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).....