As the region’s spate rivers refused to drop and most of the weekend’s match calendar was scrapped, organisers of the midweek three-day Ouse Bonanza did a brilliant job to get the festival underway.
Luck played its part with the river receding enough on Monday to allow the flooded roads that were stopping access to the banks to run off through the numerous dyke clapper gates.
The festival – heavily sponsored by local Bob-Co Tackle together with national tackle giants Maver, Garbolino, and Drake Floats – made sure of a three-zone sell-out of 63 anglers to be fished on a high-points basis, with each of the day’s fishing for a sponsor’s individual trophy.
Diawa Don’s Ian Exley, drawn 253 at Linton top, won the first day with a single bream and six roach for 6-11 using groundbait feeder and maggot fished short to the edge of the flow, giving him the perfect start and 21 points. Second-day winner, Nottingham’s Stuart Raynor, weighed exactly the same as it needed to take the first day but with a completely different catch, 300 bleak to the six-metre whip and maggot from steady peg 220 on the bungalows.
Improved conditions for the final day gave a few more bites for those that had struggled earlier in the week, though the day’s individual winner wasn’t in doubt as Exley again put his net under a lumpy bream to win his second match of the festival with a level 8lb from Hunters Lodge peg 226.
The perfect two-match and zone wins together with a poor result on Tuesday proved that to win outright needs no slip-ups as Exley surprisingly slumped to overall sixth place.
Cleckheaton’s Mr Consistent, Dave Armitage, showed his class, dropping only 10 points over the three days to become champion and boost his winnings by £500, plus major tackle prizes.
Following the ‘scalesmen’ on the last day it was obvious even though the fishing was hard that this kind of river festival has a big part to play, with the pegging fees going a long way towards paying fishery rents, so securing rights for all anglers.
A change to wet and wild weather showed a difference in catches later in the week for both match and specialist anglers.
York and District’s annual fur and feather competition fished around Bishopthorpe Palace produced decent catches of floodwater skimmers with York’s Tim Harrison winning the cash and Christmas turkey with over 12lb from a peg in the rocky culvert.
Late-season barbel made an appearance for those taking advantage of rising water temperatures with Leeds & District’s ferry field at Dunsforth producing some good fish.
Airborough’s Dave Miles just missed the double by a whisker of 8lb and 9-14 taken on the bomb with double 8mm Krill boilie fished just over the big shelf. Leeds’ Tony Hewson also reported barbel and a big perch from the same pegs, although his fish were caught on maggot.
Catches of up to four fish in a short session have been caught from the Lower Wharfe, with a double being witnessed on the top bend at Easedyke, again falling to a boilie.
With hurricane Desmond already causing flooding of our rivers and roads, it looks like it will be another hard week ahead with more chance of running a fish over than actually catching one.