Monday, 30 March 2009

Cider with Rosie

It was a drag getting up Sunday morning after losing an hour for the clocks going forward, but the Sun was shining and I was off to Cider Farm Lakes for my first visit in a year. Cider Farm had some problems last year, but give fishery owner Mark Gibson his due he has worked hard and seems to have put the problems behind him. He has also listened to some anglers ideas (moans really) as you've now got an hour and a half to set up and the match itself is 6 hours long.

I was grateful to Paul Haines for giving me a lift, the last time I travelled with Paul I gave him a lift to Fishponds House many years ago. I was a bit of an aggressive driver back then and Paul was trying to find somebody to give him a lift home because he didn't feel very safe as my passenger! I've since been on a defensive driving course and looking back realise I was lucky not to have had a serious accident when I was younger.

For the match today we were on Yarlington lake, a sort of snake venue with lots of twists turns, gaps and islands. This design has tended to make some pegs much better than others, but generally even if you are not on the best pegs you can usually catch a few. Paul drew 25 which put him on a gap and the reeds on either side of the gap were alive with fish, I thought he had a chance. I had drawn 58, but wasn't to chuffed with this as I have drawn this peg before and been off the pace. Talking to many anglers it seemed most fish had been caught from the bottom of the shelf, but I thought the fish would also be up the shelf as the sun warmed the water. I set up rigs for both up and down the shelf and the inside line, I used 0.14 as hooklength to 0.16 main line throughout, except on paste rigs I used 0.16 straight thru. The angler to my right on peg 2 told me he had won the last 3 club matches he had fished on this lake with paste, with 75lb being his best weight. Although he wasn't on a gap he had 5ft of water within 6inches of the far bank reeds, I had to come about 4ft away to get to the bottom of the shelf. I fed here at the start, on top the shelf and 5mtrs to my right down the inside.

I had a 3lb carp first chuck on the deep line and a small carp next chuck, then no bites! I went across and had no bites, and none down the inside, back to the deep line and then I had a couple more. After an hour I had 5 fish, the lad to my right had 14 on his paste and was hammering me! During the next two hours I managed to pick off the odd fish from the deep line and the inside, but it was very slow, and I could see the angler on peg 14 bagging! The lad to my right had stopped catching and went for a walk, despite having about 30lb in his net, the sun was very bright now and I was now getting no bites at all. The sun had gone over far enough that I had a bit of shade across, so I plumbed this area and fed a bit of pellet and sweetcorn. I was going to fish sweetcorn because there was no real shelf here and using this bait would sink the bristle of my 4x10 float if I was not in the right place. After 10 mins I tried this spot, and when I put the rig in two fish spooked and swirled! The next two hours I took fish steadily, it wasn't manic but steady and I was clawing myself back. With 30 mins to go this area had died, despite me resting it a couple of times by catching the odd fish down the inside, and the other far bank line never produced a bite. So I stayed on the inside with paste and took 2 more fish in the last 10 mins for about 4lb, they were handy!

I weighed 48lb 1oz, and was informed this was good enough for a section win... by double default! 1st and 2nd overall had come from my section (miles away though!) on pegs 49 and 46 respectively. The lad to my right weighed 38lb, let that be a lesson to you! I never really felt I had a lot of fish in front of me, and most of the top weights came from the other end of the fishery, I think I came 7th in the end.

Brian Slipper (pictured below) won by catching all bar 4 fish down the inside to right and left, while the angler 2nd had caught all his fish on top the far shelf.

Poor old Paul had only caught 5 carp, and was convinced the carp were around the other side of the gap, the weights from that side would seem to reflect that. But overall the average weight per angler was 46lb, and most people had a days fishing.

A nice bottle of Dabinett Cider in the sun finished off a great day, and I'll think I'll be back again to visit Cider Farm if the fishing continues as it is.

Sedges delight

I had to be a taxi service last Friday, all the way to Bishops Lydeard, so decided to pleasure fish the Sedges. A quick email to full time commercial venue angler Mike Nicholls gave me all the info I needed. I was amazed when I arrived, the venue had changed a great deal since the last time I'd fished there in 2007. It looked very tidy and well laid out with many improvements, such as hardcore roads, use of fishery nets and lots more fish! I set up on peg 27 on tile lake which was not to badly affected by the wind and rain, but I still needed a 0.75g float to keep steady presentation.

I decided to only fish about 8mtrs out to combat the wind, and went for an all out pellet approach as Mike had suggested. I started feeding micro pellet and a few 4mm pellets, with soft pellet on the hook (18 B911). It wasn't long before I was into stockie carp of 8oz to 2lb, and I was getting a bite a chuck. I then only fed the 4mm pellets and dropped in about 20 every other fish, this worked well for about 4 hours. I then tried cupping in a decent amount of micros and within 10 minutes of doing so I had taken 3 bream from 2 to 3lbs and then did battle with a lump! On 0.12mm line this was fun, but eventually I landed an 11lb mirror. I estimated that at the end of 5 hours I had 70lb of stockies, 12lb of skimmers/bream and that lump for about 90lb.

I have to say this was a fabulous day, getting bites, but having to work out the best feeding pattern and fight the elements for presentation, all made for a lot of satisfaction. I just wish this place was nearer as I always seem to do well here, my first 3 matches I fished on brick lake a few years ago, gave me 3 wins and weights all over 100lb (best 178lb which included 50lb of skimmers). When's the next match here anyone?

Saturday, 14 March 2009


I have to make an apology about my last post, as I feel I was biased towards one of the teams taking part. So please let me say sorry to the Garbolino team, I omitted to say well down lads on a good performance, even if you did draw flyers in the first four sections! A fine bit of canal fishing, well you have got a lot of bread heads in the team....

Chavey, thanks for your comments, and, as you asked, yes I can confirm BATHAMPTON CAME LAST ON THEIR OWN WATER IN THE ATWL!

I'm not fishing this weekend which means I'm going to miss the last day on the river, and what I expect to be a decent match up at Newbridge. My team Nige Evans rang me for some advice and I said take one feeder rod if you want to win it! Seriously I'd take a float rod too, because if you've not drawn on bream you might as well get a days fishing in. Apparently 50lb won the Wednesday match off peg 39, this was bream on the feeder and was taken by river expert Derek Coles.

I've heard some strange rumours this week, firstly that Drennan have pulled out of sponsoring the Super League, so not sure what will happen now. More disturbing is that Mike Nicholls is in fact a NINJA TURTLE ! Apparently old "Senile" (as Ian Spriggs affectionately named Mike) was fishing at Avalon Wednesday just gone (see his blog) and whilst trying to sit down mistook his net bag box for his seat box! According to sources (lets just say Avon Angling) Mike then became trapped and his arms and legs were flailing around as he became wedge in his box and couldn't move. As he got onto his side the box was still wedged to his back, like a shell on a Ninja Turtle! Mike, perhaps you could recreate this situation, film it and put it on your blog, could also be £250 on you've been framed!

Took a quick walk down Conham yesterday, only a couple of anglers there, one had a couple of bream and lots of roach, the other was stalking and had taken 6 chub and a couple of bream. It was here that a story was relayed to me about an old friend that I haven't seen for a while, names have been changed to protect the dozy twonks! It was Xmas day and Ken (Dad) and Martin (Son) had had plenty of Xmas Cheer and whilst mum was asleep and everyone was relaxing after the turkey they heard a noise that sounded like gas! They searched high and low for 2 hours and could not find the source of the gas leak, they could hear it but not smell it (hmmm) so eventually called the Gas Man! One very grumpy Gas engineer turns up on Xmas day and starts to look for the leak, eventually he recognises that the noise only can be heard when Martin is in the room.... A quick search of Martin reveals a small transistor radio (Xmas present) in his pocket which was not tuned in making a hissing noise!!!!! One very very grumpy Gas engineer told him where to shove the radio and went back to his family !

Monday, 9 March 2009

ATWL Semi-Final K&A Canal

Well the match arrived and we were greeted by a lovely still bright sunny morning, no sign of the squally showers the weatherman was forecasting. Talk was of a good match as the canal was holding a lot of colour and the team thought skimmers would show. Gary O'Shea was our drawbag, but he only had the choice of two pegs, the last being left in the bag for Bathampton. (Apparently the draw was done in order of the teams who had paid their pools to Angling Times first!) The draw didn't look a bad one for us and we thought we had most anglers in the right end of their section. My draw was 2nd peg past the swingbridge which is up past Bathampton bend, a nice walk! The first peg is a flyer, being an end peg and having boats moored opposite, but my peg had produced a 12lb for Vince Lunn about a month ago in a Commercial House, he had caught mainly hand sized skimmers on bread close in. I better mention at this point, to get it out of the way that BATHAMPTON DREW LAST AND CAME LAST !!!!! Bad luck Darren.

I was slightly concerned that there was chopped / sawn wood and lots of sawdust on the ground next to me, and as I was setting up the boat owner returned from shopping. He informed me he was moving off shortly, and started to load up his boat with the wood and all the other bits boaters have, then about 20 mins before the start reversed out of the peg never to return. I wasn't to concerned about this as I felt the fish must be used to the commotion, but I had in effect lost a feature as many many boats are moored on your bankside these days.

Start of the match and in on the bread, a top set plus 2 sections put me just at the bottom of the shelf. I was on my usual 0.6gm Sensas Auchy float, 20 B511 an 0.07mm line. 15 mins in and the float finally went under and a 2oz roach was netted. Another 5 mins and a 4oz roach was netted and then a boat went through. By the end of the first hour I'd managed 7 roach and 1 skimmer for 1.5lb. The bread line was dead and I had already had to refeed it to get a couple of those fish so it was not a great start. Paul Barnfield told me that 4 people had got straight into skimmers but I was level with the other 3 people. OK onto my other lines, I had a quick look on the caster and took a small roach, but then no more, so onto the bloodworm rigs. It was weird, drop in catch a small skimmer first chuck, a couple of small perch / roach then dead, onto the other line and the same. I then could not get a bite, of any of my lines, I looked back on the bread line a few more times but never had another bite. I took a few small perch from the boat on my inside right, but that also died. 2 hours to go and I was reckoned to be last in section. The angler on the first peg had struggled but once he went over to the moored boats with caster hit decent fish. All the tricks I had learned were not working for me, so I put some bread across the canal and hoped for a few fish, I eventually eeked out 7 roach from this line, which was at least a few bites. By now my hands were frozen after the hail and getting bait on the hook was tricky. I sat it out last 45 mins for big fish as I knew I was behind, none came but the odd small perch impaled itself.

I was fearing the worst as the scales arrived, and even though my close friend Glenn Bailey was on the scales I knew I could not expect any favours, not that I wanted them of course! 3lb 13oz was one of my lowest weights on the canal all winter, but a bit more than I thought I had caught. Glenn told me I had beaten 2 anglers who had weighed 3lb 6oz and 3lb 8oz (so the run of bread fish across was crucial) the Bathampton angler had beaten me by 1.5 oz, but the next weight was 6lb 15oz. 10lb odd won the section from 2 pegs to my left, he had caught all hand size skimmers on the bread in close, looked to me as if the fish Vince had caught a month ago had moved, well they have got fins!

I was not happy, but I could also consider myself lucky as I had not lost or broken any sections, though my no3 and no4 section was just saved by grabbing the end as it disappeared out of sight! There was a catalogue of broken and lost sections, Darren Gillman broke his no5 before the match started, and a lad in the next section lost everything up to the no7 section when the wind blew his pole into the boat moored next to him and CRACK!

Back at the results and only myself and Steve Tucker had poor points, with some very good performances. Andy Power stands out again, winning his section from a fair section at the George. We had four section 2nds to back this up and it turned out to be crucial as we tied for 2nd with Diawa Gordon League but beat them on section count back. So we're off to the Nene... um... hooray.... (Surely there's a venue with more fish in it for a big final?) I was happy, but disappointed by my own lack of contribution to the team points effort, still I could console myself that BATHAMPTON HAD COME LAST ON THEIR OWN WATER!

Here's a picture of a happy Thatchers Team!

The canal had fished well again with two 20lbs, and 12lb+ needed for 6th. The skimmers had fed but weren't in every peg, my section showed this and you can look a real fool when you don't catch them! Bread certainly catches some decent fish, but caster and bloodworm can too and with the colour groundbait was also working for some. The team plan had worked for most, bread inside then bloodworm/caster across, but there was also a few who had to adapt, Mark Harpers peg was so windy he could not fish further out than 4mtrs, he still managed 2nd in section with 8lb+ but it was a framing peg under normal conditions. All in all it was job well done, oh did I mention BATHAMPTON CAME LAST, ON THEIR OWN WATER! After the match there was no sign of Bathampton captain Kev dicks, but Lee Trivett and Shaun Townsend stayed in the bar and took all the stick with good nature, fair play to you two.

Here are the full results, thanks to Vinny for this. Vinny is the son of Nicky Lunn who is married to that fat bloke Mike Goodhind. (Told you I'd put you in my blog Mike!)

1) Jason Mills (Garbolino Blackmore Vale MG) 26 lbs 4 oz
2) Vince Camilleri (Fox Match Arun) 24 lbs 1 oz
3) Martin Price (Daiwa Gordon League) 16 lbs 13 oz
4) Richard Chave (Garbolino Blackmore Vale MG)15 lbs 12 oz
5) Kev Rowles (Devizes) 14 lbs 3 oz
6)= Andy Berntsen (Garbolino Blackmore Vale MG)
& Gary O'Shea (Preston Innovations Thatchers) 12 lbs 6 oz

1) Garbolino Blackmore Vale MG 30
2) Preston Innovations Thatchers 33
3) Daiwa Gordon League 33
4) Fox Match Arun 43
5) Guildford Angling Centre 49
6) Devizes 55
7) Spro Dorset Raiders 56
8) Sensas Bathampton Avon Aquatics 61

A big thanks to the organisers (Vinny and Andy Britt) and to all the hardy section stewards who stayed on the towpath in terrible conditions. However, it should be noted that a number of them absconded to the George pub to "warm their hands", Dave Haines and Richard Lacey both were rather merry after the match!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

It's been very hard work all this practising for the ATWL semi, but I have to say I've learnt loads more about canal fishing being part of the PI Thatchers team. You kind of get to the stage where you just want the match to arrive and get on with it!

Some people don't like team fishing because of the commitment you have to give and prefer to do their own thing. Each to his own of course, but over the years I've learnt loads and had some great laughs being part of a team. The first team I fished for was Silver Dace, as I've mentioned before, but later I joined a team called "Bristol Amalgamation" which was formed mainly out of Silver Dace anglers. There were so many anglers around then we had an "A" and a "B" team. The team had a manager called Roger Amos (who passed away some years ago) and although he came across as a bit of a mess and wasn't the best angler in Bristol he decided to bring a young bunch of anglers together to try and take on the might of Bathampton. Bathampton won the South West ATWL every year and had top class anglers that took the river apart. This was no easy task for Roger!

At this stage Roger took me to one side and asked me to fish for the A side, he said he'd rather me come into the A side and mix with the better anglers. This meant I would not likely get picked to fish many matches, but Roger reckoned I would benefit more than fishing every match for the B team. I made the decision to go along with Roger and be part of the A team, and began a season of "running". Coming into the ATWL I was not expecting to be picked, and spent the first 5 rounds running. I learnt so much; I saw anglers fishing methods properly, and when I asked questions most of them answered freely. In particular I remember watching Martin Barrett (now a team mate) fishing a waggler on Newbridge straight, I think I sat behind him for an hour, and although he won't remember it now, he virtually talked me through everything he did and why he did it. I'm not afraid to say I copied what Martin did and made it work for me, and I still love fishing the waggler to this day, developing shotting and feeding patterns as the river changes is key!

The other thing I learned when watching these matches was what species dominated in certain pegs, and the methods used in certain conditions. It was actually a brilliant platform for me to learn about the Bristol Avon, and Roger Amos helped me tremendously by putting me into this situation. I do remember though some people criticising me for not actually fishing, but I was fishing Saturdays so was not going without my fix! Coming to the sixth and final round of the ATWL Bathampton were a fair way in front, but for my dedication Roger picked me for the team and all the other lads supported this. I was dead nervous though on the morning of the match, but i needn't have been... after some heated debate the match was called off for being to dangerous due to being bank high in flood. With no reserve venue that was it, the league was over and my chance was gone, more importantly bleedin Bathampton had won the league again!

The main members of the team at this stage were joined by Bob Sheppard, Kevin Boltz and Paul Lumbard, who was a bit of an upstart. Bob said Paul was a bad angler and didn't agree with him being in the team! (Not like Bob to upset other anglers!) With more anglers joining the squad competition for places was harder, but it also meant we had a bit more info coming into the squad, you have to remember that up to this point our average age was about 21 so we had no experience in the squad. Well, there was plenty of "drinking" experience, Roger was your man for gallon or two and his best buddy Mike Ainger tucked a bottle of Bacardi away with ease! In fact I was definitely off the pace! I often found myself in bad situations, I mean somehow getting in a round with these guys, and then finding myself waking up over a toilet.... In those days the team couldn't function without a hangover, and I think that us being drunken "young uns" started to get up the noses of the more refined Bathampton gents. But whilst we were having loads of fun and may have come across as unprofessional, we were absolutely determined to win the S/W ATWL come what may!

As well as the teams ambition, I had two personal targets I wanted to acheive (dreams) 1) To win a round of the ATWL, 2) To win the Poppy match which was then a 200 pegger. Going into the 1988 season would I be able to realise my dreams? Could I even get picked to fish?

Sunday, 1 March 2009

What a day on the K&A - NOT!

I was thinking I should have been on the river this weekend, but with ATWL semi-final next weekend I thought I'd better get on the canal again. Oh boy did I make the wrong decision!

Kevin Dicks was running this open, and with 45 pegs spread from the disabled stretch, Limpley and down to Diggers there was plenty of space for all, for some loads! I drew 44 one off the end peg down at Diggers (just bast the wide bay peg) for company I had Nicky Goodhind on the end peg, and Nicky Ewers in the bay. The canal was painfully clear here and I could see 3ft down, where had all the colour gone from last week? The level was also down by about 1ft, and dropped some more during the day, is there a leak? It didn't look for me, but I was cheered up by Frys supremo Nigel Wyatt who told me he had 20lb a few pegs away on Friday. However, my instincts were right and after 30 minutes on the bread I was without a bite. I had to go onto bloodworm far ealier than expected, but again was without a bite until I went across the canal next to a moored boat. I took a few perch from two swims, before the first boat of the day coloured the canal up. I returned across the canal and it took 10 minutes to get a bite, then the fun started! First the breakfast washing up water went into my peg about 2ft from float (this happened at least 6 times during the match) then the owner of the boat then went walkabout and was literally inches from my float, more boats passed up and down sending plumes of mud into the swim. The boat moored just downstream of me moved off and did some more damage, then the owner opposite stated his engine...

After 2 hours I had managed just 15 perch, Nicky G had 2 small fish and Nicky Ewers a bit more than me. I then heard that Thatchers team mate Guy Manton was catching in the basin by the aqueduct, so myself and Mr Ewers went to watch him. At this stage Guy was admitting to 15lb and losing 25lb off the hook, he had already won the match! In 20 minutes I saw him land 5 skimmers / bream and lose 4. There were bubbles coming up and his float was being dragged about by the amount of fish! We tried to give Guy some advice (I think he would call it winding him up) but he didn't listen to a word we said!

I came back to my peg from the walk and just before I went in on my primed lines (I'd fed before I went for a walk) a very large barge with a learner driver zig zagged through my peg and that was the straw that broke the camels back for me!

Guy ended the match match with a new match record weight of 46lbs and had probably lost nearly the same. Fair play ! Guy fed jokers and casters, but I think realistically a lot of methods would have worked. Closely following the winner in 2nd place (ahem) was Richard (Lace the Ace) Lacey with 7lb 8oz. Also well done to Dave Haines who won his section from end peg 1, that must have been his first pick up for 10 years!

To be fair the canal had fished poor for most, with some anglers struggling for ounces and many packing up early, including me! Fish were tightly shoaled today I hope they are more spread out on the semi next week.
I heard later that 58lb of Chub had won a match on the Bristol Avon at Kelston, and a similar weight at the Crane stretch, arrgh!

Heard as I walked back to my peg "I don't know why they have such long poles, why don't they go round the other side and fish with short rods." I wonder why...