Well, it has been a while and I have not kept as on top of this blog as I had hoped work commitments, family and an extraordinary amount of fishing has prevented me keeping up to speed. So, a quick recap AMFC, AWAI and a visit to the National Rivers Final. The rest was all a bit of a blur so I will endeavor to tell you about the Rivers final at the weekend just gone. I was called to the party fairly late in the day having placed third in my qualifier at Wherewell I did not expect to be called forward. Howard Croston after a fantastic performance in the Worlds was unable to attend so the opportunity came to me. I did contemplate not attending I had made no preparation and I am a great believer if you don’t prepare, prepare to fail. However it was a National Final so I decided to go, three of my teammates had also made the final so I would be in good company. I have not been fishing very well this year and was down to fish the AWAI Midlands final, we were thin on the ground. Luckily another member of the squad who was thought not to have been available was able to fish late in the day. So, I made my plans to get down to the Dart that last weekend that fishing was permitted. I arrived on a Friday afternoon and met up with Graham Lumsdon. The weather as with everywhere else in the country was grim, heavy rain and swollen rivers. Graham gave me some hope telling me that the rivers do drop away quickly. We were staying at a local pub in Princetown the price was right and the food was excellent. Saturday morning saw the rivers completely blown out but by the afternoon certain parts of the river were fishable. I caught my first Dart Brown
Trout by the bridge at Postbridge, a small but perfectly formed fish. We fished for a few hours but the river was still very high. The Sunday dawned and it had stopped raining and seemed a nice day. The rivers had dropped considerably and looked very good. Sorry to be a bit vague at this point but the final is on the Dart next year! Suffice to say this river had given me the best wild brown trout fishing I have had the pleasure to enjoy. The drive home was long but worthwhile. The weekend of the final dawned and I traipsed back down to Dartmoor. Strangely it was raining again, no surprise there then. I met up with the other boys and we fished the practice water some although it was very high. We all attended the public draw in Postbridge, it was grand to catch up with the many anglers that also attended the draw. The buffet that was laid on was very nice with a mixture of pasties and sausage rolls. As the draw was made there was definitely a very strong group forming with JT, Mick Tinnion, and Graham Lumsdon. The other groups as is fitting for a National Final all looked tough.
I had drawn beats C in the morning and B in the afternoon, as it happened these had been the waters that I had practiced. In that regard I was fairly happy, I had a number of very good anglers in my flight including one of my teammates in Andy Croucher. I de-conflicted with Andy and was really looking forward to the match day the weather was due to improving so I saw little value in walking the beats. This proved to be sensible as on match day it was like a different river. My Controller was a young man Lewis on a break from University, he had not long started fishing the rivers and was keen to learn. All the anglers went upstream of Postbridge, although there is a lot of water to go at it was not long into the match that I found myself amongst a gaggle of other competitors. In the first two sessions, I managed a three and two respectively, a disappointing total but not bad considering I had to share water with three other competitors. I had thoroughly enjoyed the morning session and had a fair bit of time to get to my next stretch of water. I fished the West Dart in the afternoon and was going onto water that may well have already been fished. I had to keep my fingers crossed that I would be fishing fresh water. I need not have worried the session was only minutes old when I hooked a good fish, 31cm a monster from the Dart. I had three fish measured and Lewis shouted over that I had used up seven minutes, not bad. I had much fish from this section of the river many did not measure one which I thought may have made the cut 14.9 cm back it went. Many others fell off before I could net them, I finished the session with five which I thought reasonable for the Afternoon. The last session came and I was aware that there were other anglers above and below me. I would have to fish the small bit of water in front of me thoroughly as this was the only water that I was sure had not been fished. I managed three fish before running out of the water. Twenty-five minutes left and I was not hopeful of clean water so I bounced up the bank looking for all the places other anglers may have walked past. I touched lucky and managed one more for a total of four. Five and four a good showing in the afternoon but what will stay with me most is the big smile on my face I had really enjoyed the day. When we got back to the HQ tales of glory and woe were shared among the anglers. Graham had been very unfortunate having smashed two first places in the morning sessions he had the double donut in the afternoon a disaster. Andy Croucher had felt he had done enough to make the top five, Paul Lee had fished superbly and had taken points from local anglers Alex Boba and Lee Hendry. We sat down to a nice buffet and the guys indulged in a few beers. We sat with Andy’s controller and a fellow competitor from our flight Danny Gill. We all agreed it had been a great days fishing.
As the results were read out we were all delighted as Andy Croucher was named the National Rivers Champion for 2012. As well as this Paul Lee had attained 5th position and will be representing England in Wales next year. Graham and I had made the top half of the field, which in the company we were in was still a good achievement. I have to say at this point that without all of Graham’s hard work and effort these results would not have been attained. I continue to marvel and learn on the banks of the river and can’t wait till my next outing.