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!