Sunday, 29 April 2018

Shiplate Fishery Open

Thanks to Mike Nicholls I was booked in to fish this match, a 20 pegger with 10 pegs on the two canal lakes, Hawthorn and West Pool. Not fished here for a long time so was really looking forward to coming back here. I had another busy week, I had travelled to Munich again on business (last Sunday flight so hence no fishing then) and was generally tired all week. I had a couple of hours at home on Friday night when I could make some rigs up to cover what I thought would be my options. Saturday was the last home game at Rovers and I somehow ended up sinking a fair few pints of Thatchers, and when I got home topped that off with a couple of large whiskeys...

Sunday morning and I was a bit sluggish if I'm honest, I rang Glenn to tell him I would not meet him, Mike, Geoff and Bela in Shipham cafe, instead I went straight to the fishery and tried one of the small breakfasts being sold on site, I was more than happy with, and I felt better for it. This fishery has an avid following of regular anglers and I knew I was going to have my work cut out to beat them but I like a challenge. It was great to Steve Howell again, we used to battle out nearly every weekend at Cider Farm lakes many years ago. Steve had won a little knock up on Hawthorns yesterday with 180lb, it surprised me as I thought with the weather going cold the fishing might be affected.

I got in the draw queue not far behind slayer Dom Sullivan who is very consistent and hard to beat, he drew on Hawthorn peg 9 a good area as I recalled. My turn and I pull out short walk peg 1 on Hawthorn. Lots of good vibes from everyone about this peg, and was told a lot of fish live there down in the corner by the sedges. However, I was told the sedges come out a fair way and the peg is a known tackle graveyard. I had brought bait for silvers and carp but now was going to focus on carp and that meant there were only two prizes I could win today, overall winner £100 and lake winner £55.

The peg was just about 14.5m wide, it had some bull rushes and spikey grass as well as a bit of bear bank to the left. The wind was blowing from the North East and for the most part I was not that badly affected by it. A 4x10 F1 shallow for 2 1/2ft of water and a dibber for fishing right over and pellet shallow. 0.16 to 16 KKM-B on both.

The feared end of the corner is pictured below, I plumbed about and decided upon a spot at 14.5m in line with the left side of the gate, it was about 3 1/2 feet deep here and I set up a 4x12 Des Shipp float with 0.16 to 16 KKM-B. The same rig would do for fishing my margin at 5m, virtually the same depth. I also set up a 0.4g rig for fishing in the deepest water with corn. As I was setting up there were carp showing themselves and blows, it looked good.

On the all in I fed some corn and a bit of pellet at 11m in the deep, some pellets down to the corner and fed the far bank with a catty. The deep line was fizzing and so I dropped in on there first with a piece of corn, I had a couple of digs but after 15 minutes no fish. With a few carp showing themselves across the far bank I moved over there. Starting on the deeper rig I had a few signs and lost two foulers, onto the shallow rig and for 10 minutes I was infuriated by getting liners but not fish. I finally managed to hook a carp and as the hour ended I had landed 3 for about 10lb. Sadly the fish completely drifted away from the far bank and I never hooked another fish here all day.

I was 90 minutes into the match and going nowhere so had to try the scarey corner. First drop in and I hooked a carp but did not pull hard enough and it snagged me and snapped the hooklength. New hook on and I tightened the elastic up a bit more. Back down there and I had 3 carp in 3 drops and got them all out. Of course the next one I hooked did me good and proper. I tried elsewhere but I could not get a bite anywhere else in the peg, so it was back to the corner. I had quite a few problems hooking up on the bottom, probably sedges, but also branches, so I went a metre to the right and replumbed. I hoped this would take me away from the snags and help me land a few more carp. To begin with it was a good move as I had a few more carp. However, I lost a carp and after this seemed to hook up on more snags, and had one carp on which was boiling just under the surface snagged, I got it free and landed it. I shipped down my pole with cupping kit and managed to clear some line / elastic and a branch!

Sadly the bottom here was covered in twigs it seemed and it became harder to get proper bites and the swim gradually slowed. Fours gone and I had about 65lb. I had fed dead maggots at 5m but I had only taken 2 small carp and a tench here. The fifth hour was a struggle, and I changed to feeding the margin with 6mm pellet, I should have done this from the start. The last hour was my best as I caught around 40lb of carp from the margin, using a 8mm pellet in the band I caught on the deck and on the drop. I lost one large fish that managed to get down into a snag, and I lost one last cast which snapped the hook length just before I was about to land the fish, I guess it was damaged as I was not putting huge pressure on it.

I looked at my clicker and I had 124lb but I tend to overclick on these smaller carp so having had about 28 carp it could be 100lb. I was the last person to be weighed in, and the board showed a 140lb was winning with 126lb 2nd, I didn't have that. I had 4 weighs and my nets went 115lb 4oz. I'd probably lost 7 or 8 carp, so more than enough to win the match. Plus I should feed pellet at 5m all day and I'm sure I would have caught a lot more. To say I was rusty at this commercial canal fishing would be an understatement, and not knowing the venue didn't help, still can't complain I had a nice bag of fish.

As it turned out Richie Hawkins won the match from peg 7 with 140lb 2oz, he caught shallow and in his margins. Dom Sullivan was 2nd with 125lb 12oz and I was 3rd on the day but no winnings.

Rob Birch won the silvers with 21lb 8oz from Hawthorn. Unluckiest angler today was Bela, he was 2nd on his lake Westpool overall and 2nd in the silvers on the lake but picked up nothing.

Coming back to fish here on Bank Holiday Monday, it will be on the main lake, which I think I have never fished before.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Sensas Kennet & Avon Canal Spring League

Earlier in the week I was looking for a match to fish and was kindly texted by Tony Rixon about a match he was running on Landsend, so I booked in on that along with Glenn. That was handy as I was working in Munich Weds to Friday and would have little time to prep but would be easy enough. However, not long before going to Munich I had a request from Martin Barrett to fish for the team in the K&A canal spring league, I protested that I would have no time to get any bait or prepare, but Martin was out of options and I could not let the team go short. The league this year was 27 teams of 4 anglers, so a good event.

I was delayed on my flight back Friday and spent a couple of hours late on making a couple of rigs and tying a few hook lengths, and sorted out some top kits with light elastic. That would have to do as Saturday was a busy day.

Up early Sunday morning to get to Spencers club in Melksham, but I parked up in the nearby McDonalds to grab some grub and avoid the packed club car park. I paid my pools and got my bait off Martin Barrett, and then waited for the draw which probably was going to be poor as Tony Gilbert was team captain and he has drawn crap all winter. It seem to be a good draw that Tony got, and certainly he was on a poor one up on the pile section. I was at Kings Arms and was going to need a sat nav to get me there as I had not been there before. I did get a little lost but saw Mike Martin and he told me the last bit. It was quite a long walk up the canal before I got to peg 1, and then a decent walk to my peg 11, bit of a hike for the lads on the last pegs. There were some nice bushes opposite me, but I have learnt that on this canal the far bank is often very shallow as the canal has silted up badly. I managed to get my box in place and started setting up as safely as I could on the narrow towpath.

I set up 4 rigs today, 4x14 for punch bread at 4m, 4x16 rig for fishing over gbait in 3 feet of water at 10 o'clock and 2o'clock at 13m, 4x14 rig for fishing further over in 2 feet of water.  By the bush was just 6 inches of water so that was left alone. I did set up a chopped worm rig but I never had a bite on this.

The angler on my left was Chris Telling, and he told me he had been pegged in this area last year and it was poor, but that the reed pegs to my right were better. Picture of the reeds, and on the far end of them was Gary Etheridge who was expected to do well.
The match began at 10:30, and I was about a minute late starting. I fed all my lines across with gbait and squatt, and one of the lines a bit of worm and caster, so one negative and one more positive. I started on the punch and was quite happy to get a few early bites even if it was from 1oz roach and and skimmers. It was not hectic, and every bite had to be worked hard to get, but after an hour I thought I was ahead of those anglers around me with probably 1 1/4lb. Out to the groundbait lines, and starting on the positive fed line in 3 feet I had a bit of a wait before a positive bite, a fair bit of elastic came out and it was a skimmer, how big I'll never know cos it came off.... Mark Poppleton had walked along to see Chris and as he walked back past me I had another bite and had another skimmer on, just small one of maybe 4 to 6oz, and this one also came off, FFS! No surprise I couldn't get a bite on this afterwards.

For the next hour all I caught were the odd small roach on pinkie, I would have like to have fed some squatt but the wind was awkward, but also caught a few more on punch. Chris on the next peg could loose feed and was catching roach regularly but they were very small. I topped up all my lines during the match, but I couldn't make any of them produce, a lighter rig and dripping in squatt would have caught me more small fish but I kept looking for the skimmers that would boost me up in the section. I did get a couple of 4 to 6oz skimmers from the shallower line, but after them this line died. I was really struggling and went back in on the bread and I managed to pick off another 6 or 7 small fish.

With an hour to go the lad on my right who had really been struggling then had about 10 small skimmers in no time. I was getting nothing. With about 25 mins to go I had a decent bite on the 3 foot line but struck thin air, then a boat came up. The boat didn't do a lot of damage so I stayed on this line, and a fwe minutes the float went again and this time I connected. It was my best fish of the day, a skimmer about 10oz. Sadly no more followed and the match ended with me knowing I had not done enough and was feeling a bit down and damp as it had been raining for an hour.

Rich Whitmarsh who was not walking grabbed the scales and walked off to peg 27 to weigh in. As he came back up I saw most of the weights were high 3lbs and 4lbs, more than I had. The lad two below had 2lb 15oz, then Chris had 3lb 3oz, I had 3lb 4 1/2oz and the lad to my right had 3lb 13oz, next to him on the reeds only had 2lb 15oz. Not the best of areas then it seemed. The section was won by a lad with 8lb 14oz, he had a 1lb roach, couple of hybrids and bits, and an eel of well over 3lb.

Overall the match was won by Tom Boyce with 27lb from opposite the marina mouth at the pile, a noted peg but a great weight. 2nd was Kev Abigail with 22lb of skimmers and roach, and 3rd Lee Trevitt with 16lb+.

Garbolino BMV teams were first and second, but the other Thatchers team were 3rd and well in contention. My Thatchers team struggled, with only Nick Chedzoy doing any good as he had 7lb+ mainly on worms.

Not a great day out, I never felt like I got to grips with the peg, lack of preparation certainly didn't help, but I never got any lines going other than the punch line. I should have had 4lb+ that is for sure, and those lost skimmers were costly. No fishing next weekend as I have to go to Munich yet again, and this time I had to fly out on the Sunday  :-(

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Windmill Fishery Open - Match Lake

I haven't been to Windmill for quite some time, and truth been known I tried to get in on the Viaduct Campbell open but it was sold out. Anyway, Windmill is very close to home and contains plenty of carp so it was still good option. I met Glenn Bailey at Wetherspoons in Kingswood and I went for the large version whilst Glenn had the traditional. Mine was very nice but Glenn said his bacon was not warm.

Onto the fishery and the road down was full of potholes and I had to drive very carefully. However, the fishery staff advised they were sorting that out, and fair play to them because after the match they had filled every hole with tarmac, nice work. Sadly there were only seven anglers that turned up to fish the match, disappointing but hopefully if the weather finally warms up it will bring the locals back. The match lake has been repegged, and new platforms put in, and as a result the fishing is much more comfortable and there is less pressure on the corner pegs. The draw was done and I pulled out peg 25, that would have put me close to a lot of fish on the old pegging, but now I was right at the near end of the lake facing the point of the island in the deep water. Can't say  was best pleased with the peg because with the Northerly wind in my face it would limit options and only a lead rod would get me to the island.
I set up a Preston Innovation 15g Inline Cube with 0.17 Powerline to a 16 PR38. These Preston cubes are great as they are fixed when you cast out but the lead separates very easily from the attachment, and often comes loose when playing / landing a fish, and as such they are very fish friendly. If you haven't tried them give them a go as they are now my first choice for commercial lead fishing.

Image result for preston innovations leads

I set up a 0.4g pole rig for fishing in front at about 9m, but no more mention of this as I never had a fish from this line. I was told the margin here could be good, and I had lots of room so was really confident of catching. I set up a 4x10 PB4 with 0.165 Exceed to a 16 PR456 and I looked for 2 feet of water. I plumbed lines 5m to my right  and 8m to my left both were a few feed off the bank. There was a lot of scum and dead reeds on the surface and I had to clear that out, my chosen spot to my left was up past the clump of spiky grass.

I could see all the anlgers on the lake, and my nearest neighbours were Geoff Francis on peg 2, and Mike Nicholls on peg 23. Glenn was on peg 22. The match started at 10am and I fed my long pole line with 4mm pellet, my RH margin with dead maggots, and my LH margin with 4mm pellet and corn. I began the match on the lead rod, and fed sparingly with 8mm pellets. I was pleasantly surprised to get a liner first cast, but not bite developed. Out again and another liner which caused the tip to drop back as the lead moved down the steep slope. Out again and a small indication, but then nothing. In fact it was an hour in before I had another sign and this was a proper bite and I landed a 3lb carp. At the same time Glenn had his first carp on the pole and Mike had a small carp. I thought maybe this was the signal for the fishing to improve, and it was, but not for me. Glenn and John Osbourne below him started to get carp on the pole. I couldn't get a sniff.

I think it was nearly halfway through the match when I was still on one carp and I was now so cold from the wind that I had to go to my car to get my windstopper fleece. I took a walk then to see Mike, Glen and John and then got back to my peg. I cast the lead out again with the 8mm coppings pellet and blow me the rod took off. A nice 5lb carp. Next cast and a liner then a another wrap round and I landed a 6lb carp. In fact I had another three carp in the next five casts and I was all of a sudden I was up with leaders. Sadly the fish drifted off again, and I was sure they were sitting in between Mike and Glenn as I saw odd carp top there all day, whereas on Geoff's side it was dead quiet and he couldn't get a liner.

The fish had really deserted me again, and with all of my pole lines still not giving me a single indication I was back on the lead. But it was not happening and Glenn tried the lead and caught four on it in no time at all. I had a good moan that the fish were no longer in front of me and I had hardly finished saying it when the tip went round, moaned that one on lol! I managed another one on the lead and there were some fish there as I was getting liners, but I couldn't get them to take the bait, and I tried different pellets, pop ups and cast in different places. Maybe a waggler would have been better but the wind had put me off setting it up at the start, but now the wind had dropped completely.

Chris Gay had come out for a walk around the lake and was behind Mike Nicholls when with 20 minutes to go I tried my LH margin again, within 30 seconds of dropping the float in the piece of corn was snaffled by a lovely 3lb carp. I shipped out again and fed a few pieces of corn and waited a bit longer this time, and Chris was behind me when the float dipped. I struck and was soon playing a much bigger fish. It was one of those fish that feel heavy but don't fight much, and I soon slipped the net under a double figure carp. Back out again and after a few minutes the float seemed to lift up a little but nothing else, I waited but it never moved. I thought I need to feed more so lifted up and a fish was on, hmmm fouled? I played the fish out and reckon it was 6lb and was hooked in the mouth, lucky fish. Shipped out again and toss potted in some more 4mm pellet and corn, there was less then 5 minutes left. I had what was a delicate bite but I struck and another carp was hooked. This one fought hardest of all and gave me a couple of worrying moments, but I landed it as the all out was called, probably an 8lb carp. What a great last 20 minutes, must have had 30lb and as Glenn and John had slowed up I was now looking at top spot as I thought I had 65lb.

The scales came up from Dave Haines and Glenn was top with 55lb. I had two weighs and my total was 73lb 5oz and that was enough for the win. Pic of me with the fish from the second weigh, and what I must say is what brilliant condition the fish were in, not only were their mouths and fins in good nick they were solid and very healthy indeed.

It was nice to be back at Windmill and to win what was in reality a knock up. I admit I was a bit down and out early on, but as ever with carp fishing you just cannot ever give up! Mike Nicholls won the silvers with 14lb of roach and a few skimmers. Hopefully anglers will return now the weather is improving, there were carp boshing down the other end of the lake (out of the wind, or away from the anglers?) and let's hope they get on the feed.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Bob Warden Memorial - K&A Canal Bath

I had a really busy week and was looking after some Hungarian business associates for a few days, when it dawned on me on Thursday I hadn't sorted any bait for fishing, but then I hadn't sorted any fishing either! Nicola Goodhind sent me a reminder of this match and I could fish it this time, it had been cancelled a few weeks ago when it snowed when I was away. Thanks to Mat Challenger who was able to entertain my late order for bait which I picked up Saturday. I made some rigs up Saturday and kept them fairly positive as I had no bloodworm and joker and would need to catch on other baits. It was a bit of work to change all the gear back to canal stuff from recent commercial carp fishing.

I stayed up late Saturday to watch the boxing so was a tad tired when the alarm went of at 6:30. Shame really as I completely forgot it was April 1st and probably for the first time ever did not wind the wife up. Anyway, onto the draw venue at the Crown pub Keynsham, with the sun in my eyes I did not spot all the anglers outside the pub, and they said it was not open. Hmmm, not an April Fools it was real, no breakfast! Nic and Mike got on with the draw and I pulled out peg 11 which was first peg just into the bay at Darlington. Happy with that and skimmers were on my mind. However first stop was McDonalds in Twerton to get some grub.

I got to the canal and couldn't believe my luck, the peg to my left on the reeds (which I would have preferred) was not in and so I was end peg, and the next peg was on the duck ramp down by the tunnel, Will Gibson was on this peg. Mat Challenger had caught 20lb of skimmers and perch last week past the bay, an area I really like, but this had not been pegged today. I've drawn this peg before and have never really done great off it, but I was confident enough today.

My peg at the start with the sun in my face.

Simple rigs, a 4x14 for punch bread at 5m with 18 PR311 to 0.07, another same rig for 16m at 11 o'clock where I would feed gbait, and another 4x14 at 13m straight in front for worm and caster with a 16 PR333 to 0.10, and a 4x10 caster rig for right across by the moored boat with 20 PR333 to 0.09.

As I was setting up a number of people walking asked the usual questions.. that's a big rod, what fish are in here, etc. However, one lady was jogging past and she was in awe of my pole, and she stopped and asked "Why have you got such a big rod?" I realised it was Ali Vowles who works for BBC news, TV and Radio. I had a bit of laugh with her and her fellow jogger and told her why a long pole was important, nice lady.

The weather was lovely to start, very light wind if any, and sunny, it was a pleasure to be out. At 10am the match began, and I fed liquidized bread at 5m, as well as my gbait and worm and caster lines. I stuck a 6mm piece of punch bread on the hook and shipped it out, the float settled and fairly zoomed under, a good fish was hooked and I played it carefully. I thought it might be a bream, but it turned out to be a 1lb hybrid, as you know them hybrids fight like demons lol. Lovely start, and hoped there would be a few more of them, but it was a small roach every chuck after this,can't complain. Fifteen minutes in and the boat to my right was going to move off, but after they told me they were going to Bathampton I convinced  them it was quicker to walk, and they took my advice, result! To be fair the first hour was a bite a chuck on the bread with these little roach and I did have a 4-6oz skimmer. Team mate Andrew Cranston had turned up for a bit and I think he enjoyed seeing my float going under as he hasn't seen much of that lately on the shit holes he has been on. He went off to see how the lads lower down were getting on.

After about 60 minutes of steady fishing on the punch it slowed and the topping up (which had worked earlier) wasn't as good. Then Andrew came back and I had a few small roach and a 12oz skimmer which took the punch on the drop. Then bites were iffy and it was time to try the other lines, sadly it was no good and just 1 small roach over the gbait was all I had. I then spent the next hour going nowhere at all, I couldn't get a bite and the punch was dead. I was wishing I had some bloodworm and joker!

The boat owners returned and then drove off, not really an issue as we had already had about 15 boats go through by now. Twenty minutes later a boat moored up in the space, but it was a small boat and left a big gap. With two hours to go I started to get bites on the punch line again, only small roach but very regular bites on a small piece of punch. By now I had I hoped encouraged at least 20 kids to try fishing, as they had stopped with their family to watch me, I even let some of them touch the fish I caught. I never got stressed about it, it was bound to be busy on the canal, and better to let the kids enjoy than be a grumpy old so and so. That said dogs off leads, a horse being ridden and bikers in a rush do try your patience at times. Plus numerous boats including this advert for Tango...

One thing that was evident today was that the fish never worried about the noise, bank walkers or boats or noisy people on boats never made a blind bit of difference.  In fact another boat moored up by me, and it was just in front of me and I had to move 1 metre to my left. There was a lot of banging etc, and honestly it made no difference to the punch line. You can see how close it was to me now (plus another boat going past) and I could not go  further left due to another moored boat.

I did manage to catch a 6oz and 2oz perch on my worm line, but no skimmers, I never had bite across by the boat on the caster line. Basically it was just bites on the punch and I kept small roach coming whilst trying the other lines up until the all out.

I was happy enough as I had only bumped a couple of small roach, but was disappointed that I did not get into skimmers. It was a day of bites other than a poor middle spell. The scales arrived and I registered 8lb 6oz which was a lot of fish and although less than I had hoped for it was a nice bag.

My weight was top of the four of us, with Darren Gillman next with 6lb 10oz in the tunnel. Back at the results I knew I would not be winning as Glenn Bailey had estimated 9lb, and as it turned out he won the day with over 10lb, thanks to a late 2lb+ skimmer. Glenn was on the white post turning bay up past the George.

2nd Rich Whitmarsh 8lb 10oz  Malthouse bay
3rd Andy Britt   8lb 8 1/2oz Malthouse
4th Me  8lb 6oz.

As you will guess they paid out the top 3, lol, so I won my section. Generally I would be gutted and analyse where I lost those few ounces, but today I hardly lost of a fish and never lost a bonus and was not worried about it at all and I even won a few raffle prizes. We had a right laugh in the pub, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Well done to the lads that fished as more than £300 was raised for charity, Bob's sons Lee and Leighton were delighted and even posed with the winner. Well done Glenn (he's the old one in the middle, lol)