Tuesday, January 16, 2018

River Isle - IBC Winter League 7 - 14th January 2018

It got cold in the week and with hardly any rain, the river was back to being low and clear and with eleven booked in we'd have to use Hambridge again but how would it fish this week? We hadn't had a frost and it actually felt fairly mild which hopefully was a good sign. I got to the bowling club for the draw and along with the regulars, it was great to see Ben Simmonds again and it's always lovely to see Terry 'The Toast'.

Between me, Steve P and Baz we sorted out the pegs, pools and boards etc and when everybody had finished eating, it was time to draw. I was holding the bucket of hope and as people started pulling out pegs there was the usual array of face pulling as the anglers expressed their delight or disgust. Baz finally got his wish (after 104 years of fishing the Isle) as he'd drawn 128 for the first time, Big Frank was on 126, Steve P pulled out 125 and young Stu had the choice of 124 or 124a. Adie drew 120 and despite saying he didn't want it, I fancied it to do well, Terry and Fieldy were on 108 and 110 at Redbridge and as they hadn't been in for a while it would be interesting to see how they fished.

Ben, Jake and Karl were at Hambridge which just left one ball in the bucket and I pulled out 123 which wouldn't have been my first choice. Frank won off it with over 18lb in one of the early matches but it hasn't done much since, it's just one of those pegs I can never seem to get on with although it did nearly 5lb last week so at least I should get a few bites.

We got to the river and Stu had a look at 124a and 124 but decided on the latter which I thought might have been a mistake as it hasn't produced the last couple of times it was fished. My peg looked really nice and I could get my box in quite low to the water. I set up a 1 gram bodied float to fish down the middle and a 0.6 gram DH16 for fishing across where there were two bits of cover which would hopefully hold a chub or two. On the menu for the day were the usual bronze and red maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp.
Peg 123
On the whistle I started with the heavier rig and two red maggots at 8.5 metres down the middle, feeding casters and hemp just upstream and also across but I wanted to leave that as long as possible before trying it. Second run through, the float buried and a fair bit of elastic came out before I netted a nice chublet of 8oz or so, next chuck I had a small dace come off as I shipped back and it felt like there were a few fish there so I thought I'd try two sections to hand. I had a small roach quite quickly but the next few bites resulted in minnows so I stuck another section on to inch the float through just this side of the main flow and tried a caster for the first time. The float buried and the strike met with a pleasing amount of resistance and I netted a decent roach.
I started getting some nice roach
It was a bite a chuck and I was catching small roach, dace and gudgeon with the odd better roach and quite a few minnows (which I didn't count) and after an hour I had 20 fish for around 3lb. The second sixty minutes was similar and I added another 15 fish for 2lb or so and was really enjoying myself and I was sure a chub would put in an appearance sooner or later. Going into the third hour, bites started to slow and I was catching quite a few gudgeon so I went a section further over and had a brief flurry of fish including a couple of nice roach although I bumped one and had one come off shipping back.

With three and a half hours gone, bites had slowed right up so it was time to pick up the other rig and go across to the far bank for the first time, the flow was going back on itself and I tried holding back and inching it through but it just wasn't quite right and after ten minutes I hadn't had a proper indication and felt like I was wasting my time. I swung the rig towards the far bank on my left just off some dead reeds, I knew I was well overdepth but I started getting bites again and had several roach including a couple of net fish.

A chap called Chris who's a regular reader of the blog turned up and said he'd just come from Redbridge and he hadn't seen them catch a lot, he stayed for a bit and I had several roach while he was there but because I was so far overdepth, a couple of times I didn't see the bites and as I lifted the pole up, there was a fish on! He left me to it and went to see how the others were doing, I plumbed up again and shallowed the rig up but bizarrely, then I couldn't get a bite! I added a few inches and started catching again, including some lovely roach.

Chris got back and said the two below the bridge (Frank and Baz) were winkling out some small fish before wishing me luck for the last half an hour, it was nice to meet him again and as always it's lovely when people say they enjoy reading the blog, cheers mate! I had a few more roach including a couple of proper clonkers around 10-12oz and ended up with 77 fish (plus loads of minnows) and I was hoping if they averaged 2oz apiece I wouldn't be far off double figures.

I packed up and walked down to give Stu a hand with the scales, he said he'd had a cracking day catching two big perch, two chub plus quite a few roach. We started the weigh in with Steve who had 2lb 14oz which included some nice roach, then we got to Stu and he had a lovely bag of fish, out of interest we weighed the perch on it's own and at 2lb 2oz it was a new pb for him, altogether he weighed 9lb 11oz and it was going to be close between me and him. He also had some pike trouble which has cost him some fish today but he had really enjoyed himself and made the right choice of peg this morning.
Steve had 2lb 14oz which included some nice roach
Stuart had a lovely net of fish weighing 9lb 11oz from peg 124
We walked up to me and when I pulled my net out, I knew it was going to be really tight and was relieved when the needle swung past 10lb and Stuart called it a 10lb 5oz. We got back to the cars as Frank and Baz arrived, they'd weighed 4lb 15oz and 6lb 10oz respectively although Frank said he'd spoken to Jake at Hambridge who'd had 15lb odd and Ben had 10lb something from H4 so I was down to third and we hadn't heard how they'd done at Redbridge yet!
I had bites all day to weigh 10lb 5oz
Back at the results and as people started handing me the weigh boards, I saw that Ben had actually weighed a level 10lb so had I sneaked second place?, no was the answer because Adie had weighed 11lb 15oz from the ever consistent 120, Fieldy had 3lb 2oz from peg 110, apparently he had a chub early and then had nothing for the rest of the match and Terry 'The Toast' had a chub late from 108 to weigh 4lb 5oz. Karl was the other angler at Hambridge and weighed 4lb 6oz despite suffering from pike trouble, he even landed four of the toothy critters! Thanks to Jake Woodard for the photos*
A rather blurry Jake had a lovely net of roach to win with 15lb 3oz*
Ben had a nice day catching10lb of roach and perch on the waggler from H4
So I ended up third again and picked up £23 plus the all important nugget off of Steve and I have to say I really enjoyed today, I've had bites all day and it feels like there's a lot of fish in the river at the moment, I bet pegs 122 and 129 would have fished today. I also think a few pegs lower down at Hambridge would fish as well, might be worth looking at for the next IBC match.

1 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 15lb 3oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 11lb 15oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 10lb 5oz

Sections
A - Stuart Aplin (Ilminster) - 9lb 11oz
B - Ben Simmonds (Ilminster) - 10lb

After seven matches and dropping the worst result, this is how the league looks so far,

Jake Woodard - 12 pts (dropping 4)
Adie Bishop - 13 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich  - 14 pts (dropping 30)
Graham Field - 17 pts (dropping 30)
Stuart Aplin - 27 pts (dropping 30)
Frank Woodard - 34 pts (dropping 30)

I've also updated the list of framing pegs so far in the ten matches we've had on the river,

120 - 7 times (won 2)
110 - 4 times (won 2)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
126 - 4 times (won 2)
123 - 2 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
H4 - 1 time (won 1)
H1 - 1 time (won 1)
124a - 3 times
125 - 2 times
125a - 1 time

I might actually tweak the format of this a bit to actually reflect how many times a peg has been used because as it stands it doesn't really show how consistent a peg has been, for example, H1 has only been in twice and won once compared to say 125 which has been used several times but only framed twice so maybe I'll have a play around with percentages.

We've had eight different winners so far with Frank Woodard and Adie Bishop the only anglers to win more than one match.

Hurf asked me to remind people that it's Ilminster AA's AGM at the bowling club on Friday 23rd February at 7:30pm.

Lastly I've got some really exciting news regarding big changes coming to the blog soon, I can't say too much yet but all will become clear soon enough. I've got lots planned for this year including some great competitions and collaborations so please keep reading and get in touch with catch reports, photos and guest blogs.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next trip down memory lane

Check Out - My latest guest post (below)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fishing In France - Baz Morgan - Part 3

My latest guest blog is part 3 of the Fishing in France series by Baz Morgan, what a brilliant looking venue!
 
Canal de la Dive

For the purpose of this article I will deal with the section of canal that runs south of Breze, Epieds and Le Motte Bourbon, from here the canal runs north west to join the River Thouet just outside of Saumur.

I decided a few years ago to fish for barbel on the mighty River Loire, I have had some success but will deal with that in a later article.

We rent the same cottage each year and it serves our purpose well and the owners are really helpful. Not far from the cottage is the canal de la Dive, first sight of the canal was less than inspiring, narrow maybe 10 to 12 metres and about a metre deep even shallower in places and fairly weedy. However out for a stroll one evening with ' She who I must obey ' I was very interested to see a lot of chub between a pound and two pounds and also a couple of barbel of about 5lbs. To be honest I didn't fancy fishing it much due to it being so gin clear, this was in September and the Loire was in perfect nick so I ignored the canal.

When we returned the following June with me looking forward to another week fishing the Loire I was in for a shock! The Loire with a metre of extra water on it is frankly scary, even the 'slacks' were more like treacherous whirlpools with tree trunks eddying round! It was only now my attention turned to the canal, gone was the low clear version I remembered replaced by an up and coloured version with quite a pace. With the river out I found a mini slack in a bridgehole but even holding back hard and feeding with a dropper it was 2 hours before a 3oz chublet decided to co operate and then I had a few roach and bleak and finally a chub about 1 1/2lbs.

It was obvious the river was out for the rest of the week so not knowing much about local stillwaters I fished the canal most evenings. It must be the match angler in me because despite how hard this canal was at times I was enjoying it, just sheer bloody-mindedness to catch, bit by bit the flow eased and the colour dropped out a bit and it improved a little, my best fish was a barbel of about 3lbs, but I got smashed up good and proper one evening. Its always good to have a back up venue and this is at least somewhere to go if the river is out!
 
It certainly looks like a fair and uniform venue!
I think also its the variety that keeps me interested, species list to date, roach, rudd, skimmers, hybrids, dace, barbel, bleak, tench, crucians, carassio, sun perch, gudgeon, ruffe, chub, poisson chat, also heard that there are carp, pike, eels and silure present. If this sort of fishing is not for you and the river is out well there's always a decent bottle of red in nearby Champigny, Bourgueil or Chinon to drown your sorrows.
 
Baz with a nice barbel
French tench!
 
Sun perch?
Baby barbel and quality roach
Tightlines Baz.

Monday, January 08, 2018

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 5 - 7th January 2018

With the river really high during the week I thought we'd be back on the pond again but not too much of the wet stuff as we approached the weekend and it started to look like we might actually get on the Isle. I popped down on Saturday and it looked lovely with a tinge of colour and pace although the forecast was for it to get really cold overnight which wouldn't do us any favours and for added joy, I'd been struck down with a life threatening strain of man flu!

It was certainly chilly in the morning but not as cold as I thought it was going to be, I got to the bowling club for the draw and we had a slightly depleted turnout although we did have another new face as Somerset Angling superstar Steve Kedge was joining us for the day. With the two pegs below Hambridge in for the first time this series, everybody wanted to draw there as they were expected to fish well and of course Kedgie pulled out H1, the first one below and we were sure it would be game over! I pulled out peg 124a again and although I was second off it last time with 5lb 12oz, I was expecting the river to fish a lot better this time around.

Elsewhere, Adie's drawing arm continues to be on fire as he pulled out 126 again, Langport invader Baz Morgan drew 125, Karl was on 128 and Rob drew 123. Parker had pulled out H4 above the bridge at Hambridge and there was a good chance he'd take a nugget off me today. I got to the river and was pleased to see the colour hadn't dropped out completely and thought we'd be in for a good day. I did pop up to have a look at 124 as I had the choice but as I approached something dived underwater as I got there and I don't know whether it was a bird or one of our furry friends so I decided to stick with my original choice.
A bit more water on than the last time I drew it
I set up the same two rigs as last time, a 1 gram bodied float to fish the deeper water in the middle of the peg and a 0.6 gram DH16 for fishing across and down the peg in the shallower water, there was a bit more pace on it and the flow on the far side was coming back on itself but I still fancied it as a couple of fish topped as I was setting up. On the side tray I had the usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp.

I started with the heavier rig down the middle at 8.5 metres but it was going through a bit too quickly so I added a section and as I inched the float through, it buried and a 2oz roach took my double red maggot hookbait to get me off the mark, two smaller ones followed and I could see Baz was catching as well so I shouted down that they were having a go today. I should have known better as my next fish was a minnow so I switched to caster and had a nice roach straight away but then I was getting loads of little knocks which I was sure were minnows as the caster was coming back with just the end nipped off.

I had a couple of gudgeon but after a promising start I was now struggling, I could see Baz slipping his landing net out on a regular basis but he said they were only small chublets that he was netting because he was sat high up (they didn't look that small to me!). I had some steadier water on the inside and had been flicking a few casters down there so gave it a go and had yet another minnow but then my next fish was nice roach and I thought I'd cracked it but it was a one off.

I was feeding casters across where I'd caught the two chub last time but didn't want to go over too soon so plugged away catching gudgeon and the odd decent roach. Baz was pulling away and already had around twenty five fish. Nick Payne arrived for walk and went up to see Rob, when he came back he reported that he was catching small fish well, while he was with me I only added a gudgeon to my meagre tally and as the wind was rather keen he soon left me to it and headed for the sanctuary of his nice warm car.
When I got a roach, they were a decent stamp
I was still catching the odd good roach but couldn't seem to catch two from the same spot although when I got one they were a good stamp. The next visitor was Karl who walked up from 128 and said he hadn't had a bite but Adie was catching well on 126. I was running the float through but every now and again I'd get snagged which was starting to get annoying so started going further down the peg and had a few knocks, I just went to lift the rig up and there was a decent fish on, I played it carefully and slipped the net under a nice chub around a pound and a half. Karl headed back to his peg and I'm sure I heard him mutter 'jammy git' under his breath!

I stuck at it a bit longer but no more bites and I was itching to try across where I'd been feeding casters and hemp for two and a half hours. I picked up the shallower rig and stuck another section on and went across, the first bite resulted in a one ounce roach which wasn't what I'd hoped for so I tried further along and held the rig there, after a few minutes, a really positive bite saw solid resistance on the strike and I shipped back so the fish was I the middle of the peg, to be honest it didn't give me too many problems and I netted a nice chub, this one around 2lb.
My second chub was around 2lb
With over two hours left, I really thought I'd get a few more but it didn't really happen, I did have another nice roach but I knew I needed another couple of chub if I was going to challenge Baz. I decided to rest the far side for a bit and came back in the deeper water, the good news was that I wasn't getting any minnow trouble but the bad news was that I wasn't getting any bites at all now! I did have another gudgeon but with around thirty minutes left, I was just going to give that up as a bad job when the float shot under and another good fish was on, this one was quite angry and I breathed a sigh of relief when I slipped the net under my third chub, this one was 2lb plus.

Into the last half an hour and I went back across where hopefully the rest had done it some good, it turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax although I did have one more good roach. I ended up with 27 fish (three chub, roach and gudgeon) plus minnows and I thought I had between 7-8lb. I packed up and as Rob had the scales, went up to weigh him in, he was still putting his kit away so suggested I grab the scales and weigh Baz in first.

Baz said he'd had a really nice days fishing and when he pulled his net out, he had a lovely bag of fish including some chunky chublets, the needle swung round to 10lb 14oz and I knew I didn't have that. Rob was next and had loads of fish for 4lb 12oz, then it was my turn and my fish went 8lb 10oz and as I suspected I needed another chub. Back at the cars and Adie had won the section with a cracking net of quality roach weighing 14lb 6oz so I ended up third in the section which hasn't done my league any favours.
Baz had a lovely net of fish for 10lb 14oz
Rob had loads of small fish for 4lb 12oz from peg 123
I had three chub and some nice roach for 8lb 10oz
We headed back to meet the others and the expected fish fest at Hambridge hadn't happened, Steve 'The Pole' Parker had won that section with 4lb 2oz, Steve Kedge had 3lb 3oz and then Bill and Stuart had both blanked. So I actually ended in third place and picked up £20 plus £1's off Steve P and Rob (who won our section by triple default!). Thanks to Stuart Aplin for the photo*
Steve 'The Pole' Parker had the top weight at Hambridge with 4lb 2oz*
So a nice days fishing for most of those at Isle Brewers but I do find it fascinating when an area like Hambridge doesn't fish, Kedgie never had a fish for four hours but then they've decided to feed and he said there were a lot of fish there in the last hour or so, what prompted them to feed then? I guess us anglers don't have all the answers, it's like some of the chub pegs, they won't produce week in, week out but I've heard people say there were no fish there, I just don't believe that.

Todays result puts me in third place but I'm a long way behind Adie and realistically any chance of winning the league has now gone unless he blows out big time and I just can't see that happening.

1 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 14lb 6oz
2 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 10lb 14oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 10oz

Sections
A - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 4lb 12oz
B - Steve Parker (Ilminster) - 4lb 2oz

After five matches and dropping the worst result, this is how the league looks so far,

Adie Bishop - 5 pts (dropping 4)
Steve Parker  - 7 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 9 pts (dropping 3)
Bill Hopping - 13 pts (dropping 20)
Karl Aplin - 13 pts (dropping 20)
Stu Aplin - 16 pts (dropping 20)

I've also updated the list of framing pegs so far in the nine matches we've had on the river,

120 - 6 times (won 2)
110 - 4 times (won 2)
126 - 4 times (won 2)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
124a - 3 times
128a - 2 times
125 - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
H4 - 1 time (won 1)
125a - 1 time

We've had seven different winners so far with Frank Woodard and Adie Bishop the only anglers to win more than one match.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next trip down memory lane

Check Out - My latest review (below)

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Lucky Tackle Box Review

My latest review is something a little different, I always get quite excited when a firm contacts me to review their products and over the years I've tried and tested a very wide range of tackle and bait plus everything from socks to water bottles! This time around, the e-mail came from Lucky Tackle Box, a name I'm not familiar with, the message went on to say they are the number one rated subscription box for fisherman and that they have a strong social media presence and would be willing to promote my blog to their followers. So with my interest well and truly peaked but as always a little wary of scam merchants, my next step was my old friend Google.

Well a quick search revealed that they were indeed a legit company but being based in the USA, this would mean bass fishing and probably lure fishing for bass, so not really a subject I knew anything about and conversely I couldn't really see too many bass anglers getting excited about me catching a few pounds of tiny roach on pinkies on a pole at Dillington! So a non-starter then? To be honest, I was still quite intrigued and given that the States has somewhere in the region of 46 million anglers compared to a measly 1-3 million in the UK, it wouldn't do any harm to investigate further.

I had a sneaking suspicion that the e-mail I'd received was possibly a generic mailshot to any fishing related blogs so I replied asking if they knew I was UK based and would they still be interested in collaborating in some way. A lovely lady called Claire replied and as I suspected she hadn't realised I was in the UK but was still keen to send me out a box to review and asked which one I would like. Looking at their website revealed they have a varied range of boxes and subscriptions,
  • Tournament Series ($50 per month)
  • Bass XL ($25)
  • Bass ($15)
  • Multi-species ($25)
  • Saltwater ($25)
  • Crappie, Panfish, Trout ($15)
  • Walleye ($25)
  • Ice Fishing ($15)
  • Fly Fishing ($25)
I decided to go for the Walleye box as I thought it would be suitable for pike fishing in the UK, the box arrived just after Xmas and it was in perfect condition which shows their packaging is spot on.
My Lucky Tackle Box
I opened the box and it was very well put together, there was a LTB sticker, a little calendar plus a few promotional bits before I got to the lures themselves, included in my box were three plug type lures, two little spoons, a packet of Mustad hooks for soft plastic baits and two packets of soft baits. Also included was a little sample bottle of Clenzoil (a one-step cleaner, lubricant and rust preventative for reels, tools, engines and other equipment).
Well packaged
It's like Xmas!
Loads of lures
Great value
Now I don't profess to know much about lure fishing as it's something I've never done much of (maybe this year I'll do more!) and I've only ever caught one fish on a lure and that was from a lake in Thailand! but the lures certainly look like quality and according to the website you get tackle to the approx value of $40 which is a great deal. A closer look at some of the lures below,





It's a real eye opener seeing some of the kit they use on the other side of the pond but what I found interesting was that some of the soft baits are stored in a liquid additive and it seems to be something they do a lot of in the States, according to the packaging, one of the spoons has a little jelly lure that is infused with an attractant 'proven by independent laboratories to be 143% more effective than other leading brands' so the lure has scent, colour and action. It's not something I hear much about here, I know we do flavour and colour deadbaits but could we add another level attraction to our lures, something to think about perhaps?

Subscriptions are available for one, three, six and twelve months and looking at the websites online shop, you can also purchase limited edition boxes like the Holiday Gift Box or the Breast Cancer Awareness Box along with LTB clothing, gift cards, rods and lures.

I do think subscription boxes are a great idea and work particularly well with something like lures, there have been similar things based in the UK but they haven't really worked which I think is down to the vast array of terminal tackle that coarse and match anglers use so with any subscription service there's a good chance a lot of the stuff you'd receive would never be used. Things like hooks, line and floats are a very personal choice with people having their favourite brands and they can be fiercely loyal to them to the point of not using anything by another firm, but for things like lures and flies, I think these boxes work really well.

Lucky Tackle Box

There's loads of other stuff on the website from reviews and blogs to instructional videos and there's even a loyalty points rewards scheme and a tournament that anglers can get involved in.

I have to say I've really enjoyed doing this review because, even though it's not particularly relevant to the fishing I do or indeed fishing in the UK as a whole, it's given me a flavour of how massive fishing, and bass fishing in particular, is in the States. I'd love to have a go at it!
 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

2017 Yearly Review

With 2017 disappearing in our rear view mirrors, here's my look back over the previous twelve months,

January 2017

We were on the Isle for New Years Day and I got just the start I wanted when I drew 106 but freezing rain and a cold wind made it very uncomfortable and I only had two sticklebacks! The other two at Redbridge struggled as well while Hambridge proved once again that it's the place to be with Leighton Cox catching some nice perch and roach to win with 10lb with Fieldy second from 126 at Isle Brewers with 6lb 2oz and Hurf third with 4lb 4oz from H2.

For the next match, conditions couldn't have been more different, it was mild, some rain had put colour and pace in the river and I had a cracking days fishing catching 135 fish (mainly roach with odd dace, chublets and gudgeon) for 20lb 5oz from peg 128 at Isle Brewers and my first win for a while. Adie Bishop was second with 10lb 9oz from H5 and Graham Field had 9lb 4oz for third from peg H2.

Decent conditions for round seven of the Royal Oak league and I managed to get a draw at Hambridge, I've had a steady day catching mainly roach for 8lb 7oz and third place behind Fieldy with 10lb 8oz and Rob Cox with a brilliant 20lb from peg 124a, Rob had five chub for 10lb odd and nearly the same weight of quality roach.

The penultimate round of the V.E.S. Precision league and I needed a section win to realistically stand any chance of a top three place in the league. After a week of hard frosts and good draw would be essential and I got it with peg H4 at Hambridge, it was a struggle and I caught a few small fish down under the bridge for 2lb 11oz which I didn't think would be any good but it had been really tough for everyone and Adie Bishop needed just 2lb 13oz to win and I missed out on winning the golden peg by 2oz. To rub salt into the wound Steve Parker pushed me down into third place as he had 2lb 12oz and took a pound off me too!

Not a lot to say about the final match of the month, drew peg 92 at North Bradon which has been really poor and true to form, I weighed 6oz which was two dace, two chublets, a gudgeon and twelve minnows! Terry Morgan won with 10lb 13oz of quality roach from peg 128.

Highlights - My first win of the year with over 20lb of quality roach
Lowlights - Missing out on winning my second match of the year (and a golden peg) by 2oz

February 2017

First match of the month was the open which was at Dillington and I drew peg 13 on the bottom bank and had a bite a chuck all day, mainly roach along with a couple of chublets and the icing on the cake was a 2lb chub fifteen minutes from time. I weighed 12lb 6oz which was just short of Justin Charles who had a bream and skimmers for 12lb 8oz but a lovely days fishing and a nice pick up of £75.
I was second in the open with 12lb 6oz of roach and a bonus chub
The final round of the Royal Oak League saw me on peg 129 and I've struggled for 2lb 13oz although I ended up winning the section by triple default! I also finished second in the league behind Graham Field who won the match and the league with 14lb of chub, perch and roach from peg 124. Young Stuart Aplin had a lovely net of quality roach weighing 10lb 2oz for second place and Terry Morgan was third with 4lb 11oz from peg 126a.

The following week was the final V.E.S. Precision match and I had mixed feelings when I drew peg 109 at Redbridge, it's a peg I've wanted to fish for a long time but it's been poor in recent matches. It looked nice but after three and a half hours, all I had to show for my efforts were a few minnows. Then a decent fish rolled and shortly after I had the first of five chub, I weighed 14lb 2oz to win the match and I ended up second in the league so a nice pick up of £105.

Barney's Pairs Open was the final match of the month with an angler on Harry's Pond and the other on Dillington, I drew peg 3 on the far side, not a great area and I've caught odd fish throughout the day to finish with 14 carp for 28lb 1oz and third on the lake, my partner, Justin Charles, was also third and we ended up in the third place behind Rob Cox and Baz Morgan who won with three points just edging out Adie Bishop and Rich Studley on weight. A nice day and we raised a tidy amount for charity.

Highlights - A lovely day at Dillington and a nice pick up
Lowlights - Being 2oz off winning again!

March 2017

I started March at Summerhayes in atrocious conditions, it was a rover and I made a big mistake by picking peg 3 on Longs, I ended up with 6lb 9oz of silvers and 26lb carp for nowhere.

After missing out on the Perry St league last year, I was delighted when Les phoned and asked if I wanted to fish this year, of course I said yes and there was also a pre-league match which would give me an idea of what to expect. It was great to see all the guys although the Torquay Tart was also in attendance. I drew peg 14 which I was fairly happy with, I had an enjoyable day catching six decent carp shallow and one late on meat for 37lb 8oz, a section win and £30. Steve Bishop won with over 78lb from peg 4. The best part of the day was taking another pound off the Tart.

For the next match I was back at Summerhayes but on Sellicks this time and I was hoping for a nice days silvers fishing, that went out the window when I drew peg 23, I struggled for 5lb 6oz of silvers and 18lb 7oz of carp. Lee Williams had the top weight with 90lb 8oz and Paul Purchase had a cracking net of silvers weighing 17lb 3oz and Janders took a pound off me as he weighed 10lb 13oz of skimmers and tench.

I was back at Summerhayes for the last match of the month and when I pulled out peg 39, I wasn't too impressed as it's not usually a great silvers peg, I ended up having a lovely day and weighed 13lb 12oz of skimmers, tench and roach to win the silvers. Steve Kedge had the top weight on the day with 86lb 8oz.
I had a lovely day to win the silvers with 13lb 12oz
Highlights - My first silvers win of the year
Lowlights - Choosing peg 3!

April 2017

April saw the start of the Perry St and Sadborow League, I was fairly pleased with peg 13 on the former but it was hard going and I ended up with 28lb which was one fish short of a decent result as Bushy had 32lb 10oz for second in the section and Exeter Mike had 38lb from peg 12. All the leading weights came from Sadborow with Les winning with 115lb from peg 5.

The next match was on Sellicks at Summerhayes and I was really looking forward to it, I drew peg 2 on the near side when all the silvers weights have been coming from the top end or the far side which about summed the day up. I had a steady start catching a couple of skimmers and a few small tench in the first two hours only for the wind to get up and it went from blue skies and blazing sunshine to freezing cold and blowing a gale! I had a few carp but just couldn't catch any more silvers apart from one small crucian at the death which gave me 3lb 7oz for nowhere. Exeter Mike won the silvers with 6lb 15oz and Ads Palmer had the top weight on the day with 98lb 7oz.

Good Friday saw me at Summerhayes for the silvers only open on Longs, it was well attended with 18 anglers fishing, I wasn't too impressed when I drew peg 5 but had plenty of space which I thought would help. I've had a really nice days fishing catching skimmers and a tench (plus plenty of nuisance carp) for 11lb 3oz which was just enough to win ahead of Gary Butler with 11lb and Jeff Sparkes with 10lb 7oz. I had a nice pick up of £85 plus a place in the Champion of Champions final later in the year.

Then it was onto Perry St for the second league match and I drew peg 2, I had a really nice day catching 13 carp shallow for 50lb 6oz which won the section and was top weight on the lake. I picked up £55 but the icing on the cake was a pound off the Tart who came second with 49lb 8oz.

Another tough day on Sellicks followed and I was carped right out on peg 5, managed one crucian, four skimmers and four tench for 4lb 14oz and second in the silvers behind Jess Jordan with an excellent 12lb 10oz. Mark Jones had the top weight on the day with 86lb 8oz of carp.

The last match of the month was a rover on Longs at Summerhayes and I got off to a great start when I had first choice and picked peg 38, I had a slow start on the silvers front and got carped out on all my lines to finish with 8lb 7oz of silvers to finish just short of Janders who was second with 9lb 2oz.

Highlights - Qualifying for the Champion of Champions Final
Lowlights - Getting carped out on peg 38

May 2017

We were back at Summerhayes for another rover and choice 18 out of 21 was far from ideal, with no pegs left on Sellicks, I ended up on Willow and really struggled, I had 2lb 14oz of silvers and chucked back around ten carp.

Round three of Chard's league saw me at Sadborow for the first time since 2007!, I was disappointed to draw peg 2 as it had been poor in the first two matches but when I got to my peg, there were loads of carp cruising about and I had a lovely day catching 32 carp and a good skimmer for 94lb 6oz, second place on the day and a nice pick up of £85. I did lose a pound to the Tart who won with 103lb 14oz from peg 6.
Me with part of my 94lb 6oz catch
I was on Perry St for round four and was disappointed when I pulled out peg 1, it's a corner peg but hasn't been doing very well. I lost a foulhooker early and then didn't have a bite for three and a half hours. I eventually went 14.5 metres to my right and had five carp and lost one on the whistle, should have done it earlier as two more fish would have got me third in the section, lost pounds to Picky and the Tart. Bushy had the top weight with 51lb 14oz with Hoff just behind on 51lb 4oz.

I finally managed to draw on the far side of Sellicks and had a lovely day catching two big skimmers, six smaller ones, a big crucian, eight little tench (including a golden one) and a couple of roach for 14lb 9oz and second in the silvers behind Rob Birch who had 17lb 4oz.

Highlights - A nice return to Sadborow
Lowlights - Getting it wrong in peg 1

June 2017

The first match of June saw me at Dillington and I got off to a great start when I pulled out peg 18 which is probably my favourite peg, I caught a few fish short, then long and then shallow but several people were catching bream and skimmers opposite so I put in some kit and fished corn on the hook but never had a bite on it! I ended up chasing my tail and finished with 91 fish for 7lb 10oz and second in the section behind Jess Jordan who had two chub and a big bream from 24 for 11lb 9oz.

For the next match I phoned Pete at Summerhayes to book in and was delighted when he said we'd be on Sellicks but then during the week he called to say we were now on Willow and Lily! I drew peg 7 on Willow and the last time I was on that lake, the top silvers weight was less than 7lb so that would be my target today. I got off to a great start catching ten skimmers for about 4lb in just over an hour but then struggled for the odd roach and carp but luckily my 5lb 2oz of silvers was enough and I had a nice pick up of £48 plus a nugget off Lee Williams. Nigel Wickham had the top weight on the day with 61lb of carp.

Then it was back to Perry St for round five of the league and I was really pleased to draw peg 12, I had a steady day catching shallow to end up with 14 carp for 63lb 6oz, second in the section and £55 behind Bushy who had 79lb 8oz from the peg next door.

Sadborow was the following week and I drew peg 9 which had won the last match and it was solid, caught really well for the first four hours, again all shallow and despite not catching in the last hour, my 44 carp weighed 120lb 6oz which was top weight on the day and I picked up £90. I was slightly disappointed to miss out on beating my best ever match weight by a pound but yet another nugget from the Tart made it more bearable!

Highlights - A lovely day at Sadborow
Lowlights - Just missing out on a new personal best match weight

July 2017

Dillington was next and I was gutted to draw peg 23 especially when 24 wasn't in, although I thought I might have a chance of catching by the bush although it was 16 metres away. To cut a long story short, I had a foulhooked skimmer and lost a good chub on my light rig and then spent most the match trying to catch a bonus fish which didn't happen. In the last hour and a half I caught chublets quite well fishing shallow and weighed 4lb 12oz but just missed out on the default section money by 2oz! Adie Bishop won again with 44lb 9oz of chub and bream from peg 1.

The next match was a charity pairs with a twist, you wouldn't know which lake you were on until the morning or who you were fishing with until after the match. I got the pond I wanted when I pulled out peg 9 at Harry's and had a lovely day's fishing catching carp shallow to weigh 62lb 14oz which was second on the lake behind Bill Hopping who had 114lb 14oz for a comfortable win. At Dillington, Ashley Tomkins had an awesome day to reclaim the match record with 69lb 3oz of bream and skimmers from peg 2. Back at the results and I got paired with someone who didn't do very well so no coin again, but on the plus side the anglers raised a fantastic £120 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

I was looking forward to the next Chard match at Sadborow although peg 6 wouldn't have been my first choice, it's a good peg, albeit a bit awkward to fish. There were loads of carp swimming about and I caught quite well for two hours but then began chasing my tail somewhat and kept getting distracted by fish in the margins. I had one fish from the five metre line and mugged a couple in the last hour but my 75lb 14oz was way off the pace, I lost a nugget to Brendon who won with 112lb 1oz and Janders also beat me although a pound off Picky eased the pain a little.

For the penultimate league match I was on the high numbers at Perry St and hoping for a peg towards the far end but pulled out 19 which hasn't been great and I thought I'd be in for a struggle. A couple of early carp caught shallow settled me down and I was doing alright. I even started getting a few fish on the meat line until disaster struck and I lost a lump when the line snapped above the float and didn't have a suitable replacement which was really poor preparation on my part. I managed another shallow and then right at the death I hooked one that I was determined to get in and was playing it really carefully when the hook pulled out!

I just knew those lost fish would cost me, I had 11 carp and a decent skimmer for 45lb 12oz and when Picky was next to weigh and beat me by 2oz, I thought I'd finish well down as several others were admitting to 40lb but I ended up third behind Picky and the Hoff who won with 52lb 10oz from peg 11. I picked up £30 plus that all important pound from the Tart. Howard had the top weight on the day with 86lb 2oz from peg 4.

Then it was back to Dillington and I've finally drawn a peg on the far side, I fed a line with corn and casters for bream but not had a bite over it until the last half an hour when I've had a good bream and two skimmers to add to 8lb of roach plus a pound tench caught on the two sections to hand rig to weigh 15lb 5oz and finish third behind Nick Payne with 15lb 13oz and Jake Woodard with 21lb 3oz.
I caught some nice fish late at Dillington
Highlights - A nice day at Dillington
Lowlights - Not having another meat rig!

August 2017

First match of the month saw me fishing the new lakes at Todber Manor for the first time, I drew peg 38 on Hill View which meant nothing to me, I decided to keep it simple by fishing two short lines, it was slow going for the first three hours and I probably only put 15lb in the net. I came in on the inside line and started catching really well and the swim just got stronger and stronger, ended up with 49 fish (37 carp to 12lb plus skimmers, tench, roach and perch) for 97lb 8oz and just missed out on the default section which was won with 101lb. So not a bad effort for my first visit and I'm looking forward to going again.
A really enjoyable day on my first visit and close to a ton
The following day it was the final Chard AC league match and I was desperate to avoid peg 1 but of course drew it, I had seven carp for 30lb 14oz and I needed one more for a decent result and I lost five! Ended up joint sixth in the league and picked up £15.

The next match was at Dillington and I was fairly happy to draw peg 24 as it can be good but after spending most of the match trying to catch big fish, my modest 4lb 1oz came nowhere, Bill Hopping won with 14lb of paste caught bream and skimmers from peg 20.

It was back to Summerhayes for a match on Sellicks and I was disappointed to drew peg 7 on the near side but actually had a really enjoyable day to win the silvers with 8lb 12oz of skimmers, little tench and a crucian just edging out Rob Birch who had 8lb 9oz.

For the next Summer League match at Dillington I drew just where I wanted on the far side but scorching hot conditions made it hard going for everyone, I had a couple of skimmers on corn and some roach for 6lb 3oz but missed several bites on corn which was costly as Frank won with 10lb 9oz and 8lb 2oz was last in the frame.

On the Bank Holiday Monday I was at Summerhayes on Longs for a rover and ended on peg 33 where Roger Russell had over 28lb of skimmers on Friday, I had almost a perfect first hour catching a tench, three crucians and six skimmers (plus a couple of nuisance carp) for about 8lb but then struggled to catch decent silvers for the remaining five hours and my 12lb 4oz was a long way behind Rob Birch in second with nearly 17lb and Roger with a brilliant 29lb 15oz.

Highlights - The first hour in the last match at Summerhayes
Lowlights - The remaining five hours!!!

September 2017

I started the month back at Summerhayes for a rover on all ponds and managed to get on Longs peg 32, had a steady first three hours catching skimmers along with the odd tench and crucian but then put very little in the net for two hours before catching well again for the last sixty minutes to weigh 16lb 4oz and I needed a couple more as 19lb 8oz was second in the silvers.

For the last Summer League match at Dillington I drew peg 4 which is one of the ones I fancied, had a few bits early before fishing for big fish with corn, missed six good bites throughout the day and then with an hour and a half to go, I had a 4lb chub followed by one of 3lb before losing one. My next fish was a chublet and then I lost another big chub that snapped me and time was running out, I did manage another chublet. I weighed 9lb 8oz but knew those lost fish would cost me and they did as Bill won the match and league with 15lb 8oz and there were two 10lb weights! I did pick up £20 default section money but a good chance to win the match was wasted.
I had two nice chub but lost two as well!
Another match at Summerhayes, this time on Sellicks, I drew where I wanted, peg 18 on the far side but it was really hard going and I had four skimmers, one little tench and a couple of bits for 2lb 9oz which was good enough for second in the silvers behind Roger Russell who had a 2lb skimmer in the last half an hour to beat me by 2oz!

The final match of the month saw me back at Summerhayes and on Sellicks again, I drew just where I wanted, peg 19 on the far side but in a match very similar to last weeks, I had a few silvers for 2lb 6oz and nowhere, Rob Birch won the silvers off the golden peg with 7lb 13oz to take home a nice payday.

Highlights - A nice days silvers fishing to start the month
Lowlights - Losing/missing enough to win at Dillington

October 2017

I was really looking forward to getting back on the river especially with reports of lots of fish in all areas, with Upper and Lower Coxes and Isle Brewers in, I had a wish list of pegs but I pulled out 28 which wasn't one of them. It looked good and I had some nice dace and chublets for 4lb 7oz but was well off the pace, Graham Field won with a lovely net of fish, 21lb 10oz, Paul Homewood was second with 15lb 6oz of quality roach and chub from peg 128 and Jake Woodard was third with 12lb 8oz from peg 125.

I didn't fare much better in the next match either, I wanted to draw at Isle Brewers but pulled out peg 14 at Coxes and although it's one of my favourite pegs, with the river being so low and clear I thought I might struggle and I was right, I ended up weighing 3lb 7oz of dace and chublets. Steve Parker won with 8lb 11oz from peg 128.

Then I missed the next match due to doing my back in, I'd booked the following Friday off so I could fish the silvers match at Summerhayes before the final the week after. It was a rover and I got just the start I wanted when I had first choice, I went for peg 34 and had a really good first three hours when I put 7-8lb in the net and was well on my way to my 12lb target but then like the other two times I've drawn in the 30's, I've really struggled. I ended up with 21 skimmers and a few tiny roach for 10lb 6oz and just missed out as John Barker had 10lb 13oz and Jeff Sparkes won with 12lb 1oz.

Sunday saw the match switched to Dillington and I was happy when I drew peg 14, one of my favourite pegs, my plan was to fish for roach but also have a big fish line by the reeds and try it for ten minutes every hour. I felt I fished quite a tidy match and had 6lb of roach, gudgeon and rudd plus two nice skimmers from my big fish line for 8lb 9oz, third place and £25 to end my bad run for now. Baz Morgan won with 14lb 5oz of bream and skimmers from peg 24 followed by Adie Bishop with 11lb 15oz of small fish from peg 6.

The following Friday I was at Summerhayes for the Champion of Champions Silvers Final, which I'd been looking forward to for ages and drew a decent peg when I pulled out number 17. Things got even better when I got to the peg and I saw I had loads of space which could only be a bonus. I had a steady start catching some skimmers from the top two line in the first couple of hours before getting carped out. I ended up with 4lb 14oz which I was sure wouldn't be any good but sneaked into fifth place and last in the money picking up £40. Ziggy Slowinski was crowned the champion with 10lb, followed by Roy Hughes with 8lb 4oz and Glynn Wickham with 6lb 1oz.

The last match of the month was round two of the V.E.S. league on the river and with 15 booked in, the pay out was tweaked a bit to give the anglers at Coxes a chance as all the top weights have been coming from Redbridge and Isle Brewers. Of course I drew peg 29 at Lower Coxes and the last time I had it, I caught one minnow. It actually looked really nice and I started catching small chublets but then some lovely dace started showing and I caught odd fish by swapping between two lines to end with 31 fish for 5lb 10oz which was enough for second in my section and another £40. Frank Woodard had the top weight on the day with 18lb 5oz followed by Leighton Cox who had 17lb 4oz which included four chub for 14lb plus some quality roach but he lost four chub as well.

Highlights - The last three matches!
Lowlights - The first three matches!

November 2017

With Rob and Hurf away, it was down to me and Steve P to organise the next match, I'd been dreaming about peg 110 all week and with only two balls left in the bucket, it was still in there but Bill Hopping spoilt the party. I had the last peg which was 128a and I was fairly happy with that as some big chub have been hooked (and lost) there in recent weeks, I only caught a few bits but hooked three chub, getting two out. I weighed 7lb 15oz which was enough for third place and £20 (plus a pound off Steve P!) but I was only just behind Adie with 8lb 8oz and Bill with 8lb 10oz so that lost chub was costly!

For the next match, the Isle was up and coloured and it was a struggle for most, I made the most of drawing 126 and on a poor day, my 3lb 10oz of roach and dace was enough for a very welcome win. Adie Bishop was second from his favourite peg (128) with 2lb 4oz of small fish and Fieldy was third with a pound of dace from peg 120.
I had 3lb 10oz for my first win in a while
The river was in good condition for the next round of the V.E.S. Precision league and Hurf had put in a few pegs at Hambridge for the first time this series, with loads of small fish topping I thought I'd bag up but it was actually a bit of a struggle, I had two good perch (and lost one) plus a few small roach in the first two hours and then it died a death. In the last hour I started getting a few roach and then landed a 5lb pike, I ended up with 25 fish for 3lb 13oz and three section points which wasn't a disaster. Adie Bishop won from the peg below me with loads of small fish for 14lb 2oz, Karl Aplin was second with 9lb 2oz from 120 and Paul Homewood was third with 6lb from peg 125a.

For round four of the IBC league, I drew peg 124a at Isle Brewers, it was a struggle with the river low and clear but I had some quality roach and two chub (one in the last five minutes) for 5lb 12oz and second place behind Baz Morgan who had 7lb 10oz from peg 120. Stuart Aplin was third with a cracking chub of 4lb 4oz from peg 110.

Highlights - My first win for a while
Lowlights - Losing that chub in 128a

December 2017

The Xmas Fayre was on Dillington and the Canal, I really fancied having drawing the latter as I haven't fished it for ages but wasn't too upset when I pulled out peg 18 on the pond, normally a decent winter peg, I've had bites all day to end up with 103 roach, rudd, perch and a Dillington barbel for 7lb which put me fifth on the pond. I kept trying to catch a bonus fish throughout the day which has wasted an hour but as Jake Woodard won with a nice net of skimmers weighing 15lb 8oz, it was probably the right thing to do. The Canal fished really hard with Andy Welch needing just 3lb 5oz for top spot. Everybody then enjoyed a hot meal at Ilminster Bowling Club and all the anglers took home a nice prize.

With torrential rain and strong winds, we were at Dillington for the next match as well, I was really happy with peg 2 but after the last match I was determined not to waste any time searching for elusive bonus fish. I had bites all day to finish with 122 roach, rudd, perch and gudgeon for 9lb 1oz and second place behind Justin Charles who won with 10lb 10oz and just 1oz in front of Frank Woodard.

With a free date, I spoke to Harry and a charity match on his pond was arranged, I managed to avoid the favoured reed pegs again and basically I never had a bite for four hours and then had two carp for 5lb 5oz and a few rudd for 5oz which was enough to take the silvers pool of £20 by default. Rob Cox had the top weight with 42lb from peg 1 by the reeds. Although the fishing had been poor for many, we still raised a fantastic £70 for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association.

With nothing on, I managed to get in on a knock up at Perry St but the end pegs dominated and I drew in the middle and only managed a few skimmers and roach, the Tart won with 51lb of carp. Another knock up, this time at Harry's on the Thursday and I managed to avoid the two fliers yet again and was blanking after two hours, I started fishing by some dead reeds and caught quite well in spells to finish with ten carp and a rudd for 22lb 10oz and third place. Jake won comfortably from peg 1 with 65lb 7oz.

The final match of the year was switched to Dillington with the river flooded, I drew peg 8 on the far side and struggled with the wind and rain in my face all day, I ended up with 75 fish for 5lb 6oz which won the section by default behind Scott Russell who had the top weight on the day with 15lb 7oz of skimmers and roach.

Highlights - Finishing second at Dillington
Lowlights - Managing to avoid the fliers at Harry's yet again

Summary

Although I had a brilliant 2017, it could have been called the 'What if?' or 'Bridesmaid' year, I finished second in the V.E.S. Precision and Royal Oak leagues, I missed out on a golden peg win by 2oz and also finished second in the open by the same margin. I also fished Sadborow pond for the first time in ten years and had three lovely days fishing although I missed out on a new personal best match weight by a pound when I weighed 120lb 6oz. I visited a new lake at Todber Manor for the first time and didn't disgrace myself with 97lb off a mediocre peg but missed out on a section win by 4lb and lost several carp, another case of 'What if?'.

There were no foreign trips this year and I didn't manage to get on the Wye for the barbel or the Axe for mullet and sadly I'm no closer to catching my first flounder, maybe next year!

I was delighted to get in on the Perry St and Sadborow league, the fishing was great and the banter even better, I ended up joint sixth in the league but a few mistakes and lost fish, cost me several places. Dillington continues to evolve year on year and the quality roach and rudd seem to have done a disappearing act with bream and skimmers now featuring heavily, the match record has been broken several times and now stands at over 69lb. It really is an intriguing venue and I look forward to seeing how it fishes next summer, I still think the small fish could do with thinning out a bit though.

I've really enjoyed fishing the Isle as always although it would be nice to try some different sections, Summerhayes has been producing some good bags of skimmers and I'll be trying my hardest to qualify for the Champion of Champions final again next year.

The blog continues to go from strength to strength, it had over 135,000 hits last year but has now flown past 649,000 (which is over 196,000 in 2017!). As I've said before, one of the unexpected perks of writing the blog is being contacted by companies to review their products and the two that stand out from last year have been Buff and Peejay Tackle, both a pleasure to work with.

The blog is very proud to be supported by Bait-Tech and I'm already looking forward to 2018 when they have some fantastic new products coming out. I also have to thank Hayley for all her continued help and invaluable advice.

http://www.bait-tech.com/
 
As we say goodbye to 2017, lets not forget Dave Lawrence and Bob Hammond who we sadly lost and are hopefully bagging up sat round a picturesque lake somewhere where the sun is always shining - tight lines lads.
 
So what's ahead for Against Men and Fish?, well the Archives series has been very well received and there's plenty more to come, I've also published several guest blogs and would love to feature more so please get in touch if you would like to get involved. There will be lots more reviews and interviews and I'm also hoping to go back to Thailand where I have a new venue in my sights. Of course there will still be lots of detailed match reports and I'll try my best to mix things up with some different lakes and rivers along with another go for those elusive mullet and maybe even a bash at those flounder! 

Matches won - 5
Silvers wins - 4
Winnings - £1317

Matches fished - 58
Number of pick ups - 33
Success rate - 57%

New venue pb match weights
Sadborow Pond - 120lb 6oz
Todber Manor - 97lb 8oz
 

Monday, January 01, 2018

Dillington Pond - IBC Winter League 6 - 31st December 2017

It would have been nice to fish the river once more before the end of the year but the weather had other ideas, the Isle was in the fields at Hambridge on Thursday and more rain on Friday, Saturday and forecast for Sunday meant the only sensible (and safe) option was to put it on the pond. I don't mind to be honest as it usually means plenty of bites and it's normally a close match.

I got to the bowling club for breakfast and we had a healthy turn out of thirteen anglers including Tackleuk mugger Scott Russell, who's ears pricked up on social media when he heard we were on the pond. If the forecast was to be believed some of us would be in for a rough day with heavy rain and strong winds forecast. I fancied peg 2 or 17, 18 and 19 on the near side as they're normally fairly sheltered. I announced the draw and as I had the bucket, nearly everybody pulled out a ball until there was just Scott and me left, I offered him the bucket and said there should be two balls left, he stuck his hand in and grabbed them both before giving me one, peg 8, an okay peg but on the far side and I would probably have the wind in my chops, he looked at his and he'd only gone and drawn peg 2 and would be hard to beat today.
The wind wasn't too bad as I was setting up
I got out the pond and the wind wasn't too bad so hopefully they'd got it wrong for once, Hurf was on peg 9 and I had Leighton on my right on peg 7. I set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach with a size 18 B611 barbless to 0.10mm and also a little Preston Chianti (not used), on the side tray I had maggots, pinkies, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp and I also mixed up some Pro Nat Dark. Scotty came up for a quick chat before the start and said he thought it might be hard today but I said I thought you'd still need double figures.

Rob got us underway and I cupped in two balls of groundbait containing a few pinkies and casters at ten metres before starting with double pinkie on the hook, the float settled and after a minute or so, it sailed away and I swung in a small roach. More followed so I tried double maggot but it didn't improve the stamp, nor did caster and I was having to wait ages for bites. Hurf was catching small fish as well and it was neck and neck at this stage. It certainly wasn't fast and furious and after an hour I was up to 17 fish for about a pound.

Looking around, from what I could see nobody was really bagging, Leighton hadn't caught on the feeder next door, Bill was struggling on peg 6 as was Jake on peg 13 although I could see Fieldy catching bits and pieces on peg 14. The second hour was slightly better and I added another 20 fish including the odd better roach and a couple of chunky 4oz perch on double red maggot.

Then it started raining quite heavily and the wind got up and it was becoming more and more difficult to hold the pole, the pegs on the far side were a little more sheltered and I could see Harry catching small fish quite well although he did a little bit of squirrel hunting as well. Big Frank was swapping between the pole and feeder so I guessed he was struggling a bit and Ben Simmonds, who was fishing with us for the first time today, looked like he was getting some nice roach on peg 19. I couldn't really see Scotty but I could see his pole and he was shipping in and out on a regular basis so he was catching quite well.

It was a struggle in the third hour although I had a little run of roach fishing a metre short of my feed, Hurf had chucked a feeder out but wasn't getting any action, I did see Rob up on peg 5 land two skimmers in quick succession. During the fourth hour, the rain stopped, the wind calmed down and the sun even tried to poke it's head out of the clouds. I started catching some 2oz roach on caster now that presentation was half sensible and with around an hour and a half left, I thought I might catch well. Hurf had a chublet and then Leighton had a nice skimmer on the tip and then had another next chuck and it was looking like we might be in for a grandstand finish.

The weather had other ideas though and turned the wind dial up to 11 and it started absolutely lashing it down, a few times I had to drop the pole on the water as I feared for it's safety and it's times like this that wearing glasses is a real pain. My catch rate plummeted and I wasn't too upset to hear the final whistle, I only added a few fish to finish with 75 which I thought would give me between 4-5lb if they averaged an ounce apiece.

Bill had the scales but as he hadn't finished packing up yet, I offered to start the weigh in and walked up to Steve P on peg 1, he'd struggled for 2lb 8oz but did have a couple of cracking roach, Scotty was next and had caught really well, he had over 140 fish which included seven skimmers and he'd had five of them in the last hour. He said there were a lot fish there because at one stage the wind caught his pole and he foul hooked a skimmer! He weighed 15lb 7oz and I didn't think anyone would be close to that.
Steve 'The Pole' Parker had 2lb 8oz from peg 1
Scott had a lovely net of fish for 15lb 7oz
Rob was next and his two skimmers went 2lb 10oz, Bill had really struggled for 6oz (mainly small fish!), Leighton had 3lb and then my fish went 5lb 6oz, Hurf was last to weigh in our section and had 1lb 11oz.
Rob had two nice skimmers for 2lb 10oz
Bill had 6oz of mainly small fish which included this fine specimen!
Leighton had two skimmers and a few bits for 3lb from peg 7
I had 75 roach, perch and a rudd for 5lb 6oz
Hurf had 1lb 11oz which included a nice chublet
After loading the cars, we drove back round the other side for the results, Harry let me have the other weigh board and that section had fished better, Jake had the top weight with 11lb 5oz of skimmers, most of which came in the last hour and I hadn't seen him catch a fish!, Harry did well to finish second with loads of small fish for 7lb 14oz, Adie had a couple of skimmers plus roach for 7lb 2oz from peg 24, Ben had 4lb 11oz of mainly roach from peg 19, Fieldy had 4lb 5oz from 14 and Frank had 2lb 13oz from 18. Thanks to Harry Hebditch for the photos*
Jake had 11lb 5oz of skimmers from peg 13*
Harry had loads of small fish for 7lb 14oz*
Adie had 7lb 2oz from peg 24*
Ben had some quality roach for 4lb 11oz*
Graham had 4lb 5oz from peg 14*
So I picked up £20 for winning the section but I'm just not getting it right and I'm well off the pace on the pond at the moment, the lack of quality roach means you need some skimmers as well to win and I just can't catch them. I think I need to fish longer, lighter and with a more positive rig, if that makes sense and talking to Scott, more groundbait and no loose feed although to be honest I struggled to hold ten metres today so any longer was out of the question.
 
1 - Scott Russell (Tackleuk) - 15lb 7oz
2 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 11lb 5oz
3 - Harry Hebditch (Ilminster) - 7lb 14oz
 
Sections
A - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 6oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 7lb 2oz

The league has also tightened up and there's now only one point separating the top four!

Jake Woodard - 11 pts (dropping 4)
Adie Bishop - 12 pts (dropping 4)
Graham Field - 12 pts (dropping 30)
Jamie Rich  - 12 pts (dropping 30)
Bill Hopping - 22 pts (dropping 20)

Well that's it for 2017, lets see what 2018 brings, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, look out for my review of last year and my latest instalment of the Archives series coming soon.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My review of last year

Check Out - My last match (below)