Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mullet Fishing by Pete Bluett - Part 2

In part 2 of Pete's excellent article he explains the methods he uses to target mullet.

Methods

The following methods are those that I currently use to catch thick lips. They will almost certainly seem impossibly crude to seasoned coarse anglers, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years chasing mullet, it’s to keep it simple. I have found no value in messing around with fancy rigs or any more bits, bobs or widgets than is absolutely necessary.

Before getting into the nitty gritty, a general piece of advice would be to not get obsessed with fishing for fish that you can see. Mullet are highly visible a lot of the time but often the ones you can see are just sunbathing or mooching (as we say down here in Cornwall) and will not look at a bait however well it is presented. Because of the mullet’s reputation for visibility, lots of people fall into the trap of believing that if you can’t see them, they aren’t there. More often than not, this is just not true, and since I learned to trust my instincts and fish ‘blind’, my catches have at least doubled, probably tripled. 

Pete with a lovely fish of 4lb 9oz from the River Camel
I guess the ‘purist’ way to catch mullet is on the float, and whilst I would never call myself a purist, it is still the method I find most rewarding. Most of my float fishing these days is done with a sliding waggler setup. My current float of choice for this is the unloaded version of the Drennan Puddle Chucker. The float is fished bottom end only sliding on the mainline and I use a rubber float stop above the float to control the depth. Of course a sliding stop knot could also be used and has the advantage of passing more easily through the rod rings. Below the float I attach a trace of 4lb bs fluorocarbon of about 3-4ft in length using a small swivel. I bulk the shot on the mainline above the swivel but may also add a dropper shot onto the trace if I’m fishing in flowing water and need the bread to sink more quickly and not drag behind the float – you would be amazed how long a piece of bread flake can take to sink when unweighted. Using this setup, I have caught lots of mullet in depths of 3ft right up to about to 20ft. The beauty of the sliding waggler lies in its sensitivity, but this can also be its downfall as it is no good in fast flowing and/or turbulent water because it constantly gets dragged under by the flow. When this is the case I will use a Drennan Loafer, either fished as a slider or fixed with float rubbers. In many open water locations it is necessary to use floats of up to 5SSG or even more, and this is where the bulky and buoyant loafer/chubber style floats come into their own. They are also very effective in fast shallow water. I have a number of very shallow swims on my local river where I catch mullet with a 2SSG loafer run through with the bread no more than a foot below it.  
The author's partner, Jenny, with a cracking fish just shy of 5lb caught in Ireland
Up until about 12 years ago I had never legered for mullet, believing wrongly that they could only be caught by float fishing. Then one warm September day, I took the plunge with a leger set up, caught 5 in a session and have never looked back. These days I catch probably as many legering as I do on the float. My favourite method is probably touch legering and I am fortunate in that a lot of my summer spots are conducive to this method. The rig couldn’t be simpler – a snap swivel running on the mainline to which the lead is attached, then a trace of about 5 or 6 inches of 4lb bs fluorocarbon attached with a small swivel. I rarely use leads of more than ½ oz for this and often as light as ¼ oz. I simply cast into an area where I have seen fish, or think fish might be lurking, tighten down, hold the rod and feel for the bites with the line over the forefinger. Sometimes the bites will be so gentle you can hardly feel them, sometimes they’ll all but wrench the rod out of your hand. This is also a great way to sight fish, just cast in front of patrolling fish and watch them take the bread. Well that’s the theory anyway! 
The author with a stunning fish of 6lb 3oz caught somewhere in Snowdonia!
The other main way I leger is with a quiver tip. This is most often employed at larger venues such as Christchurch Harbour where it is necessary to cast longer distances and where there can be long waits between bites. For this I use the same set up as above but with 1 oz in line method feeders running on the line in place of the lead. Alternatively you can use a lead, such as the 1.1 oz Korda gripper leads, and mould the crumb around that instead. I use a 50/50 mix of white and brown breadcrumb moulded round the feeder and usually fish two rods. Hook bait up until recently was the usual bread flake, but a good friend of mine has turned me onto crust on the hook. Simply pass the hook through from the flake side, turn it and insert back through the crust side so the point is in the soft bit. Inserting a small piece of grass between the bend of the hook and the surface of the crust prevents the hook pulling through and allows you to cast surprisingly long distances without it coming off. Crust has the advantage of popping up off the bottom out of any weed and away from crabs. The fish really steam into this and it is not unusual to have a ‘shy biting’ mullet pretty much drag your rod in. I think it’s fair to say that the adoption of quiver tipping has revolutionised legering for mullet.
Quiver tipping
The third method is to paternoster. I rarely use this nowadays but have done well with it in the past when fishing straight down under the rod tip, usually right in the margins at high tide. I just tie it up very simply with a three way swivel and the usual fluorocarbon trace. The difference being that this time the trace is at 90 degrees to the main line.

A quick paragraph on groundbait. As mentioned above, for quiver tipping I use a 50/50 mix of brown and white crumb which I make myself from sliced loaves with a kitchen blender. As well as what goes on the feeder, I also catapult the odd loose ball into the swim. For all other applications, I use the same 50/50 mix but watered down so it just about holds together. This is introduced into the swim little and often either by hand or with a large spoon. For harbour or lower estuary/coastal locations, I usually mash some tinned pilchards into the bread mash. This adds scent but has the disadvantage of sometimes attracting ‘nuisance’ species like mackerel and garfish. The jury’s out though as to whether fishy groundbait catches any more mullet and it is quite likely the case that plain bread is just as good. The whole issue of groundbaiting for mullet is often a matter of personal preference and can often be very venue specific. Indeed I fish a lot of places where groundbaiting seems to make no difference at all and I don’t bother with it. For the novice mullet angler it will be a case of trial and error.

Fishing bread also throws up the occasional surprise like this 5lb gilthead bream
As I said these are the methods I currently use. I intend to have a serious go at fly fishing for them this coming summer but at the moment am in no way qualified to give advice on that. Likewise surface fishing which can be deadly on occasion but with which I have almost zero experience. As a final thought it is well worth giving night fishing a go. I have had many experiences where fish that had been unwilling to feed during daylight go absolutely berserk during night time.

The politics and a plea

Mullet are slow maturing and slow growing fish. It is also thought that they only spawn every other year. These factors, allied to their tendency to occur in (often highly visible) shoals in inshore waters and estuaries, makes them particularly vulnerable to commercial exploitation. As numbers of other species, notably bass, have declined, mullet have been increasingly targeted by commercial fishermen. All available evidence suggests that mullet numbers have crashed as a result, and my own catch records and observations lead me to believe that the mullet populations in my local waters are a pale shadow of what they were even a short while ago. Fellow mullet anglers around the country report the same and mullet are currently rated by the Marine Conservation Society as 5 on their scale of unsustainability – ie the highest level, or least sustainable. Although things are changing thanks to the efforts of the National Mullet Club and the Angling Trust, mullet still do not enjoy as much protection as many other species and will therefore continue to be vulnerable for years to come. It is therefore vital that catch and release is practised wherever possible. These beautiful fish have far more value as a sporting quarry than on your dinner plate.

Catch and release
Further information/reading

Mullet angling interests in the UK are represented by The National Mullet Club www.thenationalmulletclub.org Although a very small club in terms of membership, it’s hard to imagine a more passionate or knowledgeable group of people. I have been a member for many years, including performing the role of catch recorder since 2009, and in that time have improved no end as a mullet angler thanks to the exposure to different ideas, venues and methods, not to mention the best mullet anglers in the country.

For a good read on how to catch mullet, you could do worse than pick up a copy of the recently published ‘Fishing For Ghosts’ written by Mike Ladle and my very good friend David Rigden. What these two don’t know about mullet and mullet angling isn’t worth knowing.


*All images courtesy of Pete Bluett

Monday, April 24, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 23rd April 2017

It was back to Summerhayes and back on Sellicks this Sunday, I was really hoping for a draw on the other side but when the bucket reached me there were only two pegs left and Gabe Skarba said he'd have the last peg so I went in and peg 5 wasn't the result I'd hoped for and Gabe ended up on peg 11. Every other peg was in today, so my nearest neighbours were Bill on peg 3 and Janders on 7 so I'd be able to keep an eye on him with regards to our side bet, Alvin Jones also said he wanted a pound on silvers as he was going to fish for them for an hour!

The pond was flat calm which wouldn't do us any favours and I thought 7-8lb would be a good weight of silvers today. I set up a 0.4 gram Malman Pencil for two lines at 10 metres and the usual 5 metre line and bait was nice and simple with just 4mm expanders and some soaked micros on the side tray. On the whistle I fed all three lines with half a pot of micros before starting on the right hand line, I missed a couple of indications before hooking a carp which turned out to be a nice orange ghost/koi of around 2-3lb, nice but not what I was after.
Peg 5 on Sellicks
I lost a foul hooked carp before finally opening my silvers account with a 2oz blade but that was it for the first hour! Bill had landed a few carp but from what I could see on our side, not a lot was happening. At the start of the second hour, the float sailed away and as soon as I struck I knew I'd foulhooked a carp, I gave it some stick and it was a case of come in or come off but then a nice crucian around a pound and a half popped up, hooked in the wing and I gratefully netted it. I added a little tench soon after and Janders also landed a skimmer but it was slow going.

I was swapping between the two ten metre lines but all I had from the right hand swim was the odd carp and I lost several foulhookers too, I did have one on for ages and it gave me a right run around, even going under my pallet, much to Janders amusement! In amongst the carp I did get a slightly better skimmer from the left hand line but I just couldn't string two silvers together. Janders had a couple of small tench but I thought I was still just ahead due to my skilfully caught crucian (cough, cough!).

I left the shorter line for three hours before trying it and yep you guessed it, the first bite resulted in a carp! I know I've said it several times but it was amazing how many times I hooked into a fish that I would have sworn was a skimmer only for it to turn into a carp when I got down to my top kit! Bill was still catching quite well and from what I could see, Roy Hughes on peg 9 and Gabe on 11 were both catching carp so I stuck at it although I was sure somebody would find some skimmers on the other side.

With around an hour to go I had a nice tench about a pound from the short line and then had a 6oz skimmer but then it was back to hooking carp. Alvin shouted across from peg 21 and held up a nice skimmer so it was looking like I'd be paying him a pound. I stayed on the short line for the remainder of the match but didn't add anymore silvers and it had been really hard work today. On the whistle I only had nine silvers (one crucian, four tench and four skimmers) for 3-4lb and about fifteen carp!

After packing up, the scales started with Bill who had 78lb 8oz of mainly carp to set the pace, I was next up and my carp went 49lb 13oz and my silvers weighed 4lb 14oz, to give me a total of 54lb 11oz and I was only a fish or two short of my best Summerhayes weight ever! Janders didn't weigh his carp and had 3lb 5oz of silvers, then Roy had 62lb 7oz which included 3lb 13oz of silvers and Gabe needed one more fish as he weighed 76lb 1oz.

Scott Cousins was on peg 13 and after he weighed his three nets of carp, his total was 85lb 10oz to go into the lead and he'd thrown back three small tench so he could use that net for carp and said he'd hoped that wasn't going to cost him. Jess Jordan had fished for silvers on peg 15 and when he pulled his net out, he had a lovely bag of skimmers and tench for 12lb 10oz. Rich S didn't weigh on peg 17 and then Mark Jones just pipped Scott with 86lb 8oz which included a tench of 1lb 14oz and Scott was regretting throwing his back!

Alvin had 75lb 12oz on peg 21 and his silvers weighed 3lb 2oz so I was another pound up and still hanging on to second in the silvers with just Adie Bishop left to weigh on peg 23, he had 57lb 13oz but only 1lb 12oz of silvers.

Back at the results it was confirmed Mark had won and Scott was second so some money back to help soften the blow of putting his foot through his number six section! (so quite an expensive day!), Bill was third, Jess won the silvers easily and I sneaked second and picked up £17 to help pay for the day.
Close weights overall but not in the silvers!
1 - Mark Jones (Summerhayes) - 86lb 8oz
2 - Scott Cousins (Summerhayes) - 85lb 10oz
3 - Bill Hopping (Summerhayes) - 78lb 8oz

Silvers
1 - Jess Jordan (Summerhayes) - 12lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 4lb 14oz
I sneaked second in the silvers
We're back again next week and it's on Longs so hopefully we'll get a few bites although the carp are starting to wake up now so come back to see how it goes!

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - My next interview

Check Out - The latest guest blog (below)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mullet Fishing by Pete Bluett - Part 1

My latest guest blog is one I've been looking forward to for a while now, regular visitors to the blog will have read about my efforts at trying to catch mullet over the years without a great deal of success so I was well chuffed when National Mullet Club Catch Recorder, Pete Bluett, agreed to pen an article about mullet fishing for me. Loads of great info and some stunning fish photos.

Introduction

There are many myths around grey mullet, such as they’ve got soft mouths (not true) or that they’re impossible to catch (also not true). The one word used to describe them that definitely is true though is ‘enigmatic’. Indeed, I’ve often said to myself as a fish swims past my bait totally ignoring it for the 20th time ‘my word, these mullet sure are being enigmatic.’ But like all other species, provided you use the correct tactics and tackle and put the time in, results will follow. And it’s worth it, pound for pound there are fewer, if any, harder fighting fish in our waters. They are not known as the ‘British bonefish’ for nothing.
The author with his pb mullet of 7lb 5oz from Christchurch harbour
There are three species of grey mullet in UK waters. The golden grey mullet (Liza aurata) is the smallest and rarely grows over 3lb in weight. Unlike the other two they are a coastal species found only in high salinity conditions either on the open coast or the very lower ends of estuaries or in harbours. In most parts of the UK they only occur during the high summer months and are not found as far north as the other two species, being confined to the southwest, south coast and southern Ireland. The second is the thin lipped grey mullet (Liza ramada). The upper size limit for thin lips is debateable but anything over 5lb would be considered an exceptional specimen. Like golden greys, thins are predominantly shoal fish, but unlike goldens they can and do tolerate a wide range of salinities. They are often found above the tidal limit in pure freshwater. Thick lipped grey mullet (Chelon labrosus) are the largest of the three. The British record is 14lb but specimens of this size are exceptionally rare. The National Mullet Club describes fish of over 8lb as ‘leviathans’ and probably the realistic upper limit for most anglers. Thick lips are found in a huge range of locations and environments – in some areas they will happily tolerate pure freshwater, can be caught on a large range of methods and baits, and are therefore the species most often targeted by anglers. It is thick lips I am obsessed with and spend 99.9% of my angling time chasing.

My own mullet fishing life started as a kid in the late 1970s growing up next to the River Camel in north Cornwall. Back then the idea that mullet were uncatchable by conventional means was still widely believed, and the local method of choice was to deliberately foul hook them with very heavy gear and strings of large trebles (known now as ‘snagging’ or ‘ripping’). The river was full of mullet that were nearly always visible and many fell victim to this rather barbaric practice. However the local tackle shop owner and rod builder, the late great Keith Appleton, grew fed up with witnessing this and decided to offer annual prizes for mullet caught properly. Armed with this incentive, myself and one or two others set out to learn how to catch them with bait. Our tackle was crude and we were really making it up as we went along, but eventually I started to have some success ended up taking home that trophy four years running! Thus began the obsession that still grips now, over 35 years later.

Since I started mullet fishing all those years ago, perhaps the biggest advancement has been the adoption of coarse fishing methods and tackle. Because the mullet is a ‘sea’ fish I think for a long time there was a tendency to try and catch them on completely unsuitable sea fishing gear, contributing to the ‘uncatchable’ reputation. But the mullet’s diet and feeding habits are much more akin to coarse fish so it stands to reason that a coarse fishing type approach is the way to go. Thick lipped mullet, as the name suggests, have a pronounced thick fleshy upper lip and much harder lower jaw. They feed predominantly by grazing algae and diatoms, or sifting through the sediment in search of invertebrates or other very small food items. The lower jaw is cleft and they often leave tell-tale parallel tracks in the substrate giving away their presence.
The business end of a 6lb thick lipped mullet
Scrape marks left by feeding mullet
More scrape marks
Fortunately for the angler, ‘thicks’ are opportunistic and as well as their natural food will often investigate anything else they think might be edible. As such the variety of baits that have taken mullet over the years is almost endless, but the one that has stood the test of time and caught vastly more fish than any other is good old sliced bread. Most prefer plain white but I have also had a lot of success with Kingsmill 50/50 or Hovis Best of Both. Thin lips and golden greys are more predatory in their feeding habits and are more often taken on fish or worm baits. Both require a more specialist approach, and as I’m not an expert on either, it is thick lips I’ll talk about from here onwards.
 
Tackle (disclaimer – I am not affiliated to any of the companies mentioned below, they’re just what I happen to use)

As mentioned above, coarse tackle is a must if you want to have a realistic chance of success. I use ‘avon’ style rods because they are versatile and can be used for all of the three methods I employ – float fishing, touch legering and quiver tipping. Others may use either specialist float and leger rods, it is purely personal preference. My rods are all 12ft in length – a lot of the places I fish preclude using anything longer. Once again though other mullet anglers prefer longer rods, often up to 15 or even 17ft in length. Probably more important than length is the action. I use softish rods that bend right through to the butt – my main three are 0.5lb, 1lb and 1.5lb test curves. Mullet are very powerful fish that run long and hard and in my opinion too stiff a rod is asking for hook pulls or breakages.
The author with a mullet on
For reels I use fixed spools in 2500 size. Whether you prefer front or rear drag, a quality drag mechanism is imperative. Not only are they going to be used in salt water, but a decent mullet will expose a poor drag in no time at all. For years now I have been a fan of Shimano Supers and Stradics and see no reason to change any time soon. Very recently I have started using a centre pin for a lot of my float fishing. It’s far too early for me to comment on that but guys who are much better mullet anglers than me absolutely swear by them and I’m looking forward to experimenting more during the coming summer.

For mainline I use bog standard 6lb bs mono, usually Daiwa Sensor Black. When mullet fishing your line takes a pounding and I see no need to use anything more expensive. In 2016 I dabbled with braid and had some success with it but will probably stick to mono for most of my fishing for the time being. If I need to use a separate trace or hooklink, 4lb bs fluorocarbon fits the bill.

When it comes to hooks, the barbed vs barbless debate rages among mullet anglers. For me personally 90% of the time I use Kamasan B981 in size 8. This is a standard barbless J pattern and has caught me hundreds, if not thousands, of mullet. For me the advantages of barbless far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. The other 10% of the time I use Kamasan B983s in size 10. This is a wider gape pattern with a whisker barb and can be better for legering. 

I use two main types of float – Drennan Loafers from 2SSG up to 5SSG and Drennan Pudddle Chuckers (the slimline unloaded ones) again in various sizes. All of my fishing is done sub-surface so I’m not qualified to comment on controller floats etc for surface fishing! The leads I use are simple bombs in 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz sizes plus 1.1oz Korda gripper carp leads. For swimfeeders I use in-line method feeders in 14g and 28g sizes. Other than that, high quality small swivels – barrel, snap and three-way, a selection of split shot and a plummet. More generically, a fish-friendly landing net is a must. Mullet have large scales that detach very easily and must be handled with great care. Good quality polarized sunglasses will also protect your eyes and help immensely with fish spotting!
Drennan Loafers and Puddle Chuckers
Leads and feeders
Seasons and Environments

Thick lipped mullet are traditionally thought of as a summer species and indeed for most parts of the UK this holds true. Along the bulk of the south coast the season is nominally May to October or possibly into November if the weather holds. The further north or east you go, the shorter the season. But way out west in Cornwall and also in south west Ireland and the Channel Islands, it is possible to catch mullet throughout the year. I have caught fish in west Cornwall in the depth of winter with sub-zero air temperatures, and all the puddles and the sand on the beach frozen solid. In terms of range, they occur all around the southern part of the UK and up the western side at least as far as the Clyde system in Scotland. How far they range up the east coast of the UK is debateable but probably at least as far as the Scottish border. They are also prevalent all around Ireland during the summer, and indeed southern and south west Ireland offers some of the finest mullet fishing to be found anywhere.
Even the sand was frozen!
As mentioned above, the variety of environments and locations where thick lips can be found is almost endless. Any inshore area of salt or brackish water will almost certainly have either a population of resident mullet or visiting mullet. And in my local River Camel in Cornwall they will often happily spend the summer miles from the sea in what is effectively fresh water. Estuaries are the classic place to find and fish for mullet. If the water is deep enough, they may well be present at low tide, otherwise they will appear as soon as the tide floods and make their way upriver with the filling tide. Harbours, especially working harbours, are also very attractive to mullet because of the relatively easy pickings on offer. Likewise, some of the very biggest mullet live in marinas, but sadly angling is prohibited in the vast majority of these nowadays. Rocky coastlines can also be productive, although that can have a feeling of searching for the needle in the haystack! Bizarrely, given what they eat, mullet often find sandy surf beaches very attractive and sometimes shoal up in very shallow water in big numbers. More often than not though, they will be found near structure, be that man-made or natural. For example piers, boats, rocks, bridges and especially weed beds.

Mullet likes structures!
In part 2, Pete takes us through the methods he uses.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Zizz 24-7 Head Torch - A Review

My latest product review is the Head Torch from Zizz 24-7 Lighting, I ordered it via Amazon and it arrived in a rather large package although on opening, the head torch was in a much more modest sized box! It comes with a really neat storage case that can be clipped to your rucksack, belt etc with the clip provided and three Duracell batteries are also included.
It comes with everything included
It has five different lighting settings,
  • Click the on/off button once - High 170 lumen white light
  • Click the button again - Medium 85 lumen white light
  • Click the button again - Low 45 lumen white light
  • Click and hold the button for two seconds - Red LED light
  • Click the button again - Red LED flashing light
  • Click the button again to turn the torch off
  video
It has an adjustable strap and you can also alter the angle of the light for reading etc. It's lightweight, waterproof, easy to use and ideal for fishing, running, hiking, cycling, camping and many other applications. The red LED's are perfect for night vision.
 
The RRP is £29.99 but it's currently on offer at £18.80 with postage and packing at £3.99 but even better I have a discount code for Against Men and Fish readers, if you enter 7KT7HNJJ at the checkout, you get a further 50% off, taking the price down to £9.40 (plus postage) which is great value.
 
 
If that wasn't enough there is a 1 year 100% money back guarantee so if you have any problems  within the first 12 months it will be replaced or you will be refunded.
 
 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fishing and Testicles - A Review

As you might well have guessed from the title of my latest book review, this isn't your normal run of the mill fishing book! I first became aware of it when both Keith Arthur and Bob Roberts mentioned it, the author is a certain Billy Makin, former top match angler, maker of floats and creator of one of the first commercial fishery complexes who now resides in Thailand where he owns a bar. I wasn't really sure what to expect but given that my favourite pastimes are match fishing and fishing in Thailand, it had to worth a punt! I ordered it from Amazon for the very reasonable price of £10 with free delivery in the UK (it's also available for the Kindle at £4.82) and it arrived within a few days.
The cover does feature a pole, just not one made from carbon fibre!
The cover of the book has an almost saucy seaside postcard feel about it and these illustrations (by Mike Baird) feature throughout the book. It's published by B and M Publishers UK so I'm pretty sure it's self published and there are a few spelling mistakes dotted through the text (not enough to detract from the readers enjoyment but enough for a pedant like me to notice!).

The book is packed full of very comical stories as Billy recounts tales from his youth, his fishery owning days, his time in the army and of course Thailand, although if I'm honest I found it a little bit disjointed at times as he flits between different periods of his life, sometimes mid story! His was and continues to be, a very colourful life and at times you wonder how he's made it this far! Also, if, like me, you were wondering why testicles are in the title, shall we just say that Billy's balls feature prominently throughout the book!

It is a very funny read but if you're looking for a Billy Makin autobiography or some fishing tips, this isn't the book for you (although if he were to publish the former, it would be a fascinating book and one I would love to read about his match fishing days and the creation of Makins Fishery). One thing I did learn from the book is that if I ever meet the man himself, I certainly won't be getting on the wrong side of him!

If you want a chuckle, grab yourself a copy (you won't be disappointed!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FISHING-TESTICLES-Billy-Makin/dp/0995553394/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492032391&sr=1-1&keywords=fishing+and+testicles

Monday, April 17, 2017

Perry St Pond - League 2 - 16th April 2017

For round two I was on the low numbers at Perry St, we met at Millfield Café for breakfast and once again it was really good and I can't fault it. Once everybody was sufficiently fuelled up we headed to Perry St to do the draw, the Sadborow section drew and headed off first and then it was our turn, I fancied pegs 4, 6 or 10 but pulled out peg 2. The Tart had drawn peg 6 and with Picky on the end peg (1), I checked my pockets to make sure I had enough pounds to pay out the side bets. The Hoff was on peg 3 on my left with Bushy on peg 4, Squadron Leader Smith was in 7, Dave Abrams in 8 and Mark on the other end peg (10).
Peg 2 at Perry St
The peg looked nice although I couldn't see any carp cruising about, I set up my favourite little in-line dibber for fishing shallow, a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for the five metre meat line and a little rig to fish by the fish refuge on the inside on my right. The side tray had the usual 6mm meat to which I added some Bait-Tech Liquid Plum, 6mm Carp and Coarse Pellets, red maggots and I also had a pot of 8mm Juice Dumbells for a change of hook bait.
Meat, maggots and pellets
On the whistle I cupped in some meat at five metres and then meat, pellets and maggots on the inside before starting out at 11.5 metres with a banded pellet. I could only see a few anglers around me because of the tree to my left but already it sounded like the Tart and Mark in peg 10 were bagging. It took 15 minutes to get my first bite and I landed a small carp around 2-3lb, I had another three including a couple of better ones to finish a good first hour. Picky hadn't caught yet and both him and the gorgeous Mr Chant in peg 20 were having problems with some surface scum that was collecting in their pegs. Geoff on 19 and Chilly on 17 hadn't caught yet either but they were in the other section, the only anglers I could see in my section were Picky and Hoff so would have to rely on the bankside banter to see how the rest were doing.

I could see quite a few groups of carp swimming about now and had managed to successfully stalk/mug the odd fish and I had two quite quickly at the start of the second hour and started to think a big weight was on the cards. I hooked carp number seven but it came off and then the fish just switched off. By the end of the second hour I was still stuck on six fish, by all accounts, the Tart was still catching well and whipping the water to a froth with his slapping! I decided to stick at fishing shallow for another hour as the people I could see were fishing on the deck and in the margins and nobody was catching. I was still feeding a few pieces of meat at five metres and maggots and pellets down the edge and would try these lines next if no more shallow fish were forthcoming.

I didn't add any more fish to my nets over the next hour so tried the five metre line for the first time but the float never moved, next I went next to the floating platform with a cube of meat on the hook, I had a couple of knocks and the float did sail away but I missed it and it may have been a liner. I was still pinging pellets out to 11.5 metres and as some fish were mooching about I went back out and over the next hour or so I added a couple more fish. I also hooked a fish that tore all over the place before snapping the hooklength and I fear it may have been foulhooked.

Chanter had started catching some small rudd and Picky had got off the mark with a couple of carp, Hoff had landed a couple but also suffered a pole breakage on an angry fish and Chilly had a couple of carp from his inside line. I decided to try one of the new Bait-Tech 8mm Juice Dumbells and picked a white one as it would be a nice visual bait. I spotted a pod of carp and flicked the rig out so it landed in their path, the float buried and after a long scrap, I netted a fish that looked to be 8-9lb.

A few more fish started showing, Picky had a nice tench, both him and Chanter also had a couple of fish shallow and even Chilly tried it! I got to twelve fish with about an hour to go and tried the inside line again but still no bites. I heard Les say that every time he looked up, Mark was playing a fish in peg 10 and with the Tart catching as well, I thought I was fishing for third in the section at best although apparently Major Smith had bagged up as well. I pulled out of a fish and then next chuck landed number thirteen and that was the last of the action. I wasn't sure what weight I had but thought probably around 40lb.

I packed up and took my kit back to the car before waiting for the scales to arrive at peg 1, Captain Smith said he'd finished up with twelve carp and the Tart was admitting to 40lb so this could be closer than I originally thought, then Mark said he'd only had ten carp which surprised me but it just goes to show you shouldn't always take the bankside telephone as gospel! The scales arrived and Picky had finished up with five carp and a tench for 23lb 12oz, then my three nets went 50lb 6oz which was a little bit more that I thought. I managed to get photos of Picky and me but then somehow ended up with the weigh board and the scales party took off at pace and trying to add up peoples totals, I didn't manage to get any more photos!
Picky had 23lb 12oz from peg 1
I had some lumps in my 50lb 6oz
Hoff had 18lb 10oz, Bushy had 27lb and then we got to the Tart, he had 5lb something of silvers and then after we totted up his two carp nets, his total came to 49lb 8oz, so it was very close but no cigar!. Brigadier Smith was next door and his first net went just over 30lb but he had smaller fish in his second net and his total was 47lb. Dave Abrams on peg 8 had 8lb 12oz and then the last peg in the section was Mark on peg 10 and he had 38lb 4oz. So it had been tight with just one fish separating the top three.
Perry Low
In the other section Oz had 17lb 10oz from peg 11, Butch did well in 12 to win the section with 35lb 6oz, Bish on 13 had 16lb 12oz and Chris had 32lb 8oz for second in the section from peg 14. Les had 8lb of silvers from peg 16 and then Chilly had 28lb 4oz. Geoff had really struggled in peg 19 but had avoided the blank with a small eel and Chanter weighed 9lb 10oz from peg 20.
Perry High
Back at the results and once again Sadborow provided the top weights with Howard winning from peg 6 with 100lb 6oz, Janders was second with 72lb 4oz from peg 4 (but still had to pay me a pound as we did it on section points if we were on different ponds) and Shane was third with 65lb 4oz from peg 8. Dunner had the section money be triple default with 60lb 3oz and Mike Collins picked up second in the section with 36lb 6oz from peg 5.
Sadborow
So a really nice day and I picked £55 for the section plus nuggets off the Tart, Picky and Janders.
It's early days in the league but after two matches, Howard is leading with 3 points followed by Shane on 4 and then several people on 6 and 7.

I think I'm at Sadborow for the round three but it's not for a few weeks so I'll be at Summerhayes next week.

1 - Howard Watts (Torquay) - 100lb 6oz
2 - John 'Janders' Anderson (Donyatt) - 72lb 4oz
3 - Shane Jeffery (Chard) - 65lb 4oz

Sections
Perry High
1 - Butch Baker (Tatworth) - 35lb 6oz
2 - Chris Whitham (Torquay) - 32lb 8oz

Sadborow
1 - Alan Dunn (Chard) - 60lb 3oz
2 - Mike Collins (Chard) - 36lb 6oz

Perry Low
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 50lb 6oz
2 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 49lb 8oz

Silvers
Les Braunton (Chard) - 8lb

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 14th April 2017

With it being Good Friday, myself and Janders booked into the silvers only match at Summerhayes. Jeff Sparkes has been running the Friday matches with all the winners qualifying for a Champion of Champions match in October and because of the Bank Holiday there was a good turnout of 18 anglers. Jeff announced the draw and said all the odd peg numbers were being used today so everybody would have spare pegs either side. I went in the draw bucket early for a change and grabbed a ball but didn't look. As people were telling Jeff their peg numbers so he could write them down, I kept an eye out for peg 7 which I really don't like, Rob Birch pulled that one out, I fancied 37 or 39 but both were taken early on. Janders was on 15 which can be okay but is another carpy corner, I decided to have a look and was gutted when I saw I was on peg 5 on cyanide straight.
Peg 5 was my home for the day
Jeff was on peg 1 and was fairly happy with that, my mood improved slightly when he said peg 3 wasn't in so we had a nice big gap and with quite a few anglers on the lake, extra space could make a big difference. I set up a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for three lines at 10 metres and one at 5 metres plus a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp to fish top two plus one on the inside. As always I had 4mm Bait-Tech Xpands for the hook and some Carp and Coarse micros for feed that I soaked the night before using water with a glug of the Juice. I also mixed up a little groundbait and added some dead red maggots.

On the whistle I cupped in a small amount of micros on the inside and at 5 metres before putting in half a pot on the middle and right hand 10 metre lines, finally two balls of groundbait went in on the left hand line. I started on the inside but wasn't confident as I hadn't had a bite there in the last match on Longs, I intended to give it ten minutes to allow my other lines to settle but a tentative indication peaked my interest and when I had a 4oz skimbob shortly after, I decided to give it a bit longer. Next chuck I hooked a 5lb carp which wasn't ideal but as I landed it without too much fuss, I thought I'd give it another go. The next bite saw a decent fish tear off and I was just about to curse another carp when it stopped and then a big skimmer, probably 2.5lb, came to the top before I netted it, things got even better when I had a 12oz golden tench next chuck and another hand sized skimmer put me over 4lb and we'd only been fishing 45 minutes.

Then it was back to earth with a bump as my next two fish were carp and the second one managed to snap my hooklength in the landing net so after tying on a new one, I picked up the other rig and went out to 10 metres for the first time. I'd seen Jeff land a couple of better silvers, Rob had already hooked a couple of carp and Gary on peg 9 was catching the odd skimmer as was Roy Hughes on peg 11 but as far as I could make out, I was doing okay at this early stage. It took a while to get my first bite on the longer line, which of course I missed, I hit the next one and another decent skimmer had me thinking I could be in for a good day. I should have known better as over the remainder of the second hour I only added a few small skimbobs from the two longer lines I'd fed with micros and I never had a bite over the groundbait.

As always I wanted to leave the 5 metre as long as possible before trying it but during the third hour I only added a few more small fish and it felt like Jeff was pulling away from me, Rob had also landed a couple of decent skimmers and Gary and Roy were still getting odd silvers. I had a couple more 4oz skimbobs but then looked up to see Jeff attached to a big flying skimmer and then Rob had one too! I had another quick go on the inside and Janders walked up and said he hadn't had any skimmers yet but had several carp. He left me to it and as he walked away, the float sailed away and I was into yet another carp, after landing it, it was time to try the 5 metre line for the first time.

I had 3oz skimmer quite quickly and then had a little run of fish, mainly small skimmers and a couple of small roach before hooking a decent skimmer that came flying out the water but I safely netted it, next chuck I had one about 8oz and I didn't think there was much between me and Jeff. But then the carp moved in and despite swapping lines, they were being a right pain and it was the same for everyone judging by all the elastic I could see when I looked around.

Going into the last hour, I thought I had about 7lb (and 30lb of carp!), I had a few more blades from the 10 metre line but after another carp put in an appearance, I came back in on the 5 metre line for the last 15 minutes, I had a couple of small skimmers and then a better one which was all rough, ready for spawning, I checked my watch and there were still a couple of minutes left, I had another 3oz fish and still had time to miss another bite before Jeff signalled the all out. I ended up with 27 fish (all skimmers apart from that tench) and a few little roach which I hadn't counted and when Jeff asked what I had, I said about 7lb but hoped it might be a little more. He was admitting to 10lb and I was pretty sure I didn't have that.

I packed my kit up and loaded the car before catching up with the scales, a quick look at the weigh board revealed Martin Addicott had the best weight so far with 8lb 9oz from peg 35, Ziggy had 5lb 12oz from 27 and then Roger weighed 3lb 12oz on peg 25, John F had 3lb 6oz and then Andy Hembrow came close with 8lb from peg 21. John Barker had 7lb 5oz from 19 and then Mark on 17 and Janders didn't weigh. Roy Hughes had 4lb 11oz from peg 11 and then it was Gary Butler's turn, he was admitting to 6lb and said whatever he weighed I had double that! He weighed a level 11lb and had sneaked them in because I thought he'd struggled and I knew for sure I didn't have 22lb!

Rob didn't weigh and then it was my turn, I was hoping I'd done enough to frame but after tipping my fish into the weigh basket, they were all saying it was close and my weight was called at 11lb 3oz! I was still convinced Jeff had beaten me though and when he pulled his net out I thought he had but again it was close and his weight was called at 10lb 7oz so I'd done it! Back at the results I was called out in first place and had a nice pick up of £85 plus a place in the final later in the year.
I had 11lb 3oz for first place on the day
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 11lb 3oz
2 - Gary Butler (Summerhayes) - 11lb
3 - Jeff Sparkes (Summerhayes) - 10lb 7oz
4 - Martin Addicott (Summerhayes) - 8lb 9oz
Close weights again
A nice pick up
Next up - Perry St

Coming soon - My next book review

Check Out - My last disaster (below)