Sunday, 29 December 2019

Philtone Team Match - Hillview Fishery

Some time ago Neil Mercer mentioned to me that he was running a friendly team match between Christmas and New Year and would I like to fish, it was a free date and so I was happy to fish.

I travelled back from London on Saturday, I had been up to Alexandra Palace to watch the PDC World Championship with my eldest daughter. It was a cracking night of darts and we had a great view.

As soon as I was back I got the gear out to put some new elastic in a couple of top sets, and made up some more 4x12 rigs which got trashed last time I was up here. I was well prepared.

Up early for the first time since the holiday and I was all OK as I had not had any pop the night before. I was soon shooting up the M5 and at the fishery in good time to have a breakfast. There were plenty of decent anglers fishing this match and each team consisted of seven anglers. Captains were Craig Edmunds, Martin Rayet, and Tony Rixon. I was in Mr Rayet's team along with Neil Mercer, Dave Willmot, Clint Wojtyla, Martin McMahon and someone called Willow. I paid my pools and soon after the draw was made and I found myself on canal number 2 peg 56, this is the end but one peg on the canal (to the right as you look from the car park) and is the calmer end of the canal with a southerly wind.

As I took my gear out of my car and put it on my trolley I noticed a serious problem... the top drawer in my Preston box was missing, it hadn't fallen out in the car either. It was obviously at home in the shed, shite, all of my hooks, line, plummets etc are in there. Also the new rigs I had made were not in the box as they were on top the drawer I was sure. I spoke to my captain who said he would help me out and he gave me a few rigs, a disgorger, a plummet and a bread punch. As you can imagine I did get a bit of stick for this, only to be expected lol. My sad box....

At the peg I had some old (very old) Avon Angling team mates near me, Dave Lewis was on the next peg to me on peg 58, and behind me on the third canal end peg was Tony Rixon. Setting up didn't take long, a dobbing rig with 0.13 to 16 PR478, a 4x12 for fishing 3/4 across and also would do for the margins this side. A 4x14 for down the middle on 0.11 to 18. Just before the match I borrowed some bristle grease from Clint, I didn't want to lose any shot off the rigs as I didn't have any of them either!

The match started at 10am and I shipped out the dobbing rig with bread searching the far bank, within seconds Martin Rayet had a carp further down my canal, and Neil Mercer in the middle of the first canal had one. My rig just wouldn't move and I had no signs of fish, even Tony behind had a few. Dave had nothing and lost a follower, so quiet at our end. Then as I glanced left I spotted about 20 carp swimming just below the surface swimming. I tried swinging the dobbing rig at them but they didn't want to know at first though I did get an F1 out of the blue. The light on the water made it hard to see these carp, and so I stood up and then could see they were cruising around and I watched them move into the near bank about 12m down and then go out again. The far bank was 14.5 to 15m away at the bottom and there was no point going in there at this stage, so I tried the near margin first at 12m and soon enough a few carp appeared and I nailed one. I had another two quite soon after and was feeling a bit happier. In the picture you can probably see the light on the surface hiding the fish from my vision, though Tony behind me could see them.

After the first hour I had put about 5 carp in the net, Martin was still slaying them as was Trig and Neil. I took another few carp on bread from 12m line but then they seemed to go and a few rudd turned up. I had a go trying maggot in front of me to rest the carp, I tried on the 3/4 line but it never happened. Back to the dobbing rig and I went back down the edge and took another carp, but then nothing and so went a bit further down which produced a couple more before a bit of a barren spell. Again trying bread across and trying the maggot was a waste of time. I stuck the 14.5m section on and shipped further down the canal, after dropping in a couple of spots with nothing I then hit a sweet spot hooking 5 in 5 drops. It was mostly carp with just a rare F1. Of course the plundering stopped and that spot was now a rudd a chuck. I put the 16m section and went as far as I could and took a few more carp.

With a couple of hours to go Martin appeared to be well ahead on my canal, but nothing much else was being caught. Certainly Trig and Neil were out in front and kept catching. There was £30 for winning the canal and I thought that was out of reach unless I could line up some fish on maggot on the top set plus two and also in the margin. I failed to catch a single fish on these lines though, no F1's in my peg I think and for some reason my canal was fishing tough. I fed a bit of micro pellet on a couple of lines far and near bank long to my left, and these threw up one large F1, and 2 carp and a couple of foulers, but then nothing.

I basically only caught on bread dobbing, and the last 30 minutes were pretty barren. I was amazed at the difference from my last match here when on this canal there were lots of F1's caught on maggots and I also caught well on maggots on the third canal. This time nothing on maggot other than rudd when trying it dobbing.

The weigh in was done in a bit of light, and by the time the scales got to me (I was last to weigh) it was pretty dark and I couldn't get a photo. It was great watching the scales and as Neil did the weigh in there was a lot of banter going on and the match had been fished in good spirits with plenty of laughs.

My fish weighed in at 68lb 8oz, and that was top on my canal as I best Martin Rayet whose peg dried up on him in the last two hours and he ended with 65lb. He was well chuffed that I beat him and that I caught on his borrowed rigs lol!

1st Craig Edmunds 131lb
2nd Neil Mercer 89lb
3rd Tony Rixon 80lb
4th Tim Ford 68lb 8oz
5th John Fuidge 67lb 12oz
6th Martin Rayet 65lb

Winning Team was Mr Rixon's with 382lb, second my lot with 359lb, and Trigs team had 330lb.

Sheet below with all weights. I can't speak highly enough of this venue, when most people get lots of bites and the average weight over 21 anglers is 50lb a man, that's good winter fishing. When I got home I found the lost drawer and a tray of rigs right where I had put them before forgetting to put them back in the box!

Not sure when I will be back out on the bank as the next two Sunday's are taken up with other events, maybe I could get up here again on a Saturday?

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Midweek Open at Hillview Fishery

Later this month I am fishing a little team knock up match on Hillview Fishery (Nr Tewekbury) and a few of the chaps taking part said why not go up there for a little practice. I had 1 day of holiday left to use on 2019 and so off to Hillview it would be.

In between going to the gym Monday and Tuesday evening I managed to tie up some rigs and hook lengths for the canals at Hillview. I was OK with what I had done but would have like to have had a few more duplicate rigs. Glenn Bailey picked me up at 7:30 Wednesday morning, nice to be travelling together in the van again. Traffic was always going to be a pain getting out of Bristol but once on the motorway it was fine. It was cold and frosty start but I didn't expect to see the venue with ice on it so that was a bit of a shock.

We met up with Martin Rayet, Joe McMahon, Neil Mercer, Dave Wilmott, Louis Townsend and some of their mates, and had one of Keith's breakfasts which does nicely for me. Keith soon got the draw under way and with only 12 of us fishing he put 4 pegs on each of the back 3 canals. I puled out 71 on the third canal, a good area and I know peg 70 is one of the favoured pegs so I was very happy.

On my canal were Louis Townsend on peg 75, Lee Masey on 78 and a local lad called Gerry on 81. My peg was iced over but only just as the pegs to my left were clear. Martyn Rayet walked the far bank to clear his peg of ice and kindly cleared mine too, cheers mate. I didn't take me more than a couple of minutes to break my ice up with my pole cup, and it soon disappeared.

Set up wise I went with just 3 rigs, a 4x10 with 0.11 to 16 PR478 for dobbing, a 4x12 with 0.11 to 18 GPM-B for fishing close to the far bank and near banks, and a 4x14 with same line and hook for fishing in the deepest water. I was unsure whether to feed and fish pellets or maggots, and decided to start dobbing and keep an eye on what was going on. I went out with the bread rig and it took me about 5 minutes to get a bite and net a F1 carp. Trying to get the second fish proved somewhat harder, meanwhile the guy opposite me on peg 94 on canal 4 was getting one a bung. I searched the far bank and finally got another bite and this time a small carp to my left. Another fish came soon after but then no more, I noticed Martin who had started slow was now getting regular fish dobbing. By going even more to my left I got another two fish but again that was my lot in that spot. I couldn't line the fish up whilst opposite they were catching well.

I decided to switch to dobbing maggots and tried in the spots I had caught, I got a couple more carp and did lose a coupler of foulers. I decided that as I wasn't really going anywhere I would feed some maggots across by toss pot and see what happened. In hindsight I should have done this earlier I think but after the ice I was a little negative in my thoughts. I soon started to get bites on double maggot on the 4x12 float fishing about 1/2m off the far bank. I took more F1s now, and also had to put up with some gudgeon and tiny carp and F1, but I was getting regular bites now and this was much better. I tried to work out how best to feed and it seemed 30 maggots every two fish was best, but whenever I caught a small carp it seemed to push the F1 out for a while. I was happy catching here, not bagging but steady.

I was feeding maggots by hand into the deepest water but had not tried here yet, but with about 90 minutes to go I had a mini disaster. The wind had steadily increased and was now very troublesome for me, and striking and missing a bite the rig was blown into the far bank, I lost the float. I put on another 4x12 and went straight back out, but as I went to lay the rig in the wind got it again and balls rig gone again! I took this as a sign, come in closer, and went onto my deep line topset plus two and dropped in with double maggot. Luckily for me the float shot under after a few minutes and I soon netted a lovely F1 and the biggest if the day. This line came up trumps for me for a while, and I caught decent size F1 and some small carp from 1lb to 3lb. With 45 mins to go I realised I had no idea what weight I had (net limit is 75lb) but even though I guessed I had 50lb I thought I would put another net in. I had a few more small carp but then all of a sudden this line went a bit funny on me, and the fish left me it seemed. I caught the odd fantail now and bloody gudgeon. I tried going long down my margin on corn but this never brought me a bite so I sat it out on the deep line and struggled to the end with odd tiny F1.

Neil Mercer behind me on canal 2 admitted to 60lb as did Joe McMahon next to him. I knew I was only hoping to win the £30 for winning the canal, as Martin had slayed the fish all day. The scales started opposite me and the lad who started well on 94 had 76lb, but Martin easily won that canal with 134lb, Glenn had 60lb up the other end which is usually not as good. When the scales got to me the top weight on my canal was Lee with 66lb 8oz on peg 78, I put my small fish on the scales first and they went 22lb, and then with my carp and bigger F1 I weighed a total of 79lb 8oz for the canal win.

Martin won as expected and not only did he take the winners purse but he then went and pulled out his peg number again to win the golden peg and add and other £100 to his winnings, nice one, don't forget to get the beers in ;-)  Martin caught dobbing for a full 3 hours and then he caught on maggots. Well done mate.

Full weight sheet below.

That's a lovely day, and I think I would have had a bit more weight had I switched to feeding earlier, I never tried the pellet today at all but there were plenty of fish caught on that too by other anglers. I have to keep coming here to work out the best way to feed and where to fish in your peg, I'm sure the locals get that sorted quickly. Well that is it for me now until I fish here again on the 29th Dec. In between I will be enjoying Christmas, watching Rovers, and I am also going with my daughter Lucy to see the world darts championship at Alexandra Palace, so it's a busy Christmas and not like last year sat on the beach in the sun!

Happy Christmas to you all, I hope you have a great time, drink and be merry. I hope my blog does bring some interest for people and I do try to pass on what I do during the day, though sometimes the memory is not so good!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Double Header Weekend

It is not often I fish Saturday and Sunday but this was a chance to do so and I was going to behave myself Friday night by staying away from the booze.

It was some time ago that by chance I was on Facebook and saw Todber Manor Fishery were promoting their Xmas match. Whilst I had not fished there for a long time I wanted to give it a go as it would be a big match, and in the winter you can get lucky of you draw on a shoal of carp. I met up at 7am with Martin Rayet and Joe McMahon and followed them down to Dorset where we had breakfast in the Riverside Cafe, very nice. Onto the fishery and said hello to lots of anglers that I have not seen for a while, and met one that I have conversed with on social media but never met, Jamie Rich who has a blog "Against Men and Fish". Good to finally meet you Jamie.

The draw was the usual scrum and eventually I got a peg, I had hoped for a bunghole that locals would give me lots of great vibes on, I got peg 5 on whitepost lake. I don't think I have ever fished this lake before and got info on it, generally was told it was great in summer and should be worth a few fish. The main thing I was told over and over was to fish maggots.

The weather was forecast to be rancid, and the wind was already nasty and forecast to be worse. I set up a maggot feeder and a straight lead for fishing to the far bank, with 0.15 to 16 GPM-B. I set up two pole rigs, a 4x16 with 0.13 to 16 SFL-B for fishing top set plus 3 sections, as far as I dared in the wind. I did set up another rig for fishing towards a tree on the bank but never had a bite here.

Just before the match I took a video and at the end you can see Steve Denmead two pegs up giving the thumbs up to me, about 5 minutes later a storm came over and was enough to break Steve Denmead's number 6 pole section, thumbs down.

I began the match like everyone else it seemed fishing on the tip rod to the far bank, though casting out was just hard work as the sun was right in my eyes and the whole lake in front of me was blinding! I began on a maggot feeder as did Dave Roper on my left, whilst Eddie Green on my right was on the bomb and bread. Eddie had a carp almost straight away and one peg past Steve Chris Fox also had a carp. I managed a 4lb carp myself after about 20 minutes, but with no more signs and Eddie and Chris doing well on the bread I tried this myself, alas I had nothing. I had no liners or signs on the tip and after the first hour Eddie had 4 carp and Chris had 3, Steve and myself 1, Dave was biteless. My match was not a good one after this point, nothing on the tip and nothing on the pole, and I mean nothing. Eddie couldn't get anything else and Dave had two small skimmers on the pole.

As the match wore on Steve and Chris ticked over getting the odd carp on the tip, the anglers to the right of them also seemed to be catching, but to my left it was poor. Then about an hour to go Dave had 2 carp and I had a small 1lb fish. The wind had dropped and all of a sudden the pole was a viable option, I had tried it a number of times during the match without a sign despite feeding maggots their  all day. Steve had a carp on the pole, and I decided to try mine again and there was 30 minutes of the match left and I was plumb last on the lake with 5lb. I dropped in the pole with double maggot and the float went under but I missed the bite, dropped in again and a couple of minutes later I was in. The fish took of and it was a bit of battle, turned out I had hooked a 6lb carp in the pectoral fin, still they all count. Next drop in and the float was only visible for seconds and another carp was on, this prompted a few choices words from others. That carp was landed , but the next one I hooked came off not far from the net. I landed another two carp and lost a fouler and then match ended. Five carp in the last 30 minutes and 2 in the first 4 1/2 hours..

When the scales came down it was apparent that the lake had fished better to my right with Jack Stamp winning our lake on end peg 12 with 95lb, next peg had 81lb, Chris Fox took third n the section with 66lb on peg 8. Eddie had 7 carp for 32lb 12oz and my 7 carp went 34lb 12oz, Dave Roper next to me also had late carp but on the feeder and had 19lb and to his left it was poor. I ended up with just a prize but nothing else, but those last 30 mins were fun and it was nice to get the elastic stretched. Well done to Gary O'Shea winning the match with 167lb off the end peg of the other lake at Whitepost. Nick Ewers was second on this lake with a ton, he moaned like a bitch in the morning cos he couldn't get his car near the lake and wanted to not fish, but he was blocked in had to. PMSL.

Sunday and it was local for me fishing at Bitterwell lake for a charity match in aid of the Bristol Childrens hospital. Paul Isaac who runs the fishery now had 15 booked in but on 8 turned up for some reason. The weather was no great to start and I was hoping to avoid being in the wind. Paul got the draw underway and I pulled out peg 13, but this was not the permanent peg number, I was on 26 I think on the car park bank, with the wind in my face. On the peg to my left was Glenn Bailey and he had nobody to his left until about 10 pegs and so had a large area to draw carp from and I announced him as the winner lol. Glenn in lead chucking mode.

I only got out my two made up lead rods, same as yesterday one with a maggot feeder and one for bread. Only the top two were being paid out and it had to be carp or nothing as far as I was concerned. We started at 10am and I decided to have the first hour on the bread feeding nothing and see what happened on the lake. I had a short cast, nothing, cast a bit further nothing, then a bit further and the tip went round. A decent carp was on and Paul was behind me as I played it carefully back, about 12 metres out it came off, bugger. Not long after this Glenn had one on the bread and Kev Winstone on the road bank had a carp. I never had anything else on the bread so just after the hour mark swapped to the maggot feeder. I had a visit from ex team mate Jack Jones, and on about my third cast on the feeder I hooked a carp and was glad to finally put the net under a 6lb carp. Glenn had seen a carp surface off to his left and cast his bomb and bread to it, good move he had 3 in 3 chucks.

I came off the maggot feeder after an hour and cast the bread out again but this time as far as I could. It was a good move as the tip dropped back and the line went slack, striking and winding I finally caught up with the carp, and this was a lovely condition common touching 7lb. Next cast and a vicious jag that I thought was a liner, and then it jagged again even more and I picked up the rod but nothing. Sadly that was to be my last sign of anything and for the last 90 minutes the lake really shut down.

I was quite happy when the match finished as the temperature had dropped and the wind increases and I was feeling quite cold.

Glenn won the match with 37lb
Kev Winstone had 3 carp for 15lb
I was third with 13lb, and the carp I lost cost me money.

Yes it fished really hard!

We retired to the village hall for tea and mince pies and the raffle. Sadly I was unlucky and didn't get a prize whilst the lucky Gerry and Mandy Welsh cleared up with three prizes, but fair play as Gerry only had 1 roach in the match and he stuck it out. We then further retired to the ring o bells pub where the money winners kindly spent some of their winnings, cheers lads!

Not a great weekend as far as catching fish, but I did enjoy it and it was a good craic on both days. I am having a rare week day fishing on Wednesday, going to Hillview near Teweksbury, using my last day's holiday of the year. Not expecting to trouble the regulars but I do I hope I can get some F1's on the canal and learn a bit.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Commercial House Xmas Match - K&A Canal Bath

After the fun of last weekend I developed the man flu and from Wednesday on I was floored with it and my sinuses were blocked. Glenn Bailey got my bait for me on Friday, and then on Saturday I felt better which was good as along with my wife we were going to watch the Rovers, and a 4-2 win was great to watch (well the second half at least). Cider and hot curry with some of the lads after the game and I was hoping it would unblock me, didn't really help lol.

Sunday morning and up at 6:30 still coughing my guts up but feeling a lot better. The draw was in the Crown at Keynsham and there were 18 hardy souls who turned up. That meant the pegs used were mostly in the town; garage, long pond, horseshoe, crystal, the tunnels and three pegs at Dundas. Having never drawn the tunnels before, and with it being really good for the last few years I wanted to draw here. It wasn't to be though, but I was not complaining getting a peg in horseshoe pond.

My peg was right in the middle of the pond and I was really hoping to bag some skimmers, though on the last match here not many showed. My peg was like this not your typical canal peg..

On the other peg in this pond was Jeff Surmon. I have drawn next to Jeff a number of times over the many years I have been fishing and it is always a close affair, last time out on the canal I beat him. However, Jeff was on his favourite peg and one he had won from before, up by the lock and it holds chub, a waggler man on waggler peg. I said it would be chub v skimmers.

The weather forecast was not great and strong winds were forecast, but mostly the wind was off our backs and so I hoped we would not be too badly affected by it. I set up a waggler with a 20 to 0.10 for fishing at about 20m out. Then just three pole rigs, the usual 4x14 for bread at top set plus 2, a 4x18 with 0.09 to 18 PR311 for fishing all sorts of hookbaits, and a 4x18 with 0.10 to 16 for fishing bits of worms and bigger baits. Positive rigs.

The match started at 10am, but somehow neither Jeff or myself were ready on time, I fed a big pot of joker at 12m to the left, and some gbait, worm, caster and pinkie off to the right. Fed casters on the waggler line, and then at 10 minutes past 10, went in on the bread line. I dropped the rig in it settled, and it didn't shoot under straight away as I had expected. I lifted the rig out and dropped it in again, and this time a bite, a 1oz dace. Next drop in a wait again and a small roach, and this was how the first 15 mins went, a little wait for the bite but then I had a skimmer of 10oz, and next drop a 1lb+ skimmer. Those were the only skimmers on the bread, but shortly after I had caught these I started to catch roach of about 2oz. Jeff was catching roach on bread but had no skimmers. After an hour the bread was dead and Jeff had already gone long on the pole and was catching perch. I tried my joker line and had a 8oz skimmer straight away on a red maggot, but that was a one off.

By fishing both the long lines I could get odd roach, little dace, and tiny chub on maggot. Trying a pinkie or a bloodworm caught me fish but they were much smaller. A 6oz hybrid and 6oz roach came from the gbait line, but if I caught two or three fish that would be it and I would have to swap lines. However, Jeff went onto the waggler by the bank and he soon had a couple of 2lb chub and some smaller ones and was well ahead of me. Not long after this a boat came into our pond and moored up next to me, I hoped this would be good for me by colouring up the pond and getting the skimmers going and switching of the chub, sorry Jeff! Well it didn't work out like that as I had a few roach as it coloured up but the next hour or so for me became a real drag, but Jeff went back on the pole looking for a skimmer and had a 3lb+ chub. The wind got really bad, and we had some heavy rain, with bad light it became really difficult to see my floats. I did manage a lovely roach near the 1lb mark from my joker line, and a couple of roach on the waggler. The gbait line was shot and all I could catch on it was ruffe or gudgeon even on big baits.

The boat then went back up the canal and added some more colour, this did seem to slow Jeff for a bit. With 30 minutes to go I needed snookers, but then I noticed some blows over the joker and went back out again with 3 bloodworm. I soon had an 8oz skimmer in the net, then another skimmer, then an 8oz roach. Then the blows stopped and it was little perch. Back on the waggler and a couple more roach but it was slow. Then with 4 minutes left more blows on the pole line, I got my rig out there and dropped it in, I couldn't see the float the light was terrible. After a minute I struck and out came the elastic, as I netted an 8oz skimmer it was 3pm, end of the match.

Jeff had spanked me, and I said he would win, as last time out the guy on my left won the match, aargh! As we packed up the wind dropped for a bit and we could see the odd fish now blowing over the joker, too late lol.

I had the scales and had to weigh just Jeff, myself and Shane Caswell up in Crystal Pond. Shane had 4lb 3oz of roach and perch. Jeff had a lovely net that to be honest you would be happy with on a river, 16lb 12oz.

Me next and a totally different net of fish than Jeff that went 10lb 6oz.

Not long after these photos it went pitch black and hammered down with rain!

Back at the results and it was as follows:-

1st Jeff Surmon 16lb 12oz
2nd Tim Ford  10lb 60z
3rd Nigel Wyatt 9lb 2oz  (skimmers in dundas marina)
4th Kev Dicks  9lb  (5 skimmers in the long pond)
5th Lee Warden 8lb 10oz  (skimmers and perch Garage)
6th Darren Gillman 7lb 14oz  (2 skimmers and roach long pond)

Oh and the tunnels where I wanted to draw... they were terrible with 1lb the top weight!

Well done Mike and Nicola on running the match with help from Vinny, and it was nice to see Andy Britt at the results after his brush with a heart problem.

After last years awful draws on the canal I am well happy to have had a couple of decent draws and two good days. Next weekend it is back on the commercials, I had two Xmas matches, Todber manor Saturday, and Bitterwell lake Sunday. Probably be pools fodder but it will be nice to try to catch a few carp again.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Commercial House Final Round - K&A Canal Bath

I was looking forward to helping the team out on the final round of this league, but I was struggling to find the time to get the prep done. I went to Shrewsbury on Saturday to watch Bristol Rovers, Lucy came with me and we witnessed a great game with the Gas winning 4-3. I probably celebrated a little to hard at the Cross Keys pub that evening, I blame it on Shaun Townsend.

Woke up Sunday morning and was a bit jaded and despite getting up well early I still only managed to get to the draw with about 10 minutes to spare. Shaun drew for us again and we really wanted peg 1 or 7 we thought, but Shaun came back with middle peg 4. I was in A section and that was the Long Pond in the town, very happy with this. As I rushed out to get to Bath I had a call to say I had not taken my bloodworm and joker, so I pulled over in Keynsham high street to wait for it to be passed on to me, whoops.

Parked up the Hill from Sydney Gardens, and Glenn Bailey and Jeff Surmon were also parking up here. It was only a short walk to the canal and I was hoping I would be in the wide part of the pond where I have caught skimmers before. Sadly for me I was just past the wide part, and I was about 13m to the far bank. Peg 5 was the plumb draw, Nicky Johns ended up on that as his peg 6 was behind a moored boat, and nobody had drawn peg 5. On end peg 7 was Mike Goodhind. To my right on peg 3 was Jeff Surmon, and the other two anglers in my section, Nick Coles and Rich Whitmarsh were in the lower pond before the road. Picture of my view.

It was not wide enough for me to set up a waggler today, and I did have it with me in case I was in the wides. Pole rigs then were, 4x14 with 0.07 to 18 PR311 for bread, 4x14 with 0.08 to 16 PR311 for fishing bloodworm positively. A 4x12 with 0.08 to 20 for caster / maggot across to the far bank, and a chopped worm rig was also put up but didn't really do any good for me today.

We started at 10am, I fed a decent ball of bread on top set plus two sections, a big pot of joker at 13m off to the left towards the wides, and fed casters to the far bank. I dropped in with a piece of punch, and the float went under but it was only a 1/2oz roach, I had another two then a nice 4oz roach, a couple more widgers then nothing. The bites just stopped, I couldn't believe it as I was expecting a lot of bites here. I was now thinking I might need to feed some joker short if this was going to be hard, but I tried swinging the rig out far past the feed first. The float buried and a 6oz chub was a nice little bonus, more bites followed from small roach and I could get bites anywhere but over the feed. I added another section on and fished out here and caught a few more roach, I began to think that maybe the fish didn't want to come in close, so I fed a bal of bread on this new line. Well it didn't help and I was soon fishing further out past the feed once again! This was quite strange and not something I've experienced before. I took a 6oz hybrid and an 8oz skimmer as the first hour ended. I felt I was a little behind Jeff, and Nicky had already had a good skimmer and a chub on a waggler but wasn't getting many bites.

I was able to keep catching on the bread and all of a sudden they were right over the feed, still small roach with the occasional better one, and I did get another skimmer about 10oz.  Nicky then took 4 skimmers in 4 drops on the pole and he was now ahead of me. My worm and caster lines were very poor, just a small rudd and a gudgeon. A few tries over my joker with positive baits was no good, just tiny roach and a gudgeon. The only way I could keep bites coming was on the bread but the size was small.

Probably about 2 hours to go I noticed the odd bubble coming up over my joker feed, I went out with 4 bloodworm on the hook and the float just sat there this time, no small fish bites. It took an age to get a bite but it was from a little skimmer just what I needed. Back out and more waiting, but Nicky was now catching on the waggler, skimmers up to 2 1/2lb and I needed some of my own. I did catch another 4 skimmers on this but only one of them was about a pound, but still they were better than what I was catching before. As soon as the bubbles stopped the tiny fish were back and the skimmers were gone. I decided to feed more joker and hope the skimmers would return, sadly they didn't. They were happily sat in front of Nicky and he was doing a great job of catching them.

My last hour was not great, but I could catch little roach on bloodworm every drop, but I kept looking for better fish, I did have two 3oz perch of the caster line to end the match.

I had enjoyed the match, plenty of bites and a few better fish, but I was smashed by Nicky for sure. The scales told the tale, Nicky had a great 23lb 6oz. I had 9lb 15oz, I did have the bonus of getting the section money by default so a bit of money to cover the day out.

Well done Nicky

I can't complain really and I enjoyed the day.

Back at the results and it soon became apparent that the canal had fished well in the town and pretty hard out of it. My team had done well we thought and it turned out we won the day by 1 point and so we won the league overall, well done lads. The B div was won by Ivan Currie's Sensas Nomads and so they are promoted to A div next year.

Individuals on the day

1st Nick Johns 23lb 6oz
2nd Rob Manns  18lb (tunnels)
3rd Kev Dicks 15lb (tunnels)
4th Ben Matthews 12lb (Horeshoe pond)

The top individual in the league was Nick Coles, well done some good performances from Nick.

The knockout was won by Vince Lunn

I won't be fishing next weekend, but then it will be a few Xmas matches I hope.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

ATWL Round 4 - Bristol Avon Chippenham, Barton Farm and Scotland Road

The last winter league fished on this venue a couple of weeks ago was all about bleak as the river was bank high, my team won and the same team was supposed to fish this match. However, with a couple of anglers missing I was drafted back in. This was nice but it was a bit of clash as Saturday night I was going out with my wife to a gin party.

Despite the rain we had in Bristol in the week it seemed further up river it was not so bad, and Lee Trivett looked at the river on Saturday and reported some pegs were definitely float fishable. That was useful information and I was able to get my gear prepared quite easily on Saturday. The gin party was a lot of fun, drank a lot of gin, tried a lot of gin, and bought a lot of gin. Sunday morning alarm at 6am and thankfully I was feeling OK, guess the tonic water kept me hydrated lol.

I got to Spencers club in Melksham and had a nice couple of sausage and bacon sarnies, think the rest of the team were pleased to see me looking OK and not off my head on gin. It was Shaun Townsend's duty to draw for the team since he hadn't done it before. As I don't really know the venue, certainly not what pegs hold what fish, I was hoping for a flyer, I ended up on the last section at Chippenham in the town. My peg was on the lifebuoy and I was told it was a roach peg with a few perch, pegs below me had a chance of bream, and the last two pegs were below the town road bridge.

I forgot to take a photo of the peg, maybe I did have some gin effects after all, and so will do my best to describe it. Far bank is metal pilings to shore up the bank as the flow was definitely faster across there. Some sedge reeds below me were leaning out in the river but didn't cause me an issue. The flow on my side of the river was still a little pacey but I was happy to run a float through it. I had it in my mind to fish running line, and I set up a 14 x no4 stick float with 20 N30 to 0.10, and a 4g bolo with 18 N30 to 0.11. The river just got deeper the further I went out and it did cause me a bit of a headache wondering where to fish, maybe a pole would be be better.. no I left it in the bag. I did set up a gbait feeder and needed a 2oz tip in to fish this, I stayed positive with 0.15 to 14 N50.

The match began at 10:30 and I threw 5 balls of gbait well down stream about one 1/3 out. I had put pinkie, caster, hemp and worm in the gbait. As I did this the angler above me Dan McDonald proper balled it in and I would have to keep my eye on his catch. I ran the stick over the gbait and the first five runs through were biteless, but then a bite and a tiny roach. I was struggling I had another small roach and noticed Dan had come off the pole running a rig through to a pole feeder. He soon had a roach and then had what I thought was a bream. My first hour passed with little more than 1lb of fish, I had tried feeding nuggets of gbait with no reward and had begun loose feeding caster and hemp and stopped the gbait.  Whether the loose feed had an affect I don't know but I started to get more bites and a few roach were now gracing my net. About 90 minutes in I struck into a much better fish, and was glad I had the 15 feet rod in my hand as I gave the fish as much as I could. Eventually I netted a nice 2lb chub which cheered me up no end.

Bites were coming but not every cast, I had another nice fish though, a 1lb perch, but the stick float wasn't really doing it for me. Dan above me had been catching roach and had a perch and a chub, so was still ahead of me. I tried the feeder for a few casts and had some small roach taps which I didn't hit. Going onto the bolo I had a better run and took some roach on double maggot. When bites stopped I dropped the feeder in and had roach taps again, so I thought I needed to put the odd ball of gbait in and this seemed to keep odd bites coming in conjunction with the loose feed. I was getting bites from on the gbait to 20 yards below it. I did have a pike in the peg, but thankfully it was right in by the sedges in close and it went for the fish at the last moment exploding on the surface, gave me a fright a few times. The peg seemed to be going away from me and I was gutted when I hooked a fish a long way down the peg which came off halfway back, felt like a very big roach or a skimmer.

With about two hours to go my swim was shot, and after a quick chat with Guy Manton I decided I had to give the feeder a good go. I managed a 6oz chub on a lobby tail but that was the only bite on that bait, and all my attempts on dendra failed to produce a bite. On with the 3 red maggots again which might be snaffled by a roach but it wasn't and a better bite resulted in a 12oz skimmer. Two casts later on the same bait and a really good bite and I was attached to a right lump. It was a really good scrap in the flow and I was feeling the tension as I felt this was a very important fish, eventually a lovely bream of between 5lb and 6lb was mine. I hoped more would come as there was still 90 minutes to go. However, it was a one off and other than a roach I was bite less. Dan above had a couple more bigger fish and I needed something. I rested the feeder and ran the bolo again, I took three roach and nothing else.  Back on the feeder and the rest worked, a 1lb to 1.5lb  skimmer and with 20 minutes to go a near 1lb perch.

I thought I had maybe 15lb at most, I kept going through what I caught but couldn't decided how many roach I had. As we packed up the light rain that had fallen for a while became heavy and soaked everything. The scales arrived and started on peg 1 with the legend that is Gary Etheridge, he had roach, 2 good perch and a bream for 12lb 14oz. Next Dan had 17lb 2oz, but his early bream wasn't a bream, it was a trout! Next me, and I was very apologetic to Dan when I weighed in 20lb 12oz, I never thought I had anything like that! Probably cos I haven't caught anything for bloody ages lol!

Below me the angler had 11lb 10oz of roach, and the next angler had 10lb 7oz of roach. Below the town bridge was Dave Micklewright, and he had 17lb 10oz, roach some skimmers and chub. With Dave Clapton on the end peg having 6lb I was confirmed as the section winner, so £40 for me.

The river had fished well today, and had the pace been a tad slower I think even more might have been caught. Top six:-

1st Neil Richards 38lb Scotland Road
2nd Rob Kepner 25lb Scotland Road
3rd Mike Marsden 22lb
4th Derek Jarman 21lb 12oz
5th Me 20lb 12oz
6th Andy Ottoway 18lb

Gordon League smashed the match on the team front, Lobbys were second and Thatchers 3rd.

Overall Gordon League are now winning on 9 points, Blackmore Vale have 10 points, then Thatchers and Lobbys have 13 points.

Next week it the Commercial House final round, and it's on the K&A Canal, so more changes on the tackle front for me to be ready.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Bill Milton Memorial Poppy Match 2019 Bristol Avon

It was that time of year again, time for remembrance. My lucky match some say, the Poppy Match, I've certainly had more than my share of luck and good results over the 30 years I've fished it. Hopefully I could break the poor draws of late and get a decent result.

On Saturday I went to Gloucester to see my youngest daughter, it was raining hard most of the day and I aqua planed on the M5 despite only driving at 60mph, thankfully the ESP on the car kept the wife and myself safe but it was a scary moment. All of this rain was going to turn another dropping river into a bad river, so there was no prep required for me really. I bought some nice cheese, a decent bottle of gin and some red wine on the way home and that would set me up for Sunday lol.

Sunday morning I was up nice an early, no hangover as I only had a couple of those drinks I bought honest. The draw was at Frys and the match was pegged 10 pegs at Chequers, 20 pegs at Crane and 70 pegs at Newbridge. The peggers had done a good job by doing their best to peg it with the river rising, but they could only do so much. It always good to look out for some old faces on this match, but today a few were missing, I hope it was only the conditions that put them off and they are OK. One angler in particular I only see on this match is Mike Shellard, he was not here, Mike if you do read my blog please let me know if everything is OK, people were asking about you mate.

 I was saying nothing, but Chequers was where I wanted to be or certain pegs up Newbridge. I have won this match twice from Chequers, totally different conditions, and some of the pegs would have nice slacks due to big trees in the water. I was quite happy to draw peg 98, as it was down the Chequers, but it was just above the straight so not what I thought would be best, remember I used to fish here when I was a junior so this is a bit of river I have fished a very long time!

I drove to the river with Steve "Stretch" Saunders following me, and he said he thought he hadn't fished here for 25 years. We helped each other lift our gear over the gate and then walked to our respective pegs. Got to mine and Nigel Wyatt was already there, he was having a look to decide if he would fish. Nige was on 97 above me, his peg had a nice bit of steady water. then there was a swim not pegged (it had a slack) then it was mine... it looked pants. I was gutted that once again I had a peg with lots of boils and turbulence, but there you go that's my luck at the moment. Nigel went back to get his gear and I got on with setting up.  I plumbed up with a 40g straight lead, and I had lots of snags in the peg from close in to two rods out it seemed, but settled on a spot and hoped for the best. I only set up one feeder rod, with a 3oz tip in , with a size 12 to 0.17 for the gbait feeder. The feeder was a 60g Preston job.

We started at 10am and as the match was starting I had Mandy Welsh wife of Gerry Welsh behind me watching. Mandy's parents and mine were both farmers and friends and we've known each other for years. I nearly fell out with her when she said mine was the worst peg she had seen lol! I had a couple of casts and then lost a hook in a snag, Mandy had seen enough and went home. Glenn Bailey rang me after 10 mins to say he had two already up at peg 76 on the Crane so he was looking good. I was still waiting for a bite when at 11am the guns fired at Keynsham, at 11:02 they fired again and Glenn rang me again to say he had 8 small roach, I was just saying I hadn't had a bite when I wound in a 1oz dace. Next chuck and a 2oz roach rattled the tip, both fish had fallen to a dendra and two maggots. Those two fish were all I had for another hour, well other than lots and lots of leaves which pulled my tip right over within seconds every cast despite only fishing a rod length out..

The rest of the match the peg got worse, I lost a feeder, lost more hooks, had to go up to a 75g feeder to try to keep out of the snags. Another 2 dace and 1 eel were all I put in the net, and I only missed one bite, well other than when I reeled in a big stone with 2 snails that had somehow snaffled my lobworm! Most anglers at Chequers with a slack had some fish, and Nigel above me had a skimmer and 10 roach, he was able to hold with 20g initially. Stretch had a lake and was fishing with a 1oz tip that was hardly bent and he had 3 kimmers early on. I tried but couldn't see any bream wanted to hole up in my peg, and with 20 minutes to go and a packet of hooks now lost I called it a day.

I threw my 5 fish back as there was no chance of coin for me.

I was the first angler back to the results and the organisers Ray Bazeley, Paul Benson and Colin Ellaway would have known I did crap, but I still told them of my shite peg lol! As the anglers started to return it become evident the river had fished really hard, not surprising given all of the cold rain.

Winner on the day was Craig Fletcher with 19lb 12oz from the upstream peg at Chequers, he had 4 bream and some nice roach, and he told me he had a nice steady peg but it got more boily as the match went on. Got a nice photo of Craig, I won't say what I said to him to make him laugh.

2nd was Mike Jefferies from Bath Spartans, he was actually on the peg number below me, but he was a god 200+ yards downstream on the straight below the cow drink, Mike had 2 bream and a skimmer right under his rod tip.

3rd Kev Abigail who had a good first half of the match on the pole feeder from around peg 109 in the Trees, some nice roach for Kev.

4th Andrew Cranston with 7lb 11oz from peg 16 at Newbridge on the pole feeder. This kid draws better than anyone I know.

Stretch was 5th, and so 3 of the top 5 had come from Chequers.. so near yet so far for me.

In the end it only took 3lb 4oz to come in the top 10, and the Crane was woeful with 1lb 2oz being top in the 20 pegs. A really tough match for many anglers and that includes me, but I would rather be there giving it a go than being at home. As ever Ray put on a good show and I hope we managed to raise some decent money for the Poppy fund. Now, is there any chance the rain could actually just do one for a while!

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Commercial House Round 5 Bristol Avon Swineford to Crane

After a dry week the river was dropping well and the match on Sunday was looking to be a cracker I thought, of course a long came the rain and messed all that up. It was just a question Sunday morning of how bad the river would be and feeder fishing would be the main stay with a few pegs OK for bits shallow. A draw at the Crane would be best I thought but nobody can really tell from the draw what your peg is like until you get there and see it,

I was team captain today, and had the duty of collecting pools money and drawing for the team. I pulled out end peg 7 for the team, which meant someone would be on the cattle grid end peg, that turned out to be Guy Manton. I myself was in B section at Swineford but until I got to my peg I didn't know where. It was going to be a long walk, and I kept the warm clothes off, getting the gear over / through the first kissing gate at the end of the first field was OK, and a couple of pegs past this was team mate Rob Manns, he had a steady peg but quite some weeds in it, I carried on walking up past the second field where all the pegs had some slack or steady water, and as I did it dawned on me where I was going to be. The last push on into the third field past the high bank, on peg 27 was Ben Rendall, the water hits the inside here and his peg was a mess. I was on 28 and basically it is the same flow in close and not going to be good.

I was going to have to fish standing up as there was no way of getting a box in place. First job was to mix my gbait, where was it? Bugger it was back at the first gate, and I had to walk all the way back there to get it, I was warmed up nicely lol.  Back to the peg and I cut a few steps out and felt safe, then set up a feeder rod and put a large lead on to feel around the bottom for snags and see how deep it was. There seemed to be a lot snags and only at the uppermost part of my peg did I find a clear area with about 6 feet of water. Further out it was bombing through and very boily. I opted to go heavy to keep everything in place and tight to see the bites. A 60g Preston Open Ender with a size 12 to 0.17 and a 4oz tip in the feeder. The 4oz tip was not needed but I thought it might help distinguish the bites better.

We began at 10:15 I dropped the feeder off the end of the rod which was only about 6 feet from the bank, above me Ben balled it in. I had no plan to ball it as I wanted to be sure where my bait was. I probably had ten casts when Glenn called me to tell me he had caught a fish and as he did I had a bite but it didn't develop. I reeled in to find two chewed maggots and an untouched worm, so cast out this time with four flouro maggots, and it didn't take long for a decent rattle to materialise and I was glad to see a fish pop up, a 3oz chublet. No more bites on the maggot so that was a one off. A few more permutations before I popped on a lobby tail. I had three casts on this with no sign, and on the fourth cast the tip went within seconds of me putting the rod in the rod rest. I connected and a roach of maybe 3 to 4oz was bagged. Again this was a one off, and I never had another bite on a lobby.

The river was changing all the time in close, and sometimes it would look OK then it would push and boil and any leaves would hit the tip hard, but I was able to tell the difference between this and bites. Trying a dendra with a couple of flouro maggots again and another bite and a small dace. Not long after Lee Trivett walked up, his match had been cancelled, and Lee saw me catch another dace. From the Crane, up walked Mat Challenger and I chatted to these two for a while hearing about other people having more fish than me lol. Mat saw me catch a little dace and then went on his way. I spoke to Ben on and off all day, well we had to keep ourselves amused, and he was still blanking.

My match went poor for the next 90 minutes with not a single bite on any bait, and I lost 4 or 5 hooks and also a feeder. Ben then caught a roach and said he had missed 3 bites. In the last hour I had small roach and then a beauty of a fish that you don't see that often, a bullhead!
I had heard that Dave Stiff had 2lb so I spent the last 30 mins on a lob looking for an elusive better fish, but it never came.

With the match over I packed up quickly and took my gear down to the gate by Dave Stiff so I could then get going once weighed, as I did this up came Ivan Currie and Paul Purchase with the scales, I had the board so we started in my peg. My little bag of fish went 14 1/2oz , Ben's roach 4oz and that would be the only person I would beat as I expected. Dave had 2lb 3oz lots of small roach and he said he missed about 20 bites. Then Paul Purchase in a nice looking peg had 2 bream and 2 skimmers plus bits for 14lb+  enough to win the match. Ivan had 3lb 6oz of bits and Shane Caswell 1lb 8oz.

Paul with his bag.

A nice steady walk back and I was glad to get back into the pub for a cool glass of Thatchers. Lee Trivett was back in the pub for a chat with the team, he told me my peg looked the third worst peg on the day (Ben above me having the worst, and Derek Coles having the second) and I can't believe I have drawn a shite peg again, I thought I might be on the start of a run of better pegs.

Team wise we had done well it seemed, with two section winners, and we did manage to win the day beating both of the Bathampton teams and we have a healthy lead going into the last round.

1st Paul Purchase 14lb 6oz
2nd Luke Sorokin 10lb
3rd Mike Kent 8lb 1oz
4th Steve Hutchinson 8lb
5th Kev Dicks 6lb 8oz.

All of these anglers had a bream in the net so well done.

No fishing next weekend, then it is the Poppy match the week after which seems to be a sell out.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Teams of 4 / Open Match Newbridge

Thatchers were involved in the second round of the ATWL today which was to be fished on the K&A canal at Horton. I wasn't planned to be in the team (I was asked to fish the Comm House last week) but one of the team had to pull out and I might have to fish. In the end Mat Challenger wanted to fish it and he took the last place leaving me free to fish this match on the Bristol Avon at Newbridge. I had kept a keen eye on the river level all week and whilst it was dropping it seemed like it was going to be a bit pacey and probably a feeder match, for this reason I only ordered a couple of pints of caster and half of pint of maggots, I had plenty of dendras and lobs already so a cheaper bait bill this week, sorry Mat!

I had managed to get rid of the man flu symptoms by about Thursday and had managed three trips to the gym and 2 games of football, all this exercise would help the long walks on the river. Friday night I went to a school reunion, I saw some people I had not seen since 1985, but we all got on well and I tried to speak to as many people as possible. The 80's music and general good vibe meant the Thatchers Gold went down too easy, and I was pretty hammered by the time I got home the next morning. It was a quiet Saturday (lol) and all I had to do was make sure I had the right feeder rods, feeders, hooks and line in the box as well as get some groundbait sorted.

The draw was at 9:30 Sunday morning, meaning I woke up without an alarm and was feeling much better than I did Saturday morning. I got to the cafe in Willsbridge and had a large breakfast which was really nice, I'd like Tony Rixon to try it and see what score he gives it. Dean Harvey and Kev Dicks run these matches together and they do a really good job. Twenty eight anglers were in attendance today so a nice number for Newbridge and the match was pegged from 3 to 77. I had a number of pegs in mind that I would like to draw today, 10, 18, 24, 36, 50, 56, 59 and 61. Pegs where bream have shown / are pegs I like to fish. When I pulled out 18 I was happy, and the last time I drew this I had over 90lb, but this season it has been really poor and nobody has done any good on it. However, after a decent flood and as I have done well on this peg many times I was still going with a positive attitude.

Drove to the river and I was disappointed to find I couldn't park behind my peg, I had to walk all of three cars length to get to my peg! Plenty of time to set up then, two feeder rods were assembled, but in the event I only used the one. My Preston Supera 12ft 6" 50g feeder with 2oz tip in, with a 28g open ender with 0.15 to 14 N50. I would dearly like to fish a flat float in this peg but with the pace it would be a bad idea as you are boxed in by two trees which I believe would make landing decent fish a very difficult proposition. I mixed my groundbait straight away and today's mix was Sonubait original Super feeder, Robin Red, and brown crumb.  I mixed about 3 kilo of dry gbait, far too much for the feeder alone of course, and split it up into two bowls as one mix would be wetter and for balling in. I had the board and scales and I was the last peg in the section, so all above me today. One of the best bream anglers around was next to me on peg 16 Paul Purchase, above him on 14 was Lewis Walker on 14. Above the bridge were Warren Bates 12, Dean Harvey peg 10, Mike Martin peg 7 and Ben Matthews on 3.

The match began at 11:30, I threw 9 balls of my red groundbait in at about 14m, then underarmed in my feeder with my standard opening gambit 3 red maggots. I actually had a bite first chuck but missed it. Next cast and I had a hybrid that might have been 8oz, I then missed about five bites which were obviously roach bites. Hooked the next one and it was a decent roach not far off the pound mark. A few more roach rattles were missed before a more positive bite and something really fought back for a while. In the flow I thought it was a bream but very soon once in close it was clear it was not, but up popped a hard fighting 1lb skimmer. I had a couple of small roach and a little perch to end the first hour.

Into the second hour and I was still getting bites but I was trying different hookbaits to see what was best, it seemed clear to me at this stage that I had no bream in the peg as I was getting small fish bites. Worm was a waste on the hook, treble red maggot or treble fluro maggot was OK, I also tried two maggots and two casters which I felt gave me a chance of a bigger fish. I took another couple of skimmers and a roach but wasn't making any real inroads into a decent weight. With a lot of rowing boats launching opposite and sat in front of me I popped up to see Paul Purchase who told me he had two roach for 4lb and with a few other fish I thought he had more than me. I went back and carried on, I wasn't putting masses of bait in the feeder, about 30 casters and a tiny pinch of worm to try and keep bites coming. It was just a steady middle of the match with very odd roach, but I had changed hook bait to double caster for the roach and I hooked two skimmers on this. It became clear to me that caster was the hookbait to concentrate on, and fishing double and occasionally treble I sat it out and got the odd skimmer.

With about two hours to go I think I may have been winning or second in the match, but I always expect bream to feed late and so new I had to get lucky. It was very difficult for me in the last two hours, bites had really slowed up, and only one skimmer and a roach on the penultimate hour was not good. I then heard from Mark Harper on 59 he had 5 bream, and Ben Rendall on 24 also had 3 bream. Into the last hour and still no sign of a bream, I lost a 12oz skimmer at the net, and then had another soon after. I then fished worms for the last 30 minutes praying for a stray bream, it didn't materialise but with 15 mins to go I did have another skimmer, and this one was near to 2lb and was my biggest of the day. The match was over at 5pm, and the rumours were that Mark, Ben, Chris Ollis and Craig Fletcher had bream, with the top 4 being paid in the frame I was hoping I could win the section.

I began the weigh in up at peg 3, Ben had a large bream and some roach for 9lb 14oz, Mike struggled for 3lb 1oz. Dean had a couple of skimmers and bits for 6lb but he lost a munter, might have been a barbel. Warren went on the float late on and he did well to catch 8lb of roach. Lewis had struggled 3lb+ and then Paul Purchase weighed, his two big roach had shrunk, as together they weighed 2lb 10oz (still nice fish), and in total he had 11lb 4oz.

My turn and I had admitted to 12lb, but was well happy to see the skimmers had weighed heavy and I recorded 15lb 10oz and a section win. I had 9 skimmers in the the end.

The results were at the Riverside pub in Saltford, and it took a while to get everyone back and some people did have a fair old walk to their peg. I sat down with the lads and still assumed I had only won my section as talk was of a number of 20lb+ weights, but when the results were read out and my section was paid out to Paul Purchase I was smiling.

1st Mark Harper 30lb 5oz peg 59  6 bream in the last 90 minutes

2nd Ben Rendall 20lb 14oz peg 24  6 smaller bream mostly in the last two hours

3rd Chris Ollis  19lb 10oz  peg 22A 3 big bream and 5 chublets.

4th Me  15lb 10oz.

Finally a pick up, and in the frame on the river, a long time coming. I did enjoy today, catching smaller fish on the feeder is always more of a challenge, of course a few nice large drop backs would have been welcomed, but I had to work at it and the match went by quickly rather than a drag.

Next week it is the commercial house, Swineford, Crane, Jack Whites. The river could be really good as no rain is forecast, about time I drew a right dolly lol!

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Commercial House WL - K&A Canal Round 4

Finally I got to fish a round of the Commercial House this year, though the number of teams is well down on previous years 42 anglers are still fishing every match. I didn't have a great week as the illness I felt last Sunday on the Thames hit me hard and although I managed work on Monday I was at home sick Tues and Weds. I was still feeling well under the weather, very chesty cough, right up until Saturday, but I did get to watch Rovers and was feeling that I was turning the corner. I spent Saturday evening sorting some canal rigs, hook lengths and liquidised some bread.

I woke up Sunday to the ever present sound of rain, another soaking loading the car then lol. I got mugged off by McDonalds as they never gave me my has brown, but as I did drive thru I realised to late. Got to the Crown pub for the draw and paid my pools to Mark Harper and paid for the bloodworm and joker. The pegging was two sections either side of the George pub at Bath, and four sections up at Claverton. Now Claverton is very hit and miss, usually miss in the winter, but the peggers said they had seen a lot of fish topping. It looked like an end peg would be mega today, but our team got peg 3 and no end pegs for us. I had the end section F at Claverton, not sure I've ever fished that before.

It was a slow drive to the canal due to dawdling truck and many huge puddles on the roads. I parked in the Claverton field car park, and chatted to team mate Guy Manton who I had not seen for quite a while. Guy was C Section to the left of the bridge so not a long walk. Getting to the towpath was hard work, a tight bend on a steep slope through two gates, a lot of team work got us all there. My walk was longer than I thought, it was a big gap to D section, and then I got to Ferry Lane, and had to walk past that, and then past the old lock, and on another couple of hundred yards. I was wet through from sweat as well as the rain I guessed. I have no photos of the peg or fish today as I left my phone in the car to save it from a soaking. I was though pegged tight between two boats and it was very difficult to to ship down the side of the towpath. Both boats were occupied as smoke was coming out of them.

As I began to set up the gear I became aware of the line boats navigating the canal were taking middle to far side. Rig wise I got the 4x14 bread rig out, I plumbed around and went with top set plus one and a bit where there was a good depth. A 4x12 wire stem and tip bloodworm rig for fishing at 11.5m to the left where I found 2 1/2ft, the far bank was inched deep and steeply sloped, so this was as far as I went across. A rig for c/w and caster at top set plus two and a bit to my right, and the same distance for the left for fishing gbait and joker. Across to the right I fed casters but other than a few gudgeon no more of this.

At 10:15 we began, as the canal here was a really dirty colour (like I've never seen before) I was unsure how the bread would go but began on it anyway. It was a bit slow and I caught 3 roach and a 3oz skimmer when I then had a proper fish on, turned out to be a 1.5lb skimmer, the 18 PR311 and 0.08 accu Power line had no issue. I kept getting odd fish, never really bagging but steady, and just on the hour mark I had another skimmer, about a pound this one and it fought like a demon and I was glad to net it. I'd fed some gbait and joker to the left and was about to try this when a women on the boat threw various containers of water straight over that line and made lots of noise, I tried to make conversation but it was clear she didn't want to know me. I fed my c/w line off to the right and kept on the bread line, it would throw up the odd roach and occasional 4oz skimmer. As my other lines were not really producing much just odd small perch I stuck with the bread line, topping up now and then.

From what I could tell Mike Withey to my left was struggling, but Lee Warden way off to my right had some nice skimmers and a chub. There were lots and lots of boats today, not sure I have ever seen so many, but they made no difference to the colour and as I mainly fished away from their engine line they did not seem to cause any issues. The people on the boat started up a chainsaw and cut some branches up, and then started chopping wood. I was convinced I would catch some skimmers again over my other lines and kept trying for them, sadly I never caught a skimmer on these lines, only on the bread line.

The canal was now covered in Ash tree leaves, and shipping in and out was a right a pain, I had a few roach on pinkie over the bread line, but after this it was a real struggle. I had a run of perch and ruffe over my worm line and I took these on worm and some on red maggot. The gbait line was a big disappointment really. I had tried to catch skimmers on my far bloodworm line, but all hookbaits were ignored other then by odd small perch. I shallowed the rig up and went out with a bloodworm and the float buried, small roach, it took me four attempts to ship out again due to the leaves, but another roach. This was how the last 25 minutes of my match went, catching leaves and roach on bloodworm.

Match over I thought I might have 7lb. Mike said he had struggled, but eventually said he might have 5lb, Lee had more than me I was sure with his bonus fish. The scales started on the end peg, Rich Schollar had 7lb 9oz, then young Ryan Kiernan had 9lb 14oz which included a near 1lb roach, a 1.5lb chub and 1.5lb perch. Good young angler, one to watch for the future. Warren Bates had 7lb 1oz, then Mike Withey struggled with 8lb 10oz lol!  My turn to weigh, and as I put the fish on the scales the woman in the boat start shouting and screaming about us hurting the fish and them feeling pain, and I finally lost the plot and let her have both barrels, her husband came out and said something whilst she carried on screaming in the boat. During the row my weight was recorded at 8lb 12oz, just beatng Mike. Lee did well with 10lb 8oz, and then last peg Louis Townsend had 6lb 8oz for last in the section. That was a good section, and good news for me the two weights that beat me were in B div so I would pick up the A div section money, at last a bit of coin.

I was glad when I got back to the results and sat down with a pint, I was quite tired and feeling a tad damp. Three of the team had not come back, Mark Harper, Rob Manns and Guy Manton had all come last in section oops! However, Geraint Powell was 2nd in E section and Mat Challenger was second in D section.

The canal fished like this... A section rock hard, B section good, C section rock hard, D section brilliant, E section Hard, F section very good.

D section threw up the top 3..

1st Steve Kedge 15lb 3oz, lots of skimmers and small roach on bread.
2nd Mat Challenger 14lb 4oz. Couple of big skimmers, a chub and some good perch and roach on worm
3rd Sam Johnson 13lb 13oz
4th Nicky Johns 12lb 1oz
5th Jerry Pocock 11lb 5oz (Good luck to Jer who is having an op on his shoulder and will have to give up fishing for about 6 months)

My team was last on the day but are still winning A div. Nomads are winning the B div.

Looks like next weekend I will be up at Newbridge, whilst the river is very high today I hope if we only have showers it will drop. I'm sure it will only be a feeder match but I'm happy with that and look forward to it.

I will try to do a blog this week on some new products Preston Innovations are bringing out, I got to see them at a recent show and there are some nice looking things.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

ATWL River Thames - Round 1

Another week passes by and another with a fair bit of rain at times. After a week of plenty of exercise I was feeling good, then started to feel like I had a sore throat and by Sunday morning I had a runny nose, cough and felt piss poor, great. My youngest daughter was going to pop back home and see me the weekend but she was sick, then Friday had to have our eldest cat put to sleep. Not the best of starts to a weekend for sure.

This round of the winter league was to be fished on the Thames around Radcot and Lechlade, I haven't done that well up here in the past, a mixture of bad pegs and not on the right methods. I was determined to ensure the preparation was good and all I needed was a decent peg. I felt bleak would be really important and so made up 6 rigs for them, four for whips and two for short lining. I was up at 6am Sunday and got away with time to spare, 10 minutes from McDonalds at Shrivenham I had a call from Shaun Townsend who was running late and asked me to pick him up some brekky from McD's.

At the draw I could see the river had plenty of pace which should improve things, the Thames doesn't really flood and go dirty as it is a lowland river and not a spate river. James Carty did the draw for us and was soon back with our set of pegs, I was up at Lechlade in A section, Pegs 1 to 3 are usually the best I was told, and I was on 6 with one peg below me. Lee Trivett reckoned I was on a shit bit, well that kind of shouldn't have surprised me really, I seem to be an run of crap pegs at the moment. Anyway off I went with Shaun following me as he was in B section and also not in the best of areas.

After a bit of a walk but nice and flat and no styles I arrived at my peg, though I did walk past it at first. Once again the tree lined far bank I longed for was not there, this week though I did have features in the form of boats.
To the left of these two boats were more boats including barges with people on them, and a husky dog which barked at me constantly for an hour, not really what you want and eventually the owners had enough of it and chucked it back in the barge. I had to get in the water here to fish the peg, it was obviously a favourite dog entrance into the river by the state of the bank. Once in the water though all was good. The river flowed from left to right, I could see the bottom of the river a long way out so it wasn't looking to be deep. In fact when I plumbed up the most  could find was 3 1/2 feet. But there was weed everywhere it seemed and I was struggling to find a clear run. I found something to work with out at 13m but a fair way downstream. With the wind getting up and blowing downstream and into my bank, and the flow being pacey light rigs were a no go. In the end I set up one 2g rig and a 3g rig for here. I also set up bleak rig for short lining (whip would be a waste here) and a 2.5AAA waggler.

We started at 11am, I put 5 small balls in on the 13m line and went out with a caster on the hook on the 2g rig. Trying to get it to go through was a nightmare. Weed was still an issue and the wind was really blowing the water and float downstream faster than the flow. Ten minutes in no bites, onto the 3g rig and I put a maggot on and took 6 inches off the depth. I got a bite and a fish on, felt like a reasonable roach but I will never know as it weeded me and came off. A couple of runs through later and I hooked another and landed a 6oz roach. I had a couple more smaller roach and tiny dace, but it was clear this wasn't working.

I had a quick look short for bleak but didn't get a bite, so out went the waggler and I had some bites on this from bleak. I was getting bites most runs down and was at least starting to put something in the net regularly. After a while the bites went iffy, I tried deep on the pole but had nothing to show other than a few burst maggots so bleak were still about. I tried my bleak rig out at 13m, this was OK but I could not get them lined up really well as the wind was now battering the river and me and it was a real struggle to hold the pole at times. Red maggot on the hook was definitely the best hook bait for the bleak and odd little dace. I had to switch back to the waggler as the wind was now turning me around.

I caught on and off all match on the waggler, and also did manage a few bleak and dace at 6m, but it was literally just one fish here now and then. Fishing the waggler I still had to fish well off bottom to avoid the weed, towards the end of the match I did manage a couple of small roach on it but nothing to shout home about. By the end of the match I had about 100 fish. I had no idea what had been caught in my section but without any decent weight building fish in my net I was expecting the worst. The scales came up from peg 1 where Mark Brush made no mistakes on this noted flyer and had 15lb with some skimmers mixed in (he came second overall). Mike Bernstein had 6lb+ then there were two 11lb weights, one of roach and one of dace. The lad upstream of me was on the same shallow weedy water as me and he struggled for less than 4lb. Then I weighed 5lb 6oz. Finally the lad on the peg with lovely willow trees opposite had 10lb of roach and bleak. Sure you've worked it out that I only beat one person, so not a good day.

Some people said there "used" to be chub in the shallows, maybe if I had blasted maggots I might have hooked one, though with all the weed I'm not convinced I could have got one out. Other than this I cannot see it was possible to do anything else on the peg with the weed and wind, in fact a couple of guys back at the car park told me I'd done well off the peg, lol.

As we thought from the draw we had some tough pegs, to go with my result James Carty beat one I think, Andy Ottoway was last, and Towner beat a couple. Jack Jones won his section, Lee, Ian Pauley and Martin Barrett were second in theirs. Despite are four bad uns we scraped in as 3rd on the day, 1 point behind DGL, and I think 7 points behind Blackmore Vale, well done lads.  Winner on the day was Richard Chave with 17lb from the flyers at Radcot, I wish I could draw pegs like Rich, even if I only caught half of what he does!!!

I'm on the canal next week in Bath for the Commercial House, maybe a change will bring me a better peg my luck has to change before long.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Riverfest Qualifier River Thames Pangbourne

I was feeling better this week and was able to get back to the gym and travel with work again. Also got up to the Cross Keys for a few ciders on Friday night with Martin Rayet and Glenn Bailey (late celebration of Martin and mines birthday). Though this night out was bad timing as I had to get up Saturday 5:30 for the riverfest, so getting in bed by midnight was a bit later than planned but twas a good night out.

Saturday 5:30 I was functioning OK but was a tad wobbly at first, but I was soon completely sober and wide awake as it absolutely hammered down with rain as I loaded the car and I got soaked. I had to change my socks, trainers and coat before I left. On the way up the motorway the weather was vile and I stayed well within the speed limit, other than that it was a straight forward journey to the draw venue, Beale Park. I met up with team mates Jack Jones, Geraint Powell, and ex team mates Andrew Cranston and Tom Moretti. We discussed the bream pegs that last year threw up four or five tons, and if you drew in that zone of 20 pegs you would have no chance if not on the bream. The other two zones were going to be roach matches and were more up for grabs. The pegs to draw were apparently 32 to 37, well I didn't manage to draw there and was on peg 16. However, Jack on 33 and Andrew on 34 were potentially in for a good day, drawbags lol.

After a short drive in my car I had a fair walk to get to my peg and I was blowing and soaking wet again but this time from sweating. The peg looked OK, I couldn't get into the water and had to fish off the bank, there was plenty of cover either side of me and lots of weed in close. The river is wide here but I wasn't planning to fish far out and was told there were no bream here.

Despite all of the rain the river only just had a touch of colour in it and just a little flow. Two of the stewards who walked up with me told me that last weekend the river was tap water and full of Canadian pond weed. The photo below shows it was still clear in the margins.

My set up was based around catching silvers on the pole, and maybe some chopped worm fish as again the stewards said there were some decent perch around. First up was a crowquill set up with 18 N20 to 0.10. This allowed me to plumb the depths around the peg and I found I only had 8 feet (thought it was deeper) and in some parts of the peg it was thick with weed. Out on the pole and I plumed around and ran a rig through, I had to go to 13m to decent flow and weed was only a problem towards the end of the peg it seemed. The wind was really gusting and mainly downstream and the float was clearly being pushed downstream. Rigs would have to be heavier than required, a 1.5g pencil float which would probably need to go under on the drop, and a 2g rig for easing it through. Both rigs had size 20 N20  to 0.09 as starting points. I also set up a 4x18 strung out rig with 18 to 0.08 for fishing hemp.  Lastly a chopped worm rig, but alas as I never had a bite on it, it really needs no more words.

I was ready with 12 balls of gbait mixed (Sonubaits black roach, river, lake and soil) just before the all in, and was soon letting fly. First rig out was the 2g to fish caster, and first cast a small roach, next cast a missed bite and then a dropped off roach. A much better roach was hooked and as I took the top three sections off the elastic was slack, grrrr. Another couple of 4oz roach and then another decent one hooked and I lost this one too! However, I lost this one as it weeded me and I had to consider how I played these roach. Bites went iffy and I went onto the pencil float which helped and I was getting regular bites but fighting the wind, I wasn't bagging by any means though, but I did get a 10oz roach which I got out by taking off the top 5 playing it for a while and then took two sections off to net it. I repeated that a couple of times with roach and a perch. I had started to get a bit of bleak tiny chub trouble and soon I was forced to push the bulks down. Sadly the peg was just going away from me, I tried hemp on the hook and didn't get a bite, and a few goes topping up didn't bring me any response and the loose feed just made the bleak worse.

The middle hour was really poor for me, and I could not see where or how to sort anything out and could feel my chances had slipped away. Bank walkers were saying there were a few anglers catching decent roach and those on the feeder had little to show in my zone. The bream were showing though in the expected flyers in the middle zone.

With about 2 hours to go and having not fed any casters for ages I was still hard;y able to get a bait past the bleak and if I did there were no roach. In desperation I tried a piece of hemp again. My confidence with hemp isn't great, not helped by needing glasses which makes it fiddly hooking it. Anyway first drop on the pencil rig and blimey I'm sure that was a bite! Then a roach yay! It was a bite a chuck on this and I'm sure I should have tried it earlier now. Again, it wasn't proper bagging, I was missing too many bites and the roach weren't all clonkers like you might hope. Still it was fun and when the wind dropped I got on the light rig and was getting bites on this every drop in until 35 minutes to go when Mr or  Mrs Pike turned up. Two strikes and this unsettled the fish it seemed, and this combined with the flow slowing right down it was a struggle till the last 5 mins when it was a bite a chuck again.

I knew my effort was not going to see me do any good, and I had not fished the best of matches in reality. I had come with a plan to catch big roach on caster and I couldn't, it was though in the end good practice and confidence boosting catching on the hemp. The scalesman gave me 11lb 10oz, and this was 3rd in my 10 pegs beaten by Dave Harrell on peg 12 qith 15lb, and Ian Young on peg 19 who had a brilliant 24lb of big roach to win the zone. Ian caught all of his roach on casters over gbait, and topped up throughout, interestingly he had no bleak issues, but had 5 pike strikes.

Down in the bream epicentre the match was won by Andrew Cranston with a huge 194lb who caught all match on the feeder! Take a look at the weigh sheet below for the weights, what a shoal of bream and skimmers there is that live here! Interesting is Jack Jones, he had nothing halfway through the match and then the bream moved into his peg, and he caught bigger bream than Andy, in fact in the last hour Jack had 72lb (put in a separate net) with bream to over 8lb.

Well that's my lot for trying to get to the final, no success and not even close this year, and I know I must draw better and fish better than I have done and will keep trying. 

I did not fish the Commercial House today but on a rising river at Crane and Swineford Andy Gabb won with 40lb of bream from peg 7 at Swineford and 20lb was 6th. Thatchers won the A div only dropping one point so a good day for the team. I'm back off to the Thames next week for the first round of the ATWL, Radcot and Lechlade area, I feel I'm due a decent peg up there, well you can hope can't you!