By accident more than design Paul Calvert and I had qualified for the Lexus final by way of being out practicing for the team event the day after. With Interservices looming the day after both of us could have done without it. Jamie Thomas had got the text while we were at Bewl the week before saying that he was being brought forward for the final as well. He was not even sure that he could do it. A long story short Jamie and I managed a day out on the 09 Sep a ways before the event but better than nothing. The Wednesday, in short, provided some pretty spectacular sport with lots of fish around to keep us busy. If you could spot a fish and cast to it you were almost guaranteed to make contact with the fish. We made our way down the North Shore to Rectory Bay which was rammed with fish. Ed Foster was tucked right into the corner catching a few on dries but that was not the best way to get them. Ripping two BOB nymphs past them produced fish after fish and often when one fish lost interest another would grab the flies before you could recast. The quality of the fish at Grafham is outstanding and you can see from the photograph of the tail on this fish that Jamie caught that they were well equipped to fight back. Twice I had my entire cast ripped from the fly line and after upping my tippet strength a fish ripped through my braided loop. Outstanding fun but Jamie and I both knew that this would not last once the rest of the field turned up to practice and give the fish a damn good shoeing!
On the Saturday I rocked up what I thought was bright and early but already the car park seemed really busy. Paul was out the day before and I was keen to hear how his day had gone. He confirmed that the fish and the method had changed little and he had also identified a few other areas that would be worth a chuck. The boat draw had been posted onto Facebook the evening before really helpful idea. I had drawn a French lad, Fabian my second Frenchman of the season his English was as bad as mine however and conversation was limited to a few grunts and lots of pointing. He seemed to be content that I took the engine and was initially content to go where I wanted. I set up my gear in the next boat to Ed Foster and we chatted about the Wednesdays sport. He confirmed the fish were still in Rectory Bay and that made my mind up to go there as a starting point. As I motored across a fairly choppy Grafham I could see Mark Haycock and Ron Gent heading the same way, so I was in the best of company. Despite the wind I had set up with a slow glass despite the wind we had complete cloud cover. Other than a fleet of boats bouncing over their heads I could see no reason for the fish to be very deep. I had found a clear bit of water and started my drift only twenty minutes in and my first fish struggled on the surface but was soon tamed and sitting in my bass bag. Great start, I had not seen many fish caught in the initial drifts though. We made another couple of long fruitless drifts and many boats had already departed the area, it was time for a move. All the while the engine seemed to be performing well this was soon to change though. Fabian had fished the ‘A’ Buoy area to great effect the day before and seemed enthused by the move. Shortly after the move Fabian did hook and land a fish. We had several pulls and plucks and I dropped a fish but all this over four hours. The engine had started to play up not starting despite my best efforts. We decided to return to Rectory Bay which was now completely boat free. It would also seem that it was completely fish free as well as we both had little to show after three drifts. As we fast approached the bank I tried mostly in vain to get the engine going and I feared the worst. The wind was a bit tasty and I was sure we would be thrown onto the bank at any moment. With only yards to go the engine finally fired and disaster was avoided. As the engine was not up to the job we decided to go back the ‘A’ Buoy area. We had a long drift from the mouth of Gaynes to the Dam and when we got to the Dam we both lost fish. I made to start the engine only this time it flatly refused to be cajoled into starting. We were unceremoniously dumped onto the Dam and the engine failed to start. I called the lodge put my feet up and ate my sandwiches while the world went by! The warden appeared some time later and after a fine effort and starting the engine in gear we eventually got going again. The closing stages of the match produced a few more fish but none of them made it to the boat for me or Fabian, very frustrating. We left for the harbour early as I was uncertain the engine would get us back in time, in fact several boats past us on the way back. I know I am a bit plump but come on!
When we got in my mood was rather black but it was perked right up when I heard that Jamie Thomas had managed 12 fish quite a feat on a tough day. The weigh-in was quick and efficient as ever John Horsey has this down to a fine art and it was completed very quickly. After ditching the waterproofs and tackle it was in to the lodge for the meal. The food was a real let down to say the least and I have eaten food prepared by Army chefs! Many of the anglers refused to even eat it, suffice to say on my way up the road I was all over McDonalds like a tramp on chips. After pudding had been served (I did not like that either) the results were read out. It had been a very fair match and the rod average was much higher than I would have thought at 3.14 and a fantastic average fish weight of 2lb 4oz a credit to the fishing at Grafham. Jamie’s 12 fish was indeed enough to secure the coveted trophy and I was really chuffed for him in what was his first major final. We all bomb burst and headed up to Rutland for the Interservice comp the next day.