Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of images from this blog report. In an act of complete buffoonery and a lack of spectacles my camera was on the wrong settings for many of the photos I took. Lesson learned. The images that are here are ones I managed not to **** up or from my little waterproof camera. The Interservices for those not in the know is a long standing competition between the three Armed Forces. It has been hotly contested in the past but in recent years the RAF have pulled away winning the last few.
If the long range weather was to be believed, we were all going to get a great tan! The first practice day was spent largely on the right hand side of the North Arm with my practice partner Jamie Nairn. We concentrated our efforts mainly on the weed beds hoping to tempt some of the better fish. I managed a follow from a very nice looking Rainbow. Jamie managed to hook a very good fish which moved much water in its efforts to take the fly and take it did right of Jamie’s line and back to the weed beds. Not a bad start but the rest of the morning up until lunch was the perfect exercise in futility. Not a follow nor take or even any indication of fish could be found. At lunch the others had faired a little better and indeed even our comrades on the other side of the North had managed a little sport taking some very nice brown trout. Those in the basin in the morning seemed to have the best of it though. The South arm also proved to be in a mood and failed to give up many fish.
Jamie and I were lucky enough to be in the basin in the afternoon. Opting to start on the opposite bank to where the morning crew had fished we started at Whitwell and worked our way up the bank completing long drifts from 300m out. I started to get the odd follow but the fish were a bit shy and would not commit to take the fly. By the time we reached U Buoy I was a little relieved when I watched my rod buckle over as a trout slammed into my fly right at the end of the retrieve. One fish between us not so good, but we were now heading over to the area where all the fish were. It was going to be a doddle…lol. My name is….NO it was like a dog shite that had been left in the sun for three months! Jamie who had been out the previous day was scratching his head as well. It was time to get nasty on went the DI5 and the horrible, just at the end of my retrieve the rod went over again. A really nice fish but was it a method ten or so minutes later the same thing happened. I guessed that the fish had just dropped down in the water so went to the DI7. I managed another two fish in short order on this line. Not the best days’ sport but maybe the start of the jigsaw coming together.
The next day Sean Hanlon my partner for the day were sent up the South arm. With another boat to check it out a vast area of water it had not been covered the day before. To cut a long and boring story very short all I can say about my morning is that is four and half hours of my life I won’t get back! To be fair we did see Phil Thomas hook and land a fish but that was about the size of it. So we met up for our lunch break again the guys that fished in the basin were giving it large surely Sean and I had paid our dues and it was our turn next. Wishful thinking, we plugged on till about four before I called time. Sean had managed one fish and my net was still dry as a bone. Roll on match day.
The briefing that evening was a bit subdued everyone in the room knew that we were going to have to work very hard the next day. The boat draw was read out so we all knew who we would be spending the match day with. Patterns to be tied were few though and the room was all but empty by 2130hrs. The guys getting an early night to be at their best the next morning. I had drawn Steve Ottridge a former Chairman of RAF angling. I had fished with Steve previously in a national final on Chew. Only living in Oakham his experience of Rutland would be invaluable and he drew the engine anyway. The one thing that was plain was you had to get your fish early before the sun which was blazing hot got too high in the sky. I managed to talk Steve into going where I wanted not an easy feat I might add. When the hooter went of it was obvious that everyone knew the score and all but one boat turned right into the basin heading up into the open water. As we stopped and turned the boat a couple of other boats stopped just by us with Army rods in each. Within fifteen minutes I watched Paul Calvert loose two fish in play and boat another. Close by Mike Sale was smashing it taking three fish on the bounce. I was next getting my first fish to the boat after it had smashed into my fly. A short while later I had a rod wrenching take that saw the rod bend right over, but then nothing! Steve was next and he landed a spritely Rainbow with some difficulty as his leader was a little on the long side. A bit further on and as I was hanging my flies a hungry fish came up and took one of my nymphs. The fight was short and the fish won, bugger! Steve hooked and landed another before the end of the drift and this was all in the space of an hour. I know it sounds great but I was sure it was a limited time offer and very soon it was going to be very difficult. So back around and the next drift I switched to a fast sinker and was rewarded with two quick fish. Conscious that the small window was starting to close Steve had spotted a number of boats re-drifting at Fantasy so up we went. I managed to speak to Gerry Rattery he was on seven I got the information and immediately changed line and tactics to try and squeeze out a few more. It seemed to work early in the drift I managed another fish. The takes in this area were hard and it was like a jolt of electricity up your arm. Somehow though the fish were not sticking and I failed to convert three solid offers.
It was 1300hrs and the party was well and truly over rods everywhere just stopped bending. It was going to be a grinder
. The Sun had set phasers to malchy and it was pure roastin! We started to move around the basin looking for any signs that there might be feeding fish but to no avail. As the afternoon wore on we decided to move back to the area we started in. Jamie Nairn was there and was doing remarkably well with six fish to his credit. Phil Thomas and Paul Wright were to my right and we were all within shouting distance. Jamie was just saying how dead it was when my line was almost ripped from my fingers and I got a billy bonus fish to take me to five. Not much else after that and the match ended on a whimper. When we had all got back and had a rough informal count up it seemed as though it was going to be very close again.
The Normanton Hotel was where the evening meal was to be held so a few of the boys had a quick Dundee shower in the restrooms at Rutland before driving the short distance to the hotel. The RAF had organised this year with Dave Newing doing a sterling job. The venue and the food were outstanding. The result was a mixed bag Peter Harrop (73 years young by the way) my fellow ‘Old Lag’ retained the title from last year. Gerry Rattery who had a red letter day finishing shortly after 1300 won the Interservices trophy joining such excellent anglers as Phil Thomas, Ronnie Christie and Jock Kettles to name but a few. The Army team with five new caps to the squad made real match of the event but inevitably just fell short of the line. I was really disappointed for the lads as watching them on the water each and every one of them gave there all. As ever it was a great privilege to fish with such fine gentlemen and there’s always next year……