Saturday, 17 December 2016

Viaduct Xmas Match

I fancied a change this weekend on what would be my last match before Christmas, and fishing the Saturday suited me and so I chose to fish the Viaduct Xmas match. My preparation was slightly hindered on the Friday, this was mainly due to me having a very late night Thursday (3am) at a industry awards dinner. I found some barbless hooks, and threw in some pole rigs which I had used before.

It was a foggy start in Bristol Saturday morning, and about 4 Celsius, there was not much chance of seeing the sun today so 8 or 9 degrees at most and a few layers required. The drive down was easy and I got to see a few thousand starlings flying overhead from their roost to their feeding ground. I arrived at the fishery with 20 mins to spare and parked up near the bottom of Carey lake, as I got out I saw a carp roll in between peg 105 and 74, and then another. You could see carp moving just below the surface, but the talk was they showed the same last match and didn't feed. I picked up some bait from the shop, paid my dues and said hello to my fellow anglers. A number of anglers told me the pegs that would win would be at the bottom of Campbell, i.e. 110 and 132. I got in the draw queue and those pegs were still in there when I drew, but alas I missed them. Peg 96 on Carey was to be my home, one that can be very good as there is a lot of water to go at. Steve Long said the carp had not really been showing there but they might have moved. Adrian Jeffery told me it did not produce a carp on the Thursday, not really selling it to me then lol, but I was still happy with the draw.

As I walked to my peg I passed Dan White on 105 where the carp were still showing themselves, I tied to video them but I cocked that up it seems. Setting up on my peg was simple, a straight lead with 0.16 to 16 PR36 for hair rigged baits, a waggler with a 18 PR456 to 0.14, and a couple of pole rigs one for gbait at 14.5m and one for for fishing 16m off to my right where I fed positive with caster and corn and never had a bite lol.

At 10:30 the match began and I fed 3 balls of gbait on the pole, and then decided to chuck the lead out to see if there were any carp signs. I started with meat and chucked about half the maximum distance. 15 mins nothing, so I chucked further, 15 mins nothing so I chucked further. After 30 mins Chris Fox on 100 had a carp on the waggler, and not long after Roland Lucas on 99 had 2 on the lead. No bites or liners for me, and it was very quiet around the lake.

After an hour of nothing I chucked the waggler out casting to various parts of the lake with double red maggot, just hoping I might drop the hook bait on the nose of a carp. It didn't happen but I did catch a small roach to break the blank. Back on the lead and trying bread, corn and meat it was still dead. At 12:50 I was on the lead on corn and the tip went round and a carp was on. I was surprised how hard it charged off and it gave a good account of itself. I finally netted it, a Carey mirror around 9lb. Next chuck and I had a slow liner which did not turn into a bite, but that was a good sign I thought Then the angler on my right, Paddy, had a double figure carp on the waggler, then Roland had another. The angler on my left Pete Denslow had been on the pole for a while but chucked the lead as it seemed the carp were waking up, he had liner as soon as he put the rod down. Next cast he had a carp on, but lost it halfway back. Unfortunately this was the end of the action as far as the carp went.

The only fish I caught for the remainder of the match were the odd little 2oz skimmers from the gbait line. It was fizzing most of the day but I never had a sign of a bigger skimmer, and although I kept topping it up I never spent aged on it. The last hour the light was poor and I was struggling to see the float on the pole, knowing that I needed more weight I sat on the lead, but I just had a couple of the same tiny skimmers.

The match over and it was clear this lake had fished hard, pegs 85, 86 and 88 had no carp, Bob Gullick on 90 managed one with 15mins to go. The scales soon arrived, the carp had swam off in Dan's peg and he only had one, Roland Lucas was clear winner on Carey with 5 carp and a few silvers for 49lb 7oz. Phil next to me had 2lb and my carp was 9lb 9oz and my silvers were 1lb 11oz. My 11lb 4oz was 3rd in the 8 peg section, it was tough! Paddy took the section by default with 18lb which included a 12lb carp.

As was predicted at the start Campbell bottom bank was the place to be, with Jamie Bowden winning the match with 109lb 11oz. On peg 132 the second weight was recorded at 91lb 7oz, not sure of the name. Winning the silvers with a great performance of waggler fishing was Matt Parsons, he had 28lb 3oz of tench and skimmers on corn.

I ended up 16th out of the 30, and picked up a nice big box of Becks beer. Whilst waiting for the prizes we were treated to home made mince pies and a can of beer, nice touch that.

Well that's it for me, not sure when I will be wetting a line next now, looking forward to finishing work this Friday and having a relaxing Christmas. Wishing everyone a happy Christmas, enjoy yourself and hope Santa brings you what you want ;-)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Bathsmpton Xmas Match - Bristol Avon & K&A Canal

Middle of the week I had not decided whether to fish the weekend, but with a few mild days forecast I decided to give this match a go. I of course went with the choice to fish the river at Newbridge, and expected to fish for bream.

The draw was at the Crown in Saltford, this pub / restaurant has recently been taken over and it seems it has gone a bit more up market, i.e. prices are higher. Managed to get a breakfast which was not bad but not worth £7.50. Whilst I was eating it the draw was taking place and so I shouted to Dean Harvey to draw a peg for me, he did and pulled 61 on the Norfolk Reeds. This can be a brilliant peg but this season it has not shown its usual bream form, with just odd fish coming from it. However, last match on the river peg 59 just above had 60lb of lids so I hoped they might have dropped down, Callum Dicks had drawn peg 59 today.

I drove to the river and saw Shane Caswell on peg 16, Derek Coles on 18 (a good bream peg) and then there was a gap till Lewis Walker on peg 30.  Warren Bates was on form peg 36 and on the end of the straight Dean Harvey, both their pegs had been fished on Weds and lots of bream were caught.

I had the longest walk of the day but don't mind that as I like to keep fit, I arrived at the peg and got
my waders on as you have to get in the water, and got my box in nice and comfortable. The picture below was taken after the match when I had dragged my box up to the edge.

 I set up my feeder rod first with a 14 B611 to 0.148 exceed, I also set up a 4gm pole rig with 16 to 0.12 to fish 13m out, but rather than ball it I was going to feed balls of crumb and try punch bread. That was it nothing else was set up. Chris Ollis came for a chat before the start, he was in the bream hole on peg 54 and was trying to remember the last time he had drawn it.

When the match began I had about 10 chucks with a feeder about 2/3 the way over, I had intended to to feed chopped worm and caster in the feeder, but.... when I opened my worms they were all dead, oh dear. I had about 15 lobworms with me and for what it was worth chopped them up. After feeding that line I threw 3 balls of crumb on the pole line and tried a 10mm punch, a few run downs were fruitless, so I tried a 6mm punch and had a couple of 4oz roach. It didn't seem right though and I put 2 maggots on, I took another three roach and a chublet but that was it and it was now an hour gone. I picked up the feeder rod and put 3 dead reds on, the feeder was only in 20 seconds when the tip rattled and jagged about. Missed it, and missed the next, but then a little roach. I was surprised by this and it seemed the feeder line was full of small roach and perch, although hitting the bites was tricky. Of course I was never going to do any good catching these fish, but I just had to hope I could feed them off / the bream would move in.

I tried the feeder on the pole line a couple of times but it never worked, and I spent most of the match fishing on the far line. As well as little fish I had 2 chub about 1lb each on this, a 12oz roach and a 12oz perch, not really good signs for bream. I knew bream had been caught by Dean and Warren, Derek and Mike Goodhind and so I had to keep going for slabs. At 2:15pm nearly 4 hours after we started I had a proper bite and a 3lb bream was the culprit. It would have been nice if the tip went round again next chuck but it didn't, in fact at 3pm I had my next decent bite, a classic steady drop back and bream number two was on. At nearly 3:15 I had another slab, but that last 15 mins I was plagued by small fish bites again.

Dean Harvey came up with the scales and I had 18lb 12oz, happy enough as I had more bites than I 'd expected. Callum above me had 1 bream in his 11lb, and then Chris Ollis on 54 had 5 bream for 21lb, most of those came in the last hour. I didn't see the guys weigh but Dean Harvey had about 11 bream for 62lb, a good weight, but Warren then beat him with 66lb. However, the fish that won it for Warren was a spectacular 10lb 6oz barbel!

Back at the Crown Warren and Dean were clearly the top two, Derek managed 3rd with 27lb of bream but he and Shane Caswell on 16 were plagued with boats. I was in stitches as Shane told me of his day, watching 100 Santa's racing in boats, sat on his pole line, listening to the same songs played all day, oh and drone buzzing about overhead.  On the canal Ivan Currie had the top weight with 11lb (read his blog for details) and Darren Gillman was 2nd with 8lb.

After the prize giving we had the raffle, and no surprise I won nothing again, neither did Shane to make his day complete lol. Funniest part was the last prize, it was won by Darren, a chocolate santa. As he made his way to pick it up someone threw their raffle tickets at Kev Dicks and caught him in the face. Kev assumed it was Darren and smashed Santa into a mess. Darren responded by tipping up all the undrawn raffle tickets over Kevins head and they were everywhere!

One more match before Xmas, I'm going to give the Viaduct Xmas match a go, not been for ages and will have to find those barbless hooks out and hope for a bunghole draw.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Commercial House Round 4 - Bristol Avon Newbridge

Getting anything prepared for this match was going to be pretty much impossible, I had a full on week and left work early Friday to take a train to Chesterfield. I was travelling with the wife and met up with my eldest daughter. Nice place Chesterfield, the town was full of bars and places to eat. Saturday we met up with Mark Jefferies and his son Mitch, had a few ciders and watched Rovers lose again. A few more ciders to drown the sorrows and then I caught the train back with a few more cans. By the time I was home I was tired and a tad wobbly.

Sunday morning alarm at 6:15 was a shock, and I felt a bit dehydrated, not sure why.... Grabbed all my gear and some gbait and got to the draw in time to have a breakfast. Glenn had picked up some bait for me so I paid him and my pools and waited to see what peg would be coming my way. B2 didn't tell me much, mainly because the pegging sheet (if you can call it that) was just one peg in every section, so had to wait to get to the bank to find the exact spot. I drove down and passes Mike Withey on peg 16, Rich Lacey on peg 18, both could throw up bream today I thought. The river had some extra pace and just a bit of colour, not sure how it would fish like this. On peg 20 was Vincent Lunn and he was the first peg in my section, I was next peg and behind the pumphouse. I've drawn this peg a few times and I've never done amazing off it, would rather not draw it if I had the choice.

My feeling was that this was going to be a day when bream would be needed, and so the feeder rod was first out. I know this peg can be snaggy, but today I didn't get any problem fishing just past halfway. I set up with 15 B711 to 0.165 exceed. The next rod out of the bag was a 13 foot Normark Microlite to which I attached a 3 1/2BB stick float for fishing about 2 rods out, a 20 to 0.117 exceed was used on this rod. I had to get my box in the water to fish this peg as there are reeds growing out, as soon as I got in I noticed how cold the water was, not a good sign. I finally got the box set up and got as much as I could next to me.

Rich Lacey walked down just before the start and asked me how I thought the river would fish, and I said I just didn't know, but I was concerned at not seeing any fish top. As Rich walked back I shouted out we should have a pound on who caught the first fish, he said yes but lets make it buy a drink, sorted!

I began the match casting the feeder out with 3 red maggots on the hook, all the while I was throwing hemp, maggots and casters to prime the stick float line. Third chuck on the feeder and a decent rattle on the tip, when I struck I was connected to a small fish, it turned out to be a 4oz roach. A quick call to Rich and I was a getting a free pint later lol! Sadly that was not the start of more bites, and in fact after an hour all I had added was a 1oz perch. With plenty of bait put through the feeder I thought it was worth looking on the stick float line. A couple of roach and two perch on the stick in about a dozen casts wasn't that bad, but another 20 mins without a bite  meant it was time to go back to the feeder. My first cast back on it and I had a bit of sharp tap, I struck but there was nothing and the bait was still OK. I cast again and after about a ten minute wait I had a good bite, a good fish was hooked but I soon realised it was not a bream and was a chub. I gave it no quarter to keep it away from the reeds and soon had a 2lb chub in the net. It was about midday this happened and still 3 hours left.

Unfortunately there is nothing more I can write about my day as I never had another bite, all hook baits were ignored and the stick was also dead. Meanwhile above me Vinny connected with 4 bream and a few skimmers and won the section with 22lb, the lad below me had 1 roach and was last in the section, hmmm winter fishing.  Further down the section there were odd bream and some decent roach and small chub all caught on the feeder, with Jeff Surman coming 2nd in the section with just under 10lb. Andy Britt had a nice 6lb bream to get him out of jail, hooked in the the fin I believe. I only beat 2 people in the whole section and was last in the A div, oops.

Winner today was Rob Manns who was helping out my team, he drew peg 58 on the gas pipe, the deepest peg on the river. Rob had 11 bream for 60lb, Rich Lacey came 2nd with 7 bream for 35lb, I think Paul Purchase was 3rd with 30lb from peg 36.

Well it was a disaster on the team front today, as we were one short we needed good results, but didn't get them, we are now bottom with 2 matches left to go in the New Year.

No fishing for me next weekend, and that's probably it for river fishing for a while now.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

ATWL Final Round K&A Canal Bath

After yet another hectic week in which I forgot to order bait but Mat Challenger sorted me out late on Friday, cheers. I also had just a couple of hours to tie up some rigs, and I used my top sets from last year, elastic seemed OK after pulling it a bit. Loading the car up Sunday morning it raining heavy and only 4C so my hands were froze as I set off to the draw in my car.

The match had been pegged with some sections int he town and the rest out at Bathampton, A draw in the town would most likely be needed to get in the frame, or an end peg. Team draw done and I was over the moon to find myself on A4 in the Long Pond in the town. I hoped that I would be on a few fish today. On the end peg A5 was Nige Evans, On A3 was Darren Gillman, no mugs here then.

I thought I would fish a positive match and went with 3 rigs, a 4x14 Drennan Roach for punch bread at top set +2, 18 PR311 to 0.08, A 4x12 PB float for fishing over gbait at 9m, and 0.4g PB silver float for fishing over neat joker at 13m. I also set up a 4AAA insert waggler with 20 B611 to 0.10.

I fed all my lines at the start of the match and began short on the bread punch, Nige was already catching 2-3oz fish on this, and I had 3 roach but then a boat came along. It didn't really affect my peg but it went through Niges, but Nige carried on catching and I didn't. I had to feed more bread to try to make something happen. I took another 3 roach then it went quiet again, after a while a positive bite was met with a lot of elastic coming out. I landed a near 1 1/2lb skimmer. By the end of the first hour I had taken a couple more smaller skimmers and some more roach, the bread line died soon after. Trying my 9m line with a pinkie I took four 6oz skimmer / hybrids, then a little fish. Then as Hughie Evans was watching me I struck and my elastic snapped, doh. It was only a little fish and I managed to retrieve the rig minus the fish. This line died soon after and only gave 1 roach during the rest of the match.

My first look out to 13m was with 3 bloodworm on and the float soon buried, skimmer, and two more soon followed. Bubbles started rising now, and there were lots of blows showing me there were feeding skimmers still in the swim. I took another two in the next 30 mins but the next 30 mins despite the blows and me trying different hook baits I had nothing! I wondered if the skimmers were off the bottom so I fed another ball of joker on the 13m line. I tried the waggler out about 20m where I had been loose feeding casters, I took 3 small roach and though it wasn't great I was encouraged.

Nige had now taken some skimmers but he was still catching small fish which I was not. Back on 13m and I persevered as the blows were back. After a couple of smaller skimmers on 3 bloodworm I tried just 2 on the hook, this seemed better and I had another 5 skimmers a perch and decent roach. With 30 mins left the blows stopped and the fish were gone, I fed some more joker and went on the waggler again. I took some roach and hybrids on this, up to 4oz, and with 15 mins left a very finicky indication had me thinking it might be a small fish so I struck, but the rod bent nicely! I very carefully played the fish in, and it came in easy until it was under the rod tip, but I finally slipped the net under a 2lb skimmer. A few more small fish and then the match ended, the 13m line never did show life in the last 30 mins which is why I stuck to the wag.

It was going to be close between me and Nige, but he kept saying I had hammered in. The scales came up with Darren having a nice net for 10lb 1oz. My turn next and they went 15lb 12oz.  Nige was last to weigh and I thought he would beat Darren, but he was closer to me than I thought with 14lb 12oz, Nice fishing, especially considering the weather over the last 3 or 4 days.

Back to the results and the canal had fished well overall with 5 of the 10 sections won with double figures and 7lb was the lowest section winning weight. It turned out I had done enough for the match win and I was chuffed with that, Nige was 2nd, Mark Harper 3rd 12lb and Tony Gilbert 4th with 11lb.

Bathampton won the match today, but Thatchers came 2nd and as a result won the league by just 1 point from Bathampton. A very tightly contested series indeed.

Nige Evans won the league individually, and Tony Gilbert won the knockout, so Thatchers had good payout today.

A nice way for me to end the league, I had to miss two matches, but was very happy to get in amongst the fish on the canal, drew a dolly today but really enjoyed it and felt like I fished a good match catching on all lines and only losing a couple of better fish which can happen on a peg full of skimmers lol!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Bill Milton Memorial - Poppy Match

Didn't have a particularly good week, my nan died (although she was the grand old age of 90) and then had what I think was heart palpitations on Wednesday night. They had a weird effect on me and Thursday at work I found myself carted off by ambulance to Southmead hospital. There was no serious issue, and might just be down to a virus or a one off,I still felt like I'd been hit by a bus though.

Thanks to Lee Trivett who collected my bait on Saturday, and that meant I was not under any pressure and even had time to have a couple of beers to celebrate Glenn's birthday. I woke up Sunday and other than tired I felt well, I honestly didn't know where I wanted to draw, but Swineford or Jack Whites would probably be good, as well as the noted bream pegs at Newbridge. Sadly I got neither and ended up down the trees at Newbridge, just about the one area I thought would be very hard to frame from. Trevor Chalk was down to fish this match and he drew on 115 not great on a day like to day. The river was still clear and without much flow, quite amazing that the rain we had hardly had an effect. Some idiot/s had ripped out most of the pegs so we did our best to work it out, my peg was still in, but in my opinion it was unfishable with this tree right over my head. I can only assume Mr Magoo  put this in.

With the next angler above me having a lot of room he agreed I could move 5 yards up where I smashed down nettles, brambles etc to get to the river and fish from about 5 foot off the water. It looked a bit like this, at least I could get the 5 sections of pole up in the air that I would need to fish this deep peg.

Just set up a feeder rod with 0.148 exceed to 14 B611, and two pole rigs, a 1g pencil rig with 20 to 0.09 and a 2g rig with 18 to 0.10.  I would have set up a crowquill but never had the time.

When the all in was called I cast out 8 feeders full of gbait, worm and caster 3/4 across, then fed 12 balls of gbait on my 13m pole line. I started on the pencil rig with a single maggot and three small roach in three chucks, I tried the heavier rig with caster and never had a bite. Back to the pencil rig and with a single maggot I had a bite every run through from 1oz roach. I had the odd small perch and one or two 3-4oz roach. It was though an absolute nightmare to fish, with lots of rowing boats that were all over the river, and some who were effing useless. Shipping back was also tricky as there were a great many walkers, dog walkers and people watching the rowers. It was like Picadilly circus and I kept repeating to myself keep calm, keep calm. I did have one outburst at a four, more out of frustration really, but bit my tongue for the rest of the day.

Back to the fishing and I caught on and off for the first two hours but the fish were very small and so I thought I had about 2 1/2lb. I had a look on the gbait feeder but that was no good at all, the angler above me came down and said he about 12oz and above him was worse. That was how I expected it to be, and I thought I would do my best to enjoy my day on the pole.  Back on the pole and it was much harder so I cupped a ball in, this helped and a few more roach came out, I also had a few right down the peg probably just below my loose feed. Another top up ball had a positive effect and I had a couple of 6oz roach and a 8oz hybrid, I thought this might see the fishing improve, but another ball did not work and it really died on me. I chucked the feeder again for 30 mins, but other than a quick rap I had nothing.

With about an hour to go I just kept working hard on the pole, trying different hook baits, though fluro maggot was by far the best, and messing around with the loose feed and gbait. I managed a few little chublets and another 6oz roach on a caster on the heavy rig, but the pencil rig took everything else. When the all out was called I thought I had 5 to 6lb, and to be fair I was pleased with that as I had thought it could have been a lot worse.

The scales had to weigh in from the end peg where Derek Coles had drawn, he had the top weight in that section with 8lb 10oz, and there were a couple of 7lbs, then it got worse with a couple of 3lbs. Then in my 5 peg section I weighed in 6lb 14oz and that won the section money, mainly due to the fact that everyone else chucked back! The next section above me was won with 4lb 13oz, and it was definitely not a good area to draw.

Back at the results and the banter was flowing well with Ray Bazely running proceedings and generally taking the mic. It was apparent the river had fished hard, but there were still some decent catches. Ray had got a new trophy for this match, and he did a very nice gesture by presenting the old cup (which I had won three times) to me to keep, thank you very much Ray!

1st on the day Terry Ellis 32lb 4oz, 10 bream on the gbait feeder from peg 36 at Newbridge
2nd Shaun Townsend 23lb 8oz,  4 late bream on pole + roach from the Norfolk Reeds (flyer)
3rd P Knight 18lb 9oz, 3 barbel at Jack Whites!
4th B Knight 18lb ,  2 barbel and chub at Jack Whites!
5th Ivan Currie 17lb 10oz,  mainly 2 pike!!!
6th Nigel Evans 14lb 12 1/2oz  roach and a near 5lb chub from peg 28 at Swineford.

Well done to Terry, sadly he doesn't do the pools so Towner cleaned up, he might buy a beer next week.

Couple of pics of Terry, and even though he didn't get any dosh he has his name on the cup. He actually approached me before the match to say he reads my blog and likes it because I fish the rivers. He told me what peg he had drawn and I said if was on it I'd go for bream, so perhaps I had a little hand in his success, good on you Terry, well done indeed.

Canal at Bath next week, best get some rigs and bread sorted out then!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

December 1997

A weekend not on the bank, and looking at the frost this morning and speaking to Glenn who after an hour on the canal had 4 fry I was happy with my decision! Funny as last week I was sat fishing in my T shirt at Newbridge, seems summer went straight to winter.

Finishing off the diary from 1997 now, I had the Silver Dace Xmas match on Sunday 30th Nov, it was on the K&A canal. I drew on the newly concreted stretch at Warleigh and struggled for just 14oz. The place to be was Darlington and in the town, not much changes there then. The following day after a lot of rain the river was only just inside its banks, then we had a few nights of hard frosts. It was not conducive conditions to be on the river, at Frys, for the Commercial House Xmas match on the Saturday and we all knew it! I drew the lone tree peg, and all I could fish was a feeder, I fished a gbait feeder about 1/3 across with a 16 to 2lb maxima hook length. Trying varying hook bait combos I eventually had a bite on 2 worms and 2 casters, a chub of 14oz was landed and that was all I had. One other fish was caught in the section, so it was as tough as expected.

Glutton for punishment I fished the next day on the Bristol & West Xmas match. I drew a peg on Chequers straight just past the cow drink and below the last tree. It put me off a bend and the water despite being shallow was float fishable. I fished a stick float with a 20 to 0.10 and fed maggots, I just kept running the float through and out of the blue I got the odd small fish, a bonus 2lb chub doubled my weight, but then in the last 2 hours I never had a bite. This match was fished at Swineford and Crane too, so it was a decent turnout, but many had really struggled to catch anything. My lowly 4lb 4oz won me the section and got me 6th overall.

Sunday 14th December, the Bathampton Xmas match and the one you really wanted to win. I didn't think I drew that well getting peg 176, and I finished up with just 1 bleak and 1 roach. However, I got battered by the angler on peg 175 who had 5 bream! I went home with my tail between my legs lol.

On Wednesday 17th December I recorded that we had 4 inches of snow, but it must of cleared away as by Sunday I was back out again hoping for a better day on the Docks Xmas match. I didn't record the peg / area I drew, but I had 3 skimmers on the feeder for 6lb 13oz. Pegs at the bottom of Welsh Back were the best (Dockers Club) and those anglers caught a lot on worm.

Jerry Pocock ran the King Billy Xmas match (he still does) this year on the 28th Dec, and it was on the Docks. I was hoping for a better draw, and as nearly all the pegs were in decent areas I got my wish by drawing the peg that had won the Docks Xmas match at Welsh Back. I did set up a pole but never had a bite on that, and concentrated on the gbait feeder fishing an 18 to 0.10. It was very hard going and was fishing much harder than the last match. I cast the feeder about 2/3 across and had to wait over an hour to get my first bite from a little roach. The fish were very reluctant to feed, and the only bites I had came to double red maggot. Going into the last hour I had 5 skimmers and was going to get a decent prize, but then another bite and this time a big skimmer and that was crucial. I ended with 7lb 9oz to win the match. 2nd that day was Shane Caswell and 3rd was the late Bob Warden. I know that because I still have a cutting from the evening post which was written by Roy Garland, and here it is with the photo he took.

One more match to finish 1997, and that was on New Years Eve, it was at Newbridge in the Veals Classic League. River was up and came up a foot during the match. I drew peg 2 in the little field and was cursing my luck thinking I had no chance from this shallow peg. I fished a gbait feeder 1/3 the way out and had 4 roach and a small skimmer here, but half way through the match this line was no longer fishable. I had to come in close and drop the feeder off the end of the rod using a 16 to 1.5lb maxima. Two white maggots or a small worm seemed the best and I had 11 eels in close as the river got badly coloured. My final weight was 4lb 4oz, and I was placed 5th on the day and with one match left in the league I was lying in second place, could I hold on or go one better?

Back to today and my next match is next Sunday, the Bill Milton Memorial Match (Poppy Match). Sadly there appears to be no rain in the forecast and with a low clear river the draw will be very important. Pike usually count in this match, and with the amount we have been hooking I can see a few of them helping anglers make the frame!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

ATWL Round 4 Bristol Avon Newbridge

There was no blog last weekend as I had a week away with the wife in Cape Verde, and what a great week it was. It came at the best time as I was feeling quite stressed and a tad unwell after a lot of work and other issues, a week on a sunbed or drinking or eating sorted me out and I really felt great. The place is lovely and I would go again. Nice sunsets too, but I'm no David Bailey lol!

Back to this Sunday and the match, and after not a lot of sleep after a late return I was woken up by one of my cats that had shit on the door mat, nice start to the day. Got to the rugby club and grabbed a bacon and egg roll and caught up with the lads and Lee Trivett gave me my bait which was handy. Lucky Liam was doing the draw again, but I had kept away from him as I always seem to get dross pegs from him. Not today though! Liam came back with the pegs, which in the main I didn't think were that great, but I was on B2 which meant peg 16. Three weeks ago on the commercial house Andrew Trudgian had 26lb of big roach, skimmers and hybrids off this peg to win the match. I had to be happy, but in the back of mind I was worried that the fish had a) moved or b) not taken kindly to being caught. I have seen this before up Newbridge where one week these fish show then disappear.

I got to the river and parked behind my peg, nice, on peg 14 was long time friend Darren Gillman, this peg had 19lb last time out. On peg 18 was Steve Hutchinson who had forgotten his bait and scrounged what he could from all of us in section. Lee Warden on 20 and Alan Jones on 22 made up my section. The river looked very clear and had little flow, but it was also covered in leaves and whilst I did set up a crowquill I couldn't see much else other than a pole approach working today. This picture shows what leaves there were, and believe me it was at times a lot worse than this.

I set up a 1g pencil rig with a 22 to 0.09, a 2g rig with 18 to 0.10 and both were to be used at 13m (11m line had a snag on it). I set up a perch rig for fishing in against a tree but I never had a bite on this. A feeder rod was put up but never used.

The team had bloodworm and joker this week, and although I did not realise we had this and didn't really want it, but I decided to put some joker into my original balling in mix as it might help. Twelve balls went in, and I decided to start on the 2g rig straight away. Not quite sure how but I managed to tangle to hook length badly on the first cast, so I put that up the bank and picked up the pencil rig and stuck a caster on the 22! The float settled and buried, roach on! Pike on! FFS!!! New hook length required already and not the start I wanted. Back out on the pencil and two 4oz roach in two drops had me upbeat, but after these the fish no bites, on maggot it was 1oz specimens. I could get a bite every chuck on a single maggot from roach or hybrids but I was not going to do a big weight with these. For ninety minutes I had caught these fish and despite trying the 2g rig over depth I could not change the size of fish. The pike then came back and after following a few fish in struck again and did me. Bites then went right off, and I cupped 2 balls of gbait in to try to revive things. It wasn't any better but then on the pencil I had a 8oz hybrid and I thought time to go positive. I went on the 2g with double caster and lowered the rig in and held it still, after no more than 5 seconds the float buried and elastic came out a fair way. It was a skimmer of about 1lb, next chuck a 12oz hybrid, next a 14oz roach and then a 1 1/2lb hybrid, oooherrrr! Of course after 4 in 4 drops the fish backed off, but I stayed positive and 10 minutes later another 12oz hybrid graced the net before the bites stopped so I fed  couple more balls of feed.

The peg didn't respond to the feed as I hoped it would, and so I went back on to the pencil with a caster, it was a bite a chuck but only from the 1oz roach. I decided I had to go back to the 2g rig, trying with double red maggot this time I had a 12oz skimmer but then just a couple of small perch and a roach which a pike grabbed. I spent most of the remaining match on the 2g rig thinking that I was doing well in the section and that catching the odd better fish was better than a 1oz fish every few runs down. It was the right thing as I did get the odd hybrid but also hooked a large fish which I pulled out of after it tore off. About thirty mins from the end in almost the same place I hooked another big fish which stayed deep until I had it in close, I was thinking bream, then all of a sudden the float shot out and the rig went horizontal as a big fish jumped clear of the water and shed the hook. I am convinced it was a sea trout about 4lb, and that seemed to kill the peg. I finished the match on the pencil rig and took two 6oz hybrids on the drop and a 2oz roach on the whistle.  I had a busy day, some lovely stamp fish which I think would have had a proper munch had there been some flow and a bit of colour. I enjoyed it and had to work at feeding and presentation as the fish did not give themselves up easily. I thought I had 15lb.

I had the scales and Darren the board, so we set off to Alan and he weighed 4lb 1oz. Lee Warden had 5lb 1oz (but had bumped two decent fish on the tip), Steve below me had 4lb 14oz and all tight between them guys. My fish took the scales round to over 17lb, and Darren called it at 17lb 7 1/2oz. That's 9lb less than Andrew had 3 weeks ago, a nice net none the less,.

Just Darren left to weigh in my section who was admitting to "6lb and I've looked at them possibly 7lb" (PMSL) Darren had a nice net of roach for 10lb 8oz, that's also 9lb less than Shaun Townsend had off this peg 3 weeks ago!

Section win bagged for the team I was keeping fingers crossed I would make the frame, there were two 17lb+ weights up in the little field but I was told less than me. However, one of the weights was exactly the same as mine, and it was caught by Ivan Currie on consistently good peg 7.

Back at the rugby club and it was soon apparent the river had fished tougher than last time but there were still some decent nets.

1st on the day Ivan Currie and myself with 17lb 7 1/2oz
3rd Tony Gilbert 17lb 1oz peg 3 little field
4th Nigel Evans 14lb+ peg 82 (man of the match award from me as he had 10lb of perch)

Bathampton did amazingly well on the day and had 35 points out of 40 to win the day, my Thatchers came 2nd. After 4 matches Thatchers and Bathampton are tied on 6 points and only 1 section win seperates us!

Pike were once again a problem for many anglers (unless your name is Glenn Bailey and he seems to draw pegs with no pike all the time lol!) and today my heart goes out to Shane "Kenny" Caswell. Shane was on peg 56, and whilst Glenn on 54 caught small fish regularly and Mark Harper on 52 caught nice roach Shane had 1 perch after an hour and had lost every other fish to pike. By the end of the match Shane had landed 12 pike!!!!!! To rub salt in the wounds Shane hooked a 6lb bream on the feeder with 30 mins left, but this fish shed the hook before he could land it. Gutted for you mate, but your luck simply has to change, but it might be helped if you stop putting chopped herring in your gbait lol!

I'm dropped for next match which is on the canal, so they can shove it, only joking lads! I need to get the garden tided up so no fishing for me week. Next match for me the newly named "Bill Milton Memorial" for the Poppy fund, otherwise known as the Poppy Match, would be nice to get my name on the new trophy, but I may have used my luck up on that match.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Commercial House Swineford, Crane Jack Whites & Frys

We all have days and times when we think this is not going well, time to give up and go home. Not just in fishing but I've seen it in many sports where people's head go down. However, time again those who keep going till the end might just get reward for their effort.....

I was eligible to fish the Viaduct Silvers Final Saturday, but with me working very long days at present I was really in no position to get my gear and bait together for that match, so I bowed out. Instead after some other activity that needed doing Saturday am, I then went to watch Rovers in the afternoon with the wife, daughter Lucy as well as Benz, Glenn and Podge. It was a poor game and we let in a soft goal and with 10 mins left it really didn't look like being our day. This group pf players though are used to coming back from a goal down, and in the last 8 minutes scored twice to win 2-1. Never give in attitude and superior fitness told, UTG.

Sunday morning and I was feeling OK even if a few Jamesons whiskeys still lingered in my head somewhere. I got to the rugby club about 5 mins before the draw, a couple of sausage and egg baps were quickly devoured as we discussed the pegging. I wanted to avoid the two sections up the crane, but Luck Liam Braddell did the team draw and put me back up in the long ash tip field in Pike Alley.

I walked up the river with Nathan Hawke who was going to be a couple of pegs above me, and Mike Kent who was end peg in the section, just above the bay in the Little Ashtip. It was a refreshing walk, at least it was dry after the early rain, just two bloody stiles to contend with. As I walked to my peg I found I had Andy Britt on the peg below me, and above me was Glenn. I went to have a walk down my peg to see if I would be in or off the water when my feet went from under me and I slipped all the way down the bank and into the river above my waders. I grabbed handfuls of stinging nettles and tried to keep my waist above water whilst shouting out to Glenn to help me. After about the 4th shout he realised and came to my aid and pulled me out, thanks very much mate I was stuck! Didn't look that bad but the top of the earth was wet and slippery and I should have known better.

Recovered from my fall I set about making the bank safe and getting my gear in place, my hands and arms were numb from the nettles, but it was just annoying rather than causing any problems. The river had a bit of flow but was still clear and also had a a few leaves on it, a sign of things to come over the next month for sure. I was opposite a blue boat and everything looked quite nice. That is except for the tree branches above me which were a pain all day and I hit them every time I swung a fish or struck on the rod and line, how I did not break anything is amazing.
With plenty of time to set up I gave myself plenty of options, a 1gm pencil rig, 2gm rig, 4gm, a 1gm rig for chopped worm, plus a crowquill, waggler and a feeder. This area is usually OK for roach and dace, but with a bit of colour in it there is a chance of bream and skimmers. I couldn't see any of the latter being caught here today. I was ready bang on time and on the all in I let fly with 12 balls of gbait at 13m which contained plenty of hemp and caster. Out with the 2g rig and bites straight away from 2oz roach and dace, but after 5 fish a pike took a definite better roach and bit me off. Picked up the pencil rig and this went under but the fish were a lot smaller, then I hit a better roach and the pike took that one. I put new hooks on both rigs and went out again in the 2g rig but it was much slower and I missed a few bites, so back to the pencil rig but it was tricky with odd bites from small dace and roach but I was missing a lot of bites. I tried the crowquill and this worked as I hit a few more fish until a pike snapped me up on this too.

In the second hour I mainly caught on the crowquill, but the wind was now getting up, and with the sun out it made seeing my float very hard. Then all of a sudden it was very quiet, I tried the 4g rig and held back looking for a bonus. I hooked what I think was a decent roach but I'll never know as the pike took that one too..... I was feeding hemp and caster over the pole line and thought things might get better as the day went on, but after a reasonable second hour the pole got very hard. I tried the worm line and had 4 perch here for about 12oz and that was all I had here. The waggler was a no no at this stage as there were too many leaves on the water. The light was really bad now and seeing any of my floats was a miracle, the wind was also blowing my loose feed all over the place. I was also having a lot of fish coming off the hook both on pole and crowquill, no idea why as it is not something I've suffered with for a while. To be honest I was not really enjoying my day at all, fishing in wet trousers, hitting branches, the bad light and pike doing my head in too!

I had spoken to Glenn and Andy and both of them had more than me, and both had not had pike trouble, jammy buggers lol! I took the odd fish by alternating pole and crowquill, but the peg was getting worse, and with 90 mins to go I took the decision to reball it. It didn't work for me initially but I could catch the odd small fish on the crowquill a few metres past the gbait. Until of course a pike turned up again. Darren Gillman walked along and he saw me pull out of a fish on the waggler, and I may have told him I was cheesed off lol. In the time he was gone I think I caught one little roach and he turned back up behind me with about 5 mins to go. I tried the pencil rig which I had on a 22 to 0.09 and bugger me if it didn't go under and I had a 3oz roach. Next tun through and I missed a bite, and then I hooked another bite which then went heavy, pike grrrr... Hang on though, not so sure, Darren and myself wondered if it might not be a pike. As the fish came in close I tried to get it off the bottom as I knew there were lots of snags in close, but with only 0.09 on it was tough. As the fish came up I just could not see what it was because of the damn light, but then it swam into my bank and I saw it was a chub. Before I could do anything it was under my bank and out of sight, I went to gran the landing net which then slipped into the river, FFS! I had no choice but to put my pole down and grab the net, as I got things together I just prayed the chub had not snagged me solid. I gingerly pushed the pole out from the bank a little further and saw the water move, and then the chub kindly swam out from the bank. I dropped the net in close to it and as I hoped it would it swam straight into it thinking it was a snag. Lucky last fish about 2lb right on the whistle, never give up right till the end!

When the scales came down from peg 1 I wasn't the only one to suffer with pike trouble, Luke Sorokin lost close to 30 hooks on peg 1. Glenn did well with his small fish and had 8lb 11oz, which was more than I thought I had. However, the last gasp chub swung the needle in my favour and I had 9lb 1 1/2oz, not really a good way to thank him for pulling me out of the drink! My weight got me 2nd in the section beaten off the next peg by Andy who had 10lb 5oz. Andy had no trees to hamper him and fished an 8m whip. Ivan Currie was once again in my section and kindly took a photo of my fish again.

The section fished quite fairly really with quite a few 6 and 7lb weights. Of course in the overall stakes the crane never made the frame...

1st Dean Harvey with 40lb of Bream from about peg 6 at Swineford on the feeder, well done Deano!
2nd Nick Coles with 18lb from the Beach at Swineford, he had 4 or 5 skimmers plus roach
3rd Graham Hunt with 17lb of roach and dace from the Steps at Jack Whites, that twice he's drawn this in two matches.
4th Tom Moretti 16lb including two 5lb bream on the pole from Frys.

Thatchers B won the day toed with Bathampton, but the B team lead the league now. Lucky Liam was next to the winner, but he blew out today. As I reflected on my day I was very frustrated and had not really enjoyed it that much. However, there is always someone worse of than you, and today there were a few... 1) Shaun Townsend, threw his net back in and had no landing let or keepnet, had to wait till 35 mins in the match for replacements. 2) Mike Davies, drew the deep peg at the crane and managed to snap two rods, 3) Rich Candy walked up the ccyle track but went a bit wrong, he got back after the money had been paid out, nice walk then lol!

Finally courtesy of Darren Gillman, a shot of Dean landing a bream. Weekend of next week see you soon.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

ATWL Round 2 Bristol Avon Newbridge

Another very hectic week at work meant I was looking forward to the weekend. I had to wave goodbye to the wife Friday as she headed up to Manchester to spend the weekend with my eldest daughter Lucy. Ian Pauley did me a big favour by picking up my bait from Thatchers on Friday, I was feeling pretty ill again so was glad I could rest up. Had a few ciders Saturday afternoon with Glenn, Mike Nicholls and Geoff Francis, we had a good laugh and I wobbled home.

I woke Sunday morning feeling a tad dry, and a couple of pints of water were downed and helped immensely. Onto the rugby club for a nice breakfast and talk was of how hard the match would be with a a low clear river and bright sunshine forecast. Lucky Liam Braddell did the team draw for us, he came back with a decent draw I thought. I was on peg 24 which is a few below the block house and a peg which I've had before and has options depending on the river condition. It is a bit of a cow drink so you can get in the peg nice and easy and set up close to the water. I was the first peg in C section and I was happy with that as I thought the pegs below would be tricky. The river was very slow, and on this peg more of the flow is across the peg and there is a chance of chub. Ivan Currie had this peg a while back and had some chub, and I was confident of catching a few. I set up a 2 1/2 swan waggler with a 20 to 0.12, a maggot feeder with 17 B711 to 0.148 exceed for the chub. I only set up two pole rigs, a 1grm pencil float with 0.09 to 20 and a 1grm float with 13B711 to 0.16 for chopped worm. I didn't see the point of other rigs as the river was so slow I could hold back on the pencil float!

In the section above me on the next peg was Nigel Wyatt, and below me was his travelling partner Geoff Surman, two avid river anglers and top men. I began the match balling in with gbait, 12 balls went in today with just a little bit of hemp, caster, pinkie and worm as I didn't want to over feed the peg. I fed maggots to the far side with a catapult and kept that up all day. Out with the pencil float and with a single red maggot on the float buried as son as it settled, a 1oz roach was the culprit. Next drop in I had a bite I thought but hit nothing, but I was really struggling to see the float due to bad light. I did get another little roach, and then another was on but a pike grabbed it, I held tight and eventually the pike let go. A couple of small dace followed and then another pike grabbed a fish and bit me off. New hook length on and out again for a little perch and a dace and then a pike again. Another hook on and then a few more little fish before the 5th pike hit on the hour and this killed the pole line. Nigel Evans called me and spookily he had also been hit 5 times by pike, but he was still getting bites. My pole line was dead not a sign. I was thinking about the waggler / feeder across, but on the boat just below the tree a couple turned up and started up a generator and began working on it, great! A little later as the relaxed they started to get a little lovey dovey, which Darren Gillman spotted, but it came to nothing lol!

Time to try the waggler which I had set at 5ft deep, I had a 30 minute spell on it which yielded 2 bleak and a few missed bites from tiny bleak. I fed a chopped worm line down the peg on the pole and then tried the maggot feeder. I tried this for about an hour and had a few little knocks which resulted in a 2oz perch and a roach which a pike grabbed but let go of. Then I had a little rattle on the tip followed by a massive wrap round, got to be a chub, it felt like a very good fish but halfway back it came off, but as I wound the feeder in I saw I had a roach, well 3/4 of a roach, another bloody pike had struck! I thought I'd give the feeder one last chuck but had nothing, until I wound it back in and the poxy pike grabbed it, but I gave it some severe tooth ache as I pulled the feeder free! Ian Pauley was on peg 22 and he rang me to say he had taken 5lb of roach early but his peg had gone stone dead, as he put the phone down on me I had a pike take another fish and he told me after I heard you say "effing pike". However, in the top pegs in his section they were catching big roach, hybrids and skimmers,

The middle of my match was woeful, and the pole was dead, 1 tiny perch from the worm line, and a few bleak and a bonus 4oz chublet on the wag were all I managed. I thought I had 2lb in the net and was probably last in the section and I just didn't know what to do. With 90 mins to go I tried the pole with the pencil float again, I was now on a 22 to 0.09 (hook changed earlier after a few pike strikes) and had a couple of dips on the float but nothing was hooked, I took the maggot off and put a pinkie on....Bingo! The float went under properly and a 3/4oz roach was swung out, next drop in the same result, and the next and the next. Basically for the last 90 mins I had a small roach every cast, I even managed to get a few on the maggot and although the biggest was no more than 2oz I was flying and amazingly I had no pike! I did try the waggler quickly as I thought I might have fed the bleak off, but as soon as a bleak took the bait I gave it up and went back to the pole to carry on catching the little roach.

When the match ended I was left thinking what could I have caught if it hadn't been for the pike, I reckoned I had to have now 5 to 6lb but wasn't to sure as the fish were small. Only Warren Bates in my section was admitting to 4lb so it looked like I was going to do OK today. Ivan Currie and Derek Coles weighed me in and I was quite surprised when they called 7lb 6oz. Ivan took this picture for me.

As it turned out I did win the section comfortably as Warren was 2nd with 4lb 14oz. I think he may have said something to me as I told him I only had 4lb, well it was another wind up after my wind up about him on my blog last week lol! The section above me was much better and it saw some proper quality fish caught in a couple of pegs with first and second in the match coming from there.

1st Andrew Trudgian 26lb of skimmers, hybrids and roach to 1 1/2lb on the pole from peg 16. Well done and well deserved as Andrew has put a lot of effort in the last few years to get to grips with the river.
2nd Shaun Townsend 19lb of quality roach on the crowquill on peg 14. You can't put this bloke on fish as he will always do well, though he did get his ass cut by Andrew!

3rd Liam Braddell 15lb of mainly skimmers and bream from peg 107 on pole and feeder.

On the team front Bathampton won the day beating Thatchers by 1 point, so we are tied at the top after two matches.

I was pleased picking up £50 for winning the section and pleased that Liam bought the beers! It turned out that I was in the lowest weight section today, with I think all other sections being won with double figures of mainly roach. Glenn was on 78 and he had a perch of close to 3lb today, a bonus on the day. We really need to get some rain I feel to get the bigger fish to have a go, but you cannot complain getting plenty of bites from small roach, and other than the bloody pike the river goes from strength to strength. Did I mention Ian Pauley in my blog today, he did ask that I mention him as he said he is an avid reader of it. I had to mention Ian as he and Nigel both endured severe pike trouble, I thought I had it bad but they both went through 20 hooks, and Nige had pike swimming around his swim just under the surface. bad luck chaps!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

ATWL Bristol Avon Swineford, Crane & Jack Whites

After catching nothing last weekend a torrid week at work was the last thing I needed, our new computer system was not working well in all areas and very long days ensued, by the last day of the month we'd not been able to invoice all our sales and I reckon £400K+ was stuck. I needed a a break and a good weekend. Got bait from Thatchers on Saturday, sorted a few bits and bobs out and then pegged out Jack Whites, and I wrote in Polish as well as English on the signs to say water closed. I was chuffed later that the Gas won away from home and a nice bottle of red to celebrate set me up and the first part of the weekend was good.

I woke up Sunday and the heating had kicked in, it was a proper autumn morning cold misty and the sun shining through, no matter how tired I feel on days like this I just feel alive. Had to take a picture later when on the bank.

This year we have 5 teams of 8, and that makes pegging fairly easy, with 15 at Swineford, 15 at the Crane and 10 at Jackies. Liam was drawing for our team and I hoped he'd do me a favour and keep me away from the Crane for a change. Fair play he did, and I was end peg at Swineford, one below the beach where Paul Purchase had taken 25lb on the Commercial House. Paul told me he had a lot of fish but caught 3 bream in the last 3 run throughs on the pole that day. I drove to Saltford and met up with Glenn Bailey and Shaun Townsend who were also in my section. We took the long, but flat walk along the cycle track and after getting across the bridge and kissing gate I had a few more hundred yards to go. Glenn was on the famous Bitton Brook, a peg known for chub normally, Shaun was on on the Beach peg and I was below him. Later we were also joined by Craig Fletcher below Glenn and then Mark Williams was below Craig. This is how my peg looked.

The river had a tinge of colour from the storms of yesterday, and with bream coming from here before I was going to make sure I gave myself a chance of catching one. I set up a gbait feeder first, then two pole rigs, a 2g with 20 to 0.10, and a 4g with 18 to 0.12. That was it today. The water in front of me was dead and I had to go 11m to find a bit of flow, and I opted to fish 13m. It was not straight forward as the flow goes slightly away from you and the river got slightly deeper the further you went down. For that reason I decided I would ball it and probably not loose feed but just top up with gbait. On the whistle I threw in 14 balls containing plenty of caster, hemp and a small amount of worm. Starting on the 2g rig with caster I had about 8 trots without a bite, onto a single maggot and started to get the odd small dace, fish which were at the most an ounce. After an hour I might have had 1 1/2lb of these little dace, I was certainly not bagging and when Glenn told me had had 5lb of dace I was already well behind. I topped up with the odd ball of gbit packed with hemp, caster and worm and the second hour produced a few more dace, plus a few roach and little perch but again the fish were small. After a few top ups the peg just went really hard and I chucked the feeder out for a bit, but the tip never moved.

Back on the pole and the rest had done no good, it was dead. It was now 2 hours to go and I was well down the section. Time for a gamble, and I reballed the peg and put plenty of caster and worm in the balls in the hope of some bream. Straight out over them with the pole looking for some early small fish,  but nothing no bites, I shouted to Shaun I've blown this big time! I tried the tip again and as before it was no good, so I decided to drop it in over the pole line. I had a couple of small raps indicating small fish, so I went out with the 2g rig and as soon as the float settled it went under, a 3/4 oz roach. For the the next hour I had a bite every chuck from small roach, dace and the odd better roach. It was my best catching spell of the match by far. It then started to go iffy, and I tried my 4g rig again fishing over depth with double red. I had a few small roach and perch on this, and then with 15 mins left I finally had a better fish on, turned out to be a hard fighting 2lb skimmer. With 5 mins left the float went under again and 1lb skimmer was my last fish of the match. Shame they turned up so late, but a nice way to end and I thought I had 12lb.

I had the board and we weighed from Glenn first, he had a busy day on the pole with just an ounce under 18lb which was 200 dace. Craig Fletcher had 2 nice chub on the waggler and with his bits had 14lb+, Mark 8lb and then Shaun next to me had 13lb 9oz. I was last of course to weigh, and was happy that my net went 13lb 10oz, although it would be fair to say that Shaun wasn't lol! Alas only 3 points from 5 and I needed the skimmers to show up earlier. Everyone in this section had a hell of a lot of fish, but they were very small. I guess after we get a bit colder weather this small fish will disappear, but it is fair to say that the river is full of small dace at present.

Another nice long walk back, by the end I was a ball of sweat and had drunk all my drink, I couldn't wait to get back to the rugby club and grab a cider, which Glenn kindly bought. Lots of small fish had come out and very few better fish it transpired, there were plenty of good weights though.

1st Graham Hunt with 18lb 14oz, dace on the whip from the steps at Jackies
2nd Glenn Bailey 17lb 15oz, dace on the pole.
3rd Liam Braddell 16lb+ dace on the whip below Graham (Liam is still drawing his wotsits off)
4th Andy Ottaway 16lb 4oz dace and some roach on the pole peg 18 Swineford.
5th Warren Bates 16lb 1oz next peg to Andy on 17 (with no one on 15 as he told Mike Withey he was on 14 the wrong peg to fish on!)

Thatchers won the day, with Bathampton second. Swineford and Jackies fished well again, but the Crane was a bit of a struggle again it seems. Oh and pike were a problem for a lot of anglers today, I had 3 fish grabbed but got them all out.

Foot note, Shane Caswell is having a very consistent time on the winter leagues, and he has been last in section in three matches now, I'm sure his luck will change as he can catch fish if they're in front of him.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Commercial House Round 2 - King Sedgemoor Drain

A new venue for the commercial house league in the shape of the KSD, mainly to keep some of the carrot crunchers in Somerset happy, Seriously it is a long journey up to Bristol so this was a nice way to give them a match on their turf. It was a busy week for me as usual, after a week away in Frankfurt I took a long weekend off and spent some time with my good lady, including Monday which was my birthday. I had a window of opportunity to make some rigs for the KSD only a few hours the day before the match, but I needed to know what rigs as I have not fished the venue since I was 16. I made a call to Nick Collins and he divulged some good info (and it seems he was asked by many others too!) and I felt I had a plan. I also had some info from Glenn who had taken 20lb from the venue practising.

Thursday I went down with a sore throat and it got worse and a nasty cough made me feel rough Sunday. At the draw we all knew that you needed to draw F section to do any good and as a team drawing an end peg would probably guarantee success. I had Liam Braddell in the knockout and I already knew he would get F section, and yes he did! Being in the same team I could not join him there and I was in B section and not the best of areas I was told, out of the knockout this year then.

I followed Paul Purchase to get to the right place to park up for my section, walking past peg C9 where Lee Trivett for Thatchers B was pegged I could see fish topping, as I walked won to my peg B3 I never saw another fish top. I spoke to Tony Goodland and also called Nick again to get more gen, nothing great and end peg should piss it.

My peg, my view.

On peg B4 Neil Mercer was already setting up, and he asked what was my target weight, I said at a guess 6lb and he said that was what he was thinking too. Setting up was simple, a 4m whip with 0.8g float with a 20 B611 to 0.08, a 1g pencil float for fishing past this as the "fish" moved out. A 0.4gm rig with 0.16 to 15 B711 for worm, and a waggler for fishing further across. All sounds nice and easy.....

Just before the match began the wind which was in our face began to strengthen and loose feeding a waggler line was no longer an option as I'd be lucky to get the bait to 11m. Starting on the whip I threw in small balls of gbait to line up the shoals of roach and hybrids, after 10 mins and no bites I wasn't that worried thinking they might be a little further out. After 20 mins it was like a tennis match with everyone looking up and down at each other asking if anyone had! The wind was now blowing my rig back towards me and no roach was going to have that, but luckily for me a micro perch did. Merc then had a gudgeon and an odd tiny was caught. I had a perch of 1oz on the whip and after another 10 mins decided I had to go long. I fed 2 balls of gbait with a little hemp and pinkie at 10m.  Tried my chopped worm line which failed, tried the whip again, which failed. Out to 10m and after a long wait a tiny hybrid took the single fluro, and then next chuck a 2oz roach was a real bonus. I never had another bite on this line, or the whip line.

The wind got worse and by mid match the lad on my left snapped his whip butt section, and Merc snapped his waggler rod! Why are shit days always made even worse!

The next 3 hours were biteless for me, even Rich Whitmarsh on the end peg was struggling for a few ounces, and there were a couple of blanks including Shane Caswell who always draws complete shite. Paul Elmes (he of carp slayer supreme status) had 1 ruffe and after a little walk was still smiling and probably wishing he was on a commercial. I managed to snare a motherless minnow and another micro perch in the last hour, and in the end everyone caught a fish in the section. I tried fishing a waggler down the middle feeding balls of gbait and never had a bite, I tried little bits of worm over little bits of chopped worm and never had a bite, it was total and utter shite!

When the whistle went we were all glad, at least in our section. Luke Sorokin won the section on the last peg with 6 1/2 ounces, yes 6.5 ounces!!!!!  Rich Whitmarsh and myself tied for 2nd in the 9 pegs with 5 1/2 ounces.  Need I say more.... Well in total the 9 anglers in my section weighed 1lb 11oz....

F section was solid, with Liam only beating one person in his 5 peg A division with 16lb, really!!! Paul Purchase had 27lb, Kev Dicks 20lb, James Carty 17lb  and Rich Lacey 12lb completed the top 5 overall in this one section. Nice fishing if you can get it.

Turned out I was top points scorer in our team which came last on the day, lol. The B team pissed it off the end peg 9, and Nomads won their div off peg 1. Not a good venue for a team match, at least not one with the same peg number in each section.  Still great fishing if you land on them.

Not much more to say about the day, a really unusual poor days fishing, but we managed to laugh about it as we fished and weighed in. The locals just could not believe it, and one lad in my section who had 1oz said it was the worst day he had in 40 years on the river, I blame Shane Caswell lol!!!!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Commercial house Round 1 Swineford, to Frys

Busy, busy, busy at the moment, spent a few days working in Munich this week, then took my eldest daughter to Manchester where she's got a work placement for a year. Whilst in Munich I remembered I had not ordered any bait, so messaged Andy Ottaway if he wouldn't mind sorting it for me, which he did. Thankfully Liam Braddell picked my bait up on Saturday as I was not back home till 5pm Sat night, just time to sort pole top sets and mix some groundbait.

Morning of the match and got to the draw early enough to have a breakfast, my bait was dropped off but minus any worms, so I had to buy some from Kev Dicks. It was nice to see the regular faces, ones I only tend to see at the winter leagues, such as Shane Caswell, Mike Kent, Kev Boltz etc. Soon the draw was underway and Liam came back with our set of pegs, as ever I wanted to be at Swineford, as ever I was up the bloody Crane again! Liam drew himself the best peg on about 15 at Swineford.

As I just got to my parking spot by the Marina I had a call from Andy Ottaway to tell me I had left all my bait in the Rugby club..... what a twat! Anyway he brought it for me as he was pegged next to me as it turned out. Turned out Ian Pauley also forgot his bait and Andy had that as well! Not the best of starts to the day and I was still feeling rushed like the rest of the week. Then when Andy was fixing his gear on his trolley a bungee slipped off and hit him in the face. Thankfully he caught him just below his bottom lip, bad enough and it was bleeding and very sore, but at least not his eye. Luckily the start was 10:45 so plenty of time to spare. Walked up the river with Andy and I was on the last peg in the little ashtip field, whilst Andy was on the first peg in the long ashtip, one of my favourites.

I set up a 2g pole rig with 0.10 to 20 B611, and a 4g rig with 0.117 to 16 B611, these were to be used at 13m. A 1g rig for chopped worm with 0.15 to 13 B711 was also put up. A 3 1/2 shallow wagg with 18 B611 to 0.12, also a feeder rod was put up. I've had this peg before, it can be very good but the bottom is awful with it shallowing up by 2 feet over about 6m, so I would ball it away from the shallowest bit.

On the whistle I balled in 12 balls Sonubaits, River, Lake and black containing hemp and caster. I picked up the 2g rig and started with a single caster, I didn't have to wait to long before a 2oz roach was swung in. In the first half hour I had a few roach and dace but had a pike take a fish then it switched right off for 15 mins. I was about to think about feeding the worm line when I had another run of roach on the pole, but again it slowed right down. I then let the float go to far down the peg and on the shallow part snagged up and lost the hook. Time to feed the worm line at 10m and angled down the peg. I was feeding maggots now and then for the waggler line but seeing bits taking them I wasn't keen on trying it. Andy was struggling like me, but Shaun Townsend on peg 1 in our section had 7lb after 2 hours having had a bream and decent perch on the float.

The wind was picking up and as it was downstream and into me it tried to push the pole float through, I decided to give the 4g rig a go although I really wasn't sure it would work. I fished this rig over depth and either eased it through or tried to hold it still. I tried double caster but had not bites, so on went double red maggot and I had a couple of 1oz perch and tiny roach hmmm. Then, just before the shallow snag, the float went down the hole proper and I had a bit of elastic come out of the pole. Turned out it was a 12oz skimmer which really perked me up,  and perhaps more would follow. Sadly it was a one off and the swim switched off again.

Time to try the worm line with a dendra, the float settled and twitched but the bite didn't develop, so I lifted the rig out and laid it in again, soon after it twitched and went under, 1,2,3 strike. A fair bit of hollo 10 elastic came out so it was a decent perch, it stayed on the hook and was not far short of 1lb. Dropped in again and nothing.

A few roach on the pole and then nothing again, they wouldn't settle. With 2 hours to go I picked up the waggler, why I didn't do this earlier I do not know (well I do really, I thought I needed decent fish to do well) as there were clearly plenty of fish there on the surface. I could get a bite a chuck, probably hit one in three bites, from bleak and dace and I kept myself busy for an hour. A few boats and canoes then gave me cause to try for a perch again, and I had an 8oz fish, but again that was it. I also tried the pole and a run of little roach, and as soon as though died I went back to the wagg. There were still plenty of fish there, but it was very hard to a) see the float as the light was awful, b) keep a tight line in the bad wind. With 15 mins to go the line caught some foliage in close and after a tug of war I ended up with a trashed rig. No time to set up again so I tried the pole lines and had sod all. I had a feeling that might cost me.

Andy was admitting to 10lb, I said I had 9lb, below me Bath stalwart and all round nice guy Chris Ollis had struggled for about 4 to 5lb he said. Shaun had not caught so well for the rest of the match but with his couple of bonus fish plus 7lb of bits he had a high 12lb to win the section, 2nd was Andy with 10lb 10oz and I was 3rd with exactly 10lb. The last 15 mins on the wag might have been worth 10oz, but we will never know. However, I think my peg was worth 15lb of dace and bleak on the wag, so I messed up trying to catch roach and skimmers, hey ho.

I did not go back to the results as it was the in laws 50th wedding anniversary party and I was the only relation missing! I went straight there from the match and soon most people had left, did I smell? lol!

I found out that the match was won by river legend Darren Gillman from the outfall at Swineford with 29lb of dace and bleak on a whip. Darren had a dream last night that he drew that peg and so it seems he's now mystic meg! Second was Liam Braddell with 28lb, he had 22lb of dace and roach on a whip and 2 bream on the stick float. Think there was another three 20lb weights and plenty of doubles at most places. Frys and Crane were the hardest places as I expected.

Right I need some sleep tonight as I'm off the Frankfurt working for the whole week, no fishing next weekend as I think I need a rest and will sort a bit more gear out.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Float Only League Viaduct Fishery

Spent a few days with the family in Dublin this week, and we had a great time visiting some famous places and bars, the Guinness was good but bloody expensive. I enjoyed my visit to the Jameson whiskey distillery and got a certificate. I had a txt from Tony Rixon asking if I'd like to fish this match as a reserve, so that was Sunday sorted then. I did not get back home till late Friday night so just a few hours Sat to sort my gear and then out on the night for a stag do, great prep then lol!

Luckily for me the Stag do was a bit of lightweight affair and I was in bed by midnight and so waking up Sunday morning I was feeling fine. Forecast for the day was for a few showers and so I packed the bib n brace and coat but didn't feel the need for the brolly. Steady journey down though I did go through a nasty rain shower, and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. The match was pegged on Carey and Campbell, and I hoped to draw a peg on Campbell today and if possible fish for the silvers, I managed to pull peg 125 on Campbell. This peg had won the match the day before, so some carp in the area then, and now what to so about the silvers, hmmm.

Got to my peg and for company I had Mat Toomes on 123, Glen Calvert 124, Dave Roper 126, Steve Skelton 127 and on the spit was Craig Edmunds, Fishing for second in the section then as Trig just keeps on bagging on carp! I set up a 4x12 rig with 0.14 to 18 PR36 to fish for silvers at 5m with hard 6mm pellet. A depth rig for 14m and shallow rig for fishing 8mm pellet, lastly a rig for the margin over gbait but I never had a thing on this...

I was already for the start and had just put my keepnets before the all in when I heard a hell of a splash, Mat Toomes on peg 123 had fallen in the lake and taken his box with him. As myself and Glen pulled his box and helped him out of the lake we heard the all in shouted, though I'm sure I might of heard "FALL IN". I left Mat to lick his wounds and sort himself out, he was soaked from head to foot, had lost his glasses and his iphone. He managed a smilethough for the camera.

I started the match fishing a 6mm pellet in the band, I fed a dozen of the same pellets and the float flew under, carp, bugger. Hook length snapped on the first drop in, put another on, went in again, fed 12 pellets again, hooked a carp again!!!  This one was fouled and I pulled out of it so no loss of hook. For the next 30 mins I tried to catch at 5m but I had nothing, not a fish, so I continued to feed here but went out to 14m where I had been feeding 8mm pellets by catty. Going in on the depth rig I had a couple of liners and lost a fouler but just before the hour mark I had my first fish, a carp about 8lb. The wind was awkward and I felt the carp were up in the water, so I tried my shallow rig but had nothing on this after 20 mins of trying. Back in at 5m and just a 4oz skimmer for my efforts and things were not going well. That said not much was being caught around me, other than Trig. Glen next to me had some small skimmers and despite getting bashed up by the odd carp stuck with the silvers,

Going long on the depth rig yeilded a 2lb skimmer but a number of liners and a fouler, and the carp were off bottom for sure. I tried slapping and that was no good at all, I looked across to Dan White on 118 who was getting the odd fish shallow, he was swing the rig out past the pole, so I changed my rig to a swinger and gave that a go. Over the next couple of hours I did manage about 6 carp shallow, so slow but better than others around me (except Trig). Then from nowhere a heavy shower appeared, but it wasn't a shower, it was a bloody monsoon, and heavy rain fell an hour or more. This killed my shallow line stone dead, and I couldn't get bites anywhere, and I was just like Mat Toomes soaked head to foot.

In the last 90 mins I started to get skimmers and odd carp on my 5m line and enjoyed a nice steady run of fish to the end of the match. My only hope of coin was that Trig would frame and I would get the section by default. Well the first part was nailed on as Trig won the match with 230lb, the rest of my section as it turned out struggled and didn't break the ton, so my 18lb of silvers and 103lb of carp did get me 2nd in the section and a default pick up.

Steve Tucker ran Trig close and ended with 223lb from peg 132 in the corner, and on the other side of the spit Tony Rixon got 3rd with 196lb. The silvers was won by Paul Faires on peg 111 with 34lb, he just beat Glen Calver who had 32lb.

The league was won by, you've guessed it Trig, more details on Tony's blog.

Well all the gear is soaked, my car is soaked, but I am still not quite as wet as Matty who went in the lake after the match and managed to retrieve his glasses and his phone, Fair play to him!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Division One National River Trent

It has been many years since I last fished a National, and you have to be prepared for these events in many ways. Lots of travelling, lots of money for bait, beer, food, beer, pools and beer. Also you have to be prepared for not really knowing where you are going, and more often than not drawing crap pegs. You might say why bother, well there is always the chance that the luck might go your way and you end up with a medal. Thatchers had elected not to practise for the event (having had some experience of fishing the Trent before, I had not personally fished the tidal stretch before so was relying on lots of the lads advice.

I drove up to our hotel in Bingham on Friday, met up with the rest of the lads, Nathaniel Johnson had already had a mare after filling is car with diesel it promptly broke down, the pump was contaminated with water. Mark Harper, who was on the M5 had to get off and go to Trowbridge to pick Nat up. Good start! Once all together we had a great Chinese meal in the hotel and drank and told stories until the early hours. I was that full (and we ate very late) that I really didn't feel like breakfast at 7am, but I had a bit to keep me going. John Harvey fishing his last match for us went off early to do the draw, lucky we didn't ask Gary O'Shea to do it as he was missing and not answering his phone, eventually we established what room he was in and woke him from his deep sleep!

At Newark showground we met up and got our pegs, I was in B section which was a split section with 22 pegs at Holme Marsh and 23 pegs below Collingham weir. A few potential match winning pegs in this section, but sadly the team draw didn't put me on one of them and I was on B40.

It took me about  15 minutes to drive to my section, where I found after a very long track a little car park with other anglers in, phew got the right place! The peg nearest the car park was B36, so not that long a walk, Andy Britt fishing for Bathampton was on B35. The pegging was well spaced out and I was impressed with that. As I walked down to my peg I noticed a face of a champion, it was twice Fishomania champ Mat Hall. Mat lives in Nottingham and therefor had a good idea of how to fish the Trent, he was very friendly and chatted both before and after the match, top bloke in my opinion.

I took a long hard look at my peg when I got there, I knew the river was going to rise at some stage as the tide came in but wasn't sure how high. Looking at bank I could see a tide line so set up behind that and kept my eye on things.  If you look in the picture where my rod holdall is eventually the river came up to nearly touching it.
As you can see it was fairly featureless, and the tiny tree opposite was out of reach for me, I would have needed a very powerful rod, big pit reel to chuck all the way across there, but I could also see it looked shallow and not worth fishing. Time to think about what to set up, the wind was already bad and was forecast to be horrendous, it was blowing downstream and into my bank meaning tough for float fishing, and forget the pole as that would be smashed. I set up a 5AAA waggler to fish about 16m to 20m out, I put 6 no6, 2 no8 and 1 no10 down the line, and used delicate 0.08 to a 22. My feeder set up was going to be an open ender, and I guessed that a 45g weight would hold. However, when I cast out a 1oz lead it never held bottom for a second, so on went a 60g version. I fished 0.17 hook length to 13B711, very strong gear, but this is a powerful river and hooking any big fish you need to give yourself the best chance of landing them. This was all I set up, minimalistic yes, but I felt setting an array of options would do me no good.

I had a chat with the anglers either side, they were not local so couldn't offer any advice, the section stewards were club members and said I was off the bream, odd barbel were around but risky fishing for them, try and catch roach was their advice.

11 o'clock and the match started, I was going to give the feeder an hour and hope for a bonus and at least get some bait out there. First chuck on the tip and I set the line clip in place, put the rod in the rest and fed some maggot and hemp on the wag line, before I could put the catapult down the tip dropped back. Picking the rod up I felt the heavy weight of the feeder but nothing else. Three red maggots were sucked out, small fish. Next cast out and an almost instant bite, it turned out to be a bloody great big bleak lol. Another missed bite next cast and I changed to 3 casters on the hook and this produced a dace. I was amazed how these fish gave such good drop backs, but the 60g feeder was just about holding in the flow and that was helping. An 8oz roach was nice fish to catch on the casters, but after a couple more missed bites and I tried a piece of worm and this slowed things up until a 4oz perch grabbed it. Thirty minutes in and my neighbours hadn't had a bite, so either I was on a few fish or my gbait approach was better.

Bites stopped for me on the tip and it wasn't due to a big fish sadly, so after 45 minutes I decided to give the waggler a go. My peg was deep at about 11 feet, and I had to cast quite a way down stream to try to get some control of the waggler. My first foray on this only gave me a minuscule perch and a 2oz roach, but it did give me hope that I could gain some reasonable presentation. Back on the feeder and just a dace and perch in 30 minutes. Looking upstream I saw my neighbour and Mat Hall above him both swing in roach, they were fishing with long rods and top and bottom floats, and they were only fishing 7 foot deep. (Talking to them after they had fished closer in than me but said they had a flat bottom, the lad below me had about 8 feet at most, and it seemed my peg was much deeper for some reason). I picked up the waggler and tried it again, but the river had risen a fair amount and I had to move my box back, I did that 3 times during the match. The wind getting worse but I was still able to fish the wag OK, I did catch a few roach and a dace and a 4oz a piece they were welcomed, but I went 20 minutes without a bite and tried the feeder again. The wind was now blowing hard enough on the line to dislodge the feeder, so I had to add extra lead to hold, it was getting tricky to cast a fully loaded feeder with 75g of lead on it to the middle of the river, and now bites were hard to spot.

The last 90 minutes the wind was simply absurd, waves on the water, at times I could barely get my loose feed far enough out, everything was difficult to do, even standing up! The feeder, I decided, was now a waste of time as I couldn't see a bite from these small fish, had I been confident of big fish I would have stuck it out. The waggler it was, and much as earlier I could run the float through 20 times without a bite then get one, trouble was even with the line sunk a bow would form making it hard to hit the bite. By changing depths and distance from the bank I took the odd fish including a beautiful roach that was close to a pound.  When the match was over I was happy enough with what I had caught, and can also say that I was happy it was over as the wind had finished me off.

The scales had to come from peg 23 which was the flyer next to the weir, he had 11 kilos, 10 pegs further on a local angler had a brilliant 12 kilo of roach on a stick float whilst just below him anglers struggled including Any Britt who had just over a kilo. Matt Hall had 70 small roach for 4 kilos, then the lad above me had 1 kilo+, my turn and it was recorded as 2 kilo 750g. The lad below me had 1 kilo 500g and below him all had not much I think.

I went back to the results to grab something to eat, I bumped into a number of local anglers but couldn't find my team mates, then Andy Ottaway appeared to tell me he had a rough day with just a 1oz roach, but he had over 20 points as his section was terrible with about 16 blanks. Big Shaun Bryan was fishing for Diawa Gordon League and he drew in my section but up at Holme Marsh, he drew a good peg! Shaun had 20 bream for 30 kilos and came 2nd beaten by Rob Perkins a few pegs away who had 40 kilo, well done Shaun!

Other than Lee Trivett the rest of the team went straight home, which tells you we did no good. We came 25 out of 45 with a total of 226 points, a couple of places behind Bathampton who had 232 points. In the end my weight earned me 30 points so I was more than happy with that. I enjoyed the experience immensely, battled the elements, and caught a few pristine roach on a lovely river.

Barnsley Blacks won the on the day with a huge 380 points, so well done to them.

I got back home at 8:45pm was very tired and happy I wasn't fishing on Sunday. The Thatchers team we did get together for Sunday for the last round of the super league at Newbridge have managed to win the league, so some success this weekend. An early night again tonight as still knackered, lol!