Monday, 28 December 2009

King Billy Xmas Match - River Avon Crane

I know I said I was going to keep the rods hidden away over a Xmas, but I was badgered into this match. I spent a few hours down the Queens Head Christmas Eve celebrating the marriage of Martyn and Tanya Reyatt, and it was there I was talked into this match.

Waking up early was a shock after 4 days of "lay ins" and the first job was to get some bait (had planned to get some Boxing Day but I was to hung over to drive) and I popped into Keynsham Angling. Back to the draw at the QH pub and no sign of the promised burger van so I made a few purchases in the local Tesco Express to keep me going.

Jerry Pocock was running this match and as it turned out only 11 people turned up, I think at least 4 people who had bought tickets failed to show and another 5 who had said they would come didn't arrive. This meant Jerry was going to be out of pocket as he bought prizes for at least 20 people, so a good raffle would be in order later then! People not turning up meant Jerry could also leave out some pegs, but then came the dilemma which ones to leave out? Everyone had an opinion, but with Jerry not really remembering what pegs were where it was not clear what to do. In the end the last 3 pegs were left out and the parrot cage would be left out plus a couple of others. I wanted a low or high draw, but got middle peg 8, and guess where that was... in the bloody parrot cage! Jerry had got mixed up, but he did not mix himself up when he advised he was on the peg where 13 bream were caught from the day before! It seemed obvious that Jerry, his down stream neighbour and Martyn Reyatt on the cattle grid all had a chance of skimmers. Shaun Townsend in the lane was also on a peg known for bream, and I fancied the first peg in the long ashtip. As you can tell I did not fancy my peg at all, and bascially I was faced with a similar swim to that I had in the Frys Xmas match, a deep swirly peg. The river was pacey and a greenish colour and was very cold!

I set up one rod, a gbait feeder, pointless doing anything else as you cannot lift fish out due to trees over your head. I was hoping that a few skimmers had swum round the corner and taken refuge in my peg, so I went for 0.12 to a 16 B611. I mixed a bit of bream 3000 with brown crumb, and added a dash of crushed hemp. On the peg downstream I had Kev Boltz for company, he faced a similar swirly peg and just went with the one rod too. The next peg above me was in the bay in the next field!

Starting the match I added a little chopped worm and caster in the feeder and plugged it with the groundbait. I was at least pleased to find that the peg appeared to be clear of snags, but it also seemed clear of fish as I didn't have a bite in the first 1.5 hours. A quick walk showed Kev Boltz biteless, Jerry had 3 skimmers, his neighbour 1, whilst Martyn had 2 skimmers. I returned to my peg at least knowing I was fishing for the right species! A little while later Glenn Bailey came along for a walk, advising that Shaun and Craig Fletcher in the lane were both blanking, but Jerry and Martyn had caught another couple of skimmers. Whilst Glenn walked off upstream I decided to leave the feeder out in my peg for 20 mins with 2 red maggots on the hook. I never saw a bite, but I picked up the rod and felt something on the end and a 4oz roach was netted, jammy or what! I felt somewhat relieved to have avoided the blank, I knew I was not going to do any good but there is a sense of satisfaction to overcome the elements and catch something!

Glenn returned from upstream to advise it was generally better up there, with odd skimmers and roach coming out, Leigh Trivett catching some tidy roach on the top peg in the bay. I went for a walk with Glenn and found that Jerry had another couple of skimmers, as did the guy next to him and Martyn had taken a chub. I returned to my peg and tried fishing across the river into the steady water, it was difficult as I had to cast 2oz of lead on the feeder under arm to get over there. An hour over there was fruitless and no bites were forthcoming, but dropping back in the boils saw me take a specimen gudgeon on triple red maggot! But then I hit into a snag and lost the lot, and whatever this snag was it now made an appearance on most casts. As I had no more bites and just snags I packed up with 15 mins to go, Kev had already gone home after not getting a bite.

In the end it was Jerry who easily won with 32lb, he took some proper bream in the last 2 hours to go with his skimmers, weighing 32lb. Martyn came 2nd with 13lb, 6 skimmers and 2 chub, and he missed lots of bites he confessed, third was 12lb from the first peg in the long ashtip. Leigh had a nice day winkling out 10lb of roach.

So another bad draw for me, but I think I made the right decision to go to this match, 8 of the 11 pegs had thrown up a few fish, and a bit of luck in the draw bag would have seen me had a decent day I'm sure. I suppose though that the 18 bottles of Stella and a tyre foot pump and accessories that I won, made the 5oz I had a bit sweeter!

More snow and cold weather is forecast, I think this time I will really keep the rods locked away...won't I?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Spam Heads

Just a quick note to say I have had to put "word verification" back on again when people put comments on. This is due to a few silly spammers out there causing issues.

Sorry if it adds that little extra time to your comments, but it's better safe than sorry.

Thanks for the advice Mike.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Freezing at Frys

It was many weeks ago that I handed over my money to Dean Harvey for a Frys Xmas match ticket, but the weekend weather forecast made me think I shouldn't have been so keen.

Waking up Saturday to a -7C frost (and a bit of a sore head due to works do) wasn't going to help matters on Sunday, and I was struggling to keep my bait from freezing to death! I made a quick phone call Sat night to Warren Bates as I didn't know the draw time, it was a good move as Warren had helped peg the match. They had spread 38 pegs out from peg 2 to peg 62 which sounded wise, but I did not want to draw in the bay and felt it a must to draw a chub peg, or at least one with a feature in it that might hold a chub!

Sunday morning and just a bit nippy at -4C when I arrived in the Frys car park. There were all the usual Frys lads there, and if anything I was a foreigner in this crowd. It was good to see Pete Sivell and Ray Cooper again and many of the other old uns!

Draw time, and out I pull peg 7, top peg in the bloody bay, there goes my chance of a chub then. I was given some words of encouragement that I would catch roach, skimmers, perch and chublets, but I felt these well wishers had not really recognised the severity of the conditions. I enjoyed the relatively short walk to the bay in the company of Eddie Wynne and Steve Hutchinson who had drawn next to each other on peg 2 and 4 respectively. A name from my Silver Dace past was on peg 5, Julian Pinkett.

I couldn't get excited about my peg, it was just swirling around in front of me and boiling up. I set up a big crowquill (but it was not right and hence only used a couple of times) and a small gbait feeder. I started on the feeder with a 16 B611 to 0.13 powerline and in the feeder I used white crumb with a little liquidised bread mixed in. I used a large piece of punch on the hook for the first 30 mins, and did get 1 bite but I did not connect and wondered if that would be my lot! I then put on 2 red maggots and plopped a straight lead over the top, after waiting for 10 mins I had another bite and missed this too! The bait was hardly touched and I guessed that as the bite was very shy it was from a tiny fish.

On the hour mark I changed to an 18 B611 and 0.11 powerline (as light as I dared) and with a single red maggot I connected with a bite and took a small dace! That was a result as far as I was concerned and I rang Warren to tell him I was on for a prize! Warren was still biteless as was Tony Rixon at Landsend who I had promised to call if I did catch a fish! About an hour later after a couple more missed bites I took another similar sized dace. Julian below me had 2 dace but both Eddie and Steve were blanking, there were though as expected the odd angler further upstream with chub, but not many! I realised I was not going to go anywhere trying to catch another couple of dace and stepped the gear back up to try for a better fish. Despite trying caster, maggot, worm and bread flake nothing produced a better bite, just a couple of nips on the end of one maggot! I kept to the white crumb mix, but did pass a few casters through it for the last 2 hours.

The last hour was very cold as the sun disappeared and I was forced to go for a short walk to warm up, the lad 2 above me had taken 1 chub, but the next two were blanking although Dean Harvey on peg 13 had lost two chub. When 3pm arrived I was quite happy to shout "all out" and pack up as quick as possible. For obvious reasons I have not been able to talk much about my match cos there isn't much more to tell! Dean arrived with the scales and gave me 2oz, the same as Julian, Dean himself had caught 1 roach late on for 3oz, I think this was the only roach caught in the match!

Back at the results and it soon became obvious how hard it had been with most people not having a bite. I think in total 12 people had caught and I was joint 11th with Julian and picked up a big box of Stella, nice! Overall winner was John Macey who had snared 4 chub for 12lb on the maggot feeder from peg 40, in 2nd place from peg 26 was Mervyn Sivell who had 2 bream for 7lb odd. A number of people had chub on their first cast, Pete Sivell had one on bread feeder, and Derek Coles (drew the peg I fished last week) had one on the float first chuck, then lost one next chuck! Warren did well to catch one good chub on the waggler, his only bite, and Frys Stalwart Keith Firks could have won the match from peg 18; he had taken a chub but lost a good carp which snapped him as went to land it.

I enjoyed the banter and the buffet at the pub, and I can confirm that Pete Sivell has not changed one bit, he is still a wind up merchant and able to obtain free beer! Thanks also to Warren's son for pulling me the last raffle prize!

I think that unless this weather lets up I shall leave the rods alone over Xmas, but if the mild weather returns then I'll be out. As this may be my last blog before Christmas, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that the angling Gods are kind to you in the New Year.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A Spare Few Hours

I hadn't planned to fish Sunday just gone as I was visiting relations in Cornwall, but I ended up back in Bristol Saturday and was in two minds what to do, book in on a Xmas match or have a lie in. The Bathampton Xmas match was on the canal but I had no bloodworm and joker and didn't fancy doing battle with all the tow path users. In the end I decided a lie in and a few hours on the river somewhere would do. Sat night I got a text from Warren Bates who told me he was going to Frys with Rich Green, but I thought that would be as hard as nails! However, as Dave Harrell recently said, if you're gonna learn you're better off going to hard pegs than good.

Sunday morning and I was beginning to think Dave Harrell was a bit to enthusiastic, but I didn't want to let Warren down so I came up with plan C. I decided rather than take the kitchen sink to go Matt Hayes style. So one feeder rod, one bankstick (with rod rest attached) landing net and pole, hooks feeders and line in my pockets and net bag for bait was all I took!

I walked across the two fields and never broke into a sweat, finding Warren on peg 30 who after an hour was yet to land a fish! The river was very pacey still but the colour had dropped out a lot, and it was a dark green colour, not dirty and not clear. I thought my best bet would be to fish for chub, and didn't think there was much chance of them being in this area, so I wandered down stream and settled in by the blackcurrant bush. I rigged up with 0.22 main line to 0.17 powerline to a size 11 B711, a gbait feeder with 50grms was needed to pin the bait down. I cast down the peg around 2 rod lengths out. In the feeder was plugged a decent amount of caster and maggot in mixture of half bags of Gros Gardon, brown crumb and crushed hemp, and a lob worm was on the hook. The tip was moving around as the current was boiling a bit, but after a couple of minutes tow sharp raps were a definite bite. I felt two heavy thumps before everything went solid, I was snagged up good and proper and lost the lot!

I set up again but the next few casts were no good and more snags were hooked so I moved on downstream. Peg 18 had a nice tree down the inside but the water suggested there could be a lot of snags. The next peg down had a big willow in the water and was very comfortable to fish, and despite the water still being a bit boily I gave it a go. Despite trying bread and lobworm hook baits no bites were forthcoming, so after about 40 minutes I put 5 casters on the hook. A "whopper" of a bite resulted but the fish was not hooked, every sign of caster was gone! A couple more casts and no bites so I decided they might want the smaller baits, so on went a size 13 B711 and 3 casters. First cast and a 2.5lb chub was in the net, sorted! I then had about 10 casts with 4 bites and missed the lot, I was fishing a long way down stream and needed the fish to hook themselves. I shortened the hook length and caught another 2lb+ chub. In the next 1.5 hours I hooked another 4 chub, landing 2, I lost the other 2 in snags; one straight away (cast to close to the willow!) and one halfway up the peg when I thought I was in the clear! I also missed another 4 bites which was annoying!

I wandered back up to see Warren and Rich, but they had struggled with Rich blanking and Warren a couple of Dace. My roving approach had paid off, by finding some fish and then encouraging them to feed I had at least made some bites.

So what have I learned for this weeks upcoming Frys Xmas match? Well with the outlook for cold, even very cold weather, I need to draw a chub peg to have a hope of a bit of sport. The river should be float fishable by Sunday and that helps to relieve the boredom of simply staring at a tip, and trotting keeps you a bit warmer. I need to get a bit of the drawbag magic off Tony Rixon.

Monday, 7 December 2009

ATWL Final Match K&A Canal

As I mentioned last time I put myself forward for a rest to avoid another soaking, but of course it didn't rain this time! Nevertheless the rest was a good idea, after a few days working in Munich I was knackered and had a heavy cold. I felt a lot better on Saturday and ended up having a few jars down the Queens Head pub with Warren Bates. I awoke Sunday morning with a bit of a thick head, but having woke up without an alarm was very nice!

I arrived at the canal at Darlington Wharf about 20 mins after the match had started. I was armed with a Ginster Pasty, crisps, chocolate and lucozade sport, that would keep me going, but I wish I took my beanie hat as the wind was very cold in places! Bathampton angler Andy Ottoway was on A1, and he had already taken 5 small skimmers when I arrived, but the next 3 anglers had very little. I wasn't surprised to see how coloured the canal was here, and I thought some decent fish would show. A couple of pegs past the bay was Thatchers piggy bank Nick Chedzoy. Nick had taken 2 skimmers on the punch but just a few small roach since. He decided to feed some more punch and was rewarded with 2 more skimmers and then nothing again, still 4lb 8oz after 40 mins aint bad! Next to Nick was Andy Floyd, he had also taken 2 decent skimmers but was now getting the odd small roach on pinkie. Once I got onto to the bend the skimmers had not showed for Glenn Bailey and he was already onto the bloodworm line.

I walked up to the wooden bridge and on the first peg past it (last weeks winning draw) I found another team mate Andy Powers. Andy had only had 1 bite on punch from a 1lb skimmer, but he could not catch fish unless he went right across the canal. He was getting the odd bite on caster and so was at least catching some reasonable fish. Walking on it became apparent that there were obviously some pegs which seemed to hold less fish than others, as some anglers caught very little on punch whilst others caught for 3 hours. When I could I looked at peoples rigs, every float pattern you could think of was on display, which basically proves that you use what works for you.

Eventually I'd walked all the way up to just shy of the George pub to see our last angler in this stretch Gary O'Shea. Gary was not catching regularly and when he did catch it was only bleak. Mark Leader, next to Gary, had taken a couple of skimmers and then landed a 1lb+ perch to be way ahead of Gary, Bathampton runner Nathan Hawke told me that the section was fishing well and we knew Gary was struggling. On the way up to Gary I had spoken to many anglers, and all had seemed to happy to have a quick chat, all that is except for one. Dave Wride of Thyers didn't like the fact that I was stood behind him on the towpath despite all the bikes, walkers etc. I did call him a moaning old c... which he didn't like very much. Then his bites stopped which he blamed on me so I left him to it! Shame that Dave lost his section by 1/2oz in the end, but that was nothing to do with Kev Dicks weighing him in of course!

Walking back down the canal I thought most of our anglers were either very close to their Bathampton angler or beating them. Martin Barrett was getting roach on caster and he ended with 9lb+, but could not beat his neighbour Andy Pritchard who had sacked on bread (skimmers and Roach to 1lb) and taken 2 big roach and perch on lobworm. Andy Power was really bagging on the caster, and he easily won the section and was 3rd in the match with 13lb 10oz, he caught most of the roach over his chopped worm line. However, to really see some bagging Glenn said I needed to see Chedz as he had been netting fish all day! It turned out that Chedz had bagged on skimmers from ounces to 2lb, all taken right across the canal (it is 4ft deep here) on red maggot over worm and caster. He easily won the match with 30lb, a great bag of fish. Either side of Chedz had weighed 9lb+ and 11lb 12oz, with the latter having a 3lb bream, 2lb hybrid and 2lb eel in the net.

Back at the results (well I wanted to get a free beer from Chedz) it turned sour for Thatchers, Gary O'Shea had come last in his section, and up at Limpley Stoke, where the canal fished abysmal for most, we had Tucks and Guy Manton both on 2 points. We couldn't carry that many bad un's and Bathampton beat us again on the day to tie the league on points. However, they won the league by virtue of more match wins and so can take the local semi on the canal, whilst we have to go to Monk Lakes in Kent.....

A few notable mentions; Vincent Lunn must wish he could fish canals all year round, as he drew the end peg at Limpley and came 2nd with 13lb 11oz of roach. Bathampton's Paul Isaac won the league individually just beating Thatchers Nicky Ewers, and Andy Floyd had won the knockout, but if Andy had weighed in what he estimated he would have not won it! All in all I enjoyed having a walk and chatting to the lads on the bank, and it was interesting to see how the canal fished.

I'm not sure if I will venture out this Sunday as I'm very busy again Friday and Saturday, if the weather is nice I might have a go on the river if I can find a bit of slack.

Monday, 30 November 2009

ATWL Round 5 K&A Canal

Rain, rain, go away.... I am beginning to regret all the times I was asking for it to rain when the rivers were low and clear, it certainly has chucked it down of late.

The draw for this match was at the ever reliable Saltford Rugby Club, more reliable than Tucks who it appeared had left a tray of joker in his garage, for which he blambed Gary O'Shea. That meant the team who turned up last for their bait were going to be short, and this turned out to be Thyers! Was it a ploy to make life hard for our nearest rivals?

I was hoping to be drawn on one of the sections that had not been match fished so far (Darlington Wharf to just below the George), but unfortunately this did not occur and I was instead drawn at Claverton just past the very narrow bit of canal. It seemed we had a good team draw, with Martin Barrett, Nicky Ewers and Mark Brennan all on end pegs, how did I miss them?

Arriving at the peg the first job was to get the brolly up as the rain was coming in virtually horizontal. I assembled rigs exactly as I had the week before, except I had an extra bloodworm rig set up for fishing across in the shallow water. I was set up in plenty of time and considered my section to be fairly fair, other than the end peg where Derek Coles had taken up residence. Mind you the pegging was a bit strange, some pegs had 60 yards either side whilst others a lot, lot less.

I tucked my bread and liquidized bread right under the brolly and started the match, feeding licky at 4 metres, some chopped worm across, and joker inside and across. I had about 2 mins on the bread without a bite when the first boat came through and in the first 30 minutes I did not have a blinking bite! I quickly tried the chopped worm swim but this was also dead, not even a peck from a small perch which you sometimes get. I had to go onto my joker line much sooner than I wanted, but fishing 4 metres down to my inside right I caught 2 tiny perch then nothing. I now decided I had to feed another joker line somewhere else as this was going to be much harder than I thought, so I fed some jokerin the deeper water about 1.5 metres off the far bank.

Well after 2 hours I had managed just 6 small fish and was in trouble, but then I started to get a little more action, swapping between the three joker lines I could get odd small perch, ruffe and a rare roach. It was still hard going, and I wasn't catching fast enough or big enough fish to amass a decent weight. I had no idea how the rest of the section was fishing, apart from Simon from Veals next door who was also struggling, so I carried on catching what I could. With about 90 minutes to go I started to catch 1/2 oz roach right across on bloodworm, I had to work at it, feed it, rest it (try the choppy line) and the fish would stick around. An hour to go and I caught a reed opposite and lost my hook length, not difficult really when you consider the wind and visibility. I then spent 10 minutes trying to attach another hook length, my hands were so cold after being lashed by the wind and rain that I couldn't get the loops open. I very nearly gave it up but I did it in the end, it also meant I could hook a bloodworm easier as I had warmed my hands up a bit. I carried on catching these odd roach across, but the last 30 mins were frustrating as I was struggling to see the bites as it was so dark (we finished at 3:30pm).

Packing up in the rain was no fun, and everything that had been kept dry under the brolly was soon soaked. Paul Purchase of Thyers weighed the section in with darkness approaching. My 62 fish weighed 1lb 13oz, and that was only worth 4 points from 7. I was beaten by an ounce for an extra point, but on the positive side I had also beaten a person by 1oz, and another by 1.5oz. Kev Dicks won the section easily with 3lb 2oz, (although he did admit to me to having about the same as me) and Paul Purchase was 2nd with 2lb which included a 1lb perch. I should have had 5 points, as the wasted time and dropped fish had cost me.

Back at the results it was plain to see that the "virgin" sections had fished well with 5lb being last in B section. The team had some good points scores with 4 section winners, but 3 of us were on 4 points, and, Martyn Reyatt on 1 point (he had 4oz after catching 9lb further up the canal Saturday).

Individual results
Kev Boltz Bristol Amalgamation 10lb (1 big skimmer, roach and 2 big perch)
Liam Braddel PI Thatchers 9lb (all roach)
Nicky Ewers PI Thatchers 8lb (end peg, aquarium)
Mark Brennan PI Thatchers 7lb (end peg, nice!)
Martin Barrett PI Thatchers 7lb (end peg again, skimmers on crowquill and waggler)

OK maybe I made the last one up but it was 7 skimmers and about 3 roach!

Thatchers had amassed 53 points, but on this occasion it was only good enough for 2nd behind Bathampton who had 57 points. That is some result, I think their lowest points scorer was 5 and that is a great performance, well done lads. It was asked if next week Bathampton would like to order their joker from Tucks instead of Kev Dicks!

Going into the last round this Sunday it is still all to play for with Thatchers 1 point in front of Bathampton, who are in turn 1 point in front of Thyers. I have offered to be dropped as there are a couple of lads who have yet to fish the canal and to be fair I'm fed up sorting out all the wet gear. If that's the case I will go for a walk and see who I can take the pee out of!

One last note, how mad is Dave Haines? Hainer was drawn up at Claverton, but for some reason he decided to walk from the George! I heard he arrived at his peg with only some of his gear, he then walked back to the George for the rest and drove it to Claverton!! He was not happy with his peg being so tight to his neighbours (Bense did tell me it was not good) so asked if he could move down past the end peg. Everyone said yes except for the person on the end peg, (Nick Ewers, and I would have said no too) so Dave fished from the original peg and caught next to nothing!!!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Close Season - 1990

Remember when we had a complete close season? I used to dread the coming of March 15th all those years ago, but luckily Bristol's not too far from Devon where there was no close season. Other than the odd bit of trout fishing most of my trips would be pleasure fishing Upham Farm Carp Lakes near Exeter. I had first fished there when I was 16 and it was my first real taste of commercial carp fishing. You couldn't really call Upham's water holes "lakes", they were more pond like, but back then you always had room to fish.

The first weekend of the close season saw me at Upham; fishing the first pond was favourite as this held thousands of carp mostly 1lb to 3lb. It was all maggot fishing back then, and I used to fish down the edge right next to the weeds on the pole flicking maggots in all the time. On this day I took 21 carp from the edge before it died, a move out 8mtrs and 1ft deep brought another 31 carp. It was so solid, I mean, there aren't many places you can catch a foot deep in March! I was using 2lb 12oz Drennan Double Strength (a bit light methinks!) and a 18 barbless Kamatsu hook.

Two weeks later and I was back again this time for the weekend with some of the lads. On Saturday I had 45 carp on the pole fishing 18" deep at 8mtrs,line and hooks the same. I fished just a single red maggot on the hook, and loose fed a mix of 3 pints of white and red maggots plus a pint of hemp. I guess I got bored and I went on to the speci lake and tried for a lump, but they wouldn't have the maggot!

The following day I had 32 carp on the pole, but the average size was bigger with at least two 5lb+ fish. These were landed on a 20 to 1.7lb (blimey I did fish light!) and I fed 5 pints of maggots. Again fishing shallow was by far the best, I think there were so many fish in the lake they were fighting to get to the bait and naturally came up in the water.

At the end of May a group of us went back to Upham, but we also fished Hogsbrook Lake which was about 2 miles away and a bit hard to find if you didn't know where you were going! Hogsbrook had 2 lakes, and these were decent sized and had a good depth. The water here was always red (from the sandstone bottom) and if it had rained, being stream fed, they were an unbelievable bright red. It was always hard fishing here, I guess because the fish couldn't see the bait and it wasn't as stuffed as Upham. I think this was the weekend when I had borrowed a one man tent from Andy Floyd. On the first night I shared the tent with Paul Benson, whilst others slept in bigger tents or caravans, or in the case of Paul Lumbard his car! At night you could hear carp slurping around the edges of the lake, and if we chucked some bread in that would really get them going.

We had some major sessions in the Cat and Fiddle pub up the road at night, it was a massive pub, and although it did a lot of meals there was a proper bar area with a pool table where we could have a laugh without offending people, as a result we never started fishing too early! On Saturday I had just 1 carp and 2 skimmers at Hogsbrook, but many of us hooked and lost big carp, I recall Mark Bailey losing all the line on his reel on one beast! That night the one man tent held me, Bense and now Lumby. I was piggy in the middle and remained full dressed, when I awoke in the morning my arms and legs were squashed and I had pins and needles for ages. We drove up the road to Exeter services and had a wash and a breakfast (Lumby didn't he had no money, he had a wash later in a swimming pool) and then fished at Upham. On this day I fished shallow to start, but as the wind got up later I went down the edge; I had over 100 carp feeding 6 pints of maggots and realised that down the edge fishing was better done later than earlier!

After this weekend I fished no more in the close season, I spent the remaining time getting my gear ready for a new river season.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

K & A Canal open match

Prior to the winter league matches on the canal Kev Dicks runs a canal weekend. I was only going to fish the Saturday as an open match, which meant Friday was spent preparing top sets and rigs etc, best part of 4 hours in the end! It was just after I had finished this that I had a text from Tucks to say all the bloodworm and joker had turned up dead!

The draw for this match was the White Lion in Batheaston, a great pub which does a big breakfast and always has a lively atmosphere afterwards. There were 26 people booked in for this match (40 in for Sunday) and a healthy number of these were my Thatchers team mates. The match was pegged above the George pub, from just below schoolhouse bay, to the narrows above the swing bridge. With the weather being mild and the canal coloured talk was of good weights of skimmers. 10 minutes before the draw and there was still no sign of Tucks or Gary O'Shea, it turned out both of them had overslept, although Tucks did have the excuse of a belly load of beer! Sean Townsend was also late as his lift (Rich Lacey) could not be roused from his bed!

I drew peg 13 and this put me past Bathampton bend and one before the wires, this peg has produced in previous years as it has a lot of space to your left. Guy Manton had drawn end peg 26 (same peg he drew on this match last year and won from) and Liam Braddell peg 1, these were the pre match favourites. I had Andy Ottaway for company on peg 12 and he was pegged where I thought I would be, his peg has a nice bush and thick reeds, but I was nearer to the wires than I would have liked. Being pegged either side of a boat you always hope the boat/residents will not become a problem, the owner popped his head out and I said "Good morning" to which I had no response, and neither it turned out did Andy. The owner had a left a bike stood up and tethered to his guy ropes, right where I needed to ship back, that would make things awkward so I hoped I could catch close in.

I set up a number of rigs, a 4x14 Drennan Roach for punch (this has a thickish bristle which doesn't get pulled under by the punch) and a 0.4 grm pencil float with thin bristle for smaller pieces of punch. a 0.4 grm Preston classic 6 for fishing pinkie over last weeks joker, a caster rig and chopped worm rig. For punch I use either 0.08 or 0.07 hook lengths, I have always used B511 for the hook, but today I was trying Preston PR332. At the start I fed a ball of crumb on my 4mtr line a bit of joker and caster across,and of course some chopped worm. 15 mins before the start and Tucks and Gary came walking past with their gear, the draw had been put back 15 mins to "assist" them.

Dropping in on the Roach rig I had a ounce roach first put in and a 6oz skimmer next. I was getting a bite a cast from roach (all swingers) and had a 10oz skimmer when about 40 mins in the boat owner started a generator on his boat next to me. I think we are more put off by these things (and I was) than the fish are, and 10 mins later I took 5 skimmers in 5 casts, all from 6oz to 12oz, but one was a 1lb. So I guess after an hour I had 4 1/2lb and was well happy with this.

I managed to keep small roach coming on the punch until the halfway mark when the peg didn't recover after a boat went through turning the back end in my peg. Unfortunately for me the other lines were not working out and I couldn't get bites across. I fed some joker up to my left and hoped that some of the bread fish in the area may find that, but it produced 2 or 3 fish and then you had to rest it for another 2 or 3. However, the 4mtr punch line came back to life, giving me the odd small roach and in the windy and wet conditions I was glad to be catching close. An hour or so to go a boat pulling "something" behind it came through with its engine was on full, meaning mine and everyone Else's pegs were stirred up big time! Andy had by now taking a few roach on caster across but try as I might I only had one bite on this. As we talked about this the boat owner came out and had a go at me for "shouting" and told me to shut up, he also said I was effing ignorant and should not be fishing within 15 feet of his boat! As I started to respond to him (what's your problem are you trying to sleep?) he simply shut the door in my face...what an ahole. Get used to it mate there will be a lot more anglers fishing next to your boat in the next couple of months!

As I was not catching fast enough now I took a gamble and fed some bread about a metre off the far bank, and luckily for me this started to produce odd roach and I reckon I put a 1lb in the net in the last hour. The PR332 hooks had worked well, as I had not lost one skimmer and only a couple of roach (normally due to the punch being to big for the roach). The weigh in was done in pouring rain and I was more than happy with 8lb 13oz. It turned out that last hour for me was crucial as there were 3 other 8lb weights which I beat, but I could not beat Liam on peg 1 who won the match with a lot of caster roach. Final results:-

1 Liam Braddell 9lb 9oz PI Thatchers
2 Tim Ford 8lb 13oz PI Thatchers
3 Mark Harper 8lb 8oz PI Thatchers
4 Mark Brennan 8lb 6oz PI Thatchers
5 Guy Manton 8lb 1oz PI Thatchers
6 Andy Ottoway 7lb 10oz Bathampton

Lots of roach had shown but for most people they were on the small side and 5lb was the average weight, the top weights had skimmers or better quality roach in them, and Mark Brennan did have a 1.5lb perch. Martin Rayett weighed 7lb 9oz but pulled out of 3 good perch, and so he could have easily won the match.

As I said, I wasn't fishing Sunday but I have found out that Diggers Yard and Claverton were pegged for day 2. Sean Townsend won the day with 11lb from the reed bed peg at diggers with some lumpy perch, and Graham Hunt and Vince Lunn both had 10lb at Claverton for the 2nd and 3rd place. It seems that diggers fished hard and this put some of the anglers who did well Saturday out of contention, Liam only managed 1lb while Guy Manton suffered with 8oz. The weekend overall winners were :-

1st Mark Harper
2nd Mark Brennan
3rd Sean Townsend

It seems my wish last week of having a decent draw on the canal came true, I hope it's the start of things to come and that the team can win the last two rounds of the ATWL.

Monday, 16 November 2009

ATWL Round 4 Bristol Avon Newbridge

At last we had the rain we needed to get the rivers up a bit, only it ended up being a bit too much! I spent a large part of Saturday taking calls from my Thatchers team mates as to whether the match would be on, and if so what would the river be like. The match was always going to be on as long as the river was in it's banks but this was not to some peoples liking, and a few thought going ahead on the river was a silly idea. However, the river at Newbridge was completely fishable, yes it was very coloured and a few feet up, but I have fished it a lot worse than this! Kev Dicks put Kelston in today, which I thought was a smart move.

Normally after the draw I go through with the lads what they should be looking to catch from the pegs they have drawn (more important down at Keynsham) but today I told them how I would approach the match and to look at their peg and make the best of it. A draw in the trees would be nice I thought, or at Kelston, as well as peg 10 in the little field, but none of those came my way. I was handed E3, and it turned out this was permanent peg 65 (2 below the Norfolk Reeds) and a peg that has shown bream previously. To get there I had to walk across the Rugby field and then go past 42 pegs, which was nice, well it walked the breakfast off! I was at least able to view my section on the journey and see what I was up against; end peg 7 (peg74) was Bathampton's Graham Hunt, and after a run of bad draws Graham was happy as he had some steady water. I said to Graham that I felt to beat him I would need to catch 2 bream and went on my way. For company I had Frys expert Dean Harvey below me and Thyers Tony Goodland above me, Eddie Wynne was in the Norfolk reeds and said he had always wanted to draw this peg, but he wasn't to impressed with the walk, especially as he reckoned to have walked past 30 great swims that were not pegged!

I was vey happy with my peg, the water was moving through steady in close, though I still needed an ounce to hold bottom here. Plumbing the depth there was a very pronounced shelf, and it was over this into 14ft of water I chose to fish. I set up just two feeder rods (confident or lazy?) but in the end only used one, this was a Drennan DRX Carp Feeder rod with a 3oz tip pushed in. 4lb maxima reel line was used to attach a large gbait feeder in the loop method. I used a snap link swivel on the end of the loop to allow me to swap between hook sizes, these were either size 13 or size 11 B711 both to 0.15 Power Line. I wouldn't normally use a swivel, but I thought it would give me more flexibility and help keep the line on the bottom. I mixed up one bag of river and one of red lake gbait and made it quite wet. I always use red gbait on flooded rivers, not sure if really helps, but it never usually does any harm.

On the whistle I simply swung the feeder out about 8ft past the end of the rod. The good news was there were no snags, and although there were leaves and weed coming down and catching the line it was very manageable. I filled the feeder with chopped worm and caster and big plugs of gbait, and started with the smaller hook and a dendra hook bait. It took about 30 mins for my first bite and the vibrating quiver tip told me it was an eel, so I waited for a bit and then hit it and out came an eel no more than 2oz. I decided that it was now right to try a piece of lobworm, and had a similar sized eel a couple of casts later. Then the fun started, I had a spell for about an hour of getting a bite nearly every chuck on the lobby but could not hit them! Leaving the bite to develop simply resulted in me retrieving a baitless hook, these bites were definitely eels. Trying other hook baits produced no bites, and so I had to stick to the lobby. I suppose after 2 hours I had 4 tiny eels, and It was the small size of eel that was causing the missed bites.

I then went about an hour with hardly a bite when team mate Liam Braddell came down the bank and told me the river was fishing hard. Liam had walked from peg 1 and he told me Tony Goodland had taken a couple of roach with 4 eels. Not long after Eddie Wynne came down for a short walk (he was really struggling and decided to ball it) and said Tony had just landed a proper roach and was now getting virtually a bite a chuck. This was doing my head in! With an hour to go I tried my 20th hook bait combination a dendra plus 2 bronze maggots, and I got my first, and only, roach! No more bites, so I decided to change it to a dendra and 2 fluro maggots which resulted in a 3 1/2lb bream which fought like a bloody chub (I did shout out "get in there!" when I landed it). At 3pm (30 mins to go) I tried a lobby again as the dendra produced nothing else, first chuck and a good bite and the rod doubled over with a 4 1/2lb bream, they do go a bit in a strong flow! Two better eels in the last 30 mins and that was it.

I weighed 10lb 8oz which won the section, Tony did very well to weigh 6lb 6oz with his net of roach, but admitted he though he could have doubled that, Graham was 3rd with 5lb 1oz. Eddie didn't have a good day and would like to draw the Norfolk Reeds on a normal river, bad luck Ed.

My old, very old, team mate of the past Paul Benson managed 3rd with 14lb from peg 12 in the little field, he had this peg a few weeks ago when it was clear and had a couple of bleak and a gudgeon! My weight was good enough for 4th overall and that meant another round of drinks for the team. Nick Chedzoy was parched as he waited until I splashed the cash before having a tipple, well that's what Nick Ewers told me!

The river fished very topsy turvy and nothing demonstrated this better than the winner Paul (body perfect) Isaacs who weighed 18lb on a gbait feeder and said he had bites all day, whilst next door Bob Sheppard had just 1 eel! Thatchers had a fair set of mediocre results, including recent star Martin Barret being brought back to earth with a last in section. Thyers won on the day, but in fact they tied for the win with Sensas Veals (well done lads a great result) whilst Thatchers and Bathampton tied for 3rd! That means the league is now very tight :-

1st Thatchers 7
2nd Thyers 8
3rd Bathampton 9

There's a tear in my eye now, as that is now the end of river fishing in the leagues, after which I framed 3 times. Now it's on to the canal which I really do enjoy and the team are looking forward to. Last drew I drew poorly on the canal with never a chance of framing, I hope that changes this year! Skimmer me up Landlord!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Poppy Match

A disappointing number of only 94 anglers fished the match this year, many of the people fishing were club anglers and mostly above 40 years of age. I think this illustrates clearly the lack of young people coming into club / match angling. To many distractions these days for kids; computers, gaming, bowling, etc, they don't spend the time near water so never get the inclination to fish....

I had seen the river on Friday and it was very coloured and looked brilliant, by Sunday this was gone and the river was only slightly coloured, but the vibe was it would fish well! I was at the front of the draw queue as one of the organisers Paul Benson wanted me to draw his peg, don't know why he thinks this is my lucky match! I drew what looked like 2 pegs that couldn't win, Paul at the crane and me at Rotork peg 15. The middle of Rotork is always the worst part of Rotork I feel, and the last match up here had been grim, but I was hoping the rain had moved some fish around. I arrived at the peg to find 2 pike anglers fishing in my peg with 4 rods out, great! I politely asked them to move on, but one of them was not to happy about this, thankfully his mate was sensible and they packed up. As this was no team match I was going for it, and set up only a 4gram flat float, normal pole rig and a feeder rod. I was going to throw in 14 big balls of gbait worm and caster and hope! 15 mins before the off two cox less fours coming in opposite directions crashed right in my peg. They were going at full pelt and an oar snapped in half and one boat sprang a leak. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I put the balls of gbait in and went straight in on the 4grm flatty with 3 red maggots on a 14 B611 to 0.13. I needed to add 3 no1s to the float to get it to sit right as the river had picked up pace, later I would have to remove them when the pace slowed (that bloody automatic sluice gate!). After 15 mins the float buried and yes a 1/2oz perch was swung out. A change to dendrabena produced a similar sized perch, but after an hour that was it. I tried the feeder but beyond halfway was a snagpit, so I also tried it over the pole line, but that was to no avail. The running through pole rig produced no bites either and so it was back onto the flatty, triple red produced a nice 8oz perch but as it turned out this was my last bite! I won't bore you with what I tried after this as it don't matter a jot, Rotork is just not fishing at present! What did surprise me was just how hard the rest of the river was fishing, Swineford in particular was not producing with many anglers blanking, even the crane was not throwing up to many roach, and Frys, well Frys is Frys !

I decided to call it a day with 45 mins to go and have a look about, in the ten pegs at Rotork there were three guys further down admitting to 1lb+ but the rest had already gone, time to go as I couldn't win the section. I took a walk down Newbridge and this was just as bad with most people only having 1 or 2 perch, once you got past the pumphouse there were a few more fish but not a lot, roach were absent but the odd skimmer had been caught.

Back at the results I was one of the first people back, "Have you won it again?" someone asked, "being back this early what do you think?" I replied. Once the results came filtering back in it became clear how bad the river had fished. I can only think the influx of the rain water had chilled the fish (first cold water for a long time) and they shut up shop.

The results were:-

1st Dave Stiff 21lb (bream from peg 54)
2nd Ray Bazeley 18lb (1 pike and 4 bream from just above Newton St Loe bridge)
3rd Martin Barrett 11lb (Roach from the high wall on the Crane)
4th Derek Coles 10lb (1 4lb chub and roach from top of the long ashtip)

7lb 6oz was last in the money, Paul Benson weighing 7lb 2oz from the flyer I drew him just missed out, and a lost skimmer cost him a few quid! My bad day was further compounded when I found out that the sections were every 5 pegs (not 10 as I thought) and nobody weighed in my 5 pegs, so I missed out on £20 for not sticking it out, I hope that's the luck balanced out now!

I can't finish without mentioning Jeff Surmon. For those that don't know Jeff, he is the gentleman of angling, a nicer bloke you will not meet, but he's having a bit of a tough time of late. I can't imagine how Jeff felt when he realised that he was walking the wrong way to his peg, he'd walked from the Crane to the first peg in the 2nd field at Swineford!!! That is a very, very long way, Bob Shep told me Jeff arrived with 10 mins to set up. It was good that Ray Bazeley decided to reward this achievement with a bottle of wine for Jeff, your luck will change Jeff keep fighting mate.

The main reason for the Poppy match is of course to raise funds for the appeal, and it looks like the match will raise very nearly £1000. Well done to the organisers and peggers, as well as all the sponsors. But... why oh why did you have to peg Rotork and leave out Jack Whites, Hainer your a knob head!

It's the last match on the river this Sunday for the winter league, it's at Newbridge, how it will fish I don't know!

Friday, 6 November 2009

From One Final to Another!

After the high of the Superleague win in 1990 Bristol Amalgamation attention was quickly turned to the ATWL semi-final which was to be held on the Bristol Avon at Newbridge. Back then only the team winning the local league qualified for the semi final and Bathampton were gutted to have missed out on their local venue.

We didn't fish any of the open matches, instead we chose to walk them and see what other teams were doing and what fish were being caught where, of course we went out and pleasure fished a few times in the week ourselves. The river had seen a lot of floodwater and was now dropping and the fishing was excellent with many teams commenting what a superb venue this was! I fished on a Friday on my own on peg 30, and although the river was still pacey I fished a waggler just short of middle 13ft deep. Down the line I put 2 no4, 1 no6 and 1 no8, with a 20 to 1.1lb hook length. Feeding bronze maggot and hemp I took roach, a few skimmers and small chub and amassed 15lb in 4 hours. The following day quite a few of the team went onto the straight and got in amongst the bream. I had 33lb of them, up to 5lb, on double red maggot on an 18 to 1.5lb maxima. I recall Kev Winstone took the best weight of 52lb despite breaking his landing net pole trying to lift out one very large slab! Leigh Nutland landed a near 5lb chub, you don't see many of them at Newbridge these days.

On Saturday 3rd March the big match arrived, the semi back then was decided on overall weight, so really each angler had to make the best of his peg and if possible catch some slabs. Andy Floyd, Paul Lumbard, Bob Sheppard and myself all put an individual bet on with Billy Knott Jnr and agreed if any of us won some dosh we'd split it. Well my first semi turned into a nightmare, I had drawn in the trees and missed the one bite I had and so blanked. There was no point me trying to catch a small fish as the match was on weight, and in any case the river was up and to fast for the float, so I stuck to the feeder but had no joy. Bob had drawn peg 54, the bream hole, and came 4th overall with 22lb which meant our little syndicate shared £400! Unfortunately the team just missed out on getting to the final by 3lb, just one more bream, argh! I think Avon Bait won it easily as they had the individual winner and other anglers catch bream.

The following day we had to put the ATWL disappointment out of our minds as we were fishing the Flash Carter memorial on the Thames. A superb 75 teams of 6 turned out for this and I drew a section called Radley. Fishing maggot and hemp on the stick I managed 7lb 8oz of roach and dace, which was worth 72 points out of 75, great news for the team! We had entered two teams in this match and Mike Kent was the other angler in my section. Mike was right up the opposite end to me and when he drove back to pick me up I had already heard that someone near him had caught 18lb of good roach. Mike advised that it was the guy next to him and how gutted he was and that he had struggled.... then Mike broke out into a big cheesy smile gave me a big hug and told me it was in fact him! Mike had won the section and came 7th overall and was really made up, but Andy Floyd in my team did even better by coming 2nd overall with 23lb from the dreaded "carrots and Ham" section. When the team results were read out my team had come 2nd, beating many fancied river teams and we were starting to get ourselves a bit more noticed by people further afield. It was a fantastic result and perfect way to wipe out the disappointment of the day before.

Monday, 2 November 2009

ATWL Round 3 Lower Avon

Well the weather forecasters got it right and the wind and rain was atrocious when I awoke 6:30am Sunday morning. It's on days like this that you hope to draw a bream peg and just chuck a feeder out! Of course the rain had come to late to change the river and it was still clear, but now a little more pacey and covered in leaves. Once again I was the first Thatchers angler from the cafe to the draw and set about writing out the team sheets. I hate doing this really, because where ever you write your name is going to decide what section you're in. After filling it out I realised I was in the knockout against team mate Martyn Reyatt, damn, should have written his name next to mine to try and be in the same area! Oh well, at least nobody could excuse me of trying to rig it! As it turned out I'd stitched myself up good and proper, as I was drawn at Frys and Martyn first peg in the long ash tip field (one of my favourite pegs). As I left with my head in my hands team runner, Steve Tucker said with a large dose of sarcasm "now catch 10lbs of roach", well miracles I can do, but the impossible is a bit harder!

I reached the river and things were not looking good, I found myself on peg 42, between the lone tree and the national peg, or the 2 best chub pegs at frys at the moment. Frys expert Warren Bates told me he had drawn this peg last week in the Commercial House and only had 1lb 7oz. I had no features in the peg and was thinking if the chub pegs fished I could be in big trouble, still you've got to try! The wind was howling and rain lashing in, as I attempted a descent down the bank with box and bucket my feet went and I slid all the way down and was covered in mud. The peg was shallow in close and no reasonable depth / flat area could be found until past half way. As the leaves were really bad on the inside I decided against the pole and set up a 14BB crowquill and a 5AAA waggler (which never brought a bite!) as well as the standard feeder. I had been unsure whether or not to ball in gbait today, but as the flow was fast here I decided it could help, so I mixed a small amount (2 kilos) and made it as black as coal.

On the whistle I threw 6 balls containing plenty of hemp and a bit of caster in just past halfway. I picked up the crowquill and did my best to cast it out in the right place, first 3 chucks went upstream, next 3 chucks good but all hooked up on leaves! Frys is hard enough without these added problems to overcome, but by casting right across and then pulling the float back I could avoid the hook ups on leaves. Next problem was that the wind direction was mostly upstream, and to get the float to move through I had to mend the line downstream which was nigh on impossible due to the wind strength and line getting caught on leaves. At times the float was being held back by the wind so much that half the body was out of the water! Eventually, by adding some more no10 shots I could get the float to sit better and I started to get the odd bite from roach and dace. I was on a size 20 to 0.1 hooklength and the best hook bait by far was a fluoro maggot. I was frustrated by the fact that I missed as many bites as I caught fish, when I say missed I really mean never saw the bite, I reeled in to find the maggot chewed. You really had to be there to appreciate how bad the conditions were, and there were many tales of woe after the match.

After 2 hours I had my last bite on the crowuill and tried a couple more balls but that didn't work. The wag was no good and the feeder produced no bites, so I went for a walk! At this stage John Smith above me, on the winning peg last week, had 3 dace and 1 decent chub, Mark Bromsgrove 100 yards below me on the flyer just above the lone tree had a couple of small chub, everyone else was really struggling. I went back and decided to fish the feeder for a good 45 mins all the while feeding heavily with bait in close, hoping to sneak a chub. Despite feeding nearly 4 pints of bait I could not muster a chub or a bite on either feeder or float and I spent the last 3 hours biteless!

I had the scales and so was packed up quick and off to see the damage. Mark won the section with 6lb of chub on maggot feeder, taking 2 chub very late on, Smithy was 2nd with 4lb 3oz, and the chub was probably 4lb! So I was battered both sides and my net of small stuff went 2lb 7oz, enough for 3rd in section as nobody else broke 2lb. I had beaten the Bathampton angler Lee Trivitt by one place in the section, it should be noted that Lee is having one of those leagues, where good draws are hard to come by. But Lee did beat the anglers either side of him. Martin Barrett won the top section at Frys from the upstream end peg, he has won his section every match so far!

The river up at Swineford and Crane had fished well, with team mate Liam Bradell winning with 80lb+ of bream from peg 3, and Kev Perry coming 2nd with 76lb on peg 2. There were good weights of roach through the crane, and skimmers showed in some pegs. Thyers did well to win the day with 52 points, Thatchers came 2nd with 51, and Bathampton 3rd with 49. So the top three in the league to date is Thatchers 4 points, Bathampton 6 points and Thyers 7 points. Oh and Martyn Reyatt did kick me out the knockout with 7lb, but somehow he let Shane Caswell beat him for the section!

This weekend is the Poppy Match, and I urge all anglers to support this match and in doing so support our servicemen heroes. If you can't (or don't want to fish the river) it is still worthwhile donating to the poppy fund. I've won this match the last 2 years so the odds of doing the hat trick are probably of lottery proportions, but after a bad draw this weekend will things even out this coming Sunday?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Sundridge Super League All Winners Final 1990

As previously mentioned, this match was supposed to be on the Trent, but an early decision was made to switch it to the Trent & Mersey Canal near Shardlow. The team went up for a practice and we went to a local tackle shop where we met Ivan Marks and he gave us some bloodworm and joker, the best we'd ever seen! Ivan gave me his home phone number and told me to give him a ring in the week after he'd spoken to another couple of local anglers for us. This was after Ivan had his first heart attack, and although he got out of breath walking from the car to his front door he still did all he could to help anglers.

We drove to a couple of sections to have a look and at one section there were what looked like some "travellers". Andy Britt got it in his head they would know something about the fishing and, much to our disbelief, decided to engage them in conversation! He then returned and told us they saw a lot of fish caught and saw people throwing lots of bait in, I think it might of been Kev Winstone who shouted "the Gypsy said ball it in!". Well we were all in tears of laughter and that phrase was repeated not only for the rest of the day but a good few years! The practice and chats with Ivan Marks brought a plan, feed one or two decent balls of joker inside and cup smaller balls further across, caster was to be used for any pegs with boats or bushes for chub.

The day before the final we met up in a small hotel, it was a long way from a pub, but we made the hike (I think Andy Britt had more stick for this as he booked the hotel on a recommendation from his Derby AA friends). We already had plenty of alcohol on board when we got back to the hotel but were still thirsty! Eventually the owner wouldn't serve us anymore beer but gave us a crate of bottled larger and he went to bed! That's when things started to get a little boisterous, someone decided to let a fire extinguisher off, soaking someone who was in bed (was it Mike Kent or Nick Tutty?) and then the thing went all over the hallway and ceiling. The owner turned up and was a tad unhappy, but he thought the wet walls were due to the beer chucked everywhere and I didn't think it was a good idea to tell him otherwise!

On the morning of the match there were lots of very sore heads, and breakfast was a hard thing to keep down, in fact a couple of them resurfaced in the car park! I had travelled with Kev Boltz, and we somehow got lost on the way to the draw. Kev was driving like a maniac, and we nearly lost it on a tighter than expected corner, then on a 30mph road doing at least 60mph a copper appeared with a speed gun. Kev slammed on the brakes and very luckily the copper just dogged us up and let us go. When we got to the draw the rest of the lads had the pools money sorted and gave it to me to draw a peg (they still thought I drew flyers!). I approached the organiser, Roger Mortimer, and he advised we were the first team to draw and didn't know what the others were doing! I pulled out peg 15, one off the end peg I thought, "you jammy git, that's the end peg!" said Roger, turned out it was 15 teams fishing not 16 as I thought. All of a sudden, this team of drunken river anglers had a chance and the adrenalin sobered a few of us up and we shot off to our pegs.

My peg looked great, with bramble bushes across, but the wind here was bad. At the all in I threw in two apple size balls of joker at 3mtrs, and cupped in 2 golf balls at 12mtrs. 12mtrs was as far as I could fish on my Silstar pole borrowed from Vic Bush. For me it was a tough match, catching just odd tiny gudgeon, perch and ruffe, but the runners had good news; Kev Winstone, after a shaky start and falling off his box due to the beer, was doing well and Mark Podge Jefferies was catching chub next to a boat (though Glenn Bailey helped his cause by walking around and asking the owner to switch off the engine). One of the funniest things actually happened to the runners, Paul Benson decided to swing on branch over this "little stream", the branch snapped and Paul fell in. Only the little stream was actually the River Derwent and Paul went right under and resurfaced way down stream, he was soaked head to foot.

I never did have a bite next to the brambles and more by luck than skill (the wind was blowing my rig around inducing bites) I weighed in 13oz, but I was amazed to learn that was worth 10 points out of 15! Kev Boltz picked me up and he had come 2nd in his section with 1 perch, and he told me Martyn Woodington had won the next section with 3 perch for 2 1/2oz! These were the only 2 really bad sections, and killed off many teams chances, but for us these 2 results were crucial. Podge framed and Kev Winstone won his section, and if I recall 9 points was our worst result, we absolutely pi55ed it off the lucky end peg! The winning team was (memory OK I hope) Kev Winstone, Mark Jefferies, Martyn Woodington, Kev Boltz, Andy Floyd, Mark Holbrook, Myself, and number 8 was I think Gary Bowden.

I have a picture of the squad around this time, although black and white we were actually in our famous blue and yellow quarter jackets. See who you can recognise!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Commercial House Round 4 Lower Avon

First of all it seems some of my words on my last post were misinterpreted. Anyone who knows me will know I had no intention to vilify Andy Floyd or bear a grudge, and I said those things about Andy because he's a mate for over 25 years. If you can't take the mick out of your mates who can you! He won't change his estimations, he can't help it!

This match was fished from the top of the Cornfield at the Crane, down to the mouth of the marina, Jack Whites and Frys. With the rain we had in the week some people were expecting a coloured river, but all that had happened was the river had picked up some pace. I had been asked before where did I want to draw, but I honestly didn't know, although I knew pegs where I didn't want to draw. Funny how things work out some times, I was the first Thatchers team member at the draw, so I started to write the names out on the sheet, and then when Mark Harper drew peg 1 for us that put me the peg above the blockhouse at Jack Whites. Lee Trivett had caught 16lb of dace and roach from this peg last time so I was looking forward to a busy day. Just as I was leaving the car park in drove Dave Haines, how anyone can be so late on the day you get an extra hour in bed is beyond me, but Dave's your man for being late!

As I pulled in to the marina car park it was full, but I spied a dog walker returning and took his vacated parking space, a lucky start for me! Shane Caswell was moaning because he had yet another long walk, and he was even more upset when he realised I had a nice short walk! I made it worse by saying I had the time to go and have another breakfast...

Unfortunately for me there was a carp angler in my peg (he told me he had taken carp to 28lb and barbel to nearly 16lb from this area in the past) and I had been warned by Andy Britt this could happen, so I moved downstream and got in the next available peg which was right on the fence. There was a lovely looking willow opposite but lots of leaves over there. I set up a 7no4 stick float, a waggler and a feeder. 0.12 to a 18 B611 was terminal tackle for the floats, with 0.18 and 13 B711 for the feeder. As I was setting up I noticed 3 crows trying to mob two much larger birds, as they got closer I realised these large birds were ravens. I have never in all my years seen ravens in this area, quite amazing. The sound of church bells was soon drowned out by bike scramblers and they were in for the day!

To start the match I had 10 chucks with a big feeder over to the willow just to get a bit of bait in, I wasn't sure I would need to fish here but it was a bit of insurance. I started on the stick and feeding maggots and hemp I was into dace from the first cast. The first hour was steady, but I was missing bites and losing a few fish of the hook. By altering the shotting pattern and changing depth I started to hit more bites, I also had 2 no 8 above the float to sink the line as there was a nasty downstream wind. I stopped feeding the hemp as no roach were showing and concentrated on maggot, in the end feeding around 2 pints.

The next 2 1/2 hours were great and I was catching really well, with some dace up to 6oz, but most around 2oz to 3oz. I also took a 1lb chub and a 1lb perch in this time. Then with 90 mins left the fun started with a very big pike taking every 2nd or 3rd fish. Interestingly the dace never spooked, but then when the pike took about the 8th fish the hook transferred into its mouth and I was in to the biggest pike of my life. I played it for about 12 to 15 mins and had it up wallowing on the surface mid river, I honestly believe it was a near 20lb fish, it looked over 4ft long!! Trying to drag this huge dead weight toward me I straightened the hook and pulled out, not sure how I would have landed it the beast if it had come in! Anyway playing the pike had the desired effect and he never showed again, but the dace had gone too and I only took 6 in the last 30 mins.

I weighed 21lb 1oz to win the section, Steve Skelton had 18lb of chub also on the stick 3 pegs below, Bob Sheppard had 4 late chub for 14lb and Guy Manton on the next peg to me on the steps had 10lb of Dace. The match had fished hard in places, and bream didn't show, and I was chuffed to find out I was 2nd overall, but I know the pike cost me the match because the winner Andy Ottaway (with 7 chub at Frys) had 22lb 11oz. Quite a few pike were caught, with Kevin Dicks landing his 2nd successive Commercial House pike to frame again, fair play though this one was 13lb and took some landing.

Something went wrong on the team front, as my team came last on the day, with Mark Harper having blanked in the Cornfield which apart from 2 pegs was dire. So Avon Aquatics win on the day keeps them up at the top.

Lastly I was obviously asked what weight did I think I had by my next peg neighbour Guy Manton, I said 15lb (tricky to know when catching dace) and so he was a tad upset when I doubled his weight and had underestimated by 6lb! Andy Floyd you're a great teacher!

Monday, 19 October 2009

AT Winter League Round 2 - Bristol Avon Newbridge

The good news before this match was that some of the Bathampton lads had cleared swims on the section below Saltford weir, and this was to be pegged instead of Rotork. That was a good bit of thinking and pegs 3 and 4 in this section were, I was told, full of chub! Although despite this excellent work Kevin Dicks did not peg the match out an instead wrote the pegs in a matrix, good idea eco friendly. Seems like the organisers didn't think so and wouldn't pay Kevin the "peggers" money has he hadn't "physically" pegged the match out, whoops!

At the draw I handed over my money to Tucks for some of the best Russian joker I have ever seen, I hoped it would be worth it! I never used to take B & J to river matches but in the last couple of years I have caught with it and it does no harm. It was certainly likely to be needed today, an already gin clear river had now been subjected to a frost. Gary O'Shea brought back the team draw and I was the 1st peg in the weir field section with peg 2 empty, that will do I thought. Getting to this part of the river is tricky with a trolley, as you have to negotiate steps down from the cycle track. I didn't to a good job and ended up snapping a mud foot of one of the legs! By the time I got my gear over the gate I was already rubbing my hands trying to warm them up!

My old 'team mate' Andy (shitbag) Floyd was on the end peg next to the bridge, one that usually always throws up some fish, Jeff Grant and Andy Ottoway were on the chub pegs. As I surveyed all the pegs on the way to mine I had noticed bleak topping in Jeff and Andy's peg, but no others, I thought that 20lb of chub could win this section so I was going to go for that. Despite being below a weir the flow here was still slight, proving how low the river is. I decided on 3 lines of attack, pole at 11 mtrs, waggler down the middle and feeder across to the boats. The pole line was no more than 6.5ft deep, but there was a lot of silk weed around which made running a rig through tricky, 1.5 grm was OK here and I tied a size 20 PR34 to 0.08. The waggler was shotted with a couple of no 10s and no 8s and a 20 B611 to 0.11 was my starting bet. I set up a gbait feeder as I have known bream and chub come off this peg and this way covered both options.

I was ready bang on time and deposited 12 balls of gbait and joker on the pole line, and fed maggot on the wag line. I ran the pole rig through hoping for the initial burst of fish, but it didn't happen and after 15 mins I picked up the waggler. 45 mins of running the wag through produced nothing, so another look on the pole line, nothing. Well I think I'd better get some bait in on the feeder line so I gave this 45 mins and ended up with no bites. Flippin heck I wasn't expecting it to be this hard! It was about now I decided to see if it was me or the peg, so a quick walk to Jeff and Andy was in order. They were catching odd roach and perch but being pestered by bleak. The anglers below them were either blanking or had 1 fish.

I think it was about 2 hours in when I saw a perch by my keepnet and dropped a pinkie in front of it to break my duck, it was only an ounce but a fish! On the gbait feeder I caught another couple of small perch on worm, but there were no signs of anything decent. With just over 2 hours to go bleak started topping taking my maggots on the wag line, I thought that might be with a few ounces but it would be hard work, so I looked on the pole line first. The float did not settle and a bleak was hooked, and so were another dozen, where had they come from? Then amazingly I caught a couple of small roach. I pushed the bulk down further to get through the bleak and was now getting a roach a chuck, small at an ounce but it was bites. The fish were off the bottom (even though I had not loose fed here) by some way, just below the bleak it seemed, perhaps they were above the silk weed?

I fed more gbait and joker and the fish just kept coming and I started to get the odd 2oz fish. It did slow down once when I fed, so I had a few chucks again on the feeder but a couple of small perch were all that showed. Going into the last 30 mins I would get bites as soon as the float settled from roach, although the bleak were still a nuisance. Pinkie was by far the best hookbait, anything bigger and the bleak saw it and had it. I reckoned I had 4 to 5lb which I was hoping could get me 3rd in the section, as Glenn Bailey phoned to tell me Andy (lying b'stard) Floyd had also finished with a fish a chuck and was admitting to his team mate to have 3lb. I weighed 6lb which was not bad for just over 2 hours of sprat catching, certainly warmed me up! Jeff won the section with 10lb+ and Andy was 2nd with 9lb, they didn't have the expected chub but still plenty of fish. Andy (brain dead) Floyd was 3rd in the section with 8lb+, if ever Andy tells you a load of bull about his weight don't take it personally, he's been doing to his mates for 30 effing years!

So how did the river fish? Well the bream did their usual cold and clear water appearance in some pegs, with two 40lb weights, both of those weights were caught on the pole line. The winner was on peg 65, same peg that won a super league, and the pegs in the 30's produced bream, some over 7lb. The little field was dire, with Shawn Kitteridge winning the section with 9oz and Guy Manton catching 2 roach for 2.5oz for second. That summed up the river, some sections needed only a couple of pounds to win them, while others threw up fish in a few pegs.

On the team front Thatchers pipped Bathampton to 1st place by a single point, a great result on a patchy river. Martyn Reyatt helped the cause by avoiding a blank and snaring a 1lb 8oz perch in the last hour! Thyers were again close behind in 3rd. So after two matches Thatchers have 2 points, Bathampton 3 and Thyers 6.

Commercial House this weekend and rain is now forecast this week for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, let's hope they've got it right and it tips down! The two thatchers teams have been struggling to get the numbers for this match, it is the thought of being pegged at Frys!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A new decade begins

Lately some people have told me they read my blog for the old matches, whilst others only like to read about the recent stuff, well I'll carry on as is and you read what you want!

At the start of 1990 I spent a lot of time pleasure fishing the Bristol Avon at Conham (this was on Saturdays) and fishing the odd open there. My diary tells me that in 3 visits in January I had around 8lb of dace each time on the stick float, with maggot on a size 22 hook to 1.1lb line. The main issue I had was only catching in spells, a good first two hours often was all I had. I think looking back I should have employed a waggler and stick approach feeding two lines, but I was stuck in a rut on the stick!

On the 5th round of the ATWL I once again found myself above Saltford weir, but this time opposite the boat house (wouldn't want to be drawn there these days, too many rowers!). Now unusually, despite having wrote about this match in my diary I cannot clearly recall it, age must be catching on me. Apparently I fished a waggler down the inside (must have been windy) for some roach, and took 2 skimmers and 3 good roach on the groundbait feeder. That gave me 11 points from 13 and my Bristol Amalgamation team came 2nd on the day, we were now 2 points in the lead with one match left on the river.

The week after on Sunday 21st January I fished the last round of the Commercial House and this was a match where I had a chance of doing well in the league individually and my team (Bendix) were pi55ing the A division. The venue was Swineford to Crane and I drew the New Fence, which I guess I must have been happy about! At the time this peg was noted for Chub, although there were of course bream in the area, and as the river was a bit pacey I decided on a maggot feeder approach. I was using my standard size 18 to 1.5lb maxima hooklength with 2 bronze maggots as hookbait. The first hour was slow but then I had a great big drop back and I played a decent fish in carefully, it was a bream! So I changed to the gbait feeder and 30 mins later I landed a chub. For the rest of the match I swapped between the two types of feeder on the same line and ended up with 4 bream and 1 chub for 16lb 13oz. On the day this was good enough for 5th overall, and I was 3rd individual in the league. Bendix won the A division and we had only dropped one point all league, I can recall some of the team members were Ian Spriggs, Bob Sheppard and Andy Floyd.

The Thursday following this was when the great storm took place, with hurricane winds. The farm where I lived was damaged, with stable walls blown in, garage roof gone and porch ripped off the front of the house and found 60ft away. With this storm a lot of rain had fallen causing the river to flood. I came 4th in a Bathampton open on Newbridge a couple of days later, I had nearly 5lb of bleak from the cow drink below the shallows (boy could I draw back then!). Unfortunately the ATWL next day, and further down the river, was cancelled and the last match would now take place on the canal a week later. Also the Sundridge League all winners final that we had qualified for was transferred from the river Trent to the Trent & Mersey canal. The team were gutted about this as we felt we would have had a chance on the Trent, but we would now have to try our hand at bloodworm & Joker fishing!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Commercial House Round 3 - Newbridge

I'll start off by saying that my last blog obviously touched a few Bathampton boys nerves as they were having a bit of a go at me at Jerry Pocock's 50th party. Can't recall what they said because after 8 pints of Bath Ales Gem the brain seems to go blank! They're so easy to wind up, especially Lee "swampy" Trivett!

It was not going to be an easy match on the river as it was so clear and the rain we have had has done nothing to improve it. For that reason I had some bloodworm and joker off Tucks as a bit of insurance. I was given F section, which is the bottom of the trees and found I was drawn 1 peg below where I had been in the last super league match. Once again it was going to be tough to beat the end peg and in total I had 4 anglers below me and 6 above, so I was at least toward the better end!

I set up my now standard 2grm rig, but with a light 0.08 hook length and a 20 PR31 hook which would be employed at 13 mtrs. I had a nice shelf at 7 mtrs at an angle for chopped worm, waggler and maggot feeder were also set up. This peg has a nice row of bushes across and I hoped the feeder would work later on, 0.14 to a 15 B711 would do for starters.

Thatchers B team had drawn on the peg below, and I had Liam Braddell for company, also in the section were Nicky Johns, Andy Floyd, Dave Wride and Andy Britt all good river anglers. Dave Haines was also in the section, so I thought I would get at least 2 points! One thing of note, Peg 124 was unfishable as a boat had moored and set up camp, it had also put some netting up on the bank and enclosed about 4 chickens and a hen house, Andy Britt said that's Cluckers Peg!

Start of the match and I threw in 12 balls of gbait and a bit of leam with joker and caster in, and went straight in on top of it. I had bites straight away on the caster from 4 oz roach, about 3 of them! Trouble was there were so many flaming rowing boats and fallen leaves on the surface it was a precise operation to get the rig in position! It was a steady but not spectacular first 2 hours, catching odd perch and roach, not many fish but mostly 2oz+ fish and a couple of 6oz roach. I had hardly been able to feed any maggot for the wag line due to the amount of boats but these started to dwindle. As the pole line went dead I refed with some more joker and also fed chopped worm for the first time. Back on the long pole and I could get bites but now only with bloodworm on the hook. I had no stupidly small fish, but quite a few 2oz perch and even managed an 8oz roach. When it died again I tried the choppy but never had a bite, tried the wag but never had a bite. Back on the bloodworm but no bites, so I fed again and with an hour to go chucked the maggot feeder. Conditions were not nice with rain and a wind that had picked up strongly, but my second cast landed spot on where I wanted it so I clipped up! In 10 mins I picked up 2 small chublets (2 to 4oz) but nothing in the next 10, back on to the pole nothing, choppy nothing. Last 30 mins on the feeder then, bang it was a bite as soon as the feeder landed, and the same next chuck! Trouble was I missed them both, so I shorten the hooklength and hit the next couple of bites. Mr Pike then made his one and only appearance snaffling a chublet just before I was about to swing it! It took hold of it and I let him have it, but it bit me off immediately. A couple more chublets and the match finished.

The section fished nearly to form, the last 2 pegs both weighed 7lb 1oz, but Andy Britt beat them with 8lb 1oz including a near 5lb pike, how come him and Vincent always seem to get pike in? Andy told me he had been playing a 8lb pike, when it let go of the perch Andy had originally hooked, as he reeled the perch in the 5lb pike came for the perch grabbed it and swam straight into his landing net! I weighed 6lb 9oz which was the next weight, just beating Dave Wride by an ounce and Liam had 5lb 3oz.

The river had fished terrible, and the 2 B division lads on 7lb 1oz were last in the money, and as Andy had also framed I got the A division section money £30. I must say that I had not realised I was so close to the frame and I wish I had gone on the feeder a bit earlier. Would you believe Rotork had been won with less than 3lb, and I wanted to be drawn there. Gary Cross won overall with 20lb of Bream from the little field, and Leon Hubbard proved he can still catch fish coming 2nd from flyer peg 10 with 9lb odd (2 bream not skimmers Leon!) On the team front Karoke Nites won (helped by Andy and Vincent Lunn's Pike) and Thatchers A and Bathampton blew out! The division is very tight halfway through; 14 points for the leaders, then 13, 12.5 and 12, although I think Maver are a bit behind and still last!

Martyn Rayett continued his good form for Thatchers by getting the dreaded 1 pointer, still he drowned his sorrows as usual! However, Martyn was still picked for the next match, it seems many of the Thatchers team have "something on", I think the river is starting to do their heads in! Of course, we have to go back to Newbridge again this weekend for the ATWL, still no rain in the forecast so it will probably be even harder.

Monday, 5 October 2009

ATWL Round 1 Swineford/Crane/J Whites/Frys

This was a day when it seemed that everything seemed to go against me (except the draw) but in the end turned out not to bad! For starters I had slept badly due to an aching shoulder (no idea why), and was a bit slow getting all my gear together first thing. I thought the draw time was 8:30am, and it was, but they wanted the money in by 8:00 so I had a call asking where I was and Gary O'Shea paid my pools!

Waiting for the draw Steve Tucker was doing his best to wind me up but I don't take the bait! Tucks was doing the draw for the team, and I was praying not be at Frys. I was more than happy to find out I was drawn one below the outfall at Swineford. Tucks was at his most favourite venue Frys, ha ha lol, but he was the downstream end peg. I was nearly the last one to leave the car park draw when I saw a lot of debate going on with organisers Ray Bazely, Paul Benson and a few of the Bathampton lads. Turned out the draw had been messed up and four teams were going to the wrong pegs, the right section just the wrong number!!! I then rang Tucks to tell him he was not on the end peg and the rest of the teams new numbers, we managed to spread the word in time and luckily for me my peg was unchanged. As I drove past the Crane I spotted Guy Manton doing an impression of a windmill. "How far away do you live Tim?" he said, "why Guy?", "I've left me nets at home". Ten minutes later the wife and kids were most surprised to see me back home....

I finally got to my peg at 9:20, thank goodness I didn't have a long walk! The outfall was really pumping out in front of peg 1 (Shaun Townsend) and my peg had a lovely flow running down the inside, whilst further out it stopped or went backwards. Andy Britt had caught 14lb from this peg the week before and he confirmed he caught mostly on the whip and then on the stick float, just what I was setting up. I also set up the gbait feeder as bream are always in the area, I set this up with 0.16 line to size 11 B711. I had to wade in this peg and fish standing up (can you remember doing that Mike and Tony?) but was badly hampered by a big tree for casting out the feeder.

On the whistle I threw 6 balls of gbait just past middle (as far as I could), well actually I threw 7 but one disintegrated when hit the tree branches! This was for the feeder line, normally I do it with a feeder but I didn't want to waste to much time today. Onto the whip (3.5 mtrs as anymore would be in the tree) and I never had a bite in the first 5 minutes so onto the stick. This was also slow, where were all the bleak? I soon realised they were further out in the slack water and whilst I was now catching them it was not really fast enough. Feeding maggot all the time the stick float line improved and I started to catch the odd dace, but throughout the match the fish came and went. Shaun was catching small roach on the wag shallow and had taken a skimmer on this, and I was sure had more than me.

With about an hour to go disaster, swinging in a dace it came off and up the tree went the rig, I got the float back but not much else. Time to chuck the feeder out! This proved harder than expected, in order to get under the branches I had to squat down and cast at an angle, accuracy was impossible but I hoped good enough. I was fishing with half a lob on the hook, this was to avoid the hordes of bleak that attacked the gbait as the feeder went in and often you would see a pike slam into the bleak! Three chucks and 1 perch was not so good, so I left the next cast in for longer and set up the stick again. I didn't get a bite on the feeder so went back on the stick, but it was now dead! Knowing I was behind I had to get on the feeder for the last 35 mins and hope for a lump, first chuck and a 12oz perch made up for the non catching period, soon followed by a 1lb skimmer. I then had another 2 skimmers and a near 6lb bream, get in there! By now Shaun was cursing under his breath about me being a lucky sod, so he chucked the feeder out, and after a couple of casts he had 3 bream in 3 chucks. I had one more skimmer and then Shaun took another bream on the whistle, git!

Shaun won the section with 27lb 12oz and I was 2nd with 23lb 14oz, This was also good enough for us to finish 2nd and 3rd overall. Kev Dicks won the match with 28lb+ of chub from Bitton Brook.

The team had some good results and some bad ones, Tucks and Gary O'Dear had 2 points each at Frys, but at least did not blank like Paul Haines. The Crane fished well again, and special mention for section winners Nick Ewers who won the section at Jack Whites with 16lb of dace from the blockhouse steps, and Martin Barrett who had 10lb to win the section in the Long Ashtip. Thatchers tied for top spot on the day with Bathampton, with Thyers a close 3rd.

One last point, I wish certain anglers from the Bathampton team would refrain from pleasure fishing Chub pegs on the Thursday / Friday before the match. Everyone knows chub do not like it up em, so all you're doing is mucking it up for those anglers that draw the pegs. I take it with a pinch of a salt if a pleasure angler has fished your peg, but when match anglers do it I think it is very selfish.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

November / December 1989

Back in Nov 1989 the river was pretty much the same as it is at the moment, low and clear, but on the Commercial House back in 1989 I was up at Christian Malford on a peg which had some nice flow. I was down a couple of fields from the bridge, with a narrow bit of river above me which deepened infront of me, a bit further down was a big bend with bushes a known chub peg, Andy (Bacon) Leonard was on this peg. I opted for a very light 4BB waggler with 3 no8 down the line with a 22 to 1lb bottom. The reason for the wag rather than a stick was that I wanted to avoid making to much noise on the strike. It was a very hard match, and at one stage I had two of my "Bendix" team mates sat behind me as they were blanking! I picked up odd small roach, perch and dace and had a bonus 1 1/2lb chub. Andy below me lost 3 chub in the first hour and hooked no more and he ended with a couple of bits. My fish weighed just 4lb 13oz and I was amazed to find out this was good enough for 6th and last in the frame!

The following Sunday saw me at Newbridge for the ATWL, everyone was expecting a grueller after 3 nights of freezing temperatures down to -7C. I had pleasure fished Conham the day before and had taken 12lb of roach on the stick float with mag & hemp, so I was upbeat. I drew a long walk, upstream of Saltford weir and bang opposite the Marina mouth. This was not normally a good area I was told, but I approached with mag and hemp tactics on waggler straight down the middle, again a 22 to 1lb hook length was employed. Feeding just 6 maggots and a bit of hemp every cast I was soon getting roach and hybrids, only small but it was fish! I weighed in 7lb 14oz which put me 2nd in the section, I beat Nicky Jackson off the next peg by a pound, he fished a stick float which I was suprised by. The team had 4 blanks on the day, but we managed to come 2nd and we were now joint top of the league with Bathampton. My weight was again good enough to sneak 6th and last in the frame.

Dec was a bad month for me, in nearly all the Xmas matches I caught nowt, but right at the end of the month things improved. I picked up a section win on the Taunton and Bridgewater canal with 6lb 5oz, assisted by a 2lb tench landed on very light gear! Then on the 29th Dec I fished the Dave Haines organised Rolls Royce Xmas match at the Docks. I drew cock on just below the squash courts and set up one feeder rod (a wand rod really). For company I had Dave, Pete Sivell and Vic Bush so I expected a hard fought match. We were all into small skimmers virtually straight away but as the match wore on they became harder to catch. After about 3 hours a camera crew turned up and as soon as I caught a fish they started filming me, Hainer said he had organised ITV to come and film the match, bull of course. Anyway by the end of the match I weighed in 18lb 14oz to beat all around me, although Pete Sivell was not far behind me and was cursing the flask of tea he drank which forced him to take 3 pee breaks! That got me 2nd in the match, behind Mr Pastry himself Colin Goulding. Colin had caught on the pole with 26lb of roach on caster, he used a drop net to land them all!

A few weeks later just before a night out with the lads I was watching ITV news and an article about the swans at Bristol Docks came on, the trailer included me winding in and landing a skimmer! Of course later that evening I was signing autographs!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Conham for a few hours

Fished at Conham Friday with Warren Bates, and there are still shed loads of dace there!

Tried to fish the wag for chub but it was dace all the way, didn't mind this as it was good to work out the best way to hit the bites. For a while it was just cast out and strike after 2 seconds, if nothing there repeat the process. I could get 3 bites at the cherry every cast this way, and it worked for about a hour and a half until the fish dropped deeper and then you had to hit the bites or count a bit longer!

I was fishing 0.14 to a 16 B611 and the dace didn't mind one bit, I tried to feed them off but all that did was drive them into more of a frenzy on the surface.

Warren gave the wag up pretty quickly and concentrated on the pole with hemp (I was stood up fishing so the pole was a non starter for me). He would get a burst of fish and then nothing, and was getting 5 dace to 1 roach, but the fish were all a good size. The Tower Belle boat came up river, we knew a big boat was on the way because the river started flowing 5 minutes before it arrived, it was travelling so fast that it coloured the river up, and when it came back down it did the same again. This seemed to bring the dace on more and in Warrens peg he could not catch deep as the dace were taking his hemp 4ft deep!

I had been casting the wag through a gap in the trees across, and eventually after a close escape I lost the lot. I quickly took a crowquill out and decided to try and see what was on the bottom. I could only get little dace across, all the better ones were on top. But I had fed 1/2 pint of hemp in close early on and I took a few nice roach here but I was fishing far to heavy for the fish.

We both ended with at least 15lb of fish each, and I'm sure if the dace would give it a rest you could get a big bag of roach.

1st round of ATWL this weekend, hope I get a good un.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Commercial House - Avon Swineford to Jack Whites

Thankfully I was fit for round 2 of the CH, but it was no lie in this Sunday. I was in Matty's cafe in Bath at 7am for an excellent brekkie. It was a popular place with many of the Thatchers lads present, as well as Bathampton anglers. For those who get up late with 10am draws it was rather foggy Sunday morning!

I was looking forward to this match, but hoping to avoid Jack Whites which I had heard was fishing hard. When the draw was made it was very difficult to know what pegs we had drawn as the pegger had made no list of the main pegs! Take a bow Jerry Pocock, of the three pegs I asked you about none of them were no where near where you said! I actually drew on the Crane section, 1st peg past the cow drink in the bay. For company I had Phil (Fabio) Harding upstream and Bath stalwart Chris Ollis in the cow drink, both pegs I have fished before with some success. Pegging was tight here with Andy Floyd and Sean Townsend between Chris and the style, I didn't fancy their chances at all. The section started up in the long ash tip field, and last year the best weights came from here with skimmers and roach. My peg was out and out roach and I set myself a target of 10lb to 12lb of Roach and hope the skimmers didn't show!

I set up my gear very simply, a wag 4 ft deep for across by the boats, a 2grm bulk and a 4x16 strung out rig for for the pole line. I ran the line through my feeder rod but did not attach anything to it as I hoped not to have to use it. I cannot tell you why, because it was just gut feeling, but I decided not to ball it and instead loose feed hemp and caster on the pole line. I set up nothing else as I was going all out for roach! I had to remove a pike bung that Chris had pointed out was holding mid river, I snagged it 2nd chuck and out it came trebles and all! Sean said there were a lot of pike anglers out the day before, and this looked like their gear as it was clean as a whistle.

At the start of the match I began on the wag, all the time loose feeding the pole line which I expected to take a while to get going. However, I was onto the pole after only 10 casts on the wag because 1) I had no bites and 2) a very crazy old boat owner decided he needed to fix an engine on his dingy! I kid you not, every word he said was a swear word, he cursed his boat, the engine, his dog and I think he would have cursed me if any maggots had got that far! He eventually tried to siphon some fuel out and got a mouthful of diesel, he swore a lot more after this and then decided to completely take out the engine..... Anyway, onto the pole with the 2grm rig to start, it was slow, 4 small roach and 2 perch were all I had in the first hour. But things started to improve and I started to get a bite most casts from 1oz to 2oz roach. Then inexplicably after about 20 mins of catching the swim died and I had no bites at all for 15 mins. I decided to have a quick chat to the three lads below me, Chris was doing well reckoned to have 5lb after 2 hours, Andy and Sean only 2lb. I returned to my peg after just a couple of minutes and tried the pole again, I was on the strung out rig looking for bites anywhere, but it was still dead. Then out of the blue I had a bite and hit a big fish, it slowly moved off to the far side and the hook pulled out, damn! Amazingly only 5 minutes later I was back getting a bite a chuck from roach, I think that maybe a big perch had come into my swim taking the casters and had put the roach right off, maybe that was what I had lost?

The swim improved in the 2nd half of the match, dropping the light rig in I would feed hemp and caster drop the catapult and sometimes the float was already under! By now the grumpy old man had disappeared and so I fired the odd pouch of maggots across when ever I had the chance to do so! The roach were now bigger and I was netting every third fish, then 20 mins to go I trashed the rig. I tried the bulk rig but it wouldn't work so out went the wag, I had 4 chublets and a roach and then the whistle went!

I weighed 14lb 11oz and had thoroughly enjoyed the day. I think I would have caught more if I could have caught on the wag in the first hour, however, my weight was enough to win the section and bag £30. Tony Goodland came 2nd with 13lb (including a 6lb pike) and Chris Ollis was 3rd with 10lb. Sean Townsend had a mare with only 3lb, he lost 2 pike on the worm which bit him off, and they were both less than a pound! Fabio had only 2lb and was last seen nursing his blisters on his feet, whilst Tony Rixon has put a "For Sale" sign on Fabio's river gear in Avon Angling.

Swineford fished really well, with bream, skimmers, chub and roach showing. Jerry Pocock won off peg 5 with both bream and skimmers on feeder, Andy Pritchard had about 24lb of chub from below Bitton brook. Steve Hutchinson had skimmers on the wag from peg 18 and Guy Manton had about 21lb of roach from the peg in the reeds. Plus there were lots of other double figure weights here except for Eddie Wynne and Darren Gillman that is. Jack whites was good in the shallows with Martin Barret and Graham Hunt both recording 13lb+ of dace, but it was hard in the deep water.

Team wise Avon Aquatics beat my Thatchers A team by a single point on the day and lead the A division. I think Maver Veals were joint last on the day, missing their new lucky mascot Bob Sheppard who is in China, apparently Bob has had a Chinese every night, but not food, if you know what I mean!

Matt Parsons in the Thatchers B team was in my section and caught Paul Daniels (not a lot!), to be fair he was distracted all day by a couple of lezzers on the boat opposite him who kept indulging in kissing and discussing battery powered toys! You don't get views like that down at Viaduct Matt.

First round of the Angling Times Winter League this weekend, and it's exactly the same stretch of river. With no sign or rain in the forecast it should be a similar match.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Final Super League Match Newbridge

A nice leisurely start on Sunday, 9am draw and only 3 miles from home, great! I was up ready and into the rugby club with plenty of time to spare. I found out that my place at last weeks commercial house had been taken by Garbolinos John Atkinson, he drew Whaddon and failed to break a 1lb, so that's another crap peg I would have had!

It was good to see Andy Floyd back in the Maver team, and when I saw Bob Sheppard and Glen Bailey with him the team started to look like an old Avon Angling side! The talk in the club was how tough this match was going to be with a low, clear river and bright sunshine. I wanted to be drawn at Rotork or close to Newton St Loe Bridge, but instead was handed peg 130 in the trees. Straight away I knew it was virtually impossible to win the section as the end peg wins it every time, Andy Ottaway had the pleasure of this peg. Still I had a few tricks up my sleeve for fishing tight over to the cover. Unfortunately I found peg 130 to be unfished and opposite the biggest cow drink on the Bristol Avon, thanks Kevin Dicks! After much bank digging and reed bashing (the peg looked to me as it had not been fished) I finally got into a position where I could fish! I don't mind all the gardening bit, it's just that it takes time away from setting up! Thanks again to another Thyers angler, Paul Purchase, for lending me boots to get into the water, yep I never took them again as I was told every peg was fished from the top of the bank! Not long after this Andy Ottaway came running past me and in his haste nearly snapped one of my top sets, he had left his hemp at home and was off to get it!

I set up a 2 grm pole float, as I felt anything heavier would only cause fish to drop the bait, a 3grm flat float and chopped worm rig for 5 mtrs. I also set up the feeder (but never used it) and a waggler just the same as in Bath on Friday. As I felt I was in a poor area (5lb was 2nd in the section last time) I used 0.09 and 20 and 22 hooks, light for me I can tell you! Since the last match I had thought a lot about the balling in mix, and I decided to mix mine exceedingly black although I had still pre mixed 3 kilos. I approached this swim with just 9 balls that only had a pinch of bait in them, this is a negative approach but I felt it was justified given the peg. There were also a tremendous amount of rowers out, and judging by the skill level it was the annual intake of new Bath University students. There's nowt you can do but try to make sure you don't get a rig trashed by them, and for this reason and because all the cover was on my bank I only balled it at 11.5 mtrs. First chuck on a caster and a 3oz roach was my best fish of the day! After a few more runs through on the caster without a bite it was onto the maggot, this brought instant bites but they were hard to hit and I bumped a couple off. I think this was mainly because they were very small roach, I adjusted the depth and dropper shot and things improved. It was hard going though because the boats often went right over the line I was fishing and the disturbance meant the float wouldn't run through properly until the water calmed down.

After about an hour I reckon I'd had a pound and a half, Jerry Pocock wandered down and told me it was dire. When Jerry came back from the end of my section he said Andy had not had one roach, but he did have some perch and an eel on the worm. My gbait line was now giving up, so I tried a top up ball which only brought a couple of bites so it was onto the worm rigs. I should say that during this time I had wanted to feed the wag line, but I had hardly been able to do this due to the number of rowers. The 5mtr worm line was biteless but I took 3 small perch from the gbait line. At this point a motor boat decided to moor in the cow drink opposite and 5 young uns had a picnic with music, and tried to fish a bit (they later moved off pretty sharpish when the cows turned up for a drink!). The rowers had now reduced greatly so I picked up the waggler, it was solid, with bleak! I put a few in the net and was thinking of giving it up when Andy Ottaway came walking up, he said he had 2lb and that 3lb was best. That made up my mind to get my head down on the wag and get as many bleak as I could. I had 2 hours on them (with one break to look on the worm again for just 1 perch) but with 30 mins to go the river came alive with ocean liners and the bleak disappeared, I sat out on the worm but never had a bite.

The section was won by Andy (I've only got 2lb) who had 7lb of mainly perch, and a lad had 5lb 15oz of mainly roach on the pole, the only person to do so. I weighed 5lb 6oz for 3rd in the section, gutted I think I could have gone close to 2nd if the bleak had stayed for the last 30 mins. The guys either side weighed 3lb 2oz and 2lb 3oz and most of their fish came to the feeder chucked across to the trees.

Titch Bernstein won the match I think off peg 36, he had 30lb+ of bream on the pole on a pencil float! Bob sheppard had a successful comeback with 2 bream in two cast on the feeder for 2nd. Steve Tucker showed me how it should be done by framing with nearly 11lb from peg 56, Steve had a bream on the feeder (first cast) and lots of perch, he said he set a whip up but I think it was just the feeder! In 3rd place were Callum Dicks and his dad (joined at the hip are they?) from consistent peg 24.

Thatchers had a few poor results again and so we ended the league in 3rd place behind winners Garbolino and 2nd place Bathampton, Well Done lads!

After the match I heard that Guy Manton is back in the Thatchers side, so I guess that was his last match for Maver. He told me that a lady rower stopped right in front of him, and as he gave her the "evils" she asked what he was looking at "The ugliest woman rower I've ever seen!" was his retort, and she went!

After giving Nick Chedzoy a tidy sum of money for team fees he still couldn't help but moan at me "excuses on my blog" (mind you he did only beat one angler in his section), god I don't know how Nicky Ewers puts up with him travelling with him to every match, he must be a Samaritan!

Lastly if ever you've been to Avon Angling you'll know it can smell a bit. Well I noticed the budgie spent the weekend in Avon Angling, this was because its owner, Fabio, was on holiday. However, I believe that Tony has employed the old miners trick of having a bird in a cage to test the air. When Tony opens up on a morning and the bird is dead I think he will be keeping the doors open for a bit!