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?