Sunday, 25 March 2018

Viaduct Fishery Open

Finally back out on the bank, yay! However, in all the excitement I forgot to take any photos, so apologies for that.

Three amigos were booked in for fishing this match, Mark Jefferies, Glenn Bailey and Moi. We had met up the day before with a few others for a couple of beers and fishing chat, Glenn had fished Viaduct on Thursday and advised the carp were still shoaled up in the bottom part of Campbell so a decent draw would be required. I was not confident of drawing on the carp so was taking bait for silvers too and would be happy to fish for them.

We met up at Cannards Well for breakfast, but we were a man down as Glenn had been up most of the night with bad guts, maybe a bad pint? Get well soon mate. Breakfast today was very nice and the staff and chef were also very pleasant. Onto the fishery and found out that the match was on Campbell, but with just three pegs on Carey. Looking at the Golden Reel results the day before (well done Dan White on winning it) it seemed pegs 110 to 114 were the likeliest ones to produce the winner. Podge went in and drew 111, and I pulled out 129 on the spit on the opposite bank. I saw that Paddy Curry had 80lb on here yesterday, only good enough for 15th, but at least carp were in the area. As I hadn't drawn on carp for ages I decided I would fish for them even if I was going to be up against it to get in the top two.

A Welsh lad Scott Thomas was on peg 130 and he told me he was going all out for silvers, and that made me even more determined to fish for carp. I set a straight lead for banded pellet, a waggler for fishing the same. I did set up two pole rigs for banded pellet, one for against the end of the spit and one for 16m, but I never had a bite on either of these. I did also set up a 4x14 Silvers float with 18 PR412 to 0.10 in case I was bored and wanted to try to catch a few silvers. I was only just set up in time for the 11am start and decided to start on the lead to see if there were any fish about. Twenty odd minutes on it with a couple of small liners but no pull rounds, meanwhile Steve Trevett on 132, Adrian Jeffery on 131 were into carp straight away. I changed to the waggler, there was little wind but it was still a tricky light to see the float. I did get a couple of bites though and hooked one which was obviously a fouled carp. After much fun I amazed myself by landing a 7lb carp hooked in the tail. Not much else happened and I went back on the lead but indications were now non existent. I did manage a carp on the lead but it was a one off, and after about 90 minutes I had another on the waggler this time hooked in the mouth.

Two hours in and on three carp I was behind Steve, Chris Davis on 110, and Kev Dicks on 112, but nobody was bagging, Scott though was getting regular silvers action. My match went from hard to rock hard, and I could not get any indications anywhere what so ever. In desperation I decided to feed a pot of caster at 14m just to try to put something in the net. After letting the caster settle for 30 mins I went in with double caster and after 5 minutes of waiting a positive bite met with lots of elastic coming out, carp I thought. However, it turned out to be a nice of tench of nearly 3lb. Over the next 30 mins I had another 2 tench and a skimmer, that was good and I thought this might be a way forward, but this line died and was never to recover.

I think it was about 90 mins to go that I had a couple more carp on the straight lead, both came within 30 seconds of the lead landing, but again they were from different areas of the peg and nothing followed. Chris Davis and Steve Trevett had stopped catching, Podge was struggling and Kev Dicks was begining to catch on a waggler. I tried the waggler in front and had a skimmer on it, casting to the left I had bite quickly and lost a fouler. The next three casts I had indications but hooked nothing, so I cast the lead out, but the tip was motionless. I assumed the carp were up in the water and with Kev catching now regularly on the wag on the drop I went out on the wag about 18" off bottom. I had some indications and lost a couple of foulers, so shallowed up again. I finally had a carp in the mouth and it was a double figure common. I hooked another carp with 30 mins to go, and after playing it carefully I pulled a bit to hard when it took off and despite the clutch whirring the hook length snapped, damn.

It was obvious Kev was now going to be the winner, but I kept going I lost another fouler and then had 2 carp in the last 15 minutes one landed on the all out. I had 60lb on my clicker and thought the silvers would go 8lb. Steve Long started weighing from peg 132, and Steve Trevett had 71lb 8oz, he did not have a carp in the last two hours. Scott had 33lb of silvers and then my turn, carp went 58lb 10oz and my silvers 9lb exactly for 67lb 10oz in total. My only hope of winning any coin was if I beat Chris Davis to get the section by default, it would be a long wait till he weighed in.

Winner was Kev Dicks on peg 112 with 131lb 3oz, He must had had more than half of that in the last 2 hours.
Steve Trevett was 2nd and last in the money.
I was 3rd overall and did get the section money as Chris weighed 62lb 6oz for 4th place.

Silvers was won by Nigel Easton on peg 118 with a great 42lb 9oz, he really does know how to catch the silvers!

Carey had fished very poor, and Campbell by recent standards was also poor. I should have been second had I not lost the carp that snapped me, and just feel I didn't the waggler right, but then I also know that going for a few silvers mid match actually got me the section money, happy enough.

The water in the lakes was still very cold and it is going to take some sustained warmer weather to liven things up and make the carp move, I was surprised that in Shepton Mallet there was still snow in some fields, we don't want anymore of that thank you!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Angling Times Winter League Final 1999

I was never planning on fishing this weekend as I was going to spend the weekend in Plymouth, my eldest daughter is at Uni there and we could see her and watch the Gas play. I'd been full of cold all week and so didn't feel great travelling down. Walking into the ground Saturday I was chatting and didn't see a football come flying my way, first I knew was when it caught me on my ear and jaw and nearly took my head off! Never did find out which Rovers striker hit, but my jaw is still aching. Of course we then lost the game (cheers Ref) and struggled to get out of the ground due to police keeping fans apart. Nearly managed to meet up with Andy Seery before the game, but the pub was simply far too packed. Drove home Sunday morning, through some nasty snow but I think I missed the worst of it so was lucky.

Back in June 1999 it was mostly about practising on the river Trent for the ATWL final. I read up as much as I could on how teams and individual winners had caught before. Bloodworm and Joker seemed to play a big part, not a strong point for our team, so we would be looking for feeder fish. The match was on the embankment, so in the centre of Nottingham, and as much as I was looking forward to practising I was looking forward to some good nights out too. First practice as a team was on Sunday 20th June. I went down the maggot feeder route to begin, and after 2 hours I was blanking having missed a bite and lost a fish. The only lads doing well were catching bream on the groundbait feeder, so after a walk I changed over to that. It saved the blank but I only had one roach. Ian Spriggs, Darren Gillman and Glenn Bailey all caught bream that day, so at least as a team we learnt something.

Thursday 24th June and I was off to a golf course near Dorking called Gatton Manor. One of my customers was having a golf and fishing day, with one of the lakes on the course being my home for the day. There were very few pegs available as the lakes were not normally fished, I found a spot in corner but would rather of been up the other end where large carp were cruising around. I struggled to catch for large parts of the day, but if I fed heavy I could get lots of fizzing but no indications. In the end I fished in the margin next to a little patch of lillies, I had 1 carp and 7 skimmers but lost 3 carp which snapped me.

Saturday and drove back up to the Trent, another practice for the team and this time I went straight down the gbait feeder route but also fed a pole line with gbait and joker. It was a very difficult day, and I ended up with just 2 hybrids on the feeder and 1 perch on the pole, although I did lose a better fish in the pole which snagged me. The river was fishing very poor and we all struggled.

Back up again for a weekend, and Saturday 3rd of July saw us fishing on pegs just below Trent Bridge. As a team we were being helped by a famous Trentman called Jim Meakin. Jim had been a friend of Frank Barlow and travelled with him a lot in the past, Frank nicknamed Jim "Butaine". I was fishing today with a little bit of fishmeal gbait mixed in and it did no harm as I had 8lb of skimmers and hybrids in 3 hours fishing. Everything was caught on the feeder with a 20 to 0.12 with single or double red maggot on the hook, then later I added some chopped worm and caught a few on bits of worm. It was a good session for me as I managed to make a few things work. The next day we fished an open match, the last chance to fish prior to the final. I was 12 pegs above Trent Bridge and as I was walking to my peg Jim asked if I could let him have some fishmeal gbait. I had a right struggle, the river coloured up badly and I scraped 2 perch and a skimmer, all that really fed were odd bream and skimmers, and Jim had a few and asked me to fetch him up some more fishmeal the following week.

Saturday 10th July was spent travelling up to Nottingham, I'm trying to remember who was in the team, and this may not be 100% correct.. Tony Rixon, Pete Sivell, Mike Nicholls, Ian Spriggs, Darren Gillman, Mark Jefferies, Glenn Bailey, Dave Lewis, Kev Boltz, Andy Floyd, Kev Winstone, (please feel free to correct me).

We went out for a few beers and a curry, Jim invited us all to his club where there were many pool and snooker tables and cheap beer! We were sat talking and he said I think you will do well tomorrow Tim, I was taken aback, and then Mark Bailey said, yes I think you might win it! The beer was talking, but at the time I was amazed at what they said and I felt a bit pumped up.

The next morning there were a few lads with sore heads, we couldn't have looked that great when we arrived at the draw. The conditions could not have been worse for our team, we were well aware we needed to catch on the feeder but the river had gone clear and it was a bright sunny and hot day. I went to pay Billy Knot my individual bet, and it was then I realised I was skint! I'd spent all my money and had to borrow a few quid to get a bet on. The draw was done and off we went to our pegs dreaming and hoping of a special result.

As I began to set up it dawned on me that I was fishing in the area where we practiced on the first day, so I at least knew bream were in the area. All I set up was a gbait feeder and a pole. On the all in I balled in some bait on the pole line and then grabbed the feeder rod. The anglers around me all did the same and cast their feeders a very long way out. I cast out only about 35 metres where I would have that line all to myself and where the lads who caught bream in practice fished. Fifty minutes in and I had not had a bite, but neither had the lads around me, so I decided to start to add some chopped worm into the feeder and put an inch of worm on the 18 hook. Fifteen minutes later and a little rattle gave me a 2oz perch, phew not blanked. Then another little perch 10 mins later. Then I had an almighty bite, and I forgot the golden rule, don't strike. As I picked up the rod in haste I felt a knock and it was gone, snapped up. Damn, that was my chance gone, had to be a chub or barbel and the 0.12 stood no chance. Shortly after this to rub salt into the wounds the lad to my left landed a chub that was nearly 6lb! I was livid with myself.

I was desperate for a bite, a bit of luck, and as I had the 2 perch I saw no sense in trying the pole and kept on the feeder. Nick Lewis walked along with his camera and took a snap of me and said it was fishing really hard for all.

Not long after this I had a a lovely steady drop back bite, and as soon as I picked the rod up I knew I had a bream on. I think my heart rate went from 60 to 160 in about 2 seconds. As I played this fish back I was absolutely bricking it, my heart was exploding out of my cheat, never have I felt so much pressure. When eventually this bream surfaced a huge "wow" went up behind me, I glanced behind and about 150 people had assembled to watch, now I was really shitting myself! Thankfully the hook stuck and I landed a near 5lb bream to huge cheers and applause from the crowd, I think I may have shouted get in. I was so shocked I could hardly get bait back on the hook as my hands were shaking so much. A steward (who knew nothing about fishing) asked what I had caught, I said a bream about 4lb, " A preen?" he said, lol!  The team were soon to know what I had caught as the news of my fish was relayed via tannoy to all and sundry from the press tent, and of course that meant more visitors and interest. I tried my best to keep my concentration, and I did receive a lot of encouragement from Nick, Mark and Jim during the day.

I managed to land another bream later in the match, and pulled out of another when the worm had doubled over the hook. When the all out was called I'd had 6 bites in 5 hours, and that was a lot more than most. Talk was I was in with a chance of winning as the river was fishing really bad, and when the match finished photographers were staying close, and I got to talk to Mick Rouse a lot that day. It was all a bit of a blur if I am honest, packing up and waiting for the scales, then weighing in in front of a huge crowd, and the weight of 9lb 9oz being called out. I wanted to know how the rest of the section was doing but Mick said you've beat all of them and probably won the match and he took some photos for the Angling Times. Nick carried on taking snaps too.

When I got back to the press area it was plain to see it had been a struggle for the lads, and we ended up 7th and got some money as a team. Dave Lewis lost a bream and blanked and that would have made a big difference, but such is life. I finally found out that I had won the match, and it was an amazing feeling, something I had always dreamed of, winning one of the very biggest events in match angling. I was heartily congratulated by the lads, and I think it gave them a buzz that we had the winner in our team. Jim Meakin and Mark Bailey's comments from the night before stuck in my mind, and they just simply said we knew you would win, weird!  Eventually it was presentation time and I was given a nice wad of cash by Billy Knott (over £500) and the trophies from the sponsor "weathercall". You can see Billy in the background of this photo, telling everyone I had a full bet and moaning about it, lol.

The drive back home that night was a sweet one, Darren was driving and we kept ourselves amused on the journey back. I said the TBI (Trent Bridge Inn) was a brilliant place to drink in, Darren later changing TBI to "Tims Bream Incident". I lived off the buzz of this match and congratulations from many anglers for weeks after.

Forgive me if I went into a lot of detail and bored you with this, but recalling this day still brings back special memories, not only of the win for myself, but of what was a great bunch of anglers and good mates I fished with, many of which I am happy to say are still good friends today.

Next week, the clocks go forward, British Summer Time begins, and weather permitting I will after a few weeks break be back on the bank! Tight lines.

Sunday, 4 March 2018


First an update on my post on the ATWL final last week. One of the lads in the team, James Carty, had a feeling the results had been worked out incorrectly. With three teams tied for fourth place we had come 6th on weight, but the rules of the competition state in the event of a tie the team with most section winners, seconds etc are to be used. Martin Barrett mad an official objection to the result and a day later the Angling Trust came back and agreed and as a result Thatchers were promoted to 4th place and £800 as winnings. A shame the results were not done correctly, but at least the AT recognised the error and sorted it quickly.

This weekend the fishing has been curtailed thanks to the "beast from the east"! Steve Long had to cancel the last round of the Viaduct winter league as the snow was very bad and nobody would of been able to get in and out of the fishery. Of course today has been a beautiful day (at least in Bristol) and spring like, though I decided that attempting to fish anywhere was a bad idea as the water will be ice cold. The final round is now weekend, but that is bad news for me (and some other anglers I know) as I have other plans and cannot fish, a shame as I was doing well and had enjoyed the league. All to soon the river season will be over, and as is bloody typical I am sure it will be well fishable once the season ends, more on this later. Anyway picture below is one I'm sure shared by many people as the snow blanketed their garden, I managed to keep a number of birds alive with the food I put out, and a couple of apples cut in half attracted fieldfare for the first time ever.

I went out Saturday to the Hollybush with Glenn Bailey and Mike Nicholls, it was nice to walk in the snow on the deserted cycle track. I had a lovely meal and more than a few beers, it took me a lot longer to walk home, and then as I was on my own had too much whiskey. Picture below of me part way though the delicious chicken pie.

Back to March 1999 and on Sat 13th I fished a new lake at Hunstrete, I did not know it then but it was called bridge lake. I fished with punch bread on the pole to strt and had just three bites and three roach, but they were all 1lb+ I went onto the waggler with maggots and it was slow, but I had six more roach with the biggest being 1 1/2lb. Wish I had a camera back then.

A couple of weeks off then on Sunday 28th March half a dozen of my mates decided to go pleasure fishing. We went to the Sedges based on advice, but when we got there nobody fancied it and so we went off looking for another place. We ended up at a place called Langford Lakes which was near Lovelynch, I'd never seen it before, and I've never seen it again after this day. We were allowed to use keepnets so I think we all had a couple of quid on it. Everyone was on one bank but I had to traipse around the other side. It was well coloured and I decided to fish in closer in the shallower water a topset out left and right. I fed the two lines with caster and kept rotating as bites died on one line. I had a lovely day catching 20lb of roach and skimmers, plus three 1lb perch and five tench to 1 1/2lb. I think the rest of the lads struggled like hell.

Saturday 10th April and another new venue, Cuckoos rest, again just pleasure fishing. I think I went with Andy Floyd and we woke the owners up trying to pay them, when we should have just started fishing lol. I fished a waggler with caster and a 22 to 0.09 and all I fed during the day was 1/2 pint of caster. I caught roach to 12oz, skimmers, hybrids and small tench for 20lb+. I could only get bites on maggot, single or double, but in the last 30 minutes caster on the hook was the only way I could get bites.

 It wasn't until the 24th of April that I fished a match, a small one on Century Pond run by Keynsham AA. It was a very hard match for me, I had one 3lb carp, 8 little uns fishing cubes of luncheon meat dusted with fishmeal groundbait. I also had 5 skimmers over a bit of groundbait, in total my weight of just 7lb 14oz got me 3rd and last in the money. The next match was 20th May and back at Century where I thought it would fish a lot better. Alas it was worse and it was hard to get a bite, in the end I caught a few fish by fishing in the margins, and I was 3rd again with just 3lb 10oz.

That was it for my close season in 1999, not much fishing as I had a very young family and I found myself travelling away from home with my job more. At the end of the day you've got to find the right balance and as someone once told me, your kids won't be young for long don't miss out on their childhood. I'm not sure if I will be able to get out on the river before the end of the season, it is going to be dirty and cold as the snow melts and salt goes in, I might consider a day off work if it looks ok and I can get the time off. It really is about time this close season was reviewed, I read a report which says the only fish that are likely to spawn early are Pike, Dace and Grayling. We miss fishing the river when the fish have to be at their fittest before they spawn, that means they need to feed hard. If we get a mild Feb / March the end of the season can be the best fishing, and that is because the fish are triggered into feeding up, bream especially figure in huge bags. Then when we are allowed to fish it in mid June the fish are in their worst condition, tired and damaged from the rigours of spawning. It doesn't make sense at all to me, I'd be happy for a close season of sorts if it is shown it is needed, but say one from Mid May to end of June. Just my opinion and formed from reading many views, but I truly believe it really is time to change this ancient rule.