Monday, December 18, 2006

River Isle - Crown League - 17th December 2006

After four matches in this league I am jointly leading with two points along with Roger Russell. You can drop your two worst results and the trouble is, along with my two section wins I have two crap results and Barney is close behind with three points but has better back up results. There were ten anglers fishing and Robin and Barney used the better pegs on three sections of the river, Ashford, Ilford and above Coxes. I fancied pegs 52 or 55 at Ilford but drew peg 15 at Coxes. It's a fairly consistent peg but the bush you used to fish too has been removed although there have been some decent weights since it's removal.

There was a chill in the air and we'd had a couple of frosts but the river looked in good nick although low and clear as usual. As I was setting up John Coxon walked up the other bank on his way to peg 14, the tank traps swim where I won the first Hollowlegs match. I set up the obligatory 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo shotted with an olivette and a couple of droppers with a 0.12mm bottom and 18 B611. White hydro completed the set up. The main flow of the swim comes down the middle where it is also at it's deepest before the peg shallows up at the bottom. There are a couple of inviting looking bays on the far side where some of the flow eddies back around.

I decided to start down the middle on the crease of the flow while feeding across to one of the bays as a second line for later, where hopefully the chub would be lined up. On the whistle I baited up with a single caster and first chuck the float buried and the result was a minnow! On went double caster to hopefully keep those little blighters at bay. The next put in resulted in a positive bite and this fish was slightly better although I'll never know what it was because as I was shipping back, the hook pulled out! I then had a chublet of around 12oz and then dropped off a small fish although I was still getting the odd minnow, even on double caster.

I was feeding caster, maggot and hemp both down the middle and across, after the first hour I had six chublets from 4oz to 12oz for about 2lb. If I could carry on like this for the remaining four hours I would have double figures and hopefully be there or thereabouts. I was still getting the odd chublet (and minnows) down the middle and was pretty happy with the way things were progressing although I did pull out of a chublet. After two hours things started to slow up and it was time to go across, two quick chublets put in an appearance before this too went quiet. Not the response I had hoped!

Another try down the middle only resulted in minnows and half a lobbie failed to get any takers. I then went tight across at 13 metres to the far bank to the left of the bay with half a lobbie on (that sounds a bit rude doesn't it?) and started getting bites straight away, had two small chublets and pulled out of a fish. I was just about to feed when I looked up and the float had gone, this fish was better at around a pound and a quarter. Just then Justin turned up and asked if I was bagging again, I said not really and that I had around 3lb. He said he'd only had a minnow on peg 24 and that Neil Dring above him only had one chub. He then walked up to see how John was getting on.

Just after Justin went I had another chublet before that dried up as well and attempts down the middle and in the bay proved fruitless. With an hour and a half to go I switched back to double caster and decided to fish across but up the feed in a bid to make something happen. As I've said before this last period is very often very productive and I've lost count of the times a seemingly dead swim has come back to life and I've had fish that have elevated me from a mediocre weight to a frame place. I was hoping today would be the same.

A bite resulted in a decent pound and a half chub and the next put in I hooked an even better fish that went off on a powerful run. With the pole tip under the water I was slowly getting the upper hand, I was just about to unship some sections when the poxy hook pulled out!, bugger. I was really hoping that fish wouldn't cost me. I had another chub around the pound mark and not long after another one which was approaching 2lb. I now had around 8lb and with half an hour to go if I could snare a couple more I could do a good weight. Fifteen minutes passed and my mind kept going back to that lost fish, then I missed a couple of bites before the float sailed away and I was into another good fish. I netted it safely and I reckoned it was at least two and half pounds and there was still quarter of an hour to go. One more, please, one more.

It wasn't to be though and I never had another bite. I packed up feeling quite happy and pleased with my match with the only blip being that lost fish. I took most of my kit back to the car before walking up to weigh John in. He said he'd had a few and was admitting to a couple of pound, when he pulled his net out I knew it was more and he weighed 5lb 6oz of chublets, dace and a couple of roach. When we got to my peg I said I reckoned on having around 8lb although I'm notorious for underestimating. My 18 chub (plus minnows) pulled the needle round to 11lb 10oz which I was well chuffed with. I weighed the biggest chub which went 2lb 12oz.

Back at the cars Justin had only had one minnow and Neil hadn't added to his single chub of 1lb 10oz. I still thought Roger on peg 55 or Barney on the big bend at Ashford (peg 85) might be threats but they both came back with an ounce each! Digger weighed 5lb 12oz from peg 50 and that was good enough for 2nd! So I'd won again, my 12th match win this year, and picked up another £65 to take my total to £1176. I have never hit such a rich (pun intended) vein of form before and surely next year will be an anticlimax compared to this one. I am also still leading the league and am now three points clear, thanks to Roger and Barney's blowouts.

There is only one match remaining in 2006 and thats the pairs open on New Year's Eve, my partner Justin and I have a good record in this match with two wins and a second in the last three years, well thats hexed that then!

I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish anybody who's read my blog a Happy Xmas and the next time I write it will be 2007, so a Happy New Year as well.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Xmas Fayre - River Isle - 10th December 2006

Twenty eager anglers awaited the draw for this prize bonanza but with rain forecast the outlook was fairly bleak (pun intended) and there was a chance this match could be a washout. I really fancied a chub peg as for most of the matches I have drawn Isle Brewers and where did I draw? Isle Brewers of course. I had the choice of peg 133 or peg 127, now 133 is a pretty consistent peg and capable of double figures but it is also a mega walk. So I chose 127 as it's a short walk and apparently there have been chub seen recently. Was this to be my first mistake?

On arrival the river wasn't carrying as much colour as I expected although it was very pacy, my peg had a nice slack under my feet and a smaller one on the other side of the flow. Both slacks still boiled up on occasion though and if the river came up I was hopeful I would at least still have some slack water somewhere. It was a rush job to set up and I only managed to set up my usual 1.5 gram carbo with an olivette and 0.12 bottom to a size 18 B611. I had intended to set a whip up but there wasn't time.

On the whistle I started in the slack under my feet, feeding bronze maggots, casters and hemp, after ten minutes all I had to show for my efforts was a microscopic minnow! and I was now glad there wasn't time for that whip! I added a section to fish just on the crease and had my first proper bite and a 3oz roach was swung to hand. At least I had now found them, wrong!, after another fruitless half an hour I tried another spot and had a dace straight away but once again this proved to be a false dawn.

Then the rain started and this was turning into a miserable day, the slack opposite kept inviting me over so across I went at 13 metres. The slack was boilier than I thought and the float kept getting dragged under, I was just about to give it up when the float went and another roach was soon in the net. The next put in and I had another, 'Here we go?' I thought but again I was left scratching my head. A brief look on the inside only produced minnows and another quick flurry across only produced another dace.

Leighton Cox on peg 126 poked his head up over the bank to set his brolley up and asked how I was getting on, when I told him I only had five fish he was suprised as he was getting a small fish every chuck. By this stage with over three hours gone I was in real trouble and going nowhere and my chances of a decent prize were disappearing fast. I did manage two gudgeon and a tiny dace, again on the crease. I even had a go with a lobbie for those chub but never had a touch on it.

Leighton wandered down and asked if he could borrow a rig as he had smashed all his up, he was still catching well and looking good for a frame place. By now I had drunk all my coffee and ran out of ideas. With half an hour to go I was back on the maggot holding the float back under my feet in the slack. The light had started to go and as so often happens the fish decided to feed, there was the odd fish topping and my float went under. I had a small roach and next put in dropped off the best fish of the day, a roach of around 6oz. At ten past three Leighton appeared again to let me have my rig back, I asked if he was still catching and he said he was but had packed up as the match finished at three! I told him it was three-thirty and, after poncing half my maggots because he thrown all his bait in, he rushed back to bag up again. At least somebody would make good use of my bait!

I did catch another three roach before the all out to give me a grand total of seven roach, three dace and two gudgeon plus a few minnows. I packed up and walked above the bridge to watch the weigh in. Barney had a respectable 3lb 4oz and then Alan Dunn, following on from his victory last week, plonked an amazing 26lb 13oz of quality roach on the scales. It was the best roach net I've ever witnessed on the river, well done Alan. After that anything else was to be an anti climax, Leighton weighed 7lb 1oz and would have been more if he hadn't packed up early. My 'haul' went 1lb 2oz and I was left wishing I'd fished 133.

After a really nice buffet lunch at the Crown it was time for the prizegiving. Alan, as expected, won followed by Pete Lonton who had three chub for 7lb 12oz and Leighton was third. It was quite a while before I was called up to chose my prize but still ended up with a crate of Stella. Andy took a pound off me with 5lb 12oz although he lost two chub which would have put him second.

With only two matches left in 2006, will I be able to add this years tally? See you next week.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dillington Pond - Chris Patten Memorial - 3rd December 2006

Chris was a fantastic angler who died at a young age and Baz Morgan (one of Chris's best friends) thought a match on the River Isle would be a fitting tribute to a fantastic bloke. Alas the weather let us down and heavy rain and strong winds saw the match switched to Dillington and Perry St ponds. Chris served his apprenticeship on the Isle and loved his river fishing so it was a shame it was flooded out. The match was invite only and I felt really priviliged to be asked.

I must admit I wasn't too upset that I would now be fishing at Dillington as it's a venue I've done really well at lately. I drew peg 1 by a small stream that comes in, on my right was Justin and on my left was Adrian Green, an angler like so many fishing today, who hadn't fished for ten years and more but had come out of retirement to honour Chris. Adrian had been my fishing mentor many years ago and I even worked for him and Barney when they owned A & R Tackle in Ilminster.

Some members of Chris's family were fishing along with many of his friends including Brian Reed and Scott Russell on my pond and Alan Dunn, Stuart 'Fred' Brown and Baz among many others on Perry St. The wind was really evil and I decided not to bother with the waggler and concentrate on the pole. I set up the usual 0.4 gram rig with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. As the wind was so bad I reasoned that rather than struggle trying to hold the pole at 11.5 metres I would fish at 10 where hopefully I would be able to control things a little better.

I mixed up some Van Den Eynde Supercup and added some black Tracix to darken the mix and on the whistle cupped in three balls at 10 metres. I started with double red maggot, feeding caster, maggot and hemp over the top, hoping to switch to caster to target the better roach. First put in I had a small perch which I netted to be on the safe side, another followed next chuck. A switch to caster produced more small perch and the odd small roach, not the 'netters' I was expecting. A quick look around the pond revealed nobody doing much.

At times the wind was so bad decent presentation was nigh on impossible but I perservered and slowly but surely some better roach put in an appearance. It wasn't ballistic by any means but I felt I was doing better than most. I had 15 fish after the first hour and 32 after the second, mostly small fish with the odd net roach amongst them. I saw Justin was also catching quite regularly and Scotty Russell had netted a chub.

I carried on catching quite well for hour three but by the fourth hour all I could catch was small perch on maggot. By this stage Scott had landed a good eel to go with his chub. I was pleased with my progress and when another of Chris's friends, Phil Rainford, came around taking photos and reported that Scotty had around 4lb and Brian Reed was admitting to the same I thought I wasn't too far away from that weight. Adrian Green sat behind me for a much needed cup of coffee (it really was very cold) and a chat before saying he was going to pack up. While he was with me I had quite a good spell catching quite a few perch and a couple of slightly better roach.

The last hour was a real struggle but the wind dropped enough for me to go past my feed to 11.5 metres where I had another four roach, two of which were net fish. I also missed a couple of bites. Also during this period Scotty landed another chub and I felt he would be the dangerman. Barney blew the whistle to end the match and my final tally was 69 fish, I really had no idea of my weight as I had a lot of small fish. As I loaded my kit into my car Justin came back, I asked how he'd got on and he said he had loads of small perch but that they don't weigh much. I got the scales out of my car as I had them for the umpteenth time and walked round to weigh in.

The first peg to weigh was Pete Lonton who had loads of small perch for 2lb 5oz, Martin Heard was next and had 3lb 11oz, then came Brian Reed who had loads of perch plus some better roach for 7lb exactly (and I hadn't seen him catch a fish!). Barney had 1lb 9oz and the old fossil (Malcolm Levy) was by the pump house and had 2lb 4oz although he was moaning about a lost chub, we all thought he was practising a catch and release scheme...! Next was Scott and when he pulled his net out I thought he might push Brian but the needle settled on 6lb 8oz, the lad on the next peg had two fish for 9oz. Adrian had gone on and then it was me, Justin by this stage had finished weighing the other pegs where Jock was top weight with 7lb 14oz and I really didn't think I would be anywhere near the top weights. I pulled out my net and the scales stopped at 7lb 3oz, so I hadn't won again but was second on the lake which I was quite pleased with.

We all went back to the Cotley pub where we all had a fantastic Sunday roast cooked by the landlady Sue. Phil Rainford did a great job selling draw tickets, loads of local tackle shops had donated prizes and Baz had put up a weeks fishing holiday at his lodge in France for first prize. Perry St had fished well after a recent influx of carp and one of Chris's closest friends, Alan Dunn, was top with 19lb 12oz and won a really nice trophy made by Chris's engineering firm. My nemesis Janders shrugged off his recent bad form to catch 18lb odd for second. The bad news being he'd said in the week that he didn't want to carry on with the fiver sidebet, hard luck mate! I picked up £50 for my second at Dillington to take this years winnings to £1111, I really can't see how I will top that next year!

Lots of Chris's family came for the meal, which was nice and Baz gave a great speech during which he thanked Les Braunton for all the hard work he put in helping to organise the event. Chris's family donated a bottle of scotch for the lowest recorded weight which Les took home for catching a hard won 1oz!!! Then it was time for the draw and Martin Heard won the holiday and we all reckoned he would take Malcolm...! I won a Preston Innovations pole roller so had a really good day in all.

I would just like to finish by thanking Baz and Les for all their hard work organising the match, Sue at the Cotley, Ilminster and Chard angling clubs for the use of the waters and all the anglers for supporting the event. Around £250 was raised for charity which is fantastic and there is talk of making this an annual match, I hope so. Wherever Chris is now I'm sure he was smiling down on us and that he would be particularly pleased that Alan was victorious on the day.

Next week is Ilminster's Xmas Fayre, will we actually manage to get on the river?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dillington Pond - 26th November 2006

After more heavy rain in the night I was hoping the match on the river would be switched to Dillington. On walking into the Crown for the draw this was the case, the bad news was that this wouldn't count as a Hollowlegs match. We had to use the river peg numbers to draw and after getting peg 86 I was really glad this wasn't on the river as this is a crap peg! After checking the hastily drawn map, I was next to the willow where the stream comes in, a peg I never done any good from, still fish swim don't they?

The pond was higher than normal and very coloured, my peg was quite awkward and I had to sit in the water and there were quite a few submerged reeds just visible in front of me. Shipping the pole back would be difficult and using 11.5 metres I would have to break the pole down twice. I set up a 0.6 gram rig with the usual 0.12mm hooklength and 18 B611 hook, blue hydro completed the set up as this would hopefully subdue any bonus fish. My groundbait was the same mix as yesterday, Van Den Eynde Supermatch and Supercup in equal quantities.

On the whistle I cupped in three balls at 11.5 metres which was hard work with the high bank and some chopped worm and casters at the same length but towards the willow. I started over the groundbait and first put in had a small perch on double red maggot, so as in the past I switched to caster straight away to try and pick out the roach. My mate Andy was on the other side of the willow and he started getting odd small fish. Dunner was on my left and he too was catching. The switch to caster paid off and I started getting some lovely roach and by the end of the first hour I had thirteen fish. Using this figure I set my target at 70 fish.

I couldn't see much happening around the rest of the lake so I got my head down, during the second hour I had seventeen fish although some of these were small roach and perch. Hour three was even better and I had another twenty fish and I was pretty sure I was ahead of both Andy and Alan. Despite awful weather being forecast we were fairly lucky and only had the odd shower.

The chub were conspicuous in their absence which I think was down to the coloured water and from the inactivity around the rest of the pond I thought I must be in with a chance, although I'm never one to count my chickens. Hour four and things slowed up for me and I suffered a spell of bumping fish and I lost a couple in the submerged reeds in front of me. Andy had slowed right up although Dunner had started to catch more consistently and I counted him having four fish to my one at some stages.

I was feeding mainly hemp and caster at 11.5 metres along with a few maggots, I did try over the chopped worm line a couple of times but no bites were forthcoming. I didn't spend too long over it though as I was conscious of Alan's increasing catch rate. Coming a metre short saw me net some more roach and with half an hour to go I had overtaken my target and was now on 80 fish which I thought might give me double figures.

The last part of the match was difficult for me as I had a real job to see the float due to the light and I only had four more fish. I packed up and followed the scales along our bank and was surprised when after the first few pegs were weighed, the top weight was Les Braunton with 4lbs. Then came the danger man, and when Alan's fish pulled the scales around to 8lb I was sure I had more than that, or had I overestimated? Andy asked what I thought I had and I admitted to 6lb, he raised an eyebrow and when I pulled my net out it was clear this was a long way off. My weight was called out at 15lb 6oz and I was well chuffed.

Alan Dunn's 8lb roach net that earned him the runner's up spot

The scales from the other bank came back and the top weight over there was the ever consistent Justin with 6lb 12oz, so I'd won again and picked up another £60 plus a fiver from Janders and a nugget from Andy. I can't believe how good this venue has been to me, that's the last seven matches on the trot I've won here and eight in total, long may it last.

Andy who was obviously overjoyed at handing over another pound!

Next weekend it's the Chris Patten memorial match on the Isle, Chris loved the river and died at a young age. It should be a good match, weather permitting, and thirty anglers have been invited, it's one I'd love to win.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sherborne Lake - 25th November 2006

Scott Russell from Yeovil Angling Centre told me about this match, apparently after a drop off in sport the fish had returned with a vengence and there were loads of quality roach to be caught on the pole line. So any early start (for me!) and after meeting Scott at the shop and picking up two pints of casters and a pint of maggot it was off to Sherborne.

I was a little apprehensive as 90 mile an hour winds and rain were forecast, at the draw there were several 'name' anglers including Alex Murray and Steve Jackson. After paying my pools I drew peg 18 which meant very little to me except a fairly long walk. Jacko had drawn one of the end pegs, number 16, two up from me. I mixed up some groundbait, a fifty-fifty mix of Van Den Eynde Supermatch and Supercup and set up two rigs, one of 0.6 grams and another of 0.75 grams, both rigs had 0.12mm bottoms and size 18 Kamasan B611's.

This lake used to produce big weights of bream and tench although they arn't as prolific now, Scotty reckoned quite a few people would go for these big fish and although a few would show, the safe bet would be to fish for silvers and a 30-40lb winning weight would be possible with these. The weather was wet but the wind wasn't too bad, yet. On the all-in I cupped in two balls at 6 metres and four balls at 11.5 metres, I was hoping to catch at 6 metres, especially if the wind got too strong.

First put in on double red maggot and the float sunk from view and a lovely 10oz roach was swung in, a smaller sample followed next chuck and a switch to caster saw two more in the net. In my mind I thought that if I could catch roach that went four to the pound, 160 would give me around 40lb. This train of thought soon stopped when after bumping a fish I couldn't get a bite at 6 metres. I went out to my further line and had a couple of fish but it was hard work in the strengthening wind.

I went back to the shorter line, still feeding caster but it was still slow, I added a section and started fishing a metre past my feed and this was much better. I was catching roach of all sizes, mainly 1-3oz with the odd better specimen of 8-10oz. After an hour I reached 30 fish and wasn't too far off my target. Jacko walked up and asked how I was getting on, I told him and he replied he'd only had 4 fish and the chap on 17 was also struggling. I couldn't really see how they were getting on to my left so I got my head down and carried on.

After two hours my catch rate had improved slightly and I was on around 65 fish. I did suffer spells of missed bites/bumped fish and found if I left the hook point showing instead of burying it in the caster, this improved things. Swopping between 6 and 7 metres I kept catching for the third hour and got up to 100 fish, I was still getting lots of small roach but I'd also included a decent hybrid and a 8oz perch plus several good roach.

The rain actually stopped for a bit and I had a good spell with another hybrid, some more perch, a rudd and half pound skimmer plus the usual roach. I had a couple drop off swinging them in and on one occasion this resulted in a bit of a birds nest which took some sorting out. Once I resumed fishing I was still getting a bite a chuck but they were all small fish about an ounce apiece. I was up to 120 fish after hour number four so that tangle had cost me some fish although I was still on my target.

Halfway through hour number five and the wind was hideous and several bait boxes (not mine) came floating past and my keepnet tried taking off! I was still catching although the stamp fish from earlier were noticeable in their absence. At the end of the five and a half hours I had exceeded my target of 30 fish an hour with 167 fish. After packing up Jacko walked up and asked how I'd done, I said I really didn't know but secretly I reckoned I must have around 25-30lb, perhaps more.

The scales arrived and Jacko weighed 19lb and I was sure I'd beaten that, especially after his slow start. The chap on 17 weighed 13lb plus, it was then my turn and I was disappointed when the needle stopped at 22lb 4oz although there were a lot of small fish in my net. Scott Russell had done it dead right fishing the 4 metre whip and catching over 300 hundred fish for 33lb+. I still thought I might be in with a chance of my six peg section (worth £50) but the last peg in the section weighed three bream and two tench for 29lb something. Alex Murray won on the day with twenty odd pounds of roach and three bream on the feeder for 36lb, Scotty was 2nd.

Still, quite a good day with loads of fish. If I were to fish it again I think I would definately fish the whip with maggot catching anything instead of fishing the caster for the better fish which didn't really sort them out. We're supposed to be on the Isle tomorrow but after all the rain we've had, I'm hoping it will be on Dillington, although my run there has to end sometime. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 20, 2006

River Isle - Crown League - 19th November 2006

After a lot of heavy rain in the week I was sort of hoping the river would be flooded and we could go out Dillington, this was not to be though and on my arrival at the Crown, reports were that the river was in good condition with a nice bit of colour. As is the norm with these matches the pegs used are pegs not yet used for the Hollowlegs matches, a sort of try before you buy, if you like. Today the pegs were below Ilford bridge and at North and South Bradon.

I said to Janders that I really fancied peg 74 at South Bradon as I'd done well off it before. I also noticed peg 75 was in and really didn't fancy it as the two previous times I had drawn it I had really struggled only managing one chub. I decided not to dive into the draw bag and wait until 75 had gone. Martin Heard was the unlucky angler so I felt safe to draw and peg 74 was the result! After my previous three bad weeks I was strangely nervous to finally get a decent peg.

After reaching South Bradon I walked to my peg with Martin who was pegged just below me, his swim did not look very inviting at all and mine looked very fishy with two bushes opposite with a little alcove in between them. Martin said he reckoned I could win it from here, I wasn't quite as confident. As it obviously hadn't been fished since last year it took me a while to get comfortable and then it was a bit of a rush to set up. I only had time to set one rig up, my usual Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. On plumbing up there was a good depth above the bush and in the alcove.

On the whistle I put on a caster and started above the bush, feeding maggot, caster and hemp. I decided to leave the alcove for as long as possible as it was pretty snaggy. After ten minutes I hadn't had a bite and a brief try in the alcove resulted in no bites either. Martin shouted up that he'd had a 10oz chub and doubts started to form in my mind, could I be in for another grueller? I put another section on and went further across above the bush at ten metres, just as I was about to feed the float went and I was soon netting a 10oz chublet. 'Here we go' I thought and the next put in I hooked another, only for the hook to pull out in the flow. Another chub and a decent dace followed before I hooked a chub that took off under the bush and snapped me. Things were not going to plan.

It then went quiet above the bush so I had to bite the bullet and go into the dragons den (in between the bushes). I shipped out under the trailing branches and held back and the float dipped before disappearing, a short lift of the pole tip saw several feet of white Hydro streaming out and despite throwing the pole behind me the fish had snagged me before snapping me. This was rapidly turning into a nightmare, after tying a new hook on I went back and had a couple more chublets and another dace before this went quiet.

By this time Martin had added a decent chub, I put half a lobbie on and went back above, I had a bite straight away and hooked a decent fish only for this one to come off as well! The next two put ins resulted in two more chublets before yet another quiet spell. I tried worm in under the bush and hooked another good fish which again snapped me and the hook pulled out of the next one. I upped my hooklength to 0.14mm as I didn't intend to get done by anymore. I did manage another chub on worm but couldn't get all those lost fish out of my head. I tried worm in both places but couldn't get a bite, I felt there were a lot of fish in front of me and was scratching my head somewhat.

Time for another bait change, this time I put double red maggot on and first chuck had a decent roach, the the hook pulled out of yet another before I had another dace. After this brief purple patch all I could catch on maggot was the odd minnow, worm and caster was also unsuccessful. Time was fast running out with only around an hour to go, Martin walked up and was still stuck on two fish and now had the added joy of a jack pike taking his bomb every time he reeled in, not a happy man.

I was praying for a good last hour as I felt two or three fish would give me double figures, I did manage one more chub on double caster and was suprised to see another one of my hooks in it's mouth! At around a pound I really couldn't understand how it had broken me, these fish were obviously diving into snags and snapping me on them.

At the end my total was eight small chub, three dace, a roach and a few minnows for 7lb 14oz. I had lost eight fish, three snapped me and the hook had pulled out of five so the peg should have been worth 12-14lb. Martin's two fish went 2lb 13oz and I don't think he'll be rushing back to pleasure fish his peg! Trudging back to the cars, Martin said that he thought I'd be there or thereabouts with my weight as the wind had been fairly strong and very cold and conditions had been far from ideal for the anglers. I wasn't so sure as you normally need at least double figures to frame.

As we reached the cars, Roger Russell had just got back from peg 66 and he'd weighed seven chub for 17lb 6oz which rather knocked Martin's theory into a cocked hat! If anything, this news rather relieved me as perhaps those lost fish hadn't been so costly because even with those I wouldn't have done Roger's weight. Back at the Crown, North Bradon hadn't fished at all and I started to believe I might nick second place. This wasn't to be though as the ever consistent Justin had 8lb odd for second from peg 52 at Ilford (so those fish had cost me). However I did manage third just ahead of Barney who weighed 7lb 12oz and I picked up £28 plus another fiver from Janders who had a single chub of 2lb 12oz. So finally I've cracked the grand for the first time ever and my yearly winnings now stand at £1001. The pressures now off and hopefully I can fish the last few matches and hopefully pick up a few more times.

I've got another double header next week with Sherborne lake on the Saturday, which I've only fished twice before, many years ago and I blanked both times! I have been assured that it's fishing really well and 20-30lbs will be needed to win, we will see. On the Sunday is round four of the Hollowlegs league and to stand any chance of a league placing I need a good result so lets keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

River Isle - Hollowlegs League - 12th November 2006

Another good turnout for this one, over twenty anglers. As we all waited for the draw I said to Andy that I really hoped I didn't draw the Isle Brewers section. Andy stuck his hand in the bucket and pulled out peg 128 at Isle Brewers, I followed suit and drew poxy peg 124 - bugger! Now the pegs below the bridge, 126 upwards have been fishing quite well and have hammered the pegs above every time and I suspected it would be the same today. The pegs above the bridge, of which 124 is one, can be really good although later in the year. My first match in this league had produced a match and section win followed by a not so good five points in the second match, I really needed good section points today.

I had Digger below me on 125 and Janders above me on the fence swim (where I did 5lb 10oz in the last league match) and I really felt like I was up against it. My swim looked ok and on plumbing up, had a decent depth. Bearing in mind Max had pike problems in the last match here I set up a whip so I could hopefully swing fish straight to hand and a pole, both with 1.5 gram Drennan Carbos, 0.12mm hooklengths and size 18 B611's.

On the whistle I started on the whip, loosefeeding maggots, casters and hemp, after half an hour all I had to show for my efforts were a couple of minnows and a very small roach - not the start I had hoped for! A switch to the pole at 10 metres produced a 4oz roach first put in, great had I found them? No, was the answer as I went the next ten minutes biteless. Digger had only had a couple of fish and it looked like being a real struggle. I tried caster and had a roach and again couldn't buy a bite afterwards. I felt there were quite a few fish there but they wouldn't settle in one place. I kept trying at different places around the swim and after a couple of hours had the grand total of five roach and a couple of minnows for less than a pound.

Digger had started to catch quite regularly on the waggler and Andy wandered up to say he was struggling as were a couple of others below the bridge. As he left I didn't feel quite so bad and thought if I could keep putting odd fish in the net that perhaps half decent section points were obtainable. I tried opposite me where some dead reeds were hanging in the water and the swim started to shallow up and had four roach in four chucks, a real purple patch! It was short lived though and I soon returned to struggling. Janders also paid me a visit, he too was having a hard time and had only had a couple of fish, so maybe I had a chance to take our £5 side bet?

I knew there were several chub that inhabited the swim and earlier a good fish had topped near the far bank and I kept hoping that a couple of these would put in an appearance. I had tried the whip again but this only produced a couple more minnows and time was fast running out. Digger was still catching and I now couldn't buy a bite anywhere. With about half an hour to go, out of the blue the float went and I had another roach. Very often when the light starts to fade the roach will switch on so maybe I could finish with a flourish. I looked up to see Digger net another fish and when I looked back the float had gone!, another decent roach was netted. Next put in and I bumped my first fish of the day, I had time for one last go and had a small roach right on the whistle.

I had the scales as well so after packing up I made the long walk up to Neil Dring in the weirpool, he hadn't bagged either and weighed 2lb 12oz, Janders put 2lb 2oz on the scales and I thought I would be close to that. My twelve roach plus minnows went exactly the same, 2lb 2oz so the £5 side bet was tied. Digger weighed an excellent 8lb odd and if there was such a thing, he would get my man of the match award. Andy weighed 3lb+ and took a squid off me, Barney Crockett had another excellent match winning with 10lb plus from 126, why can't I draw below the bridge!! Elswhere Martin Heard and Justin tied for second with just over 10lb each. The two section winners were Digger and Leighton Cox with 7lb something.

So really that's my league over as although you can drop a match I've already had two bad results of five and six points to go with my section win. With four matches remaining I would need four section wins to stand any chance and the way I'm drawing I can't see that happening. Also I reckon my chance of reaching the grand are slipping away as there are only about six matches before the end of the year.

Join me next week to see if my fortunes change and I promise to actually get some pictures of fish on here soon!

Monday, November 06, 2006

River Isle - Crown League - 5th November 2006

This could be the shortest blog in my history! We tend to use the Crown league to try out new pegs and areas of the river that arn't fished or haven't been fished for ages. This week we were going to fish mainly the Ilford section, this section can be rather hit and miss, as you will see.

I drew peg 45, which thankfully was quite a short walk, I hadn't fished this peg before although I have blanked from the one above. My peg looked ok with a tree sticking out of the water to my left and some reeds across. We'd had four frosts in the week so would this affect sport? Below me I had Graham Field for company and the next peg in was the old fossil (Malcolm Levy) about half a mile away on peg 43.

I plumbed up and had a decent depth of around three and a half foot, on the whistle I went out in the flow with my usual gram and a half Drennan Carbo, size 18 B611 and 0.12mm bottom, fully expecting to catch a small fish straight away, this didn't happen and despite trying caster, maggot and half a lobby all over the peg, I remained biteless. After two hours I was still fishless (not even a minnow!) and it was time for a walk.

Graham was blanking below and Malcolm had one chub, Robin Cox in 41 had a couple of small fish and Neil Dring had lost one beast. Then it was onto my nemesis Janders on peg 40A, his swim looked ok although painfully low and clear, despite this he was catching the odd fish mainly dace and chublets. I watched him for a bit, during which time he missed a couple of bites and landed a dace. Now at this point I should have been thinking about getting back and giving it my best shot as a couple of chub would probably get me in the money, but I just could not see me catching anything.

As I wandered back Barney was just walking up from his peg below the road, he'd caught ten chublets but his swim had now died, he did report that Graham had just landed a chub. I settled back on my box with renewed vigor!! for the last couple of hours and tried upping the feed to try and make something happen but all to no avail and I dry netted. I can honestly say I had nothing resembling a bite all day.

Martin Heard won on the day from peg 37 with five chub for 10lb 10oz, Janders was second with 4lb odd and finally took a fiver off me and the old fossil was third with just over 4lb.

So the grand still eludes me, God I hope I do better next week or is this the start of a real dry spell? Tune in next week to find out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

River Isle - Hollowlegs League - 29th October 2006

Felt a little rough this morning as I'd been to Dunner's wedding reception the night before. When I got to the draw I was greeted by several other rather sickly looking individuals who had also been there. Andy not only looked rough but the clutch had gone on his van so he was not in the best of moods. As I've mentioned previously this is a league I've never won and would really like to, my win in the first match had got me off to a great start but could I keep it going?

Pete Lonton announced the draw and Andy pulled out peg 126 at Isle Brewers which is not only a good peg but a golden peg on the day, I went next and the result for me was peg 123, not good. This peg is on the fence at Isle Brewers and I've drawn it several times in the past and my top weight has only been 4lb odd. Still I'd have to make the best of it and try and get good section points. The Isle Brewers stretch is mainly roach fishing and some good weights are possible, the trouble is where there are roach there are usually pike and these can be a pain when the rivers low and clear.

When I got there it looked nice and there were lots of very small fish topping, I set up the usual 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo which had a size 18 Kamasan B611 to 0.12mm bottom. Also with the river being low and clear I thought the pole might spook the fish in the fairly shallow water so I set up a small balsa waggler, again with a B611 at the business end. Started on the pole feeding hemp, caster and bronze maggots and had a 4oz roach straight away on double bronze. Thoughts of bagging soon disappeared as no more bites were forthcoming and it was time to try the waggler.

Maggot just produced a couple of very small roach and the usual minnows so I switched to caster and this produced a couple of slightly better roach. After an hour I had eight fish (roach and chublets) for about a 1lb or so. I now realised that any chance of money was slipping away but if I could catch a pound an hour this would give me 5-6lb and in previous matches this sort of weight was worth good section points.

Hour two was very slow and I'd get a couple of fish on the waggler and then switch to the pole and get the odd fish. I felt there were quite a few fish in the swim but I was chasing them all over the place. Back on the waggler I had a couple of net roach on the caster but from well down the swim. I then hooked a better fish which after some hairy moments with the weed I netted, at a pound and a half this chub was very welcome. So after around three hours I probably had 4lb which wasn't too bad.

Max wandered up from peg 124 and after catching a fish a chuck the pike moved in and he now couldn't buy a bite, he said the pike were even having a go at his keepnet! I missed several bites while he was there and he called me a wanker before going back to his peg. I hadn't had any pike problems which quite suprised me as I have here in the past. I was still getting the odd roach and chublet but it was hard work and I was missing quite a few bites and had bumped several fish.

With an hour to go I had another chub, this one about a pound, I started to think if I could get another one I might have an outside chance of winning the section. With the clocks going back the night before I also thought that as the light stared to fade the roach might get their heads down. A couple of times a decent fish had rolled on the far side and I reckoned it might be the chub I needed. On went double caster and I shipped the pole over but it wasn't to be and I never had a bite.

I spent the last quarter of an hour on the waggler and had my first dace and a couple more roach, Max had packed up and walked past with the scales to weigh in Graham Field in the weirpool (peg 117), I fancied that peg and was suprised when Max reported that Graham had only weighed 2lb 2oz. My 36 fish weighed 5lb 10oz which I was quite pleased with and when Max only weighed 1lb 10oz I started to think I could get good points. After packing up and loading my car the pegs below the bridge started filtering back and all my hopes of a decent placing faded away. Digger weighed 10lb 9oz from 133, Martin Heard had 6lb odd from 129, Pete Lonton had 5lb 15oz and Andy beat me by 2oz, which put me 5th at Isle Brewers! Andy's day got slightly better when he took a pound off me.

My thoughts turned to the fish I'd bumped as another half a pound would have given me three points instead of the five I got. But then the anglers below the bridge had pike trouble with Andy having trashed fifteen rigs because of them! Back at the results and the river had fished well again, Neil Dring won with over 16lb from the big bend at Ashford, Barney Crockett was second with 12lb 5oz of chub from peg 24 and Digger was third. Martin won our section and Les Braunton who had finally sobered up won the top section with 10lb 3oz from peg 28. I did beat Janders for yet another fiver.

In this league six from the seven matches count so with only two gone I could not afford any more slip ups, things arn't looking good. We're back on the river for a sweep next week so maybe I can get back to winning ways then, still need to win £27 for that elusive grand.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dillington Pond - Crown League - 22nd October 2006

We were supposed to be fishing the river but the Isle was up and coloured and with more rain forecast it was decided that the safe bet would be to move the match to Dillington. With my recent form here I wasn't too upset but would it continue? Again there was a good turnout with twelve hardy souls willing to battle the elements.

I drew peg 3 (where Andy was when he broke his pole) and on arriving at the pond it looked nice with a tinge of colour and fish topping. For company I had Rob Cox to my left and Martin Heard to my right although I couldn't really see him. When Andy was here he lost several chub in a weedbed at 14-16 metres so I decided not to set a waggler up. My plan of attack was to be the pole at 10 metres over groundbait, loosefeeding hemp and caster over the top with a back up chopped worm line at 10 metres to my left. I set up a 0.4 gram rig with 0.12mm bottom and the usual 18 B611, blue hydrolastic would hopefully tame any better fish that came along. I mixed up some Van Den Eynde Super Match and chopped some lobbies and was ready for the off.

Dillington - my most favourite place in the world! (at the moment)

The pond was calm and the weather was mild enough for both Rob and myself to remove our coats, had the forecasters got the weather wrong? On the whistle (or rather Rob shouting all in) I cupped in two balls of groundbait in front and some chopped worm and casters to my left. First chuck with double red maggot on the hook the float buried and a small perch was swung to hand, this was to be the sign to switch to caster as it had served me so well in previous matches. The next put in I had another small perch followed by a chub of around 12oz, more perch and another chub soon joined their brothers (or sisters) in the net. I was catching steady and some decent roach also put in an appearance, by the end of the first hour I had 16 fish (4 chub, 4 decent roach and the rest small perch and roach) for about 4lb. I was pleased enough with this especially as Martin had poked his head round the brolley to say he'd only had some small perch.

Then the rain started and never really stopped all day, at least the wind had not yet arrived. Hour two was steady with another 14 small fish and a slightly better rudd for around another 1lb. I reckoned if I could catch a pound an hour, on top of my good first hour, it would give me 8 or 9lbs which would be there or thereabouts. The occasional glance around the pond showed nobody really bagging, I could see Rob swinging in small perch regularly. Hour three and amongst the small roach and perch I started getting some nice roach although one good one came off at the net. I was bumping the odd fish but was pleased how things were progressing.

With two and a half hours to go the wind arrived and it was blowing the pole all over the place and trying to get decent presentation was nigh on impossible. It was a case of batten down the hatches and just try and keep adding the odd fish to the net. The fourth hour was quite hard with just the odd small perch and roach although at 1-2oz they were welcome and I was still on my pound an hour target. Going into the last hour I was soaked through (again!), Robin's brolley kept taking off and he eventually gave that up as bad job and packed it away. The wind had now reached gale like proportions.

I was still catching on caster although I'd had more small perch than ever before on it. I found I was getting most bites either on the drop or just after the bait had settled. During the last hour I had another rudd, a couple of small perch and three good roach, one which was around 12oz right on the whistle. I estimated my 58 fish must weigh around 8lbs or so, maybe a bit more as I had caught more than a pound each hour. I packed up quickly and loaded my sodden gear into my car. Butch Baker came along with scales and I asked if he'd bagged and he said that he had caught really well during the last three quarters of an hour. We walked up to Phil Denslow and he had 4lb 14oz, Dave Lawrence and Robin both weighed 3lb odd and I was pretty sure I had them beat.

It came to my turn and I was very pleased when my catch registered 10lb 3oz, but would it be enough?. Martin thought it would be but I'm never one to count my chickens especially as Martin is notorious for underestimating his weight (nearly as bad as me!). When he weighed 6lb+ I was relieved but there was still Butch to go and he'd had seven chub. When he pulled his net out I thought he'd done me but the needle stopped short on 9lb 8oz, that last gasp roach had won it for me. The other side had fished ok with most pegs weighing 4-5lb. Janders didn't bother weighing so yet another fiver made it's way into my pocket.

I picked up £70 for winning, Butch was second and Martin third, Barney and Graham Field won the two sections. I am really loving this venue as this was my sixth match win on the trot here and my seventh Dillington victory this year. The quest for the grand is agonisingly close with my yearly total currently standing at £973, just £27 to go. I have already beaten my best ever years total which stood at £961 and won more matches than ever before with ten victories. I have probably jinxed it now and will blank for the rest of the year!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sutton Bingham Reservoir - Teams of six Wateraid Match - 21st October 2006

This was the first match of a double header for me this weekend and a venue I only fish a couple of times a year. The reservoir is mainly trout fishing but open to coarse fishing a few times a year to enable the owners, Wessex Water, to remove some of the huge stocks of carp and roach. Teams from the water industries enter with the entry fee going to Wateraid. My team, the Environment Agency South West, consisted of myself, Ben Evans, Steve Woods, Damian Mason, Rich Dearnley and Danny Williamson and we were up against teams from Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Bournemouth Water.

I drew the shortest walk in 'A' section and the reservoir, although low, looked nice with quite a few small fish topping. My plan was to fish the waggler with sweetcorn on the hook while feeding corn and maggot along with regular balls of groundbait. I was hoping to sort out the better roach and the carp. Lots of anglers were setting up whips as they had caught big bags of roach in practice. I mixed up some Sensa Magic groundbait and when the all in was called I balled in six jaffas and cast my 3AAA Drennan waggler over the top, at the business end I had a size 18 Gamakatsu barbless carp hook.

Sutton Bingham Reservoir

With corn on the hook I was getting loads of indications and getting the odd better roach of around 4oz, I could see the anglers on my right all catching a fish every chuck. Although they were well ahead I was hoping that when the carp moved in I would be able to overtake them. I was also feeding some Sensas pellets hoping this would draw the carp in. After a hour I had around 20 roach for around 4lb or so and then had my first carp, a fish of around 3-4lb. I reckoned I now shouldn't be too far behind the whip anglers.

It was quite windy and we were having some torrential downpours quite regularly but the wind wasn't too much of a problem, yet! I was still catching roach, including the odd fish of 8-10oz but was missing loads of fish and pricking too many and every time I looked around the whip anglers were swinging in fish. With no more carp I was beginning to think I'd got it horribly wrong. I changed my hook to a 14 Mustad Stillwater Power barbless and I started to hit more bites but still not setting the world alight.

The lull before the storm!

We were still having the odd shower but the wind had now turned up a notch and was trying to blow my keepnet out of the water. I had another carp but this time of only 8oz and was having a nightmare, besides making regular trips to lay my keepnet out again, I was also hooking the keepnet, hooking the bottom and having to untangle the line from around the rodtip. To top all this my catch rate was still poor and I was being battered by my right hand neighbours.

The anglers on the left hand band seemed to be quite sheltered and I was starting to wish I was there or anywhere else but here really. I had now put a large rock on the bottom of the keepnet and this worked for a while. The wind was whipping up a tow and dragging my float along at quite a rate of knots and this obviously wasn't aiding presentation. I then hooked a good fish, excellent had the carp arrived?, no they hadn't and I landed a 3lb trout after some aerobatics. Of course they don't count and I went on to land two more of a similar size in quick succession, I was now sure this wasn't too be my day.

Two of my colleagues from the EA turned up, Paula Sage and Chris Stratton, to do a licence check, Paula asked how I was getting on, after a few expletives she left to check the next angler. The rock on the keepnet thing had stopped working so I put a bankstick through the ring on the bottom of the net (why hadn't I done this five hours ago?) and this at least kept the net in the water. I was know looking forward to the all out, with half an hour to go bites on corn were quite hard to come by, so I started fishing maggot and was getting a fish (albeit smaller) every chuck. I was wishing I'd done this from the start but I still don't think I would have been able to compete with the whip.

With ten minutes to go the insert on my waggler snapped off, I really couldn't be bothered to change the float so soldiered on to the whistle. I ended with 83 fish (2 carp and the rest roach) for 16lb 10oz, the two anglers on my right weighed 33lb+ and 51lb+ (which won on the day individually) so I had been right royally spanked! The only saving grace was I beat the Wessex Water guy in my section.

After packing up we went back to the fishing lodge where Wessex had kindly laid on soup, rolls, pork pies, crisps and chocolate cake which for me was the best bit of the day. Our team had done quite well with Danny, Damian and Rich all winning their sections (getting 4 points each), Rich was 2nd overall with 40lb odd. I had 2 points as did Steve and Ben came back with 1. It wasn't to be though and we finished 2nd with 17 points behind Bristol Water with an excellent 20 points out of a possible 24. We picked up £12 (£2 each) for our 2nd place. Although the real winner on the day was Wateraid who we raised £400 for.

So my quest for the grand continues and todays £2 takes my winnings to £903, so £97 to go. Will tomorrows match help me knock a hole in it?, we're supposed to be on the Isle but as I write the rain is running down the window so we'll have to see. Also it's supposed to be even windier tomorrow - oh goody!

Monday, October 16, 2006

River Isle - Hollowlegs League - 15th October 2006

Was up fairly early and raring to go, everything was going fine until the poxy cashpoint machine ate my card, after faffing about for ages I finally got to the Crown in Ilminster only slightly late. Luckily people were still finishing breakfast so I had time for a cup of coffee. This was to be the first match of the Hollowlegs (formally Hotpoint) league, I would dearly love to win this league, I've come close a few times but in twenty odd years I've never actually done it.

There was a good turnout with twenty one anglers hoping for a good day, after last weeks disappointing match I was hoping for a decent draw. I stuck my hand in the bucket and peg 14 attached itself to my sticky mitt. This peg, known as the tank traps because of some ancient concrete mini pyramids at the back of the swim, can be very good although I'd never actually won a match off it.

Got to the peg and it looked nice although the river was still low and clear, set up the usual 1.5 gramme Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and B611 hook. I decided to use white Hydrolastic because some big chub do reside here. Hopefully the main catching area should be towards the traps but to the left there is a bit off a hole just to the left of the main flow from a small weir. In previous matches I'd also caught quite a few fish from here. Ilminster AA allow trout to count in their matches and this peg is usually good for a few.

The match kicked off at 10:30 and I slipped a caster on and shipped out and fed some bronze maggots, casters and hemp, the float buried straight away and a small chublet was swung to hand, next put in was a carbon copy and the one after that, I was bagging! I was catching small chublets, dace and the odd minnow. I'd started at 10 metres out in front of me, deciding not to go too close to the traps until sport slowed, my reasoning being that this left a safe haven for the fish to retreat to.

After the first hour I had caught 32 fish and I worked out that averaging out at 2oz apiece I already had 4lb in the net, another four and a half hours like this and twenty pounds plus was on the cards. Realistically I knew I could expect some quiet spells, with this in mind I kept firing some bait upstream to my left to give me another option. After the second hour I had moved to 51 fish (all dace and chublets) but sport was slowing, decided to give my swim a rest and try 11.5 metres to my left, again I caught straight away and carried on putting the odd fish in the net.

This was to be the pattern for the rest of the day, a couple of fish from one swim before resting it and fishing the other. After three hours I was still catching quite well but not to the extent of that first hour. At this point Pete Lonton (Ilminster AA's chairman) wandered up, he was on peg 24 and had only caught one perch, while he was with me I had a trout around a pound, a chub of 8oz or so, another trout of a similar size and a small rudd, all from the left hand side.

An hour and a half before the end I had reached 80 fish and reckoned on having around 10lb possibly a bit more. I then hooked a decent fish from the swim in front, which turned out to be a chub around the pound mark only for the hook to pull out at the net! I was getting less bites now but the fish were of a larger size with some of the dace pushing half a pound, I also had my first roach. The match organiser, Justin Charles was on peg 15 (the swimming pool) and came up, he was struggling and only had a handful of chublets, while he was behind me I had a real purple patch and netted several fish including a pound chub. He didn't stay long and walked off muttering something about me being a jammy sod.

After Justin's departure I had another decent chub and a quality roach, I was now on 91 fish (plus minnows) with half an hour to go. Things then slowed right up and despite trying against the tank traps which only produced two small chublets, the only place I could get a bite was the swim to my left. This produced only the odd small chublet and on the whistle I had caught exactly 100 fish. At eight fish to the pound this would give me 12lb and I thought I might have 14lb to 15lbs which I thought would give me chance of framing. I was really pleased with my match and apart from losing that chub I'd only missed/bumped a few fish.

Justin came up with the scales and when I pulled my net out I realised I might have more than I thought, the needle settled on 18lb 5oz and I was well chuffed. My thoughts turned to that chub with which I would have been on around the twenty pound mark. The other three pegs in my area hadn't fished that well with 3lb odd being next best. Got back to the Crown and as other anglers filtered back I began to realise I might have won it. My mate Andy weighed 2lb 2oz but had lost two beasts, so that was another 'squid', cheers mate! Janders weighed 8lb 1oz from the Donyatt stretch and won his section but still had to cough up a fiver to me (that's six on the trot now John!).

The results were read out and I had won, the £100 was very welcome but more importantly I'd got one section point and had started this league well. Rob (who was second last week) was second again with 11lb+ and the crafty cockney Frank was third with 9lb 9oz. Butch Baker won the other section with over 9lb so the river had fished pretty well with only one blank being recorded.

My quest to break the grand is still on course with my winnings for the year so far totally £901, £99 to go. I've got a double header next weekend with a teams of six charity match on Sutton Bingham reservoir with proceeds going to Wateraid on the Saturday and round two of the Crown league on the Sunday. The trouble is I know I must be due a sticky patch soon, will it be next weekend?

Monday, October 09, 2006

River Isle - Crown League - 8th October 2006

I was really looking forward to this one, the first proper match of the river season. Also quite a bit of rain in the week and I was hoping there would be a nice tinge of colour to the river. Got to the Crown pub (the leagues sponsers) and had quite a shock as there were thirteen eager anglers waiting to draw. Usually we get a turnout of around eight to ten.

The pegs were spread out over most of the river utilising the best pegs. I drew peg 125 which is just above Isle Brewers bridge, later in the year you would run to this peg as massive shoals of roach move here to spawn. It framed every match at the end of last season with weights between 12lbs and 22lbs. I was still optimistic and thought I'd be in for a good day. My second shock of the day came when, after reaching my peg, I was greeted by a low, gin clear river! Barney Crockett arrived on the peg upstream and expressed his suprise, he'd walked the river yesterday and it was a foot up and coloured.

I set up a Drennan carbo rig for the pole with 0.10mm bottom and the usual size 18 B611 and a small balsa waggler shotted with the bulk around the float and just two number 10 Preston Stotz down the line, again ending with an 18 B611. Plumbing up I could only find a depth of around a foot all over the swim and I could see the bottom (and no fish!) right through the swim. On the whistle I started on the pole feeding maggots, casters and hemp and firing the odd half a dozen right down to the bridge to hopefully bring some fish up. I looked up just as Barney netted a decent roach first cast.

After snagging on weeds a few times I switched from maggot to caster and although this solved the problem of snagging I still hadn't had a bite. I tried at 9 metres to my left fairly tight to my bank where there was a little bit of a hole in the weed and the float went straight under and as a result a 2oz dace was deposited in my keepnet. I should also point out the wind was atrocious and I was sat on top of a high bank with only one ring of my keepnet in the water, which the wind kept trying to blow onto the bank! I was still getting bites to my left and had now caught six fish (dace, chublets, roach and minnows). Barney had landed some more roach and had just added a decent chub, my bites then stopped.

After an hour I had only ounces in the net and after my recent purple patch I was now back to earth with a huge bump! I switched to my right and had some tiny chublets before this too died. This was to be the pattern for the day, a couple of fish from one spot before it drying up and having to fish another area. I wondered if the pole was spooking the fish. I also had a pike take a fish which didn't help in the shallow water. Barney was also now struggling and I was slowly, and I mean slowly, catching up the deficit created by his bonus chub.

With an hour to go I had around twenty fish for a pound and a half but couldn't buy a bite anywhere. I decided to spend the last hour on the waggler, after shallowing up to six inches which was the only depth the float would run through without dragging under, I had four fish in as many chucks. Should I have fished the waggler from the start? The trouble was the wind was making things difficult and a couple of times I had to set up again after the wind had blown the line into the nearside reeds. During this last hour I had around ten fish to take my total tally to thirty and around 2lb.

Barney walked down to weigh me in and my haul took the scales around to a massive 2lb 2oz, Barney weighed 3lb 4oz, most of which he caught in the first hour. Leighton Cox below the bridge weighed 5lb+ and Rob on peg 128 had 7lb 5oz. On arriving at his peg Rob was confronted with a dead calf right where he had to sit. Undeterred he tried kicking it to move it, this was unsuccessful so holding his breath he grabbed the back legs, at which point all the skin came off in his hands! He eventually managed to throw it in the river although he said every time the wind changed direction the stench was unbearable. Still all the maggots probably served as a useful groundbait as he finished 2nd on the day.

Roger Russell won with a fantastic 19lb+ catch of chub and roach from the big bend swim at Ashford, Rob was 2nd and Neil Dring was 3rd with 5lb odd. The two sections were won by father and son duo Robin and Leighton Cox. The river didn't fish that well but I was still well down, not a good start to my river campaign. The only good news being I took yet another fiver off of Janders.

Next week is the first match of the Hollowlegs league, again on the river, so perhaps I can get back on track then. Also as you may have noticed there was no mention of my mate Andy, he fished down the Resi and was 2nd with 21lbs of bream, so I thought I'd better give him a mention. Still no more photos either, I promise I'll rectify this soon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dillington Pond - 1st October 2006

Me and Andy got to the draw and the good news was that due to the awful weather the match was to be at Dillington. The bad news was that the weather forecast predicted more of the same, storms, heavy rain and thunder and lightning, oh deep joy. After paying our pools it was time to draw, I stuck my hand in the bag and pulled out peg 7 which was the same peg I was at last time, although numbered differently.

Got to the pond and it was very coloured and there weren't as many fish topping as normal, was this a bad omen? To my right I had Justin for company and on the left was Robin's lad, Leighton. My mate Andy was opposite me on peg one on the point. I set up the usual 3AAA waggler with the bulk around the float and three spread number ten Preston Stotz down the line culminating in a 0.12mm bottom to a size 18 Kamasan B611. For my chopped worm line I used the same rig as last time, a 0.6 gram rig with a bulk and two droppers again ending in a size 18 B611. My elastic was blue hydro which I hoped would be soft enough for the roach but man enough for any bonus fish that happened along.

I intended to feed chopped worm and caster on the pole line, ten metres to my left towards Leighton and spray maggots, casters and hemp over the waggler, hopefully catching some better fish on the caster. As we awaited the whistle for the all in the sky overhead was looking very ominously black. The whistle went and I cupped in some chopped worm and caster on the pole line while Justin balled it with groundbait over his. We both started on the waggler but it soon became apparent we were going to struggle to catch on it. The gusty wind was a nightmare and there must have been quite a tow on the water as the float was being dragged to the left, Justin managed a rudd but that was it. After half an hour he was on the pole and catching small perch, I stuck at it for another ten minutes before switching to the pole.

First put in I missed a bite before catching a small perch on double red maggot. I slipped a caster on and had a decent roach next chuck, both me and Justin were catching well, mainly roach with the odd small perch. Nobody else seemed to be doing a lot apart from Martin Heard on peg 5 who'd had a good perch. About now the heavens opened and at times the rain was so heavy I could hardly make out Andy across the pond. I don't fish under a brolley and I was glad I didn't as several people around the pond were clinging onto theirs in the strong gusts of wind.

Halfway through the six hour match, I'd had 35 fish and was still catching well on caster. Justin was still catching well but Martin had gone quiet apart from a couple of decent eels. I reckoned that if I could catch eighty fish (averaging out at 2oz a piece) I would have 10lb which would be enough to frame. Every now and again the rain would stop, the sun would come out and it was really quite nice. The trouble was these spells wouldn't last long before it pissed down again.

From what I could gather the chub weren't feeding which was probably down to the colour and people were catching roach, perch and the odd eel. The battle between me and Justin still raged and was turning into a right head to head. I would have spells of three or four fish before it went quiet and it was Justins turn. To me it looked like the average stamp of his fish was bigger and I was sure he was ahead. By now I was feeding hemp along with caster and apart from my initial chopped worm feed I hadn't put anymore in. I was wondering whether Justins groundbait approach combined with fishing a shorter line had given him the edge.

I was still catching roach averaging 3-4oz along with the odd better specimen, I did catch a small 3oz eel which was stuffed full of worm. I was missing the odd bite and had several fish come off as I was shipping back but on the whole I was pretty pleased with how my match was going. With an hour and a half left I caught a small tench of around 4oz which was nice as it was my first from here, then Justin caught one followed shortly after by Robin who also netted one. In my three years of fishing Dillington I'd only ever seen one tench caught and then three come out at once, strange. Ilminster Angling Club had stocked around a thousand but they rarely show, there are also a similar number of crucian carp but again I've only ever seen one.

With half an hour to go I realised my Drennan Drenchwear was living upto it's name and I was indeed drenched. When the whistle went I had fallen just short of my target ending with 77 fish (mainly roach with around a dozen perch, that eel and of course that sweet little tench). I guessed I must have had around 10lbs but was convinced Justin had done me. Andy wandered around with the scales and Robin commented that it would be close between the two of us. When Justin weighed 12lb 5oz I thought that was that but when I pulled my net out I realised Robin could be right. My net rather pleasingly pulled the scales round to 13lb 12oz and I was pretty sure nobody else would be near that.

That was how it turned out with myself and Justin occupying the first two places and Martin taking 3rd with 8lb+. The rest of the weights were all pretty close with both Andy and Barney winning their sections with 5lb+. My nemesis Janders should have won his section but a big eel made a successful bid for freedom when he came to weigh in! As he paid me yet another £5 side bet I didn't laugh (too much!), never mind John I'm sure you'll get your revenge on the river next week. I also took the £1 side bet off Andy which took my mind off my dampness. The £60 winnings took my yearly total to £801, I would so love to top the grand mark for the first time ever but I'm aware fishing can be a funny old game.

That's now my fifth Dillington victory and my sixth Ilminster win on the trot, here's hoping the rivers flooded next week so we can get back here! I must also apologise at this point as I'd taken a camera to get a few snaps but with the weather being so bloody awful nobody was really in the mood for posing! I'll try and get some next week to brighten my reports up a bit.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chard Reservoir - 24th September 2006

This blog could also be titled 'How the wheel fell off!'

Met for the draw at the resi carpark at 9:15 and managed to draw peg 35 which was next to where I was last time, as this area isn't well known for bream it was to be a roach day again. Set up a four metre whip with a small waggler and the pole to fish at 9 metres with a 0.6 gram rig, both rigs had Gamakatsu black size 18 hooks. Also this time I mixed up some Sensas black roach groundbait to feed a small ball every other chuck.

For company I had Alan 'Picky' Gage to my left, on the whistle Alan started on the feeder and I started on the whip feeding a small ball of groundbait and maggots, casters and hemp. Had a roach first chuck and a bite a chuck every put in, although the problem was I was bumping/dropping off more than I was putting in the net. After no indications on the feeder Alan was also on the whip after 20 minutes. It was definately slower than last time and after an hour I only had twenty odd fish.

During hours two and three things didn't really improve and despite changing my hooks to Kamasan B611's I was still losing more than I was landing. I tried the pole and again although I was hooking a fish every put in very few were making their way into the net. Alan was thirty fish ahead at this stage and I was going nowhere fast. I also hooked rocks (the reservoir is very rocky!) twice and snapped my whip rig both times.

John Coxon (JC) two pegs up had snared three of four bream and I was wishing I'd set up a feeder or waggler. Alan commented how the fish weren't having it right and I had to agree. After repairing my whip rig for the umpteenth time with two hours to go I actually started to catch ok, the fish would come in spells and I was still a long way behind Alan. Another difference from last time was the lack of quality roach.

With quarter of an hour to go I was looking forward to the whistle when I struck at a bite only for my rig, attachments, everything to be stripped from the whip. I think the rubbers that attached the rig to the whip had come loose. Memo to self - invest in some superglue! After staring blankly at the now rigless whip for five minutes wishing I was somewhere else I spent the last ten minutes on the pole for two more roach.

When Les arrived with the scales he said that the bream had fed and several had been caught with Alan Dunn having ten. My 156 fish (all roach apart from two skimmers and two perch) went 12lb 1oz for absolutely nowhere, Picky had over 200 hundred fish for 15lb odd, JC had added a couple more bream and weighed 28lb plus to win the section.

I got back to the car and as I was packing away my kit other anglers started arriving back, my mate Andy had caught six bream and weighed 31lb+ to win his section and take a £1 off me. Alan Dunn won with 47lb odd and Les Braunton was also among the bream and came second with over 41lbs. The only redeming feature of the day was taking another fiver off my nemesis Janders.

Next week we are either at Curland or Dillington (Dillington, please God I hope it's Dillington!)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dillington Pond - 17th September 2006

As usual we met in the Crown Inn, Ilminster for the draw. Upon our arrival Robin told us(me and Andy) that the match was to be held on Dillington and not Curland as we expected. I wasn't too disappointed as I'd won the last three matches I'd fished on this venue. I drew peg 8 which put me on a bank on my own, on the bank to my right I had Neil Dring and my mate Andy and on the left hand bank there was Justin, Janders, Barney, Robin and Martin Heard. On the opposite bank to me was Stuart Brown (Fred).

I set up a 3AAA waggler with the bulk around the float and three number eleven Stotz down the line culminating to a size 18 B611 to 0.12mm hooklength. I also set up a chopped worm rig to fish 10 metres to my left (towards Justin), this consisted of a 0.6 gram float again ending in a size 18 B611 to 0.12. Justin had won the last match here (which I didn't fish) with 18lb+ on the whip, he'd set one up today so it would be interesting to see how he got on.

On the whistle I put a full cup of choppie on the 10 metre line and started on the waggler feeding maggot, caster and hemp with double red maggot on the hook. The action was instant and I had six chub to a pound and a half in the first half hour. After this excellent start it slowed although I was still getting odd fish including some nice rudd along with another couple of chub. Looking around the pond, nobody seemed to be setting the world alight. In the previous match I'd caught well on caster later in the match, and today I was feeding it hoping to catch on it later. After a couple of hours I tried it but it was pretty unresponsive. Previously I'd found that fishing caster I wasn't getting plagued by the hordes of small perch that inhabit the venue.

Into the third hour and the sport had slowed for everyone, Justin was catching the odd roach and rudd on the whip but elsewhere it just seemed to be the odd perch showing. There had been quite a few better fish showing between me and Neil so I had a couple of casts there and started getting bites, had my first roach along with some rudd and a couple more chub although I did lose two chub in the weed.

From all the muttering I was guessing Andy was having a bit of a mare. Little did I or he know just how bad things were going to get. His waggler came off it's attachment but the wind blew it into the side, lucky or what? as he got off his box to retrieve it he clipped his pole with his boot and there was an audible crack and his number eight section snapped in half. As his Daiwa Tournament pole had cost £2500 the section wouldn't be cheap to replace. He sunk to his knees with his head in his hands, not a happy man. After he's calmed down somewhat he shouted across "Still at least I got my float back!" which raised a laugh all round the pond.

With around an hour and a half left there wasn't much being caught at all, so I thought it was time to try the pole. I put a worm on and first put in the float buried and a small perch was the culprit, next chuck and it's twin was in the net. This wasn't the response I'd hoped for so I fed another cupful of chopped worm and left it for five minutes. After a short fruitless spell on the waggler, it was back on the pole but this time with caster on the hook. After a few minutes the float disappeared but this time something was pulling back, a spirited tussle followed before I netted a good eel around the pound and half mark.

I was feeding caster over the pole line and next put in I had a small roach, then a rudd and then a twelve ounce roach. It then went quiet before I had two smaller eels and another decent roach. I then had a chub on the drop and another eel, a bit later the float went and I hooked a good fish which turned out to be a bream of over three pounds. With half an hour to go Andy had packed up and wandered over looking rather dejected, he reckoned I was easily winning although you can never be too sure. While he was behind me I missed a couple of bites before hooking an eel which came off in the reeds by my feet. Andy commented that he'd brought his bad luck with him, I did catch another roach right as the all out sounded.

As I waited for our set of scales, Justin stared weighing in his bank, top weight was Martin Heard with just under 5lb's until Justin plonked 10lb+ of mainly roach on the scales. I was pretty sure I'd beaten that and thought I had around 15lb, in fact my 35 fish (11 chub, 1 bream, 4 eels plus roach, rudd and perch) went 20lb 7oz which was enough for 1st place and £55 plus £5 off Janders and a nugget off Andy which just about polished off his day! Justin was 2nd and Neil 3rd with 6lb+.

I was really pleased because besides being my best weight at Dillington this was also the fifth Ilminster match I'd won on the trot, probably one of my best runs ever. All good things come to an end though, I'm at Chard reservoir again next week so we'll have to see.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Chard Reservoir - 10th September 2006

Chard reservoir, the main species are roach, bream, perch and carp. Got to the draw in the resi carpark, everybody wanted the favoured bream pegs, 48, 49 or 50 and of course I drew peg 37. Still I'd decided I was going to fish for roach all day because although the bream fishing can be fantastic and 100lb weights arn't uncommon, it's a bit too hit and miss for me, I just like getting bites. In the lead up to this match roach weights had been winning quite a lot of money.

After a fairly long walk, got to my peg and started to set my gear up, we had plenty of time until the all in. I set up a 0.4 gram rig with 0.12mm bottom and a size 18 B611 to fish at 9 metres, I also set up a 3AAA waggler as an alternative. I had a chap called Mike to my right and Steve Bush to my left. Steve had recently won a two day festival by fishing for roach over the two days so I knew what he would be doing.
As I waited for the whistle my mate Andy wandered down, he had drawn peg 49 in the bream area so I thought there would be a good chance of losing my £1 side bet. There were roach topping everywhere and was looking forward to the start.

On the whistle I shipped out and started feeding hemp, casters and maggots, had a bite straight away on double red maggot and started catching roach in the 1-2oz bracket quite quickly. I always count my fish and after the first hour had 43 fish (roach and one small skimmer). There are some cracking roach to be caught but sorting these fish out from the hoards of small fish can be difficult. I had some tares and sweetcorn with me but never had a positive indication on either. I did have one good roach of around 12oz, but this fish came to double maggot.

At the start of the second hour I started feeding a line just off the end of the keepnet at two metres, thinking if I could catch here my catch rate would improve. I kept trying here but fish were sporadic although I did have a couple of good roach. Through trying the inside my catch rate actually suffered and I only had 28 fish during the second hour. Hour three and I concentrated more on the further line with only brief forays onto the inside, where I would get a run of fish but they wouldn't settle and I had 39 fish.

Hour four was much of the same, but I was bumping and dropping off loads of fish, I changed the hook to be on the safe side. During this hour I also discovered the reason why the fish wouldn't settle on the inside, a small pike or trout leapt out of the water to take a roach and after a brief struggle it spat the unfortunate redfin out, I placed it in the keepnet where it didn't look very healthy at all! At the end of this hour I managed 37 fish. Mike to my left kept swopping between feeder, pole and waggler and I guessed I must be ahead of him, wasn't too sure how Steve was doing.

With two hours to go I kept trying the inside and by constantly changing depths I would get 5 or 6 fish before having to go long again whilst feeding the inside. Looking back I would have probably done better sticking it out on the longer line. This was my worst hour only putting 26 fish in the net. In the last hour I had some more fish at 9 metres and spent the last half an hour on the waggler and caught quite well on this ending the final hour with 35 fish for 208 fish in total (nearly all roach apart from two small skimmers).

When Les, the match organiser, came down with the scales he said that the bream hadn't really showed, Mike weighed over 16lb, and I thought he'd been struggling!. My fish pulled the scales round to 18lb 1oz and I should have really done 20lbs. Steve Bush weighed a fantastic 26lb+, which was over 400 fish. Didn't watch any more of the weigh in as I had the long trek back. As I loaded the car up, other anglers started to arrive back and it became clear only the odd bream had fed.

As Les sorted out the results, Steve Bush had won and another 20lb+ weight was second, Les was paying out the top two and two sections. Alan 'Picky' Gage won the top section with 19lbs and I won the other section and picked up £35 plus the £1 side bet from Andy and £5 from Janders. Quite a few anglers had set out for bream and it hadn't paid off. An enjoyable day.

Next weekend I might be at another new venue (for this blog anyway) as we might be at Curland pond, another small fish venue, I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Langport League - Stathe Drain - 3rd September 2006

The final round arrived and due to weed problems the match was to be split between Stathe Drain (3 sections) and the River Parrett (2 sections). I went into the draw and actually managed to pick a couple of end pegs, A1 (and the scales for the team) for Andy and E8, on Stathe, for me. Elsewhere, Alan Dunn was also on the river, on B2 which left Les and Nicky both on Stathe.

Got to my peg and it looked ok, although it was a long way over to the far bank (around 14.5 metres), I was quietly confident of a good result as the last time I drew this area two years ago I won the section with two bream and a tench. As per usual I set up a 0.4 gram rig with 0.12mm bottom to a size 18 B611 for across and a Drennan squatt rig with a strung out bulk, o.o8mm hooklength and size 20 B511 for down the middle (at around 9 metres).

On the whistle I cupped some chopped worm and caster across and two balls of roach groundbait down the middle. Started across as the big fish tend to come early or late, was into some rudd and roach straight away, which isn't normally a good sign, I gave it around half an hour, catching about ten fish before coming into 9 metres. Was only getting odd small fish and then Yeovil Nomads' Jack Warner on the next peg latched into a good bream shortly followed by tench. This wasn't going to plan!, I felt I had to go over again but could still only get smaller fish although I did manage a hand sized roach and a slightly better skimmer.

By this stage, an hour and a half into the match the wind got up and I was really struggling to hold the pole at 14.5 metres. Back at 9 metres I was still only getting the odd small fish and was becoming very worried. I fed some more choppie across in the hope the wind might die down later in the match. In fact if anything it got worse and gusts were blowing the pole all over the place, even on my shorter line. With around half the match gone and around a pound and a half in the net I felt I had to put some fish in the net.

Jack hadn't added any more big fish and the Weston guy next to him didn't seem to be doing a lot so I decided to get my head down and catch some small fish. With caster on the hook I was getting bites but either bumping or missing the majority of the bites. A change was needed so in a bid to try and stabilise the rig, I bulked the spread shot together and added a few inches to the depth. This worked to a certain extent although I was still bumping too many. Hooking the caster with the hook point showing I started to catch roach, skimmers and hybrids quite well.

The wind by this stage was horrendous and I struggled my way to 86 fish, right near the end I dropped off a rudd of around 3oz (remember that fish!). The whistle went to signify the end of the match and I felt I hadn't done the peg justice. In hindsight I wish I'd fished for bits from the start but the lure of the big fish proved too inviting. Walked up to weigh in and E1 put 6lb 1oz on the scales, followed by a 4lb+ weight and then a 6lb 2oz, the next peg put over 12lbs on the scales followed by Focus angler Steve Bishop with 7lb 6oz. I really thought I was going to be last in my section. The Weston guy weighed 3lb 15oz and Jack 10lb+, then it was my turn and as I pulled my net out there was quite a bit of splashing. They pulled the scales down to around 6lb, it was close, the chap on the scales called out 6lbs dead. This left me with 4 points (not good), but three more ounces would have been worth 6 points (remember that rudd!). Realistically if I'd fished for small fish all day third in section was achievable but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I knew our chance of overhauling Team Focus in the league stakes was gone but could we hold on to second spot as Yeovil Nomads were only four points behind and a blow out from us could allow them to sneak into second. When Les ambled down and said he'd had four points as well I feared the worst. The ever reliable Nicky was second in his section which comforted me slightly. It just remained to see how the two lads on the river had performed.

Back at the Langport Arms for the results and Andy had 6 points and Alan another section second and 8 points which gave us a total of 30 points. On the day we were 4th, Team Focus and another team tied for 2nd on 32 points (remember that rudd!) and Yeovil Nomads were top dogs for the day with 36, but had they done enough? Firstly they read out the individual results for the league, Scott Russell from Focus won that with 52 points from a possible 54, a fantastic score, Nicky was 2nd (he won it last year) and Alan was joint 3rd.

Then came the team results and when Yeovil Nomads were read out in 3rd position with 22 points I knew we were 2nd, our total league score of 21 meant we'd held on by 1 point! We each received an engraved plate (see picture) and a gift voucher for £5 from the league sponsers Yeovil and District Angling Centre.

Results for Chard Remains

Round one - River Parrett - 7th on the day - 7th overall
Round two - River Parrett - 3rd on the day - 3rd overall
Round three - River Parrett - jnt 2nd on the day - jnt 2nd overall
Round four - Stathe Drain - jnt 3rd on the day - jnt 2nd overall
Round five - Stathe Drain - 2nd on the day - 2nd overall
Final round - Stathe Drain/River Parrett - 4th on the day - 2nd overall

Yet another enjoyable league, in three years we have been runners up twice and knockout champions. Could we go one better next year? - watch this space.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Evesham - 26th-28th August 2006

Just got back from Evesham, another excellent weekend. On the Saturday we watched the fishing for a bit, saw Wayne Swinscoe (the eventual winner) catch some nice net roach, also saw Jeff Spiers land his 5lb+ barbel which landed him 3rd place. Had a fairly quiet night as Andy wasn't feeling too well and managed to projectile vomit everywhere, although he still beat me 7-2 at pool. On the Sunday we sat behind Will Raison for quite a while and he was putting together a nice net of small fish, I think he went on to win his section with nearly 5lb. Wayne Swinscoe had another good day finishing 4th.

We went in the Vauxhall to watch the mighty blues (Chelsea) beat Blackburn 2-0 and despite me going into a 5-2 lead at pool, I eventually lost 6-5. We ended up staying out all day and it got quite messy, the South African owner was brilliant and bought us several drinks, there were also several lovely barmaids who we got chatting to. The place is up for sale, but I really hope the owners are still there next year as it's become our regular drinking hole over the years.

Monday we woke up feeling like crap, went down to watch the team event, sat in between Des Shipp and Mark Downes who were both catching small fish quite well. After something to eat (yet another pork roll), we wandered around the tented village, no major purchases, just lots of groundbait, hemp and turmeric. Then we headed back to deepest, darkest Somerset and made good time as the M5 was quite quiet, for a change.

As I've missed my weekly angling fix, I'll have to wait until next Sunday when it's the final round of the YDAC Langport league. The team will be

Jamie Rich
Andy Langdon
Les Braunton
Alan Dunn
Nicky Collins

I'd love to win it, but this would require a great performance from us and for team Focus to have a disaster, which I can't see happening. I'll be happy if we can hold on to our second spot. I'll let you know.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Langport League - Stathe Drain - 20th August 2006

Stathe Drain - The main species are roach, skimmers, hybrids, perch, bream and tench.

Round five of the Langport league arrived and I must admit I was a little nervous. We (Chard Remains) really needed a good result to claw back the three point deficit between ourselves and team Focus. As I went in to do the team draw I felt it was about time we were due some end pegs. We only got one!, still we did have another good peg, C7. I got section E, peg 6

I got to my section and my peg and the ones on each side had weed stretching from the far side to about halfway, not good when the bonus fish tend to be caught over. I set up a light Drennan squatt float to 0.08mm bottom and a size 20 B511 hook for my groundbait/hemp line and heavier rig ending in 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 for the chopped worm. On the whistle I cupped in a potful of choppie and casters in a little alcove in the weed and then two balls of Sensas Roach at six metres.

I decided to start across as in previous matches the bonus fish seem to get caught in the first or last hours. Started to get bites straight away and had a couple of small skimmers on half a worm, was missing quite a few bites which I think were small fish and hooked two better fish which went straight in the weed and the hook pulled out. Then had a couple of hand sized skimmers and as nobody else seemed to be doing much I decided to stick at it for a while. Then had a bream of around 2lbs and thought there might have been a few more out there. Then it slowed so thought it time to come over my groundbait. I cupped in some more choppie and came in to six metres with red maggot on the hook, feeding hemp and caster.

It wasn't ballistic but was catching the odd small blade and roach, the pegs either side weren't doing a lot, although the end peg E8 had netted a couple of fish. My main worry was Focus's Scott Russell on the other end peg and I knew he'd be tough to beat, along with Baz Morgan on E2, both excellent hemp anglers. I tried the caster but was missing too many bites, tried a grain of hemp but that didn't produce a single bite and as I don't fish the hemp very often I don't have much confidence in it. After two hours I only had around twenty fish, but did have that bonus bream for around 3lbs, in the previous match 4lb odd was good enough for third in the section so I was aiming for that.

Decided to have another go over the worm, I wasn't getting as many bites over there now, then the float went and I hooked a good fish, this was no bream!. I shipped back and broke down at my top three, the fish made a couple of runs up the drain but I had it under control, I was convinced this was a good tench and probably worth top two in the section. The float appeared and I reached for the net, then the fish surfaced, it was a poxy pike (which don't count) of around 3-4lbs, I made a stab of netting it and it spat the hook. Properly deflated I went back across and managed a perch of around 6oz next put in. Fed some more chopped worm and decided to leave it until the last hour.

The fish weren't coming thick and fast at six metres either, I reckoned I was still ahead of the anglers either side but the chap on E8 was still netting the odd better roach (hemp fish I think) and the Weston guy two pegs to my left had landed a tench. I couldn't see what was happening past him but every now and again I could hear Baz Morgan swearing up on E2. I managed a run of slightly better roach on the caster but they disappeared pretty sharpish. The team Amigo's bloke on my right then lost two bream in quick succession whilst fishing tight across in a hole in the weed.

With an hour to go I had around forty fish for 4lbs or so and decided to spend the remaining time over my worm line. My mate Andy and his missus turned up to see how I was getting on, just then the Heron's bloke on my left lost a tench at the net. We really needed to beat the Herons team as well, as coming into this match they were joint second in the league with us on 15 points. As he was swearing and cussing I breathed a sigh of relief. Over my chopped worm line I was getting loads of bites but they were small fish nipping the end of the worm. Did manage four more fish up to the end of the match. In hindsight I should have fished the caster across for that last hour and I might have put another couple of pounds in the net.

After packing up I followed the scales up to Scotty on E1, he plonked 11lb+ of hemp fish on the scales, Baz Morgan weighed 5lb 7oz and he'd done so much swearing as he's been piked out. There were a couple more 5lb+ weights and the Weston bloke with the tench weighed 9lb+, I really thought I was in trouble but my fish went 6lb 2oz for 6 points (fourth in the section) as the other end peg weighed 7lb 9oz.

Back at the results we had a mixed bag of results, Dave Lawrence came back with 2 points, Les Braunton had 12lb odd from C7 for 8 points, Alan Dunn won his section from B1 with 9lb odd of hemp roach and Nicky Collins had 5 points. Our team total was 30 points which was good enough for second on the day, although Focus recorded another win with a fantastic score card of 36 points. We are still second in the league but are now 4 points behind Focus with one match to go, although not impossible it's a big ask, especially with the way they are fishing (and drawing!).

Special mention must also go to Nomad's Jack Warner who won the match with 41lbs of bream and tench, the biggest weight of the league so far.

Results for Chard Remains so far

Round one - River Parrett - 7th on the day - 7th overall
Round two - River Parrett - 3rd on the day - 3rd overall
Round three - River Parrett - jnt 2nd on the day - jnt 2nd overall
Round four - Stathe Drain - jnt 3rd on the day - jnt 2nd overall
Round five - Stathe Drain - 2nd on the day - 2nd overall

The team for the final match is

Jamie Rich
Nicky Collins
Alan Dunn
Andy Langdon
Les Braunton

Well no fishing next week as Andy and me are off up to Evesham for the weekend to watch the Shakespeare festival. I'll let you know how we get on.