Monday, 28 March 2016

Landsend League

My week leading up to Easter continued with the hacking cough and some disturbed sleep making me very tired and so I was really looking forward to the long weekend. I was also considering where to fish the weekend, Windmill, Hillview and Landsend all appealed, but the forecasted weather would affect them all, in the end Ken Raynor got me a place on his league so I took that. After a Good Friday spent in the sunshine with Cider and watching BRFC I had a little time on Saturday to prepare my gear, but there is a lot to do.

Travelled down to the fishery with Martin Reyat who got a very late entry into the match and he kindly accepted my offer to have a lift with him, lol, well I bought his brekkie in the on site cafe. I was going to be on lake 3 today which can be affected by the wind, and Martin was on match lake. After we finished our brekkie we went to the hut for the draw to find all pegs had been drawn bar ours, Martin was on peg 13 and was very happy with that, I was on peg 70 and was also happy. I got given a lot of advice and was told many differing approaches, and that I would win the silvers on the lake. Well as I spent 30 years living on a chicken farm I have learned never to count them....

Got to the peg to find opposite bank Russ Peck on 41 and Mat Toomes on 42, on 68 was Steve Seagar and on 66 was Craig Edmunds, the banter ensued. Setting up my gear I was not going to fish to far out due to the wind being in my face, so a line straight out in front at 6m for soft pellet using a 0.3g wire stem PB Inter 4 with 0.10 to a 18 PR434, another soft pellet line for 10m up towards the end bank 4x12 with 0.12 to a 18 B911, a top set rig for ronnies and finally a 0.4g for fishing meat towards to weed bed to my right with 0.14 to a 16 PR478 if I needed to fish for carp.

When the match started I fed a small amount of micro on my two lines, and some meat by the weed bed. Starting on a 4mm expander at 6m it was a very slow start, and by the time I had taken 2 plippy roach and a 2oz skimmer Steve had had a couple of F1's and carp right across. I did snare an F1 on the 6m line and pulled out of what I think was one, but then it was just plippy roach. Out to the end back and thought the rig would bury here, but after 15 mins of lifting and dropping all I had was another tiny roach and missed bites which I thought was roach. Finally a decent bite and a F1, but it was a loner and the roach were doing my head on.

With 90 mins gone and a lone crucian to go with my two F1's I decided to go to 14.5 m across to the far bank. Feeding micros again and with soft pellet I had a bite first drop which turned out to be a 5lb carp, I lost a fouler next chuck and then back to bloody plippy roach.  I was now kicking myself for next having any bait bands / hair rigs with me as 6mm hard pellet would have helped (I had none of them either) I'm sure. I put a piece of 6mm meat on the hook to avoid the roach and it seemed a good move when I nailed an F1, but then no more bites. As this was hard I tried dropping the rig in different spots against the far bank looking for fish, I found 2 F1's like this but then it was all dead. About now Mike Duckett came along and told me I was fishing in the wrong place for F1's, I told him I was getting plagued by little roach, but he assured me fishing about 6m to my left was the spot. Out I went and Mike even gave me some of his own choice of soft pellets to use. He watched me for about 20 mins catch 4 plippy roach and then the rain came down and he departed. Sadly Mike's info never yielded an F1.

As the rain cleared I went onto my topset with caster, catching the tiny roach here was easier and I even had a couple of 4oz roach and a perch close to 1lb. After about 40 mins of doing this I was not setting the world on fire, and with 2 hours to go Steve Segar said he had about 20lb of silvers and Russ Peck was thinking he had 15lb. I thought I was nowhere near those weights and couldn't see me doing any good staying on caster (wrong) so I went back out searching my previously fed lines, I took 1 carp from the weed bed first drop and then it was all roach, meanwhile on the other side of the weed bed Steve had a run of carp.

I nicked a few more carp and a couple of F1's on meat by going right into the far corner, and also going in closer to the bank at 10m, but I lost 3 or 4 hook lengths in snags too. I bumped off a couple of F1's due to the stronger elastic, but without it the carp would have done me. When the match finished I knew I'd done no good and honestly felt like I never had a handle on the peg all day and I fished a poor match making some wrong choices, but that happens when you're not in tune with a place. Steve Seagar and Trig were having a lot of banter about who'd beat who, with Trig lifting out Steve's silver net saying he had 20lb in there.

Just as another storm arrived the weigh in started, the scales weighed from Russ round, and on the opposite bank Matty had the top silvers weight with 10lb  so Russ has over estimated. Gary O'Shea on 62 had 15lb of silvers, and then Trig had 78lb of carp which beat Steve has his silvers only went 13lb, A lot of winding up going on today me thinks!  When it came to my turn to weigh I had 7 carp for 27lb+ and my silvers went 12lb 15oz. I never though I had doubles of silvers, and with me thinking 20lb was winning with 2 hours to go I had dropped a bollock by not keeping the caster line going as I am sure I could have caught 3lb off it. Such is life.

Paul Elmes won the match with 100lb+ from peg 27 on Speci Lake I think, and Ken Rayner won the silvers off peg 7 on match lake with an excellent 41lb.  Top weight on my lake 3 was Nick Chedzoy with 80lb+ of carp from about peg 51..

Martin had fared similar to me, with 40lb+ and not being able to catch more than 2 fish from one line, he was still happy though and we both had some bites. I'd like to go back again and adjust my rigs and baits and see what happens, always going to be difficult but a good challenge never the less. Martin dropped me off home as the first storm to hit home that day arrived, I was bloody soaked by it lol!

One last point, just like to add my condolences for the loss of Don Sutherland, it's already been said what a very nice bloke he was and I think like me he did enjoy fishing different venues when possible. RIP mate.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

September 1997

A week after having a sore throat the damn hacking cough won't leave me. Even a gallon of Guinness at Cheltenham Festival midweek didn't cure it. With the weather forecast to be cold and grey and lots of jobs to do at home I decided to stay off the bank this weekend (although I did wander up to watch an hour of fishing at Windmill Lakes, see Mike Nicholl's blog for that match). I sincerely hope spring arrives soon and some improving temperatures, this Easterly wind can also do one, by the looks of the weather forecast south westerlies may return by Weds/Thurs.

On Sunday 7th February I fished the final round of the Superleague and it was back on the Huntspill, having won the last match I was feeling confident. However, a hard day on peg 90 ensued and I only managed 5lb 9oz of small skimmers on the feeder and pole for 8 points out of 12, but I recorded in my diary that I lost enough fish of the hook to easily get 10 points. No bream were caught in my section on that day, but 34lb won up by the clapper. The team ended the league in 4th place.

Saturday 20th saw me pleasure fishing the Crane 1 above the bay in the little ashtip field. I fished a waggler with 1 no6 and 1 no 10 down the line with an 18 B611 to 1.7lb Bayer. I fished for 3 hours feeding hemp and maggot and caught a few roach up to 12oz and a 2lb+ chub. This was also the first time I tried elderberry on the hook, I had a bite every single cast on it, but could only hit 1 in 10 bites. I ended up with about 8lb. The following day was an open match at Newbridge, I drew peg 71 which I was not happy with as it's very rarely a good area (and that still applies today) but undaunted I went with a waggler approach to catch what I could. A 3 1/2 AAA waggler with 4 n06 3 no8 and 1 no9 down the line to a 22 to 0.09 was my preferred set up to pick up the flow and get down to the fish. I fed maggot and hemp and bites came fairly quickly and steadily for 3 hours, sadly the swim died completely in the last 2 hours and my 7lb 7oz was not enough to gain any coin.

Saturday 27th September I had managed to wangle myself onto an open match at Newton Park which was back then an awesome carp lake. I took 12 pints of maggots to this match but was wondering if I has gone over the top as there had been a light frost. I drew a peg on the monk which didn't seem favoured, and after 5 hours and 10 pints of maggots fed I hadn't had a single carp! The match was won if I remember correctly by Kev Dicks with 140lb on the method feeder. Still Sunday had to be better surely on the Avon at Frys for the first round of the Commercial House. Team draw put me in an area between the carp hole and barge, and below me was the late great Bill Milton. For us it was a real struggle, Bill as ever gave the groundbait feeder a real good go but had no bream, me I tried the waggler and just had a few ounces of dace. My get out of jail method was to fish a maggot feeder about 3/4 the way over hoping for a chub or eel. I was fishing with 0.12 hook length (plonker) and hooked two good fish which both did me in snags about 8 to 10 seconds after hooking them. I was raging, either fish would have done me proud. I changed to 2lb maxima hook length and with 20 mins to go had a cracking bite struck and was hooked up again to a lump. I gave no quarter and wound down hard to keep the fish out of the snags. Then all of a sudden bang the mainline snapped by the reel, oh for fecks sake..... The line had got caught in the back of the line roller as the screw holding it in had come lose, so as I reeled in the line just got tighter and snapped. Well that was that and I ended up with 9oz for 2 points, beating just Bill in the section, luckily the rest of the team did really well and we won the first round.

I'm looking forward to getting out on the bank once next weekend, but I really need to get my gear sorted for a few months of commercial fisheries. Everywhere seems very peggy still, so need to keep the lucky dip going!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Bathampton Open Newbridge AKA Bream or Bust

Last match on the river is always best fished at Newbridge in the hope that shoals of bream go on a feeding frenzy. I wasn't so sure they would as the river has been up and down so much and then we had the recent frosts, a milder spell would help. Of course Wednesday it tipped it down and put the river right up, but fingers crossed it would be OK by Sunday.

Friday I went down with a bad sore throat and cough, by Saturday evening I had nearly lost my voice but I felt OK so no reason not to fish. Up at 6:30 Sunday morning and tummy, or more specific bowels were not behaving, might have been the paracetamol and cider mix. Got to the Crown at Saltford for the draw and ordered a breakfast, it was a long wait for a very small breakfast and I wasn't impressed. I ended up back of the draw queue, that was until Andrew Chatterly came in late, and I was really hoping not to draw at Rotork as this is no longer a good area. All the pegs I would be happy with were being pulled out and I was soon staring at 4 pegs with no idea what was left in. I got lucky and drew peg 52 which has bream form over the years, Chatts then pulled out Rotork yuk.

I drove to the river and parked up near peg 18 where bream expert Warren Bates was setting up, no surprise he was on good un lol! The river had colour but not filthy, and was quite pacey meaning a float would be out of the question, handy as I only two tip rods with me. Walked nice and steadily in the sun to my peg and found Nigel Wyatt sat on the bream hole peg 54 and below him Jan Mazyk on 56. A lot of other anglers around me I did not know as they had come from as far as Cheshire today!

Setting up was easy, I had my gbait already mixed (senas red magic, Sonubaits river and brown crumb) and after getting everything positioned correctly set up just the one rod. Peg 52 is a tiny bit narrower than those around it and being the start of a bend has a touch of pace, I decided to fish down the middle and a 30g feeder held bottom here. A 14 PR355 to 0.148 exceed would do for all baits today. I must say I fancied Jan's peg as the flow goes across on 56 and maybe the bream shoal would be happier down there in the steady water. Ready in plenty of time I had a quick walk and peg 59 had an angler in it who said he lived in Saltford 30 years ago, and in form peg 61 was team mate James Carty. Back on my peg I formed 8 large balls of gbait stuffed with casters and chopped worm, threw them down the middle and chucked the feeder over the top. I cast fairly regularly to start to get plenty of caster in, but on 35 mins I had a proper drop back bite and felt the thud thud of bream, at about 6lb it was a good start. About an hour later just after Andy Britt had been along for a walk I had my second bite but I knew it was a small fish bite, in fact it was a 2oz perch.

Nearly 3 hours into the match I had no more signs, and then Nigel has 2 bream in 10 mins, and the lad above me on 50 does too. 15 mins after this I had another drop back and landed bream number 2 only for Nige to get another, We then found out that Jan was on 8 bream! I had taken both of my bream on 4 red maggots, and an hour later I got my third but this was on 2 reds and 2 casters (I don't do small baits for bream) but Nigel was now on 5, then 30 minutes later he was on 7. I was getting my ass cut, but then I got my 4th bream, another decent fish at 5lb+.  With an hour to go I worked out the time between my bites was reducing exponentially, and I had a 5th bream which was over 6lb with 40 mins left, then with 20 mins left I had a near 7lb fish which broke my landing net pole. I cast out and was going to leave the feeder in till the end of the match, and with 2 mins to go the tip went and I had a bream on, it didn't feel big but after 10 seconds it came off, not sure how I would have landed it had it stayed on lol.

Waiting for the scales Jan said he had stuck on 8 bream, Nigel had 9 and the lad down on 59 had 12 bream. I guess I was on the edge of the shoal, and I think they were visiting my peg and perhaps increasingly so as the match went on. Jan was first to weigh in our section, it turned out he had 7 bream that weighed 34lb 1oz, then Nige weighed 54lb (so 6lb average!), then my turn and I was chuffed that my fish went 34lb 10oz, so not far off a 6lb average (in fact 3 on the scales went 19lb 13oz).  The lad on 59 whose name I do not know weighed 62lb to win the match.

I got a picture of Nige with some of his slabs. Well done matey.

Getting back to the pumphouse it was soon obvious the river had fished poorly with some top anglers blanking, and it transpired the four of us anglers from 52 to 59 were the top four, and so I came 3rd and picked up £70. In the pairs Warren Bates and Rich Lacey won both having some bream. My partner Jerry Pocock was unlucky to be at Rotork and he won that section with 1 bream for 6lb, but we could not trouble the pairs coin. The biggest fish prize today went to an angler with a 9lb bream, Derek Coles had one over 8lb, and my biggest weighed 7lb 5oz. Amazing fish really and the ones I had were in lovely condition, sadly they'll be feeding well in a couple of weeks when we cannot get on the river due to the 19th Century close season law!!!!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Three Stooges at Saltford

I had been hoping to get back on the river for a while, but conditions hadn't been good enough to tempt me. Chris Ponsford, who is sponsored by Korum, and myself had wanted to get out on a river for a while. Going for this weekend we plumbed for fishing on the Avon at Saltford on the straight as some anglers had been catching roach there. Chris Ollis was also joining us for the day and we met in the cafe for brekky and a chat. Pons and Ollie are anglers with a great pedigree, much older than me (lol) they were fishing the Bristol Avon when I was still in shorts scooping for stone loach in Siston brook. It was great to meet up with both of them.  Here are the legends, still smiling after a tough day.

 Getting to the river I was relieved to see it wasn't to bad, although the rain the night before and some frosts had me concerned some what. We settled into 3 pegs between the big willow and the concrete step, I sat in the middle with Pons on the step and Ollie on the Willow. As I looked at the river the pace and the colour said me feeder, and knowing that Dave Stiff had a couple here yesterday it was a good bet. I set up a 1oz feeder with 0.14 to 14 PR355. I had to lend the Pons a feeder as he had no open enders on him, this man has more feeders in his garage than I have ever owned, it was hilarious lol!

We were soon ready to go as we were all on the same feeder approach. I was going to put the standard caster and worm through the feeder, using sonubait river, bream and brown crumb. I was very surprised to get a bite first cast, so much so I missed it, but next cast I had a small roach. With red maggots on the hook I kept my options open on what might take the bait, and on my third cast the feeder never seemed to settle properly and I struck into a better fish. It turned out to be a near 2lb skimmer. the Pons had now had a dace and was getting bites, but Ollie had no bites on the bread feeder.

For the next 40 minutes I had regular bites but it was only from dace and small roach, a try with a worm hook bait slowed things up and it seemed no better fish were feeding at this stage. Ollie had switched to groundbait and then had a whacking bite and was attached to a lump. I shouted down was it a bream and he said no way, and he reckoned it was a barbel. Sadly a few minutes later the unseen leviathan snapped the hook length. Bites then became very hard to come by, it was almost as though a switch had been thrown and the river switched off.  By changing hook baits I was able to get a few bites on double caster, but they were hard to hit, I did get a 6oz roach and a couple of ouncers. The river was getting a bit pacier and there was more rubbish coming down on the surface.

Since I had been getting small fish bites I decided after an hour to feed maggots by hand about a rod length or two out, and plopped in the odd ball of gbait. About 3 hours in I decided to get a float rod out and set up a 13BB crowquill with an 18 to 0.10. Whilst doing this I put double worm on the feeder rod and left it out, nothing took it of course. When I made my first cast on the float I cannot say I was confident, I don't usually expect to see many fish on this method when the river has a bit of colour. However, within a couple of casts fishing double maggot I was soon seeing a bend in the rod and a 4oz roach was netted. The Chris's came behind me for a watch and I took a couple more roach quite quickly before snagging bottom. I soon realised there were some bad snags in the peg especially in front and a couple of yards down stream. I had to cast a fair bit down stream to avoid them, but even then I lost about 7 hooks. The float was fun but hard work, and sometimes running the float through got bites, other times over shotting and holding back over depth was best, the fish coming in short bursts. Other than a 1oz perch it was all roach with the biggest around 12oz. As the day went on the float line and feeder line both became almost dead, and when I lost another hook on the float I called it a day.

Sadly Ollie had dry netted losing that lump and missing a few bites, Pons had only a few fish but a couple of very nice roach, one close to a 1lb. I had a few fish which was nice on a very tough day.

We spent a fair while chatting after we had packed up, and then started to see a few small fish top and a better specimen right over where Pons had been fishing. The fish are most certainly there but we had been beaten by the cold water. We hatched plans for a foray in the closed season on a lake, fingers crossed we get that sorted as being in the company of these two guys is awesome.