Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Yearly Review

Here's my look back at last year

January 2015

The first match of the year saw us at Dillington and with it being mild and the pond coloured I was hoping it would fish well. Everybody had plenty of bites but the whip boys dominated and Justin Charles on the end peg won with 13lb 6oz and he had some quality roach. I sneaked into third place with 9lb 13oz and just edged out Baz Morgan, taking a pound off him in the process.

Justin with his winning net
We were back at Dillington for the second match and I got off to a great start but my swim faded as the day went on and I just couldn't catch any quality, I ended up with 102 fish for 7lb 12oz for nowhere. Baz Morgan won with a nice net of fish weighing 12lb 3oz which included several good skimmers, some proper roach and a decent perch.

We actually got back on the river for round six of the V.E.S. League, I drew peg 109 at Redbridge and was expecting chub after Tony Newman won the Xmas Fayre with four of them for 11lb odd. I had a decent roach first chuck and continued catching all day, at one stage I had visions of doing a really big weight but it tailed off a little towards the end. I still ended up with a lovely bag of mainly roach for 21lb 4oz and my first win of the year.
I won with 21lb 4oz and had some cracking roach
Highlights - Winning my first match of the year with a lovely net of roach
Lowlights - Not being able to catch quality at Dillington

February 2015

For the first match of the month, strong winds were forecast and it looked like we were in for an unpleasant day, I managed to draw a sheltered peg in the shape of peg 125 and had another fantastic days fishing catching 11lb 14oz of roach, dace, chublets and gudgeon for second place behind Baz Morgan who had my peg from last week and weighed 14lb 8oz. I bumped enough fish to win it and I'm sure that if I'd have fished the waggler I'd have caught nearer 20lb.

My 11lb 14oz was enough for second place
The following weeks match was the open and it was nice to see a few new faces with Jamie Parkhouse, Paul Homewood and both Scott and Roger Russell hoping for a nice days fishing. I really fancied another crack at peg 109 but drew a peg at Hambridge which was pegged for the first time in ages. The swims all looked nice but after three hours I only had a few small fish for less than a pound. I walked down to see how the others were getting on and Andy Welch, Paul Homewood and Baz Morgan were all bagging up! I was feeling a little demoralised but thought that if those three framed there was a chance of snatching the section by triple default!
Paul Homewood with part of his second placed 20lb 13oz catch
I had seven chub plus a few roach for 13lb and fourth place
I sat back on my box and first chuck the float buried and I landed a pound chub, six more followed between one and three pounds plus a few roach and it was like a different swim! I weighed a level 13lb but then Andy weighed 16lb 11oz, Paul plonked a stunning 20lb 13oz of roach on the scales before Baz trumped everybody with a staggering net of mainly quality roach weighing 29lb 6oz. I ended up in fourth place just ahead of Hurf who had 12lb 4oz from peg 126. Some really good weights but the much fancied 109 didn't bother weighing which just goes to show what a fickle beast the river can be.

The final V.E.S. Precision match arrived with Heardy leading it followed by Rob then Fieldy and me, I got the dream start drawing peg H5 at Hambridge, the weather was awful and although I had a nice bag of fish weighing 11lb 7oz which included a lovely 2lb perch, I finished well down the section finishing fifth out of seven pegs! Justin won with a lovely net of quality fish weighing 25lb 5oz and also won the golden peg fund, Paul Homewood was second with 24lb 1oz and Rob Cox third with 18lb 12oz. Fieldy won the league with 13 points followed by Rob with 14 and Heardy with 15.

Justin won with a fantastic net of quality fish weighing 25lb 5oz and for good measure it was a golden peg too!
I had a lovely 2lb perch in my 11lb 7oz net
Highlights - Double figures every match
Lowlights - Blowing out in the last V.E.S. Precision match

March 2015

For Barney's Pairs Open I was with Justin and he would fish the river while I would be on the pond, he drew peg 4 for me and I had a lovely days fishing catching some quality roach, rudd and perch on caster for 14lb 8oz and a lake win, just edging out Bruce Hunt who had 13lb 10oz.
I was top out the pond with 14lb 8oz
Justin struggled for 8lb 8oz from a mediocre peg and we ended up with 7 points but just sneaked into third place (on weight) and we picked up £22 each. Bruce and Martin Heard won it with 4 points and Robin Cox and Fieldy were second with 6.

Next up was a rod only match out at Dillington with the aim to try and target some of the bigger fish, it didn't really happen and I struggled for 4lb 13oz which was enough for second place behind Hurf who had 6lb 9oz. I also had to keep fending off a very angry goose!

My first visit of the year to Summerhayes saw me draw a great peg on Longs in the shape of peg 12 and I had a next peg battle with Scott Russell who took the verdict with 40lb 14oz to my 35lb 7oz and we ended up third and fourth respectively. A poor last hour cost me when I should have fed a new line but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I picked up £18 plus a pound off Janders and also finally one off Glynn Wickham although he did a runner without paying.

We were back at Summerhayes the following week with the match spread over Sellicks and Lily, I drew exactly where I wanted, peg 5 on Sellicks but struggled for a few skimmers and a crucian for 4lb 15oz and nowhere, mind you I missed/lost enough to win it as 11lb 2oz was the top silvers weight. Janders had a bit of a nightmare, he was pegged on Lily and had ten carp for 25lb odd but had lost twelve and 26lb was last in the money!

The last match of the month was at Summerhayes and I was back on Sellicks, this time on peg 4 and despite awful weather it's fished well and I've caught all day to end with 27 skimmers and 8 carp for 38lb 12oz and second on the pond behind Steve Kedge with 51lb 10oz from peg 14. I picked up £35 and Janders had a nice day too, coming second in the silvers on Longs with 26lb of bream.

Highlights - A lake win at Dillington
Lowlights - That bloody goose out the pond!

April 2015

Day one of the two day pairs mini festival saw me on peg 3 on Longs and I had a nice day catching my best silvers weight yet with 26lb 7oz of big bream and skimmers and I also had a nice tench, I was second in my section and my partner Ray was third in his which put us in a good position going into the second day.

The second day saw Ray draw spot on with peg 3, I was on 23 which can throw up some silvers weights but is more of a carp peg. I struggled for six skimmers for 6lb 11oz but it was enough for second in the section and with Ray winning the other section with over 15lb, we won the silvers with eight points and picked up £48 each. Martin Addicott and Dave Bull won the carp and only dropped one point over the two days, a great performance.

I was back at Summerhayes on Wednesday but the day got off to the worst start when we heard Clive had passed away at the fishery the previous day. I drew a great peg and had a good first half of the match but couldn't catch for the last two and a half hours, Janders won the silvers with 20lb 8oz and I had 14lb 3oz and missed out on second by 2oz!

I was really looking forward to the Gary Bull fundraiser which was being held at Summerhayes, there were 49 anglers booked in including England international Des Shipp. I drew peg 19 on Longs and found four big slabs and a few skimmers for 19lb 13oz for second in the silvers on the day. Des won from peg 37 on Longs with 81lb 1oz (89lb actually but he went over in his carp net). Over £530 was raised which was a fantastic result and I'm looking forward to the next one already.
I had four bream and a few skimmers for 19lb 13oz
Then on Sunday I was back with Janders for my fifth match in eight days, I had a master plan to avoid Lily and it didn't work with the last peg in bucket, peg 7 on Lily. I did catch two nice bream and some bits for 11lb 8oz but missed out on third in the silvers by 9oz!

I got off to a great start in the first league match at Perry St with nine carp on pellet shallow for 41lb 10oz, second place and a nice pick up of £80. Paul Blake had the top weight on the day with 44lb which included a 2lb 6oz eel. Round two was the following week and I was in peg 4, an empty peg on my right was a bonus and I had five carp shallow and six down the edge for 34lb, fourth on the day and £40.

Highlights - Winning the pairs festival with Ray
Lowlights - Losing Clive, a sad day

May 2015

I got just the start I wanted on day one of the two day mini festival at Summerhayes when I drew peg 2 on Sellicks, it was quite tough going but I managed 14 skimmers for 12lb 6oz and a silvers win to put me in pole position for the second day.

I was hoping for a decent silvers peg on day two but didn't get it when I drew peg 15 on Longs, I just couldn't catch skimmers and ended up with a lowly 2lb 6oz plus 28lb of carp! I blew right out and was gutted to suffer from the curse of the second day yet again. Ray Wickham won the silvers overall with 7 points and Andy Hembrow took the carp honours with 5 points.

Round three of the Perry St league saw me have a right next peg battle with Jamie Parkhouse, he came out on top with 67lb 6oz to my 61lb 2oz but I still ended up in second place and picked up £80 which was very nice. It was round four the following week and I was happy with peg 6 but it was quite tough going and losing my first carp didn't help. I ended up with nine carp for 29lb 12oz and a default section win.

Then it was back to Summerhayes for another two day pairs mini festival, with the fish spawning they just weren't interested in feeding. I ended up with three carp for 9lb 3oz and 4 pts and two skimmers for 1lb 1oz and 4 pts. Going into day two my partner Ray Wickham and me were lying in second place for the carp with 7 pts and fourth in the silvers with 9 pts.

Day two arrived and it looked like the carp had finished spawning so hopefully it would fish a bit better. Ray drew peg 18 on Longs and I had 19 on Sellicks which can be a good skimmer peg. With no fish after 45 mins I started to fear the worst again but then I've had a skimmer and caught fairly steadily all day I ended up with eighteen skimmers and three accidental carp. The scales started on Longs and Ray had done brilliantly to finish second on the lake with 14lb 1oz behind Rob Birch with 14lb 6oz.

There was a 14lb 4oz on my lake so I was relieved when my weight was called at 15lb 2oz, I won the silvers superpool and picked up a very welcome £65 and we actually tied on points with Rob and Mark Leahy but they took the verdict on weight and we finished in second place and picked up £45 each. So a lovely days fishing and a nice little pick up.

I was back at Summerhayes for the last match of the month and hoping for another nice days silvers fishing. The trouble was we were on Longs and I've struggled on this lake of late, I drew peg 28 which is in a decent area but got battered both sides by Rob Birch and Ray Wickham and I just couldn't catch decent skimmers and didn't trouble the scales. The highlight of the day was catching a lovely little crucian carp of around 12oz.

Highlights - A silvers win on day one of the individual mini festival
Lowlights - Blowing out on day two (again!)

June 2015

The first match of the month was round five of the Perry St league and with loads of carp cruising around, it looked like they might have spawning on their minds. It was hard going and I ended up with nine carp (five which I mugged, much to Les's disgust!) for 38lb 8oz and I finished second behind Jamie Parkhouse who weighed 61lb 2oz and also caught most of his fish by mugging/stalking.

Round six was the following week and I knew I had pegs 18 and 20 to come at some point and neither have been great, when Les opened the envelope, it put me on 18 and I wasn't expecting great things. Jamie P on 17 bagged all day to win with 97lb 6oz and battered me in the process but I wasn't too upset as I won the section and five points was a much better result than I was expecting off that peg.

I was really looking forward to fishing Dillington for the first time in ages the following week, I had a nice days fishing catching 136 fish for 13lb 12oz but came nowhere. Scott Russell had a cracking day and won with four bream, three chub and 8lb of roach for 33lb 15oz from peg 1.
Scotty with his three chub and one of the bream
My final match of the month was back at Summerhayes but on Longs where I seem to have lost my way of late. I drew peg 34 which is a great silvers area and when my third fish was a decent skimmer I thought I might be in for a good day. I also thought meat might solve the small fish problem but after what seemed like a million missed bites I ended up with 24lb of carp and just 1lb 15oz of silvers for nowhere.

Highlights - Two more good results at Perry St
Lowlights - Losing my way at Dillington and on Longs

July 2015

Round seven of the Perry St League put me on peg 10 which is the best peg on the pond, I ended up with sixteen carp for 57lb 2oz and second place behind Blaker who had an excellent 78lb 10oz from peg 16. The icing on the cake was taking another nugget off of the Torquay Tart who finished third with 55lb 4oz.

Back on Longs the following week and I actually managed to catch a few silvers for a change and also had a lovely little golden tench along with a green one for 8lb 5oz, third in the silvers and my first pick up on Longs for ages (plus a pound off a certain Mr G Wickham). I did lose/bump a few fish as well which cost me as Mark Leahy was second with 8lb 13oz. Alvin Jones had the best silvers weight with 12lb 12oz and Chris Bolton won on the day with over 70lb of carp caught shallow.

I was fairly pleased when round eight of the Perry St League put me on peg 14, I wasn't quite so pleased when I was still blanking after two and a half hours! I eventually started getting a few lumps from my inside line on meat and my five carp weighed 26lb 10oz for fourth and £40, I did lose two decent fish due to schoolboy errors which would have put me a lot closer to Chris Haines's winning weight of 36lb 10oz.

The penultimate match of the league put me in peg 20 which hasn't done a lot all series, I've caught quite well on meat at 5 metres and 13 metres towards the end bank and had another head to head with Jamie P. I just came out on top this time and finished second on the day when my fifteen carp weighed 57lb 9oz to his 49lb 15oz, we were both a long way behind Blaker who had 93lb 2oz (although he was only admitting to 50lb!).

Highlights - An envelope every week
Lowlights - Always the bridesmaid and never the bride!

August 2015

For the first match of the month I was back at Dillington and with lots of bream and skimmers being caught on feeder tactics I actually dug out my tip rod and a reel. I should have known better as bright and sunny conditions were far from ideal for bream and I spent too long on the feeder with only a single skimmer to show for my efforts. After two hours I switched to the pole line which I'd fed from the start and caught roach, rudd and perch steadily for the remainder of the match to end up with 144 fish.
My 13lb 2oz was enough to win
Jake had a nice bream and some skimmers in his third placed 12lb 6oz
Bob Hammond had a lovely bream that was getting on for 6lb
I was convinced the two hours I'd wasted on the tip were going to cost me but I weighed 13lb 2oz which was just enough for victory in a very tight frame with Stu Alford second with 12lb 9oz and Jake Woodard was third with a bream and skimmers for 12lb 6oz. I had a lovely days fishing with plenty of bites and picked up £43.

The final match of the Perry St League was next and I was on peg 2 with Blaker on peg 8 and despite my two point advantage I had him down as the slight favourite going into the match and that was basically how it panned out. I had the top weight at my end of the pond with 30lb 12oz but he won the match and the league with 50lb 4oz with four of the five top weights coming from pegs 8, 9, 10 and 11. Still I picked up £40 for winning the section and £90 for second in the league and had enjoyed a cracking series with an envelope every match.

After a great result in the last match at Dillington I was hoping for more of the same in round eight, I drew peg 13 and couldn't catch on the feeder and when I switched to the pole, I couldn't catch on that either! Frank Woodard won with a lovely net of bream, skimmers and a 2lb tench for 20lb 14oz from peg 10 and Jake was second with a similar net of feeder fish weighing 20lb 1oz, Fieldy filled the last frame place with over 300 fish on two sections of pole to hand for 17lb 13oz.

The next match was a rover on Longs at Summerhayes and I ended up choosing peg 2, I caught some good skimmers, crucians and a golden tench mainly on 6mm banded pellet for 14lb 13oz and a silvers win. Bill Hopping broke the match record with a massive 190lb 5oz of carp on paste from peg 24.

My final match of the month was back at Dillington and I struggled once again for 7lb 7oz for nowhere, Stuart Alford won with a nice net of bream and skimmers weighing 20lb 10oz on feeder tactics from peg 6.

Highlights - A lovely days fishing at Dillington to win only my second match of the year
Lowlights - Not winning the Perry St League!

September 2015

I was back at Summerhayes for the first match of the month and it was on Sellicks and hard going, it didn't help that I fished it all wrong and my 4lb 3oz of silvers came nowhere. Bill Hopping had another nice payday with 109lb 9oz of carp which won him another golden peg.

Next up was the final match of Ilminster AA's Summer League, I drew peg 24 which has a bush to the left which holds some big chub but they can be very hit or miss so I decided to fish for roach in open water, I caught well for two hours then struggled for the next two so had to have a go for those chub. I lost the first one which looked ready for netting but dived under the keepnet snapping the hooklength in the process and when I lost the second one under the bush, things were looking grim.
Ashley had a lovely net of roach
I had 12lb 7oz which included a new personal best chub of 4lb
With an hour to go I finally landed one around the 2lb mark and with five minutes to go I hooked a lump which I landed just before the all out. I weighed 12lb 7oz which was enough for third on the day and out of interest I weighed the big chub which was 4lb, a new personal best. Tackleuk's Ashley Tomkins had the top weight on the day with 16lb 10oz of clonking big roach and Frank Woodard was second with a nice net of skimmers weighing 12lb 14oz from peg 18. Graham Field won his section again and was crowned the Summer League Champion.

I was back at Summerhayes on Longs the following week and drew peg 29, after a steady start I struggled for 6lb 9oz of silvers and 26lb of carp for nowhere. Bill Hopping continued his great from with another win, this time with 86lb of carp from peg 2, Ray Wickham had the best silvers weight with 12lb 10oz from peg 7 and Roger Russell was second with 10lb 8oz which included a big eel of 3lb plus that took a hard pellet!

My final match of the month was a pairs open at Dillington and I really wanted to do well as a tribute to my dear Mum who sadly passed away on the Friday morning. I started okay but couldn't keep the fish coming and I finished well down in my section with 7lb 14oz, my partner Fieldy also blew out with 3lb 7oz. Frank Woodard had the top weight on the day with 12lb 5oz proving he's still the man to beat and also him and Jake won the pairs.
Big Frank won again, this time with 12lb 5oz
Highlights - A new pb chub of 4lb at Dillington
Lowlights - Losing my Mum.

October 2015

I was really looking forward to getting back on the river and although peg 22 wouldn't have been my first choice, I was fairly happy as I've wanted to fish it for a couple of seasons, despite it looking nice, I never had a bite and recorded my first blank of the year! Karl Aplin won, fishing his first match with the club, with 8lb 1oz from the tank traps.

The first V.E.S. match saw us all pegged at Redbridge and Isle Brewers, I had a wish list of pegs but I drew 123 and that wasn't on it! I had a bite every put in, but mostly from gudgeon, I had a chub right at the end which boosted my weight to 5lb 9oz but it wasn't enough as Big Frank won the section with 6lb 2oz. Neil Dring won the match from peg 120 with 12lb 2oz, Justin Charles was second with 11lb 13oz from 126 and Graham Field was third with 8lb 13oz from 125.
A late chub boosted my catch to 5lb 9oz
We were back on the river and I got the dream start when I drew peg 126, one of the best pegs on the river, I had a bite a chuck all day but mainly from gudgeon, dace, chublets along with the odd better roach. I ended up with 125 fish for a level 6lb which was good enough for second place although a long way behind Justin Charles who had a lovely net of quality roach plus a good chub for 23lb 4oz from peg 129.

The last match of the month saw us back on the river and I drew a peg above the road at Hambridge that struggled for ounces the week before, I was still quite hopeful though as we'd had quite a bit of rain the day before. When I got to the river though, it was low and clear and another struggle was on the cards, I caught three nice perch late on plus a few bits for 2lb 3oz and nowhere. Paul Homewood won from below the bridge with a lovely net of fish weighing 15lb 6oz which included some cracking perch.

Highlights - Getting back on the river
Lowlights - Blanking in the first match

November 2015

After some much needed rain I was really looking forward to the first match of the month, I drew peg 82 at Ashford and it looked lovely, I lost a decent dace or chublet early on and also saw a big chub and I was sure I'd be in for a good day. Then the bullocks arrived and after an hour and a half where they wouldn't leave me alone I moved to the next swim down in the next field and caught three small chublets for 3oz! Bruce Hunt won with a lovely net of fish weighing 12lb 9oz from peg 14, Rob was second with 4lb 13oz and Hurf had 4lb 9oz for third and I'd walked away from a framing peg today!

After a load more rain we were at Dillington for the next match, I had a really enjoyable day catching some nice roach, rudd and perch on the pole and caster from peg 2 for 13lb and second place. Jake Woodard won with a cracking net of mainly skimmers but he also had a lovely tench, a big perch and an eel for a total of 24lb 7oz, Jake caught on the feeder with pinkie hookbait.

We were back out the pond the following week as well and it's fished even better with lots of bonus chub and bream featuring in catches. Tackleuk's Ashley Tomkins won with a fantastic net of quality roach and four chub weighing 24lb 7oz with the biggest chub pulling the needle round to an impressive 4lb 8oz. Graham Field was second with 18lb 2oz which included five chub and Steve Hurford was third with bream and skimmers weighing 16lb 5oz on the feeder. I had another really enjoyable day but my 14lb was only good enough for a section win.
Ash won with a fantastic 24lb 7oz
My 14lb included a nice chub but it was only good enough for a section win
The river was in perfect condition for the next match with some much needed colour and pace and I really fancied the pegs downstream of Hambridge but of course pulled out the one above the bridge, it can be a good swim but I felt it was too early for it. I've had bites all day to end up with 86 fish for 5lb 2oz and nowhere, Heardy won with 13lb 15oz of mainly roach from peg H2 below the bridge and Rob was second with 10lb 13oz from the peg next door.

The last match of the month was fished on the Isle in horrendous conditions with the wind threatening to blow us off the bank, Rob drew for me and pulled out 129, a brilliant peg (cheers mate), I caught roach, dace, chublets and gudgeon all day and finished up with 122 fish, I thought I had around 15lb and was slightly disappointed to weigh 12lb 3oz which put me second behind Graham Field who had a lovely net of quality roach weighing 14lb 5oz from peg 128.

Highlights - Catching loads of fish
Lowlights - Bloody cows!

December 2015

The first match of the month was the Xmas Fayre and it was well attended with 17 anglers fishing, Rob put us all round the pond and it fished well, I had a lovely day catching some quality roach, rudd and perch for 9lb 15oz and second place behind Justin Charles who had a nice perch and some big skimmers for 15lb from peg 17.
I had some lovely roach, rudd and perch for 9lb 15oz
My haul of prizes
I picked up £30, a bottle of wine, four boxes of biscuits and two tins of chocolates, what a great prize. All the anglers enjoyed a lovely buffet at the Royal Oak and a lovely gesture was the club donating the peg fees to The Brain Tumour Charity.

In the next match, I actually managed to draw downstream of Hambridge for the first time, it was solid and I've had a bite a chuck (and some pike trouble) to end up with 196 roach, chublets, dace and gudgeon for 11lb 15oz and third place behind Rob who had 15lb 4oz and Fieldy who had 16lb 11oz and they've both had some decent perch to boost their catches.

For round four of the V.E.S. Precision league we back out the pond and although I fancied a nice open water peg, I drew peg 1 which has a bush and some resident chub. I had a chub and a decent skimmer early on but then struggled for a few roach and lost a good fish on my light rig before catching a 'get out of jail' 3lb plus chub with ten minutes to go. I finished with 8lb 6oz which was good enough for second place and £40 behind Paul Homewood who won comfortably off a golden peg with 13lb 1oz of skimmers to take home a nice envelope.

The final match of the year saw us have a knock-up at Dillington, Scott Russell won with a lovely net of roach weighing 16lb 13oz from peg 20 and I was second with 144 fish for 13lb 10oz from peg 18.

Highlights - Catching loads of fish and a pick up every week
Lowlights - Always the bridesmaid!


Looking back at my review of last year, I had lots planned for 2015 but after my Mum became seriously ill, all those plans went out the window. I never made it to Thailand this year and trips after new species just didn't happen. I did manage a few trips after mullet with Hurf and Russell Hilton but they proved as elusive as ever.

On the match front, although I only won two matches, my winnings total was my second best ever with some good results along the way including a really good Perry St League where I picked up an envelope every match and finished second overall. I've been really enjoying the matches at Dillington as it continues to evolve into a fantastic natural venue and the river is full of small fish at the moment, ensuring plenty of bites.

The blog goes from strength to strength and has flown past 318,000 hits as we head into the new year and I've had some great feedback both online and from people I've met on the bank. Pondip asked me to pen some articles for their site which I've enjoyed doing and I can't not mention Hayley from Bait-Tech who continues to be really helpful and supportive of the blog and it was lovely to meet her at the Big One once again.

So as I bid farewell to 2015, which on a personal level has been the worst year of my life, I'm looking forward to next year where I'm planning to head to Thailand early in 2016 and there's also been talk of the possibility of fishing for sturgeon in Canada later in the year which will be amazing if it happens.

Matches won - 2
Silvers wins - 3
Winnings - £1392

Matches fished - 52
Number of pick ups - 33
Success rate - 63%

New venue pb match weights
Summerhayes - 26lb 7oz (silvers)

New pb's
Chub - 4lb - Dillington

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dillington Pond - 27th December 2015

With no scheduled match this week, a few of us decided to have a knock-up out the pond. I was a bit late getting there (nothing new there then!) and there were only half a dozen of us fishing today which was a bit of a shame but with the weather still exceptionally mild for the time of year and plenty of fish topping, it was nice just to be out of the house! We decided to use peg 1, 2, 4, 18, 20 and 24 so we would be out of the wind and I was hoping to avoid the chub pegs by the bush so I could have a nice days roach fishing.

Steve P was in charge of the draw bag and when I delved into the sack there were only a couple of pegs left and I was delighted when I saw I'd drawn peg 18 which is probably my favourite peg on the pond. Scotty Russell was on peg 20 with fellow Tackleuk bagger, Ashley Tomkins, in peg 24 and he was hoping the chub would feed today. Steve was in peg 1 with Harry next door and Karl was on peg 4. I mixed up some SSP Baits Dark Silt groundbait before setting the rest of my kit up. Rigs were the usual 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing on the deck at 10 metres and a little Preston Chianti for fishing shallow.
Peg 18 at Dillington
On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait before starting with the deep rig with double red maggot on the hook. The rig never even had to time to settle properly as a small roach nailed the hookbait on the drop. I switched to caster but it never had time to reach the bottom and there were obviously loads of fish in the swim and intercepting the loose feed on the drop. They were mainly roach between 1-2oz although I did drop off a better one when I tried swinging it when I should have used the net and I also struck at a bite where the float was held up and hooked what felt like a better fish only for it to come off after a few seconds.

It was a fish a chuck and after half an hour I had 28 fish but no real quality so I picked up the shallow rig and started getting odd fish but my catch rate slowed right up and I only added another 8 fish to put me on 36 after an hour. I shouted up to ask how Scotty was doing and he replied that he had 26 fish so I was ahead at this early stage. The second hour saw me add another 20 fish including the odd better roach but as ever the number of missed bites was ridiculous! I tried upping the feed, altering the depth and then started changing the shotting, I tried just one dropper, then having a bulk above the hooklength and finally spreading the shot out but nothing really made that much difference.

Hurf turned up and I had quite a good spell catching a couple of clonking roach but I was still missing too many bites. I had another go with the deep rig and had a decent roach first chuck but then it was back to catching smaller roach, so I tried a grain of hemp and missed several bites on that. I even stuck on another section to fish past my feed which prompted Scotty to ask if I'd ever used that section before, cheeky git! I missed a few more bites before finally connecting with a 3oz roach so hemp wasn't the answer. *Thanks to Hurf for the photo.
I had a cracking roach while Hurf was there*
As we reached the halfway point, Scott had caught me up on numbers of fish and it was neck and neck. Neither Ash or Steve had hooked chub yet but they normally put in an appearance at some point and as they're big fish, they would only need a couple to cancel out my roach. I also started to feed a line just off some reeds to my left just to give me somewhere to rest the longer line every now and again and I had odd fish from here including a couple of small perch.

I shouted up to Scotty for an update on how he was doing and he was now on 109 fish while I was way back on 85 although he was still saying I had more quality than him even though I'd seen him net a fair few fish as well. With an hour and a half left I started catching well but I wasn't getting very many decent roach. I'd seen Ash net some decent roach but no chub as yet and Steve looked to be struggling. Scott was still bagging and even had a 4oz perch grab his caster as he shipped out so it must have been solid!

With half an hour to go I set my sights on getting to 140 fish but as the light started to fade it was a roach a chuck and on the final whistle my clicker was reading 144, Scott said he'd finished up with 189 so I knew I'd been well beaten. Harry and Steve had both packed up early and Steve had left the scales with me so I packed up and walked round to weigh Karl in, he'd had a couple of nice rudd and perch on the feeder for 1lb 12oz, then Ash had 7lb 3oz of accidental roach he'd caught whilst fishing for chub and said he wished he'd ignored the chub now.
Karl had 1lb 12oz
Ash had 7lb 3oz of 'accidental' roach
Then we got to Scott and he had a lovely net of fish that pulled the needle round to 16lb 13oz, he asked what I had and I said probably between 12-14lb and I was pretty close as I weighed 13lb 10oz, so with Scott and Ash in first and third, I was the meat in a Tackleuk sandwich (oo-er!) and picked up £30.
Scott had a lovely days fishing to win with 16lb 13oz
I was second with 13lb 10oz
1 - Scott Russell (Tackleuk) - 16lb 13oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 13lb 10oz
3 - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 7lb 3oz

So a really nice days fishing for the last match of the year and although I'm catching loads of fish and framing, that elusive win still evades me so you'll have to come back in 2016 to see if I can get on that winners podium once again.

Next up - Hebditch's Pond

Coming soon - My yearly review

Check Out - My last match (below)

That just leaves me to thank everybody who has read (and hopefully continues to read!) my ramblings, I really do appreciate your support, feedback and kind comments. As always, if you have any great photos or news or match results, send them to me (via the contact form in the side bar) and I'll stick them on the blog. I have lots planned for next year, more interviews and reviews plus hopefully some guest blog posts (and if anybody wants to submit stories or articles please send them in).

And lastly.....

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dillington Pond - V.E.S. Precision League 4 - 20th December 2015

With awful weather again on Saturday we were back out the pond for this one and there were fourteen anglers booked in. After coffee and a sausage sarnie, it was time to head out the pond for the draw as Scott was meeting us out there. There were three golden pegs today, 13, 18 and 19 and there was a good chance somebody would be taking home an extra £100 which would be a nice Xmas bonus. Rob announced the draw and I was just hoping to pull out a peg where I could have a nice days roach fishing but when I opened my hand, peg 1 was staring back at me and although it's a great peg with a nice feature in the shape of a bush, it's known more for it's resident chub than roach.

As we unloaded the cars, Steve P, Hurf and Paul Homewood all wanted a side bet and as I took my kit to my peg I passed Rob who was in peg 24 on the other side of the bush. After getting my box level and putting my net in, the first job was to mix up some SSP Baits Black Silt groundbait before setting up my rigs. I set up the usual little Preston Chianti for fishing shallow and a 1 gram Drennan Tipo for fishing on the deck plus a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for fishing up towards the bush by some reeds to my right. For bait I had the usual casters, maggots and hemp but also opened a tin of Bait-Tech corn and put some pellets on the side tray to bulk out my feed for the chub.
Peg 1 - loads of features!
On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait at 8.5 metres and then put in two pots of bait by the reeds at 10 metres with the plan to have a look every hour for ten minutes or so. I started on the deep rig with a caster on the hook and was expecting bites quite quickly but the float just sat there! After 15 minutes I was still waiting for my first bite! All the anglers I could see on the far bank were fishing the feeder and I hadn't seen any of them catch yet either. I tried the shallow rig briefly but the result was the same and it was starting to look like it might be hard going today.

I put two red maggots on just to see if I could get an indication and the rig settled and then sailed away, I struck expecting a small roach but elastic poured from the end of the pole as a decent fish tore off. I played it out in open water and when it came to the top I could see it was a chub of 2lb plus and I made sure it was well beaten before taking sections off and managed to net it without too much fuss - bonus! I missed a bite next chuck and then hooked another decent fish which turned out to be a skimmer around the pound mark. So with less than an hour gone, I had 3lb in the net and was doing well, Rob had also netted a good chub so there were a few prepared to have a munch.

I started to get some small roach on maggot so switched to caster but it didn't really improve the stamp of fish, on the hour I had my first look on my bonus fish line with double caster but no indications so I cupped in some more bait and went back over the groundbait line. I had a couple more roach and then the float disappeared again and loads of Drennan Aqua elastic came streaming out as a big fish tried to get under the bush. I plunged the pole tip under the water and gave it as much stick as I dared with the 0.10mm bottom. It stopped after the initial run and I lifted the pole to see where it was, it went off again and I stuck the pole tip back under the water, this felt like a bigger fish and then there was that sickening feeling as the tension was released and the fish came off - bugger! I was sure it had snapped me but on closer inspection, the hook had pulled out, so possibly a big perch but I'll never know!

I carried on catching the odd roach but it certainly wasn't fast and furious and it looked to be the same for the anglers opposite as they kept swapping between the feeder and the pole. I had another look by the reeds with double caster on the hook but after twenty minutes the only action had been a bumped small fish so after my great start I was now really struggling and I couldn't help thinking that the big fish I lost could prove costly. I cupped in another potful of feed and felt sure at some point those chub would find it. I went back on the deep rig but bites were now few and far between and although I was doing okay compared to the anglers opposite me, they were in the other section and I had no clue how the anglers to my left were doing.

I flirted with the shallow rig again and would get the odd small roach but not the quality you normally get up in the water. The sun was also being a real pain as the reflection was now right where I was fishing so I turned round on my box and fished where I could actually see the float and carried on getting odd roach shallow, including one slightly better one that I netted to be on the safe side. I was going nowhere fast and felt sure I needed a couple more chub so back under the bush I went. I did miss a bite there after ten minutes or so and then disaster struck as I shipped back and my rig was attached to the bush! By standing right over where I'd been fishing by the reeds, I was able to grab the line and pull for a break, I got the float back but the rig was trashed. I cupped in some more feed before getting another rig out and plumbing up again.

I went back on the deep rig to let my other line settle down after all the commotion and then noticed Paul Homewood on peg 19 playing a decent fish on the feeder and he slipped the net under a decent skimmer that looked to be 2-3lb and then he followed it up with a slightly smaller one next chuck and there was now nothing between us. Roger Russell turned up for a walk round and said Scott was struggling over in peg 13 and nobody was really bagging, he asked what I had and I said probably around 5lb (2lb chub, 1lb skimmer and a couple of pounds of roach). He soon got bored watching me and went to see how the others in my section were doing.

With about three quarters of an hour left, Paul had added a couple more skimmers and I needed a couple of chub to stand any chance at all today so went back under the bush with my new rig on. I saw Rob strike into a good fish and then lots of swearing told me he'd lost it and I hoped I'd get a chance (or two!) before the end of the match. Fifteen minutes ticked by with no indications and I didn't think it was going to happen, a further twenty minutes passed and then the float shot under, followed by the pole tip before the Preston Green Hollo came into play and a good chub was on, to be honest it didn't give me too many problems on the heavier gear and I was soon netting a decent fish of 3lb plus.

There were still ten minutes left and with around 8lb in the net, I felt I needed another which would give me double figures and a chance of framing. Just before the end, I had a dip on the float but it didn't develop and then Rob called the all out. He shouted across that he'd lost five chub today which would probably have been enough to win it. I packed up and went to see how the other anglers in our section had fared, everybody was saying they'd struggled and as Bruce arrived with the scales we would find out soon enough. I was first to weigh and for once I was pretty close with my estimate as the needle settled on 8lb 6oz which I didn't think would be any good today but Heardy said I'd frame!
I had two nice chub, a skimmer and some roach for 8lb 6oz
He'd really struggled in peg 4 where he'd fed two lines for chub and also fished the feeder but only managed a handful of roach for 10oz and when I asked if I could take a photo, I didn't quite hear what he said but I'm pretty sure the second word was off! Jake Woodard in peg 5 had a nice net of roach and perch weighing 6lb 10oz and when Justin weighed 2lb 7oz next door, I started to think I might have done better than I thought. Bruce had over 150 small fish for 7lb 1oz from peg 8 and Stu Alford had 3lb 2oz from peg 10 which just left Scotty in peg 13 and he had some nice roach for 4lb 8oz but reckoned he'd overfed the swim after trying to catch the chub that had shown in the last couple of matches. So I'd won the section at least but I was pretty sure that Paul H had beaten me but there was a chance I might frame.
Jake had 6lb 10oz (and won the prize for the best hat!)
Bruce had loads of small fish for 7lb 1oz
Stu Alford had 3lb 2oz from peg 10
Back at the results and Paul had won comfortably with 13lb 1oz and he reckoned he had 8lb of that in the last hour, as his was also a golden peg he took home a nice Xmas bonus, I finished second and picked up £40 and was relieved that lost fish hadn't cost me, I lost a nugget to Paul but still finished 2-1 up as Hurf had 2lb 5oz and Steve P had 1lb 15oz. Bruce was third with Jake winning our section and Fieldy won the other section with 5lb 14oz. *Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photos.
Rob had this nice chub from peg 24*
Fieldy won his section with 5lb 14oz from peg 17*
Paul Homewood enjoyed a bumper payday thanks to 13lb 1oz of skimmers on the feeder from peg 19*
1 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 13lb 1oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 6oz
3 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 7lb 1oz

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 6lb 10oz
B - Graham Field (Taunton) - 5lb 14oz

So a much needed section win in the league for me and after four matches and dropping the worst result, Fieldy leads with five points followed by Martin on seven and me on eight.

Next up - Dillington

Coming soon - A match on a new venue

Check Out - My SSP Baits review (below)

And finally Against Men and Fish would like to wish anyone who reads this a Merry Xmas and I hope Santa brings you lots of new fishing gear and more importantly that you all catch plenty of fish over the festive period (even the Torquay Tart!).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SSP Baits Review

It's always exciting when a new bait company appears on the scene and if Facebook is anything to go by, there's a new boilie making firm springing up every five minutes, but for the match and pleasure anglers among us it's a relative rarity as there are a few big names that dominate the market. I suppose the last one to burst onto the scene was Old Ghost from China and before that, Marukyu from Japan.

So I was intrigued when I heard about SSP Baits, even more so when I found out Mark Hoye was heavily involved. I've only met Mark once and that was at the lovely Gillhams Resort in Thailand and he's just one of those blokes you can't help liking, a thoroughly nice guy. He can fish a bit too and has competed at the highest level of match fishing although nowadays he's more likely to be sat behind a trio of rods on bite alarms and has an impressive tally of specimen fish to his name, both in the UK and in Thailand. Mark's no stranger to launching companies either, starting with Future Angling Products with Kevin Stack in 1992, his other ventures include Fish East Asia with Stephen Scrutton which specialises in fishing tours in Thailand, Vanquish Angling and now SSP Baits where he's teamed up with Kevin Stack once again.
Mark Hoye
Kevin Stack
Now, while SSP might be the new kids on the block as far as bait is concerned, the company itself has a rich heritage spanning over 50 years. Within the sports nutrition industry, Sports Specific Products (SSP) and their sister company SSP Golf supply products worldwide. Three years in development, the SSP team aimed to create a bait that appealed to the three core senses of fish: Sight, Smell and Palate. The result was System-X, which according to the website 'is a unique blend of 100% natural, high protein ingredients, blended to create a food source that triggers, activates and stimulates fish into feeding'.

What makes SSP Baits different is that they have taken the research, technology and science that goes into their products for human consumption and applied them to this new bait venture. They also use an ingredient called Medi-Growth which has been developed in conjunction with Koi carp experts to aid the fish's digestive system which they claim is an industry first. So that's a bit about the background (loads more info can be found on the website here - SSP Baits) but what about the bait?

The System-X range includes boilies, pellets, groundbait, stick mix, paste, pop-ups, wafters, dumbells and various additives and is available in two colour variations, Beige Gravel and Dark Silt. Being mainly a match angler I was interested to see what the pellets and groundbaits were like and Mark was kind enough to send me some to review.

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of using dark groundbaits for roach on clear venues like Dillington Pond and I was really looking forward to using the Dark Silt and the first chance I had was at Ilminster AA's Xmas Fayre match. I was a little apprehensive though, as the range seems geared more towards the commercial scene than natural venues and the description on the SSP website seems to back this up,

"SYSTEM-X Ground Bait is a high performance, high quality food source that stimulates feeding without over feeding the fish. SYSTEM-X Ground Bait contains a blend of crushed nuts, pre digested fishmeal’s and refined crushed koi pellets, to create an intense food stimulant. It is perfect for method fishing, margin feeding or as a carrier of other particles like corn, casters or pellets.
The neutral colour variations will work on all lake and river beds, and in varying water conditions. Available in Beige Gravel and Dark Silt."
Beige Gravel
Dark Silt
But saying that, what fish doesn't like fishmeal? On the day, my first job as always was to mix my groundbait and the first thing I noticed was that it didn't overly smell of fishmeal, it mixed up nicely and I left it to settle while I set up the rest of my kit. After I'd finished getting my rigs ready etc, as with most groundbaits I had to add some more water to get it just right where I could form a ball but also by rubbing it between my hands it would revert to a nice fluffy mix without any lumps. I added a some casters, maggots and hemp and was ready for the off.
My bait tray for the match
At Dillington I tend to cup in a couple of balls of groundbait to kick-start the swim and fish on the deck while loosefeeding until the fish come up in the water. Now I'm not going to go into a blow by blow account of the match (which can be found here Xmas Fayre if you're interested) but I caught really well for two hours before the fish came shallow including a nice perch and a cracking roach which was getting on for a pound. I ended up with 9lb 15oz of quality roach, rudd and perch for second in the match and System-X had passed my first test with flying colours and I can't wait to try it again.
I had 9lb 15oz of quality roach with around half the fish coming on caster over System-X in the first two hours
Over the Xmas period I'm hoping to review the pellets at a venue I've not fished before which is always quite exciting, so stay tuned for that and then in the New Year I'll be trying out the SSP boilies for some monster fish in Thailand!
Dark Silt Pellets
The System-X range from SSP Baits
If you fancy trying any of the System-X range, all the products can be purchased from the SSP Baits website - The groundbait and pellets come in 1kg bags and cost £4.99 and the pellets come in three sizes, 2mm, 4mm and 6mm.

So first impressions are very good, everything about the range just screams quality from the packaging to the products themselves and although I've only used the groundbait so far (and I realise one session is hardly an extensive field test!), I caught plenty of fish and there's no better endorsement than that. So look out for my review of the pellets and if you haven't had chance to check it out yet, have a read of my interview with Mark (which can be found here - Interview with Mark Hoye) where he gives an insight into the development of the range and hints at some more exciting SSP products to come.

*SSP Baits sent me these products for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Monday, December 14, 2015

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 5 - 13th December 2015

With no real rain to speak of, we would be back on the river today and arriving for the draw it was nice to see the Tackleuk baggers back again although Ashley was looking a bit rough as he was suffering from a serious bout of man flu. Looking at the pegs in today, there were some real crackers like 128, 129 and the pegs below Hambridge but there were also some pegs I didn't really fancy like the pegs above the bridge at Isle Brewers, particularly peg 123.

Rob announced the draw and by the time me and Scotty reached the hat, there were only two pegs left, Scotty pulled one out and chucked it on the floor for me, H2 at Hambridge, that'll do nicely! which left him with 123 and I must admit I felt for him a bit as he can't draw for toffee on the river at the moment. Rob had no such problems as he was on peg H3 again and his drawing arm was back with a vengeance.

We got to the river and it looked perfect, a tinge of colour, some pace and there were small fish topping everywhere. I spent a little while trying to get my box level as the bank was a bit awkward and then I had to do a bit of tree pruning. all of which left me rather short of time. The first rig out of the box was nowhere near deep enough, the second rig was way too deep and while I was faffing about, Rob shouted the all in. By the time I had finally got the rig sorted and started fishing, Rob had already caught six fish!
I was on peg H2 at Hambridge and it's the first time I've been below the bridge!
I slipped a caster on, shipped the pole out to 8.5 metres and inched the float through, after a few feet, the float buried and the strike saw a fair bit of blue hydro exit the pole tip before I netted a decent roach of 5-6oz and I hoped I'd be seeing plenty more of the same. My next few fish were tiny roach so I tried a grain of hemp to try and improve the stamp of fish but it just resulted in lots of missed bites and a couple of fish the same size as the caster fish I was catching. I then tried a 6mm black Marukyu JPZ pellet and first chuck I had a better roach which also signalled the appearance of a fair sized pike.

I ended the first hour with 20 fish and I'd become somewhat preoccupied trying to catch quality fish.and was a long way behind Rob already and I could also see Fieldy on the other side of the bridge swinging in small fish on a regular basis. I tried fishing two sections to hand but only had a few small roach so I stuck another on and started catching really well, small roach, dace and chublets but with the odd better 4oz roach in amongst them. I had 41 fish in the second hour and was starting to make a dent in Rob's early lead.

If it started to go quiet I'd add another section and get a few more fish but there were obviously several pike about as both me and Rob suffered several attacks during the day and I think they were pushing the roach around the peg a bit. I did hook a nice roach at 8.5 metres and a decent pike nailed it straight away, I had it on for ages and at one stage I thought I might actually land it but they don't like it when they're losing and it spat the roach out at the net!

Rob was still catching well, he was getting a lot of small fish but he also netted a nice perch around 1.5lb and was putting a good weight together. I just couldn't catch quality consistently and no matter where I put the rig, I'd get a bite and there must be one heck of a lot of fish at Hambridge at the moment. Among the roach I was getting the odd chunky little chublet, small dace and gudgeon and even had a tiny skimmer while Rob added a ruffe and a small trout to his mixed bag!

Just for a change I had no clue what sort of weight I had, I thought 160 fish would have to give me double figures, maybe as much as 15lb if they averaged an ounce and a half a piece but some of them were tiny. I spent most of the match fishing the shorter line as every time I hooked a fish in the middle that bloody pike would have a go at it! Rob had another good perch and was also ahead of me on numbers of but despite his protests that a lot of his fish were tiny gudgeon, I was having none of it!

With the light fading and about half an hour to go, I started getting some chunky roach and I ended up with 196 fish, we packed up and Rob reckoned I'd beaten him but as he had three perch that probably went the best part of 4lb between them, I knew I hadn't. We loaded the cars before walking back with the scales and Rob went first and plonked 15lb 4oz on the scales before it was my turn and my fish went 11lb 15oz and those perch had made all the difference. 
Rob had 15lb 4oz including some nice perch
I had 11lb 15oz (and needed some perch!)
Back at the results and Fieldy had weighed 16lb 11oz from above the bridge to push me down into third place and there was still the other section to come back yet! Karl was above Graham and was unfortunate to lose two big chub. Harry was first back from Isle Brewers and said Justin had the top weight with 9lb 3oz from 125 so I'd hung on to third place and picked up £20 plus a pound off Steve P who had 7lb 10oz from peg 128 and was just behind Ashley with 7lb 14oz from 129 and Scotty did well to catch 7lb 11oz from peg 123. Harry caught 5lb 7oz from 124 and Bob didn't weigh in from Barney's Bend (126).

1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 16lb 11oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 15lb 4oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 11lb 15oz

A - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 9lb 3oz
B - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 7lb 14oz

So after five matches and dropping the worst result, Fieldy leads with a perfect four point score followed by Rob and Justin who both have eight.

Next up - The River Isle

Coming soon - My SSP Baits review

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Dillington Pond - Xmas Fayre - 6th December 2015

The weather was horrendous yesterday with really strong winds as Storm Desmond gave the country a battering, so Rob decided to put us all on the pond today rather than have us spread out all over the river if the weather was going to be grim again. I got to the pub for the draw and as always this match was well attended and along with the regulars it was nice to see Jamie Bisgrove, Andy Welch, Tony Newman and Tackleuk baggers Scott and Ashley swelling the numbers to 17, it would have been one more but poor Harry Hebditch had a puncture on the way (hope you got it sorted and see you soon mate).

Rob announced the draw and I pulled out peg 14 which was the same peg I was on the last time we fished the pond. I got battered off the next peg in that match by Ash who had over 24lb which included four big chub for 12lb, Heardy was my neighbour today and I was hoping there wouldn't be a repeat performance! Justin was over in peg 17 and my two side bets today were with Hurf who had drawn peg 1 and Steve P who was on peg 8. Thankfully the wind wasn't too bad today and it was still incredibly mild for December and I thought some bream and skimmers might show again.
Heardy was on the next peg
I got my box level before mixing up some of the new SSP System-X Dark Silt groundbait, I'm a big fan of dark groundbaits and I was looking forward to trying this one. Rigs were the usual 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing on the deck at 10 metres and a little Preston Chianti for up in the water. I was ready with 10 minutes to go so had a coffee and walked up for a quick chat with Heardy and Scotty who was on peg 11 in the corner.
I was looking forward to trying the new SSP groundbait
Scotty was doing a bit of networking!
Rob blew to start the match and I cupped in two balls of groundbait at 10 metres and started on the deep rig with single caster on the hook, I had a small roach first chuck and when I had another on the next put in, I thought I'd be in for a busy day but when I shipped out again, the float just sat there! I gave it another five minutes before putting two red maggots on to see if I could get a bite. I missed a couple of indications before my next fish was a gudgeon! A couple more small roach followed but I was soon back on the caster to see if I could catch a better stamp. I started to get some better roach and was doing okay if the bankside banter was to be believed, I could see Ash on peg 6 getting the odd roach shallow but nobody else seemed to be doing much at this early stage.

Then the next bite resulted in a fair bit of my Drennan Aqua elastic coming out and I shipped back gently before netting a decent perch of 10oz or so, things got even better ten minutes later when I hooked another good fish which turned out to be a cracking roach that had to be pushing a pound - lovely! After an hour the clicker was reading 20 fish, not fast and furious but with those two bonus fish I probably had around 2lb in the net and as I thought 10lb would be a decent weight today, it was going to plan so far.

The second hour was similar and I was getting the odd better roach and rudd in amongst the smaller ones but it was starting to slow up and I added another 17 fish. Going into the third hour bites slowed even further so it was time to try the shallow rig. I was also feeding at 10 metres just off the reeds to my left and would swap between the two. I started getting odd fish shallow although once again I was missing loads of bites but as I was catching the odd net roach I stuck at it.

I'd seen Rob net a couple of better fish on peg 19 and Justin was catching odd fish in 17 but as he kept swapping between the pole and feeder, I thought he must be struggling. It sounded like Heardy and Scotty were struggling and as far as I could see, Ash was the only other angler catching regularly but we still had two hours to go. I had another cracking roach about 12oz and not long after had a decent rudd and although my catch rate had slowed up, I was getting some quality fish and thought if I could get to 80 fish it would give me around my target weight of 10lb (if they averaged 2oz apiece).

Then Justin landed a nice skimmer on the feeder and not long after added a second but I was still ahead for now. Going into the last hour, Heardy had cupped in some feed to try and get the chub feeding and then Justin caught his third skimmer and there was now nothing between us. I was still getting the odd fish but then Heardy struck into a big fish which snagged him in the reeds straight away and he lost it which prompted a major bout of cussing and the air was blue with much swearing. Not long after Scotty landed a chub which did nothing to improve Martin's mood!

There were obviously some chub prepared to have a munch in Heardy's peg as he landed two in the space of 20 minutes and when Justin landed his fourth decent skimmer, I knew he'd overtaken me and I didn't think there was much between me and Heardy now. Jake Woodard on peg 7 also hooked a decent fish which I thought was a chub but turned out to be a tench and Jamie Bisgrove landed a big perch and all of a sudden there were bonus fish being hooked everywhere!. As we headed towards the end of the match Justin had two more big skimmers and was looking good to win, I was just hoping that Martin wouldn't get anymore chub but he added a third and I thought he'd overtaken me now as well.

Rob shouted the all out and I finished up with 81 fish which I hoped would give me double figures but I knew it wouldn't be enough today. I packed up and loaded the car before walking round with Justin to start the weigh in at Scotty, his chub boosted his weight to 6lb 12oz, then Martin pulled his net out and along with the chub he had a decent skimmer but he didn't have many roach and weighed 8lb 8oz. Then it was my turn and the needle stopped at 9lb 15oz which was less than I thought, Justin had some lovely skimmers and a nice perch to go into the lead with a level 15lb.
Scotty had 6lb 12oz which included this nice chub
Martin had three chub and a skimmer for 8lb 8oz
I had some quality roach, rudd and perch for 9lb 15oz
Justin had 15lb of skimmers and perch
Rob had some quality roach and perch for 7lb 8oz from peg 19 and then Karl had 1lb 4oz which included a lovely little tench before Bruce had over 150 small fish for 7lb 4oz from peg 22. I shouted across to Hurf to ask what the weights in the other section were and he said he was top with 9lb 7oz and Ash had weighed 8lb 12oz so I'd ended up in second place overall which I was well pleased with.
Rob had some quality roach and perch for 7lb 8oz
Karl had a lovely little tench from peg 20
Bruce had over 150 fish for 7lb 4oz
Back at the Oak and all the anglers enjoyed a lovely buffet laid on by Cindy and Steve before it was time for the prize giving and once again Rob had done the anglers proud with some amazing prizes. Justin was called out the winner, well done mate and then it was my turn and I picked up £30 (and £1's off Hurf and Steve P) and a bottle of wine for second place plus four boxes of biscuits and two tins of chocolates, a cracking prize.
My haul of prizes
After all the anglers had chosen their prizes, Rob announced that the peg fees would be donated to The Brain Tumour Charity which was a fantastic gesture and I was really touched.
A fantastic gesture from the club
1 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 15lb
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 9lb 15oz
3 - Steve Hurford (Ilminster) - 9lb 7oz

So a really nice day and the club would like to say a massive thanks to Rob for organising a great match and getting the fantastic prizes and a huge thanks also to Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak for looking after us so well.

Next up - The River Isle

What's new - Lots of page updates

Check Out - My latest interview with SSP Bait's Mark Hoye (below)