Sunday, January 29, 2012

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 6 - 29th January 2012

With another frost and possible snow forecast this match was going to be more like an endurance test with putting something in the net vital to gain valuable section points. Although I had to clear the car of ice it didn't feel too bad and I've certainly been colder. At the pub Rob had once again put us at the bottom end of the river and had given a choice for most pegs but most people wanted to draw 120 as it's been really consistent. Heardy drew 126 and would probably do a better job than I did last week. I drew but refrained from looking and as other anglers pulled their pegs out, nobody was admitting to 120 but then Rob spoiled things by opening his hand to reveal it. That left me with the choice of 128 or 129, both pegs had done 5lb+ earlier in the year so I decided to go to 128 as it's a shorter walk!

I hadn't fished 128 for a few years and on arrival it still looked quite fishy, a massive bend that is really deep. The first rig out of the bag was nowhere deep enough but would do for the shallower water at the top of the peg, I had to butcher another rig to get the right depth and was just about ready in time. First run down, holding the float back in the flow with double red maggot on, the float buried and I had a small roach. Maybe this was going to be better than I first thought. Next put in I dropped off a small roach and thought if there were a lot of small fish about, maybe I could catch shorter. Four sections to hand saw me catch three small roach and a dace before the minnows moved in. Back to 11.5 metres saw more small roach and after an hour I had ten fish (plus minnows) but the trouble was I didn't have a pound yet!

I tried double caster but it was a waste of time, I was getting a bite every run through but they were mainly small roach and I was missing/bumping quite a few. I switched to a number three elastic and this helped to a certain degree but after two hours I was only on twenty fish so my catch rate hadn't really improved. I was still feeding the inside line and trying it every now and again but I only had one gudgeon and a few minnows off it so won't mention it again. Three hours in and the size hadn't improved but I was now on thirty fish. I was now fishing thirteen metres which put me just past the middle of the peg but it was hard work when most of the fish I was catching weren't even an ounce apiece. All these small fish bode well for the future (the dry Summer and lack of floods has helped there I think) but it wasn't really helping me much right now!

I picked up my shallower rig and tried by the far bank near the top of the swim and had a flurry of small roach and dace plus my best fish, a chublet of 6oz or so, this was more like it. Justin turned up from peg 122 and he was really struggling, he reported that most people were finding fish hard to come by although Heardy was getting a few. I had a dace and a few minnows while he was there and he said I'd be up round there if I carried on like this. Then Sod's Law struck and after he left I couldn't get a bite. Back to 11.5 and 13 metres and it was back to catching small roachies, I did manage one of about 4oz but was frustrated I couldn't catch more of a similar size. I ended with 60 fish and thought I must have around 4lb.

I packed up and went to watch Martin weigh in our section, Justin had struggled for 1lb 5oz and Pete just had 1oz from peg 124a before Heardy had 7lb 15oz and I knew he'd win with that. He caught most of his fish at seven metres to hand and had sat further up the peg than I had which confirmed I'd got it badly wrong last week. My fish only weighed a level 3lb and were a lot smaller than I'd thought, still I'd got two section points to keep me in the hunt although I did lose a £1 to Heardy. Back at the results and Rob had tried sitting in a different place in 120 and it hadn't paid off as he weighed 1lb 12oz, Steve Parker had a nice day in 108 and weighed 4lb 14oz to take second place again. I sneaked into third and picked up £12 which puts me on £62 for January (£7 up on last year!).

Heardy got back to winning ways

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 7lb 15oz
2 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 4lb 14oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 3lb

The league is still really tight although Heardy now has one hand on the title and will need a disaster in the last match not to win it, the race for second and third is still on though as after Martin on eight points, there are then three of us on ten (me, Justin and Rob) and Pete just behind on eleven.

Next week it's back to the Tacklebox/Royal Oak league and I don't think Martin can fish so it would be good if I could capitalise on his absence, tune in to see if I do.

Note to Ilminster AA members, the AGM is on Friday 2nd March at the Oak and starts at 7:30.

Also I can't go without saying a huge congratulations to Roger Russell who won the Brue Championships with a fantastic net of perch weighing 17lb 2oz - well done Rog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

River Isle - Tacklebox/Royal Oak Winter League 7 - 22nd January 2012

Strong winds were forecast for this one and probably contributed to only five anglers fishing this week. Rob had put in the bottom end and everyone fancied pegs 120 or 126. My day started nicely when Martin handed over his pound from last week and got even better when I pulled 126 out of the draw bag! My only concern was how the peg would be affected by the wind but as it's been really consistent over the last few weeks, I was sure I would get some fish (surely even I couldn't cock up this flier!). Heardy had the choice of 124 or 125 and elected to fish the former as it has some chub form and won last weeks match.

I got to the river and the peg looked nice but the river looked even lower then normal (if that's possible!). I set up a 1 gram Drennan Trio and plumbed up around the swim. The peg is known as 'Barney's Bend' and the flow comes in from the right and there is a branch hanging in the water and a raft of rubbish on the far bank. If Barney was looking down I hoped he'd help me catch some fish today. With the wind being really gusty I decided to try and fish quite short where I could present the bait in a half decent manner. I had some shelter from the wind but I was guessing Martin, Rob on 106 and Steve Parker on 108 would have it full force. Neil Dring had 120 and would also be quite sheltered.

I started at 8.5 metres, inching the float through towards the overhanging branch, I was getting loads of minnow bites and after catching one on caster I switched my attention to the middle of the peg and a small chublet settled the nerves a little bit. Then the minnows arrived here as well so next stop was 11.5 metres towards the far bank rubbish. A nice dace and a chunky roach led me to believe I'd found the fish but once again this proved to be a false dawn and it was back to catching minnows. I tried shallowing up and fishing to my right where the flow comes in but after a couple of small chublets the minnows were back and I was starting to get frustrated. Double caster was no better and I was even catching the little blighters on that. I tried upping the feed but this didn't really work either. After an hour I had ten fish plus (plus probably the same number of minnows) and didn't have a pound yet.

This was a little worrying as the lowest weight off this peg this league was Pete's 5lb 12oz and at this rate I wasn't going to be anywhere near that. I tried 13 metres by the raft of rubbish and had a couple of small roach and chublets before it was back to minnows and this set the scene for the day really and I had to keep chasing the fish around. The other thing that was worrying me was that I just couldn't get any quality at all. Bob Tolman turned up for a chat and while he was there I only added a couple more small chublets. Trying to fish 13 metres in the wind was really hard work and I wasn't enjoying myself at all.

My next visitor was Heardy who said he just couldn't fish his peg with the wind and had only caught minnows, he'd also heard from Rob who was in a similar boat as was Steve. The only one we didn't know about was Neil but I was sure he'd be catching in the weirpool but as Rob was paying two today I felt I was in with a chance of a brown envelope, even with my meagre catch rate, after hearing from Martin. I had another chublet of an ounce or so and Martin wandered back to his peg. With about an hour and a half left I was on around 30 fish (plus minnows) and thought I might have 2lb.

I was getting really fed up with the minnows when out of the blue I had an 8oz chublet on single caster so at least there were some better fish about. I tried half a lobby and after missing a couple of bites I had another chublet of a similar size. I thought I'd cracked it again but my next three fish on worm were gudgeon! Double caster held back in the flow resulted in a nice dace but then it was back to minnows and I was all out of ideas. Another try all round the swim with caster resulted in some tiny roach, chublets and of course minnows. I spent the last half hour on worm again and had two more chublets but as they probably didn't go 4oz between them, they weren't going to bolster my weight much.

I ended with 40 fish (and probably about 40 minnows) and thought I'd be lucky to do two and a half pounds! I quickly packed up and walked up to weigh Martin in, he'd had a really bad day at the office and weighed 3oz. He did say that Rob had only caught minnows although Steve had started catching roach in 108. My fish went 3lb 4oz, which was slightly better than I thought but would it be enough to sneak into the top two?

Back at the results and Neil had won his second match on the trot with a lovely net of dace and roach weighing 8lb 9oz. Steve Parker weighed 3lb 5oz and pipped me for second by an ounce! - bugger it. Rob had a really bad day, he weighed an ounce, snapped his number four section and the wind ruined his brolley with the fabric coming away from the frame and taking off!!!! The only good thing about today for me was taking another £1 off Martin and gaining a point on him in the league. Deep down I knew I missed a really good chance to do well today and in hindsight I should have sat further up the peg.

Martin still leads the league with seven points followed by me on ten and Rob and Steve on thirteen. There are still two matches left in this league but it's a big ask to pull three more points on Martin but I'll try my best.

Neil won his second match on the bounce

1 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 8lb 9oz
2 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 3lb 5oz

Next week it's the V.E.S. again and I really need a good result to keep me in the hunt so tune in to see if I get it. Oh, and some rain would be nice but I say that every week.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 5 - 15th January 2012

This week it was back to the V.E.S. Precision league and I needed a good result or my league would be over for another year. With two hard frosts on Friday and Saturday, this match was always going to be hard and I was praying I'd get a decent peg. Rob had put in lower Coxes for the first time and I really fancied peg 27, failing that 14 or 126 would do. I paid Martin the pound I owed him from last week and said I'd be having it back this week (wishful thinking!). Rob announced the draw and I hung back a little bit, there were the usual mixed reactions as people drew although Pete was happy at drawing 126. I opened my sticky mitt to reveal peg 14 and I was well pleased with that although with the river being so low and clear, it might still be a struggle.

I got to my peg and the river was gin clear although it wasn't as cold as it had been the previous two days but had the damage already been done? I set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio but it just sat in the minimal flow so I also set up a 1 gram version and this was much better and picked up the flow. I plumbed up by the tank traps and also just off the edge of the flow where it comes down from the weir as these had been the two main catching areas when I fished it last. After a quick coffee it was time for the off and I started with double red maggot to try and catch a minnow and avoid the blank. I was loose feeding just a few casters and maggots with the odd pinch of hemp and also flicking some bait up towards the weir.

I soon started getting bites in the flow towards the traps and dropped off a minnow so switched to single maggot and my next bite resulted in a nice dace so I was off the mark. I was getting regular bites on caster and catching dace and even had a small trout. The bites were pretty finicky and sometimes the float would just hold up in the flow and a strike would see a dace on. After an hour I had ten fish and was enjoying myself. Rob walked up from peg 17 and said he'd only had minnows and Justin was struggling in 15 so I was doing ok in my section. While he was with me I started catching roach with the odd better one and I was ticking along nicely. Then Heardy phoned Rob and both him in 28 (I'd have fished 27) and Steve Parker in 29 were also struggling but it was early days.

I had another ten fish in hour two with most being small roach and another small spotty. Then Justin turned up and was joined by Graham Bulgin who had come for a look round. With all the bankside activity my bites slowed up but I carried on putting the odd fish in the net and had a better trout of 10oz or so. When my spectators left I had a quick burst of fish and I finished hour three with nine fish to take my total to 29. With things slowing up I tried up towards the weir but was surprised when I had no indications at all.

Back by the traps and I just couldn't buy a bite, I added another section and went further over and had a small roach but bites were now at a premium. With an hour to go Rob turned up again and he still only had minnows. He reported that Pete in 126 was catching but nobody in my section had much at all. I was now on 31 fish and just as I was moaning to Rob that I couldn't get a bite now, the float slid under and I had my first chublet but at only half an ounce it was my smallest fish so far. Rob said he'd caught up towards the weir when he fished it last so I thought I'd try it again. I shipped out and added the 13 metre section and when I lifted up there was a small trout on but it came off on the way in - bugger.

Holding back in the flow it was a bit boily but the float went and I had another small trout before missing the next two bites, Rob left to go and pack up! With half an hour to go I fancied I might get a couple more, I had another spotty quite quickly but then had a biteless ten minutes. Another try by the traps saw no more bites at all so I spent the final few minutes up towards the weir. I was just thinking that was my lot when right on time I had another small trout, as I was netting it Rob and his boy Leighton turned up behind me with the scales. Rob said he'd weighed 2oz and Leighton had an ounce, my 35 fish weighed 5lb 9oz which I was a little disappointed with. I finished packing up and they went off to weigh Justin in.

As I was loading my car up, they turned up and Justin had weighed 4oz so at least I'd won my section. I was hoping that I might sneak into the frame and when the results board came back from pegs 28 and 29 I was still leading as Martin had 12oz and Steve Parker had 1oz, so with only two pegs to come back I was guarenteed third place. I didn't think I would beat Pete in 126 but thought there was a chance of beating Neil in 124. They arrived back and I asked Pete what he'd had and he replied 5lb 12oz - bugger!, things got worse when he said Neil had 6lb 2oz - double bugger!! Still I finished third and picked up £15 plus I won a £1 back from Martin (he's only about ten up now!).

The league has tightened right up now with Heardy and Justin leading with seven points followed by Pete, me and Rob all on eight. With two matches to go it's all to play for, I just need two good results now.

Neil Dring won with two good chub for 6lb 2oz

1 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 6lb 2oz
2 - Pete Lonton (Ilminster) - 5lb 12oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 9oz

A - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 4oz
B - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 12oz

So that's three pick ups in three matches, tune in to see if it all goes pear shaped next week.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Ilminster Canal - Tacklebox/Royal Oak Winter League 6 - 8th January 2012

I got to the pub and had a pleasant surprise when Rob said we'd be fishing the canal today, the weather was certainly mild enough and I expected it to fish quite well. I drew peg 5 which put me near the end where we park the cars. Justin had drawn the end peg (although he was quite a way from the end!), Heardy had peg 3 and was moaning that the end pegs always win. There has been a lot of work done on the far bank and it was looking a bit bare and there weren't many reeds on the far bank either. On the plus side there were quite a few small fish topping.

I set up a light rig for down the middle (Drennan Squatt float with 0.08mm bottom and size 20 B511) and a 0.4 gram for across with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611. I chopped up some worm and caster and on the whistle cupped it in at 11.5 metres where there was a tiny bit of cover before starting down the middle at 8.5 metres with single red maggot on the hook. I was feeding a few maggots and casters here and my first bite saw me net a decent roach of 6oz or so. I missed a bite next chuck before catching two small perch. At this stage nobody else seemed to be catching much so I decided to try a caster and my next fish was a good perch of 8oz and I was really enjoying it.

Next put in I missed a bite on caster and then couldn't buy a bite, even on maggot. By this stage both Neil Dring on my left and Justin had caught a few small fish but from what I could see nobody was running away with it. After an hour I went across for the first time with caster and the rig settled and just kept going!, I struck and a decent fish was on and I soon netted another stripy, this one was around 10oz. Then I missed a bite on caster and couldn't buy a bite again but I wasn't panicking yet, there was plenty of time to go.

Neil and Justin were both scratching their heads like I was and Rob on peg one was walking so it looked like bites were at a premium. There were several squirrels playing about in the few remaining trees on the far bank so at least I had something to watch! I kept trying both my lines with caster and maggot and even tried fishing off the duck weed on the inside but couldn't get a bite anywhere. Justin had a decent perch and shortly after had another and we were neck and neck, the trouble was, he was getting the odd small fish as well. I decided to put some more chopped worm across and have a quick walk while I left it to settle.

Neil said he'd had seven small fish and then I got to Heardy and he was catching roach and skimmers quite regularly, while I was there he had a 6oz skimmer, missed a bite and bumped a fish and I reckoned he was already in the lead by quite some way. Steve Parker had a few small fish as did Rob but his cause wasn't helped by several dogs jumping in!, so much for a quiet days fishing! I went back and tried my light rig over the chopped worm but still nothing doing and I just couldn't see where my next bite was coming from. Martin was fishing down the middle and catching and I wondered if it was because he'd fed some micros, mind you he also had a decent reed bed across, which I think helped.

It was still close between me and Justin but he was still getting the odd small fish and I needed a fish from somewhere. I tried fishing at 11.5 metres to my left between me and Neil and laying the rig in feeding hardly anything when out of the blue the float started gliding along the top and I struck and quite a bit of number four elastic streamed out of the pole tip, I gently played and landed another 8oz perch and thought this put me ahead of Justin. Next put in the float slid away and a small roach was on but it came off on the way in - bugger. Then I couldn't get a bite again. Justin had a few fish from his inside line to his right so I chopped up some maggot and cupped it in on my inside line but never had a bite there all match.

With an hour to go, it was obvious Martin would win yet again but as for second and third place, it was anybodies. Neil packed up and had an early bath, Rob said Steve was catching a few small fish and Justin was still catching odd small fish but he hadn't had anymore decent perch. With the light fading I did manage four small roach, all caught on the drop from different spots and I was praying my extra perch would cancel out Justin's small fish, we would soon find out!

I packed up before starting the weigh in at peg one where Rob had 4oz, Steve had 1lb 11oz and I wasn't sure I had that, Martin had a nice net of roach and skimmers weighing 6lb 10oz and nobody else would come close to that. My ten fish went 2lb 11oz and when Justin pulled his net out I knew it would be close, the needle settled on 2lb 14oz and I'd have to settle for third place. He said he'd caught his small fish on half a maggot on a 24 hook and I was left wishing I'd had some pinkies with me! Still I picked up £15 and gained a point on Rob to put me second in the league, behind Martin who has a perfect five point score.

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 6lb 10oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 2lb 14oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 2lb 11oz

So Heardy continues where he left off in 2011 by winning again, can anybody stop him?, tune in next week to find out.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Chard Reservoir - 2nd January 2012

STOP PRESS (Again!) Despite me saying I wouldn't be fishing again until the 8th Jan, Les phoned me about a knock up down the resi and I thought I'd give it a bash. I was up early and the first to arrive in the car park, Bob Hammond soon turned up followed by Janders and then the rest who had been for breakfast. I suffered the usual abuse about being lost and did I know that this wasn't the river! There was a decent turnout of 11 and after getting some bait from Les it was time to draw. Les won the Xmas match from peg 8 but reckoned the other end would be better today as it was out of the keen wind. Les got me to draw for him and I pulled out 7 followed by peg 2 for me. Bish had peg 1 and I had Oz on my left with Janders next to him so at least I could keep on eye on how my pound was looking!

It was certainly a couple degrees warmer down our end so hopefully I might get to see the tip go round a few times. I was wary that Scotty said he didn't have a bite for three hours in the Xmas match so it could be a waiting game. As always my first job was to mix my groundbait and today I had some Sensas Black Bream which I thought would be ideal given the resi was clear and the fishing likely to be quite hard. I set up a feeder rod with a small Drennan groundbait feeder and finished off with a size 18 B611 to 0.10mm bottom. I didn't want to put too much feed in and decided to start quite light to try and raise a bite. I clipped up at around 40 turns and had a quick coffee before the start.

My first cast with double red maggot ended in disaster when I had a tangle and spent a while sorting that out. I was eventually under way and hadn't missed much as nobody had caught around me. In fact the first hour was an anti climax as nobody around me had a bite and I was now fishing double pinkie on the hook. I was only putting in a couple of pinkies in my feed and I was leaving the feeder out for quite a long time. Also my casting wasn't particularly accurate but then I hadn't done any feeder fishing for ages. Hoff up on peg 6 had a couple of small roach so at least there were fish about.

Two hours passed and nobody from pegs 1 to 5 had caught yet, not even a bite! From what I could see, very little was being caught and a single fish would be worth it's weight in gold. I wasn't panicking yet but if I reached three hours without a bite then it could be a different story! And I was running out of coffee! Then on two and a half hours I had an indication, I waited but it didn't develop and when I reeled in my pinkies were definitely damaged, had I missed my chance? Half an hour later I had a decent pull and a fish was on! I gingerly played it and netted a nice roach of about 8oz, I was off the mark.

Ten minutes later I saw Janders netting a roach and the pound was anybodies yet again, then I had another roach and then a decent skimmer of 1.5lb to put me back in the driving seat. At this stage I felt there were a few fish about but then I couldn't buy a bite again. Both the Steves either side were still fishless and although Hoff had a couple more roach, I felt I was doing alright. Going into the last hour I missed a bite and had another roach and that was it. Bish had blanked and Oz had a solitary late roach, Janders didn't add to his roach so at least the pound was safe.

I packed up and as I walked back to the car I asked Hoff how he'd got on and when he said he'd had eleven roach I thought it could be close between us. Then he said that they'd been catching skimmers to his left and both Les and Butch had nine apiece, it was like a different world from Hoff upwards with most people catching skimmers and roach and I hadn't seen anyone catch bugger all! The scales started with me and my three roach and a skimmer went 2lb 14oz, Oz weighed 8oz and Janders had 4oz so at least I won a pound. Mark Mockridge on peg 5 had also blanked and things got better when Les said I'd won the section. Hoff had 3lb 6oz, then Les had a nice net of skimmers weighing 16lb 12oz, Dave Abrams had 10lb 7oz, Dave Mockridge had 11lb 14oz and then Butch had 19lb 8oz and actually had more skimmers than he was admitting to! Bob on the other end peg had some nice roach but couldn't find any skimmers and weighed 2lb 2oz.

So my first match of the new year saw me win a brown envelope containing £20 and lets not forget the pound off Janders - cheers mate! I do enjoy fishing the tip for bream/skimmers and would like to have another go when it's warmer and there's a chance of a proper bagging session.

A tale of two ends!

1 - Butch Baker (Tatworth) - 19lb 8oz
2 - Les Braunton (Haines Angling) - 16lb 12oz
3 - Dave Mockridge (Chard) - 11lb 14oz

A - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 2lb 14oz
B - Dave Abrams (Weymouth) - 10lb 7oz

Right, that's definitely it until next Sunday, lets hope for another brown envelope then!