Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Yearly Review

Here's my review of 2013

January 2013

My first match of the year was at Summerhayes and I fished bread for carp for most of the day, I did okay and weighed 27lb odd but no coin and I was left wishing I'd fished for silvers. Scotty won the match with a fantastic 101lb 8oz. My next match was on the Isle and I lost a chub first chuck and blanked. This year wasn't going to plan so far!

Then the bad weather arrived and if it wasn't snow, it was rain and the river was flooded out most weeks, so we were on the pond or canal for the next few matches. We were on the canal the following week and I thought it might be a bit early for it but Heardy won with a nice net of skimmers plus a small carp for 9lb 2oz, Bish was second with 3lb 11oz and I sneaked third place with 2lb 4oz to get the year off and running.

Martin had a nice net of skimmers plus a little carp on the canal
After a fair bit of the white stuff we were on the pond for the next match and I managed a win with 5lb 14oz of roach despite a few problems with a new hook pattern and the elastic freezing inside the pole! With the river still a no go area we were back on the pond for the next match and despite it looking good, it fished poorly but I did manage second place with 2lb 12oz just two ounces behind Justin and I lost a half decent roach at the net - doh!

Highlights - winning my first match of the year
Lowlights - the awful weather!

February 2013

Amazingly we actually managed to get back on the river as February arrived and a draw at Redbridge had me hoping for a nice days roach sport. The roach had other ideas though and my first fish was a chub, I had five more in just over an hour and that was that. They weighed 9lb 12oz and it was enough for my second win of the year.

My six chub for 9lb 12oz

The rain returned and we were back down the canal for the annual open match, Matt Pang from work turned up to fish this one and it was nice to see a new face. I drew a peg in the middle and was feeling confident as I'd framed in my last eight matches down here, it turned out to be a struggle and I finished well down with 2lb 6oz and even Matt spanked me off the next peg (by 5oz) on his first visit! Martin won again with another nice net of skimmers weighing 7lb 12oz.

We were back on the river for the next match and with the weather a few degrees warmer I really thought we'd be in for a good match, I blanked and never had a bite and the match was won with a lowly 1lb 2oz with only 2oz needed for third! Luckily my bad result didn't cost me and I won the league.

The weather was bitter for the final V.E.S. Precision match and a very low and clear river didn't bode well, I managed to pull out the most consistent peg on the river, peg 126, and it was a golden peg too! It was a struggle to get bites but two quality roach and a decent chublet got my hopes up of a bumper payday. They proved to be a false dawn though and I only managed a few more small roach towards the end of the match to weigh 2lb 3oz which was good enough for second behind Steve Parker who had two chub for 4lb 4oz. Steve went home with a full wallet as his was also a golden peg. Still, I finished second in the league and had a nice pick up, maybe next year will be my year!

Highlights - winning my second match of the year and the Royal Oak winter league
Lowlights - not winning the golden peg

March 2013

The first match of the month was Barney's Pairs Open and there was a decent turn out as always, the plan was to have a section on the canal and one at Dillington, a wicked frost over night put paid to that as the canal was frozen over so we all ended up out the pond. I drew peg 4 which I was pleased with and my partner had peg 1 which can be chub or bust. I had a steady match catching 80 fish for 5lb 4oz and finished second in my section behind Ashley Tomkins who had 8lb 8oz. Justin blew out though and lost a chub which would have seen us in the money, oh well there's always next year! Ashley and Scotty mugged us all again as they won with a total of 3 points, Martin and Malcolm were second with 6 points.

Pairs Champions Ashley Tomkins and Scott Russell
Next up was a trip to Summerhayes on Longs pond, it was still very cold for March but I had an enjoyable match catching skimmers, crucians and a little tench for 11lb 4oz and a silvers win. I was back again the following week but on Sellicks this time and managed a second in the silvers with 11lb 8oz of skimmers and had a bonus crucian carp.

My next two matches were also at Summerhayes, the first one saw us fish in bitterly cold conditions on Sellicks and it was rock hard, I only caught 2 carp and a single skimmer for 7lb 15oz which was good enough for second place and a nice little pick up of £50. My second match was the first of four matches in six days, it was on Longs and the weather was slightly milder and it fished quite well, I had a good first half of the match but struggled in the second period but my 13lb 7oz was enough to win the silvers pool.

The Good Friday match at Perry St was a tale of two ends and I drew the wrong end and had just two bites and weighed one skimmer for 1lb 2oz. Then it was time for the two day festival at Summerhayes and I really wanted to do well and nearly did! On day 1 I drew peg 17 on Sellicks and it's a good silvers peg, it was quite hard going but I managed eleven decent skimmers and a few blades for 8lb 15oz but ended third on the lake behind Adam Palmer with 9lb 15oz and Scotty with 9lb 11oz.

Highlights - a good run of results at Summerhayes
Lowlights - drawing the wrong end at Perry St!

April 2013

Day two saw me draw a really good silvers peg on Longs (peg 12) and me and Scotty on peg 11 had a right old peg to peg battle catching skimmers and I even had a couple of lovely tench. I just took the verdict weighing 23lb 9oz to his 20lb 6oz and we finished first and second in the silvers. With 10lb 7oz of carp, I was also the top weight on the day. My 20 point total saw me finish second in the silvers festival behind Martin Heard and I picked up £70 plus £20 from the superpool, a lovely day.

A double header the following weekend saw me on the silvers lake at Goodiford Mill and the big bags of silvers never really happened and I finished with 8 roach and a skimmer for 5lb 12oz and a section win by default. Bruce Hunt won with a nice net of quality skimmers and roach for over 27lb. The following day me and Janders were back on Longs at Summerhayes, I had a cracking day catching 27lb of carp and 19lb 13oz of silvers for my first win, Janders had 11lb 8oz and won the silvers so it was a happy car driving home!

My 19lb 13oz of silvers
The first match of the Spring League at Perry St saw me draw peg 3 again and I thought my good run would be over but an empty peg to my left gave me some hope, I had two early carp from my long line before catching steadily on the inside (towards the vacant swim) and ended with 13 carp, 1 tench and a perch for 43lb 15oz, third place and £40.

Match two of the Spring League saw me just up from where I was last match, on peg 5, and I had a right peg to peg battle with Picky on the next peg which saw him take the verdict by 9oz and he ended up second in the carp with me third with 42lb. After two decent results I was lying in third place in the carp league.

For my last match of the month I was back at Summerhayes and drew the dreaded Lily lake, I caught a few fish but should have done better, think I was beaten before I started.

Highlights - my first match win at Summerhayes
Lowlights - drawing Lily again!

May 2013

Round three at Perry St saw me draw a good peg but it turned out to be at the wrong end on the day, I struggled for six carp for 19lb odd and me and Janders also got knocked out in the pairs. Round four also saw me struggle and six carp again saw me dropping down the rankings.

Then me and Scotty were off to the lovely Gillhams Resort in Thailand, we did find the fishing a little tougher than previous trips but we still managed seven fish over 100lb between us, topped by arapaima of 360lb for Scotty and 240lb for me. We lost quite a few big fish as well but with the stunning scenery and great company it was still a great holiday.

45lb Amazon Redtail Catfish
Scotty with his massive 360lb Arapaima
My biggest fish of the trip at 240lb

Highlights - Thailand of course!
Lowlights - a bad run of results at Perry St

June 2013

My first match back was at Perry St and I struggled for 23lb 12oz and got eliminated from the knockout by Chilly. The following week I was at Summerhayes and really looking forward to it, I should have known better as I drew Lily again, I ended up with 33lb 11oz for nowhere but I lost enough fish to frame. The only good point was beating Brendon for yet another pound.

Round seven of the Spring League at Perry St saw me sneak a fourth place with 28lb 2oz and I picked up £30 to end my barren run and Janders brought me a nice mug back from Cornwall! Match eight saw my first silvers pick up with 5lb 9oz for fourth and another £30.

For the last match of the month I was at Summerhayes on Sellicks, I fished for silvers and struggled with my 8lb 9oz just missing out with 9lb 6oz taking second place.

Highlights - Janders buying me a nice mug!
Lowlights - the bad run continues

July 2013

I drew peg 11 in round nine of the Spring League and had 11 carp for 40lb 10oz and finished third with only 41lb 12oz winning and I lost a 2lb carp at the net - doh!

For the final match of the league I was on peg 19 and decided to fish for silvers as it had done well the previous week, I fished worm over chopped worm and managed two good skimmers, three eels and a few small blades plus a lovely 2.5lb tench for 6lb 8oz and second in the silvers. I picked up £50 which was my best pick up of the series so a nice way to finish. Kev Baker had a lovely net of skimmers to win with 15lb 8oz. Steve Bush won the carp league (plus the pairs and individual knockouts) and Mike Hosgood over hauled Les to win the silvers league.

I was then at Summerhayes for my first match on Longs in ages, I tried fishing paste and it didn't really pay off, I had 13lb odd of silvers and 14lb of carp for nowhere.

My next trip was with Andy down to Seaton after those elusive mullet but despite seeing dozens, we blanked! The following day I was back at Summerhayes and caught skimmers well for three hours but struggled for the second half of the match and had to settle for second in the silvers with 11lb 7oz behind Adie Bishop with 14lb.

Andy trying (unsuccessfully) to catch a mullet
Highlights - Picking up in three matches out of four
Lowlights - Not catching any mullet again!

August 2013

Andy and me headed back to Seaton for another crack at those mullet, they were still everywhere and still proving very elusive, we both missed a few bites before I finally connected with one and at 3lb 4oz I was over the moon with a new personal best.

My new pb mullet of 3lb 4oz
My first match of the month was at Summerhayes on Longs and the first time I'd been back since Pete lost a lot of skimmers due to oxygen problems, it fished okay for carp but the silvers weights were very low and my 1lb 15oz was third although he only paid the top two in silvers.

I was back on Sellicks for my next match and struggled again, I had 2lb 15oz of silvers and 19lb 10oz of carp for nowhere. I lost pounds to Glynn and Janders but did have one off Brendon which cheered me up no end!

Next up was a match at Dillington and it fished really well but I spent too long trying to catch on corn and ended up with 10lb 1oz for nowhere and finished up 2-1 down in side bets. Bruce Hunt won with 20lb 1oz which consisted of 435 fish! My bad run continues and I haven't picked up a bean yet during August.

Then it was time for another two-dayer at Summerhayes, I drew peg 2 on Sellicks on the first day and had a fantastic days fishing, catching 42 skimmers for 25lb 7oz and my best silvers weight at Summerhayes yet. Pete said he thinks it's the best silvers weight off Sellicks and it put me in pole position for the second day.

25lb 7oz of skimmers (my best silvers weight at Summerhayes so far)
I drew peg 17 on Longs for day two and I was pleased with my draw as peg 19 had won the silvers the day before, I had a good start catching some blades and a decent skimmer in the first hour but then struggled apart from poxy carp. Out of desperation I fished a top two for bits and had around 120 in less than two hours and my 7lb 2oz put me fourth on the lake and I thought I was out of it. With 9lb 13oz winning the lake I was left wishing I'd fished for bits for longer.

I ended up with 5 points along with several others but nicked third place with a superior weight and picked up £49 which was better than I thought. Ray Wickham won the silvers with a perfect score and Bill 'The Paste King' Hopping did the same on the carp front.

I fished the Tackleuk open at the Viaduct and although the big silverfish weights didn't materialise, I sneaked into second place with 21lb 4oz of skimmers and tench and with 80lb of carp I had only my second ton plus match weight.

Highlights - A great days silvers fishing on Sellicks
Lowlights - Not fishing for bits for longer!

September 2013

I was back at Dillington for the first match of the month and the pond fished hard but my 7lb 5oz was good enough for second place behind Moses who had a lovely 6lb bream that he caught on the whip! I included five nice skimmers and it's great to see them featuring in catches.

My next trip was down to the River Exe with Russell Hilton after my nemesis, the mullet, yet again, we saw loads of mullet but only managed a few dace, chublets and a roach between us. Russ lost two mullet but once again they got the better of me.

The following day I was back at Summerhayes and drew peg 33 on Longs, I had an enjoyable day catching 18 carp for 27lb 11oz and 7lb 4oz of skimmers, I actually finished fourth overall but picked up the silvers by default as it was worth £2 more. To put the icing on the cake I took another pound off Brendon to make it 5-1 this year.

My next match was at Dillington and I've struggled for 8lb 5oz, I had some lovely roach but just not enough of them and I lost yet another £1 to Moses. Back at Summerhayes on Longs the following week and another disaster, only 3lb 1oz of silvers and a few carp.

My final match of the month was at Summerhayes and Lily was in and of course I drew it and finished nowhere with 28lb 2oz and my bad run continues.

Highlights - A good start to the month
Lowlights - A bad end to the month and drawing Lily yet again!

October 2013

The first match of the Royal Oak league saw me have a nice days fishing in peg 23, I ended with 39 fish (roach, dace, chublets and one trout) for 7lb 13oz and a section win. I did lose a couple of chublets which would have got me third place. I also lost yet another £1 to Moses.

My 7lb 13oz was enough for a section win
The following week it was the start of the V.E.S. Precision league and I had 63 fish (mainly roach and gudgeon) for 4lb 12oz from peg 124 at Isle Brewers and a section and match win. I only picked up £30 due to a depleted turnout but still a decent day (apart from the rain).

The second match in the Royal Oak league saw me draw another flier, peg 14, and I caught quite well until heavy rain started and the river rose and coloured up at an alarming rate, I finished with 29 fish for 6lb and second place behind Rob who won with 7lb 11oz.

Awful weather and a flooded river meant we were on the canal for the final match of the month, I really thought it would fish well but it was actually a bit of a struggle, I finished with 4lb 6oz of mainly roach for second behind Graham Field who had a tench and some nice skimmers for 4lb 9oz and I lost three roach in the first hour which would have won it. Saying that, I had a bonus 6oz eel which just pipped Justin who had 4lb 3oz, so a very tight match.

Highlights - Picking up a brown envelope every week and my first win for a while
Lowlights - Missing out on my second win by 3oz!

November 2013

The first match of the month saw me back at Summerhayes on Sellicks, drawing peg 5 was a good start and I had a nice day catching 17lb 5oz of carp and 11lb 9oz of skimmers which was enough to take the silvers pool and get November off to a good start.

The river looked perfect for the next match with plenty of colour and pace, I drew one of my favourite pegs and it looked a dream and I was sure I would bag up. The fish had other ideas though and I only had two dace and three trout plus a few minnows for a lowly 1lb 10oz and last in my section. Pete Lonton won on the day with 6lb 6oz and with me missing the next match, my league could be over.

We were at Isle Brewers for round three of the Royal Oak league and I was well chuffed when I drew peg 124a, I had a nice day catching 6lb 8oz which included a chub of 2lb 14oz but suffered pike trouble all day. I finished third behind Steve Parker who had 8lb 9oz and Bruce Hunt who had a brilliant 19lb 4oz of mainly roach from peg 128.

Highlights - A silvers win at Summerhayes and a third on the river
Lowlights - Finishing last in my section

December 2013

Steve Mayo and myself flew out to the wonderful Gillhams resort in Thailand on 21st Nov, we had an amazing trip catching some amazing fish and enjoying some fantastic nights out. Steve had seven arapaima to 280lb and I had two of 110lb and 140lb. We also caught Siamese carp to 50lb, pacu, alligator gar to 25lb, Mekong catfish to 120lb, Asian redtail catfish and Amazon redtail catfish. The highlight of my trip was a stunning redtail of 80lb.

120lb Mekong catfish
140lb arapaima
110lb arapaima
Steve with one of his seven arapaima
80lb Amazon redtail
My first match back was Ilminster's Xmas Fayre, I drew 109 at Redbridge and hooked and landed three good chub for 8lb 10oz and third place. Graham Field won with a cracking net of roach weighing 15lb 3oz from peg 128.

The next match saw me draw the best peg on the river at the moment, 128, and I had a bite every chuck to finish with 177 fish (roach, dace and gudgeon) for 19lb 14oz and my first win for a while. I picked up £40 plus a £1 off Steve Parker and after five matches I still lead the league with five points.

19lb 14oz my best weight on the river this year
I was at Summerhayes for my next match and things didn't go to plan, I drew peg 7 on Longs which hasn't got much form for silvers and had the cold wind blowing straight into it. I struggled for a few bits and one small carp, snapped my number four section and packed up with 20 mins to go, oh and I lost a £1 to Glynn as well, not a good day!

After two days in the house over Xmas, stuffing myself with turkey and chocolates, I booked into the match at Summerhayes on the Friday. The weather was horrendous again and Pete decided on a 'rover' so people could get out of the wind. I choose peg 17 on Sellicks and had a foulhooked carp first chuck and after an hour started catching skimmers quite well but then two hours before the end we had hail stones and I just couldn't buy a bite. I ended up with 20 skimmers for 7lb 4oz behind Glynn who won the silvers by default with 8lb 9oz. I'd bumped three fish and missed a few bites so should have had that really. Bruce won with a brilliant 39lb 6oz of which nearly 20lb was silvers on the waggler from Lily lake.

My final match of the year was on Longs and I had an enjoyable day catching nine carp, a few bits and a 2lb perch for 20lb 14oz but no envelope for me as I finished fifth overall (Pete paid four) and third in the silvers (he paid two!). On the plus side I had my first pound off Glynn for ages.

Highlights - Gillhams was amazing again and a win on the river with a cracking days fishing
Lowlights - A bad run of results at Summerhayes and snapping my number four (again)

Last year was always going to be a tough one to beat but I still did okay, I won six matches which was down on nine last year although I had six silvers wins which was one more. My match winnings were well down on the previous year but I still topped the grand. I went to Thailand twice in a year for the first time and I'm planning to go in May next year so that's something to look forward to. Hopefully early in the year I'm going to have another crack at the pike with Russell Hilton and I will be trying my hardest to catch mullet again when the weather warms up.

Matches won - 6
Silvers wins - 6
Winnings - £1100

New venue pb match weights
Viaduct  - 101lb 4oz
Summerhayes - 25lb 7oz (silvers)

New species

New pb's
Mullet - 3lb 4oz - River Axe
Roho - 12lb - Gillhams
Pacu - 4lb - Gillhams

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Summerhayes - Open - 29th December 2013

Well this was my final match of the year and after my last two visits I wasn't feeling very confident, especially as we'd had a frost overnight, there were twenty booked in for this match on Longs including Mark 'The Hoff' Hollister who was fishing the venue for the first time. Scotty and Ash were also fishing and so was Roger and Adam Palmer who kindly brought me on some maggots - cheers mate. Glynn was keen for another side bet (I thought his money box would be full by now!) and Reece also took me up on my offer.

I pulled out peg 10 which used to be a good silvers peg and that's what I'd be fishing for today and I thought 8-10lb would be enough to win. Ash drew well with peg 30 on the road side although Scotty wasn't so impressed with his draw, peg 5. I had Hoff on my right on peg 9 and Daniel Baldwin on peg 11. I set up the usual two silvers rigs, a 14 x 11 and a 10 x 11 MW F1 Slims with 0.10 and 0.08mm bottoms to size 18 Tubertini 808's. I plumbed up two lines at 10 metres, one to the right where I would feed micros and one to the left where I would just feed a few maggots. Scotty was going all out for silvers so I would be able to gauge how well I was doing.

Peg 10 on Longs
After a quick coffee, Pete shouted the all in and we were off, I fed both of my lines before starting over the micros with a 4mm expander on the hook, after a couple of minutes the float sailed away and I hooked and landed carp number one, a decent fish around 2.5lb. Daniel also had an early carp, next chuck I missed a bite before landing carp number two ten minutes later. Then it went quiet for me although Daniel had another carp, Hoff had a decent skimmer on maggot which raised my hopes slightly. Scotty looked to be struggling and had only netted a couple of blades.

Hoff was on the next peg
I tried the lighter rig with single maggot over the left hand line and had two tiny roach but it was hard going, I tried maggot over the pellet line and had my third carp but then couldn't buy a bite. By now two hours had passed and Daniel was catching well and already had half a dozen carp. Another half an hour passed and with no more bites and Dan still catching carp and the odd skimmer tight across, I got off my box and set up a little Trabucco dibber with a 0.10mm bottom and size 18 hook.

I shipped across to the far bank at 13 metres and toss potted in a few maggots, I had a couple of small rudd before catching a better one of 5-6oz and when I had my fourth carp I thought I might do a decent weight. But then I got plagued my small rudd with most dropping off so I upped the feed a bit which seemed to help a bit and then out of the blue I had three carp in three chucks to put me on seven. I was a long way behind Dan but ahead of the other anglers I could see, Hoff was really struggling and Scotty was only getting the odd small blade.

It wasn't fast and furious but I was getting the odd carp and I got to nine with an hour and a half to go and thought if I could add three more I might sneak into the frame. My bites slowed right up and it looked like the grandstand finish wasn't going to happen. I then hooked a fish which I thought was a small carp and was very surprised when a 2lb perch popped up! There was still half an hour to go but I never hooked another fish. My final tally was nine carp plus a dozen bits and that perch.

Glynn had packed up early and came down to pay me his pound, woo-hoo, I think that's 6-4 to him now, he also said Reece hadn't weighed so another shiny nugget was coming my way. When the scales reached our side Ash was leading with 40lb 3oz and Roger was the top silvers weight with a brilliant 10lb 11oz of skimmers, there were also a couple of 30lb weights and Adam Palmer was one of those and as he had 3lb 4oz of silvers I was hoping he'd frame. Daniel then went into the lead with an excellent 50lb 11oz and then it was my turn, my silvers went 2lb 9oz and my carp 18lb 5oz to give me a 20lb 14oz total. I was lying in fourth place overall but I knew Mark Leader had done well in peg 1.

Scotty had 2lb 3oz of silvers so there was still an outside chance of a silvers pick up if Adam framed. It wasn't to be though as Mark Leader had 37lb 10oz to go into third place pushing Adam into fifth place meaning he would get second in silvers.

1 - Daniel Baldwin (Summerhayes) - 50lb 11oz
2 - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 40lb 3oz
3 - Mark Leader (Summerhayes) - 37lb 10oz
4 - Dan Pither (Summerhayes) - 34lb 10oz

1 - Roger Russell (Tackleuk) - 10lb 11oz
2 - Adam Palmer (Daiwa Gordon League) - 3lb 4oz

I ended up fifth overall (he paid four) and third in silvers (he paid two!) which about sums up my fishing at the moment. On the plus side Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 to stay in contention in the league - yes!

Well that's it for me and fishing in 2013, the year ended with a bit of a damp squib so lets hope I can get off to a good start on the river in 2014.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and please stay safe.

Look out for my yearly review coming soon.

Next up - River Isle

What's new - Lots of page updates

Check Out - My last match at Summerhayes (below) and my yearly review coming soon

Friday, December 27, 2013

Summerhayes - Open - 27th December 2013

I was back at Summerhayes for another bash but with awful weather forecast there were only seven anglers brave or stupid enough to fish today! Pete decided on a rover so people could get out of the wind and I pulled out fifth choice so my drawing hand hadn't improved since last week! I decided on peg 17 on Sellicks which was just on the edge of the wind but it's a decent silvers peg and I had nobody on my left so loads of room. Adie Bishop and Bill 'Redfin' Hopping were on my right with Heardy on the opposite bank. Glynn Wickham was all on his own on peg 13 on Longs with Ray Wickham and Bruce on Lily.

Peg 17 on Sellicks
Due to lots of faffing I only had time to set one rig up, a 0.6 gram Malman Pencil with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 Tubertini 808. On the whistle I fed a small amount of micros straight out at 10 metres and then the same plus a few dead reds at the same distance but angled to my left. My final line was at 5 metres in case the wind got too bad and I just fed a few micros here as well. I baited up with a 4mm expander and went out to 10 metres and toss potted in a pinch of micros, the float settled and then slid away and a fair amount of blue hydro came out of the pole tip. I was hoping for a decent skimmer but it turned out to be a foulhooked carp around 1.5lb.

I missed a bite on the same line ten minutes later and that was it, I tried the other lines but had no indications and it was looking like it was going to be hard. After an hour I just had the one carp and I hadn't seen Bill or Adie have much either. The wind was being a pain but I could just about fish 10 metres comfortably so I went back out and had a bite straight away and was soon netting a 3-4oz skimmer. Next chuck I had another and then had a decent one and all of a sudden they had arrived! I didn't want to hammer that swim so switched to the other 10 metre line and hooked a carp first chuck which shot off before the hook pulled!

Adie and Bill were on my right
Next up was the 5 metre line and I had another couple of small skimmers and missed a couple of bites before going back to the longer line. I was getting quite a few bites and actually enjoying myself, I was getting mainly small skimmers but every now and again I would get a better one. I kept trying the left hand long line but never had another bite off it. I had a decent hybrid off the 5 metre line and I was starting to build a decent weight. Along with the wind we were getting the odd shower but it wasn't too bad. We reached the halfway point and I'd just netted another small skimmer when Glynn wandered up, he said he had about 5lb and I thought I wasn't far off that myself. He helped himself to my coffee before wandering back just as we started to get some hail stones - lovely!

I then had my sixth decent skimmer followed by another smaller one and I really thought double figures was a possibility. The hail stopped and so did my bites! I missed two bites on the 10 metre line before catching another small skimmer to take my tally to 20 and that was it. I couldn't believe I'd gone from getting regular indications to nothing. I tried double dead maggot, going over depth, starting a new line and even put some Almond Goo on an expander but I never had another indication up to the end of the match. I thought my 20 skimmers might go 5-6lb but I was sure that wouldn't be enough today.

I packed up and caught up with Pete and the scales as they went to weigh Lily lake, Glynn had weighed 8lb 9oz of silvers and I knew I didn't have that. On Lily Bruce had 22lb of carp and a stunning 19lb odd of silvers, all on the waggler, to give him a total of 39lb 6oz. Ray Wickham came close with nearly 29lb of carp and 9lb something of silvers to give him a level 38lb and he'd lost four carp as well. Heardy had 17 carp but fell short with 31lb, Bill didn't weigh and Adie had 6lb something. My single carp weighed 1lb 10oz and when I pulled out my silvers it looked more than I thought but the needle stopped at 7lb 4oz and I was left cussing three fish I'd bumped off and several missed bites. Those last two hours had cost me although Glynn said he stopped catching after the hail as well.

1 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 39lb 6oz
2 - Ray Wickham (Summerhayes) - 38lb

1 - Glynn Wickham (Summerhayes) - 8lb 9oz

Next up - Summerhayes

What's new - Lots of page updates

Check Out - My last disaster at Summerhayes (below)

So that's two bad matches now, come back on Sunday to see if I can make it a hat trick! That will be last match of 2013 and I'd love to finish on a flourish but I seem to struggle at Summerhayes lately.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Summerhayes - Open - 22nd December 2013

I was still feeling pretty rough and the alarm going off at 6:30 didn't help much, on the plus side, the weather wasn't going to be as bad as it has been the last few days. At the draw it was nice to catch up with some of the regulars who I hadn't seen for a while and Bill 'Redfin' Hopping even had a very festive hat on for the occasion! Adam Palmer was fishing today and the Wickhams were also in attendance and Glynn was keen to have a side bet per usual.

Bill was looking very festive!
Pete had spread the pegs around to give people plenty of space and everyone wanted peg 11 or 13 as they have been consistent but of course Nigel and Glynn drew them (goodbye pound!), I pulled out peg 7 which isn't a great silvers peg and when I got there the wind was blowing straight in my kisser! I still hoped I'd get a few but was up against it already.

Peg 7 with the cold wind blowing straight into it!
I intended to fish light and fine as 7-10lb has been winning the silvers, so I set up a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 Tubertini 808 and a lighter 10 x 11 version of the same float but with 0.08mm bottom. For bait I had micros, 4mm expanders and some dead reds. On the whistle I cupped in tiny amounts of micros to my right at 10 metres and straight out in front of me, my third line was to the left at the same distance and I cupped in some micros along with a few dead maggots.

I hadn't fished here for a while but was hoping to nick a couple of fish off each line before swapping, I started on the right hand line with a 4mm expander on the hook and fed a pinch of micros through the toss pot. No bites saw me switch to the middle line and I had a couple of knocks before hooking a 2oz skimmer but then couldn't buy a bite. Ray Wickham on peg 4 was getting odd small fish but it was quite hard going at this early stage. I added a small roach on pellet and one on single dead maggot but that was it for the first hour. I could see Glynn and Nigel getting odd fish and I was fearing the worst already.

I then had a small perch on double maggot before dropping one off and then the rain started! It was freezing cold rain and my hands were numb in seconds, the wind was hitting me head on but it was also coming at me from the right as well which was making presentation a nightmare (excuses, excuses!). I switched to the lighter rig and had another small skimmer but I was going nowhere fast. I kept switching lines but the only place I caught was from the one straight out in front of me.

I got to about a dozen fish by the halfway mark for about a 1lb (not good!), I even got off my box and set up a dibber rig to fish by the reeds to my left but never had a bite on it. The wind was being quite gusty and all of a sudden it blew the pole off the roller and I grabbed it, only for the number four section to snap in half! Luckily it was the section I'd snapped before and not my new section so I telescoped it through before winding some gaffer tape around it and I was back in action (although I use the term 'action' loosely!). I really wasn't enjoying myself and at this rate I couldn't see me being there at the end.

Finally I hooked something that pulled the elastic out but it turned out to be an 8oz carp. Ray was having as much fun as me and went for a wander a couple of times. The lad on peg 1 was getting a few carp and his peg was relatively sheltered, the grapevine was also saying that Steve Kedge had caught quite a few carp. I stuck at it a bit longer but didn't add to my meagre tally before packing up with 20 mins to go. I walked down to pay Glynn my pound and didn't hang around for the weigh in which is very unusual for me.

I got the results off of Glynn (cheers mate) and the leading weights were respectable although the silvers weights were lower than I expected.

1 - Steve Kedge (Somerset Angling) - 38lb
2 - Adam Palmer (Royal Marines) - 27lb 13oz
3 - Andy (sorry didn't get his last name) - 26lb 13oz

1 - Nigel Wickham (Summerhayes) - 6lb 13oz
2 - Glynn Wickham (Summerhayes) - 6lb 3oz

Well a rather short blog today (hurray I hear you shout) but I have two more matches at Summerhayes before the end of the year so make sure you come back to see if I can improve on todays result!

Finally I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Xmas and say a big thanks for following me on my angling adventures and I hope you stick around for more of the same next year!

Next up - Summerhayes

What's new - Lots of page updates

Check Out - My last match (below) when I actually caught some fish!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 5 - 15th December 2013

I came down with a cold on Saturday and wasn't really looking forward to this match with rain forecast but as I'd missed a match due to being on holiday, I couldn't afford to miss another. I got to the pub and there was a depleted turnout but on the plus side it meant Rob could use all the better pegs at Isle Brewers. Everybody wanted 128 or 129 which have been the hot pegs and Bruce kept up his good run of drawing fliers by pulling out 129, I waited until there were two pegs left and pulled out 128 (yes!) leaving 126 for Rob. Steve pulled out 125 and was keen to have a side bet (did he know something I didn't?).

Peg 128, full of fish
I got to the river and my peg looked lovely with loads of fish topping, I was a bit pushed for time and couldn't find any rigs that were deep enough, I finally settled on a 1 gram Drennan Tipo set up to fish four metres to hand with a size 20 B611 at the business end. I poured a coffee and walked up to see Rob to check on the start time as I'd forgotten already (must be my age!) and he said it was 10:15 to 15:15. I walked back and it was time to start.

First chuck I've had a minnow and then had a small roach on caster and I was up and running, I was feeding hemp, casters and maggots to my left and getting a bite every put in although quite a few were minnows. After the first hour I had 23 fish (plus minnows), mainly roach from 1-3oz with a few small dace. Just after the first hour ended, Steve turned up and he'd admitted defeat, paid me a pound before heading off for an early bath.

The second hour was better and I wasn't getting as many minnows, I added another 31 fish including a couple of clonking roach and was looking at doing a decent weight. I was getting the odd gudgeon as well which made trying to estimate my weight difficult but I guessed the fish were averaging 2oz apiece which meant I probably had getting on for 6-7lb already. I kept expecting the swim to slow but if anything it was getting stronger and I had 40 fish in the third hour including quite a few gudgeon plus some quality dace.
I was catching quite a few gudgeon
The fourth hour was similar and I added another 39 fish although I bumped a couple of better fish and had a couple drop off as well. I'd seen a pike have a go at some small fish further down the swim but it had left me alone so far. The final hour was the best of all and I added another 44 fish including some netter roach to finish with 177 fish plus a fair few minnows. I had no clue what weight I had but thought I must have around 16lb.

I had the scales again so packed up and walked down to weigh Bruce in, he said he'd struggled but still put 14lb 4oz of quality roach, dace and chublets in the weigh sling, I hoped I had a little more but would have to wait and see. I gave Bruce a hand with his gear back to my peg and pulled my net out and was pleased when the needle settled on 19lb 14oz, my best river weight of the year so far. As we walked back to the cars we met Rob who'd also had a cracking day putting 12lb 10oz on the scales. Bob Hammond had caught 3lb 6oz in 124 but had lost a few as well and with Steve probably in the bath by now, I'd won and picked up £40.

Bruce had a lovely net of fish weighing 14lb 4oz
19lb 14oz, my best catch on the river this year
Another section win also meant I'd extended my lead over Bruce to two points but as I said earlier I can't afford a bad result after missing a match.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish/Burt Baits) - 19lb 14oz
2 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 14lb 4oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 12lb 10oz

After five matches and dropping the worst result, the league looks like this,

Jamie Rich - 5 pts
Bruce Hunt - 7 pts
Robin Cox  - 7 pts

I thought we had a river match next week but that's it until next year so my next few matches will hopefully be at Summerhayes.

Next up - Summerhayes

What's new - Interview with Dave Harrell (below)

Check Out - Don't forget to check out my trip to Thailand with some great video clips

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dave Harrell interview

After the success of my first interview, here as promised is the second one with river legend Dave Harrell, I hope you enjoy it

River Legend, Dave Harrell
Hello Dave, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions,

Against Men and Fish - It’s widely known that you are a fan of moving water but what’s your favourite style of fishing rivers?

Dave Harrell - I like all methods that catch me fish. Float fishing is my main passion but I’m not averse to catching big weights on the feeder too! 
When commercial style venues first came on the scene many years ago, I watched you at Woodlands View catching carp on meat. You won a lot of matches there so why did you stop fishing carp venues and do you ever fish stillwaters these days?

I enjoyed fishing commercials for a few years but then got bored with them. Tight pegging, same depths on every peg, fish at one end of a lake but not the other…all these things contributed. For me though, the challenge of fishing on a man made pool was never the same as it was on a natural river.

Where is your favourite venue?
I don’t have one. I love to fish different river venues throughout a season and all are favourites at some point.

And favourite species of fish?

Still on the subject of rivers can you tell us your favourite groundbait mixes for balling it in and also for fishing the feeder?
I use Bait-Tech Pro Natural for nearly all of my river fishing these days. It’s a very versatile and easy to use mix for balling in. For bream fishing I use Bait-Tech Omen mixed 50/50 with brown crumb.

Pro Natural is my favourite Bait Tech groundbait and you were heavily involved in its development, can you tell us a bit about the process? And what are you working on now?
It’s mine too! It took a long time to get Pro Natural right but we achieved it and in my opinion it’s the best silver fish mix ever. With regard to new developments, I’m sworn to secrecy!

I’m a big fan of fishing small rivers but I struggle to know how much to feed, particularly when to increase or decrease my loose feed, any tips?
My advice is to always feed to response. If you’re getting regular bites, feed more. If bites are hard to come by, feed less. It’s not rocket science. It’s all about thinking about what is happening in front of you and keeping fish feeding.

You’ve won a host of big events during your career including the John Smiths and Wychavon events as well as twice being crowned Kamasan Matchman of the year, are there any other titles you would love to win?
I would love to win the RiverFest competition and will be going all out to qualify for the final next time round. It’s a great competition and aside from the big prize money, it has brought together a lot of good anglers from all over the country. I’m delighted how it has evolved.

Your company, Dave Harrell Angling, has a fantastic range of floats for running line and the pole but do you have any plans in the pipeline for other items of tackle?
I’ve been trading just over two years with my new company now and things are going well. I’m currently working on more new float patterns and also a range of accessories.

When I started fishing aged 10 (many years ago!), there was no such thing as a commercial fishery and I had to learn my apprenticeship on natural venues. How do we get today’s youngsters back on the rivers?
I think we need initiatives from the Angling Trust and Environment Agency for this to happen, in conjunction with the angling media. Young anglers need exposing to the good things about rivers but it will need a lot of hard work and dedication as well as manpower.

Recently there seems to have been a move away from carp to some extent with a boom in silver fish festivals and some big river matches, what do you think the future of match fishing will look like?
Match fishing is very fragmented now and I think it will continue the same way. It’s about choice really. There are too many small matches in my opinion but this was always inevitable as more and more commercial fisheries were created.  

The Angling Trust Riverfest sponsored by Bait Tech was your brain child and has been a resounding success but was it just hard core river anglers who fished it or did some commercial experts fish it as well?
There was a real mixture of people in RiverFest 2013, some who hardly ever fish on rivers and some dedicated river guys. It has been a big success so far and will continue to grow in the forthcoming years. The format is spot on in my opinion.

Before we finish, here’s a few quick-fire questions,
Have you any angling heroes or anyone who has inspired you?

I have many but I’d single out Ivan Marks, Kevin Ashurst, Ken Giles, Clive Smith, Mark Downes and Dick Clegg.
What’s your biggest fish in the UK? And abroad?

25lb carp and a 300lb shark!
What’s your favourite drink?

I love good wine. Red and white.
Favourite meal?

Favourite film?

Terminator 2
TV show?

Match Of The Day
What music do you listen to?

I have a very varied list of all sorts ranging over a number of years.
And lastly, you’ve been the editor of Match Fishing magazine, been involved in tackle manufacturing, firstly with MAP and now with your own company as well as being an angling coach and let’s not forget your involvement with Bait Tech and the Angling Trust as well as writing for the Angling Times  – phew!,  what’s next for Dave Harrell?

I love my life and my involvement in angling. I’m very true to myself and these days I only get involved in things that I really want to do. I meet too many people who don’t enjoy their lives or their work which is a shame. Hopefully I’ll keep fishing and catching loads of fish for many years to come!
Thank you Dave it’s been a pleasure talking to you,

Against Men and Fish

Sunday, December 08, 2013

River Isle - Xmas Fayre - 8th December 2013

I woke up early, still suffering from jet lag but was pleased to see it was actually quite a nice day and not too cold. I got to the pub for the draw and there was a decent turn out of 14 anglers, including quite a few who always fish the Xmas Fayre like Andy Welch and Fred and it was nice to see Bob Hammond again as well. I paid my entry plus the £5 pools and awaited the draw. Rob had put in a few pegs at the top of the river with the rest at Redbridge and Isle Brewers. I stuck my hand in the hat and pulled out 109 at Redbridge, Martin Heard won this match off it last year with 16lb of roach but I drew it a few weeks later and had six chub and no roach! Bruce Hunt had drawn the much fancied 108 which won last week with 20lb and Rob Cox pulled out peg 129 which did nearly 19lb last week.

I got to the river and it looked nice but very low and clear and rather worryingly, I didn't see a single fish top while I was setting up. Rigs for today were a 1 gram bodied float for inching through over depth and a 0.75 gram Drennan Carbo for running through just off bottom, the lighter rig had a size 20 B611 to 0.08mm and the heavier rig had an 18 in the same pattern to 0.10mm. Bait was the usual casters, maggots and hemp plus some lobbies which I didn't expect to use today. I plumbed up and the deepest part was right in the middle and that was where I intended to fish.

Peg 109 at Redbridge
After a quick coffee it was time to start and I put a single red maggot on the lighter rig and ran it through the centre of the peg, feeding maggots and casters in front of me and some hemp just downstream. I had a couple of digs on the float and then it buried and the strike was met with solid resistance, this was no roach! Mindful of the light hooklength, I played the fish with kid gloves and was relieved when I netted a chub that looked to be close to 3lb, what a start! Next chuck I had a couple of knocks and then missed a good bite and it felt like there were a few fish there. I noticed there was a small knot in the hooklength so quickly changed it but when I went back out, I couldn't get a bite!

I tried the heavier rig and then tried going 14.5 metres down the peg but just couldn't get an indication of any type, not even a minnow! A bank walker said Heardy was struggling down in the weirpool (120) and Bruce only had minnows above me. I stuck at it but never had a bite for two hours, I had a coffee and a sandwich and was just contemplating going for a walk when out of the blue, the float sailed away and another chub was on, this one went potty and got under some far bank crap and I was convinced it would break my fragile hooklength. Slowly but surely I was getting the upper hand but even then it tried doing me under my keepnet but I safely netted another chub about the same size as the first. I had about 5-6lb in the net and there were still two hours to go.

I kept running the float through hoping for another and started firing some casters right down the peg to see if I could entice any fish up but I had no more indications for an hour or so. I tried different colours of maggot, double maggot and caster but nothing was showing any interest. With about three quarters of an hour to go I missed two bites in quick succession on caster so I went back to single maggot and the float buried  and chub number three was on, again it put up a good scrap but I safely landed it. I thought if I could get one more I might be in with a chance of framing but it wasn't to be and I didn't add any more fish but was quite chuffed I'd landed those three chub on such a light hooklength.

My three chub
I had the scales again so walked down to weigh in Heardy and he'd struggled for 1lb 2oz of mainly gudgeon. My three chub went 8lb 10oz before Bruce had 1lb 6oz which was all minnows! Steve Parker had a solitary roach of 7oz in peg 106 and I couldn't believe in four good roach pegs, only one had been caught! Back at the results and Graham Field had won from peg 128 with 15lb 3oz of roach and Rob Cox was second with 13lb 5oz from peg 129 and those pegs will take some beating at the moment. I sneaked into third and picked up £10 plus three bottles of plonk and all the anglers enjoyed a nice buffet laid on by Cindy and Steve at the Royal Oak.

1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 15lb 3oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 13lb 5oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish/Burt Baits) - 8lb 10oz

The club would like to thank Steve and Cindy for laying on the grub, Pete Lonton for getting all the prizes, Rob for organising the match and Max and Fred for donating prizes.

Next up - River Isle

What's new - Video clips added to Thailand trip (below)

Check Out - My trip to Thailand (below)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Gillhams Resort, Thailand - 22nd November to 6th December 2013

When me and Scotty were at the wonderful Gillhams Resort in Thailand in May, we met Steve Mayo, Richie Hull and Tony Wynnick and their friend Michael, all top match anglers and great fun to be with. It was Steve's first time and he fell in love with the place as much as I do and we kept in touch and made plans to go again. We booked up and it seemed to take forever to get here but with the weather turning colder we were soon flying off to paradise.

Not a bad view is it?
On arriving we caught up with everyone and had a few hours kip before deciding to hit the town and that set the scene for the rest of the holiday with some mad nights out followed by us fishing for half days. That first night saw us get back in a tuk tuk at 5:45 in the morning, needless to say we didn't do a lot of fishing the following day but Steve did manage to catch one of the small pacu which was around 4lb.

A typical night out
Jut with the lovely Bow
The following day (after another night out!) we managed to get on the bank relatively early and Steve carried on catching pacu on the float and ended up with ten to 5lb. I lost a couple of pacu before catching my first fish which was a small Asian redtail catfish of about 2lb. I then had a lovely Siamese carp of 50lb, before catching my first pacu of 3lb. Steve lost a big fish on the float and then as darkness crept in he lost an arapaima which took a fish hookbait.

My first fish of the trip, a small Asian redtail of around 2lb
50lb Siamese (that's more like it)
My first pacu!
Impressive gnashers for a fish!

We popped into Ao Nang for a quiet drink! that night and the next day we caught some more pacu with me upping my pb to 4lb and Steve had a beauty around 10lb which gave a good account of itself. After three consecutive nights out we had a night off to let our livers (and wallets) recover, before going into town for a massage and a look around.

We got back and fished the afternoon session and caught a few more pacu, as the light faded I had a slow run which I struck and the fish didn't put up much of a fight and I was expecting another small redtail but was very surprised when a huge alligator gar surfaced, Gollock tried netting it but it wouldn't fit in the net and as he tried to 'chip pan' it in, proceeded to bite a hole in the net. He got on the radio to try and summon assistance and I suggested using an arapaima cage, I guided the fish into the cage only for the gar to go berserk and chew a hole through that as well. With the fish through the bottom of the cage it was only a matter of time and it chewed through the braid and I was gutted. Nathan (one of the other guides turned up) and said it was a known fish of around 75lb and I would have loved to have added that one as it would have smashed my previous best caught on my first trip. Our bad luck didn't end there as Steve also lost a big fish towards the end of the night.

After another night out, the next day saw us fish a half day and I blanked although Steve did get a lovely 40lb Amazon redtail which he landed wearing a rather fetching 'condom' coat! We had a quiet night and fished a full day the next day and Steve added another pacu to his tally before I hooked a fish which I knew was a Mekong catfish and after a back breaking scrap landed a nice fish of 120lb. That night we went out for a lovely steak before hitting the bars again. We then had a nice relaxing day, walking round the town and had a beer by the beach before getting back to resort and Geoff invited me and Steve out for another steak meal with all the guides, it was supposed to be a quiet night but ended up as a bit of a mad one!
Steve playing a redtail

The infamous 'condom' coat

Me and Geoff with my 120lb Mekong catfish

We were in the famous 'grass swim' the next day and I was suffering a little bit but we had an amazing day, as I got to the swim at about 7:15, Steve was playing an arapaima (and he had already lost one as well!), the fish was caged and was a lovely fish around 130lb. We took it in turns when the rods went off and I lost the next arapaima before Steve had a beauty of 210lb, I lost the next one as well! and Steve had another 'arry of 120lb and I started to think I wasn't going to get one. The next run saw me hook an angry fish but I managed to get this one in at 140lb. I went for breakfast and on my return Steve had landed a beast of 280lb and said the rods were now mine.

Gollock, me and Chris with 140lb 'arry

The next run saw me land a roho of 12lb which was a new pb for me and then at 6:30 I've hooked another 'arry and landed a beautiful fish of 110lb. There was still an hours fishing left and we could probably have caught more but with over 1000lb of fish between us, we'd had a fantastic day. The next couple of days were a bit quieter and Steve added another redtail of 40lb and an alligator gar of 25lb which didn't fancy having it's photo taken!

12lb roho, a new pb
110lb arapaima to finish the day off
Our next day's fishing saw us back in the grass swim and it was another crazy day, Steve had three arapaima of 100lb, 150lb and a really angry 270lb fish which just wouldn't give in. For good measure he added another pacu and a redtail of 45lb. I didn't manage any more 'arrys but got my first Amazon redtail of the trip at 27lb followed by an absolutely stunning fish of 80lb which as you will see below, I just couldn't lift properly for the photos. I had another of 32lb and we decided to call it a day at 17:00 with three hours fishing left.

27lb Amazon redtail

80lb redtail, the highlight of my trip
 Our last two days we just spent relaxing after more nights out although Steve did have a bit of a fish on the lure lake and managed a couple more pacu. On the last day we went to the beach to watch all the girls from Amy's compete in the beach Olympics which was very funny and I even got roped into a tug of war match which my team lost. We then sat by the beach watching the sun going down eating fresh pineapple before going to a little Thai barbeque restaurant and then had a final beer before heading back to pack our bags, a fantastic end to another amazing holiday in Thailand.

Beach Olympics
Nathan and Chris enjoying a beer while watching the action
Me (third from left) and the losing team
Thai barbeque
Me and Bell
I can't go without saying a massive thank you to Stuart and Benz, Sean and Noi and Becks for making us so welcome and the guides Geoff, Jut, Joel, Chris, Gollock, Nathan and Dec for being such a great laugh and I can't wait to see you guys again soon and a big thank you to Steve for making it a trip to remember.

Steve with one of his seven arapaima
Steve took quite a few photos and some video clips as well so as soon as he lets me have them, I'll add them to this post.

Next up - Xmas Fayre on the Isle tomorrow

What's new - Dave Harrell interview coming soon

Check Out - My last match below