Monday, December 29, 2008

River Isle - 28th December 2008

After two really hard frosts it was always going to be a struggle so match organiser put us all down Isle Brewers to give us all a chance of catching something. Of course everybody wanted to draw the flier, peg 125 and personally I didn't want to draw 133 as it's hell of a walk and I've got a stinking cold. Bruce Hunt drew the flier and of course I got 133 although I had the choice of either that one or 130.

The drive to the river was quite hairy as the roads were really icy, on our arrival fish could already be seen topping in 125, Bruce was in for a good day. I started to take my kit part of the way there as it really is a long walk. 133 used to be a really good peg but they don't put it in that often because of the walk. After crossing three fields, going through three gates, crossing a bridge and climbing two styles I was finally there. It looked quite nice and pretty much how I remembered it from the last time I had fished it several years ago. I struggled then for a 1lb but it was high and coloured. I did have a look at 130 as I passed but really didn't fancy it.

The river was painfully low and clear and there was a biting wind, I made myself as comfortable as possible and started setting up. I set up the usual 1.5 gram Carbo and plumbed up, there was a nice depth to my right and towards a tree on the far bank but it shallowed up to the left. I wasn't ready at the all in and eventually started about 15 mins late. Despite the cold I half expected to catch small fish quite quickly but this didn't happen. After about 20 minutes I had my first fish, a small gudgeon, so I slipped on a caster but after 10 minutes or so I only had one indication resulting in a nipped caster. Back on double red maggot and I had another gudgeon and was going nowhere fast. Then a big fish rolled to the right of the tree which gave me renewed enthusiasm.

I was fishing at 11.5 metres and went to 13 and then 14.5 by the tree but nothing, it was time for a cup of coffee. I left the rig out while I warmed up for 5 mins and when I lifted the rig up I had a tiny, see through roach on the end. It was now getting on for half way through the match and I probably had about an ounce in the net - great. Then Janders and Alvin turned up, they were both blanking so it was fishing hard. I had a tiny minnow on maggot but just couldn't buy a proper bite and all I could think about was the walk back.

In a bid to stave off the boredom and warm up a bit I went for a walk down river, I went a fair way and never saw a single fish, I went back up as far as Janders on 129 and he was now on the tip and still blanking. I went back to my peg and gave it another hour but with only half an hour of the match left I couldn't see me catching enough to frame so I packed up early. I took some of my kit half way back and met Alvin with the scales who kindly carried some of my stuff back to the car - cheers mate. He had packed up early as had Janders and Roger Russell on peg 126, in fact nobody below the bridge had weighed in.

I loaded my stuff into the car and went to watch the weigh in above the bridge, Stuart 'Fred' Brown had 2lb 12oz from the weirpool (peg 121) and Rob Cox had two nice chub for 5lb 8oz from 122. Martin Heard had six chub for 12lb 8oz from peg 123, which is the best weight I've heard of from the peg for ages. Scotty Russell struggled for 1lb 5oz from 124 and Bruce Hunt had a lovely net of roach, dace and chublets for 11lb 11oz from 125.

So a poor end to the year for me and I just missed out on reaching the grand, finishing with a total of £947. I only won four matches in 2008 and not a single victory on my beloved Isle or Dillington. I did however beat my heaviest match weight with 69lb 14oz of bream on the resi and topped my heaviest fish by a mile with a lovely carp of 28lb 4oz from the same venue. I'd like to wish everbody a Happy New Year and tight lines for 2009.

Martin Heard with his 12lb 8oz

Bruce Hunt with his second placed 11lb 11oz

Robin Cox with his chub

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 12lb 8oz
2 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 11lb 11oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 5lb 8oz
4 - Stuart Brown (Ilminster) - 2lb 12oz

Monday, December 22, 2008

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 21st December 2008

After several bad weeks including last week at Dillington I was gagging to get back on the river and after no rain for a while conditions looked set for a good match. Also there hadn't been a frost and the weather was mild, all I needed to do now was catch some fish! There were 13 eager anglers at the draw, including the Langport invader, Baz Morgan, who was obviously short of a few bob to do his Xmas shopping and ready to relieve us of our hard earned money. It was Janders turn to do the bait run so we sorted out the bait and all was fine until he came to give us our lobworms and he handed us tubs of redworms! Nice one John, it must be your age!

After a cup of coffee I had a look to see what pegs were in and could see my favourite, peg 125, was in. I hadn't drawn the peg this year and keep bringing my waggler rod and reel in the hope I do. It wasn't to be though and the old fossil, Malcolm Levy, had that pleasure. The only trouble was he didn't have a waggler rod with him and had to borrow one off of Baz, he promised he'd buy Baz a pint and a hush fell over the room! Nobody had actually ever seen Malcolm open his wallet and the rumour is that he still has some old white fivers in there. Still if I had a bad day there was this little treat to look forward to. I drew and slowly opened my fingers to reveal a number 14 on my ping pong ball, I had mixed feelings as this can be a good peg but I had struggled off it a couple of weeks ago.

I got there and it looked ok with a bit more water on it than when I had it last although it still appeared quite clear and the little cutback to my right was very pacy. I set up old faithful (a Drennan Carbo for those of you who don't know) and plumbed up by the tank traps and in the little cutback. I just had time for a quick coffee and then it was time to start. My opening gambit was to fish in the flow towards the traps and I really thought I'd catch straight away. This didn't happen and I found myself edging closer and closer towards the traps earlier than I'd expected.

I was feeding hemp, caster and maggot in the flow and in the little cutback and after about 20 minutes I finally had a bite only to bump it! It just wasn't happening towards the traps so I tried in the cutback, it was quite boily and the flow kept dragging the flow under. Luckily I still had a few lobbies left so tried one and once again the flow dragged old faithful under but this time the tip rattled only for me to bump this fish as well! Next put in I finally managed to land a fish, a chublet about 6oz. I started to get bites regularly and added another chublet, a trout (which count in our matches) and a decent dace. After the first hour I had six fish for about a pound and a half.

Bites dried up in the cutback so I decided to try by the traps again, a bite straight away saw me swinging in a small dace and next chuck I didn't even have time to feed before the float slid away and I landed a chub of a pound or so. Great they had arrived I thought, but the action was short lived and I found myself searching the swim again for bites. Double red maggot saw a brief flurry of three small dace, a better one, a roach and another trout before the minnows moved in and I was back on the caster again. I felt there were lots of fish there but they just wouldn't settle. Back to the cutback and no bites so I tried inching the rig through in the fast flow, the float shot away and I had another trout, next put in and I had another spotty before that died as well.

I kept swapping between the cutback, the traps and 11.5 metres straight in front of me in the flow and although I wasn't bagging most of my fish were coming from the latter line. I added four more fish from here, some nice dace and another chublet of 12oz. I reckoned on having 5 to 6lb and thought a good last couple of hours might see me close to double figures and a chance of a frame place. Big Frank arrived in the brightest cycling gear you've ever seen and said Neil Dring in peg 15 had only got a few fish but he hadn't seen anyone else. Just after he left Justin Charles turned up and said nobody in our section had much, he'd had a few small fish and Graham Field on 17 was struggling.

Into the last hour and as the light started to fail I was hoping the fish might switch on, it didn't really happen though. I had another chub at 11.5 metres and one by the traps to add another pound and a half. My last fish was a 4oz perch so I had quite a mixed bag, I did miss a bite right on the whistle and that was it. I packed up and took some of my gear to the car just as Graham and the scales were coming up from peg 23. Bruce Hunt had weighed 6lb 12oz and I thought I might be close to that. Justin had 3lb 15oz from peg 20 and Graham had only 13oz from peg 17. My 22 fish weighed 8lb 7oz which was more than I thought and I started to think I might have a chance of sneaking the section.

Back at the results and the best weight in the copse was Martin Heard's 4lb 5oz from peg 27 and all of a sudden a frame place looked possible. Janders only had a minnow from 37 so I gratefully received a pound (the first one for ages) and Alvin Jones had a chub from 38 so that just left the three pegs at Isle Brewers although I fully expected them all to beat my weight. Baz arrived back with the weigh board and the old fossil had done an amazing 22lb 9oz from 125 - well done Malcolm. He didn't come back for the results though and Baz was gutted he wouldn't see his pint for the loan of the rod and we were all gutted we wouldn't witness the fabled opening of the wallet! Baz had 7lb 2oz from 124 and Roger Russell had 3lb 9oz from 126 so I had finished second. I picked up £50 which was very welcome as it was my first pick up for a while. My winnings for the year now stand at £947 and I don't reckon I'll reach the grand with only one match of 2008 to go. Still a very enjoyable day.

The old fossil next to Martin earlier in the year (he was probably trying to borrow a rod then as well!)

Justin did enough to be crowned Champion with Martin second and Neil third, I ended up in fourth place and was left ruing a blank which really cost me.

I would just like to thank Tommy at the Crown for sponsoring the league and his excellent breakfasts and to Robin Cox and Neil Dring for organising the matches. Also I'd like to wish you all a Merry Xmas and tight lines.

1 - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 22lb 9oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Chard Remains) - 8lb 7oz
3 - Baz Morgan (Baz Angling) - 7lb 2oz

Section A - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 6lb 12oz
Section B - Roger Russell (YDAC) - 3lb 9oz

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dillington Pond - Xmas Fayre - 14th December 2008

After torrential rain on Friday I feared the worst but Saturday was dry and as I drove over the river on Sunday it looked ok with a nice colour although perhaps a little pacy. Still with no rain forecast it could only get better as the day went on. I was gutted then to discover it had been moved to the pond, still there was a match to be fished and prizes to be won. To make matters worse they had left out the two best pegs (1 and 22) so there was no chance of drawing a flier. I drew peg 9 on the far side which I was fairly happy with.

On arrival at the pond, it was a horrible brown colour, higher than usual and with a frost during the night I knew it would be a struggle. Also the pegs were pretty tight with Martin Heard to my right and John Coxon to my left. There was some good natured banter whilst setting up and my mood was lifted somewhat when some tiny fish topped along with the odd better one. I mixed up some Sensas Lake groundbait and just had enough time to set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach float with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611.

The pond was a horrible colour!

On the whistle I cupped in three balls at 11.5 metres, baited up with single red maggot and shipped out. The rig settled and I waited for a bite, and waited and waited! Nobody was catching and after an hour I honestly thought we might all blank! There were still odd fish plipping (is that a word?) and I kept thinking about setting up a light up in the water rig. Another biteless half an hour passed so I did just that. Out came a little Drennan Squatt rig with 0.08mm bottom and size 20 B511. Fishing shallow out at 11.5 metres saw no bites forthcoming so I plumbed up by some dead reeds on the inside to my right where I had about a foot in depth. I plonked the rig in and rested my top three on a reed and waited.

Everybody was still blanking so one fish could be worth it's weight in gold, then it happened, Martin whooped as he swung a tiny roach caught shallow. Then Bruce Hunt had one followed by Malcolm Levy (although he never saw his bite!). I was now back out at 11.5 metres with the shallow rig and then my float dipped before moving along the surface, I struck and I too had a tiny roach - phew! I really thought we might start getting a few but we all reverted to catching nothing. Still if the other three framed I would win my section!

Martin was overjoyed at being the first person to catch

Other people started getting the odd fish including my nemesis Janders, so once again my pound was in jeopardy. Justin Charles netted what looked like a decent roach to really put the cat among the pigeons and Bruce was also getting the odd small fish. I hadn't added to my tally and couldn't buy a bite, with time running out, I had tried all my lines at various depths for zilch. Most people had now caught tiny roach although there were still five or six blanking including poor old John on my left (who was now singing and possibly a little demented).

Martin had caught a couple more from the reeds on his inside, so I tried mine again with no success. Bruce was still getting odd fish and looking good for a frame place and Alvin Jones had a slightly better roach, again from by the reeds. I was now seriously bored and it was now really cold and I just wanted the match to end. I had by now plumbed up at 6 metres and was sat on the lighter rig when I had another roach but I didn't even see the bite. Martin had three late roach which he netted and I thought he would win. Neil Dring also netted a fish and the rumour was it was one of the venues better perch. I spent the last quarter of an hour on the long line with double red maggot hoping for a bonus but it didn't happen.

The weigh in didn't take long, Roger Russell didn't weigh, Neil's big perch turned out to be a 3oz roach and he weighed 4oz, Andy Welch had 2oz, Rob Cox had 1oz (serves you right for not putting it on the river!), Justin had 7oz, Alvin 2oz, Martin only weighed 5oz which suprised me, my 'haul' went a wind assisted 1oz and John never had a bite. The other section fished much! better with Pete Lonton having top weight on the day with 8oz. Bruce had around a dozen fish for 7oz and joint second with Justin.

Then it was back to the Crown for an excellent buffet and the prize giving, as there had been five blanks, my ounce won me some chocolates, biscuits and wine. Janders had bagged up with 3oz to take yet another pound off me. Well that's my third shit day on the trot, they say it comes in threes so I'm bound to bag up next week!!!!! All joking aside I'd like to thank Tommy at the Crown for the grub and Pete Lonton for his excellent organisation of the match and to all the anglers who donated prizes.

1 - Pete Lonton (Ilminster) - 8oz
2 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 7oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 7oz

Section A - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 5oz
Section B - Stuart Brown (Ilminster) - 5oz

Monday, December 08, 2008

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 7th December 2008

Saturday was really nice and the river had some colour in it and all the signs were there for a good match. That was until I woke up Sunday morning to be confronted by a wicked frost! The roads were pretty icy too, I got to the Crown and there were eight other nutters (sorry I meant hardy anglers) awaiting the draw. After last week I felt sure today was going to be better. When I pulled out peg 23 I thought I might get a few as it's been quite a consistent peg for weights between 7-10lb.

I got to the peg and the river wasn't as coloured as I thought it was going to be but the peg did look nice with a bush opposite. Once again it was a rush to set up and I wasn't really ready at the scheduled start time (10:00). I set up old faithful and tied on a fresh 0.12mm bottom with size 18 B611 ready to do battle with the pegs big old chub. I baited up with single caster and started feeding casters and hemp just up from the bush and I was also firing some maggots down the swim towards peg 24 to hopefully lure some fish up the swim.

No bites after half an hour saw me searching the far bank of the swim and also ringing the changes with the hookbaits. I tried caster, double caster, maggot, bread and lobbie but the only indications I had were from minnows on maggot but I didn't actually catch one. Still fishless after an hour I wasn't too worried as the fish can come on late in this peg and it only takes an hour to catch four fish for 10lb. The second and third hours also saw me still dry netting and I thought it would be case of waiting for the golden last hour.

Neil Dring wandered down from the tanktraps (peg 14) and he was struggling too as he'd only had one minnow. He reported that Justin Charles had caught a couple of small chub and some dace from peg 20. He commented that I was fishing where he had caught his chub (under the bush) two weeks ago and he left me to it. The last hour arrived and I was like a coiled spring waiting for the action to start, I waited and waited and waited. Half three arrived and with it the end of the match and I had blanked again! Christ I must have run over a nun or something.

I quickly packed up and as I drove back up the track I stopped to weigh Justin in, he had 4lb 12oz. Neil hadn't caught anything to go with his minnow and looked very cold, he'd still beaten me though! Back at the results the river had still fished quite well and Kevin Harvey had won on his debut from consistent peg 28 with 10lb 6oz. Rob Cox had finally found some chub from yet another flier (peg 85) for 7lb 4oz and second place and Dave Lawrence was third from 79 with 5lb 8oz. So another bad day for me and this league is now buggered as well, the only good thing was that Janders hadn't weighed in despite catching seven minnows, so at least I didn't have to hand over another pound.

Justin is now running away with the league with three section wins (3 points) although he may have to miss the last match, not that I've got any chance of catching him!

Next week is the Xmas Fayre so at least I'll win a prize (everybody does!), this shitty run has got to come to an end sometime, surely?

1 - Kevin Harvey (Ilminster) - 10lb 6oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 7lb 4oz
3 - Dave Lawrence (Chard Raiders) - 5lb 8oz
4 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 4lb 12oz

Monday, December 01, 2008

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision Winter League - 30th November 2008

I was looking forward to this one after having two bad days last weekend but the weather was bitterly cold and this combined with a low, gin clear river, didn't bode well. At the draw it was announced that some pegs at Red Bridge were to be used and I was really hoping I didn't draw there as I've never caught much whenever I fished this stretch. I hung back in the queue and after I heard three pegs at Red Bridge had gone I thought it would be safe to stick my hand in the bucket. How wrong can you be? I pulled my hand out to find peg 107 stuck to it, poxing Red Bridge!

After sorting my bait out, off I went. I got there and the biting wind was blowing straight in my face and all the pegs are perched on top of the banks with no cover whatsoever - great! My peg actually looked ok with a tree opposite which looked like it might hold a few fish. Without much time before the start I quickly set up a 1.5 gram Carbo and plumbed up, a nice depth also got my hopes up. I baited up with double red maggot and shipped out to 10 metres to inch the rig through. I fully expected to catch small fish straight away but after an hour I hadn't had a bite and I just knew I wasn't going to catch.

It was time for a walk and a coffee to try and warm up, it was certainly the coldest I've been for ages. Alvin was below me and he hadn't had a bite either, Graham Field was below him and he was fishless also. All three of us trooped down to see Robin Cox on the only decent peg down here, peg 110. He wasn't bagging either but at least he was getting the odd roach although pike were grabbing most of them. Just after we arrived he had a small roach on, only for a big snapper to grab it. We left him tying on yet another hooklength.

I gave it another go, trying maggot and caster but still nothing and it wasn't long before I was walking again. All three of us were still dry netting and I really couldn't see me staying for the duration. Rob walked up to see how we were getting on and when he phoned Martin Heard, who was on yet another flier (peg 66), who reported he'd had four chub and lost one, enough was enough and I packed up. I can't remember the last time I'd gone for an early bath but I reckon I could still be there now and I wouldn't have caught anything. Well my league is already buggered after only three matches so I'll have to wait until next season to see if I can win it.

I phoned Rob later to get the results and Martin had paralysed it with 15lb 2oz of chub. The river had fished really hard though and loads had not troubled the scalesman. Roger Russell again did well catching 7lb 6oz of small fish from 125 for second place and Dave Lawrence was third with 3lb 13oz from 128. My nemesis Janders stuffed up peg 126, only weighing 2oz although it was still enough to take a pound off me for the third week running. So after three rounds and dropping the worst result, Roger and Martin are topping the league with two points, God knows where I am? Next weeks got to be better hasn't it?

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 15lb 2oz
2 - Roger Russell (Ilminster) - 7lb 6oz
3 - Dave Lawrence (Chard) - 3lb 13oz
4 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 2lb 14oz
5 - Pete Lonton (Ilminster) - 2lb 11oz