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?