Keith Arthur fishes first Thames match since 90s

It was a real journey back in time for me last weekend when I fished the Lower Thames Championship. It was the first match I’ve fished on the Thames since the late 1990s, mostly due to work commitments – I leave the TalkSport studio at 8am so I can never make a match that draws at ‘regulation’ time and get to my peg, tackled up, to fish by 10am.

Luckily, the lower Thames can be reached by 9am from Waterloo and I was in my peg by 9.20am and had one rod ready for the ‘all-in’.

The bad news was the peg itself, as there were so many great pegs and areas to draw, I didn’t know where I wanted to be, only where I didn’t want, and I drew exactly there. I was at Laleham, where the river runs right next to the road, with a very narrow footpath to fish from, with the road less then 1.5m from the back of my seatbox. It is impossible to fish a pole as there is nowhere to ship back, or even sideways.

I had 20-odd tiny fish and a ‘goer’ perch in old money, over 9ins long, for a grand total of 1lb 6oz.

However I was made up for the winner, Ian Young, who invites me to ‘his’ match at Gold Valley every year, in aid of the Electrical Industries Benevolent Fund. He works damned hard to get that running and he deserves his day in the sun.

One downside of the event was the obvious nature in which non-anglers have now claimed the riverbank. Maybe 20 mountain-bikers (I know, riverbanks are flat!) used the path, all 12ins width of it, moaning as they had to pass anglers who are never normally there. There were at least twice that many joggers, and countless walkers.
One lady seemed to be having trouble negotiating past my seatbox – she was a large unit – so I politely enquired if she was okay.

“Not really, all you bloody fishermen,” was the response I got, so I politely reminded her that just 2ft away was a perfectly straight and flat road.

“What about the traffic?” was her next remark, so I very calmly let her know that the river, and anglers, were there long before the cars!