Sunday, 29 July 2012


Before I go back in time I have made a very tough decision this week, and that is that I shall not be taking part in the Div 1 National on the Bristol Avon. I am gutted to have to miss this as it would have been a great day to participate in the Div 1 on my local water. However, I realise that I simply do not have the physical well being required at present to tackle a river, and the team cannot afford a weak link. I wish the team well and will be walking the bank somewhere on the day trying to help them if I can.

I rarely fished during the close season of 1993, but I did get out a few times. However, one of my best memories is of a match I did not fish. Gary Bowden was going on the Veals trip to Northern Ireland and before the trip I offered Gary my Drennan feeder rod as I told him it would be better for bagging, but he refused. Gary then drew a peg on the Blackwater at Verners Bridge that was solid with bream, and he had 200lb of them but told me he couldn't wind them in quick enough and wished he had taken my rod as he reckoned he could of beaten the then 5 hour world record match weight.

I did pay a social visit (beer and pleasure fishing you could say) to Upham Farm in Exeter for a long weekend, taking 40 carp up to 10lb on one day, all on maggots of course. On April 18th I fished a small match (I called it a sweep in my diary, now it would be the size of a normal commercial open) on a venue called Oxenleaze Farm near Clatworthy. I remember the lake fished really hard and the expected carp and tench switched off. I took 2 small tench, 1 small carp and 40 rudd on the wag and mag for 6lb 14oz, that won me £25, not sure if I was 3rd? A week later and a trip down the M5 to Millhayes pond at Kentisbeare, another waggler job for me but I fed caster, 4 pints of them. It was another struggle with 2 small carp, some rudd and small tench for 10lb 14oz which actually won me the section.

My next trip out was not until the 6th of June, and it was on the Exter canal, yuk! This was a teams of 4 match, and I thought we had a good team until two of them got cold feet and dropped out a few days before! That left Andy Floyd getting two of his work mates in to bale us out. I had a good draw on the Lime Kilns area and this meant I could fish a feeder all match looking for bream / skimmers. I cast the feeder as far as I could cast it (!) and fished with a 20 to 0.08 (I can't believe I did that now!!!) with worm and maggot hookbaits. This was a 6 hour match and after 5 of them I had just 1 perch and was thinking how I was going to explain this disaster to Andy. Luckily for me I then caught 2 bream in two casts which was all the action I had! My weight of 2 kilo 800grms got me 2nd in the 26 peg section, and Andy had won his. Unfortunately the stand in lads did the reverse, last and last but one, and with no money paid out other than for the teams overall it was not a good day. I think that was my last time on that canal and remains top of my list of places never to go to again.

I went away with my girlfriend for a weeks holiday to Rhodes and spent the first proper day their feeling like death warmed up after taking up every bar's free offer of schnapps! I digress, the reason for mentioning this hol was that I was coming home on the 16th June and I'd planned to fish Tockenham on the 17th with Bob Shep, Mark Jefferies and Andy Floyd. My flight back was badly delayed and I didn't get home until just after 5am. Shortly after this the lads turned up to pick me up and off I went fishing with no sleep! Getting to Tockenham they wanted to fish a sweep, but I said I did not want to cos I wanted to have a nap during the day (and it is not allowed) but a fiver each as pairs was decided (Sorry Amalgamation). I said bad luck to Andy who was my partner as all I was setting up was a tip rod so I could fall asleep with it! However, I got no sleep and ended up with 1 small carp and skimmers for 16lb 10oz, and we beat Bob and Mark. On the way home they went to a pub when all I wanted to was go home! I finally got some sleep only to get up at 7am the following day for another day out with the lads this time at Jackie Whites with no money on it. I had a nice day with 13lb of mainly skimmers and hybrids on the crowquill and bread.

The first open I fished was on Sunday 20th June when I drew up in the Cornfield on the Crane. The river did not fish well and I had a typical 1 bream and 2 perch start of season bag. The river did not fish well but 30lb of chub came from the outfall to win it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

February / March 1993

My wound is progressing better this last week, it seems the 3rd consecutive week of antibiotics is making a difference. Nice to watch fishing on the TV this weekend, two days of fishomania was very enjoyable and great to watch an international match.

Back to Feb 1993 and on Wednesday 17th the team fished the last ATWL semi final practice open match on the River Nene at Orton. I drew peg 383 and as soon as I saw the river I noticed the pace of the river had slowed greatly since my last visit, this was thanks to a week without rain! As there was a downstream wind, and with the reduced flow, I decided a waggler would be the best approach and left the stick floats in the box. The river is not wide here and so a 3AAA wag was sufficient to gain enough distance and control, with 4 no8 and 1 no10 down the line ending with a 22 hook to 0.08 line my choice of set up. I fed a dozen bronze maggots every run down at around two thirds across and was soon getting bites from small roach. The size was small with just the very odd better fish, but from what I could tell everyone around me was catching the same stamp and so I plodded on. I found a bait fished 18" off bottom was best and in fact I never actually fished right on the deck at all. I finished with 5lb 2.5oz and that was 3rd in my 20 peg section, no money but if I could do the same on the semi it would be job done for the team. One thing a few of us noted was that the whip and pole caught a lot of fish and so that would have to be in our plans for the semi.

Saturday quickly arrived and we were back at Orton for the semi itself hoping for a good draw with lots of end pegs, I wish! I was though really happy when the team draw put me on 386, just 3 pegs from my last practice and I knew what I would be aiming for, 5lb. As I walked to my peg I saw Robbie Kepner of Avon Bait on 383, I told him it was a good peg and of my 5lb on it, but not how I fished it of course. I felt I only needed a 2.5AAA wag today but I did end up putting 6 no8 an 1 no10 down the line to the now standard 22 and 0.08. I also set up 3 and 6mtr whips which I would start the match on, I cannot recall the rigs used. I fed small balls of gbait with pinkies in on the two whip lines whilst feeding bronze maggots over for the wag later. I caught tiny roach at 3mtr before this soon died, then similar sized roach on the 6mtr line. The wind was making the whip awkward and bites were fading as the hour approached so I left the whip lines and picked up the wag. Immeadiately the fish showed themselves, and the stamp was slightly better, but were still talking only 1oz to 2oz fish and certainly not every cast! I was once again fishing off bottom, and the main reason for this was because I had found in practice you could pick up the odd 3 or 4oz fish up in the water, now it might only be 5 or 6 of them, but that could be 12oz more weight which is a lot in a low weight match. I felt my match was going well, as all around me fished poles giving me the other side of the river to myself. There were quite a few people watching the match and I remember a lad shouted to his Dad "look, this man is using a rod", and I did attract a fair few watchers who said "we're fed up looking at poles!". The far bank opposite me had big vines trailing in the water and I had the occasional chuck tight across in the hope of a chub, this was a mistake. On one cast across I snagged up at half depth, and in pulling for a break lost everything. I had to set the wag up from scratch losing me valuable catching time. I sneaked an 8oz roach out before the end of the match to cheer me up a bit but I was cursing my stupidity. I finished with 4lb 13.5oz which gave me 19 points out of 23, good yes, but 5lb 1oz was 2nd in the section and I should have had that. As I walked back I saw Robbie, he had struggled for I think 1lb 8oz, and said to me the peg was a snag pit. When I told him I had not fished within a foot of the bottom he closed his eyes and grimaced, just shows the fine lines in getting an approach right with practice, cos Robbie is a brilliant angler. Getting back to the results we had given ourselves a chance we thought, but unfortunately we came 6th and only 4 went into the final, though we were just 13 points off qualifying. I thought we were unlucky as the top 4 teams all came from four pegs in a row in the low numbers and end peg 1 was fifth, in fact more than one team were impressed with our result compared to those pegged around us, but we only cared about qualifying.

No time to rest for a young angler, back on the bank the following day on a Silstar Open on Newbridge. I was really happy with peg 16 opposite the pub as I felt I would get a good days float fishing although I would never compete with the expected bream weights. I set up a stick float and a waggler, both with my usual 22 to 0.08 and fed maggots on a near line and down the middle. The first 40 minutes on the stick in close were very good for roach, but it switched off never to produce again. I spent the rest of the match sneaking roach out on the wag, fishing off bottom as I had done on the Nene. Going into the last hour I uppped the feed and started to catch better, so I fed more and caught more including a 1lb chub. I think the fish were doing the usual and coming on the feed as the light faded and so feeding more bait was not going to over feed the peg. I finished with a level 9lb which meant I won the section. However, at the results it soon became evident the bream had not fed every where and many anglers endured a very tough match, as such I sneaked 5th overall and an unexpected tidy payout.

I took the following weekend off to recharge the batteries before the last big match of the season came, the Ray Carter memorial on the Thames, with 480 anglers. My team of 6 had an OK draw, with Bob Sheppard having the dreaded Carrots n Ham section where just catching a fish would mean good points. I was on a flyer, the downstream end peg at Clifton Hampden which was full of chub I was told, but reports of 30lb catches of chub up to Friday did not inspire me, in my opinion chub go off the feed for days after a few hammerings. Still I had to be happy that it would still be a good peg in the 80 peg section. The river is very wide here and I needed a long cast on a maggot feeder to reach the far bank, other rigs were assembled but I only caught on the feeder. I started on a 18 to 1.5lb maxima but only had 1 small chub and no more bites, so after 40 minutes changed to a 20 to 0.1. On the first cast I had a small chub and soon put 3 more puppys in the net before it went stone dead. In desperation I went down to a 22 and 0.08 and I couldn't believe it when I caught again, I lost 1 but took 3 more small chub. An hour before the end an angler from the B team Paul Sawyer came down for a walk and told me he was blanking and asked how I had caught. When I told him I was on 0.08 he thought I was mad! Come the end of the match my 7 small chub weighed 5lb 5oz and that was worth 73 points out of 80. Walking back following the scales I got to Paul who looked very happy and told me he changed to 0.08 and caught two chub, one was over 5lb! Fine lines really paid off here. The team gradually arrived back one by one and we had some fantastic results, and Bob had managed to catch one chub for mega points. Bob had gone for a walk during the match leaving his feeder rod out, when he came back the rod was in water stuck in reeds and the chub was on the end! The team won on the day with 399 points, and for me this is one of my most memorable fishing achievements as some of the country's best river teams fished this match. Bristol Sensas had finally won something big and raised a few eyebrows.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

January / February 1993

I popped into Avon Angling on Friday and got a very nice reception from Tony and the other lads in there. Whilst there Eddy Wynne said he hadn't seen anything on my blog and wondered how I was, so I thought I'd better write something! First and foremost fishing seems out of the question now for at least a month, this is because my wound just isn't healing and in fact another hole has appeared in my belly. On doctor's orders no lifting, straining or stretching which pretty much rules out most things except walking! I'm getting worried about missing the national on the Avon, I know there will be a lot of shite pegs in but it would be nice to fish it.

Back to Jan 1993 when I was happily fishing the Avon without a care in the world! I fished at Conham for a couple hours on New Year's Day catching just 3 fish, the rod rings were continually freezing it was that cold! The following day I was at Newbridge on an open and drew peg 43, and if I recall correctly Steve Mayo was below me and Andy Floyd was on peg 46 which back then was the best chub peg. With it being so cold, the river clear and my peg not that good I expected to struggle. I set up a 4AAA waggler with 7 no6 shot down the line and fished down the middle of the river. I fed maggots and hemp and despite the rod rings freezing until midday I was catching the odd roach, but I did have to fish well over depth to slow the bait down to get bites. I had a nice day and ended with 9lb 7oz which was good enough to win my section I think by default as Andy framed with Chub. Steve had an early bath that day!

The following Sunday I was back at Newbridge for the ATWL facing a now dirty river and one that rose nearly 2 feet as we fished! Amazingly I ended up on peg 43 again but all I could do was fish a feeder a rod length out. The river fished very bad, probably as all the salt from the roads had been washed into it. I had one 8oz hybrid but did lose another fish during the match, still that 1 fish was worth 9 points out of 12, and my section was won with 1lb 2oz, a real grueller!!! The team came 2nd on the day and held a 4 point lead in the league with 2 rounds left. Rain continued to fall all week after that match and the river burst its banks, the Commercial House was fished on Bristol Docks which can hold a fair bit of water! I was drawn outside what was then GWR, where it was about 12 feet deep. I fished a feeder but only for the first half of the match, after this a massive raft of rubbish got stuck in front of me making it impossible to fish. I only weighed 1lb 9oz but was amazed to get 11 points from 14 and get through to the knockout final.

The following Sunday and the penultimate round of the ATWL was on Frys and the Crane on a flooded river. I drew the 1st peg into the long ashtip field (been on this one a few times) and struggled all day ending with just 6 tiny eels for 7.5oz. As in the previous round I scored 9 points and the team won the day and now held a 5 point lead over Silstar. This now meant Silstar had to beat us by 6 places in the last match for us not to win the league, and so we were pretty much assured of winning the league, so much so that we decided to visit the semi-final venue the following weekend, the river Nene at Orton. We walked an open on the Saturday and then practiced the following day where I had 3lb of small roach on a 6 no4 stick with a 22 to 0.08, and my 3lb was the best weight!

Going into February I pleasure fished the high wall peg up the Crane (on Saturday 6th) and had 12lb on the stick float in 4 hours. I fed maggot and hemp and took nearly all roach, this is still a great area to fish for roach. Sunday and the last round of the ATWL saw me 10 pegs up Limpley Stoke on what looked a nice river. I based my attack around the crowquill and fed maggot and hemp and in close and hemp and caster 3/4 across. I caught really well in the 1st hour in close, but after this had to nick fish off each line. I won the section with 7lb 10oz and the team finished the league in style winning with 120 points, and we had dropped just 1 point all league. I was 5th individual overall.

The local winter leagues were wrapped up on Valentines day with the final round of the Commercial House. I found myself pegged 3 above the lone tree on the Frys stretch, the river was a bit pacey but I had a nice long trot so went with the crowquill. Feeding sparingly with maggots I had a 1lb chub after 10 mins and thought here we go! Nearly an hour later I hooked another but pulled out of it at the net, grrr. No more bites were forthcoming and so I went on the gbait feeder. I starteed by casting right over, but fishing across to the trees was far too snaggy and so I fished down the middle instead with double caster on the hook. I had 1 bite on this for a 2lb chub and that was it, but all the bank talk had been the match had fished very hard. My two chub weighed 3lb 2oz, I did not write in my diary where I came in the section. However, this was a great day for me as I came 4th in the match, won the knockout cup, was team champion and top individual in the league. The late great Melvyn Holbrook came and congratulated me and I felt on top of the world.