Sunday, 23 July 2017

Riverfest Qualifier Bristol Avon Newbridge

Well the day finally arrived where I would have a chance to get to a big money final, the Riverfest. However, there was the small matter of 59 other anglers who also had a chance too, and some very good anglers would be fishing; Hadrian Whittle, Dave Harrell, Mark Downes, Steve Hemmingray, Clive Branson, Andy Power and many others plus a lot of local lads. I took breakfast at Wetherspoons in Hanham again, and when I got to the draw at 9:25 the car park was rammed! The draw was 10am but it seemed a lot of anglers thought it was 9am and had been there early lol.

Chatting with Warren Bates, Graham, Hunt, Mat Challenger and others we all knew where we wanted to draw and that would be a bream peg, 49 to 61 was going to be good, plus the end of the straight 36 to 40, but with a bit of colour in who knows where they might show. I was in the draw queue quite early and saw Callum Dicks get 52, one away from where he was last week and next to peg 50 that won, he would surely do well there today. I pulled out peg 30, not great, only 3 1/2lb came off it last week and it's not really the bream peg it used to be. However, there might be a few bream around and with decent bream pegs in my zone (the end of the straight) I would have to go for bream.

I drove to the pump house and sat in the car for 30 minutes as it was pissing down with rain. The start of the match was not until 12:30 and it would not take long to set up so I tried to stay dry. When I finally got to the peg the rain started again and so the phone was kept hidden and no photos again today. Peg 30 has a lovely flat bottom in the water so nice and easy to get the box in. I set up the obligatory groundbait feeder with 14 PR355 to 0.148 exceed and hoped that would be the main thing used today. I also set up two pole rigs a 2gm with 18 to 0.10 and a 4g flat float with 16 to 0.12. Everything was basically revolving around me catching bream and skimmers as I could not see a net of roach winning the zone. My peg had a nasty snag on the pole line, it was just down stream and during the match if I strayed to near it it was end of hook length. At midday I was still sorting things out when Steve Nadin next door on 28 threw in a ball of gbait, I shouted out immediately and no more gbait went in, he came up and and said he thought it was midday start as per the ticket, but at the draw it was announced it was 12:30. He was absolutely gutted and worried he would be disqualified, but I said don't worry about it just get your head sorted and carry on.

At 12:30 we all balled it in, and I put plenty of casters and chopped worm in the 14 balls, I then had 15 casts on the gbait feeder to get some bait in over there. I thought I would have an early look on the pole to see what was about, but it was not that great with hybrids, perch and roach but all less than 2oz. I tried bigger baits and worm but all to no avail, so not wanting to carry on with bits I gave the feeder a go. It was a bite a chuck on this from small chublets and perch, not the fish I wanted but I was casting in regularly and getting bait in. Then on the hour the tip did a bit of dance and I struck to feel a better fish, it was a skimmer nudging 2lb and that got me encouraged. No more followed and it was back to small fish. I then was told that Steve below me had a 5lb bream on the pole, and then I heard his pole snap.  I went back on the pole but just like before it was just the odd small fish, the flat float would sit nicely but wouldn't go under.

The wind got up and blew as usual up the straight, at the same time the river stopped flowing and lots of floating debris got stuck in front of me, meaning I had to stick with the pole until it cleared. Eventually it cleared and back out on the feeder but nothing was doing, just a long wait for a bite from a chublet or perch. I tried going out with really big baits but never had a pull. The angler above me was Kev Bennett and he came down and said he had 2 bream on the feeder in the first hour, and nothing since, and he said Steve had another bream on the pole and had lost one. I was getting beat both sides and seemed to be using anti bream gbait lol.

I really cannot say much more cos it never happened for me, I never had a sign of a bream and just kept getting small fish despite ploughing the bait in. In the last hour the rain returned and was torrential, I was soaked right through by the end of the match. I pulled my net in and chucked back 7lb+ which was a long way short of a good weight today. I packed up and chatted with Dave Stiff and a few other anglers who were walking about or going home early like Callum who not had a bream again, I was soon home and drying things off.

From what I can tell Hadrian Whittle won the match from peg 50 (he drew this peg the last two matches for Kev Dicks who won both times!) where he had about 9 bream on the flat float. I think the angler on peg 3 in the little field who had 33lb would have won my zone and come 2nd. The zone in the trees was won by Mark Downes I think with just 8lb. Warren Bates passed this info on to me as he had gone to the results, he had 19lb from last peg in the little field which won him the section by default and he was 6th overall, good from that peg.

Well the run is over, not surprising really, but fun while it lasted. I made the right decision going for bream and would have needed 6 or 7 to do any good. Next week could be another struggle as I am fishing a team match on the Warwickshire Avon at Evesham. That places gets hammered and in some sections 3lb is mega..... Not really expecting much as I've never fished it before but as ever I'll give it my best shot.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Viaduct Fishery Costcutter

I had this day booked off a long time ago but was not sure where I would fish. Glenn fancied Viaduct but I fancied elsewhere as I'd not done so well there recently and wanted to keep my run of results going. We tried Shiplate but that was full up and was also full up next week they told me, so on Wednesday Glenn booked us in at Viaduct.

Glenn picked me up at 7:30am and we had already worked out that we would not be able to get all the gear and two trolleys in the car, and so we only took one Preston shuttle. We had breakfast in Cannards Well and seems there are different owners in here since I last visited, very friendly they were and the breakfast was very good. We got to Viaduct just after 9:15 and time enough to get the gear out ready. Turn out was very good, I think 41 anglers, and Steve had spread the pegs out over Campbell, Carey and Lodge. I had no clue what peg to draw, but there were a few I wanted to avoid. Into the tin and I had two tickets firmly stuck together, removed one and hoped I kept the right one, it was peg 59 on Lodge. I've not had the best of times on Lodge in the past but this was a peg I was happy with as it has options and peg 60 was left out. I've got no pictures today as I left my phone at home, doh!

Got to the peg and the aerator was on so no chatting today. I set up a lead rod, a paste rig for 11m, a 4x12 rig for the right hand margin by the pallet with 0.16 exceed to 18 PR36, and 0.15 float with the same gear on for fishing to the tree on my left where it was about 3ft deep.

I started on the lead with a 8mm pellet in the band, but fed my paste line and threw a few 8mm pellets into the inside lines. Within 10 mins I had a 5lb carp in the net, and next chuck I had a 2lb skimmer. 15 mins later a pull round and drop back and a carp was on, but it fought very hard and it felt fouled. It was, in the pectoral fin, and I landed a near 10lb common. I hooked another soon after but it came off, after this I never had another bite on the lead.

Time to try the paste, it was slow going and there was no fizzing so not a lot of fish about. However, I could catch 6oz skimmers on it, but I was missing loads of bites and kept feeding pellets to try and draw a carp in. I had a better skimmer on the paste, but I was just thinking of trying the lead again when I had the first positive bite and carp on. Now this fish pulled a bit and I am sure I was bottomed out at one stage, but everything held and after what must have been 15 mins I reversed a common carp that must have been 16lb to 18lb, Adrian Jeffery opposite me gave a round of applause, that was a result landing that one! It was a one off and back to small skimmer bites.

Another try on the lead was a waste, and I had an early look by the tree which was also a waste of time. Everything was a struggle and as far as I could see the only people catching were on peg 64 and the lad on 62 was catching silvers. I had a very barren hour with just the odd little skimmer on the paste, then about half way through I had two carp on the paste, both doubles and that was my first net filled. The skimmers piled back in on the paste and frustrated the hell out of me although I had a few. Another look by the tree and another lack of interest, though I did think I would not catch here till late. Still I took a look up by the pallet where it was about 2 feet deep. Instantly I had bite and hooked a carp, if felt heavy and plodded on and on and off, where's my rig? Ummm elastic snapped......

New top set out and new rig, and back by the pallet, I soon hooked another carp and got this one out, again a lump. Couldn't get another, and so back on paste to rest it. Back to pallet, lump on, in the net. Less than two hours to go and still the tree swim would not give me a bite, but I had to rest the pallet as everytime I did and went back in I would hook a carp. I lost a coupler of foulers by the pallet but not sure I could help that and I had a few more big carp out. Hour to go and let's try by the tree again, boom, carp, hang on drag it out (on my Beastmaster pole) and another double. I had 2 big skimmers here and more carp, 2 net filled. The pallet peg seemed to go off and so I concentrated on the tree now, the carp were here now, and every drop in would result in an indication, I filled a third net and with 15 mins left stuck a 4th in. I had two more carp with the last one being hooked a few seconds before the all out (those last two weighed 18lb and give you some idea of the stamp of fish I had).

I was not sure what I had cos I was really wondering how big some of the carp I had were, I clicked the big un at 20, and must have clicked at least four at 15lb. I kept thinking I have over estimated or underestimated and gone over in a net? In the end I think I did OK as I never went over in a net, Steve Long weighed me in, my skimmers went 14lb 2oz and may carp 192lb exactly, so 206lb 2oz. Nice.

The lad on my right Rob Eagle had a great day on the silvers and he managed 50lb of skimmers a cracking net, and he was top with that. The payouts on this match are done by lake, and as I had won my lake I would get the winners money for it. However, it turned out I had won the day and so was also into the all winners final later in the year.

1st Me  206lb 2oz
2nd Ian Willets  199lb 6oz (peg110 Campbell)
3rd Phil Weaver 190lb 12oz (peg 94 Carey)
4th Glenn Bailey 174lb 13oz (peg 74 Carey)
5th Norman Sterry 169lb 7oz  (peg 85 Carey)

1st Rob Eagle 50lb 15oz
2nd John Bradford 31lb 9oz (peg 97 Carey)
3rd John Barker 31lb 8oz (peg 100 Carey)

Well double bubble in the car (Glenn caught on Paste wouldn't you know and he picked up 5 times on the trot now) and a couple of tired but happy anglers drove home. I am now on the best run of my life, who knows why but as we all know in fishing you've got to roll with the good and bad times. This Sunday it is the riverfest, a 60 peg match on the river at Newbridge, it would really be unbelievable for the run to continue and me to get in, the drawbag will decide if I have a chance or not, but if we get more rain it could be a decent match.

Sheets are below, Glenn took the pics so blame him ;-)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Open Match Bristol Avon Newbridge

My trio of consecutive matches this weekend culminated with an open on the river. Saturday night was spent changing over all my hooks and rigs as well as rods and top sets and mixing gbait. Still if you are going to enter a match you have to be prepared as best you can. Unfortunately my night was a bad one with something upsetting my stomach and I spent from 3am to 5am going back and forth to the loo. When I woke up at 8am I thought about texting Kev Dicks to cancel, but as I got up and about I decided I would be OK. I went to Hanham for breakfast first and then came back home and loaded up the car.

The main reason for fishing this match was as a practice for next weeks Riverfest but I was always happy to fish a first match at Newbridge in the hope of some bream. That said I would have to take the kitchen sink, but I did say to Glenn after yesterday I would happily take a bream peg and fish the feeder all day to have a rest. lol. We all parked up on the side of the river before the pumphouse, there were not that many people which surprised me really, though one lad had come from Bradford to practice for next week. The pegging was from 16 (where I was parked) to peg 56.When the draw began Hadrian Whittle drew peg 50 for Kev Dicks (that's four times Hadrian has drawn that peg) and then drew himself peg 16. I couldn't believe it when I drew peg 56, longest walk, but then end peg and a chance of bream. I had for the first time a four wheel shuttle and it made the walk so much easier for me. In between me an Kev on peg 54 was England International Callum Dicks.

Finally at my peg, it was bloody hot and I was glad I had 2 litres of drink with me as I was going to have to do a bit of bankside clearance, see pic....

Well after a bit of hacking I could see the route down to the river, and I could get my box in the water and fish nice and comfortably. I set up a feeder rod with 14 PR355 and 0.148 exceed, also a waggler with a 20 to 0.11. I knew this peg would have the flow over the furthest half of the river, but still tried a pole rig at 13m, but when it just sat there and did not move I put the rig back on the winder and put the pole away. Sat on my box I looked at the view and took in my options.
On the all in I cast out a groundbait feeder containing casters and chopped worm, I put 3 red maggots on the hook and as expected had bites from small fish straight away, roach, chublets and perch. After 20 mins I had a proper pull round and a solid pull on the rod when I struck, it was bream. I was really quite surprised to catch one so early, and at about 4lb it was a great start. After this it was soon back to regular bites from tiny fish. A worm on the hook would get me bites from perch, red maggot bite from roach or chublets, but none were much bigger than 2oz.

About 90 mins into the match I had a quiet spell and thought maybe the bream had moved in, a decent bite and heavy fish made me think I was right, but it was a perch of 12oz+, but not long after this I did have another bream on 3 red maggots. After this bites dried up and it was a struggle for me, I even tried the waggler which gave up a few roach and a bleak, but I could hardly get it to go through the swim.

I had quite a bit of company during with at least four or five people sitting and watching and talking, and I was happy with the company. I think it was about 100 mins to go when a cormarant surfaced at the bottom of my peg with a fish in its beak. I scared it off when I stood up, but soon after I started to get bites from small fish again and wondered if it had pushed fish up to me? Soon after Graham Hunt sat with me and whilst behind me saw me catch a 2 1/2lb bream and a 4lb bream in three casts. I was hopeful that this would mean more bream in the last hour, but no more materialised. Glenn came out with his grandson, and whilst behind me I had a good bite and initially thought I had another bream, and thought it was fouled. I then considered it was an eel, and if it was it was good un. After it tried to swim into the near bank I got int into the net, I think it would have been close to 2lb and was probably my biggest eel on the river. After this I just had a few more small fish as it seemed the bream had left me and the match ended, I hoped I had 20lb.

The scales arrived quickly and I was first to weigh, 21lb 2oz was my tally so a nice net, I guess the 4 bream went 14 1/2lb. All day long people had said I was winning the match but as I know only too well bream can show late at Newbridge and 20lb is possible in four casts. Well it happened today, and it was Kev Dicks who had 4 bream in the last hour to win the match with 23lb 4oz. Kev was kind enough to say that the only difference between our weights was that I had the 2 1/2lb bream when he had all 4lb+ bream. Still I could not be disappointed, no lost fish, no missed bream bites and another pick up, and in fact for the fourth consecutive match I was 2nd overall!

Third today was Starlets angler and river legend Hadrian Whittle, he did well off peg 16 to catch 14lb 13oz of small fish, and fourth was another seriously good angler Clive Branson with 11lb of bits from peg 46. After the match I had a nice chill out and a cider with Kev Dicks and Steve Hutchinson in the Boathouse, a good craic it was too. Here is a pic of Kev and some fish (not today's catch but what he had on Wednesday on peg 38).

Well that's an unbelievable weekend over for me, I certainly did not expect it to be so good, and winning nearly £300 was a nice bonus. I now need a good nights sleep, I'm not sure this luck can continue onto the riverfest but I'll go there in a good positive frame of mind.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Todber Manor Fishery Open

Waking up 6am Saturday morning was not easy after a late night and a poor sleep. but I was really excited as I was to fish a venue new to me. I have fished Todber Manors park lake before, but the new lakes (2 years new) on the main site. It was Glenn's idea to fish this, and as the rest of my family are all away on hols I thought why not. We both thought we'd struggle to do well on a venue new to us, but I tried to get some info and Mark Poppleton and Gary O'Shea were both very helpful and I thank them kindly.

The drive down was nice and we were wondering where to stop to grab a bite to eat, in the end Glenn spotted a cafe sign and we we took a look, at 8:10 it was open, but lucky for us it wasn't supposed to be open until 8:30 but the owner had forgot. A good start and a bit lucky, would it be an omen?

As we pulled into the venue car park I noticed a few faces I recognised, and the turnout was decent with I think 38 or 39 fishing. Three lakes were in Hill View, Ash and Home Ground, everyone said you couldn't win from Home Ground and that this lake only goes in when there are bigger turnouts like today. Into the draw and I pull 77 HG, Home Ground. A chat with Gary O'Shea and he said to win the lake (to get the section money) you needed to fish method feeder or pellet wag to island, but I would catch on a short pole to but lots of little fish. I remembered I would need some bait, so I grabbed some 6 and 8mm pellets.

Glenn was on ASH and I drove his car another 30m to my peg lol, it looked very nice.

I was the end peg on this bank, and in the distance past the island bang opposite me was Mike Nicholls. On the bank on my right was just the one angler, John Gray, I fancied that as he had loads of room and the wind blowing into his bank. That said I was happy with the room I had too.

I couldn't decide what to fish next to the island, and so decided to set up the pole first and think about it a bit more. I plumbed up, and on top set plus two the bottom started to level off and this would do me, a 0.4g diamond float with 0.16 to 12 PR478 was put up, I would feed meat and corn here. The margins were just 9 inches at most in close so I plumbed up at 18" on the slope with the same line and hook. I noticed that everyone was setting up method feeders, and as the wind was not that bad I decided to be different and set up a 3.5swan pellet wag for banded pellet.

10:30 and all in, I fed a pot of meat and corn at 5m fed long up my margin line, and then continually fed 6mm pellets to the island. Starting on the pole with meat on the hook it was bites straight away from the expected little tench and hand sized skimmers. I had been warned these could be a pain, so fed regularly over the top with meat and corn. I soon hit a couple of small carp, they were probably about 1 1/2lb and fought like little tigers. However, I thought the writing was on the wall early doors as John Gray was in a good rhythm on the small carp. My first hour was good though and I did have a couple of 4lb bream on the pole to go with plenty of small carp and other silvers. When it went a bit funny I gave the pellet wag a go and it wasn't easy or bagging but I did get a couple of small carp and 8lb carp before went back to the pole.

The second hour was as good as the first with small carp coming in steady, plus another couple of slabs. It slowed again and I went onto the wag again, the wind was worse and I switched to feeding 8mm pellet, and I had 4 carp on this but then it became hard so back to the pole. Sadly the pole line was just not happening, and when I did get a bite I either missed it or caught a little tench. This seemed to coincide with the wind getting up and John Gray catching even better. I thought I had 80lb halfway through but was not bagging anymore. Then as I looked behind I saw my old mate Guy Manton, he came and sat with me and as he is a local he gave me some good advice and told me I was doing well compared to others. My only problem was my arms, as I mentioned before I have damaged tendons in my forearms, and all the use of the landing net and constant feeding was taking its toll and I was suffering a fair bit of pain at times.

With 2 1/2 hours left I had upped the feeding on the pole line and the carp were back, but I suffered some foulers probably due to feeding so much. I was also now feeding next to the straw bales in the 9" of water as Guy said that was a good bet, I left my 18" fed line alone. I fed decent amounts of 6mm pellet in the left and right hand margin, and also some meat and occasional 8mm pellet for noise effect.

I spent the last two hours getting odd runs of small carp at 5m and chasing the carp that would come into the margin. I say chase because they would not stay for long and it was a case of try to catch one when it was there rather than just wait in the margin. I had quite a few fish from my right side and a few from the left, all on meat hook bait. I caught carp from 1lb to 9lb and the last 30 mins was best as you'd expect and I was playing one after the all out.

At the end of the match I thought I must have 150lb, but my clicker said 165lb + silvers, I was concerned I had misjudged the size of the fish. The scales were weighing Glenn's lake and he had a great day on the paste having 148lb for second on his lake. The scales then started with me on my lake. My silvers went 25lb 8oz, and my three carp nets 158lb 8oz for a total of 184lb, wow a busy day. Still I knew others had done well on the lake and John had over 200lb.

The match was indeed won by John Gray he had 217lb 10oz for a new lake record, well done indeed.
2nd  Me 184lb
3rd Marc Illingworth 160lb 10oz
4th Barry Robson 156lb 2oz
5th Jack Stamp 149lb
6th Glenn Bailey 148lb

Mike won the silvers with an amazing 58lb with bream up to 8lb.
I was second in the silvers and so I got double bubble and picked up £180 today, nice.

Well what a day, cannot believe that on my first trip. I got lucky as Home Ground produced the top 4 and top 3 silvers, as the owner said well done to all of us as nobody would have swapped pegs with us before the start. What a lovely venue, rammed with fish, pristine clean banks, and a great tackle shop on site. I'll be back.

Now time to swap all the gear around as Sunday I am fishing again (yep 3 days on the trot) but this time on the Bristol Avon at Newbridge on a  practice open before the the riverfest next week. A short walk please as I'm knackered, but happy.

Rovers Fans v 1982 City Fans - Windmill Fishery

Sometime ago this match was organised and I was asked if I would fish, some weeks later I was asked to be captain of the GAS and get a team of 11 anglers together. The team was :- Shaun Townsend, Mike Nicholls, Glenn Bailey. Mark Jefferies, Gary Mealing, Mark Tanner, Dave Haines, Bela Bakos, Geoff Francis and Paul Elmes. The City team were mainly club anglers it has to be said and were not rally going to compete, but they did have Martin Reyat who stood in as a late replacement.

The match was being fished over the "match" lake and "carp" lake. With the top 3 anglers on each lake to be paid out. As I held out the draw bag Bela Bakos kindly drew me a peg, and I Was going to be on the carp lake, not far from where Mike Nicholls had won the lake from lake from last week, so I was happy with that. A short drive to the peg and parked right behind it, nice. I had an island opposite and a bowl to my left, but neither of those features were going to be in my sights tonight. I say tonight as we were fishing 5:30pm to 9pm. The view from my peg, as you can see it was flat calm and sunny and I did wonder if this would make life tricky.

There must have been at least 50 canada geese on the lake, but they did not affect me today. My set up was oh so simple, a paste rig for top set plus one (same depth from here all the way out) and a hard pellet rig. That was it, and I expected to catch on paste all match. However, there was a problem, I had forgot to buy the fishery pellets, and I had no pellet on me, just paste! Nige Hawkins whose son was on the next peg to me, went back to get me some, but the cabin was locked up. Oh dear! A quick sprint round to Geoff and Bela and I cadged some 4mm and 6mm pellets off them, cheers lads. Mark Jefferies also passed some on to Nige for me.

Thankfully I was ready when the all in was shouted and fed a decent pot of pellets on my top set plus one line. Very soon the bristle of the float was shaking and twitching, and soon I had a pound carp in the net. This was the stamp of fish I expected with maybe the odd better one. The first hour was actually pretty good, I had 4 or 5 little carp and three around 3 to 4lb. This could be good then, but maybe not, the swim went dead, and all signs of carp stopped, no bubbles no twitches.

I pushed out to top set plus and fed here, I never had a fish or even a bite here, but after 20 mins a couple of bubbles showed a fish on the short line and I had another little carp. Then nothing for 20 mins then another little carp. Then nothing.  I had been pinging 6mm pellet out to 11m and tried the pellet rig over this, 1 little dig on the float was all I had here despite a couple of attempts. I tried fishing the paste way up to my left in the bowl, waste of time, nothing.

The only place I could catch was on the top set plus one, but I just had to wait for a fish to find the bait. I did start throwing some 6mm pellet into the left margin, but this was just 6 inches deep and didn't inspire me. Nige told me the lake was not fishing great, with Shaun and Bela doing better than me and Geoff doing best of all. I managed a pound carp from the margin when it showed itself, and then with 5 mins to go I saw another swirl in the shallow water, I flicked the rig in and the fish boiled again and soon after the float shot under and fish on. This was not a pounder, it was going some and my top set plus one was under real pressure, but I hung on. It was a double for sure and I just took my time as I was going to be playing after the all out. Nige came behind me and was filming me playing the fish, so he captured my 2 failed attempts of getting this long mirror into the landing net. When I did get it in and out of the water onto my lap it flapped and jumped back in the lake, but was still on. Finally I got it in, it looked like a 16lb+ lump.

The scales got round to us in the dark, and Geoff was leading with 61lb and the Bela with 39lb, I hoped I had 40lb. My little carp weighed 14lb, and my bigger carp together 33lb, so 47lb and second on the lake. The big un was 14lb+ and it was hollow so could be a lot  bigger if fed well, and it bumped me past Bela.

Well as I expected The Gas hammered the City, 530lb to 170lb, so as we say UP THE GAS!

Match lake top 3
1st Martin Rayet 103lb 12oz
2nd Paul Elmes 85lb 8oz
3rd Glenn Bailey 77lb 14oz

Carp Lake top 3
1st Geoff Francis 61lb 7oz
2nd Me 47lb 1oz
3rd Bela Bakos 39lb 9oz

We had a quick pint in the Folly and then off home to get all the gear away and sort a few things out for another match on Saturday.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Melksham Open - Bristol Avon Lacock

I had to attend a Commercial House meeting Monday night and it was during this that Jerry Pocock mentioned to me that he was fishing a match at Lacock. I have not fished there for at least 15 years, could be 20, so I had to give it a go as I have fond memories of fishing here. I got some hemp and casters ordered and would take some tares with me too. I took my pole out of the holdall and just took a couple of float rods a tip rod and a whip. This was going to help as I have been diagnosed with damaged muscle / tendons in my inner elbow, I have to do stretches etc three times a day and visit a physio, hopefully it will be sorted in 8 to 12 weeks.

Got up earlier than normal to get up to the Pig & Whistle in Melksham for breakfast. I was there nice and early and have to say the breakfast here was very nice. Marcus Crook was running the match and it was really an old boys job, the men who still like fishing running water. This was to be the first match on Lacock this season, so as most people who fish it these days are specimen anglers the small fish should feed, in theory... Marcus asked me to draw out the golden peg, and I pulled out peg 15 the end peg which was two below the road bridge,  new cut out peg I was told. Onto the main draw and I did not get 15 again, but instead peg 10 which I was told was the "conker" in the Abbey field. Marcus told me it was a peg with lots of small fish and if he had it would like to catch 15lb. He was very informative and told me to get in the water and walk up to the left and fish it from there.

If you've never been to Lacock it is a lovely place, and just up from me was the Abbey in all its grandeur.

Well it was not that far a walk from the National Trust car park and I was soon looking for my peg, found it eventually through here lol.
It looks worse than it was, there was a well worn path to the river, mainly from dog walkers and swimmers I expect, and once I got to the river I could see I was just to the left of a huge conker tree. As I peered at the river it was a steep bank with no steps, but a few tree roots and some clumps of grass would make it slightly less treacherous lol. I decided that I would set up on the top of the bank and then work out how to get everything down the bank. The river was very low and very clear, I thought I had 5 to 6 foot of depth but could still just make out the bottom of the river!

I set up a 4m to hand whip with a 1grm rig with 18 to B611, and a 3 no 4 stick float with the same hook etc. The stick float was lighter than I'd  normally use in this depth of water, but with so little flow I thought a lighter float might help me hit bites, and there was also no wind to worry about. It didn't take me long to set those rigs up, but the fun was getting into the river with my box, and then the bait, and then the gear and being happy with my lot. I got stung a fair bit by nettles on the way but ended up very comfy, I had all my gear close by and was happy, this might let you see my lot...


Ready to start at 10:30pm and off we go, feeding hemp and caster I started on the whip with a maggot on the hook (I borrowed a few maggots off Shane Caswell) and right from the off it was a bite a chuck mainly from fish of 1/2oz. I persevered as I expected little bleak and dace to be on the bait, and kept the bait going in, the river was so clear I could see the fish as soon as I struck. After an hour I had managed quite a few nice dace and some 1oz roach but these had come to caster hookbait, the bites were slowing up a bit but it was still OK. After about 90 min I spotted a big eel by my keepnet, so I chucked some maggots in close and looked back 5 mins later to see the eel eating a few. I grabbed my stick float and dropped the rig in with a maggot on the hook. I watched the eel swim over my hook but not touch it, then from nowhere a perch grabbed my bait. At about 6oz it was easily my best fish, the eel sulked off.

Back out onto the whip, but oh dear no bites at all, so out with the stick float rig. It was going through OK but if I could get a bite it was only a tiny 1/4oz fish, and the next 90 mins were a real struggle with just odd bursts of dace. I couldn't see me troubling the frame today as I was just not going anywhere. However, Marcus had said that people getting in the river above me would dirty up the water, and that had happened earlier but not for a while, and I think the clear water was doing for me. However, luck was on my side today, as the herd of cows opposite got thirsty and came into the river above me proper stirred it up. All of a sudden I started to get bites on the stick, and in the main it was fish above an ounce, I just hoped the cows would stay around a while!

I was working hard with my feeding, and altering the depth I fished and where I cast the float in the peg. If I hit a few roach (and I mean a few) in a few runs through they would move. I found a shotting pattern that let my bait fall over the last 2 1/2 foot seemed best, I could get the odd dace on the drop and sometimes a roach. I had a few roach on tares but they were no bigger than that I had on caster, and in the last hour I had three net roach on caster. The cows stayed in the water till about 15 mins from the end, which was handy, and my last 90 mins were easily my best. I never hooked a lump today, never had a pike strike, it was just a day of small fish and my elbows are aching again lol.

I had the scales and had to weight around me, the guy below me weighed me in and I had 16lb 1oz which was more than I thought. This lad then had 5lb, and below him the next angler had just under 12lb of chublets dace and a few roach. Below the bridge the golden peg had 8lb of dace and the first one below the bridge Bob Ryan had 5 chub and some dace for 17lb 9oz, he lost a couple of good chub too.

My net today.

I walked back to the car park and was feeling hot, the other lads were filtering back and word had it Bob had the top weight and Marcus had 16lb so I guessed I'd be third. Back at the pub I was glad of a pint of Thatchers Gold, it cooled me down, and Marcus who was already there told me his 16lb was just that 16lb, and so I had pipped him by 1oz to be second in the match and a pick up £65. Jerry Pocock was 4th and first out of the money with 15lb 8oz, he lost a host of big fish, any one would have won it for him. Bob was very kind to buy me a drink from his winnings, what a nice bunch of blokes they were I would love to give there match another go some time.

Well that was a very lovely day, I was sat in the shade (nice) right by the water and caught fish that had not seen a hook before, small river fishing is such fun. Though it has to be said for some they had dogs, swimmers, and courting couples in the river very close to them, but still the river fished very well. Off to Newbridge next week, an open match before the Riverfest qualifier the following week, we need rain, but not sure it will arrive.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Superleague - Bristol Avon Jack Whites, Crane and Swineford

Well as you will have now gathered after last week's effort I was picked for the team to fish this match. Good as I do like the river and it is nice and close to home. Only problem for me was when to do some prep as I was up in London for a couple of days, a works do Friday and off to Manchester to bring the eldest daughter home Saturday. You could say I was low on time and low on energy after I mixed my gbait late Saturday.

Sunday morning and back to McDonald's for the draw, another McRip off and juice and for me and a chat with the other lads in the team. Triv and Andy Ottaway had pegged it and there was some of the worst pegs in up the Crane which we normally never peg. Well surely I would not be up the Crane again this week, umm I mean well surely I would be up the Crane AGAIN this week. Funny how the same lads seem to be up Swineford again oh how I laughed. well I tried not to get bitter and twisted lol. Anyway I was in the end section at the Crane, a few pegs up from the cattle grid I was told, Tom Moretti my team mate is learning a lot from me and he also likes drawing up the Crane.

After the drive to the Crane and struggled to park up I got my kit loaded and off for my short walk. On the end peg by the cattle grid was Steve Hutchinson, I won the section of that peg last year in the same match so a decent peg. John Tocknell was next, then Gappy, and Paul Waddington of DGL was right on the bend and I was about 7 metres above him. It sounds bad, well it is short, but Paul would be fishing down the peg on the bend and I wasn't overly concerned. Last week Neil Richards had 15lb from Paul's peg. but he no angler either side.

It's about 12 foot deep here and I opted for 13m to get a bit of flow, set up 3 rigs for here, 1gm pencil with 20 to 0.09, 2gm with same, and a 4gm with 16 to 0.12 for fishing over depth. A rig for chopped worm but I only had one little un on it, a feeder not used, and a waggler with a 20 to 0.11.  I would fish a 4AAA wag about 2/3 as further over you go the less flow there is.

With the match starting at 11:30 I was ready with time to spare, the anglers above me were Ian Staines and Marc Kay in the shitty parrot cage. I mixed up 12 balls of gbait with caster and hemp and threw them in on the whistle. Straight in over with the 2gm float and 10 mins without a bite, oh dear. Eventually I started to get the odd bite from little roach but I was already on the pencil float and it was hard work to get bites. Every fish I caught was further down the peg, nowhere near the gbait and soon I was biteless, maybe a pound after 45 mins, not good. I had been feeding maggots across so went on the waggler, I think in the first 6 cast I had 3 chublets about 3 to 4oz, but these soon disappeared. I picked off the odd bleak and dace but nothing spectacular. Two hours in and the wag was slowing, so back on the pole and 8 small roach in as many drops and then nothing,

At this stage I knew Steve was catching well but apparently it was nothing special for everyone else. I discounted using the feeder thinking every fish was important. The pole line was rubbish for the next two hours, no amount of topping up worked, I was catching only on the waggler about 3 feet deep, I even had a few roach this shallow, and another chublet and a few decent dace, bleak were a pain but I stuck with it until bites dried up.

With an hour to go and the pole line still dead I fed it heavily with some bait droppers of worm and caster as a last gamble for a better fish. After a few more fish on the wag I was back on the pole with 30 mins to go, on with the 4gm and a double red maggot, a quick dip and nothing, so lifted the rig, and then a good bite, a little perch though. Back out, and after a few mins a bite, not a decent fish but a roach of 3 to 4oz, and I took another four of these roach after this to end the match on a bit of a positive note as I had not had any roach like that earlier.

It had been a very hot day, and I hoped I had 6 to 7lb, Ian above me said he might have 1lb and Paul below said he had 2 1/2lb.  I had the board and we weighed in from Steve Hutch. He had done well and had some nice roach in his 14lb 10oz, a clear section winner. John had 7lb, then Gappy 5lb. Paul had severely underestimated and had 5lb 15oz...... My turn and I was happy for the scales to read 8lb exactly which put me into second place in the section as Ian and March could only muster just over a 1lb each.

Today was a lot different to last week, I had to ball it as the bleak are prevalent here, but I could feed a waggler line today and it provided more than half my weight I suspect. All my fish were on maggot hookbait, and it was a battle to catch but not a battle against the elements!

Back at the results my team had a mixed bag of results, but we managed 2nd on the day and are second in the league 7 points behind DGL. I pocketed £50 for second in the section so that was nice.

It was clear the river had fished much harder than last week, but there were still plenty of decnt weights. I missed the framers but know that Mark Bromsgrove had 34lb of bream and skimmers and won from near where Rich Chave was last week. I think Dave Micklwright was 2nd with 18lb from a peg at Swineford.

More rain required for the river, my next match on it will be Newbridge for the Riverfest as I managed to get a ticket yesterday.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Superleague Practice Open - Bristol Avon, Swineford, Crane and Jack Whites

Finally back on the river after the enforced lay off and my holiday. In past years I have avoided fishing the Avon until the end of July, just because generally the fishing is usually getting better by then. My view is there is a hell of a lot of natural food in the river plus the fish spawning make it a poor start. However, reports were of good catches so far and maybe the early warm spring had got the fish spawning early.

Draw for this match was in McDonalds in Bath, this was sadly due to the rugby club in Saltford having a change of staff and not wanting to host us anglers, shame we had a good run there. Bought some McDonalds shitty breakfast meal, then paid my pools, and said hello to the many friendly faces and quality anglers. I was really hoping to get a peg on bream today as I was pretty sure they would win the match, a few have been caught in club matches and by pleasure anglers. Swineford and the long ashtip would be best for bream I thought. Once again though, I ended up pulling a low peg down the Crane, absolutely no chance of bream for me.

I got parked up and walked the up the river, into the little ashtip field and saw my peg number was in the bay, 1 below the wader peg. A good peg for roach and dace, and a chance of chub on the waggler I thought. However, I had a problem, there was an angler in the peg already, and when I advised him he had to move he was not impressed and at first refused to move saying he had the same problem last week. I kept my cool and ran through a few things with him, eventually he saw sense and decided to move on, but he had been fishing for an hour or more he said.

As you can see from the picture all was calm, there was little wind, a little drizzle came and dampened us for a few hours. My thoughts were how could I possibly do a weight from here, I couldn't see me catching enough roach to win dosh, so would need to get a chub or two also. Setting up was simple, a 4AAA waggler with 18 to 0.12 to fish maggot 3 feet deep. A 1gm pencil float with 18 to 0.10 to fish caster / hemp at 13m, a 4x18 for the same line to fish on the drop. I was thinking of other rigs but when plumbing up it was only about 7 to 8 foot deep, and at to around 9 metres there was some streamer weed under the surface and I was snagging up on the pole. Even just trying the rig without a plummet I was catching weed, in the end I put 3m of line above the float, and had to overhead cast the rig to get past it! You cannot see it in the picture as it was about a foot under the surface.

With the water very clear my plan was to start on the wag and mag and feed hemp / caster on the pole to build the peg just like the old days. Just before the match started the wind started to get up and it got very nasty blowing in my face both up and downstream. The waggler was looking a struggle as feeding maggots would be hard.  On the whistle I decided to cup in a good handful of caster and hemp on the pole, and thought I'd have a quick look on it, well first drop in and I had a small roach on caster, and I had bites straight away. The fish were small around an ounce but I was pleased to get bites and kept feeding the pole and tried to feed maggots as far as I could. All to soon the pole line became iffy and I picked up the waggler, the wind was now preventing me from feeding regularly, but even so I got a bite most chucks on the waggler from bleak.

After 2 hours I reckoned on having 3lb, so going nowhere fast, and the wind was now absolutely horrendous, it was doing my head right in. I could hardly hold my pole and feed on the pole line, I had to feed this was as I could not drop the rig in close without getting weeded up. Feeding maggots was now a complete waste as half would end up in the field behind me. Bites on the pole were now hard to come by, and fishing maggot on the hook would result in bleak. With 2 hours to go and knowing I needed a bonus I fed a big cup full of casters and hemp on the pole, shit or bust  thought. A little go on the wag brought a 4oz chublet a dace and odd bleak, but I fed nothing. I saw a few anglers walking the bank today, Rich Whitmarsh, Kev Dicks, Andy Britt and Darren Gillman who sat behind me a couple of times. I told them I was having a bad day and not to bother watching me!

Time to look on the pole again with double caster now, I was quite surprised when I had a few 4oz roach, but then they disappeared as quick as they came. I tried feeding with the catty over the top heavily with caster and hemp. I could now get bites but due to the wind and length of line they were hard to hit, plus I definitely had quite a few dace in the peg as I was missing some fast bites on the drop. Of course I managed to hook a decent roach and a pike grabbed that one, it swam off to the boats across, jumped out of the river, then swam back to my bank and snapped me up in the weed.

When the whistle went I can't say I wasn't unhappy, it had been a test of patience that's for sure and I feel sure had the wind not been so nasty there was at least 12lb to be had. I estimated I had 8lb. I was the last angler in my section to weigh, but I had already heard that a few bream had been caught further up, and with the first peg in my section being the last peg in the long ashtip (one of my favourite pegs) it was always going to be tough. Mark Bromsgrove was on that peg, and he had managed one bream and lost a 6lb slab on the pole, plus some bits he had 10lb. After this the next best weight was 6lb 9oz from one peg above me. My estimation was for a change spot on as I weighed 8lb 1/2oz for second in the section and no coin sadly.

8lb of mainly roach on caster is OK, but was never going to be good on the day, and as I expected the bream showed in many pegs. Winner on the day was Richard Chave with 30lb, he was on peg 74 top peg in the long ash tip (bream caught here last week) and he had 3 bream on the float and 4 on the feeeder. second was Ian Sheppard who was on peg 27 at Swineford, he had I think about 19lb of skimmers / bream on the pole and 10lb of roach. Mark Harper was third at Jack Whites with 24lb, bream and chublets on the feeder but he lost a barbel estimated at 9lb. Last in the frame was Colin Dance on the last peg in the first field at Swineford with 17lb+ of small fish and a skimmer.

Odd bream and skimmers had come out at Swineford and in the long ashtip, plus lots of small fish. I've never so many come out in odd ones like that on a clear early season river. Certainly it fished well, and it rarely disappoints does this part of the river.

Had a good laugh and chat back at the results in the Bitton social club, with most of the team having caught a few fish. Some of the anglers looked a tad hot and tired, mainly those who had drawn by Bitton Brook!

Well I wait to see if I have made the team for next week, surely I've got to get a peg at Swineford?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Last Day of Holiday - Viaduct Costcutter

Last breakfast in M&M and said goodbye to one of the "M".  Lots of water on board early to re hydrate, and more in the bag for the match. Steve Long advise the pegging and both Campbell and Carey were in, so I was really hoping to be back on Campbell to put right the wrongs of yesterday. Into the tin of dreams and bum, peg 77 on Carey, I was deflated, but then most people said that 78 had been really good and so I should get a few. I got told both carp and silvers were targets. I was happy and pushed my trolley for the last time up the bank and to my home for the day.

Right from the start it was clear that there were carp spawning in Carey and a lot between me and Geoff on peg 74. This made me think that fishing for silvers would be a good idea, plus it would make a nice change and nice way to end the week, but I would set up rigs for carp for late on /just in case. First up was a light 4x12 with 20 to 0.12 for fishing 4 or 6mm pellet at 13m, this was my main focus for silvers, but I would also feed lightly to the tree in the water to my left as I was told you catch silvers here. Also a heavy carp rig for here, for 8mm pellet, and a 4x10 for just in front of the pallet of peg 76. It was a lovely flat bottom about a foot out from the pallet, and I could just about chuck 8mm pellets here for later on.

The lad on 78 was going all out for silvers, he had worms, casters gbait etc, so I hoped that was not the bait today for silvers. To start the match I went out to 13m and fed very carefully with 4mm pellets by catty. Well the first hour was very slow and I reckoned on only having about 3lb, which is basically pants. The lad next door seemed to have a few but not a lot was being caught from what I could see. Leon Hubbard was on 105 I think, and he started to get the odd carp and skimmer in the second hour. Me, well I was trying hard to get silvers with very little reward either at 13m or by the tree at 5m, it was looking like I was on for another bad day.

Glenn spoke to me and he had a few carp on 85 as did Steve Jackson on 88. With Leon having another carp or two I decided sod it, back to carp and just try and enjoy myself. I put a stronger banded pellet rig on 13m, and fed 8mm pellet. Within 15 minutes I had a 6lb carp, and 10 minutes later another of similar size, small for Carey. It went quiet by 25 minutes later I had a third and had taken 2 decent skimmers on the 8mm pellet.

Trying by the tree was fruitless, two hours to go and try the pallet, whoosh, hybrid, whoosh, tench, whoosh skimmer.... I caught more silvers fishing for carp than I did fishing for silvers PMSL!  A carp did oblige in the pallet and then a lost fouler killed it. Back out to 13m and another carp, then nothing. Back on the pallet and signs of life, the float was being moved around considerably, so I assumed a decent fish was there. About 5 minutes of this was finally rewarded with a bite and fish on. This one headed of for the tree past the pallet, I pulled hard on my ONEXS Preston pole and turned it. The fish just plodded for a while and came in close, but it wouldn't shift off the bottom. Out it went and a tail came up, ummm feck me that tail looked huge. Back under my feet on a top set, when it decided it would prefer to go under the bush to my left, shite, shipped on out to 11m and I pulled as hard as I dared. got the fish out, back to the topset and repeated the process again!!! OK you know where I am going with this, but I recall all of this because I just knew it was a decent fish. When I first saw it proper I thought "that ain't going to fit in my landing net". Well eventually, this very long common carp popped up, my landing net looked stupidly small, I got the head in and half the body. Grabbed the net at either end and pulled the leviathan out! But, oh no, the screw pulls out of the landing net, I lose my grip, the carp flies out bounces on the keepnet and back into the lake...... Before I swore, or cried, I picked up the top set, and she was still on! "GEOFFFFF COME AND HELP!!!"  Geoff passes me one of my spare nets and eventually the carp is back in netting range, Geoff swears as he sees it. Here we go again, scoop, lift, grab, hug, struggle, etc. I finally got it in the keepnet. I was just so happy that I could not care if I did not catch another thing, I knew I had my first 20lb carp.

I did manage another carp from the pallet, and hooked one by the bush to my left, but it snagged me in the bush and I chickened out from there. Match over.

I heard from Glenn how many fish he had and others so I couldn't see me getting any money, but no worries on that. When Steve arrived with the scales all I was focused on was what this common weighed. I think I had 10lb of silvers, and my total weight was 90lb, which turned out to be just 4lb less than Steve Jackson who took second on the lake and last money, so I was third after a better last few hours, but there you go another mistake should have fished for carp lol.

Oh and the common, well Steve said it was a spawned out female, and it weighed 21lb exactly, my pb and certainly satisfying to land on a pole. Here she is.

A great end to the holiday. All of the lads picked up a couple of times during the trip. Gordon had another good day coming second of peg 110. Mark Wynne won off peg 116!  On 115 was Steve Seagar, I told him before the match how I caught late on, he never had a bite on that, he was doing just as bad as me the day before and then caught 8 decent carp late on,

Last night of the holiday, chucked all the gear straight back in and up the Unicorn for another nice meal. The Cider flowed well that night, with me not finding my bed until sometime past 1am. A great holiday, and cannot wait to be back next year. On the first day of the hol, one young angler "questioned" why come to Viaduct for a holiday when I only live up the road. I didn't feel the need to reply to that, but I knew the answer/s.  1) If distance from home is how we measure a "great" holiday then let's all go to New Zealand, 2) Many people say Viaduct is one of the best fisheries in the UK, and the fishing is great. 3) The lodge is superb, 3) The environment is peaceful, tranquil and to my liking, 4) Somerton has pubs (and an Indian) that sell Thatchers Gold. 5) Steve Long is a gentlemen and takes time out to chat, and engage with you. 6) It's not far from home lol!

I feel a bit like Worzle Gumnidge (who remembers him) now, I have to change my head. This and the next weekend I will be fishing the Avon at Keynsham. Lots of work to do and little time to do it. A simple match would be nice, I fancy a waggler peg, or bream peg, please let it be so.

Holiday Day 5 - Short Pole Match Campbell Lake

Been a bit busy with work and really just to hot to do anything once I get home, so catching up on blogs still!

Wednesday last week at Viaduct, started with a nice and tasty cooked breakfast in M&M cafe in Somerton. With weather getting warmer I took 2 litres of drink with me for this match and plastered myself in factor 50 sun cream. I really hoped for a draw on the near bank (pegs 110 to 119) as I thought this might be best (and it has shade), last year on this match I drew 112, but this year 113 was also in so that would negate its margin advantage. Anyway into the tin and out comes 115, happy with that but I would have really run to 116 or 118 as 117 was not pegged.

Onto the peg, which is out in front of its neighbours and I hoped this would give me a little advantage. On 114 was a lad on holiday from the other lodge, and to my right was lodge mate Gordon Cannings. As the rules were top set plus 3 sections it was not going to take long to set up. I considered options and went with 4 rigs, full length at 11 o'clock for meat on a 0.15 job with 12 PR478 to 0.165 exceed, at 2 o'clock with a 4x12 for banded pellet.  A slapper rig for anywhere (this was a waste as never had a fish on it) and a 4x10 for fishing maggot and gbait right in the edge in my hard worked landscaped margin. Note the greenish colour of the water.

Before long we were off, I started on meat long and dropped in after feeding just 2 pieces of 8mm meat. Around 2 minutes later I was playing a carp, and looking around a lot of people were. Gordon went straight in his margin to the right towards the tree, first chuck carp on elastic snapped!

I'd like to report that I the meat line sussed, but there was a distinct lack of carp activity in the area, and it was all quiet. That is until Gordon hoked his second carp, and BANG, his number 5 section snapped and he lost a top set and number 4. I managed a crucian type thingy, a tench and a couple of small skimmers on the meat, but no carp. I swung around to try the pellet line, first drop float shoots under and nothing. No more bites or signs on this so back to meat, a tiny skimmer. Hmmm first hour not so good then...

Managed to sneak out another carp on the meat second hour and a couple more silvers but it was not going to plan. Gordon wasn't doing any better after his early flurry and my other neighbour was the same. The long pellet line never produced one fish, I was amazed at that, I was feeding small amounts of 6mm pellet, normally get something. In desperation I tried dump potting some bait on a new line, thought I could keep an eye out for fizzes etc. Well the fish didn't want to know that, no fizzes and no bites, this was shite!

With just over a couple of hours to go Dave White arrived behind Gordon, and all of a sudden Gordon started catching in close, not right in by the bank but just out a bit in the deeper water. Now Gordon is usually a meat man, and I assumed that was what he was feeding. I had caught nothing yet over the gbait line, and thought I better get a rig for fishing like Gord. I found to my left was a deep spot close to a point, and the same depth to my right was about a metre out from the bank. I fed meat by hand into these spots. All I got was roach taking the meat on the hook, even double meat was destroyed.

An hour to go with 3 carp for 21lb on my clicker and about 10lb of silvers and Gordon giving me an ass whipping I was pretty down in the dumps, and Dave would not tell me what I was doing wrong lol! Then Gordon snaps another top set, and now he is scratching his head as he's not got the right gear. I felt sorry for him as he was on fish and doing well, so I gave him my margin pole and said do me a favour and catch some fish on it as I cannot, plus you owe me a pint. Now my margin would be much stronger than what Gord was using, and he was soon happily catching and feeling much more in control. My good deed was worthwhile, as I saw that Gordon was not feeding his beloved meat but instead 8mm pellet.

Back to my peg, start feeding pellet on my two deep margin lines instead of meat, put a hair rig hook length on. Two minutes later I hooked my first carp, then another......  Safe to say I had really cocked up on a potential match winning peg, hey ho lesson learned. I ended up with I think about 85lb on the day and had close to 50lb of carp in the last hour. Gordon indeed whipped my ass and came 2nd with 140lb, being beaten by young Joe McMahon on peg 135, well done him. Gord said had had my margin pole set up from the off he would have won as he lost loads. I was pleased for Gord as the previous 4 days he caught very little.

Sorry cannot remember now who won the silvers, oh maybe it was Mike Nicholls lol. Anyway back to the lodge and a couple of cans and some rig tying before we went to the local Indian restaurant. I must say the food was absolutely brilliant, very tasty. It was a laugh for me as Geoff had tried 3 pints of a cider called "Stan" in the Unicorn, and this stuff had quite an effect on him, I'll say no more.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Holiday Day 4 - Annual Visit To Acorn

It was a bit of a struggle getting up early, that said for some reason my body clock had me waking up every day of the holiday around 5:30 am, I've no idea why, may have been the light coming into the room, may have been Glenn's snoring.

Got myself ready and Glenn loaded his car with his and my gear as got my daily routine on the loo done. We were headed to the Bridge Inn Hotel which is close to the fishery and is used by many of the visiting anglers. Breakfast is good value and it was very popular indeed. As we arrived at the fishery I spied Charlie Barnes who was down to watch a bit of fishing, good to see him out and about, I also saw Mark Thomas (son of Jim) who have not seen for many a year, as well as all the Viaduct regulars such as Ray Bazeley, Mike Chapman, Eddie Wynne, Gabe Skarba, I could go on!

I like this venue, and I would fish it more if I could but it seems opens are not on Sundays (well not for my age group) and so this was my first visit back since the holiday last year. I would like to have drawn on the island, peg 5, or on a bridge. However, I could not believe it when I pulled out 31 the same peg I had last year! Geoff Francis also pulled the same peg he had last year, 27, what are the chances of that!

When I got to the peg I noticed straight away that it looked different, I had been told the lakes had been trimmed back, and in some cases a shelf cut out, and certainly those spiny grasses were much reduced and I had a couple of bare bank spots I could fish to. I walked around to them and cut back the plants that were above the bare areas to make life easy today. View from my peg looked something like this. (That's Gabe's new van, the bright coloured one!)

For company today I had Mike Chapman on Bridge peg 33 (no surprise there lol) and Adriano Mercato on peg 29. I had never met Adriano before but his girlfriend made me laugh when she drew his peg and immediately apologised to him as it has been poor area.

Last year when I had this peg I had a torrid time with foulers and caught well for one spell which got me into the frame. I hoped being able to get to the bare bank might lessen the foulers today. I put a 4x10 rig up with 0.16 to 18 PR36 for fishing in 12" of water to the middle bare bank as this was a fairly flat area. The other bear bits were in my opinion to shallow or not flat, but to the right it was flat about a metre out from the bank and 12" deep. I set up a rig for the margins where I planned to feed gbait and dead maggots. That was it I was going to pin my faith in these approaches.

On the whistle I fed probably no more than 30 4mm pellets over with a pot to the middle bare bank tight in, and to the right where I had 12". I then put a 6mm hard pellet in the band and shipped over, feeding lightly with a catapult was all I was going to do. The reason for light feeding was two fold; 1) I thought this might reduce foulers, 2) With signs of spawning and hot weather I didn't think heavy feeding was going to be right. When I had my first bite and I hooked a carp I awaited for the elastic to ping back, but it didn't, first fish was in the mouth! In fact the first hour was pretty steady with most carp hooked in the mouth and I had 21lb on the clicker and happy with that. The next 30 mins things got slower and by the time the two hour mark came I was on 34lb but now struggling to get bites. Till now the middle bare bank had caught all bar one of my fish. At this stage Lewis Jones on 33 had been bagging, and I could see Tony and Ray on the Island catching well. Geoff on 27 was blanking.

The next hour was pants, I might have had one fish out and certainly lost a few foulers, I think at this point I was feeding too much bait, trouble was if I fed nothing I had no signs, feed something I got fish in the peg but they would not take the hook bait. I cut back to feeding the odd dozen pellets, and then eventually with about 2 1/2 hours to go it was like a switch was flicked on and I started to get regular bites and fish in the mouth and fairly motored for an hour. Then just like that the last hour came and back to few indications and odd fouler, the margin line only gave me two F1's and a small carp, but I do think I fed this too heavy and not with the right bait. This is because Mike on 33 started catching carp in his margin on maggot where he had fished for silvers. Once again a bad last hour was I was sure going to cost me, frustrating but I will say I caught much more than I thought I would from the peg. Not long before the end Geoff had his first carp, well it caught him really. He was tying rigs with his pole across his knee with a rig in the margin, the next thing he knew his pole was in the lake! Luckily it stuck under the next pallet and Geoff got the pole and the fish out to avoid a blank lol!

Match over and whereas usually it is the carp that seem to know it is "feeding time" today it was chickens, and they all of a sudden appeared behind me including this clucker.

I knew I wasn't going to win this match but was hoping to scrape in the frame, word was Tom Thick was an easy winner, but I knew Tony, Ray, Steve Shaw and Lewis had plenty, Gabe on 24 did too.

I had about 90lb on my clicker, but after over estimating yesterday I said I had 80lb+, when Lewis weighed in 81lb 3 I hoped I had more, and I did with my weights totalling 94lb 5oz. Now I had to wait for news of everyone else. Eventually I was confirmed as coming 4th, last in the frame, with Tony Rixon pipping me by 10oz for 3rd. Tom Thick won from peg 21 with 153lb 15oz, and Ray Bazeley on peg 5 (next to Tony) came second with 101lb 11oz.

I enjoyed the day, and I felt more in tune with what was happening than I did the previous day on Lodge lake. That said this fishing the far bank with pellet is similar to that I did at Cider Farm many years ago, and I had a lot of success at that venue.

After the match we had plenty of food in the Brent Knoll Carvery, and a couple of cold lagers were just what I needed to cool down. Back at the lodge it was a quick shower and back up into town for more pints not getting back till, well no idea actually, but it was bloody dark walking back to the Lodge lol.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Holiday Day 3 - Lodge Boys on Lodge

A bit of a lie in on Monday was nice after a few ciders the previous night, we had a breakfast in Somerton in the M&M cafe and were going to fish Lodge 12 to 6pm. Steve Long gave us pegs from 59 round to 69 which avoided the pleasure anglers who were already there. To be honest I needed to some prep for the match we had the next day at Acorn, and as this was a knock up it was none to serious in my book. I hoped therefore to draw a peg where I could chuck the lead out for a while and do some rigs and maybe nod off lol.

I pulled out peg 64, the Monk, not drawn this peg for a very long time but I could chuck the lead out on it to the end bank. I would also set up a margin rig to fish banded 8mm pellet at about 14m up the bank. I did a bit of gardening here as best I could but I could not get close enough to reach some over hanging branches which would have made striking a little easier. I discounted any lines in front of me in the open water, probably due to tiredness and probably a mistake. A margin to my left was fed but did not offer any bites all day. Woody was opposite me on peg 66 (a peg I have never drawn) and just before the start he decided to loose feed one of his keepnets but he did manage to retrieve it.

I began the match on the lead with an 8mm pellet, and fed a few of the same to the end bank, I also fed 6mm pellets into the margin. Before the line had tightened on the lead Mike Nicholls on 62 had hooked a carp which turned out to be a double. I was soon grabbing my rod as it banged round, and I held on and tried to pull the fish out of the corner. It was a common about 4lb, the ones that are rocket fuelled! It was about 10 mins later when I had a similar fish in the net, and then a nice 3lb tench. A Good start but then this died and I couldn't get any signs. I tried the long margin line but it was clear there were no carp in the area when I had few hybrids and a 1lb tench. Unfortunately about now the wind which was blowing into the corner and filling me with confidence for later in the match, blew a lot of willow herb all sorts of leaves etc into my margin. During the match I made 8 or 10 visits to the margin with the landing net in an attempt to make a clear spot, but I was fighting a losing battle.

Woody had a good few carp in the net after a good first hour on paste and I was a long way behind him, Mike only had a couple of carp and it looked slow for most. I decided it was time to tie some rigs so chucked the lead out again, but halfway through the first rig round went the rod. I had another three carp and a decent hybrid on the lead in an hour, all the while making rigs and then applying sun tan lotion. Again the lead line died on me and never came to life again.

I spent the last two hours searching the margins and clearing the scum. First drop in and I had one and it felt like a good un, I played it for quite a while and I saw it was a fat mirror, around 13lb I reckon, just when I thought it was ready for the net I gave an extra pull and the carp flicked its head back and snapped me. I had a feeling there and then that would cost me. It was never solid in the margin, but I had odd fish on and off, not sure the scum clearing helped nor getting the odd rig stuck in the branches.

When the match had finished I had 15 carp and reckoned I must have close to a ton, Woody had similar and Mike only had 5 large carp and a few silvers. However, it was obvious to me that Glenn would be the winner as he had seemingly had a carp a chuck for the last two hours.

As it turned out the lost carp did indeed cost me, I would have been second with it, as it was I only beat Gordon who had 74lb on on 68. My fish went much less than I thought at 88lb 7oz. My 15 carp went nigh on 78lb, whilst Mike's 5 carp went 71lb and with his silvers he beat me by 10oz. Woody then had 91lb 7oz which gave him second. Geoff caught late in his edge for 91lb and Glenn won with 25lb of skimmers in the first 4 hours and 99lb of carp in the last 2 hours! I tried to rationalise what went wrong today, and won't blame the scum, not making up a paste rig for out in front was probably a mistake, as was bullying the lost big carp.

It was going to be an early start the next day to get up to Acorn so we decided to stay in and get a Chinese takeaway, though I'm not sure getting off to bed at midnight with a belly full of Thatchers Gold was going to help..... Still the grub was good.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Holiday Day 2 - Float Only Landsend Fishery

Up quite early Sunday morning as I had drive to Landsend, Mike and Gordon were also fishing this match, but Glenn, Geoff and Woody went to Summerhayes. On the way to Landsend I had a red van behind me and I soon realised it was Nick Chedzoy. That was handy as I was totally relying on my sat nav and when Nick turned off left on a road I reversed back and followed him. We drove through some lovely landscapes but the roads were, well barely roads in places lol.

At the fishery I had one of  their breakfast which was to be the first of 5 for me this week. I was standing in today, I think it was for Adrian Jeffery, as I could not commit to this league due to too many dates clashing. Never sure which lake to draw on, though I would say I seem to do better on Match with lake 3 my least successful. Well I got my wish getting peg 6 on Match, but many people were turning their noses up at it due to having 5 and 7 in, but a couple were saying it could be good, hmm.

Got to the peg to see I had the point of the island, but I could not fish it due to large foliage in the water as you can see. I opted to slap a rig in the open water and fish to the  right of the foliage against the island which my neighbour on peg 7 said was fine.

My five peg section had Gordon on 1, Pete Notton on 3, Rich Lacey on 5 and a chap called Pete on 7. Things got off to a bad start when my rod holdall zip split open and I could not close it at the bottom,. Then I went to apply sun cream and took off my hat which I had perched my sunglasses on, sunglasses are now in the silt of peg 6. Ah well onto setting up. A 4x12 rig for meat at 5m was set up, I tend to use 0.165 exceed to a 12 PR478 for this. A 4x12 rig for pellet at 9m where I was going to try to catch some silvers, a 4x10 rig for the island (it was that shallow the float was pushed down to the hook length not) and a rig for slapping which never so much as trembled. I was concerned I was going to a battering off Rich as his island was alive with carp!

I began at 9m where I carefully toss potted in a few 4mm pellets and had a 6mm pellet in the band. I soon had a bite but the amount of elastic streaming from the pole told me it was a carp. Taking my time on the light gear I was able to land a 4lber. A couple of small roach were the only silvers I had, but then I landed another carp. A quick look on meat was only met with roach, so it was off to the island as Rich had taken a couple over there. I had fed some 6mm pellets over there and could see the odd carp moving, so I was not surprised when the float soon disappeared and carp no 1 was in the net. After 30 mins here I had another 3 carp and I was really happy and thoughts were of a good day. Well that was a case of jumping the gun as the carp became incredibly cagey and I had nothing for an hour or so.

I went for a walk and my section was really tough with everyone else only having at most 3 carp. Rich was having his head done in by all the carp showing themselves by the island but not taking his bait. I had some gbait with me (had been in the freezer for ages) and so I decided to put some of that in across as I could not catch on pellet. I changed the hook to a 12 PR478 and fishing either a worm or bunch of dead maggots I had a couple of quick fish before it was a long wait to fool one, but at least I was catching now. I noticed a fizz on my meat line near the end and I dropped in on this and had 2 carp but lost one which snagged me about 11m out in front of peg 7. One thing I did today was to fish about 4 feet of line above the float on the island rig to keep the pole away from the carp. However, it was noticeable that at times they were still spooked, because you could sit waiting for a bite and see no fish activity, and then if you came off the island within a minute carp would be back in feeding.

At the end I thought I had 70lb, nobody else in my section was admitting to much more than 30lb so the section win looked likely. My weight was confirmed (once I had managed to retrieve a snagged keepnet) as 80lb 12oz and did indeed win the section comfortably. I could not trouble the frame, and once again Tony Rixon and Trig showed their class by coming first and second.

When I got back to the Lodge I was surprised to see that Geoff, Glenn and Woody were already back, it turned out that Summerhayes had fished pretty pants with people struggling for a handful of fish. Geoff did manage to get a few and framed so we had a few ciders that night to celebrate.

The Annual Viaduct Holiday - Day 1

After a couple of weeks of not fishing, and hence no blogs, I was really looking forward to this week of fishing. I met up on Saturday morning with the lads (Glenn Bailey, Geoff Francis, Mark Woodington, Mike Nicholls and Gordon Cannings) at Viaduct, they had all met for Breakfast first but I wanted to go later after celebrating my eldest daughter's 21st Birthday.

The first day's match was on Campbell lake and it was a pole only affair with a limit on the pole length of 13 metres. I drew peg 129 which I was more than happy with as I would be able to fish next to the spit as you can reach it with 13m. On peg 130 was Woody and on the other side of the spit was Alex Murray. I walked out on the spit to clear about a bit of foliage and walked into a bramble strand that cut my nose, ouch. I set up a rig to fish meat at 5m, banded pellet at 13m and a rig for banded pellet by the spit. My plan was to start at 13m feeding very small amounts of 6mm pellets, whilst feeding 8mm pellets to the spit. I was hoping to catch a mixture of silvers and carp at 13m, but after the first hour I had landed one fouled carp and lost seven! Woody was fishing paste and only had two carp and had also lost a lot of foulers. The carp were not shallow, these foulers were hooked on the bottom, so they were a pain.

I had a quick look short after an hour but nothing was doing there, so I went to the spit as I had seen a number of anglers catch in their margins. The fish were obviously there as the first time I put the rig in it danced around a bit. I soon had a carp in the net and the next 90 mins were great fishing with regular bites but it gradually slowed and then there were no indications at all. The remaining match for me was a struggle and the last hour really did not get better. The only place I could occasionally get a bite was on the end of the spit. The wind got up really bad early on and it made holding the pole hard, and a few plants got blown into the swim which caused me difficulties on the spit, and a few lost hook lengths. I lost a carp close to the end which got into one of the plants and snapped the line. I had over 100lb on my clicker at the end of the match but I couldn't see me doing well with that.

It turned out Alex had won the match on the other side of the spit with 223lb, he must have realised he had some fish in his swim because before the match began he went looking for spare nets. Jack Billet had 167lb from 118 and Ash Tompkins was 3rd on 115 with 166lb.  I finished 9th with 130lb 13oz, with Woody scraping the ton next to me. Performance of the day for me was from Mark Jefferies who drew peg 135. Mark has not fished for about 15 years, and used to be my team captain, and he had 105lb, fair play.

After the match we picked up the keys to the lodge and set about settling ourselves in, well we actually filled the fridge with bait, beer, cider and cheese! These lodges are out of this world, well kitted out and very comfortable and relaxing, and of course the surroundings are simply amazing.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Norman Sterry Mathern Mill Silvers Match

This has been a busy and tiring week, for me at least. I had a sore throat and a cold Tuesday (violins out) which was taking its toll. Wednesday I went to Tom Bailey's funeral, and although it was sad to say goodbye we all had a few drinks to keep the family supported. Jaded I had to drive up to Warrington the following day, and back into work Friday feeling knackered. I had a couple of hours free on the evening to make some rigs up for the match.

I have two people to thank for this match, 1) Norman Sterry for running it, and 2) Mike Nicholls who alerted me to the match and got me in. I had never fished Mathern Mill before but had seen from Norm's facebook and Stu Barnett's blog that this place was well worth a visit. Today's match was a silvers event, and on the lower lake, having never seen the place I tried to get some info. Mike Martin Davies got me some crumbs, and Hadrian Whittle really helped me a lot. It seemed 50lb+ of silvers were needed to win, skimmers, rudd, hybrids and chub were all in the lake. Getting to the venue is straight forward from Bristol, straight down the M4 onto the M48 and in to Chepstow, Well it should be, but I missed every "massive" sign on the M4 telling me the M48 was shut, and so I made a right cock up, my fault! Got to Aust and had to go back up the M4 to Bristol to turn back around and go into Wales on the M4 and then back up the M48! I was 20 mins late meeting Norman, Mike Nicholls and Geoff Francis, and once again Geoff had pre ordered my breakfast.

Onto the venue at last and paid the pools, and said hello to the assembled baggers, Gabriel Skarba, Ziggy Slowinski, Andy Gard and Rich Candy who won the last match here. The draw was done, little pegs with numbers on, and I pulled out peg 2 which meant absolutely nothing! Gabe told me it was one of the few bad pegs and I would struggle to compete, great. Drove to the lake and parked my car right behind my peg, nice. There was an island which I could fish to, but it was a fair way off and feeding maggots over there would only be possible with a wind behind me, which at times there was. Here is the view.

I was the end peg on my bank with plenty of room to my left, the Welsh angler to my right was Ryan Whitehouse, he told me it was not great and a lot of carp frequented the area. Norm Sterry then rocked up on the peg on the end bank, and he would be able to easily fish to the end of the island past the aerator. Again the lad next to me commented that his peg was a flyer and held a lot of chub. I was hopeful of drawing some of them to me! I set up a 4AAA insert waggler with 0.13 to a 16 PR412.

I only set up two pole rigs, both 4x14 versions but one with a strung rig and the other a double bulked set up. I has 0.12 to 16 PR412 on these rigs.

I decided, as everyone was saying 50lb was needed to frame, to feed positive on the pole at 13m and in went 8 balls of Sonubaits F1 with some chopped worm and caster in it. I then started on the waggler feeding decent amounts of maggots. To start the wind was helping me get the bait quite close to the island, and I was getting bites from rudd straight away. This rudd were anything from 3oz to 6oz and so worth catching, and the first 30 mins were quite hectic, then things began to slow down. I found I had to come away from the island now and fish a bit deeper to keep the rudd coming, but the bites were harder to come by and hard to hit. Other than a few early skimmers to my right I had not seen anyone bagging. After about two hours bites stopped on the waggler and it was time to try my pole line. It wasn't an inspiring start though, a few small rudd to start and when I couldn't get through them I put a bit of worm on. No more rudd, but two small perch and an eel were not doing my confidence any good. I topped up and then had a lift bite, but it was a ruddy carp! I tried the waggler again, amazingly I had bites again from rudd. Some of the fish I caught had sores and scratches and had obviously been spawning, could be a reason for the harder fishing,

This is how my day went, I would get some rudd on the waggler, keep changing where I cast and the depth until bites stopped, then try the pole. I hooked a carp on the waggler and several more on the pole during the match, all were lost as I pulled hard. Ryan to my right hooked more carp than me and he struggled in the last few hours. I did manage to catch a couple of skimmers on the waggler, but the chub would not budge from Norms peg, and during the middle of the match Norm had about 8 or 9 of them. Some skimmers finally found their way onto my pole line, but if I caught two that would be it, it was then back to little fish or a carp. However, as it seemed the venue was not living up to its pre match hype I was happy to keeping plugging away. It was a day I enjoy, working hard and keep trying little changes, though truth be told my arm was aching from so many casts on the wag lol. The last hour was harder on the waggler, the wind had dropped and so feeding was now way short of the island, but I did manage to get a skimmer on the pole 15 mins from the end. Poor old Norm had mostly carp in the last hour on wag and pole but he still had a lot more than me when the match ended.

I wandered down to Gabe who said he had struggled for 20lb, and below him Mike Nicholls said he had less. I hadn't considered what I had, 8 or 9 skimmers plus the rudd, I hoped for about 23lb.  The scales started on the other side of the lake, and this was where Rich Candy set the pace with 34lb 12oz on the same peg he won from last time. Andy Gard had 23lb and Gabe had 20lb. Ryan had 14lb, my turn next and I was happy to hear 25lb 13oz called out, so I was in second place with three anglers left, and next was Norman. He had a nice net and with the chub he weighed 34lb 14oz, so pipped Rich to the win. Norm with his bag of fish.

Well third on my first visit and £50 and I'm well happy with that. I think if fishing harder caught a lot of people out, I think I just accepted it being not such a good peg and took it steady and tried to keep bites coming. A rewarding if tiring day, and thankfully the journey home was straight forward! It's only 30 minutes from my house and I hope I can go back again and sample the fishing when it is better. That's it for a while, no fishing for a couple of weekends, followed by 6 days of fishing in a row.