Monday, 28 December 2009

King Billy Xmas Match - River Avon Crane

I know I said I was going to keep the rods hidden away over a Xmas, but I was badgered into this match. I spent a few hours down the Queens Head Christmas Eve celebrating the marriage of Martyn and Tanya Reyatt, and it was there I was talked into this match.

Waking up early was a shock after 4 days of "lay ins" and the first job was to get some bait (had planned to get some Boxing Day but I was to hung over to drive) and I popped into Keynsham Angling. Back to the draw at the QH pub and no sign of the promised burger van so I made a few purchases in the local Tesco Express to keep me going.

Jerry Pocock was running this match and as it turned out only 11 people turned up, I think at least 4 people who had bought tickets failed to show and another 5 who had said they would come didn't arrive. This meant Jerry was going to be out of pocket as he bought prizes for at least 20 people, so a good raffle would be in order later then! People not turning up meant Jerry could also leave out some pegs, but then came the dilemma which ones to leave out? Everyone had an opinion, but with Jerry not really remembering what pegs were where it was not clear what to do. In the end the last 3 pegs were left out and the parrot cage would be left out plus a couple of others. I wanted a low or high draw, but got middle peg 8, and guess where that was... in the bloody parrot cage! Jerry had got mixed up, but he did not mix himself up when he advised he was on the peg where 13 bream were caught from the day before! It seemed obvious that Jerry, his down stream neighbour and Martyn Reyatt on the cattle grid all had a chance of skimmers. Shaun Townsend in the lane was also on a peg known for bream, and I fancied the first peg in the long ashtip. As you can tell I did not fancy my peg at all, and bascially I was faced with a similar swim to that I had in the Frys Xmas match, a deep swirly peg. The river was pacey and a greenish colour and was very cold!

I set up one rod, a gbait feeder, pointless doing anything else as you cannot lift fish out due to trees over your head. I was hoping that a few skimmers had swum round the corner and taken refuge in my peg, so I went for 0.12 to a 16 B611. I mixed a bit of bream 3000 with brown crumb, and added a dash of crushed hemp. On the peg downstream I had Kev Boltz for company, he faced a similar swirly peg and just went with the one rod too. The next peg above me was in the bay in the next field!

Starting the match I added a little chopped worm and caster in the feeder and plugged it with the groundbait. I was at least pleased to find that the peg appeared to be clear of snags, but it also seemed clear of fish as I didn't have a bite in the first 1.5 hours. A quick walk showed Kev Boltz biteless, Jerry had 3 skimmers, his neighbour 1, whilst Martyn had 2 skimmers. I returned to my peg at least knowing I was fishing for the right species! A little while later Glenn Bailey came along for a walk, advising that Shaun and Craig Fletcher in the lane were both blanking, but Jerry and Martyn had caught another couple of skimmers. Whilst Glenn walked off upstream I decided to leave the feeder out in my peg for 20 mins with 2 red maggots on the hook. I never saw a bite, but I picked up the rod and felt something on the end and a 4oz roach was netted, jammy or what! I felt somewhat relieved to have avoided the blank, I knew I was not going to do any good but there is a sense of satisfaction to overcome the elements and catch something!

Glenn returned from upstream to advise it was generally better up there, with odd skimmers and roach coming out, Leigh Trivett catching some tidy roach on the top peg in the bay. I went for a walk with Glenn and found that Jerry had another couple of skimmers, as did the guy next to him and Martyn had taken a chub. I returned to my peg and tried fishing across the river into the steady water, it was difficult as I had to cast 2oz of lead on the feeder under arm to get over there. An hour over there was fruitless and no bites were forthcoming, but dropping back in the boils saw me take a specimen gudgeon on triple red maggot! But then I hit into a snag and lost the lot, and whatever this snag was it now made an appearance on most casts. As I had no more bites and just snags I packed up with 15 mins to go, Kev had already gone home after not getting a bite.

In the end it was Jerry who easily won with 32lb, he took some proper bream in the last 2 hours to go with his skimmers, weighing 32lb. Martyn came 2nd with 13lb, 6 skimmers and 2 chub, and he missed lots of bites he confessed, third was 12lb from the first peg in the long ashtip. Leigh had a nice day winkling out 10lb of roach.

So another bad draw for me, but I think I made the right decision to go to this match, 8 of the 11 pegs had thrown up a few fish, and a bit of luck in the draw bag would have seen me had a decent day I'm sure. I suppose though that the 18 bottles of Stella and a tyre foot pump and accessories that I won, made the 5oz I had a bit sweeter!

More snow and cold weather is forecast, I think this time I will really keep the rods locked away...won't I?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Spam Heads

Just a quick note to say I have had to put "word verification" back on again when people put comments on. This is due to a few silly spammers out there causing issues.

Sorry if it adds that little extra time to your comments, but it's better safe than sorry.

Thanks for the advice Mike.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Freezing at Frys

It was many weeks ago that I handed over my money to Dean Harvey for a Frys Xmas match ticket, but the weekend weather forecast made me think I shouldn't have been so keen.

Waking up Saturday to a -7C frost (and a bit of a sore head due to works do) wasn't going to help matters on Sunday, and I was struggling to keep my bait from freezing to death! I made a quick phone call Sat night to Warren Bates as I didn't know the draw time, it was a good move as Warren had helped peg the match. They had spread 38 pegs out from peg 2 to peg 62 which sounded wise, but I did not want to draw in the bay and felt it a must to draw a chub peg, or at least one with a feature in it that might hold a chub!

Sunday morning and just a bit nippy at -4C when I arrived in the Frys car park. There were all the usual Frys lads there, and if anything I was a foreigner in this crowd. It was good to see Pete Sivell and Ray Cooper again and many of the other old uns!

Draw time, and out I pull peg 7, top peg in the bloody bay, there goes my chance of a chub then. I was given some words of encouragement that I would catch roach, skimmers, perch and chublets, but I felt these well wishers had not really recognised the severity of the conditions. I enjoyed the relatively short walk to the bay in the company of Eddie Wynne and Steve Hutchinson who had drawn next to each other on peg 2 and 4 respectively. A name from my Silver Dace past was on peg 5, Julian Pinkett.

I couldn't get excited about my peg, it was just swirling around in front of me and boiling up. I set up a big crowquill (but it was not right and hence only used a couple of times) and a small gbait feeder. I started on the feeder with a 16 B611 to 0.13 powerline and in the feeder I used white crumb with a little liquidised bread mixed in. I used a large piece of punch on the hook for the first 30 mins, and did get 1 bite but I did not connect and wondered if that would be my lot! I then put on 2 red maggots and plopped a straight lead over the top, after waiting for 10 mins I had another bite and missed this too! The bait was hardly touched and I guessed that as the bite was very shy it was from a tiny fish.

On the hour mark I changed to an 18 B611 and 0.11 powerline (as light as I dared) and with a single red maggot I connected with a bite and took a small dace! That was a result as far as I was concerned and I rang Warren to tell him I was on for a prize! Warren was still biteless as was Tony Rixon at Landsend who I had promised to call if I did catch a fish! About an hour later after a couple more missed bites I took another similar sized dace. Julian below me had 2 dace but both Eddie and Steve were blanking, there were though as expected the odd angler further upstream with chub, but not many! I realised I was not going to go anywhere trying to catch another couple of dace and stepped the gear back up to try for a better fish. Despite trying caster, maggot, worm and bread flake nothing produced a better bite, just a couple of nips on the end of one maggot! I kept to the white crumb mix, but did pass a few casters through it for the last 2 hours.

The last hour was very cold as the sun disappeared and I was forced to go for a short walk to warm up, the lad 2 above me had taken 1 chub, but the next two were blanking although Dean Harvey on peg 13 had lost two chub. When 3pm arrived I was quite happy to shout "all out" and pack up as quick as possible. For obvious reasons I have not been able to talk much about my match cos there isn't much more to tell! Dean arrived with the scales and gave me 2oz, the same as Julian, Dean himself had caught 1 roach late on for 3oz, I think this was the only roach caught in the match!

Back at the results and it soon became obvious how hard it had been with most people not having a bite. I think in total 12 people had caught and I was joint 11th with Julian and picked up a big box of Stella, nice! Overall winner was John Macey who had snared 4 chub for 12lb on the maggot feeder from peg 40, in 2nd place from peg 26 was Mervyn Sivell who had 2 bream for 7lb odd. A number of people had chub on their first cast, Pete Sivell had one on bread feeder, and Derek Coles (drew the peg I fished last week) had one on the float first chuck, then lost one next chuck! Warren did well to catch one good chub on the waggler, his only bite, and Frys Stalwart Keith Firks could have won the match from peg 18; he had taken a chub but lost a good carp which snapped him as went to land it.

I enjoyed the banter and the buffet at the pub, and I can confirm that Pete Sivell has not changed one bit, he is still a wind up merchant and able to obtain free beer! Thanks also to Warren's son for pulling me the last raffle prize!

I think that unless this weather lets up I shall leave the rods alone over Xmas, but if the mild weather returns then I'll be out. As this may be my last blog before Christmas, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that the angling Gods are kind to you in the New Year.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A Spare Few Hours

I hadn't planned to fish Sunday just gone as I was visiting relations in Cornwall, but I ended up back in Bristol Saturday and was in two minds what to do, book in on a Xmas match or have a lie in. The Bathampton Xmas match was on the canal but I had no bloodworm and joker and didn't fancy doing battle with all the tow path users. In the end I decided a lie in and a few hours on the river somewhere would do. Sat night I got a text from Warren Bates who told me he was going to Frys with Rich Green, but I thought that would be as hard as nails! However, as Dave Harrell recently said, if you're gonna learn you're better off going to hard pegs than good.

Sunday morning and I was beginning to think Dave Harrell was a bit to enthusiastic, but I didn't want to let Warren down so I came up with plan C. I decided rather than take the kitchen sink to go Matt Hayes style. So one feeder rod, one bankstick (with rod rest attached) landing net and pole, hooks feeders and line in my pockets and net bag for bait was all I took!

I walked across the two fields and never broke into a sweat, finding Warren on peg 30 who after an hour was yet to land a fish! The river was very pacey still but the colour had dropped out a lot, and it was a dark green colour, not dirty and not clear. I thought my best bet would be to fish for chub, and didn't think there was much chance of them being in this area, so I wandered down stream and settled in by the blackcurrant bush. I rigged up with 0.22 main line to 0.17 powerline to a size 11 B711, a gbait feeder with 50grms was needed to pin the bait down. I cast down the peg around 2 rod lengths out. In the feeder was plugged a decent amount of caster and maggot in mixture of half bags of Gros Gardon, brown crumb and crushed hemp, and a lob worm was on the hook. The tip was moving around as the current was boiling a bit, but after a couple of minutes tow sharp raps were a definite bite. I felt two heavy thumps before everything went solid, I was snagged up good and proper and lost the lot!

I set up again but the next few casts were no good and more snags were hooked so I moved on downstream. Peg 18 had a nice tree down the inside but the water suggested there could be a lot of snags. The next peg down had a big willow in the water and was very comfortable to fish, and despite the water still being a bit boily I gave it a go. Despite trying bread and lobworm hook baits no bites were forthcoming, so after about 40 minutes I put 5 casters on the hook. A "whopper" of a bite resulted but the fish was not hooked, every sign of caster was gone! A couple more casts and no bites so I decided they might want the smaller baits, so on went a size 13 B711 and 3 casters. First cast and a 2.5lb chub was in the net, sorted! I then had about 10 casts with 4 bites and missed the lot, I was fishing a long way down stream and needed the fish to hook themselves. I shortened the hook length and caught another 2lb+ chub. In the next 1.5 hours I hooked another 4 chub, landing 2, I lost the other 2 in snags; one straight away (cast to close to the willow!) and one halfway up the peg when I thought I was in the clear! I also missed another 4 bites which was annoying!

I wandered back up to see Warren and Rich, but they had struggled with Rich blanking and Warren a couple of Dace. My roving approach had paid off, by finding some fish and then encouraging them to feed I had at least made some bites.

So what have I learned for this weeks upcoming Frys Xmas match? Well with the outlook for cold, even very cold weather, I need to draw a chub peg to have a hope of a bit of sport. The river should be float fishable by Sunday and that helps to relieve the boredom of simply staring at a tip, and trotting keeps you a bit warmer. I need to get a bit of the drawbag magic off Tony Rixon.

Monday, 7 December 2009

ATWL Final Match K&A Canal

As I mentioned last time I put myself forward for a rest to avoid another soaking, but of course it didn't rain this time! Nevertheless the rest was a good idea, after a few days working in Munich I was knackered and had a heavy cold. I felt a lot better on Saturday and ended up having a few jars down the Queens Head pub with Warren Bates. I awoke Sunday morning with a bit of a thick head, but having woke up without an alarm was very nice!

I arrived at the canal at Darlington Wharf about 20 mins after the match had started. I was armed with a Ginster Pasty, crisps, chocolate and lucozade sport, that would keep me going, but I wish I took my beanie hat as the wind was very cold in places! Bathampton angler Andy Ottoway was on A1, and he had already taken 5 small skimmers when I arrived, but the next 3 anglers had very little. I wasn't surprised to see how coloured the canal was here, and I thought some decent fish would show. A couple of pegs past the bay was Thatchers piggy bank Nick Chedzoy. Nick had taken 2 skimmers on the punch but just a few small roach since. He decided to feed some more punch and was rewarded with 2 more skimmers and then nothing again, still 4lb 8oz after 40 mins aint bad! Next to Nick was Andy Floyd, he had also taken 2 decent skimmers but was now getting the odd small roach on pinkie. Once I got onto to the bend the skimmers had not showed for Glenn Bailey and he was already onto the bloodworm line.

I walked up to the wooden bridge and on the first peg past it (last weeks winning draw) I found another team mate Andy Powers. Andy had only had 1 bite on punch from a 1lb skimmer, but he could not catch fish unless he went right across the canal. He was getting the odd bite on caster and so was at least catching some reasonable fish. Walking on it became apparent that there were obviously some pegs which seemed to hold less fish than others, as some anglers caught very little on punch whilst others caught for 3 hours. When I could I looked at peoples rigs, every float pattern you could think of was on display, which basically proves that you use what works for you.

Eventually I'd walked all the way up to just shy of the George pub to see our last angler in this stretch Gary O'Shea. Gary was not catching regularly and when he did catch it was only bleak. Mark Leader, next to Gary, had taken a couple of skimmers and then landed a 1lb+ perch to be way ahead of Gary, Bathampton runner Nathan Hawke told me that the section was fishing well and we knew Gary was struggling. On the way up to Gary I had spoken to many anglers, and all had seemed to happy to have a quick chat, all that is except for one. Dave Wride of Thyers didn't like the fact that I was stood behind him on the towpath despite all the bikes, walkers etc. I did call him a moaning old c... which he didn't like very much. Then his bites stopped which he blamed on me so I left him to it! Shame that Dave lost his section by 1/2oz in the end, but that was nothing to do with Kev Dicks weighing him in of course!

Walking back down the canal I thought most of our anglers were either very close to their Bathampton angler or beating them. Martin Barrett was getting roach on caster and he ended with 9lb+, but could not beat his neighbour Andy Pritchard who had sacked on bread (skimmers and Roach to 1lb) and taken 2 big roach and perch on lobworm. Andy Power was really bagging on the caster, and he easily won the section and was 3rd in the match with 13lb 10oz, he caught most of the roach over his chopped worm line. However, to really see some bagging Glenn said I needed to see Chedz as he had been netting fish all day! It turned out that Chedz had bagged on skimmers from ounces to 2lb, all taken right across the canal (it is 4ft deep here) on red maggot over worm and caster. He easily won the match with 30lb, a great bag of fish. Either side of Chedz had weighed 9lb+ and 11lb 12oz, with the latter having a 3lb bream, 2lb hybrid and 2lb eel in the net.

Back at the results (well I wanted to get a free beer from Chedz) it turned sour for Thatchers, Gary O'Shea had come last in his section, and up at Limpley Stoke, where the canal fished abysmal for most, we had Tucks and Guy Manton both on 2 points. We couldn't carry that many bad un's and Bathampton beat us again on the day to tie the league on points. However, they won the league by virtue of more match wins and so can take the local semi on the canal, whilst we have to go to Monk Lakes in Kent.....

A few notable mentions; Vincent Lunn must wish he could fish canals all year round, as he drew the end peg at Limpley and came 2nd with 13lb 11oz of roach. Bathampton's Paul Isaac won the league individually just beating Thatchers Nicky Ewers, and Andy Floyd had won the knockout, but if Andy had weighed in what he estimated he would have not won it! All in all I enjoyed having a walk and chatting to the lads on the bank, and it was interesting to see how the canal fished.

I'm not sure if I will venture out this Sunday as I'm very busy again Friday and Saturday, if the weather is nice I might have a go on the river if I can find a bit of slack.