Back in July 1996 the weather couldn't be more different, I recorded it was up to 90F, phew! I tried another trip to Gloucester canal and once again failed to do much, 2 roach and a few tiny eels, crap! Tuesday 23rd July I went pleasure fishing to Shearwater Lake (I remember the wife came along once as she took a photo of me) and sat on the road bank side with just a simple groundbait feeder set up. I caught skimmers straight away on maggot or caster, but then got bitted out by roach. A change to sweetcorn on the hook did the trick and the skimmers came back and then bream showed up, lovely. I went again on the Thursday and started with sweetcorn and proper emptied it!
Another trip out pleasure fishing on Sat 27th to the Avon, at Claverton. I had about 6lb of roach and perch in one swim on the stick float, moved and caught 2 chub in another spot. Went pleasure fishing again the following day with friends and family to Longleat. I fished on the middle lake and had an estimated 50lb of hybrids, roach and skimmers on pole with gbait and caster.
Sunday 4th August and finally a match! Travelled to Heyford fishery and I drew a bunghole, peg 59 which I was told was solid with carp. I completely blew it and lost a load of foulers and never got the feeding right and didn't fish shallow enough, it was a big lesson learned. The following Sunday was the Huntspill Championship, where 45 teams of 4 were competing. I drew somewhere between Woolavington and Gold Corner. My approach was to fish the feeder early doors and prime a pole line feeding bronze maggots. The day couldn't have started much better when 3rd cast I had a slab on double red maggot, I didn't have any more on the feeder but when I went on the pole I got regular bites from roach and eels. I used a 4x14 rig with 22 to 0.085 for roach, and 1.25g rig with 20 to 1.5lb maxima for the eels. I finished with 6 kilo 320g which was 3rd in my 45 pegs, and my team came 5th.
My next trip to the Spill was for a Superleague match, team draw did me no favours and I found myself bang in the middle of the section, I recall I had Pete Sivell one side and Swindon's Graham Potter the other. Pete used to call Graham "Dawn" but I can't remember why lol! The writing was on the wall for us in the middle as after 60 mins 4 anglers had a bream (2 at either end of the section) whilst we had nothing. I had been feeding lightly with bronze maggots and caster on the pole and by fishing between 11.5m and 13m I started to get the odd eel bite, but I had to fish very light for them with 4x14 rig and a 22 to 0.09. Upping the feed slightly got me a better size eel, but it was really hard fishing. Graham and Pete were struggling and Pete asked if I was fishing 1.5lb maxima, I said yes, oops! When I told Pete how light I really fished he knew what a difference it made, as I weighed 5lb 1oz , Pete and Graham had 1lb+ and were last and last but one in section. I scraped 6 points out of 11 but it was one of those days where I felt I'd done all I could, that doesn't happen very often! Those eels on the Spill are strange, I've had days where they'd pull the elastic out on 1.5lb maxima, and other days when they wouldn't touch a bait on that line, strange or clever creatures?
I had 3 trips to Cardiff East Dock and I drew shocking in every match and was glad to see the back of the place, 6lb was my best weight. One of these matches was a superleague and the team struggled and with one match left were just 1 point in the lead!
I had some trips to the river Nene as practice for the forthcoming Division 5 National. I learnt a bit about hemp fishing, and balling in gbait, but cannot say I caught a lot, it was hard fishing.
Here's how my practise weights went :-
4lb - good
2lb 5oz - poor
blank - Embassy Pairs, at a place called Thorpe, the least fishy place I have ever seen, never going back!
3.5oz - 2nd in 10 peg section! Chester Farm, 7ft deep, 5 feet of weed, rat tip!
Saturday 21st Sept Div 5 National I was in the team (based on punishment taken) and drawn Pilton Bridge section. After a "refreshing" walk I got to my peg and it looked a bit weedy. I eventually found one hole I could fish in at 14,5m, probably about 4m long. This would be the main line where I would feed just two balls of gbait and feed a little hemp over the top. A chop worm line at top set, and a traverse x pole with 10lb braid and a size 2 hook, I kid you not!
I got bites over the 14.5m line, little roach and gudgeon but lost a few in the weed shipping back, but I then realised a pike was taking the fish. I picked up the traverse x, put 3 lobworms on the size 2 hook and began fishing like a loon for this damn pike. I was just about to give up this lunacy when I felt a knock, I lifted the rig again and felt a big knock! I let everything go slack and watched as my German 6g pole float slipped "jaws like" below the surface. I waited, and waited until I just thought strike, WHACK! Two feet of power gum came out and I was in. I just steadily shipped back and in less than 20 seconds netted a 3lb jack, get in! At this point the angler to my left went bonkers accusing me of cheating, he got the stewards down to see my rig etc, but everything was fine and they told him to stop being a knob lol! I finished the match with 2kilo 750g, that put me 2nd in my 85 peg section, just beaten by 100g by another pike. I remember joking when I got back to the results that all the practise was a waste and I should have practised for pike! Agonisingly the team came 4th and missed a medal, gutted.
Now, where to fish next weekend, hmmmm....