Monday, 29 June 2009

Avon Angling Open Sedges Tile Lake

I had offered a lift to Martin Alexander and so it was I found myself picking up the retired builder. It was easy to load the car as you have to use Sedges nets, also means a clean smelling journey home!

Our arrival at the venue was well in time and I immediately saw that Brick lake was alive with fish, but Tile lake in comparison was very still. Another group of Bristol anglers were fishing Brick Lake and they turned out to be useful. When I drew my peg (34) I was disappointed to find out that I had no island chuck as I felt a feature would be needed to win. Mike Nicholls drew the favoured peg 21 and Tony Rixon and Phil Harding were apparently the right end of the lake and both on island chucks. As I was setting up, Jerry Pocock plonked his gear on the peg behind me on brick lake, he told me that in his opinion I could not win from this end of the lake as the carp were smaller. This was confirmed by Sean Townsend who suggested I start shallow on the pole as he had never failed to catch a carp first cast like this! I set up paste and pellet rigs for the pole and although no island I still set up a pellet wag as there were a few carp moving a long way out. I decided not to bother with caster and hoped the carp would play ball, I reasoned there were 4 prizes for overall and only 2 for silvers which Darren Gillman and Mike Nicholls would go all out for.

First 10 mins shallow on the pole and nothing, thanks Sean! Onto the deep rigs and no bites on either pellet or paste, not an encouraging start. I had been pinging out 8mm pellets so I picked up the pellet wag and was praying that it went under, luckily for me it did. By the end of the first hour I reckoned I had 12lb, a couple of decent carp and 3 small ones, but then it got tricky. Bites were harder to get and the fish were averaging a pound, but I was loosing as many as I was landing. For what ever reason they just kept coming off the hook, I tried various hook sizes, patterns, different length hairs all to no avail. The only thing I did notice was that I landed many fish hooked outside the mouth, so I guess this was the issue ( I went deeper to but that just resulted in proper foul hookers!).

I tried the pole on two more occasions, but only had one bite, the only thing it did was to rest the wag line. The last hour was the best and I was getting regular bites but still only small carp, but at least I was getting a days sport. I found it best to feed only 4 or 5 8mm pellets at a time, as the fish were small and lethargic for most of the day any more feed just meant less bites. At the end I'd landed 33 carp for 48lb 4oz for 4th in the match. I was pleased with this when I looked at the results, the two anglers to my left and two to my right never weighed in. The top 3 were all at the other end of the lake and had much bigger carp than me, up to 12lb. As expected Darren and Mike were 1st and 2nd in the silvers but Mike was 3rd overall too. The full list of results can be seen on Mike Nicholls blog (first time we've both fished the same match for a while and so I might as well take advantage of his handy work!) but suffice to say the top two caught on the pellet wag.

As I thought Brick lake fished much better, and although I didn't see the whole weigh in (they started later than my match) Bob Sheppard had 101lb from 13, and on the opposite bank there were 3 anglers all admitting to 70lb+. Jerry Pocock reckoned he might have 30lb, he had a lot of skimmers and bream at 4 mtrs on worm and caster and all the anglers had big fizzes over their feed, something I never had!

I just read that there were seven 100lb+ weights at Cider Farm on Sunday and a new record of 175lb. Every time I go there it never fishes this well, fishery owner Mark Gibson reckons that's because the fish are scared of me, because of what I do to the wildlife (reed warbler murdering).....

Monday, 22 June 2009

The population of Reed Warblers reduces by one!

It was certainly noticeable that Sunday was the longest day of the year, I keep waking up earlier and earlier at the moment and struggle to get back to sleep, so I was at the draw in plenty of time. Scanning the list of entries I could see half the Thyers team were present, as was "young un" Lewis Jones and Dave Roper (not the Dave Roper, but another excellent angler).

I felt the venue owed me a good peg and there was no complaint when I pulled out 14, this used to be "THE" peg but 46 and 41 have since taken over this mantra. I noted that Lewis Jones had peg 4 (no one pegged 7 pegs to his right 5 pegs to his left!), Lance Tucker peg 36 and his team mate Nick Harvey opposite on 37 (reed bay for both) and to top it all off Dave Roper had 46... all these regulars on decent pegs.. this was going to be tough so I could not take it easy.

I set up a deep paste rig, up the shelf pellet and paste rigs, a shallow pellet rig and even a pellet wag were for the open water in front of me. The reason for the wag was that the wind was not nice and as I thought I'd catch shallow this might help. I decided to start on the deep paste rig giving the other swims time time to settle. Unfortunately it was a slow start, and 20 mins on the paste with just a couple of liners meant I was up the shelf quicker than expected. This yielded 1 carp and 1 foulhooker and was my sum total after an hour, mind you Gary Cross next to me on 13 had 1 skimmer! I decided to look shallow out at 16 mtrs and took a couple of carp but the wind was hampering me. The pellet wag took another 2 carp but the fish drifted off. Trying the other lines was no good but dropping back on the pellet wag saw another 3 fish before they went again. I knew the venue was not fishing really well but I knew I was not catching well enough to do well. However, my perseverance feeding up the shelf next to the island paid off with 2 hours to go, it wasn't mad but I was now getting bites on paste. The fish were smaller than I expected but I was netting regularly and stuck with it. I was feeding 4mm pellet and using Thatchers green groundbait as paste, a cut down big H float with 0.16 to a 12 B711 barbless with no shot did the business.

I weighed 62lb 2oz, and was not expecting to win any coin based on recent results. Gary Cross next to me DNW and the lad on 17 had 40lb. As expected Dave Roper won with just over 100lb, all his fish on paste some deep some up the shelf, Lewis came 2nd (pleasure fishing) with 79lb paste deep, Lance Tucker did me for 3rd with 63lb 12oz. So I managed to win my section and a £25 pick up, but once again at this venue I had too long a dead spell which cost me. I think my main mistake was thinking I would bag catching shallow, If I had potted in and fished paste deep further out then maybe I could have had a few more carp in the first couple of hours. So really this day summed up what I had said in my previous blog, it is hard to beat the venue regulars, I need to make better decisions.

One thing did happen to me today which has never happened to me before when fishing, I killed a bird! On one of my strikes on the pellet wag (yes I missed the bite) my rod hit a reed warbler in flight! I never even saw it happen, just heard and felt the whack on the rod, well what are the chances of that happening! The reed warbler didn't warble one bit after that, and I watched it float away on the surface drift. I told fishery owner Mark Gibson of this incident, and he called me a murderer, ahem Mark, pot calling the kettle black.... mink?

The Thyers lads advised me that they were not going to fish the Superleague next year if Porth was in. I think I have to agree the place fishes harder every year, and after 6 weeks of festivals you can understand why. So they fancy getting Cider Farm on the venue list, there are 5 lakes here and 8 sections could be easily accommodated with plenty of room for all. As Lance pointed out Thyers are the team living nearest to Porth so if they don't want to bother why should anyone else! Gets my vote.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Getting older gets you thinking

It doesn't seem that long ago that I remember being called a young pretender by Topper Haskins. You don't like that stuff when you're young because you just don't understand, until you have experience (age) you don't know what experience gives you. As a young un you can be bold, brash, and go for it knowing if you mess up nobody will take the mick as your still learning. If top anglers such as Des Shipp or Tony Rixon have a bad day they know they will get some stick, but take it in good heart of course!

Why am I saying this? Well looking at some recent results got me thinking... Jamie Dyte is a young un currently taking Cider Farm lakes apart, and 17 yr old Lewis Jones has the Match record at the venues Yarlington Mill lake with 155lb! Andy Powers who is a Thatchers team mate, already made his name winning many matches at Viaduct fishery and other commercial venues, now he has qualified for the Fish'O'Mania final! These lads are at an age where they have a fantastic future ahead of them (if they can safely steer through the booze and birds phase) as they are "growing up" on commercial fisheries which are now the life blood of match angling. They've got good performances under the belts and as they get more "experience" could become the future top South West anglers. (Of course there are many other good young uns out there, these are just some recent examples.)

Lewis Jones with part of his Match record catch at Cider Farm Lakes

So what about me, how does it feel taking on a young un and getting your ar5e kicked.. not nice. How can they beat me with my 25 years "experience"! Well really it's partly my fault, but also how fishing has changed. As you may know from my posts, I grew up on rivers, I spent hours and hours on them learning all the time to the point where generally I just know what is happening when I'm fishing the river (you still learn, but there's a natural ability). But river fishing is limited now, and the majority of events and big competitions are all on commercials. So my skills are not fully utilised, fishing paste and how to feed it seems almost alien to inching a stick float down a peg. But I spend my spring and summer fishing commercials and give it my best shot, and I'm always learning!

But.... Now in my 40's with a busy job and a family I have not got the time I had when I was "young free and single", so preparation and time on the bank are limited. Plus I still have to get my fix on rivers and canals so I am not totally focused on commercials. Personally I find it hard to go to the same venue week in week out, I like variety, but this is another weakness, as venue regulars know the fishery moods and have a head start. Successful commercial fishery anglers like Tony Rixon and Mike Nicholls now only fish commercials and made the move away from being river anglers some time ago. Their results show they did the right thing and they love what they do, but for me the thought of not having to look forward to a river session is not possible.

Perhaps when I'm older and the river banks are to steep for me I will be settled in to commercials only. But for now I'll stick to my way, and relish the challenge of taking on the young uns and the experts, and if I get a bit of coin it will be even sweeter! Off to Cider Farm Sunday.....

Saturday, 13 June 2009

More memories of 1989

My next team match after the Frome minnow incident saw me at Newbridge for the Sundridge Super League, this was in the days before it was permanently pegged but I guess I was on about peg 38. All thoughts of bream fishing were out as in July they mainly showed in the bream hole and nowhere else. I fished a waggler 3/4 of the way across the river with very light shotting down the line (3no8, 2no8 and 1 no9) with a 20 B520 to 1.7lb bayer, and loosefed hemp and maggot. I started at 12ft deep and the first hour was very slow with no more than a 1lb in the net, but gradually bites started coming and I was steadily catching small roach and skimmers. I remember Leon Hubbard was below me and he was catching less but mainly chublets and it was close between us all day. During the match I had to shallow up as the fish rose in the water, by the end I was 6ft deep catching the same fish. I won the section and came 5th overall with a pick up of £75, the team won on the day. I felt I'd fished a good match, and afterwards I had a compliment from Glenn Bailey, he said his brother Mark (who'd ran the bank) said I looked the best angler fishing the float on the day, he didn't mean mean my looks he meant my style! You try not to let things like that go to your head, but you can't help feeling chuffed can you!

At the end of July I went on holiday for a week to fish the river Teme for barbel, Kev Boltz had organised this and Bob Tiley was also there. Our Farm cottage was a short walk away from the local pub and the first night there the bar did not close until 1am! This was my first taste of barbel fishing and boy was I in fir a shock, I had to borrow some 8lb maxima as I was getting snapped on 6lb maxima regularly. On the first day I hooked 16 barbel and only landed 6, I even got snapped twice on the 8lb line direct! We also found a carp lake called Evesbatch which was day ticket, there were only a couple of pegs left but we caught 60lb to 80lb on wag an maggot, fishing it the then "St Georges Park" way.

When I returned from holiday I was to run the bank for the team in the next round of the DFDS. We had drawn away to Icemech and knowing they could not beat us on the river they took us instead to the K&A canal at Meadow Farm. It was a great day, I arrived in the battle bus with Lombard, Kev Winstone etc with "Star Trekking" blasting out on full volume and some of the other lads had painted their faces in blue and yellow quarters! We were up for it, but Icemech had some tidy canal anglers like Steve Hutchinson and a certain Tony Rixon fishing for them (he was a curly haired lad then). All through the day it was nip and tuck, with odd eels being caught that made a difference. I had the job of weighing in and the very last angler to weigh in was Kev Winstone who thought he had 3lb. As I got to him we need 3lb to tie (remember it was on weight) and as I lifted up the scales I was nearly knocked in the canal as 16 anglers strained to see the dial... 2lb 12oz and we'd lost by 4oz. Gutted or what. We decided the only way to get over this was to get smashed but of course back then no pubs or off licences were open on a Sunday afternoon. Luckily we found an obliging Asian shop owner who at the sight of £50 cash decided he would sell us some booze, result! We took this lot to Keynsham picnic area and stayed a fair while. I shall never forget Dave Haines trying to catch dace on a whip whilst various lads (I remember Paul Bense was one of them) jumped off county bridge to land within feet of his swim, and he tried to carry on fishing! Late on we decided to have a game of football, bad idea with loads of beer on board. It turned into a game of kick the shi5e out of the opposition, I was on the lightweight side and as we were running rings round the lardy boys they proceeded to take lumps out of us. It got slightly out of hand, Andy Floyd (in goal) threw a empty bottle of cider into the game and it hit Kev Winstone who was going to kill him. Mark Bailey was aggrieved at an outburst by Bob Sheppard and was about to lump Bob with the butt of a pool cue, luckily Kev Boltz grabbed the cue on Marks back swing! We all calmed down and got back on with drinking. Mind you the next day most of use could hardly walk and Kev Bolt didn't go to work his legs were so bad....

Well after being knocked out of the DFDS I would spend the rest of the summer concentrating on the Super League matches. More about that another time.

Monday, 8 June 2009

A long weekend at Newquay

First of all sorry I didn't drop in a report last week, I had no spare time at all. I now know I have some friends reading my blog as far away as Italy and China, so I better keep up the blogging. Martin, I'll get myself a cheap digi camera soon to add some photos so you can see the places I fish.

Friday last was a bit of rush, needed to get some work done, then pack and get all the gear together for the double header at Porth Reservoir near Newquay. Sometimes I think I may be a little psychic, as I had a feeling I was going to get to Thatchers in Wells and find no bait... guess what my 2 kilo of worms were nowhere to be seen! After a few calls 1 kilo was found but that was it, I thought is the shape of things to come?

A good journey to Newquay and parking space right outside the hotel (last one) cheered me up as the gear would be in full view. I bumped into the "young uns" Mat Parsons, Mat Cardwell and Andy Power and we all made our way to Wetherspoons to meet the rest of the lads. We had an Indian that night, the madras that Steve Tucker and I had was off the scale, Mat Cardwell tried some and disappeared to the toilet! As I hadn't slept to well during the week I was back in the hotel by midnight with a few others, whilst the rest found a club with dancers, Ian Pauley your a bad influence!

DAY 1:
As usual on Saturday morning the draw was not done on time, and as my team was one of the last to draw I was worried about being set up on time. I should say that Thatchers had 2 teams entered, once called "thatchers" one called "All Stars" I was in the latter. My draw put me on peg 91 on the far side of the lake, a peg that Mark Brennan had the week before, catching 8lb. As a couple of teams had fished the lake the day before and bagged we were optimistic of a decent day. Unfortunately I could tell I was not going to be ready for the start and I was rushing, when the whistle went I decided to put some bait on the pole at least, cupping in my first big ball of gbait I snapped the no4 section, and proceeded to spend 5 mins trying to retrieve the cupping kit. (The section broke because of my fault, nothing to do with the pole.) I telescoped the section and cupped in 4 balls without issue.

Finally I was in on the feeder, but 30 mins in and with no bites I went on the pole, I managed to get a few bites and the odd small skimmer, but it wasn't great, but then it was slow for most. After 1.5 hours I dropped on the feeder hoping a few fish might of settled there, but one fish was the result of 20 min spell. Back on the pole and I had a little run of skimmers but then it was stone dead and the lake was flat calm. I was using a 1gm rig, with a bulk and 4 no 10 droppers, and most bites showed as hold ups. I'd started on an 18 PR31 hook to 0.1mm but had changed down to 0.08 to a 20 earlier when it was clear I wouldn't be bagging, but now I couldn't get a bite on this! Guy Manton was next door and as he was also not catching he went out on the waggler and was getting bites and odd fish, I had not set one up (due to time) but after 20 mins got off my box and set one up, much to Guys displeasure! As I was getting odd fish on this I stuck with it, but the guy to my left (out of sight) bagged on the feeder in the last hour to win the section with 15lb. My 5lb 11oz only beat 2 people and guys head start on the wag gave him 7lb 4oz and one point more than me. Nicky Ewers was the other side of Guy and he had 8lb+ for 3rd in section. For the last hour of the match I moaned about everything I could (I have mentioned before this can draw fish!) and to be fair Guy and Nicky took it in the good nature intended and were having a good laugh at my expense! I should say that two Thatchers Porth experts, Timmy Rowe (complete nutter) and Gary Webber both came last in their sections, so it proved the venue was rather peggy, and we'd got it wrong!

I was glad to get back to the hotel and get a cold beer, I found out All Stars had come 4th beating Thatchers who were 6th I think. Garbolino (Chaveys lot) paralysed it, they fished more negative and as the venue fished hard, they got it right. Muffy in our team (I don't his name cos that's what everyone calls him and it was on the team sheet!)won his section and framed on the feeder as did all the framers. A later night ensued as I decided to drown my sorrows, as far as I recall Gary O'Shea never bought a round!

DAY 2:
I wasn't sure I wanted the breakfast, but knew it was a long time before my next meal so I got it down. As the draw was 9 o'clock sharp we rushed off, but yet again it was a late draw but at least our team was not last to draw. I drew the near side on peg 45 a long way up, the day before Mark Harper had 10oz of peg 44, brilliant... Half way to my peg I remembered the water and snickers bar in my car, so I walked back to get them (in waders I borrowed from Warren Bates) and then continued the trek. At least I had more time to set up and I was ready on time. I had Andy Power on the next peg, and both of us were getting bites and small skimmers on the tip straight away, this was more like it! 40 mins in I had a perch and no more bites, Andy caught for about 15 mins more than me then his bites stopped. After this it was worse than day 1 no bites on the pole at all, just the odd micro perch in close to relieve the boredom. I cast the feeder further out thinking I could find fish that had backed off, I did but only 2 in the last 3 hours. 3lb 2oz was my result, and I only avoided coming last thanks to the fact one team were a man down. Andy had 3lb 12oz for 1 more point than me and Nicky Johns with 3lb 14oz next to Andy meant we were the bottom three. It was a poor draw, a bad result and then I had to wait for well over an hour for the boat to come and pick up the gear. I was the last man out of the car park and decided to go straight home as it would be nearly 10 pm before I got back home.

Not sure of the final result, but I know Bathampton won on the day (well done lads) after coming nearly last the day before, Thatchers improved to 3rd and my All Stars were 4th, not that I had helped much! Garbolino are miles in front and I don't think can be caught. Team mate Matty Cardwell had won the match from the peg that had won the day before, but had to wait till late on before the bream showed.

To sum up my weekend, I spent a fortune, caught very little, got battered every day, but had a great couple of nights out on the lash with the lads. As I write this I'm knackered, so apologies if there are any mistakes in this blog!