came as no surprised when the guys told me the main areas and how they were catching them. I spoke with my boat partner for the day Lee Pulling from the Civil Service team. He was rigged as I was with a midge tip and nymphs, a bit optimistic in hindsight. Lee had caught around a dozen fish before midday in practice and was very confident. We made our way over to hedge end which was a prominent area. I was joined by two other Army boats, good stuff but after three drifts into an area that was lifting the day before the truth dawned on all of us, It was going to be nails!
We bounced down the North shore for not a great deal, truth be known for nothing, not even a nibble. Lee was keen to move back to Valley Creek and as I had not practiced it seemed fair to comply. When we got to the creek several of Lee’s team mates were also there. A quick con-flab with his teammates revealed that our worst fears were confirmed the water had switched off. We had a couple of drifts in the creek and when Lee’s rod buckled over I thought we might have found a few but after a long fight, the sorry looking brown trout was dragged backwards into the net. It had been hooked squarely in the back and fought like a demon. As other boats started to move round it was soon evident that we were all in a similar state. Mostly blanks and the occasional one fish was being signaled between boats. I had changed to a pulling rig in an effort to make them have it! They did not want that either, oh well back to the drawing boards. We had worked our way up the south shore dropping into likely areas and catching nothing before reaching the south side of the dam. There were a few boats anchored and a couple of the comp boats here. We noticed the very odd fish being taken and Lee had a good pull that failed to lock up. Next drift round and four hours in and I had my first take of the day. After playing it like a fairy for ten minutes I eventually netted the beasty a solid two and a half pounder. I would like to say this was the start of a manic rod bending manic session but that would be a lie. Another hour went by and Lee managed another fish. I changed from straight through nymphs to the bung. After three or four casts the bung dipped I struck and I was into my second fish. Safely landed I wondered if I had stumbled onto the killing method, eh no! Several drifts later and with no fish being caught anywhere near us we decided to move back to Valley Creek for the last hour.
Again many of the Civil Service team had accumulated here and they were reporting a few fish caught and we saw a number of fish being taken. Hope lived again and with a renewed enthusiasm we squeezed the boat into the productive area. Just the other side of the weed beds the resident fish had begun to feed. Lee was soon into a good fish which was boated quickly another followed in short order. I had discarded the bung and was straight through again and this produced immediate results. I felt the weed gripping my flies but then the unmistakable nibble of a fish which I hit hard and I was in. I felt the fish was well hooked and tried to bully to the net to make the most of the purple patch. It was a mistake and I gained sight of a really nice brownie parting company with my nymph, gutting after such a hard day. Time was almost up and we strted to make our way back to the dock. There were lots of anglers making the universal sigh for a blank the big donut, many had one’s or twos. Al Gambol from the RAF had caught ten fish much to most peoples astonishment and he had them by 1300hrs fantastic angling and well don to him and his team who went onto win the event.
We went to the lodge for the meal and the usual stories of victory and woe. The food was mediocre at best but the company and the event were top drawer. The format which was kill four fish then catch and release eight more was fantastic. I for one would like to see more competitions fished to the format or indeed kill two then catch and release for the remainder of the day. At least you get to fish for the whole day.