Army Autumn Match 2014 18-19 Oct 2014

The last time I was on Draycote I enjoyed some of the best Loch Style fishing I have had in years. So it goes without saying I was really looking forward to getting back there. Originally the match was supposed to be at Bewl, but this was changed at short notice. The thing about the Autumn match is you can use whatever size of fly you like and I had tied up some spankers! I could not make a practice day and turned up blind, the boys reported mixed results with some catching well and others saying it was a bit tougher. The weather was supposed to be howling gales but first thing it seemed ok.

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I luckily drew Steve Lawes one off the Federation sponsors and a keen competition angler. He had been out and practiced with great success bagging an impressive twelve fish the best being over five pounds! Toft shallows were the cry and we headed there with a few other boats in that direction. Steve had opted for the midge tip with a washing line set up with buzzers and nymphs. I had tied on a single minkie affair which I could see people on the dam wall pointing and declaring look a squirrel on that fishing rod! There was another angler waded out in Toft who was catching fish after fish in quick succession. We set a drift a safe distance from him and proceeded with our day's sport. The follows came thick and fast to the horror story I was fishing and even the odd take but nothing solid. After about forty minutes I finally got one a reasonable fish and very welcome. Still, we were not setting the world alight, a short while later while undoing a knot in my line I got another fish it had to go back as it was caught behind the boat. Steve had not had much action but I had not long put my trawled fish back when Steve’s rod buckled over. About ten seconds later the smallest rainbow trout in Draycote came to the boat, Steve was a little disappointed! It did have a lovely tail though……lol. The wind had started to do its worst and we moved to the opposite side of Toft. Steve got into a little bit of a purple patch catching three fish in a drift with a couple of hefty fish to make up for his previous little fish. I was getting the odd take now switched to washing line on a midge tip, but nothing would stick. Steve struck into another fish and as I watched my rod also buckled over. As I brought the fish under control quickly I was reaching for my net when the fish bolted and snapped my 12lb tippet like cotton. It was going to be one of those days then, other takes fish on and off oh well never mind. Steve managed his eight late in the day; I finished with five, not my finest hour but still good fun.

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We were staying in a Reserves hall in Coventry but before we shot off I had a great meal with Jock Kettles and Derek
Sibson in the Dun Cow. They had a special deal on for £20 you got a starter, main and pudding. It was very good and I can heartily recommend this option if you’re hungry, none of us managed a pudding! The next day the forecast wind was absent and it looked like it was going to be a better day. The day before had been blustery and tough to cope with at times. I was to share a boat with Scott and RSM from one of the Artillery Regiments. Jock Kettles and I had spotted a number of fish topping around the boat dock area and decided to have a drift there to start. Jock had bagged his eight fish the previous day mostly on buzzers and was fishing the same way. I did likewise but after a half hour and no fish caught we set off for Toft. By the time we got there the wind was getting up again and within an hour it was a bit cheeky! We drifted the same marks as the previous day for nothing. A couple of the guys had hit fish before the wind had gotten up but were now toiling. Scott suggested we tried Biggin bay where he and his partner from the previous day had enjoyed some success. After an extremely wet trip up, with the waves crashing over the bow and filling the boat with water we eventually arrived and started to fish. Still on a midge tip, which was really hard to control I was more than a little surprised to catch a fish not five yards from the bank. A bit of luck super, as we crawled away from the bank to re-drift I knew we were probably chancing our arm. On one particularly big swell, both mine and Scott’s boat seats were lifted clear of the gunnels and unceremoniously crashed back down. We both exchanged a knowing look it was time to go! As I started to prepare for the trip across the water the next wave smashed into the boat. I had both feet braced against the gunnels and again my seat bounced off the wood. Unfortunately for Scott, he was catapulted backwards seat and all and I turned just in time to see him sink with his seat below the waves behind the boat. A split second later his life vest inflated and he shot to the surface and grabbed onto the boat. I moved across to help and his first words were grab my seat, he had managed to hook the seat with his legs.

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The seat safely on board Scott climbed back in the boat, who knew commando training would come in handy while you were fishing. He was remarkably cool about the whole incident and I was thankful he was ok. We headed back to the dock to sort out his kit, get some dry togs on and get a new life vest. So dried outish and ready for some more we ventured out again. I was rewarded pretty quickly with another fish in the shelter of the sailing club bank. I noted with some amusement the many returning boats of anglers who had very obviously had enough of the wind. There had been three anchored boats on the dam side of Toft which I am sure had returned so Scott and I upped drogue and went for a look. Going was great and we chortled as we surfed along some of the bigger waves, laughing about Scott’s dunking. The laughter soon stopped as we got around the corner to where we thought there would have been a little shelter only to find the wind was blowing straight down into Toft. We would have to go back, bugger! We battened down the hatches and made the long haul back up the water. At one point we seemed to make no headway whatsoever. Eventually, we made it back to where we had started with not a line cast, were we disheartened? Well, Scott was still upbeat me not so much, the boat was full of water my box was floating around alongside the petrol tank, still, at least we were back in fishable water. I flicked my flies out and started to bail the boat when the slack line shot through the rod rings, luckily I had kept hold of my rod in my left hand. I managed to get a grip of my line as what I thought was a good fish headed for the hills. I could do nothing with it as it shot around behind the boat. After a fairly merry dance, I managed to get it in the net, it had eaten my booby on the point but then went on to swim into my top dropper which had caught its tail. The fish was 4lb 4oz but playing a fish like that on your top dropper was challenging! Not to be outdone Scott also had another cracking brownie weighing in at a steady 3lb 4oz which made the whole day worth while. I will always remember this trip but not for the fishing, good company, and calm under pressure well done to Scott for persevering after going for a swim. I was really pleased that you were rewarded with such a nice fish. A big well done to Steve Lawes who was runner-up to the ever consistent Jock kettles in the Associates competition, the Kit Kat Cup might be a big ask next year! The Serving prize went to Paul Kitchen with Sean Hanlon as the runner-up. I look forward to catching up with a few old and new friends at the Spring match next year. I am not too despondent I have got three days on the Test to look forward to whoop, whoop!