Tuesday, October 18, 2016

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 2 - 16th October 2016

After some heavy rain during the night that woke me up I was hoping there might be some much needed colour in the river today. I got to the Royal Oak and we had eleven fishing again, including Heardy who was joining us for the first time in ages. Hurf and Jake had been down to North Bradon in the week and cut out some swims (thank you) so it would be interesting to see how they fished today, elsewhere I really fancied 14, 15 or 120 per usual. Rob announced the draw and I went in quite late and grabbed a ball but didn't look, Hurf hadn't looked at his either although he did say 14 and 120 had already gone.

As people were writing their names on the weigh boards and heading off, the only two pegs without a name next to them were 97 and 129 and I was really hoping I'd avoided the latter as it had struggled last week. Hurf opened his hand and he was on 97, which he really fancied and probably deserved to draw it after going down and cutting the swims out, which left me on 129 and feeling a bit deflated. I got to the river and parked up before going to have a look over the bridge, there was a bit more pace on it but not much in the way of colour.

Adie was on Barney's Bend (126) and Steve P was on 128 both looked nice but I felt we were up against it as we were in with two pegs at Hambridge with John Dursley on H1 and Heardy was on H2 where John had 13lb of chub last week. After several trips I reached my peg and it did look nice, once again I only set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo with a size 18 Kamasan B611 to 0.10mm. On the side tray were the usual casters, maggots (red and bronze) and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp.
Peg 129, the sun was a bit of a pain during the early stages of the match!
Plumbing up the swim was as deep as I remembered, nearly top three and the depth was pretty consistent from under my feet to about half way across at 8.5 metres before it started to shallow up. The match got underway and I started fishing three sections to hand with caster on the hook as I'd caught well doing it last week in 128 but apart from a couple of small gudgeon, it wasn't happening and I was soon shipping out to 8.5 metres to inch the float through in the flow. I was getting plenty of bites but wherever I put the rig a gudgeon would be the result! I was starting to get a little frustrated and it took nearly an hour before I caught a dace from the right of the peg where the flow comes into the bend.
Finally a dace!
I had 21 fish after the first sixty minutes but probably only a pound in weight and things would need to improve drastically if I was going to do any good today. During the second hour, along with the gudgeon, I started to catch the odd dace and chublet but some of them were tiny and I was also getting quite a few minnows which weren't helping my cause much. I did hook what felt like a dace but as I was shipping back, it went solid as a pike grabbed an easy meal before moving off and biting through the hooklength. I did manage my first decent roach around 6oz or so and the clicker was reading 40 fish after two hours.

As the halfway point approached, I was getting more roach and dace than gudgeon and started to think a half decent weight was achievable. Most of the fish were coming from the right where the flow comes in between 8.5 and 10 metres although I kept trying the inside which I'd been feeding from the start but only added a couple of gudgeon from there all match.

With two hours to go I was up to 77 fish (plus minnows) and thankfully I hadn't suffered anymore pike trouble. During the day a lot of duckweed had been coming down the river and also the level had come up quite a bit and all of a sudden some decent fish started topping. The gudgeon all but disappeared and were replaced with some lovely roach that looked like they'd never seen a hook before. In my best spell of the match I added another 22 fish to put me on 99 with an hour to go and I almost couldn't get my rig in fast enough!
I started getting some lovely roach
I was really enjoying myself and didn't want the match to end, my final tally was 117 roach, dace, chublets and gudgeon (plus minnows which I didn't count), once again I really didn't have a clue what weight I had, I was pretty sure I had more than last weeks 7lb 10oz but maybe not as much as the 12lb 8oz I had in the first match. I packed up and as I took my kit back to the car I passed Steve who said he'd struggled for 78 gudgeon and minnows but then added he'd caught a chub! Adie said he thought he had double figures so it was looking like the river had fished really well again.

We weighed Steve first and he had 5lb 14oz which included a big chub and he lost one too, I was next and my fish pulled the needle round to 11lb 7oz which I knew wouldn't be enough today, if only those roach had switched on an hour earlier! Adie had a lovely net of fish to go into the lead with 13lb 4oz, he said he'd lost some good fish to pike as well. He also said he'd spoken to John earlier and he'd had a chub and some bits and Heardy was blanking with about an hour and a half to go!
Steve had 5lb 14oz which included a lovely chub
I had 117 roach, dace, chublets and gudgeon for 11lb 7oz
Adie had a cracking days fishing on Barney's Bend to weigh 13lb 4oz
Back at the results and Stuart had 3lb 14oz from the tank traps, Rob weighed 5lb 15oz from 15, Karl had struggled in peg 96 but Hurf had done well from 97 with 10lb 12oz of chub and he'd lost one as well. Fieldy had two chub for 4lb 15oz from peg 108 at Redbridge but lost three and Rich S had 2lb 1oz from peg 120. Heardy didn't weigh from H2 at Hambridge and John had 7lb 10oz from H1 which meant Adie had won his first river match with us and I was second and picked up £33 plus nuggets from Steve P and Hurf. Thanks to Rob Cox* and Steve Hurford** for the photos.
Stuart had 3lb 14oz from peg 14*
Rob won the top section with 5lb 15oz*
Hurf had some nice chub for 10lb 12oz and third place**
1 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 13lb 4oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 11lb 7oz
3 - Steve Hurford (Ilminster) - 10lb 12oz

A - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 5lb 15oz
B - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 7lb 10oz

So the river has fished really well again with loads of small fish and it was nice to see some big chub featuring in catches and I think the potential is there for some big weights when we eventually get some rain. In the three matches so far I can honestly say I've had a bite a chuck every week and caught 366 fish for 31lb 9oz which is great fishing, more of the same next week please (I'll probably blank now!).

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, October 10, 2016

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 1 - 9th October 2016

After a great start in the Royal Oak league last week I was hoping for more of the same in the first round of the V.E.S. today, a league I would dearly love to win again. When I got to the pub for the draw we had the same number fishing as last week although not all the same people, it was nice to see Harry again but Gordon was missing as he'd had an accident at work with a band saw - get well soon mate.

Along with Upper Coxes and Isle Brewers, Rob had put some pegs in at Redbridge and Hambridge for today and I really fancied pegs 14 and 120 although I couldn't see me drawing the tank traps again! The golden ball today was peg 108 which can be a great peg although I think it's still a bit early for it. Then it was time to draw, Hurf pulled out a ball but didn't look at it and then I did the same, he looked first and was over the moon when he saw he had 14, then it was my turn and I was hoping for 120. As I opened my fingers, there was a 1 and a 2 but the final digit was an 8 rather then the 0 I wanted. So I was on the big bend at Isle Brewers which can be a great peg and regularly does big weights but normally a bit later in the season.

Adie and Rich S followed me as they were both down there as well, Rich had drawn 126 and Adie was on 129 below me. I showed them both where their pegs were before heading to mine, it's a big swim and looked really nice although there was hardly any flow. Being a bit pushed for time I only set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo with 0.10mm bottom and a size 18 B611. As per usual I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp on the side tray.
Peg 128 at Isle Brewers
Kick off time arrived and I started off at three sections to hand with caster on the hook and was soon swinging in a gudgeon, I was feeding just to my left and also on the right at ten metres where the flow (what little there was!) comes in and also at the same distance straight out in front of me in the slack water. I was getting a bite a chuck but only from gudgeon and I was just thinking about trying one of my other lines, when the float sailed away and I had a 6oz roach, it proved to be a false dawn though and after a few more gobies I shipped out to try in the flow.
I was catching loads of gudgeon
I had a couple of 2oz dace and some small chublets before I started catching gudgeon again, so I tried the other ten metre line and it was a similar story, a nice roach followed by more gudgeon and the swim was full of them! After an hour I'd put 32 fish in the net for probably 1.5lb, the second hour saw my catch rate slow up a bit and I only added 20 fish, I found that if I had a bite as soon as the rig settled, it would be a dace, roach or chublet and if I had to wait, a gudgeon would be the result.
In amongst all the gudgeon I was getting the odd nice roach or dace
I tried going to 11.5 metres and had another brief flurry of dace and roach and there were obviously a lot of fish in the peg but I just couldn't get the better stamp lined up. During the third hour I added another 24 fish by swapping between the lines but the short line was dying a death. Early in the fourth hour I was fishing at ten metres in the middle of the peg when the float sunk from view and when I struck if felt like a better fish, I slowly shipped back and was slightly surprised when an 6oz skimmer came to the top!
I was fishing in the middle of the peg....
when I had a surprise skimmer!
Rob had one last Sunday and a pleasure angler caught one on the Saturday so either this was the world's most stupid skimmer or there are more in the peg than we think! I was still getting catching quite well and had another 20 fish in hours four and five and was hoping that the better roach might switch on in the last hour but it didn't really happen although I still added another 19 fish and at the end of the match my clicker was reading 135 and for the second week on the trot I've only had a single minnow all day! I thought I probably had 8-9lb which might give me a chance of sneaking in the frame.

I had the scales so after taking some of my kit back to the car, I walked down to weigh Adie in first, he had some nice dace and weighed 4lb 1oz although he did lose a good chub, then it was my turn and I was disappointed to only weigh 7lb 10oz and those gudgeon just don't weigh much. Rich S had struggled a bit to weigh 1lb 9oz which included a nice perch but he'd suffered a lot of pike trouble and landed three! Back at the cars and the two above the bridge had struggled as well, Karl had 1lb 12oz from peg 124 and Fieldy had 2lb 7oz from 123 although both had lost chub.
A rather camera shy Adie had 4lb 1oz of mainly dace
I had 135 fish for 7lb 10oz
Rich had 1lb 9oz but had suffered from pike trouble all day
Karl said Harry had packed up early on 108 which meant he had to go up and weigh Steve P in the weir pool, he'd had a lovely day and caught a level 15lb which wouldn't be far off today. Back at the results and John Dursley had done well at Hambridge and caught five chub and some bits for 13lb 2oz which put him second and Hurf had also had a cracking day in peg 14 and weighed 11lb 6oz of dace and chublets for third place. Elsewhere Rob did well in 15 with 7lb 4oz of dace and chublets and Stu Aplin had 2lb 2oz from H1. So I actually finished fourth but with no sections being paid there was no envelope for me today but I at least I got off to a good start in the league with two points. *Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photos.
Hurf had a lovely net of fish for 11lb 6oz and third place from peg 14*

Rob also had a nice day catching 7lb 4oz from peg 15*

So despite the river being really low and clear, it's fished well with double figures needed to frame and quite a few chub were hooked and lost as well, once it's had a flush through and with a tinge of colour, I think we'll see some big weights. Peg 120 next week please!

1 - Steve Parker (Ilminster) - 15lb
2 - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 13lb 2oz
3 - Steve Hurford (Ilminster) - 11lb 6oz

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My trip to the Wye and my latest interview (below)

Update! - Just noticed that the contact form in the side bar hasn't been working so if you've tried to send me a message, huge apologies and please resend it as it's now working again

Sunday, October 09, 2016

River Wye - 8th October 2016

Justin phoned me on Thursday night to ask if I fancied going up to the Wye on Saturday for a days barbel and chub fishing and of course I didn't need asking twice! Regular readers will remember I've fished the Wye with Justin and the Stour with Hurf in a bid to beat my long standing personal best barbel of 6lb 11oz (caught at the Royalty) but blanked both times. Despite not catching anything they were both very enjoyable days in great company but I was hoping it would be third time lucky today. Justin has been fishing the Wye a lot and a few weeks back went up with Hurf and Fred and they caught some good fish including barbel to over 8lb and chub to over 5lb.

I met Justin and we picked Fred up en route, on the way he said that they'd fished a new stretch last week and we were going to try it again today as they'd caught well. He did also say that when he'd booked it some anglers had fished it yesterday which probably wouldn't do us any favours. We were soon pulling up at the river and the first swim was literally right by where we parked the car (my kind of river fishing!). Justin said they'd caught fish straight away from this swim last time so we started setting up while Fred walked up a bit further to a bend where he'd had a couple of fish.
Our first swim
Rigs were simple sliding cage feeders and the hooks had a hair rigged bait spike on which we mounted pre drilled pellets. For the feeders we had groundbait packed with hemp, corn and various pellets. Justin did comment that the level was a good foot down on last week and the river was quite low and clear. After around an hour we'd had no indications so we moved down to a swim just above a road bridge where they'd also done well. It looked lovely and we were soon settled in and casting towards the middle arch, we started to get some knocks which Justin said were probably chub. Fred phoned and said he'd already had a decent barbel around 8lb so hopefully we'd get a chance soon.
Swim number two
Then Justin's rod hooped over and he was into a fish only for the hook to pull out, it went a bit quiet after that and we were just contemplating a move when I've had my first proper bite but as soon as I've struck it was already solid and it was 2-0 to the barbel. There was quite a bit of kayak and canoe traffic and one capsized depositing three blokes into our swim, we didn't laugh, much! The next bite came on Justin's rod and he was into another fish but this one came off and on closer inspection, the hook had been straightened out and things weren't going to plan.

I phoned Fred to see how he was getting on and he said he'd had another barbel, this one around 6lb so at least somebody was catching. We moved swims again but no indications after an hour so we dropped back into the first swim for half an hour on our way back to the bridge but still nothing doing and I was facing my third barbel blank on the trot.
Time was running out
With about an hours fishing left we went back to the bridge swim and I thought the rest might have done it some good and with the light starting to fade as well, maybe we would get another chance. Time was ticking by and the tips remained motionless, Justin started packing a few things up and threw in the remainder of our groundbait when my tip arched over, only for me to miss it! I reeled in and was inspecting the pellet when Justin's tip flew round and he shouted for me to grab it as the rod headed towards the river! I was expecting to feel a fish but there was no resistance and when I reeled in the hooklength had gone! We headed back to the car with the final scoreline 4-0 to the barbel! Fred hadn't caught anymore but had fared better to finish 2-0 up.

So another nice day in great company but another blank and these bloody barbel are as difficult to catch as those pesky mullet! I would just like to say a massive thanks to Justin for arranging everything and inviting me along, cheers mate.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My latest interview (below)

Friday, October 07, 2016

Tony Curd Interview

My latest interview is with Bait-Tech and MAP star, Tony Curd, and if I do say so myself, it’s a cracker!

Against Men and Fish -  Hi Tony, thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions, let’s start with some easy ones,
How and at what age did you get into match fishing?

Tony Curd - I started fishing literally as soon as I could walk! I used to join my Dad on the Grand Union Canal here in West London while Mum went and done the shopping - How cliché! -  And spent many hours catching roach and perch on the whip. It wasn’t until I was 7 that I started to become interested in Match Fishing though and with Dad being a match angler I was soon fishing a few junior events again on the canals.

Do you remember your first match win and can you tell us about it?

I can remember it very well. It was the second Blenheim AS Junior open I ever fished on the Grand Union Canal at Harefield which probably had some of the best canal fishing anywhere in the country at the time and I think I weighed somewhere around 12lbs of Roach which I caught on the whip with hemp and bread! Commercials came a lot later for me as I stayed on natural waters for a long time which I feel gave me a good grounding when these venues came to the fore as a lot of the skills you learn on those venues are big help when it comes to catching some of the species found in commercial waters, my first win on a commercial was at Bury Hill Fisheries where some junior events were run and a five carp catch was enough for the win – we’d be bitterly disappointed with five carp nowadays!
What’s your favourite method?

Again with a big variation in my fishing it’s difficult to choose one.  I absolutely love feeder fishing on any type of waters though in particular for bream on lakes and rivers but equally love chucking a method feeder tight to an island or far bank on commercial waters. Float wise, Waggler fishing on the rivers or fishing the short pole for big carp on commercials takes some beating!

And your favourite species of fish?

Tough one again! I’ve done lots of different fishing in both match and pleasure situations but if I had to narrow it down I’d say it’s hard to beat a bag of bream – from any type of venue.

Do you prefer commercials or natural venues?

Commercials tend to get most of my attention as that is where most of the big events in the angling calendar are held and I really enjoy fishing the various venues on the circuit. But when it comes to a bit of downtime or you’re a bit fed up with your luck in the draw bag I always find a few days out on the Rivers is a great way to find my mojo again, a lot of match anglers say they don’t enjoy pleasure fishing and to be fair I wouldn’t either if I was pleasure fishing the same venues I fished matches at, I feel it’s important to have a bit of variation in your fishing to avoid going stale and getting bored.

If you could give the readers one tip to improve their catches, what would it be?

To quite simply keep sticking in there and to not beat yourself up too much – stick to a couple of venues and learn the methods you need to compete there. Speak to the anglers who are doing well week in week out and pick their brains, especially if they’ve had a good day, they tend not to hold much back then! After a while you’ll feel a whole lot more confident and start picking up results along the way, by sticking to a few regular venues you will begin to learn the moods of the venue and be able to make the right decisions year in year out.

And what are your favourite groundbait mixes?

For virtually all of my Natural Water fishing I highly recommend the Bait-Tech Pro Natural Range, there is a mix for everything in the range and by combining them to suit the style of fishing you’re doing on a particular day you can get the perfect mix. The addition of the Pro Natural Extra to the range not so long ago was great as the mixes can now be used in Deep or Fast Flowing waters now too as a super binding mix to the others in the range.


For commercials I love Bait-Tech Big Carp Method Mix Krill and Tuna for all my margin work, if its big fish down the edge you’re after then look no further! A brightly coloured very strong smelling mix which has big fish written all over it, it’s also a fantastic mix for venues with a reddish, clay bottom too which believe me is more commercial venues than not.

Once winter comes around I switch to Bait-Tech F1 for most of my commercial matches, not feeding quantities of groundbait but small marble sized pieces or dusted onto micros to draw in more fish in the clearer waters you’ll find at that time of the year, a real favourite of mine!

You’re backed by Bait-Tech and MAP, how much do you get involved with new product development and are there any new and exciting products coming out from either company that you can tell us about?
I joined MAP back in 2012 and I’m sure they won’t mind me saying that back then the brand was ‘Just another brand’ since then though year-on-year the rise of the company has been rapid and we are now right up there with the best of them.  One of the great things about being involved there is that you have an active role as a consultant to test product, suggest improvement and even totally new ones and it’s something I really enjoy particularly when you see something that you have had input into go down well with anglers all over the country.  We have just completed ‘Operation Seatbox’ which has taken some time but it’s taken that amount of time because going into a new field it just had to be right before release, and it’s right, believe me the amount of work that has gone into it behind the scenes is frightening.


I’ve been involved at Bait-Tech since 2010 and I’ve never looked back in terms of a bait sponsor, the quality of the products is second to none and has a real family feel about it – we have very little turnover in anglers and that says it all really! I’ve just this year joined the team in the office working on the Marketing and Social Media side of things which is great and something I’ve always wanted to do – as you’ll appreciate being a decorator previously doesn’t really give you the opportunity to attain such positions often so I jumped at the chance and getting the chance to help grow the brand is something I’m very passionate about.  It is a constant process of testing different baits and seeing what works, tweaking recipes and working with the sponsored anglers until they are right – most samples never make the shelves but anything that does will be epic!


The new seatbox from MAP looks the business, what can you tell us about it?

We have 3 boxes in the range to suit different needs and price points. The H-30 Lite (£325) and H-30 Comp (£435) and the Z-30 Elite (£599). The main focus at the moment though is on the flagship Z-30 though and what a bit of kit it really is, everyone who has seen it was expecting a £1000 price tag and simply cannot believe the quality that you’re getting for nearly half that price. The frame itself is manufactured to the highest standard and is rock solid with really classy looking graphics which are put onto the frame using the same level of quality that you’ll find on snowboards etc. What this means is your graphics will never peel off or get ruined which has been an issue with boxes in the past. It features the new 180 Degree locking mechanism on the legs too, this basically means that you can position the tightening wheel in any position around the leg – no more slamming them in the boot of the car! Add to this a modular design that can be altered to suit your fishing needs it has it all, the stacking unit which goes under the main seat can be used with any tray and you don’t have to use a tray which includes runners on it to make it lock thanks to a very clever magnet system.

Boxes aside we have a full accessories range, with everything from ripple bars, keepnet bar, feeder arm, side trays and winder kits. What makes these accessories unique though is the QRS System which stands for Quick Release System. This basically works on a push button where any accessory can be used with any QRS bracket, in short you can leave the brackets on your box and add any accessory to it as you will the same applies to keepnets you can simply leave the thread on your nets and store them away for the next session. Again these include the 180 degree ability so you will no longer snag the knobs with rigs etc. Something that I think is probably one of my favourite features on the QRS system comes on the range of side trays we have for the boxes, we’ve all had it where the support leg doesn’t fit the peg you’ve drawn and the water is too deep to reach the bottom. On our trays the QRS offers the angler the opportunity to move the position of the leg to ensure your tray will fit every peg you fish – an awesome feature and it’s so simple thanks to this system. The QRS fits 25, 30 and 36mm legs and all the adaptors are supplied and can be easily changed over.

To go with the seatbox launch there are also two barrows being added to the range and I believe these to be the best barrows ever designed! The X2 and X4 are self-explanatory as a 2 wheel and 4 wheel barrow. With the 2 wheel coming in at £99.99 and the 4 wheel coming out at £129.99. The beauty of these is the compactness of the pack down, featuring an extendable frame you’re able to get more kit on the barrow than others in the past and still get it packed down far smaller than ever before. You also get a barrow bag with these which make packing the car a whole lot easier, tidier and you’ll never leave a wheel or handle in the shed ever again…
You’ve got a long list of big match wins under your belt but which title still eludes you that you would love to add to your cv?

I’ve made quite a few big finals including two Fish’O’Mania Finals and appeared in many other flagship events. I also clocked up quite a few team achievements before going purely individual in pursuit of the sport’s biggest prizes. I’d dearly love to win one of the big ones – Maver Match This or Fish’O’Mania. These take up a lot of my time and when you’re chasing such achievements there are quite a few years that pass without event, but when it comes good it reminds you why you’ve spent years travelling thousands of miles and caught not a lot so many times trying to qualify!

In match fishing terms you’re still a youngster, what are your plans for the future, i.e. where do you see yourself in twenty years’ time? Any ambitions to fish for England?

To be honest I have literally no idea, as I said getting one or two big titles on the CV is my main aim for now and that will not change until that is complete! It’ll be interesting to see what events come around in that time, hopefully we will be able to get to a point where Television coverage and bigger money becomes an even bigger part of the sport. I spent quite a few years chasing a place in the England Youth teams while I was team fishing and to be brutally honest after doing very well in 3 trials I became disillusioned with the selection process and didn’t feel that there was a fair crack being given out so I had to re-evaluate my route into match fishing and chose to do it for myself, looking back it turned out to be the best option!
And where do you see match angling going? Do you think there’s been a shift away from massive weight venues? Has the carp bubble burst and are anglers going back to silvers?

Very much so! You only have to look at the success of Feedermasters and Riverfest to see that there is a big demand for matches on natural waters in this country and I think it’s superb to have the options and variation in events open to anglers who now have the opportunity to win big money and titles even if they get a bit bored on the commercial scene and fancy a change! There will always be a strong commercial fishery scene though and is the bread and butter of the match calendar and I can’t see that changing.

Before I let you go, here are some quick fire questions for you,

What’s your biggest fish?

As a match angler I very rarely take a set of scales with me! But I have caught Carp to 20lb, Barbel to 11lb, Perch to 3lb 12oz and Bream approaching double figures. 
And your biggest match weight?

320lb from Cob House Fishery a couple of years ago, it was solid!

Your favourite venue?
There’s a few that I really enjoy visiting! Commercial wise Colemans Cottage in Essex and Lindholme Lakes. But as far as rivers go my local River Thames and the River Wye are simply awesome when it comes to running water.
Well thank you Tony, it’s been an absolute pleasure, from Against Men and Fish


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 1 - 2nd October 2016

I was looking forward to getting back on the river but with it being painfully low and clear, a good draw would be essential. Rob and Fieldy had gone down yesterday to do some swim clearing and made sure there were enough pegs for today so a massive thanks for that, it really is appreciated. There was a decent turn out of eleven at the pub and Rob had put in five pegs at Coxes with six at Isle Brewers and looking at the swims I fancied 14 or 15 at the top end or 126, 128 or 129 down the bottom. If I could've chosen a peg I would go for 14 (the tank traps) as it's probably one of the best, most consistent pegs on the river and it's one that's been kind to me over the years.

Rob announced the draw and as people started sticking their hands in the bucket of dreams (and nightmares) I could hear various pegs being mentioned, Fieldy was on 126, Rob drew 128, Gordon pulled out 15 but I still hadn't heard anybody admit to 14, in fact when I stuck my hand in the bucket, there was only one ball left and when I pulled it out, the numbers 1 and 4 were staring back at me - result! So I'd drawn the peg I'd wanted but I certainly wouldn't be counting my chickens yet as the Isle can be a fickle beast, especially when it's low and clear and today it was also bright and sunny which wouldn't do us any favours.

I got to Upper Coxes and showed Karl where peg 19 was and I have to say it looked nice, Steve P and Adie were in 18 and 17 respectively and both were very shallow and you could see the bottom all the way through them. On my way to the tank traps I passed Gordon on the far bank in peg 15 and his swim looked good too, then I got to my peg and if anything it looked better than the last time I fished it.
Peg 14 (you can see the famous tank traps on the right hand side of the photo)
Although you could see the bottom across much of the peg there were some darker areas by the tank traps and also to my left just off the main flow coming down from the weir. I set up two rigs, a 0.5 gram Dave Harrell DH16 and a 1 gram bodied float, both had size 18 Kamasan B611 hooks to 0.12mm. For bait I had casters, red and bronze maggots and some Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp.
The excellent Dave Harrell DH16's
I always feed some hemp on the river
At the start time of 10:15 I feed some casters in the flow to my right and also upstream just off the main flow before starting a section short of the traps which would give me somewhere to go if bites tailed off or were hard to come by. I didn't have to wait long for my first bite and I was soon swinging in a 2oz chublet, three more followed before I caught a chunky gudgeon and it was a bite a chuck. After an hour I had 18 fish, mostly small chublets along with a couple of gudgeon and some nice dace although I did bump several fish too but with 2-3lb in the net, I would be happy if I could carry on catching at the same rate.
I was catching mainly chublets but had a couple of nice dace like this one
Bites started to slow up towards the end of the second hour but I still added another 15 fish, Hurf turned up to see how I was doing and while he was sat with me I had a couple more fish but decided to try up towards the weir where I'd been feeding from the start. The float sailed away and a tiny chublet wasn't the result I'd hoped for, I had another five or six fish around an ounce apiece and although I wasn't bagging I was still putting fish in the net and crucially I was resting the other swim. After about half an hour I went back down towards the traps and although I was having the wait longer for the bites, I was catching a better stamp, including an 8oz chublet and with that, Hurf left me to it.

At the half way point I was up to 50 fish but bites were tailing off again so I went back up towards the weir where I had another quick flurry of micro chub and I was just thinking I couldn't see me fishing there too long unless some better fish showed when the next bite resulted in a nice roach of 4oz or so and then I had a clonking dace and all of a sudden things were looking up. I carried on catching lots of small fish but the better fish started coming more regularly and the more hemp and caster I fed, the better the swim was getting. By the end of the fourth hour I'd put another 25 fish in the net and felt a good weight was on the cards.
Fishing up towards the weir I started to catch really well
And the dace were getting bigger
A little trout (which count in our matches) was a welcome bonus too!
I was really enjoying myself but then a couple walked past with two Labradors and when they walked round to the concrete slope (to the right of the weir in the photo above), I just knew what was coming next. Sure enough a tennis ball was produced and soon the dogs were cavorting in the river much to the owners delight! Despite much head shaking from me, the canines continued to fetch the ball and how the women laughed every time they climbed out of the river and gave themselves a shake, showering her in water, they were having a lovely time. I, on the other hand, wasn't.

With all the commotion, the river went a horrible dirty colour with loads of dislodged weed coming down and from bagging up I went to catching very little and only added a couple of tiny fish while all the doggie mayhem was taking place. It felt like my match was slipping away but thankfully they didn't stay too long, it was probably only about 10-15 minutes but it felt like hours! I went back to fishing by the tank traps and added a few more fish and then after the water cleared a bit I went back up towards the weir and started catching well again, including another roach and some more dace.

Despite all that racket, I still added another 20 fish and the clicker was reading 95 with an hour to go. Another quick foray by the tank traps saw a few more fish added to my tally before I spent the last 45 minutes fishing off the main flow again and sport got stronger as we neared the finish line and I landed another cracking dace on the last cast to end with 114 fish (mainly chublets and dace plus a couple of roach, three or four gudgeon and that trout), I only had one minnow all day which just goes to show there were a lot of silvers there.

I thought I probably had somewhere between 12-14lb which I hoped would be up round there but Isle Brewers normally chucks up some good weights so I'd have to wait and see. I packed up and went to give Adie a hand to weigh in and get some catch shots. As I was walking back to the car, I met Karl who gave me a hand with my kit (cheers mate) and as we reached the bridge, Adie was there and he said he'd struggled. We walked down to weigh Karl in and he'd had some nice chublets and dace to weigh 2lb 7oz, next up was Steve P who'd really struggled for 9oz and lost a load of hooklengths and to be honest, 18 isn't my favourite peg. Adie had a level pound and then Gord weighed 1lb 6oz so the rest of the section hadn't fished great.
Karl had 2lb 7oz from peg 19
Steve P really struggled for 9oz from 18
I think Adie was telling me he'd missed two bites!
Gordon had 1lb 6oz from peg 15
I was last to weigh and Adie called my weight at 12lb 8oz and I'd had a lovely days fishing (apart from the impromptu Crufts display of course!) although I'd bumped/lost around a dozen fish so could have had nearer to 15lb today. I did ask Steve to take a catch shot, which he did, sort of (see below), I don't think David Bailey has anything to worry about! We loaded the cars and then waited for the anglers at Isle Brewers to get back, as they started to arrive Fieldy and Rich jointly had the top weight down there with 6lb 2oz so I'd done it, my first win on the river for ages.
I had a lovely net of fish for 12lb 8oz (although you can't really see in this photo!)
A better shot of the fish (but you can't see my handsome face - cheers Steve!)
John Dursley had 4lb 3oz from peg 127 to win the section, Tony Newman had 3lb from peg 123, Rob had 2lb 7oz from 128 and Stuart Aplin had 2lb 2oz from 129 so it had been hard going for most today and some rain is desperately needed before next Sunday.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 8oz
2 - Rich Studley (Ilminster) - 6lb 2oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 6lb 2oz

A - Karl Aplin (Ilminster) - 2lb 7oz
B - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 4lb 3oz

So a lovely day's fishing and I got my Royal Oak campaign off to a great start, also last weekend was the anniversary of losing my Mum so I hope she was smiling down on me today.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Summerhayes - Open - 25th September 2016

It was back to Summerhayes and Longs this week and I was travelling on my own as Janders was at Perry St today, when I pulled into the car park, thankfully there was no sign of the Tart so hopefully he's gone into hibernation for the winter (or else he's run out of pound coins!). After paying my pools and a quick coffee, Ray drew the golden ball which was peg 28 and then went and picked the same peg for himself! I went in and was happy enough with peg 33 which is in a decent silvers area. In recent weeks Roy Hughes and Jeff Sparkes have been catching some good silvers weights fishing in really close so I decided I was going to feed two lines at top two plus one along with my normal five and ten metre lines.
Peg 33 on Longs
For feed I had some micros I'd soaked the night before and for the hook I had Bait-Tech 4mm Xpands, I also had some hard 6mm pellets for banding if little fish were too much of a problem. I set up a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp for the inside lines and five metres and a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for ten metres. On the whistle I cupped in small amounts of micros on two inside lines left and right before putting in a similar amount on two five metre lines and then finally half a pot of micros on one line at ten metres straight out in front of me.

I started on the short left hand line and first put in, the float sailed away and I netted a 4oz skimmer, three more between 2-6oz followed before I bumped what felt like a decent fish, then I had a 'leaper' around the pound mark and was off to a good start. I had some more smaller skimbobs and then an 8oz tench before another good skimmer went airborne, this one about 1.5lb. I tried the right hand line and had a couple of small fish before landing my first carp as the first hour came to a close. Back on the left hand line and the next bite resulted in a 10oz tench, I was really enjoying myself and with the best part of five hours left, I had 5lb of silvers already.

It looked like Derek on my left was catching carp and Rene over on peg 12 was getting a few on the method feeder but I couldn't really see how Ray on 28 and Jeff down on 23 were doing as I knew they'd both be fishing for silvers as well. Things slowed up a bit during the second hour, I was still catching small skimmers but no more of the bigger ones and every time I tried the right hand line I had a carp. To make matters worse, tiny roach were starting to be a pain knocking the soft pellet about on both lines. I ventured out to the five metre lines and added a couple more blades but I was missing quite a few bites and from doing really well, I was now struggling. I tried banded pellet which stopped the small fish but it wasn't long before the inevitable happened and I was playing yet another carp!

Several times during the day, I've struck into fish and was convinced it would be a decent skimmer only for it to wake up when I've got down to the top two and turn into a carp! Some of them were decent fish as well and I even had two lovely golden koi type carp with one pushing 8lb! Time was running out and I just couldn't catch anymore quality silvers, with about 15 minutes to go, I hooked what felt like a crucian or a tench but the hook pulled out which about summed up the day. When the whistle went my final tally was 2 tench, 2 decent skimmers, 28 smaller ones and a few tiny roach which I thought might go 7-8lb plus about 15 carp.

I packed up and took my kit back to the car and when Ray turned up, he said he'd struggled for silvers and Jeff said he had too and he reckoned Mark Leahy probably had the top weight with 8 or 9 decent skimmers. We walked round with the scales to start the weigh in with Rene on peg 12 and after five weighs his total was 168lb odd which set the bar really high (I have to apologise at this point as I forgot to get a photo of the weigh board so I'm a little unsure of exact weights etc!), Mark Leahy's skimmers went 9lb 6oz and I knew I didn't have that and would need to beat Jeff and Ray to get second in the silvers.

There were several 60-70lb carp weights and then we got to Jeff and he had loads of small fish to weigh 7lb 15oz and I knew it would be close between us. Nigel Wickham went into second place overall with 114lb 14oz and then Ray had 6lb something of silvers which just left me and Derek to weigh. My carp went 46lb odd and when I pulled my silvers net out, it didn't feel like much and I thought I that late lost fish might be costly. I couldn't see the scales display but a couple of people said it was close and I was relieved when Gareth called out 8lb 8oz and I actually wasn't that far off Mark's weight so I was right and that lost fish had been costly! Last but not least was Derek who just pipped Nigel for second when he weighed 115lb.

So I sneaked second in the silvers and picked up £14 which helped pay for the day and my mini revival continues. Next week is the first match on the Isle and at the moment the river is very low and desperately in need of some rain, the bottom end is also very weedy although I've always preferred the upper sections early on as I think the fish are in the shallower, more oxygenated water but wherever we end up, it'll be nice to be back on moving water.
After my recent barren run, any envelopes are most welcome!
1 - Rene (Summerhayes) - 168lb
2 - Derek (Summerhayes) - 115lb
3 - Nigel Wickham (Summerhayes) - 114lb 14oz

1 - Mark Leahy (Summerhayes) - 9lb 6oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 8oz

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - More reviews and another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dillington Pond - Pairs Open - 18th September 2016

After a pretty disastrous Summer League, I didn't have high hopes for my bad run ending today unless I did something different and with it being a pairs match I felt the best chance of me and Hurf doing well would be just to get our heads down and fish the short pole. I actually made up a couple of rigs yesterday to fish two and three sections to hand but as I've said many times before, it's not a method I enjoy and I was hoping I'd be able to get some better fish on caster.

I got to the Royal Oak in time to have a lovely sausage sarnie and along with the regulars, it was nice to see Tackleuk's Andy Downton and Glen Radford again. When Rob announced the draw, I suggested Hurf pick two pegs for us as my drawing hand is currently broken! When we looked at the two ping pong balls, it was a case of all the twos as we were on pegs 2 (which is a decent peg) and 22 (not so good). Hurf asked which one I'd rather fish and I said the former as I'd struggled on 22 in one of the Summer League matches.
My view for the day from peg 2
On arriving at my peg, it looked nice with quite a few branches in the water to my right but there were a few sticking out which I just knew would impede flicking the rig out and would cause me problems at some point during the day. After getting my box level, the first job as always was to mix up some groundbait and today I was using Bait-Tech Pro Nat Dark with a little Eastern Promise added! On my last trip to Thailand I visited a local tackle shop and picked up a couple of bags of groundbait which I think is basically just coloured breadcrumbs but I can't be sure as I don't read Thai!
Pro Nat Dark is my favourite groundbait for silverfish on natural venues
I actually set up four rigs today which is practically unheard of for me! I set up two 0.2 gram Drennan AS1's to fish at two and three sections to hand, a Preston Chianti to fish up in the water and a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing on the deck at 8.5 metres. All four rigs had hooklengths comprising size 18 Kamasan B611 barbless hooks and 0.10mm bottoms. I was ready with a few minutes to spare so went to check that Hurf and Steve P still wanted a side bet, they both said yes and Rob wanted to have a pound on it as well.

From my peg I couldn't see any of the other anglers in my section so would have to rely on the bankside banter to get an idea of how I was doing. The only anglers I could see in the other section were John Dursley on 20, Rob on 19, Stuart on 18, Terry on 17 and I could just about see Ash down on the bottom bank. Although I couldn't see Hurf because of the bush we could hear each other and would be able to keep each other updated throughout the day. I'd said to him in the pub that I thought we'd need around 12-14lb each to get in the top three and that we should aim for around 300 fish (50 an hour).

On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait at 8.5 metres before starting at two sections to hand with red maggot on the hook. I fed a pinch of casters and a little nugget of groundbait and was soon swinging in a small roach followed by a tiny perch and another roach, I shouted over to ask Hurf how he was doing and he'd already had 5 fish and was up and running. I had planned to switch to caster if I was catching too many small fish but I started catching some lovely roach which required netting and even had a couple of 4oz chublets and a Dillington barbel (gudgeon).

After the first hour my clicker was reading 48 and although I was a couple short of my target, I thought I had at least 3lb, probably nearer 4.5lb and if I could maintain this sort of catch rate, 18-20lb was on the cards but I knew there would be some quieter spells. Going into the second hour, I was still catching well when Hurf shouted across that I needed to up my game as Andy Downton in my section had just landed a nice bream. I wasn't too worried at this early stage as long as he didn't catch anymore.

I added another 49 fish in the second sixty minutes and probably had around 8lb which was still way ahead of my target. Hurf said he was still catching small fish but had lost count and from what I could see he was doing okay in his section but then John Dursley netted a nice bream on the pole to wipe out Hurf's early lead and I shouted across that he needed to up his game!

My catch rate started to slow as we approached the half way point but I still added another 36 fish to put me over 10lb and it was all going really well. Glen on peg 24 in Hurf's section had landed a big fish and with Ash on peg 14 catching roach well, it was all very tight. I had no clue how the rest of my section was doing, apart from Andy and his bream.

I was still getting some nice roach when disaster struck and the rig went up the tree, I pulled for a break thinking the hooklength would give way but it actually snapped above it and all the shot had pinged off! It took me a while to get the rig sorted again and, as is very often the case, it just wasn't the same. Then I noticed the line hanging down from the branch and the hook still had a maggot on it and I couldn't leave it like that in case a bird got hooked up. I went up to Scotty and asked if I could nick a cigarette, I asked how he was doing and was a bit taken aback when he said he had over 250 fish but was being battered by Andy who, along with the slab, had a decent skimmer and a pound plus roach!

I waited while he sparked up a fag and smoked a bit of it, during which time he had several roach, before I went back and wedged the lit fag in the end of my pole and faffed about before finally burning through the line, this all took time and obviously my catch rate suffered. During the fourth hour I only added another 26 fish and bites had really slowed up so I picked up the three sections to hand rig as I'd noticed Scotty was catching further out. I started getting roach and even added a couple more chublets but the rig wasn't really heavy enough and it just wasn't right.

Then news filtered down that Andy had added another bream so it was looking like it would be between him and Glen and Scott and Ash for the top two places and the best we could hope for was third and I still didn't know how the rest of my section was getting on! I briefly tried the deep rig at 8.5 metres but had to wait for bites and the fish were too small, I had another go at two sections but it just wasn't happening now and I made the decision to stick with three sections to hand for the remainder of the match.

With the final hour well underway, I was still catching some nice roach and the odd chublet although I was missing quite a few bites. Hurf shouted over that Glen had landed several chub and lost a couple so he was looking good to win that section although Ash had been catching roach well on his favoured shallow approach. Apart from those two on that side, it looked like it was going to be tight for third place in the section, John had that decent bream, Rob had a couple of decent skimmers and Hurf was still catching small fish.

With five minutes to go, my float buried and the strike resulted in a good fish tearing off, it headed straight for the bush on my right so I plunged the pole tip under the water and gave it as much welly as I dared. I started to win the battle and a decent chub came to the top on the inside and I managed to scoop a 3lb chub - bonus. I still had time to add another roach before the finish and ended up with 215 fish and I really had no idea of what sort of weight I had, possibly 15lb or so.

I packed up and took some of my kit back to the car and when I got back, Steve P was waiting to weigh me in, I pulled my net out and was happy when the needle settled on 17lb 11oz which is my best weight on the pond for ages. I asked Scotty how many fish he'd had and when he replied he had over 450, I said he must have 20lb, he protested saying he hadn't had any quality and he was right as he only weighed 19lb 15oz! Then Andy plonked his fish on the scales and they bottomed out so we had to take one of his big bream out and after two weighs his total was 22lb 7oz and I was down to third in my section and we'd only weighed three anglers!
I had 17lb 11oz which included a nice chub
Scotty had over 450 roach for 19lb 15oz
Andy had 22lb 7oz which included two lovely bream
Next up was Steve 'Nob Budd' Parker and he weighed 7lb 12oz followed by Paul Homewood who had 10lb 4oz which included a couple of nice skimmers on the long pole from peg 9, Karl also had a nice skimmer and weighed 3lb 15oz from peg 11 and Nick had 6lb 13oz from peg 13. So I finished up third in my section and just then the scales in the other section arrived to weigh Ash so we went to have a look. He had a lovely net of roach weighing 19lb 15oz which put him second in the section behind Glen who'd had five chub and some roach for 22lb 3oz from peg 24 and he lost three as well.

Steve P had 7lb 12oz from peg 7
Paul H had 10lb 4oz which included some nice skimmers
Karl had 3lb 15oz from peg 11
Nick had 6lb 13oz from peg 13
I asked Hurf how he'd gotten on and he said he weighed 10lb 12oz but John had beaten him by 3oz to push him down to fourth in the section but by my reckoning that would mean we tied on points and we'd sneak third on weight. Thanks to Ash for the photos*
Glen won the other section with 22lb 3oz which included five chub*
Hurf had 10lb 12oz from peg 22*
John was third in the section with 10lb 15oz*
Rob had 9lb 7oz from peg 19*
Young Stuart weighed 6lb 2oz from peg 18*
Terry had 5lb 4oz of roach from peg 17*
Ash was second in the section with yet another cracking net of quality roach, this time weighing 19lb 15oz*
So back at the results and Andy and Glen were confirmed as the winners with a perfect two point score pushing Scott and Ash down into second place with four points. Then we were read out in third place with seven points, beating John and Paul on weight, and we picked up £20 each plus I had the £3 in side bets. So my bad run has finally ended and it was just nice to catch some fish although at once stage I thought it had all gone wrong when I had my mid match wobble. I'm still off the pace but I don't feel quite as bad about things.

So the pond continues to fish extremely well and it really is an intriguing venue that's changing all the time, it will be interesting to see how it fishes after the first couple of frosts, will those bonus fish still continue to show?

1 – Andy Downton (Tackleuk) – 22lb 7oz
2 – Glen Radford (Tackleuk) – 22lb 3oz
3 – Scott Russell (Tackleuk) – 19lb 15oz
3 – Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 19lb 15oz
5 – Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) – 17lb 11oz

1 – Andy Downton and Glen Radford – 2 points
2 – Scott Russell and Ashley Tomkins – 4 points
3 – Jamie Rich and Steve Hurford – 7 points (on weight)

I'm at Summerhayes next week and then the river matches start in October and I'm looking forward to getting back on the Isle although at the moment it needs some rain and a good flush through.

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - More reviews and another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)