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 ;-)