A small group of anglers attended the annual BLESMA West Midlands competition held, this year, at Woodside Fishery. BLESMA - the British Limbless Ex Servicemen Association - is the only Armed Forces charity that supports limbless veterans for the duration of their lives. The charity, which has operated since 1932, helps all wounded servicemen and women who have lost limbs or the use of limbs or eyes to rebuild their lives by providing rehabilitation activities and welfare support.
Seven (7) anglers from all over the country lined the banks of Woodside pool for their latest get together, all of whom having previously served their country with the likes of the Welsh gunners, Scotch Guards and the navy.
Conditions on the day were forecast to be relatively pleasant and, most importantly, dry, However, it was a cold start to the day with plenty of cloud cover and a stiff breeze making things feel much colder than during the week leading up to the event. That, coupled with torrential rain on the Friday prior to the match, left anglers divided as to how they thought the fishing would be affected. It was a slow start to the match for most, but as the day progressed, the weather improved with plenty of sunshine by mid afternoon raising temperatures substantially, switching the resident carp into action.
Winner on the day was Dave Watson, who drew peg 17 on the dam wall. The Hook For Heroes Ambassador and Maver (UK) sponsored triple amputee started his match on the method feeder at twenty five yards with 8mm dumb bells on the hook to find some quality carp. Dave then switched to the pole trying meat long at 10m and down his edge, but could only find skimmers and small carp. After enduring a frustrating forty five minutes to an hour, he decided to go back on his method feeder line to get back amongst the carp with fish to 7lbs to finish the match with 58-04-00.
Finishing in second place was Roger Fullbrook. Roger drew peg 5 in the channel close to the island and opted to fish the waggler over to far side cover for most of the match to find a real mixtures of silvers, carp and tench. Roger caught steadily for the duration of the match to weigh in a level 39lbs from what can be a challenging area.
Rounding off the top three finish was Andy Derry. Andy drew peg 9 close to the point of the island and started his match on the method feeder tight to the reeds on the far bank. Andy endured a slow start to proceedings with just odd fish gracing his net before finding fish in numbers during the final half of the match down his right hand edge on the waggler. Andy managed to mount a late charge and put together a great run of fish with carp to 5lbs to offer 33-10-00 to the scales.
Finishing close behind in fourth place was a man everyone thought would steal the show given his draw, Dave Eynon. Dave drew fancied peg 3 on the opposite point of the island and fished the full duration of the match on a method feeder to the island. Dave had a superb start to the match landing carp to 6lb almost immediately after the all in. However, a couple of quiet spells during the match allowed the remainder of the field to catch up before Dave found the fish again late on in the day to weigh in a final 32-04-00.
A special congratulations to Stan Bolstridge, who finished in fifth place on the day from peg 19. Stan, who by his own admission does not consider himself to be a fisherman, started the match on the waggler fishing short with maggot finding odd small roach and perch. However, a switch to the pole fishing just a top kit with maggot shallow, then corn later on, Stan found quality rudd, roach and carp to around 4lbs to produce arguably the most impressive catch of the day weighing in 21-08-00. Stan also narrowly missed out on securing the biggest fish award after unfortunately losing a carp estimated at around 12-14lb at the net! Still a superb effort from the most senior gentleman on the bank!
Jim Taylor finished in sixth place from peg 15 with a weight of 19-04-00. Jim opted to fish the waggler for the duration of the match to land mainly silvers with the odd carp to see off the challenge from Dave Lewan on neighbouring peg 13.
Dave also fished a waggler for the duration of the match. Concentrating on his left hand edge, Dave enjoyed a lovely days fishing catching mainly roach for the full six hours to offer a personal best 11-00-00 to scales, including a 3lb plus mirror carp - another personal best for Dave. Two personal bests in one session can't be bad!
1st Dave Watson, Peg 17, 58-04-00, Method feeder / meat in the margins
2nd Roger Fullbrook, Peg 5, 39-00-00, Waggler
3rd Andy Derry, Peg 9, 33-10-00, Method feeder / waggler
4th Dave Eynon, Peg 3, 32-04-00, Method feeder
5th Stan Bolstridge, Peg 19, 21-08-00, Maggot & corn shallow
6th Jim Taylor, Peg 15, 19-04-00, Waggler
7th Dave Lewan, Peg 13, 11-00-00, Waggler
A big congratulations to Maver's Dave Watson on overall victory and for securing the biggest fish award to boot with a common carp weighing exactly 7lbs.
A huge well done to each and every one of the competing anglers that took part. It really was an honour and a pleasure to meet you all and to host this year's Midlands event. We are already looking forward to next year's competition. A great day supporting a great bunch of guys for a great cause and very happy to be part of it.
Finally, a big thank you to Match Aid's Paul Roberts and Dave White for attending the event and offering their support via live coverage on Facebook - a nice touch! Well done also to Dave Watson on securing a place with the Match-Aid team following all of the work he has done to date both on and off the bank. A perfect end to a perfect weekend for the Birmingham-based rod.
If you would any more information regarding Match-Aid and all the work they do, you can visit their website at www.match-aid.org.uk.