Sunday, 29 July 2018

Riverfest Qualifier - Bristol Avon Newbridge

I was once again trying my luck on the Riverfest qualifier, a 60 peg match where three zone winners of 20 pegs qualify for a final where the top prize is £13,000!

Friday, didn't get into work, had bad bowels and was up a lot in the night.. managed a bit of river prep later in the day. Saturday felt a bit better and went to watch Rovers play a friendly at home, good to be back at the mem.... errr we got smashed 4 nil by Exeter! Got home and checked the gear again and mixed up my groundbait, Sonubaits Lake, River and Black plus some brown crumb. This would be my pole line gbait, I also had some F1 and brown crumb for fishing the feeder for the bream.

Saturday night and up about five times in the night, bah, didn't wake up till 8am which was OK as the draw today was not until 10am! Loaded my gear in the rain and had a breakfast in the Wetherspoons Hanham with team mate Jack Jones. I really wasn't sure how the river would fish, but when I drove past the river at Keynsham I could see it hadn't changed a lot, not much flow, a bream peg was going to be needed to qualify I guessed. Got to the Crown in Saltford and sat with Warren Bates and Matt Challenger, and Ben Rendall. There were a few locals present but a lot of anglers had travelled a fair distance. Kev Dicks was the organiser and got us underway, I was probably about 8 anglers from the front, in front of me was the legend Dave Harrell. Dave drew 140 in the trees and asked what that was like, you might get bream said Kev Dicks. My turn and blimey peg 146, next peg below Dave and end peg! Kev Dicks said you won't get bream, and I knew he was right. The end peg in the trees is a flyer for roach, and over the many years I have fished that is what you catch. I was gutted that I was not on a bream peg, but had now to get my head on a roach match.

After the walk from the rugby club I was soon sat on the peg surveying the water in front of me. There was a definite tinge of colour which made me think the bream would feed, and if it carried on colouring up the roach would not. My thoughts were I would have a good day on the pole catching roach but would need the bream not to feed in my zone. Jack Jones was on peg 88 and he was the first peg in my zone, not the best for him. There were some superb anglers in my zone, Hadrian Whittle, Brian Rigby, Richard Chave, Dave Harrell and many more, this was not going to be easy.

I had a boat to my left, but nobody appeared to be on it.

The standard view of a peg in the trees. I elected to fish from the top of the bank as this would make shipping back easier.

The wind was a bit of a barsteward, and on the pole I went for just 11.5m in length. I set up a 1gm pencil rig with 20 to 0.10, a 2g rig with 18 to 010. I did set up a flat float but the wind was so bad that even with the pole roost I could not keep it still, so that went back on the winder and instead I put on a 3gm rig. A 3AAA wag for shallow fishing, and a 5m whip were set up, both aimed at chublets / bleak if I was struggling. Last out of the bag and literally I was not going to bother, was the feeder rod, I tied on an open ender but no hooklength.

About 5 mins before the whistle I had formed 14 balls of gbait full of hemp, caster and dead pinkie. Then a dog off the lead went into my top sets, broke a number 4 and trashed my two heavier rigs, WTF!!! The all in was called, what to do... I balled it in and picked up the pencil float. I had a couple of roach and then bleak started to hold the float up, I pushed the bulk down but this was only a little better. Twenty mins in and I was already looking at a bad start and not getting the caster roach I needed. Out of frustration I put a bit of worm on the hook, it was left alone by the bleak and I caught a roach! It was somewhat strange fishing a pencil float with a bit of worm, but it was working quite well, a few more roach and then a couple of little hybrids and a 6oz skimmer. I bumped a couple of fish and knew I had to get a heavier rig on. I took one of my trashed rigs off and replaced it with a 4g job, far to heavy for the flow, but with a worm might be OK, I set it up with a 16 to to 0.11 powerline.

The heavy rig was OK, bites were less frequent but the quality was better, roach were 4oz and I had some more small skimmers. I also managed a skimmer of 1lb. This was all quite strange though as I had seriously never considered catching skimmers on this peg. I was fishing the heavy rig overdepth with either double caster or a worm, and the pencil float was set for fishing off the bottom with a caster. The skimmers would come and go, and as soon as they went I would catch a few roach, even on the heavy rig was best. This may have been because of the downstream wind which meant I had to hang onto the float to get presentation

I had a visit from Craig Fletcher, he said I was doing well with my estimated 7lb after 2 hours. I had another visitor, Dean Harvey and I had a few fish when he sat behind me, a 1 1/2lb skimmer and roach. When he left to go for another walk I reckoned on having over 11lb. I carried on getting bites mainly from roach and I was happy to keep putting fish in the net. Then Dean rang me to say that Steve Vernon on 109 had 5 bream for 22lb, shit that was it I was nowhere near that. I decided even though I was catching roach that I had to catch more skimmers / bream. I cupped in three balls stuffed with worm and caster and fished the waggler whilst I let that settle. The waggler was a bleak nightmare, so I was soon picking up the pole again. I tried the worm and had two small perch so went back onto double caster and had a 12oz skimmer. Maybe I was going to bag, hmmm, back to roach. I tried three red maggots but that was no good, so back on the worm. After a few tries I finally saw the float disappear a fair way down the peg, and this time a lot of elastic came out and I knew I had hooked a bream. Ten seconds later and I knew I had lost a bream...  a lump of slime was just above the hook and the bait was gone, damn!

I had to put that loss out of my mind, but it was nagging away at me that will cost me.... I tried the feeder over the pole line, but I had a roach and perch on it. Back on the pole and with double caster, less bites now, but then another decent fish hooked, managed to land an 8oz eel just as it snapped the hook length as twisted up. I chucked the feeder back out again whilst I put a new hooklength on. Richard Lacey came down and watched me and I had a small fish and then a decent bite. The rod bent over and Rich shouted bream, but I knew it was an eel. It was probably 12oz so a handy fish. Rich left me with 30 mins to go, and after this I really struggled and the peg had died and I had nothing else. I thought I had 15lb, and was just hoping I might win my section.

As I was nearly finished packing up Rich Lacey rang me, the good news was Rich Vernon's bream were small and he only had 15lb, but the bad news was there were two 16lb weights of skimmers. I really honestly thought I didn't have 17lb so was a bit gutted. I met up with the scales at Dave Harrell's peg after Rich Chave had weighed a good 14lb, Dave had 9lb+  of roach and chublets. Then it was me. When I pulled my net out Rich Chave and Lacey both set you've got more than 16lb, so when the needle settled on 18lb 4oz I was more than happy. I had won my ten peg section, but to get to the final I needed to be the best weight of the other ten peg section above the arch.

My net of fish.

I walked back to the rugby club with Rich Lacey who was really kind saying I hope you've done it. Back at my car and Jack Jones was just going to weigh so said he would call me back, but he said someone had 25lb and so did I guy in the car park so that was the dream over. However, a few mins later and Jack sent me a message on whatsapp that I had won the zone, the 25lb was a rumour and no more. I'll be honest I was elated, I have not felt a buzz like that for a long time!

Key today were, I did not loosefeed due to all the bleak, I fed balls of gbait as top ups. But most importantly I altered my rigs (not much choice lol) and hookbaits towards skimmers when I never expected to catch any.

The match was won by Derren Harper with a magnifcent 153lb 12oz!!! 42 bream from peg 59

2nd Warren Bates from next door on 61 with 49lb 10oz.
3rd Steve Sadler with 32lb 7oz of bream from peg 33.

The three qualifiers were Derren, Steve and myself. I now have to get my around around the fact I have to fish the river Severn in Shrewsbury for two days in November, a place I have never seen let alone fished. But with £13,000 up for grabs I will have to find some info out and give it my all, as these opportunities are few and far between. Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough already to congratulate me, I am on cloud nine, and even if I shit out in the final at least I get to be part of it.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Super League Round 3 - River Huntspill

This is not the blog I was expecting to write..... I was all ready to fish a match at Newbridge as a practice for the RiverFest qualifier there next Sunday. Got a call Tuesday from Martin Barrett to say the team was short and needed me to fish, I protested but Martin said I didn't need to practice for a match at Newbridge, and so I was fishing the Huntspill. I like the Huntspill, generally a few fish to go at but end pegs can dominate.

I had another very busy week and no time to prepare (much) for the Spill, primarily because I was in charge of a day out with 20 people at Donington Park watching Truck racing on Saturday. I organise a sponsorship of a driver, and he is currently winning the championship, go Ryan Smith! It was a very long but fun day out.

Up early again Sunday and grabbed all my bait and gear and stuffed the car, Mr Barrett was bringing my gbait for the feeder, ready mixed. I got to Laburnham House and had a couple of sausage / bacon sarnies and a cup of tea and paid my pools. Martin did the draw and told me I was on 37 on the North Bank, "spawny git", "You Jammy Bastard", etc, etc. were shouted at me, this peg had won the last match and another little knock up with bream. About time I had a flyer! Then I heard "redraw".... you effing bastards! Back comes Martin with peg 42 in the same section, that's OK they said it is the other end peg!

I drove towards Gold Corner and parked up in the little carp park, first person I saw was Mark Williams of Nomads, he said he had peg 43, ummm, so you're end peg not me then... f.. sake. Day was starting well, lol. Paul Purchase had drawn 37 and I could not see him messing that up. A steady walk up the bank and got to my peg, well I could not fish right in front of it because of reeds, so I had to fish 2 metres to the left. I told Charlie Valender who was next to me that I would cast to the right.

As far as I was concerned this section was going to be won with bream, and for me to do any good for the team I would have to catch some. I set up a feeder rod for chucking down the middle of the river, had 0.13 powerline to 16 PR355 on this. The only other thing I set up was a waggler, 4AAA with 0.104 Exceed to 18 PR333. That was all I set up! I had a couple of senior moments, left some gbait behind for the pole, but Dan Squires had brought a barrow full and he gave me some ready mix, cheers Dan! Then I thought I had left my had and sunglasses at the draw, Charlie got me a cap, just as I found them fallen in my bait bag!

On to the fishing, 11am start and I cast out seven big feeders with chopped worm, casters, dead pinkie and squatt in. Meanwhile I threw little balls of gbait out regularly about 18m ready for the waggler.  I started on the feeder, and second cast had a twitchy bite and swung in a 2oz rudd. Thirty mins in and Mark next to me has two bream in two casts on the feeder, so I stuck with it. On the hour I had nothing more, Charlie had one small fish on the tip and tried the pole, after a couple of roach he had a bream, and 20 mins later he had another bream! Roughly 90 mins in and I've got 2oz, two bream either side, Paul and Andy Ritchings next to him look to have a couple of bream and the lad next to Andy has one. Two hours in and still nothing, so I tried the waggler to try to get a little more in the net and "rest" the feeder. I had a few small roach and a little skimmer on this, I had to fish well overdepth to keep the bait still as the wind was blowing down the river and causing a tow. However, as the wind increased the tow went from being with the wind to against it. When I went back on the feeder the quiver tip was now bending round quite a bit due to the tow. Many people seemed to struggle to catch fish at this time, although Paul still had a few.

Two hours to go and I had still not had anything on the feeder, Mark had caught another bream and a skimmer, Charlie was catching the odd eel and roach on the pole, Paul and Andy were miles in front of everyone else. I took a few more small fish on the waggler and a bonus 12oz skimmer which meant it was tight between me and Dan Squires for last in the section lol! In reality I was only using the waggler for short spells, probably had three tries at it all day as I spent most time of the feeder. I had taken a few calls from team mates, Andy Ottoway was struggling at Gold Corner, Mark Harper was in a crap section, and Martin Barrett was last in his section, and I said this groundbait wasn't looking a good choice! (It was Sonubaits F1, and some Bloodworm fishmeal).  With about 45 mins to go Mark rang me again and I had to tell him I was still doing shite, as I put the phone down I saw the tip going round properly, struck and I was into a bream. I took my time and was soon putting the net under a 3 1/2lb bream, as I did Mat Parsons walked up. I cast out and within a few minutes had a drop back bite and another bream was on, it fought a bit harder and was probably 4lb. Mat said I would get 5 in 5 chucks now, I wish! I had a couple of casts with indications, maybe liners, but still I thought the bream were still there. Then another cast and I just had a little tap and nothing else, and I left it there, nothing happened, after a while I picked the rod up to wind in and a bream was on! This was a good fish and fought very hard all the way in, over 4lb. A couple more casts and iffy bites, and then Mat went to help Dan again, I wound in and noticed that the main line was tangled around the link swivel. I think this had been like this for a few casts and had prevented bites from developing, damn. The tangle was so bad I had to set up again, and when I got back out there the bream had gone and I had just 1 perch and the match ended.

I was of course gutted that the tangle had cost me a bream or two I think, but my main aim was to hope to finish third in the section, but not sure as I thought it was close between Charlie, Mark and I.

The scales started at Mark, his bream were on the small side, he weighed 9lb 4oz when I had him down for at least 13lb. My turn next, and thanks to the size of my bream I had 14lb 5oz.

Charlie had 12lb and so I had managed to overturn the deficit on those two. Dan struggled for 2lb and the next lad had 6lb, Andy Ritchings then had about 38lb, but Paul put 66lb of bream on the scales, he had 17 bream in total. Paul told me that he missed lots of bites / liners and clearly had a lot of bream in front of him at times. Well done Paul.

Back at the results and Paul had only come second, Tony Goodland in the next section up from us on the opposite bank had 70lb, wow!

On the team front my lot managed to the win on the day, thanks to section winners, Nick Ewers, Nick Chedzoy, and Martin Barrett who just like me had some late bream, so the gbait did OK. Mark Harper and Rob Jones were second in section and I was third which I was happy with. After three rounds the league is very tight and Thatchers lead by just 1/2 point! The team are back on the Spill next week for round 4, but I'm making way for Ian Pauley so I can have a crack at the Avon on the riverfest.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

to blog or not to blog

Well the last few weeks have been busy, and since the superleague at Staverton I have taken the opportunity to spend some time with my wife on Sunday's, watch the world cup games with Glenn Bailey and our friend Thatchers Gold (sometimes we got to know him too well lol). Had a lovely time last Sunday in Dartmouth, what a wonderful place, saw some huge mullet there, but the whole place was a joy to behold.

I was working in Munich when Germany were knocked out of the world cup, lol, and got back late Friday. Had a few nights out and a great one this Friday when I went to T20 cricket to see Glos v Somerset thanks to my daughter Lucy who my the ticket as a present. Ended up with 12 of us going and despite the rain, or maybe because of the rain we had a cracking time.

I could have gone pleasure fishing this Sunday, after a trip to Bristol bus station, but I couldn't get the enthusiasm up to do it, plus I had no bait ordered. Instead I decided I would take a walk up  Newbridge and see if anyone was fishing as I hope to be fishing this next week and again on the Riverfest the week after. I took my binoculars so I could also do a bit of wildlife spotting too. As it transpired there were some anglers fishing and it was some of the Fry's lads that I first saw. I was saddened to hear that the new development at Frys has forced the lads away from the venue they have fished for many years. A season ticket was priced OK, but they were being asked to pay for parking every time too, which was not in the original deal. Sure there will be plenty of anglers who will be happy to know Frys is off the fishing agenda, but for me it is the shape of things to come, the thin end of the wedge. Pressure on the Bristol Avon from pursuits other than fishing is increasing, and people living on boats moored on the banks is the biggest change we see. As less anglers want to fish rivers angling clubs lose tab sales and won't pay much for the river rents. Boat owners seem to be able to moor anywhere, and Farmers are in some areas clearing trees for boats to moor up, that means at best good swims are ruined, at worst it is a peg lost for good. I imagine a few boats pay the same as a club, and as money talks there is only going to be one result on the river local to me I fear. The river is currently full of fish, more chublets than I can ever remember, plenty of roach, perch and of course bream and pike. Not every peg can win, but that goes for any venue. We have a couple of super leagues, commercial house winter league, and ATWL on the river, I look forward to them, I will enjoy them even if I do no good, I'm beyond worrying about how I do these days, more about the enjoyment of life.

There was some amazing wildlife on the river today; a kingfisher, buzzard, raven, dragonflies, more birds, ladybirds (UK not Chinese imports) and so many crickets and grasshoppers. Sadly the young lads in motorised dinghys and various other inflatables no doubt had no clue what the river actually supported, nor that wildfowl have long since deserted the river because of the noise. Talking of wildlife I sat behind Derek Coles for a bit, he was on peg 20 catching bits and bobs on his favourite long rod, ending up with about 11lb. Mike was on peg 24 and had a decent bream and lots of roach and chublets for 16lb, and Dean on peg 30 had a virtually similar bag to Mike for 15lb. Bites all day.

I walked on downstream and came to a Spanish angler Rueben who fished for Diawa Gordon League, he was sat on peg 50, a peg that has a lot of form in the summer. He was getting a roach a bung on the pole, until a pike turned up, and then a short while later another heavy fish took his bait on a light hooklength, Perch, Pike, hmmm no bream! See Video, I had to edit it down as it took Rueben about 10 mins to land it.

Rueben tried to catch another bream but only succeeded in catching perch and more roach, it was solid. When he chucked the feeder out I looked at my watch, it was time to go home and get the BBQ going so I could eat before the footy final. Suffice to say the few lads on the river had fun, pleasure fishing is always easier than a match situation though and it will not be as good on every peg come match days. Still, plenty of food for thought, and the lack of rain does not seem to have affected the river too badly. Hopefully next week I will have something proper fishy to blog about!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Superleague Round 2 - Bristol Avon Staverton

Life has been extremely hectic for me since my return from holiday, lots of business travel and little time to plan for fishing. I went to Munich Weds to Friday (it was a bit funny when Germany lost lol) and Saturday I drove to Manchester and back as my eldest daughter has moved there with a new job. Suffice to say when I woke up Sunday morning I was feeling tired, and lets face it this hot weather doesn't help either. A quick drive to Trowbridge for a McDonalds and met up with the rest of the team. Lee Trivett has done well on this venue recently and so we turned to him to draw the peg and give us any info he could on the pegs we got. Lee couldn't actually say anything about my peg, and the last match here I saw the results and it is was DNW.

The great thing about this place is that you can park your car behind your peg, and every peg has pole with the peg number on it like this.

I have to say the peg had lots of features on the far bank, although, and I know this might sound daft, I was concerned there was too much of the trees in the water. Basically there was a jungle opposite that came out a good 6 metres from the bank and I could imagine with the sun and clear water the fish would be happy to sit under it all. It looked like this.

As you can see it was right in front and slightly above me, and when I cast a waggler to it the waggler would soon be gone into open water. I set up a shallow waggler with a 18 PR333 to 0.10, and a deep waggler with 20 to 0.09, just had a few no8 and no10 down the line, the peg was about 10 to 11 feet deep from about 11m to 14.5m by the jungle. I elected to fish a pole line at 11m out in front, and down the peg at 9m, I had 3 rigs for this, a 1g pencil rig with 22 to 0.08, a 1.5g round bodied with initially 20 to 0.09, and a 4x16 with a few strung out shot with 22 to 0.09. That was it.

In my section were below me Mark Williams, above me Dave Micklewright, then Gary Etheridge, Steve Priddle and finally Jon Tocknell. No mugs there, and it seemed based on local knowledge Gary had a good peg. Dave, myself and Mark were pegged very close, it was not good at all, and were told we were on chub pegs and not good for roach. Another chub peg in the summer lol!

The match started at 11am, I cupped 4 balls of gbait containing a bit of loosefeed at 11m and a couple on the other line. I went straight out to 11m and hoped for an early bite, that did not happen, in fact I had 1 bleak and 1 roach on the pole in 15 mins and with Martin Barrett behind me egging me onto the wag I went with it, especially as I could see Dave and Mark had about the same as me, feck all! The wag started well for bites from very small chublets and bleak. It certainly wasn't hectic though, and soon bites tailed away, I had to cast in different areas to try to get a bite and way before the hour was up the bites had dried up. I thought I had about 10oz after an hour. Dave had followed me onto the wag and by casting a little upstream into a bay above a tree he caught some small fish and soon moved ahead of me.

I really struggled from this point on, I could not get a bite on the pole lines, and had to cast the shallow wag so close to the feature in the hope of a bite that I lost a few hooks, though mainly to underwater branches that I could not see. After 2 hours I hoped I had a pound, Dave had more than that for sure, and Gary had at least 2 1/2lb but had lost 3 chub and 2 perch! Mark below me was struggling badly and so I was at least beating one person. I kept rotating all the lines, but the pole was a complete waste, but I had to rest the waggler, I was surprised that I had not caught on the deep wag, and the strung out pole rig only held a couple of times with tiny bleak.

With about 2 hours to go Dave had two chub across, and he had lost one earlier, and now was a clear leader. I upped my feed as I was going nowhere and thought chub or bust. Dave hooked another but he could not get it out and it snapped him. With about an hour to go I had another go on the deep wag (trying another depth change) when the float dipped and I missed a bite towards the end of the peg. A few casts later another bite in the same spot and a 6oz chublet was landed. Next cast and the float disappeared with a bite on the drop, it was another chublet about 8oz to 10oz. Next cast a roach, maybe time for a few bites, sadly not! I managed another 4oz chublet , dace and 2 roach on the deep wag, and a couple of tiny fish to end the match. Those three casts were I hoped going to help me out overall, though I had no idea how the anglers above Gary had done, so my best chance was 3rd as I was sure Dave and Gary had beat me.

We weighed from Jon Tocknell, and he had struggled for 1lb 12oz, then a very grumpy Steve Priddle weighed in 2lb 7oz, Gary had 3lb 4oz and was cheesed off with the fish he had lost. Dave's chub and chublets went 5lb 12oz to easily win the section. My turn next and my meagre catch went 2lb 11oz, and with Mark only getting 12oz I was 3rd so 4 points out of 6.  I'd rather come 2nd as you get money for that, but quite frankly I only dropped of one 3oz chublet and lost nothing else.

Back at the Kings Arms for the results and the river had fished OK either end and hard in the middle. Sheet below shows the section 1st and 2nd..

The winning team today was Garbolino Blackmore Vale, DGL were next and Thatchers 3rd. Overall there is nothing in it, with DGL 61 1/2 points, GBV 61, and Thatchers 59.

Not sure if I am fishing next weekend, it looks like it is staying hot for another week or two, so I might get out to the coast if possible.