Saturday, October 31, 2009

Durleigh Reservoir - Wateraid Match - 31st October 2009

I was up at 6:15 for the first of two matches this weekend and met Chris Watkins at the Happy Eater in Ilminster at 7:00, before heading off to Durleigh reservoir near Bridgwater. Today was a team match involving the Environment Agency (my team) and other water industry teams from Wessex Water and Bristol Water among others to raise money for Wateraid. Our team consisted of myself, Chris Watkins, Ben Evans, Jody Grabham and a chap from Wessex Water (as we couldn't get enough people). I've never fished Durleigh before but knew it holds a good head of roach and skimmers along with some big carp.

Durleigh reservoir

Luckily I managed to draw a short walk and set off for peg C13, which was apparently a very good area. I set up a feeder rod and a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach float for the pole and I had a nice depth at 11.5 metres. Both set ups had 0.12mm bottoms and Kamasan B611's (16 for the feeder, 18 for the pole). I mixed up some Sensas Feeder mix and added some fishmeal and was ready for the off. On the whistle I cupped in three balls containing hemp, maggots and casters at 11.5 metres before starting on the feeder.

The chap on my right had a fish quite quickly and after a few casts to get some bait down I started getting indications too. My first fish was a skimmer around 12oz followed by some smaller ones between 4-8oz and after the first hour I had seven skimmers and a roach. The chap on my left only had a small perch and I reckoned I was doing well in my section of six. All the time I was feeding hemp and maggot over my pole line. Hour two saw my neighbour start to catch some decent 2-3lb bream on corn and he was soon ahead of me, I added another five fish including one decent fish of 2lb+ but the majority of my fish were smaller skimmers so I was soon rummaging in my bait bag for a tin of corn.

A friend from work, Si Roe, turned up and while he was there I tried corn but never had an indication so decided to try the pole. First put in the float buried and I netted a 1lb skimmers, I followed this up with a roach and a smaller skimmer before the next bite saw me strike into solid resistance, before the fish moved off. It was pretty big whatever it was (carp maybe?) and I was never going to stop it with number five elastic and 0.12mm bottom and sure enough it tore off and snapped me. Back on the feeder with corn on the hook and after ten minutes I had a good bite and struck into what felt like a skimmer. I was reeling in when a few rodlengths out it woke up and screamed off, I just managed to get the anti reverse off in time.

It was a big lump and I had it under control and seriously thought I had a good chance of landing it, the carp was going round in circles and even Si started to get excited when all of a sudden it swirled and made off and the line went slack - shit! So back on the pole I went, the chap on my left was still catching the odd bream and must have had eight or nine by now. Si said he was going round to see how Ben was getting on and just as he left, Will Olsen (another work colleague) turned up. While Will was with me I started catching skimmers, roach and perch really well and was making in roads into my neighbours lead as he had slowed up.

Si turned up again, with Ben!, who hadn't caught as his peg was really shallow and he didn't have a feeder rod with him. I was still getting the odd roach but the skimmers had disappeared and I'm never sure if I should put more groundbait in at times like this. By now it was clear that the chap on my left was going to win the section but nobody else seemed to be doing much, so I plugged away at the roach. With 15 minutes left I decided to go back on the feeder and managed two more skimmers with the last one coming right on the whistle. I ended with 45 fish and thought I might have around 8lb.

While I was packing up I noticed the level of the resi had come up quite a bit which might explain why I suddenly stopped catching the skimmers! I walked up to watch the weigh in, Chris had two kilo something as did Jody (who also lost a carp), what was noticeable was that the team who were pegged next to us had all caught decent weights of bream using little PVA bags of pellets and straight leads instead of feeder set ups. One of their guys had nearly 19 kilos and the angler next to me had 13 kilos something, my fish went 7 kilo 400 grams which was a lot more than I thought and I think it was enough for second in the section.

The chap on the next peg did well

Back at the results and Wessex did us proud by laying on soup, rolls, pork pies and sausage rolls, which was very welcome. The team next to us won easily despite having a man not weigh in, I'm not sure where we came as I haven't had the full results but as we had two blanks (Ben and the Wessex guy) I think we must have been near the wooden spoon position. Still loads of money was raised for Wateraid and I even won a prize on the raffle!

Well tomorrow it's back on the Isle and I could really do with a good result as I'm going through a rather barren patch at the moment.


Just been sent the full results and I actually won my section and picked up £10, the chap on my left was in another section (pegs 7-12), my section was me and the two anglers on my right plus three others on the opposite bank, so a better day than I thought.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 25th October 2009

After some much needed rain the river was near enough perfect and there were some good pegs in and a good turnout of fifteen anglers. Justin Charles and Frank Woodard were fishing for the first time in ages and it was great to see them. I stuck my hand in the bucket and pulled out 126, a great peg with a bit of extra water on it and Robin had 9lb 7oz off it, the last time it was pegged, I couldn't wait. Martin Heard reckoned I'd walk it, but he hadn't drawn so badly himself (peg 29 in the copse).

I got there and it looked lovely with a tinge of colour, the trouble was that there are two places you can fish it, at the top leading into the bend or on the bend itself. The last time I fished it, I won by fishing up towards the top of the peg so decided to sit there. I didn't have long to set up, so once again 'old faithful' came out of the rig tray and I plumbed up, there was a nice depth by a raft of rubbish opposite and the water was a little slacker there.

Peg 126 (with the rubbish where I caught most of my fish on the right)

On the whistle I baited up with caster and was straight into little dace and chublets, the trouble was they were about an ounce apiece and I wasn't catching fast enough to put a weight together. I stuck with it, hoping that the big roach would move in. I tried a piece of hemp and the float slid away and I netted a good 10oz roach, despite a pike's best efforts to nab it, bingo!, hemp was the answer. Oh no it wasn't and I went ten minutes without another fish. Back to caster and small dace then and after an hour I had fifteen fish for just over a pound and this wasn't going to plan at all.

Another try with hemp saw me swing in a 4oz chublet and adding another section of pole to take me the other side of the rubbish saw a quick flurry of fish before that died, they just wouldn't settle. Double caster saw me bump a good fish before a pike took the next one and I reckon it was the pike unsettling the fish. After two hours I'd struggled up to twenty five fish and it was getting harder. I was starting to get minnow problems, even with double caster! I kept trying down past the rubbish but this was only bringing odd fish.

I tried running the float through with the flow and this produced a few more fish including another better roach but it didn't last long. With an hour to go I added two more sections and went right down the peg, a bite straight away saw another roach grace the net but then I had to go to 13 metres to get a bite and added another roach and a couple of chublets. I ended with 65 fish plus loads of minnows and I thought I'd be lucky to do 4lb and I was gutted and should have fished lower down. Although saying that, I might have struggled there too.

I packed up and as I had the scales, went up to weigh Rob Cox in, he'd struggled for 1lb 5oz and Graham Bulgin on 124 had 3lb 5oz, my fish went 4lb 12oz and I thought there might be an outside chance of the section. Any hopes of the section win soon disappeared back at the pub though. Martin Heard claimed another victory with 13lb 12oz from peg 29, Bruce Hunt was second with 13lb 2oz and Frank Woodard was third with 12lb 2oz form peg 85. Frank snapped his pole on a snag and his top four was in the river attached to it so he tried using his landing net pole on the end of the rest of the pole and then this came off as well. With nothing else for it, he stripped off and went in after it all, I think he's warmed up now though! I reckoned he was just trying to create a feature in his swim!

Martin was victorious again

Bruce was second with 13lb 2oz

Section winner Roger Russell

My section was won by Roger Russell with 6lb 5oz and Graham Field won the top section with a level 8lb. At this early stage, Martin leads the league with a maximum two points. Next week it's a double header for me, Durleigh reservoir on the Saturday followed by round two of the V.E.S. on Sunday, lets hope for two good days.

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 13lb 12oz
2 - Bruce Hunt (ALS) - 13lb 2oz
3 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 12lb 2oz

Section A - Graham Field (Taunton) - 8lb
Section B - Roger Russell (Ilminster) - 6lb 5oz

Monday, October 19, 2009

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision Winter League - 18th October 2009

After a cracking day last Sunday I was eager to get back on the 'ditch' for the first match of the V.E.S. Winter League and was hoping for more of the same. On reaching the Crown Inn, I was a little concerned that Rob had put in some new pegs and areas that aren't normally prolific. There were still some good pegs in, like 85 (the big bend at Ashford) and 123 (the fence at Isle Brewers) and also I thought that maybe one or two of the new pegs might throw up a surprise. This match also saw the return of Janders, welcome back mate, although quite a few of the normal regulars were yet to put in an appearance and there were only 12 anglers fishing today.

Janders, back on the river

I paid my pools and had a quick cup of coffee and was having a chat when somebody said that Tommy (the landlord) was calling it a day, which is a real shame as he has supplied us with excellent breakfasts and chip butties after the match, along with sponsoring one of our winter leagues for ages. Many thanks Tommy, you've been fantastic and you will be missed. Anyway it was soon time to draw and I stuck my hand in the bucket and pulled out poxy peg 95 (the one below the bridge at North Bradon), it's not great and I've never done much off it, my match was over before it started. Also at North Bradon were Janders (on hot peg, the roach hole), Moses Holbrook (on 96, another good peg) and Martin Heard (on new peg, 91).

Tommy, a fantasic landlord. Thanks for all your support over the years, you will be missed

We reached the river and my peg looked shit and I was having a right old whinge, I walked up the river with Janders (as he was going to fish the opposite side of his peg because he didn't like the look of the bull in the field!). As we reached the peg above the road (which isn't normally used), a load of fish bow waved away from the shallows and I commented that I'd rather fish here than my peg. Janders said he didn't mind if I fished it instead and Moses said the same. A plan started to form in my evil mind, so I phoned Robin and he said he was ok with it too, so that was that and I made my mind up to fish here instead.

After helping Janders clear out his swim, I went back and unloaded my kit. The river was very low and clear and you could see the bottom in loads of places but there were some dark, deeper areas in my peg. With this type of peg I just knew it would be feast or famine, I would either bag up and be a hero or catch very little and be a zero, I was hoping it wouldn't be the latter. With not much time to set up I quickly assembled my kit and got 'old faithful' out of my rig tray and plumbed up. I had some reedy things opposite which looked quite fishy and the main flow went under my feet. I was late starting and kicked off by the reeds with caster on the hook and feeding caster, maggots and hemp.

I fully expected to catch straight away but this didn't happen and I was soon searching other areas of the swim. After an hour and a half it looked like it was going to famine. I gave it a bit longer but couldn't even get a minnow bite on maggot so a walk up to see how Janders was getting on was in order. On the walk up I saw several chub in areas between pegs in the shallows and wondered if I would get to see one up close today, I didn't think so! On reaching Janders he seemed quite happy (despite a stinking cold) and said he'd had a chub and some small fish, I watched him for a bit and he had a small chublet, before I headed back.

I got back and after trying all over the swim, no bites and I just knew I was going to blank. I decided to put the pole down with the rig in the main flow under my feet and have a sandwich. The float was there a few minutes before it bobbed a couple of times and sailed away, I struck and white hydro streamed out as the chub charged all over the swim trying to shed the hook before I netted it. It looked to be a good 2lb+ and I thought a few more of those wouldn't go amiss. I thought there might be a few more about but after trying caster, double caster, maggot and lobbie I hadn't had another bite.

Moses walked up and he'd had two good chub in the first half an hour! He stayed with me for a bit, during which time I never had another indication. I went through the motions and all of a sudden started to get the odd knock, had they arrived? I kept getting indications but they wouldn't develop properly and as just the end of the caster was nipped I was sure it was minnows. Time was running out and I was pinning my hope on the golden last hour, with half an hour to go Moses arrived after packing up early, he'd only added two small roach. In fact the golden last hour turned out to be anything but and I never hooked another fish.

I packed up and Moses weighed my solitary fish in at 2lb 2oz, which was a little smaller than I thought, before walking up to weigh Janders in. I was loading my car when they got back, Janders had caught two chub plus bits for a respectable 5lb 11oz. Moses then set off up the other side of the river to weigh Martin in, meanwhile I paid Janders a pound and waited for Moses's return so I could weigh him in. He got back and said Martin had weighed a lowly 2oz and wasn't happy - whoops! I walked down with Moses and his two chub and two roach went 5lb 3oz and said he might have a chance of the section.

Moses with one of his chub

Back at the results and as people started coming back it became apparent how poorly the river had fished. Graham Field was top weight on the day from peg 83 (which I wouldn't have fancied at all) with 6lb 8oz of small fish, Janders was second and Graham Bulgin was third with 5lb 8oz from peg 123 at Isle Brewers. Martyn Brook won the top section from fancied peg 85 with 4lb 10oz and Moses won our section. Robin Cox could have been up there as he lost two chub and dropped off loads of roach after trying to swing them in due to a broken landing net handle.

Graham won with a net of small fish

1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 6lb 8oz
2 - John Anderson (Donyatt) - 5lb 11oz
3 - Graham Bulgin (Ilminster) - 5lb 8oz

Section A - Martyn Brook (Ilminster) - 4lb 10oz
Section B - Moses Holbrook (Ilminster) - 5lb 3oz

With a bit of luck we'll get some rain before next week as the river desperately needs it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 11th October 2009

I was really looking forward to getting back on the river although with no rain for months it was painfully low and clear and very weedy in places. I got to the Crown and there was a new face in the shape of Graham Bulgin, who I hadn't seen for years, along with Alvin Jones and Bob Hammond who hadn't fished for ages. Robin had pegged upper and lower Coxes along with four pegs at Isle Brewers, including the flier, peg 125, that everybody wanted. I stuck my hand in the bucket and pulled out peg 27, the first swim in the copse. Not a bad peg but usually only worth around 6-7lb and I reckoned pegs 14, 125 and 126 would all eclipse that and there were some other good pegs in too. Still at least I should get a few bites.

I got to the river and it was extremely clear with hardly any flow on it. It's quite a fishy looking peg with a bay opposite and to the left, ivy on the far bank. Graham Field had the next peg down, the big bend, which usually fishes well early on and Roger Russell had peg 29 (the stump) which can produce some nice chub weights. I set up a 0.75 gram Drennan Carbo for the bay opposite, which actually had quite a deep hole in front of it and a 1.5 gram Carbo for fishing by the ivy. The lighter rig had 0.10mm bottom and blue hydro through the top two and the heavier rig had a 0.12 mm bottom and white hydro. Both rigs had Kamasan size 18 B611's at the business end.

I just had time to pop down and see Graham before it was time to start. He was sat on the island and I thought this might have been a mistake. I got back and baited up with a caster and shipped out before feeding some casters and hemp. I started getting bites from small dace straight away and set my sights on 60 fish as this would give me around 6lb. After three dace I hooked a fish that felt heavier and plodded around before I netted a 12oz perch - bonus! I carried on catching dace and small chublets along with the odd chunky 4oz roach and even had a 1lb trout, which count in our matches, to give me 33 fish after the first hour. This was a great start and I was over half way to my target with four and a half hours to go.

The trouble with this swim is that you know sport is going to slow at some stage, hour two arrived and I was still catching fish regularly and added another 6oz perch and a little trout of the same size along with a chub around the pound mark. I had another 21 fish to give me 54 in total and I started to think a good weight could be on the cards. Going into hour three and bites slowed right up, a change to double red or bronze maggot saw a quick flurry of fish before that dried up as well. I thought I'd give my main catching area a rest and try down by the ivy.

I had a couple of dace before I went back to being biteless and at the end of the third hour I'd only added 11 more fish. What to do next? Another try opposite only saw me add a couple more fish. Graham wandered up to say he was really struggling and only had ounces. Just after he wandered back, Roger came up on the opposite bank and he too was struggling with one chub and a couple of perch. While he was there I had a dace and a decent roach. He walked up to have a look above the bridge and came back to report there were loads of fish in the shallows above me.

After he'd gone back and with no more bites forthcoming I decided to start flicking some casters above me and after doing this for a bit, I went up there at 11.5 metres with the shallower 1.5 gram rig. I started catching but they were very small chublets and it was quite hard work, after five or six I gave this up as a bad job as I wasn't adding much to my weight. I was now on 77 fish and thought I must be approaching 7-8lb with just over an hour to go. Another try in the bay was fruitless so I went back down by the ivy and had a couple of dace and a gudgeon before they spooked.

I went back across to give the ivy a rest and had another dace and this set the scene for the remainder of the match, a couple of fish from the ivy before resting it. Doing this I had another half a dozen dace and chublets including a better one of a pound or so. I had one right on the whistle to end with 89 fish, much better than I thought I'd do. I packed up and went down to weigh Graham in, he'd found a chub but also lost a bigger one to weigh 1lb 14oz. My fish went 13lb 10oz and I was well chuffed although I kept thinking I'd be lucky to win my section if 14, 125 and 126 had fished. I took some of my kit back to the car and went down to weigh Roger in, he had two good perch and a chub for 5lb 1oz.

Back at the pub and people started filtering back, Alvin was first back and had struggled from peg 20 for 1lb 9oz, he said the top weight from higher Coxes was Malcolm Levy's 5lb 12oz - so far, so good. I knew it wouldn't last though and sure enough Martin Heard had put a fantastic 21lb of roach on the scales, but what about 126? Robin had 9lb 7oz and with no other weights I was second and picked up £30. A good start to my river campaign and I picked up one section point as well, with Martin topping the bottom section.

Martin was victorious again

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 21lb
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 13lb 10oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 9lb 7oz

Section A - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 5lb 12oz
Section B - Roger Russell (Ilminster) - 5lb 1oz

I must apologise for the lack of photos (where's Steve Chant when you need him!). Next week we're back on the river for the first match of the V.E.S. league, I would dearly love to win this league and have managed second and third in the last few years but first place eludes me, wish me luck.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Chard Reservoir - 4th October 2009

The weather had been quite rough on Saturday and with mild winds were forecast for Sunday and I was hoping the bream would feed with a vengeance, I just needed a decent draw now! All the usual suspects were at the draw and as Baz Morgan would say 'If the devil could cast his net now!' I really wanted to pull out a peg in the forties and after I'd drawn I had a look and saw a four, followed by a nine, peg 49. I had mixed feelings about the peg as it's a known roach peg because it's quite shallow but I didn't have the kit for roach and really wanted to catch bream as these nearly always feature in the top weights. I still felt there was a chance though as my mate Andy had 50lb off peg 48 last week.

'If the devil could cast his net...'

I got to my peg and made myself comfortable, I had Mike Collins, with his new haircut, on my left and Paul Blake on my right. Next to Paul was Janders so I would have a good idea of where my pound was heading. Down along from Janders was Picky on 45 and as this is a good bream area I thought I would struggle to hang on to that pound. As per usual I set up a feeder rod and mixed up some groundbait (a fifty-fifty mix of Sensas Feeder and Crazybait Gold) and was ready in plenty of time. I also opened a tin of corn in case I got roached out, which can happen on these pegs.

Les hollered the all in and I baited up with double red maggot before casting out to around 40 yards (the same distance as Andy fished last week), it wasn't long before I had a fish which turned out to be a 4oz roach, as I was bringing it in I saw Janders also reeling one in. Paul then had a skimmer and I was soon into one too, here we go I thought. But then I was just getting ragged out by roach and despite trying a grain of corn I was putting very little in the net. After the first hour I'd only had two skimmers and two roach, Janders had around the same and Blaker a little more. I wasn't too worried though as sometimes it takes the bream a while to find the bait and you only need a good couple of hours on the bream to do a weight.

Looking up the resi from the dam wall

Hour two continued in the same vein and I was starting to get concerned, Janders was pulling away from me and Blaker was getting spells of catching well and I was just getting the odd skimmer. More worrying was that Picky was apparently catching well and had landed a couple of bream - goodbye pound! At least it meant the bream were feeding so maybe they would find their way up to us. Corn was a non starter with only the odd indication and maggot meant roach and I was lagging behind. I did notice Blaker was fishing a shorter line than me and fishing a much shorter hooklength. Both him and Janders said they were fishing four or five maggots on size 14 and 12 hooks. I put three on my 16 but this just resulted in another roach.

I was still getting the odd skimmer but three hours in I was fed up and starting to wish I'd fished for roach. The trouble with that idea though, was that the roach weights were dropping off and although I might be able to do 20-25lb, I felt sure this would get me nowhere. I struggled on, I shortened my hooklength but this didn't really help and it just felt like there weren't many skimmers here. Blaker was now catching regularly and was on for a decent weight.

The end couldn't really come soon enough for me although I did have a purple patch right near the end catching two skimmers in two chucks with the last one coming on the whistle. I ended with 12 skimmers and half a dozen roach and when Janders asked what weight I had I reckoned on about 6-8lb, he was admitting to 12lb so that pound had gone on as well. The scales arrived and Picky was leading with 45lb odd and Mike Hosgood had 39lb and there were several good backing weights and I was in two minds as to whether to weigh or not. Janders had over 14lb and Blaker had an excellent 30lb 10oz. I weighed a lowly 12lb 6oz and handed over a pound to Janders, Mike Collins had a worse day than me and had 4lb something.

Back at the results and Picky had indeed won again and couldn't wait to collect my pound, well done mate. Mike was second and Dave Abrams was third with 33lb 10oz. Section wins went to Denis Stepney, Butch Baker, Les Braunton and Paul Blake. Next week is the first match back on the river and I'm really looking forward to it, although with no rain for months it's painfully low and clear. The last match I won was on the river way back in January and my results haven't been great since, as for my yearly total, I'm way down on last year and can't see me hitting the grand this year.

Section winner Butch Baker weighing in Denis Stepney who won the dam wall section

Les won his section with over 28lb

Mike 'the feeder' Hosgood was in the money again

Match winner Picky (right) and Alan Dunn

1 - Alan Gage (Chard) - 45lb 8oz
2 - Mike Hosgood (Exeter) - 39lb 4oz
3 - Dave Abrams (Weymouth) - 33lb 10oz

A - Denis Stepney (Taunton) - 19lb 7oz
B - Butch Baker (Chard) - 24lb 5oz
C - Les Braunton (Chard) - 28lb 4oz
D - Paul Blake (Chard) - 30lb 10oz

P.S. almost forgot to say thanks to the lovely Steve Chant for the photos, cheers buddy.