I don’t really know where to start with this tail of woe. I was supposed to be having a day out with a pal but he ended up being swamped with work and unable to meet up at Rutland. It was short notice and I did not fancy sharing another day with lunchbox so decided to try my hand at the re-branded Lexus now called the Anglers World Fly Fishing Championship. A similar format to the old Lexus with the individual taking place the day before the team event. I tapped up John Horsey to see if there was a chance of squeezing into the heat but was initially told it was full up. John however managed to secure another boat and I was in. I had not been to Grafham this year and was unable to get out on the Friday. Not that it would have been much fun in the big wind. I had very kindly received loads of tips and hints on what to expect, god bless social media. Those that had been out the week before had enjoyed some great sport, the poor souls that had been out in the week leading up to the match had less favourable reports to deliver. Needless to say all the boats were booked up and then some, there was more than a little horse trading going on in the shop and I feared Pauline’s head was near exploding! I bumped into a few of the RAF lads who had spent the last few days of their Championship on Grafham. There were not many happy faces, the fishing had been tough and the weather the same with some high winds to contend with.
If I had not heard all the reports and had just turned up to Grafham in May with the conditions, I would have expected a really good days’ sport. Appearances can be deceiving though. A bit of luck was drawing Vince Howley I last fished with Vince on a very memorable day at Hanningfield in the AMFC. Vince was competing in the team event the next day and was happy enough to bounce round the water trying tom pick up as much information as possible. We both initially decided to pull for a start at the seat I on a fast glass and Vince on a DI3, not so much as a follow. Over to the North shore and the Willows, there had been reports of a few fish being caught there. We were almost an hour in and yet to see a fish being caught. Then all around us the very odd fish began to give themselves up. One boat seemed to be doing pretty well picking up three fish in short order. It was only when we began to get closer to them that we realised their drogue had snagged on the bottom and they were not moving. We persevered for an hour hoping to get into some sport, I had changed to my midge tip and Vince had opted for the bung. All our efforts were in vain though and with nearly two and a half hours gone for not a touch it was time to move on.
As it was it seemed that every boat in the fleet was on the North shore and getting in to spots was fairly tricky. After dropping into all the usual spots for not so much as a sniff I decided to break out the packed lunch. I cast out my line and proceeded to chomp down on my sandwiches. It was at this point I noticed my line shooting away and I was into my first fish, takes real skill that L I got the fish to the boat quickly it was pretty small but none the less welcome. Vince had still to get a lick and morale was really low, after completing a tour of the North shore we had a quick chat and decided to give Rainbow corner a go. As we got there there was only one other boat in the area it was Si Gaines from the RAF and he was going great guns with five fish. On our first drift I was in the middle of commenting how the inactivity can break your concentration and you miss what might be your only opportunity. Halfway through that conversation the line was yanked from my fingers, a few profanities’ were uttered but at least I had been woken up. We went back round and Vince still on the bung nailed his first fish, it was small but full of spirit it had take his buzzer just three foot down. Safely netted and now re-enthused we were back round once more and again Vince’s bung dipped but he missed. Not long to wait though and Vince was in again, As I was pulling my midge tip back to get out of his was my line also locked up. Safely in the net the tide had begun to turn and with a couple of hours left surely we were going to get a few more? Well no as it happens, you could feel the temperature dropping and the flies that had been hatching off had stopped doing so. We carried on for a while but our enthusiasm had waned I suggested the last hour at the lodge right beside the out of bounds area which had caused such controversy a few weeks previous. Halfway through the first drift Vince started to pack up I was nearly there myself. I had changed to a DI3 Sweep and was rolly pollying the line back when the line locked up. The fish tore across the surface taking the fly with it for ten feet before it all went slack. That about sums up the day, One more drift before I can it. The next drift was fruitless though and I decided to call time on the day. The good news was that my pal Jamie Thomas, last years’ winner had ground out six fish and had done enough to qualify for the final. There were a few boys that had found a method that worked for them and done very well and credit to them. For me though it was a poor showing and the old Army saying rang in my head “Fail to prepare then prepare to fail”. I hope Grafham picks up again soon I have enjoyed some fantastic days there in the past, unfortunately this one wont stick in my memory long.