Sunday, 24 May 2020

Windmill Fishery

After my midweek bag up I had decided to pop out to Windmill again on the Sunday, I booked in with Dave Haines and was going to meet up with keener Kev Winstone. I did have a little trip out on Friday afternoon, not fishing, but to see a rare bird that had turned up at New Passage (in between the two Severn bridges). It was a bird called a Collared Pratincole, I doubt many anglers have heard of it, and I had never seen one before, but with little traffic about it was a quick drive to see it. The wind was awful but I still got to see it, a great tick for me.

As the wind was really bad Saturday (battered some of my plants in the garden) I was hoping it would drop for Sunday. Of course the wind did drop from about 40mph, to about 16mph so still enough to be a pain and I chucked some lead rods in today. I got to the lake about 7:40am and wandered off to my peg I set up on peg 9 whilst Kev was on peg 8, also there was Gary Bowden sat on peg 12. Gary very kindly brought some bacon and sausage rolls from a garage and that was a nice start to the day. I had an island to fish to which would be attacked with the lead rod, a 15g ICS lead, with 0.17 to 16 KKM-B for hard pellet was already set up and ready to go. I set up a shallow rig for the pole, a depth rig for fishing at 5m and a margin rig. I only had pellets with me, but was later to regret this.

I decided to kick off on the lead as it would be a good indicator of how the lake was fishing, I had an idea it would be hard as there was little sign of fish moving. Indeed it was a very slow start, and I think after an hour I had 1 carp and had lost 1 fouler on the lead. Kev had dropped off a skimmer on the pole and had nothing, Gary hadn't had a bite. I had been feeding some 8mm pellet across to the island, and 6mm pellet out 14m for the pole shallow, unfortunately I never had a bite shallow. Back on the lead and all of a sudden 3 carp in as many casts, these fell to a Fluoro pink Bandum, but everything went quiet again. At times I would get liners on the lead but no bites, and no matter what hookbait I tried I could not get a proper bite. Kev broke his duck with a rudd and soon after had a small carp, on the pole about 8m out. My lead line had another wake up, and carp could now be seen feeding in amongst the ducks. I had a few carp and a couple of nice 7/8lb fish then it was back to liners. I tried pellet at 6m, and hooked 5 fish in 5 drops, all were foul hooked and 4 were landed all in reverse gear! They weren't shallow as I had hooked all of them on the bottom. I got one in the mouth in the end but it soon petered out.

The rest on the lead seemed to have been a good thing and I had 3 carp in 3 casts, and there were lots of liners and fish about now, Kev was also catching on the pole but was letting all the big ones get off lol, Gary had managed some lumps on 12. I was doing OK then disaster, and on one cast I caught something that would not give, I lost the lot. Being lazy I could not be bothered to re tackle the lead rod, so thought I would try to the pole again. The 6m line was no good, but I did get a few in the margin before they drifted away. Kev was now getting regular fish on meat, he had some good skimmers and some carp approaching 10lb. One of my lead fish being returned.

I packed up with 93lb on my clicker, and by the time I had packed up and walked past Kev he was up to 130lb, when I stopped fishing he was on 97lb so gives you some idea how well he began to catch.

To be honest I need to tie some hooks, make rigs etc for match preparation, but without knowing what is happening on that front, and if I can fish the super league then it is a bit of an unknown as what to do... do I do river rigs or more commercial stuff? In 3 weeks the river season begins, I'd like to get on there for a go, the fish should have all spawned this year, so hopefully the fishing might be OK.

Finally Clive Branson who runs the "Match Fishing" Facebook page has asked me to do a talk, and I agreed to do it. I'm doing it this Tuesday (26th May)  at 7pm. Anyone can join the group, and if you have any questions at all, about anything, then please go on Facebook on the match fishing page for 7pm Tuesday, then you can type in your questions.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Fishing again! Two days out already for me.

Yippee do dah and way hey hey! It is great we can go fishing again, and hopefully for those of us who like fishing matches that will come soon as I can't wait for a match. I decided to go pleasure fishing on the first Sunday, letting all the other people get out before me I thought. I booked in to fish Windmill match lake, and got there about 7:30am and Kev Winstone was sat fishing on peg 1 and I got on 25 so we could have a chat. There had been plenty of fish caught here in the previous few days so I was happy to fish at this end. It is the deepest part of the lake here and so I opted to fish two methods, a shallow pellet rig at 13m, and a margin rig to my left. I had not taken any rods and was just happy to mess around on the pole. Though I did have the end of the island to fish to if I had brought rods, I let the Romanian angler on my right have the island. He was a good angler, spoke brilliant English and I found after I left he landed a near 17lb carp.

Anyway, back to my start, I fed 6mm pellets out to 13m and flicked a shallow rig out, within 30 seconds I was attached to my first carp, a nice 5lb fish and what a way to get back to fishing. Next drop out and another carp, and the same next drop. This could be good.. It took a bit longer to get the 4th carp, but the 5th, well it never came on the shallow line! The wind got up and had was blowing straight down the lake to the other end, and it seemed the carp went with it. Kev had only a couple of carp shallow and was soon struggling like me. I came into the margin where I had about 2 feet of depth on a slope , OK I would unlikely do this in a match but this was different and I was prepared to give it a good go. I only had to wait about 15 minutes for the first bite and another carp, happy days. By sitting there and feeding carefully and waiting patiently I would catch the odd carp, not bagging but it was enough to keep me interested. Trying back at shallow a few times was fruitless.

I had fished the margin quite close, a top set plus one, but eventually the fish just seemed to go, and I was forced to go further then the peg towards some reeds. The reeds had been knocking all day, but fishing against them would likely bring a few issues. Well it did bring bites, a few carp landed and a few lost. Trouble was it was a deeper margin by the reeds and I fouled a few which is never ideal next to reeds lol. I ended up with 60lb on my clicker, not a massive weight at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed being back out. There were lots of pleasure anglers catching carp, and seeing a couple of families fishing and all catching was really nice to see. Dave Haines was doing a good job helping and encouraging all the anglers, whislt making sure social distancing was kept in place. Kev stayed on after me and had a good run on the paste later on in the day. Martin Rayet and Martin McMahon did well further down the lake on pellet shallow.

Wednesday 20th May and I was off to the prolific Todber Manor Fishery with six other reprobates; Glenn and Mark Bailey, Gary Bowden, Mark Jefferies, Dave Haines and Kev Winstone. We all arrived within a few minutes of each other, and the venue was enshrouded in mist, a tad chilly when I was wearing shorts. Everyone was unloading kit and picking their pegs around the bottom of Hillview, I couldn't see a free peg so wandered up with some gear and plonked myself on a peg I would very much like to draw 49, a big time flyer. There were carp spawning on the far bank and the odd one on the point, but not anywhere else. Today I had rods with me as well as the pole, but having sat on 49 I decided on only getting one top set out for use in the margin. A bit of a gamble but my instincts told me there would be no need to fish anywhere else than the LH margin.

Having never fished the peg before I had a bit of a plum around, it was really shallow right in the edge and just seemed to slope off as I went out. In the end I went for a spot halfway along (just past the reeds stuck out halfway in the photo) and a couple of feet out from the bank. A 4x10 Preston Edge float with 0.17 to 18 KKM-B for banded pellet was set up with about 18" depth. Well it wasn't long before I was fishing, threw some 6mm pellet in and it wasn't long before the float shot under and carp number one was hooked and netted. It was a stupendous day, there were fish coming into the margin all day long, and I treated today like a match in terms of focus and kept using the clicker. I was always trying to keep catching as fast as possible and sometimes I'd drop the rig in and within 5 seconds fish on, but then I might get a spell of missed bites / foulers. By adjusting the feed and by coming shallower this would work before having to go deeper again. I avoided going right in to the shallowest water all day.

Everyone was catching, Mark Bailey on the other point peg (48 I think) was catching on paste close in, Gary next to him had lots on the method and then paste in close, he had one that must of been nudging 18lb. Podge was catching in margin, Glenn on the method and later paste, Kev on soft pellet and Hainer on meat. Below the view looking behind me, Gary still fishing, but Mark Bailey had packed up having caught approx 250lb.

I just carried on catching, a lad who fished two pegs to my right asked if I was bored, but I wasn't, I was trying to get everything right and keep landing fish regularly. I had two spells where missed bites and foulers were an issue, but always managed to get over that. A lot of the fish are 2 to 3lb, but I caught many bigger than that, with at least three doubles, and I think this was the best of  the bunch. You may also see Gary pouring lake water over me via his pole cup, I didn't mind on such a hot day!

I finished at 3:15pm, having fished for about 6 hours, I did have a mid session lunch break watching Gary and Mark, it didn't affect my fishing. At the end my clicker had 365lb on it, never had that much on it before, probably never will again lol. Pretty much everyone had around 200lb so it had fished very well.

I will be glad when matches start, but for now it's good to be out and enjoying the fishing and the weather, I hope you can too.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

1993 Memories Brought to Life

As you will have noticed I have not blogged for a couple of weeks, mainly due to lockdown blues I guess, though I have been trying to keep fit and nurturing some vegetables along in my garden and keeping the plants alive. Fingers crossed for some nice tasty salads in a few months time.

During the week I received a message from Kev Boltz, he had been doing some clearing up and came across an old angling newspaper from 1993, he wondered why he had it and so had a flick through and found out it covered a famous win for our Bristol team at the time, more of that in a mo. Kev kindly dropped the paper off outside my door so I could take a look and make some use of it for rekindling some memories. The paper was called Angling West, and I must confess I really don't remember seeing it in my youth, it was published by Grenville Jones, and the regular contributors were Colin Scull, Dave Tait and Ted Tuckerman. Looking through this edition it covers all aspects of fishing over a wide area as shown in the picture I have taken, notice it says distributed via 130 tackle shops. Shops that were advertising in this issue were; Veals, Bacons, Twerton Tackle, Clevedon Angling Supplies, Wests Tackle, The Angling Centre (St Austell), Batemans, D&J Sports, TK Tackle, Cotswold Angling, Mevagissey Shark & Angling Centre. I am sure some of you will remember these fondly, how many are still open I don't know but if any are I would be pleased if you could comment. Or if it was your regular shop back in the day please share.

Of course there were many local leagues back in the early 90's, and this issue covers quite a few, so here are a few pictures with some names from the past, and some still casting a line. Perhaps it may spark a memory or two for some of you.

A Very young looking Derek Jarman in this one, a very good angler to this day, and the results of the famous ACL league which was the Bath anglers league to be in.

Next photo shows two matches I have competed in. Firstly the Veals individual Classic League, fished on a Wednesday I struggled to get time off to commit to the league, but did get into it at least one or two years and managed to win one of the matches and frame in the overall league. However, in this year I didn't fish,but this particular round Clive Rayner was pegged up at Rotork and soon realised he had most of the bream in the river in his peg. He went on to win the match with a new 5 hour record for the stretch of 155lb 2oz. Godfrey Hargreaves was on the next peg to Clive, and the weights went downhill after them. It was quite some years before the record was broken.

The SWWL was my old stomping ground of course, and so I have this actual match recorded in my 1993 diary. The weights here look low for an Autumn match, and it was because the river was in flood. As far as I know all of the anglers in the top 6 are now just on commercials or don't fish anymore. My team were 3rd and as a result we got within 2 points of Bathampton. I only had 6 eels for 14oz down at the Chequers stretch, all caught on lobworm for 6 1/2 points.

More coverage of a local winter league I took part in, the Commercial House, where I fished for Bendix. My team romped the match at Swineford to Crane, with Ian Spriggs getting in the frame. I was on a long walk peg 49, probably end of Cornfield, and had 4lb 10oz for 10 points out of 14 all on the feeder.

The next round was at Laycock, and would have been the Abbey fields and Queens fields. Once again my team smashed it on the day, and captain Andy Floyd won the match and I was last in the main money coming 6th overall. I drew a noted chub peg that was easily identified as it had a rope hanging from a tree where sometimes kids swung from. On the day luckily no kids appeared, but unfortunately the rope was trailing in the river and I could not fish past it to where I really needed to. I fished a stick float in close for dace and gudgeon, then switch to waggler fished as close to the rope as I could get. I had 5 small chub on this which made up the weight to 8lb 4oz. Viv Bees weight of 12lb 13oz included a 10lb 2oz barbel which he had on the stick float with a 20 to 2lb bottom.

Some more winter leagues with good anglers and good teams, look out for Mike Stone, Tim Rowe, Rob Randall, Glenn Bailey, Kev Boltz, Sean Glover and many more!  Oh and Darren Shipp, I wonder if that was actually Des Shipp?

Onto the main reason Kevin kept this paper, the NFA South West & South Wales Regional Championship fished on the Gloucester Canal Saturday 4th September 1993. This match attracted a record turnout of 23 teams of 12 anglers! I've done the math for you, it was 276 anglers, wow. I was fishing for my team which were known as Team Bristol Amalgamation. I don't think we would have considered ourselves as one of the top teams for this match with so many locals fishing, and at the time Avon Bait were the best side in the South West and they were winning all over the country. In fact Avon Bait were nailed on favourites with the Bookie in attendance, the famous Bill Knott Jnr. Never the less it was a big match and my team would fish every team match it could at the time. I do not remember the name of the area I drew, but it was peg 134, but straight away I had a little bit of luck. I had fished this area recently and what I noticed last time was that groundbait seemed to be a real waste of time here, and loose feeding was better. I therefore was going down a loose feed only approach, but still knocked up a little gbait just in case it was needed later. I fished the pole at 11m and 12.5m loose feeding maggots and hemp. A 1.25g rig set 1 foot overdepth  worked an absolute treat on the day without much tow. At the start everyone chucked in their gbait bar me, but I was confident of my approach. I ended up catching 2 skimmers, 5 roach and 5 eels for 3lb 10oz, that was worth a decent 18 points out of 23. To give you some idea of how well my approach worked, the angler one side of me had 1 roach, and the other side he blanked. It really seemed the fish stayed away from the gbait.

As it turned out the team had done well in nearly all sections, and we totted up we had nearly 200 points but it was too close to call. Then Bill Knott walked up to us with a big smile before the results, he didn't say anything about the result, but said "You've made my day". Finally as the results were read out in reverse order it turned out we had won the match with 200 points, with Glevum AC 2nd with 196, and Avon Bait 3rd 194. Wow, this was a truly amazing result for us and we were ready to celebrate! Bill Knott came back into the bar to see us, after having paid out the lucky people in the frame. Bill said "You lot have saved me a fortune today, Avon Bait put a huge wedge on winning and thank f... you boys won it!  Now what would you like to drink, help yourself." Bill paid for the beer, all of it, I will never forget that day as it was just an unexpected win and fabulous day, with free beer the icing on the cake lol!

The picture of the winning team below, and the names from left to right.. Top row.. Rod Hill (RIP), Mike Nicholls, Pete Sivell, Kev Boltz, Paul Lumbard, Glenn Bailey, Ian Spriggs.  Bottom row.. Me, Martyn Woodington, Mark Jefferies, Andy Floyd and Bob Sheppard.  I am pleased to say I am still fishing (and drinking lol) with many of these guys, but I remain friends with all of them and would always be happy to bump into them. Great blokes, and a great time for fishing. We will be able to get back out there again guys, but for now lift your spirits with your memories of good times.

Thank you very much Kev for sharing this paper with me, it was a real pick me up.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Match Fishing - My Beginning

As the lock down continues I am doing my best to pass the time and stay sane and safe. I am still working from home, and am really busy at times, so that does help a lot and I'm thankful for this. A few more adjustments to the garden (including a few new plants / shrubs gone in) but that's all done now bar the regular weeding / pruning. Of course I get my regular walk in every day, between 30 minutes and an hour, and keep my eye out for the various birds and butterflies, should be good for that this week. A bit of weight work at home and some cardio stuff, but I can feel the muscles reducing and see the fat increasing on the belly due to additional eating and drinking. Ah well it will be a good incentive to get back to pre lock down when the gym finally opens up again.

Trying to think about what I can write fishing wise that might be of some slight interest to others, or maybe stir some memories for you. This time how did I get into match fishing..

As I mentioned in my last post once I got my 13 feet fiberglass beach caster (lol) and half decent reel I was able to fish the river a bit better. I only had one of those plastic tackle boxes which opened up with a few trays in it, so nothing to sit on, but then we always stood up on the river. But then one day I was given a wicker basket, wow! I could put the plastic box in it and my bait as well as food and drink. The old cow food bag which I used to carry my keepnet and landing net eventually got replaced by a net bag, those small thin jobs that you could get nothing else in bar your nets. It was easier to walk to Jackie Whites now which was really the only place I fished other than the very rare foray to Bitterwell lake. I fished with numerous school friends at the time (secondary school) but eventually ended up mainly fishing with two lads Kevin and Dave. Kevin had the best gear, most of it bearing the name Shakespeare on it, a blue and white rod and a plastic box. He also seemed to do the best when we went fishing which I put down to luck, of course it wasn't. Kev and Dave lived close to each other on the local housing estate that had been built in the early 1970's, so they were able to see each other a fair bit, me being down on the farm we had to cycle to meet up. I spent a lot of my teenager years on their housing estate with them and a lot of other kids I met at school, we went everywhere on our bikes.

One day Kev told me that him and Dave had found out about a junior fishing club and they had been to a meeting and learn't lots, and did I want to go with them next time. Think it was Friday evening the club met, in a Church hall in Whitehall, and the club was called Silver Dace. It was a fair way to cycle there from Willsbridge on my 3 speed bike, and to be honest I would have got lost if my mates had left me behind! Going into the hall it was very intimidating with all these kids who knew each other and were chatting away and half of them looked right bruisers, lol only joking. Luckily two gents who were running it were dead nice and came and spoke to me, they were Mike Bird and Derek Floyd, and these two guys were brilliant for junior anglers. There were other adults at the meeting, some parents (of the juniors) who were anglers (John Hawkins and many of his family), and one I recall was Malcolm Holbrook (RIP) who was there with his son Mark. In the nicest possible way Mark seemed to be the top dog, other kids were around him like bees at a honey pot. Another lad was Clayton Hudson, he was a good mate of Mark too it seemed, Clayton was friendly, easy to talk to and I was glad of his company, he's the same these days, not a bad bone in his body.

Another adult was present and this was Eddy Shortman, he was taking charge of the team to fish the Junior National on the river 1985. I was 16, late into match fishing, and if I didn't get picked I would never fish a junior national. A lot of the juniors were younger than 16, so they foolishly thought I would be a good angler, which I wasn't, but it did make it easier to make friends and try to get some information, though most of the words used by the others meant sod all to me, paternoster, hook length, crowquill etc. I had no clue that I was so bad, but fishing a match would soon sort me out.

The very first junior match I fished was on the clubs water, Chequers on the Bristol Avon. I remember the peg I was on, top of the straight just opposite the rock face. The river was flowing right to left and I set up a driftbeater float to fish maggots. I cannot remember much of the match, but I got confused when the river started going left to right but as nobody said anything I carried on. I had half a dozen dace in the keepnet I guess when Derek asked how I was doing. He said look at your net your fish are dying, and the fish were literally in an inch of water in the net. Derek explained there had been a tide and had I not noticed the river drop four feet, ooops. Disaster of a first match, but I think I got given a plastic disgorger as a prize which was better than the old metal thing I had. To be honest the memory is a bit flaky after that match, and I really do not know how but Eddy picked me to fish the National.

On the day of the national I had two rods as I now had a 10 feet ledger rod which came with one screw in quiver tip that was white. I remember sitting on the coach going to my section with nobody saying a word, but not me, I asked the lad next to me if he had fished a national before. Turned out he had, he had only won the national last year, and then I told him my peg number and he was next to me, shit why didn't I keep my mouth shut. By now I had at least got some sensible floats, wagglers, crowquills and stick floats, as well as a small selection of feeders. I set up a waggler (far too much float showing and heavy shot for droppers) and a groundbait feeder. Both rigs were fished direct since I still didn't know why you needed a hooklength.... I was having a poor match, I just was not going to catch those clever roach was I. When I chucked the feeder out I was having problems with the feeder sliding down to the hook, the BB shot wouldn't stay in place (god this was bad) even when I squeezed it hard with pliers, yep I had no paternoster. Somehow I snared a small skimmer, and then a proper bite and proper fish on the end. I'd not felt anything like this fish on a rod before, and my heart was going mad. It took an age to get this fish in close after casting so far out, and I now had 3 or 4 adults watching me. It was a bream, and the adults said 4lb+  as it slid towards my landing net, but withing a couple of feet the hook came out. I felt like crying, that was my team points gone right there. My 350 grammes was atrocious, and Eddy was not best pleased, but a few of the other lads struggled and that was that.

As a junior I fished in the Silver Dace B team in a winterleague match on the Avon at Barton Farm. On the way to the peg the strap on my wicker basket broke at one end, but I could still carry it. I managed to catch a 2 1/2lb bream which was better than halfway in the section. During the match I had a sudden bad stomach and ended up shitting myself, you can't make it up. Walking back was not comfortable at all, and then the strap on the other end of the wicker broke. I was glad one of the other juniors Dad's carried my box for me, and did my best to "cover" my ass lol.

It would have been easy to give up on match fishing, after all I was miles behind, and nothing was going well. But I've always been a stubborn person from a very young age, and would rather struggle and fight to get something sorted than to give up. I carried on with the juniors that season, and Mark and Clayton helped me a lot, I also started buying Angling Times and Anglers Mail and reading all manor of books. Another junior match I recall was a team champs on the Huntspill, I fished a waggler feeding maggots using my new found shotting pattern, 1 no4 1 no6 and 1 no8. I had a 20 hook but this was still tied direct! Anyway I was doing OK it seemed when Andy Britt came along and told me to carry on doing what I was doing. He asked me what strength hook length I was using, and I said "what hook length?". He told me I would be catching twice as much if I used a thinner line. Well that stuck with me and it was an important lesson learned. I ended up 10th on the day in a big match for juniors and won a bait tray with 4 bait boxes in it, I was well chuffed!

The rest of my season for the juniors wasn't anything to write home about, but I was learning fast and as I was working I had been able to buy better gear, carbon rods, a closed face feel, a mitchell match, and of course a Shakespeare box. I was catching a lot more, but not enough to stand out, but things were now beginning to click and the basics were falling into place.

Stay Safe everyone.

Monday, 13 April 2020

The early days, very early days

It has been a fine Easter weekend that is for sure, lovely warm weather for the most part and other than a couple of walks out I've spent much of it in the garden. Painting a lot of the time, and I've got a small vegetable patch and have planted eight different vegetables, fingers crossed I'll get something to grow. As the garden is new I'm not sure exactly what plants are growing, so I'll wait and see and decide on future flowers, bushes etc. I've seen masses of butterflies this weekend so would like to get more of them hanging around the garden.

Anyway, I was thinking after writing the last blog that I could have probably gone right back in time to when I first really thought about fishing and probably how did it come about. I was brought up on a farm in Willsbridge, just along from Londonderry Farm, and it had Siston Brook running through  which eventually flowed into the Bristol Avon at Jack Whites. As a very young boy I remember the stream had a weir, sluice gate and mill pool, and it was the weir pool that attracted anglers attention. I would sit and watch them occasionally, no idea what fish they were catching other than eels which I soon learned looked different to everything else. The weir pool must have been about 400 years old, and some of the fish that were in there (roach, chub, perch) were not to be found in the rest of the shallow stream. I was allowed to search the shallow part of the stream, where I used to see sticklebacks, millers thumb, and stone loach. I'd watch these little fish and learned to be naturally still and quiet, and of course other wildlife would show itself to me, water voles, grey wagtails and kingfisher. A few memories of the pool are once seeing the weir sill alive, it was covered with elvers. A lad's float being caught by a crayfish, and falling in over my head and being dragged out by my cousin (although that last memory is more like a dream but it did happen).

Disaster was to strike, the council informed us there were to be thousands of houses to be built along the stream and around it upstream. This would cause much more water to run into the stream and in all probability cause the farm to be regularly flooded. The council advised the weir pool, weir, and sluice gates would have to be destroyed and the brook itself be dug out, so instead of the banks being a couple of feet above the stream they would be in places 20 feet. Even though I was a very young boy the damage and destruction was very upsetting to me, but who listens to the complaints of a 8 year old. All we were left with were banks that were either steep and muddy, or piled and covered in stones. It was only a place where water flowed, there was no habitat.

It took quite some years, I do not remember how many now, for life to return to the banks of the brook, bushes, the odd reed, and saplings. Weed began to return to the brook, and eventually fish, but they were different fish. No more stone loach, now what appeared were mainly dace, the odd trout, and chublets. The weir pool was still a little deeper and wider for a few years, before eventually it became as any other part of the stream. One fish that I began to see was flat fish, think they were flounders, these obviously came up on the high tides, and in the early 1980's I often saw them in the stream, and caught a few on the river to (including one at Fry's in a Xmas match which saved a blank). The water voles returned to the stream, as did other bird life, and as I got older I was given a catalogue fiberglass rod and Intrepid Black Prince reel loaded with 6lb+ line. Didn't catch a lot on it, but you've got to start somewhere I guess. Then the black plague came to our waterways, mink, within a fairly short time all the water voles were wiped out and mallards and moorhen became less common. What we didn't realise was that the mink also had a liking for eels, and they were merrily churning through them. I hated those mink, let out of the cages of mink farms but "animal welfare" do gooders who ended up in that one act eradicating huge amounts of our native wildlife. I managed in later life to shoot a couple of mink that were in the stream, but the damage was done, no more water voles ever since. Thankfully Avon Wildlife Trust set some traps and mink were eventually wiped out or at the very least became a rarity.

When I got my first longer rod a 13 feet fiberglass job (known by others as a beach caster) and a half decent reel I began to be able to fish further out in the river. It had to double as a float rod and a ledger rod, and I still didn't catch a great deal but I got better, and luckier. Back then, a few roach or dace would be enough to keep me happy. Perch were absent on the river at this time, but eels were still plentiful. Bream and chub were just a dream. I could go out all day and just get a handful of fish and be happy, fishing on into the evening was the best though. 

These days the stream on the farm still contains mainly dace and the odd trout, but gudgeon and odd roach and perch are in there. I have seen heron, little egret, redshank, snipe, kingfisher, dipper, as well as lots more common birds there. Otters have also ventured up there too, and foxes and badgers make their homes in the steep sided banks where hedgerows now flourish, and even deer are often close by.  And, despite at least three pollution incidents over the years that I can recall, nature has returned to the farm stream and I hope it can remain. For sure living close to water gave me a great interest in wildlife and fishing, and I have a lot to thank that little stream for.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Fishing gone by, long gone!

Normally I would be writing about a lovely day in April sat in the sun with a lovely Southerly breeze and shed loads of carp, well I can dream. I would also normally be writing following on from 2001 but a few things on Facebook have made me thought about digging up some old stuff. By the way if you are on Facebook you should look up Bill Knott, he is putting on some really great old articles from years ago, fascinating stuff.

As I recently moved house I had to pack and unpack a few things, and in doing this I came across some old photos, and documents which I thought I would share.

I don't possess any photo's of me as a real young un with a fish but I have found some from when I was about 16 years old.

This photo was taken by Andy Britt and it shows me holding my one and only tench caught from Jack Whites on the Bristol Avon. I think I would have been 16 years old. I remember walking down to the river from my house (when I used to live on a farm close by) and I walked up from the mouth of the brook and all the way up to the steps and every peg was taken. I was gutted. Luckily the guy on the steps said I could get in just down below him as he was packing up soon. I chucked a feeder across and remember having a few chub in a couple of hours, and then this tench which lead me a merry dance. I was astonished when I landed it, Andy who was walking the bank reckoned it was 5lb+. Not long after I hooked another decent fish, but this disappeared upstream snapping me in the process. For a very long time this was without doubt my favourite fish caught on the river.

My first ever fishing related photo in the local Evening Post was taken I think in the same season as above but the last week of the season. I had decided to fish Chequers Straight for one last time and set up a waggler which I really enjoyed. After 20 minutes I hadn't had a bite, and was getting worried as the river was going a little fast. However, when the float finally went under it was a solid resistance, but halfway back it came off. Another 15 minutes and another  decent fish and I lost it again, but this time I saw that it was a bream. I quickly set up a feeder and chucked it out and proceeded to catch a few bream. Two guys came walking along with cameras, and started asking me questions and wanted to take a photo if I caught a bream. Well I did hook one, but the feeder was snagged, so they got a picture of the rod bending lol. Later in life I realised those two guys were Ray Bazeley and Dave Haines. However, when the article was printed they got my picture and Mike Kent's name, and vice versa lol. I cut out the two things and kept as my first sort of claim to fame!

In the close season we found some small ponds called Upham Farm, well found it via Paul Dicks who organised some coach trips there. I then went there on and off for a few years, and got to know the owner, a the farmer James Wilcox, quite well and he even let me and my wife stay in a spare room for a few quid. This place was genuinely my first real taste of small carp fishing, and before I had a pole it was all waggler fishing. I found you could catch in close and I would fish a short clear plastic waggler by the bank and feed maggots. Always lots of fun, and caught literally hundreds of carp. Think this was one of my earliest photos of a carp at Upham.

Just up the road from Upham was another venue called Hogsbrook Lake, quite different, this was two much bigger lakes and they were spring fed and bright red in colour. Much harder fishing generally but the carp were bigger. The upper lake was fished mostly, but the lower lake had plenty of fish in it, and I once found carp in the shallows feeding in the inlet from the upper lake. We used to take a day trip down to here and I caught my biggest carp back in the day at 7lb here.

When I was 16 I had a holiday with some school mates and an older chap that took us every where for a couple of years, we went to a place in Cornwall called Shillamill Lakes. It was hard fishing for us most of the time, and I caught 100 roach and some very small carp on the first day on wag and mag, then I had 17 tench on straight lead an meat on the next day. After this it was rock hard. But by going for walks round the lakes I found odd carp feeding in close, I adopted a free line bread flake approach so the bread would sink to the bottom. Depending where the carp was feeding I could either watch the carp take the bait or just watch the line on the surface. Although not my normal style it was certainly exciting.

Well I think that is enough pictures of a young me, lol. Hopefully they give you a few minutes distraction and a chuckle, stay safe everyone.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

February / March 2001

Well I would say what a difference a week makes since I wrote my last blog, but in reality as we know normality has been turned upside down now due to covid 19. I began working from home on Tuesday, and my wife from Monday, we are in separate rooms as we spend a lot of time talking to our work colleagues. There's not much point me saying much more as we are all having to do the same to keep safe, though it is sad to see and hear people seemingly ignoring advice and going out in groups, I despair.

Let's try to keep sane. Back in 2001 there was another outbreak, foot and mouth, and this meant fishing on farmland was in some cases not allowed, and if it was you drove through a disinfectant pool. With my fishing team qualified for the ATWL semi final we were off practising on the venue, the Warwickshire Avon. On my only practice open match I found myself drawn on a part called West Hillborough, the river was pacey with a bit of colour but it had been freezing, and it didn't fish well at all. All I had was 5 roach and 1 perch and it was a rubbish start for me. I fished a gbait feeder, but most anglers who caught on the day did so on a maggot feeder.

Sunday 25th February and it was the semi final itself, the team captain did the draw and put me on peg 29 at Twyford Farm. I was told by the regulars who fished it that waggler down the middle and stick float in close should be best. It was a strange peg as there was a cut of water to my right which was slack, but in front of me the river was going through fast and clear. The waggler looked a no go but I did give it a go and it was a waste. A stick float in close was also really hard and after 2 hours all I had was 1 tiny roach and 2 perch. A bank walker told me sometimes bream were caught in the cut when the river was up, so I gave it some gbait and tried the feeder for noting. Back on the stick float and I hooked a good fish which after 10 seconds came off, it felt like a decent perch, and 15 minutes later I had an exact repeat performance, I was gutted. I hooked another couple of small perch on this and lost a fish when a pike took it. I spent the last hour on the feeder, for just 1 perch, but twice the rod tip went right round slowly, but the bait was never touched so I assume a liner. My disaster day was over and I weighed 15oz to come 12th in the 17 peg section, but to make me feel worse we came 4th and the top 3 qualified for the final. I looked back on that day for a long time wishing I had landed those two better perch and spent more time on the feeder, and my lack of worm fishing certainly cost me as I just fed maggots and casters on the stick float.

I didn't go fishing for a long time after this match, not because I was fed up, just spending time with my young family. Here we are 19 years later and I am not fishing and am spending time with my family again.

Since those two matches were both poor for me I'm chucking in a bit of something...
There's lots of people posting of Facebook now with some great photos and images of times gone by which I am really enjoying. Also a few more people putting on some memorable stories of fishing tales, also Gary Etheridge is video blogging again which is interesting viewing. I expect most people reading this are on Facebook, but if you're not, now might be a good time to get a fishing fix of some sort. Catch More Media (Tom Scholey) has also done some regular videos this week of his tactics and rigs, again very good viewing.

During the early part of this week when the sun was out I saw a few nice butterflies, and returning migrant birds on my "once a day exercise" but the winter has returned it seems and that will put spring back. I hope it warms up soon again as looking and listening to the wildlife is one thing I can do and enjoy if only for a few brief moments, or from my garden. I'm not sure my diary entries will last this lockdown, so I will have to think about what else I could write about...

Stay safe stay at home.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

January / February 2001

I haven't written a blog for a few weeks now, that's because I have moved house and put all my fishing gear into storage. Actually I can't see me fishing for a while now, I need to get a new shed built and with this virus shutting business down it is not going to get built soon. Bit gutting with the improving weather but then there is plenty to do in the new house and most likely I won't be going far. Covid 19 is a real bitch for sure, and it is concerning for my parents, but they are staying home and out of harms way. I sincerely hope all my friends and family do the right thing, stay home, keep safe and let's hope we can get through this serious problem, which is unlike anything I have ever known. All sports and multiple fishing events now postponed and no real idea when they will restart, but this is really nothing compared to the stark reality of what could happen if we carried on as if nothing was wrong.

I still have a large number of boxes in the house unopened, but luckily I found my old diaries. Reading about January 2001 it seemed it was a cold start to the month. My first match on Sunday 7th was the ATWL on the K&A canal around Limpley Stoke area. I drew just below Dundas swingbridge in a pretty fair but hard section of the canal. I started on the usual bread punch over liquidized bread, but fished 2/3 across. It was a real struggle, but I caught a 1lb skimmer on a red maggot to get me going. With no bloodworm and joker allowed back then my options were fairly limited. However, I had fed chopped worm across in 2 feet of water and further along some groundbait. I had a flurry of bites on each line taking roach on red maggot or pinkie. I weighed in 3lb 2 1/2oz which was enough for 2nd in the section, but amazingly was also 6th overall. The team came 2nd on the day and were winning the league overall.

Hard frosts followed every night, cold in the day and very cold winds. On the Commercial House at Newbridge (Bristol Avon) I drew crap, 2 pegs above the stream about peg 88. I blanked, though I did have an indication on the feeder which was a liner for sure. Just one angler caught in the section, a tiny chub. I remember on this day I was next to John Dursley and we saw a little egret, it was a very rare bird to see in the area and I reported it, nowadays they are quite common and have established well in the UK.

Sunday 21st January and the final round of the ATWL at Newbridge. I was pleased when the team draw placed me on Kelston Straight as this had produced a few roach on the previous weekend. The river had a bit of pace and though I did set up a waggler it didn't produce. I fished a groundbait feeder but kept it light with a 20 to 0.10 with a single red maggot or caster on the hook, and I put just 10 casters in the feeder. I did set up a heavy feeder rod with a 14 to 0.14 for trying bits of lobworm. I caught 8 roach and 4 small skimmers during the 5 hours, that was just over halfway in the section. The great news was my team won the league, I was team champion and 4th individual in the league.

I pleasure fished Newton Park at the end of the month, tried to catch carp but failed, but had plenty of small roach and skimmers on the waggler and caster. Into February and the final round of the Commercial House which was fished on the Hunstrete complex. I was placed on Bridge Pool which was gin clear and was told it would be rock hard. I dropped in a small ball of gbait which contained a tiny bit of worm and caster out to 13m, actually I only fed one more ball all match, but did loose feed the odd few casters. I caught 2 big skimmers, a small skimmer and some roach for 6lb 8oz. A second in section and the team won, and we won the league. Great to win both leagues that year.

On Sunday 11th February I pleasure fished the Avon at Saltford, in the trees peg 126. The river was dropping after a flood, a nice colour but very fast. It was straight forward gbait feeder with 0.14 to a 16 using caster and chopped worm as feed. It was a nice day, roach to 8oz, hybrids to 1lb and a chub getting on for 4lb. Red maggots on the hook was best but double caster caught the chub.

That will do for tonight. I find some solice from reading my diaries and trying to recall the actual day I fished, some I can remember, others I can't, must be an age thing. Stay safe guys and gals.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Viaduct Winter League

I start my blog with some sad news of two anglers who have passed away this week; John Baker and Bob Tilley. I always liked John and remember him once winning a commercial match on the canal at Limpley Stoke catching a rare carp. Bob may not be known to a wider group of anglers, but he was a friend of my dad in their school years, despite Bob having a walking disability he never let it stop him go fishing until very late in life. He liked a drink, liked a laugh and I once spent a week on holiday with him and Kev Boltz fishing the river Teme. Bob nearly fell in the river laughing at me as a large Barbel nearly pulled me in and eventually snapped 8lb maxima. RIP gents.

Earlier in the week Mark Harper put out a message looking for an angler to fish for the Thatchers PI team in the final round of the Viaduct Winter league. I put myself forward, and said your taking Des Shipp's place and the team is winning the league... no pressure then lol. I then remembered I was going to a school reunion the night before, and that would entail a fair bit of cider (and it did) but I would have to be sensible.

Sunday morning up bright and early at 6:30am, I think i was functioning OK but there was a definite hint of umm jadedness. A bit of brekky and then I loaded the car in heavy sleet and it was really cold. When I arrived at the fishery parking was a challenge, in fact I had to block several people in, I had no choice. The team today was Tony Gilbert, Rob Jones, Luke Sorokin and Andy Power. These guys along with Des have down really well and avoided some of the worst pegs which helps. I was to be on the Lodge / Carey section, and I had prepared rigs for silvers, rods for wagglers, and rigs for carp. Andy did the draw and put me on peg 74 on Carey, I hadn't realised this peg was in the section.

At the peg I took a look at the cut down tree and placed my box on angle so I could fish the edge better without getting to stiff a neck.

Andy told me had drawn this peg in an earlier round and had caught 7 carp dobbing at 16m, which is about as far as you can go. I set up a 4x10 with 16GPM to 0.15 for fishing here. I set another rig up the same but for fishing on the bottom. I had started to mix up some gbait, but Andy told me I was wasting my time and I needed to catch carp, so that was good enough for me and no more rigs. I did have to get a bit more help as I didn't have strong enough elastics in my top sets, so as Andy and I have the same XS90 pole he lent me a couple of top sets with 13 hollo in.

The match started at 10:30 and the sun was shining and the wind was light, I shipped out with a piece of bread and went to about 14.5m, the light was tricky and and after 10 mins I thought I had a bite and struck. Nothing, so had to ship in and put another piece of bread on, dropped in on the same spot but due to the light I moved the rig a bit further down. No signs, so I went to nearly 16m and after about 20 mins I hooked a carp and pulled hard to the left. Everything held firm and I was soon netting a mirror of about 8lb. All was quiet after this until another dink on the float missed, then another bite and fish on. This one about 7lb I thought. I hadn't been getting any liners or indications so assumed there were not many carp in the peg, and then I started to get dinks, but it was roach. I tried a bigger punch and double punch but the roach nailed it. On with 6 dead red maggots and this stopped the roach, and I got another carp of about 6lb. I guess about 90 mins had passed now and I was well happy. Opposite me Gary O'Shea was struggling and lost one fouler on the waggler.

We got hit by a nasty shower, but luckily we only had one more during the day, it chilled my hands though. Unfortunately for me things went very quiet for me down the edge, and fishing 16m with no bites was starting to hurt. With Gary getting a few skimmers I decided to get a rig out and feed some bait at 14.5m straight out in front by the edge of the tree. Being halfway through the match I thought putting in gbait was a waste, so I potted some casters in. Gary had taken a carp on the waggler fishing across to my bank further down, at about 17lb it was a beast.

I had a few small roach on red maggot and then a couple of skimmers before it died, I topped up with casters and went back down the edge for another spell of nothingness.  I had a few nice hybrids on caster and then Gary had another carp but not so big. With an hour left I decided to stick it out down the edge as I was sure I needed a number of carp to do well and to beat Gary who was winning our mini section. Alas again, nothing happened on either dobbing rig or on the bottom with meat, the carp would just not come my way. Gary then nailed another carp on the waggler and it was once again a beast, he landed it on the all out.

I weighed in my 3 small carp for Carey at 21lb 2oz , and the silvers 4lb 7oz. My 25lb 9oz was worth 11 points from 17, which was OK. Gary did well his 3 carp going 43lb and he had 15lb of skimmers too, a great angler as the peg he was on has been awful all series I belive.

Team wise we had struggled a bit, Andy Power had come second overall on Campbell 111, Rob Jones had 20lb of silvers from peg 1 on Spring, Luke had 10lb of tiny fish on Spring, and Tony had 8lb of silvers. So only two of us caught carp. Luckily we had done enough and won the league by 33 points yay. Nice to be part of a winning team even if I was only fishing today ;-)

Have to say well done to Andy Power who won the league individually. Des was leading the league before today, but him missing meant my points did not count for him.

The match was won today by Gary Cotton on peg 131 with 99lb 7oz all on the lead. Vince Brown who was behind me on 112 won the silvers with 22lb 9oz. The fish are still shoaled and still lethargic, but hopefully if we get some milder weather and with the days getting longer they may start to move about a bit.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Hillview Fishery Open

After coming down from the high of my holiday I was soon on my travels again, a business trip to Munich. Although not a long time away it gave me time to have a think about what to do the weekend coming, weather was looking dodgy but I was going. I think it was on Friday Mark Harper put out a team whatsapp request for anyone to fish a team match at Todber Manor, but I was in a meeting and never saw the request until later and by that time Mark had filled the place. It was going to be Hillview for me then.

I got some prep done Saturday morning, to be fair I didn't have to do that much as the last commercial I fished was here, so a bit of hook tying really, Sunday opens on Hillview are usually on the canals. Had a good Saturday afternoon / evening drinking cider with good mates, had way too much fun, and was laughing all the way home walking back, I was though glad to be home early at 9pm (went out at 3pm).

I was feeling OK when the alarm went off at 7am, the early finish the night before definitely a good idea. Getting ready I had a message from Aaron Britnell to ask if I was still going to the match, this was because the weather (wind especially) was awful again. According to the weather forecast the 45mph winds and rain would be gone by 11am, so I was happy with that. It was certainly mild out too.

I got up to the fishery had one of Keith's breakfasts, paid my pools and then was told the match was on the lakes as there was a club match on the canals. Luckily I had taken a couple of made up lead rods just in case this happened, but I couldn't be sure I had the right pole rigs to cope with the depth, we would see on the bank! Aaron had no bait, well he had meat but no meat cutter, I think his travelling partner Mat Sheppard baled him out lol. The lakes had been fished on the open the day before, and they had been really tough, but I thought the water had to have warmed up a bit overnight. Draw done I pulled out peg 9 on Moorhen, 29lb had come off it the day before.

The wind was awful, on the bank it was blowing straight up the lake, so left to right for me. My peg was the last one on this bank so a nice bit of room down to my right. Lucky angler on the top bank all on his own with the wind in his face was Aaron, see him in the piccy dressed in camouflage and about to give me the finger, and then asked for a pound side bet, accepted.

My peg does not have an island chuck, but as I set up a few carp could be seen boshing in front of me. Though the lad behind me on Heron said they were doing that yesterday and nobody caught them. I took this picture of the view from my peg, about five minutes later a strom passed over very gusty winds and heavy rain. I really did not want to get the pole out at all.

Once the storm had passed I set up, well took out, a tip rod which had a maggot feeder attached to it, with 16 GPM to 0.15 AccuPower. After a while I got the guts to get the pole out, but only the top sets and 3 sections. Plumbed up in front and found the bottom of the shelf, which was just past top set plus two sections. 4x16 Des Shipp float, think it was an F1 pellet, has a wire stem, 18 GPM to 0.12 AccuPower.  Only one other rig, a 4x12 Des Shipp F1 maggot float for fishing down towards pallet on peg 10 in about 2 1/2 feet of water, again 18 to 0.12.

The match started at 10:30 and I fed some maggots on the pole in front to my left, and pellets to my right, but I was starting on the maggot feeder such was the wind. Well that was one of my better decisions as I had a lovely 3 1/2lb F1 on my very first cast. Next cast a longer wait and a pull round but nothing there. Next cast a 5 min wait and 1lb F1. Well I could go on, because it was a bite every chuck out, including two or three fish that grabbed the maggots on the drop. Think I had about 90 minutes of this, when all indications just stopped. I tried casting around to see if they had moved, but I could not relocate them, so I had to pick up the pole. Still 35lb in the net was a great start.

I had only fed the pole lines about 4 times in between the feeder fishing, I couldn't throw bait as it wouldn't have got any where near the right place. I dropped in on the maggot line with double red maggot and I had about 6 inches of line on the bottom to try to keep the bait still. It was tough hanging on to the float and for 10 mins I was struggling, and was about to give it up when I had a 2lb F1. Back in and I hooked a decent fish, turned out to be a near 7lb common carp. Two more F1 and one off the pellet line and then the bites stopped here.

From what I could tell I was doing well at this stage, but with other anglers now starting to catch on their pole lines I needed to keep putting fish in the net. I went to the pallet and the float buried as soon as it settled, and I had five F1s here fairly quickly and then they were gone. The longer pole lines were really poor and tried forcing the pellet line (as it had only yielded one fish) but it never produced which surprised me. I was thinking about trying the feeder again, but with the angler to my left and one behind me now catching well on the pole I thought I had to work out the pole lines. I could get the odd bite in the deep water, but the pallet line was better but always had to be rested. With about 40 mins to go I hooked a carp by the pallet and this fish went under the pallet in the blink of an eye and it was goodbye rig. It was also goodbye fish as it never produced again. The guy on my left was now flying on his top set plus two and I was relieved when I went out there and had a run of bites, ending the match with a chub my only silver.

I reckoned on having 80lb, but it's not easy to keep track of lots of F1's so we would see. Aaron appeared to have struggled (or so I thought) and that meant he should be giving me the pound side bet. When the scales came round I was the very last person to be weighed in, there were two 100lb+ weights on Heron which I knew I could not beat, and the guy to my left had weighed 90lb so I thought my chance for money was over. My first net weighed 50lb, and then my second 44lb 8oz, and so I had done enough to win my lake and just get the £40 section money. Aaron had 71lb which I was amazed at, but he still had to give me a quid lol.

Weigh sheet below. The top two anglers had both caught nearly all carp and being that much bigger than F1s that made the difference.

Well I have got to say that was a very enjoyable weekend, and once again Hillview did me proud with lots of bites and plenty of fish.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Barbados 2020 and Fishing December 2000

I got back to the UK on Monday 10th February after a fantastic 10 days in Barbados. A holiday of a lifetime for my wife and I to celebrate 25 years of marriage in 2020. I stayed in a great hotel, which I found out whilst we where there is used by the SKY sports cricket commentary team. A year or two ago they filmed on the beach here, and having been told this I did recollect seeing it once I was on the beach. Although at present a lot of the beach is missing due to a recent storm washing a large amount of sand away (a regular thing and the beach soon recovers) it was still a great beach and I swam in the sea every day.  This was my view from our balcony early one morning, I could live with that. I hope these pictures might brighten your day and take your mind off the crap weather we have at present!

Whilst there were many highlights (like the lovely weather, discovering great rum, and being in control of a small catamaran) I think swimming with turtles and snorkeling over wrecks full of fish were top.

Isn't it funny how you can travel so far and still meet people with a connection... I met a guy called Jim at breakfast, and turned out he used to live at Swineford. A family from Burnham turned out to know my Dad well, with the mother cutting his hair, lol. I saw plenty of bird life too, Kingfisher, hummingbird, Carib Grackle, and many more, but my favourite was the "Magnificent Frigate Bird". Always wanted to see one of those since watching a David Attenborough episode, so well chuffed.

The best thing though was experiencing all the delights with my wife; superb food, lovely drinks, exceptional service and friendliness of staff, and of course the sunsets. Yeh man!

I was glad to have missed storm Ciara, though my garden didn't miss it with 3 fence panels damaged / destroyed. Of course today as I am typing this storm Dennis has and still is causing mayhem. I have another fence panel dislodged and more on the neighbours side, not sure when I can sort that as there seems to be a shortage of panels.

With no fishing this weekend I have picked up my diary from 2000 with the last few entries in December. I pleasured fished Bristol Docks on December 2nd, I sat on a peg near the Thekla boat and set up both pole and groundbait feeder. I had 4 skimmers and 3 roach on the feeder, and 7 skimmers and 1 roach on the pole. Not big fish as I weighed my fish in at 7lb 2oz. On this day I only had bites on bronze maggot, and double bronze was best.

A week later and it was the Bathampton Christmas match which was being fished on their commercial lakes. I drew a peg on Withy Pool and when I had a skimmer first cast out on a little feeder I was enthused. I shouldn't have been, it was the only bite on the tip, and I had one bite on the pole on corn which I missed (liner?) and that was the extent of activity for me.

Back down the docks again, this time for the Docks AA Xmas match. I was gutted when I drew Bathurst Basin as you needed to be in the centre to get on the skimmers, and Bathurst used to hold none of them! It was a pole day I thought, and I fished at 8m and fed no gbait at all, just lightly loose fed small amounts of maggot and caster. Using a 20 to 0.09 it took about 30 mins to get a bite, and during the match fish came in little bursts, roach, dace, bleak and even perch. Single white or red maggot on the hook worked best. I finished up with just 3lb 1 1/2oz but this was enough to win the section, so money and a prize at last. I went to the Docks again on the 23rd December for a little knock up, but I struggled to catch 3lb of roach and was again in a poor area so tipped back at the end.

I got out for a few hours on the 27th December, fishing the cut by the Lock Keeper at Keynsham. I whipped out 50 fish from the 7 feet deep water, bleak, dace and even a perch and an eel. Nice to see the float go under, and be able to fish... I say that as the very next day we had 2 inches of snow, a bit more snow the next and then we had -8C at night! Still I went fishing and I went to Conham (Bristol Avon) walking through the snow. I fished opposite the railway arches, set up a maggot feeder only and cast that across. I did catch on this, 2 chub and 1 dace, and whilst this was never going to be a bag up session I take a lot of pleasure being able to catch just a few fish when conditions are tough and many people don't bother.

Here's hoping to the return of some better weather, I certainly want to fish next weekend, it may be a trip to Hillview, but I'll keep an eye on the weather.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Open match Bristol Avon - Newbridge

It seems a long time ago I was able to fish the river, the rain has been relentless and the small windows of good conditions were generally when I was at work. The river had dropped to 0.8 metre at Saltford measuring station, that would usually mean a fast river, too fast for the float.

I got to the river at 8am and paid my pools to Dean Harvey who was running the match. I was quite surprised to see the river not to pacey at all and certainly float fishable, I guess the usual river height to speed is not the same as the river has been up for such a long time. It was good to see the lads, and it was the first time I had seen Ben Rendall since he managed a high frame place in the Riverfest final, an excellent result. Jeff Surmon told me he and Nigel Wyatt had fished the K&A Canal on horseshoe pond where he had won the Comm House Xmas match, the both blanked, packed up and went to the pub. I said they must have drank blanks bitter....

Dean got the draw underway and everyone wanted peg 59 which had won the previous couple of matches, that peg went to Mike Weston, and Ben Rendall got 61 which was end peg, I would have liked them! I was on peg 36 on the straight, a great place for bream over the years, but not for the last couple of seasons it seems. I had Jerry Pocock above me on 30, and on peg 38 was Derek Coles, if the bream would feed these guys would catch them. As we chatted on the bank a jogger ran past us, had what appeared to be see through leggings on, shame it was a bloke. Derek and I were in shock!

Tackling up didn't take long one feeder rod with a 30g feeder, 0.15 to 14 N50. A 4g bolo float with 18 to 0.11, and that was it.  The river was quite clear and I thought my best chance of doing any good was to try to catch bream on the feeder, the float would be used to rest the feeder and most likely break up the boredom if I didn't get any bites on the tip.

I spent the first hour of the match on the feeder getting plenty of caster and worm in the peg, throwing the odd ball of gbait in close for the float line. The first hour passed without much incident just a couple of roach on the feeder and only one other bite. After another 20 minutes of nothingness I picked up the float rod and gave it a go. The first two runs down were rewarded with small roach right on the gbait. The next two roach were even smaller and were caught much further down the peg, and after this I managed another 3 small roach a long way down the peg and then no more bites.

After resting the feeder for 20 mins I went back out on it and put 3 red maggots on the hook. Not long after I had lovely drop back and was attached to a better fish, it was a near 2lb skimmer. I thought it might be the start of a few bites but sadly another hour passed with just one bite and missed as the worm had doubled over the hook. Another look on the float was very poor and just one small roach was caught. The rain was by now hammering down and I was glad I had brought my brolly and it was doing a good job of keeping everything dry. Back on the feeder and again nothing was happening it was all very slow. Derek above me said he had 2 skimmers and some tiny roach, and Jerry had a couple of chublets and a few roach, not much happening for any of us. I had another skimmer on the feeder but this one was only about 10oz.

About two hours to go I tried the float again and for about 20 minutes I had quite a few bites from roach, I put this down to me cutting out the gbait and loose feeding maggot and hemp. However, the river had now started to get some colour in it and it could have been this too. The bites soon stopped and with 90 minutes left of the 6 hour match I was back on the feeder hoping for a few late bronze bream to go on the feed which they can often do. I was really surprised as I had a bite almost straight away but from a small roach, and next cast another. It was completely different now, a bite every cast on red maggots from roach. I tried a worm to seek out the bream, but I caught roach on this too, albeit after a longer wait for a bite. Trying triple caster got me three nice roach two of which were probably 10oz. During this period I fed a large amount of caster and worm through the large feeder, but the roach didn't go away and I guess there was no bream in my peg and I never managed to snare one.

Derek came straight up to see me after the match to tell me he had a bream with 10 minutes go, and Jerry came up to say he had 2 skimmers in the last 10 minutes but not a lot else.

Derek had 12lb and this was enough for him to win our section.

My fish weighed a level 8lb, so I guess I had a very similar amount to Derek just missing the bream.

Jerry didn't bother to weigh in, but on peg 43 Jeff Surmon had 10lb which was mainly roach and one skimmer. He caught some nice roach on the float and lost an estimated 2lb roach at the net.

Winner today was Mike Weston with 34lb on peg 59, 5 bream and some skimmers.
Ben Rendall was second on peg 61, also with 5 bream and some roach and chub to 2lb
Warren Bates had 15lb on peg 12, a few roach and a skimmer on a whip and a decent bream and skimmer on the feeder.

It was nice to get back on the river, I was happy with my set up and never lost a fish on the feeder, I have been using the 12 foot Preston Supera feeder rod this season and have to say I really like the rod, it casts well and has a nice action. The Preston Natural N50 hook seems to be a decent hook for feeder fishing on the river and has replaced my discontinued PR355 range.

No blog for a couple of weeks now but then will see what the river is like before the season ends.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Open Hillview Fishery

My first trip out in 2020, and I was looking forward to a day sat in the sun despite the cold temperatures. I didn’t have any preparation to do as all my rigs were ready from the last time I fished here and left them all at home!

Glenn Bailey picked me up in his van which had taken him a while to de-ice. We left at 8am so not early at all, as the draw time at Hillview is 9:30. Martin Rayet and Joe McMahon were also fishing and were taking ice breakers just in case, but the canals and lakes were all free of ice. I had one of Keith’s nice breakfasts and then got the gear out of the van, realising I had left my boots at home! I had 4 layers of socks to try to keep warm but trainers getting wet would not be good, Joe came to my rescue and borrowed Keith’s boots, thanks both!

I was towards the end of the draw queue and was hoping for 95, a peg both Glenn and I had discussed drawing. I got peg 76 middle of canal three, Glenn on 53 which is pants. Joe and Martin had the last two pegs  getting end pegs 42 and 95 respectively, drawbags lol.

Got to my peg and found Steve Brown on peg 74, funny that as Aaron Britnell told me the night before if I drew next to him he would beat me. I set up a few rigs, a 4x10 with 0.11 to 18 for dobbing, a couple of 4x12 rigs with 0.10 to 18 for fishing maggots in various places. That was it.

I began dobbing bread across whilst Steve started on maggots down the middle as he had felt fish when plumbing up, he had one straight off then lost one. I had a carp and a F1 in the first 15 minutes so kept at it, I wasn’t getting many signs and was trying different spots, in the end I found a few off to the right. After an hour I was doing ok compared to all on my canal bar end peg I think 80, he was doing well dobbing. I carried on dobbing for another hour, then went onto the maggot rigs.

Maggot next to the aerator was a let down with just two small F1 and bits, straight out in front yielded 1 small carp and no more.  Nothing doing in the margins either. I went across the canal and tried the maggot and after a couple of Rudd had 2 carp, then after a while a couple of small F1. I moved further left and started again, a few fish here before going dead again. Neither line came back to life.

Going into the last hour the angler on 72 had a run in his margins and although I had not had a bite here I gave both sides a good go. I took a 2lb carp on the left then bumped one and tried right where I had an immediate bite and an F1. I took 1 more from either side and then a nice F1 straight in front just before the whistle.

I’d had a steady day, wasn’t going to win anything but on a frosty by sunny day it was great to get the float to go under a few times. I weighed in 38lb which was beaten twice by the end pegs who both had 54lb. Steve next to me had 26lb and the angler to my right DNW, I guess Aaron doesn’t know everything then, but then he does support Bristol City lol!

Martin Rayet just won the match with 60lb, Lee Payne in end peg on canal 2 had 59lb for second. Joe won his canal too, so every end peg at the left hand side won money. Glenn couldn’t get a sign and had a handful of fish and packed up early.

I’m going to fish Newbridge on the AVON next week, it will still be high but the colour will be ok, fingers crossed for a few big drop backs in the feeder. Hope this blog comes out ok as my laptop is updating to windows 10, something I put off and am now paying for trying to update it, currently 2 1/2 hours in and still a long way to go me thinks!

Sunday, 12 January 2020

October / November 2000

Happy New Year everyone. There has not been any opportunity for myself to get out fishing so far in 2020, this is simply due to other commitments. I am planning on going next Sunday, probably get up to Hillview lakes as the Bristol Avon is still too high and with more rain forecast it is pretty much shot for another couple of weeks. A few anglers did get out to Newbridge before the last rain came, and swims with a bit of shelter from the flow were producing roach and a few bream.

Back to the winter of 2000, first up a round of the Commercial House on the Avon at Conigre. I caught everything on a stick float with a 20 to 0.10. Despite feeding hemp and caster I only caught fish on maggot hook bait. The first half of the match was OK with small roach, bleak and minnows coming fairly steady, but I was near biteless for the second half. Only 4lb 4oz but that was worth 12 points from 14 as the river fished very hard.

The following Sunday October 14th was another ATWL round, on the Crane (at least I was pegged there as usual) but the river was high and the weir at Keynsham was only just visible. I was on the last peg in the lane which being deep meant I was happy with and fished the groundbait feeder hoping to snare a bream or two. I fished 3/4 the way over and could hold here OK with extra lead. The match was not going well for me, and I had only a few roach and a perch, I think Paul Benson was below me and he had a bream. I had missed two fantastic drop back bites that were chub bites, and with 5 mins of the match left was looking at a bad result. I then had a decent bite on tripe red maggot and coaxed a 3 1/2lb bream into the net. A total weight of 4lb 11oz was enough to win the section and get a bit of abuse from Benz lol. At this stage of the league my team were leading.

A week later on the Commercial /house and on Frys. a fickle venue which generally required a bonus fish or two to so well. I was towards the bottom end of the venue, and set up a crowquill and a gbait feeder. I started on the float and it soon became obvious it was gonna be tough with hardly any bites, so I upped the feed on this line in the hope of chub and gave the feeder a go. After an hour I had 1 roach and 1 small chub on the feeder. Back on the float and I soon hit into a decent chub only for it to snag me halfway up the peg, damn. I hooked another 4 chub on the crowquill and pulled hard to get them up, I got two small ones out and pulled out of two somehow. A couple of roach and another chublet on the feeder was all I could manage. 4lb 14oz was though second in the 14 peg section, and with the team winning on the day and leading overall it wasn't a bad day.

The last mach of October 2000 was a change of scenery as I fished an open at Viaduct fishery. I drew peg 13 on Spring and was told it was not great but might catch in the margin. Well that was sort of right as I had nothing in front and only had four bites in the margin. I landed two perch and a carp for 14lb 4oz and no good. However, I lost a monster perch that day. After having the other two perch in the margin I tried a lobby tail, and hooked what I thought was a carp. It was only as I got it in close I saw a huge perch on the end, and then the dreaded slack line. Gutted, it looked over 4lb to me, but I'll never know. We had horrendous weather come in after the match and I was glad to get home, and on Monday winds were 70-90mph and the river was the highest level I had ever seen up until then, with Keynsham Marina and the river being as one. No surprise the following weekend the ATWL was moved on to the K&A canal, I was just below Dundas and endured a torrid day. I caught 16 perch and 2 gudgeon over tiny bits of chopped worm for a whopping 8 1/2oz, and just 3 points. Luckily the rest of the team did well and we stayed in the lead.

November 11th and the Poppy Match, on Saturday the river looked OK, on Sunday there was no weir visible at Keynsham! I drew a really good peg, I was on Kelston Straight just above the danger weir sign. On the danger weir sign peg in a lovely slack was my team captain Mark "Podge" Jefferies. My peg was going through but being so deep I fancied it for a few but thought Mark would beat me. It was a one rod job, gbait feeder with 16 to 0.14 and within a short time I was getting bites with a maggot hook bait from eels, I worked out that 3 bronze maggots seemed to enduce more bites from them. Of course I had to keep trying 3 red maggots for a bream, especially after Podge had landed one. I finally hooked a bream, and boy did it go in the flow. It kited in close and with thick reeds in close I stood up lent forwards and held on to the very end of the rodd butt with Shay Gillman watching on. I got lucky, the bream stayed on and was landed. I finished with 16 eels and 1 roach and my weight of 9lb 10oz was just a few ounces more than Podge. Back at Frys and I found out I was 2nd overall, Les Williams I think won the match from a peg above Kelston Point.

My last match in November was another ATWL round, this time up at Newbridge. I drew peg 130 in the trees which with a bit water on was OK, but at the time you would be lucky to frame as the bream were regularly caught far upstream. Still it was a gbait feeder approach and I had a bit of a wobbly bottom with not a bite after the first hour and a half. Fishing mid river with red maggots on the hook I had set my stall out, and mid match the fish turned up. A couple of roach, seven chublets and an all important bream. The last hour and a half much like the first was biteless. My 8lb 12oz won the section and helped the team to win the day and stay in the lead.