Having had a good outing at the last AMFC fishing with Billy I was really looking forward to a trip to Draycote. Memories of last year were still fresh in my mind, the fishing had been exceptional with lots of big fish coming out. I had not faired particularly well last year after a great practice, match day proved difficult for me. I would move from one area to find teammates sat on their hands but telling me it had gone off a bit. Going to the next spot to be greeted by similar stories, as well as losing a big fish through sheer stupidity (I stood on my line, the fish bolted, you know the rest).
This was a new season though and thus far it had been going rather well, I was traveling up with my next-door neighbor and long-time fishing buddy Jim Douglas. We left the house around 0600hrs armed with directions from the AA and a sat nav. The previous year the sat nav had given me the grand tour of several of the picturesque counties in England and it took the best part of three hours to get there. As it was the sat nav was not set up correctly and was set to avoid major roads and traffic, what a dumbass! I was taking no chances this year though and armed with printed instructions and a co-pilot the journey only took a little under two hours. It was a beautiful day if a little windy, not many clouds in the sky I was not sure because it has been so long but I suppose it could be described as a summers day.
I was to fish with Mick Angel and we were covering the area around the draw-off tower over by the bubbles. It was not long before I was into my first fish on the trusty orange blob coupled with a DI5.
I always felt this was not the method though but did not want to fish the same as Mick. Sure enough Mick with his midge tip and nymphs began his account and built on it fairly quickly, it was not long before he had amassed a healthy bag of six fish to my one. After a couple of hours of sticking with the pulling on various lines, it was plain even to me that this was not the way to catch these fish. A quick change to the washing line on a Cortland blue and a move a move up to Biggin Bay proved to be a great change. My next fish was a lump and led me a merry dance around the boat until coming safely to the net. A few casts later and another fish locked on erupting near the surface by the boat a much quicker fight and the fish slipped back into the water. After that, it was time for lunch and we were all meeting up to discuss the morning's sport. The other two boats had a fairly tough time of it with ones and twos. We exchanged information and set off for the afternoon session. Mick and I opted to go to Toft Shallows on the left-hand side and fish all the way up the dam wall. A productive drift with four fish falling to my nymphs, Mick had slowed up somewhat and the day was wearing on so we decided to go back to Biggin Bay to try and hone the method. Mick had a little action on the midge tip so decided to change, I immediately went to my midge tip as I had been desperate to fish this all day. I was not disappointed and a fish came on the very first cast, then swiftly after another two but they spat the hook. Mick latched on to another fish and as Paul and Robbo were entering the bay I had another. One more came and I had learned enough, I was clear in my head what I would be fishing in the morning.
We all headed back to Brampton where we were to stay that evening, the accommodation had been jacked up and was outstanding with all of us having on suite rooms. We popped to the NAFFI for a bite to eat and a couple of beers (just to rehydrate you know) and discussed the days fishing. Not all the team had enjoyed the same sport as Mick and I and the general consensus was it was going to be a grinder. There was no tying required it was all fairly standard buzzers and nymphs that were working. We were up early for breakfast and headed off in convoy to the water to meet up with Jamie who could not get away to practice. I had passed a map with the productive areas marked up to Jamie and briefed him on where and how to fish. I was delighted to see that I had drawn Billy Rankin once again as a boat partner although a little apprehensive. Billy and indeed most of the Bewl based anglers are exceptional nymph fishermen and it would be a tall order getting the best of him this time around. Billy had not practiced and was happy to let me drive. I opted to start in Biggin Bay and motored over delighted that not many boats followed. I started well back from where I wanted to be to give us time to shake out the tackle and get fishing properly. It was not long before I was landing my first fish, and of course, then it happened.
Along came a boat and proceeded to drop the anchor right in front of our drift, in years gone by this would have brought forth a variety of colourful abuse. I little longer in the tooth I simply lifted the drogue and reversed backward to drift by them. What made it worse was the fact that before we had gone past they had taken three fish in short order. Billy and I continued to work the area of Biggin Bay for some time both building a reasonable bag we had taken four fish each when I noticed Kitch putting his red hat on this was our signal to show that he had finished. Shortly after that, I saw Jim Douglas come into the bay looking for teammates. Jim and his partner for the day Phil Thomas had both finished he gave me the area and Billy and I were off to Toft Shallows. The area was a little busy and it was not as sheltered as Biggin Bay but hey it was worth a go. First drift and a solid bang produced my best fish of the day. A couple of casts later and I made every effort to cast another good trout I have not done that in a while, but you have to ride your luck and after a bit of abuse from Billy I landed number six. We drifted on up towards the dam wall, for not so much as a lick, we had planned to go back round but three boats had anchored in what was nothing short of a blockade. So back to Biggin Bay for us, when we got there a few of the boats had cleared out and the wind had dropped a little. Billy thought the bung might work, I had tried this the day before for an hour for nothing so was not convinced. Billy had rigged up and the first cast the indicator dips Billy strikes. Before the fish is in the net I was winding in my midge tip and reaching for my floater! Two casts with the bung and I am playing number seven. We went back around to the calm water and once again Billy hooked a fish but hook and fish parted company. I made a cast out at an angle and before I could even take up my line a fish had smashed and grabbed the fly and ripped more line from my reel. The fish was soon brought under control and number eight was in the bag.
That was my day done and I was very confident that Billy would not be far behind me. A few more missed opportunities and it was time to pack up, Billy had been desperately unlucky not to finish. As we arrived back at the dock I knew it had been a tough day our team had managed thirty-six fish which I would have taken that morning. We headed off to the Dun Cow for our meal and very good it was too. Al Gambol from the RAF had kindly organised the day's match and informed us that we had won by a reasonable margin. A tough but rewarding days fishing with a rod average of 4.2, I look forward to fishing there again in the very near future.