Monday, 23 February 2009

What a day on the K&A !

I'll start with the stats (thanks Andy Britt) that will give you a flavour....
15 double figure weights, 43 weights over 7lb, an average weight per man (91 fished and bear in mind 4 DNW) of 6lb 11oz. That's from a 13 mtr wide canal in February!

I certainly was expecting some good weights after another pleasant week of mild weather and no frosts. As I arrived at the draw it was decidedly quiet (that will be the Little Chef doing more trade this weekend then) so I had a good look at the pegging maps. Darlington Wharf would do me I thought, pegs 1 to 8 had not been pegged last week and are normally good. When the rest of the team arrived Mark Harper stated "Your all fishing for your place in the semi-final it's that tight", no pressure then!
Peg 10 put me just past where I favoured but on what I consider to be a decent peg, it had produced 7lb last week but the pegs to the left were better then. However, my section was 1 to 10 and I knew I was up against it if I didn't get any skimmers. I was set up and ready to go and had been paid a visit by Mark Harper who was on peg 7 (well he left a deposit in the bushes behind me is all I will say!). Mark was moaning about his peg but I assured him it was OK and there was always a chance of a carp showing in his peg.

I started on the obligatory bread and within minutes the float was flying under every chuck with roach from 1oz to 6oz. This was great, and I managed to pick off the odd fish on the bread for 3 hours. I remember a couple of bikers went passed as I went to 13mtrs, "I don't know why they have to use such long rods!" one of them said, "that's because you know f all about fishing!" I said. I think I put 6lb in the net at this stage, I then took fish on bloodworm both near and farside and caster, but nothing on chopped worm which I kept trying in the hope of decent perch. To soon the match ended, I had enjoyed a bite every cast and ended with 9lb 8oz. That was enough to beat the Garbolino angler Mike Bernstein by 2lbs and the guy to my right was a DNW. However, it was only good enough for 5th in the section! There was 19lb (from the bay Steve Long Diawa Gordon League) 13lb, 12lb, 9lb 14oz.... Yep I needed some skimmers!
Mark Harper had 13lb and was 6th in the match, during the match he hooked and lost a carp about 14lb on 0.08, should have listened to me Mark!

Back at the results I was amazed to hear there were three 20lb weights, one of these came from Bathampton bend by Bristol Bagger Leon Hubbard. I think it was the first time for 8 years skimmers have come from this peg. I wonder if they are starting to move into the bays in preparation for spawning?

Mark announced the team for the semi, and finally read my name out last (not sure if it was picked in that order!) so I was in. There were obviously some upset anglers who had been dropped and I can honestly say I don't blame them, there was little to choose between a lot of us. Anyway the Thatchers Preston team is :-

Mark Harper
Guy Manton
Mark Brennan
Andy Power
Gary O'Shea
Steve Tucker
Nicky Ewers
Nick Chedzoy
Nigel Evans
Tim Ford

There is an open match on the canal on Sunday at Limpley Stoke, it's being run by Kev Dicks if anyone is interested, I believe 40 are already booked in.

I'll leave you with this thought...

If you can keep catching fish when mountain bike handle bars pass within an inch of your £2,000 pole, if you can smile and say "lovely" when a dog deposits next to your net bag, if you can laugh when the same dog eats your slices of bread, if you can answer politely when the 92nd child asks "have you caught any fish mister?" and falls over your holdall, if you can put up with moored boats running their engine so that you feel as if you've smoked 100 roll ups at the end of five hours, if you can manage to keep your head when all those about you are losing theirs, then my son, you are a K&A Man!

Monday, 16 February 2009

More practice for the ATWL K&A semi-final 15/2/09

This was more like it, no frost for a couple of mornings and I notice a bit more daylight around! I was up at 6:30am keen to get to the draw early for a cooked breakfast, I was amazed at the amount of birds singing at this hour, perhaps spring is around the corner....

Well, that's the last breakfast I shall be having at the Beefeater, £8.22 for 2 pieces of toast, 1.5 sausages, 2 eggs, 2 rashers of bacon and a cup of coffee. What a price, and no beans! Back to the usual gaffs for breakfast, for lots more at a sensible price. Anyway, despite the wallet weighing lighter (and after paying for B&J and the £20 pools the wallet was anorexic) I was enjoying the company, with my old (very old) friend Dave "Diddly Bonk" Haines usual banter, and the dry wit of Glen Bailey, Eddie Wynne and Steve Hutchinson. These lads were not practising for the semi but taking advantage of a good open match. Once we'd got our B&J from Steve Tucker (and he provides fantastic quality bait week in week out) I was in the draw queue. I drew peg 36 which put me a few pegs short of Bathampton bend, Glen drew one past the bend on the exact same peg I had fished 2 weeks ago, and he was in my section. For company I had Steve Hutchinson on the right (spooky I drew so near these two!) and Thatchers team mate Nick Chedzoy on my left. Chedz was put out by the fact that Tony Rixon had asked me to pass on a message to him that he was c*ap! The canal was a horrid reddy brown colour ("cold tea mate" according to Guy Manton) and I was now very unsure as to how it would fish.

I started the match on the standard breadpunch approach and the float was unmoved for 5 or 6 minutes but then a 2oz roach put in an appearance. I was expecting the float to bury as soon as I went back in, but it took a few minutes to get another bite, but a 4oz skimmer was the result. This was the pattern, wait for bites but the fish were a good stamp, completely different from my last match. In the first hour, I had my best fish a 1 1/2lb skimmer which was a real bonus! I was still eeking out fish on the bread when disaster, I got double boated and never had another bite on the bread. From there on it was tough with very tiny roach on bloodworm, but I did manage to snare 2 more 8oz skimmers. I weighed 6lb 4oz which one the section, Glen was 2nd with 5lb 1oz but admitted he had struggled and had 2 big perch that would have been half this weight.

As it turned out the canal fished well and in particular the section from Darlington to Meadow Farm was great. Mark Harper had 6lb 4oz from peg 2 and he was last but one in the ten peg section! Thatchers had Andy Power 1st 16lb, Mark Brennan 2nd 13lb and Martin Barrett 4th 10lb. A great result for Andy who is showing that he has more strings to his bow than simply bagging carp! Again bread brought him decent skimmers as it did all of the framers, but I noted that Darren "I've drawn another flyer" Gillman also managed a good run of skimmers on bloodworm.

I hope the visiting teams enjoyed the sport on offer, there were some poor areas but overall the weights were good. Well done Vincent Lunn and Andy Britt on running a good match, it went smoothly and I'm looking forward to this Sunday, and for the 6th time of asking to draw a flyer!! How does Gillman do it?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

You need to get help when you're learning to fish!

Following on from my last post..

I was now taking part in my first ATWL match which was on the Bristol Avon around Limpley Stoke to Barton Farm (Bradford-on-Avon). I had no idea of the format or how to get to the venues, let alone the right methods! Lucky for me I was drawn at Barton Farm and this meant I could walk to my peg from the car park where the draw had taken place. I was told that it was hard and that a waggler across and groundbait feeder down the middle were the best tactics. So off I went following everyone else, excited and nervous as I did not want to have a bad result on my first team match. Halfway to my peg the carry strap on my wicker basket broke, but I managed to get to my peg by holding the end of the strap and the basket handle together. Two hours into the match and all I had were two pairs of lips, my zorro striking on my beachcaster float rod had pulled the lips off a couple of small roach. Onto the feeder and my white screw in quiver tip was bent double and I landed a 2 1/2lb bream!
During the match an angler walked past me and asked how I was doing, when I said I had a bream he replied "oh you've spawned a bream!". That was out of order I thought, I worked hard for that fish. It turned out this angler was Melvyn Holbrook of Bathampton (sadly passed away some years now) and he later told me my gear and clothes labelled me a "noddy". He won my section that day and when I asked him how he caught he told me everything. Melvyn was an absolutely brilliant river angler and a true gent, I watched and listened to him as often as I could.
I ended up about 7th in my 14 peg section as I recall, and was happy with that. On the walk back to my car the other end of my carry strap broke and I had to carry the wicker by hugging it, not easy!

In the same ATWL series that year I drew opposite the boathouse on the Bristol at Newbridge. The river was in flood and I was dreading it (nowadays I love it!) and I guess that was why I got to the draw late and missed the pools. Pegged either side of me were Jim Thomas and Pete Sivell (again I didn't know them then) and Jim walked out into the river which amazed me at first. Jim knew the peg well and knew that he could just walk out a couple of yards and then drop his feeder straight down into a deep slack. I fished the groundbait feeder all day, I had no worms, and only white maggots, the quiver tip was bent right round due to the flow and I didn't know how I would see a bite as there was a lot of rubbish hitting the line. But with about 30 minutes to go I saw, what seemed to me, a different movement in the tip and struck. I was into a very heavy fish and played it for about 5 minutes before it came off under the rod tip, I never even saw it and was absolutely gutted. I blanked. Jim Thomas won the match with 4lb and Pete Sivell had one gudgeon. Jim came up to me on the bank when the whistle went and said to me that by the look of the bend in the rod that the fish I lost would have beaten his weight. He also told me the rod I was using was all wrong, to short and pokey, and showed me the difference in the rod he was using. Two weeks later I bought a new feeder rod and a new float rod in the sales! Again another senior angler, Jim, had taken the time to help a young upstart like me, and the generosity of people like Melvyn and Jim was a real boost to me.

In my second season of the seniors I won my first match, at chequers straight from the cow drink peg. I had a few chublets on the waggler and some skimmers on the feeder for 13lb. I won £30 (nearly a weeks wages for me) and ran all the way home! I had now bought a Riva box and was gradually feeling the part.

I started to get a few pick ups and in 1987 I was picked for the Team Bristol Amalgamation Intermediate National side, although there were a few people unhappy with this I must thank Andy Britt for sticking with his decision. The match was on the river Trent and I had 7lb 8oz, this gave me 29 out of 35 points. I was the last person to be picked up by the minibus and as it rounded the corner they wound the window down and asked how I had done, when I told them they went berserk and started shouting and cheering! We'd done well then I guessed. Kev Winstone told me later that he said on the way to picking me up "if that Farmer has done bad were leaving him behind!" The tension at the results was unbearable and we were all pacing around and feeling sick, the organiser kept us guessing as to the result right to the end, but we won it by 1 point from the odds on favourites Derby A. I can honestly say this was an amazing day and felt brilliant and we did celebrate a bit. The photo above is of the wining team; from back left Martyn "Woody" Woodington, Mark "logger" Bailey, Kev "Rock" Winstone, Andy "Gob" Floyd, Roger Amos (manager), Mark Holbrook, Paul Benson, Andy Britt and yours truly. Here's the article from the Anglers Mail which was my first appearance in a weekly magazine.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

It's too cold for fishing for me!

As I'm not as mad as I used to be I decided not to bother this weekend, mind you just getting out of my road (ice rink) would have taken an effort! So I guess today might be a good time to reminisce, and as I have often been asked how I started fishing that's what I'll explain.
I grew up living on a small farm which had a small brook behind it that flowed into the Bristol Avon which was some 500 yards away. At an early age I was always digging around in the stream with a pond net, stone loach, bullheads, elvers and would you believe flounders were the main species I'd catch. Around the age of 11 of was given one of those "catalogue" 6ft blue rods and an intrepid reel, I was now able to hook fish for the first time. The pet shop in Keynsham was where I'd get most of my terminal tackle plus loads of hand me down floats. I used to go to the river with mates from school and I guess we spend a lot of time ledgering and would catch eels and odd gudgeon but not much else. I had read basic books about fishing so understood how to rig up and what species looked like, but I had no idea about tactics for them.

It was probably when I was about 14 that I was given a 14ft rod (later nicknamed the beachcaster!) which meant I could finally cast further distances. A couple of my class mates were getting better at fishing and a neighbour was taking them fishing and invited me along. This was a fun time and I started reading the Angling Times which was giving me more info on floats and shotting patterns. I still knew very little but I was now catching more species, even the occasional bream at Jack Whites. Bitterwell Lake gave me my first Tench on ledgered cheese and I started to go here more and more. I couldn't play fish and so when I hooked a carp always lost it as I just hung on for dear life! But watching those around me bag up I learned, and eventually I landed my first carp at 6lb (off the road bank on an onion float on the edge of the lillies).

I was getting to like this and was visiting more venues all the time which really excited me. Around 16 I joined the Silver Dace juniors and then realised how little I knew! Mixing with anglers such as Mark Holbrook and Clayton Hudson I got battered but learned loads. I had bought a ledgering rod (with screw in quiver tip) so I could set up 2 rods in the matches, but I never did any good although I did get to catch a lot of fish, but during this year I improved tremendously.

I then had to move up to the Sliver Dace Seniors and was again getting battered, all the matches back then were on the Bristol Avon and I was pleasure fishing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights to learn more. I was still fishing with my mates and as there was a close season we used to travel Exeter to fish Upham Farm and Hogsbrook Lakes. Hogsbrook was much harder but more picturesque, here's a picture of a mirror carp I caught, just look at the clothes!

At this stage I was entering matches with a wicker basket, and the two previously mentioned rods. Nothing wrong with that I thought but I got some serious stick from the other lads about it, trouble was I didn't have enough money to buy anymore gear so I just carried on. It was then I was picked for the Silver Dace B team for the Angling Times Winter League and I was now seeing top local anglers for the first time and once again seeing a different level in the sport.

I'll talk about how things went from here another time, and how I eventually won some coin!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Bathampton AA Open Match on the K&A

It was only the fact that the K&A has been in good form that I was able to summon up the necessary enthusiam to get out of bed at 6:30am on Sunday morning. The weather forecast was for a very cold day with Siberian winds not conducive to sitting on the bank! Still a decent breakfast in the White Lion set me up and as I stuck my mit in the drawbag. First peg just past Bathampton bend on the George section was not good, but I was encouraged by a number of people who reckoned I'd catch a few.

It was going to be difficult to win any coin as in my 10 peg section there were 3 end pegs, with team mate Nicky Ewers (oh look I've drawn another canal flier) on end peg 1 I knew I would need some luck.

For once I was ready to start on time and was keeping everything crossed when I lowered my bread punch in., but after a couple of minutes down went the float. I was getting a bite every cast from roach but they were half ounce at best with only the very odd ouncer. I was missing a few bites on the large punch (trying for a bonus) so I had to reduce the size of punch and get my head down. I caught for about 2 hours on the punch before it completely died and a look on the chopped worm rig brought 1 tiny perch. So I picked up the bloodworm rig and fishing at the bottom of the shelf I was into the same size roach as on the punch! I tried a couple of times for a big perch but it didn't happen. I ended with around 130 fish for 4lb 1oz, that was only good enough for 5th in the section. I probably had as many fish as anyone else but just not enough quality. I used 0.6gm Sensas Auchy for the punch, with a 20B511 to 0.06. On the bloodworm 0.4gm wire bristle / wire stem was best.

Nicky won the section and was 3rd in the match with 8lb+ of bread fish, whilst another team mate Gary O'Shea won it with 13lb. Gary had about 5lb of roach, but 8lb of big perch. There were some very poor sections on the day and so I felt fortunate to have had bites all day which kept me busy and feeling warm!