Sunday, 30 June 2019

Superleague River Huntspill - Round 2

I woke up before the alarm Sunday morning, 5:38 to be precise when I looked at the clock, might as well get up. I'd got everything ready and in its place the night before so I was sure not to forget anything. I arrived at the draw in Puriton nice and early but still most anglers were already there tucking into breakfast. Had a good chat with the rest of the team on what we might catch and how and discussed who was going to do the draw, nobody would so I put myself forward. Only two pegs left to choose from and that was 2 and 3 so no big deal and I got 3. It is hard to tell where you have drawn as there are new peg numbers being drawn, but when I saw my name against 31 I knew it was a bad area. In fact last week team mate Andy Ottoway had it and he DNW and although 11lb won the section only a couple of 3lb weights were weighed in. Andy was on 38 and was also a bit gutted at being in the poor area again.

When I got to my peg I was quite happy as there was a little more room for me this week, a bit of gap between 31 and 32 due to some reeds growing well out into the river. On peg 32 was DGL man Martyn Howard and to my right on 30 was another Thyers and Huntspill legend Kev Perry, no mugs these two. As ever when I set up the wind was light and the view a standard Huntspill peg.

I set up my feeder rod and as last week I cast out a lead to check for weed free areas. Reeling back in the line got caught and I snapped the tip off the rod, balls. I had another tip but it is a bit stiffer but should still be OK I hoped. I used a 16 PR355 and 0.13 powerline today. I also set up the same waggler as last week, but also two pole rigs, a 0.4g and a 0.8g both with 0.08 to 20 N40

 The wind was forecast to be westerly and 15mph today so I was wary of fishing too far out on all lines, even though it was still calm when I started. First thing was cast out a feeder, I did this 10 times as Kev next to me was firing out balls of gbait and I didn't want to be under gunned. Have to say his feeding was brilliant. After I fed my feeder line I then threw in 10 balls of gbait on the pole line at 11m and then picked up the feeder rod, put the hooklength on and cast out in hope. First cast on a worm and maggot and no bite, second cast no bite, changed to three red maggots on the the hook and a decent bite resulted in the thudding of bream. A 3lb brem in the net after not much more than 20 minutes, hapy days. Next two casts no bites, changed to worm and cast out but it didn't quite land in the right spot, I thought about leaving it but then decided to reel in and cast again. Another bite and another 3lb+ bream. On the hour mark I had a skimmer of 2lb and this was better than I could have hoped for. The next hour though was poor with just two hand size skimmers and then I started to get taps on maggot from bits, bream well gone then.

I tried the pole now but boy was it hard in the wind, 11m was a struggle to hold and it was hard to see the bites in the waves. When I did hit a bite it was generally a fish of an ounce at best roach, hybrids or tiny skimmers. I wasn't catching these fish fast enough and after 25 mins tried the feeder again, just a tiny perch this time. Back on the pole and it was frustrating as there were plenty of small fish in my peg but I wasn't able to sort them out, the waggler caught as well at times but casting it out was tricky as I had a tree close to me. I did try the feeder a couple more times during the match as I had no clue what was happening and thought I might need more, but it never happened again. The last 45 minutes I concentrated on the pole and waggler, and as last week the fish got a bit bigger but nothing more than 3oz and everything was swung out. It was a steady last period for me and nice to put a few more fish in the net. Maggot was best for me on the hook never had a bite on hemp or caster.

Match over I packed up, Kev had struggled and not had a bream, Martyn had a bag of small fish so I was looking good for beating them it seemed, nit sure about the rest of the section. Jon Tocknell had the scales and started weighing from the other end, it was a struggle for most and Kev Dicks was leading with 6lb 11oz (a bream and bits) until Martyn who had a big 7lb. My fish went exactly 12lb, Kev had less than 2lb and Jon 4lb 10oz which included a bream. A section win and I was really chuffed as this was a tough section and I got lucky getting those three decent fish early which gave me a big cushion. Nice to do well for the team.

Back at the results and we had five section winners, two halfway and one dipper. That was enough to win on the day but only by 1 point from DGL, and overall we are leading by just 4 points from DGL.

Individual winner was Andy Power with 55lb of slabs from next to Woolavington bridge, also in this section Nigel Evans came 2nd with 47lb. Nick Ewers came 3rd with 41lb from the next section past these guys, and certainly the main bream shoals are currently up here. Some sections today had no bream at all.

Well that was a nice way to end a bus weekend, as a result of my section win I am fishing the third round on this venue next week, really is about time I drew on one of these bream shoals lol!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

River Tone - Taunton

The other week I saw Brian Gay and Shawn Kitteridge had a good day fishing on the river Tone, and evening matches on the town free stretch have been throwing up decent weights (up to 25lb) of chub. I told Brian I would love to get back down there and lucky for me he and I both had a free day so it was a date. It was actually 3 years since I fished the Tone, and last time was on the fast water, the town is slower but I prefer this area.

Plan was a few early ciders Friday and up at 6am Saturday. I was up at 6am but was lead astray the night before by Glenn Bailey and Martin Reyat, and I was wobbling a bit when I walked home. Brian was down on the river bank early, and I was expecting to be there at about 8am and was only a few minutes after that when I pulled in to Wood Street car park. It's a nice easy walk to the river where I met Brian, he was waiting at peg 9 which had won the last two matches and he asked if I wanted to fish it. I said he should fish that peg and I would go above him, a fairly tight peg but on a slow flowing river no issue and I didn't expect the float to travel to far downstream I hoped!

Picture of Brian contemplating the day ahead. His peg was in the shade early on, not so later and it was going to be a test for us fishing in the forecasted 30C heat.

The swims here have been cleared for the matches and that's made the task of setting up easier, and also gives a lot more choices of where to fish on the stretch. My peg had no big trees or cover (trees opposite are set back, but there is some weed across that runs all the way down into Brian's peg and certainly could give the chub some cover.

Setting up was a doddle, one waggler that took 2AAA, might have been a bit heavy but I needed that weight to control the float as there was no flow in close and with a bit of wind at times a lighter float would have pulled off line. I put 2 no8 down the line and used a 0.12 Power Accu to a 18 N40. Simple and started with the rig at about 4 feet deep. On the bait tray I had 2 1/2 pints of bronze maggots, 1 pint of hemp and 1 pint of caster. I would feed all of this about 2/3 across.

I started off by feeding 4 pouches of everything and then settled into feeding 30 maggots, then half a pouch of mixed hemp and caster. It didn't take long to get bites, but the first three fish were huge bleak! Then a couple of chublets that were swung out and a few small roach. I was fishing with a single maggot on the hook and as bites were regular stuck with it for a long time. I had a lovely hybrid of about 8oz and then after about 20 mins I had a chub of 1 1/2lb game on. Bites slowed from the small fish and I soon new why as I hooked 3 chub in three casts although one of them came off. No more bagging though as they seemed to go, and then Brian had a quick few chub, so perhaps they dropped down. However, they were soon back and I took odd chub from 8oz to 2lb, feeding first and then casting was important it seemed.

I guess it was about 2 hours in that I noticed a few chub just below the surface and as my bites from chub were slow I shallowed up (Brian was already fishing shallow). The chub though were not playing ball and trying to get one of them to take the hook bait was not proving easy lol. I tried going a bit deeper to catch on the drop, this worked for a chub but then I got bit off, so that was not the right way to go. I upped the feed and tried casting around the peg, and it was a case of keep trying and changing things to get a couple of chub. At one stage I put a caster on the hook and had four chub, but then that stopped working. Brian came up for a little watch as he was having similar issues, I didn't realise he took a couple of shots of me, my best side many would say lol. Got one on.

As the day got hotter the fish came right up and I was trying as little as a foot deep to 5 feet deep. Going deep was good for roach, I had them up to 12oz, and I had a couple of chub deep. The best bit of skill getting a chub though was when I was feeding and looked up to see the float under at the end of the keepnet, perhaps I fished to far out! I had a couple of bites when the float landed but not many, and 2 feet was probably best. With 2 hours to go all of my maggots died in the heat, I could still feed them though and I upped the feed and tried to force a reaction. I caught on single and double dead maggot (a first for me on a river on the waggler lol) and had a few on a caster and maggot combo. I found later on it was best to cast far over, sink the line as the wind was a pain, feed and draw the float back into the feed. I had more chub, a decent hybrid, big roach and a trout. I packed up not long after 2:30pm having fished for about 5 1/2 hours. I was a hot, sweaty, a bit dehydrated, and a tad sun burnt despite two lots of lotion applied, but I was grinning from ear to ear after what had been one of my best sessions on a waggler.

We had no scales so had to estimate our catches Brian reckoned he had 20lb, but I thought maybe 25lb.

I struggled to get my net up the bank and Brian had to help me to the top, there was easy 40lb, maybe nearly 50lb. We used Brian's very large landing net and weight mat to get the pictures and all the fish went back in and swam off.

Well what can I say, a hell of a days fishing. The river Tone is simply a wonderful river and one I wish was that little bit nearer, I really mustn't wait another 3 years to fish it. Now I am just preparing for the Superleague on the Huntspill, I did say last week I had not been picked to fish, but one of the team dropped out and I was asked to fish. Weather is changing and it looks like being windy, I would love to get an end peg, not had one down for, well not sure I can remember drawing one there, must be the only place I haven't lol!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

River Huntspill Open

Today's match was in effect a practise match for the next two weeks rounds of the superleague on the Huntspill. However, my team Thatchers had around 12 anglers fishing and the team would be picked after the match. I got to the draw at 8:30 for what I thought was a 9am draw, the draw had begun much earlier and I was one of the last people to draw and had to eat my breakfast rather quick. I drew peg 48 which was probably a flier on the permanent pegs, but the lads sorting the venue out had to strim it out do some weed cutting and created new numbers. Therefor I was actually pegged up at Woolavington Bridge, I was about 6 pegs past the the bridge.

I drove the short journey to the river car park and got my gear loaded and made my way to the bank, I didn't realise there was a cut out route and I huffed and puffed through some long grass. Luckily I bumped in to Tony Goodland who was looking for his peg, he thought he was past the copse but couldn't read the peg number, that would have put me on the copse this side a good peg. Alas, Tony was on this side of the copse and I was next one in, quite a tight peg to him and on my right even tighter to Lance Tucker. Two good Huntspill anglers either side, and on the end peg by the bridge was Neil Richards. It was looking tough to get in the money.

I got the box set up with long legs on the front of the platform going in the water it was a nice position. The river was clear, with little wind but there were plenty of blips topping though Dean Harvey said he had seen a few bream top down by him and Neil.

First thing to set up was a feeder rod, dead simple with a 16 PR355 to 0.128 exceed. I did cast a lead out before the feeder was attached and found a clear area just past two thirds. Dragging the lead in close I found weed out to nearly 16m, so this put me off fishing the pole. I instead set up a 3.5AAA Preston Insert waggler, shotted with just 4 no 10 down the line and a size 20 N-20 to 0.10 flurocarbon. This was all I set up.

The match began at 11am and I had about 8 or 9 casts with a decent feeder on, I basically matched what Lance did lol. I then cast out with a worm on to hope for an early bream whilst I fed maggots and hemp on my waggler line at about 20+m. I'd like to write how I had to work out liners from real bites, but alas my tip just did not move and when I tried a couple of a maggots I had a small tap on the drop and that was it. After an hour Tony next to me had 2 or 3 bream, Neil had 3 and Dean had a skimmer. I gave it 1 hour and 40 minutes on the feeder but as I was still blanking I decided to give it a rest and try the waggler. I probably fished the waggler for about 45 minutes and had the odd little roach or rudd but bites were not prolific and the fish a tad small. I was thinking about going back on the feeder when Lance, who had also been on the wag, went back on the feeder and had a 3lb bream straight away. I chucked my feeder out and after about 5 mins had a funny rap, left it and nothing so wound in, it might have been a bite as the worm had doubled over on the hook bugger.

Tony had a couple more bream about now but my tip would just not move, but I did finally get a tiny pull and had a 6oz hybrid on which I dropped off swinging in. With about an hour to go I went back on the waggler and it was much better with more bites and better size fish, roach, rudd, perch and a few hybrids. Tony had another bream but then the wind dropped and all was still seemingly stopping al bream action, Lance had stuck on the feeder after his bream and had nothing and so I just stayed on the wag enjoying myself and was now catching on the drop on single maggot. The river started to pull off to the right late on and this for some reason made my fishing a little worse with smaller roach showing.

When the match ended I was wondering if I was going to beat anyone in the section without catching a Bream, but I had enjoyed the match despite not having a slab, and chatting with Tony and Lance was great as they are good company as well as being good anglers.

Neil was soon up with the scales and Tony's bream went 24lb 12oz, he was clear winner of our section, my silvers went a level 7lb, and then Lance weighed just less than me with 6lb 13oz. I actually beat everyone in the section bar the two end pegs, as Neil had 9lb on the end, 3 small bream and a little tench, I was happy enough as I felt I was fishing for third anyway.

Some of Tony's catch

My silvers

Back at the results it was clear that the fishing had been hard in some areas, bream were not everywhere.

Steve Priddle won the match from a noted good end peg on the North bank, and he had 46lb. Steve Lovell was one off the end peg in the last section at Woolavington and had 34lb and next to him on the end peg Tony Gilbert had 27lb. Tony and Andrew Cranston were the only anglers in the Thatchers team to get into the top 2 of their section and get some coin, I along with a few others was one out. Sadly my result was not enough to get me selected for the team next week, so good luck to the lads fishing it as the team has a slender lead after one round.

I'm hoping to get out fishing on a proper river next weekend, though it may be just pleasure fishing.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Viaduct Holiday - Day 6 / 7

Final match today, Thursday cost cutter. Steve and Matt Long put all of the pegs on Campbell and Carey lake, I was sure of the pegs to be on to frame today bottom of Campbell!

After another lovely breakfast I got all of the gear sorted onto the trolley and pushed it up to the shop for the draw and parked it next to the rest of the lads, and we soon had a convoy.

With 37 anglers fishing today it was 50/50 chance of drawing on either lake, but being a cost cutter which ever lake you drew on you were only fishing against them as it was payouts per lake. Into the draw and couldn't believe it when I pulled out peg 121 again, wrong end again! Glenn pulled out 135 and was sure to do well there, I could watch him of course from my peg!

At the peg the wind was blowing up today, and it was straight into the peg. Gutted really as I wanted to fish shallow long but couldn't see me getting the right presentation and the light on the water was awful. Due to the wind I hoped the fish would be close again, so I opted to fish just one section further than yesterday. The standard light pellet rig was set up for fishing on the drop, and the heavier 0.4g version was back out, as was the paste rig. The long rigs were also OK for fishing top set plus one, and I did set up a rig for the margin but never had a bite on that one.

My neighbours today were Woody on peg 123, and Gordon on 119. I decided that fishing for silvers was not an option and as such fed with 6mm pellet from the start, I fed with a toss pot as the wind would mess up feeding by hand. I had a really slow start with a lack of indications for 30 minutes, but then the carp arrived and I had 4 bites and 4 carp on the light pellet rig a great start, it slowed a little but I had 7 carp after 2 hours and Woody and Gordon were struggling with just 2 or 3 carp. Glenn had been emptying it and 10 in the first hour! My peg then slowed up and this was more like a typical Campbell match with a poor mid match. The rain had got worse and I had put the brolly up which made landing fish tricky but it kept a lot of my gear and me dry.

Switching to paste and upping the feed seemed to get the carp back and I caught well again, the fish though were a lot small than yesterday overall. The last hour was only slightly better than yesterday with 4 fish, and no bagging session. As a repeat of yesterday Gordon and Woody in the corners started catching carp late. When the match finished I was sure I had more fish than yesterday but they were smaller, so I said I had about 140lb or maybe close to yesterday's weight. It turned out I had less than yesterday, my carp weighed 142lb 2oz and my silvers just 2lb 9oz for 144lb 11oz. Essentially I just had less silvers than the day before. I had the top weight from peg 110 to peg 127, though it should be said quite a few of those anglers fished for silvers. From the spit down it was a different story!

1st Paul Morris 212lb 5oz  peg 129
2nd George Perkins 200lb 5oz peg 128
3rd Glenn Bailey 180lb 1oz peg 135
4th Alex Nadin 173lb 2oz peg 131
I ended in 5th place

The Paste Master!

1st Shaun Wilson 55lb 3oz peg 114
2nd Nigel Easton 46lb 13oz peg 78
3rd Pete Ziemiak 43lb 5oz peg 115
4th Mike Nicholls 40lb peg 99

The Silvers Slayer!

The last night was excellent, we probably enjoyed ourselves a tad more knowing we had no match and no reason to get up early. We had a great debate over wet and dry pellets fuelled by cider and much more. It was about 1am when I hit the pillow.

Six days, 4 pick ups, 6 tons.

I woke up a tad late Friday and missed breakfast, I just packed everything up slowly and chilled out watching a few of the lads trying their luck fishing the pegs by the lodge.

The weather was glorious on Friday, but we could not believe it was monsoon rains in Bristol! I stayed a bit longer to hope it would be gone by the time I got home. Something that was really helpful this week was the Preston Storm Shield side tray, it helped keep my bait and other bits and bobs dry, would have been a nightmare without this.

Image of Storm Shield Side Tray  by Preston Innovations

Lastly when I got home by just gone 6pm I was sound asleep, a sure sign of a great holiday, lots of fish, lots of cider and lots and lots of laughs and good times with great lads. But it was good to be home again and see the family which I had missed.

Viaduct Holiday - Day 5

Wednesday morning always means the short pole match on Campbell lake. You can only fish with a top set and 3 more sections of your pole, all the rest of the pole must be kept in the holdall. It can be a great match but if the carp stay out in the middle it can be a long wait for bites. Pegs in a corner, or with an empty peg, or the spit are usually favoured in this match. Based on Saturday a peg in the car park end would be best. Well I drew as far away from there as possible, peg 121 on the top bank. It is a peg that is not often in the draw bag but Mike Nicholls was on it Saturday and struggled for carp and wished he had fished for silvers.

Nice view of the lake from peg 112.

Colin Dyer was on peg 119 and and Steve Nicholls on peg 123, I would probably reduce their chances of bagging being on the end bank. The lake was flat calm certainly as far as I could see but there was a little breeze blowing down the lake that was ever so slight later on. Had it been a normal match I would have considered fishing long shallow, but today not so. I decided to approach the peg in a similar way to Saturday's silver bashing. I would feed two lines on top set plus 3 with 4mm pellet and look for silvers, but be prepared to switch to carp if they were the better option. With it being so calm I could not see the margins throwing up anything and did not target them. Rig wise my light 4x12 pellet rig, a paste rig, a slapping rig and that was it.

As per last match on Campbell it started slowly for everyone at this end of the lake, and it was difficult for me to catch skimmers but enough to keep me going, then I had a carp. I wasn't getting much in the way of indications or silvers and with Mat Toomes on 125, Chris Rolfe on 116 catching silvers I decided to change to feed 6mm pellet on the LH line. Throwing the bait in it didn't take long for this to bring in the interest of a carp or two signalled by some bubbles. I caught 4 or 5 on 6mm pellet and then a couple of foulers seemed to push them out and I struggled for a good 40 minutes.

Glenn told me he was doing well on the paste on peg 112 (I'd already said he would win off that peg) and that the anglers opposite him all had a few carp. I needed to up my game and switched to the paste and after a bit of regular feeding got the carp back and nailed a quick 4, then it was a spell of lots of fly under bites and not hooking a fish! I guess this is where my lack of paste fishing let me down as I couldn't work out how to solve this. However, things improved in the 4th and 5th hour with many decent double figure fish and I thought I was going to need 5 nets at this rate. Never think that, the fish departed me in the last hour and I only had 2 carp, meanwhile Steve and Colin finally started catching carp. Despite my poor lat hour I knew I had by far the best weight at this end of the lake and no matter what I would get my section, but the scales would tell the tale.

My silvers went 13lb 15oz, and my carp 139lb 10oz for a total of 153lb 9oz. Those last two fish were in one net and weighed 22lb. As it turned out I did get the section money because Glenn won with 167lb 5oz, and in second was Martin McMahon on peg 130 with 154lb 4oz, beating me by 11oz bugger! That said being pipped again was not like yesterday, I felt I had a good match and had lost no fish at the net, I was not gutted at all. Poor old Steve on peg 123 snapped a top set and went over in his carp net enough to get disqualified, but it didn't cost him anything other than his own embarrassment.

The silvers was a close run affair with Mike winning it with 37lb 7oz from peg 135 and Chris Rolfe having 36lb 10oz.

Back to the Lodge decent weather again today so happy with that, the Canada Geese and goslings were also happy and liked the grass by the lodge.

It was curry night in the littlest Indian restaurant I've ever been in, 10 of us and another 6 people is all that you can get in. Food was great and the company was too of course. After some more cider we returned back to the other lodge and raided their cheese and cider supply.

Five days, 4 pick ups, five tons.

Viaduct Holiday - Day 4

Tuesday morning I awoke feeling jaded, more tired than anything, didn't feel hungover but a bit crabby I would say. We were off to Avalon today which I had really been looking forward to all holiday. However, it was deemed to be a "float only" despite the forecast of strong winds and rain, and despite my protests the night before this was kept. Travelling again with Glenn I left my lead rod reels etc in my car. Rather rash but I decided on short pole. At the fishery the water was a horrible grey colour, and in the past when it has been like this it has fished badly. This did nothing to improve my mood.

The wind was blowing towards the car park end, but the pegs on the bank from 1 to 23 were a lot better then the other side. The pegs were going to be less windy down at 23, so I go and draw out peg 5 which was the end peg. I asked Glenn to give me the van keys in case I wanted to go for a nap during the match. Very much a case of negative nelly due to far too much pop the night before!

Setting up rigs was easy, an old 4x18 Preston yellow float for hard pellet, and a paste rig both to be fished at 8m, as far as I cared to fish. A rig to fish paste in the RH margin which was only just shallower than at 8m, i.e. nearly 7 feet deep. It was a cold day, no rain as yet, but the Northerly wind was chilly, I had seen a couple of carp top by the island and wished I had brought some rods. On next peg 7 Geoff offered me a spare made a pellet wag rod, it was in Mark Tanners van, so I walked down to Mark on peg 20 to get his van keys. This did not improve my mood as his peg was very calm whilst on 22 Glenn had virtually no wind and was going to fish paste at 13m.  I got the rod and changed the waggler to a 3.5 swan version, I did mention to Geoff that the reel line didn't look great. My view with the gap where the carp were seen topping now and then.

On the all in I cast the waggler towards the gap, it landed some 10m to the right, but still went under! I landed a little 3lb carp. Another 10 casts, no bites and the wind was killing it. Onto the pole at 8m where I fed some 6mm pellets, a quiet 10 mins and then two missed bites before getting one in the mouth and a carp in the net. From now on little fizzes began showing the presence of fish in the swim and it was looking better than I thought! Geoff had started on paste and hooked 5 carp loosing 4 foulers. I was not getting as many bites or hooking as many fish but still got ahead of Geoff with a good carp of 8lb. The lake was towing against the wind, and the hard pellet rig was working well keeping the bait still, However, my lack of confidence in paste fishing (and knowing that in reality I couldn't beat Glenn fishing his game) meant I persevered with hard pellet a bit too long, suffering a few foulers and the odd one in the mouth. In the end I picked up the paste rig and gave it a go, and all of a sudden it was like being acquainted with an old friend.

Fishing the paste was by no means the answer to the missed bites and foulers, but I would say the foulers were much less. I landed a nice commons up to about 12lb, and then had another close to double that as I had its head over the net spat the hook out and swam away, I may have swore. When bites went a bit iffy and the wind dropped again I decided to have 6 casts on the waggler and no more. On the 5th cast the float buried, I struck and the main line snapped, "sorry Geoff that line is fooked" I said or something similar. Back on the 8m pole line the tow was really bad now right to left and fishing the paste trying to keep the float visible was trcky, both Gordon and Martin were catching well, but we were all playing catch up to Glenn who was a long way in front. I caught on the pellet rig but was still missing bites / getting liners. Whilst one of Vic Bush's helpers was behind me I hooked a large fish which ended up doing me in the margin, not long after a large ghostie swam out, guess that was it then! I did manage to catch three carp in the margin on paste but it was a wait and I kept going back to 8m.

As the match was coming to an end I hooked another good fish on paste, I looked at my watch and there were 5 mins left, so just take your time I said. With 2 mins to go up came a near double common, and same as earlier hooked pulled out just before netting it. Hot head I was I took the pole apart quick to go in the margin, and in my haste the number 4 section slid into the lake, I dived for it, missed it, hit my head on the platform and broke a top set. Match over. Those last two minutes were to prove costly in more ways than one.

As expected Glenn won from peg 22 and the paste master was back on form with 170lb, the night before Martin said he would win. Second was Gordon on peg 9 with 151lb and third was Martin Rayet with 132lb from peg 11. Top 3 paid out, I was 4th with 127lb, ouch!

Chris Ollis had a great day on skimmers / bream to end with 41lb of silvers for the win. Geoff had struggled next to me on carp in the end but he took a lovely 6lb 1oz bream. One amazing thing today it never rained on us, but it was cold and I really felt a chill and could not get warm for hours.

The last 2 minutes of the match were as far as I am concerned the only bad part of the holiday and a more positive attitude would have I'm sure got me into third if not second, losing 20lb at the net was though bad luck. I was dog tired from the night before and feeling cold and after only 2 beers I went to bed early, a good decision as I needed a mid week battery recharge and was feeling great the next morning. The view from the lodge bedroom even when raining is a pick me up.

Four days, three pick ups, four tons.

Viaduct Holiday - Day 3

Monday morning and lie in as we had a 10am draw for the residents match on Lodge lake, 12 anglers fishing. We have breakfast in a cafe in Somerton called M&M, and the friendly owner opens early for us to have cooked breakfast. Only Chris Ollis did not join us, he is a veggie and tucks into his own made porridge in the Lodge. I was glad of the extra time in bed and it was nice getting everything ready and in place without rushing, I took 2 litres of water with me to the bank and made sure I drank it every day to rehydrate.

It was a lovely dry, still day to start with though once again showers were forecast. Lodge lake and me have history, I either seem to do really well or really shite, last time here I was on peg 73 and Glenn was on 53, we both endured a long spell without fish that time until the last hour or so. Into the famous Viaduct coffee tin and out comes corner peg 53, had this one before and kind of guessed it would be an early fish and late fish match.

Right in front is a willow tree which is extending out from the opposite bank, carp could been seen swirling here and there under it.

Down to your left is another tree where the water is very shallow next to the bank (or as close as you can get. I have caught a lot of fish here in the past by feeding groundbait in this shallow water. There is also the far end bank where you can try with a wag or a lead.

With so many carp showing I set up a mugging rig, also a meat rig to fish to the front right of the willow tree, a rig to fish hard pellet on a 4x12 with 16 KKM-B to 0.17, and a shallow margin rig. Also the lead was set up but other than one liner it will not be mentioned.

On the whistle I began with the mugging rig, and within seconds was attached to a lump. It came in far too easy and I had more trouble lifting it out of the water. No more carp left in the open water so up to the willow trying meat. First drop in and a bite and a fouler, a longer wait then a carp hooked fairly and landed. When I put this fish in the net I noticed the first carp was laying sideways at the bottom of the net, 10 mins later it was the same. I decided to inform the owners and Mat Long came down and weighed it so I could put it back. The fish weighed in at 17lb 10oz, and Mat was not concerned for it but said better safe than sorry. It lead in the the side for 15 mins but then swam off strongly. Me and my best fish of the trip...

Back in and the meat line was dead apart from a small skimmer. Next option try hard 6mm pellet at 13m inline with the base of willow tree. This was just a waste, no bites or indications at all and as I had been pinging pellets I was a little shocked. I sacked this line off and decided I had to feed and fish further in and would feed about 15.5m. I went back to the meat line to let this settle, the meat line produced a little run, couple of skimmers, a hybrid and a rudd. However three and a half hours into the match and I had only added one more carp and it was very quiet. Well when I say quiet, not quite... a little further up the lake I heard a bang and looked up to see Geoff Francis top set and part of his number 4 being towed across the lake, and then next to him Woody snapped his top set! Geoff tried to retrieve the sections with a lead rod but no good, so he had to go for a swim!

Fair play to Geoff he was a strong swimmer, and than had to get himself dried out after a quick pose in his boxers lol!

After this commotion rain started to fall heavily but I started to hook into carp on the long pellet line, as soon as I hooked one I shipped back quickly to keep them away from the tree base, the hollo 15 elastic was just right for this. I had to wait for bites but fish were now venturing out it seemed. I could also see Martin Rayet catching on 61 as well as Woody on 68. Geoff managed to lose a topset and number 4 again as it came apart this time, but he got it back without another swim. As I was laughing Karma pounced, I had a bite hit a carp shipped back quick only for the 13m section to part company with the 14,5m section, oh bugger.. I put the two section in my hand down and watched as the pole headed into the far bank. I ran round and found the pole close to the tree, borrowing Chris Ollis's landing net I managed to grab the top set, then with help from Geoff we carefully pulled all of the pole in, phew!

Back under my brolly I attached another hook length and carried on fishing long. I took the odd carp till the end and managed just the one from the LH edge which I had seen boiling the water. Match over I thought I had 105lb to 110lb, but had no clue if that was any good. I was going to be the last to be weighed in as Steve and Mat Long began with Chris on 73. I got round to see Gordon weigh in on 64 with 70lb. Martin Rayet went into the lead with 117lb 12oz, then Glenn had 108lb. My turn and all tallied up I had 115lb, so second place and another pick up.

Silvers was won by Mike Nichols with an excellent 28lb 13oz from peg 32, and Glenn got his first pick up with second in the silvers. Martin won and qualified for the all winners final. I missed out by under 3lb, that one fish caused by the pole coming apart bugger.

We hit the town hard that night and I opened my bottle of whiskey, mistake PMSL.

Three days, three pick ups, three tons.

Viaduct Holiday - Day 2

Sunday morning and it was an early start as myself, Glenn, Martin, Gordon and Mike were off to Landsend fishery for Tony Rixon's float only league. I was standing in for Mark Jefferies. Mike suggested we go to the Bear in Street for breakfast, myself and Glenn agreed but Martin and Gordon went on the longer route to Shipham.  Glenn drove me in his van which was a great help, but when we got to the Bear at 7:25 they were not serving until 8am. The lady working there was most helpful though and said help yourself to cereal, toast and fruit and she also made some lovely porridge. I was stuffed!

It was great to be back fishing the float only league, I always like fishing it but it clashes with other stuff so I have not entered it for a while. Tony always runs good matches and tries his best to make it fair for all with pegging. Speci, Match and Lake 3 were in. If I had a choice I'd like a peg on match between 15 and 21, and would like to avoid lake 3 as I never seem to do any good on that one. I was in the draw early and pulled out a decent peg on Speci, peg 40 in the corner. This peg is a struggle in winter and nobody said to me it was a flier but that I should catch carp on the end bank.

Glenn told me he fancied my peg for a few but that I would need to do some serious gardening to be able to fish next to the end bank. He was not wrong! Grass, nettles, hogweed etc was extending into the lake at least 6 feet. I cut out the area around 14.5m (path to lake gave it away) where I found a little cut back in the bank, went back to my peg and sat on my box to view my handy work. Ummm I couldn't see the cut out. The "foliage" on the bank below the cut out extend so far out it hid the cut out, so I spent another 15 minutes clearing that back as best I could. Result shown below.

I set up a 4x10 float for fishing the depth by the end bank, about 18 inches (lake was down a foot on normal level) and a dibber for fishing half depth. Both featured 16 KKM-B hooks to 0.15 powerline. A 4x12 with 14 PR478 to 0.15 for meat at 6m, and a pellet rig for the left hand margin. I did set up a mugging rig but nothing came close. To be honest I was pinning all my hopes catching carp in the end bank.

The forecast today was for some showers, I hoped that they wouldn't be too bad as I had left the brolly behind. The match started at 10:30 and it was dry and warm. I looked for an early carp on the meat short, after 25 mins I had a roach and a small skimmer and a crucian. Opposite me on peg 25 Leon Hubbard also had a quiet start, but Lee Williams on peg 38 had 3 carp straight off from the far bank. I had been feeding 6mm pellet to the end bank and was happy to see some tails coming up. I like to give it a bit of time before going in, but as many people down at the other end of the lake were catching carp I had to go in. It was a good move and I had 4 bites 4 carp all hooked in the mouth and in the net in no time, I was expecting to foul a lot so this was a great start. I caught the odd carp and of course inevitably fouled a few in the next hour whilst Leon opposite could hardly catch. Then my peg died and Leon started catching, clearly they had moved. On peg 31 Paul Elmes was catching well as was Shaun Townsend on 36, but Neil Mercer on 34 was doing best by all accounts.

I had a tough hour and then the showers arrived, but soon after I once again had signs of the odd carp coming into the cut out. It was literally one at a time, but just as I felt I was getting them lined up I lost a fouler, had one snag me up solid, and another put the rig into a root or something in the bank. This co-incided with some real heavy rain which had me feeling damp, and it lasted for 2 hours which had me feeling wet! I did try my left hand margin a few times but only had a 12oz chub there. It was a tiring match fishing just over 14.5m for most of the time, and it was made tricky when two of my sections got stuck together so shipping was awkward. I did have a spell where I fished shallow with the dibber, this was because I couldn't hit a bite on the deep rig, I caught a couple of carp on the dibber but when the indications ended I went deep again.

It was an enjoyable match, I landed a couple of foulers, and didn't lose more than about 6. However, my section was in with Paul and Neil and both of those guys were going to beat me based upon their estimations and mine of having maybe 100lb.

Leon and Lee my nearest neighbours both had 60lb, but their section was won by Towner. I weighed 104lb 15oz which was 3rd in the section, Neil having 159lb 10oz, and Paul 123lb 2oz.  Luckily for me they were 1st and 3rd overall meaning I picked up the section money, yay. In second place was Landsend master Tony Rixon with 140lb off match lake peg 15. Clayton Hudson won the silvers with just 16lb 15oz.

The sun came out as we packed up but was too late to dry everything out, my phone was damp and not used for more photos. Glenn had struggled on peg 1 until late in the day when the fish showed up. When we got back to Viaduct the lads there told us they had only had rain for 20 minutes and they had avoided the soaking I had endured! It was decided to stay in and get a takeaway, the doner kebabs some of us had were not the best and Mike Nicholls claimed it was his first and why would anyone eat this shit, safe to say it would be his last!

Two days, two pick ups, two tons. Happy days.

Viaduct Holiday - Day 1

After missing this holiday last year I was back in the club this year, but instead of 6 of us we had expanded to 10 people, and would be 5 people in each 6 berth lodge. Attendees this year Mike Nicholls and his son Steve, Martyn Woodington, Mark Tanner, Geoff Francis (1 lodge) and Gordon Cannings, Martin Rayet, Chris Ollis and my room mate Glenn Bailey. I was travelling down early Saturday morning and so took the Friday off to finalise all of the gear, rigs, top sets etc, I  even packed the car the night before as it would be stuffed with not only all the gear and bait for 6 matches but also of course clothes, food and cider.

I was late getting away Saturday morning, this was due to our old cat deciding to take a crap on one of the daughter's bed, hope this was not an omen for the week ahead lol! Some of the lads were still in Canards Well when I arrived for breakfast, and we discussed the week ahead and mostly what the weather was going to do. Our first match of the week was a 13m maximum pole only on Campbell lake, 10 of us, 2 other lads who stay in a lodge every year same time as us, and some of the viaduct regulars. Not fished Campbell for a while and so didn't mind where I drew or if I fished for silvers or carp. I pulled out a peg that I do like, 116, though the tree cover on the inside is reduced after it was pruned a while back.

I got to the peg and the view was nice and it was good to be back on this lake again. Nobody on 117 gives you that bit of extra room, on 118 was Woody, and on 115 was Adrian Jeffery who had fished my on the Thursday and said he struggled for 50lb.
I decided to give myself a chance of catching both carp and silvers and so set up a number of rigs. A 4x12 F1 pellet with spread shot with 18 KKM-B to 0.13 for hard pellet, a 0.4g handmade job for fishing hard pellet also, but this was for getting the bait down and stable as it was predicted to be windy. I did not set up shallow rigs as I felt the heavy rain Friday would have put the carp down. A meat rig with size 12 PR478 to 0.17 and a margin rig for hard pellet were also set up. No paste rigs as I haven't done it for a while.

I began the match short on meat looking for any early carp, but after 20 mins 2 roach and a perch were not a good sign, Adrian started like me and also never had a carp. I went out to 13m with pellet and had just one skimmer and a couple of missed bites. Looking around the lake at my end nobody was catching any carp, and I took the early decision to fish for silvers best I could. Fishing top set plus two sections I started feeding 4mm pellets and fishing either 4mm or 6mm in the band and whilst it seemed slow I began to get bites and catching the odd skimmer. I wasn't catching many, but the ones I did were a decent stamp I thought, I also had a nice surprise in the way of a perch of about 1 1/2lb. I fed some 4mm pellets by toss pot out to 13m and fished out here when I felt I needed to rest the 4m line, but it was not that great on the longer line.

After 4 hours my end of the lake was still very quiet with some very good anglers struggling to get carp, for example Mike Nicholls on 121 and Joe McMahon on 123. I was pleased with my silvers catch and had only had one carp, but the last two hours the silvers disappeared and I only had a handful. What did happen was that the carp started to feed on both of my lines when I did get a bite on them it was normally a carp. I couldn't do anything so carried on, and caught them all on 6mm hard pellet. The Preston Dura hollo green 10 elastic was a little under gunned but it was a good comprise when catching the silvers, In the last 30 mins I changed to size 12 elastic. I did not bother with the margin or try the meat again as I was still trying to find the odd skimmer.

With the match over I had no clue how I had done on the silvers front, I thought I had maybe 25lb. Gordon Cannings and Chris Ollis opposite me on 125 and 126 had quite a few silvers too. The scales started on peg 132 and worked round to 110. When they got to my peg Gordon was top silvers with 24lb 7oz, my estimation was way out and I comfortably went into the lead with 33lb 2oz, and as it turned out that was enough for the silvers win. My carp went 70lb 14oz, and my total weight was 104lb, nice to start with a ton. My silvers catch below.

Back at the results and by Campbell standards and recent matched it had fished hard, I'm sure the drop in temperature and rain in the previous days had something to do with this. I was pleased that I had read the conditions right , fished with an open mind, and felt I'd fished a good match, it was a confidence booster.

1st Phil Hardwick 176lb 10oz peg 111
2nd Bob Gullick 119lb 2oz peg 112
3rd Me     104lb  peg 116
4th Joe McMahon  101lb  peg 123

1st Me 33lb 2oz
2nd Gordon Cannings 24lb 7oz peg 125
3rd Chris Ollis 24lb 1oz peg 126

It was great to get a pick up on the first day and qualify for the silvers all winners final, shame other than Gordon the rest of the boys had not managed to get in. I drove to the lodge and got myself settled in and all of my gear had stayed dry. We had a great night out as you would on a Saturday.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

June / July 2000

Decided mid week to not go fishing this weekend for a couple of reasons; 1) I need to get my gear up together as much as possible for the annual holiday at Viaduct, as 6 matches in 6 days needs some prep. 2) It was my eldest daughters birthday and a nice family Sunday lunch was planned.

Going back to June 2000 I went pleasure fishing on Saturday 3rd, I fished a venue which I really liked, though it took some getting to and getting used to, Witham Friary. There were two lakes here as I recall, crucians and carp with some roach were the main targets. I fished the the top lake which basically was full of little lilies and you generally fished up to them to get bites. I fished maggot for a while trying to catch the wily crucians, but I ended up fishing meat catching small carp. 35lb was my lot on the day.

The following weekend it was back on an open match and I went back to Fishponds House. I drew a good peg down the arm towards the bowl, in the left hand margin there were lots of brambles creating an inviting margin. I fished solely with meat as the last time I was here I had seen its effectiveness. I started by fishing at 11m and had a few but was priming the margin with meat. When I went down here it was good fishing, but I was losing a few as the line was getting cut on a particularly troublesome piece of bramble. One fish I hooked got tethered to this piece of bramble and somehow my line was still attached. I climbed up the bank with my pole and landing net to try and scoop the carp out, but I couldn't see it over the brambles. Thankfully Martin Alexander, who was fishing opposite me, was kind enough to tell me where to put the net and I managed to get the carp in the net. Then I had to pull hard to get the net and fish back as the bramble was still attached. I got everything out and the bramble was now out of the water too. Of course all of this commotion took its toll and the carp took some time to come back to feed. I finished with 67lb and that was good enough for 2nd overall.

The following weekend and back on the river at Swineford for a Bristol & West open hoping to draw a bream peg. I didn't manage that and drew a decent winter chub peg lol. It was 32C on the day and suffice to say all I had was a handful of bits. Bream were caught on the outfall and just below in the shallow water. Tried the river again on the 25th June on a King Billy open, I was drawn one below the sugar hole at Jack Whites. I had one bite and one bream about 4lb, the pegs that produced that day were just above permanent peg 123, I don't think they are fishable today.

July 1st and I was fishing the FishOMania qualifier on the K&A canal around Devises. I was pegged up at the Willows section which at the time could produce carp, as only the top two anglers went through I had to go for it. I fed, caster and corn across and fished with 0.18 to a 12 with double corn. I had a tench and two small carp but the bites just dried up and bankside talk was it was fishing tough. With two hours to go I decided to put some groundbait in, I threw 5 balls towards the far bank, and this got me one more small carp. I weighed in 11lb 12oz, which I was disappointed with as I was hoping for 20lb+. However, I ended in 8th place and picked up over £100 so some consolation. I remember that Warren Bates was gutted to come third and miss out on qualifying, he lost a tench that day when a boat came down wouldn't stop and it went over his line. Bad luck.

I was practising for a superleague the following week, I fished a match at Woodlands view and caught very little, but then I stayed on and watched another match (they used to run two matches in one day).  Most anglers were feeding huge amounts of baits taking 1 kilo of worm, 6 pints of caster and 2 pints of corn! It brought lots of carp in but foul hooking was an issue. I really wasn't struck on this at all. Luckily I managed to find Grant Albutt, a young angler whom I had fished against in the winter leagues here and at Moorlands. Grant was fishing with meat, corn and caster and I was lucky to watch him fish and he told me he was confident in his approach. That was good enough for me. On the Superleague I drew peg 14 on Arles pool, as I was setting up I noticed that most anglers had two keepnets in, I only had one. Gary O'Shea was fishing next to me (for my old team Thatchers) and he said you needed a second net for any fish that were not carp. Shite! I asked my Avon Angling team if anyone had a spare net, of course nobody did, so I went and saw the owner of the fishery and told him my predicament. He had no spare net, and then asked if I was fishing with worms, I said no just meat and corn. He laughed and said oh well you won't catch a lot so don't worry. OK that's sorted then! I fed everything via a big pot, I had 3 pints of caster, 2 of meat and 2 of corn, and by the end of the match it was nearly all gone. I fed after every carp, or after 15 mins. I didn't have a great deal, but nobody appeared to be catching much in my section. When the owner weighed me in he joked again about me having no worm, when I weighed 36lb 7oz to come third in the 11 peg section he was genuinely shocked and said I thought you'd come last boy. I beat Gary O'Shea off the next peg, don't expect to do that on a carp lake these days lol.

My last match in July 2000 was on the River Huntspill in the then famous "Teams of Four". I drew peg 218 and had just under 3 kilos which was made up of 3 skimmers and a bream. It was tough with blanks in places and very few bites. I won my section of 10 so a bit of coin back on the day.

There will be no blog next weekend as I'll be in a lodge at Viaduct with little or no signal. As mentioned I will have 6 matches to write up on after the holiday. I'll need to draw a few bungholes to compete with the aces, but whatever I will enjoy it and am really looking forward to the craic.