Sunday, October 28, 2012

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 2 - 28th October 2012

After a freezing day yesterday I was hoping it wouldn't be as cold today and as I was loading my tackle into my car it certainly felt quite mild. I got to the draw and had a quick look at the weighboards and Rob had put all good pegs in today, 27, 28 and 29 at Lower Coxes and 123, 124, 125 and 126 at Isle Brewers. I really fancied 27 or 126 with the latter being a golden peg, to be honest I didn't really want 28 and Heardy drew it and walked off moaning that he just can't draw a good peg. I pulled out 124 and had mixed feelings even though I'd won off it twice at the end of last season. I had also drawn it early last year and struggled for 4-5lb on both occasions.

I got to the river and it was back to it's normal level and quite clear, my peg looked nice although there wasn't as much cover as there was last year. I set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and plumbed up  across towards the far bank at 11.5 metres. There were also some reeds at the bottom of the peg where I'd caught a couple of chub last time at about 13 metres but this year the peg was cut out further up and 14.5 metres was required to reach them and I couldn't see me doing much of that! I was ready 10 minutes before the off and walked up to see Justin in 123 where I'd won last week. His swim looked a lot lower than it did last week although I still fancied him to catch a few.

I got back to my peg and started with caster on the hook at 11.5 metres, feeding casters, maggots and hemp. I had a chublet first chuck and then started getting the odd small roach and chublet but was missing/bumping quite a few. I came in to 7 metres to see if I could catch them a bit quicker and after two or three fish I had to go back to 10 and 11.5 metres to get bites. After the first hour I had 12 fish for maybe a pound but I wasn't too concerned because I know there's a big head of chub in the swim and thought they would show at some point. Hour two was much the same and I just couldn't catch any quality. Justin wandered down and he'd only had a gudgeon and minnows so maybe it was fishing hard today, he went off to see how Pete in 125 and Rob in 126 were getting on.

I decided to try half a lobbie to see if I could snare some better fish, I shipped out and held back in the flow and the float buried only for me to miss it! I was getting a bite every chuck on worm but the fish weren't much bigger than those I was getting on caster, I even had a chublet of half an ounce! I went to 13 metres across to the far bank but the result would be the same, a small chublet or dace. Justin came back and said Pete was struggling but Rob was catching well in 126 and there was a good chance the golden peg would go today. I was now fishing caster at the head of the swim at 9 metres and getting odd roach but time was flying by and I wasn't sure I had much in the net at all.

I felt there were a lot of small fish in the swim I just couldn't seem to catch them quick enough, with an hour and a half left I decided to up my feed and fish double caster to try and catch a couple of chub. I even tried going right down the peg at 14.5 metres by the reeds but after two small roach in two chucks, that was enough of that! I did manage a slightly better roach and a few chublets on double caster and was up to 47 fish when Justin turned up again, he'd packed up and had brought his catch down in a bait box! I didn't add any more fish and was left wishing I had scaled down and concentrated on those small fish with single caster but then again if I'd hooked and lost a big chub, I'd have been gutted.

I took my kit back to the car and met Rob who said he didn't think he'd done enough to win the golden ball. We walked back to my peg and weighed Justin's haul of gudgeon and minnows and the scales read 5oz, my fish went 4lb 3oz and I knew I wouldn't be picking up today. I was still kicking myself though as I reckon my peg was worth 5-6lb of those small fish today. Pete had really struggled and weighed 1lb 3oz of mainly minnows! Rob had a nice net of roach and chublets weighing 7lb 15oz and was in with a chance of claiming a bumper payday. He did say he hadn't had a phone call from Heardy which normally means he's been catching well so we'd have to wait and see.

Back at the results and Heardy had weighed a superb 20lb 9oz of mainly dace (from his crap peg!!) to win again and the golden ball rolls over to the next match. I did start to think I might sneak third place but Steve Parker had 4lb 12oz from peg 27 and I was left kicking myself twice as hard! So despite a couple of frosts some good weights were recorded and lots of small fish are still showing.

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 20lb 9oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 7lb 15oz
3 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 4lb 12oz

At this early stage in the league it's very tight and with dropping the worst result there are three anglers on one point, Martin, Justin and Rob. I'm on two and dropping a two as well so with five matches to go it's all to play for.

There's no match on the river next week so I'm either going to the Wye with Justin after barbel and possibly pike (weather permitting) or failing that I'll go and give Summerhayes a go. Come back next week to see how I get on.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mission Impossible - River Tone - 27th October 2012

I have been trying to hook up (pun intended) with Russell Hilton who writes the excellent Tales From The Towpath blog for some time and we finally arranged to have a go at catching some pike today. I know next to nothing about catching pike so Russell said he'd bring all the gear and bait and sort out day tickets (top man). We decided on meeting at Newbridge on the River Tone as he's enjoyed some success there on past visits.
The Tone at Newbridge

The weather had taken a turn for the worst and there was a bitterly cold wind, also the Tone was quite coloured which isn't ideal for pike. We headed downstream where Russell had caught last time he was here and set up three different rods, a float rig, a leger rig and another to 'wobble' a deadbait. To cut a long story short we tried a couple of swims downstream of the bridge but had no action at all but we had a good old natter about all things fishy. After an hour or so and with both of us very cold we moved upstream of the bridge where we were a bit more sheltered from the wind. No takes here either and then a bloke from my work called Will turned up and we decided to relocate to the Tone at Ham which can also be good for pike.
Russell trying to find an app to catch pike!

We fished by the sewage outlet which looked really fishy but alas the pike didn't want to play ball but I still had a very enjoyable day as it's always nice to meet fellow bloggers and Russell is a really nice guy. Hopefully we'll meet up again and have a go at those tench and bream on the Tiverton canal when the weather warms up a bit. So my attempt at adding to my 'Mission Impossible' badges failed miserably today but it wasn't all bad news as I got home and my Speci badge had arrived for the red tail catfish I submitted just after I got back from Thailand. I make no apologies for publishing that photo again as it was a stunning fish.

My 80lb Amazon Redtail
The badge count hits four!
Well tomorrow I'm back on the Isle for round two of the V.E.S. Precision league and it'll interesting to see how this colder weather affects sport, I just hope Rob puts some swims in that will afford a bit of cover to the anglers if it's as windy as today. Come back tomorrow night to see how I got on.

Update - Russell went for a wander along the Taunton and Bridgy canal after I left and managed to catch a pike nudging 2lb! So at least one of us caught!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 2 - 21st October 2012

Once again the weather was pretty perfect for this weeks match although some showers were forecast for today. I got to the pub for the draw and all the usual suspects were there plus Leighton Cox had put in an appearance today and it was lovely to see him again. This week Rob had put in Isle Brewers for the first time and also four pegs at Donyatt which we hadn't fished for a couple of years and I fancied them to do well as there are usually loads of trout up there and it would be interesting to see what else would be caught. At Isle Brewers Rob had put in pegs 126, 125, 124 and 123 and I fancied them all apart from 123. I delved into the bucket last and pulled out..., you guessed it, peg 123!!! It can be a good peg and Heardy won a couple of matches off it a few years back but I just can't seem to get on with it and my top weight from it is 6lb something.

I must admit I was feeling a tad dejected and felt sure I would finish well down today, I got to the peg and the river looked perfect with a tinge of colour and a nice bit of pace. The peg looked pretty good too with a bed of stick ups to my right with the flow coming down either side of it, things got even better when a couple of small fish topped and then a chub showed itself in the flow! I made myself comfy and set up the usual 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and plumbed up around the swim to reveal a good depth all over even towards the tail of the swim. I had time for a quick coffee before it was time to start, I baited up with caster and started off in the slacker water at about six metres, I was feeding casters, hemp and maggots there and also flicking some across to the far bank at about 11.5 metres.

Bites came quickly and I had three small roach in the first three chucks and this set the scene for the first hour and I ended up with 15 fish (mainly small roach and the odd chublet) plus a few minnows for about a pound and I felt if I carried on like this I could finish with 5-6lb but I didn't think it would be enough for a brown envelope today. The second hour saw bites start to slow although I did have a slightly better roach of 4oz or so, around the hour and half mark I had a bite which saw my elastic come streaming out of the pole and after a few hairy moments I netted a chub of 3lb+, this was more like it!

I was still fishing at 6 metres and was getting bites from small roach and minnows all over the peg and then I've hooked and landed another chub which was around the same size as the first and after two hours I probably had 7lb in the net! A few more bits followed before I bumped a good fish and I hoped it hadn't spooked them. A 2lb chub a few chucks later settled my nerves and I felt there were a few chub about. After three hours I was still adding small roach and felt it was time to try my far line which I had been feeding from the start. I had a bite first chuck but got snagged and the rig came back a bit of a mess, after sorting it out I was back across but it was pacier over there and there were obviously a few submerged stick ups.

My next fish was a 12oz chub and things were still ticking along nicely, I was getting more minnows now so tried half a lobbie and after a few missed bites I added a 6oz chublet and thought I must have double figures now. No more bites on the worm saw me back on caster and I had a run of roach between 1-4oz inching the float through, I added a couple of gudgeon plus some more minnows but no more chub. I felt there were more in the swim so with my fish counter reading 50 fish, I decided to spend the last half an hour on worm, I missed two really good bites but didn't add any more fish and was hoping I wouldn't get beaten by a few ounces or I'd be cursing not carrying on catching those roach on caster.

As I was packing up, Heardy arrived from the Donyatt section and said it had been hard with just odd trout being caught although Leighton did have a couple of small chub. Tony Newman had the scales in peg 124 and walked up to weigh me in, out of interest I weighed the two biggest chub and the first weighed 3lb 9oz (which is a new pb for me) and the second went 3lb 3oz. I plonked the rest of my fish on the scales and 12lb 2oz was called out. I wasn't sure if it would be enough though as Fieldy had over 130 fish in 125 and was admitting to around 9lb. Tony had struggled for 2lb 8oz although he had a few pike problems. Fieldy was spot on with his estimate and weighed a level 9lb and I was still leading with just Robin in 126 (Barney's bend) to weigh.

Rob said he hadn't had a bite for three hours but then had found some quality roach and he weighed a brilliant 10lb 10oz to finish second. So I'd done it, I picked up £50 to make this my best year ever and beaten my biggest chub in the process. I'd now won two out of two in this league although there's a long way to go. The Donyatt section had fished hard with Leighton the top weight there with 2lb 13oz. It was worth trying as we can't keep fishing the same pegs every week but it was disappointing for the anglers who had struggled.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 2oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 10lb 10oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 9lb

The river really is fishing well at the moment with double figures needed to win and good back up weights as well with lots of small fish showing along with some good chub and roach, lets hope the frosts hold off and we keep getting some colour in the river on Sundays.

Next week is round two of the V.E.S. and I'm hoping for another good result then so be sure to come back to see how I get on.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 1 - 14th October 2012

In almost a carbon copy of last week, we had rain in the week, dying off by Friday and once again the river should be in perfect condition today. At the draw we had the same number of anglers as last week but this week Pete Lonton was fishing along with Justin Charles who had taken a break from targeting barbel and catfish to do some proper fishing! Rob was using Upper and Lower Coxes today and I fancied pegs 14, 15 or 27 and came close when I pulled out 28 and I had the choice of 28 or 29. Heardy drew 27 with Justin in 14 and Tony Newman in 15, Steve Parker had 17 or 18, Pete had 24 and Rob had 23 where he was last week.

I got to the river and was surprised to see it running pretty clear, it was quite pacy but there wasn't much colour at all. We'd also had a frost last night but would it affect sport? I walked down and had a look at 28 which looked really chubby with a branch in the water that goes right the way across the river, I went down to look at 29 and although it looked nice, it was pretty pacy and I know there are some resident otters so I decided on 28. Martin wasn't overly confident as the last time we were down on these pegs we had a minnow and a trout between us, mind you as I walked past his swim a fish topped in the flow which is always a good sign!

I made myself comfortable and started plumbing up the swim, there was a nice depth with the deepest water right across where there is a little cutback in the far bank. There wasn't much in the way of slacker water apart from in the middle of the peg and across where the flow was going back on itself. I set up two 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo's, one for the middle and the other for across in the deeper water. At the start time of 10:15 I started down the middle but no indications soon saw me across in the deeper water at 11.5 metres. I was feeding casters, maggots and hemp and it took me 10 minutes to get my first bite which turned out to be a small chublet and the blank was avoided.

I started getting a few bites on caster and had nine fish in the first hour including a small trout, I did have a mad patch where I swung in a 6oz chublet only to miss the keepnet with it!, I also lost another that as I swung it in, it fell off, bounced on my lap before landing back in the river! I dropped off another and bumped a couple as well. I was getting enough bites to keep me interested but I knew I wouldn't be weighing 17lb today unless some better chub showed up. A switch to double red maggot at the start of the second hour saw my catch rate improve and I added another 21 fish to put me on 30 and all of a sudden a good weight looked a possibility.

The third hour started in the same vein with most of the dace and chublets just about a swingable size, I also added another 6oz spottie, Heardy turned up and said he was catching small dace but not really bagging and while he was stood with me I added another couple of fish before he walked back to his peg. I got to 43 fish and thought I must have about 5lb when my bites just stopped like somebody had flicked a switch! I managed another small spottie from this side of the main flow and one more chublet from across before I couldn't buy a bite. I tried going tight to the far bank where the flow was going back the other way but from getting a bite every chuck, it now felt like the swim was devoid of fish.

I had a coffee and walked up to see how Heardy was getting on, he said he was on 70 odd fish but his bites had slowed up as well but while I was there he bumped a fish before catching three chublets and it looked like he was bagging to me! I went back and tried both swims but just couldn't get a bite, not even a minnow! I ended up fishing half a lobbie right in the cutback and started getting indications but only managed one small chublet on the worm. After such a good start it was disappointing for my swim just to fizzle out and I ended with 46 fish (three trout with the rest dace and chublets and no minnows!) and I thought I probably had 5-6lb.

I packed up and as I had the scales yet again, I went up to weigh Heardy in, he'd finished with 90 fish and weighed an excellent 14lb 12oz and I reckoned he'd be there or thereabouts with that although pegs 14 or 15 might challenge him. I was surprised when my catch pulled the scales round to 8lb 14oz and I was left cussing my mad patch which probably stopped me doing double figures. We drove up to Upper Coxes as Rob and Pete were going to do the results there. Justin had weighed 9lb 13oz from the tank traps (14) and I started to think I wasn't going to pick up today. Tony had 8lb 5oz from peg 15 (phew) and then the other pegs had struggled but two otters going up through the river probably hadn't helped them much. So I finished in third place and picked up £15 which puts this years winnings at £1286 and I'm just a fiver off beating my best years winnings although I've probably jinxed it now!

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 14lb 12oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 9lb 13oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 14oz

Yes it's that photo again as Martin got back to winning ways
It really is encouraging to see all these small fish and it bodes well for the future although the lack of big chub is a bit worrying and could make things rock hard when the frosts arrive with a vengeance and the small fish do their disappearing act.

Well I've got off to a decent start in both leagues, more of the same next week would be nice! Also some rain from Monday to Friday with it being dry on Saturday and Sunday would be fantastic!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 1 - 7th October 2012

I was really looking forward to getting back on the river but with rain all day on Friday and the river threatening to top the banks I was convinced we'd be back on the poxy pond for the first match of the Royal Oak Winter League. But with no rain on Saturday and none forecast for today I was hoping the river would be fishable and my prayers were answered when I got to the pub and saw that Rob had pegged the top end of the river. All the usual suspects were there apart from Neil Dring who's had surgery on his shoulder and will be out of action for a while (get well soon mate). Today Rob had put in a couple of new pegs along with the old favourites although I still fancied pegs 14 or 15 as they're normally there or thereabouts. I dipped into the draw bag and for the second time today my prayers were answered when I opened my fingers to reveal peg 15! This year Rob is running a joker system similar to Chard's so I decided to play mine which would double up my points today.

I got to the river and it looked spot on, plenty of colour and dropping steadily, my peg looked a dream with plenty of slacker water and a small branch providing some cover on my inside at about 8.5 metres to my left and there were also some overhanging branches from a tree - very fishy! I only set up one rig (just for a change!), a Drennan 1.5 gram Trio with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. I had a nice depth on the inside and it was very similar across to the far bank at 11.5 metres where there was a nice, steady flow. I decided the inside would be my main line but I would also feed across to give me another option. The start time arrived and I baited up with a single caster before feeding both lines with maggots, casters and hemp and shipping out and inching the float through, which was set a couple of inches overdepth.

First put in, the float buried but I bumped it - bugger! Next chuck I had a chunky roach and I was off the mark, it was obvious there were loads of fish there and I started catching dace and chublets from 1-4oz regularly although I was missing quite a few bites on single caster. After an hour I was on 20 fish (including a small trout, which count) for about 2.5lb and I was really enjoying myself. At the start of the second hour I thought I'd try two sections to hand as there were quite a few fish about and carried on catching chublets and dace including some better ones and I was now really flying. I had 40 fish in the second hour and was already probably up to 7.5lb with three and a half overs left.

I kept expecting sport to slow and during hour three it did and I only added another 14 fish to put me on 9.5lb. Not wanting the inside swim to die a death I went across to 11.5 metres where I had been feeding from the start and I was getting odd chublets and dace from this line as well although it was slower than my main line. After 15 minutes or so I was back on the inside but this time with double red maggot as I was missing too many bites on caster, if minnows became a problem I could always switch back to caster. More dace followed before I hooked something more substantial which turned out to be a 1.5lb chub and I was on for a really good weight. A few minutes later I've hooked another decent fish, this time a roach which had to be pushing a pound. Given the colour the river was carrying I was a little surprised I'd only had the two roach but I wasn't complaining when they are this size!

This set the scene for the rest of the match and everytime my inside line went quiet I would go to 11.5 metres for a couple of fish then to 8.5 metres before coming back on the inside. I tried upping my feed after that chub but it didn't seem to make much difference. I did manage another spottie, this one about 12oz along with the dace and chublets. Minnows weren't too much of a problem and I only had four on maggot. My inside slowed right up so for the last three quarters of an hour I went back down towards the branch at 8.5 metres and continued adding odd dace and chublets, even landing a 12oz chublet on the whistle. I ended with 131 fish (plus those four minnows) and had enjoyed a cracking days fishing. I had bumped/missed quite a few and wished I'd switched to maggot earlier but other than that I felt I'd fished a pretty good match.

I had no clue what weight I had, I just knew I had over double figures but would it be enough? Nobody had been walking around during the day apart from Tony Newman right near the end who walked down from peg 14 to check what time we were finishing, he said he'd struggled but had lost a couple of big fish. No bank walkers usually means people are catching so it would be interesting to see how the other pegs had gotten on, especially the new ones. I packed up and took my holdall back to the car before going down to weigh Fieldy in on peg 18 (did I mention I had the scales again!). He had lots of small dace, chublets and roach for 5lb 2oz and it is fantastic to see all these small fish in the river although as soon as we get the first couple of frosts, they all seem to disappear!

Next up was Tony and he had 2lb 5oz although there wasn't much slack in 14 and he'd lost a big trout which would have seen him push Fieldy. As I walked back round to my peg I met Rob who'd had 5lb from peg 23 but had lost several big chub, he came up to weigh me in and I was well chuffed when he called out 17lb 5oz. Back at the results and the two new pegs had caught but not bagged up, Steve Parker had 2lb 15oz from peg 21 and Heardy had 2lb 9oz from peg 20. Bob Hammond had caught a good chub first put in on 24 but only added a few small fish to weigh 3lb 7oz meaning I'd won the match and picked up £45 plus I doubled my points by playing my joker, a great start to the league.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 17lb 5oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 5lb 2oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 5lb

Given how perfect the river was I was a little surprised with the backing weights but several big fish were lost and on the plus side it was great to see all the smaller dace and chublets featuring in peoples catches. Next week is the start of the V.E.S. Precision league and I say it every year but it's a league I'd love to win but a good start is needed so peg 14 or 15 again would be nice!