Sunday, 30 November 2014

January / February 1996

My meeting with "general anaesthetic"on Wednesday (and what they did to me) left me feeling very tired even unwell. I was therefore glad that I did not have any winter league matches this weekend, painting doors was much less strenuous! Next trip to the hospital is mid January and I dare not tell you what they plan to do next time, other than mention an ultrasound, probe and a balloon, yikes!

Back in January 1996 my first match of the New Year was another round of the Moorlands Farm Winter League on Sat 6th. I drew Bank pool peg 13 and was expecting a tough match. Chopped worm was a great bait up here back in the day, and it was what I put my faith in for most of the day. I fished really light with a 22 to 0.08 and had 1 chub, 3 rudd, 6 roach and lost a carp. However, I rested this line on and off by fishing a maggot feeder which had yielded only 1 small carp, but in the last 45 mins I had 4 more carp all on double maggot on 20 to 0.12. My 12lb 9oz was enough to take second in the 22 peg section and helped the team to win on the day.

The following day saw me fishing an ATWL for Thatchers on the upper Avon, the river was flooded so a good draw was required. I took a small roach under my rod tip in the first 15 mins to avoid a blank and then cast a gbait feeder out in the main flow. After 20 mins I had a huge bite and a fish tore off miles downstream and I waited for the line to snap or the fish to snag me, but it didn't. With rod bent double the fish just held in the current, I pulled as much as I dared but I couldn't make the fish move. After 20 mins I gained about 6 turns on the reel and then the fish took it back again. Basically I held onto this fish with rod bent double for 90, yes 90 minutes!!! I was gaining more and more line on this fish but then it just swam off downstream again and into a snag. Talk about being gutted, I would have loved to have seen it, I wondered if it was a big barbel, or something fouled, I'll never know. I never had another bite all day and my roach of 2oz was only worth 3 points, the team won the league so that was the main result.

A trip up to Woodlands View lakes the following week was not much cop, I had 5 carp in a short spell half way through the match and lost 5 foulers, end of! Saturday 20th January found me back at Moorlands for the w/l, this time I drew on Meadow pool, and peg 18. My pole line at 10m was fed with chopped worm but I struggled on this whilst others caught a few, a skimmer and 2 roach were all I could muster and with nothing on the maggot feeder I was right down the section. I'd been feeding maggots at 12.5m but this has also been dead, so I upped the maggot feed as the last roll of the dice. This trick paid off with 4 carp in the last 40 mins, 2 coming in the last two drops prompting quite a lot of swearing from the anglers next door. My weight of just 11lb 15oz was enough to win the section, the team came 3rd and we were still hanging on to 1st overall.

For the next two weeks I abandoned all fishing as winter arrived with day time temperatures below zero, everything was frozen!

I managed to get out in February with a ATWL semi practice match on the Grand Union canal around West Drayton. I had to break the ice and in the end only had bites on joker from tiny perch, plenty of bites but they only weighed 1lb 8oz. My diary says on Feb 6th we had lots of snow, but it must have cleared because on the 10th I was back up the GUC for a team practice. I had a disaster with a mass of ice floating around in front of me, trying to push it out the way too far I fell in, that was cold! The next day we fished an open on the canal and I drew by the cement works. Once again I caught on joker, but this time small roach, a weight of 2lb 2oz was about halfway and a few better fish came out around me and I'd fished to negatively but learnt a lot.

Saturday 17th December I fished in the final round of the Moorlands w/l and with the team in the lead I must admit to feeling a bit of pressure! Peg 3 on Meadow Lake did not ease my nerves, but I was told to fish the worm and catch what I could. Effectively I fished the same as the match before, but this time my worm line yielded about 6lb of roach, my maggot feeder 1 crucian, and the long pole and maggot line a 1 1/2lb carp. 8lb 7oz was worth 17 points out of 22, the rest of the lads did well and we came 3rd on the day and won the league!, My winning team mates were Des Shipp, Steve Mayo and Vic Bush, not to shabby then!

I had little spare time that night as the next day was the last ATWL practice on the GUC! I was on the helipad section which was know to be crap and it meant I had to fish negatively with joker and forget all else. I fed tiny marbles of joker in various areas and caught 12oz of perch for 4th in the 10 peg section. I was absolutely gutted when the following week on the semi, Mark Harper did the team draw and I was on the helipad section, balls! I fished the same as the previous week and the canal was fishing really hard again and the bank runners were saying every fish was crucial. I caught 18 perch for 11 1/4oz and that was worth 15 points out of 25. Sadly I was really in a bad area of the section, I beat the 3 anglers to my left, 5 to my right, with the 6th angler beating me by 1/4oz, a certain Will Raison. I took a lot of positives from my result that day, even though the team shit out and came 16th!

Last round of the ATWL on the canal next Sunday, team have already won, and barring a boat sinking in his peg Liam Braddell will be individual champion!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Commercial House round 4 Bristol Avon

This match would be the last of the year on the lower Avon, and in the week the river was dropping nicely and looking like it could be really good. Sadly the rain decided to return on Friday and worse still Saturday night it tipped down, meaning it wasn't going to be great and except for a lucky few it would be a feeder match.

Today wasn't a day to say I'd like to draw Swineford, or the Crane, as it was all going to be about what your peg looked like, but one in an area where bream could be caught would be nice. I found myself pegged in D section up the Crane and was hoping to above the bay where bream had shown in the Poppy, but it turned out I was the first peg in the little ashtip. This is a kiss of death peg under normal conditions, but with water on it can be better as most of the flow goes across. I walked past Thatchers B team's Nick Chedzoy who was on the high wall peg (I didn't fancy that!) and Graham Hunt who was the peg before the style which had some perch form. My peg was boily below but not too bad infront of me (Chedz said don't you dare moan about it on your blog) and whilst I was setting up Chedz saw a decent fish roll very close in. I assembled a 5 grm pole rig, a 5grm flat float and neither of these got me a bite! Two feeder rods one with 0.148 exceed to a 14 B611 and one with .0165 exceed to a 13 B711 were also put up.

At the start of the match I threw in 10 jaffas of gbait on the 11m line, tried the pole rigs for nothing and then cast the feeder out for nothing! I did also feed some worm and caster next to a tree down to my right, and I had a couple of plucks on the tip on a lobworm tail but twice I snagged up on the strike. The third time I tried down here I hit the snag again and this time I felt like I had something on, but after a lot of effort I finally freed the rig but it was attached to some heavy line which fell back into the river. I never hit the snag again but also never had a decent bite other than a ruffe from here!

Two hours into the match and I was blanking, Martin Reyatt above me landed a perch to save his blank, Graham had a few small perch and Chedz a chub. I was not getting any bites at all and all hook bait options were refused, but minutes after Martin caught I had a decent bite on 3 red maggots. I was attached to a decent fish and a bream soon kited across the surface and into my landing net, phew! It was getting on for 4lb and was very welcome. Two casts later and another bite, but this fish fought differently and a perch of a pound popped up in close, went back down and the hook pulled out, nuts!

Bites were non existent again after this, and the river was still rising although the colour was still not that bad there were plenty of leaves and the peg was now boiling more and started to go round in circles a bit. I was hoping another bream would come out, and when Martin walked up to the first two pegs in the section (where I wanted to be) and found they had 2 bream each I knew I had to stick out. Sadly the remainder of the match was dire for most (mainly anglers who caught did so in the first 90 mins) and for me, I added 3 ruffe and a 12oz  perch and that was it. I did miss a few bites but I think those pesky ruffe were the culprits. I was astonished that I had not had a roach, but then none of the guys around me did, when we expected to get plenty of taps on the tip. To give you an idea of how tough it was Martin snagged up on the tip and lost his gear, and hour later he hooked it and retrieved feeder and hook length and his maggots were still on the hook untouched!!

On peg 1 Nigel Wyatt had 4 bream for 15lb and he won the match, well done matey! On peg 2 John Fuidge had 2 bream and some bits for 10lb 6oz and 3rd in match, well done! Peg Martin had just over a 1lb, I weighed 4lb 14oz, Graham 3lb (of perch) and Chedz had about a pound and a half. I was knocked down another place by Kev Dicks who beat me by 1/2oz (oh I did laugh at that!). That gave me 9 points out of 12 and 4 points out of 6 in the A div.

Back at the results I found out that Kev would win the section by default (and win £60) so the poxy perch I lost cost me, Kev profited even more from me as I bought some worms from him in the morning forgetting I had already ordered worms from Thatchers. I then got a phone call from the wife that my eldest daughter was in A&E after being knocked over the night before at a night club, some days luck deserts you, such is life!

I've mentioned a couple of framers, but in 2nd place was recent Poppy Match winner Andy Gabb with 11lb 7oz, Thatchers Welsh wizard John Harvey was 4th from peg 28 at Swineford with 10lb 4oz, he had 1 chub and some roach on the bolo. Craig Fletcher was last in the frame with two bream from peg 16 at Swineford. There were lots of anglers who struggled today and I can only assume the recent weeks cold temps and rain knocked it on the head.

I think Wiltshire Angling won the A div today, my lot came 2nd on the day, that means we now have an 8.5 point lead going into the last two rounds on the canal in the New Year. Not sure what I am doing next week yet, but I have a trip to hospital on Wednesday where the consultant wants to examine my ... so I've got to have a general anaesthetic, such is life!

Sunday, 16 November 2014


This is my new version of this post as I now (after 3 firkin attempts) have a new power cable for my laptop.

Sad day Saturday buying my last casters and maggots at Avon Angling, Saturday mornings won't ever be the same, think I was the last paying customer. Last picture of John and Tony just before they locked the door for the last time. We went down the pub with Tony for a couple of jars, Tony was putting on a brave face but I could see it was difficult for him, 30+ years in any any job that finishes is a big deal. I told Tony, and it was genuine, that I wouldn't be half the angler I was if it wasn't for the time spent in his shop picking up tips.

Today was the first w/l on the canal, I found myself drawn at Darlington Wharf two past the bay, This area has not been so good in the last year but skimmers are always in the area. I have drawn the peg before many years ago and had perch from next to the bush but last year this area was full of tiny roach, and I mean tiny! As you can see from the photo below the bush is off to my right and there is a nice depth next to it.

To my left was pegged Nicola Goodhind who loves fishing the canal, and to my right was my stalker (lol) Mike Martin-Davies, also in my section again was Bathampton's Kevin Dicks.

I started the day off badly, as when I got to the towpath I realised I'd left my 14.5m pole section at home, but as Glenn Bailey was coming out for a walk I called him and he nipped round my house and picked it up for me, dead handy. A number of rigs set up today, the last standing 4x14 drennan Roach for punch, a couple of 4x16 PB Silvers for fishing either maggot, or worms, a 4x10 caster rig, and 0,4gm bloodworm rig which I never used. You can see here some of the floats I put together in my limited time on Saturday...

I started on the punch bread at 5m but straight off was into micro roach which was not a good sign. I persevered with it for 75 mins and did pick a few 1oz roach but not many. It seemed all in my section were struggling except Nicola who had 3 skimmers on the bread. I took a decision to turn this line into a gbait line to try to get a better stamp of fish on this line.

I went over to the bush and fishing either maggot or pinkie hookbait at first on the 4x16 PB Silvers. I picked up 1oz roach regularly but it was hard work shipping over at an angle and breaking down twice but the stamp of fish was much better. I was catching over a joker fed area and a worm and caster swim. I took fish from here for another 90 mins before things went iffy and bites were hard to come by. Mike Martin-Davies was on my right one out of the bay and he had a few skimmers over gbait in close, but I'd tried my converted gbait line and had no joy.

To be honest as I could see skimmers coming out I stayed fishing positive with bigger baits and fed more bait across to try to force a reaction. Sadly I never picked up any skimmers (other than 1oz jobbies) and I had to put pinkie on to get a few roach. I did manage a few roach on the caster and had three 4oz fish in three drops with 40 mins to go which helped, but they never stayed. These fish came on the lighter 4x10 float but not many other fish fell to this rig.

I finished with 5lb 6oz and won the section with 4lb 5oz being next best weight, however had I been in the section to my right I would have been last! As it happened other than Nicola nobody else had a skimmer in my section and so I got away with the section win, had I fished for bits I probably could have had another pound or so, but I got away with it today, and beat Kev Dicks again ;-)

Thatchers won on the day and have now won the league even with one match to go!

Team mate Nathaniel Johnson won the match from two pegs to my right in the bay with 12lb 13oz of skimmers, Shaun Townsend had 12lb 10oz from the end peg of the match, and Alan Jones had 10lb from the other end peg of the match, joint 4th was Rich Lacey and Mark Harper with 9lb 12oz.

Nat caught some decent skimmers on the pole over gbait, Alan caught some skimmers and good roach on bread early doors. Shaun caught most of his fish in the last 30 mins when roach and skimmers turned up and he couldn't get his float in quick enough.

This Sunday it is back on the river for the last river match on the Commercial House, hopefully the rain stays away and we could have a decent river.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Poppy Match (centenary match)

This year's Poppy Match had a special added element because it was 100 years since the beginning of World War I. I spent an hour or so early Saturday morning putting 30 pegs up the Crane assisted by Shaun Townsend and Jerry Pocock, with the river in flood we did our best to put the slacker pegs in and give everyone a chance. Ray Bazeley, Paul Haines, Colin Ellaway and Paul Benson put 70 pegs up Newbridge and I thought that was the best, as Swineford and Jack Whites would have been poor.

As ever on the morning at the draw there were plenty of old and great to see faces again, I could write a whole blog just on them! Sadly of course we were missing Bill Milton. I was really hoping for a draw up Newbridge as I thought a few bream would show today and 20lb would probably be a winning weight. I sort of got my wish drawing peg 124 down in the Trees, my prediction was that this area wouldn't throw up the winner but gave you a chance of framing, and I though 8lb would be a good weight. I didn't spend that long setting up and two feeder rods did for me, one with a 14 B611 to 0.16 exceed, and one with a 12 PR355 (I think!) to 0.16 exceed. I had my groundbait mix "thawed out", it was what I had used up on peg 7 a few weeks ago, I did add to it another bag of brown crumb but it was still red in colour despite what the onlookers thought!

I think it was before the start that organisers Paul Benson and Ray Bazeley walked down, we'd all been given Remembrance crosses at the draw and Bense (who wasn't fishing) decided to stick his in behind me, here it is...

When the match started today I began on a big open ended feeder and just wanted to see what happened, I was putting plenty of worm an caster in. After 20 mins I had a small bite and it turned out to be a little 2oz eel which liked my 3 red maggots. I then snagged up and lost my feeder, but after this had a few bites during the next 60 mins on various baits; dendras, lob worm, worm and maggot, and after an hour and 15 mins I had 4 eels. I kept banging the bait and trying different hookbaits but had a quiet spell for a good hour, then I had small roach on lobworm and next chuck a 8oz roach. That was it again and another dead spell was endured, Mat Challenger (of Scott Tackle) came up for a walk and saw me miss a good bite, by far the biggest bite of the day and the lob was gone! Here is my peg and set up..

All day long it was a nightmare with bots, but by far the worst were the damn dragon boats which came up very close on our bank and then went back down stream on the opposite side. I had quite a few "choice" words with them today, but they seemed to ignore me,

With 2 hours to go I threw in 8 balls of gbait laced with worm and caster on my feeder line, which was about 12m out. An immediate bite was missed then I had 2 eels in two chucks and then it was dead again. Going into the last 40 mins I went back to trying maggots and casters on the hook and this seemed a good move as I had another eel and two roach which must have both been over a pound, the last once coming at 2:55pm and I missed a bite on the whistle.

I knew I would not be getting my hands on any frame money this year as I was well aware of a number of anglers who had bream, but my 7 eels and 4 roach weighed 4lb 8oz which won my 5 peg section. The top weight in the trees was 9lb 5oz caught by Mark Harper down in the 140's.

Winner on the day was Andy Gabb with 18lb 6oz from around peg 26 up at Newbridge, which was 4 bream, well done! In 2nd place was Simon Alder from the little Ashtip field with 16lb 4oz. Simon had 3 bream but lost 3 (ouch) this was the second time he's come 2nd! In 3rd place was team mate Liam Braddell who was in the first field at the Crane, and he had 11lb 13oz which included one good bream and some nice roach and eels. Here are the winners and organiser Ray...

Of course the big winner was the Poppy fund which must have another £1500 added to it thanks to this match. The banter after the match was brilliant and I had a great laugh, managed to win a couple of Terrys Chocolate Oranges on the raffle and a bottle of vino for pegging out. Next week it is a change of venue and the canal for the ATWL.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

ATWL Round 4 Bristol Avon Newbridge

I spent a few days in Plymouth this week visiting my eldest daughter who is at the University, think she's learning as much as she is drinking, lol! I had a phone call from Shaun Townsend whilst there, he told me he'd lost a bet with Tony Rixon on weight last Sunday, and I'd lost him the bet as I refused to weigh in the couple of small fish he left in his keepnet. I did offer to pay him the £1 he lost lol!

I woke up a couple of times Sunday morning and heard some heavy rain, and I was sure the river would rise during the day, how this would affect the fishing I wasn't sure. Team draw didn't look so hot today, and I felt I was on a bad un and right up against it on peg 65. For some reason this season from here down to the bridge has been shocking, in years gone by I've had some good weights of roach and bream from here and would have run to the peg. With 3 bream pegs (54, 56, and 61) in my section it was going to be tough, above me on peg 63 was in form Rich Whitmarsh, and he said he had not done any good off his peg and was not happy either!

This part of the river is deep, around 14ft, and I had to tie some extra line on my rigs which today were 2grm, 4grm and 4grm flat float. I also set up a 14BB crowquill on a long rod, and feeder rod. Leaves were already very visible on the surface and they got worse as the day went on. I began the match by casting out 10 big feeders towards the far bank, which was a mistake. I then threw 14 balls of gbait in at 11m, I only went this far as the peg is very flat and deep and this was on the edge of the leaves. I started on the 2gm float with a caster on the hook  but only 1 roach on this was a bad sign. I was soon on a maggot and now getting bites from 1/2 to 2oz roach and perch. It was steady for the first hour and I thought I had 1.5lb. Things went iffy and noticing that Rich had taken a few fish on the crowquill I switched to this method too. It was a good move and I was taking small fish on maggot with a 20 to 0.10. However, bites were coming further down the peg and the fish were getting smaller and were mainly perch. Steve Skelton walked up the bank and told me not much was happening so I plodded on, but the swim was going away from me. I fed another ball of gbait on the pole line and then tried the feeder across. Sadly the leaves were making it near impossible to get my line below them and catching a leaf would bend the rod tip round and the feeder would roll.

About 2 hours to go I thought I was beating Rich, but Derek Coles on peg 61 had walked down to tell me he had 3 to 4lb and so he was doing well. Dave Stiff sat behind me and watched for a while and he noticed when Derek went back that he landed a skimmer / big roach (it turned out it was a 6 to 7lb bream!). I tried the flat float over the pole line and a few small perch on worm, but as a bit of colour came in the river the perch dried up, I tried the feeder over the pole line but alas it did not work.

I carried on working the crowquill loose feeding casters and hemp and was getting the odd bite here and there, still only from small fish but I did pick up 1 roach of 8oz.  With an hour to go I threw in another 6 balls and tried the pole rigs but none produced a bite. Only the crowquill was getting me bites and I plugged away on this to the end of the match with a few small roach and a gudgeon hitting the net.

My section today was won by Kevin Boltz on peg 56 who had 1 big bream and some roach for 11lb+, Derek was next with 9lb 9oz and I was next with 5lb 11oz. Rich weighed 4lb 12oz and last in the section with 3lb 3oz was Kev Dicks. I did a team job today and went for 3 points and got them, had I sat out for bream I may have been last. The 2 pegs below me in the next section had 1lb and 3lb  (Brian Melksham and Shaun Townsend) and so I think it just proves how poor this area is at present.

Winner on the day was Frys expert and all round nice guy Dean Harvey. Dean was on peg 40 and was struggling but in the last hour he had 9 bream for 46lb. Second place went to John Fughe on peg 7 in the little field with 43lb. John told me he read my blog and did the same as I did and caught bream on the feeder over the pole line. Mark Harper was 3rd with 16lb+ from peg 3 in the little field. Darren Gillman was first out of the money with another 16lb. Apparently Mike Goodhind came 5th and included in his weight a bream of 8lb 7oz!!!

Thatchers only had 1 section winner today (John Harvey with 11lb of roach in the trees) but still we managed to win on the day and now we have a 4 point lead over Bathampton with just 2 canal matches left.

Next week it is the Poppy Match, sadly one of the stalwarts of that match will not be present. Bill Milton died this morning in hospital, I think pneumonia took him from us. Bill had suffered from Menigitis, cancer and leukemia in recent years, prior to this Bill despite being in his 70's was a strong fit bloke. He was a great bloke, a great laugh and loved his fishing. He boxed my ears on more than one occasion when I was young, mainly for being cheeky, but it was all a laugh and I loved his banter and wind ups. Lots of memories of Bill, one I recall is him winning a Billy match up at Laycock with 40lb of bream on the feeder, he said he had 1 chub  too. That chub was a 2 1/2lb roach! RIP mate.