The loser trophy that’s how it was introduced as we were welcomed by Jon Marshall. A ripple of laughter passed through the gathered anglers we would all like to make the final but that’s no mean feat nowadays. Comp anglers are a hardy breed we turn up any weather regardless of how a venue is fishing and just get on with it. I have often questioned my sanity sat in a howling wind piss wet through and catching nowt! Having just spent three days on Rutland I was less than enamoured with the prospect of another three days afloat.
Grafham however was on top form at the end of the match yesterday Jamie Thomas said to me that I could not possibly get across in the blog how good Grafham was. He is undoubtedly correct but I am going to give it a go. I was doing the first day of practice with Del Spry we have fished a lot together and work well as a team. Not only that we have a right good laugh to boot. We had started at the Savages end of the water hitting the July bank before trying a drift through the middle of savages. This provided zero interest so it was out into the open water and a drift from ‘S’ buoy to the tower. We started to generate interest and Del had a couple of half-hearted offers I had numerous follows to the boat but nothing hooked up. We nipped over for a quick chat with Paul and Sean, they had put three in the boat drifting towards Hill farm. Del and I returned to ‘S’ buoy to see if we could tempt those fish. The long and short of it was Del managed a nice fish and I didn’t get a sniff. As we moved up the reservoir towards the dam things picked up I had changed to a pulling rig and was soon into fairly consistent sport with some of the hardest fighting fish I have come
across this year. At lunch, we compared notes and started to string some methods together. After lunch, it was more of the same just in different areas. Coming of the water we were pretty pleased with the information we had gathered and made our way back to our temporary home at RAF Wittering.
The next day we were supplemented by one of the auld enemy Keith Jones from the RAF who had kindly stepped in as Jimmy Bond could not practice. He partnered up with Jamie for the day and went off for a looksee. I had paired up with the team captain Paul Calvert and we had gone straight to the Dam. Sport was almost instant and plentiful I had set up with a DI3 and a single booby it was devastating and after taking five fish and getting bumps and fish on and off within an hour it was time to try something else. A midge tip with a team of nymphs fished on the washing line did a turn and took fish. Paul not to be out done was also taking fish on a variety of different lines, we had boated over a dozen fish before our meet up in Gaynes Cove. Paul and I arrived a little early and had a short drift which yielded three fish very quickly. When we got together it soon became apparent the Sean Hanlon was having a beano! Not fairing so well was Del who was getting the interest but failing to get fish to the boat. We assured him that they would come we had identified two good methods. In the afternoon, we went out into the middle to confirm the methods and generally enjoy the superb quality of the Grafham trout. We all had a great day catching lots of fish Sean had done the best catching and releasing twenty-five fish with his fast glass Paul and I had boated a hatful of fish yanking a DI3 and Jamie had done well on the fast glass. Del was going to need counselling or should I say consoling he had managed lots of sport but was left scratching his head as to why he had not taken more fish. After carefully removing his filleting knife and any other sharps from him room back at camp he was checked every 15 minutes through the night….lol.
Match day, well considering it was the losers final there seemed to be an awful lot of very good anglers cutting about the car park! An unfortunate incident with one of the Hoppers team saw them have to withdraw, one of their anglers had slipped and banged his head. I hope he is on his way to a speedy recovery. This left the draw a bit worse for wear though and a lot of confusion ensued. Eventually it all came out in the wash and everyone ended up in a boat with someone that was not in their own team. I had drawn Lee Patten an old soldier who I had fished with in the past. He had stepped in last minute bad back and all for the Greenwell Persuaders. He asked if I could do the engine, the drogue, net his fish and generally give him a good day. Little did I know he was being serious…..lol. Being and old soldier I knew we were going to have a great craik. I started on the DI3 and Lee with a fast glass so we were in the same ball park. I decided to start up at the dam where Paul and I started the previous day. Many off the boats had peeled off and were fishing at ‘G’ buoy. Le got the first bit of interest getting big bow waves behind his flies only to see the fish lose interest. My flies were getting a little deeper and my line soon locked up and I had the first fish of the day in the boat. The fish was reasonable but not of the same stamp as the fish from the previous day. Lee started up his account with another good fish and one more followed shortly after. We managed another drift before some of the boats from the main fleet started to reach us. A move was in order and we bounced to the other side of the dam tower. Things had started to slow up a little but I did manage another fish and was gutted as I drew the tiny fish to the net, I mean there is small and then there was this fish. We pushed out a bit hoping to get into some better fish. And already we noted that anglers were returning fish only an hour and a half into the match. Lee caught another good fish then another he had a double shooter at one point. The point fish fell off and while playing the other fish on the dropper another fish snatched at his point fly. It did not stay attached long however and fell off. Just as he was drawing the fish on the top dropper over the net the point was taken which caused the fish on the top to come undone at which point the point fish said farewell. Poor Lee he took it well, mostly. The sport was constant follows takes just a great fishing day.
I was struggling to keep up with Lee and he started to build a steady bag. I spotted Jamie in the corner of Gaynes Cove re-drifting and decided to go and see how he was getting on. He was flying with eight fish to the boat but the area was small and I decided to leave him to it. As soon as we got back out into the open water Lee was in again. I struggled to settle but soon hit the pace again catching another fish the size of a fish finger WTF! I had to chap it being my forth fish, you know what’s coming, don’t you? Fish five was a beast, bugger, bugger, bugger it slipped back and bolted to the depths. The fish were fighting like demons and Lee was getting double hook ups for fun, he didn’t manage to land one of them. He would usually manage one but failed to get both. He had already lost so many fish that would have seen him on his hands by two o’clock. He caught one fish that led him a merry dance around the boat, I offered to get the drogue in but he said he was OK. A minute later I was pulling the drogue in but it was a little late his dropper was in the ropes and I was now effectively playing the fish on the rope. With a bit of team work between us we managed to see the fish to the net. Lee took a power of light hearted abuse after that one! Lee finished on twelve fish and after a late flurry I had managed nine, denied double figures as a fish slipped the hook. I had my chances and I dare say most anglers that day were in a similar situation. All in all, a fantastic day’s sport in grand company. It might have been the losers final but the anglers that were fortunate enough to attend this match I am sure would have enjoyed every minute.
The Soldier Palmers had a good day with a good number of fish securing 5th spot. An exceptional performance from the Nymphomaniacs who had no less than five limits and twelve streets ahead of the nearest team. Well done to them but the winner today was Grafham Water it served us well and the quality of the fish was nothing short of exceptional. I hope that there are a few left at the back end for the bank fishing. Jayne and the kids have really supported me this last week and I have missed them very much I feel like a very lucky man! One more loch style event to push out then its hard on the Grayling whoop whoop.