My first foray into the AMFC this year was to be Grafham. A lot to live up to as the boys had done an exceptional job in the opening event at Bewl winning the group. I drove up on a Monday morning and already I could see the wind putting pressure on the trees. I arrived at Grafham in time to meet Andy Everitt and his passengers’ from Catterick. They had already eaten so I headed up to try the fair in the lodge, new people this year. The breakfast was pretty good and I was set for the day. The group four anglers were attending as the two groups were being fished at the same time. In total, we had five boats on the water as well as this a number of the guys had spent time on the water for the AWAI competition fished the previous Saturday. We had plenty of information to be going on with, I was teamed up with Del and we were given the G buoy area. Getting there was not a problem and we crossed the distance from the lodge in what must be some kind of record. Del was not in the best of health so I worked the drogue, we were lucky that the one provided was decent. We had only made a couple of casts when one wave put the boat nearly on its side. We had both strapped our seats to the boat and I had braced my legs on the gunnels but for a couple of seconds, thoughts of my family flew through my head. As the wave subsided both Del and me exchanged a look which I interpreted as what the f*** are we doing here. Even more surprising was the fact we were connecting with fish. Del managed to land two of the two drifts we made before common sense prevailed and we headed towards Gains Cove. It took some time to get there in the big wave but eventually the task was managed.
The other side of the water was well protected from the raging wind and we began to fish in comparative comfort. We had been told that lots of fish were being caught here at the weekend, and it was not long before we started to get into them. Del’s day was getting increasingly worse as the sickness that he had been feeling all day was getting the better of him. We went to Savages for a bit and Del managed another fish but was fast deteriorating. By 1500hrs we knocked it on the head and went for a hot brew. The rest of the boys stayed out until 1800hrs and we waited for them patiently back at the lodge watching from the comfort of the café.
Not much tying was needed so Andy (Team Captain) got us together for a chat and formulated a plan for the morning. The wind was to be much reduced and from my perspective, a day on the North Shore was on the cards.
The match day dawned and it did seem rather nice the wind was a little chunky but nothing to keep you from fishing anywhere in relative comfort. I was in luck once more with Billy Rankin as a boat partner, another of the Bewl lads who I have known for years. He was agreeable to going across to the North Shore and we decided to start at Pylon Point. Unfortunately another eight or nine boats thought that was a good idea as well. We made to short drifts into the bank for one follow and decided to find some clean water so, up to G buoy. Strangely there was not another boat in sight, mmmm was I missing something! First drift I caught my first fish, it fought it won, never mind they would come. The fish were in a fighting mood and two more tried their hand and kicked my arse. All this in the space of two drifts, was it going to be one of those days? Next drift I manage to hook one on the hang, having lost my previous three fish the kid gloves were on. I eventually got sight of what looked to be a good fish, it carted around the boat almost close lining Billy as it went. After what seemed an age I got the fish under control and to the boat, it was a cracker near the four-pound mark. What a great start, and it did not stop. I could not get over the quality and size of these fish they were a different class. By 1300hrs I found myself with six good fish in the bag and hardly another boat in sight. Of course, the inevitable happened and more boats eventually descended, and the fish went of a little. They were still being taken but not so quick, another couple of hours passed and despite numerous offers and fish on and off I began to think it was just not going to be my day. Billy and I decided to move out into the open water of ‘I’ buoy there were lots of boats here and many anglers were already on their hands. We passed one of Billy’s teammates who was on seven and he reported catching the fish higher in the water. A quick change up produced another fish, but this was tiny in comparison to the fish I had in my bag. Another half hour went by with a few more plucks and nips but no solid lockups. Billy was starting to build a bag now and he took a couple of quick fish on a predator line. Time to come up again, more knocks and bumps and my frustration was growing. Just before half-past four I had a huge hit and turned to Bill to complain that they just were not locking up. With that the fish hit again and was hooked, again not the same stamp of fish that I had earlier in the day but hey I was just happy to finish. Billy had lost his fair share of fish and it was to be common thread when we all discussed after the match. Many of the boats were already in when we returned to the dock, and Mark told me that all our guys had finished. Surely, we would be there or thereabouts, the group four boys had also fished extremely well and won the day for the group. As the results were read out we were a little disappointed to be placed third, A remarkable bag from Graham Pearson weighing 27lb managed to tip the balance in favour of Rutland for second place. An excellent team performance from Grafham Water on their home venue secured a well-deserved first place for them. It is always a pleasure to fish in the AMFC with some of the best anglers in the country competing you can learn a lot. Why not find your local club and see if you can get involved, it’s a chance to make new friends’ and learn more about the sport?
Really looking forward to the next outing at Draycote, just hope its a bit warmer.