Positivity is now my keyword, so I shall start by listing the numerous positive aspects of the day. I drew peg 47, so…..
- I didn’t have to pay to park, not one penny, free, gratis, etc………
- I didn’t have far to walk, in fact one of the easiset pegs to access
- It was quite a comfortable peg, no wading etc.
- It’s a good Winter peg……………
Yes, I am struggling a bit now. In the interests of balance, a few ‘less positives’…
- I didn’t catch very much (see later)
- Most of what I caught were Bleak
- I got battered off the next peg (see even later)
Overall, nothing about the day went anywhere near compensating me for not being able to attend my daughter’s birthday bash (NB not actually her birthday though)
Peg 47 (and the couple of pegs upstream) bear no resemblance to Bewdley as a whole. 47 is 9′ deep on the pole line (did I mention that it’s a good Winter peg?) but shallowing up across and down I was a bit at a loss as to how to approach it so I opted to worm dangle over choppie at 9m using a 3g flattie, a 1.5g whip rig at 7m to hand over the same line, and a groundbait feeder with worm at mid-river. I kicked off with half a dozen feederfuls down the middle than 4 bait droppers of worm and caster at 9m, and dropped in with a worm. Nothing!! I actually sat this out for 25 minutes, which is was above my normal maximum, before deciding that it was a non-starter.
Next gambit was to chuck out with triple red maggot on the feeder. The first few casts all produced knocks and a single smashed maggot. I eventually nailed a Gudgeon, so I switched to worm which produced a proper cock Dace and a couple of bumblebees, and then it died !!!!!?????? I was now 90 minutes in, so I tried the whip over my earlier choppie line. Third or fourth run through the float slid away and I was playing an angry Perch!! Fortunately a decent rig and an elasticated whip allowed me to net the fish, and I then reverted to the flattie and worm approach. Nothing!!!! So I went back on the whip and started picking up the odd hold-up from Bleak, and then the float buried again and I found myself playing an even angrier fish. At the time I suspected a bigger Perch but small Barbel is a possibility, but I’ll never know because I hook-pulled. But if a Perch, why go for a single maggot but ignore a juicy worm???
By now Bleak were becoming more dominant and I set up a shallower rig at 6m to hand and started picking off some fairly decent specimens. In fact, I’d just about accepted that bleaking might be my best option for the remaining two or so hours when they dried up!! I then spent the dregs of the match switching between flattie, whip and feeder with- out adding anything to my total which was, I think, 3-4-0. In my defence, 4 -6 Lbs was the target weight for the peg in good conditions, and my lost Perch (?) would have brought me in line with that.
In the meantime, I’d been acutely aware that the angler downstream on peg 48 was having a better day. He was fishing a light blockend feeder rig and had been netting decent fish (but obviously not Barbel or dog Chub) fairly regularly early on and again at the death. He had also been plagued by Pike issues. I was fairly certain that he wasn’t on a maggot feeder as he wasn’t getting bitted out, so I deduced (correctly) that he was fishing a light pellet rig. This turned out to be correct, 6mm hook pellet with 4mm feed, and 12 Lbs+ of lovely dog Roach plus a few mini-Barbel. Nice!!
So I had a shit day and was battered off the next peg, even if he was fishing a bait/method which is totally alien to me. That Roach on pellet approach, which I have seen other Severn anglers experimenting with, just adds another layer of complexity to the range of options.
Overall the river has fished poorly which means that my low weight today may not be cyanide, so hooray for weight-based festivals, if it was points I’d be stuffed now!!! But today’s events did provoke a period of deep contemplation. Not for the first time, I have come to the conclusion that I am tending to match fish too much at the expense of not practicing for the matches I should be fishing. That is, in part, a consequence of living so far away from any practice venues, i.e. practicing is a major and expensive event, not simply a case of popping a few miles down to my local river for a few hours. What happens then is that I turn up at an event like today’s with an (arrogant or foolish?) assumption that I’ll draw reasonable silvers pegs and put together a framing cumulative total fishing methods and baits with which I am familiar. The reality is a little different, as Bewdley in late July is not the silvers venue that it becomes in October. It is dominated by the pellet, boith for Barbel and, as I saw today, Roach. And how much time have I spent practicing on the pellet? Exactly none, I haven’t used one for a year. What brought this home was looking at the overall results from today, with peg 72A throwing up a 31Lb+ weight. I had that peg Day 1 last year, threw out on the pellet, caught a net Roach first chuck then nothing, bottled out oafter 40 minutes and whipped my way to high single figures of, mainly, Gudgeon. Won my section by default. Hooray!! Opportunity missed, but I had little or no confidence in or expertise with the pellet, so I ‘fished to my strengths’, i.e. I committed suicide.
So, a note or reminder to myself. In 2015 I’d had a reasonable Festival, default section Day 1 silvers bashing, right approach. Section win Day 2 with Barbel, peg 15 so a ‘when in Rome situation’. Then 4th overall on Day 3 when I almost accidentally discovered the Perch potential of the stretch. 2016 was less successful, default Section Day 1 as above, high single figures off 112 on Day 2 but fell short of Section, wipe out Day 3 when I wasn’t geared up to extract those Munter Barbel from peg 15. And immediately post-Festival my initial thoughts were that I wouldn’t look to compete on such different terms again, but I ascribed that to my bitter disappointment over Day 3. But I think that I was essentially right in my thought processes. So I should only enter next year’s Festival if I am confident that I can build up sufficient expertise and confidence in the pellet to allow me to adopt that approach where necessary.