Sunday, 26 March 2017

1998

I was never going to fish this weekend as I spent Saturday drinking cider at Coventry, the day was great but the less about the football result the better lol. Sunday was going to be spent doing some gardening and having a nice meal with family for Mothers Day. I do love the first day after the clocks go forward, as long as it is sunny, when you get that late evening light and it just gives you a positive feeling. Although it was windy it was bloody lovely weather so I hope if you were out on the bank today you enjoyed it.

Going back to 1998 my days out fishing were sparse from April on, as you will see...

A month on from the end of the close season on 12th Aril and I got out pleasure fishing, I had a day (my one and only) at Brokerswood Lake, I am sure I fished here with a few lads, Ian Spriggs and Andy Floyd, but it is difficult to remember exactly. I do know it was a very cold day and the temperature got no higher than 5C. It was a hard day, seven pound of roach on a waggler with caster, and four small carp for 6lb on a maggot feeder. Two days later there was heavy snow in the North of England, and we had two hours of heavy snow in Bristol, but by the afternoon it was all melted.

My next venture out came on the Sunday 3rd May, a trip to Lovelynch fishery. I caught small carp at 3m on and off all day, but never got them lined up like you needed to do here, I ended up with 40lb which was no good. A week later with the weather improved I took a trip to Witham Friary with Dave Haines for a bit of pleasure fishing. I fished on the bottom lake, left hand bank, I fished a light 4x10 float with a 20 to 0.10 and fished a single red maggot on the hook. Feeding small amounts of pellets and maggots at 7m and also down the margin by some reeds I caught lots of small crucian carp and a few small commons and wild carp. It was a lovely day as I recall and I had 42lb.

Another day pleasure fishing with Dave Haines was at Sevington Lakes, as we had heard a lot of stories about this venue being solid with small tench and crucians. I fed groundbait with a bit of sweetcorn in it at 11m. I fished a 0.1g float with 0.10 to a 14 hook with corn on the hook. It was a steady day with 25lb of small tench and crucians as we were told. I got talked into fishing another new venue, this time a match, at Burley Fields which was supposed to be solid with silver fish. In previous matches here silvers won the money and only odd carp were caught.This day was very different though as I struggled to put together 10lb of roach whilst I watched other anglers land odd big carp, and I think Tony Rixon won with about 74lb.

On the 31st May I fished a small match at Keynsham AA's Century Pond, back then this venue was brilliant when you pleasure fished but hard in matches, today was no exception. I fed very little and fished light with a single maggot to winkle out just 7lb 8oz which was enough for second overall. I went back again the following week and struggled for just 4lb 3oz but lost 4 big carp, I won the section money with that lowly weight. My last match in the close season was on June 14th where I fished a match at Sadborrow Pond, I think this was a league event and I may have stood in for someone. I had drawn a peg with an island opposite me and as it turned out this was the only place I could a bite. I fed mainly sweetcorn and fished it on a 16 to 0.14, I pushed the float as near to the island as I could but I still had fish that seemed to swim behind the float so I guessed the bank was undercut. I finished with 9 carp and a few accidental roach for 27lb and just missed out on some section money.

On June 20th I fished in the CLA teams of 5 on the K&A canal at Devies. I think I was by Semington, and it was very wide where I was. My 14.5m pole was nowhere near the far bank even with my box set up on long legs in the margin of the canal. I fed some gbait at 13m at an angle, and fed some pellet and corn at 14,5m. Starting on the gbait I had a few small skimmers on single red maggot on a 22 to 0.08. The line at 14.5m was poor and I realised I had to get over tight, so I fed casters, corn and pellets via a catapult across and put a long 3m line on with a dibber and put 1BB on the line just above the hook length. The BB would give me the weight to swing the rig in, and hold the bait in place as the canal tows a lot. It was not pretty but it worked as I had 4 carp! My total weight was 23lb 15oz and that was enough to give me 4th place overall and a nice pick up.

Hopefully find a match to fish next Sunday, might stay local to Windmill.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Avalon Fishery Open

I spent the week wondering where to fish on Sunday, the weather forecast was windy and that my my choice harder. In the end Glenn talked me in to choosing to fish a match that Tony Rixon was running at Avalon. I was tying up some hook lengths Saturday morning when I had a call from Paul Elms who offered me and Glenn a lift to the match, this was duly accepted. All prep done I watched the Gas win another home match, happy days.

Sunday morning and the wind was still blowing but not quite as bad as it was Fri /Sat I thought. It was a great run down to the fishery in the van, though Paul was struggling a bit after a heavy night. He only ate half his breakfast at Shiphan, but I would say that it was nothing as good as I have had here before, disappointing. It was good to be back at Avalon, I do like this fishery as you have to work hard at catching and generally nobody runs away with it, plus the wildlife is fantastic. A bittern was heard booming, a water rail was squealing, and I saw egrets and warblers including a cettis warbler. As the draw was started I saw the pegs went from 16 to 48 (there was another match on the other pegs). Never sure where to draw but the gaps inside the islands and corners are generally good. I ended up getting 46, not really great I thought. It is close to the car park and you have an island opposite, as you can see below.

Not sure if you can make it out in the picture but the reeds are on a point and then it goes back into a bay before straightening out. I basically wanted to cast into the corner of the bay. This was tricky though as cast slightly left and your in the reeds, slightly right and you'd catch a branch hanging out off the fallen tree. Still it would be a good test. I set up a small cage feeder for fishing here, with 0.185 to 16 PR38 for banding various hook baits. I also set up two pole rigs but not a lot of point in mentioning them really..

On my left today on peg 48 was Ray White, on my right on 44 was Steve Seagar (again). I have done well off peg 44 before, and it has the gap in island with couple of old pieces of wood in between it. Next to Steve was Geoff Francis, then Mat Challenger. The rest of my section included Mike Nicholls, Jason Radford and Joe McMahon (I think).

When the match began I fed some gbait with micros and caster 13m at 11 o'clock, and some micros at 2 o'clock. I then made my first cast on the feeder and with the wind blowing up my first cast was a little shorter than I hoped for. No signs first cast so out again, feeder landed in almost the same place, I'll take that. 10 minutes later and the tip flew round with an angry carp, but within 5 seconds it had swam into a snag and left the hook in it, that was 1 hook gone then. Two casts later and the tip slowly bent around like a big bream bite, I initially thought liner but then struck and there was a fish on the end. If fought heavy but steady and then under the rod tip was throwing up big boils. I thought it might have been fouled, but I finally got the net under a 10lb common, beautiful fish. On the hour I had my second carp but a little think of 2lb+.

The second hour was dead apart from a 8oz skimmer on the tip, a look on the pole lines was biteless. Steve had 1 carp at this stage and it seemed most were struggling. I then took a 5lb carp and a 3lb carp on the tip in quick succession but everything went quiet again. Steve had managed to get some skimmers on his pole line and I thought he would do well if he could keep catching, but then his 11m section broke on the strike and he couldn't fish over his feed. I tried the pole lines again but only had a 2oz roach, either there were no silvers here or I was doing it wrong. After trying the pole my first chuck back on the tip brought another 5lb carp, perhaps the rest had done it some good? Sadly no, as other than 2 roach on caster, and 4oz skimmer on meat I had nothing else in the second half of the match. I was gutted as though I was doing OK. The anglers on the side of the lake in the other match did OK on the opposite end of the island I was fishing, but they came off the island and tried there poles, and with 90 mins to go Steve got a carp on the lead by the wood, and he had another 6 right up to the whistle, he had easily beat me. Geoff the other side of Steve had 6 carp but said they were all small.

The scales started from peg 16 where Paul Elmes had 57lb including 18lb+ of silvers. He was still the top weight when the scales got to Joe McMahon, Joe's 9 carp and few silvers was agonisingly 10oz short of top weight. Geoff had 23lb and then Steve had 48lb which sneaked him into 3rd place and last in the money. My turn to weigh and I needed to be Geoff to get the section money by default. I had 25lb on my clicker and basically that is what the carp weighed plus a pound of silvers, so I did get the section money for my trouble, sorry Geoff.

As you can see above Paul, Joe and Steve were the top 3. Paul was also top silvers, but the money for the top 2 silvers went to Leon Hubbard and Mat Challenger. I say well done to them as fishing the pole in the very windy conditions was not at all easy.

I was a bit gutted as obviously had I caught a few more in the second half I would have been close to the frame. As far as the casting went today on the tip, I lost one hook in the tree and 2 in the reeds, it was good practice. My only regret is not having 8mm pellets, as I had stuck to filling the cage feeder with 4mm pellets and fishmeal gbait. Steve fed 8mm pellets and I got the feeling he drew those fish into his peg when the lads stopped feeding opposite. I am sure I may have pulled a few myself, but you never know.

The van had done well with Paul the winner and Glenn also winning his section, so we set off home happy, if a little tired. No fishing for me next weekend, will see what there is to do after that.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Bathampton Open Newbridge

Another week passed by with me once again spending a couple of days in Germany. The week started off on a sad note as our youngest cat was found dead presumed run over. Saturday morning and I took last weeks groundbait left overs (a lot)  out of the freezer and as I did so a frozen block of newspaper fell out. I then remembered this was a match pack of joker I'd frozen after the last canal match, well I might as well use that too. There was not a lot of preparation needed but I did make sure I had a couple of float rods in just in case I drew off the bream and would just try to enjoy myself catching on the topper. Everything done I was soon off to watch the Gas win another home game, a few Thatchers went down well as did some strange strawberry cider later.

Sunday morning and I was up nice and early, had breakfast at home and was on my way to the draw with plenty of time to spare. Once at the venue there was no going home as the road would be closed off for the Bath half marathon for quite a few hours. There was a good turnout with I think 36 anglers, the river had dropped from last week but still had a bit of pace and colour. People asked me where to draw for the bream, and other than 16 and 18 I said anything in the 30's or 50's should give you a chance. Kevin got the draw going early and I was about half way in the queue, Derek Coles drew 18 where I was last week, then Adie West drew 16 the same peg he had last week! As I got closer to the tub of tickets I saw the guy in front of me draw peg 61 (Norfolk reeds), my turn and peg 71, dog shite! If there was one area not draw it would be 67, 69 and 71, as well as 77 and 79. I was mortified, no chance at all, and then the guy after me in the draw pulled out 38 which is bang on.

Well I decided I had to give it a go, but with the match being from 10am to 4:45pm it could be a very long day. As I was still moaning Shaun Townsend pulled out 69, and that meant we were the tourette twins lol. I pushed my gear along the muddy path, from peg 18 all the way to 71, not exactly a short walk but it would at least help me keep fit. When I arrived at the peg I was happy to see I could get close to the water with my box and could at least get comfortable. I set up my feeder rod with a 2oz tip this week, and started a little lighter with a 16 PR355 to 0.148. I was short on time so did not set up the float, and Shaun reminded me he had hit loads of snags on this peg last time he had it. I was just about ready before the start, with all the joker put into my bait, and just caster and chopped worm on the tray with some maggots for the hook. This peg is one of the widest on the river, and I fished just past middle where the main flow eased off a bit.



I decided as per last match not to ball it and instead spend the first hour casting a large feeder very regularly. Meanwhile Shaun did ball it above me, I was nearly deaf by the time he finished throwing it all in. My first 5 casts were all met with little taps on the tip, and I had a tiny roach and 2 tiny chublets, then the bites died but no matter I would just keep the bait going in. Two hours in and nothing else had happened (well other than landing a sanitary towel and a stone covered in some sort of mollusc) and it was already looking like being a poor day, Shaun had 3 small fish and had tried the crowquill without any success. Mat Challenger came up for a walk from peg 76, he had put in 40 balls at the start (wow!) and had a few small fish and a trout, I then had a roach about 6oz whilst he was there, but it was a one off.

Around 1pm I decided to go for a walk to see the people who were catching, my section was poor with Alan Brown below the railway bridge on 74 doing best with about 5lb of chub and roach. Going upstream nobody had anything of note until I got to peg 46 with this chap having 3 bream, the chap on 38 had 6 bream whilst Chris Ollis and Warren Bates in between those two had not a lot. Rich Lacey on 36 had 7 Bream, and then the next 5 or 6 anglers all had a few bream. I trudged back up to my peg, Brian Melksham was blanking on 56, and James Carty on last weeks winning peg 59 was still blanking.

Back on my peg I hoped the rest might have allowed a few fish to settle over the feed, but the first cast yielded nothing. Second cast was also without incident and so as I cast out a third time I decided to set up a crowquill just to ease the boredom. I climbed up the bank and got a rod and reel out and started threading the line through the rings, glanced at the tip and it seemed to be bouncing, I did a double take and it was definitely dropping back! I dropped my rod and then stepped of the bank and stood on my box and grabbed the rod, there was indeed a bream on. Towner had spotted my action and came along to watch, a nice bream of nearly 5lb was netted. This was about 2;15pm, sadly this was a loner and no other bites came my way until 3:45pm when I had a whopping drop back and bream number 2 was on, similar sized fish as the first. An hour left and maybe they might have a munch, but no that was it again. I did have two sharp bites right at the death which nicked the worm off the hook, but they were not bream bites.

I thought I might be in with a shout of the section as I heard Alan Brown on 74 had caught no more, but when the other anglers down there came up early having packed up they told me he had taken a bream and skimmer late on, that was then. Mike Weston had the scales and as he was not weighing in he caught our section done quick, well as it turned out only Alan and I weighed in! Alan had 11lb 2oz and my fish went 10lb 9oz, so just 10oz off a tasty section win, never mind I was chuffed enough to get two lids out of the peg.  Walking back James Carty had managed to snare 7 bream in the last two hours on 59 for 35lb, then it was down to the straight for any more decent weights.

1st N Smith         peg 38   75lb 12oz
2nd Rich Lacey   peg 36   52lb 2oz
3rd Dean Harvey peg 30   42lb 13oz
4th Adie west      peg 16   42lb 4oz

Biggest bream weighed was by Rich Lacey and it went 7lb 4oz, however, Chris Ollis reckons he had an 8lber but did not weigh it separately. I got a photo of Rich as I got to him just as he was weighing in. Rich is pretty sure he lost a barbel today, played it for ages, Dean Harvey lost one for sure as he saw his. There were a couple of anglers who lost big fish too.



Well that's it for the river again, glad I managed to feel the thump of a couple of slabs today even if I was on awful peg. Well back to commercials for a while now, have to see what, where and when.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Bathampton Open Newbridge

I spent 4 days working in Munich this week, and as I was also going to Oxford to watch the Gas (great 2 nil win by the way) any prep time would be very limited. Luckily Kev Dicks was running an open this Sunday (and another next Sunday) on the Avon at Newbridge, and a bream match on the feeder would do for me.

I had seen the river briefly on Friday at Keynsham, and it was up a bit, enough for me to think the float rod would not be needed. Then of course we had a lot of rain in the early hours of Sunday which was probably not going to help. I had a bit of brekky at home as we were drawing at the Pumphouse and was lucky to load the car just after the rain had stopped. When I got to the draw it looked like there were a few hardy souls going to brave the elements, I think there was 20 of us. Kev did the draw but explained he was not going to fish as he has had an operation on his shoulder and is out of action for a couple of months. First draw was Mat Challenger and he pulled 20, it's done a few bream weights but it's not a peg I like so was glad it had gone. When it was my turn I went pulled 18, very happy with this as it has a lot of bream form, though I would prefer to draw it on a lower river this time of year.

Setting up was not going to take long, just had to be careful getting down the bank which was now very slippery. I set up one feeder rod (my old faithful Drennan DRX Carp Feeder) with a 14 PR355 to 0.165.  I initially had a 2oz tip in the rod, but 15 mins before the all in I lobbed a lead out to about 13m and the tip bent round far too much. I decided that this was no good, so I bit off the line and put a 3oz tip in and set up again. When the match began I simply under armed a 1oz feeder out to about 13m and put the rod in the rest. The feeder was packed with the usual caster and chopped worm, but I did include some dead red maggots too. After about 20 mins of casting the wind was playing havoc with the rod tip and I really wasn't sure I would be able to see a bite. I changed the bank stick position and basically put the rod flat pointed out in front of me, not how you are supposed to do it lol!



Forty minutes into the match and I had my first bite, it was a good bite to and there was problem seeing it, bream on. Sadly as I got the fish under control and it was down the inside the hook pulled out, bugger.  I think it was about 20 mins later that I had another bite and it was another bream, this time the hook held and I netted one of about 3 1/2lb. I had that fish on a worm and maggots, but no more bites came, so I decided to give the lobworm a go, after 3 casts and about 2 hours into the match I had a whack of a bite and was into another bream. This was one looked to me about 5lb. Glenn rang me to say he was struggling with just a skimmer and a dog roach, and after 2 hours it was tough for most.  I stayed on the lobworm for a bit but the only thing I caught was a pair of skateboard wheels, see below!


As we just past into the third hour my dendra and 3 red maggots was snaffled again, and when I struck the rod really hooped over and the fish hardly budged. Eventually I moved it and it started nodding, it felt like a good slab and gave a good account of itself right up until it went in the net. We did weigh it separately later and it was 6lb 12oz, so a good fish. Next cast and within a couple of minutes I was into another bream, about 4lb, maybe they've rocked up!  Just over 3 hours in and 4 bream in the net things were looking good, but then the wheels fell off and the next 2 hours passed by without a bite, oh dear.

With an hour to go I knew Jerry Pocock on peg 59 had 8 bream, and Glenn Bailey on peg 52 had 4 bream, so all to play for. At 3:20pm I finally had another bite and bream number 5 was landed. Just after this Derek Coles came and sat by me, he had struggled on peg 26 and had packed up. The howling wind had abated slightly, but I left the rod in the same position, although by now the river was a bit higher and faster. Whilst Derek was there I had an indication but struck into thin air and the bait was untouched, this had happened about 3 other times in the match and I assume it was liners. Three minutes before the end of the match and what looked like a bite so I struck, bream on! Another good fight in the flow and bream number 6 at 5lb was netted. That was my lot. I did not realise at the time but Mat Challenger was also sat behind me and he took a video of me playing the last bream.

Glenn rang to tell me had caught 2 bream on his last two casts on 7 red maggots, and he also had 6 bream, but with a couple of other fish I thought he would have more than me. As the match finished heavy rain and wind returned, and as I packed away my hands went cold very quickly.

When the scales arrived from above me only 1 person had weighed, the lad above me on peg 16 had 1 bream and lost 2 and didn't bother to weigh. My 6 bream went 30lb 1oz, so a nice 5lb average. What had surprised me was the complete lack of roach and eels, I always expect to catch some of them in coloured water, but today was more like fishing in gin clear conditions waiting for a bream, strange.

Back at the pub those that came back commented on the good condition of the bream, it seems we all caught healthy fish with no sores or damage. Jerry ended winning, he got stuck on 8 bream that went 39lb, Glenn had 31lb 8oz and then it was me. Section money by default went to to 22lb and 20lb, so not prolific bream fishing today. The weather forecast looks OK at the moment for the week ahead, so I will fish the next match here and fingers crossed draw another flyer.  The lad next to me on 16 took this catch shot picture, as you can see nice fish.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

February / March 1998

Saturday this weekend was the Winter League Final where my lot Thatchers were taking part along with Bathampton. I had ruled myself out of it long ago due to a lot of clashes with personal and work activities. I am finding it increasing difficult to prepare for fishing whilst work is so busy, and two weeks of travelling to Germany right now make it even harder. At least the next two Sundays coming up I will be able to fish at Newbridge and have a go for the bream, that won't take much prep.  Anyway the w/l final was split over a natural venue (20 foot drain etc) and a commercial fishery, with 5 sections on each venue the team pick which anglers to fish which venue. The team did very well to end up in 5th place and bag £750 for the team coffers, there was some great fishing to be had too it seems with big weights on both venues. I believe Bathampton struggled but as I have not seen the official results I'll not cast aspersions.

Back to the diary, and Feb 1998 was to hold a special place in my heart, although the month started badly with me blanking at Darlington Wharf on the K&A canal. I remember plumbing up all OK and normal, and then just before the start put my rig in and it floated! The canal was freezing over as I was setting up, never had that happen before or since. This was the last CH round, and despite my blank the team still won the league.

Sunday 8th February and it was a pleasure fishing session on the Avon in Bath town. I have a feeling that this was the day when I started fishing in one area and after 90 mins I hadn't had a bite. So I went for a walk upstream and just below Norfolk Crescent I found two anglers Pete Phillips and Geoff Stones who told me for 2 hours they had both been bagging on roach. After watching them for a while they gave me the OK to come and fish in between them! It was tight, and to avoid interfering with Pete upstream I sat no more than 10 yards above Geoff. Well I fished for 4 hours on a crowquill with hemp and maggot and then Geoff and Pete packed up and so did I. Geoff had 30lb, Pete had 25lb and I had 20lb in 4 hours with a 10 yard trot, lol it was solid!

Valentines day set a new record temperature for Feb, with 19 Centigrade recorded, I pleasure fished Conham on the 15th. I sat 4 pegs above the footbridge, at the time the pegs either side of the footbridge were flyers. Using a 3AAA waggler with just light droppers, a 20 to 0.09 and feeding a few pints in total of hemp, caster and maggot I had 15lb of roach and dace. 

On Friday 20th February my second daughter was born, and it does not seem like 19 years ago that special day happened.

My next trip out was Sunday 1st March for a Bathampton open on the canal in Bath. I drew bang on in Horseshoe Pond, and I think I was the only person in there. I had a 1lb skimmer on punch on the pole and that was my only bite on it. These were the days before bloodworm was used, so after that fishing with pinkie I had a few gudgeon, perch and ruffe. In between I fished a waggler with caster and on this I caught 3 chub and 6 roach. My final tally of 5lb 9oz was a lot less than I'd hoped for, but the canal had been tough and I came 2nd on the day. 

Saturday the 7th and a few of us pleasure fished the K&A canal at Semington, the wind was horrendous and we found a pound which was a bit sheltered, but even then I could not fish more than 6 metres! Feeding gbait with squatt, and fishing either single or double pinkie on a 4x12 Drennan Egg float I had a nice day catching 1 tench and lots of small skimmers and roach, ending with 9lb+. I fished a match on Limpley Stoke the following day, I drew in Beeches day and had a handful of bits, the only excitement being a foul hooked carp which came off and left me with a scale on the hook!

Well that was my lot for fishing for a while back then, as for now I hope the river stays in decent trim for the last two weekends.