Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mullet Fishing by Pete Bluett - Part 1

My latest guest blog is one I've been looking forward to for a while now, regular visitors to the blog will have read about my efforts at trying to catch mullet over the years without a great deal of success so I was well chuffed when National Mullet Club Catch Recorder, Pete Bluett, agreed to pen an article about mullet fishing for me. Loads of great info and some stunning fish photos.

Introduction

There are many myths around grey mullet, such as they’ve got soft mouths (not true) or that they’re impossible to catch (also not true). The one word used to describe them that definitely is true though is ‘enigmatic’. Indeed, I’ve often said to myself as a fish swims past my bait totally ignoring it for the 20th time ‘my word, these mullet sure are being enigmatic.’ But like all other species, provided you use the correct tactics and tackle and put the time in, results will follow. And it’s worth it, pound for pound there are fewer, if any, harder fighting fish in our waters. They are not known as the ‘British bonefish’ for nothing.
The author with his pb mullet of 7lb 5oz from Christchurch harbour
There are three species of grey mullet in UK waters. The golden grey mullet (Liza aurata) is the smallest and rarely grows over 3lb in weight. Unlike the other two they are a coastal species found only in high salinity conditions either on the open coast or the very lower ends of estuaries or in harbours. In most parts of the UK they only occur during the high summer months and are not found as far north as the other two species, being confined to the southwest, south coast and southern Ireland. The second is the thin lipped grey mullet (Liza ramada). The upper size limit for thin lips is debateable but anything over 5lb would be considered an exceptional specimen. Like golden greys, thins are predominantly shoal fish, but unlike goldens they can and do tolerate a wide range of salinities. They are often found above the tidal limit in pure freshwater. Thick lipped grey mullet (Chelon labrosus) are the largest of the three. The British record is 14lb but specimens of this size are exceptionally rare. The National Mullet Club describes fish of over 8lb as ‘leviathans’ and probably the realistic upper limit for most anglers. Thick lips are found in a huge range of locations and environments – in some areas they will happily tolerate pure freshwater, can be caught on a large range of methods and baits, and are therefore the species most often targeted by anglers. It is thick lips I am obsessed with and spend 99.9% of my angling time chasing.

My own mullet fishing life started as a kid in the late 1970s growing up next to the River Camel in north Cornwall. Back then the idea that mullet were uncatchable by conventional means was still widely believed, and the local method of choice was to deliberately foul hook them with very heavy gear and strings of large trebles (known now as ‘snagging’ or ‘ripping’). The river was full of mullet that were nearly always visible and many fell victim to this rather barbaric practice. However the local tackle shop owner and rod builder, the late great Keith Appleton, grew fed up with witnessing this and decided to offer annual prizes for mullet caught properly. Armed with this incentive, myself and one or two others set out to learn how to catch them with bait. Our tackle was crude and we were really making it up as we went along, but eventually I started to have some success ended up taking home that trophy four years running! Thus began the obsession that still grips now, over 35 years later.

Since I started mullet fishing all those years ago, perhaps the biggest advancement has been the adoption of coarse fishing methods and tackle. Because the mullet is a ‘sea’ fish I think for a long time there was a tendency to try and catch them on completely unsuitable sea fishing gear, contributing to the ‘uncatchable’ reputation. But the mullet’s diet and feeding habits are much more akin to coarse fish so it stands to reason that a coarse fishing type approach is the way to go. Thick lipped mullet, as the name suggests, have a pronounced thick fleshy upper lip and much harder lower jaw. They feed predominantly by grazing algae and diatoms, or sifting through the sediment in search of invertebrates or other very small food items. The lower jaw is cleft and they often leave tell-tale parallel tracks in the substrate giving away their presence.
The business end of a 6lb thick lipped mullet
Scrape marks left by feeding mullet
More scrape marks
Fortunately for the angler, ‘thicks’ are opportunistic and as well as their natural food will often investigate anything else they think might be edible. As such the variety of baits that have taken mullet over the years is almost endless, but the one that has stood the test of time and caught vastly more fish than any other is good old sliced bread. Most prefer plain white but I have also had a lot of success with Kingsmill 50/50 or Hovis Best of Both. Thin lips and golden greys are more predatory in their feeding habits and are more often taken on fish or worm baits. Both require a more specialist approach, and as I’m not an expert on either, it is thick lips I’ll talk about from here onwards.
 
Tackle (disclaimer – I am not affiliated to any of the companies mentioned below, they’re just what I happen to use)

As mentioned above, coarse tackle is a must if you want to have a realistic chance of success. I use ‘avon’ style rods because they are versatile and can be used for all of the three methods I employ – float fishing, touch legering and quiver tipping. Others may use either specialist float and leger rods, it is purely personal preference. My rods are all 12ft in length – a lot of the places I fish preclude using anything longer. Once again though other mullet anglers prefer longer rods, often up to 15 or even 17ft in length. Probably more important than length is the action. I use softish rods that bend right through to the butt – my main three are 0.5lb, 1lb and 1.5lb test curves. Mullet are very powerful fish that run long and hard and in my opinion too stiff a rod is asking for hook pulls or breakages.
The author with a mullet on
For reels I use fixed spools in 2500 size. Whether you prefer front or rear drag, a quality drag mechanism is imperative. Not only are they going to be used in salt water, but a decent mullet will expose a poor drag in no time at all. For years now I have been a fan of Shimano Supers and Stradics and see no reason to change any time soon. Very recently I have started using a centre pin for a lot of my float fishing. It’s far too early for me to comment on that but guys who are much better mullet anglers than me absolutely swear by them and I’m looking forward to experimenting more during the coming summer.

For mainline I use bog standard 6lb bs mono, usually Daiwa Sensor Black. When mullet fishing your line takes a pounding and I see no need to use anything more expensive. In 2016 I dabbled with braid and had some success with it but will probably stick to mono for most of my fishing for the time being. If I need to use a separate trace or hooklink, 4lb bs fluorocarbon fits the bill.

When it comes to hooks, the barbed vs barbless debate rages among mullet anglers. For me personally 90% of the time I use Kamasan B981 in size 8. This is a standard barbless J pattern and has caught me hundreds, if not thousands, of mullet. For me the advantages of barbless far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. The other 10% of the time I use Kamasan B983s in size 10. This is a wider gape pattern with a whisker barb and can be better for legering. 

I use two main types of float – Drennan Loafers from 2SSG up to 5SSG and Drennan Pudddle Chuckers (the slimline unloaded ones) again in various sizes. All of my fishing is done sub-surface so I’m not qualified to comment on controller floats etc for surface fishing! The leads I use are simple bombs in 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz sizes plus 1.1oz Korda gripper carp leads. For swimfeeders I use in-line method feeders in 14g and 28g sizes. Other than that, high quality small swivels – barrel, snap and three-way, a selection of split shot and a plummet. More generically, a fish-friendly landing net is a must. Mullet have large scales that detach very easily and must be handled with great care. Good quality polarized sunglasses will also protect your eyes and help immensely with fish spotting!
Drennan Loafers and Puddle Chuckers
Leads and feeders
Seasons and Environments

Thick lipped mullet are traditionally thought of as a summer species and indeed for most parts of the UK this holds true. Along the bulk of the south coast the season is nominally May to October or possibly into November if the weather holds. The further north or east you go, the shorter the season. But way out west in Cornwall and also in south west Ireland and the Channel Islands, it is possible to catch mullet throughout the year. I have caught fish in west Cornwall in the depth of winter with sub-zero air temperatures, and all the puddles and the sand on the beach frozen solid. In terms of range, they occur all around the southern part of the UK and up the western side at least as far as the Clyde system in Scotland. How far they range up the east coast of the UK is debateable but probably at least as far as the Scottish border. They are also prevalent all around Ireland during the summer, and indeed southern and south west Ireland offers some of the finest mullet fishing to be found anywhere.
Even the sand was frozen!
As mentioned above, the variety of environments and locations where thick lips can be found is almost endless. Any inshore area of salt or brackish water will almost certainly have either a population of resident mullet or visiting mullet. And in my local River Camel in Cornwall they will often happily spend the summer miles from the sea in what is effectively fresh water. Estuaries are the classic place to find and fish for mullet. If the water is deep enough, they may well be present at low tide, otherwise they will appear as soon as the tide floods and make their way upriver with the filling tide. Harbours, especially working harbours, are also very attractive to mullet because of the relatively easy pickings on offer. Likewise, some of the very biggest mullet live in marinas, but sadly angling is prohibited in the vast majority of these nowadays. Rocky coastlines can also be productive, although that can have a feeling of searching for the needle in the haystack! Bizarrely, given what they eat, mullet often find sandy surf beaches very attractive and sometimes shoal up in very shallow water in big numbers. More often than not though, they will be found near structure, be that man-made or natural. For example piers, boats, rocks, bridges and especially weed beds.

Mullet likes structures!
In part 2, Pete takes us through the methods he uses.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Zizz 24-7 Head Torch - A Review

My latest product review is the Head Torch from Zizz 24-7 Lighting, I ordered it via Amazon and it arrived in a rather large package although on opening, the head torch was in a much more modest sized box! It comes with a really neat storage case that can be clipped to your rucksack, belt etc with the clip provided and three Duracell batteries are also included.
It comes with everything included
It has five different lighting settings,
  • Click the on/off button once - High 170 lumen white light
  • Click the button again - Medium 85 lumen white light
  • Click the button again - Low 45 lumen white light
  • Click and hold the button for two seconds - Red LED light
  • Click the button again - Red LED flashing light
  • Click the button again to turn the torch off
  video
It has an adjustable strap and you can also alter the angle of the light for reading etc. It's lightweight, waterproof, easy to use and ideal for fishing, running, hiking, cycling, camping and many other applications. The red LED's are perfect for night vision.
 
The RRP is £29.99 but it's currently on offer at £18.80 with postage and packing at £3.99 but even better I have a discount code for Against Men and Fish readers, if you enter 7KT7HNJJ at the checkout, you get a further 50% off, taking the price down to £9.40 (plus postage) which is great value.
 
 
If that wasn't enough there is a 1 year 100% money back guarantee so if you have any problems  within the first 12 months it will be replaced or you will be refunded.
 
 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fishing and Testicles - A Review

As you might well have guessed from the title of my latest book review, this isn't your normal run of the mill fishing book! I first became aware of it when both Keith Arthur and Bob Roberts mentioned it, the author is a certain Billy Makin, former top match angler, maker of floats and creator of one of the first commercial fishery complexes who now resides in Thailand where he owns a bar. I wasn't really sure what to expect but given that my favourite pastimes are match fishing and fishing in Thailand, it had to worth a punt! I ordered it from Amazon for the very reasonable price of £10 with free delivery in the UK (it's also available for the Kindle at £4.82) and it arrived within a few days.
The cover does feature a pole, just not one made from carbon fibre!
The cover of the book has an almost saucy seaside postcard feel about it and these illustrations (by Mike Baird) feature throughout the book. It's published by B and M Publishers UK so I'm pretty sure it's self published and there are a few spelling mistakes dotted through the text (not enough to detract from the readers enjoyment but enough for a pedant like me to notice!).

The book is packed full of very comical stories as Billy recounts tales from his youth, his fishery owning days, his time in the army and of course Thailand, although if I'm honest I found it a little bit disjointed at times as he flits between different periods of his life, sometimes mid story! His was and continues to be, a very colourful life and at times you wonder how he's made it this far! Also, if, like me, you were wondering why testicles are in the title, shall we just say that Billy's balls feature prominently throughout the book!

It is a very funny read but if you're looking for a Billy Makin autobiography or some fishing tips, this isn't the book for you (although if he were to publish the former, it would be a fascinating book and one I would love to read about his match fishing days and the creation of Makins Fishery). One thing I did learn from the book is that if I ever meet the man himself, I certainly won't be getting on the wrong side of him!

If you want a chuckle, grab yourself a copy (you won't be disappointed!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FISHING-TESTICLES-Billy-Makin/dp/0995553394/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492032391&sr=1-1&keywords=fishing+and+testicles

Monday, April 17, 2017

Perry St Pond - League 2 - 16th April 2017

For round two I was on the low numbers at Perry St, we met at Millfield Café for breakfast and once again it was really good and I can't fault it. Once everybody was sufficiently fuelled up we headed to Perry St to do the draw, the Sadborow section drew and headed off first and then it was our turn, I fancied pegs 4, 6 or 10 but pulled out peg 2. The Tart had drawn peg 6 and with Picky on the end peg (1), I checked my pockets to make sure I had enough pounds to pay out the side bets. The Hoff was on peg 3 on my left with Bushy on peg 4, Squadron Leader Smith was in 7, Dave Abrams in 8 and Mark on the other end peg (10).
Peg 2 at Perry St
The peg looked nice although I couldn't see any carp cruising about, I set up my favourite little in-line dibber for fishing shallow, a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for the five metre meat line and a little rig to fish by the fish refuge on the inside on my right. The side tray had the usual 6mm meat to which I added some Bait-Tech Liquid Plum, 6mm Carp and Coarse Pellets, red maggots and I also had a pot of 8mm Juice Dumbells for a change of hook bait.
Meat, maggots and pellets
On the whistle I cupped in some meat at five metres and then meat, pellets and maggots on the inside before starting out at 11.5 metres with a banded pellet. I could only see a few anglers around me because of the tree to my left but already it sounded like the Tart and Mark in peg 10 were bagging. It took 15 minutes to get my first bite and I landed a small carp around 2-3lb, I had another three including a couple of better ones to finish a good first hour. Picky hadn't caught yet and both him and the gorgeous Mr Chant in peg 20 were having problems with some surface scum that was collecting in their pegs. Geoff on 19 and Chilly on 17 hadn't caught yet either but they were in the other section, the only anglers I could see in my section were Picky and Hoff so would have to rely on the bankside banter to see how the rest were doing.

I could see quite a few groups of carp swimming about now and had managed to successfully stalk/mug the odd fish and I had two quite quickly at the start of the second hour and started to think a big weight was on the cards. I hooked carp number seven but it came off and then the fish just switched off. By the end of the second hour I was still stuck on six fish, by all accounts, the Tart was still catching well and whipping the water to a froth with his slapping! I decided to stick at fishing shallow for another hour as the people I could see were fishing on the deck and in the margins and nobody was catching. I was still feeding a few pieces of meat at five metres and maggots and pellets down the edge and would try these lines next if no more shallow fish were forthcoming.

I didn't add any more fish to my nets over the next hour so tried the five metre line for the first time but the float never moved, next I went next to the floating platform with a cube of meat on the hook, I had a couple of knocks and the float did sail away but I missed it and it may have been a liner. I was still pinging pellets out to 11.5 metres and as some fish were mooching about I went back out and over the next hour or so I added a couple more fish. I also hooked a fish that tore all over the place before snapping the hooklength and I fear it may have been foulhooked.

Chanter had started catching some small rudd and Picky had got off the mark with a couple of carp, Hoff had landed a couple but also suffered a pole breakage on an angry fish and Chilly had a couple of carp from his inside line. I decided to try one of the new Bait-Tech 8mm Juice Dumbells and picked a white one as it would be a nice visual bait. I spotted a pod of carp and flicked the rig out so it landed in their path, the float buried and after a long scrap, I netted a fish that looked to be 8-9lb.

A few more fish started showing, Picky had a nice tench, both him and Chanter also had a couple of fish shallow and even Chilly tried it! I got to twelve fish with about an hour to go and tried the inside line again but still no bites. I heard Les say that every time he looked up, Mark was playing a fish in peg 10 and with the Tart catching as well, I thought I was fishing for third in the section at best although apparently Major Smith had bagged up as well. I pulled out of a fish and then next chuck landed number thirteen and that was the last of the action. I wasn't sure what weight I had but thought probably around 40lb.

I packed up and took my kit back to the car before waiting for the scales to arrive at peg 1, Captain Smith said he'd finished up with twelve carp and the Tart was admitting to 40lb so this could be closer than I originally thought, then Mark said he'd only had ten carp which surprised me but it just goes to show you shouldn't always take the bankside telephone as gospel! The scales arrived and Picky had finished up with five carp and a tench for 23lb 12oz, then my three nets went 50lb 6oz which was a little bit more that I thought. I managed to get photos of Picky and me but then somehow ended up with the weigh board and the scales party took off at pace and trying to add up peoples totals, I didn't manage to get any more photos!
Picky had 23lb 12oz from peg 1
I had some lumps in my 50lb 6oz
Hoff had 18lb 10oz, Bushy had 27lb and then we got to the Tart, he had 5lb something of silvers and then after we totted up his two carp nets, his total came to 49lb 8oz, so it was very close but no cigar!. Brigadier Smith was next door and his first net went just over 30lb but he had smaller fish in his second net and his total was 47lb. Dave Abrams on peg 8 had 8lb 12oz and then the last peg in the section was Mark on peg 10 and he had 38lb 4oz. So it had been tight with just one fish separating the top three.
Perry Low
In the other section Oz had 17lb 10oz from peg 11, Butch did well in 12 to win the section with 35lb 6oz, Bish on 13 had 16lb 12oz and Chris had 32lb 8oz for second in the section from peg 14. Les had 8lb of silvers from peg 16 and then Chilly had 28lb 4oz. Geoff had really struggled in peg 19 but had avoided the blank with a small eel and Chanter weighed 9lb 10oz from peg 20.
Perry High
Back at the results and once again Sadborow provided the top weights with Howard winning from peg 6 with 100lb 6oz, Janders was second with 72lb 4oz from peg 4 (but still had to pay me a pound as we did it on section points if we were on different ponds) and Shane was third with 65lb 4oz from peg 8. Dunner had the section money be triple default with 60lb 3oz and Mike Collins picked up second in the section with 36lb 6oz from peg 5.
Sadborow
So a really nice day and I picked £55 for the section plus nuggets off the Tart, Picky and Janders.
It's early days in the league but after two matches, Howard is leading with 3 points followed by Shane on 4 and then several people on 6 and 7.

I think I'm at Sadborow for the round three but it's not for a few weeks so I'll be at Summerhayes next week.

1 - Howard Watts (Torquay) - 100lb 6oz
2 - John 'Janders' Anderson (Chard) - 72lb 4oz
3 - Shane Jeffery (Chard) - 65lb 4oz

Sections
Perry High
1 - Butch Baker (Chard) - 35lb 6oz
2 - Chris Whitham (Torquay) - 32lb 8oz

Sadborow
1 - Alan Dunn (Chard) - 60lb 3oz
2 - Mike Collins (Chard) - 36lb 6oz

Perry Low
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 50lb 6oz
2 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 49lb 8oz

Silvers
Les Braunton (Chard) - 8lb

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 14th April 2017

With it being Good Friday, myself and Janders booked into the silvers only match at Summerhayes. Jeff Sparkes has been running the Friday matches with all the winners qualifying for a Champion of Champions match in October and because of the Bank Holiday there was a good turnout of 18 anglers. Jeff announced the draw and said all the odd peg numbers were being used today so everybody would have spare pegs either side. I went in the draw bucket early for a change and grabbed a ball but didn't look. As people were telling Jeff their peg numbers so he could write them down, I kept an eye out for peg 7 which I really don't like, Rob Birch pulled that one out, I fancied 37 or 39 but both were taken early on. Janders was on 15 which can be okay but is another carpy corner, I decided to have a look and was gutted when I saw I was on peg 5 on cyanide straight.
Peg 5 was my home for the day
Jeff was on peg 1 and was fairly happy with that, my mood improved slightly when he said peg 3 wasn't in so we had a nice big gap and with quite a few anglers on the lake, extra space could make a big difference. I set up a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for three lines at 10 metres and one at 5 metres plus a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp to fish top two plus one on the inside. As always I had 4mm Bait-Tech Xpands for the hook and some Carp and Coarse micros for feed that I soaked the night before using water with a glug of the Juice. I also mixed up a little groundbait and added some dead red maggots.

On the whistle I cupped in a small amount of micros on the inside and at 5 metres before putting in half a pot on the middle and right hand 10 metre lines, finally two balls of groundbait went in on the left hand line. I started on the inside but wasn't confident as I hadn't had a bite there in the last match on Longs, I intended to give it ten minutes to allow my other lines to settle but a tentative indication peaked my interest and when I had a 4oz skimbob shortly after, I decided to give it a bit longer. Next chuck I hooked a 5lb carp which wasn't ideal but as I landed it without too much fuss, I thought I'd give it another go. The next bite saw a decent fish tear off and I was just about to curse another carp when it stopped and then a big skimmer, probably 2.5lb, came to the top before I netted it, things got even better when I had a 12oz golden tench next chuck and another hand sized skimmer put me over 4lb and we'd only been fishing 45 minutes.

Then it was back to earth with a bump as my next two fish were carp and the second one managed to snap my hooklength in the landing net so after tying on a new one, I picked up the other rig and went out to 10 metres for the first time. I'd seen Jeff land a couple of better silvers, Rob had already hooked a couple of carp and Gary on peg 9 was catching the odd skimmer as was Roy Hughes on peg 11 but as far as I could make out, I was doing okay at this early stage. It took a while to get my first bite on the longer line, which of course I missed, I hit the next one and another decent skimmer had me thinking I could be in for a good day. I should have known better as over the remainder of the second hour I only added a few small skimbobs from the two longer lines I'd fed with micros and I never had a bite over the groundbait.

As always I wanted to leave the 5 metre as long as possible before trying it but during the third hour I only added a few more small fish and it felt like Jeff was pulling away from me, Rob had also landed a couple of decent skimmers and Gary and Roy were still getting odd silvers. I had a couple more 4oz skimbobs but then looked up to see Jeff attached to a big flying skimmer and then Rob had one too! I had another quick go on the inside and Janders walked up and said he hadn't had any skimmers yet but had several carp. He left me to it and as he walked away, the float sailed away and I was into yet another carp, after landing it, it was time to try the 5 metre line for the first time.

I had 3oz skimmer quite quickly and then had a little run of fish, mainly small skimmers and a couple of small roach before hooking a decent skimmer that came flying out the water but I safely netted it, next chuck I had one about 8oz and I didn't think there was much between me and Jeff. But then the carp moved in and despite swapping lines, they were being a right pain and it was the same for everyone judging by all the elastic I could see when I looked around.

Going into the last hour, I thought I had about 7lb (and 30lb of carp!), I had a few more blades from the 10 metre line but after another carp put in an appearance, I came back in on the 5 metre line for the last 15 minutes, I had a couple of small skimmers and then a better one which was all rough, ready for spawning, I checked my watch and there were still a couple of minutes left, I had another 3oz fish and still had time to miss another bite before Jeff signalled the all out. I ended up with 27 fish (all skimmers apart from that tench) and a few little roach which I hadn't counted and when Jeff asked what I had, I said about 7lb but hoped it might be a little more. He was admitting to 10lb and I was pretty sure I didn't have that.

I packed my kit up and loaded the car before catching up with the scales, a quick look at the weigh board revealed Martin Addicott had the best weight so far with 8lb 9oz from peg 35, Ziggy had 5lb 12oz from 27 and then Roger weighed 3lb 12oz on peg 25, John F had 3lb 6oz and then Andy Hembrow came close with 8lb from peg 21. John Barker had 7lb 5oz from 19 and then Mark on 17 and Janders didn't weigh. Roy Hughes had 4lb 11oz from peg 11 and then it was Gary Butler's turn, he was admitting to 6lb and said whatever he weighed I had double that! He weighed a level 11lb and had sneaked them in because I thought he'd struggled and I knew for sure I didn't have 22lb!

Rob didn't weigh and then it was my turn, I was hoping I'd done enough to frame but after tipping my fish into the weigh basket, they were all saying it was close and my weight was called at 11lb 3oz! I was still convinced Jeff had beaten me though and when he pulled his net out I thought he had but again it was close and his weight was called at 10lb 7oz so I'd done it! Back at the results I was called out in first place and had a nice pick up of £85 plus a place in the final later in the year.
I had 11lb 3oz for first place on the day
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 11lb 3oz
2 - Gary Butler (Summerhayes) - 11lb
3 - Jeff Sparkes (Summerhayes) - 10lb 7oz
4 - Martin Addicott (Summerhayes) - 8lb 9oz
Close weights again
A nice pick up
Next up - Perry St

Coming soon - My next book review

Check Out - My last disaster (below)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 9th April 2017

After a really nice day at the Big One yesterday, I woke up to blue skies, the sun shining and it was looking like being a lovely day, I just needed to catch a few fish now. I picked Janders up and we reached the venue in plenty of time, we were just going to collect some nets when we could see the Tart peering out the window of the shop, the window had bars on and allowed me for a few seconds to imagine him in prison, with a massive inmate behind him, asking him to pick the soap up! Alas unless wearing too much orange becomes a crime, I don't think he'll be doing any 'hard' time soon.

There was a decent turnout of 18 with Scott Russell, fresh from his victory at Todber yesterday and Ads Palmer swelling the ranks. The match was on Sellicks and I was really looking forward to it as Jeff Sparkes had won the silvers match on Friday with over 18lb from peg 19. Adie got Janders to pick a golden peg which turned out to be 19 so there was a good chance it could go today. I fancied a peg on that side or at the top end but was really disappointed to find the number 2 on my ping pong ball. It used to be a great silvers peg but has gone off the boil in recent times, Jeff Sparkes was on 4 and was about as happy as I was.

Steve Kedge was on the golden peg and said he would be going for silvers (so would pick up half the pot if he won), the Tart also drew spot on with peg 21 as did Exeter Mike on 17. Janders was on peg 6 so at least I'd be able to keep an eye on my side bet. The weather was glorious and I was sat there in a t-shirt although with it being flat calm, it wouldn't do us any favours fishing for silvers. Chris Szakacs was on peg 3 and said he reads the blog, he is (along with Steve Burgess) one of the editors of the Bristol PSV Fishing Club blog.
It was a beautiful day (well, to start with!)
I set up a 0.4 gram Malman pencil and plumbed up, the bottom was all over the place but I eventually settled on three lines, 8.5 metres (which as it's quite narrow put me two thirds of the way across), in front of peg 1's pallet (it wasn't occupied obviously!) and an inside line at top two plus one, angled slightly to my left. On the side tray were just some 4mm Bait-Tech Xpands plus some micros that I'd soaked yesterday with Liquid Plum added to the water.

Adie got us underway and I cupped in some micros on all three lines before starting at 8.5 metres straight out, I was slightly surprised not to have an indication quite quickly as there are quite a few hand sized skimbobs in Sellicks and after 15 minutes I was still biteless. Chris had landed a couple of carp from tight across and there were quite a few moving about along the far bank and down past peg 1. I switched to my second line by the pallet and missed a couple of bites before getting off the mark with a nice skimmers around 6oz or so. Things got even better when my next fish was a small tench about the same size but I then foulhooked a carp which thankfully wasn't on long and it was time to swap lines again.

I had another small tench, this time from 8.5 metres and although I wasn't bagging, it was a steady start, Jeff had only had a small tench and few little roach and I hadn't seen Janders catch yet so I felt I was doing okay. I was dripping a few micros in on the short line every time I shipped out but wanted to leave it as long as possible. At the start of the second hour I was back down by the pallet and hooked a fish which I was sure was a tench but turned out to be a small 8oz carp and this signalled a bad patch where I landed a couple of small carp and had another go round a branch and snap me up.

Thankfully my next bite was a little tench and then I had a decent 12oz skimmer to finish the second hour on a high to put me on around 2.5lb which I still thought wouldn't be too far off the pace. But then, out of the blue, the wind got up, turned around and it got really cold quickly and my bites just stopped and looking up the pond so had everybody else's, Chris was still hooking the odd carp but quite a few were coming off and I think the majority were foul hooked. I had to put my hoody on and it was a case of battening down the hatches as at times the wind was making it difficult to hold the pole! The anglers on the far bank seemed to be missing the worst of it with the wind off their backs and most of them still seemed to be catching carp quite well.

After about an hour where I haven't had a bite and the only action was a foul hooked carp which took me all round my swim (and Chris's) before going under the pallet in peg one and transferring the hook to one on the legs, I had to get off my box to retrieve the rig (much to the Tart's amusement!). I was freezing cold and had to put on my coat along with my bib and brace and I was still cold! Janders wandered down and he'd only had one skimmer and wasn't enjoying himself too much either. For the remainder of the match if the float went under on any of my lines, it was a carp and it looked like Jeff was in the same boat and it was almost funny (or it would have been if I'd hadn't been shivering so much!).

Janders packed up early and I was looking forward to hearing the final whistle when, with a couple of minutes to go, the float sunk from view and I hooked a fish which didn't feel like a carp and this time it wasn't as a crucian around a pound popped up, as I unhooked it Adie blew the whistle to put an end to proceedings. I ended up with three little tench, two skimmers plus that crucian and around ten nuisance carp. After packing up, the scales started with me and my meagre catch of silvers went 3lb 7oz and my carp weighed 22lb 10oz, Chris had 47lb 9oz and then Jeff's silvers weighed 1lb 14oz which just shows you how hard it had been.

Roy Hughes in 5 and Janders in 6 didn't weigh so at least I was a pound up, Bill 'The Paste King' Hopping on peg 7 had 64lb 1oz before Roger Russell went into the silvers lead with 6lb 8oz from peg 9, Mark Hanham had 57lb 11oz from peg 11 before Chris Boulton plonked 87lb 6oz on the scales from peg 13. Scotty Russell had 59lb 12oz from peg 15 and then Exeter Mike had 6lb 15oz of silvers  from peg 17. Ads Palmer was next and after three weighs, his total was 98lb 7oz (photo courtesy of Adam Palmer).
Ads with part of his 98lb 7oz winning catch
Steve Kedge had fished for silvers all day but had struggled for 4lb 11oz so the golden peg was safe, Chris W had 50lb 14oz from peg 20 and then the Tart went into third place with 69lb 9oz from peg 21 but as he didn't have any silvers we finished all square on the side bets. Last to weigh was Martin Addicot with 66lb 4oz from peg 23 which saw him finish fourth and take the final frame place.

So a really disappointing day for me, definitely one to forget and the silvers certainly didn't want to play ball in those early pegs and the top four and the silvers winner all came from the top end or far side.

1 - Adam Palmer (Maver Royal Navy) - 98lb 7oz
2 - Chris Boulton (Summerhayes) - 87lb 6oz
3 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 69lb 6oz
4 - Martin Addicott (Summerhayes) - 66lb 4oz

Silvers
1 - Mike Hosgood (Exeter) - 6lb 15oz
2 - Roger Russell (Tackleuk) - 6lb 8oz
Todays results
Next up - Silvers match at Summerhayes

Coming soon - My next interview and another book review

Check Out - My Big One blog (below)

The Big One - 8th April 2017

After seeing all the posts on Facebook about the Northern Angling Show last week, I was really looking forward to seeing all the new gear being released this year at The Big One. We got there around dinnertime and first stop was the Daiwa stand where we had really nice chat with Bob Roberts, what a top bloke and he showed us some of the new Prorex predator range, it looks the business and I would love to do some more of the type of fishing, maybe this year!
Bob Roberts on the Daiwa stand
We then headed to the Gillhams stand where it was great to catch up with Geoff Akroyd and Daniel Swann and I also met Ian Breslin for the first time, as well as being a mad keen angler, he's the lead singer of punk band, The Outbursts, a fabulously fun and chaotic band, well worth checking out and right up my street. As always I bought some more draw tickets in the hope of a free holiday to paradise.

For the third year running we just couldn't get near Des Shipp, the man is in huge demand and this year he was making rigs for people with his new Preston float range, maybe next year! We checked out Garbolino and said hello to Steve Tucker and Darren Cox before having a long chat with Richie Hull who I hadn't seen since I was in Thailand last year.

It was then time to bite the bullet and have something to eat, the grub is very good but also very expensive, I went for a pulled pork roll and with a coffee it came to an eye watering £9.10 - ouch! The Guru and Korum stands were really busy which is hardly surprising when they were manned by a host of stars including Steve Ringer, Dean Macey, Matt Godfrey, Paul Holland, Ali Hamidi and Adam Rooney among others. Ali was signing copies of his book and posing for photos but despite walking by three of four times during the day, there was always a long queue which was a shame as I would have liked to have picked up a signed copy.
The Guru stand was very busy
We did finally manage to have a talk with Matt Godfrey and what a lovely lad, I can't praise him enough, he seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say and he couldn't have been more helpful, he also agreed do an interview for the blog which will hopefully happen over the next few weeks and I'm quite excited about. Despite probably talking about the same things and answering the same questions all day, he had a smile on his face and it was obvious he is passionate about fishing and his job, an absolute credit to Guru. I bought some of the new Guru micro shot and will try it out over the next few weeks.
Looking forward to trying the new Guru micro shot
Some of the other big brands should take note because judging by the bored and in some cases, downright sullen, expressions on their big 'stars' faces, they didn't particularly want to be there. I realise being an angler and at the top your game doesn't  necessarily make you particularly good with people but at the end of the day, people like me are paying our hard earned money to come and see you guys, c'mon a smile wouldn't hurt!

We also stopped by the Bowler's Thai Fishing stand and had a nice long chat with Martin and his lovely wife.

The new MAP seatboxes were attracting a lot of attention and the one with the carbon frame looked stunning although it should do with a price tag well north of a £1000!
Box porn!
Then it was time to head to the Bait-Tech stand which is always one of my highlights as it's great to catch up with the lovely Hayley, all the new products were on display with some great show deals and I restocked with some of my favourites, Pro Natural Dark and Special G Dark. Such a great friendly bunch and you're always made to feel welcome, I had a nice long chat with Jamie Harrison, Andy Neal and Dean Barlow both said hello and it was great to finally meet Wayne Bartholomew, Phil Spry and Tom Downing in the flesh.
Phil Spry, Hayley Goldsmith and Wayne Bartholomew on the Bait-Tech stand
I stocked up with my favourite groundbaits
So another Big One drew to a close and we packed a lot in although there were a few more stars I'd liked to have had a natter with but I say that every year! Walking out we still managed to blag one more star selfie when Dean Macey was in front of us, another thoroughly top bloke, he had a chat about the Big Fish Off and was happy to pose for photos, a great end to another great show.
What a top bloke
Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My latest 'Quick Bite' (below)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Quick Bites - Mike Stone

The third of my 'Quick Bites' is with former Kamasan Matchman of the Year, Mike Stone

First of all I would like to say that interviewing Mike is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling!! Does he ever stay still??

Hi Mike, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm aged 60, was born in Taunton, Somerset but now living in Cork, Ireland and I'm a director of Somerset Angling Ltd.

Mike Stone in Somerset Angling
How did you get started in fishing?

Went with school friends aged 8 or 9 (I always caught more than they did!)

Do you prefer fishing for carp or silvers?

Silvers but I have won a few carp matches.

Favourite method?

All styles, I like to think i am fairly versatile.

Influences?

I am pretty much self taught and try to work things out for myself, having said that I travelled for years with Nick Collins and its always good to bounce ideas off each other.

Favourite venues?

Inniscarra lake, Cork and the Erne in Enniskillen.

Mike with a cracking net of Irish tench
Any other types of fishing?

Sea fishing but not very often.

Where do you buy your fishing gear? Online or in a tackle shop?

That's a no brainer as a director of Somerset Angling!

Biggest fish?

Don't know, I'm only interested in total weight.

Your views on the close season?

It doesnt really affect me now as there is no close season in Ireland, I do like to fish all year round.

How do you see the future of match fishing?

The average age of match anglers does seem to be going up so who knows where we'll be in 20 years time.

Do you see an increase in professional anglers in the future?

If you define a professional angler as someone who is directly employed to fish then unlikely, but in the festivals I fish there are people who are always there so i guess many are retired or can afford not to work.

Where do you intend to fish this year?

I have a total of 55 days booked at Inniscarra, it's fabulous fishing, easy to get to from South West England and Wales, very friendly, the beer is good and all festivals have 100% payouts and the 3 day events have external sponsorship of between 500-1000 euros. There are other festivals at Arva, Enniskillen and Coote Hill.

Would you say moving to Ireland has revitalised your fishing?

If you are a silver fish angler it could not be better. Great fishing, big matches, big payouts and friendly.

Another net of quality roach
Best moment last year?

I won a 250 peg day 3 classic at Enniskillen with 51 roach on the pole for 67lb 9oz which included several over 2lbs and came 2nd overall in the festival.

Best ever result?

Believe it or not, it wasn't a win but 3rd in a 200 pegger on the Gloucester canal. 1st and 2nd were on absolute fliers and I was in a so called no hope area . I weighed 4lb 12oz and no one else broke 1lb for 60 pegs either side of me!

Have you ever had a perfect day in fishing?

A perfect weekend actually, on the Saturday I fished a Children in Need charity match on the Kennent and Avon canal and had a roach a chuck on bread to win with 17lbs and then the following day I won the Devon winter league final round to clinch the Kamasan Matchman of the Year title.

Mike, you fished for England twice and were in the squad for the World Championships at Holme Pierrepoint, any regrets this didn't continue?

Not really I prefer to fish where and when I want and international fishing is a big commitment.

Is there anything in fishing that annoys you or you feel strongly about?

Yes I do like to know that a competition is properly organised, I like to see a balance sheet of all monies in and out. The organisers must ensure that someone else (not a friend) draws them a peg first and everyone sees it happen so that everything is clear, unfortunately this is not always the case.

On a lighter note do you support a football team?

Bristol City and I often went to watch them while in England.

Favourite drink?

Rebel Red, an ale brewed in Cork. I hope you get over to buy me one soon!!!!!!!!

(Massive thanks to Baz Morgan for asking the questions)

Monday, April 03, 2017

Perry St Pond - League 1 - 2nd April 2017

For this year, in a change from the last time I fished it, the Spring League was going to be split into three sections over two venues, Perry St and Sadborow (a pond I hadn't fished for a long time) with two sections on the former. In another first (for me), we met at Wetherspoons for breakfast and very nice it was too and really good value at only £4.40 with coffee. Then it was out the pond for the draw but not before Les emptied my wallet after paying for my new licence (£25), league entry (£20), pools (£25) and bait (£3), then for good measure Janders turned up and I owed him £28 for some bits and bobs he got from Tackleuk.

I would be on the high numbers at Perry St today and Les had appointed section commanders and deputies for each of the three sections and Mike Smith was the man in charge of the draw bucket and the scales for our section while the Tart would assist (or hinder) him. Along with those two, there was Exeter Mike, Mark, Bushy, Hoff, and Picky in my section, originally the lovely Steve Chant from Norton Sub Normal was in our section as well but he got relegated to section B. I pulled out peg 13 which I was fairly happy with and for company I had Exeter Mike on 12 with Bushy on 14, the Tart had managed to draw yet another corner peg (20) although to be fair it's probably the worst of the four.

Janders was in the other section and had drawn the corner opposite the Tart so two of my side bets were on corner pegs and Picky was on peg 17, which isn't the best but he did have an empty peg next door and this could get expensive and clean out what little loose change I had left! In another moment of madness I asked Exeter Mike if he wanted a pound as well!

I set up the usual inline dibber to fish shallow along with a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for the five metre meat line and a rig for the left hand margin. On the side tray I had 6mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse pellets and 6mm meat that I boosted with a couple of squirts of Liquid Plum. Section leader Mike got us underway at 10:30 and I fed the five metre line with some meat and the margin with meat and pellets before starting at 11.5 metres with a banded pellet on the shallow rig.

Bushy hooked a carp straight away only for it to come off at the net and Exeter Mike had a decent fish from his inside line and I thought we might be in for a good day. I was pinging in a few pellets and lifting and dropping the rig but it took over half an hour to get an indication and I landed a small carp but that was the only action in the first sixty minutes. Mike had a couple more but from what I could see Mark in peg 11 was struggling as were Howard in 10, Rich in 8, Dunner in 7 and Shane in 6 (although they were in the other section).

By the end of the second hour I had already tried my other two lines without any more bites, Bushy was still blanking and Mike hadn't added to his three so my earlier optimism was rather misplaced! Loads of carp could be seen swimming about and I had the odd go at stalking/mugging for them but they didn't want to know but then out of the blue I had two in quick succession to close in on Mike although I thought he was still ahead as he had bigger fish. Then Bushy finally got off the mark, Mike added another and Mark had one.

Howard was now getting odd fish and doing well and Shane was catching in peg 6 although it did look suspiciously like he was doing some stalking of his own! Dunner was getting some small skimmers and Rich had one carp. I was only getting the odd fish but managing to stay one or two in front of Bushy although I just couldn't get level with Mike, he was catching his fish on the inside although he did mug one (shame on you!) whereas I never had a bite on either my five metre line or in the margin. I did lose a fish when the hook pulled out for no apparent reason and I knew on a tough day like today, it could be costly.

With an hour or so to go, Bushy drew level with me on six fish before going ahead and it was nip and tuck between us. Despite there being loads of fish swimming about, nine times out of ten they would ignore a pellet in their flightpath and maybe they had other things on their minds! I drew level with Bushy again and then went one ahead but he drew level and it finished with us both on eight fish. Of course he said he only had small fish! Mike ended up with nine fish and he had some lumps so I thought he'd probably win the section. Mark ended up with six carp along with a skimmer and an eel and Picky walked up and said he had six decent fish so it was all going to be very tight.

I took my kit back to the car and it had been hard with Mike, Hoff and the Tart all admitting to three carp although as he can't lie straight in bed I would wait and see what the scales said before celebrating. Squadron leader Mike and his demented deputy started the weigh in at peg 11 and Mark had six lumps to weigh 32lb 8oz and I knew I didn't have that, Mike then plonked 38lb on the scales to go into the lead. I was next and my fish went 28lb and then Bushy had 32lb 10oz so it had been tight with just one fish between Mark, me and Bushy.
Mark had 32lb 8oz in peg 11
Exeter Mike won the section with 38lb
I finished well down with 28lb and needed one more carp for decent points
Bushy was second in the section with 32lb 10oz
Wing Commander Smith had 13lb 9oz and then things got worse for me as Picky had 29lb 13oz to push me down another place and I was £2 down in side bets. The Hoff had 14lb 1oz which just left the Tart and when he weighed 10lb 4oz to finish last in the section and paid me a pound, he helped to turn my frown upside down, thanks Tart!
Section Commander Smith had 13lb 9oz
Picky had some lumps for 29lb 13oz
The Hoff had 14lb 1oz from peg 19
The Tart hits rock bottom!
Shane won the other section with 41lb 10oz from peg 6 and Howard took second spot with 28lb 9oz from peg 10. Janders had 16lb 6oz from peg 1 so I ended up 2-2 in the side bets. When the others arrived back from Sadborow, as predicted they took the top three places with Les coming out on top from peg 5 with 115lb 2oz, followed by Bish with 99lb and Chanter with 78lb 2oz.

1 - Les Braunton (Chard) - 115lb 2oz
2 - Steve Bishop (Chard) - 99lb
3 - Steve Chant (Chard) - 78lb 2oz

Sections
A (Perry High)
1 - Mike Hosgood (Exeter) - 38lb
2 - Steve Bush (Chard) - 32lb 10oz

B (Sadborow)
1 - Geoff Young (Torquay) - 76lb 10oz
2 - Chris Whitham (Torquay) - 67lb

C (Perry Low)
1 - Shane (Chard) - 41lb 10oz
2 - Howard Watts (Torquay) - 28lb 9oz

Silvers
Dave Abrams (Weymouth) - 5lb

So some great weights and it looks like Sadborow is the place to be at the moment although it'll probably all change by the time I get out there!

I noticed three of the four Torquay lads picked money up, who let the side down I wonder?!!

Next up - The Big One on Saturday

Coming soon - Another great 'Quick Bite'

Check Out - My latest guest blog (below)