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!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Riverfest Qualifier - River Thames Clanfield

It seems a while since I have had to get up early on a Sunday, just my luck then that Saturday evening I developed griping stomach pains that had me concerned if I would be going fishing the next day. Whatever caused it I was up a lot in the night, but in thr morning the pain had subsided to just the occasional twinge.

I was glad to get the gear in the car in the dry, we had certainly had some rain overnight and more was forecast later. The journey to Clanfield is not so bad 55 miles and it doesn't take long to get there, I did though stop off in MacDonalds in Shrivenham to meet team mate Jack Jones. Soon we were joined by Mick Nowicki, Kev Bennett and Richard Chave. I got to the draw venue and was told I had to register quick, which I did and I paid my pools. Then said a few hellos to anglers chasing the dream, and there were plenty of top anglers here, Mark Downes, Sean Ashby, Simon Willsmore, Howard Kaye, Trevor Chalk and I'm sure I could go on! Good to see John Nobby Moody.  I was not far back in the queue, and was soon staring at the number 26. Thanks to a handy sheet I could see what permanent peg I was on, 46 which of course I knew nothing about. I didn't get any good vibes about the peg and so shot off to see it for myself.

To say I was disappointed when I got to the peg is an understatement! I was hoping for a peg with some nice tree cover so I could have a good go for a chub, what I got couldn't have been further from it. An open peg with a weedy bay and a great big red marker buoy. I'll get some more excuses in later don't want to use them all up at once lol. My view, the red buoy is of course to warn the boats of shallow water.

 I began setting up and picked out a 1gm pencil float first and used this to plumb the contours of the peg and then check the flow. The peg was another of the sort I seem to bloody draw up in this part of the Thames Deepest part at 7m and it shallowed up from there as I went across, the main flow was also about 7m to 10m. I opted to fish at 10m as there were some small fish topping but not in closer than this. The peg was about 9 foot deep here, and the rig seemed to go through well. I also set up a 4x16 with strung out shot, if bleak were an issue I had a whip set up. I plumbed up at 14.5m in the shallower water and had a 1.5g bodied float with 0.15 to 14 N50 to fish chop worm. One of the organisers came along and told me he didn't rate my chances, but said they did catch odd bream on the peg across in the winter (later another angler told me that was in 1978).  I was ready for the all in for a change, the angler below me was Simon Willsmore and I did much prefer the look of his peg, with flow down the middle and a snaggy tree over. I couldn't see the angler above me as he was up past a bend and hidden behind the many trees below him!

The match began at 11am and I cupped in 4 balls of Sonubaits, black roach, crushed hemp and soil. I fed some worm straight away across as if there was a bream it might need a bit of time to settle. I dropped in with a caster (ever hopeful) and did have a two 2oz roach, though one missed the net. After a gudgeon I couldn't get a bite on a caster, so onto a maggot trying various colours and I could get the odd bite mainly from very small roach and gudgeon, I did get my best fish a 4oz roach on this early. Simon had balled it, and I did notice on two occasions he had a bit of elastic out so something a little better, roach about 6oz. An hour in going nowhere fast so onto the worm line, 15 minutes and no bites so I fed some worms.

The heavy rain had arrived and gone, it was replaced by a pain in the ass wind right in my face. There were a few boats on the river today, and due to the bend and trees above me when they came through my peg they were very close about 5m to 6m away which didn't really help matters. A short clip below of one example.

I was not catching anywhere near enough fish or enough quality, but my plan today had been catch what small fish I could and then focus on fishing worms for a chub, each time I tried the worm line though I had nothing, the bream were not interested or not there. With about 2 hours to go I found a shoal of gudgeon further down the peg and these came fast for a while, I caught on both the pencil and the strung out rig, though sadly any roach I did catch were certainly only 1oz. I had decided to feed another long swim further down the peg, but with some gbait and soil with worm and caster.  I tried this with an hour to go and no bites on the worm rig, but small fish were topping so I shallowed up the strung out rig and tried that with a caster, couldn't get it to the bottom due to bleak! Fishing 14.5m for bleak was not going to be an option now and never was for me. Finally snared a perch though on my chop worm line, it might have been 2oz, and I spent the last hour looking for that bonus with no reward.

The scales came up from the pegs below. One angler had 15lb, 2 big chub and perch from a peg that had recently thrown up 30lb, so obviously the current hot spot. Simon weighed 4lb 6oz and then I weighed 3lb 6oz, Simon's weight was enough to win the 5 peg section and get £50, he had 4 decent roach and a 6oz dace, and those fish made all the difference.

Poor old Jack Jones had hid 4 decent fish on his chop worm, but everyone was a pike, with the last one being 15lb. What a gutter! We both fished positive as we knew to qualify you needed some chub. The weights on my board didn't make good reading and 4lb was mega. Ah well one more go for me in this competition, next Saturday on the Thames at Reading. The middle section last year was full of bream and I think four anglers had a ton, I'll take drawing one of those pegs please!

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Still here & August / September 2000

It has been a blank two weekends on the fishing front, in fact three as it turned out. I went on holiday with Wendy to Zante again, a fantastic little resort where the people remember you and welcome you back with open arms (well the bar owners remember lol). That was two weekends taken up, and this weekend I was supposed to be fishing the Thames Champs, unfortunately I have some bottom issues this week and I was forced to pull out of the match and do my best to sort myself after a visit to the hospital didn't really help. Luckily in the end I went for a natural remedy; a hot curry and plenty of Cider, and wouldn't you know Sunday has been a good day, yay!

Of course I did have a shock in the meantime when I found myself on the cover of Anglers Mail. They had used my catch shot of chub on the River Tone, taken by the one and only Brian Gay. That was a nice surprise.

I should mention that the Thatchers team have not fared well today on the Thames and Geraint Powell who took my place had 3lb+ of gudgeon so I didn't miss much. It was also the last match where young Andy Cranston fished for Thatchers as he is moving on to fish for Dorking, so good luck to him I hope it works out for him.

I've not been able to fish as much during the summer as normal, and that's been due to me doing lots of other things which I've thoroughly enjoyed, I will have to sharpen up on the fishing front pretty quick though to compete as I have a couple of Riverfest qualifiers on the Thames coming up!

Back in August 2000 I was fishing the river Huntspill on a Superleague match and I had drawn permanent peg 92. I had 2 small skimmers on the feeder and after this only had tiny roach and perch. I had 5 eels and again some tiny roach and perch on the pole, all in all I only weighed in 3lb 140z, but this was worth an OK 8 points out of 11. I remember some anglers did well on the pole by feeding really heavy with maggots, catching some big eels and occasional quality silvers.  One week later and I was back to do it all over again but this time on a Huntspill open match and I drew peg 193. The feeder was better this time with 4 hand size skimmers and a bream, plus a 12oz eel. Double red maggot caught all of my fish, I got bit off by a big eel on the feeder that day and lost another on the pole. They were costly as my 3 kilo 350g was 100g short of winning the section.

After two decent matches it was back on the Spill for the Superleague. Well what is it they say "one week you're a lion, the next eek you're a dandelion". 13oz and I only beat one person in the section, oh dear!

Saturday 26th August and a bit of pleasure fishing at Witham Friary where I fished the top lake. I started fishing casters for the crucians, and caught for an hour before it died completely. I switched to fishing with luncheon meat and caught small carp up to 3lb. I used to cup decent amounts of meat in back then, but this was a day when I found throwing in 4 bits of meat was far better. On the Wednesday I fished an open match at Bullocks Farm on the carp lake which I am sure would have been run by Tony Rixon. It was certainly not like fishing commercials these days, and it was a long wait for bites. I managed 7 carp and a tench on meat or corn, 4 to the far bank and 3 on the margin. I had 30lb exactly and that was good enough for 3rd and some money.

A practice match on the K&A canal at Horton was piss poor, I had just 1lb 4oz of tiny fish and hardly caught for the last 4 hours. It was though still enough for me to be picked to fish the following week again in a superleague round. This time was a little better as I caught for two hours at 3/4 where I had fed 2 balls of gbait and loosefed squatt over the top, before having to fish tight across for the odd blip. 2lb 11oz was worth 7 out of 11 points.

Saturday September 16th and more pleasure fishing, this time on the Avon, I fished the high wall peg on the Crane. I fished a 7 n04 stick float with a 22 to 0.10. Feeding caster & hemp I soon had trouble with bleak and had to push the shot to a bulk just 10" from the hook. It was OK though and I had a good double figure bag of roach and dace. What I do remember that day is hooking a very large chub, at first I thought it was a pike, but it swam to the far bank by the boats and soon I had it back in the middle of the river. My heart was in my mouth as I caught a glimpse of it after 5 minutes, and then it came off. I'll never know how big it was for sure of course, but it was a whopper.

The following weekend was the first round of the Commercial House on Fry's the whole league of anglers used to be able to fish on Fry's. I drew upstream end peg 1 and didn't really fancy it to be honest, plus I had an angler pleasure fishing opposite. The wind was awkward and with only half the river available to me I fished a waggler down the inside and loosefed maggots, and tried gbait and caster just shy of the middle. The middle of the river was not great but as the match wore on the inside line improved and in the last two hours I was catching roach, dace and bleak with a 20 to 0.10. It looked wrong but the waggler was the only way to present the bait well and I enjoyed the match. 8lb 2oz was as it turned out a great weight and I came 3rd overall and picked up over a ton.

My last match of September 2000 was the first round of the ATWL at Keynsham. I drew the Crane, the peg below the High wall. The river was a bit pacey and coloured and not really conducive to this section as you wanted a bream peg for sure. I gave the stick float a go but the swim got to boily and I had just a handful of roach and bleak and was really struggling after 2 hours. With nothing to lose I fished the gbait feeder 2/3 over with a 16 to 0.14. It was all quiet with no bites, then out of the blue a proper bite, but it wasn't a skimmer it was a chub. Carrying on I fished double or triple hookbaits and ended up with 6 chub. My weight of 12lb 1oz won the section and if I recall correctly Martin Barrett was 2nd in the section with 6lb. I used to like the river when it was like this, as if I couldn't catch roach I would go for big fish on a feeder when a lot of anglers preferred the float. Of course it was a risk, but as I got to know the pegs I knew where it was right to fish for them, and if I blew out I didn't worry too much as the same result would have happened on the float. Team won the day, so a good start.