After an emotional couple of weeks on a bookkeeping course I was really looking forward to going to Grafham. The reports had been extraordinary, big fish and plenty of them! I don’t bank fish, well only very occasionally, but encouraged by Jamie Thomas and Chris McLeod, I thought I would give it a go. A floater and a DI3 would do the job. The boys that practiced gave me a steer - get anywhere along the North shore turn a couple of stones over to disturb the shrimp. Once you have shrimp all around you, there were two methods to catching the fish: (a) Floater with a couple of shrimp patterns and something ugly on the point, and (b) A DI3 with a white snake slowly roly-polied slowly back.
It all seemed simple enough. I set up my rod in the car park with a DI3 and a snake mounted it on the rod rack and made the short drive to Marlow car park. Many had already arrived and were bomb bursting to get to the best marks, reminded me of an England rivers national….lol. I was told it was going to be cold and had put an extra layer on under some 4mm neoprenes. It was a mistake, as I made the walk round to Church bay I was sweating like a fat kid in a sweet shop. By the time I had reached Deep Water Point, I was shedding layers and pounds for that matter - the woolly hat had been stuffed into my day sack. I was a little concerned not to see any other anglers jostling for position and in hindsight that should have been my first clue.
I made my way carefully down the stones and got into the water making as much as a disturbance as I could. Huge clouds of shrimp were thrown up and I marvelled at the size of some of them, they are big beasties and some would have easily been an inch long. From where I started the wind did not seem that bad and it was a fairly straightforward affair casting across the wind and retrieving. I moved backwards towards deep water point continuing to make as much commotion as possible at my feet. I did have a number of sharp takes but could not convert them on the snake so I thought to change to the floater. I fished this for about half an hour with no joy. I had forgotten my phone and my watch so had little clue what the time was but it was certainly time to find a friend.
As I made my way back round towards the car park I spoke with several anglers who were not fairing much better than me. Eventually, I met a couple of the Army guys and they had managed a couple of fish. The winning tactic a little different - they were both fishing a DI7 to get a little distance into the wind. On a whim I had brought my DI7 so stuck it onto my reel and attached a short leader to a minkie booby. I was heartened to see Ben Worley hook what looked to be a good fish and it was unfortunately. It was one of Grafham’s fine Brown Trout and was safely returned.
Stood balls deep in water with the waves bouncing off my chin was not an ideal way to spend my Saturday and my morale was heading south. Other than Ben, I had not seen another fish caught. In a bid to get just a little more distance I waded a little further out and got a face full of Grafham for my efforts. The buoyancy of the neoprene waders helped the wave lift me from my feet and push me back towards the bank. Well that was enough and I decided another move was in order. I moved up to G Buoy Bay but it was busy and I could barely squeeze in. Another move to the other side of Marlow jetty again found me at the end of a long line of anglers. I persevered for a bit but my heart was no longer in it and although I was unsure of the time, I called it a day.
I wandered round to the weigh in and some folks had done really well and there were some great fish caught. There were many stories of triumph but my favourite was John Gamon, who after initially starting on the North shore thought *u** that for a game of soldiers and headed back to the lodge car park. He then proceeded to fish with a floater with the wind at his back catching his limit in a little over an hour and half, brilliant! Jamie Thomas, the match organiser who started late, headed to Hill Farm to get out the way and walked straight into a pod of fish, completing his limit by 1115. The good news was that my lack lustre performance did not undo the team effort and the Army/RAF team retained the shield for another year.
Initially and feeling a little raw I would rather have put my cock in a blender than go bank fishing again. Now I have had a little time to reflect though, I am keen to give it another go but definitely when there is less wind and with a pal that knows the ropes. Probably best not to go straight into a comp either, my hindsight is 20/20.