I kind of ended up at this final by accident, no I didn’t fall over in the shower and woke up at Draycote. The Soldier Palmers entered the team event at Grafham water and as part of the beat up to that I was lucky enough to qualify for the Individual. Unfortunately the team pilled in and I forgot all about it. I found the letter in the bottom of my overnight bag a month or so on and paid up the match fee. I thought no more of it until I was looking at the fishing calendar for September. The family have already over indulged me this month and having spent the entire previous week away from home I did dither whether or not to go. Indecision won the day and I had left it too late to cancel so an early start saw me heading up to Draycote for the day.
I don’t like fishing a match without practicing invariably it does not often end well. Draycote is a cracking fishery though and the forecast looked promising. There was a great field of anglers competing for the chance of winning the championship and most had practiced. The cry leading up to the day was dries! I had busied myself in the week tying up various dry fly patterns and had already made up several traces to cover every eventuality. I had drawn Mark Tyndall a stocks regular, I had not met Mark before but he had practiced and was happy to take the engine. I had bumped into Wayne Jones who I had not seen for some time it was great to catch up. He gave me a couple of pointers and assured me not to worry if I had caught nothing in the first couple of hours, it was not easy.
Mark had a good idea where he wanted to start and had taken several fish at ‘C’ buoy the previous day. Only one other fishing boat followed us over many had decided to fish ‘J’ out to Lambcot Shoal. After a couple of drifts we had both agreed that the water clarity was not the best and with no offers or follows it was time for a move. We started down towards the Hensborough bank and a drift from there through ‘M’. It all looked very fishy, not even sure what that means it’s like a feeling you get when you think you’re in an area that there are some fish. It was still very bright and I was fishing straight through nymphs on a floater. Mark and I watched as Mark Haycock and Mark Miles in a boat ahead of us took a couple of fish. My partner was first to get some sport and claimed a nice looking rainbow as we drifted up past the inlet. I did not have long to wait and as we neared the end of the drift I took a fish on the hang to the nymphs. We had not spotted any other boats taking fish and I assumed it was just tough. The boats were well spread and folks were moving around a fair bit a sure fire sign that things were not easy.
As the sun started to be subdued a little by the building cloud and despite only seeing two fish it was time to change to the dries. It’s not often you get the chance to fish dries but Draycote is one of those few venues where it is always a decent option (for good anglers). I tried just about everything in my boxes which is significant to no avail the very odd fish would come and look but inevitably wander off. If fish could give you the bird I am sure I would have seen it several time yesterday. Mark however was having a decent day he would change to a new method and catch a fish and finished up with five which was pretty good going. I retired a little earlier than I would normally frustrated at my inability to catch fish. Towards the end I was able to cast at rising fish and to my mind was doing everything right. It was not my day though and from eight hours fishing I could hand on heart say I had only two opportunities. It’s always bitterly disappointing when you don’t do well in a match but that’s the nature of the game, one minute you’re the Kit Cat Cup champion the next your shit.
One thing I would like to mention is the behaviour of the sailors on the match day. I am unsure if they had been informed that there was an angling match on or not but unless you are coming alongside to pass me a chocolate bar (and it better be a big one) or some deadly flies please kindly go and take your face for a shite! I don’t even get that close to some of the members of my family and several times I had to yank my fly line back in order to avoid boats flying by at Mach 2. It felt like they were completely oblivious to us at times. I wonder what a slingshot and a bag of marbles would do to one of them fancy big sails….lol, only joking not!
There was an evening meal laid on and the banter was great, Wayne had done exceptionally well in fact the Welsh contingent had knocked it out the park filling the top four spots. Only one ounce separating the top three anglers who all had eleven fish with Gareth Evens winning, Wayne in second and Gareth Jones in third spot. It was grand to catch up with a few of the boys at the meal but with a long drive for some it was to John Horsey’s credit he had the whole thing done and dusted and we were out the door by 2045. Many thanks to the fishery staff on the day who were very helpful getting people on and off the boats great job guys and much appreciated.
It’s been a great loch style season with more good days than bad. I have enjoyed some of the best fishing on the reservoirs that I can ever recall and had the opportunity to fish with some great friends and super anglers. The weekend will see me clean and dry the kit and break out in earnest the Grayling tackle, winter is coming!