Monday, 31 December 2018

Back on the River

I had a much different Christmas than any other before, this was due to me taking a holiday with the family to Cape Verde. I have been to Sal Island once before and thought it would be a great choice to get some winter sun as I have always wanted to have a "hot" Christmas. It didn't disappoint and the weather was great and I spent Christmas Day in the pool, and on a beach bar watching the sun set, it was great.

Before I went on holiday I ordered some bait with Scotts Tackle, I ordered 2 pints of casters and some dendras assuming the river would be more likely my choice and it would be coloured. However, when I got back it seemed there was no match on the river  Sunday 30th and nothing close to home, so after talking to a few mates I opted to fish Newbridge and picked up a day ticket when I purchased my bait. I got up early Sunday and grabbed a MacD's breakfast and got to the river at 8am. I spotted a couple of vans parked up, Warren Bates and Ben Rendall were already there and just going off to there chosen swims. They told me they wanted to catch some roach and Warren was going in 20 where he could see fish topping and Ben 24 where Warren had bagged up before the river came up a couple of weeks ago. As for me, well I fancied a crack at the bream and so I parked behind peg 18. As I was setting up another van arrived and bream slayers Jerry Pocock and Dean Harvey turned up, both complaining they were hoping to fish 18 lol. Jer went above me in 16 and Dean to his favoured 36.

As the light became better I could see the river was still quite pacey but the colour was now a greenish tinge, I haven't seen this for many years, it was almost as if the river had not been ran off and I really liked the look of it. I'd like to have fished a flat float, but there's not much space between the trees either side and I could see me struggling to land fish with the flow taking them downstream. A feeder it would be and nothing else as you can't run a float down due to the trees downstream coming out a long way. I mixed up some groundbait first, 1 bag each of Sonubaits Black and River, plus some brown crumb. It was then the easy task of setting up the feeder rod, a 3/4g open ender and a 14 PR355 to 0.13 powerline. I was finally set up and ready by about 9:15am.

I began by throwing in 6 balls of gbait (containing casters and pinkies) out to about 15m, not as much my normal 12+ as I feel the fish are already in the peg and I was going to be feeding regularly from the start with the feeder. A nice underarm swing out with the feeder and with 3 red maggots on I was glad of rattle on the tip first cast, another bite next cast and then a roach. I then put 4 red maggots on the hook and on this cast I had a much better bite and for a few seconds thought I had a bream, but a skimmer of 1lb was landed. Wow did it fight well in the flow! The next two casts also brought skimmers and after an hour I had five of them in total. Going into the second hour I decided to start to introduce some chopped worms, not a lot of them though as Jerry had told me that in the matches on here recently maggot had been doing the damage. However, the addition of worms did no harm and I had about 8 skimmers in the next hour (from 1lb to 2 1/2lb).  Jerry came down for a chat as he had only had 3 skimmers and some roach, but my peg was solid and 4 red maggots was doing the damage every time. I did miss a few bites but some of the indications were definite line bites.

As it got to about 1:15 I had 23 skimmers and 3 bream, I really didn't want to put any more fish in my keepnet, luckily Warren had a spare in his van which I borrowed, I hoped it would not be the kiss of the death 2nd net syndrome. A skimmers and two bream were soon in the new net, but then all went quiet and for the first time bites stopped, I felt as if the bream had moved in and pushed the skimmers out, then the bream had backed off. I assumed this as Jerry started to catch some skimmers and said he was now getting an indication every cast. Dean Harvey rang to chat to me as he had heard from Warren I was bagging, he told me he had some scales in his van so could weigh my fish rather than estimating them. Dean was catching roach and landed a pike of about 15lb!

I had to pack up at 3pm as I was going to a family do, and with 25 mins to go bites came back and I had another 3 bream and 2 skimmers before I had to call it time. All day long I had used the same hook and hooklength, and I had only lost 1 fish, can't fault that. It was great to see so many skimmers in the river.

As I packed up quick I got the scales and then Jerry, Warren and even Dean came to see my catch and help me weigh them in. The net from Warren I used for 90 minutes went 25lb. The first net was much heavier, and when all weights were added up the final tally was 89lb 12oz! So close to the ton, it was there for sure but I'm not worried it was a special day and a lovely way to end my 2018 fishing account. I've never caught a net like that on a river in all my years, finally I got the right tactics, on the right day, on the right peg in the right conditions! Nearly a perfect day, just needed to hit a few more bites.

Let me wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope the drawbag is kind to you in 2019, I just hope to continue to be healthy and happy and enjoy my fishing.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

December 1999

I will openly admit here and now that I wimped out of fishing this weekend. I saw the weather forecast for hard frosts followed by heavy rain, and a night out on the lash Saturday put me right off going. Quite honestly after seeing the number of anglers posting on facebook Saturday that had packed up due to being so cold and wet I feel I made a good decision. It was good to have a few beers out Saturday, and met up with my new Thatchers team mate Shaun Townsend, great to have him in our team.  For me the social side to match fishing is great, and it's one of the reasons I like to be part of a team, and Thatchers anglers are a great bunch of anglers who like to share their knowledge, a laugh and a few beers, and Shaun will fit right in.

After a relatively poor run back in 1999, I had managed to frame in the last match of November on the canal, so I was pepped up for the next match the Bristol & West Xmas match on the Bristol Avon fished from Swineford to Crane. I drew peg 6 up at Swineford, it's a few pegs below the outfall and is a shallow peg with plenty of flow and depending on the conditions a good bag of small fish can be almost guaranteed but there are also bream about. I really didn't think I would catch small fish on the peg on this day and I went down the one rod approach, a gbait feeder with 16 to 0.14. I cast the feeder two thirds the way over which I felt was about right as any further might get me into the weed beds which grow here. For the first two hours I never had a sniff, not a touch on anything, but in the next two hours I had 4 chub and 2 bream, and I also lost two fish. All the fish came to maggot or caster hook bait combinations, nothing on worm. I weighed in 18lb 12oz and that was good enough for 4th place and good pick up on the day.

The following Sunday it was the Bathampton Xmas match and the one you really want to do well in. The river had gone into a bad flood and was expected to be a struggle, most people wanted to draw in the trees, so when I pulled out peg 9 in the little field I really wasn't happy. However, when I got to the peg it didn't look that bad and it had a decent depth fairly close in. I set up two gbait feeders, one with a big hook, and one with a bigger hook lol. I was using my then usual flooded river gabit, Sensas Red Magic (pure stodge in my opinion though lol) with chopped worms and casters added. The only thing I had bites on was lobworm, and using bits, a half and even a whole lob, I used a size 10 to 0.14. I managed 6 roach and 4 eels, and I had 2 whacking bites on a whole lob which took the bait but I never connected. I also recall a strange thing, a swan which often came in by my net to feed decided it wanted to get out on the bank. As it swam in close over my line the rod went round slowly, I assumed the swan had touched the line but then the swan was past it and my rod was still going round! I picked up the rod and was attached to something huge, I pulled as hard as I could but this fish charged off down the inside of the river eventually snapping the line in a snag. No idea what I'd hooked. Anyway my 10 fish weighed 3lb 5oz and that easily won my section. You have to remember that in these days (before mobiles) unless anglers were walking the bank you had no clue of how a river was fishing, so I could not believe it when back at the results I could hardly find anyone with more than 3lb!  I ended up coming 4th and picked up £150.

Three framers on the trot, well could I make it four? Well the weather on Saturday 18th December was shocking, heavy snow, and on Sunday for the Docks Xmas match next it never got above 1C all day and was -8C at night. My luck deserted me when I avoided drawing the favoured Welshback area and I was heading towards Bathurst Basin. It was awful down here on the day, and I blanked, never had a bite run over lol!

I had one more day out on December 29th , it was supposed to be a feeder lobworm session on the river with Brian Gay for a feature in Match fishing magazine. However, Brian called me and we agreed with the conditions we were unlikely to catch any eels, instead it was a trip to Bathampton's Newton Park as Brian had the idea for me to fish for silvers on the prolific carp venue. Before Brian arrived I cast out a gbait feeder with some fishmeal in to look for a carp, no sign though. I then fished a 2 1/2AAA waggler with 18 to 0.10 feeding caster, I caught small skimmers and roach on this. It was an interesting day and varying the shotting and depth were necessary to keep bites coming. Brian had a go using my waggler, and I chucked the feeder out again and I caught a 6lb carp. Brian commented that he had not seen any other angler catch a carp all day, and he was chuffed that I had managed one and 12lb of silvers. In the the end he ran the article without the carp and called it "Silver Polish".  I was glad I could help him, but I will say I felt the pressure to catch for the cameras, and didn't want to cock it up!

I have lots of plans ahead of me now, so I won't be fishing next weekend at all and then not again until after Xmas (weather dependent lol). Therefore I will wish everyone who reads my blog a very Happy Christmas, and just like to say thank you to those of you who kindly tell me you read my blog and enjoy it. I was asked recently why I don't do any advertising on here, well this blog was never about making money, I originally did it to save me hours on the phone, or emailing people who asked how I did at the weekend or how I caught. It wasn't that I didn't like to talk to people (lol) but my boss wasn't happy with all the fishing talk at work! I then realised that I could hopefully pass on some information from my own experiences, and I know I've helped a few people and encouraged some back on to the bank. I've also met many new friends through the blog from simple pleasure anglers to seriously good top match anglers. For this I am truly grateful and it is more than I could of hoped for when I began hitting the keyboard nearly 10 years ago in January 2009.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Commercial House Xmas Match - K&A Canal Bath

This match used to be on a Saturday on the canal (though many years before that it was on Frys ont he river) and I've always tried to fish it if possible. There were around 25 people fishing it today and I was hoping for a better day than the same match last year when I drew in section that was dire.

Mike and Nicola Goodhind were running the match and Andy Britt had pegged it. The town was not in as some of the pounds were dry due to restoration work, peg 1 was in the tunnels and Darlington was in as was up past the George. the canal has not been match fished for a while so I wasn't sure where I wanted to draw. I paid my pools, picked up my bloodworm and joker from Darren Gillman who had kindly ordered for many people. After Kev Dicks had drawn 4 pegs for the organisers I stuck my hand in the draw tub at the same time as a number of others. Peg 6 stuck to my mit, up at Darlington.

Drove to the canal and passed the peg on the duck ramp (peg 3) Steve Skelton, and then two in the bay Jack Jones and Jeff Surmon. I was probably 100 yards past Jeff which was a shame as I always fancy the peg just past the bay where it first narrows up, but moored boats meant it wasn't pegged. Forgot to take a picture but I was basically on the concrete in the middle of the two sets of steps opposite. Although lots of room to my right Ben Rendall on 7 was pretty close to me on my left. Ben asked me for some advice as we set up, as he said he doesn't fish the canal much, so I told him how I would approach his peg. I got organised and set up my rigs, a 4X14 with 18PR311 for bread at 4m, a 4x16 with 16 PR311 for fishing over the bread line and at 11.5m at 11 o'clock, it was a bagging rig if skimmers showed. For the far bank I set up 3 rigs; 4x12 with 0.07 to 20, 0.3g with 0.09 to 18 PR311 and a chopped worm rig with 0.12 to 16. Being an open match, and with the mild weather I was hoping to fish positive and get among some skimmers.

When the match started I fed a ball of bread at 5m. Some casters and a bit of chopped worm 13m across to my left, and some joker and casters 13m across to my right. Dropping in on the bread line with the biggest punch I had, it was bites straight away from small roach. To my right Jeff had a 2lb skimmer 2nd drop on bread, then after 15 mins Ben had a 1 1/2lb skimmer on bread and then lost one. Me... roach, small roach that started to struggled to engulf my punch. A few boats went through but the fishing didn't suffer. I finally gave in and tried a smaller punch and then hit more bites from these small roach. Just after the hour mark the roach were to small to warrant continuing and top ups had not improved anything. With no skimmers I hoped I might get some on the other lines, and I now fed some joker in gbait on my 11.5m line.

I first went across over my long joker line, using a big red maggot I had 5 roach in 5 drops, then the bites stopped. Out with the 4x12 rig with a pinke and 4 more roach and then bites stopped. I rested this line and went left trying caster, nothing, red maggot got me a couple of roach and a little perch. Back over the joker line and all I could now catch was minute ruffe, this was not good. Halfway through and I couldn't really make anything happen, meanwhile Ben was getting fish on caster. I had enough and went for a quick walk down to Jeff and Jack, both who had 4lb+ .

Back on my peg and I decided to feed 2 big balls of gbait and joker over my original long joker line hoping the gbait might see off the ruffe. I tried the 11.5 line again, a roach, a roach and then a 12oz skimmer, at last! No more skimmers from here but some roach before it slowed and I refed. Across over the converted line and a roach and then a proper fish hooked, it pulled out a fair bit of elastic and when I netted it I reckoned it was a 1lb 1/2lb skimmer. This line was now a bite a chuck from roach, but I kept thinking I needed bigger fish and tried bigger baits on and off without reward. The worm / caster line threw up a few small perch and roach but was never great and I forced this line which didn't work. I kept taking the roach from the two gbait lines topping up as soon as bites slowed. Ben then hit me in the ribs when he took another skimmer on his caster line, but lost two more straight after.

With 10 minutes to go all lines were fading, back over the 11.5m line and a small roach on pinkie so I put a big red maggot on again, the float didn't move for a minute and then buried, skimmer on! As I tried to ship back this fish swam hard toward me and to my right, this meant it put a lot of pressure on the elastic as I could not ship the pole back in the right place due to the angle and the walkers. The inevitable happened a head shake and the hook pulled out, damn that was a big skimmer. As I went to ship out again I could a boat coming up, I left the float there until it was about 5 feet from the approaching boat and lifted the rig out but a skimmer was on, but only for a few seconds then it was off too... fecks sake. The boat had one right over the line and with only 5 mins left I knew my chance had gone.

I packed up quickly as I had the scales and started weighing in with Andy Britt. he had 7lb 14oz which included a couple of decent skimmers, perch and a roach of 1lb 6oz.  Next was Nicola who also had a couple of big skimmers and had 6lb 14oz. Ben Matthews had 5lb 14oz, but this included a 1lb 13oz roach, wow! Ben weighed 8lb 2oz to win the section and then I weighed 7lb 7oz. Clearly either on the skimmers lost would have won me the section, but such is life and Ben had lost three of them. To my right Jeff had 7lb exactly, and Jack had 8lb 6oz. However, to their right it was SOLID in the first 3 pegs.

Top 4 on the day..

1st Dave Stiff  18lb, peg 1 a lot of small skimmers on worms, and 3 decent perch across
2nd Steve Skelton 15lb skimmers from peg 3
3rd Nathaniel  Johnson 12lb up by the school past the George, couple of skimmers and lots of small roach
4th Jerry Pocock 10lb  in between 1st and 2nd.

Dave Stiff with his hamper, well done UTG.

It was good to see plenty of people back at the results and Jamie Brown had come in to see his old mates. There were about 22 prizes, and so only a few anglers missed out on a prize, most of them came from the section up past me where it was a real struggle with Darren and Shane Caswell only getting 1lb+. Other than this area (by the wooden bridge) it has to be said the canal fished well and it normally does first match, so I wasn't totally surprised.

Not sure what to do next weekend, will have to see what is on but no idea at the moment.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

October / November 1999 (plus a few details on matches today)

You can probably tell from the title that I have not fished this weekend. I made that decision on Tuesday when the weather forecast did not look great for the week ahead and I knew I was going to have a late night Saturday, I also felt I needed a bit of a rest.

Dean Harvey and Kev Dicks ran an open match at Newbridge today and despite the extra rain and swollen river a few bream showed as expected. Top 6 as follows:-

1st Benjamin Rendall 24lb 7oz  peg 47

Joint 2nd...   Derek Coles, Jerry Pocock, Nigel Wyatt 16lb 5oz

5th Jeff Surmon 14lb 4oz peg 7

6th Kev Dicks 12lb 10oz peg 36

Biggest fish prize went to Chris Ollis with a 6lb 15oz Bream (estimated at 9lb when caught lol)

That's it for river matches for a while, although Dean is running a Xmas match on the river on 23rd Dec, with £3 from every ticket going to the help the heroes charity. Contact Dean or Kev Dicks to get a ticket.

Back to the past, and October 1999 and familiar times drawn on the cattle grid at the Crane on the Bristol Avon for the ATWL, the weir at Keynsham was only just visible so not nice. I fished the gbait feeder for quite a while catching only 1 roach, 3 dace and 4 eels. I took s few very small fish on a short pole by the reeds and then in the last hour started to catch some bleak. I only weighed a paltry 3lb 9oz but that was good enough for 9 points out of 12, and the team won the day.

The following it was off to Melksham for the Commercial House. I was drawn one peg below the bridge at Scotland Road. The river was now well fishable, but I struggled all day catching a few roach on the pole at 11.5m over gbait and a few small perch over worm on various lines. 3lb 3oz was work only 4 points out of 14, and I wasn't the only one who struggled as the team came last but one!

The following was the ATWL again, and the team draw moved me up one peg up the Crane onto the deep hole. This is not a peg I like, but now and again the fish move into it, roach and sometimes skimmers. I balled it in at 10m and caught dace and the odd roach in the 16 feet deep swim for 90 minutes. After this I never had another bite! The Crane had fished hard and my 2lb 12oz was worth 7 points out of 12 so not a complete disaster, the team came 4th but we were hanging onto 1st place overall.

The next match I fished I clearly remember for all the wrong reasons! It was the next round of the Commercial House, it was at Frys and we had a lot of rain in the night and the river was rising. Worse for me I drew one below the stream which was running very high and was the colour of chocolate, needless to say this was making my peg look pretty awful. I feared the worst and it was soon clear that it was going to be tough for me as anglers around me could catch a few fish whilst I sat biteless. I managed to catch a couple of small roach on a feeder and then with about an hour to go hooked what felt like a big fish. It was an eel, and when it came up on the surface I estimated it was 3lb+. Trying to get it into the net was not easy and when I finally did I pulled the landing net pole back quick as I was afraid the eel might get out. Disaster, the top section of the pole came apart and I watched the net and eel sink back into the river and not long after the eel bit me off. I may have said a naughty word or 12.. lol. 7oz and last in section, oh dear, how sad never mind!

Things didn't get any better the following week on an open on the K&A canal near Avoncliff on the disabled stretch. I was catching small roach on pinkie over gbait quite well, when a big boat came through churned my peg up and leaves covered my peg meaning I hardly fished the second half of the match. 3lb 3oz was no good. Despite my bad luck and poor weight I was in the team for the ATWL on the same venue (we must have been short lol). It was a tougher day and I caught small roach and gudgeon over liquidized bread, and then gbait at 9m and 11m. I only weighed 2lb 13oz but that was 2nd in the section so at last a bit of coin, the team likewise did well and we won the day.

Poppy match time, and if I did bad in this match then you can sort of write off my luck and yep it was another poor day for me. I couldn't believe it when I drew in the lane up the bloody Crane, it was where the disabled anglers used to get first choice of pegs, but it would be nearly my last! The only place I could get bites was right across the river, and a maggot feeder / crowquill on a 20 to 0.10 helped me "amass" 4lb 5oz for absolutely no good. Luck has to change soon though doesn't it? Well no, next week ATWL and I blanked on a cold, clear river. I had one bite second chuck on a maggot feeder on peg 77 at Newbridge and that was it, only 4 people in my section of 12 caught a fish. The team did really well and we were now 42 points in front of second place.

Last match in November 1999 and back on the canal for the Commercial House, I was drawn 14 pegs down from Limpley Stoke bridge, still on the straight and a decent area. Again it fished really tough and it was mainly gudgeon for me to start on a 3m whip. Just a few roach and more gudgeon at 11m over gbait, I could only catch on squatt on the hook. Today though the luck returned, and going into the last hour I caught a small tench on double caster right across over my chopped worm and caster feed. (This area used to be good for gudgeon and odd tench, but since the boat traffic increased the tench seem to have died off and gudgeon catches are minimal.) I weighed in 4lb 1oz to win my section and come 6th on the day and last in the frame, yay!  Was this the start of a good run?

Late news.... Today was the last round of the ATWL where my team Thatchers were again in action on the K&A canal somewhere miles away. The boys did good, though they came 5th on the day with 42 points, would you believe three teams tied for 1st place on 43 points! Diawa Gordon League won the whole league, so well done them, and Thatchers were second and so we have qualified for the final again.

Next week I am fishing the Commercial House Xmas match on the K&A canal, last year on this match I drew up past the George and it was pretty much barren of fish and all of us up there struggled to get bites. Fingers crossed I draw on a shed full of skimmers ;-)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Open match Bristol Avon Swineford

This was another of the winter league dates turned into an open match. A lot of credit needs to go to Kev Dicks and Dean Harvey for running these matches and doing some excellent swim clearing. A few anglers down on last weeks match, so just 16 fishing which meant that only Swineford was pegged and not the Crane. I wanted to avoid the early pegs in the first field, and if I could choose I would want 15, 17 and 18 in the second field as well as up by Bitton Brook. I was though the last one to arrive for breakfast at Willsbridge Jarretts cafe, and the draw began whilst I was only a third the way through my breakfast. When Ben Rendall drew Kev Dicks Bitton Brook and himself peg 17 straight off I was thinking oh dear, and when serial drawbag merchant Paul Purchase drew peg 18 and young Lewis Walker 15 I was rather perturbed. I had a choice of three pegs, not sure what they were but I pulled out peg 12 which is the current first peg in the second field and really not a peg I wanted, I may be going home was my comment.

Once I finished my breakfast I drove to Swineford and tried to get myself motivated. The peg needs wading in and as I didn't have them I needed a favour and thankfully Paul Purchase came to my aid. I walked past Andy Curry on peg 4, Dean Harvey 6 and Rich Lacey 7 (all pegs I didn't fancy) and Jerry Pocock on the last peg in the field. My peg is full of features, but just the wrong sort, a pontoon doesn't float my boat lol.

There was a hacking downstream wind and it put me right off setting up a crowquill or bolo as I could see the top of the river being pushed faster downstream. I only set up a 5AAA waggler which took 5 no8's down the line with 0.11 to 18, plus a lead rod with 0.15 to 16. My main attack was to catch some chub as odd ones are caught in this peg, though last time on a w/l match Warren Bates had this peg and only managed 2 1/2lb....  I had to get my box out to connect nets and bait stands etc, it was touch and go with all the legs extended.
The river was very clear but had a nice bit of flow, and to me at Swineford this always means fish a float and loosefeed, even if on bream pegs as they seem to like to move about a bit in amongst the feed. Anyway that was my plan and so I started the match on the waggler loosefeeding maggots and casters. The waggler was going through nicely and I could control it nicely and fish it from halfway to three quarters in and around the feed. Well it all seemed good but I couldn't get a bite, and then just before the first hour was ending I had a definite bite and I was hooked into something. Not a huge fish but as I gained control I caught a glimpse of a chub about 1lb 1/4. Sadly a glimpse was all I had as a pike also saw it and it pulled the chub of my hook, oh bother!

I gave the peg a good thrashing for another hour but had no signs, Rich Lacey had already been bank walking earlier and informed me 15, 17 and 18 were all getting a few. With cold feet I decided to go for a walk myself, and first I saw Lewis who had 3 bream and a skimmer, Ben had 4 chub and Paul 3 bream and a skimmer and then I saw him catch a 4.5lb chub on the crowquill. It was nice to see the fish but didn't do a lot for my confidence, so I went upstream and saw not a lot other than Jerry Pocock who was catching pretty well on a bolo, chublets. I said to Jer I'm giving it another 30 minutes and then I'm packing up.

Back to the peg and with no bait gone in for a a good 15 minutes I ran the float through hoping for a bite without feeding, it didn't work. At 1pm I was back to loose feeding and slightly upping the bait as I needed to make something happen, the waggler was way down the peg and I struck and it was solid, I wound down hard and felt a kick, ooh! I dragged the fish all the way back up and scooped up a near 4lb bream, yay not blanked! Next cast and the float went under again but closer to me, and again the strike met with good resistance. Amazingly it was another bream similar size. I was on tenterhooks on the next cast and went the float went under I was thinking here we go, but this time it was a a little 4oz chublet. Three fish in three casts, well that was that for another dozen casts. I did get two more bites on the waggler in the next 30 minutes, I never connected but both times the hookbait was gone.

With an hour and 15 mins to go I had another bite and another bream, and then next cast a 12oz chub, about 10 mins later I hooked another decent fish but after a short bump, bump, it seemed to go solid and came off, my first thought was had I fouled it, after this I had no more bites on the wag that was my lot. I tried the lead with no signs and went back to the waggler, but all signs of fish had gone. Back on the lead and with about 25 mins to go I had a decent bite and for a few seconds had a fish on and then for no reason it came off. When I wound in the 0.15 hook length had parted in the middle, so I think there was a snag there and reckon that was what also did for me on the last waggler fish.

End of match and couldn't see me winning any money this week unless others had stopped catching in my section. I thought I had 13lb and when Dean Harvey arrived with the scales he called 13lb 4oz, not enough today for sure. Best pictures below I have from Dean Harvey who is no David Bailey PMSL.
Top of the pops today were:-

1st Paul Purchase 59lb peg 18, Mainly bream on the crowquill and then waggler.
2nd Kev Dicks 48lb 4oz Bitton Brook, 8 decent chub and lots of chublets and roach
3rd Warren Bates 44lb 1oz peg 20, 9 bream with 6 off them coming on the crowquill
4th Lewis Walker 29lb 2oz  peg 15 bream
5th Ben Rendall 20lb 8oz peg 17 chub and 1 bream
6th Jerry Pocock 16lb 9oz

There were no small fish caught from peg 4 until you got to peg 27, it was chub or bream, just what I thought. My only satisfaction today is that the river did indeed fish how I expected it to, and I was on the right method, just needed a draw but that's fishing. With Lewis winning my section I was never going to get any dosh of my peg today, but it was nice to get a few out on the waggler as it is not often I get to fish like this and I do enjoy it.

Looks like an open at Newbridge next week, bit of rain in the forecast so hopefully it won't be clear.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Two for the price of one

After a busy week and still not feeling that well after a few weeks of what seems an endless sore throat and feeling rough some days, I was happy to have a bit of a lie in Friday. I planned a pleasure fishing trip to The Bristol Avon at Saltford, on the free stretch above the Jolly Sailor. It's an area which seems to hold a lot of roach, and if the conditions are right bream, and I'm told some odd decent barbel. The bonus is you can park behind your peg. I had plenty of gbait, 1 1/2 pint caster, 2 pints of hemp and some maggots. The plan was ball it at 13m, and I did throw in 6 balls there and had bites straight away from roach but pike were a menace! I had enough, I threw another 6 balls in at about 6m and fished a 6m whip so I could avoid pike I hoped. Well it was a bite a chuck here all day, and by feeding little balls of gbait packed with hemp and caster regularly I caught roach on caster and just had a few bleak problems now and then. I had team mate Jack Jones watch me for a bit, not sure he was impressed by my ineptitude (whip fishing is not something I do a lot of ) but he did see me catch plenty and he saw pike chasing roach further out in the river. Terry Ellis also joined me and fished bread on a crowquill, he had 54 roach on it and so a good day for him. I ended up with a stack of fish, we tried to weigh them in with my landing net, but there were so many we couldn't let the net settle as the fish fell out. I had somewhere between 23lb and 25lb I guess. Lovely day. Picture below taken by Terry.

Sunday morning and fishing an open match at Newbridge, breakfast in Jarrett's cafe in Willsbridge, and I have to say it was really good, dead handy as it is very close to me! There were about 21 anglers fishing today and Kevin Dicks was sorting the draw and he had done some swim clearing too, so fair play. The river had gone clear after last weeks rain had run out, I was not sure where I wanted to draw but I did fancy a lazy day on the feeder lol. However, I drew out peg 7 in the little field and this is normally a pole peg good for roach (only spawny gits draw it with water on and catch bream on the feeder, like I did once lol). This year it has not been so good and last week in the Poppy Nigel Wyatt struggled for 3lb+ and the whole section was tough. Still different conditions this week.

There were six anglers in the little field, with Andy Curry on peg 1, peg 3 angler DNW, peg 5 was superstar Shane Caswell, peg 10 (recently cleared out by EA so we can fish it again) was another superstar Glenn Bailey, and another angler below him. My peg is only about 9 feet deep, and I'm not used to drawing such shallow pegs lately lol. Time was short and so setting up was just two pole rigs, 1g pencil float with 22 to 0.08, 2gm Silvers with 18 to 0.10. A feeder rod was set up in case bream showed and an eleven BB crowquill with 18 to 0.10. View from peg 7...

I started a couple of minutes after the official 10:15 start, I threw in 9 or 10 balls of gbait at 13m. I picked up the heavy pole rig and tried caster, no bites on this. Shane shouted down he had a pike take a fish first drop in. I went onto the light pole rig with a maggot and it was not good but I could get the odd bite from small roach. I think it was after 30 minutes that Shane came down fuming as he had already had 6 pike take fish and only had 2 roach in the net! I told Shane I had no pike trouble and then one had me, grrrr! After an hour I thought I only had a dozen fish, Glenn said he had 36 and so was kicking my ass. About 90 minutes into the match and I had given a pike some serious tooth ache and that seemed to get rid of it, I then had a decent hour catching small roach steadily. Of course the pike came back, and it was a big un, I pulled hard as I could on the heavier gear with all 13m of pole up in the air, but this pike went upstream and I felt the rig grate against a snag and then everything went solid. I had to pull the elastic back by hand and I lost the whole rig. I decided against setting another heavier rig, and would use the crowquill to try to avoid the pike. Running the light rig down the peg trying to catch I ran it a long way down the peg and a bite, I struck and it was solid, a bloody snag. I shipped back and then noticed the elastic going out, what the hell! I had a fish on, a big one too and I guessed a pike, but wasn't really sure. Whatever it was I finally lost it as swan into the margin and transferred the hook into a reed which popped up. When I took the reed off I noticed a scale on the hook, so I had foul hooked something, a bream I think.

The match continued with me getting spells of fish, it was frustrating as every time I felt like I was getting the fish lined up the pike would upset them. I continued to feed hemp and caster over the top of my gbait, and with about 75 mins to go I started to get bites right up under the loosefeed. I would cast the crowquill in, feed hemp, then caster and quite often the float was already under. The pike still managed to bite me off and go for another couple of fish, but the last hour the roach were bigger and I was winching them in and swung everything! It was hectic, and I must have had 6lb in that last hour and I caught either on caster or double red maggot. I guessed I had 12lb and thought Glenn must have more as he had caught on the pole all day and had not had a pike!

Kevin Dicks came along with the scales, he started with Andy Curry who had a great net of roach for 14lb 4oz. Shane managed over 11lb of roach despite having 19 pike strikes, more than my 12! My turn next and my fish went much more than I thought when Kev shouted 15lb 8oz. Glenn was next and I was shocked when he weighed 15lb exactly, I guess I overtook him in the last hour, only a couple of fish in it. Below Glenn the angler had 13lb, so the little field had fished really good!

My net today

Back at the Crown pub and time for a good old chat and the results.. winner today (again) was Shaun Townsend with 21lb of roach from peg 28. Shaun also had a bonus rudd that was well over a 1lb. He did well considering he forgot his bait boxes, groundbait bowls, and still has my bungy that he "borrowed" from me last week lol.

In second place was Kev Dicks with 16lb of roach from peg 16. A lot of small roach on a 8m whip.

Third place and last in the money was me, yay!

Section winners were Glenn Bailey. Kev Millard 13lb+ from peg 24, and Jeff Surmon won the last section with just 2 1/2lb! In fact after peg 33 the weights were awful with some anglers even blanking. It seems the roach have packed into the river from peg 30 up to peg 1, they may well keep on going upstream who knows. Today there was not a single bream caught, almost unheard of at Newbridge!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Poppy Match Bristol Avon

100 years ago this Sunday the guns fell silent as the first world war came to an end, a huge number of people lost their lives in order for this country to remain free and not ruled by a foreign nation hell bent on domination of Europe. The Royal British Legion raise awareness and funds to look after the defenders of our nation, and I for one am proud to wear a poppy.

Thirty years ago I won my first Poppy match (on Chequers straight) and I would have loved to have won it again today. The rain we've had in the last couple of days was unfortunately just a tad too much and pushed the river up and coloured, I took a look Saturday afternoon at the Crane and it was going through quite a bit. It meant one thing to me, bream on the feeder and a draw up at Newbridge would be required to win. I got to the draw at Frys in plenty of time, but was disappointed to be told I couldn't order a breakfast (they couldn't cope) and instead had to have a bacon roll (well a roll with one tiny piece of bacon in it). It was as ever great to see so many anglers fishing, and some people who I don't see very often, Mike Shellard, Terry Ellis, Mike Spencer, John Amatto, Mike Pierce, Nigel Bateman, Harry Muir, I could go on and on and on!  After the two minute silence the draw began and I was quite close to the front, I prayed to pull out an early number to be up Newbridge, but alas peg 88 was looking at me. I'd seen the peg yesterday and knew it was just below the boys hole where the Commercial House was won last week with 29lb of skimmers. Of course this gave me a lot of hope but the river last week was low and clear and I hoped the skimmers were still there.

A nice short walk just over the cattle grid, and past Craig Fletcher on the end peg, then John Smith, and then me, three Gasheads in a row lol! Jan Mazyck was above me. This peg is deep, and tends to go deeper as you go downstream, the flow was quite fast in close but about two thirds over the flow slows right up.

As the guy last week had caught on the pole I wanted to set that up, but when I put a flat float up (8g it just wasn't right and the depth of the peg plus the flow warranted a much bigger float which I don't have. I decided to put the pole away and leave the fast boily water alone. That meant it was just going to be a groundbait feeder today, I set up a 30g job with the usual 14 PR355 to 0.165 exceed. Job done. I had plenty of groundbait mixed up and I made up 8 balls containing, dead pinkie, casters and chopped worm. When the match started I had organisers Colin Ellaway and Paul Benson behind me, so I hoped my 8 balls would land very close as I launched them out to the slow water, all bar one ball landed decent I thought. I wasn't expecting a barrage of bites, but thought I would start with the standard 3 red maggots on the hook and see what happened. Second cast and a roach about 3oz was swung in. Sadly I never had another bite on any baits until the hour mark when I had another small roach.

I went for a quick walk, Jan hadn't had a bite but John and Craig were getting a few roach in their steady swims. I went back and tried three fluro maggots, I had a 6oz eel on this bait and so decided to stick with it, a couple of casts later another bite and a hybrid of about 6oz. The next two casts produced two more hybrids of the same size or a bit smaller. Then no more bites at all. I'd had phone calls from Glenn Bailey at Newbridge who was struggling, and Shane Caswell who was behind the pumphouse at Newbridge and struggling to wet a line because of the boats in front of him. It sounded like the match was fishing hard.

I plugged away on the feeder, keeping lots of caster and worm going in, and trying various hook baits. I never had a bite on a lobworm, but I started to get the odd bite from roach on a dendrabena with two maggots. Three hours in and I had only missed one bite, and had 1 eel, 5 roach and 3 hybrids, hardly flying. I wasn't feeling the peg was going anywhere, I was hardly getting a bite and it seemed the fish were not there / not feeding. Below me John and Craig had now had a few skimmers on the feeder and were well in front of me.

The sun was in my face and I had to move the rod and turn my head and hat at silly angles to be able to see my quivertip. However, about 90 minutes to go I had a seriously good bite which I could not miss seeing, but when I picked up the rod everything was solid. I could not feel a fish on and in the end I pulled for a break and the hooklength snapped. I guess I either missed the bite or it was a liner. Still it cheered me up a bit. Not long after Darren Gillman came up for a walk and he could see I was struggling, he told me that he had caught a 3lb+ chub of this peg last year.

Another strange indication and then nothing again. Darren walked on not having seen me catch but a few minutes later at 2:10pm with 50 minutes left I had another better bite and when I struck I knew it was a bream. It did go a bit when it got into the flow but I always had it under control and soon had it in the net. I wasn't massive, but at 3 1/2lb was more than welcome. Two casts later and for a few seconds I thought it was another bream, but alas an eel again. Thirty minutes to go and I'm still on worm and two maggots and another bite, bang this fish feels really heavy,could be a big bream (but there aren't many big ones down here) but as I played it I thought chub, and indeed it was. It looked like 3lb+ and must have been Darren's chub, lol. I never had another fish in the last 30 minutes.

With those two fish I now thought I had 9lb, with John and Craig only admitting to 5lb I thought I had the section won. Craig weighed in 6lb 5oz, and he lost a bream at the end, John weighed in 8lb 6oz of skimmers, looked like the fish which had been caught the week before. My turn and the needle swung round to 10lb 5oz, with Jan and the angler above him struggling I won the five peg section. In fact as it turned out I was the top weight of the twenty pegs up the Crane. Thanks for the picture Mr Gillman.

Didn't take long to get back to the results and get a pint and a roll. The rumour mill began and it seemed Dave Lewis had 5 bream and was likely to be top rod. Before the results though we had to get the raffle done, and once again Ray Bazeley had done well to get a great many prizes, many donated by local tackle shops. I managed to bag a couple of prizes so was happy enough, not so Glenn Bailey as both my winning tickets were next to his numbers, oops!

After the section money was paid out the main results were announced and here are the winners:-

1st Dave "the Drain" Lewis  26lb 10oz  5 bream from peg 46 at Newbridge
2nd Shane Caswell 25lb 14oz, basically 4 big bream in the last ninety minutes
3rd Paul Purchase 16lb  13oz. Peg 138 in the trees, 3 skimmers, some big roach and 14 eels (4 over 1lb)
4th Mark Leader 13lb 4oz
5th Paul Rice 12lb 8oz
6th Kev Boltz 12lb  (last year's winner)

11lb 14oz was last in the frame, and the top 8 were all at Newbridge. Think I was between 10th and 12th overall. Shame those skimmers had moved on, a few of those would have been handy.

It sounds like the match has raised over £1500 for the Poppy Appeal which is great news!

Congratulations to the framers, and especially the top three who are pictured below looking happy as they should be, well done lads. I'm fishing an open next week on Newbridge, with no rain forecast hopefully it could be a reasonable match.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Riverfest Final - River Severn Shrewsbury

If you have read my blog before then you will probably know that I had been lucky enough to qualify for this prestigious Riverfest final match. For the previous five years the final has been held on the river Wye, but this year saw a change to the Severn at Shrewsbury. I know there was some debate if this was a good decision by organiser Dave Harrell (both before and after the event), and although I cannot compare to the Wye I thought it was a great choice for a number of reasons, the fishing (mostly good) the access to your pegs, and the very close proximity of the town itself.

My preparation for this match started not long after I qualified and peaked a couple of weeks prior to the event. I firstly have to give a big thank you to Hadrian Whittle who despite qualifying for the final gave me a good run down on the main tactics, rigs and bait, that was really good of him. I had all eventualities covered, flat floats from 4g to 50g and plenty of Preston pole floats, a big thank you to Des Shipp who lent me these! I had winders full of stick floats, bolo floats, and whip rigs. Andy Ottoway and Martin Barrett lent me some long rods, whips and a reel to ensure I had spares and could have multiple set ups, again thank you guys. I took a days holiday and went to Saltford on the straight to make sure all of the rigs were shotted perfectly, practised my casting and caught a few fish too (some nice roach on the whip especially).  Everything was going well. Then Just over a week before the final I had a little operation, after this I was struck down by a virus and also suffered some issues related to the op. I was still unwell Thursday but improving and come Friday was definitely going after some more hooks were tied. My wife Wendy was joining me for the weekend and I was really pleased she did as it made it even more special. The journey up took four bloody hours and I was glad when we got to our small hotel, Wendy unpacked the case whilst I mixed my groundbait lol. We had a meal out and a couple of drinks in the Wetherspoons. It was an early night as I was still a bit ill and I set the alarm for 6:25am.

Saturday morning... "Tim, Tim!! It's five past seven!"  Err what? I'd only gone and set my alarm for a weekday, what a plonker! It was now a big rush, but we managed to get to the draw about ten minutes before the draw. Then it dawned on me the scale of the task as I surveyed the anglers in the room that we often see in the angling press. I will admit this had given me some sleepless nights a few weeks ago as I questioned my level of skill against top class lads, but in the end I just thought well let's find out. I was into the draw queue fairly late and pulled out peg 53. It was met with many grimaces, and after speaking to Dave Harrell and local ace Ian Hughes they said 5lb to 6lbs would be good and Ian said fish down the middle of the river.

I got to the peg and could park right behind it, that was a result for both Wendy and I. I then scanned my saved images of the recent open matches on the venue to see what the peg had caught, oh dear it had been left out in all bar one match and on that day it was DNW. I was just below a walkway bridge and was glad the peg next to it was left out, above the bridge was Shakespeare angler Brian Rigby, a lovely bloke and top river angler who I have bumped into a few times this year. Below me was a guy called Gary Fuller, and I also had Adam Richards, Kev Jones and Paul Glenfield in my section.

The peg had a lot of trees opposite, and it was rumoured to hold barbel / big perch over there, although nobody could say when anyone had seen them last caught. I had a general plan for the final ( unless I drew the county ground pegs 1 to about 30 where it was probably waggler and worm hoping to catch chub or perch) and it was gbait on the pole, and waggler / bolo as far over as I could fish, plus a chopped worm line which was a must. Plumbing up on the pole it was shallow at 13m, and the same at 14.5m, and there was not much flow, I decided it was not right and never set a pole rig up. The river is varied here, and below me Gary had 12 feet on his pole line! I set up a deep 5AAA waggler, a mid depth wag, a 6g bolo and a blockend feeder. It was deep, about 13 feet. On the all I threw 6 balls of gbait/soil with some caster, hemp and pinkie just short of the middle of the river. I ran the bolo rig over it 6 times and had no response, and so picked up the feeder and spent 20 minutes feeding the far side with maggots and chopped worm, nothing hung itself but I had got a bed down. Back on the bolo and still no bites, but Gary below me was catching dace on the pole. Finally about 40 minutes in and a dip on the float and a dace, phew I could relax now. I carried on feeding maggots and hemp on this line and just got the odd bite here and there it seemed. The wind was strong and mostly behind me which spread the bait a bit. As the match progressed I felt I was getting more fish in the peg, I might get 4 or 5 dace in as many casts but then would go another 10 casts without a bite. The dace were generally two ounce, I did catch a roach of 6oz and pulled out of another bigger at the net. I hat a visit from Chris Ponsford and he stayed with me a while which was great, he told me he thought I was doing OK. I had bites on the waggler but struggled to hit them, and the bolo caught me nearly everything, I had gone down to a 20 and 0.09 early on when bites were scarce but going into the last hour I felt the peg was improving and I went up to an 18 to 0.10 with double maggot, this picked out a few better dace including another 6oz roach. Meanwhile Gary below me struggled in the last hour. Match over, I thought I had about 7lb, Gary said he had 10lb and Brian 8lb.... As I packed up I reflected on the odd fish I had lost and wondered if I should have switched to double maggot earlier, these are the things that make a difference. The scales came down from the pegs above where it turned out there were a stack of not only dace and roach but also some big perch and odd chub. Brian weighed in 9lb 4 1/2 oz, then my turn and I had 9lb 10oz. Gary beat me with 12lb 1oz. Paul Glenfield had 9lb 14oz. The stand out weight was Adam Richards on peg 50 who had 24lb, and Lee Wright above him had 20lb, dace, roach, percjh to 3lb.

No catch shot as it was all a blur and I got carried away with the crowd following the scales, I was congratulated by a few for catching what I had which was nice. Later that night after a lovely meal it was back to the pub which was full of anglers, most who were slurring their words. Brian was in there and he felt he should have had 13lb, I had a good chat with Clive Branson and some other really nice welsh lads and they said with nearly 10lb I was still in with a chance of top 10. I also got to meet an England legend Sean Ashby who wanted his photo taken with me... yeh right! It was amazing to be there.


Alarm went off on time, yay! Today I would be pegged in the lower zone and so at the draw the lads in A zone were asked to draw first as they have to walk to some pegs. The top end of this zone was really poor, though it did produce the winner there were a lot of blanks and I was lucky to avoid it, but unlucky to draw one of the worst pegs in the best bit of the zone. Onto my zone and in theory I was now going to the best zone where there were many chances to get on a few fish. General consensus was that you would need 25lb to 30lb to get into the top 10, so I needed 20lb today which hadn't come out the day before in this zone. I had good chats with Ian Hughes and Hadrian Whittle on the morning both had chances of top 10 with a decent peg. Into the bag of destiny I go and out comes peg 68, oh dear more grimaces. I couldn't believe I had managed to pull another poor peg, and again it had been left out in the practice matches as had 67 and 66 above me. Looking at yesterday's result another well known local Pete Morris had my peg and had 8lbm but there were a few poor weights and the top of my section had much better weights, hope it would not be the same today.

At the river it was park behind the peg again, and first thing I did was put the sign up I was given the day before.

The peg had no features opposite, well none to attract fish I thought.

I could at least use my plan today as it was deep on the pole line, about 13 to 14 feet this peg. There was not much flow on the peg, and so a 2g rig with 18 to 0.10 was made up and my old faithful 1g pencil float with 20 to 0.09 was ample. A 4g flat float for chopped worm, another 6g bolo, and the wagglers again. Would you believe it but on the next peg 67 was Brian Rigby, he was not happy with his peg and I said we're a couple of shit magnets!  Picture of Brian still smiling, we had some good banter.

Match underway and I balled it in with 8 balls heavily laced with loosefeed as I was fishing for a big weight, I started on my chopped worm line though as occasionally some anglers caught perch straight away. Not me though, and after 10 mins I went over the gbait with the 2g rig and double maggot, I missed three bites and then caught a tiny dace and then nothing. Out with the pencil float and I caught 4 tiny dace, probably would need 25 to weigh a pound, trouble was I could hardly catch them. Brian was getting them faster than me, and despite going to a 22 and 0.08 it made no difference and I wasn't going to bag a decent weight like this. Out on the bolo where I was loose feeding maggots and hemp and I had very few bites and it was just from the same tiny dace, it was very disappointing. I was though cheered up by the arrival of my eldest daughter Lucy who had popped down from Manchester to support me.
There were lots of anglers watching the match and they all said it was fishing much harder than yesterday, but the angler on the first peg in my section Lee Wright was catching well on the pole. It's hard to say a lot about the day, I suppose I knew it was not going to be great when a dog pissed on my rod hodall, I hit a lot of snags on both pole and bolo lines, only had one small perch on the worm. I did get 3 small perch on the pencil float and lost one probably 8oz. I managed to winkle out three small roach and two better roach one about 8oz on the bolo, think they were looking for their mates. These roach are the resident fish in the river, the dace actually migrate into the town for the winter. The roach are 6oz to 14oz and if you can get among them a good weight can be amassed, but on a low clear river they were shoaled fairly tight it seemed. I ended the day with a lowly 3lb 1oz, for last in my six peg section, the 5 pegs above me weighed, Brian 3lb 14oz, Lee Harries 7lb 14oz, Steve Maher 5lb 6oz, Matt Maginnis 7lb 12oz and Lee Wright 18lb 2oz. Definitely wrong end of the section. My second day catch...

I ended the competition in 43 place out of 72, but with Brian ending a few ounces more and in 41st place it proved we had drawn badly. Reflecting on this I have to think I was at least able to keep up with him and so I was not far off the pace. It wasn't a bagging match (it can be if stacks of dace are in 70lb has been caught in the past!) and whilst I don't do a lot of dace fishing the methods were not alien. It would of course have been a better test on better pegs, but I take comfort from my result being almost identical to Brian's.

I packed up in almost darkness, and forgot to take home the board with my name on it as a keepsake, never mind still got the memories of what was a special weekend. I did not go back to the results as I was really tired and didn't want to be home really late, so I said my goodbyes and drove back to Bristol. As you may now know Lee Wright won the event taking home £13,000. Jamie Robins came second and got £6000 which pleased Brian Rigby as they are best mates and he was on 10%, first day winner Lee Harries ended up in third place. Well done to all of those in the top ten.

Dave Harrell and Angling Trust have got a really good event in Riverfest, and I would love to get back into to final again one day. Getting into the final is not easy, ask Dave he entered about a dozen qualifiers himself and never got in. Everyone I met was really friendly, and the local lads were helpful and offered their advice on the pegs. I spent a lot of money preparing and staying up there, but despite not winning anything back I think every penny spent was well worth it. Thanks to everyone who wished me well, if I get back again I must draw better!

Poppy match this Sunday.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Upper Thames Winter League Bristol Avon Chippenham / Melksham

As you may have realised I did not fish last weekend, that was because my wife and I were in Benidorm for the week with a lot of other people for Shaun Townsend's 50th party celebration. Let's just say what goes on in Benidorm stays in Benidorm, lol.

I drove up to Shrewsbury on Saturday, I wanted to watch an open match on the river Severn so I would gain an insight into where the river actually was and how it was fishing. One thing I learned is at the moment it is very peggy with some anglers blanking, while others were catching nearly 20lb of dace and roach. Depths seem to go from 4 feet in a few pegs up to 16 feet. I saw anglers catching on the whip, pole, bolo, stick float and waggler.... Apparently at some stage every year dace migrate into this part of the river from other shallow areas. It seems that they are moving into the river at either end at present and come the final good draws are going to be required!

Sunday and I woke up with a bit of cold and felt a tad under the weather, still not far to go from Bristol to Melksham for the draw. James Carty was enlisted to do the draw again, he came back with the pegs and once again I had no idea where I was or anyone was, except James who was on the tins at Chippenham and a good peg for roach and chub. I followed Ruben Guerra of DGL and was very glad that I did, as we had to park in the ground floor of a multi storey car park just opposite the swimming pool. Got to my peg (E3) and found I was on what they called the island with five others and two were upstream above a bridge. I cannot say that my peg looked great, no flow, a lot of leaves on it, and once again I had no far bank to fish to as there was weed / snags sticking up from the far bank, and with the leaves a waggler would be a waste.

I was suprised as I plumbed up on the pole and found 12 feet of water, not really what you want when the river is stood on its head and gin clear. I set up 1.5g pencil float, 2g and a 3g round bodied these were all meant to be aimed at catching roach, and the heavier versions in case bleak were a pain. A chopped worm rig was put up but I never had a bite on this. A 4m whip for bleak.  I also foolishly set up a crowquill for casting around but it was never used as the leaves and wind put paid to that.

The match started at 11am and I cupped in 6 balls of gbait containing some caster, pinkie, hemp and chopped worm. I started on the 2g rig which had a 20 to 0.09, I never had a bite on caster and went on to a maggot, I had 3 roach on this but it was dead after this. A switch to the pencil float with 22 to 0.08 and this was no better, a couple of small roach but I was going nowhere. There had been a lot of small fish topping in close under the trees so I tried the whip, I never caught any of the little roach or chublets I had seen but I did get some bleak. It wasn't solid though and after about 15 of the blighters they vanished. Back out on the long pole and a roach on the drop, and then a missed bite, and then nothing. Back on the bleak, no good, so I cast the rig randomly and found a few more.

A pattern was emerging, catch a few bleak, then get 1 or 2 roach, sadly none of the fish were a good size so I was not getting a good feeling. The bleak finally disappeared, and even going longer and deeper I could not find them, or they did not want to feed. In the middle of the match I started to get a few more bites on the long pole, and at one time topping up with a little ball of gbait seemed to help get the roach back. It was though very hard and the wind was now blowing all the leaves from the pegs below me upstream, I was really pissed off watching leaves be blown upstream into my float as I tried to get it to move a little downstream. To make matters worse the sun moved round and made it really difficult to see my float, and this also started to mess up my eyes. The picture tells it better than I can.

I hoped the roach might start to come on the feed later but alas my peg got worse with an hour to go, and then the lad below me had two decent perch on his roach rig and I thought he was beating me. With little happening I fed a couple of rich balls of gbait with worms in, hoping for a bonus of some sort. It didn't happen and I had just two roach in the last 40 minutes. Not sure it was a bad thing to gamble as I was going nowhere and it was easier to see the float on the larger 3g rig.

As I packed up I started to get a headache come on, the light was obviously taking its toll and I couldn't wait to get weighed in and go home. I weighed in 5lb 7oz, which was better than I thought I had, but not enough for decent finish in the section. I had 5 points out of 8 today. Ruben did well to win the section with 7lb+ a similar bag of fish to me but more bleak, he said that the bleak switched off for him too. The downstream end peg and upstream end peg were 2nd and 3rd.

I did not go back to the results as I was worried I was going to get a migrane and wanted to get home and get some tablets. Therefore I am sorry to say that I do not know the top individuals on the day. I do know that DGL were top team and my Thatchers were second, and that means after two matches DGL and Thatchers are tied in first place.

Footnote... An open match fished at Newbridge today was won by Shaun Townsend from peg 61 with 109lb of bream on the crowquill I believe. There were quite a few double figure bags too, I am beginning to miss fishing that bit of river in the w/l...

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Upper Thames Winter League Round 1 - River Thames Radcot to Lechlade

As you may recall my local SWWL folded this year and as a result Thatchers had to join the UTWL something of a challenge on venues we don't regularly fish. Travelling to Radcot meant I was up at 5:30am to get myself ready and on the road, had to scrape the ice off my car before I could set off. I stopped off at the McDonalds near Shrivenham and within 5 minutes all of the team were there.

The draw was at the Swan pub in Radcot and just after 8am James Carty pulled out our set of pegs, he managed to tell Martin  Barrett he was on the wrong peg, but luckily we got to Martin before he left, lol. I was at "St Johns" and all I could find out was nobody in my ream new what it was like. Luckily I spied Shaun Bryan who told me it was an iffy section and that peg 1 was the favourite peg in the section, I was on peg 2. I had little idea of where this bit of river was, but was told head to Lechlade and then it was by a pub called the Trout. Thankfully I found the right area by asking an angler just as I was about to go the wrong way, but the parking was all gone by the entrance and so I had to park in a layby a few hundred yards away. A Thames legend was in the layby Paul Passmore, and he was in my section too. He said this was only the section he did not want to draw and it was fish in some pegs and not in others.

I pushed my gear up the river with stalwart Brian Melksham, it was mice to be able to open gates and not have to climb over them. My section was looking tough, John Bohane on the downstream end peg, Richard Chave next to him on a peg with a lovely bush on the inside, noted for perch and odd barbel. On the upstream end peg was Derek Jarman of Lobbys. The peg didn't give me great vibes at all, I was sat on a point with the river going away from me, and beyond halfway it was not moving,

Picture of my peg, after around 100 canada geese had landed on it, luckily none of them dropped a load on me lol.

Looking down to my right Brian Melksham was a long way down, he had a tree downstream and opposite him but said he had a lot of weed in the peg.

I got some rigs out and plumbed up one to find out the depth, It was deep at 4m about 7feet, but then as I went out it just sloped off deeper and then starting sloping up shallower. As the water was effectively flowing through the peg at 45 degrees it seemed this dept variation followed the flow, that meant I could not find any flat areas other than in the bottom of the "V". I was a bit miffed as I felt it limited my options, but you've got to get on with it. With the river being about 9 feet deep but hardly flowing I set up a 0/8g bodied float with 0.08 to 22, a 1g pencil rig with a 20 to 0.09, and a 3g rig for holding still with 18 to 0.10. I also set up a 1g float for fishing chopped worm down the peg, and a feeder for chucking across.

The match began at 10:30 and I fed 5 balls of groundbait mixed with soil at 11.5m slightly downstream. I put a few pinkies, casters, and minced worms in the mix but not much as I was worried this could be a hard match. I started on the pencil rig, but after 10 mins I hadn't had a bite on it, onto the 0.8 rig and not a bite on this either. It took very nearly 30 mins for the float to dip under and I came back with a very small dace. I got the odd bite after this and by the end of the first hour had 10 little dace, a gudgeon and a 2oz perch. 8oz would have been my guess. In the next 90 mins I caught a few more little fish but also had 4 roach which were welcome and a 4oz perch. After this the peg just got harder and harder. There were no bleak in the peg, certainly none on the pole line or closer in as I never had one all day. As a result I fed casters over the pole line thinking that they would be best in the hope of getting roach  or a bonus, but the pole line just went away from me, and Derek who probably had similar to me then hit a bream on the pole, he estimated it at 5lb and had caught it on a pinkie trying to catch anything. A bream rolled by his float about 5 minutes later, but despite his best efforts he could not get another.

From what I could see I thought I was beating the three lads below me, but was sure I would need a lot more than my estimated 1lb 12oz. I think this is where my match went wrong, I should have chucked the feeder across, short of some weed, in the hope of a bonus, but I tried the chopped worm lines on the pole, and they threw up zilch.

With about an hour to go roach started topping in my peg, the first fish I had seen top all day, I put all my effort into the 11.5m pole line to try to catch some of these roach. The pencil rig and heavy float failed miserably. The 0.8g rig was all I could get to work, I even caught a few roach on a caster, but then stayed on that bait too long, when I went onto a maggot I had regular bites in the last 15 mins. I had some nice 4oz roach, but to little to late I thought.

With the match over I was not looking at a good result I thought, it could have been worse as Brian hooked a bream on the pole below me but he lost in the weeds.

When we weighed in Derek had 7lb 10oz, so the bream was a big help, and he won the section with that weight (well predicted Shaun) my turn and 4lb 1oz, some nice roach in the end, just came on the feed too late. Brian had less than 8oz and I also beat the next two guys who really struggled. Sadly for me the three lads in the next field all beat me, Paul Passmore had 4lb 13oz, Chavey 6lb+ of decent perch, and John had 4lb 12oz. Just 4 points out of 8 for me. Not knowing the peg or stretch was a bummer, I certainly should have looked for a bonus across I feel, but can't say the peg really got my juices flowing.

Back to the pub and other than James Carty (who had drawn himself one of the worst pegs on the river) who had 2 points everyone else had done well it seemed, with Lee Trivett being joint first in his section.  Teams on the day went like this:-

1st GBV          51 points
2nd Thatchers  45 points
3rd DGL          44 points
4th Sensas Lobbys  36 points

Top rods on the day :-

1st the very consistent Rob Randall 14lb 8oz
Joint 2nd Mark Williams and Alan Jones 14lb 3oz
4th Kev Bennett  13lb 5oz

As far as Thatchers are concerned to come second was a great result for us in the first round and it was just the start we needed. No fishing for me next weekend, could do with drawing a real flier to make things easy for me lol.

An open was fished at Swineford today, Results on this match are below, the long walks were worth it!

1st Glenn Bailey 40lb 8oz, chub on Bitton Brook
2nd Rex Kick 25lb two pegs below Glenn (bream and skimmers)
3rd Kev Dicks 19lb 6oz Peg 15
4th Rich Lacey 15lb 13oz on the beach.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Commercial House Round 2 Bristol Avon Keynsham

Due to the SWWL folding Thatchers now have to fish the Thames WL and as a result there are some clashes with the Com house. I was told by PC Barrett that I am fishing the Thames next week in the WL but that today I was to fish the comm house and not the practise open on the Thames. I was happy enough with this and didn't need to do much prep as a result, I did open a bottle of Glenfiddich the night before to get me in the mood lol.

Sunday morning and I was running a bit behind schedule and got to the draw later than I wanted. I ate my breakfast far to fast and was finishing it as the draw began, today the pegging was slightly different with two sections at Chequers for the first time in many years, a section at Jack Whites, two sections at Crane and only one at Swineford. People do not like the long walks at Swineford despite the fact it is the best fishing in my opinion, Chequers anglers can drop their gear off by their pegs but would the fishing be as good? As per my expectation I was up the Crane as I often am, my peg was the top end of the bay in the little ashtip field, a nice peg and I was happy with it, I had one peg below in my section and 6 above me. My only concern was that my peg had been battered on Thursday but hopefully not going to be an issue.

The river was hardly moving and was gin clear, the rain last week had already run out of the river, if any actually got in that is. I got my box in the water (this photo was taken after the match) and sank down but was OK. I couldn't see a big weight being needed in the section today, I thought 12lb would be my target and set up four pole rigs to "plunder" the roach. A 1.5g PB Silvers, 1g pencil float, 4x16 strung out, and a 4g for fishing over depth. Most rigs were with 0.09 to either 18 or 20 PR333. I did set up a crowquill but had no time to put a hook length on. I spoke to Glenn before the match, he was at Chequers and said he was regretting coming back on the river and his peg was shite and moaned like a good un!

When the match began at 10am I did not ball it in, yes you read that correct, no gbait went in! This peg is only about 8 to 9 feet deep and gets a lot of a pike problems, and as I am convinced pike like gbait I was going to go down the old way and loose feed hemp and casters at 11.5m. Well I was regretting this decision after an hour as I am sure all I had was about 12oz of tiny fish. However, if you loose feed only generally the peg should get better and so I had to carry on with it. Putting a maggot on the hook was a waste of time, it would not get past the fry, a caster was a little better and would get me the odd 1oz fish. Ninety mins in and all of a sudden I had a run of roach, not big but getting on for 2oz and this was better. Then they went funny and I struggled to hit bites on the 1.5g rig. I switched to the pencil float and if I could get the bait down I caught a few more roach. Eventually the tiny fish disappeared and this meant I could use all my rigs with just the odd bleak grabbing a bait on the drop.

It was a strange match, I often put the rig in and had no time to feed the hemp and then the caster as the float went under, but after catching 3 or 4 roach this would stop and I had to try another rig depth etc. At one stage I was catching on the strung out rig three foot off bottom and thought I had it sussed, then that died and it was back deeper. It was a real hard working match trying to catch small roach, but I was getting annoyed at the odd fish which I bumped or came off shipping back. A lot of fish were just hooked in the lip and after the match many people had the same issue. The plan to avoid the pike was working though and I had not had one attack. Below me Ben Rendall had struggled for a few roach but with an hour to go he landed a chub of over 3lb on the feeder, he lost another not long after. Below him in the next section was Shane Caswell, poor old Shane was on the first peg over the gate, a peg that should not go in really, I didn't laugh much at his predicament.

Going into the last hour I was hoping the better roach would feed, and I tried hemp a few times, I had the odd bite on it but hooked nothing, caster on the hook was still best. I was still swapping rigs and was on the pencil float with 20 mins to go when I hooked a slighty better fish, it might have been a perch, but I'll never know as a pike took it and bit me off. Back out and the peg had died, I was shocked the fish had gone after one pike attack. After 5 mins of no bites I gave it 6 big pouches of caster and sat on the 4g rig with double caster. The float went under and I had a roach, then missed a couple of bites and went out deeper on my 1.5g rig and had another roach and then the all out was called. I hoped I had 8 to 9lb but being short of my target was not thinking I would do great in the section.

The scales were up in the long ashtip and when they finally got to me Andy Britt was top with 10lb exactly and Kev Boltz was next with 8lb, I hoped I could beat Kev. I had a lot of fish but no quality, Ivan Currie on the scales thought I had more than Andy, but I did not, I had 1 ounce less, doh! Ben had 6 1/2lb below me, so I was second in the section.

One ounce, grrr, ah well it happens, I probably lost at least a pound of fish and missed the net with one when it seem to stick to my hand, such is life.

Back at the results and it seemed my lot had done well, with three section winners, two seconds and a third, and we did manage to the win the day meaning we have won the first two rounds, but Bathampton are close on our tail coming second both times. Winner on the day was Lee Warden, he was on peg 15 at Swineford and after balling it after a couple of hours he had 20 small skimmers for 21lb.  Second was moaner Glenn who admitted to 10lb and weighed 18lb, he lost the plot fishing paste it seems PMSL. Tony Gilbert was I think third and Nicky Johns 4th with 16lb+ and both were at Swineford wouldn't you know.  Other than Glenn Chequers was poor with 3lb a good weight, so short walk crap fishing or long walk great fishing... you decide?

Sunday, 23 September 2018

August / September 1999

I have had a very nice week, it was my 50th birthday on Wednesday and I got to spend it with my wife and two daughters in Plymouth. The following day my eldest daughter had her graduation on the Plymouth Hoe, it was a brilliant celebration and I had a big lump in my throat. Saturday it was back to watch Rovers with my family and friends and after the win we carried on drinking as part of my 50th celebration. It was a very good day / night, and for this reason I had no plans to go fishing Sunday lol.

Back in August 1999 I fished the teams of four on the Huntspill, a well attended event back in the day, I was pegged 15 pegs up from the bottom of Gold Corner. It was a hot sunny day and no ripple so not conducive to a bagging session I thought. I am not 100% sure but if my memory serves me correctly I had Eddie Wynne on the next peg. I started as you would on the gbait feeder fished as far across as I could chuck accurately. I fished very light on the feeder, a 20 to 0.10  and I caught a 2lb skimmer and a 4lb bream on this when hardly a fish was caught on the tip. Coming on to the pole at 14m, where I had fed caster and maggots, I fished double maggot for eels. It was a struggle, but luckily I took three eels from here all around the pound mark. That was my lot, 9lb 4oz (4 kilo 200), but it was a good weight in the section it seemed. My team got 5th place and we picked up £100 each, nice!

On Tuesday 3rd August I pleasure fished at Century Pond (only the one pond then) and experimented using a swinging pole cup made for me by Tony Rixon. I fed pots of cubed meat and casters and caught 60lb+ of carp and 30lb+ of skimmers. I remember when I fed a pot I would catch carp then it would just be skimmers until I fed another pot, it was a good learning experience. The swinging pole cup wasn't perfect but it was the first time I had been able to feed large amounts of bait in the same spot.

Sunday and it was back on the Huntspill for the superleague, this time I was drawn at Withygrove on peg 81. The match was totally different for me than last time, although again small fish were absent. All of my fish came on the feeder, in total I had 11 skimmers and 2 eels for 9lb 10oz for 8 out of 10 points. I fed a lot of squatt and just a little caster through the feeder, and caught on either double or single red maggot on an 18 to 0.12. I did not record in my diary how the team did. I went to the Huntspill again the following week to fish an open match, and I was back at Gold Corner again this time 20 pegs up. It was another match where the feeder would dominate, and I snared a few more ending with 2 bream and 9 skimmers, plus 2 eels on the pole. My weight of 6 kilo 350g was enough to win the section and take home £50.

The Huntspill fest was to finish for me with another round of the superleague, and continuing the rotation I was on Withygrove peg 72. The section was tough and I only had 3 skimmers on the feeder, but I was able to snare 6 eels and a nice hybrid on the pole, single bronze maggot on the pole was the best hook bait. I was 2nd in the section with my 7lb 10oz and this ended a good run for me on the venue, it is still a place I do like to fish although it fishes quite differently now.

Into September and on Sunday 12th it was the final round of the superleague to be fished at Newbridge on the Avon. I was quite happy drawing peg 17 (no longer a peg) as the river was low and clear and I fancied it for a days waggler fishing. The day panned out pretty much as I expected and it was a tough match, I fed just 4 maggots and 4 casters every other cast and caught small roach on and off on using a 24 to 0.08. I weighed in 7lb 9oz which won me the section and was 5th on the day. The team came 2nd on the day but we ended the league in only 6th place.

I spent my birthday fishing a few hours at St Georges Park lake, 3 carp, a decent bream and 7lb of roach all on the waggler were very nice. After this it rained heavily and when we got to Sunday 26th for the first round of the Commercial House you could on just see the weir at Keynsham. Drawing just below the outfall at Swineford was really not where I wanted to be lol! I tried to catch bleak but what fish I caught were so small it was a waste of space, so I went with the gbait feeder with worms and caster in for eels. A lobworm tail was the only thing I had a bite on, and I ended with just 8 eels for 2lb 9oz. This was however enough for 12 points out of 14 and the team came 2nd on the day so avoided a disaster on a horrid river.

Next week I'm back on the river on the Commercial House, weather looks OK now and hopefully the rain we have had will have improved things. In fact I just heard that Jack Jones pleasure fished at Kelston today and he fished the pole and caught 28lb of roach!