A Walking Disaster

Tom Scholey recalls a match when things didn't quite go according to plan!
Picture the scene. It was the first day of my first festival of the year, and I was itching for a good result. Rigs were tied, fresh elastics were threaded and tensioned to perfection, and I was ready to take on the world.

The draw put me on Peg 35 at Porth Reservoir. The venue is always something of an unknown quantity early on in the week, but I was told that some of the people who had practiced had caught roach on the pole, so that was to be my banker line.

I had a tough section, with Pemb Wrighting, Rob Wootton and Paul Holland to beat, among others. But I didn’t care, as far as I was concerned I was going to win!

Out I waded into the water, determined to gain as many valuable inches as possible over my opponents. All of my legs were fully extended, as I lowered my trusty seatbox into the water, securing all of the legs firmly and stably on the gravelly bottom. Out came my shiny new pole, and soon I was plumbing up what I hoped would soon be my killing fields, where I could plunder a winning net of roach.

I inched my plummet along the bottom looking for any snags or rocks. I was in the process of admiring just how flat and perfect the surface was, when it happened.

Whether it was my fault, or down to a mechanical flaw in the box I am still not sure – but the outcome was the same. The front leg of my box fired out of its socket, as the clasp which held it in place sprung open, thanks in no small part to the considerable weight of my sizeable derrière.

I’m sure what followed next was a very quick process, but it seemed to happen in slow motion. The first decision that I had to make, as my box swayed precariously beneath me, was what to do with the 16 metres of pole that I had across my legs.

There was only one thing for it: I threw it in front of me, as I felt almost certain my landing path was to be directly behind me. I was right, and the inertia of pushing the pole forward made the box go backwards. I was soon heading quickly towards a very damp place.

I think I was aged four or five the last time I suffered any involuntary movement of the bowel, and though later checks revealed that I managed to avoid any direct soilage, I do remember farting loudly as my body was engulfed by the icy water. To those who have ever wondered, mid March is definitely too early for bathing on, or around the Cornish coast.

Recovering from the situation with any sort of dignity was frankly impossible. I imagine that I looked very much like a blue whale trapped in an oil rig. Even my opponents for the day on surrounding pegs took pity on me, and came down to help.

Pemb on the next peg had a change of clothes in the van, and was kind enough to offer them to me, so off I squelched to fetch them while Rob Wootton did his best to reassemble my fishing station.

I have never been so pleased to get inside another man's trousers as I was when I slid Pemb’s dry, smooth joggers up my thighs. Redressed, I did my best to put my ‘bad start’ to the day behind me, and focus on the job in hand.

Needless to say, my day didn’t get any better. Nobody around me caught much – but I caught even less. The exact details of my weight are lost in my mind amongst the mirade of misery, but it was certainly less than 2lb for last in the nine-peg section.

As I packed my gear away, I couldn’t wait to get back to the lodge, and have a hot shower and some dinner. It is quite a long walk back to the car park, so off I set like a man on a mission, pushing my trusty trolley before me.

Anyone who has drawn in the 30s at Porth will also tell you that there is a section of the path that goes alongside a very steep drop, which in turn leads down to some very deep water. If there is one section of the journey where you wouldn’t want your trolley to tip over, spilling its contents everywhere, then that would be it.

No prizes for guessing what happened next. As I juggled to keep as much stuff on the path as possible, I saw one of my recently purchased Daiwa Caldia’s heading down the slope at a rate of knots.

Once again, it was Wootton and Wrighting to the rescue, and after a little cliffhanging, they soon had their ‘unfortunate’ friend back on two wheels, with all his possessions accounted for. For all his help, Rob deserved the last word on the day, when we finally got back to our vehicles: “You’ve not had the best match really have you, Tom?

“Fell In : Check

“Caught Nothing: Check

"Last In Section: Check, and to top it all, you nearly lost all your tackle in the drink. Did you not think about giving it a shove down the slope and saving future misery?”

Needless to say, the bar at White Acres recorded very good takings that night!