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.