Sunday, 22 February 2015

July to September 1996

A weekend with no fishing turned out to be not a bad thing I reckon, friends and family enjoyed watching Rovers record another 3 points, and Sunday had to do more taxi service to help get eldest back to Plymouth. The weather was of course atrocious and I was happy to not be exposed to that all day.

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....

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Saturday Open at Hill View Fishery

Decided Saturday looked the best option for a match this weekend, and that also fitted in with Glenn Bailey's plans so we travelled together for another bash at Hill View. I drove and as I got to Glenn's house I realised I'd left my keepnets at home, Glenn gave me a couple so that sorted that out. Literally filled my car with no space left, it took a few attempts to push and pull things to get the boot to shut properly.

I had received some info from Des Shipp who had won the match on Wednesday and I had managed to put a few rigs together on Friday evening, the primary bait catching it seemed was maggots. I had plenty of grubs as Glenn picked me a few up to go with those left over from Thursday. Once at the fishery I sat and had some brekkie and also met Norman Sterry and Sean Clayton who are giving it a bit of a go up here at the moment. I was still putting my bib and brace on when I saw the draw had begun, wandering down there were still plenty of discs in the hat and I pulled out 29 on Heron. According to some it can be a good peg because you are an end peg (30 is or was left out) and there used to be an island opposite, lol (well it made me laugh). Glenn drew peg 9 on Moorhen, and was also an end peg on his bank. See my island-less peg!

Got to the peg and on next peg 28 was Welsh Wizard Phil Weaver. I have fished matches against Phil for 20+ years, I first knew him when he fished with Celtic Bait, he told me he now only fishes commercials and likes to target the F1s at Hill View. He also kindly told me my peg was really good in the summer! Getting on with setting up I put up a waggler as the lake was flat calm, I set this up with 0.117 exceed to 18 B911 so I could fish either double maggot or corn. Pole rigs were all to be based around short lines from what I seen and Des told me the long pole wasn't doing much damage. I plumbed up at 6m in front which was at the bottom of the shelf in about 5ft of water, and with the same sections but went to my right up the shelf in about 4ft of water. The rigs used here were 4x12 Chianti with no 9 and no 10 stotz, with 0.104 exceed to 18 PR434 aimed at fishing double maggot. I was really hoping to exploit the long margin to my right, but what I found was less than 2 foot of water coming out from the bank a long way, 5m to 6m I reckon, and I was a bit confused where to fish! In the end a 4x10 with 0.12 to 18 B911 was set up for 13m down the bank and a metre off, not sure why I mentioned all that as I never had bite here!

When the match began I fed about 50 maggots on my 2 pole lines and started on the waggler with double maggot, as the there was still no wind I fed my waggler line with the catty. After around 10 mins I had a tiny indication on the float and struck, lucky I did as I landed a 1.5lb F1. Fifteen minutes later and another F1 was in the net, Phil was worried as he had no rod set up. However, he needn't have worried, as the wind got up and made seeing the float very difficult, I couldn't feed in the same spot and roach became a pain. This all added up to me trying the short pole line. Dropping in straight in front with a double maggot the float settled and within 5 seconds dipped, sadly it was not the hoped for F1 but a 4oz roach, and the next drop a roach, and the next..... Now this would have been fine if there was a silvers pool, but there was not, so I had to try and feed them off and started feeding by hand with larger amounts.

An hour and a half in I had my 3rd F1 and my first one on the pole, it was a loner. Phil was struggling with no F1s, he had silvers plus a fouled 2lb carp, unfortunately down by the car park end of our lake the 5 anglers were all getting among proper carp and the writing looked on the wall already. I fed heavier with maggot and that killed the silvers for a while but I didn't get any bites. Phil tried corn on the pole and he had no bites either, it was obvious to us that we had no carp in our pegs and if there were any F1s they weren't feeding. The guy on the top bank (peg 32 I think) was catching F1's not fast but odd ones all day. Such was the amount of carp coming out below Phil he went off to find a mate and borrowed a waggler rod to try to get nearer to them, but that didn't work either.

With about 90 mins left I reckoned I had 4 F1s and about 7lb of roach. I was on the wagg at the time when Phil took his first F1 on the pole, and then he hooked a carp, I was quick to follow suit and I had two F1s in two drops and then a 2lb skimmer. I though this could be it bagging time, but although it was a lot better then the previous 4 hours, the F1s wouldn't stay in your swim long, but it was interesting fishing. When the match finished I thought I was going to be near last on the lake, but it was a case of having had bites all day but from the wrong species, it was obvious late on when the F1s were in the peg though as the bites from roach stopped.

The lad on the top bank had  a nice steady day to end with 54lb of F1s, but he didn't get any coin. Surprisingly myself and Phil both weighed 31lb, so honours even and I was happy with that. Our section was won by default with 46lb, this was on peg 26, and on 25 Corky won the match with 92lb of carp and F1s on..... PASTE! Opposite these lads on pegs 38 and 39 they had 72lb and 48lb, Which just proved the carp were sat at that end of the lake. Glenn had struggled for a long period of the match, but late on the F1s were in his margin and he ended with 23lb, with only 29lb winning his section he was only a few fish short.

I found out that the area I was in has been full of silvers recently, which kind of tells its own story. I take my hat off to the winner fishing paste, I would never had thought to have done that. I am sure that had I been sat on his peg I would have caught carp on my maggot approach as the silvers were pushed out, though I doubt I would have had the same stamp of fish or as big a weight. Just goes to prove we have to keep our minds open, and when you do get drawn on fish do what you're confident in. A quick piccy here of half of the winners fish, a right old lump in there!

The 92lb was top, with 72lb second, 57lb was top on the canals from peg 73 and 56lb came off Moorhen 19 (fishing down to car park bank again).

All in all you can't fault this venue, 9:30 draw, fished 10:30 to 4 today. Brekkie on site, beer on tap and plenty of bites, even if it was from the wrong species lol! I know I have a lot to learn about this place, and that intrigues me, I think I want to keep going and try to work things out a bit, drawing on a canal would also be a test, but as the weather improves hopefully so will the fishing. Looks like no fishing next weekend for me as my daughter is popping home for a few days from University.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Day On The River Tone

Sometime ago angling journalist and all round angler Chris Ponsford had found my blog and he told me he really enjoyed reading it. I remembered Chris from nearly 30 years ago when he match fished in the Bristol / Bath area, but one day he disappeared. I think it was through Facebook he found me again and found the blog, he recently said we should meet and go fishing and I was well up for that.

So it was that I found myself in Sainsburys in Taunton waiting to meet Chris and another "old" angler Nigel Ainscough (he used to work in Veals when I was a lad). I'd already sneaked a look at the River behind Sainsburys, and found 2 anglers unloading their kit, but this was not where we were going to fish. We were off to the town centre where I'd fished in the summer with Brian Gay, Shawn Kitteridge advised this was the best place.

After a little recce and Chris announcing it "looked shit" (I couldn't disagree it looks nothing special lol) we grabbed our kit and found somewhere to fish, the banks are a tad steep but there are some flatter areas, we chose the steep ones!  This was my far bank.

As far as setting today it was a simple affair, waggler and that was it. A small insert 3AAA model with 1 no10 and 3 no8 down the line to 0.11 exceed to an 18B611, I was expecting to catch chublets so saw no need to fish lighter than this. As I was setting up I did fire the odd pouch of maggots in to try and get a few fish feeding confidently. Nigel sat below me and Chris above, we all had plenty of room, and all fished the waggler.

I think I was the first one to cast a baited hook and began with a single bronze maggot, the float didn't travel very far and dipped, my resulting strike didn't hit much resistance as I had hooked a bleak. Next chuck and the same result, and then a small roach. It was good to get bites but I wanted chub, so on with double maggot. Sadly this did not get the intended result and all I did was miss bites from the small fish. I was feeding around 30 maggots every cast and stayed with this for now, switching back to single maggot I started to hit bites again and the quality of fish improved with roach to 4oz and chublets around 6oz. The next hour was pretty good and I got into a rhythm, I was feeding just past the middle of the river, casting on the far edge of the feed, and if I missed a bite I let the float then run down on the near side of the feed.

Above me Chris started quite well with regular bites, but from the off his fish were on the smaller side and also caught small trout. I took this pic of Chris setting up on his slope!

Nigel below me was struggling to get bites and only had a handful of roach. From the off I had been fishing about 4ft max, I had not plumbed up I just guessed the "chub" would feed at this depth. After a couple of hours bites were getting harder to come by, but everytime I thought I need to go deeper I would get a chublet or a roach. I had taken a couple of minnows, a ruffe, and a very small grayling and I went back on two maggots. After a quiet period I took a few 8oz to 12oz roach in a short burst and Nigel popped up to see me catch a couple. He said I was fishing shallower and feeding more than he was, and he went back to his swim with renewed vigour. Chris was now struggling for the odd small roach, and still the odd small trout!

My swim then got really tough, I could blame presentation as it was quite good for most of the time thanks to an upstream wind. I tried deeper but snagged up and gave that up as a bad job. I cast all over the swim in search of the fish kept  trying different feeding but nothing was working and just the odd tiny fish showed and another 2 grayling. Coming towards the end of the day I had fed some maggots at 6m, I deepened the waggler and tried on this line, a couple of roach and 12oz chub which I landed in a branch showed up. Back across and I caught a couple of better roach deep. What I now realised was that there were snags coming up off the bottom, and I could cast in some areas and avoid them. The last 30 mins were better and I even managed to sneak a couple of Chris's trout!

My hands were freezing, in fact I was feeling cold all over and when I caught a roach I decided that was the last cast for me. The river had fished much harder than we'd hoped (30lb+ bags were what we were told to expect) but we'd had a good day working at getting bites, proper old style fishing.  Chris asked me about some of the names of anglers he'd fished with in the past most don't go now, but a few do and it was good to share stories from years long gone.

Chris took these catch shots, we reckon he had 8lb, Nigel getting on for 10lb as he had found some nice roach and chublets late on, and myself 16lb+ (You can tell Chris take profession pics.)

So the end of another days fishing on the river, it winds me up that within a month we cannot fish them until June 16th, just when the fish want to have a good munch!

I'm fishing Hillview on Saturday, travelling with Emerald Fishery venue expert Glenn Bailey!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

June / July 1996

As I wrote last time I did not plan to fish this weekend, and so I find myself reading my diary and seeing what memories it can revive.

June 1996 was a special month for me, I became a Dad when my daughter Lucy was born. As you can imagine fishing was rather limited in the lead up to the birth, but the wife let me go a few times after, this was handy as Thatchers were in the Super League 2 day final and to stand a chance of getting in the team I would need to practise. First up was a practise at Heyford Fishery which was I think the first snake lake in the country, and this venue was all new to me. I fished on peg 68 and had 18lb 6oz fishing casters fed tight to the far bank, a dibber with 18 to 0.14 was my simple rig. Maggot / caster on the hook saw a few carp up to 5lb netted. What was clear was that the big weights came from the bridge pegs.

June 16th saw me fish the river on a Bristol and West open at Swineford, I didn't do any good and it was a poor start to the river season. Saturday 22nd June and I found myself on the banks of the river Trent at Long Higgin (the other venue for the final). It was a tough few hours fishing, I only had 3 small fish on a waggler, and had to resort to the groundbait feeder to get a few bites from hybrids. I finished the practice with 3lb 14oz which wasn't too bad compared to the rest of the lads. I'd been talked into fishing the river Parrot the following day for the team, not a venue I knew anything about. I recorded in my diary "absolute garbage", after I weighed 2lb 12oz of little skimmers and roach all caught in the first 90 mins on the pole, using maggot, then pinkie, then bloodworm! My minuscule catch was worth 16 points out of 20 and the team came 5th.

I was back up Heyford on Sat 29th June and this time fished peg 98 in another practise line up with the team. I did a bit better today and had 28lb of carp on the caster, I fed heavier getting through 3 pints and caught most of the carp up in the water, on the deck you fouled too many. We stayed the night and were going to fish the Trent the next day. Once again it was tough going on the river, I managed a flat 3lb fishing bloodworm on the pole, odd hybrids were caught on the maggot feeder and for those that fished on late the river came alive and it was a bite a chuck, proving the fish were in there! At the end of all the practising I had managed to make the team for both days, pressure on!

Day 1 of the Final was on the Trent and the day didn't start that well as Mark Harper was very late in arriving, and he had all the bait including pre mixed groundbait, I recall Ian Parsons being a tad angry, lol! I was on peg 33 which meant nowt, and followed the team plan of balling in gbait and joker on the pole and fishing a maggot feeder for hybrids. Well the plan didn't go to well for me, I just could not get a bite on the pole line and it seemed the angler above me was also struggling. The feeder was very slow and I couldn't build any weight or find a pattern. I hooked something large ont he pole line, no idea what it was but it disappeared with my 0.75 hook length pretty easily. I finished the match dis heartened knowing I had let the team down, and my 1lb 10oz was last in the section, the lad above me had 2 points and the lad above him 3, bad draw + bad angling I think on my part. The team had come 5th on the day and we needed a mega result the next day to stand a chance of getting a cheque. We did enjoy the night and had a curry, but Des Shipp was not happy as he didn't eat Indian food! He had chicken and chips (the only English dish on the menu) but when it arrived it had an Indian sauce poured on it and he wasn't happy, lol! My curry was much hotter than what I thought it would be, but Ian Parsons was complaining his Vindaloo was mild, the waiter then realised he'd swapped our dishes by mistake. We stayed in a hotel which also had the Irish team and another lot in there, Ireland played Italy in the world cup and I think it was Ray Houghtons goal that won them the game. We had a good craic that night! Steve Mayo was sick in his Sensas bucket but blamed it on food poisoning, PMSL!

Day 2 of the Final and back to Heyford Fishery. Team draw put me on peg 104, and I was told this was one of the worst sections but it was fair, no glory today then all about the team. We did feel we could still have a good day as we had a few good pegs. I started fishing up in the water across on the caster but after 30 mins I was biteless, a few pegs away the Dorking angler had taken early carp and was leading the section easily. I switched to my depth rig and snared 4 small carp before the bites stopped. It was then a case of feeding some chopped worm which should get bites from any fish that moved into the swim. It was hard graft as the hot summer sun shone down, but by working hard I took 2 more carp, 2 orfe a tench and a few roach on worm. I caught these at a time when many anglers in my section could not get a bite and I was hoping I'd get decent points. I weighed just short of 20lb, and this was 2nd in the section behind the Dorking angler, I felt a lot better. It was a similar story for the team as we had done well and we came 2nd on the day and tied on points with a few teams, but we managed to come 3rd over the two days and win a grand. The icing on the cake was Mark Harper winning the match, we grabbed hold of him and threw him in the lake, as we did so Des Shipp lost his balance and from somewhere a hand gave him a push. He swore as he disappeared under the surface. I laughed so much I nearly pissed myself, and the picture of us cracking up appeared in the Anglers Mail.

Well I am very excited about my next trip, as I am going to fish the river Tone in Taunton again. This time I am meeting up with angling journalist and in my opinion one of the best all round anglers there is (Sea, Specimen, match, trout) oh and he takes a few photos; Chris Ponsford. I haven't seen Pons for years, not since when I was a lad finding my way in match fishing, it will be a privilege for me to fish in his company, and let's hope the chub are obliging!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Viaduct Winter League

Back in December I was asked by Mike Nicholls if I would fish this second round match for his team. I was happy to say yes as I knew it was a free weekend, although at that stage I didn't know what lake I would be on. After the first round I found out I would be on Campbell lake.

Gordon Cannings was another of the team and he picked me up and we had brekkie in Canards Well, shame it was cold. We talked that this was gonna be all about the draw bag today, and the strong Northerly wind would also make things tricky. Bela Bakos did the team draw and it didn't look that bad on paper, but it must have been toilet paper lol! I was on peg 130 which did have a few carp on the first round, though the main shoal was in 132 and 130. However, talking to Gary O'Shea who'd fished a match there on Thursday he said the fish had moved up to peg 128. Where would they be today, well we would all know soon enough.

I only bothered setting up two rods, a lead rod, and a waggler rod, although the sun and ripple meant seeing a float would be very difficult. However, I was happy to be on this bank and be able to fish a wag as the wind was off my back. For the lads opposite it was gonna be rough, and Mat Parsons on 111 and Rob Jones on 110 looked cold before the match began. I thought I had an empty peg as nobody had arrived on 129, but then along came fishery owner Steve Long. On peg 131 was Dan Squires another Viaduct regular and good angler. Dan did set up the pole, but Steve only went with the two rods like me. (Am I padding this out a little?)

When the match began I started on the straight lead with popped up bread, two casts on that without an indication and 30 mins had passed. I saw that anglers in 115 and 116 had caught carp, and Gary O'Shea on 119 had a carp on the pole. I tried some sweetcorn on the lead, but after the hour I had not had any indications and neither had anyone around me. Dan Squires had taken a few roach on the wag and as I had been feeding casters and maggots I decided it was time to get on it myself. I was on 0.12 to to an 18, too heavy roach but it had been set up with carp in mind, but I did get a few bites and roach but it was slow. As nothing was being caught on the carp front around me I switched to 0.10 to a 20. This improved the number of bites but I wasn't going to get a decent weight.

Dan managed to hook a carp on the waggler and he did well to land an 8lb fish on 0.08!  I stuck with the waggler for a couple of hours, I found double pinkie was the best hook bait, but did catch on single maggot and caster. There's not a lot more I can really say about my day, I kept trying casting the wag long with double mag looking for a carp, tried the lead again once, and would come back in on the roach and get a few. It was sadly obvious the carp were in the middle of the lake and they did move from 116/115 down to 113, and the anglers on my bank on 126, 127 and 128 had them late.

The scales arrived and weighed peg 132 in first 6oz, Dan did well to catch 14lb, my weight was 4lb 6oz and then Steve Long had 2lb 2oz. (Steve really gave the lead a good go, as he did lose a foul hooked carp on the wag). The 3 anglers opposite also struggled and I beat two of them but Matty did me by 2oz. That meant I had 5 points for the team as I was never going to beat anyone past the spit. Gary O'Shea won our lake with 125lb of carp dobbing bread on the pole, I think Adrian Jeffery came 2nd with 60lb+.

On the team front it hadn't gone well, Mike had 2lb, Bela Blanked, Gordon had foul hooked a 17lb carp on Carey, and Leon Hubbard had 8lb I think, on Lodge but that was good on there today!

Nick Ewers who seems to have a habit of drawing on the carp in the early rounds of this league did it again and won the match off peg 86, think he had 130lb+

Well I knew I couldn't keep drawing on the fish, and today was always likely to happen. However, I think I'll give "aquatic bingo" a miss next weekend as the weather looks like staying cold all week. If you are venturing out then the very best of luck.