Sunday, 29 December 2013

Todber Manor Park Lake

This blog won't take long tonight, and as it was a bit of a bloggers meeting you will find various other blogs will have more fish to write about!

I was travelling down with Ken Rayner, he knows the way, and when he arrived at my house at 7:15am I had just managed to de-ice the car. During our journey to the venue the temp gauge went as low as -4.5C and we feared for the fishing but didn't think the lake would be iced over, wrong on both accounts! I've only fished this lake twice before and that was in warm weather, but I had heard that the fishing was still good in winter. Draw done and Ken pulled peg 5 (which was good) and I drew 26 which was the other end of the lake, peg 25 was in and is a peg I had before and did well from in summer. The lake was frozen in most pegs, peg 25 was clear, but mine was not so broke the ice out to 13m (as far as I could) which was well short of the far bank.
 The view up the lake to where my next peg companion Bela Bakos was.
It wasn't going to take long to set up and two rigs did me, a 4x10 with 0.12 to 18 PR412 (for inside margin and across) and a 4x12 Chianti for the deeper water with the same gear. My elastic in one top set was a bit slack so I needed to cut it back a tad, whilst doing that I somehow managed to also cut my finger. I needed a plaster and Bela came to my rescue as he had a first aid kit in the car, it did not look too bad as you can see.

As I got to the car the blood was really flowing now and a plaster would be no good, so I had to make a dressing to stem the flow and also allow me to fish without an issue, I think I went a bit over the top though, lol! It did the job though.

I finally started fishing 10 mins after the whistle and I fed some micros and maggots at 12.5m to my left, gbait to the right, and some micro and corn at 5m. An hour into the match and I had 2 small roach, Bela had 1, but the guy on 25 had 3 carp and had lost more fishing right across, also looking up the bank to the "good" pegs fish were being caught regularly. After another biteless 30 mins I went for a walk, and saw Fred Roberts, Tony Rixon, Phil Harding and Dave Romain all catching across. I went back to my peg and as the sun had been out for a while I managed to break the ice with my pole across to the far bank (Bela did the same). I fed some micro, maggot and the odd grain of corn over here, but it took me an hour to get a bite from a 1lb carp, and next chuck another! That was it for another 30 minutes and it was very obvious the fish were not at this end of the lake. I tried putting some gbait in right over on a new line, this only produced the odd roach.

The rest of my match was dead until the last hour when I had a few bites right across on either corn or maggot, from a few F1's and another carp. Plus two bites from my right margin on double maggot, a roach and a 1lb common. Bela also had a better last hour and caught some carp, he weighed 20lb to my 13lb, but we were the lowest weights on this bank, and I was BBS as peg 25 weighed 23lb of carp. Virtually every peg as you went past Bela the weights increased until match winner Phil Harding on peg 37 had a very good 98lb. I'm sure the other bloggers will have the full results!

A bad for me, which just seems to be the way things are at the mo, but that's winter fishing for you, and I hope the drawbag and fish start to like me again very soon!

Happy New Year everyone, onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In Search of Dorset Stour Chub

During my many years fishing one thing I have never done is caught a gert big chub, I think 4lb 1oz is my biggest. I am sure I have lost some large dogs, and one time I hooked one on the high wall up the crane on the stick float, it took me all across the river, I got it back it surfaced and the hook pulled, it was a big un. I mentioned this last year to angling journalist Brian Gay and he said he would take me on a trip to the Dorset Stour where big chub were more of a realistic target. Last year though the river was in flood for a long time and we never had a chance. It was then a real treat when Brian asked me to go this year and I gave him a date I could do.

Tuesday 17th December and at 5am my alarm clock goes off, by 5:30 I'm in my car with minimal gear and a gallon of maggots. I was though not sure the day was going to go to plan as I was sure we'd had to much rain overnight to make the river right, plus I had to listen to England giving up the Ashes on my radio. I arrived at my destination (Sat Nav said so) on the gates of the entrance to Throop fishery, Brian was a little late and arrived 30 mins later though it was still very murky light. To get entrance to the fishery you need a key from the club, or wait for a car to come out and run through the electronic gate lol (we had a key but the car was to good an opportunity to miss). Walking down to the river Brian was still sure the river would be fishable as the local club baliff had set it would be, as we approached I heard a large swooshing sound and unless we were approaching a weir there was trouble..... Yep the river was right up and had a fair bit of colour in it, everything chub don't like, my heart sank. Oh well have to try to catch a barbel or a big roach.

We walked upstream and Brian showed me the pegs that had produced 6, 7 and 8lb chub but none were fishable, we carried on going and found an inside of a bend where there was some steady water which looked like this.

Having no knowledge of the venue I did not how deep the water was or where weeds were, so I spent some time plumbing up a 3BB stick float. The river got deeper as it went downstream, not the best but feeding maggots and casting downstream I got some presentation, but after 45 mins and no bites it didn't feel right to me. Brian was a bit further down fishing the biggest maggot feeder I have ever seen, he was still biteless and picking up a lot of weed. I decided to move down to where the peg deepened and the water was faster but not boiling and fish a maggot feeder, I used 0.16 exceed to a 16 Super Spade, then changed to a 13 B711. Within a few chucks I had what looked like a decent bite but the maggot hookbait was untouched. I think reeled in a couple of times with chewed maggots having not seen a bite despite fishing of the rod end (weed was the problem).

Brian came and sat beside me and we chatted and then I hit a bite and small fish came to the surface and fell off. I was a bit gutted as although I had come to catch a big fish I still like to avoid a blank. Things went quiet and I was feeding plenty of maggots as most casts didn't last long due to the weed on the line. Finally quite a while into the session as I reeled in a washing line of weed a fish shook itself free of weed and there was a little gudgeon, and I thought I would take a picture as it might be a nice memento!!!!

Brian was still biteless but then saw my river skills come to the fore as I started to empty my peg with another gudgeon and 2 dace falling to 3 maggots, lol! During the day we did see a few fish top, nothing massive probably trout or roach, but Brian did have a huge fish swirl right next to the bank, with so many fry in the margins it could have been a predator. Eventually I decided I needed to find another spot to fish as my rod was just getting bent right round due to weed, as you can see...

I found a slack next to a bush and it was 8 feet deep and I was gutted not to have found this earlier. Brian reckoned this was an area big bream frequented so I changed to an open ender and fed lots of grounbait, worms and maggots into the swim before fishing it with a lobby over the top. I gave it about 2 and a bit hours here until the light was gone, sadly I had not bites or indications and had to pack up, Brian had had one chewed maggot all day, but he did tell me lots of stories of his chub exploits on this river and those just gave me even more of an appetite to come back again on a fishable river. A day where we could not beat the elements but we gave it our best shot, but being in Brian's company is great in itself and I really enjoyed the day out. No more fishing for me now until just after Christmas, so I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and hope you have a great time during the holiday, I intend to reduce the size of my collection of bottles of alcohol!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

CLIC Sargent Charity Match Bitterwell Lake

My original plans for this weekend were no fishing, but a couple of weeks ago I saw a plea on facebook from old school mate Paul Staite for some raffle prizes for this match. I offered him a rod I hadn't used for many a year (an original 13ft Normark Avenger) and found out there were some tickets left so I got in. Dead handy fishing local as I had to play taxi driver at midnight the night before for wifey.

I haven't fished Bitterwell for a while now, though I do try to pop over and watch the odd week day match for 30 mins when I can. This was made a float only match so pole and waggler would be all that would be required. Getting to the venue was easy (lol) and parking up I saw many unfamiliar faces and a few young ones which is good to see. A croissant was given to me and later a breakfast in a bun which I mostly ended up wearing in my beard. The pegging was sorted by Des Shipp and as I surveyed the lake I fancied being on the top bank as the carp park bank had the wind blowing into it and wouldn't be pleasant. Sadly I drew the car park bank, but I did have a bit of room. Des drew where I wanted to be but moaned it was shit and wanted to be where I was???? Panoramic piccy of the lake if you haven't seen it before

You'll note the lake looks quite calm in the photo, it stayed like that until just before the match started and then the wind just got worse and worse. For this reason I did not set up a waggler as I could not see how I could feed it properly, and a big scud waggler would not be much use with such a strong wind I thought. So it was pole only for me and rigs assembled were a wire stemmed 0.3g PB Inter with 0.10 to 20 PR412, same float but with .12 to 18 PR412, these would do for 13m swims, a 4x12 chianti for 5m on caster, and later a 0.75g PB Silvers was put up to cope with the wind.

TO start the match I cupped 3 balls of groundbait with some casters in at 13m in front, some micros at 13m 10'o'clock, and some casters and maggots at 13m but about 7m out from the bank. I started over the micro with a soft pellet but nothing happened and so single red maggot was tried and after 15 mins I had a small roach in the net. It was very hard to get a bite, I thought I might have been plagued by roach and had bulked the shot down, but I wasn't getting any bites and even with the bulk pushed up I only had the very odd roach, the gbait line was dead. About an hour in with the wind worsening another bite and this time plenty of elastic comes out and a skimmer of about 1.5lb was landed from the micro line. Skimmers are shoal fish aren't they??? Hmmm, back to very rare bites again from small roach.

It looked pretty obvious from what I could see that the venue was fishing poor, so I persevered and 45 mins after his mate another skimmer showed, though this one was hooked in the wing and pulled a bit even though it was just a 1lb fish. After this the wind got so bad that for a while I needed to use the 0.75g rig, nearly all my fish came from over the micro line during the day no matter what rig I tried. I always thought a few carp would show late so was quite happy to keep catching the odd silvers and feeding my lines even if things were very slow. As if on cue with 30 mins to go carp started to show and the three anglers to my right hooked two or three (but lost more than landed) the guy to my left who had 8oz then had a 7lb carp and alnded it just before the all, and John Andres round on the other bank landed one after the whistle. Me, I hooked no carp at all! I was quite pleased when the whistle went as we had just had a terrible storm for 30 mins with heavy rain blowing straight into the bank, and I wasn't the only one who could hardly see the float (even at 5m) it was that dark.

My silvers went 5lb 10oz, which I think was the 3rd best silver weight on the day beaten by two anglers in the match. Winner was a young lad called Keith over on the "calm" bank with 16lb+ of carp and skimmers, Des Shipp was 2nd with 15lb, and 3rd was Dan Shipp from the calm peg on the road bank with 13lb. Unfortunately for me organiser Terry Smith didn't do default payout, so Des got 2nd and the silvers, well they say money goes to money lol. We had a lovely bar-b-q after the match and that warmed me up a bit (except for my hands) and then the raffle was done and there were loads of prizes but my luck was not in today. I was though chuffed to see my avenger rod go to a junior angler, just where I hoped it would go, hope the lad gets a bend into it.

Not sure about Tuesday on the Stour, hope the rain does not feck things up for me, will be gutted if it does. I'm not fishing next Sunday so my next match will be on the 29th Dec.

Friday, 13 December 2013

November / December 1994

About time I had a quick look in the diary again....

The river was flooded after the Poppy match in 1994 and the following weekend all matches were cancelled so I fished for a few hours in the cut by the Lock Keeper pub at Keynsham. Fishing maggot at depth I had about 4lb which unusually included quite a few small perch. Sunday 20th November saw me at Frys fishing the Commercial House, I drew below the outlet pipe on what was a again a flooded river. Fishing a 3m whip I could catch tiny fish and did this for far too long. I tried the groundbait feeder and whilst I only had 3 eels I did lose a chub and a lot of anglers caught one or two bream. 2lb 10oz was my effort and not good enough to beat a bream!

After my debut success at Moorlands Farm I was back again fishing with Pete Sivell's team. This time around I drew another lake, well more of a pool, called Moors and was on peg 20. I was told this lake was all about carp and silvers would not be helpful, so I started on a wag an mag and after 10 mins I hooked one. Sadly it was fouled and came off but a while later I landed a properly hooked 5lber. After this it was a real struggle and I managed 1 small carp from down the margin and a few roach. On the day my half of the lake fished awful, and we sat watching anglers at the other end filling their nets, 15 points out of 27 was my reward. The next day and out fishing again on the ATWL at Newbridge. My home for the day was peg 34 on the straight on a clear river. I fished a groundbait feeder across whilst feeding maggots and hemp on a pole line. Bites were very hard to get, with just 5 roach coming on the pole and 3 skimmers on the feeder (to red maggot) for a total of 4lb 40z and 10 points for the team. Halfway through this league Bathampton were 2 points in front of my team Bristol Sensas.

Cracking on into December and a Xmas match, Bristol and West (doesn't exist now) where I drew peg 69 up the Crane. Just 2 small chub and a roach for 1lb 9oz was all my long walk yielded (caught on the feeder). The river was float fishable in some pegs but not in mine, but bream dominated with 30lb coming off pegs 28 and 29 at Swineford and a 20lb carp being caught from the blockhouse at Jack Whites. Not long after this more rain fell and midweek the weir disappeared at Keynsham. Luckily I was back at Moorlands so could at least fish sensibly, and I drew back on Meadow lake but on peg 29. Not good was all I was told, just try and catch a carp! Well all these years ago a maggot feeder was deemed the best way to go so I plopped a small feeder out with a 20 to 0.10 (really I did!). Of course I also primed a pole line, but one bite and I pulled out of small crucian was all the entertainment I had there! The feeder worked in as much as I had 1 roach and 1 small carp for 3lb 2oz. However, to give you an idea how poor this area was I got 23 points out of 27 for that weight!!!! Another double header for me and up the next day for the big one, the Bathampton Xmas match. I really wanted to draw a slack and pulling out peg 136 in the trees meant I should have a bit of steady water. This was an out and out groundbait feeder day as far as I was concerned so one rod was all I set up with a 16 to 1.5lb maxima hook length. I think this was the day that Ian Spriggs and Andy Floyd were also pegged in the trees and they came down for a walk before the match started. I had mixed up red magic groundbait and they thought this was hilarious (as they used std brown mixes). Casting about 1/5 of the way out I soon started to get odd bites from small skimmers / hybrids, with my second hour being the best by far. I had 3 small chub and 3 eels plus a roach, most fish fell to three red maggots but a couple fell to lobworm of course. When the scales came down most people had struggled for a pound or two, and the look on Andy and Ian's faces was amazement when I weighed in "now what do you think about red groundbait?" I asked them, lol! The river had fished very hard and I came 4th picking up £250 which was beer money for Xmas.

Bitterwell this Sunday, then hoping we don't get much rain because I'm going fishing on the Dorset Stour with Brian Gay in the week, hoping to catch my PB chub! Please please please let it be OK.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Bathampton Xmas Match

In years gone by this used to be a massive match and the ONE to win, my best effort I think is 3rd or 4th a couple of times. This year it was a bit different with Kev Dicks effectively running two matches in one with a choice of fishing the canal or river, and a pairs event. I opted to fish the river (not hard after my last 2 canal matches) and I paired up with Darren Gillman who wanted to fish the canal. At the draw it was breakfast rolls for a change, and they were very good, but I wish I'd taken a photo of the roll Martin Rayet had, it was 18" long and had 4 of everything... and he ate every bit of it!

The draw for the canal was done first as they had further to travel, and then the river draw and I managed to be at the front of the queue and pulled out peg 52. I was OK with this peg and then the more I racked my brains the more I thought it was a good draw as a few fish had come from that area on the last ATWL fished up there. Parking up I saw that England international Callum Dicks was on peg 20, a peg I draw a lot and don't do that well off. Walking up the bank I passed my mate Warren Bates on peg 46, and he reminded me that Glenn Bailey won the ATWL off peg 52 when it was up and coloured, how could I have forgot that, lol! Finally got to my peg all hot and sweaty again and surveyed the scene, the river was clear yes, but not what I would consider to bad. I only had two methods in mind as this peg holds bream, so it was pole and a groundbait feeder attack for me. The river was running with a nice pace and a running line might work, but I thought bream would dominate and so discounted the rods and floats today. I had to mix my groundbait on the bank and knocked up 3 kilos for pole and feeder (one mix does for me!) and then set up the feeder with a 20g open ender, and a 14 B611 to 0.128 exceed. Two pole rigs, a 3g PB silvers with 0.11 exceed to 18 B611, and a 1g pencil float with 22 to 0.08. View of my peg today, not much to look at but it is what lurks beneath!

My neighbours today were on peg 49  former Poppy match winner Dave Stiff, and on bream hole peg 54 a young lad who fishes Clevedon matches called Lewis Walker. At the start I cast a big open end feeder across 10 times, it would have been 12 but a boat caught me out and lost the effing lot, lol!!!! Not the start I wanted but I was always going to leave that to settle, so onto the pole and it went 8 big jaffas of groundbait with just a little caster and hemp. Going straight in with 2g float I had 2 small roach in 5 runs through but felt the smaller float would be better, and so it proved with the small roach bites showing up better. It wasn't a bite a chuck but there was enough interest to keep me doing it. I did get a 6oz roach but bites really slowed after this, Paul Dicks walked up and and said 1lb was best so I had more than that and that was OK for starters. I was just about to give up on the pole when a 8oz skimmer appeared and then four little roach and a 2oz hybrid ended the pole line.

Two hours and 15 mins were now gone and so it was time to set up and chuck the feeder out, whilst still feeding some hemp and caster on the pole line. First chuck and a bloody boat comes down so I put the rod down and the tip knocked but nothing to strike at I thought, but when I reeled in 1 of 3 maggots remained, doh! Next chuck I hooked a snag and new hook required, but next chuck a bream of about 3 1/2lb was in the net. Sadly I then got into snag city and had a torrid time, but eventually I pulled something away  and the line became clearer. Lewis came up for a walk as he was struggling, and he had a chat with me, he was fishing it all wrong. He went back and caught a bream and then a few chucks later had one 8lb 9oz and was beating me!

The bream obviously didn't like all this messing about in the snags and it was an hour before I had my next bream, one over 4lb. I tried worm and had a perch, so went back on maggots and thirty minutes later bream number three was netted and I thought a few more would show now. Sadly the feeder line went really quiet and I noticed the sun was shining on the far bank and not what I wanted. With 20 mins to go I decided to try the pole line for a quick look on double red maggot on the heavy rig, I had a couple of quick dips but no fish. I then put on 2 casters and on the first drop the float went straight under and a 2lb skimmer was netted. Going straight back out on double caster I had what looked like the float dragging under but I lifted anyway, it was a bream but soon realised it was fouled as it headed upstream and I pulled out. I then plopped the feeder over this line but it didn't budge and I was thinking the bream wanted a bit of movement so out on the pole again. Another dip and bream on, this was hooked proper and after a good fight a near 5lb fish was landed. One more drop in and another bream hooked but a fouler again and off, end of match. I shouted down to Lewis and a angler watching, they came up and I said watch this, dropped in the rig and it went straight under, and I landed a 6lb+ bream and slipped it straight back, it was firkin solid now!!!!

Lewis had 5 bream the same as me so it was going to be close, especially as he had the big lump. He weighed 22lb 4oz in total. My fish went 24lb 9oz and those early fish on the pole had in fact swung the needle my way. As it turned out my weight was enough to win the match on the river, and overall, which brought me a nice payout, a hamper, and the trophy. Only took me 30 years of trying!

The river had fished very hard in places and as I expected the top weights had bream in them, bucking the trend was Steve Hutchinson who had 10lb of roach from peg 76. Winner on the canal was, well you can probably guess as he IS THE man in form, Shaun Townsend. Shaun had a massive 19lb from Limpley Stoke, and included in this was at least 3 perch over 2lb, and he lost 2 others bigger he told me! Below is the sheet showing everyone who weighed in today. You will not see Callum Dicks name as he DNW, he actually hooked and lost a carp of about 8lb and he said he came to the river to get away from them, lol!

Next week I'm fishing Bitterwell for a CLIC charity match, a bit different from today.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


I am now 5 days into my beard growing, or should I say non shaving. I was going to put an update on here when I hit £500 but that amount was hit very early on and so I held off. However, today I have checked my just giving page and the donations have now passed £2000... yep that's right £2000 wow!!!!

I have to thank everybody who has donated so far, I really never expected to get anywhere near this amount and I have felt quite emotional about the support of family, friends and business contacts. Of course the angling fraternity have also been very generous and it makes be very proud to be a part of our sport.

I've not got much hair to show off but here is the "mass" of bristles so far, far too many grey ones for my liking, lol!

The whole point of my fundraising and growing a beard is to help raise awareness of bowel cancer as it is the second biggest cancer killer. More than 41,000 people every year are diagnosed with bowel cancer, though it is relatively rare in the under 50s (yes I really am a lucky basard aren't I !).  Around. 2,100 people are diagnosed, under the age of 50, every year in the UK. However, currently too many younger patients are being diagnosed with a more advanced disease which makes treatment more difficult.  Knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer can help reduce this problem. (I waited 6 months before seeing my GP and that was far too long but I got lucky). It is important we know what the symptoms are, so read on.....

The symptoms of bowel (colorectal) cancer can be:
  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in bowel habit lasting for 3 weeks or more especially to looser or runny poo
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy
You might experience one, some, all of the above or no symptoms at all. Remember most symptoms will not be bowel cancer.

If you are worried about any symptoms that you think might be caused by bowel cancer, make an appointment with your doctor or call the Bowel Cancer UK Information and Support Service on 0800 8 40 35 40 or
Just remember you'll not be wasting anyone's time by getting checked out. If it isn't serious, you'll put your mind at rest. If it's bowel cancer, early detection can make all the difference. Over 90% who are diagnosed at the earliest stage are successfully treated. So a trip to your doctor could save your life.
Once again here are the links for the bowel cancer website
and my just giving page if you have a few quid spare
I'm off to the hospital Friday for another violation (lol, but not to much lol please) hopefully all will be fine again.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

ATWL Final Round K&A Canal

After my last canal debacle I had a word with myself and a good chat with canal bagger Liam Braddell to get my head sorted. I spent a few hours on my day off on Friday making some new rigs, which was a good idea as most of Saturday was spent assembling flat pack furniture! I was all sorted and ready to go on Saturday looking forward to the match, and with the team having a two point lead over Bathampton it was all good.

I was asked to do the team draw again (we've won every time I've drawn recently) and the pegs looked OK with a few good pegs in the mix. I was in E section, Bath side of the recycle tree, an area I've been pegged in before and done well from. First thing to sort was parking at Meadow Farm, and like most other places these days it's a struggle. A nice walk down the hill with Mike Withey and onto the canal where we found no pegs... somebody had nicked all of them! With some memory and some common sense we got ourselves into pegs and everyone was happy, happiest of all was Kev Boltz who we put next to a tree that had fallen into the canal, over halfway! As for my peg it was much the same as the rest of the section, and the view was OK...

Rigs for this week were two for bread (one for bagging one for errr catching normal) but only one used my faithful Drennan Roach. A deep bloodworm rig (0.5g), a shallow bloodworm rig (0.2g) a caster rig, a chopped worm rig and that was it. As the start approached three boats had already been through, including the big John Rennie, and on the whistle I saw two boats on the way up and so I fed nothing. Ten minutes into the match I started and fed some bread at 5m, some chopped worm at 13m to my right and fed some casters across. The bread line last week was tough, this week it was shocking with only 4 roach falling to the punch, nightmare, but it was poor for all except Kev Boltz who had a 1lb skimmer. Another boat or two and so then I tried bread at 11m in case the fish were across, but they weren't and I never had a bite on this line. It was time to feed some joker swims, and I put some in over my 5m line, 13m to my left and right across. I tried the chop worm but no joy here and had a look on caster and I had a bite and a 2oz roach straight away. It took another 10 mins to get another tiny roach on caster.

In the next two hours I had absolutely nothing, not a bite anywhere and a walk showed that Kev and the genial Roy Carter were doing the best, with Roy having a lovely 12oz roach on the caster. Martyn Rayet and Mike Withey were struggling but had more than me. Another look on the chopped worm and the float didn't settle right, so I lifted it an thought I felt something, so I dropped it and the float went under. I struck and felt something then the float hit the pole and I'd pulled out, fook it!

I took two tiny fish on bloodworm at 5m, I tried by a moored boat but never had a bite, and then with an hour to go I got a few fish going on bloodworm right over. They wouldn't settled though and after 5 fish I had to rest it and then go back, still at least I had a few bites in the last hour, a few! I was happy the match had ended, it had been very poor for me again, not really sure what I'm doing wrong but obviously some bad angling which I need to work out. The scales got to me and I had 1lb 9.5oz for last in the section, Mike had 1oz more, Martyn 2lb 1oz, Roy 3lb, and Kev had 5lb+ which included 2 skimmers and a big rudd.

The great thing back at the results was I had a Xmas dinner to look forward to followed by Xmas pudding and Thatchers Gold! Thankfully once again the team performance was good and despite my ineptitude the team won on the day and that meant we won the league and are in the semi finals.

Winner on the day with 10lb was Neil Mercer, he was one peg past the white gate up by the school, and he had 4 big skimmers to start but then caught all day. Richard Whitmarsh was 2nd with another 10lb, he was the only angler pegged past the Meadow Farm bridge, so the fish kept him company, lol! In third place was that man Shaun Townsend (he might buy a beer soon with all his winnings) with a big 6lb up by the brambles, he caught small fish all day he told me.

In the individual league stakes, Nathaniel Johnson tied with Nich Chedzoy, but Chedz had weight advantage and won, well done. Chedz also won the knockout and bought the lads a drink, fair shout. Here he is telling us all how good he is! Only joking he was gracious as ever and is mightily consistent in these winter leagues, a great angler.

Well that's it for team fishing until the New Year, next week I'm fishing the Bathampton Xmas match, you can choose to fish either the river or the canal (guess which one I've chose) and there is a pairs event too, and Darren Gillman is my pair, as he wants to fish the canal. The river could be awful of course with no rain now for a while, but I need a rest from the canal.

The fundraising for Bowel Cancer UK is going well and I have passed the £1500 mark now, it would be awesome to get to £2000, so if any of you have some spare reddies then visit my just giving page and help fight cancer and save lives.

Tight Lines!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Commercial House Round 4 Bristol Avon Swineford, Crane and Jack Whites

This match was to be the last of the winter league matches on the river, a shame because it has fished well mainly this year. After two hard frosts the river would be clear but still pacey and I really wanted to draw a chub peg today, Swineford would be best for that. As ever I was armed to the teeth with various baits, rigs, rods to cover all situations, I even had last weeks joker which I thought I could stuff in my groundbait if on a roach peg. I was in the knockout today, against Nathaniel Johnson, and the team were tied at the top with the B team so there was plenty to play for.

Team captain Mark Harper did the draw and told me I was on peg 4 in B section which was at Swineford, yay! I was worried though that this peg would not be far enough down the river for the chub (Bitton Brook down is the place). Pulling up at Swineford I was parked next to Nick Coles who told me he was on B4, what! After a few phone calls I finally find out the team peg was 11 not 4, that meant letting everyone in the team know lol! I was on chub then, so I left the pole and most of my gbait in the car.

I helped my team mate Mike Williams (from Wales) by giving some advice on his peg in A section and then carried on walking, and walking and walking until finally I collapsed on peg B11. I was 2 pegs below Bitton Brook (Andy Power was on that flyer) which was 1 above the beach, and with a long trot it was perfect for fishing for chub. Time was short and all I got set up was a feeder rod with a blockender with 0.16 to 13 B711, and an 11BB crowquill with 0.148 exceed to a 17 B711. The view of my peg from the top of the bank, if you look carefully you can see some reeds stuck up to the left, and there were more to the right. Any chub hooked would head for the reeds so I had no choice but to wade into the river, and it was freezing!

Just before the start Andy Ottoway came walking down with his little girl, he watched me make my first cast a few minutes after the whistle and I think we were both surprised when the float went under and a little fish was hooked but it came off. Next chuck another bite and a little dace snaffled the double maggot and not long after a tiny roach. I was firing maggots and casters (about 20) out about a third of the way across where the flow was fairly consistent (not boily) but had a bit of pace. After about 20 mins I hooked a chub about a 1lb and on my trusty original Normark Titan it stood no chance and it was netted. Within another 10 mins I took another chub slightly smaller from right in front of me just as the float settled, and another couple of dace and another chublet gave me a nice first hour.

Bites were very few but this can be typical with chub fishing and you have to stay confident and keep working the float and feed to try and trick them. I kept the feeding at the same rate as I saw no need to change just yet, and in the second hour I caught a fairly similar amount (I thought) as I did in the first but some of the fish were caught a very long way down the peg. The chub I was catching were all smaller than a 1lb but still good weight builders, I had to vary the colour and combination of the maggots on the hook but in general a red and a bronze was best. I bumped a couple of fish during the day and pulled out of two reeling them back, I think this was due to hooking them so far away, and so I stepped up to a 15 B711. I still caught the very odd dace and had a nice 8oz roach, maybe I could have caught more of them if I had gone lighter but I daren't risk going lighter in this peg. I now started to up the feed as I felt the peg was slowing down and I also started casting further across into the fast water, this proved to be a good decision as I hooked my biggest chub, perhaps 2lb and took a few more of the sub 1lb fish. During this time I only had one chub get in the reeds and I couldn't budge him, so I walked over with my net and tried to scoop him but the reed was stopping it, so I made a big thrash with the net and the hook pulled out. However, as I pulled the net back there was the chub, that was lucky then! I also had a pike take a chub but I held on tight and Mr pike spat it out and I landed it, lucky again. I also saw something I have not seen for a long time, a bloody mink, he was trying to get my banana that I left on the bank, despite shouting the bastard did not back off, until I tried to hit it with the rod!

With an hour to go my feet were frozen, well I couldn't feel them, but this also coincided with the peg dying on me and I never had a bite on the float in the last hour even when I was ladling the maggots in. I tried the feeder over to the tree and with 10 mins left had a drop back and felt a solid resistance but then nothing, I reeled in to find only 1 of the 4 maggots left but I think the feeder was in a snag and I didn't hook the fish. As soon as the match ended I went for a walk to warm up my feet!

When the scales arrived 11lb was caught below me on the beach, then I plonked 18lb 5oz on the scales and it looked a lovely net of fish, no photo as it was now quite dark. Above me Steve Skelton had 3lb, and then the Ginger Ninja Andy Power had 16lb off the brook, so let the be a lesson, lol! I think Kev DIcks had 7lb from peg 27 and there were no more weights to worry me so I won the section. Now it was time to walk back, and f&ck me it was hard work, 3 styles and mud and now pitch black, I was certainly toasty when I got back to the car, in fact I was soaking with sweat through 3 layers....

When I finally got back to the rugby club I found out the river had fished OK considering the frosts, but there were some blanks at Jack Whites, and Nathaniel had 1/2oz there so I progressed through the knockout a tad easily ;-) Also at Jackies Martyn Rayet hooked a monster of fish that he played for 30 mins but nearly ran out of reel line and lost it, we reckon it was a salmon as one was seen jumping and a few trout were also caught.

Results on the day

1st Shaun Townsend (he's getting boring now) 22lb of roach from the long ashtip, a great result
2nd Me 18lb 5oz
3rd Mark Leader 17lb (1st peg at Jackies dace and a 4lb chub)
4th Andy Power 16lb

Bathampton won on the day, Thatchers A 2nd, and as Thatchers B dipped the A team team have now got a few points lead with the two canal matches left. I have drawn Mark Harper in the next round of the knockout and that will be very hard as he's very good on the canal. Apparently I'm top in the individual scores now, so I am really going to have to get the canal sorted out!

Well that was a really nice way to end the river and I've been waiting to catch some chub for ages as I love that sort of fishing.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

ATWL Round 5 Kennet & Avon Canal

First of all an apology for last week, I should have spelt Martyn Reyatt, Reyat, and he also told me I forgot he blanked on the Poppy raffle (and he bought £10 worth of tickets!).

I've not be feeling very well this last week, and I was in two minds whether to fish this match or not, but as I was in the top 3 individuals and in the last 4 of the knockout I got my head round it. A few rigs were made up on the Saturday and with bread liquidized I was ready. I picked up Warren Bates on the way to the match as he was running the bank today for Bathampton, we had some grub, paid my pools, got my bloodworm and joker and did the draw. Due the pegging being spaced out there were some decent pegs in today, but I avoided them being a few pegs past the white gate up by the school (past the George). This is on a bend and I wasn't sure how it would fish, to my left Martyn Reyat said it was crap, and with Andy Pritchard on the end peg on the gate and Dave Wride on the next peg I thought it was going to be tough to do well.

Bringing out the old rigs again... A 4x14 Drennan roach for bread punch, with 0.07 to 18 PR331, a 0.4grm wire bristle jobby for bloodworm, a 0.2g PB silvers for bloodworm across, a 4x10 and 4x12 for caster and chopped worm were also set up.

I fed some licky at 5m, fed joker at 2m, 11m and 13m, the latter with some casters, I did feed some gbait but never had a bite over this. Dropping in on the punch I had 3 fish in as many drops and then a boat went right over the top, before the water could settle another boat went through, and just as I was thinking about feeding a bit more licky a 3rd boat came through! Unfortunately each of these boats came through with the rudder on an angle to navigate the bend and that messed the peg up worse. I finally managed to get things settled and whilst it was slow I took 15 roach on bread after 75 mins which seemed OK. I moved over to my 11m line but this was dead, perhaps it was too early. Dave Wride was doing OK across so I went over early on the caster and had 5 small roach in as many chucks, it slowed as expected but before I could work it out more boats came but this time they firked up the far bank! As you can see it was two boats strapped together towing another boat.....hmmmm.
The middle of the match was pretty dead for me but I did have a little boat to my left where I fed a bit of joker next to (out of desperation) despite the owner and his dog getting on and off it all day long. At one point he went for an hour, but when he returned he had a fence post with him, he dropped that against his boat and it went into the canal. He son retrieved it and had a go chopping it with an axe. Despite all that I did get a whole 3 bites against this boat, one of them was a 10 to 12oz perch which I lost not far from the net, rollox. I went and fed some chopped worm down to my right on the inside (as at least this was not being messed up by boat wash) but only got to try this line once as a bit later a boat came and moored in there meaning I could not fish where I had fed, mint!

I went back across on the caster rig (as Dave was bagging) but it wouldn't go under so I tried my light bloodworm rig and I then had a run of a dozen dumpy roach before the "John Rennie" boat came up and trashed my peg again. More searching for not a lot of fish before I went across again and found the dumpy roach again, but I trashed the rig. Another rig attached and a few more roach before the John Rennie came back and finished the peg off for good. I was feeling pretty hacked off, but I did have a chuckle when Andy Pritchard had to get in the canal to retrieve two butt sections (look closely he is there, preparing to dive!).
Not long after this Dave Wride snapped his pole but at least he had caught plenty of fish. I was quite happy when the whistle went, but not looking forward to weighing in. Warren got on with the task and soon I was staring at the section sheet with 4lb 1oz and a lowly 2 points. Dave won the section with 5lb 8oz, Martyn was 2nd with 4lb 12oz, and Andy 3rd with 4lb 4oz. As expected the perch I lost cost me a better result. I also got knocked out of the knockout by Nick Chedzoy, good luck to him in the final.

Getting back to the results I was really hoping my poor result was not gonna cost the team, and I was pulled out of the mire as the lads did well and we won the day with 42 points. Bathampton came 2nd with 40 points and Thyers 3rd. Thatchers now lead the league by 1 point going into the last match.

Joint winners on the day were Andy Britt and Shaun Townsend (him again) with 10lb 9oz, but Shaun left a fish in his net and managed to throw one back instead of in his keepnet, lol! Andy had a lot of skimmers in his net. In 3rd place was Nathaniel Johnson with 10lb from the recycle tree peg, and Liam Braddell was 4th with 9lb 13oz. Those good weights hide the fact that some sections were strangely poor, with 3lb a good weight in places.

Next week it is back on the river with the commercial house, looks like it is going to be cold this week.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Poppy Match Bristol Avon

As ever I was looking forward to this (my lucky) match, although the rain we had in the run up to the match was going to have an affect on the river. I'd taken a look at the river on Saturday and on Sunday it didn't look that much different to me, so I guess the rain just kept it up. I got to the draw nice and early but still was parked a fair way from club, I returned the Poppy cup to organiser Ray Bazely and got myself a breakfast. There were so many faces I recognised at the draw I could have spent all day chatting, and it was nice to finally meet fellow blogger Ivan Currie (Ivan's Angle) at last.

As far as I was concerned today a draw at Newbridge or one of a handful of pegs up the crane would be needed to do well. Unfortunately my drawing arm let me down today (I think I've used it too much in the past) and I ended up the last peg in the little ash tip field which was one away from peg 85 in the long ash tip where I have won from before, but the pegs are like chalk and cheese. Actually the guy on 85 was a basic club angler, he had dug his peg out so he could sit on the bank, but not on his box on his arse. His jeans were halfway down his arse and he had a crack full of earth, either that or he had shit himself, lol! (Poor bugger had no heavy feeders and couldn't hold bottom apart from close in.) Below me today was Swindon Stalwart Pete Gilbert, and two below him was one of the nicest blokes in fishing Mike Shellard, in the bay was Derek Coles and I fancied that peg for the section. My set up today was simple as the peg was boily and pacey, two feeder rods; one with a 13 B711 (for maggots, casters, worms) and one with a 12 PR355 (for lobworm) both attached to .0165 Exceed line and a dirty great big open ended feeder! My groundbait was sensas red magic and brown crumb mixed on the wet side.

On the whistle I under armed my feeder to about 3 rods out and had about 6 quick casts and then impaled 3 red maggots to see what was about. There were plenty of leaves about and a few snags, and I lost a few hooks and pulled a branch out. It took me until 1hour and 10 mins to get my first bite from a small roach, and next chuck I had a 4oz roach. That was a false dawn and it was another 20 mins before my next bite which I missed. By this stage Glenn Bailey had a small pike below Newton St Loe bridge, Jerry Pocock had 6lb from peg 134 in the trees and Warren Bates had a small bream and a roach from peg 109 in the trees. Unfortunately Warren had to leave as his son had been taken to hospital, his son seems to be OK though and Warren left his net in and won the section despite missing 3.5 hrs of the match. My peg was producing the odd bite but nothing regular and I could tell it was just roach bites, apart from a perch that took a dendra and 2 maggots! Once again I was in familar rod pose as you can see, though this picture doesn't show up the boily water!

Word on the bank was that the Crane was fishing very hard and I kept my head down fishing in the hope a bream or two might show. I could not get a bite on a lobworm today, and never did all match, and I soon realised that bunches of maggots, casters, or worm and maggots was best. I never put less than 3 on the hook as I was trying to make a target bait for the bigger fish I would need, well this wasn't a team match! Mid match I took another couple of roach, including a couple of 4oz fish but I missed a couple of good roach raps. Treble caster then gave me a nice 8oz roach out of the blue and then a dace but this seemed to be the end of action for a while, my section was fishing dismal and so I kept plugging away but the last hour was not good and I had my fun feeding a couple of swans.

Another roach came my way with 15 mins left and then I missed a bite next chuck, I thought it was leaves on the line and it was only when I wound in and found no casters left  I found out doh! The match ended and I knew the cup would not be coming back to the Ford residence this year. The scales came down from the top of the long ashtip and only 2lb 3oz was top, my 8 fish weighed 2lb 7oz which was 1lb more than Pete and so I won the section. It turned out the Crane fished shite and my weight was 3rd in the 35 pegs down here. Up at Newbridge the fishing was much better in certain areas (despite Martyn Reyatt blanking) with some good roach feeding, Nigel Wyatt had a 2lb fish!

1st on the day was Jerry Pocock with 11lb 8oz a bream and some roach over a 1lb on the feeder (peg 134). In the last 3 weeks Jerry has been 1st, 2nd and now 1st on the feeder, which is amazing. I offered him a neck brace as I guessed he must have a stiff neck from staring at his tip, lol! Well done Jer, you certainly have the feeder sorted.

2nd was Jerry Welsh with a high 9lb from peg 10 in the little field (3 big skimmers and roach, 3 pegs from Mr Reyatt).

3rd Mark Harper 9lb 9oz from peg 26 with roach and a virtually a last cast 3lb bream all on the feeder. Another angler on a great run this autumn.

There were so many laughs today I couldn't begin to tell you them all, Ray Bazely is just the best person at announcing results bar none! Nigel Bateman who fishes for Keynsham Angling told me his plan was to have a good breakfast and win a raffle prize, and he did just that!I managed to fluke a raffle prize too. Dean Harvey tried to collect his brothers section winnings instead of his, and so many more laughs, just ask Phil Harding who stayed till the end, you don't get that on a commercial ;-). Finally well done to Ray and his team (Dave Haines, Paul Haines, Colin Ellaway) for doing a great job on this match, I believe £1200 was raised, and I look forward to the special one next year.

Next week sees the first ATWL on the canal, so all new rigs, new elastics and a set of blinkers and ear muffs required!

As a reminder my own fund raising is going well for bowel cancer UK, but I know there are a lot more generous anglers out there who are just itching to give me their money, so don't forget to click on my link, sign the form at Avon Angling, or see me, thanks to all who have splashed the cash so far, I'm over £500 now.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

ATWL Round 4 Bristol Avon Newbridge

Well the weather gods seem to be doing their best to mess the river up for us winter league anglers, getting late rain the day before a match for the second week running, forcing the river to come up during the match,. I was out with friends on Saturday night, seeing a mate who lost his wife earlier this year to breast cancer, after enough cider the wife took me home and I realised I'd left me coat behind. Later in the night my old mate baggy decided to mess up the new sheets on the bed, sigh.... I know things come in threes but I hoped a bad day on the river was not going to be it!

At the draw Glenn Bailey was back out for his team of all stars "Amalgamation" after a few weeks of doing not a lot. I laughed my socks off when his team mate Shane (or is Shaun) Caswell poured hot chilli sauce over his brekkie thinking it was brown sauce, lol! My team were having a debate as to who should draw and in the end gave the task to me, when I came back with the pegs all some of them did was moan! Granted there were a few pegs I would not have liked, but I thought it was alright. As for me I was in my usual area, on peg 22 behind the pumphouse, on a random draw I just can't believe how often I can be in this same area, weird!

 My section ran from peg 14 where my now regular sparring partner Shaun Townsend was, to peg 22A where Craig Pinker was. On 20 was Mike Withey and and on bream peg 16 was Jerry Pocock (with 18 not pegged he was gonna do well). I needed to get into the water to fish this peg, and luckily borrowed Nick Chedzoy's waders. I added my extended legs to my box and set up in the river, 2 pole rigs a 4grm float, a 4 grm flatty and a feeder with a 14 B611 to 0.15 were all I needed I hoped. The river was not that dirty at all but the pace was a bit more than I fancied, and after throwing in 12 balls of gbait on the feeder line it seemed it had gotten faster in the hour since I plumbed up! The 4grm rig threw up one bite and no fish, well I did get 1, a minnow in the edge when I was changing the depth! On with the flatty and 1 bite on this which I missed but it was all wrong and so I put on an 8grm flatty, on this I had nothing!

1 hour and 15 mins into the match and I finally gave the minnow some company in the form of a 3oz roach on the feeder. About 10 mins later I had another, and these had come from over the pole line, but that was the end of that. I had cast the feeder across the river to the boats and now gave it a good try, just as I was talking to Andy Ottoway I had a drop back and landed a 1lb+ chub. Just after 2 hours in I went for a walk and the best was Shaun with 1.5lb which is what I thought I had, so it was fishing hard. The river was rising slightly and the pace picking up more, the pole line became redundant as leaves were coming through really bad, but across on the feeder was much clearer. To be honest I was having a bad day and my phone was red hot as I rang others and many other people rang me, all looking for inspiration. Nathaniel Johnson was on about 4lb and had caught on the pole, so he was looking like knocking me out of the knockout. Glenn had caught a few on the pole and then took 3 bream in 3 casts on the feeder.

My match was fizzling out and I had to abandon ship as the water was now getting to high and I had to get everything out and fish off the bank! I had tried a smaller hook and smaller baits but with no response I went the other way and put on a 13 B711 and tried lobworm tails. This was a good move as I had a perch of 2oz, yay! Shaun then rang me to tell me he had a skimmer and that Jerry had 3 bream, so I was really in the shit now and said to Shaun it wasn't gonna be my day. Mike Withey came down for a walk and I said we were fishing a lottery and needed my bonus ball to come up! It was frustrating that the rowing boats come through very close on this peg forcing me, to reel in the feeder sometimes far too soon. I was now on a 30grm feeder across, and with 30 mins to go I had what looked like a bite, when I reeled in the worm was gone, hmmm. My confidence was ebbing away and I tried to believe that a perch had nicked the worm. With less than 15 mins to go Nathaniel rang me again, I think he didn't really belive how bad I was doing, I then had to cut the call as yet another boat was coming through. I was too late to reel in so I dropped the tip down to the surface downstream and paid out some line to try to keep the feeder in place. The boat went past and the tip stayed bent and then dropped back, must have rolled, I struck and oh flip there's a big fish on!!! I guessed it was a bream and soon it had taken all the line from across the river to downstream on the inside as it had kited across. I can tell you my heart was beating a fair bit as I tried to pump this fish up the river towards me. It was really pulling and fighting well, and eventually after a lot of praying and patience it was in front of me and in the net, I think I shouted "Get the fuck in!" Nothing else happened in the last 10 mins other than my pulse rate reducing to normal and me ring Nathaniel to tell him he was probably going out the knockout! What an end to a torrid match, I was on high and felt like I'd drank 10 cans of red bull.

Jerry won the section (and came 2nd overall, after winning last week) with 12lb which was 3 small bream 2 chub and a couple of nice perch all on the feeder. I weighed 6lb 12oz and would say the slab was 5lb of that! Shaun was next with 3lb 9oz (finally got the better of him), and either side of me Mike had 2lb 3oz and Craig 8oz.

Getting back to the results it soon became clear the team had done really well, we only had one section winner (Andy Ottaway) but 7 second in the section results was enough to win the day, Amalgamation were 2nd, Thyers 3rd, and Bathampton 4th. As a result of this Thatchers and Bathampton are now tied on points after 4 matches, with 2 rounds left on the canal it is all to play for.

Winner on the day was matey Glenn Bailey from peg 49 with 16lb+, he never did  get any more bream but the three he had plus 5lb of roach on the pole made him a clear winner, well done on your winning return! Jerry as I have mentioned was 2nd, Martin Barrett was 3rd from peg 50 with 12lb 5oz of roach on the pole, and Dave Wride was 4th with 12lb from down in the trees (in the 130's I think) all roach on the pole. Funny the roach fed in some pegs but in others they were non existent, for example Mark Harper has been on fire catching roach this year but on peg 24 he couldn't catch 2lb.

Well more rain falling now and in the forecast I think, hope we don't get that much as I wouldn't want it to spoil the Poppy match this Sunday. I hear it is a 120 peg sell out which is brilliant.

Just one more thing, and I will be mentioning this regularly until the end of the year, I am raising money for bowel cancer UK charity, by growing a beard in December (I know not that tough, but the wife don't like it!). Around 40,000 people are diagnosed with this every year (as I was) and I want to help raise money and awareness. More info in later blogs but if you have any spare money you can donate at my page here......

Sunday, 27 October 2013

ATWL Round 3 Bristol Avon Jack Whites, Crane, Swineford

I do like fishing rivers in autumn as you never know what state of river you will get, low and clear right up to full flood, and then there are the different species to go at. Anyhow, I had the added "bonus" this weekend of pegging out and so I spent a couple of hours on Saturday with Shaun Townsend doing our best to get the pegging right. Of course you will never please everyone, and despite the logic we used for the conditions still a few people moaned, mostly the ones who I've never seen peg a match.

The day started well for Nigel Saunders, he forgot to change his clock and ended up at the draw before the gates were opened, lol! Some heavy rain overnight meant gave me cause for concern, as I expected it would effect the river during the day. Team draw done by Liam Bradell and I found myself on a long walk up the Crane to peg 75 just shy of the top of the ashtip, I was happy with that (the peg not the walk). Just before I set off a strange vision appeared before me, none other than Mike Nicholls out for a walk. Mike also helped out as Bathampton had forgotten to take the scales (doh) but then I found out there was no weigh boards either (double doh!).

Finally got to my peg to find once again Paul Purchase of Thyers next peg (74), we were next peg quite a few times last year. Leighton Warden was on the bend, and round the bend (literally) was Shaun Townsend. It didn't take me long to set up today, a feeder rod with 0.15 to 14 B611 and another with 0.17 to 11 B711. I did set up a big flat float but I didn't end up using it, as I never fancied a float in the end. I was sure there would be some bream / skimmers feeding today and this is why the feeder would be king, and to start the match I threw in 10 big babies heads of gbait full of worm and caster just shy of the middle of the river. I nice careful team approach you could say! I started on a 20g feeder with the "lighter" gear but 3 red maggots on the hook (usually a good bet) did not buy me a bite, so 25 mins in I started switching hookbaits around. This got me a roach and perch so at least off the mark. On 45 mins I tried double caster and within seconds of the feeder hitting bottom the tip slammed round and I felt a lovely solid thud.... a bream. As I was playing the fish Shaun Townsend appeared behind me and said he was struggling, he called me a James Hunt as I netted the bream. I was now looking forward to bagging a few more bream, despite the wind and rain bashing me straight in my kisser. Here is my peg, and rod position.

During the next hour I had another roach and perch but no signs of the bream, the rest of the section were struggling so I just had to keep plodding on. Unfortunately the middle of the match was appalling for me, and no matter what hook bait I tried, including lobworms, I couldn't get a bite except from the odd ounce roach. I did try a line a third the way out, but this was full of leaves and weed whereas down the middle I was not getting so much trouble but I did have to step up to a 25g feeder. With about 75 mins left I started to get bites again, either on a bit of worm with 2 maggots, or 3 maggots, sadly not from bream but roach. It was however interesting fishing trying to see and hit the bites, and although I never had any netters a few were up to 6oz (swing them on my gear) and it was a nice end to the match.

With no weigh board we had a whip round, I had a black marker and Richard Whitmarsh had a fag packet liner, what a joke! Richard below me had taken a few roach early on but then struggled, he ended with 3lb 14oz, I weighed 6lb 11oz, Paul 2lb 9oz, Leighton 2lb, and Shaun then pissed the section with 13lb including 2 bream and a skimmer, so once again he did me like a kipper, and I ended 2nd. During the match the river had risen slightly, speeded up and gained more colour, this had the effect of changing many peoples swims.

The match was won by Jerry Pocock with 24lb of bream, he was in the lane on the wooden platform in an area I fancied. Steve Priddle was 2nd with 20lb 12oz from next peg, and his team mate Mark Bromsgrove was 3rd with 20lb 7oz from my favourite peg (1st one in Long Ashtip). Can't remember who was 4th, perhaps I'd better just make it up, oh I remember it was Shane Caswell with 19lb 15oz, from peg 20 at Swineford, some bream on the feeder wouldn't you know!

On the team front Bathampton won again beating Thatchers by 1/2 point (ouch) and they now lead by 3 points from Thatchers. They were helped by Darren Gillman who went from last to first in section with a bream 15 mins to go, nice. I managed to get through the knockout today, and in the next round I have team mate Nathaniel Johnson, same in the Commercial House too!

Next week is round 4 at Newbridge. Hope this storm does not cause anyone any problems, fingers crossed. Oh and one last thing, a mate of mine is having a bit of a rough time at present and won't be able to fish the Poppy match it seems, that's a shame as he always asks me to draw for him and usually I get a good un and give him a crap peg! I would gladly give him the better peg this year, chin up matey.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Commercial House Round 3 Bristol Avon Newbridge

I dunno sometimes what goes on with my sleeping patterns, a great Friday nights sleep was followed by a wide awake Sat night, and I heard a lot of rain during the night. I was hoping for a nice drop of rain during the week, but we never got enough to put proper colour in the river. Arriving at the draw today the car park was full, the additional parking field was shut due to the field being to boggy, and so I ended up parking on the main road. Then I had to pay Roy Carter a £1 for weighing more than me last match, before paying my pools. Mark Harper did the A team draw and came back giving me A section, this was a split section with 6 pegs up at Rotork and 7 in the little field. I was on the last peg in the section just above the road bridge on peg 13A (another short walk). I didn't fancy this peg in the section, I've never seen a lot come from it, and with Andy Power on Rotork end peg 27 and Shaun Townsend above him on 24 I would need a good net to beat them.

As I was setting up Gavin Messer came past me, then he came back saying he was up at Rotrork, 10 mins later he was back again and finally realised he was on peg 3 in the little field, lol! Not long after the Chippenham Italian Fab Legge came back for his mountain of gear and said his peg (1) was a jungle. Myself and Dean Harvey said he could fish in between us if he wanted (match organiser was OK with him moving) and he accepted. My peg had a slab in it (stone slab) about 8ft off the water, too high, so I went a bit lower down and sat on a small ledge.

My set up for today was exactly the same as last week on the pole, but on the feeder I set up an open ender. Last week the peg below had been poor, but above had been good for roach so I was happy that my pole approach from last week would work again. On the whistle I threw in my 14 balls of gbait and picked up the 1grm rig and slipped on a maggot. The float travelled all of 6ft before dipping and a 2oz roach was swung in, same next cast but the roach was 1oz so on went a caster and no bites for 3 chucks, hmmm. This sort of start is not usually a good sign, and in the first hour the only way I could get a bite was with a maggot on the hook, but the roach were mainly small and I thought I might have 2lb. During the 2nd hour I was still getting bites from small roach, but I did manage a couple of 4oz roach on the caster. I also got a few other bites too, I felt some irritation on the back of my neck, then the side, then the front and found some red ants had crawled up on me, ouch!!

Going into the third hour the pole line really died quickly, and a look on my copped worm line produced a perch first drop then never another bite. I chucked the feeder out 10 times and then went over the top with red maggots, nothing. Back on the pole I had topped up with some groundbait and that brought 4 more small roach but no more. So on the feeder again but it was not happening, and it was all over when I managed to catch the hook in my finger on the cast and snapped the 0.14. The hook was right in past the barb (I did say ouch) and I couldn't budge it, so I wandered up to Fab and luckily for me he had some tools. Firstly we had to pull the hook point through my finger (now I was screaming like a baby) which took a few attempts, and then snap off the spade and pull the hook all the way out. I was tempted to take a photo but it was to painful, and I am indebted to Fab.

Back to my peg and I kept working the pole line, a run of roach soon petered out and then a huge male otter swam through the peg! This otter worked his way down river, and was the biggest I'd ever seen! Then a rain storm finally arrived and it lashed down till the end of the match as it turned out. I cupped in some more balls with a bit of worm in it. I did get 1 perch on worm on this long line, but that was it, very odd roach followed until the last 15 mins when I suddenly had a bite a chuck from the same small roach, all on fluro maggot. It had been a frustrating match with many dead spells and what seemed a swim full of tiny roach, though as it turned out many people on the river caught this same stamp of fish. I thought I might have 7lb of bits.

When the scales and board finally arrived in the little field my fears had been realised, with Shaun Townsend weighing a brilliant 15lb to Andy Powers 13lb (they ended 3rd and 4th overall too). Gavin Messer had 6lb 15oz which included a near 2lb perch, and below him Sam Johnson had just shy of 10lb, but he needs to learn to estimate better! The rest of the lads struggled with Fab having 3lb 8oz , and then I weighed 7lb 5oz which got me 10 points out of 13, and 5 out of 7 for the team.

Back at the results (the car park was full again) I found that a couple of my team had struggled and we weren't going to win again today. That distinction fell to the B team, and with Bathampton coming 2nd and my team 3rd it meant that after 3 matches Thatchers A and B are tied at the top. When the section winner money was called out I was shocked to hear my name, I'd picked up the money by double default, lol! My luck didn't end there though, as I managed to get through the knockout by beating Rich Lacey who weighed 7lb 2oz, that was close. Next round I'm up against Thatchers young upstart Nathaniel Johnson.

Winning the match today was elder statesman Vic Abbot with 30lb+ of bream from a couple of pegs below the newton st loe bridge, 2nd, from the peg above Vic, was Thatchers Colin Dance with 9 bream for 28lb. Colin tried for the bream on the feeder from the off, and after about 10 quick casts he had one on his first proper try, he never bothered with the pole after that!

Well that's another decent river match done, 12lb was needed to frame today, and that's good in my book. It seems we may well be getting a lot of rain this week and maybe we'll be fishing a more coloured, even flooded river next Sun?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

ATWL Round 2 Bristol Avon Newbridge

The most important thing for me today was making sure I packed my water proofs and umbrella, though the rest of my tackle was also going to be important I hoped. I got to the draw in time to snare a couple of bacon rolls and a cup of tea, talk was of the good weights that had come out on Wednesday on a little knock up, with Derek Coles winning that with 30lb of hybrids off peg 22. In my view Newbridge fishes well to begin, but gradually the weights declines as the matches take their toll. All to soon the draw was done and I found myself on peg 20, a peg I have drawn a fair few times and I seem to draw this area a fair bit.

On arrival at my peg I was able to talk to my knockout opponent Andy Britt, and his team mate Darren Gillman, their captain Kev Dicks was on the next peg above me. On the peg below 22 was Brian Derrick. I wondered if those Hybrids would have moved up into my peg, or moved down in 22A where my team mate Nick Chedozy had drawn, time would tell. I know that this peg is best fished on the pole at 13m, this is where most of the flow is, and fishing across for chublets is also a good bet. This is my view of the peg....

As you can see I was a good 6 feet off the water!

Setting up rigs for the pole today was fairly simple as the river was still clear and very slow, a 1grm pencil rig with 0.10 to a 20, a 2grm rig with an 18 to 0.12, and a 1.5grm worm rig which never got me a bite today. I set up a maggot feeder for fishing across with 0.14 to a 16, I didn't fancy the waggler as this peg is very wide and a lot of leaves would make it tricky. I was hopeful those hybrids would be near, so I threw in 14 big balls of gbait full of casters and hemp on my 13m line. First drop in and I hooked a 4oz roach which I dropped trying to swing it (dickhead). Not to worry as I had a bite next drop in from a 2oz roach, and for 15 mins it was just these small roach that showed on caster, then the elastic came out and a 12oz hybrid was netted. Here we go!!!! Errr no! I could get bites but they were awkward to hit and from mainly small roach. The pencil rig was best and I was fishing about 6 inches off bottom as I was getting bites on the drop, and the occasional 4oz roach showed. Another hybrid of 1lb was landed after an hour and I was quite happy with my start.

Things started to slow up in the 2nd hour and the roach were getting smaller, then I hit a decent fish on the 2grm rig which pulled out a lot elastic. It swam for the inside and I guessed it was a chub, I pulled the pole up hard and then a perch of well over a 1lb surfaced and threw the hook, nuts! I had started to loose feed hemp on the pole line but things were getting worse not better and not helped when a pike turned up and did a few hook lengths. The rain had been falling very hard and my maggots were trying to escape, so I went up the bank to get a bit of brown crumb and then decided to see how other anglers were doing. Kev said he had well less than 4lb, and Andy Pritchard thought he had 4lb, so I was ahead just.

My pole line was now barren of fish it seemed, but alive with boats! There were loads of boats today, and at times you couldn't fish, I took this photo as evidence, note the boat in the foreground is resting over my pole line, the boat across resting over my planned feeder line...
I had a bad third hour and then decided to try adding some more groundbait onto the pole line, but rather than ball it again I cupped in 4 balls and had a look on the feeder, which was a waste of time. However, the pole line came back to life with small 2oz roach and I was now getting these every chuck and kept plugging away until it died off and I couldn't revive it. With 45 mins remaining I decided to go all out on the maggot feeder for chub, I didn't catch one of them but I did manage a couple of perch, a roach and a 12oz hybrid. When the match finished I wasn't sure if I was wet, cold or both!

The weigh in started on peg 14 where Chris Higgins was thoroughly soaked and peed off, he'd been piked out (a monster) and had fallen in, lol, he weighed 3lb. Andy Pritchard weighed 4lb 15oz and then Kev Dicks weighed the same as Andy until he found a little roach in his net and gained 1/2oz, Kev then went to get his box out and fell in! I then plonked 10lb 15oz on the scales (which I think is more than double what Kev had, hee hee!) and below me Brian had 1lb 12oz. That sealed a section win for me worth £50 in this league, nice! I also got through the knockout as Andy Britt weighed 7lb+.

Once again the Avon had fished well with only one section not won with double figures. Winning on the day was Nick Chedzoy with 35lb of hybrids (yep they went down stream the buggers!) on the pole, well done matey.

2nd Martin Rayet on peg 65 with 25lb of bream on the feeder
3rd Roy Carter 23lb 7oz with bream (think he ws on peg 74, life in the old dog yet)

Bathampton won again, beating Thatchers by 1.5 points on the day, and Thyers were 3rd.

I can't finish without mentioning Gary Cross. You may recall he had a last in section next to me last week, but this week being on the bream peg "54" he was surely going to get a few? Things went from bad to worse as Gary managed to drop in his top 6 during the match, a fish was on and it very slowly pulled the sections out of reach. Gary tried casting over it to retreive it, but then like a scene out of jaws a pike must have snaffled the fish and at a rate of knots Gary's top 6 gathered speed and disappeared into the far bank. Gary bagged another last section, I'm sure his luck will change soon.

Next week it is up here at again but on the Commercial House, more rain required please.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

October November 1994

I'm writing this as I consider my options for tomorrows ATWL at Newbridge, and it looks like I will need to take all my wet weather gear. Knackered today as I have been working in Munich since Tuesday and didn't get back until 10:30pm Friday, Bavarian beer is damn good so it was worth it!

Things were rather tough back in October 1994, and after my previous ATWL 2oz I was hoping for a better catch on the Avon above Bath. I drew at Avoncliffe, 1 below the railway bridge which was a fair old walk, and the peg looked poor as the river was up a bit due to extra water. I managed to catch 2lb 14oz which comprised 2 perch, 1 roach and 1 chublet on the maggot feeder fished across, 1 roach and 1 eel on a straight lead over caster in a slack. 9 points for the team and we won the day, nice. More rain followed this match and the river was now in flood, but with my next match a Bathampton open at Newbridge I wasn't worried as it is a good venue when in flood (usually). I drew peg 141 and whilst I thought the 130's better I was happy being in the trees section. I attached the swim with a gbait feeder fished just a few rod lengths out with a 16 to 2lb maxima. I had a lot of bites on maggot and worm, but the swim was really snaggy and I lost a lot of hooks and fish, I suspect eels as that is what I caught mainly. My 7lb 2oz won me nothing as bream showed up, with 30lb winning from peg 54.

My last match of Oct 94 saw me entering the middle Avon champs, with the river still in flood I wasn't going to take much gear and a couple of feeder rods would have done me I suspect! I drew the end peg 1 at Bathford and started by fishing a maggot feeder down the peg which brought 1 dace, 1 roach and 2 perch. A bream rolled in front of me and it looked huge, so out went the gbait feeder over where it surfaced. During the rest of the match the bream rolled another 5 times (i'm convinced it was the same fish as it looked huge) but a roach and a 1lb+ eel was all I caught. I weighed 3lb and won my ten peg section giving me £25, but I can still see that bream rolling in my mind to this day!

On Friday the 4th November I was in Avon Angling after work collecting my bait for the Poppy Match, Pete Sivell was also there and was moaning because he had a team in league and had been let down by angler at the last minute. He talked me in to fishing with him, the match was the next day at lake I'd never heard of called Moorlands Farm, rather famous now! Pete told me I would love it and gave me some pointers how to fish it and I made a couple of rigs up at home. On the day I remember how amazed I was at the sight of this venue, driving in down the hill seeing the lakes spread out before you. Team draw done and I ended up on peg 40 on Meadow lake, Pete said it was crap for carp and to fish sensible for skimmers. It was probably a good thing I didn't draw on carp as I'm sure I would have been hammered! Fishing with a cane topped float, and 0.10 to a 24 hook, I fished at 10m out and fed just 6 casters and 2 maggots ever few minutes. The first couple of hours were not bad and I some skimmers and crucians, but then wind dropped and the bites became hard to get. I remember an angler opposite moaning he couldn't catch whilst I was was, it was the late Dave Hinton, and so I thought I must be doing OK. A bream of nearly 4lb was my best fish and helped my weight up to 17lb 9oz. I won the 24 peg section and picked up £50. I was grateful to Pete talking me in to going as I ended up spending a lot of time there in later years.

The Poppy match the next day and with the river a foot up I was looking for a bream peg, what I got was a peg just below the top of the long ash tip. This day ended up a real laugh! I never had a bite all match, but the peg above (back then) was noted for chub and on it was a work colleague of mine Shane Caswell (I was next to him last week remember?). Shane fished the feeder all match under his feet and I told him he wasted the peg as he should have fished across, he was pretty unhappy and he as soon as the whistle for the match ending went, he walked up to see how others had done. I was very naughty, I got in Shane's peg and fished the feeder across, by the time he had come back I had taken a large roach and a 3lb chub and I gave him loads of stick! When I got back to Frys for the results I told my team mates about what happened and this story spread. Shane got back late (he always polishes his rods after a match) and was asked by everyone he saw about how he "fooked up"! Let's just say he wasn't to happy with me and call me a James Hunt, but he forgave me (eventually) and he's still a great mate to this day, with a brilliant sense of humour I might add!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

ATWL Bristol Avon, Jack Whites to Swineford

I was really looking forward to this match as this lower bit of the river is rammed full of small fish at present, and the bream aren't showing. It was a shame the real heavy rain we were promised in the week did not materialise as the river needs a few days of it, as it turned out what rain we did have made little difference. As ever I was hoping for a draw at Swineford, or one of the flyers at Jackies, but back came the team draw with me up the crane again. I found myself pegged in the middle of the bay in the little ashtip field, a peg where you have to wade out (cheers Andy Ottaway!). It can be a very good roach peg, and there's a chance of chub across, but I'd prefer it with more flow on if i'm on honest.

I donned my waders and worked my way out to as far as I could go and then waited to see how far I sank.... It seemed safe where I was stood "up to my chunks" so that would be my station for the day. I then went to get out my long bank sticks and remembered I had not put them back into the holdall since fishing the commercials, doh! I managed to borrow one from Nigel Saunders, and one from Shane Caswell (who was one above me). I did ask Gary Cross (one below me) but he had forgot his too, and he borrowed one from Liam Braddel. Then Nigel Saunders had to borrow a landing net handle from Gary, and to be honest there was so much swapping going on I got confused, lol! I thought long and hard about what to set up, having to stand up was not going to work for long pole, so up went a 3AAA wag, a 6 no4 stick float, a feeder (not used) and a 1grm pencil float on 7m of pole. 20 to 0.10 was my standard set up, but 18 to 0.12 on the wag.

Although I had my balling mix with me I decided against using it in order to try to get some response feeding hemp and caster, I threw about 4 handfuls of each in to start with. Second run down on the stick and I had a dace on a maggot hookbait, and gradually bites got more regular with more roach than dace coming to the stick. 2lb after the first hour was OK as I expected the peg to build up during the day, and going into the 2nd hour things remained fairly consistent but the roach were all around 4oz and some came to the pole rig, I probably now had 6lb which was better than my neighbours. Unfortunately what little flow I had now greatly reduced and so did the bites, and from here on in it was real hard work to get bites. Maggot was getting me more bites than caster today, and various tries with hemp only resulted in one roach.

From the beginning of the match I had been feeding maggots over to the boats, so I picked up the wag and was really hoping it would bury with a chub. It buried but a dace took my double maggot, and another dozen casts were fruitless so back to the inside. This line was really iffy, and if I did get a couple of bites or roach that would be it for a while, and I had to keep swapping between rigs and depths and hookbaits, but as the match went on the fish just got smaller and smaller. Another couple of looks on the wag were only rewarded with an odd roach or dace, and I set up a chopped worm rig as things were so touch, but that only yielded 3 small perch. With the end of the match approaching I knew I was behind Shaun Townsend, but beating Gary Cross who was looking for his phone (he left it in the car) to ring the Samaritans. I stuck to fishing the wag for chub, still feeding plenty of maggots, and for the last 20 mins had a bite a chuck from roach, swinging one in on the whistle. I suppose it was the time of day they started to feed, but I also thought perhaps I had made a mistake fishing to close in with the stick, maybe a long rod with bolo float down the middle would have been better?

After the match I gave Shane's bank stick to Shaun, and then gave Shane Nigel's bank stick, but he sorted it all out! Nigel Saunders on peg 1 weighed 4lb and lost 30+ hook lengths to pike, Shaun then had a section winning 15lb, Shane 8lb 15oz, myself 10lb 3oz and Gary Cross 3lb something. I forget what Gary weighed as his captain Lance Tucker gave him a load of stick for being crap and I was pissing myself! I then went back to my peg and couldn't find my bank stick, I have a feeling Shane has hid it somewhere, arse!

I got back to the draw feeling knackered, standing up in silt for 5 hours is bloody hard work (I wish I was 20 again!). The team had done OK off what I thought was a poor draw, but Bathampton did very well and won the match beating us by 1 point. Here is the top 6 overall, all small fish bags on the float:-

1st Mark Bromsgrove 18lb 3oz from below Bitton Brook (worh £230)
2nd Mark Harper 17lb 13oz, top of long ashtip
3rd Paul Purchase 17lb 1oz, Swineford somewhere
4th R Whitmarsh 16lb 1oz (next to Mark Harper)
 joint 5th Shaun Townsend and Nathaniel Johnson 15lb 9oz.

In fact today every 5 peg section was won with at least 12lb 7oz, now that's good fishing in my book,

Next week is round two at Newbridge, and with no rain forecast it could be a struggle if not drawn on a few, fingers crossed then!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Commercial House Round 2, Bristol Avon Chippenham and Christian Malford

Round 2 of this league and I had to drive to Melksham for the draw, the breakfast in Spencers club was not great but I was hungry. The talk was if we could actually find the sections pegged and what state would the river be in, luckily Vic Abbot had written some great instructions with sat nav post codes included. Mark Harper did the team draw today and I found myself pegged in D section at Chippenham somewhere by the sea cadets I was told. I jumped in my car and followed Thatchers B team angler Nathaniel Johnson which was a good job as I don't think I would have remembered! Thatchers A were next to B, so it would be a good day for banter.

Finally arriving at my peg I found myself pegged above the sea cadets launch, right opposite some metal pilings, it certainly wouldn't have been my pick of pegs but being on a bend it would have some flow which would be handy. My neighbours were upstream about 20 yds Derek Coles, downstream about 150 yds Nathaniel. A picture of what I was to face for 5 hours is below:-

Before the start I got some info from Robbie Kepner that my peg was good for chub and I shouldn't bother fishing for roach. Hmmm, being a team match I needed to consider all my options, didn't I? I set up a 2.5AA waggler with 0.15 to a 15B711, a maggot feeder with the same gear, and a 1grm round bodied pole float for 13m with 0.15 to 13B711 for chopped worm. No roach then, lol! To be fair I couldn't see me catching many roach, a fierce down stream wind, gin clear river and the sun coming out all said to me "STRUGGLE".

I started the match on the waggler loose feeding maggots, and almost instantly the down stream wind got up worse, I was fishing well down the peg due to the wind. It was a slow start for me, after the first hour I had 3 perch, 1 chublet and 1 roach for about a 1lb, Derek was no better. I considered changing line strength, but my peg was shallow and weedy in close and I couldn't see how I could land a chub on lighter line. However, 30 mins later  and I was on 0.12 and a 20, and it didn't make a lot of difference, at least to start. Two hours in and about 2lb in the net I fed some worm and caster at 13m, gave it 15 mins then dropped in with a dendra. I took 4 perch from 4 to 6oz quite quickly then no more bites so fed a bit more.

I kept trying the waggler at differing depths and eventually sat it out fishing full depth (9ft) with just 1 no8 and 3 no10 down the line. It was hard going, and the wind was really bad and with the sun out there were areas of the peg where I could not see the float, but when I did get a bite it was usually a 4oz perch, although in the last two hours a few roach up to 6oz appeared. My second look on the chopped worm was very slow to start, and I was just about to give it up when a 3oz perch kept my interest. Another small perch then preceded three perch of around 8oz each which were very welcome. This line died off bar one more small perch, and I spent the last hour on the wag during which I snared a few more fish including a 12oz chub, and a last cast roach.

With the match finished I reckoned I had 7lb which considering the conditions I was really chuffed about. The only person admitting to more was Nicky Johns a few pegs upstream. When the scales arrived Nathaniel was top with 7lb 4oz, but he got his lesson when I weighed 9lb 11oz. Derek had just shy of 5lb and Nicky Johns did indeed win the section with 11lb 10oz. Nicky had about 50 small roach and some big perch on wag and pole fishing a 22 to 0.06 bottom!! He lost some perch in the weed he said, but I wasn't surprised, you wouldn't catch me fishing 0.06 on the river, but fair play to him. Perhaps I should have gone lighter myself? I ended up 2nd in the section so team job done. Here is Nicky's catch.

Another long drive to the results, but they did do a nice cheese and onion roll, and it soon became clear Thatchers A and B next peg battle was going to be close, and we'd also drawn some good pegs. In the end the A team beat the B team by a point (let that be a lesson) and we ended first and second on the day. On the individual front it went something like this...

1st Lee Trivet Thatchers A 16lb 12oz (3 chub roach and perch) Christian Malford
2nd Liam Bradell Thatchers B16lb 6oz (8lb of roach, perch and chub) next peg to Lee!
3rd Nicky Johns Bathampton 11lb 10oz
4th Tony 4star diesel Thatchers B 10lb 14oz (roach on hemp) Chippenham
5th Mark Harper Thatchers A 10lb 8oz
6th Andy Ottoway Thatchers A 10lb 6oz (chub) next to 4star!

I was 8th but got the section money by default, which was nice, and got through the knockout by displacing Martin Barrett. Next round I have Rich Lacey to battle with!

Next week it's the first round of the ATWL at Swineford,Crane, etc, sadly on 5 teams this year, hopefully plenty of good pegs in then!