Sunday, 23 December 2012

King Billy Xmas Match Tanhouse Farm

Jerry Pocock always runs a King Billy Xmas match on the river, but of course the downpours this week were going to stop that this year so Jerry and Martyn Reyatt hastily found a fishable venue. Tanhouse Farm (also known as Yate Rocks) is a small lake near Engine Common, it is 20 to 25 metres wide and rectangular in shape. I have only ever pleasure fished this lake once about 20 years ago, and remembered that it took me a couple of hours to get bites from small roach and perch. I tried ringing round for info and Mike Nicholls seemed to have fished it most recently, 3 years ago, and said there were some nice silvers in there and some big carp, fish groundbait and pinkie, and casters shallow.

The draw was done in the Midland Spinner pub and after paying our pools we all drove to the fishery with only 1 or 2 people knowing the way. I followed Dave Tippet who promptly drove past the turning for Yate and I assumed he knew a short cut, but no, he just missed the turning! Arriving at the fishery Jerry was off pegging it out, and he squeezed 16 pegs in with 1 on the far end bank and 16 on the end bank by the farm. I pulled out peg 8 bang in the middle, which for those that know the fishery, put me 2 pegs past the tump into the jungle. I wasn't sure where would be a good draw, but Martyn was on 1 and Kev Boltz 16, on my right on peg 9 was Dave topset Haines and on 7 was ONCE AGAIN Jerry Pocock. I thought I might catch on the waggler with caster so I set up a 3AAA insert wag with 2 no8 and 2 no10 down the line to 0.10 and a 20. Two pole rigs did for me, a 4x12 Preston Chianti for caster shallow (4ft but no bites on this) and my river rig 1grm pencil float as the peg was about 10 foot deep. Both these rigs had 0.1 to a 20.

On the whistle I fed some micros, maggots and pinkies at 9 metres in front, again at 13 metres to my right. I began on the waggler feeding caster and threw casters in by hand for shallow later. The first 45 minutes on the wag were biteless despite various depth and hook bait changes, and then both pole lines were tried unsuccesfully. After not much more than an hour Sean Townsend on peg 10 came down for a walk and said he was blanking but the pegs on the lawn were all catching, Dave Haines had 6 roach on bread and there was only 1 roach caught in the first 7 pegs. So it seemed already that the fish were shoaled up in the lawn area.

After 2 hours I was still blanking but Jerry had now caught a perch on 3 dead bloodworms! Rich Lacey walked up and so I joined him to go and see some fish caught. Kev Boltz was catching small roach and rudd regularly, but Jeff Agius had taken a 1.5lb roach, 2lb hybrid and was getting small skimmer and roach. To his left Leon Hubbard had not caught to begin but now he too was catching skimmers and roach. We joked they would soon be moving down to Sean Townsend as it seemed the fish were moving that way!

Back to my peg and I thought I ought to feed some chopped worm to try and catch a perch, but oops all the dendras I had were dead. I did have a few lobs though and so I took 3 and chopped them up finely adding a few casters, pinkies and maggs and fed this at 13 metres to my left, I topped up on the other 13m line. After 2hrs and 40 mins the float finally went under on the micro 13m line and I had a tiny roach. Next chuck and another roach, and next chuck nothing..... Twenty minutes went by with no bites anywhere, and for the 2nd time I tried the chopped worm line with a single dead red maggot. I had a lovely bite and out came the elastic and this was a reasonable fish which turned out to be a 12oz skimmer. Jerry swore at me, lol, then came up to see me as he had been suffering very bad stomach cramps for a while. I lowered my float in again and it just kept going and another skimmer was on, Jerry swore again. Next chuck and a longer wait for a bite but another smaller skimmer, and next chuck an even longer wait for a small fish. I took this as the swim needing a rest (the water is like tap water) and tried back over the 13m micro and maggot line. Incredibly I was now getting bites here from small roach and the odd 6oz skimmer. Going back over the worm line I took another 3 skimmers including 1 over a pound, and then it just died so I refed 2 lobbies and gave the waggler a try for nothing!

The rest of the match I just kept swapping between the two 13m swims using either double pinkie, single red or double red maggot on the hook, picking off the odd small skimmer and roach. What a difference the last two hours were! Jerry even managed two skimmers in the last 20 mins, think they had finally managed to eat through his 1/4 kilo of worm he fed or did they just turn up by then.

The scales got to me from peg 1 and the board showed 1lb 9oz was top (Steve Skelton) and Jerry was next with 14oz, I managed to break double figures with 10lb 9oz. Hainer had a level 3lb of bread fish and then Sean weighed 10lb exactly. Up on the lawn Leon had finished strongly with some big hybrids and won the match with 16lb 8oz, Jeff was 2nd with 14lb 8oz . With Kev Boltz net of sprats weighing 9lb I had sneaked in 3rd and last in the money. I can't recall having a match on a lake where the fish switched on like they did, so did they swim down the lake???

By the way if you're wondering why didn't I feed any groundbait it is because the fishery don't allow it, take note! Back at the Midland Spinner and Jerry put on an amazing raffle though I never won anything, this was probably because Dave Tippet won most of the prizes (although he could have won more, ask Jerry). Well this was my final match of 2012 as I'm going away next weekend, it has been a bit of an up and down year, the operation fuck up knocked me back and I found it hard to get back into fishing and lacked confidence for a while. I lost the house I wanted to buy and am currently living with the in laws. I soon remembered to just enjoy my fishing again and then things got better but the floods did not make great fishing. Winning the Poppy match was a real shot in the arm and that sort of thing gives you a boost for quite a while. Looking into 2013 I hope I can have at least 8 months free from hospital, but am going to try to get shot of the bag again after the summer, so I will be trying to get myself fitter and stronger before that by getting back to playing football and fishing some commercials in the hope of some big bags, bags of fish that is!

Happy Christmas everyone, enjoy the holiday and best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Commercial House Xmas Match K&A Canal

I haven't managed to fish this Xmas match for many years, it is always fished on a Saturday and often clashed with a planned hangover, so was pleased to be doing so in 2012. Having had a week off my batteries were fully charged and I was looking forward to getting out, although thinking the fishing would be hard after the ice melt on Friday. The draw was at the White Lion pub in Batheaston, a good venue but I didn't much like the brekkie, especially when carrying it I dripped loads of bean juice all over me. The pegging of this match went from peg 1 above the swingbridge (which is way up past Bathampton bend) down to 6 pegs below the George pub. Listening to how well the canal fished last here week I fancied a low number draw, but instead I pulled 21 which put me the 1st peg past the white gate going out of Bath. Not long after me Andy Power pulled end peg 1 and did his best not to smile!!!

Parking for this match was in the George pub, but this was only because it was Saturday and it seems we've lost the parking for Sunday matches, and so it was not too far to walk for me. I was not convinced I was on a good peg as this area is shallower than the rest of the canal and is often left out as its also very narrow behind you. In my section were two pegs either side of the bay with Vinny Lunn sat on the one which won last week's match. I assembled rigs for today with little difference to recent canal matches, although I went back to my standard bread punch rig a 4x14 Drennan Roach with 0.07 to 18 B511 as I expected more bites than my last time out at Claverton. Two bloodworm rigs one for the middle and one for across with 20 to 0.06 and my caster and chop worm rigs. About 10 mins before the start a boat turned round in the bay stirring up the water on the gate peg, and a dog had a shit 10 mtrs above me creating a lovely smell....

To start the match I fed a ball and some loose liquidized bread at 5mtr and held off from feeding anything else. I was dead chuffed when I had bites straight away on the punch, and after a few roach landed a 10oz skimmer. The wind got really bad all of a sudden (and only in my peg, ask Craig Edmunds who walked along and saw it!) and with the sun in my face it made bait presentation and seeing bites very tricky. Luckily the roach kept feeding and despite missing a few bites I soon had a 1lb+ skimmer although I did pull out of one of similar size too. The first hour had flown by and I was still getting a bite a chuck, and I'd picked up 3 more skimmers around 8oz. I had refed a golf ball of bread to pep things up but bites were now taking longer but as the roach were still a sensible size I kept plugging away until 2 hours in. I had then fed some joker at 8mtr to my left, some next to the boat, and some with caster across (about a metre of the bank as it was too shallow right over. I also fed some lobbies 14mtr to my right. Not long after this I was really pleased to see Guy Manton walking up the bank, I haven't seen him for over a year and he is planning to get back into fishing again which I'm glad to hear.

The bread line was no longer responding to top ups but to be honest I was really happy having caught for 2 hours, and my first change was to look for a big fish. Alas no perch took a fancy to my lobby and never did all match. The bloodworm line against the boat was naff and I only had 1 perch here, but the other two lines were OK, I would get 4 or 5 reasonable roach on one line and then had to switch to the other. During the last half of the match I continually switched lines and tried to catch a better fish, when Guy walked back down I said I had 6lb and he said that was 2nd but I should just keep trying to catch small fish to stay in front, oh and that Andy Power had 15lb!!!  I took Guys advice, but did manage a couple of caster roach out of the blue, but it was slow going now. With 20 mins to go I trashed both my bloodworm rigs, first one in the wind, and then when a dog hit my pole as I was shipping back and the rig caught the moored boat and I lost the lot. I fed another ball of bread on my original punch line and took a flurry of small roach to the end. This is a rare occurrence, but when the light fades sometimes the roach will show again.

Trigger walked back down and had a look at my net of fish and said I had 7lb at least, I was hoping he was right. To my left Lee Warden and Steve Skelton both weighed 3lb 12oz (mainly early skimmers on bread) and then I dumped 9lb 4oz on the scales, just 9lb more than my last effort lol! The lad to my right had packed up and DNW, then Vinny had 7lb 15oz which was mainly skimmers as he couldn't catch roach.

Back at the White Lion I soon realised I was 2nd which was a nice surprise as I didn't have any thoughts of framing from my peg, but the fish were there and that's what you need in the winter. Andy Power paralysed the match with 15lb of skimmers, he took 7 of them up to 2lb in the first hour on bread, and some more later over joker along with some roach.Vinny came 3rd and so that peg has framed twice in two weeks. Overall the canal had fished quite well considering how cold the water and the fish were, although some anglers struggled to catch small fish but there were also a few perch up to 2.5lb taken. I didn't win a prize on the raffle but had a nice big bottle of Barcadi for coming 2nd which will come in handy for Xmas.

One thing to mention, I nearly had a dip in the canal today, I somehow got my bib and brace trousers caught in my box and when I went to get up the box slipped forward and I was balanced precariously over the canal! Luckily for me I sat back down quickly and sorted it, but it was a close call, lol! Next Sunday is a Xmas match on the Crane, if you want to fish contact Jerry Pocock, if we get no rain it could be a good roach match.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

November 1993

No fishing this weekend as I wanted to have a break and see the kids again, so a pop back down memory lane.

I ventured to the upper Bristol Avon on Saturday 20th November 1993, to Staverton to be precise, where there were often Sat opens but I had not fished them before. The weather was not good and it had been -3C overnight and only crept up to 3C during the day. I drew what was then permanent peg 26 and was told it was not that good, but the peg looked nice to me with a good run down the inside. I set up a stick float in the hope of catching some roach in close and a maggot feeder for across for a chub. The stick line was very quiet, and after 2 hours I had only taken 3 tiny roach when I hooked a big chub, how big I will never know as it swam all the way to the far bank and bust me up. I never had another bite for the rest of the match and the lost chub would have saw me frame on a dire day.

I was up on Sunday morning ready for the Commercial House to be fished at Frys and looked out of my window only to be greeted by a covering of snow. The team draw put me at the top end of Frys on peg 80 which was 1 above the stump. A crowquill and a feeder were all I set up and as I was not sure if I would catch after yesterday's struggle I used a 22 to 0.09 on the float. I fished 3 rods out on the float feeding maggots and to cut a long story short I managed to convert my one bite into a 7 1/2oz chublet. This one fish was a good result in what was the worst section of the match, and it helped the team to win on the day and we now held a 3 1/2 point lead.

Friday following I had a pleasure fishing trip to Kelston Straight and blanked! The following day was the Silver Dace Xmas match and I drew at Jack Whites, a couple of pegs below the blockhouse which back in those days was an awful draw. Needless to say I blanked again, but so did 29 other people and I managed to win 24 cans of lager for sticking it out. The match was won with 10lb of roach from the bay at the Crane and it was clear that the fish had shoaled up due to the continued cold weather. Sunday was now going to be a bit of a bum squeaker as I was on for a hat trick of blanks, but this match being the ATWL I couldn't afford that. I found myself drawn above Saltford weir field and just by the danger weir sign, an area most people turned their noses up at. This part of the river was deep and I set up a pole to fish at 11.5 metres with a 1.5grm float and a 24 to 0.08. I also set up a straight lead on a little wand rod, also with a 24 to 0.08. I flicked out 4 to 6 maggots every other cast and after an hour I picked up a roach on the pole, I'd caught this by fishing 18" overdepth and easing the rig through slowly. My final tally of 6 roach and a perch went 1lb 11oz and was worth 9 points, the pegs at the other end of the section (opposite bottom of the trees) had produced a few big roach and the top weights. The team didn't have a good day with a few of the lads blanking and we bombed to 6th on the day and that left us 7 1/2 points behind the leaders, with the remaining matches to be fished in the New Year.

There will only be one more "down memory lane" post for a while now, this is because all of my diaries are packed away in storage and they won't come out until I buy a new house. 1994 will have to wait sorry! Back on the fishing trail next weekend with the Commercial House Xmas match on the canal, looks like an ice breaker will be needed but I think mine is...... you guessed it packed away in storage lol!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

ATWL Final Round K&A Canal

After four consecutive frosts the canal was always going to be much harder than of late, and I knew that an end peg would be a godsend today. At the draw I picked up some excellent bloodworm and joker from Colin Dance and expected that to be my main bait for the day. A surprise face at the draw was Steve Tucker who had come along to watch Nick Chedzoy and have a walk about. The match had been pegged from Dundas down through Diggers and on through Claverton. I don't rate Claverton in the winter it goes very clear and the fish shoal up tight or seem to go elsewhere (great place in the warm weather though), and if proof were required of this two anglers fishing it on Wednesday both had ounces. The draw was done and I was handed J5, cyanide straight at Claverton with two end pegs (either side of the bridge) in my section it was not what I wanted! I've drawn here a few times before and thought a 1lb would be good.

Going into this match I was surprised to see I was in 4th place in the individuals overall, but the priority today was to get a team win and hope Bathampton dipped out. The anglers either side of the bridge in my section were Graham Hunt and Jerry Pocock (on my side of the bridge), Nigel Saunders and Division 1 champ Steve Priddle were either side of me. I had been tipped off that most fish caught here in the week were at close range (top set) and so I plumbed two swims for bloodworm left and right, and another 5 metres down the bank to a moored boat. I had a bread rig for 5 metres, and two bloodworms swims tight across to the reeds. A chopped worm swim was readied for 14 metres up to my left well away from everything.

To start I fed some licky at 5m and some leamed up joker in close, and then a boat came through almost straight away, not good! I waited to gauge the response before feeding again and across.Thirty minutes in and I had not had a bite on the bread and neither had most people round me. Dropping in on the close in lines I took 1 small perch off each of the two top set lines and then no more. No bites from the boat and after an hour I fed some joker across and my chopped worm. I took a small roach, a very small roach, from the top set and at this stage I was doing OK as the anglers either side were blanking! Two hours in and I had taken a tiny perch and then missed a bite next to the boat, I dropped the rig in again and missed a bite again, and dropped it in again and had a small roach. Dropped in again and nothing.... must have been the one fish in there! No more bites anywhere, and I was forced to refeed some small amounts of bait and went for a quick walk. Graham Hunt was easily winning the section with 20 fish, whilst three of us had 4 fish and so I had to keep trying. A shoal then arrived (I exaggerate) when I took 2 perch in two chucks on the top set but no more. After dozens of tries across I had just 1 bite and another small perch. The owners of the boat then turned up, and they began chopping wood inside the boat and made a hell of a noise. They then proceeded to fire up the engine and Foxtrot Oscared up the canal leaving Steve and my peg in a mess, as Steve said "They killed my peg stone dead, oh hang on it was already stone dead!"

An hour to go and I just carried on trying all the lines in the hope of a bite, when I hit a bite in close and the elastic came out of the pole, shit! Well it was a fish I guess about 4 to 6oz, a perch most likely, but I shall never know because as I reach for the net it came off. Oh dear, how sad, never mind! Oh bollocks I can't keep writing about catching naff all, I ended with 5 perch and 3 roach for a paltry 4oz. Steve Priddle ended with a flourish taking 8 perch for 5oz (2nd in section) and Nigel had 7 perch for 4.5oz, Jerry had 4oz and Graham had 6oz+2lb to win the section, lol! This part of the canal lived up to it shit reputation, and the next section below me was also poor, although 4 anglers did break into double figures, in ounces that is.

The match was won with 6lb+ and in second place Darren Gillman filled his piggy bank as he also won the league individually overall, a feat he has done before, well done mate being married has not affected your (drawing) ability ;-) Another Bathampton angler won the knockout, Kev Dicks and this really provided the bedrock for them to win the team event on the day and overall, so fair play and well done to them because this league has been very tough due to floods and frosts. Thatchers came 2nd overall and so will go to the semis but we have no choice of venue, Thyers clung onto 3rd after a late charge by Sensas Wilts.

So that is it for another year, I feel very sorry for the anglers this year as the rain has really messed up the river for everyone, with float fishing hardly possible. I do have hope for the river towards the end of the season as I think the fish will be very hungry before spawning, trouble is there will hardly be  any matches. There are two commercial house rounds left on the canal in the New Year, which I hope will not involve Claverton! I'm having a rest next weekend, so good luck to all of you out braving the elements.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


I have never been shy to embrace new technology, or join in with much of what goes on these days on the Internet. I enjoy using Facebook, I have some great banter on there with many friends and it has allowed me to get back in contact with friends from the past. Recently I got back in contact with Brian Gay who many of you will know as a regular contributor to Anglers Mail and he also runs V2V Angling Productions.

I first met Brian many years ago when I had my first sojourn with Thatchers. Brian had just left the police force and was looking for another job, he wrote a couple of articles for Match Fishing magazine and they really liked them, I suppose it was all down to his years of writing up reports as a copper! I was lucky enough to do a couple of articles with Brian back in the late 90's (following my ATWL final win), one of which got me on the front cover of Match Fishing magazine with some decent chub (and I still have a copy of that mag cos I look young, lol). However, when Brian moved away from Bristol we lost touch, only bumping into each other if we were both at a big match, me fishing and Brian taking pictures for Anglers Mail.

Fast forward to today and through Facebook Brian asked if he could come up and fish the Bristol Avon with me for an Anglers Mail feature. However, due to the constant flooding we could not do this and with his deadline fast approaching Brian suggested a visit to Newton Park lake, a venue I had not fished for probably 10 years. The session followed a very hard frost and with lots of water still pouring into the lake things were looking tough, tougher even than the walk to the venue!!! Brian fished with two carp rods in the hope of a lump, and this also allowed him to set up his camera equipment and wander up to me without fear of missing a bite. I had to fish for silvers and covered my bases with a caster swim in close and also at 11m (also fed with some micro pellet), a chopped worm swim at 16m to my left and gbait to my right. To begin with bites were very hard to get and when I did get one I caught a roach of less than 1/2 ounce! This pattern continued for most of the morning and with no sun on me I was flaming cold!!! I was getting worried that I was not going to produce enough fish for a photo when Brian had a run and caught a very pretty 12lb common carp that you can see below, that was to be his only fish of the day. I finally managed one decent roach on a worm, but all hook baits were snaffled by blades, or a big bait resulted in no bites at all. I ended up thrashing on a top set for the last hour to end with just over 80 small fish and Brian used his "artistic" skills to get a photo out of it.

The result of Brian's one and only run.

A nice bag of bits kept me warm..ish!

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, catching up with Brian and listening to his angling experiences and tips, we both parted agreeing we must not leave it so long to meet up again and hopefully next time get on a river.

For those that don't know Brian has a wealth of talents in not only writing, but also photography and filming. Brian works with Will Raison to produce high quality films (DVD's and an e-magazine) where Will passes on some fantastic tips and techniques and he catches some great bags of fish. I would recommend you take a look at Brian's website which is