Monday, January 29, 2007

River Isle - Hollowlegs League - 28th January

I really needed a good result in this match as another blow out would say goodbye to any chance of a league placing. With the weather fairly mild and the river fishable for once, I was suprised to see only ten other anglers at the draw. I really fancied a peg at Isle Brewers as the roach have shoaled up really tightly and some fantastic bags of fish had been caught on this stretch. My hand went in the bucket and out came peg 52, about 70 pegs away from Isle Brewers! I wasn't too upset as I have won off this peg before and Justin had some chub off it a couple of weeks ago.

Martin Heard (now known as the man with the golden arm) drew 124 at Isle Brewers which was also a golden peg, although this was only worth an extra £11 since Baz mugged us a couple of weeks ago. He had his usual moan about it being a crap peg even though there were fish topping there last match, the other two fliers were drawn by Pete Lonton on 126 and John Coxon on 125. I got to my peg at Ilford and the river was even lower than I expected, but on the plus side this meant I could get right down to the water and not be sat on top of the high bank exposed to the elements.

The peg is on a bend and from when I fished it last time I knew there was a deep hole to my right, there was also some cover across and Justin had told me he caught one of his chub from the tail of the swim. I set up a gram and a half Drennan Carbo to fish in the hole and another rig but this time two grams to fish in the flow, by the cover and in the tail. Both rigs had 18 B611's to 0.12mm bottoms. On the whistle I started in the deep hole, no response so I tried in the slack water, again nothing. I was loose feeding maggot, caster and hemp with single caster on the hook.

After about half an hour I had my first bite in the deeper water, which turned out to be a minnow, still at least I hadn't blanked. Next put in I missed a bite on double caster before I went back to catching not a lot. Mindful of what Justin had told me I put half a lobbie on and tried in the tail of the swim, nothing here either. I tried to my right again and before the rig had time to settle properly, the float went and I was into a good fish. In the painfully clear water I could make out a long, lean fish which I thought was a jack pike but turned out to be a trout which, thankfully, count in these matches. Now all I needed was the three chub Justin had caught and I would have double figures.

I really did think I might get a couple more but despite trying all over the swim with both rigs and a variety of baits I didn't have another bite until two minutes from the end when just the end of the caster was nipped, which I suspect was a minnow. I didn't need to look at my clicker to know the score was one trout and one minnow which equals BLOW OUT!!. As I had the scales yet again I walked down to weigh Graham Field in and was suprised when he only had 4oz. My trout (plus minnow) only weighed 1lb 13oz which I was disappointed with as I thought it was much bigger.

While we were packing up two cars from the South Bradon section pulled up, one containing my nemesis, Janders. He hadn't weighed in and Digger also had one trout, his weighing 1lb 4oz. I was beginning to think I might sneak decent points in my section. When I got back for the results the rest of the river had fished well. Martin struggled!! from his crap peg to win with 15lb 4oz of roach, Pete was second with 11lb 14oz, Barney was third with five chub for 11lb 1oz from peg 24 (and he lost two!) and Justin was fourth from the ever reliable tank traps swim with 10lb 14oz despite dropping enough fish off for second place.

Normally the points are decided over three sections but because of the low turnout, today there were to be only two sections which meant I scored three points and with both Barney and Martin winning their sections, any chance of a league placing for me had now gone. I really hope this isn't the start of a barren patch for me as I need a couple more good results in the Crown league. Next week we are hopefully fishing a stretch of river that hasn't been fished for a while so it could be interesting.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dillington Pond - Crown League - 21st January 2007

After lots of rain I was really hoping the match would be transferred to Dillington and on my arrival at the pub it was. I'm currently leading the Crown league and after my recent good form at Dillington I was feeling quietly confident. Drawing peg 3 (where I was second in the Chris Patten match) did nothing to dent my confidence either. When we got to the pond I was very suprised to see it gin clear and if anything, lower than normal!

It was very cold and windy, we decided to leave the far side out as it normally has the wind blowing straight into it and hasn't fished that well in recent matches. Barney had drawn the pumphouse peg but there was a pleasure angler on it so he had to sit just along from Digger, who was on the point, on that far side. As is the law of sod, the far side was actually the only part of the pond which was a little sheltered with calm water. I set up the usual 0.6 float with 0.12 mm bottom and size 18 B611 with blue hydro through the topkit. I mixed up some Sensas black roach and awaited the start. Rather worryingly I hadn't seen any fish top at all.

I commented to Martin Heard on peg two that with the pond having no colour in it that the roach might not show but perhaps the chub and bigger perch might. With the wind being so bad I decided to start at 10 metres and if the wind dropped go out to the usual 11.5. Robin shouted the all in and I cupped in two balls of groundbait on the shorter line and started with double red maggot. Now normally with maggot on the hook you get plagued by small perch which is my cue to switch to caster for the bigger roach.

I shipped out and started feeding maggot, caster and hemp over the top, the rig settled and I fully expected a bite straight away as per usual. When this didn't happen I wasn't too worried, I just thought that with the downturn in temperature that perhaps it would be a little harder than normal. A quick glance round the pond saw not a lot happening and Barney was still setting up, I shouted up to Martin and he hadn't had a bite either. After ten minutes still biteless, I was starting to worry, even worse I looked up to see Barney and then Digger net fish.

Even one of those tiny perch, which are normally a pain in the butt, would have done me now. Martin still hadn't caught and nor had Graham Field on peg 4, Barney and Digger were both bagging. I could see Robin Cox and Neil Dring catching the odd small perch, why couldn't I get one? Around an hour had passed and myself, Martin and Roger were all still fishless, then Neil caught a chub and I really thought I would blank. The wind was awful and it was a real struggle to hold the pole at times.

Then out of the blue the float disappeared and I hooked a decent fish which turned out to be a chub of around a pound, phew, blank avoided. Also I reckoned this put me ahead of half the anglers, I then started catching the odd small perch. I looked up and Roger was playing a chub, then another and then Martin had two in as many chucks and I was back to where I started near the bottom of the field. Martin had two more chub and I didn't know what to do. I toyed with the idea of scaling down but didn't want to run the risk of hooking a good fish and then losing it. I even thought about setting a feeder up but didn't as it's never really produced much at Dillington.

The only difference I could see was that Martin was fishing that little bit further out than me, so still on maggot I shipped out to 11.5 metres. It was really hard work and decent presentation was hard to achieve but I started catching the odd small perch. Then I had a chub shortly followed by its twin, I was back in the hunt. It also looked like Barney and Digger had slowed up, but by my reckoning I was still behind Martin and Roger. The chub I had landed had plenty of caster and maggot in their throats but no hemp so I stopped feeding it. I'm not really sure if this helped but I carried on catching the odd small perch and even had my first roach, albeit a small one.

I then hooked a decent fish and expecting a chub I was quite suprised when a perch surfaced, although at around a pound and half it was very welcome. Martin had his fifth chub and it was tight, I then had another decent stripy, this time about a pound in weight. Martin shouted down that he thought I was ahead of him, I wasn't so sure as he was catching a lot more small perch than I was. I cupped in some chopped worm at 10 metres hoping it would bring some more perch in but I never had a bite over it.

Back at 11.5 metres I was still getting the odd small perch and had another small roach and a slightly better one of around 4oz. Right near the end I did have a bite where I bumped what felt like a better fish. But apart from that I had only lost two small perch on the way in and was quite pleased with the way I'd fished. Robin shouted the all out and I was quite relieved as it was bloody cold. Roger was first to weigh and his three chub went 3lb 6oz, Martin put 6lb 7oz on the scales and I honestly didn't think I'd beaten that. My 21 fish (3 chub, 2 good perch, 3 roach and 13 small perch) went 6lb 13oz and I thought I might have half a chance of beating Digger.

At the results, Barney had weighed a fantastic 12lb odd to win and Digger had slightly less with 11lb plus and I sneaked into third place and picked up £20. The way the league is run each match is split into two sections and I was well chuffed when Robin told me I had won my section.
That's five section wins and two not so good results so far, you can drop your two worst results, so I need to keep doing well in the remaining few matches.

Well it's round five of the Hollowlegs league next week, hopefully on the river, weather permitting. Another good result would be nice......

Monday, January 15, 2007

River Isle - Hollowlegs League - 14th January 2007

During the week, Baz Morgan (a very good angler from Langport) phoned me for advice on setting up a blog after reading mine. During the conversation he said he might fish the match today and when I arrived at the Crown he was there. 19 anglers eagerly awaited the draw and everybody was hoping to draw a golden peg as the fund had now reached £110 which meant whoever won would take home the tidy sum of £200.

Martin Heard drew peg 14 (where I won last week) and Baz drew 126 at Isle Brewers and Malcolm Levy drew 133, again at Isle Brewers, all three were golden pegs and capable of winning. I drew the remaining golden peg, which was number 24, a decent chub peg but it hasn't done a lot this year. Everybody was sure the golden peg would go today.

On my arrival at the peg, it looked quite nice, if a little pacy. The peg has a bush opposite and a tree to the right, I set up a gram and a half Drennan Carbo to fish by the bush with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 with white hydro running through the top two sections. I also set up a two gram Carbo with 0.14mm bottom and size 14 B611 combined with black hydro for fishing lobworms and bread. I started by the bush feeding hemp and caster with single caster on the hook, no bites after five minutes so I switched to the heavier rig and went above the tree with bread. Bread didn't bring any bites and a lobworm also met the same response and then I got snagged on the bottom and lost the rig!

So back to the bush then, first put in and the float slid away, I thought I'd missed the bite but a minnow was the culprit! at least I hadn't blanked. Next chuck I had a small dace on double caster, I had a couple more tentative bites before sitting biteless again. After winning the first Hollowlegs match, my next two results were poor so I really needed a good result today. Switching between single and double caster, lobworm and bread made no difference and it was a real struggle. I even set up another heavy rig to try above the tree again but no bites here and it was back to the bush.

I then had a bite and struck to find a decent fish on, the trouble was the elastic wasn't coming out!, the line had wrapped round the pole tip. I shipped back very gently but with the pole tip jolting against the fish something had to give and the hook pulled through the knot - bugger. By now all thoughts of winning the golden peg had gone and I just wanted to get decent section points. Eventually with about an hour to go I hooked a decent chub on double caster and thought if I could get a couple more it would elevate me in the section. This was shortlived and no more bites were forthcoming until quarter of an hour before the end when the float went and before I had time to strike, elastic was pouring out the pole tip. After a brief struggle I netted a chub of about two and quarter pounds, lobbie was it's downfall.

With ten minutes to go, I really thought I might get another but it didn't happen. I didn't need my clicker to tell me the final total, two chub, one dace and a minnow. Janders wandered down with the scales and said that Martin weighed 8lb 4oz from peg 14 and that the other two pegs (including himself) hadn't weighed in. I was suprised and a little disappointed when I only weighed 4lb 11oz as I thought the chub were bigger than that.

I got back to the pub and Baz had weighed an amazing 29lb 10oz from peg 126 to win the match and the golden ball (that's the last time I invite him over!), but fair play to him as he bought everybody a drink. Neil Dring also enjoyed a good day with 19lb 1oz from 125 and Martin was third. I actually managed to win my section by default and picked up £20 plus a 'squid' off Andy, who blanked. More importantly I had two points in my section, I just need three more good matches to give me a chance in the league!

Overall the river actually fished quite poorly apart from those two pegs, saying that, the way the match weights are going I wouldn't be suprised to see the match record go before the end of the season, that currently stands at 35lb odd. Next week is the seventh match in the Crown League which I'm currently leading but I need another good result, wish me luck.

Monday, January 08, 2007

River Isle - Crown League - 7th January 2007

Well a new year has arrived but the weather hasn't changed as it's still very wet and windy, I turned up at the Crown fully expecting another match at Dillington only to be told the river was fishable. I drew peg 14 (the tank traps, where I won the first Hollowlegs match with over 18lb) and wasn't too upset although I was a little worried about how much extra water would be on it.

On driving over the river I was suprised how nice it looked with a bit of extra water and a touch of colour. My mood changed somewhat on reaching my peg, it was a boiling mess! Basically there are two main areas to catch the fish, by the tank traps where the flow goes after coming off the weir and just off the main flow in a deeper hole. Both these areas were really boily and virtually unfishable, below the traps is a little cutback where the fish sometimes can be found and this looked like my best bet.

I set up my usual 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 hook, plumbed up and then tried the rig to see how it would do against the flow. In the cutback it wasn't too bad although at 13 metres it would be hard work and to my left, just off the flow I could run the float through but trying to hold back and the float would just ride up. On the whistle I started to my left feeding maggot, caster and hemp and fully expected to catch straight away. When this didn't happen I tried in the cutback and again this was unsuccessful. I was beginning to think my only hope would be for the river to drop a foot or so but with rain forecast this was unlikely.

To my left there is also a small grass island behind which there is a small slack, I know from experience that it is really shallow but out of desperation decided to give it a go. The float had only been there a few seconds when it slowly submerged and after a brief struggle a decent dace was netted. I was somewhat relieved as I had avoided the dreaded blank, next put in and the same thing happened, had I found them? I thought I'd better plumb the depth and yep, even with the extra water it was only about a foot deep. I adjusted the rig and next put in I bumped a fish and the next one I had on briefly before it got into the fast flow this side of the little island and came off.

I still hadn't fed anything here but was catching well and after the first hour had over twenty fish, all dace. I was still bumping quite a few and I think a lighter float might have been the answer but I'm a lazy bugger and anyhow I was quite pleased with my catch rate. I kept waiting for sport to slow but it didn't and I had over forty fish after two hours. By now I had started to feed a pouch every other cast if I hadn't had a bite quite quickly and this seemed to do the trick. Justin wandered up from peg 23 halfway through the match, by which time I was on fifty fish (49 dace and 1 roach). He reported he'd had a chub and Digger on peg 15 had caught two, while he was there I caught a couple and lost a couple in the flow. He suggested I try double maggot instead of caster as that might help to keep them on the hook.

I tried it and did catch quite well, it also meant I didn't have to keep shipping back in after a missed bite unlike fishing with casters as I had been doing. After several fish he said he'd seen enough and walked off. I continued to catch at a rate of twenty fish per hour but in amongst the dace I started to catch the odd roach and chublet, with these averaging about 12oz. I was still having too many coming off for my liking but even changing the hook didn't stop this. I think there must have been hell of a lot of fish there and I ended up just short of the hundred with ninety-seven fish (80 dace, 10 roach and 7 chublets) plus 2 minnows which I don't count.

The last time I had this peg I weighed 18lb odd with 100 fish and although I had some bigger fish then, I also had quite a few small chublets so I really had no idea what weight I'd done this time around. Digger walked up with the scales and after two weighs my final weight was 24lb 4oz (my biggest Isle match weight ever). Digger hadn't added to his two chub and weighed 3lb 15oz. When I got back to the pub and all the results were in, I had won again and picked up another £65. As well as being my heaviest match weight on the Isle another landmark was reached as this was the first time I'd ever won three matches on the trot.

The river had fished pretty well with Martin Heard second with over 12lb from peg 85 and Roger Russell continuing his good form with over 9lb and third from peg 55. I just can't believe what an amazing run of form I'm having, it has to end soon. Next weekend, weather permitting we are on the river again for the Hollowlegs league, I would love to win this league but will need several good section placings in the remaining few matches to do well. Oh and I promise more photos soon.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dillington Pond - Pairs Open - 31st December 2006

As there was nothing on last Sunday (Xmas Eve), I should have been raring to go for this one, but a stinking cold and the fact lots of heavy rain had put paid to us fishing on the Isle (where the match should have been held) had rather put an end to that. I got to the Crown and there was rather diminished field of only five pairs as some anglers had pulled out due to the river being in spate. Also my partner was supposed to be Justin Charles but he'd cut the top off his finger so I was now fishing with Mark Hollister, a really good angler, but he'd never fished Dillington before. I gave him all the info I could and then it was time for the draw.

I went first and drew peg two which was in the trees two up from the stream and Hollister drew peg twenty by the fence, both really good pegs and I felt we were in with a chance. The pond was very coloured and for company I had Barney to my right (by the stream) and Neil Dring to my left. After my recent good form here I had much good natured banter from both of them whilst setting up. Once again the forecast wasn't very favourable so we all prepared to batten down the hatches. I mixed up some black Sensas Roach groundbait and set up the usual o.4 gram rig with 0.12 mm bottom and 18 B611. One good little trick I use is to slip some black silicon over the float bristle as the pond very often has 'white water' due to the light reflection and red/orange bristles can be a nightmare to see.

On the whistle I cupped in two balls at 11.5 metres before shipping out with double red maggot on the hook and loose feeding caster, hemp and maggots over the top. First put in the float sank from view and I swung a 2oz rudd to hand, next chuck I had a small perch and I took this as a sign to switch to caster. I had another perch before bumping a better roach. I had a couple of better roach around 4oz and I netted each one to be on the safe side. After the first hour I had twelve fish, mostly small roach and perch with three or four of those better ones for around a pound or so. I was fairly happy with this as Barney had only had small perch and I couldn't see a lot else happening around the pond.

Hour two was much the same with everybody struggling to hold their poles in the strong wind, I carried on catching small fish with the odd better fish amongst them and had around another dozen fish all on caster. I'd also seen Mark net a couple of fish so it looked like he was doing alright as well. It had also started raining and was turning in to a right miserable day. I could see Barney still catching small perch and Neil was also catching odd fish. Across the pond it looked like they were more affected by the wind and struggling.

I caught quite steadily during the third hour and even added a bonus half pound perch to the net. I was getting a lot of small roach, even on caster, which was ok because they still weigh more than those tiny perch. I tried double caster and had a couple of better roach but had to wait ages for the bites. I still felt I was ahead of Barney and Neil although I couldn't really see how the other two anglers in my section (Alan Dunn and Bruce Hunt) were doing. Mark also seemed like he was doing well in his section.

With two hours to go I was still catching the odd better roach but was now having to chase them around a bit by coming a section closer or trying to the right or left of the feed. I was also swapping between single and double caster and had a small eel on double. I was still maintaining my twelve fish an hour catch rate and thought this would give me between six and seven pounds and hopefully my aim of top two in the section.

Coming into the last hour the rain had worsened and with my cold I was looking forward to the match ending. With half an hour to go I heard Martin Heard shout something and looked up to Digger, in Mark's section, land a decent bream, Digger was Barney's partner so I needed to make sure there was daylight between me and him. As so often happens with the light fading the roach start to feed and I had a nice little run of four fish all on caster before the all out was called. I ended with 62 fish, a little over my target and reckoned on having 6-7lbs.

Neil had the scales and we walked up to weigh Bruce Hunt in, he had a lot of small fish plus a chub and three good roach for 6lb 6oz followed by Dunner with a similar net of fish for 4lb 15oz, I was pretty sure I had that and when Neil weighed 3lb odd I fancied winning the section. My fish went 8lb 1oz for the section win as Barney had just under 3lb. It now remained to see how Mark had fared, Digger, as expected, won that section with 6lb 9oz but Mark was second with 5lb 2oz so we won it with 3 points and picked up £40 each. I was also top weight on the day although there was no prize for that. Martin Heard and Bruce Hunt came second with 5 points.

So again my good run here continues, in the last nine matches I have won eight and come second in the other and in total this year I have won 13 matches (9 of the victories at Dillington), I really hope this continues into 2007. My quest to top the grand was also successful and in the end I flew past it with my final total coming to £1216. How on earth am I going to match that next year?

Anyway, for anybody who has been following this drivel, post a comment and let me know if there is anything I can do to improve my blog (more photos probably..!). Also I will take this opportunity to wish you all 'Happy New Year' and 'Tight Lines' and see you in the New Year.