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.