I had forgotten just how close Hillview fishery is to Bristol, 45 mins is about all it takes to get there because it is so close to the motorway. I had a nice on site breakfast which I knew would be good, as Mike Nichols and Bela Bakos had already emptied their plates when I arrived!
The match today was on the canals; 1st, 2nd and 4th and when I drew peg 67 it meant nothing to me and it took me a while to get my bearings. Bela had drawn this peg last week, weighing 20lb after the ice had broken, but told me that he was told by locals he should have fished more down to the reeds to his right. When I arrived at the peg it was rather barren straight across, but I could see the reeds in peg 68. Peg 67 is one off the end peg 68, which was left out, and 13mtrs get you to most of the bottom bank. I had set my tactics up based upon what I had read on Mike's blog, and listening to what some of the locals had told me. I decided on a micro pellet and maggot line on a top set plus 2 sections (just like the bread line on the K&A) which was about the deepest area, and various far bank reed lines for corn.
I used a 0.6 grm Sensas Auchy type float, this is a straight float with a wire stem thin plastic bristle, a spread bulk of no 8 shot and 2 no 10 droppers below were attached to a 18 PR29 to 0.11 powerline. For elastic I used the light blue Preston hollo. I used 4x12 Preston Chianti for the far bank rigs, these were set around 2.5ft deep with a small bulk of stotz and a couple of no10 stotz droppers. (I used stotz for this rig as they slide up the line easier if a fish should go through the reeds.) I used the same hook and hook lengths. I set up two far bank rigs exactly the same but differing elastics as I wasn't sure what size fish I would encounter, but in the end the one with Preston hollo green was all needed.
I was really looking forward to the start of this match, as it was the first time I had fished a commercial since before the winter leagues had started! On the whistle I cupped in about 30 micros + 8 maggots on the 5 mtr line, and cupped in a bit more pellet and 4 pieces of corn onto two far bank lines. I was surprised to see the lad next to me feed what looked like nearly a full small Preston pot of micros on a few lines, had I got it wrong?
Starting on the maggot line I was getting tiny indications, bear in mind I had the float dotted down, which I thought were liners as I never hit one in the first 10 mins! I was on double maggot and changed to a single, and this was better as now the float would go under a small amount on a bite! Little crucians, fantails, goldfish, koi and the odd gudgeon were coming to the net, 12oz was the biggest with most just a few ounces. The guy opposite me on the 1st canal then hooked a carp on the far bank and snapped his pole! His top set stayed attached to the fish like a periscope, and it went 2 pegs to his right, then went straight back to where he had hooked it! He walked onto mine and his far bank (he did ask me) and retrieved the top set and netted the fish. I decided to stick with the maggot line and give the far bank a chance to recover.
I reckon I had 7lb after the first hour, and then went across on the corn and first drop an 8oz carp. Next drop a couple of digs then nothing, so I tried the other line and after a long weight I had a 1lb fish. No more bites came, so I potted a bit of corn in on these lines and tried the maggot line again. First drop on the maggot and a 2lb carp, then a few more bits before a nice 5lb fish caught off bottom boosted my weight. For the next couple of hours I would take a few fish from the maggot line and then have a look on the corn, and whilst it wasn't bagging I was managing to keep the odd fish coming. I could see the guy opposite me was doing well on corn against the far bank as was Mike Nichols (who had basically drawn the match winning peg of last week). I tried the corn more and more as it did produce better fish but I had to wait a long time for a bite, if I got one. I also took a couple of carp by dropping the rig into areas I had not fed.
The maggot line was now slowing up, and so I decided to gamble and feed a good amount of micro plus 12 pieces of corn about 2 mtrs to the right of the maggot line. I left this for 15 mins and then went in and took two 2lb carp in two chucks and never had another bite! I was slightly annoyed with myself because I thought the match finished at 3:30, but it was in fact 4pm, with 25 mins to go I re fed two of the corn lines which had produced the most bites and took two 4lb carp in the last 15 mins.
My weight of 41lb 6oz was 2nd on my canal to the angler on the opposite end who had 48lb of carp down the track on corn. The guy to my left chucked back 10lb and the guy next to him also DNW. Mike won the match with 60lb+ (see his blog for exact weights, tactics etc) and the guy opposite me was 2nd with 51lb. Bela did well to win the back canal with 43lb and was 4th overall, he had caught on maggot right across (no small fish to pester this tactic like there were on my canal).
So I ended up 5th and no money and I needed another 7lb+ to get my section which I think was possible had I got the corn across sorted, although to be fair I only pulled out of one fish all day which is pretty good on this sort of venue and I think shows there weren't that many carp in the swim to cause liners and foulhookers.
I guess I can't complain about not picking up coin with so many regulars, and Bela and Mike had clearly benefited from the previous weeks experience, but most of all I had really enjoyed the day. I came away thinking I had a great bag of fish working at it all day, and whilst I can see it will be hard to coin up here I can see me coming back again soon for some more fun.