Hard with a capital H

Simon R

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November will often see us have a match scheduled on the River Tees on the stretch known as the dolomite at Bowesfield and this year was no exception. We don’t generally have the best of luck when it comes to weather conditions both prior to and during this match – we’ve endured snowstorms down here more than once although to be honest the forecast for Sunday wasn’t bad – light rain until mid-morning and then sunny intervals for the remainder of the day.

Sunday dawned grey and overcast but at least dry, Steve had beaten me to the car-park meeting spot and following the recommendations, regarding which pegs to include and which to leave out that I’d received in the tackle shop the day before I soon had the required pegs marked. The almost incessant rain we’ve endured for the last couple of weeks had resulted in the river resembling a cup of cold coffee, fortunately due to the barrage it doesn’t rise & fall much, the current just picking up speed as they lower the gates to allow more water through.

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Up to probably two-thirds of the way across there was little or no flow, picking up as you approached the far bank. Target species are skimmers, roach and hybrids with odd perch and the dace migrate down into the deeper water come the winter.

I pulled our peg 3 out of the hat which was permanent peg 157 and the same peg I drew in this match last year. It’s, according to Google Earth, about 75m from bank to bank here and a few exploratory casts saw a 60m chuck dropping me in the middle of the faster water. I had three tip rods rigged up – the 13’ Acolyte Distance Feeder for the longer chuck, the 12’ IM8 for down the middle and the 12’ Acolyte Ultra for shorter chucks – I’d been advised that the float was currently something of a waste of time so left the pole and waggler rods at home.
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I started on longer line but quickly realised that the 1oz tip I had on was useless, bent double as soon as the feeder hit bottom. I chucked the IM8 out whilst I switched tips and winding in a couple of minutes later, I half hoped to have a smashed maggot, however the bait was unmarked. Even with the stiffer tip I wasn’t convinced that bites from notoriously shy biters like dace would show any sort of indication, so I switched to the IM8 fished short of the main flow. I still hadn’t actually had any bites but was happier that if I got one, I’d actually be able to see it.


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Two and a half hours in I got a bite which shocked me so much that I displayed reactions like an egg timer and consequently completely missed it. Next cast though I snared a little dace on the head of a dendrobena. With nothing else forthcoming I had a wander to see what else had been caught – George, Steve and Frankie were on the upstream pegs and only George had a fish – above me on 156 Ste Q was guesting and fishing the pole feeder at 16m (to get over the shelf) – he’d had a couple of skimmers and a roach even though he was only in about 9’ of water. From peg 156 down to 153 the river shallows considerably and, as we’d done today, 153,154 & 155 are normally omitted in the winter. At the downstream end both Kev and Chris were currently blanking.

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I got another dace half an hour later but that was it. For some strange reason the river started rising, lifting 4 or 5" in just a few minutes before rising another inch or two later. Presumably they were closing the gates slightly to divert more water down the canoe slalom. The rain that we’d been promised first thing this morning finally arrived, varying from annoying drizzle to heavy and persistent, so everyone got sodden packing up. I knew Ste would have top weight but had less idea where the trophy was heading. Kev and Chris had dry nets, Steve had tossed his single fish back but George and Frankie fetched their catches down to my peg for the weigh-in.

Frankies single dace didn’t register so I gave him an ounce for it

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My fish didn’t register either until we tried weighing them without zeroing the scales first – that gave us 1lb 5oz and deducting the empty sling (1lb 2oz) gave a weight of 3oz
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Georges brace of roach did register but at just 2oz they weren’t quite big enough so I picked up another piece of silverware.

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Ste had top weight by a big margin – 3lb 7oz for his collection of skimmers, roach and at least one hybrid.
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Next month we’re back at Dromonby Farm – December 1st and 15th – possibly room for a guest at the first one but the 15th is our Christmas match at which all members get a prize so, unless everyone cries off at the last minute there won’t be room for any non-members.

Simon
 

bezzer

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Great write up as usual Simon. Sounded like a right grueller!
 
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