Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Summerhayes - Open - 31st December 2014

With the year drawing to a close I booked into the mid week open on Longs, this was to be the last chance saloon for an envelope as I hadn't managed one this month yet. I wasn't confident though because as regular readers know, I like to fish for silvers and only 2lb 12oz was enough to win in last Sunday's match. I'd also been receiving some texts from the Torquay Tart saying that I'd been running long enough and he was going to hunt me down today. This was bad news as I had hoped he'd packed in fishing and opened a chip shop with the amount of times he's been battered!

I arrived in good time and there were already quite a few cars there, one of the first people I saw was Brendon and he'd brought along his mate Howard who was a really nice chap so God knows what he was doing hanging around with the Tart! We decided to all put a pound in the pot and the best silvers weight would take the £3. The next thing I noticed was that the pond was iced up and Pete had the aerator running in a bid to get rid of it, Captain Adie also took to the boat to break it up. All the signs were there that this was going to be a very tough match.

I paid my pools and had a very welcome cup of coffee while having a chat to Roger Russell and some of the other anglers including Glynn Wickham who confirmed we'd have our usual silvers side bet. More and more anglers turned up and Pete actually had 21 booked in which is a great turnout considering it's a mid week match and on New Year's Eve as well. Pete took the decision to actually split the field into two matches using Longs and Sellicks and paying out the top three on each lake plus the top two silvers which meant you had almost a one in two chance of winning some money.

Pete announced the draw and said we'd fish from 10:15 to 15:30, I quite fancied being on Sellicks as I felt there was the chance of a few decent skimmers, the Tart pulled out peg 11 on Longs and it's a really good peg for silvers and carp, by the time I stuck my hand in the bucket there weren't many balls left, I opened my hand to reveal peg 34 on Longs, a really consistent peg in a great area, Bill Hopping had won last weeks match with 49lb from peg 35. I knew it had to be a good area as Heardy had drawn peg 36 and wanted a pound on it. Clive Cunningham was on peg 32 and would be fishing for silvers and also wanted a side bet on silvers and this could be an expensive day!

I got my gear to the peg and put my nets in before trying to clear some of the ice with my landing net, I didn't spend too much time doing it though as the forecast was that it was going to warm up later, which would hopefully get rid of it. As I was setting up, Scotty Russell turned up late as he'd overslept, he was down on peg 28 with Brendon's travelling partner Howard on peg 30 and Glynn was down on peg 23. I ended up rushing around a bit and knew I wouldn't be ready in time, I mixed up some Bait Tech Pro Nat Dark with some Thatchers Dark and set up a MW F1 Slim 10 x 11 with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 808 to fish at 11 metres. I intended to fish two lines at this distance, one with maggot or pinkie over groundbait and the other with expanders over micros.
Peg 34, you can see the ice and also the clump of reeds at 13 metres and the bays on either side
My other rig was a little Trabucco float with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 808 to dob punched bread along the far bank. Pete shouted the all in and I wasn't quite ready but I didn't think I was going to miss a lot in the early stages with all the ice about. I cupped in a walnut size ball of groundbait containing no feed at 11 metres angled to my left and a pinch of micros at the same distance to the right. I won't mention either of these lines again as I never went over them all match! I baited up with a 4mm piece of bread punch and shipped out to the clump of reeds straight out in front of me at 13 metres. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to avoid the ice and Martin was having the same problem, I did have a few indications but any thoughts of carp disappeared when my first fish was a tiny half an ounce roach.

I tried double maggot but never had a sniff on it, I tried the inside towards the empty pallet between me and Martin and he had the same idea but neither of us had a bite here. The wind then started blowing the floating ice up the lake so at least I could fish across and I kept trying different areas and after about an hour I've had a bite at 13 metres in the bay to my right and safely netted my first carp which was about 3lb and at this early stage I hadn't seen anyone else catch a carp. Martin had lost one which left his rig in a bit of a mess so there were a few fish prepared to have a go. It had gotten noticeably warmer and the ice had now all but gone and then Martin landed a small carp. With no more bites I added another section and pushed the rig across to the reeds at 14.5 metres in the bay to my right. I was lifting and dropping the rig when the float buried and I was soon netting a small carp around the pound mark, my third one followed shortly after, this one even smaller at about 12oz but I was happy to be putting fish in the net.

Bruce Hunt wandered around from peg 7 and I heard him say to Heardy that he'd had six carp in an hour and a half but now couldn't buy a bite. He wandered down to see how Scotty was doing and I added my fourth carp, on his return he reported that Scott had five carp. I was getting regular bites and added another four carp quite quickly to put me on eight and we still had three hours to go. Martin Addicot arrived for a walk round and sat with me as I landed my last two fish and it felt like there were quite a few fish there but then typically I could only catch tiny roach. I'd seen the Tart land a couple and Heardy had two or three more and there wasn't much between us. I kept trying different areas along the far bank but all I could catch was the odd tiny roach and Martin was clawing back my early lead although he'd lost a few as well. I also managed to hook someone's lost rig by the clump in front of me and lost my hooklength.

James Cooper arrived for a look round and was only wearing shorts!, he popped down to see Scott and said he was on six carp so I was still two fish ahead but I needed to find those carp again. My ninth carp came from the far bank at 14.5 metres to the left but it was another pup of 10oz or so and the only carp I caught from there. Heardy had another couple of fish and I reckoned we were now neck and neck. Those tiny roach were being a real pain and I probably had a dozen or so with around the same number flying off on the strike! In amongst the roach I would get the odd carp from the right hand bay and managed another four to put me on 13 and I felt I'd edged ahead of Heardy again but there was still half an hour to go.

The last thirty minutes was a bit of an anti-climax and I only added a few more plippy roach, luckily Heardy didn't add any more either and he reckoned I'd won it easily, I wasn't so sure. As I packed up, Pete had already started the weigh in as he hadn't fished today, Alan Jenkins in peg 1 didn't trouble the scales and Bruce had eight carp and a crucian for 15lb 6oz from peg 7. I finished loading the car and caught up with the scales as they reached Scott, he'd ended up with eight carp for 15lb 15oz and I hoped I had that. Howard didn't weigh and then Clive Cunningham had worked really hard to weigh in 1lb 10oz of tiny roach to go into the silvers lead and take a pound off me.

Then it was my turn and my 13 carp went 30lb 13oz which was more than I thought and as I pulled my silvers net out I asked what the Tart had weighed and Martin Addicot on weighboard duty said 3oz, I plonked my silvers haul in the weigh sling and was overjoyed when the digital readout displayed 6oz which meant I'd won the £3 side pot and doubled the Tarts silvers weight, let that be a lesson to you! That left Heardy who had 19lb 15oz which meant I'd won the lake and recorded only my fourth ever win at Summerhayes. I did lose yet another pound to Glynn but a rare nugget off of Heardy made up for it and I finished 3-2 up on the day.

Back at the results we all had a welcome hot drink and I picked up £49 for winning the lake and as Mark Leahy had the top weight on Sellicks with 16lb 5oz I was actually the top weight on the day as well. What a perfect end to the year, I felt I'd fished a tidy match as I hadn't lost a carp all day and to spank the Torquay Tarts ass yet again was the icing on the cake. A few people commented about me turning to the 'Darkside' but as much as I enjoyed today I can't see me doing it too often as I'd much rather catch a nice net of skimmers.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish/Burt Baits) - 31lb 3oz
2 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 19lb 15oz
3 - Scott Russell (Tackleuk) - 15lb 15oz

1 - Clive Cunningham (Summerhayes) - 1lb 10oz
2 - Glynn Wickham (Summerhayes) - 1lb 8oz

1 - Mark Leahy (Street) - 16lb 5oz
2 - Craig S (Summerhayes) - 9lb
3 - John H (Summerhayes) - 8lb 11oz

1 - Adie Bishop (Summerhayes) - 4lb
2 - Jamie C (Summerhayes) - 1lb 13oz

Next up - River Isle

What's new - Loads of page updates

Check Out - My review of 2014 coming very soon

Well with midnight approaching I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a...

Happy New Year 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Summerhayes - Open - 21st December 2014

Ilminster didn't have a match on this weekend so I booked into Summerhayes for my first match there since September. The weather is still incredibly mild for December although we have had the odd frost over the last couple of weeks. The match was supposed to be on Longs but Pete switched it to Sellicks as Longs was hard going on Wednesday with just 6lb odd winning the silvers. There were twelve anglers fishing but the Wickhams weren't in attendance so at least I couldn't lose a pound to Glynn today!

After a coffee, it was time to draw and I pulled out peg 17 which can be alright for skimmers, Pete had put in every other peg so we all had plenty of room with the exception of Jess Jordan and Alan Jenkins who were next to each other on pegs 14 and 15. For bait I had some micros I'd soaked last night, Bait Tech 4mm expanders plus some bread for punching. I also mixed up a little Pro Nat and Thatchers Dark 50:50 but if I'm honest I don't use groundbait here much so haven't got a lot of confidence in it. I set up two rigs, a 0.4 gram Malman Pencil with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 Tubertini 808 and a little Trabucco dibber for the punch with the same hook and hooklength.
Peg 17 looking down towards peg 23
On the whistle I cupped in a pinch of micros on two lines at ten metres and the same on two shorter lines at five metres, I also cupped in a ball of groundbait on another line at five metres to give me a different option. While these lines settled, I started dobbing with 4mm punched bread on the inside lines at about five metres to the left and right where I had some reeds. I was getting the odd indication and missed a couple of bites but after an hour I hadn't caught and judging by the lack of action around me, it was going to be hard. In fact the only anglers I'd seen catch were Jess and Alan who'd caught a couple of small rudd and roach from the lily pads between the two pegs.

I went out and tried the longer lines with an expander but no bites here either and I tried the three shorter lines with the same result. With nearly an hour and three quarters gone and nothing in the net I was back on the bread down the right hand margin when the float sailed away and I connected with a carp. The fish hardly fought at all and I netted a 3lb fish to get off the mark, I then missed another bite before catching a small rudd. At this stage I hadn't seen anybody on our side catch a carp so was fairly pleased with the way things were going.

No more fish from either inside line so I went back out to ten metres but with punch on the hook, I was feeding a tiny amount of micros via the toss pot and lifting and dropping the rig and started getting the odd indication but just couldn't hit them and I assumed it was small fish. Alan was still getting small fish and then added a carp and I could see Roger Russell in peg 12 netting the odd silver fish and I wasn't sure what to do next. Most of my bites were coming just after the rig settled and I finally hit what I thought was a small carp, as quite a bit of blue hydro came out of the pole, but it actually turned out to be a 1.5lb crucian hooked under the chin - bonus!

I kept trying the left hand ten metre line and the three five metre lines but never had a bite from any off them but it was important to rest my main line as I found I'd get a couple of bites before having to rest it for ten minutes. My next fish was a decent skimmer and all of a sudden I was doing okay again, I rested the main swim again and when I went back again I had another good skimmer nearly straight away and was starting to enjoy myself. Next chuck I've hooked a decent skimmer on the drop but this one came off and I just knew that fish would cost me one way or another.

Alan was now getting a few carp amongst the roach and rudd but had lost a few in the lilies as well and was looking good for a frame place. I felt my best chance was if I could get a few more skimmers and I missed a couple more bites before catching a small roach and it was time to rest that swim again. I tried the other four lines and even had another brief go at dobbing down the edges but the only place I could get bites was on the right hand ten metre line and that had slowed up since I lost that skimmer. I tried fishing off the feed but this didn't seem to be the answer and time was running out.

With about an hour to go, the two anglers on pegs 19 and 21 packed up leaving just Colin W in peg 23 on our side. Roger was still catching small fish and I knew I needed a couple more skimmers to beat him and Alan was still catching the odd carp and had to be one of the front runners. I was still getting the odd bite but just couldn't hit them and just before the all out I missed a good indication on punch and the number of bites I'd missed today had been frustrating. I packed up and took my box back to the car before catching up with the scales.

A quick glance at the board revealed it had fished hard with Adie Bishop leading from peg 4 with 19lb 5oz which also included 5lb of silvers and as it was also the golden peg he was in line for a bumper payday. Pegs 6 and 8 didn't bother weighing and then Craig S in peg 10 went into the lead with 21lb 7oz of carp although Adie would still get half the golden peg fund if he won the silvers. Roger was next and he'd worked hard to weigh 4lb 6oz of small roach and skimmers and I now needed Adie to frame if I was to pick up an envelope today.

Jess had 16lb 5oz and then Alan fell just short with 21lb 6oz and would have to settle for second place pushing Adie into third which meant he'd win the silvers as it was worth more. My single carp weighed 3lb 3oz and my silvers went 3lb 6oz and I'd have been a lot closer with that lost skimmer and I'd missed too many bites today. Colin in peg 23 only had one fish but it was a lovely crucian of 2lb 11oz and we then headed to the hut for coffee, crisps and the results.

1 - Craig S (Summerhayes) - 21lb 7oz
2 - Alan Jenkins (Summerhayes) - 21lb 6oz
3 - Jess Jordan (Summerhayes) - 16lb 5oz

1 - Adie Bishop (Summerhayes) - 5lb
2 - Roger Russell (Tackleuk) - 4lb 6oz

Next up - I'm going to try and fit in another visit to Summerhayes before the New Year

What's new - Loads of page updates

Check Out - My River Monsters Fish On! app review (below)

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Xmas,Tight Lines and thanks for reading, if you like the blog or have any feedback good or bad, please let me know or send me some photos of your latest catch and I'll put them on the news page and on Facebook.

Monday, December 15, 2014

River Monsters Fish On! App Review

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Icon Films to see if I'd review a fishing app they were developing. I knew they were the company that produced the popular River Monsters show and for a moment (just a moment mind!) I got all excited thinking perhaps they wanted me to be the next Jeremy Wade! Any hope of my dream job, travelling the world and getting paid to fish soon faded when I spoke to their Marketing Manager who confirmed that they did indeed want me to review an app. Still I was rather flattered to be asked, now I'm not that naïve to not realise it's quite a clever marketing technique to get free advertising but it's great that some bigger companies now know who I am and it certainly can't do the blog any harm.

They sent through the press release yesterday and below are the main points from it,

'River Monsters and Go-Fish partner-up to create angling app 'River Monsters Fish On!' launching on iOS 19th December 2014'
'River Monsters Fish On! is the essential tool for anglers and River Monsters fans of all ages, combining a simple, easy to use digital logbook, with exclusive River Monsters content and knowledge'
I hadn't actually come across the Go-Fish app before but then as I've said in previous reviews I'm fairly new to this app malarkey. Reading through the rest of the press release, the Go-Fish app was originally launched in 2010 and to date has over 320K downloads with over 70,000 logged catches, pretty impressive figures I'm sure you'll agree. The promotional blurb goes on to say,

'The partnership with River Monsters brings a re-brand and exclusive River Monsters content to the app including a Top 10 profile, allowing users to view the most extreme catches from the extreme angling show and to compare them against their own. A 2nd phase launch, coming in 2015, will see the release of the Android app as well as offering all users the opportunity to purchase access to additional River Monsters content and app features.'
I was also asked if I would like to trial the app before the release date on the 19th December and of course I said yes and felt quite privileged to have the opportunity to be involved. I downloaded it, registered and set about having a play, my first impressions were that it looked great (see screenshot below) and that at a very basic level it's just an electronic anglers diary/logbook. The majority of anglers (including me) keep a record of their fishing trips and catches and this app enables you to do this and upload photos and details of where and when you were fishing.
As you can see from the screenshot, the first menu choice is 'New Catch' which is pretty self explanatory and here you upload a photo of your catch and then enter the species, weight (you can choose pounds or kilos) and the bait you used to catch it. You can also enter tactics, peg or beat and venue.
The next option is 'Search' which does exactly what is says on the tin, I tried a few random searches using different fish species and even countries and it seemed to work well. I did notice that anglers in Germany had obviously entered fish species in German, for example 'spiegelkarpfen' which is mirror carp so I'm not sure if you searched for carp, whether the results would include carp in other languages!
The third menu option is 'My Diary' and in here are the catches you've uploaded. Then you come to 'Big Match' which is like a hit parade of the users and their catches for that month using the average weight of your catches per trip. With my averages I certainly won't be in the 'Top Twenty' anytime soon! The last option is 'Settings' where you can find your profile, choose whether you want to show weights in imperial or metric, set a search range, choose to show fisheries and you can add fisheries here as well.
There is also a help section in 'Settings' with some FAQ's and at the end there is some info on logging catches which I found quite interesting. Basically if you log a catch while you are fishing, the app uses the photos internal data for 'geo location' and 'date taken' and any catches logged this way will be entered into the 'Big Match'. What did surprise me though was the next section on 'Logging catches at other times...' which explains that any catches showing a location far from water (for example, your house) will be marked as personal and removed from the public list. The entry will not be deleted but will only be shown in the 'My Diary' section of your app.
Now I struggled with this a little bit, I don't take my phone fishing with me for a couple of reasons, firstly phones and water don't mix and secondly when I'm fishing I don't want my phone going off all the time (not that I'm that popular anyway!) so the majority of my catches wouldn't be logged until I got to the car or at home and then not make it into the public domain as they weren't logged near water. It does say that if you submit a previously taken picture and add a genuine location the go-fish team may decide to show your catch in the public list.
They also say that a catch might not be in the public list if the location pin does not appear to be near water, if the weight given is wildly exaggerated or if the date and time of the catch don't match the conditions in the picture. I quite like that catches are vetted because some of the claimed weights of fish you seen in the angling weeklies are quite frankly, laughable!
It's a great looking app and nice and easy to use and I'm sure it will do well when it's released, given the popularity of the tv show. I'm also guessing there may be a few changes to the app yet as it's still in the final stages of testing. As much as I like the idea of this 'geo location' and using the photos internal data, I can't help but feel that a lot of anglers will want to enter their catches in the comfort of their homes, which of course you can do but I do get the feeling that it's frowned upon somewhat!
I will, of course, keep this review updated as I play around with it more and features are improved or added.

More River Monsters news

Icon Films also sent me the press release for the new series of River Monsters which starts on Jan 6th 2015 on ITV at 7:30pm.

'Extreme angler Jeremy Wade returns to the Amazon as he takes viewers on an all new spine-tingling adventure in the sixth series of the ITV hit River Monsters. The journey lands him deep into South America in search of the alleged killers lurking in the water, With locations so remote, and mysteries so bizarre, he must dedicate an entire year to his latest quest.'

*Icon gave me access to this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

You've Never Had It So Good!

Anglers these days don’t realise how lucky they are where groundbait is concerned, when I started fishing some thirty five years there wasn’t the fantastic array of colourful bags that greets the angler today. In my local tackle shop you had the choice of brown crumb or white crumb which was sold in brown paper bags. The white crumb was stickier when water was added so people tended to add it to the brown when they needed a firmer mix for deeper venues or moving water. So back then, blending the two in varying quantities was about as sophisticated as it got!

‘Continental’ groundbaits (as we used to call them) where expensive and a relative rarity and I think if people were honest the majority thought they were a bit of a gimmick. The bait invasion from the continent started as a trickle but all too soon the floodgates opened as the tackle shop shelves started to fill up with bags and bags of wonderful smelling and colourful groundbaits with exotic and mysterious names like Supercup, Secret, Roubaisien and Magic. The two main players were Sensas and Van Den Eynde and the bewildering number of products in their respective ranges showed us just how far behind our counterparts across the channel we were.
As a schoolboy my meagre pocket money wouldn’t stretch to buying these new wonderbaits but around the same time I recall seeing an article explaining how you could make your own additive packed groundbait using readily available products. It went on to explain the various additives that could be bought from pet shops and garden centres or even pillaged from your kitchen cupboards and even offered some recipes for different venues or species. There were the more obvious ones like breadcrumb, maize, crushed hemp, bran and sausage rusk but also listed were ingredients like dried blood (good for tench and eels), peanut powder, coconut (not whole ones obviously) and loads of different herbs like coriander and fennel which apparently roach love.
The various recipes listed the ingredients and also suggested the percentages of each that should be used in the mix and if I’m honest I quite enjoyed creating these weird and wonderful concoctions depending on where my next club match was being held even though it was very time consuming. As you would expect I had varying degrees of success with my match results but I seem to remember that the dried blood (which had a really pungent smell) worked pretty well for eels and the occasional tench.

As a super keen young angler I was reading every fishing magazine available which filled my mind with new ideas, tactics and baits to try. It was an article on pre-baiting that led to my first foray into shop bought groundbait, my local shop had a few bags going cheap, I can’t remember the name of it or who made it but I do remember it mixed up like stodge (or maybe that was me!). For a whole week, as soon as I got home from school, I mixed some up and went to my local pond (which was within walking distance) and after making sure nobody was watching I pre-baited my chosen swim.

This was during the winter so you can probably guess what comes next, Saturday finally arrived and I was up at the crack of dawn ready to plunder the vast shoals of carp and tench that were attracted by my week long pre-baiting campaign. I arrived at the venue and it was frozen over!, I tried breaking the ice but needless to say I walked home with my tail between my legs. Talking of groundbaiting disasters, I’m sure we’ve all cupped or balled in several balls of feed only to see them all float, not so bad on a stillwater but on a river they finally sink in your downstream neighbours peg!
My top tip is to always mix your groundbait as soon as you get to your peg, by the time you have set all your kit up, your mix will usually be ready to have some more water added. My second tip is to make sure you always carry a riddle with you, no matter how well you might think you’ve mixed your groundbait, riddle it and you’ll be amazed at the size of some of the lumps left on the riddle. Just push them through and you will be left with a lovely tray of feed, ready to be formed into balls. Lastly, always make sure you use a top quality product and that’s where Bait Tech comes in.

As the relative new boys on the block, I’ve been impressed with many of their products, especially their expanders and pellets along with their hemp, tinned corn and great range of meat. Many of their groundbaits are designed for commercials and again they are top notch but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so excited about a new product as I was when Bait Tech released Pro Natural. Designed for silvers on natural venues, it was exactly what I’d been waiting for and when I first got my hands on a bag, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, smelt great, mixes up beautifully and will hold lots of particles if you so require. I fish a lovely natural roach venue and have had some gorgeous nets of quality roach by cupping in a couple of balls of ‘Pro Nat’ before loose feeding hemp and casters over the top.

Hot on the heels of that success, came Pro Natural Dark which is just spot on for clear venues and it’s not just Pro Nat dyed black, it actually has dark ingredients and I’ve been using it a lot when I can get hold of it, but that in its self is proving difficult as it’s flying off the shelves faster than Bait Tech can make it. Not resting on their laurels, they have now released Pro Natural Bream and it’s supposed to have a lovely smell but I can’t verify that as I haven’t managed to get hold of a bag yet!

Bait Tech have come up trumps with the Pro Nat range and how I wish it had been available all those years ago, I honestly believe these three groundbaits will cater for 95% of my fishing now as I just can’t see me using anything else. I also think there’s scope for more in the range, Pro Nat Red or Yellow perhaps? And how about a Pro Nat White, designed especially for punch fishing for roach? all would be great additions to the range.

Packaged in 1.5kg bags and costing around £3.99 per bag it represents great value too, a bag normally lasts me two sessions.

Monday, December 08, 2014

River Isle - Xmas Fayre - 7th December 2014

I find it hard to believe it's nearly Xmas again, where does the time go? After not fishing last week I was really looking forward to the Xmas Fayre match but with hardly any rain all week the river was going to be low and clear and after a few hard frosts it was likely to be hard going for some. I got to the pub and as per usual it was nice to see some club members who always turn up for the Xmas match like Ned, Andy Welch and Fred. After a quick coffee and catch up with Baz and Hurf, it was time to draw, I had the last peg in the hat but didn't look to see what it was. I made my way over to the section boards and nobody was admitting to 128 or 129 and either of those would do me, I opened my hand and the peg staring back at me was 115, I hadn't even realised Redbridge was in the mix today! A quick check of the section board showed I had the scales as well - great!

I wasn't sure where my peg was so asked Rob if it was the gas pipe and he said yes which cheered me up a bit as it can be a decent peg and one I've never fished in a match. Hurf confirmed he wanted a side bet before he headed off to peg 125 at Isle Brewers, Baz had drawn peg 17 again and although he'd won off it a few weeks back, he wasn't feeling confident. I drove to the river and as I unloaded my kit I could see Tony Newman setting up in 109 which can be brilliant but hasn't done much so far this year. I walked on down with my box and as I got to the gas pipe I could see it was peg 112 - bugger! Maybe then I would be on the peg I framed off in last years Xmas match, nope, that was 114, I carried on walking and peg 115 was just above the fence where Jake was in the first V.E.S. match, he'd only had a couple of pounds but did lose two decent fish.

Feeling pretty deflated I walked back to get the rest of my kit, I could see Andy Welch below me on 117 which was just above where I'd struggled in the first league match for 7oz and with the river being so low and clear I thought we might be in for more of the same today. I set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 B611 to fish down the middle and a 0.75 gram bodied float to fish tight to the far bank cover, this rig had a 0.12mm hooklength and the same hook pattern as the first rig. The lighter rig had blue hydro and the heavier one had green Preston elastic.

As the start time arrived I gave Andy the thumbs up and before starting on the lighter rig with double red maggot on the hook, I was feeding maggots, casters and hemp down the middle and just hemp and casters across. I was hoping to get a minnow to avoid the blank but after 15 minutes I hadn't had an indication and Andy said the same which made me think it was going to be hard. I reached for the heavier rig and baited up with a single caster before shipping across to the far bank cover. After a couple of minutes I had a slow, deliberate bite that just screamed chub and I bloody missed it! Still at least there was a fish in the swim, next chuck and another bite quite quickly, this time a gentle strike saw a fair bit of green elastic come out of the pole tip but as I went to ship the pole back it came off!

I was hoping that wasn't going to be the end of the action and next chuck the float slid away again, this time the fish was on and as I shipped back it was obviously a good chub, thankfully I netted it without too much fuss and at over 3lb, I was off to a great start. I thought that might kill the swim for a bit but I shipped out and the float went under again and when I netted a 10oz chublet I really felt I was going to be in for a good day. I went back out and was all ready for the next bite but it didn't come! I wasn't too worried as there were still four of the five hours left and if I could catch a three or four more I wouldn't be too far off.

After another hour I hadn't had another touch, Andy wandered up to the fence and asked how I was doing, he said he'd only had one bite, losing a big fish on the waggler, he let me have a couple of lobworms to try which was very nice of him. I tried half a worm and then double caster and double maggot but just couldn't buy a bite. We also had a couple of rain showers and it got cold with a very keen, gusty wind, which wasn't helping presentation much. I had another couple of goes down the middle but never had a single bite there, I spent most of the match fishing tight across as I was sure those fish would be under the cover with it being so clear but I never had another touch.

As I was just finishing packing up, Ned turned up from the weirpool where he said he'd struggled, we walked down and he had a couple of dace and trout for 1lb 3oz, Andy had blanked and then it was my turn, out of interest I weighed the bigger chub and the needle stopped at 3lb 6oz and the smaller one gave me a level 4lb. We got to Tony and he'd had an interesting day, first chuck on the pole with worm on the hook he'd hooked a big fish which snapped his number four section and he'd just managed to grab his number three before it was pulled in, he reckons pike but I think it might have been a big chub. He spent the rest of the match on the tip and had four chub and a small roach for 11lb 13oz, the biggest chub went 3lb 7oz which is a new pb for him. He said he also lost two chub as well. It was a nice net of fish and we all agreed he would probably frame.

We got back to the pub and Cindy and Steve had laid on some lovely grub which we all tucked into while we talked about how our days had gone. The river had fished hard and Tony had won comfortably, Rob was second from peg 128 with 6lb 12oz and Neil Dring was third with 5lb 7oz from peg 129 and I finished fourth and one out of the money which is about right at the moment. But saying that I had my chance today and if I hadn't lost that fish I would have pushed Rob's weight. On the plus side I did have a pound off of Hurf to make it 3-2 to finish the year ahead. Then it was time for the prize giving and I picked two nice bottles of wine and a selection of cheese and biscuits.
Xmas Fayre Champion Tony Newman collecting his prize
The club would like to thank Rob for organising another great Xmas Fayre and getting the great prizes for everyone and Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak for looking after us so well.

It was a bit of a shame it had fished hard for the majority and the top end had been awful, I do think we need to leave the top end alone unless there's some extra water on the river, it might also be worth giving the lower end a rest for a couple of weeks as it does get a bit of a hammering, there are several other areas that have got to be worth trying and I bet they would throw up some surprises.

1 - Tony Newman (Ilminster) - 11lb 13oz
2 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 6lb 12oz
3 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 5lb 7oz

Next up - Summerhayes

What's new - Loads of page updates

Check Out - My latest Fishery Focus (below)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Fishery Focus - River Isle

I haven't done a fishery focus for a while and a few people have suggested I do one on the River Isle so I thought I'll cover the Ilminster AA stretches from Coxes down to Hambridge as these are the areas I know pretty well. I'll try and point you in the direction of some of the better swims along with letting you know where to park and which methods and baits to use.

The club holds matches on the Isle from October through to March but due to the delights of the British weather we end up fishing quite a few on Dillington if the river's in flood. Matches are usually won with 10-20lb although this obviously depends on conditions and weights can be a lot lower or higher (Graham Field holds the current match record with over 43lb). Roach, chub and dace make up the bulk of catches although gudgeon, perch, minnows also feature and the odd bream or eel can show up as well. Brown trout are caught throughout the river although they are more common in the upper reaches and we count them in our matches, there are some good pike to be caught as well although these don't count.

Club licences can be purchased from Mark Nicholas at Ilminster Warehouse, Ditton Street, Ilminster, Somerset and the fees are as follows

Adult Licence - £25
Juniors - £10
Concessions - £15

Ilminster AA website -

Upper Coxes

I'll start at the top end and access to Upper Coxes is via a track off the main road, if coming from Ilminster it's the first turning left after you pass the entrance to Dillington House, if you go over the flyover you've gone to far! After a short distance there is a gate in front of you, go through it (please remember to shut it after you) and follow the track until it bears right and then you come to the bridge over the river.

Parking - There's a little layby on the right just before the bridge with enough space for two cars or go over the bridge and park on the grass verges leaving enough room for the Wessex Water tankers to get by so they can access the sewage works.

Pegs - The peg numbers located on this stretch are peg 14 to peg 24. Looking upstream from the bridge, there is a public footpath just to the left of the bridge and if you follow it you'll come to peg 14 which is the famous tanktraps swim, you can't really miss it, there's a weir pool and at the bottom some concrete tanktraps have been dumped by the far bank and the pyramids are great cover for the fish. It's one of the most consistent pegs on the river and is especially good early on or when the river is up and coloured.

The next swim down, peg 15 is a lovely looking pool and you can fish from either side but most people tend to fish the opposite side to the footpath as it can get quite busy with ramblers and dog walkers. Holds lots of fish and you can expect to encounter quite a few brown trout. Pegs 17 and 18 just down from the bridge also hold a lot of fish, both are quite shallow though and better with some extra water on. These two pegs are best fished from the right hand bank looking downstream. The rest of the swims are normally fished from the left hand bank.

A cracking day in peg 15

Lower Coxes

Before I come on to Lower Coxes there are two swims (25 and 26) which are accessed by parking just before the flyover on the grass verge and walking down the steep bank (be careful, very overgrown and slippery). Both swims used to be stacked full of fish but have now sadly silted up quite a bit and are quite shallow, they still hold lots of fish but are probably best fished when the river is up and coloured.

For Lower Coxes, go over the flyover and there is a farm track on the right, follow the track around until you come to the bridge over the river.

Parking - For pegs 27-29 in the copse park on the left before the bridge (enough space for three cars if you park sensibly), make sure there is enough room for tractors to get past. For pegs further down park just as you go through the gate after turning off the main road (space for two cars) and walk round the edge of the field.

Pegs - The three pegs in the copse are used quite often in matches, peg 27 is just inside the copse and fished from the left hand side on the gravel, 28 is the big bend in the middle of the copse and again, fished from the left hand bank looking downstream, peg 29 is called the stump and is fished from the right hand bank. All three swims used to be potential match winners but have gone off the boil somewhat for the last couple of seasons.
Rob Cox with a nice net of fish from peg 28
The next noted pegs are pegs 37, 38 and 39, which we haven't pegged for a couple of years (due to the long walk) but used to be really good chub pegs, you may well be asking about pegs 30-36 but these are an unknown quantity as they haven't been pegged in matches for years and may well be worth fishing (if you do have a go please let me know how you get on). Similarly peg 40 (the high bank) and 41 (the aquarium) haven't been used in competitions for a long time but used to be really good pegs.

Ilford Bridge

For Ilford Bridges carry on the main road and go round the sharp right hand bend (turn left there for Ashford, North Bradon and Redbridge), you go over a couple of small bridges before coming to a humpback bridge over the Isle.

Parking - A little awkward here and one of the main reasons we don't fish it much, before you get to bridge there is a gateway on the right (if you're coming from Ilminster) and you can park opposite on the grass verge where there is room for two cars. You can then access the river by walking across the fields.

Pegs - This will be open to discussion a little bit as this stretch hasn't been pegged in a match for so long that I'm not really sure what the permanent peg numbers are. If you walk upstream until you come to a little weir (peg 43?), that's Selvidge weir, it's a fair old walk but it used to be a good chub peg, there's also a good peg under some trees just downstream (peg 45?). As you walk downstream you come to several bends which used to be good for roach but now tend to throw up a chub or two. As you near the main road there is a good swim opposite the farmhouse (peg 49?) which has produced some good bags of chub for pleasure anglers but hasn't been pegged in a match for years.

Across the main road and peg 50 is the first bend below the bridge, a decent peg with extra water on as is the bend below (peg 51). The next big bend (peg 52) is known as 'The Bream Bend' and surprisingly enough regularly produces bream and it's where I've caught my one and only slab from Ilminster waters. Peg 55 is in the next field down and is known as 'The Xmas Peg' (don't ask me why!) and is full of chub but we don't peg it very often due to it being such a long walk.

South Bradon

Go over Ilford Bridge, round the sharp left hand bend and you come to the village of Puckington, take the first turning left and follow the road until you come to some houses (if you go past the dairy on your right, you've gone too far!).

Parking - Space for three cars on the grass verge but please park sensibly.

Pegs - Access to the river here is via two points, if you walk back up the road from where the cars are parked you will see a gate, go through the gate and over the river and if you then bear right (and climb over two barbed wire fences) you will come to 'Hell Hole' which is peg 72 and a peg that can produce some good weights. If you bear left after going through the gate, you will come to 'The Council House' swim (peg 70), which is probably one of the best pegs on the river but is rarely fished because the bloke who lives in the house opposite objects to people fishing there! If you carry on upstream, peg 69 is on a straight and worth a few chub and the 'Stone Bridge' (peg 68) used to win a lot of matches. Peg 66 is another chub flier (a very long walk though) and Janders once held the match record with 39lb 8oz of chub from here.

The second access point is a style in front of where you park the cars, if you follow the river you'll go past 'Hell Hole' on your left, keep walking and the next decent swim is where the River Ding joins the Isle, rarely pegged but holds a lot of fish. Just downstream is peg 74 opposite a big bush which just screams chub and regularly does good weights, the bend below can also produce chub.


Before you get to Ilford Bridges there is a sharp right hand bend and a junction, turn left and then take the next right, follow the road and you will come to Ashford (you'll see a bridge in the field on your right).

Parking - As you get to Ashford, take the next left and there's parking for two cars immediately on the left by the wall but as always, please park sensibly and with consideration for the residents.

Pegs - As you go over the bridge head right and the first peg you'll come to is number 82 which is opposite the mill pool, a really good peg and very often you can see fish in the shallows. Please be aware of the overhead wires. If you carry on walking upstream past a couple of little bends (which are worth a try) you'll come to peg 79 which can produce some good chub. Walk on further and you come to a little weir, rarely pegged in matches but always holds some chub.

The swim below the bridge is a really good small fish peg but awkward to fish after the bank got washed away. As you cross the bridge there is a gate opposite you, go over the gate and head left, in the corner of the field is peg 84, really good when the river is up and coloured but a bit too shallow under normal conditions. Follow the river down and you come to 'The Big Bend' (peg 85), a peg that wins a lot of matches with chub, the bend below is known as 'The Dead Bend' and holds some good fish but can be a bit hit or miss.

A busy day's fishing

North Bradon

Go past Ashford and take the next turning right and just after a farm on your left you will come to the river.

Parking - A little awkward here, there is space for one car right by the bridge but make sure you get in tight! Otherwise park on the grass verge back towards the farm but again please be sensible.

Pegs - Rarely used in matches these days, the pool below the bridge looks really fishy and inviting but doesn't seem to produce much. Most of the pegs are on the right hand bank looking downstream and the left hand bank looking upstream. The first bend below the bridge (number 96) is a cracker, holds some big chub and there's a big pike in residence too, usually does well when it's pegged in matches. As you walk down the river some of the straights have nice features like bushes and trees and are well worth a dabble and the right hand bend (peg 99 perhaps?) towards the bottom of the field used to be a flier for roach. Similarly the next peg down is number 100 I think and is the last peg used in this section in matches, below that is a bit of an unknown quantity (for me anyway) and a fair old walk.

Above the bridge you go past some nice looking swims but the first one that is pegged in matches is number 92 (The Roach Hole), a lovely looking peg that has won a lot of matches but if anything is too big a swim now with loads of places the fish can hide. The peg above always used to be a flier too but is rarely used these days and the same can be said for the swim above that in the little copse.


To get to Redbridge, carry on past the turning for North Bradon and keep going, you will reach a little village and when you see the church in front of you, go round the sharp right hand bend and you are nearly there.

Parking - Opposite the houses and just before the cattle grid there is some hard standing on the right where you can park three or four cars. It's a bit of a walk to the river so a lot of people drive down, drop their kit off and then come back and park up before walking back.

Pegs - Looking upstream the pegs are on the right hand bank and the straight above the bridge can be good for roach, I'm a little unsure of peg numbers above the bridge as it's been so long since I've drawn there but the first bend (106 perhaps?) is a really good chub peg and wins several matches each year, there are several more fishy looking bends but they don't tend to throw up that many weights.
Chub from Redbridge
The first peg below the bridge (108) is very deep but with lots of cover across it can throw up big weights of chub or roach. The river then becomes quite uniform in width and there are few bankside features, there are quite a few beds of stick ups and the swims are pegged around these. It can be a great area for roach if there's colour in the water. otherwise you're looking at the odd chub. The gas pipe swim (109) and the peg leading up to the overhead wires are both really good pegs.

A nice day at Redbridge

Isle Brewers

For Isle Brewers go past Ilford Bridges and through Puckington, round the sharp left hand bend and when you reach the next little village take the next left, signposted Isle Brewers. Keep on this road and you come to Isle Brewers, go over the hump back bridge and you then come to the river.

Parking - Drive over the bridge and parking is on the grass verge on the right, there is enough room either side of the gateway for four or five cars but please make sure you keep the gateway clear.

Pegs - This stretch is probably Ilminster's most prolific at the moment so gets used a lot in matches, the pegs upstream are on the right hand bank and the straight just above the bridge (peg 125) is only shallow but holds a lot of fish and when the river is carrying extra water it can produce some big weights, Graham Field holds the match record from this swim with over 43lb. If you walk upstream you come to a left hand bend (which is very shallow) but above that is peg 124a (The Kink) which can be a good peg. The bend above (124) looks lovely and holds some big chub and roach, it was winning a lot of matches but has gone off the boil a little the last two seasons and the same can be said for peg 123 (The Fence), even though the big chub aren't showing, there are lots of small fish to be caught.

Peg 122 is the bend below the inlet and is full of small fish but there are also some big resident chub, if you carry on upstream you'll come to the weir pool (120) which is probably one of the most consistent pegs on the river at the moment, with lots of small fish and odd bigger chub featuring in catches. It's a long walk either way but it's probably easier to park at Redbridge and walk down.

The first bend below the bridge is peg 126 and is known as 'Barney's Bend', a really good swim but currently a tree is restricting fishing, peg 126a is the straight just above and people have been catching well running a little waggler into 126 or fishing the pole across. A little further down is peg 128 (The Big Bend) and it's probably the biggest peg on the river. A big sweeping bend that regularly throws up 20lb plus weights of roach, dace and chub. Carry on downstream and across the little footbridge and the next peg is 129, another great peg that has been throwing up some big chub and double figure weights of roach and dace.
Nearly 20lb of mainly roach from peg 128
The next peg that used to be regularly pegged in matches is 133, a lovely looking bend with a tree opposite but it is a fair old walk. Below this there are miles of pretty much untapped water, I believe Ilminster have the rights down to Hatch House but it hasn't been fished for years as there is no easy access, you can park on the road that sort of runs parallel and walk across the field but it is a fair old walk. If you do make the trek I would be interested in hearing how you get on as when I last fished down there as a junior, it was a lovely looking piece of river.

Check out this blog post for a great day in peg 128


Go past the turning for Isle Brewers and carry on through the village of Hambridge, you go round a sharp-ish left hand bend and then the road goes over the river.

Parking - There is room for several cars on the grass verges before you go over the river but please make sure your car is off the road. We were allowed to park in a farmers field off a turning on the right but I need to clarify this as it was a few years ago.

Pegs - The straight just above the bridge (peg H4 although there are no permanent pegs)) is fished from the right hand bank looking upstream and has produced some good nets of roach and the last time I fished it there was a good pike attacking fish under the bridge. The bend above that (H5) has thrown up some big weights of chub, roach and perch and similarly the two pegs below the bridge (H1 just past the sign and H2 by the tree) have been producing some nice bags of roach along with the odd perch and chub. The further away from the bridge you go, the patchier the fishing gets.

It's quite deep and looks very 'breamy' in places so if anybody gives it a go, let me know how you get on, send me some photos of your catch and I'll put them on here.

Bait and Methods

Like everywhere these days, the pole is the dominant method but there is still a place for rod and line tactics and the stick, waggler or even the straight lead all have their days. I always take casters, maggots and hemp with me and casters are my number one hookbait. It's worth having some lobworms with you especially if the river is up and coloured and some liquidised bread for when it's low, clear and cold. If minnows are being a pain, even with double caster or lobbie, a switch to a grain of corn should deter them.