Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Personally, I am of course hoping to get over the cancer but realise there is a long road ahead. I have been "violated" (if you ever saw the Dr Dolittle film with Eddie Murphy in you'll understand!) so many times in 2010 that I don't remember them all!

I have been to the hospital again this week, had a general anaesthetic so the Doc could examine the tumour (by hand and so another violation!) and make a final decision on the severity of operation I will have. I'm waiting for him to call me to advise, but he did say before he examined me that the worst case scenario is that I will be like some of the supermarkets and have a "bag for life". I should be operated on on the 27th Jan, so I can fish a few more matches (weather permitting) before then, but will have to rest for quite some time after the op. Once the tumour and surrounding tissues and lymph nodes are removed they will then examine them under a microscope looking for cancer cells. What happens next depends on what they find.

My highlights of 2010 are chalking up two consecutive weights of 170lb+ one at Cider Farm and one at Viaduct. Coming 3rd in Tony Rixons float only series behind Tony and Fred Roberts, and generally doing better at commercials then ever before. My time on rivers was cut short and was also my worst ever as I feel the drawbag was unkind to me. By the way, after all this cold weather and if it goes mild in Feb I reckon the river fishing could go mental for the last few weeks of the season.

Finally I have drummed up the enthusiasm to go fishing this Sunday. I was torn between the canal or a commercial, in the end went for Avalon as I will be on the canal for another couple of weeks. It could be shite, but I will enjoy being out with good blokes and good banter.

Again, Happy New Year to you and may your nets and wallets be bulging in 2011.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

March 1991

I'm so fed up with this weather I have not even considered going fishing over Xmas, time to reminisce.

Back in the 90's there were frequent open matches on Saturdays, and on the 2nd March I fished a Bathampton open at Newbridge. I drew peg 27 and as the river looked good for bream I decided on a groundbait feeder approach. Fishing 2/3 the way over with an 18 hook to 2lb Smart I caught most fish on double caster. I took 4 chub, 2 skimmers and a nice 1.5lb roach during the day (not so good for bream then!) for 12lb 11oz which was enough to win the section. The match was won by Kevin Rowles who took 25lb of mainly roach on the waggler from behind the pumphouse, and it was the first time I'd ever witnessed Gurning! The following day was the annual trip to the Thames on the Ray Carter memorial match. I drew a section named Godstow and I was pegged right next to a flyover bridge. It was noisy as hell and the peg looked horrible and I was not at all confident when a few locals walked past laughing! Five hours later and 1lb 5oz was all I could muster, 1 perch and some roach on the wag / maggot feeder. There were however a lot of blanks and I gained 46 points out of 80 for such a miserly weight! The day was one I shall remember though, as Paul Benson won the match overall (and it was a 480 pegger) and helped his team, Silver Dace, to win the team event, a great achievement against so many crack sides.

The following weekend and the Avon was in flood, but as I was going to fish at Newbridge again it wasn't so bad. This match was arranged by Ray Bazeley for his holiday company back then known as Topline Tours. I drew the first peg below Saltford weir and was told I would catch bream, but 4 hours and 55 minutes in all I had was 3 eels!!! On the very last cast I had a drop back, hooked a slab and landed the bugger. My weight of 5lb 1.5oz I thought that weight would not bring me any money and I was right, but I came 12th overall and picked up a decent prize. My season ended (on the 14th back then of course) with a match on the Bristol Docks. I was drawn 3 pegs up from Princes Bridge (down below squash courts back then) and had a steady day catching 17 skimmers and the odd roach on the feeder. I put pinkies and casters in the gbait but caught mainly on single or double bronze maggot (weird) and matched the baits to a 20 hook and 1.1lb bottom. I came no where and 32lb won the match.

I did actually go fishing again at the end of March (Easter) and went for 3 days to Upham Farm Carp Lakes. I really loved this place back then, it was the nearest place I could fish due to the close season and was rammed with carp, ahead of its time. Even though the weather was still cool you could get the carp up shallow by constantly feeding maggots by hand. On the second day I took 41 carp shallow and the best fish was around 4lb in size. It was though only pleasure fishing with mates, and we did have some great nights out at the Cat and Fiddle pub just up the road. One year (can't recall if it was this one) I was sick all over Mike Kent's car, but the next day I didn't remember doing it, even when Mike told me so and asked me to clean his car! OOOPS!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bathampton Xmas Match - Newbridge

It is getting boring now waking up to everything outside being frozen, I even had my boiler pack up in the week due the condensate drain pipe freezing up, and it's lagged! There were 47 hopefuls in attendance today, with a good contingent from Gloucester such as Brian Pollard and Derek Jarman. I had heard that Kelston had been fishing really well and I was greeted by a confident Gary O'Shea who had taken 24lb of mainly roach the day before at Saltford Shallows. Unfortunately I was not going to draw at Kelston because it was not pegged, apparently Bathampton have given up this stretch. I really had no idea where to draw, but guessed bream were going to win so a bream peg please. Peg 67 is not a great bream swim (65 up to 61 better I feel) but they do show here every now and again. Another long walk with loads of layers on meant I arrived at my peg steaming like a you know what!

I can tell you that I set up a 12BB crowquill with 0.1 to a 16 B511 and a groundbait feeder with a 16 B611 to 0.12, lighter than I would normally use but I wasn't expecting any chub from here. The plan was to start on the crowquill and bread in the hope of a bite or two and then try the feeder across with groundbait. The plan was fool proof, but not fish proof and I never had a bite all day on any method, and I sat fishing the peg all day. At one stage I chucked a lobworm to the far bank and twitched it back across the river hoping to make a perch take it but not a bite. So there's my match!

What of the other 46 anglers, well 40 of them also blanked! The winner Terry Ellis on peg 18 had 14 bream for 50lb+. He fished gbait feeder with liquidized bread and worms on the hook, but he never went in the pools. In 2nd place was Bristol's finest window fitter Paul Haines, Paul had 2 bream on his last two casts (!) for 10lb+. Brian Pollard had 1 chub on maggot feeder from peg 77, it weighed 4lb 6oz so a nice fish. The next two anglers to catch were either side the winner, Derek Jarman had a 3lb bream in the last 10 minutes on peg 16 and Dave (top set) Haines had a 2lb skimmer last cast. A 4oz perch came to the last peg in the match and that was it for fish! So if you think about, until the last 10 mins only 3 anglers had caught! I do not know why this part of the river was so bad, the crane is fishing OK and so is Kelston. As far as I can remember this was the worst Avon river match I have ever fished.

Back at the draw my section was the only one to have completely blanked and so was drawn for, but alas I was not the jammy git to win it! Kev Dicks who had run the match then proceeded to pull names out of a box to dish the prizes out, I guess my name came out about 5th and I picked 10 cans of Guinness for my effort. Richard Lacey was the last name out of the box and won a bag of boilies, perfect bait for this time of year Rich! Mind you Shane Caswell couldn't find his draw ticket to put his name on and never went in the draw, he found it as the last prize went lol!

Of my team mates, well not one Thatchers angler caught a fish today, but then again neither did any Bathampton lads, god were shit! I think that's my lot now until after Xmas, can't fish next weekend and if the weather is going freezing again then I might take up bird watching again. I'll have to get the diary out again and put some old match tales on here, cos that is the only way I might remember how to catch some fish!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sunday 5th Dec

I didn't go fishing today, not because I'm a faggot but because I was at a Wedding on Saturday with lots of drinks. I made this decision last week and was quite pleased with it when I awoke this morning with a headache and the sight of, well nothing just freezing fog! I had a chat with Warren Bates and we decided to have a walk up the Crane, for me mainly it was a chance to blow the cobwebs off if you know what I mean!

With so many matches called off there were a few anglers out pleasure fishing and also quite a few pike anglers who were mainly Polish (walking with one rod made up and no other gear in sight). The one English Pike angler whom I spoke to told me he had chinned a Polish angler a few weeks ago as he saw him carrying a pike in a carrier bag. Worse still, he said he'd witnessed a boat going up and down the river at Newbridge and this boat had a net hanging off the back, bloody trawling the river! This angler alleged that he reported this to Bathampton who in turn contacted the EA but nothing was done. I only have the guys word for this, but the thought of nets being dragged up the river......

Anyway, back to the Crane and with the fog being very dense it meant rod rings were freezing up and playing havoc with casting and not many fish were being caught. However, as the day wore on and the sun broke through I saw a definite improvement in people getting bites. The bottom end of the Crane was not to clever, although one angler around the boys hole had 2 bream on the groundbait feeder. The bay in the little ashtip was solid for the one angler there Shaun Townsend, and he had over 30lb of roach on the crowquill. Shaun told me he had put in some groundbait to start and then loose fed hemp and caster.

Lee Trivett was fishing in the last peg of the first field, a peg which until 6 weeks ago both he and I thought was awful. Lee had 2 of the resident chub (about 4lb each) and a perch getting near 2lb, plus a few roach, when I watched Lee he was on the stick float feeding maggot and hemp.

Another angler who I did not know had some roach and chub on a small gbait feeder just below the high wall, and there were a few chublets in the area.

Overall the crowquill seemed to be the best method on the day as there was a decent bit of flow for it to work. Some anglers catching roach had pike trouble, not sure though the pike anglers did as the pike here seem to prefer roach to spinners lol!

Bathampton Xmas match next Sunday on the river. With more freezing temperatures forecasted I can't see Newbridge fishing anywhere near as good as the crane did today, but I could be wrong of course.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Commercial House Round 4

I was back on the river today after quite an absence, and what a day to return with -5C greeting me on the car dashboard. The car park at the rugby club was very quiet and it seemed there were a few anglers short, obviously some don't like the cold. Captain Martin Barrett drew team peg 4, and this gave us 3 dodgy pegs and 3 OK, I drew one of the dodgy ones with an effing long walk. I was 3 pegs below the New Fence peg, that's a walk of 3 1/2 fields..... When I did arrive at my peg it gave me hope as there was a very large tree across laying in the water, my expectations raised and I thought I might scrape a chub or two. Lee Trivett drew probably the worst peg in the match (peg 8 Swineford) and did well in the end to catch 10oz off it, I thought I should say something nice cos he bought me a beer!

I set up 2 feeder rods, both on 0.16 one with a size 17 B711 hook and the other an 11 B711 for bread / lobworm. I also set up a crowquill with 0.12 to a 18 B611. I started the match on the big hook and a lump of bread chucked just above the tree so the bait would be resting under it. I was amazed when on my 3rd chuck the tip trembled and then tapped, the result was a 6oz chublet, whoopee! A couple more casts on the bread were unproductive so I swapped to an open feeder with crushed hemp groundbait and casters. After about 6 casts I had a proper rap but nothing was hooked and the maggots were untouched. A couple of casts later and a 10oz chublet was in the net before all went quiet. I had been feeding maggots down the middle and tried the float to give the feeder a bit of a rest. Despite my best efforts I could not raise a bite on the float, in fact despite feeding it all day I never had a bite on the float.

Back on the feeder and I had two unseen bites (it's annoying when you reel in to find two smashed maggots!) so I shortened the hook length. This produced me a third chublet of around 10oz but then it went very quiet again. It really was very cold on the bank with the rod rings continually freezing up and the maggots hardly moving! I tried lobworm and bread on the big hook without any joy and decided to switch to a maggot feeder for the remainder of the match. Unfortunately this did not help, and although I did have a good rap on one cast the hook bait was again untouched. That was the end of my action.

My 3 fish went 1lb 9 1/2oz, this was joint with 2 other anglers and 1oz less than another, so it was a bit tight! Nigel Evans below me did well to catch 7 chublets for 4lb, he had all his fish on the float and not a bite on the feeder. I was actually joint 2nd in the A division, but on the end peg in my section B div angler Kev Boltz weighed 11lb of Roach. From Kevin down to the bottom of the crane everyone caught roach and the odd chub, it was like a different river. I was fed up after a long walk to just a few fish when I saw people complaining they had only caught 6lb of roach! To coin a phrase, bitter and twisted I was! My drawing of pegs in this w/l has been shite and I need to forget it now and move on.

The match was won by Nicky Johns from Bitton Brook with 12 chub for 23lb on the waggler, in 2nd place was reborn match angler Andy Bush with 4 bream for 20lb from one below the outfall. Third place was an angler who was having a little moan about his peg before the match (one below Kev Boltz), but ended up with 17lb 4oz of roach on the pole... well done Glenn Bailey. Nigel Barlett had 17lb of roach from the little ashtip and Shaun (or is it Sean) Townsend had 15lb from the cattle grid (a peg he thinks ain't that good!). To give you some idea how good the bottom of the Crane fished Martin Barrett was last but one in section with 9lb+.

Swineford fished very hard today for most, the cornfield produced roach (very strange) and it was strange how my section was devoid of roach although Andy Ottoway had 3 in the last 30 mins which was in fact all he had.

On the team front 1st Thatchers A, 2nd Karaoke nights (1 man short), 3rd Thatchers B. I did not get the overall standings. Funny thing about Karoke Nights is that team Captain Andy Britt was a tad upset by the no show of Leon Hubbard. Apparently Andy tried calling Leon about 20 times, and was still trying to call him during the match! Eventually Leon answered and advised Andy he was not fishing cos he was in NEW YORK! Communications let me down.....

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Teams of 4 Viaduct

Sorry for the late post, I was very tired Sunday and out with work mates last night. I will try to be on time next week Mr Ewers!

I was helping out Tony Rixon's Avon Angling team at Viaduct on Sunday, and I do not know why but we were the last team to draw! I was all ready to go in some nice new shiny Preston Drifish 10 waterproofs and was hoping for a decent draw. I felt my day would be decided by the peg I drew and so this was going to be very important. I have always wanted to draw peg 85 or 86 on Carey, but as you will know by now that pleasure went to Mike Nicholls and Des Shipp, instead I was stuck on 10 on Spring. I reckon that it is now 3 times I have drawn this peg and it's nothing special for carp or skimmers and has no island chuck. For company on peg 9 was venue and all round carp bagger Andy Lloyd and to my left was the Gimp and next to him was Vince Shipp. I did tell the Gimp that virtually every time I was pegged next to him he managed to break a pole section, perhaps he would be OK today.

The info I could glean from regulars was that as I was effectively fishing to win I should try corn on the wag, but gbait on the pole could add a few pounds if some skimmers turned up. So I set up a 4AAA wag with 0.12 to 18B611, a straight lead with 0.15 to 16 PR36 for hair rigged corn, and the pole line had a 0.3grm Inter float with 0.9 to a 20. On the whistle I cupped in 6 balls of gbait on the pole and then went out on the wag with corn. It was a slow start but after about 40 minutes and a couple of dips on the float I netted a 2lb skimmer. That was nearly the best around me at this stage, but I was already playing catch up to Vince who had caught one carp on the pole which later was to weigh 20lb 3oz, lump or what! I spooked off a carp on the wag and so I shallowed up a tad and this stopped the indications! I decided to try the lead and did get a couple of liners to prove something was out there, so I cast short of my feed. As I waited and nothing happened I decided to tie up a spare hook length and it did the trick as the reel handle was soon spinning round. A brief bit of playing the carp around the back of the Monk Drain was a concern but soon a pretty 7lb common was in the net. The carp was landed at 12 O'clock, 3.5 hours to go..... but just like on the Poppy match the rest of the match was pants!

The carp that were in my peg must have spooked, because not long after I caught my carp Andy Lloyd had his one (and only) carp and I could get no liners! I dropped onto the pole line to rack up the skimmers, and caught two roach and then hooked a carp which went left, right, and then off towards Middle lake as the 0.9 easily snapped. The Gimp who had being slaying the silvers (1 roach!) then lost a carp on the pole and that signalled the end of carp action as neither Andy or myself had a liner or indication for the rest of the day. The Gimp did manage to catch 14oz in the end with a late flurry of roach, but my 9lb 10oz was once again enough to duff him up. Oh yes, the Gimp did manage to negotiate the match without breaking his pole, but when he was putting it away he some managed to break about 2 inches off a butt section, PMSL or what!!!!! Andy had just the one carp and weighed a bit less than me, but Vince had manage to add 12oz of bits to his "twenty"! The normal pegs produced, but not that many fish, Neil "when ever I see him he's on a flyer" Mercer took 5 carp and some perch from lily pad peg 8 for 62lb and 2nd overall. Ryan Shipp had some carp and lost some lumps from peg 14 (down the edge by the bushes) and peg 18 had 50lb+ on the wag.

As you will know Des Shipp won (a common phrase it seems to me) and the Westerleigh team took home the spoils, well done lads you've got carp fishing sorted. The full results are on Tony's blog which you've probably already seen!

Right, one last thing which requires your feedback please! A friend of mine who mainly fishes carp venues has asked me what decent 16 metre pole he should buy. Currently he uses a Maver and it's not good at 16m and the no4 /5 section keeps breaking (another common phrase lol). Now I can extol the virtues of the Preston Poles but he would like to have a broad view, so could you please post a comment on here as to what you think is the best 16m pole (especially if you use it you can say why). Forget the Tournament because the budget is £1500 max.

Feck me it's getting cold out there, could be tricky for all on Sunday if the snow turns up!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Landsend Midweek Open

I was really tired upon waking up this morning and was very slow getting myself ready. In fact I didn't get to the Shipham cafe until 8:45am when the draw was at 9am! I made a quick call to Tony Rixon to inform him of my late arrival and asked that he let me know what peg I was going to be on. He duly rang me back to advise I was on peg 35 on Speci lake, the very first time I have drawn on this lake!

As I rolled into the car park Tony and Dean Malin were still unloading the van, and I quickly picked their brains as they both do very well here. Dean won the silvers from peg 35 in a recent match and so I was heartened by that. When I saw Chris Davis on peg 31, Adrian Clarke on peg 32 and carp rolling in Alvin Jones's peg 33 I couldn't see me beating them on carp and so silvers it was! I set up a 0.4 grm Preston Magic 6 with 0.12 to 18 B911 (for 5m and 11m), a 4x12 slim mosella job with 0.12 to 18 B911 (for bottom of the far shelf next to bushes) and a 4x10 Preston job with 0.14 to 18 B911 for up the shelf. It took me a time to get set up, mainly due to the wind and rain hampering me (feet stuck in the clay lol) and I started 10 mins after the all in.

I have to say now that I was unsure how much to feed, after a few frosts I imagined the fish would be lethargic, so I fed about 30 casters as initial feed at 5m, two 11m lines and two 14m lines, and fed by hand to the brambles to my right all day. Dropping in at 5m I had an 8oz chub straight away, but never had another bite here. Onto the 11m lines, the one at 2 o'clock was biteless (all day) but at 10'oclock I took 4 chub and a perch fairly quickly. This died so I cupped 10 casters in here and went across. I'll say now that I never had another bite at 11m again!

The rest of the day was spent fishing the bottom of the far shelf at about 14m to 14.5m, to begin with straight in front and to a big bush to my left. In front of me was by far the best spot, and after a couple of early chub on red maggot I was onto a caster hook bait. A few more chub were taken before they seem to back off and I caught the occasional perch. Two and half hours in and I hooked a carp, fouled for sure and it soon snapped the hook length in about peg 38! This seem to set me back and the fishing became very hard for the next hour with just one perch and another fouled carp. I continued to kinder pot in the odd small amount of caster but I couldn't get any pattern going, I did take a couple of fish up the shelf but for the most part it was a waste of time up shallow.

With about an hour and a half left I was catching just the odd perch, bites were very few but the fish were all 12oz and upwards so worth waiting for. The wind and rain started to ease off and I started to loose feed a few casters next to a bush at 16mtrs towards peg 36, I was going to try this swim after 30 mins. When I dropped in here I didn't get a bite first and thought I had fed too much, but in the last 30 mins I had 1 chub and 2 perch here. As well as those fish I did hook a carp here, and it might have been hooked properly, but I just shipped back to the top set and hung on until the line parted. I thought I was better off trying to catch the silvers, and as it turned out it wasn't a bad idea as I won the silvers with 25lb 12oz (despite thinking I had about 16lb!!!!) beating a certain Mr Rixon into 2nd place.
The venue had fished hard and Chris Davis and Adrian Clarke were 1st and 2nd respectively, although as I was only 10lb behind Adrian had I landed a couple of carp....Nah I really enjoyed my day and had a cracking net of fish. See Tony's blog for full detailed result.

When leaving the car park I did a very bad thing, I interrupted Mike Duckett who was talking to Tony Rixon. I wound my window down and said "Sorry Tony I forgot to say, LET THAT BE A LESSON TO YOU!" Naughty but nice, cos it doesn't happen very often lol!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Poppy Match

Fishing the Poppy Match is a great experience for me, every year you get to see faces from the past. There are many anglers who I only see once a year at this match, Topper Haskins being one of them. After a couple of bacon rolls I was off to the front of the draw queue, I took the risk of drawing any peg and was hoping for a short walk. I actually drew peg 56 at Newbridge which is a fair old walk but a peg with a very good chance of bream. As I got myself to peg 101 I was indebted to Phil Fabio Harding who proceeded (without being asked) to pull my trolley all the way to peg 56, I owe you a pint Phil (he didn't go back to results).

It wasn't going to take me to long to set up as I had only taken two feeder rods to keep the holdall light. On one I attached a 15 B711 to 0.13 and on the other a 11 B711 to 0.16. The river had colour and everyone was thinking big weights of bream, I wasn't so sure, I've seen the river a number of times like this and on the Poppy match 20lb+ is usually a good weight. I mixed red magic and brown crumb, chopped some worms and was ready. On the bream hole peg 54 was last years runner up and organiser Ray Bazeley, and he was in feeder only mode like me.

I started the match by having 12 quick chucks with a big feeder to get some bait in, and then settled down with 3 red maggots on the hook. In the next half hour I caught 2 roach and a hybrid and missed a couple of bites before it went quiet. I noticed that my hook had become blunt for some reason, so I decided to try half a lobworm on the big hook while I changed hooks. First cast on the lobby and I noticed that I had a small rattle on the rod tip which looked like an eel bite. I left this to develop but for about 30 seconds there was just the odd tiny rattle. A rowing boat approached and so I dropped the rod tip to the surface to keep the line clear and hope the eel would engulf the lob. When the boat had cleared I struck, and wound in a 3lb bream! That was a first for me, such a tiny bite on a lob, amazing. The next 15 mins were biteless, so I went back on the smaller hook with three red maggots and had an instant bite and a bream of about 3 1/2lb. It was now 12:20 and there were just over 3 hours to go and I was feeling like my luck in this match was going to continue!

Well there is not much more I can write about my tactics etc, because I never caught another fish! I tried all sorts of hook baits, I even tried scaling down and did have a couple of small bites. I struck at every indication, but never connected, and in all honesty I think the only bites I had were from roach because I only had bites on maggots and one was often nicked. I did have 2 drop backs but each time the bait was not touched, maybe liners?

By the end of the match I knew I would do no good as Nathan Hawke in the Norfolk Reeds had bream and so did Kev Dicks below him. Nathan won my section and framed with 14lb 10oz, and as there are no defaults in this match I didn't get a pick up. I did managed two bottles of plonk on the raffle though! Thank to Paul Haines for dragging my trolley back at least halfway for me, again I asked for no help but Paul just came up and did it, cheers mate.

The winner on the day was none other than my team captain Mark Harper. Mark took 5 bream (2 were 7lbers) on the feeder from peg 24. Mark did pull out of 2 so could have been a very convincing winner. In second place was another team mate Lee Trivett. Lee was drawn a couple of pegs below the New Fence (Crane) and after a very slow start (and having a walk, which is always a good trick) he ended up taking 4 bream, some skimmers and roach, oh and a 5lb pike! Third was Kev Dicks from peg 63 at Newbridge, Kev had bream to over 7lb on the feeder, including one right on the all out.

As ever the real winner was the British Legion with around £840 being raised for them. There were a lot of thank yous given out to all the sponsors who help make this match so well attended (I imagine there was nearly 100 fishing). However, I would like to give my thanks here to the two organisers Ray Bazeley and Paul Benson and to the stalwart of this match Bill Milton who always reads the remeberance prayer before the match and presents the prizes. Bill has had a very rough year since the last poppy match, but he is a fighter and I sincerely hope to see him on the next Poppy match. See photo below of the three amigos!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


After many false starts I finally booked in and fished a match! I joined the Tony Rixon mid week brigade for a bash at Acorn. We were on the "dog bone" lake, and as it was my first time on this lake I had no idea where to draw. Fair play to Tony, he was kind enough to tell me earlier in the week about the depth and the best baits etc, and I made a few rigs up at home on Tuesday in prep.

I drew peg 11 (which was permanent peg 4) and this put me in the wide part of a bowl. To my right John "The Gimp" Bradford was sat on grass and not a platform peg, and I was told that this would upset my margin line which is normally brilliant! On the opposite bank and to my left was Dean Malin, the only angler on that bank, he was soon plumbing up mid lake. I picked a spot at 11mtrs straight in front, and another at 2 o'clock. The rig used here was a 4x12 carbon stem, fibre bristle slim job, coupled with 0.12 to 18 B911. I shotted it with 3no 8 stotz bulk and 2 no10 stotz droppers. I had 2 margin swims left and right and had a 4x10 rig for this, but I never had any bites in the margins!

To start the match I fed about 50 micros and 12 maggots on both far lines. Starting in front of me I had no bites or indications and after 15 mins dropped in at 2 o'clock and caught a 6oz perch. A couple of minutes later and a 1lb carp was netted. During the next 90 mins I took 6 carp, with 2 of them coming from straight in front. I was using double maggot on the hook, and one red and one white was what I used most. At this stage I was beating those around me, but then the peg went completely dead! I reckon I never had another fish for 2 hours.

With 2 hours to go I had a carp from the 2 o'clock swim, I had stopped feeding micros here and was just potting in around 12 to 16 maggots every now and then. From here on the peg just got better and the carp settled in on my maggots and I had a bite every drop in until the end of the match. I lost only 3 or 4 fish, foulers, and missed very few bites and the last two hours were very nearly perfect for me. I resisted upping the feed and just kept the same amount of maggots going in after every fish. I did try the swim straight in front of me occasionally for a couple of mins but it was no good.

My final tally was around 26 carp and they weighed 80lb 6oz good enough for 2nd overall. Martin Lenaghan was the winner off the opposite end peg with 89lb 3oz, he told me he had a lot of small carp (and some 5lb fish) and caught steady all day. For the full result please Tony's blog, save me typing too much more!

During the day my left elbow became sore and was very painful at the end, not sure if the stitches have got infected but will find out tomorrow as they are supposed to be taken out. Just another thing to cope with, hey ho! It was great to get back out on the bank, and coming 2nd was a bonus, I cannot believe how knackered I feel right now so I've got to go fishing some more to build my strength up I reckon!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

ATWL Round 4 Newbridge

Plan "A" this weekend was to fish the teams of 4 w/l at Bullocks Farm, should be nice and easy minimal gear and effort required. That went out the window when I was sent to the BRI on Thursday due to rashes and blisters that the Doc could not help with. I was advised not to fish in case I infected the blisters in my hand. Plan "B" was to go to Bullocks and watch Master Rixon empty the place. This was knocked on the head when he drew peg 12 on North Pool as I didn't feel it would be appropriate to sit / walk about on this section. Plan "C" was drive to Matty's cafe in Bath and then watch the W/L on Newbridge. Breakfast was great but I somehow managed to bite my tongue (what the f%ck is going on) and then I drove to the trees section.

This area was good last time round, but today it was hard and other than the usual end peg catching roach everyone was struggling. I got fed up watching so little being caught and walked up the river but it didn't get much better at all! Leon Hubbard was on about peg 76 and with 2 skimmers was winning this section with 4lb, and it wasn't until I got to Martyn Reyatt on peg 49 that I found some fish. Martyn had taken roach and hybrids on the pole and 5 bream, this had then died and when he later cast a feeder over the pole line he quickly took 4 bream and a couple of skimmers before it died. Martyn was to be an easy winner with 42lb, following up his win last week on the outfall, well done mate, made up for the bad run you had in last years w/l.

In 2nd place overall was Paul (butler in the buff) Isaacs with 14lb of mainly roach from the first peg above the bridge in the weir field. Paul caught on pole and later caught well on a crowquill with caster. Chris Parr had 13lb of bream from the peg opposite the marina in the little field (I heard he had 6lb bream foul hooked on the pole that took 20 mins to land), and Andy Ottoway took 13lb of skimmers from about peg 30. Chris Derrick had 13lb of roach off the end peg in the trees on the pole. So as you can see the weights were quite a bit down on recent times.

Thyers won very convincingly on the day (although if their anglers weighed what they told me they had caught they would have come last, i.e. told me 2lb weighed 8lb!!!!)

Bathampton were 2nd and Thatchers 3rd.

Teams overall: 1st Thatchers 7 points, 2nd Thyers 8 points, 3rd Bathampton 11 points. Just two rounds left now both on the canal.

I must pass comment on one angler who I have now seen on my walks a number of times, this is Dave Haines. Every time I have walked past Dave he has been fishing with no more than 4 metres of pole, perhaps that is why he managed just last in section this time, the fish are quite safe in Dave's pegs......

I hope to have an uneventful week now, and I have bought a Poppy match ticket and I will fish this match even if I have to wear marigolds!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

ATWL Round 3 Swineford / Crane Jack Whites

I had a couple of beers with my old pal Martyn "Woody" Woodington Sat night and having not really seen each other for about 15 years we couldn't fit everything that has happened to us in that time! However, he did tell me he had tried to catch a pike most of Saturday on lures etc, down at Conham and up the Crane, he never had a single take!

Those beers seemed to have perked me up and I felt well enough to take a stroll up the Crane. The river was fishing its head off! Other than the lane from the cattle grid up to the top of the long ashtip double figure weights of roach were numerous. It was hard for me to get the truth or in some cases any info out of some people, so hard to really know what was going on exactly. What I saw was that balling in and running line were both catching fish. Here are the top weights from the Crane I recall :-

Robbie Manns 24lb (big roach) first peg into long ashtip
Lance Tucker 23lb (hybrids and roach) high wall
Lee Trivett 22lb (roach) last peg in little ashtip
Paul Barnfield 18lb (roach) 1st peg by Marina
There were at least three 17lb weights, and loads more doubles, Andy Floyd had 9lb 9oz from above Lance Tucker for last in his section!

Andy Power won Jack Whites with 28lb of dace and bleak from the peg on the fence. 24lb of chub was second Shaun Townsend.

Swineford was not to bad either.... Martyn Reyatt had 70lb+ of Bream from the outfall and on peg 2 Liam Bradell had 55lb of Bream. Steve Priddle had 30lb of bream on the pole from about peg 20, and Nick Ewers had 20lb of bomber chub from the Beach. There was also a 17lb of roach from peg 29 and 10lb was halfway in most sections. Oh and loads of people had pike problems, so Woody you should have chucked in some gbait to catch your pike!

Thatchers won on the day and I think only one member of the team did not manage double figures, Bathampton were 3rd and Thyers slipped up into 4th. (Sorry didn't know who came 2nd!)

League to date

Thatchers 4 points
Thyers 7 points
Bathampton 10 points

The next round is this Sunday at Newbridge, and for this part of the river they could do with some rain or it will be very peggy.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Chapter 1 Ends

Sunday evening was celebrated with a pint of Guinness, not due to anything fishy but because my 5 week cancer treatment had ended; 25 radiotherapy sessions and 210 chemo tablets were endured. All of the nurses I met were fantastic, and certainly made me feel like an individual who they knew well despite the large number of patients they have to see. I made a few friends with other patients, one in particular Ken from Weston-Super-Mare was is a pleasure angler and mostly fishes Cider Farm. We made a promise to keep in touch and go fishing together when we've both got ourselves sorted.

It's not possible for me to fish at present because the radiotherapy has not only made my bottom sore, but given me the squirts. I get anything between 20 seconds and 2 minutes notice of toilet trouble, and so have to be near a loo. Quite funny last week I had a real humdinger of a belly ache and I did my best to run to the loo (which cut my ass cheeks to pieces) and arrived at the pan with an ever increasing urge! As I pulled the laces on my tracksuit bottoms the laces knotted and I was struck by blind panic of the impending earthquake in my pants!!!!!! Somehow I managed to undo the knot and sit down just as Elvis left the building at the speed of sound....phew! Mind you the process of going to the toilet is as appealing as fishing the Exeter Canal after breaking the ice and only having luncheon meat as bait, so painful is passing any "motion" that I cannot help but shout out, the neighbours probably think I'm having some sort of sexual punishment lol!

I spoke briefly to Martin Barrett about how the Commercial House fished on Sunday. It was at Newbridge again and the bit of rain we had but some extra pace and a bit of colour into it. Once again some areas were good and some hard, peg 22A this time was the match winner with 25lb of Hybrids (swam down from peg 20?) I don't know all the results but I do know that Steve Tucker had 20lb of Roach from the bottom of the trees (lovely) and Martin Barret had 17lb of hybrids from peg 12 in the little field, this was the peg that came last in the section week before, fish swimming again!

I'm building myself up to fish the Poppy Match, maybe the next Commercial House we'll see.

Monday, 18 October 2010

ATWL Round 2 Newbridge

I did not fish this match but got to have a look at the first two sections in the "Little Field" and down to the Pumphouse. What did surprise me was that there was still a nice tinge of colour in the water, I had expected it to be much clearer. In the "Little Field" Lee Trivett was on peg 3 and had a good start on the pole over gbait taking nice size roach and some hybrids, his pole line died 2 hours in as did everyone elses in this section (some earlier) except for Richard Laceys that is. He was on form peg 7 and his float was burying ever drop in. This laid the foundation for the result with Richard winning the section with 15lb 15oz and Lee coming 2nd with 14lb 14oz. Surprisingly no one else broke double figures here, with Dave Micklewright really struggling off peg 12 for 4lb+ and last in section.

Below the road bridge pegs 14 and 16 were struggling (Jerry Pocock must have been last in the match with 14oz) but then the next pegs down stream were a different world! Nicky Johns on peg 18 weighed 16lb 2oz (last in the frame) which included a 6lb bream on the pole, Andy Power won the match from peg 20 with 32lb 3oz of pole caught skimmers and hybrids, next peg Chris Higgins had 13lb of skimmers and Nathan Hawke last peg behind the Pumphouse (22A I think) had 16lb 8oz of pole caught hybrids for 4th overall. Andy Power had just returned from 2 weeks at Whiteacres in festivals, and if you didn't know he came 3rd in the Preston Festival picking up a grand. Andy had a lovely net of fish today and caught virtually all of them in the first half of the match on pole over gbait with either red maggot or caster on the hook. He fished with an 18 PR333 to 0.11 and simply ran the float at them.

Parts of the river had fished harder, but there were still fish to be caught, the last two pegs in the trees both netted 18lb of roach, and Eddie Wynne took a rare 3lb chub from just below Newton St Loe bridge to help him win his section. Nicky Ewers won Rotork with 10lb of roach and said he was not pestered by carp like he was in the Viaduct silvers final the day before!

On the team front it was something like this..

1st Thatchers (see they do better without me!)
2nd Thyers
3rd Maver Veals
4th Bathampton (ahem!)
not sure of Sensas Veals and Amalgamation, so I won't guess who was last.

After 2 rounds the top 3 are

Joint 1st Thyers and Thatchers 3 points
2nd Bathampton 7 points

Round 3 in 2 weeks time at Swineford / Crane.

Should anyone reading this want to fish the Commercial House at Newbridge this Sunday coming let me know as there may be a couple of spaces.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

February 1991

Got a bit of time on my hands at the moment, the cancer treatment side effects are really kicking in now and I can see the next 3 or 4 weeks being a bit nasty. My treatment comes to an end next week so at least that means I won't have to visit the BRI every day, anyway I think every nurse in the radiotherapy department has seen my bottom by now!

Back in 1991 (as a healthy 21 year old!) I was itching to go fishing after the big freeze, and I was told of an open match being held on the Wednesday on the Avon in Bath around Windsor Bridge. I drew below the donkey field and just round the bend on the straight before the trees started. I knew nothing of this part of the river and with the temperature now +5C at best decided the wag would be the best way to catch and keep me warm! I set up for the expected 13 foot deep swim with 1 no4, 1no6, 2no 8 and 1 no9 down the line with a 22 to 1.8lb tectan. I started by loose feeding maggot and hemp and after 6 runs through without a bite or the float dragging under I added a foot of depth, then 6 chucks later I added another foot of depth! At 15 feet I started to get bites, but it was an effort to cast this out on a 13ft rod. I later heard the angler below me reckoned he had got 18ft of water in front of him, back then I never plumbed up, I just looked for the fish. I caught a steady procession of roach and chublets, nothing bigger than 8oz, nothing smaller than 2oz. This was a really enjoyable day and after feeding 1/2 pt of mag and 1/2 pt of hemp I ended with 16lb 11oz which was only good enough for 3rd. As I recall Pete Sivell won with chub from just below Windsor Bridge and John Bradford came 2nd with a big chub and bream to go with roach from just above the railway bridge. This day proved to me how fish react to an increase in water temp even when it is still bloody cold.

On the following Saturday I was booked in for the Bathampton open at Newbridge, I drew peg 72 which was the first peg above Newton St Loe railway bridge. Confident from Wednesday I set up a waggler again with the same shotting pattern, but the hook size went up to a 20. This peg was only 13 feet deep and so easy to cope with casting! I started by feeding lightly with mag and hemp but for the first two hours I was struggling. As the match went on I fed more and more maggot and cut out the hemp all together and the fish responded well. Fishing double maggot on the hook I was getting bigger roach and more chublets, and in the last 15 mins I reckoned I put 3lb in the net! This late burst was crucial and I ended up 4th overall (behind 3 bream weights) weighing 13lb 12oz.

Those two enjoyable matches were followed by junk, 1 bream the following day in Bath for nowt and 2.5lb in the Upper Avon Champs the following weekend again for nowt! February was completed with a pleasure session at Bitterwell where in four hours I amassed 16lb+ which included 3 tench, 3 skimmers, rudd and roach to 12oz, again on wag but with caster....I might try that again sometime soon.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Commercial House Round 2 K&A Canal

My preparation for this match was zero, I was struck down with a heavy cold on Thursday and it was all I could do to collect some bait from Avon Angling on Saturday. I told my wife "I won't do any good tomorrow but I'm just going to try to enjoy myself". Glenn Bailey was giving me a lift and as I waited for him I heard and saw my first winter redwing of this year, it's a bird that migrates to the UK from Scandinavia for the winter. I was goinfg to be fishing A section by default (short walk) but then promptly drew A7 so no swapping was required! Incredibly Glenn drew A6 and so he was next to me, we were both at Darlington but going to be up against the bay etc.

I was glad of the shortish walk as my backside is now basically red raw from radiation burn, it will get worse so it's not something I'm looking forward to! As I reached my peg a moored boat next to it was just leaving, and as this left a lot of space I guessed a boat would try to moor up in there later, and one did during the match! I decided to fish positive (here we go again) and set up some skimmer traps! I had a 4x12 Drennan Roach with 20 B511 to 0.08 for 5 mtrs, this would be fished over gbait and squatt (I had decided against bread). I set up 2 rigs for across, both 4x14 as the canal was towing a lot, one was a Preston Magic (6 I think) slim bristle with 18 B611 to 0.10, and the other was a J range job with thicker bristle and 0.14 to 15 B711 (for any rogue carp or eels).

On the whistle I fed 3 balls of gbait at 5mtr, chopped worm and caster right across and some micro pellet across and down to my right. Onto the short line with big red maggot but it was slow and I was soon on a fluro pinkie. I took small roach, skimmers, perch and bleak here, but only about 1.5lb in the first hour and a half. Probably something to with being double boated before the match, and then 20 mins in being double boated again but this time the boats hit each other head on! Glenn and myself were not amused.... OK time for a look across, I went in on the heavy rig, just in case of a carp being around, with three dead red maggots. After about 5 mins over the worm line the float went under and I soon had a 1lb 8oz skimmer in the net. Next chuck and a 12oz fish, and then nothing and it was time to put on the sensible rig. I dropped it in with double red maggot and had an 8oz skimmer but then nothing else so I refed some more worm. I tried the pellet line with varying hookbaits but had no bites and as Paul Purchase above me had taken two 3lb fish over gbait I decided to try that myself. So in went 3 balls containing squatts, worm, caster and some red maggs right over up to my left towards to Paul.

It was then a very slow 30 mins for me, but when I went in over the gbait across I had three 8oz skimmers and lost one when a biker pushed my pole out the way. I kept trying all three swims across and topped them up but to no avail, that was until 3 mins to go when I had another skimmer. During the match it was reckoned about 25 boats had gone through, with Glenn and myself being double boated 4 times and the boat moored to my right also moved off during the match. I was wondering if I had over fed the peg and forced the skimmers out, but Pauls peg had died way before mine and Gary O'Shea further down had put far more bait in than me and had 14lb, so perhaps I should have fed more?

I weighed 7lb 1oz which beat 3 people, Glenn beat me by 1oz (he had lots of small fish and just a few skimmers) and got the section by default. Nigel Evans had a great day on peg A1 with nearly 20lb made up of about 40 skimmers, Nathan Hawke in the bay had 14lb 10oz to tie with Gary. Some sections of the canal fished hard but overall there were lots of fish and it needed 13lb to make the frame.

I have decided not to fish the next round of the W/L at Newbridge, I cannot deal with all the prep and lugging all the gear that is needed to do a proper job (be alright if it was flooded though!). Plus I am looking for a seat box that has a rubber ring built in to it but Preston don't do one!

Monday, 4 October 2010

ATWL Round 1 Swineford / Crane / Jack Whites

After all the rain we had on Friday I was surprised to see the river looking in perfect trim on Saturday. However, the deluge on Sat evening / Sun morning was bound to worsen things during the match. I reckoned you'd need to catch well early on. 6 teams of 10 are fishing the league this year, so the pegging was pretty much the same as last week, except a group of anglers had been out swim clearing and did a fantastic job.

Team draw was made and I was handed F4 which I hoped would put me on the first peg in the long ash tip, but it was not to be and I was one past the peg as Andy Britt was sitting on it for the 2nd week in succession. I doubted I could beat Andy as his peg holds resident bream and skimmers. With the colour in the water I knew bream were going to feed and said to my upstream neighbour Jerry Pocock that 20lb+ would be needed to win our section. With this in mind I decided I was going to ball in plenty of groundbait with casters and worms in. A 4 grm flat float was set up along with 2 feeder rods, one with a 13B711 and one with a 11 B711. Plumbing up on the pole I found nearly 10ft of water (peg below is 14ft deep) but would have liked more. It was also a bit snaggy and I had to change my position to find what seemed to be a snag free area.

Unfortunately I was late starting because the walk had knackered me out (I am fit but have no energy at the mo) and then when I did drop the flat float in, disaster, I snagged up and snapped the hooklength. I chucked the feeder out with 3 red maggs on while I attached another hooklength, the tip never moved. I picked the rod up and was snagged up and lost the lot! I now needed to set this feeder rod up again because I expected this set up to be the best, so I cast out the feeder on the other rod (with the tail of a lob on) this time a bit further downstream to hopefully avoid the snag. As I was just finishing setting up the first rod I saw the tip bang round twice on the lobworm and I thought that's a bream! I lifted the rod and felt something and then it all went solid, bollocks another feeder set up trashed. To say I was now a tad cheesed off would be an understatement.......

I realised I now had no choice, I had to fish further out past where I had balled it, I cast the feeder about 1.5 to 2 metres furthert and crossed my fingers. A bite resulted and an 8oz roach was netted, at last a fish, but I was now 40 mins into the match and others had already taken the odd bream or skimmers.

Up until the middle of the match I had the odd bite, and took 3 skimmers, a few roach and 2 perch. However, I definitely had liners as the rod tip took off and dropped back but the hook bait was untouched, most likely this was from the fish feeding over my balls of gbait next to the snag! The 2nd half of the match never produced a fish for me, despite trying various baits, as the river rose and coloured heavily, and it seemed the river switched off for lots of people. I reckoned to have 6lb and weighed 6lb 8oz which only beat 2 people, I was soundly beaten by Paul Faires with 27lb, Andy Britt 25lb and Jerry Pocock 17lb. I would have put money on me being up with those weights, but seems at the moment things aren't going my way and I'm making mistakes.

The river had fished really well with 28 double figure weights (would have been 40 if we'd fished the river as it was on Saturday) and Paul Isaacs had a great match to weigh 70lb of bream, half on the pole, half on the feeder. I heard that Paul fed 28 balls of gbait to start! Steve Tucker was 2nd (next peg to Paul) with 30lb+ and Thyers anglers filled the next 3 places. On the team front Thyers won by a single point from Thatchers, whilst Bathampton came 3rd.

I was very tired afterwards and realised that at present I cannot cope with the chance of long walks and I was going to pack in the leagues. Thankfully the captains have agreed that in future I can take the section with the shortest walk (organiser determines the section not me), so they obviously know I can't catch anything at the moment and it doesn't matter where I draw lol! Seriously I am chuffed to be able to carry on, but do need to catch some fish for my own sanity.

Friday, 1 October 2010

1991 Begins

I realise I've left off writing about the past for some time, that's mainly due to me being rather busy, but today sat at home and not watching the Ryder Cup cos of the weather is a good time to catch up.

January 1991 started with a proper winter storm, very heavy rain and wind speeds recorded up to 100mph. The river was in a terrible state, and then on the Friday before the next round of the ATWL we had a hard frost, and then on Sat it was -5C. I was filled with dread on the Sunday at Newbridge despite drawing peg 39 (always a good area) as the river looked awful. I imagine I set up just one feeder rod back then, and my result was just one hybrid which weighed 9oz. This was enough for 8 points and I recorded that just 15oz was needed for 2nd in the section. The match was won with 6lb and most importantly the team won on the day, and with Silstar coming 2nd that meant we held a 2 point lead with two matches to go.

The weather did its worse the following Friday and it rained all day and night, not a problem for my Saturday match which was on the K&A canal at Darlington. I only caught about 1.5lb of fish on the punch and wandered off to watch Mike Stone do it properly using a plain crowquill to catch 256 fish for nearly 8lb. Sunday and the river awaited for the Commercial House, I drew in the long ashtip and managed just one roach for 1.5oz.

As ever in January if it didn't rain it went cold and the following week was all frosts, lovely! The river was now sensible in terms of colour and pace but the fish were going to be shoaled up, so good draws required. Saturday was an open at Conham, I took 30 fish for just 1lb 13oz which was enough to win the section, I fished a stick float in 12 feet of water and fed about 6 maggots every chuck. Sunday was the 5th round of the ATWL, and I got a peg on the 2nd high wall up the crane (no peg there now). I had a bad match, unable to catch on the float I chucked the maggot feeder across hoping for chub. Unfortunately I was only able to pick up the odd dace and my 1lb 9oz only beat 2 people in the section (which was won with 5lb). My result was mirrored by many others in the team and we came a disastrous 7th on the day. From being 2 points in front of Silstar we were now 3 behind, and with one match left we had blown it.

On the 31st Jan we had very heavy snow, I couldn't get my car up the lane from where I lived and wondered if the ATWL match would go ahead. However, as can often happen the snow went as quick as it came and on Saturday I snuck in two hours on the stick float on the cattle grid peg at the Crane. I quickly caught 7lb including 2 roach of over a pound, all I fed was 4 to 6 maggots every cast. This set me up nicely for Sunday and I didn't really mind the long walk I had drawn, I was in the 2nd field below the railway bridge at Avoncliffe! The peg looked lovely, if a tad fast, and I remember that Bela Bakos was below me and his peg was wider and slower. I had a big slice of luck on this day..... I had no idea of the depth, but thought to myself it looks about 10ft and so set up a big waggler at this depth with 3 no6 and 3 no8 spread down the line. I cast it out to check the shotting and the float eventually settled perfectly, which was nice! I quickly set up a crowquill (without checking the depth or shotting) and a lead rod as I had little time to get ready. I started the match on the wag with a 20 to 1.7lb and fed 10 maggs a chuck. I was getting the odd roach but not as many as Bela, so I upped the feed a bit to try to improve things and put two maggs on the hook. I was soon rewarded with a chub, but then hooked and lost another under my feet. I felt there were more chub in the peg and decided to try the crowquill for a different presentation. I had this float set at the same depth as my wag, so I was surprised when it lay flat on the surface! It turned out the peg was 6ft deep, and on my wag I was dragging most of the shot on the bottom, this obviously slowed the floats passage through and improved presentation, jammy git eh! I ended the match with about 6lb of roach and 3 chub for a total of 13lb 6oz, this was 2nd in the section, beaten by the late great Ian "Bloke" Pulsford on the railway bridge who had 14lb of chub. However, I had the consolation of coming 5th overall, and the team duly finished 2nd in the league behind Silstar.

More snow was to come and my 2nd weekend of Feb 1991 was spent at home!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Commercial House Round 1

I guess you could say my match started on Saturday as I pegged the venue out along with a lot of help from Lee Trivett. When I say pegged thanks to Lee we bashed some pegs out, and 5 hours later we finally finished. Come Sunday morning I was hoping for a good peg and was happy with peg 15 up at Swineford. This peg has been fished a lot lately and there actually was an angler in the peg Saturday so I was just hoping there were still some hungry fish in there! For the 2nd week running I was pegged next to Callum Dicks, he was on 17 which is where I won the Poppy Match from a few years ago.

I set up a 2.5AAA wag with 0.14 to 16 B520, a Crowquill with same terminal tackle, and a feeder rod was set up with 0.16 to 15 B711. My plan was to feed caster and maggot down the middle of the river and hope to catch everything that swims on the float, but with a view to getting some decent chub and maybe some skimmers. I felt I would need 20lb+ because this section (from outfall to peg 19) usually throws up good weights. Feeding my first bit of bait the peg erupted with small fish, and I was catching little size dace and roach, very little! I immediately filled the pouch to the brim and tried to feed the little buggers off. By swapping between the wag and Crowquill I could get the occasional 1oz to 2oz roach, not enough quality by a long way. I had scaled down to 0.12 and a 20 in case I was putting off the more "wise" larger roach, but it made no difference.

Mid match and I was surprised to have not hooked a single chub or chublet, and I had a look on the gbait feeder over. The feeder was dire with only 2 pissers giving me a bite and they were both consumed by a pike. Mr Pike never took a fish from my mid river line, so he was obviously over the far bank. Back on the wag and despite constant feeding it was the same small stuff and so I upped the feed to two pouchfuls every run through! This heavy feeding finally got rid of the bits, but it also stopped all my bites and so I reluctantly tried the feeder again for absolutely nowt! Picking up the wag for the last 15 mins I had 6 roach all about 3oz to 4oz.

I knew I was on for a hiding as soon as Andy Floyd approached me with the weigh board (I had the scales) and told me of the various bream that had been caught. Callum had managed 6lb+ above me (only 3lb above him was caught) and I weighed 8lb 1oz, only beating 3 anglers in my section. Glenn Bailey had taken 11 bream for 49lb from the peg before the reeds (to win the match, fair play!) and Jerry Pocock had 2 bream in the last 20 mins (one was 6lb 14oz) with some bits for 18lb, Andy had one bream in the last 10 mins and a lot of bits for 14lb. So for whatever reason it seems I was at the wrong end of the section today, perhaps the peg has been hammered or perhaps I'm losing my touch! Glenn was told his peg is crap, but I have seen Bream come off it lots of times, and he fished well to only bump two and lose one lol!

The river did fish generally well, with Nick Chedzoy having 46lb of chub from Bitton Brook, Rich Lacey having 23lb of bream / skimmers from one below the New Fence. There were two 20lb's of roach and lots of high double figures of roach from the Crane. Jack Whites was a bit harder but still needed doubles to do well.

I forgot what teams did well sorry! To be honest the walking yesterday and thrashing the peg today knackered me out. I've had 5 radiotherapy treatments during the week and am taking 6 chemo tablets every day. I have to go to hospital every weekday for the radiotherapy treatment and tiredness is one of the early side effects, the later ones (should they happen) ain't so pleasant so I'm not worried about feeling like a zombie! Could do with a peg full of feeding fish this Sunday to make feel a tad better though!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Superleague final round Newbridge

Well they say things come in threes and that is now three crap matches on the trot for me, I won't be writing too much today.

I drew peg 26 and didn't mind the draw although peg 24 has a lot more form. As I was fishing for Cardiff again I decided to go positive putting worms and casters in gbait and I balled in plenty to start. A small roach first chuck was followed by a small perch which a pike quickly snaffled. The next 4 fish were all snaffled by pike and that was my hook lengths gone (I'll tie more up from now on!). After this chaos all I managed was 9 or 10 tiny roach and perch. Trying worm or big hook baits never produced over the pole line, despite me putting more worm and more gbait in.

I took two perch on chopped worm just past some lily pads but no more bites, so I fed some more worm then when I tried it again I hooked a snag and lost the whole rig. Last chance was a maggot feeder over to the bush. It took a while but I did manage to get 4 chublets, but unfortunately I lost a 1lb chub to the bloody pike. After this the peg was dead and I caught nothing else, I went for a quick walk and then reballed the pole. That produced absolutely nothing.

Finally I'd had enough, it was my birthday today and I thought I'm packing up and going home to see the family as they hadn't yet seen me today. Sorry Cardiff for "nil point" but I decided there's no place like home. Tomorrow I start my chemo and radio therapy treatments, happy days....

Saturday, 18 September 2010

County Champs Regional Final

I was afforded the luxury of a lift to Cider Farm by Warren Bates, for company we had his son Olly who spent the whole journey naming car models..... After a minor detour for a road closure we arrived in good time and I tucked into two breakfast rolls, little did I know this would be the best part of the day!

Fishery owner Mark asked me to hold the bag of pegs and then I was forced to draw first, out comes peg 7 oh dear. Tony had said the day before this was a peg not to draw, and when Glenn Bailey rang me to ask where I had drawn I asked him which peg would you not want to be on.... and yes he said peg 7! Anyway, you never know the fish could be there so I would go with a positive intent. Warren had drawn peg 25 (one I fancied) and I thought the anglers who could do well were; Callum Dicks on peg 4 (where it was won from on Wednesday), Des Shipp peg 32, Tony Rixon peg 51 (he won from it a week ago) and Chris Davis on peg 46. Rod Wootten on 56 was always going to be a threat.

The trouble with peg 7 is there is no area free of reeds, and the reeds opposite fall right out over the water meaning you can't get tight. I set up a paste rig (waste of time), a banded pellet rig for deep 4x14 0.16 to 16 and a shallow 4x10 rig same line and hook and a margin rig same again. On the whistle I fed some 6mm to point of the reeds at 11.5m and some at the same distance up the inside. I also fed a big potful at 16 mtrs which was near some bare bank but about 1/2 mtr short. It took me an hour to catch a 3lb carp on banded pellet on the deep rig on the point. I never had another fish on this rig all day but did have a couple of digs on the float during the day. I tried the shallow rig over this line for nothing, the margin was also dead!

Halfway through I caught 2 carp on the 16 mtr line in 15 mins and pulled out of 2 foul hookers, I managed one more bite from this spot for the rest of the day. My day was made a bit more interesting by watching Callum catching, and breaking a top set and 2 no4 sections.

I tried fishing shallow and the margin line but all to no avail and with an hour to go and I went for a walk as I just could not catch. I returned to my peg and was going to pack up but thought I'll just drop in shallow again on the point, I had a 3lb carp without feeding and then missed a bite, and that was that. 4 carp for 10lb 9oz (yes I did weigh to try to win a £1 but even that failed by 1lb!) is my worst weight at the venue in the 5 years I've fished the place, why did that have to hapen today!!!

After the match two things happened to cheer me up; 1) Callum dived into the lake to retrieve a lost top 4, nice shorts mate! 2) A few nameless anglers had an apple throwing fight and one of them manged to hit Mark on the head!

Des Shipp showed his world class by catching 90lb, 2nd was Rod Wootten, 3rd Mark Leader, 4th Callum Dicks and 5th Kev Moulton. These 5 will go to the final in search of £10K and I wish them the very best of luck and hope they win for our county!

I've just taken out all the carp gear, again, put all the river gear back in and mixed some gbait for the superleague tomorrow at Newbridge, will this turn into a nightmare weekend for me? I hope not!

Monday, 13 September 2010

AT winter League Final - River Nene

The long journey to Peterborough was to be made with Andy Power, so that would be quiet then lol. Andy arrived Sat morning with his Fiesta overflowing with tackle, even with my large estate car we only just got everything in! We arrived in Peterborough in good time and along with Tucks, Gary O'Shea, Mark Harper, Guy Manton and Mark Brennan walked some of the sections. The river was like tap water and on some pegs you could see the bottom in the middle. Much groundbait mixing later and finally at 5:30pm I was sat having my first beer. Goodness knows how many beers I had but after a fantastic Chinese meal and great night on the town I went to bed at 2:30pm, room mate Andy getting in at 3:30pm though I never heard him!

Sunday morning 7am alarm, and it took me a little while to get the brain engaged and remember what was happening! Surprisingly I didn't feel ill, just tired, and after a quick brekkie and plenty of water I was sorted. Arriving at the tacklefest car park the bloodworm and joker was sorted as was the mixing of leam. Then Mark Harper gave us our draw and I was pegged on 563 at Railworld, the peg below me was a flyer and had produced 20lb of roach already this year and had framed last year. I hoped the roach would be happier in my peg today!

When I arrived at my peg I was disappointed to see that I was in a bit of bay, which meant I had to wade in and get the box in the water which was not easy as there was about a foot of silt. My section wasn't going to be to hard for me to win, what with Sean Ashby (on a flyer), Joe Carass, Callum Dicks oh and Stuart Conroy on the flyer below me! Shit I hope the roach eat hemp today! I managed to get sorted and set up 4 pole rigs on top 4's. A 2 grm rig for bloodworm with a 20 PR334 (I think) to 0.07. A 0.8 grm (bulk and droppers) for hemp with a 18 B511 to 0.07, a 0.4gm (spread shot) for hemp same hook and line, and finally a 1.5 grm for chopped worm with a 11 B711 to 0.18. Setting up anything else seemed pointless as basically your fishing in a weed free area of the peg. Ten minutes before the start a very friendly local angler told me I was on a flyer for bream... when the river has a foot on! He said not one bream had been caught off the peg all season and that they were probably sat in the weed only coming out at night.

On the whistle in went the best part of 4 kilos of groundbait and 3 balls of leam stuffed with joker to 13 metres. Chopped worm was bait droppered in at 10 metres at an angle downstream. On with a pinkie and the 2grm float and first chuck the float buried, a nice "ten to the ounce" size roach had obliged! Fifteen mins in and the writing was on the wall, the pinkie wouldn't attract anymore bites and bloodworm only attracted these tiny fish. I was feeding hemp all the time and remained positive that an hour or two catching roach later on this would see me bag up!

An hour in and I had one 4oz roach and 12 fry, so onto the lobworm. I missed a bite, but redeemed myself by hitting the next bite and a 6oz perch was netted. No more bites from here, so I put another bait dropper in. By now more and more weed was floating down the river and it was no fun with many attempts at dropping the rig in resulting in weed on the line or bait. When I did get the bait in all I got was a ragged out bloodworm from a fry! Half way through and I tried the heavy hemp rig (the downstream wind was now awful and the light rig would be useless) and bugger me I had a bite! In 15 mins I managed 3 roach between 2oz and 4oz, missed 3 bites and I thought here we go, but then it just died! I was now being hammered in the section and decided to put in a good dump of joker in leam for those bream! I then had a 6oz eel on the lobby but again no more bites so I fed two more bait droppers of worm!

With an hour to go I was fu$ked, the joker line was still full of fry and the hemp line was dead. I sat on the chop for ages hoping for a lump, I did manage another eel about 10oz but that was it and so with 20 mins to go went on the hemp, 3 more roach obliged straight away then nothing and then the whistle went. I weighed 2lb 12oz, to only beat 3 people in the section (although one of them was Callum and Joe Carrass only did me by 2oz). I was embarrassed to see Stu Conroy weigh 11lb of roach on bloodworm below me and the next 5 or 6 anglers below him all had between 6lb and 13lb. Had I been just off the roach, or had I got it totally wrong? I'd like to think both because I know I can catch roach on hemp (and there were plenty caught below Stu on it) Stu showed me his bloodworm rig and it was the same as mine so it must be the feeding, I think I fed it all wrong with the amount of groundbait. It was soon clear that I had not been alone in letting the team down (made me feel a bit better!) and many others had done as bad, but Gary O'Shea did well with 2nd in section. The team finished 13th out of 15, perhaps what we expected as we had not practiced and the team plan was to have a great night out Saturday and fill the river in Sunday! Kamasan Starlets won the match and the guy who won my section with 13lb of roach on hemp was 1st overall.

Andy and myself went straight to the nearest MacDonald's where we found Nigel Evans, Nick Ewers and Chedz consoling themselves with food! Nick Ewers nearly made me choke on my food as he recalled his day and I pissed myself laughing. His match was basically just like mine except he did chuck the feeder out, but only twice because each chuck saw it stuck in unseen cabbages! I know you'll probably be reading this thinking what a load of shite, but I actually enjoyed the weekend and the experience of rubbing shoulders with anglers who are in tune with bloodworm. We don't do enough of that sort of fishing and once the river fished hard the team we were out of it. I wish they would put this final on a decent venue and stop practising the week before, because the fish are hammered until Weds before and it doesn't help. Oh well there's always next year!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back to the River!

Round 5 of the South West Superleague at Newbridge was my destination this Sunday. I had a major task on Saturday trying to get my kit ready for rivers and if I'm honest I wasn't 100% prepared! This was my first outing on the Superleague and I was guesting for Cardiff Nomads would you believe.

I met my Thatchers team mates in Matty's cafe in Bath, this place has certainly gone in up everyones estimation and the service is excellent (see for yourself). Good to see the lads again, and along with me both Liam Braddell and Leigh Trivett were guesting for Nomads. Rich Candy did the draw and handed me peg 97, about 10 pegs up from the arch in the trees and not an area I've really drawn before. Liam drew peg 74 just below Newton St Loe bridge, this after Leigh and myself had said it would be a good peg to draw! I was glad of the short walk as my arms were aching from assembling furniture the day before, and you do seem to carry a lot more gear to the river than to commercials. I needed to a little bit of pruning of some overhead branches but it was minimal effort and other than that the peg was fine, although I would be sat about 3ft above the water.

The river was clear, as expected, but I had nice tree cover inside and across and thought it might hold a few fish. I set up a 2grm Desque float with a bulk and 3 no10 droppers, a 20 to 0.10 for starters. A 3grm flat float (tried but never caught owt) and a 1.5grm with a 13 B711 to 0.168 for chopped worm (also caught nowt). I also set up a groundbait feeder with 0.14 to a 14 B611, I clipped this up to fish a few metres short of the far bank willow tree.

On the whistle I made about 8 casts on the gbait feeder then threw in 14 balls of gbait at 13 mtrs. Picking up the 2grm Desque float my first cast with single caster was rewarded with a 4oz roach, as were the next 3 casts. Unfortunately the run stopped and I was forced to alter depths and hook baits to try and sneak out the odd small roach and perch as well as going down to an 0.08 to 22 hook. Just as I was giving up on the pole I hooked a perch of about 12oz, but this also signalled the end of the pole line after an hour and a half. I decided to try the feeder and started positively with 3 red maggots on the hook. The tip remained motionless for 5 mins then slowly pulled round, my reward was a 10oz skimmer foul hooked! Forty more minutes on the feeder only provided 2 small perch and so reluctantly I came off this. I then tried all 3 pole rigs without any sign of a fish. I was now very concerned as Andy Britt had walked up the bank earlier and told me all bar one other angler in my section was admitting to 5lb, so I was guessing I was now well behind in the section.

I rang my next peg neighbour Guy Manton and he had taken 5lb on the pole and a bream on the feeder and then Steve Hutchinson told me that other bream had been caught further down. That settled things for me and I was going to fish the gbait feeder until the end. I couldn't believe it when my first 6 casts on the feeder gave me 6 bream! No just dreaming... but I did get 6 chublets which were all welcome! The feeder was now providing some interest with the odd perch to 8oz and a 1.5lb skimmer, maggot was best on the hook as worm only got me small perch. With 40 mins to go I had a proper pull round and just managed to fit a 5/6lb slab in the landing net, which was nice! One more chublet and small perch was all that came my way afer that bream and now it was wait for the scales. I had a long wait as I was the end peg in the section and it turned out that the first 3 pegs had weighed 32lb, 41lb and 27lb of bream! My weight of 15lb 12oz was the best of the rest, beating Thatchers team mate Guy by 3lb, all bar one person in the section had double figures.

Back at the results and the river had fished well, Liam Braddell won the match with 61lb of decent skimmers on the pole, he reckoned he had 45lb in the first two hours and fish were rolling all over the place. Every section was won with double figures and I must say even I was surprised by the good catches on such a clear river. Thyers won on the day with 35 points, and it was a close affair as three teams tied for last place (Maver Veals, Thatchers and Cardiff) on 30 points!

Well I have to try to find the time to prepare for the Angling Times Winter League final on the Nene this Sunday. The venue has moved slightly this year, and the North Bank is out with Orton in, apparently last week in an open there were five 20lb catches of roach! With no practice I will be relying on my river skills to see me through, and I hope we get lots more rain this week to colour it up so I can chuck the feeder out, lol!

Friday, 3 September 2010

BRI Visits

I have been to the hospital twice this week, already getting to know my way around now and recognising fellow patients!

My first visit was to see my consultant Dr Falk, apparently he's the top man, and a very nice bloke he is. He told me the size of the tumour is small and not a problem, but the position of the tumour being so close to my arse makes things more tricky (not much room inside the pelvis). So they want to shrink the tumour as much as possible before trying to remove it, and this means I will have to have 5 weeks of chemo and radio therapy. Dr Falk proceeded to explain the likely side effects and that these wouldn't likely kick in until the last week of treatment and then for a number of weeks after. It is the radiation, it gets at you once it has built up over time. Most of the likely side effects are going to be feeling sick, tiredness, the shits and few more that I won't mention here! Oh, and I'll be infertile but that's not a problem because I already had the snip! They measured my height and weight and took blood (my arms like a pepper pot) all of which is used to determine the dosage level of treatments.

On Wednesday I was in having another CT scan, this time they were "measuring" me up for the radio therapy. So I now have two crosses on my thighs and a small tattoo dot on my arse. I have to this done all over again on the 17th Sept when they check the measurements are all correct. Then on the 20th Sept (would you believe the day after my birthday) I start the treatment, and it ends on the 22nd Oct. Five weeks after the treatment ends I will be scanned again to see if the tumour has shrunk enough, and if it has then 3 to 5 weeks later I would be operated on.... hmmm that's around Christmas!

Well the above means that I should be fishing the river well into October, and will battle the side effects best I can to carry on fishing. I am going to fish the Super league this Sun at Newbridge (that will be a shock after all the carping!) the Winter league Final on the Nene and then the Avon county champs top 20 fish off at Cider Farm and so on.

I have to say so far my experience at the BRI has been great, all the staff I have come into contact with have been superb and explained everything perfectly. The only problem is parking!

I hope people do not find me writing this up in any way sick, I am doing it because 1) It helps me and 2) I have been much bettered prepared for my trips to the BRI thanks to info from other people who have gone through this process, and whilst I certainly do not want anyone reading this to go through it if you do this might just help.

Above all I am totally positive of the outcome (if you've met me recently you will know this) and not worried in the slightest. See you on the bank!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Tony Rixon Float Only Series - Final Match

As I placed my gear on the pavement waiting for Glenn to pick me up I noticed the wind was picking up but nothing serious. We soon had the car loaded (well Glenn did) and arrived at Viaduct Fishery with plenty of time to spare, but the car park was already very busy! I was in with a chance of making the top six overall, although I had to get a good result whereas others at the top already had most of their points in the bag, and as I have said in previous posts felt I would need a bit of luck today.

Into the drawbag and out comes a ticket with one stuck in it, which one to take? I decided to take the one I had my fingers on, and it revealed 116 a good peg on Campbell. Actually the other ticket I put back was corner peg 53, I know because Mat Dark took it! Glenn was not so happy when he drew peg 57 on Lodge (the disabled peg in the corner) although I have won off that peg before it can be hit or miss. I was interested to see where the other top anglers in the league had drawn, and with Tony getting 59, and Fred Roberts 94 I couldn't see them messing up.

When I arrived at 116 it soon became evident how strong the wind was, and it was to get worse during the day. Although this gave me cause for concern it would make life hard for nearly all in my section which went from 110 to 118. I had to win my section today to keep my chance of coming at least 3rd overall, and whilst not meaning to dis anyone, I thought Alan Oram 114 and Clint Wojtyla 110 would be my biggest rivals to this. Having done so well on paste recently I was keen to start on this method, but with the wind being so strong I couldn't see a float with no shot working, so instead I had a 0.5 grm Preston Tyson set up shotted to just below the top of the body, 0.18 to size 12 Drennan Nu hook. I set up a 4x14 Preston PB4 for fishing meat at 5 metres, 0.16 to a 14 PR28 and a margin rig for meat / corn (but only had one tiny carp on this). I was in two minds whether or not to set up a wag, but I decided to set up a Drake bodied wag, with 4 no8 down the line and a 16B960 to 0.185. The reason I set this up was just in case the wind dropped, or if the fish would not come in close.

On the whistle in went half a big pot of 6mm pellets at 12mtrs, some 30 pcs of meat at 5 mtrs and a big potful down the margin. Out went the paste and the float went under and never came up, but this was not a bite it was the force of the wind / tow not allowing the float to come back up! I lifted the float gently and the paste came off! I added a bit more depth and went out again this time with a stiffer paste, same result float would not come up, so I struck in disgust and hooked a carp just outside the mouth! Next chuck in and I had one proper, but then I couldn't get a bite and the wind was making it all wrong so at this early stage I abandoned the paste line. Onto the meat at 5 mtrs and it was very slow, I did manage 2 carp here in 30 mins but no signs in between bites. I was in trouble in I though, and reluctantly I started to feed 8mm pellets onto a wag line, it was a big wag line though as it was impossible to feed in the same place!

An hour and a half in and I had 5 carp in total, to my right had 2 and my left 1, but opposite on pegs 126 and 127 Andy Lloyd and Chris Davies were bagging. I was now feeling very cold and I took a walk down the bank to warm up, Alan on peg 114 had 4 carp on meat and so had Steve Evans on 111. Clint was struggling and was kind enough to leave his peg and go to his van and provide me with a fleece, thanks mate. As I returned to the peg it started to rain, straight into my face, lovely! It was now becoming me against the elements rather than the fish, and it reminded of a match earlier this year at Acorn. At one stage three top kits were blown behind me, my hat took off and my catapult and towel blew in the lake. Thankfully I started to get some bites on the deep wag, and whilst most were liners I at least knew there were fish so just got to work out how to catch them. I went more over depth to try to keep the bait still for as long as possible (about 2 minutes at best) and it helped.

After the first 4 hours I reckon I had 50lb, and I caught the odd carp on meat, I'd get one first chuck and then nothing, so I had just tried it now and then in between the wag. One thing that worked on the wag a few times today was to cast out and then try to bring the hook bait back to where the wag landed, this caught me a few on the drop, probably carp that investigated the splash and only found my pellet! The last 2 hours were much better (although the wind wasn't and it even brought down a 80ft tree behind Gary Etheridge on 121) and I spent the last 40 mins on the meat taking some skimmers, tench and carp.

I knew I had not won the section as Alan Oram had emptied it on meat at 4 mtrs, he ended with 183lb to be the clear top performer on my bank, an excellent match for Alan. Thankfully for me I was not beat by anyone else and I weighed 112lb which included 13lb of silvers. 2nd in the section was good enough to keep me in 3rd overall in the league behind overall winner Tony Rixon and Fred Roberts in second. With a section win by default I pocketed £285, a big pick up for me these days! I'm very happy to come 3rd behind 2 commercial experts.

Full result can be see on Tony's blog. Congratulations to Tony for winning and also for running a great competition along with Steve Evans.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Viaduct cost cutter 26/8/2010

As you may have read previously I have the last round of Tony's float only series at Viaduct this Sunday, and when Glenn mentioned this match I was up for it! Warren Bates was the man in the van today, and picked both myself and Glenn up, which was nice!

I viewed this match more as a practice session and to see what is going on and how the place is fishing, after all it only costs £10 to enter this match and that's only a few quid more than a day ticket but with the chance of getting your dosh back! There was a good turnout of 30 people, and some had fished the day before when there had been two 200lb weights, I just wondered how the rain would have affected the fish. I drew peg 131 on Campbell which is in a good area, Barry Fitchew had my peg the day before and told me it was solid but he did not weigh in. In the corner peg 132 was Ray Haywood, Ray had taken 160lb from the same peg on Wednesday and it didn't take him long to set up! On my left was the fishery manager Paul Greenwood's daughter Maisie, no pressure then! Glenn and Warren were both on Carey, but the talk was that Carey wouldn't be so good today.

I didn't set a lot of gear up, a paste rig as normal for 13 metres, a shallow rig for banded pellet (never used) and a deep waggler for banded pellet. 0.18 to 16 B960 were used for pellet. I did not set up the lead as I would get no benefit from using it. I didn't set up a pellet wag because Ray and others didn't think the carp would come shallow. On the hooter I fed half a large pot of mainly 6mms plus a few 8mms at 13 metres, and stated firing out 6 to 8 8mms on the wag line. Starting on the paste I had a bite first chuck and missed it, next cast I had a carp, but Ray was already on 3 and Maisie 2! The first hour was though good for me and I reckon I had 35lb to 40lb on the paste, but then it went iffy and it was a struggle to catch so I picked up the wag. I had bites straight away at depth but 4 out of 5 were liners, so after 3 or 4 fish I was back on the pole. The pole only gave up a couple of fish and so I had to go back to the wag as there were fish there.

I took another couple of carp on the wag but it was wrong and halfway through the match I took the wag off and put on a 3 swan Corby pellet wag instead. I was a mile behind Ray at this stage who had bagged fishing down to the tree in the water, but I tried to block him out of mind! The carp were very wary of the pellet wag and I had been warned they don't like it anymore. It was frustrating as the fish were there but it was hard to get them totake my hook bait. I tried a long tail and this caught a couple but I fouled too many, in the end I settled upon about 12" and just worked hard to try to trick a fish to take the bait. The last hour and a half the peg was fizzing, fish were swirling and the water went black! I had some good spells, and when it went quiet once a look back in on the pole caught me two more carp. I finished the match landing a carp on the wag after the whistle. Frustrating today, I lost at least 12 foulers on the wag, and pulled out of 4 at the net (think I pulled too hard).

Ray had taken 249lb and I was only just behind him (lol) on 175lb, but I had lost 13lb by going over the 80lb net limit twice! Either the fish were heavier than I thought or I lost count, hmmm probably both. Congratulations to Maisie who caught 103lb next me, absolutely brilliant!

My weight was good enough for 3rd overall, and it was my second consecutive 170lb weight, what's going on! Carey had not fished so well, with Glenn being third best weight with 91lb off peg 86, and Warren struggled for 2 carp on peg 76.
I was a tad tired after the match, cos they are hard fish to get in on the wag (much easier on the pole) and was glad Warren was going to be driving home!

1st Ray Haywood 249lb
2nd Mash 195lb (peg 123 and included 73lb of tench)
3rd Tim Ford 175lb

Silvers were won by John Green on peg 126 he had 79lb 14oz of skimmers on corn!

So I learned a few things today, and it will be interesting to see how it fishes Sunday, it would be nice to draw Campbell again, please! Need to draw a section without the Viaduct regulars in though, they're bloody hard to beat!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Cider Farm Open 22/8/2010

Obviously with my holiday cancelled it was back on the commercials (well I've got lots of pellets left!) and I was booked in at Cider Farm. A good turnout meant that both Yarlington and Dabinett were going to be used today. Maybe my luck has changed because I pulled peg 7 on Dabinett, one of the flyers on this lake. If you haven't been here before it is basically a peg on a gap in between the 2 long islands. For company I had venue regular Derek Culip on peg 6 (another flyer) and Bristol's finest builder and window fitter Paul Haines on peg 8 (no where as good a peg as mine). Opposite me on 21 was Steve Howells, and the other danger men were John Paige on peg 12 and worst of all Pete Sivell on peg 28. Pete has drawn this peg 3 times now, and has the match record off it.

I was pleased to know a 100lb had come off my peg the day before in a match, and I decided to attack the peg full on with paste at 7 metres, what I thought was a very comfortable distance and one the fish would be happy to come to. The usual 0.18 to size 12 Drennan Nu Hook and Big H float would do for this. I set up a 4x10 PB4 at 12" for pellet shallow and the same float at 2 feet for the margin to my left which I would feed with hemp and corn.

To start the match I fed half a big cup of pellets (4mm, 6mm and 8mm!) at 7mtr and a full big pot of hemp and corn in the margin. I did not feed any pellet across at this stage as I did not want to split the fish, I wanted them all on the paste line! I had a massive fizz over my feed and thought I had fed too much bait, but after the first hour I had taken 15 carp! I was getting a bite or a liner within seconds of the float settling, it was awesome! This put me way ahead of my neighbours and gave me a nice buffer. The second hour and 12 carp graced the net (I think 12 cos I started to lose count and gave up) and just after 2 hours Glenn Bailey rang me from Newcastle and was shocked when I told him how many I had! I had tried mainly topping up with a full Preston cad pot of pellet, but I didn't do this after every fish as it seemed to cause liners and missed bites. I also put in a bigger amount in the big pot occasionally when things slowed, this caused the fizz to return and after a while I'd get a good run of fish.

Half way through the match I decided to put two more keepnets in, this way I could see what I caught in the two halves of the match. This had the usual effect of stopping me catching! In the next 30 mins I managed 2 carp whilst Derek took 10! I managed to get a few more on the paste but I was not catching anywhere near the amount I was earlier. In hindsight I stayed on paste probably 45 mins too long, but this was because I was still getting the float go under but not hitting them or getting the odd fouler and I thought it would come good again. Eventually about just under 2 hours to go I started feeding 6mms at 13 mtrs and went out with a banded 8mm. Within 15 mins I was into carp and by regularly feeding and slapping the rig in I was catching well. However, I did have the odd mishap, as about 5 fish did me in the reeds even though I was a way from them. I thought about going to a heavier elastic but when fishing shallow I don't like heavy elastic and so I just tried to yank the pole behind me quicker. I finished the match by landing a fish after the whistle and should say I took 2 fish from the margin on corn to give the shallow line a rest for 15 mins when it went iffy once, they wouldn't stay on the inside.

Dabinett had fished well and there was talk of the fishery match record being broken, I did not do that, but my 172lb 5oz was my best ever weight at the venue by some way, I guess I had around 60 carp, I did not see the bigger stamp fish that are in this lake and to be fair most people had the same stamp. My nets showed that I caught 98lb in the first 3 hours and 74lb in the last 3. The match was won by Pete Sivell with a new record of 195lb, fair play to Pete he has increased his catch off this peg every time. I had to give him a pound too, but luckily I passed him the one I gained from Andy Curry! As for my neighbours well Derek had 126lb and Paul 88lb so a good days fishing!

1st Pete Sivell 195lb peg 28 again pellet and paste
2nd Tim Ford 172lb
3rd John Paige 131lb peg 12 Dabinett pellet
4th Derek Culip 126lb
The next two weights were also over 100lb, with veteran Rich Coles having 102lb from peg 1. The average weight was 96lb on Dabinett, and I did say that if Gary Cross had tried harder and weighed in more than 47lb we could have hit the 100lb average!

On Yarlington 92lb was top and there was and 88lb and 75lb. Pellet shallow was best but paste had the 75lb weight.

Well that was a nice day, and it was great to be back on the bank again. Next week I have the last round of Tony Rixon's float only series, Tony has told me that if I get a section win on this match then I will be in top 3 for sure. However, my last time at Viaduct in the series saw me have a disaster and that was my only match there this year, gonna need a lot of luck then! Hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Thank F*** It's Friday!

I have taken the phone call from the BRI today, and they have told me the best possible news. The cancer has not spread from the rectum, phew, do I feel relieved about that.

As the cancer itself is rather bulky and very low down I have been advised they cannot operate to remove it just yet. So I now have to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink the little bastard!

Not sure how the treatment will affect my fishing, but hopefully I'll be able to get out and about as much as possible. As I said to couple of people this experience puts things into perspective, so perhaps I won't be that bothered by messing up pegs from now on!

Thanks to everyone for the positive vibes and support, I really cannot put into words how it has helped me over the last week or two.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Shit Happens

I think I ought to put on my blog what most people will already know, that is that I have cancer. There, I've said it because I have no issue talking about it with anyone.

I have actually seen the little bastard lump of cancer which resides in my arse, saw it on camera yesterday in the BRI hospital. Wednesday 18th Aug I have a CT scan, Thursday an MRI scan and after these I will know if the cancer is just in the one place or spread further. Until then I remain positive.

I don't mind admitting that when I was first told by the Doctor I was bricking it, and going home to tell the wife and kids was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I was in floods of tears. I also felt sorry for the kids because I had to cancel our two week holiday to Kos (my planned RnR). Since that day (Mon 9th August) I have felt better and better every day in my mind and am just getting on with life as normal. If I see you on the bank I want to have a laugh and joke, wind ups as normal, because fishing is the one thing that has always taken me to a different place for a few hours, switching the rest of the world off so to speak. I do not want sympathy or people to fear the worse, because I am not!

I don't intend to turn this blog into a cancer site, but I will advise what I am up to as it may help people in the future who have to face the same thing. Up until now the hospital staff have been superb, support from friends and family has been amazing, in fact blown me away and put me in the right frame of mind.

I've booked in for the open at Cider Farm this Sunday and hopefully I'll get in amongst the carp and rain or shine bag up!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

December 1990

Dec 1st saw me on the banks of the Avon at Frys for the Commercial House Xmas match. I was drawn up in the 50's, what I call opposite the lily pad pegs on Jackies, an area that could through up bream. However, on this day the river was clear and I wasn't sure they would feed and so I settled on a crowquill approach. Using a 22 to 1.8lb Tectan I loosefed maggot and hemp I caught dace, roach, perch and small skimmers for 6lb 5oz and a section win. However, bream had fed in many pegs and I should have spent some time on the feeder, but the trouble is I love catching on the float!

The following day and it was back on the Avon for the Portcullis Xmas match at Crane and Swineford. I had one of the shortest walks when I pulled out the boys hole! I decided to fish exactly the same method as the day before (since bream had disappeared from this ares by now) and ended with an improved 7lb 15oz. Whilst that got me a prize it was not good enough for any coin, as the pegs by the cattle grid produced 12lb and 14lb of roach on the stick with caster. If I recall correctly the heavier weight was caught by Mark Harper, and it was a lesson in the quality caster could produce. But did I learn the lesson, no, I put it down to the pegs and would stick to maggots and hemp for a while longer!

1990 must have been a very dry year, because I have recorded on the 3rd Dec that a hose pipe ban was still enforced in Bristol, and that Chew Valley lake was only half full. On Saturday 8th December I fished the Silver Dace Xmas match, again this was from Crane to Swineford, and I drew 2 pegs into the cornfield (walking upstream). It was a cold day and it snowed all day, but it didn't pitch, and my match was awful with just a solitary 1lb 7oz chub to show for my efforts, although I did lose 2 chub to a 10lb+ pike! I walked a bit that day, and saw Leigh Nutland catch 30lb of chub of the "beach" peg on the waggler, and an angler had 40lb of bream in the middle of the cornfield. My next day on the Bathampton Xmas was even worse, I could only manage 2 roach and 1 gudgeon from peg 217 at Kelston straight.

I had only 2 Xmas matches left now to try to put some decent fish in the net, and next up was the Bristol Sensas Xmas match fished from Chequers to Jack Whites. I drew at Chequers, opposite the concrete outflow on Frys. I was not happy with this draw as I wanted to be at Jack Whites on a big fish peg. It was freezing on this morning and for the first 2 hours of the match the rod rings were freezing. Fishing once again with crowquill hemp and maggot I was amazed to catch 7lb 4oz of all roach, virtually unheard of in such conditions. Although this won me the section the river had fished well at Jackies, with bream weights of up to 30lb, chub weights of up to 18lb and there was even a 12lb carp caught. Looking back I never gave myself a chance of big fish in these matches by not fishing the feeder, but perhaps I benefited in the long run by working at catching on the float.

The last Xmas match was at Bristol docks and I drew at "halfpenny Bridge" OK where the f%ck that I asked! After finding someone to follow I was told it was only worth fishing for dace. I imagine I put together a rig on the day for this but I don't know what sort, but I used a 20 to 1.1lb bayer. I fished at 7 metres but went to 10 metres of pole to control the float. By loose feeding just maggot I caught for 3 1/2 hours, but then the flow picked up tremendously and the fish went with it. I'm guessing I framed as I picked up £41 but I did not record my position. On the day 30lb of roach won the match from the then famous lightship.

I did not fish the following weekend, as I went to Nottingham for a Xmas piss up with Paul Benson, Kev Winstone and Nick Tutty. I remember regretting wearing a white shirt one night when drinking Murphys, as I spilt loads down me! It was also rather funny on Xmas eve when the B&B owner came into our room to fix a blocked sink, unfortunately for him this was about 2 minutes after Nick Tutty had taken a dump. He came out of the bathroom glassy eyed and struggling for breath, but he was a good spirit and saw the funny side!