Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bill Milton Memorial Poppy Match

The one match I always look forward to more than any other is without a doubt the Poppy Match. The biggest match on the river Avon and for a very fitting cause, all of those people who gave their lives so that we could have our way of life, it simply cannot be forgotten or underestimated.

Friday night was a superb night out, celebrating Glenn Bailey's birthday, safe to say it was a brilliant night out, and I am not allowed to mention that Glenn was still being sick until 2pm on Saturday. My head was a bit sore but not so bad, and I did not need to do much prep other than mix some gbait and get my bait from Scotts.

Saturday was an alcohol free day and I awoke Sunday morning feeling fine and excited. It was good going back to Frys after many years for the draw, the new social club is very nice and has some very nice Polish staff, the breakfast was in my opinion great value for money and very nice. This match is so good for seeing anglers who love to support it and I hardly see otherwise, Mike Spence, Mike Shellard, Bob Price, and many many more.

Whilst enjoying my breakfast I was indebted to Mark Harper who paid my £20 pools for me. I also had to sort out a ticket for the legend that is Andy Power, and fair play he turned up and paid me for it. Before the draw Brian Lloyd read out the citation for the 2 minutes silence, this was impeccably observed by all the anglers, but it went on and on until Paul Benson asked who was timing it, and neither Ray nor Brian was! A huge roar of laughter went round after that. Draw underway and I was really hoping for a peg at Newbridge as the river was a great colour for bream, a draw at Jack Whites or Crane would mean fishing for your section. Well blow me if I didn't go and draw peg 1, this meant I was on peg 3 at Newbridge the same peg I had two weeks ago, what are the chances of that!

After giving advice to a number of anglers I got on my way, my thoughts were a decent peg but not one I could win off. When I got to the river at Newbridge and looked at it I was even more convinced bream would feed. Got to my peg and thought well I won't do any good fishing for roach today, but will there be any bream in the area.

I set up a gbait feeder with 0.165 exceed to 14 PR355 which is one of my favourite bream hooks for feeder fishing. I did consider setting up a pole rig for a while but talked myself out of it and decided to go all out for the slabs! On the all in at 10am I threw in 14 balls of gbait containing 1/2 pint of caster and plenty of chopped worm on about the 16m line. I then underarmed my feeder over this with 3 red maggots on. Think I missed a bite first chuck, next chuck a good drop back bite and fish on, as I brought the fish a bloody pike grabbed it as it came to the surface and then let go. I netted a
6oz roach. During the first hour of the match I had regular bites on maggots and worms all from roach, these were from 4oz to 1lb like the one below (thanks to Lee Trevitt for the photo of this roach he caught).

On the hour mark I hooked a good fish and it had to be a bream I thought, but soon after the line went slack and I lost it, balls. I wound in to find no hook and I am sure it was the pike bit me off as I no pressure on the hook to break 6lb line.

The next hour for me was slow, I had a few hybrids that were only 2oz each and a gudgeon and as the second hour approached I thought this was not going to be my day. Glenn rang me to have a chat and I had another drop back bite and when I hit the fish tore off downstream, what was this, another sodding pike I thought, but they do count. I took my time and got the fish in close, I was shocked to see an upside down bream surface, it was hooked under the body and it went into the net! Catching that bream I put a dendra on the hook with two dead red maggots, and 10 mins later I was playing another bream and all of a sudden I was excited. The next 40 mins went past without any action, I decided to put two dendras on the hook and this was a good move as I took two 3lb bream in two casts. Again the bites ceased and I tried various hookbaits and at at 13:10 had a 1lb skimmer on 3 red maggots.

With nearly two hours left to go and 20lb+ in the net I was more than happy, I knew other anglers had more bream than me but I thought a few more might get me in the money. Darren Gillman came to watch me for a while but I was unable to catch a fish for him, and alas I had one more bite which the worm doubled over the hook and that was my lot, not a fish. I sat there thinking of all the late bream that would be caught pushing me down the frame.....

I had the scales and the lad below the board (nice cos that means a free bottle of wine after lol) and I said go to peg 10 and weigh back to me. On permanent peg 20 was Craig Pinker who had fished a lobworm all day, and he had 9 bream for 37lb, mega.

Jan Mazek had 10lb on 16 and then a lad on 14 had 18lb 8oz.  Gerry Welsh on peg 8 had 8lb and peg 5 had less than a 1lb. My turn and I was pleased to have two weighs for 23lb 10oz. The fouled bream went 6lb 9oz, here it is.

I knew Kev Boltz had 12 bream from peg 54 and was going to be hard to beat, and a few others had bream, I hoped I would get in the frame.

Back at Frys and I was really pleased to hear that Kev had won with a brilliant 59lb, he had bream to over 7lb, well done Kev, you've kept my record intact as the only person to win this match more than once!!  Craig Pinker was second and Andy Curry was 3rd from peg 28 with 32lb, well done lads. It was then my turn, so 4th place today, and a nice pick up of £145, dead handy. I also won a prize on the raffle which was a box of 50 hook lengths pre tied, new Preston hooks with pellet bands, happy days.

I stayed behind to have a beer with the lads, and thank Ray and Paul for another well run Poppy Match, probably raised £1700 again for the Poppy fund, brilliant.

I have to finish by saying that Swineford, Crane and Jack Whites really fished poorly, with only a couple of double figure weights. Mat Challenger (man of the moment) had a bream first cast and an 8lb carp to be beat weight with 11lb. Shaun Townsend drew the best dace peg at Jackies and caught less than 2lb, bad luck Shaun, right peg wrong day.

Next week is another challenge all together as it is the K&A canal at Bath, new rigs, new elastics, new bait.

Tight lines everyone, and as the citation says..... "With the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."

Sunday, 5 November 2017

September / October 1998

No fishing for me this weekend which meant I have had a couple of lie ins and got a few jobs done. The 5th round of the w/l is going on today in the K/A canal up around Melksham, so I'll have to read Ivan Currie's blog to see how it fished and how the team did. I did given Glenn a quick call and his section was all level with about 2lb being best with a couple of hours to go.

Sunday 13th September I found myself fishing the final match of the Superleague on the Gloucester canal. a venue quite frankly I struggled and still struggle with. This day was no different and I managed to catch 3 fish, 2 eels and a skimmer on the feeder for 2lb 15oz. I came halfway in the section and thanks for coming, team were 3rd on the day and that meant we ended the league 3rd overall which was not too bad considering the standard of angler.

The following weekend I went out on my 30th birthday for a bit of pleasure fishing at Newbridge. Not sure what peg as I didn't record that in my diary, but the river was low and clear. I fished the waggler and caught 2 chub, some pups and dace, not one roach, for 12lb.

A couple of weeks later it was the first round of the Commercial House which was fished on the Bristol Avon at Swineford and Crane. I got a corker, peg 16 int he second field at Swineford. I began the match on a long rod with crowquill, 20 to 1.7lb Bayer. Feeding maggot and hemp I had a few roach and dace and a bonus 2 1/2lb chub. The long rod was used not because of the depth but because of the weed in front of me, and it kept the chub out of the weed. I also fished a maggot feeder right over with a 16 to 2lb maxima, and I had 5 small chub on this. It was a good start as I won the section and came 3rd on the day with 13lb 1oz, the team came 1st so it was happy days.

4th October and the ATWL kicked off on the same bit of river, but this time I got a poor peg in the Long Ashtip field (back then this field was pretty poor). It was a hard match with just a few roach and perch coming out on the crowquill 2/3 over, but after 2 hours bites became really hard to come by. A few perch on the feeder on worm were all I could muster. I ended with 3lb 3oz which beat everyone in this field, but was hammered by anglers past it, 7 out of 11 points for me was job done but the team had a few bad uns and we were 3rd on the day.

Round 2 of the Commercial House and once again I was pegged at Swineford, long walk this time up to peg 27 (same peg I had this year). I fished a stick float with caster and hemp on a 20 to 0.10 and had a few small fish but nothing great, when I hooked a big pike I tried my best to play it out, they counted back then, but it did me. This also killed the peg completely, I had a couple of casts on a gbait feeder which was a waste of time it seemed, and first cast back on the stick I hooked a good fish. Turned out to be a 3 1/2lb chub and was virtually my last fish. My weight on the day was only 4lb 15 1/2oz and that got me 12 points from 14, that weight would be last in the section every time now, which just shows how much the fishing has improved. Team won on the day so we were flying after 2 rounds.

Sunday 18th October, same bit of river for round 2 of the ATWL. I got given A1 which was the peg on the Outfall at Swineford, not a peg I really fancied as the conditions were not great with the river pacey. It was not quite right on the crowquill and at the time bream were not showing on this peg, so I cast a maggot feeder slightly above the outfall where there were some trees. I had lots of bites on this from 2oz dace, and chublets of the same size. I did manage two chub of 12oz each but it was small fish otherwise. I remember enjoying the day working hard and concentrating on getting the set up right to hit as many bites as possible. 8lb 3oz was my final tally and I was only beaten by one person in the section. Team performance was a repeat of round one as we were 3rd again.

The following week the Com House was cancelled after a bad storm brought 90mph winds and heavy rain which caused the river to burst its banks. I popped up to Bitterwell lake to use some of the bait I had already purchased. I fished a waggler with an 18 to 0.10, 1 no 8 and 3 no 10 down the line feeding casters. Best hookbait was double red maggot and I caught mainly skimmers and 5 small carp for about 25lb.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

ATWL Bristol Avon Newbridge - Round 4

Well after last week's match I was sick as a pig and didn't go into work on the Monday, it turned into a hacking cough which kept me and the wife awake most nights. That's the sob sorry done. Made some rigs up, tied some hooks and mixed my groundbait Saturday morning and felt well prepared.

I did have a few drinks Saturday, mainly Jameson whiskey which I hoped might numb my sore throat, and I did sleep better, still woke up early with the clocks going back lol. Off to the draw and once again it was a nice breakfast at the Crown in Keynsham. Whilst eating there was a debate as to who would draw for our team, and in the end "Lucky" Lee Trevitt volunteered. When he came back with the pegs he had drawn a few good ones, he was end peg in the trees, Luke Sorokin was on 50, and I was on peg 3 in the little field.

I got to my peg and was knackered, couldn't believe how hard I found the walk, but guess that's the lurgy. Peg 3 is the upstream peg and back in the summer it held a lot of skimmers, but in the winter leagues the skimmers have not shown and pike have been a pain.

I looked at the river and I was pleased it was not gin clear, maybe some skimmers might show? I set up a feeder rod, but it was never used, a 4g bolo with 18 to 0.10, a 2gm pole float with 20 to 0.10 and a 1g pencil float with 20 to 0.10. I also set up a flat float with 18 to 0.10 with the skimmer in mind. For the last weeks I have been using the Preston Flurocarbon hook length in 0.10 and I have had no problems with it all, in fact it is bloody strong as you will see...

I was positive about the peg and therefore I made up 12 balls of gbait which held 1/2 pint of caster, 1/2 pint of hemp and a good helping of pinkies. I threw them in at 13m, I'd normally only go to 11m but thought an extra section might give me a better chance of skimmers, though I wasn't expecting to see any of them till later on. I began on the 2g rig with single caster on the hook, missed a bite and then had a roach, then another roach, then a third which a pike took, new hook required. Back in and I was getting bites but not hitting them all, and then had another pike take take a fish, this one stayed on a bit and in the end I got the bloody thing in, about 3lb.

Back in and still a bite every drop in from small roach, but I didn't feel I was hitting enough bites so switched to the pencil float. This was a good move and I definitely hit more bites, but I had to shallow up and was about 1 foot off the bottom and still getting bites on the drop. Surprising really as at this stage I was not loose feeding, just plopping the odd ball of my mix. Another pike put in an appearance, this one was a double and it forced me off the pole onto the bolo. I was able to get bites on this but fish to bite ratio was poor, but fish hooked and landed ratio was better!  After a while I decided I was missing to many bites and went back on the pole, a good move as I had a couple of 4oz roach when the pike got me again, and again and I had enough and went for a walk to Ivan Currie on peg 7, he was suffering pike strikes to and generally fed up.

I went back and began loose feeding heavily with hemp and caster, I was worried that bleak might come in, but as it was they never did, I had 20 mins without a pike attack and then I had one on proper. I played it for 5 to 10 mins, and really gave it some stick, I actually had it in the net but it wasn't all in and got out, think it was getting on for 12 to 14lb. Anyway it decided to go down stream and eventually the line parted, but I was amazed how far it went before the 0.10 broke.

Giving that pike a bit of a headache seemed to improve things and I had a good 30 mins on the pole fishing shorter at 11m catching small roach, eventually of course a pike fecked this too. A dingy went past me with three rather unpleasant lads in it who were piking, just as they got past my peg they had one, a double, how many of these feckers are in here I thought.

The last 90 mins were still a bite a chuck, I had tried the flat float on and off but only caught the same size roach or a little perch, it was clear to me the peg was full of roach and pike. A very large pike emerged during this time, it was huge, I saw it a numbers of times go for my fish, but I think it was too big to be really fast. There were still other pike in the peg, as I lost 2 on the bolo which were clearly not big pike. Eventually the leviathan got me, and I was never going to win any battles with this one so just pulled hard until I snapped. 10 mins to go I hooked it again, and then tied on my last pre tied hook length. Caught a few more roach and that was it.

I cannot say it was a lovely day's fishing, but it was a bite every single run through, I honestly think without pike trouble there was a chance of getting near 20lb of roach. Dean Harvey who was on his usual peg 16 came up with the scales and weighed me first, I was still packing away so wouldn't get to see the others weigh in. My roach went 13lb 14oz, a little less than I hoped, guess the fish were not as big as I thought. Once I packed up I met the lads below the bridge but everyone had weighed in. The weights in my section are show below, Dean had small skimmers on the pole and feeder, and two 6lb bream in two casts on the feeder.

Back to the results and it was soon evident that the river had fished well today, pike had been a pain for many, but for the first time bream had shown in some areas. There were 24 double figure weights today and every section was won with double figures, see below where you can see 1st and section weight in each section, not bad fishing.

Winner on the day with Rich Whitmarsh who had 45lb from the Norfolk reeds, bream and skimmers on the feeder. Second was Steve Hutchinson on the peg below Rich, Steve had 42lb of bream and skimmers on the pole.

3rd team mate Luke Sorokin 30lb 6oz, roach, skimmers and bream on the pole peg 50
4th Mat Challenger 23lb 11oz on another flyer peg 76, he had a lovely net of quality fish on the pole.
5th Dean Harvey 23lb 9oz
6th Shaun Townsend 23lb 8oz  (feeder angler these days)

Thatchers managed to win on the day with 29 points, Bathampton 27 and Die Hards 26. League overall is now Thatchers one point ahead of ahead of Bathampton. There are two matches left on the K&A canal next week is up at Melksham, I'm dropped for that so weekend off for me, so next match is the Poppy.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

ATWL - Bristol Avon Keynsham

I had a lovely week away in the Isle of Wight with my wife, never been before but we really enjoyed it. Towards the end of the holiday I went down with man flu and a nasty cough which keeps me awake at night. It was that bad that I turned down a trip to the pub Saturday with Glenn and Mike Nicholls. All I could do Saturday was minimal preparation for the river and slump in my chair and feel sorry for myself lol.

Lee Trivett and Andy Ottaway had pegged out the match and messaged the pegging, when I saw it on Sat night I thought well anywhere but G section will do, G was bottom of the Crane which as not been good of late. Anyway come Sunday morning and I felt like shit and the wife said I shouldn't go, but it was a team match and we all know we have to do the necessary for the team. I now wanted to draw a short walk and really don't think I could face Swineford, so G section would be nice and short. After another decent brekky the draw was done, and it turned out we had the same peg from the earlier round, so all of us on pegs another angler in the team had drawn. Blow me if I didn't get my wish, G5, the first peg above the cattle grid at the Crane about as short a walk as I could get. The peg has not won the section of late but it is always one I'm happy to draw being an end peg, no chance of framing but a decent section peg.

I set up the pole to fish at about 13m as the flow here is across more, a good thing today as the river rose and got pacey and I was less affected than most. The flow was OK, and so a 2 grm and 1gm rig looked OK to me, and they went through the peg OK. A 14BB crowquill and and Gbait feeder were also set up. The wind was a nightmare, into me and a bit upstream, and I could see that it would make life difficult. The picture below does not do justice, but at times it was a right b'stard.

I was just about ready on time and let fly with 12 balls of gbait full of caster and hemp. I was quite positive with the feeding as I thought with the river having extra pace it might fish well. I went out with the 2g float first and stuck on a single bronze maggot, the float ran down past where I thought the gbait had settled and then some more and then went under, 1oz roach. The next 4 or 5 rns through produced nothing, but then I had a small dace. It was not a stellar start by any means, but bites started to come on and off from small roach and dace. The first hour was not prolific by any means and I reckon I only had 1lb 4oz by the end of it, not great at all but Darren Gillman who was a couple of pegs above was also struggling. Darren has been the king of the section so he was my paceman, if I could keep up with him I should do well.

Second hour and I hit a pike, I had it on for a few minutes and did my best to piss it off, I finally broke on it and hoped I had given it a tooth ache. For the next two hours I never had any pike strikes, but the fishing was still really tough, there were clearly fish there but I was having to work hard to get bites. Aaron Britnell came for a walk up to watch his mate Mat on the peg above me, and he also spent some time watching me. I might get 4 or 5 fish in as many chucks on the pole, then nothing, changing to the crowquill might do the same, but then nothing. Changing hookbaits, maggot colours, caster would also make bites, I couldn't believe how much I had to change. Of course then the pike came back, the 2g pole rig got trashed and I needed to set another up, I chucked the feeder out for a bit whilst I put a new rig on and had bites but didn't connect, roach.

The crowquill got the pike treatment, and so another new hook etc, and I kept battling the elements, the wind was a joke, I was in and out of the tree on my left and suffering a lot of tourettes trying to fish a tidy match. I kept throwing small balls of gbait in and hoped better fish might turn up, but they never did. Thanks to Aaron and the many other people who were walking the bank I knew my section was not fishing well, I therefore stuck to trying to catch the small fish and avoided going on the feeder. Mat above me had lost a bream on the feeder and lost another late on, but I stuck to my guns. With about 30 mins left I hooked a little fish I thought, but when I shipped back the rig was solid and I assumed I was in a snag I had hooked before. I started pulling hard for a break, as you do, and then the rig started moving upstream and not long after bit me off, that was a bloody big pike!

When the all out was called I was tired, aching, felt like shit and just hoped that I might have won the section to make it all worthwhile. The scales were operated today by legend Dave Lewis, and he weighed my fish first and called out 7lb 10oz, not sure that would be enough. However, Mat had 2lb, and then Darren had really struggled and had just over 4lb, Vic Abbot had 6lb+ and on the gantry Dave had 5lb exactly which included a nice 3 1/2lb chub. A section win, yay, worth it after coughing my guts up all day, lol. Thanks to Aaron for the photo.

I was one of the first people back to the results, and was glad I could get a seat to rest. As the lads started to come back it was very obvious we had done well today, in fact we had 7 section winners and one who was 3rd in the section (Martin Barrett). Obviously we won the day by a long way, but with Bathampton scraping second place by 1 point we are tied at the top with them overall.

Top anglers today

1st Mark Harper 35lb 6oz, bream from peg 6 at Swineford
2nd Tom Morretti 26lb 10oz Jack Whites (same peg Glenn had last week)
3rd Randy Branston  22lb 5oz Jack Whites (same peg Ivan Currie had last week)
4th Lee Trivett and Matt Challenger 17lb 12oz.

The river was more coloured by the end of the match, and had more pace, and for some anglers their pegs were a bit too fast for the float, the river still fished well in most places.

Newbridge next week, hopefully I feel better.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Commercial House Round 3 - Bristol Avon Keynsham

Thanks to social media I was able to order some bait via Facebook messenger with Matt Challenger whilst I was working in Munich this week. It is not conducive for match prep to be working away so much and then watching Rovers on a Saturday. However, you only get one chance on this planet so I like to fill my days as much as possible whilst I'm fit and healthy. I was worried about my participation Sunday as Friday and Saturday I had a bad back and was struggling badly, thankfully it improved enough that I could get my gear into the car Sunday morning without too much pain.

I was slow getting to the draw so I didn't have time for breakfast, and before long the draw was underway and I was hoping for a peg at Swineford or Jackie Whites. Thanks to Mark Harper I got my wish and was on peg 27 at Swineford, and that meant another long walk along the cycle track, it takes me about 20 minutes. Our team was struggling for anglers and I had managed to get Andy Curry to fish for us, he probably was regretting saying yes to helping after he was given a peg at Frys lol.

Right, finally at the peg and soaked with sweat, as was Martin Barrett on peg 29. I was happy with the peg as it usually holds plenty of roach and sometimes the odd skimmer, but in this section there are some great pegs and 15lb has to be the target to do well. It is comfortable peg once you are down in it, but really not good for the pole with a high bank immediately behind you, so all rods for me today.

The river is really clear at the moment and does not have much flow, I really felt a peg with chub on would be better than roach today. My peg has most of the flow from about 7m to half way across and so this would be my main attack.

I set up a 7 no4 stick float with 0.10 to 20, a 4g bolo with 0.10 to 18, and a gbait feeder which was not used. I did set up a chopped worm rig on the pole for fishing 10m down the inside, but this only brought me 1 perch.

The question for me was to use gbait or to loose feed, and in the end I went with just loose feeding due to the clear water and long trot I had. I began on the Bolo but it wasn't quite right to me and bites were not positive so I switched to the stick float and was soon getting a bite most casts, trouble was I was either missing them or catching 1/2oz fish. It was not the start I'd hoped for but when loose feeding the swim can improve so I persevered and upped the caster and hemp feed. The first hour wasn't great, and I was a long way behind Martin. I switched back to the bolo on my 18 foot rod and bites were better but the fish were still small. There were clearly plenty of small fish in the peg, and the bait was being picked up on the drop forcing me to shallow up a few times.

In the second hour I picked up my two best fish, both roach at about 6oz. I was catching best on a bronze maggot on the hook, caster did not produce better fish at all. I tried a tare a few times today, but again I only caught a couple of small fish and often had fast unhittable bites which I think might have been from dace which I had on and off.

Halfway through and I don't think I had 4lb in the net so not going well. Glenn rang me, he was for the second match running on the fence peg at Jackies which is solid with dace and he was bagging. Every time I tried to up the feed to feed off the bits my bites would slow right down, and I just got the feeling the bigger stamp of roach were not feeding. Then to make matters worse I managed to catch the tree on the strike and snapped off below the bolo. I could not fish the stick as the wind was to strong upstream and so I had to set up again. At first it seemed the rig was not working as well as before, however, things improved and the last two hours the roach were better and I could get runs of 2oz roach but after three on the trot you would be back to tiddlers. I started to feed maggots heavily over where there was not much flow, but did pick up a few roach here. It was a case though of casting around the peg to try to find those slightly better fish before they moved again. The last 90 minutes I reckon I caught most of my fish actually away from the feed, and this was something many people experienced.

Match over and I thought I had about 9lb which I expected to only beat a couple of people today. Sam Johnson had a nice walk to weigh the section in, and when he got to Martin 26lb was top and 10lb was next. Martin had 13lb+ , he had fed a bit of gbait but had managed a dozen chublets across which was worth a couple of pounds at least, I'd not seen one of them. My turn and I was a little surprised to see 11lb 4oz on the scales, "a lot of fish" was the comment, and on another day with better quality it would have been 20lb, but if's, but's and maybe's....

Paul Isaacs had won our section from Bitton Brook, he had 6 decent chub and lots of dace, roach, bleak and chublets, a busy day and well done him. Martin was 2nd and I was 3rd in the A division.

The long walk back but at least the sun was shining and it was such a pleasant day weather wise. Back at the results and I soon found out some parts of the river had fished very hard, and most of the river was below par today, the exception being Jack Whites which was superb.

1st Glenn Bailey   27lb dace at 4m Jackies
2nd Paul Isaacs     26lb  chub Bitton Brook
3rd  Ivan Currie    21lb  dace (peg above Glenn)
4th Ian Pauley      18lb dace (couple of pegs below Glenn)

In the A div Thatchers B were first and Thatchers A second, and after three rounds these two teams are 1st and 2nd respectively.

In the B div Maver are leading Stand and Deliver. But in both divisions it is still quite tight and all to play for.

Next week it is the same venue (less Frys) for the third round of the ATWL, and unless there is a decent amount of rain then we can all look forward to a tough match, unless you can draw bunghole pegs lol.