My last practice session on Wherwell came on me as quick as a wink, as I went to pick Graham up from Arborfield the temp gauge on the car told me it was -7. I knew it would be colder at the fishery and I was not wrong as we arrived, the temp gauge said -9. So, a cold day indeed, Graham and I both decided to stay of the water that we would be fishing in the morning to give it as much rest as possible. I was surprised that only Howard Crosten seemed to be out practicing. Fishing the unlikely spots the fishing was indeed tough and by lunch I had only one fish to show for my efforts. The afternoon fished much better and I dropped in just above the bridge and had five Grayling in short order. I spent most of the rest of the time showing Paul around the river as had been indulging in some light exercise in the morning…….CFT. I also took the opportunity to walk past the water I would be banking on in the morning. I passed an angler who was fishing my preferred stretch and he told me he had had no joy. This left me a little concerned but I was going to stick with my game plan. Graham had changed his game plan more times than I can remember, I think he was trying to confuse me (not hard).
Anyway, it was home and a hot bath and a wee dram to put some heat back into my bones. The day of the humiliator dawned and it was even colder than the day before we arrived at the fishery to -11. This was to be Simon Lucas first go at running the event, he had some big shoes to fill as John Ball was always as sharp as a tack. I am pleased to say that Simon excelled and proceedings in the morning were very slick and well run. As a competitor it is always pleasing when a match is run efficiently as it is one less thing on your mind. Before the draw I was hoping for two things 1. An afternoon session as I knew that would fish better. 2. Not to have Howard or Graham in my flight. You guessed it Bob Hope and no hope I got the morning and Howard, deep joy. Still not to worry Richard Wood was my controller an experienced angler and a complete gentleman.
I was particularly impressed with Richard who did not even chuckle when I caught my first fish of the day. As I struck the river bed beneath me gave way and I found myself on my arse with my rod in the air. As I looked up my rod tip was trapped in a tree and much to my surprise dangling about two feet of the water was a 30cm Grayling. I struggled to my feet and by some miracle the fish came safely to the net, I untangled the tip and brought the fish over to Richard. I had not covered myself in glory but hey I was of the mark. I started to work up the river and managed another eight fish to give me a grand total of nine. On the whole I was pleased with the way I had fished and with the number I had caught. I was a little disappointed to be beaten into third place but at least it was by a team mate. I may be lucky and still make the cut time will tell. If not, there is always next year, you do learn a lot from these events and not only that you meet like-minded anglers to chew the fat with.