I had heard all the blurb best fishery in the country and all that. Little did I expect that it was not far from the truth! The Soldier Palmers were fishing in the AMFC Gp 2 match, after piling in at Chew it was vital to try and get some points on the board. This was going to be a tall order as there are some fantastic teams in group 2. Luckily for us two of our team had been working the water for the last few weeks and this gave us a great starting point. The Captain split us up and we took to the water. Pete and I were to start at the mouth of Biggins Bay, and it was not long before we were both into great quality fish. We continued to drift out into the open water and again picked up some amazing fish. The pattern continues as we worked our given area and by lunch time we had 15 fish visit the boat and a few others that had spat the hook. When we met up for lunch it was a similar story with the others. We were all very impressed with the quality of the fish we had been catching. All except Kitch who for some reason which we have yet to discern was catching smaller fish. After lunch and a quick chat, it was off to Rainbow Corner on mass. As soon as we arrived almost instantly all of us were catching fish, if Carlsberg made fisheries then surely this would feature. We had a bumping practice day and gleaned lots of information for the following day.
As we arrived for match day it was becoming apparent to me at least that there was an impressive array of anglers competing. I met many that I have fished with in the past or known from other matches and reputation, it was going to be tough. I lucked in with the draw and had Micky Dwyer as my boat partner for the day. Micky is a great boat partner and I have enjoyed his company in the past, he has a soldier’s sense of humour and had practiced the day before to boot. The wind was a bit on and off so we were not going to cover water fast. We agreed to start at the Dam Wall just up from the boat dock, almost instantly three of my team mates were into fish. Micky caught one on the next drift. I was getting a little anxious as you do waiting for that first fish to settle the nerves. I was about 45 minutes into the match when the rod was nearly ripped from my hand. The fish took all my spare line as I tried to bring it under control, it then arced round behind the boat. The fish managed to turn the boat 180 degrees round and despite my rod being bent double it refused to give up. I was concerned that it might have ripped free but within a few minutes it slipped over the rim of my net. The fish went 4lb 14oz and nowhere near the biggest fish caught that day.
It’s fair to say that Micky and I struggled at the dam so we moved away to the mouth of Biggins Bay where I had started my practice the day before. We had not drifted far when a fish took my fly on the hang. It immediately ran straight across the boat and into Mick’s line and then went into the air, it was big and well hooked. Mickey managed to detangle himself from me and I managed to regain some control of the fish and had brought it to my side of the boat. I stepped back over my boat seat to continue the fight, unbeknown to me I was stood on my fly line. As I was bringing the fish to the net, you guessed it…..the fish made another run I felt the line ping as my leader snapped at the braided loop. My reaction cannot be put into words but needless to say the schoolboy error will plague my dreams for some time to come. Very shortly after this Mickey hooked another very big fish which after flying out of the water in fury spat the hook. Morale was low at this point and as the boat was spinning in never ending circles in the flat calm we decided to move back to the dam wall. I could see two of my team sitting on their hands and I beckoned over by the team Captain. He told me to fish harder into the wall and this immediately produced results with a fish lost and one to the boat. We persevered for some time but it would just not work for us. What Micky and I were blissfully unaware of was down at Rainbow Corner it was carnage and lots of fish were being caught in the last two hours. The match over I was tired and very disappointed with my own performance. Three fish was not good enough and I knew it, the remainder of the team had done well though with two limits two sevens a four and my three. We surmised that if we could scrape a third place then we would have done well.
At the meal we sat by the Sussex and Kent team and enjoyed a bit of banter as ever. The meal was very welcome as was the pint of cold shandy. As the results were read out and we had not heard our names in third spot we were very pleased with second. So, it was with some surprise that we realised we had done even better and secured first place by about a 1lb and half.
If the opportunity to get some pleasure fishing in come up I would be sorely tempted to get back to Draycote, simply brilliant!