The prospect of fishing Rutland always fills me with excitement. It is one of my favorite venues and what better way to fish it than with an old friend. I was to be sharing a boat with Jock Kettles the banter was sure to be good. Only a small number of anglers were able to attend the event this year, certainly a sign of the times. Usually, when the Army turn up for this event we are met with high winds and bright sunshine. Not this year though there was a light ripple and good overcast conditions. When I fall asleep at nights thinking of troot this is the kind of day it would be. We both had received reports of fish out in the middle of the basin as well as close to the banks. I had started on a full floater and Jock had opted for the midge tip. First cast and Jock had generated a bit of interest immediatlly only two or three casts later and I had a sharp pull, it was going to be great! A short while later I managed one to the boat. It fought like a Spartan carting this way and that before finally coming to the net a cracking rainbow of about 2lb. As we floated down the drift we could see Derek Sibson playing a fish, Jock mentioned that he had started on a DI5. I decided to drop downstairs to a DI3 and as we approached the bush to the left of X Bouy my line locked up again. This time the roly poly retrieve had done a job but surprisingly it had not been the FAB on the point but the large shrimp pattern I had placed in the middle. Once more the fish fought like fury these fish were in fine fettle and giving a great account of themselves.
Jock was persevering with a variety of different lines but not getting much luck. In fact, after such a promising start the morning started to quiet down somewhat. We made various long drifts no joy, guys we bumped into were either fairing no better or were reporting having good numbers of fish to the boat. Paul Calvert had managed ten fish while his poor partner Jim Wright had not managed a fish. Paul was kind enough to tell us what he was doing so I changed back to my floater, first cast and I am into another fish. Could this be it just throw the floater out and hang on? Well not for me and certainly not for Jock who had gone radio silent. It had been extremely difficult and by 1500hrs we had only managed three fish between us. We knew they were there as we had both gotten several follows but the fish just seemed reluctant to take our poultry offerings. Perhaps the crystal clear water was putting them off a bit. Then from nowhere they decided to start feeding, follows turned to takes and in no time at all Jock had put three fish in the boat. A little behind the curve I changed back to pulling on a DI3 and was soon into another hard fighting fish. We finished up with four fish each, I have had worse days!
In the evening we were off to Weatherspoon’s in Oakham for our evening meal. It was good chance to catch up with Dave Murray who was up pleasure fishing for a few days. A bit of food and a refreshing shandy then back to Whittering for a few pain killers and a dram. My back was in clip, if there had been a wind I doubt I would have seen the day out. As it was a good night’s rest worked wonders. Up and at them early start (0900) kick off. We had gotten the boat draw the night before and I was to fish with Alex a novice to the Federation but a very competent angler. Being a left hooker I gave up the engine to Alex and he was happy enough to go where ever. I had not planned on leaving the main basin truth be told. The weather again had been kind and conditions were excellent. As the gun went off Jock and I exchanged glances as almost half the boats headed up the South arm. Woulda, shoulda, coulda practiced up there but didn’t bother. It started off pretty tough and that did not change throughout the day for me at least. Bouncing around Jock we were both toiling a bit. I had managed to winkle out a couple of fish but it was hard going my back was giving me some serious jip and the pulling tactics that were working for me no longer became an option. I packed all the uglies away and resorted to washing lining some shrimp patterns. Alex had also managed a couple of fish despite the lack of action it was a great day to be on the water. I managed another couple of fish feeding hard into the bank on the shrimps, they don’t half go in the shallow water. A couple of the fish beat me, in the end, fighting free from the hook before I was able to get them to the boat. Jock had come into the area I was fishing, by this point only looking for two fish. He was not disappointed as he took them both in as many casts pulling a DI3. His partner Jim Wright was stuck on three but as the last hour ticked by I watched Jim put in a sterling performance pulling out his last five fish with only ten minutes to go. As I was packing up my stuff Andy Everitt was coming in in search of just two fish, I duly pointed him in the direction of X Buoy where Jim W had just gone to town. A good day but a sore one for me a bite to eat tablets and a night cap. I even contemplated not bothering with the next day as I was not sure my back would take another day.
I woke up the next day in a fair bit of pain but after a big breakfast and painkillers, I was good to go. I decided to stick with the gentle stuff and tackled up a floater. My partner for the day was Paul Wright, being the gentleman he kindly took the engine. The second day is always strange all the secret areas are out the bag everyone knows what everyone else had done the day before. The boat split was pretty even half up the South arm and most others over towards Sykes Lane. Both Paul and I were not in the running so opted to leave them to it we decided to fish the Normanton bank as I had the previous day. With the lack of boats and engine noise, there was a real beauty to the place that will keep coming back to this amazing place. The fish were not for joining in however and I suggested a look up to Yellowstone. We could see the other half of the fleet at New Zealand point but having bumped into Paul C and Steve L thought better of joining the happy throng. As we moved into Yellowstone a couple of bank anglers were setting up, always a good sign. The water was clear, it wasn’t too bright and it looked fishy. Other that the fact we could not so much as muster a follow it was great. We did not stay long and after a couple of long drifts, we decided to return to the Normanton bank.
The floater was just not cutting it so at the risk of my back the DI3 went back on. I was only short lining it and stroking it back. Paul and I had the whole bank to ourselves and not long into the drift and out of nowhere, I had a violent take that after a hard fight ended up in the bass bag. Off the mark, another two fish followed suit in fairly short order. As we approached the blue pipes I could see the bank anglers stood well back from the bank fishing into the margins and doing rather well. I hit another fish just by the blue pipes but just as I was bringing it across the net it came off, briefly catching on my point fly it made a little wriggle and was gone. I thought I took the loss of this fish on such a hard day rather well. We decided to go all the way back and it was Pauls turn to get into some fish. I lost my next fish but things were really picking up. It was around 1530 when it really started to come alive. By 1600 I had taken seven and was confident of a finish. Despite my best efforts, I finished on seven. It had been a great day though and thoroughly enjoyable the Ipbrufen had done a job for me and my back had behaved. Paul and indeed all my partners had been outstanding over the three days and I very much look forward to fishing with them again.
Si Elson has these events down to a fine art and the weigh-in was done in a quick and efficient military fashion. A big thanks to the unsung heroes who make these matches possible, Si Elson, Richard Thorpe, Paul Calvert and our sponsor Steve Lawes from Delliote. Your efforts are much appreciated. Jock Kettles won the Associate cup and Paul Calvert was crowned Army Champion. I believe the Royal Engineers won the Corp team Competition and 7 Scots won the Unit team event. Medals and cakes presented we were all off our separate ways, a great three days roll on the Autumn meeting.