Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Yearly Review

This year I thought I'd do a yearly review which is something new for my blog and what a year it's been!

January
I started the year off down at Chard Reservoir and despite it being pretty hard going, I managed to win my section with three roach and a skimmer for 2lb 14oz. My next outing was to my favourite venue, Ilminster Canal, and despite it being a bit too early for it to fish it's best, most people had a few bites and I finished third with some nice perch and some small roach for 2lb 11oz. Heardy won with a nice net of skimmers, roach and perch weighing 6lb 10oz.

The remaining three Sundays saw us down the river and although hard going after several frosts, I managed two third places with Neil Dring winning two and Heardy winning the other.

Highlights - Five matches on three different venues, four pick-ups.

February
The first match of February was terrible after some awful weather and I only managed a small trout and two minnows for 7oz! Steve Parker won with four trout for 2lb.

My next day out was something of a departure from the norm for me as I was off to the River Tone after grayling with Scotty Russell, I'd never caught one before and wanted to try some new things this year. The trouble was, more torrential rain and the river was up and coloured and Scott didn't give much for our chances. We decided to give it a go and after finding a swim with a nice slack we started getting bites and Scott had a dace before I had a small grayling and it was mission accomplished!
My first grayling

Next up was the Ilminster Open on the Isle and I had a lovely day, landing four chub plus some bits for 12lb 5oz and my first win of the year. The next two matches saw the climax of both the V.E.S. Precision and Tacklebox/Royal Oak winter leagues, I ended up finishing as runner up in both leagues and a victory in the last V.E.S. match with 13lb odd of chub saw February come to a close with a flourish.

My winning Open weight

Highlights - First grayling and win in the Open.

March
This month turned out to be a really busy month which started with another grayling trip to the Tone with Scotty and his dad Roger but this time in much better conditions. We caught loads of fish and we had nine grayling up to about 12oz, a lovely day.

Then we had Barney's Pairs Open which I have a really good record in over the years, this year it was split between Dillington and the river. My partner Graham Field did the business on the pond by winning his section but my fate was sealed when I drew peg 128 on the river and struggled for one gudgeon and a few minnows for 2oz.

The following Saturday I drove up to the 'Big One' at Farnborough to book my holiday to the wonderful Gillhams Resort in Thailand. It was lovely to see Stuart and gave me something to look forward to in September.


The Gillhams stand at the Big One
The next day I fished Summerhayes and won the silvers with 18lb 5oz and I really enjoy this kind of fishing. I was back down to earth with a bump on Chard resi in my next match when I never had a bite! Back at Summerhayes the following week saw another silvers win, this time with 17lb 12oz but the highlight was meeting fellow blogger Ivan of Ivans Angle fame, what a top bloke and always nice to meet fellow bloggers.

Following on from the grayling trips I'd decided to start my own 'Mission Impossible' and get as many species badges from TCF magazine as I could. First port of call was the resi and Janders came down as it was nice day and acted as my ghillie, cheers mate. The fishing was an anti climax although I did manage some skimmers to 2lb 13oz which was enough for my first badge.

Next up, me and my mate Andy headed to Seaton to try and catch a mullet which would be challenge as neither of us had a clue what we were doing! Despite this, I did manage a small one of 1lb 13oz and another new species was added to my list.

My first (and hopefully not my last!) mullet
See I told you it was a busy month!

Highlights - Silvers wins, first mullet and meeting Ivan.

April
This month was spent fishing Summerhayes and Perry St Pond with varying degrees of success, my first match in the Spring league at Perry St saw me finish third from last with 6lb 4oz. I did manage a fourth at Summerhayes and a section win in round two at Perry St but overall not a great month for me.

Lowlight - A disasterous opening round of the Spring League

May
Another busy month with seven matches fished this month! I had a third place and a silvers win at Summerhayes with a new pb silvers weight of 23lb 12oz. I fished a knock up on my birthday but missed out on a pick up by 1oz! At Perry St I had two section wins and then won the third match with 80lb 6oz which was also a new pb match weight although I didn't play my joker which would have doubled my points! Me and Mike Thomas lost in the pairs knockout final to Steve Bishop and Steve Bush. Five pick ups saw my yearly total rising steadily. I also started using my nearly new pole (mainly at Summerhayes).

Willow Pool, scene of my birthday match

Highlights - First win at Perry St for ages and two new pb match weights.
Lowlights - Losing the pairs final and getting ounced out on my birthday!

June
The first match of the month saw me win my section again at Perry St and after a disasterous first match I was creeping up the league. Match's two and three were at Summerhayes and resulted in a silvers win and second with 19lb 14oz and 20lb 4oz, I love this venue!

Then I was at Dillington for the first time in ages and managed a second place with 8lb 2oz, followed by rounds seven and eight at Perry St. Round seven saw me draw corner peg 1 and once again I didn't play play my joker and once again I won (will I ever learn?) with 36lb 12oz. Round eight and another section win also saw me in the semi finals of the individual knockout.

Highlights - My second win at Perry St this year and six pick ups in six matches.
Lowlight - Not playing my joker again!

July
Back at Summerhayes and another silvers win with 22lb 9oz before it was back to the league at Perry St and a decent result saw me into the knockout final and still in contention of a league placing. The final match arrived and another good day saw me win the knockout final and I also came second on the day with 46lb 14oz and sneaked fifth in the league.

I then managed another second in silvers at Summerhayes before the next weekend saw me at Summerhayes for a two day silver fish festival and I couldn't wait! I drew a tough section on day one which included Nigel Garrett, Adie Bishop and Ray and Glynn Wickham. I struggled for most of the match but a good last hour saw me do enough for a section win with 15lb 2oz and I was still in the hunt for day two.

We fished Long's on the first day and day two was to be split between Sellicks and Lily, nobody wanted the latter as there weren't as many silvers in there and 10lb would be a decent weight. Of course I drew it and my festival was over, it was a real struggle and I finished with 5lb 5oz of bits for fourth in the section. My total of five points over the two days was enough to sneak into fifth place and last in the money.

Highlight - Winning the individual knockout at Perry St.
Lowlight - Drawing Lily!

August
Another hectic month with lots of matches, the month started with a silvers second at Summerhayes and a third place at Dillington where I also had a perch of 1lb 7oz for another 'Mission Impossible' badge! I then fished my first match at Coking Farm and smashed my pb match weight with 121lb 4oz of carp and skimmers for third place but also managed to snap my number four section of my pole!


Part of my biggest ever match weight
Another silvers pick up at Summerhayes followed before I visited Dillington again, the whip boys dominated and I couldn't see me fishing it again as I just don't enjoy that style of fishing.

The last two matches of the month at Summerhayes saw me finish third on both occasions, with 23lb 8oz and 50lb 6oz which was a new pb weight for me there.

Highlight - Breaking the ton for the first time
Lowlight - Breaking my pole!

September
I had two matches at Summerhayes before I flew out to Thailand, I struggled in both with the second being most disappointing as it was the pairs open which me and Andy won last year.

I was a little apprehensive about travelling halfway across the world on my own but it all went fine and I was soon walking out of Krabi airport where I was met by Sean Gillham and the holiday fun could begin!

It really was an awesome trip and it was great to meet up with Terry 'Poppa' Eustace again and I met loads of other really nice people including Mark Hoye, Mike Ward and Alan Boon and we had some great nights out. The fishing was out of this world and I had my biggest ever fish in the shape of a 260lb arapaima plus another of 200lb and a new species and pb with a 180lb mekong catfish that took me over three hours to land! I also had my first ever fish on a lure but possibly the highlight of the trip was my biggest ever Amazon redtail catfish of 90lb.


260lb arapaima
180lb mekong catfish
Me and Chris Pache with my 90lb amazon redtail
I really can't recommend the place highly enough and you are looked after really well by Stuart, Benz, Sean, Noi and Becca plus the guides, Gollock, Joel, Lee and Chris.

After my return to the UK, there was just time for one more match before September came to a close, I was back at Summerhayes and managed another second in silvers with 17lb 15oz.

Highlights - Thailand and Gillhams of course!

October
First match of the month was also the first back on my beloved River Isle and what a start! I drew peg 15 and caught all day to win with 17lb 5oz of dace, roach, chublets and trout. I followed that up with 8lb 14oz and third place the week after and in the third match I was victorious again, this time with 12lb 2oz (which also included a new pb chub of 3lb 9oz).

I then met up with Russell Hilton (another fellow blogger) for a days piking on the Tone, we blanked but that didn't really matter as it was a really nice day talking all things fishing. Check out his blog Tales From The Towpath

Russell Hilton

I struggled in the final match of the month on the Isle but still caught a few fish for 4lb 3oz.

Lowlight - Not catching a pike
Highlights - Two wins on the Isle and meeting Russell

November
First trip of the month was to the Wye with Justin Charles after barbel in search of another 'Mission Impossible' badge. I blanked but did lose a fish and Justin just had the one barbel, the weather had gotten a lot colder but I'll be back!

Justin with a nice barbel
 
Next match was back on the Isle and I struggled again, this time I had 2lb 15oz from peg 27 and it was looking like I might be on the start of a bad run. The following week I drew peg 28 and didn't think I'd done very well when I weighed 5lb 6oz but it turned out to be enough to win on the day.

Then the rain started and with the river badly flooded we were out Dillington for the next match and another struggle saw me win again with a hard fought for 1lb 5oz!

Highlights - Two match wins and fishing the Wye
Lowlight - Blanking on the Wye!

December
The countdown to Xmas started and so did the cold weather! We got back on the river for the first match of December and Steve Bishop came over from Chard and fished his first match on the river for years. He showed he hadn't forgotten how to do it by winning with 8lb 2oz, I had another enjoyable day and finished as the runner up with 6lb 8oz.

Next up was the Xmas Fayre where I drew a peg I had fond memories of but struggled for three gudgeon and a minnow for 3oz, I still won a crate of Stella though!

More rain and the next match was touch or go whether it was on the river, we fished the river which was actually a little too high but again I had bites all day and finished second with 5lb 9oz behind Steve Parker who won with 8lb 8oz.

I then fished the Xmas match at Summerhayes and despite drawing Lily I had a very enjoyable day just missing out on winning the pond by 5oz with 26lb 3oz. Pete did a great job, laying on a nice spread and everybody received a great prize.

I realised another ambition when I appeared in an article in Match Fishing magazine!

Me in Match Fishing Magazine
My last match of the year saw me back at Dillington with the river still unfishable and I didn't have high hopes after the last time we fished it. How wrong I was, loads of quality roach and rudd fed and it was just like the good old days, my 15lb 6oz was enough to win and finish the year on a real high.

Martin Heard with a cracking net of quality roach and rudd weighing 11lb 9oz

Highlights - Appearing in Match Fishing for the first time and a cracking day at Dillington.

Summary
This has to be one of my best years yet, I caught new species, beat pb's and picked up more brown envelopes than ever before.

Matches won - 9
Silvers wins - 5
Winnings - £1530

New pb match weight
Coking Farm - 121lb 4oz

New venue pb match weights
Perry St  - 80lb 6oz
Summerhayes - 50lb 6oz

New species
Grayling
Mullet
Mekong Catfish
Horsefish?

New pb's
Chub - 3lb 9oz - River Isle
Siamese Carp - 75lb - Gillhams
Arapaima - 260lb - Gillhams
Amazon Redtail Catfish - 90lb - Gillhams
Asian Redtail Catfish - 15lb - Gillhams
Mekong Catfish - 180lb - Gillhams

Phew! - not sure how I'll top that next year but I hope you follow my adventures while I give it my best shot

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dillington Pond - V.E.S. Precision League 4 - 30th December 2012

This match was a rescheduled V.E.S. winter league fixture from 25th November, that day we fished a knock up out the pond and it had fished rock hard and I won with fourteen roach for a lowly 1lb 5oz. After loads more rain in the week, I was sure we'd be back out the pond today for another grueller. I really fancied a crack at the canal but apparently the path down there was flooded so that was out of the equation. We were two men down today with Pete and Rob both poorly and there seems to be a lot of that going around - get well soon chaps.

We decided to wait until we got to the pond before making our minds up which pegs to use, so we could keep out of the worst of the wind which was forecast. The pond was fairly sheltered from the wind and very coloured (much like last time). There were a few fish topping but I still felt it would be hard going. We put all the pegs along the bank on the side where you drive in and I fancied peg 17 in the trees or failing that, peg 18. I just missed out on those pegs when I pulled out 19 which was just the other side of the fence. Bish drew 17 and I had Justin on my right and Heardy on my left. We always split the match into two sections for league points and as I had Martin in my section I would have my work cut out.

We didn't have long to set up so I nicked some pinkies off Bish and started setting my kit up, I mixed up some Supercup and then set up the same rig I used last time, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach with 0.06mm bottom and size 22 B511 at the business end. We were only fishing five and a half hours today starting at 10:00 and that time soon arrived. I cupped out a single ball of groundbait with a few casters, maggots and pinkies at ten metres before going out with double pinkie on the hook. Justin boshed it in again, which I thought was a little optimistic. I asked Martin what he thought would win today and he replied that 4lb would be a good weight.

I was expecting a bit of a wait but Heardy had a tiny roach first chuck and then I had one too, so at least we should get a few bites today. I then had another tiny roach and my next fish was a 4oz rudd and things were looking up! Martin was catching the odd better rudd amongst the tiny roach and we were neck and neck after the first hour with 12 fish apiece. I probably had a pound already and felt if I could keep this catch rate up, 5.5lb would be a decent weight. I had the bristle dotted down to a pimple but was struggling to see it in the 'white' water reflection. I put a black Drennan sight sleeve over the bristle and this improved things a lot!

The second hour was even better and I added another 16 fish and some of them were decent roach which I slipped the net under, I kept asking Martin how he was getting on and he always seemed to be a couple of fish ahead but then he is very good at this style of fishing. I tried single red maggot and had a couple of fish, then caster but bumped a fish and missed a couple of bites so went back to double pinkie. Justin seemed to be struggling and kept trying his inside line so I felt I was ahead of him but still behind Heardy.

The third hour was even better and fishing red maggot I had another 22 fish and the peg seemed to be getting better and better and the stamp of the fish was improving as well. The fourth hour saw Martin start to slow down but I was still catching really well and added another 28 fish to put me on 78 with an hour and a half to go. Most of my fish had been roach and rudd, I only had three perch and two of those had been tiny but the third one was a better stripy of 4oz or so. Justin had started catching quite well and it looked like the fish had finally found his mountain of groundbait!

Martin was now struggling for bites and was saying most of his fish were tiny although I kept noticing him slipping his landing net out! I was still getting some quality roach and even had a rudd that had to be 12oz and by the end of the fifth hour I was up to 104 fish. The bites just kept coming and in the last half an hour I had another 13 fish to give me a total of 117 fish. I'd really enjoyed it today and we'd only had a couple of showers and the wind hadn't been too bad. Martin finished with over 100 fish but was adamant I'd beaten him but I've been caught like that before and would wait for the tale of the scales. Also Justin had caught really well towards the end and it looked like Bish had fished the whip as I didn't see him ship the pole out all day.

As I took my kit back to the car I met Bish who said he'd had over 150 fish but hadn't caught any quality. Justin said he'd caught really well on caster but I'd only tried it a couple of times, but then I was catching really well. Heardy was convinced he'd have done better with the whip but for me it was like the old days out here, fishing the pole for quality roach and I'd thoroughly enjoyed it. Steve soon arrived with the scales and Heardy was first to weigh, his fish pulled the needle round to an impressive 11lb 9oz and I was hoping I had a little more.

Martin with a cracking net of quality fish and he only came third!

Then it was my turn and pulling my net out there was a fair bit of splashing and it looked like a lovely bag of fish, into the weigh sling they went and Steve called out 15lb 6oz but would it be enough to beat Bish? Justin surprised everyone when he weighed 11lb 10oz and pipped Martin by an ounce! Bish had loads of fish but true to his word he didn't have much quality and weighed 7lb 9oz, loads of bites though. Steve had struggled in 16 and weighed 2lb 12oz but the peg was now really shallow and had silted up quite badly after all the heavy rain.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 15lb 6oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 11lb 10oz
3 - Martin Heard (Ilminster) - 11lb 9oz

So I finished the year on a high with another win and managed to get past the magical £1500 mark (£1530 to be precise) and wonder of wonders, I'd actually enjoyed fishing the pond again. Although I have heard the club are going to put F1's in and I think this will just ruin it as a fishery. It's not carp that are needed, it's skimmers but I don't think that'll ever happen now. Also apparently some F1's are earmarked for the canal and that's an even bigger shame as it's currently a really well balanced little fishery full of quality fish.

I must say I was a little gob smacked at how well the pond fished today and the number of quality roach that fed, it just goes to show that they are in there and I think the fact it was quite mild and all the rain has kept the pond coloured for a sustained period has helped too.

In the league, Heardy still leads with a perfect three point score (dropping today's result), Justin is second with four and I now have five and I'm back in the hunt with three matches to go!

Well that's it from me for 2012, I hope you enjoyed following me as I continue to compete 'Against Men and Fish' and will come back for more in 2013. Also look out for my yearly review which will be online tomorrow. Next match for me will hopefully be a trip to Summerhayes on Wednesday.

Lastly have a great New Year's Eve and don't drink too much!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Ambition Realised


When I started fishing back when I was ten years old (where did all the years go!), I was keen to learn as much as I could about angling and started buying all the fishing magazines. One of these was David Hall's Coarse Fisherman and I still have a few editions from 1980, I've bought most of the mags over the years but the one I have always bought and subscribe to is now called Match Fishing. My favorite features were always the diary style ones by anglers like Richard Wade, Dave Pearson, Kim Milson and in the current mag, Lee Kerry.

I've always enjoyed writing and even tried submitting a few articles at a very young age, they were never accepted and I even spoke to Dave Hall and Roger Mortimer about them, they were very nice and even offered some tips on how I could improve my articles. I suppose the problem was the readership wouldn't want to read about an angler nobody knew, fishing waters they had never heard of! This was all before the internet came along and when the revolution arrived, everyone could publish articles regardless of whether anybody was reading them!

I started my blog in 2006 for my own enjoyment really and it developed a bit of a local following when both the clubs I fished for, Ilminster and Chard used my blog as a vehicle to publish the match results and put links to my site on theirs. Things moved on a bit when the now defunct Southern Angling magazine asked if I would like to send them venue reports each month for their 'Where to fish' section. I really enjoyed doing this although it took up quite a bit of time and even got paid a small monthly sum and the highlight was when the editor asked me to submit a feature covering one of our club matches. It was published along with the photos taken on the day and I was chuffed to bits that I'd finally got an article into print.

The now defunct Southern Angler
My first ever published article

My blog was chugging along nicely and the next bit of media exposure was when I submitted one of my weekly posts to the Pole Fishing mag website which they used in their guest bloggers section. Recently I have joined a few angling forums and it was a chance conversation with Steve Lockett on one of these where he mentioned he'd be interested in doing a feature with me on the Isle, well of course I jumped at the chance but he said he'd need to speak to Alex Bones at Match Fishing first. He text me later to say the feature was on and we set a date, Monday 12th October, I booked a days leave and the day soon arrived.

I met Steve at the services in Ilminster and we went down to peg 28 at Lower Coxes, he was a really nice bloke and we talked about all things fishy while he snapped away with his camera and tapped away with his laptop. Conditions weren't ideal but I managed to catch for most of the day, ending with probably just shy of double figures of dace, chublets, roach and trout. I didn't mention it on here at the time in case it wasn't actually used in the mag. Its not in the shops until tomorrow but as a subscriber I received my copy today and my ugly mug can be found in the article starting on page 24.

My first feature with me as the 'Star'

It's something I've always wanted to do and it feels quite surreal that 32 years after buying my first fishing magazine, I'm now actually in one! I realise I'm no Steve Ringer but I wonder if he felt the same the first time he was featured in one of the mags? I guess it's no big deal really as loads of anglers I know have featured in many of the mags but it has always been an ambition of mine and now I can tick that off my list.

I'd love to be able to write full time or somehow make a living from my blog as I do enjoy writing but for now I'll keep plodding along. Thanks to the people who have followed me so far, I have now reached over 46,600 hits and have gone from getting around 1000 a month to approaching 4000, thank you all very much. There are some fantastic blogs out there that get many more hits than I do and I'll continue to aspire to reach their figures. Some of the top ones can be found on the right hand side of my blog and include blogs that are very well written and blogs by some top local matchmen, have a look at Idler's Quest Tales From The Towpath Silver Fox Angling and Tony Rixon's Days Out

I hope you'll continue to follow my exploits and enjoy them as much as I do - tight lines.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Summerhayes - Xmas Match - 23rd December 2012

With no match scheduled on the river this weekend I booked into the Xmas match at Summerhayes and driving over the river this morning, it was unfishable anyway. I got to the venue with half an hour to spare and sorted out my keepnets before paying my pools and saying hello to all the usual suspects. There was a really good turnout of thirty six anglers including Mark Hanham, Steve Jackson, the Wickhams, Alvin Jones and Roy Hughes amongst others. The match was going to be spread out over Longs, Sellicks and the dreaded Lily. Although to be fair, Lily can produce the overall winner but I never seem to do very well on it.

Pete announced the draw and I hung back hoping the seven pegs on Lily would go before I got there, finally I got to the bucket and delved in and pulled out peg 2 on Lily - bugger! The fancied peg on Lily was peg 10 where Ashley Tomkins won with nearly 90lb last weekend and Ian D from Taunton was the lucky angler to draw it. My peg was in a corner with a nice bed of lilies and I was just hoping I could get a few bites. I made myself comfy and set up three rigs, a 0.6 gram Malman Pencil for open water where I would cup in a little groundbait and fish dead maggot over the top although I won't mention this rig again as I never picked it up all day! Rig two was exactly the same but for fishing bread punch by the lilies at 10 metres and the final rig was a little Trabucco float taking 4 x 10 which I spread out down the line. Both these rigs were set a few inches off bottom and all rigs had 0.10mm bottoms and size 18 Tubertini 808's at the business end.

For bait I just had dead red maggots and punch although I intended to fish punch all day if I could get bites on it. The all in was shouted and I cupped in a single ball of groundbait at 11.5 metres in open water before starting by the lilies with 5mm punched bread. I was expecting it to be hard and just kept lifting and dropping the rig and after ten minutes I had my first indication, next chuck I had a small roach and was off the mark. Then I had a small carp and was getting regular bites and after the first hour I had three small carp plus some bits. The weather was actually quite mild and I could see Jacko on peg 14 on Sellicks catching so it was looking at this early stage like it would fish well.

I was still getting the odd small fish but I could see Ian on peg 10 and a chap called Ziggy on 12 catching carp and John Dursley along on peg 4 was getting a few as well, it was time to change tact. I picked up the light rig, baited up with punch and went in the edge on my left. The rig settled, dibbed and went away and carp number four was on. I safely netted it and it was a better size than the ones I'd been catching by the lilies. Next chuck I had another and was getting regular bites, by the end of the second hour I had eight carp and had bumped one as well.

Hour three started well and I had another four carp to put me on twelve before the left hand swim slowed up. I was doing okay and Ian and Ziggy had slowed up and I thought I was a couple of fish ahead of John, nobody else seemed to be doing much on our pond. I switched to fishing in the corner on my right and was a little worried that if I hooked a carp I only had a thin channel between the lilies and the bank to guide the fish through. I didn't have long to wait to try this out and my next carp didn't give me too many problems and I was up to thirteen carp at the half way point.

Number fourteen soon followed before I switched back to the left hand margin and the rest must of done this swim some good as I had my fifteenth carp straight away. No more bites saw me try the shallow rig out toward the lilies but no action saw me back in the corner again. Three more carp from the corner and I was pulling away from the others with two hours to go. I was just thinking how I'd only bumped one carp and not lost any when the next one went right in the lilies and after much faffing about I had to pull for a break. Now I thought the relatively light 0.10mm bottom would snap quite easily but no I lost the whole rig!

More faffing followed while I sorted another rig out and you know what it's like when you're catching and then lose a rig, the replacement is never quite the same despite it being the same pattern, hook etc. I did successfully land the next one to put me on nineteen with over an hour and a half left. The chap opposite me on peg 14 packed up and from what I could see everybody on our pond had slowed up. I then hooked another and thought I'd done all the hard work when it wrapped me round some lilies and the hooklength parted and I was left to do some more faffing about.

I kept trying the left hand margin and the corner but all I could catch was the odd roach and my last fish was a decent roach of 6oz or so. I was left wishing I'd spent the last part of the match out by the lilies with the deeper rig and also if I'd kept feeding the open water line I would have had somewhere else to go when the other lines slowed up, still I was quite pleased with how I'd fished, I'd only lost two and bumped one and apart from the open water line at the start, I hadn't fed anything!

As I was packing up, John walked up from the next peg and said he'd had sixteen carp and as he'd had some better ones, it could be close. Jacko came over and he reckoned he had 35lb+ and said that Dave B on Sellicks peg 6 had also caught well. I finished packing up and loaded my car up before catching up with the scales on Longs. Jess Jordan was top on Longs with 31lb 3oz followed by Adie Bishop with 29lb 9oz. The scales reached Sellicks and Martin Addicot was the early leader with 36lb 12oz from peg 2, this only lasted until we got to Dave on peg 6 and he went into top spot with 40lb 2oz. The weigh in then got to my peg and my silvers went 1lb 5oz and my carp 24lb 14oz to give me a 26lb 3oz total, which was more than I thought. John came close with 24lb 9oz and Matt T in peg 6 had 17lb 8oz. The young lad called Jake in peg 8 gave me a fright when he weighed 23lb and I hadn't seen him catch anything! Ziggy had chucked back which just left Ian on peg 10, he was admitting to 20lb but when his carp weighed 24lb 14oz I was hoping he didn't have any silvers. He did and weighed 1lb 10oz of them to give him a 26lb 8oz total and he pipped me for first on the pond by 5oz - bugger!

I kept thinking about those lost fish but when he told me he lost five, I felt a little better. The scales then went to finish weighing Sellicks and Jacko took top spot with 44lb 8oz. Then it was back to the porta cabin where Pete and his lovely wife had laid on a lovely spread of sandwiches, roast potatoes and mince pies. Pete then did the draw for the blind pairs and as this was my last chance of any coin I was hoping I'd get paired with Jacko but no such luck. Then it was time for the prize giving and there were some lovely hampers amongst lots of other goodies and when I got called out in seventh place I picked a lovely selection of champagne and chocolates.

Just some of the lovely prizes

1 - Steve Jackson (Bridgwater) - 44lb 8oz
2 - Dave B (Summerhayes) - 40lb 2oz
3 - Martin Addicot (Taunton) - 36lb 12oz

Todays weighboard

A really enjoyable day with lots of bites and I do enjoy fishing here and as Pete is running several matches over the Xmas period I'll have to try and get back and fish a couple over the holidays.

Also I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody who reads this a Merry Xmas, thanks for any comments you've made and I hope you catch loads of fish in 2013 (as long as you're not pegged next to me!).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 5 - 16th December 2012

We had quite a bit of rain on Friday and some heavy showers on Saturday which left me fearing we'd be on the pond again but Rob messaged me and said the river looked good and we'd all be at Redbridge for this match. I was really looking forward to it as the forecast was good for today and it was a few degrees warmer than it had been. I got to the pub just before the draw and saw Rob had pegged two above the bridge with the rest below and the last peg was the weirpool (120). I didn't really mind where I drew as lots of roach had been showing but I did quite fancy another crack at 120 as I'd only ever fished it once.

I hung back at the drawbag and nobody was admitting to 120 so I stuck my hand in and pulled out, yep you guessed it, peg 120 - that'll do me. Fieldy had peg 110 where Heardy had 16lb 8oz last week but Rob had put another peg in between this week and Martin had drawn it. Rob was on 108 which had done 5lb+ last match and Steve and Bob were both above the bridge which hasn't been pegged yet this year.

We got to the river and it was a lot higher than I was expecting and going through at quite a pace as well, I unloaded the car and started the long yomp to my peg, which took several trips and I was knackered and running late by the time I got there. I took one look at my peg and didn't think I'd be able to fish it, it was a big mess of boils, there was a small slack on the far side but where you normally sit at the tail of the swim was virtually all underwater. After much faffing about I got my box down to the swim and left as much kit as I could on the high bank in case I needed to move if the river rose anymore!

My next worry was what to do with my keepnet as the water was racing through, I just plopped it in the side and thought I'd wait and see if I actually caught anything before worrying any further. I only just had time to set up a 1.5 gram rig before it was time to start. I baited up with double red maggot and shipped across to the slack at 11.5 metres, the float was holding nicely and I felt sure I would catch. I was feeding maggots and casters and was surprised when I had no indications after ten minutes. I was also keeping an eye on the river level and picked a marker so I could see if it dropped at all or if it started to rise I could make a quick exit!

With no bites I went to move the rig and there was a fish on!, it was only a small roach but I was off the mark. I had a couple more but wasn't getting any indications, I tried altering the depth and moving shot about but it didn't make a difference. I had six fish after the first hour and hour two was slightly better when I tried fishing on the edge of the flow and had a couple of chublets plus more roach. I did hook a clonking roach but as I was bringing it across the flow, it got swept out of the tail of the swim in the really strong flow and the bloody hook pinged out! I then lost another in the flow and had one drop off as I tried to swing it in - things weren't going well.

I also noticed that all my fish were pushed up against the bottom of the keepnet because of the flow so I pulled it out and staked the net out on my right, the flow was still really fast but they seemed happier. I got back to fishing and was still catching roach, dace, chublets and I even had a prehistoric looking bullhead. Judging by my marker the level had actually dropped a little and the flow coming over the gravel I was sat on didn't seem quite so fierce.

I was having to chase the fish around a bit, probably because my bait was going all over the place, but was still getting roach and the odd better dace and chublet and started getting some gudgeon as well. I tried going over further to my right but got snagged and lost a hooklength so that was the last time I tried that. I was still not seeing quite a few bites so plumbed up again to make sure I wasn't too far overdepth but nope the rig was still fine.

By now we were half way through the match and I had 30 fish and thought I had about 3lb, but as nobody was walking about I reckoned they must be catching above me. Then it started raining and I kept an even closer watch on my marker but luckily it didn't last long and the river continued to drop slowly. I was still catching quite well and felt that if the fish averaged 2oz apiece, fifty fish would give me 6lb or so. I reached 50 fish with just under half an hour to go and managed another three, including a 8oz chublet that a pike had a go at!

I really felt my 53 fish (plus bullhead!) would go 6-7lb and was hoping it might be enough to sneak into second place. My peg was worth more today and with the fish I'd lost/bumped and dropped off I should have had a couple of pounds more than I'd had. Fieldy came down to weigh me in and when I said I had about 5lb (under estimating again!), he said I'd win easily as they'd all struggled above me. My fish actually weighed 5lb 9oz which I was disappointed with but I did have quite a few gudgeon and small roach.

Fieldy weighed 2lb 1oz and when we got to Heardy, he'd had 2lb 3oz and Rob 1lb 9oz, by the time I walked back to the car I was knackered but happy thinking I'd won again but then Fieldy said Steve Parker had three chub for 8lb 8oz above the bridge so I had to settle for second. Well done Steve, I reckon my coaching last week helped after all!!!! I picked up £30 and I'm now just £15 short of the elusive £1500 but there are several matches over the Xmas period which I'll have to fish to see if I can reach it! I'm still leading the league with 50 pts followed by Rob on 44 and Fieldy on 40.




Steve Parker won with three chub for 8lb 8oz

 
I was a little surprised it didn't fish better but the river was pretty high and will probably be perfect tomorrow! Also the fish were freezing cold to the touch so the water temperature was still well down.

1 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 8lb 8oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 9oz

I'm at Summerhayes for their Xmas Match next week, so come back to see how I get on (I don't think I'll be fishing micros and soft pellet somehow!).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The River Isle So Far This Year

After a really cold snap, it's now cetainly a lot milder and the rain yesterday must have put some colour in the river so all the signs look good for the match tomorrow (I've probably jinxed it now!). I was just looking through the results so far and it makes pretty interesting reading, we've managed to get on the river eight times and the matches have been won from seven different pegs with double figures needed to win six of those matches.

What's been really noticeable is that bags of chublets, dace and roach along with the odd spottie are making up the weights which means lots of bites! The other, more worrying side is that the big chub seem  to be very few and far between apart from odd pegs at Isle Brewers.

Here are the pegs and the winning weights so far,

Match 1 - 7th Oct - Peg 15 - 17lb 5oz
Match 2 - 14th Oct - Peg 27 - 14lb 12oz
Match 3 - 21st Oct - Peg 123 - 12lb 2oz
Match 4 - 28th Oct - Peg 28 - 20lb 9oz
Match 5 - 11th Nov - Peg 23 - 19lb 3oz
Match 6 - 18th Nov - Peg 28 - 5lb 6oz
Match 7 - 2nd Dec - Peg 126 - 8lb 2oz
Match 8 - 9th Dec - Peg 109 - 16lb 8oz

As you can see, there have been some excellent weights with the biggest bags consisting of mainly dace, which is a great sign and hopefully good news for the future. The back up weights have also been pretty good with 6-10lb needed to frame in the majority of matches. Alongside the dace there are lots of small roach and chublets plus quite a few gudgeon in the lower reaches which all bodes well for the future.

Some decent chub are still being caught but they are not winning matches anymore, they have shown in pegs 15, 24, 123 and 124 and I suspect at Isle Brewers they will start to feature more when the weather starts to get really cold again.

For me I've had some cracking days and even when I haven't done enough to frame I've had enough bites to keep me interested (apart from last week obviously!). Below are my pegs and weights so far (framing weights in bold),

Match 1 - 7th Oct - Peg 15 - 17lb 5oz
Match 2 - 14th Oct - Peg 28 - 8lb 14oz
Match 3 - 21st Oct - Peg 123 - 12lb 2oz
Match 4 - 28th Oct - Peg 124 - 4lb 3oz
Match 5 - 11th Nov - Peg 27 - 2lb 15oz
Match 6 - 18th Nov - Peg 28 - 5lb 6oz
Match 7 - 2nd Dec - Peg 15 - 6lb 8oz
Match 8 - 9th Dec - Peg 79 - 3oz

Well all this has wetted my appetite for tomorrow, lets hope we don't have too much more rain. Come back tomorrow to see how I get on.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

River Isle - Xmas Fayre - 9th December 2012

After several frosts, the temperature wasn't too bad this morning, I got to the pub and it was great to see a decent turnout. Steve Bishop was back for another visit, Martin had brought the Old Fossil (Malcolm Levy) for a day out and Andy Welch, Ned and Dave Gudgeon were all fishing their one annual match. Rob had spread the pegs about and put in several areas we hadn't fished yet this year, he had walked the river on Saturday and cut pegs out and as always had done an excellent job.

I really fancied pegs 28 or 126 which are probably the most consistent pegs on the river but also fancied a crack at 120 which is the weirpool at Isle Brewers and in for the first time today. There were a couple of pegs in at Redbridge but Heardy said he didn't think they would be much good today. I pulled out peg 79 at Ashford and it's a peg that I've had some cracking nets of chub from and as it was the first time it's been in this year, I really fancied it. Heardy drew 109 at Redbridge and didn't look very happy (yes I know, we've seen it all before!).

I got to the river and showed Steve Parker where his peg was, he was on 82, another really good peg which looked spot on today, Ned was on peg 80 which isn't used very often but again had loads of cover and I thought he'd catch a few. My swim had changed a bit since the last time I was there in 2006! but still had loads of cover with overhanging branches opposite at 8.5 metres and a small tree in the water downstream at 13 metres. I plumbed up and the depth was pretty similar from the inside to the far bank and downstream.

I set up two rigs, the usual 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and another similar rig that took a gram, for bait I had casters, maggots, punch and some lobbies. I poured a cup of coffee from my £20 Stanley flask and I must just say that this is the worst flask I've ever owned, the first coffee is okay but after a couple of hours it's luke warm and by the end of the match it's stone cold - utter crap! Anyway, the start time arrived and baited up and started across with single caster on the hook. With all the small fish that have been showing in the other sections, I fully expected to catch straight away. This didn't happen and the river was pushing through harder than I expected.

I tried maggot across and then downstream at 11.5 metres and then 13 metres by the bush/tree, still no bites, not even a minnow! With chub in mind, I tried half a lobbie but still no indications, out of desperation I pushed the pole in between the overhanging branches opposite and just held it there. Striking was going to be awkward but I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. After five minutes I had a definite knock, it didn't develop and when I shipped back the end was nipped off the caster which made me think a minnow was the culprit. I then tried lobbie in the same place but the float just sat there. I even tried breadpunch but then was all out of ideas.

I had also been feeding the inside regularly and dropped the rig in while I had a nearly cold cup of coffee and I couldn't even catch a minnow! Right, time for a walk to see how Ned and Steve were getting on. Ned's swim was also pretty pacy but he had managed a small trout, next up was Steve who lost a fish as I was walking down to him. I asked how he was doing and he said he'd had a roach, a dace and a chub so he was doing okay. He did say he thought he'd lost that fish because he was using a worm on a size 20 hook, I suggested an 18 with a microbarb might help and I also noticed he seemed to be fishing very deep and recommended that he shallow up a couple of foot.

What a helpful chap I am, I didn't even charge Steve for my coaching tips, he baited up with another small worm and shipped out, I said I thought he ought to try going a little further across, which he did and then got his rig caught up a tree! Still in helpful mode I said if he tried shaking the rig it might fall out of the tree, this just resulted in his elastic getting wrapped round the branch as well! Steve had to pull for a break and lost his rig, elastic and everything. I felt I'd been helpful enough and said I'd leave him to it, I think he said thanks but it sounded like something else!

Back at my peg and I still felt like I could catch a chub or two but just couldn't buy a bite anywhere. I finally started to get the odd indication on double maggot on the inside and then caught my first fish which was a gudgeon, phew! - blank avoided. I had a couple more gobies but wasn't catching them fast enough to do any good so went back to trying to catch a chub without much success. I started upping the feed to try and make something happen but it looked like this was going to be my worse day on the river in eight matches. I was fishing across at 8.5 metres with double maggot when half an hour before the end, the float buried but the strike resulted in a tiny minnow and that was it for the day - oh dear!

Ned had started packing up before the end and was straight up with the scales, my catch of mainly small fish weighed a staggering 3oz! Ned's tiny trout weighed 2oz and Steve hadn't caught anymore and weighed 1lb 3oz despite me trying my best to help him!!!! A really disappointing day and I do wonder if those chub are still in 79. Anyway back to the pub for the results and as people started filtering back it seemed the top end had fished quite poorly, Bob Hammond was the top weight from pegs 27-29 with 1lb 9oz, Steve was top in our section but then the Redbridge section came back and Heardy had weighed a fantastic 16lb 8oz of mainly roach and Dave Gudgeon had done really well to weigh 5lb 9oz of roach on the waggler. God knows what Heardy would weigh if he ever drew a decent peg!
Some cracking roach were caught at Isle Brewers and Redbridge, Steve Bishop had this one from peg 123

Isle Brewers had fished okay with everybody getting lots of bites and Rob Cox was top weight there with 8lb 6oz of roach and small chub. We then all enjoyed a lovely buffet before the prize giving. Everybody won a prize and I got a crate of Stella for finishing fourth from bottom. The club would like to thank Rob Cox and Pete Lonton for organising another great Xmas Fayre and Steve and Cindy at the Oak for the fantastic spread.

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 16lb 8oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 8lb 6oz
3 - Dave Gudgeon (Ilminster) - 5lb 9oz

Well next week it's back to the Royal Oak league so I hope this isn't the start of a bad run for me. If anybody would like some of my famous one to one coaching, feel free to contact me!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 4 - 2nd December 2012

Well the rain finally stopped, only to replaced by colder weather and several frosts, winter is well and truly here! It would interesting to see how the river fished today after it fished hard in the last match two weeks ago where only 5lb 6oz was needed to win. We had a frost in the morning but the temperature wasn't actually too bad. I'd bought some Drennan bread punches yesterday and liquidised some bread as the punch can work well on the river when it's cold and clear. On arriving at the pub for the draw it was lovely to Steve Bishop there, Steve hadn't fished the Isle for years and I was hoping he'd get a few today and we might see him again!

Rob had pegged Upper Coxes and Isle Brewers again and put some good pegs in but I was a little surprised he hadn't tried somewhere different today as there are several areas we hadn't fished yet. I quite fancied 14 or 15 and my drawing hand did the business again when I pulled 15 out of the bag, Steve drew 126 at Isle Brewers and should be on some fish as it's been a consistent peg. Justin had peg 20 and Heardy had 23 where he'd caught 19lb of dace a few matches back.

My peg still looked good and I was glad to see the branch on the inside hadn't been washed away in the floods. I set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and also a 1 gram bodied float to give me another option. I was ready with 10 minutes to go so walked up to see who was in the Tank Traps (peg 14), Tony Newman was in the peg but had decided to fish it from the concrete and it would be interesting to see how he got on, although I would have fished it from the normal place. I had a quick natter before heading back.

I was going to fish two lines today, the inside towards the branch at 8.5 metres and across at 10 metres, I put a small ball of bread on the inside and fed some maggots and casters across. I started with double red maggot on the shorter line and had a small chublet first chuck - good start! I then put bread punch on but the flow on the inside kept pushing towards the bank and although I had some indications I never had a proper bite. At this early stage I decided to stop feeding bread as the flow was all over the place on the inside. I went across with punch on the hook and had three of four chublets quite quickly before losing one as I brought it back across the flow.

I was now feeding both lines with maggot and caster, bites across on bread punch tailed off so I came back on the inside with double maggot and had another chublet quite quickly before bumping a fish and then I could only catch minnows on maggot so a change to caster was my next ploy. No more bites on the inside so back across I went with punch on the hook which resulted in a couple more chublets to put me on 8 fish (plus minnows) after the first hour. I probably had a pound and a half and if I could keep catching like this I would do 8 or 9lb and I felt that wouldn't be too far off today.

The second hour was pretty similar and saw me pinching a fish or two off each line before switching to the other and I was up to 15 fish including a small spottie but I'd had a few small chublets so was probably up to about two and a half pound, still on target for a good weight though. The third hour was nearly a carbon copy and I added another 6 fish although I did bump a fish as well. Going into the fourth hour bites on both lines started to slow up and it was noticeable that the temperature had dropped and it had started raining. Tony appeared behind me and said he'd had enough and was heading home, he'd missed a bite and was wishing he'd fished by the traps.

I was still feeding both lines and getting odd fish from each but with about an hour to go I was only up to 30 fish and was now struggling a bit. I had another chublet from the longer line but it was hard going over there now so decided to spend the last half an hour or so on the inside. I took a couple of sections off and held the float back where the flow was coming back towards me and missed a couple of bites before catching another small chublet. The light was starting to fade fast and I started catching quite well with another three chublets and a spottie to finish with a flourish. I ended with 36 fish (4 trout and the rest all chublets along with a few minnows) and thought I had 6-7lb. I'd had a really enjoyable day once again and had only lost one and bumped three fish all day. I wasn't sure it would be enough for a brown envelope though.

I packed up and as I was loading the car, Justin came back from weighing Martin in, he'd had 2lb 2oz and those dace seemed to have disappeared again, we walked up to my peg and my fish went 6lb 8oz and again I felt I needed a few more fish to frame today. We walked down to Justin's peg and he was admitting to 4lb and weighed 4lb 15oz so he wasn't too far off with his estimate. All three of us had mainly chublets and trout although Justin did have a cracking roach. Then it was a case of waiting for the others to get back from Isle Brewers. Rob and Steve arrived after ten minutes and Steve had weighed 8lb 2oz of mainly roach to win on his first visit for years - well done mate. Rob had found a couple of chub in 123 for 6lb 3oz which meant I was second and picked up £34 to keep my winnings ticking over.

1 - Steve Bishop (Chard) - 8lb 2oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 6lb 8oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 6lb 3oz

Chard invader Steve Bishop!
In the league I'm still leading with a perfect 40 point score followed by Rob on 36 and Graham Field on 33, long way to go yet though.

Given the conditions it's great to see lots of small fish still showing and like I said earlier there are still loads of good areas we haven't pegged yet. Next week is the Xmas Fayre and I think Steve is going to come and have another go, come back next Sunday to see how I get on, hopefully I can pull out another good peg!