Total Coarse Fishing deputy editor Steve Martin was anticipating a week of bagging and banter on his club’s annual outing. Well, he was half right…
I’d been looking forward to my very first Daventry AC trip down to Berry Barns in Shebbear, Devon for a while. It was the eighth consecutive visit that the lads from the club had taken down to the southwest, and this year I decided to make the trip – I needed a break after running the show for two weeks while Kevin Wilmot was rubbing shoulders with Buzz Lightyear and Mickey Mouse in Florida.
The venue was a good four and a half hours from home, and with the two lads I was travelling with fishing the last round of the Dog Lane Pairs League – they were both in with a chance of winning with their partners - we did not leave until just before eight o’clock on the Sunday evening. Arriving just before 1am, there was just time for a nightcap before turning in with the anticipation of a week of bagging and banter.
The view that greeted me when I wake was quite breathtaking. In the foreground were the two small lakes that we would be fishing, and behind, the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park. The sky however, was giving a real clue to what was lay ahead for the rest of the week – dark grey!
Day one saw me drawn on the carp lake with an island chuck and a reedy margin to my left. The depth in front of me was around five feet, so the pole at 5m and 13m was the plan. Like all plans it changed rapidly, as the wind picked up dramatically, the temperature dropped, and the sky darkened. Being such a small pool, it didn’t take long before there was a heavy tow to deal with that made float presentation difficult.
I switched to the Method feeder with a 8mm white pop-up, fished just short of the island, as the pole line had failed to produce. This resulted in four carp and a skimmer, but I had to wait for the bites to come. The feeder bites then slowed, so I switch back to the pole, but that lasted no more than 20 minutes, as a strong gust smashed my pole hard into the roller upright – goodbye No5 section! I fished the remaining time on the Method, and finished the match with 33lb 3oz. I should have done better, but as it was the first time on the water, I was pleased with my haul under the circumstances.
The rest of the week was a disappointment to say the least. The weather deteriorated, the two silver-fish matches saw me catch 2lb and double figures respectively, and on the final day’s carp match I weighed in only 12lb. That final day was fished in torrential rain and freezing cold winds. Who would have thought that on the same day last year the temperature reached 25 degrees Celsius!