Monday, August 14, 2017

Dillington Pond - Summer League 8 - 13th August 2017

After the last match where I did okay and actually managed a few fish on corn, I was a little more confident going into this one (which is bound to mean the kiss of death!). Before I get on to this weeks match, the club would like to say a massive thanks to Hurf, Jake, Rob, Frank and Max for doing some swim clearing during the week, well done guys! As per usual we met at Ilminster Bowling Club for brekkie and there were a few sore heads as Rob, Hurf, Frank and Jake (who never made it to the draw!) had been out celebrating Leighton and Kayleigh getting hitched the day before, congratulations to the happy couple and all the best for the future.

Hurf announced the draw and I went into the bucket of dreams with only two balls left and pulled out peg 24, one of the infamous bush pegs. To be honest I had mixed feelings as you feel obliged to fish for the chub and bream that live under the bush and of course they don't always show. John Dursley did win off it a few weeks back with a brilliant 45lb but other than that, peg 1 has been the better peg, winning four of the seven matches so far.
The infamous bush between pegs 24 and 1
I got my kit to the peg and it looked nice although there was an overhanging branch which meant I couldn't fish to the point of the bush but I still fancied it. I set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo to fish at 11.5 metres in open water and a little Carpa 1 to fish by the bush, I had nearly two pints of casters, some maggots, two tins of corn and I also mixed up some Bait-Tech Pro Natural Dark for the long line. I've been playing around with Bait-Tech's Triple-N Stick Mix Liquid and added several squirts to the water for mixing the groundbait, it's got a lovely nutty smell and I can think of loads of other uses for it too, I'll do a proper review soon.

On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait at 11.5 metres and then put two big pots of casters and corn by the bush before starting in open water with single maggot on the hook. I had a small roach so switched to caster and had a couple of better roach and then tried a grain of corn, I had to wait ages for a bite which resulted in a 2oz roach and with thirty minutes gone, I was itching to have a go by the bush where hopefully the chub and bream would be lined up! I gave it half an hour with no bites but wasn't too worried at this early stage, I put in another big pot of corn and casters and went back out on the longer line.

I asked Steve P on peg 1 how he was doing and he said he'd only had a couple of small fish, I hadn't seen Bill catch yet on 20 although I was sure Fieldy would be catching lots of bits on peg 2. I had another roach on caster and tried corn again, the rig settled and then sunk from view, I struck and it felt like a slightly better fish before I netted a 6oz chublet. The next bite saw more elastic come out and this time it was a decent skimmer around the pound mark and although I wasn't bagging, I was doing okay from what I could see. With an hour and a half gone, I cupped in another big ball of groundbait containing corn and caster on the long line and went back into the lions den.
My first skimmer was around a pound
Another thirty minutes passed without any indications and although I wasn't panicking yet, small elements of doubt were starting to creep in. It was a bright and sunny day, not ideal conditions for bream and I was beginning to think it might be quite a low weight affair today. I could see Rob on 19 and John Dursley on 18 were both swapping between pole and feeder which usually means people are struggling, Bill still hadn't caught and if Steve P was telling the truth, he only had around a pound of bits, surely somebody would find a few bream (hopefully me!).

I put in another big pot of grub by the bush before going back out and I had a second chublet quite quickly and then after a long wait I missed a good bite but on the next chuck I had another slightly smaller skimmer, this one around 12oz. No more bites so back by the bush and still nothing as we passed the half way mark, any thoughts of bagging had long gone and I was just hoping to get a couple of bites under the bush from bigger fish.

I'd been feeding casters on the long line and there were some swirls from better fish and I couldn't resist having a go for them so quickly set up a shallow rig and had a couple of slightly better roach but they soon disappeared when I put the pole over their heads. Then Bill had his first skimmer and then added two more in quick succession followed by a proper bream so I chucked the shallow rig up the bank and went back by the bush, I needed a couple of lumps now and was hoping they might get their heads down in the last hour.

I tried going further and further under the bush but just couldn't get a bite, I tried double caster and finally the float sailed away but I missed it and then missed the next one too! Then it was third time lucky but a one ounce roach wasn't going to help my cause much! Jake turned up for a walk round and said nobody was bagging and that Frank was doing well catching roach shallow on peg 16 and that's what I should have done but it was pointless doing anything else now and I was committed (or should be committed!) to trying to catch a couple of chub.

With five minutes to go, the float finally flew away but I struck and hit a branch and that was it, my final tally was 13 fish (two skimmers, two chublets and nine roach) and once again I'd got it all wrong. I packed up and took my gear back to the car before catching up with the scales, I missed Nick Payne who'd done well again to weigh 8lb 15oz of skimmers from peg 14, then Frank had a nice bag of roach weighing 9lb 4oz and he'd only fished for them for three hours, Bob didn't weigh on peg 17 and then John Dursley had four skimmers for 4lb 5oz from 18 and Rob had chucked back on 19.
Big Frank had a nice net of roach weighing 9lb 4oz
John Dursley had 4lb 5oz from peg 18
Then we got to Bill who had a good bream and eight skimmers for 14lb and unless there were any surprises, he would win with that, my fish went 4lb 1oz and I only weighed in for the sake of the side bets! Back at the results and Adie Bishop had the top weight in the other section with 10lb 14oz from peg 7, Fieldy had 10lb 7oz from peg 2, Rich Studley had 4lb 8oz, Justin had 4lb 6oz and then Hurf had 3lb 4oz and Steve P had 1lb 3oz so at least I'd won the side bets (or I would have done but Steve P sloped off and Hurf didn't have any change!).
Paste King Bill Hopping does it again, this time with 14lb of bream and skimmers
I had 4lb 1oz and got it all wrong once again
1 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 14lb
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 10lb 14oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 10lb 7oz

A - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 9lb 4oz
B - Rich Studley (Ilminster) - 4lb 8oz

In the league, after eight matches and dropping the two worst results, the top four looks like this,

Bill Hopping - 9 pts
Graham Field - 12 pts
Adie Bishop - 13 pts
John Dursley - 13 pts

Even though the pond fished quite hard with the lowest winning weight of the series so far, it's really intriguing fishing and I feel like I got it badly wrong again. If I could fish the match again I would fish for roach and I'm sure I could have framed but that's with the benefit of my old friend hindsight. It'll be interesting to see if the weights are back to what we're used to or if this match was a blip, peg 24 will probably win with 100lb next match now!!

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - My next review

Check Out - My last match (below)

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Perry St Pond - League 9 - 6th August 2017

The final match arrived and the low numbers would be my home for the day, after another excellent Millfield café brekkie we all headed out to Perry St to do the draw with the guys at Sadborow going first where the top three would battle it out for the title. Howard was on peg 1 with Shane on 5 and Exeter Mike on 9, all decent pegs and anything could happen although Howard did have a three point cushion. Then it was the turn of Perry Low to draw and I just wanted to avoid peg 1 which hasn't been great so I had a master plan and would let everybody go first and I'd have the last peg in the bucket. Of course you know what's coming next and I was left with the peg I didn't want. As it turned out the last two pegs in the bucket were 1 and 10 with Commander Smith the lucky recipient of the latter.
Peg 1 (I could have just used the photo from last time!)
I took my kit to the peg and to be honest it looked nice although while I was setting up I only saw a couple of carp cruising about. The usual rigs were assembled, an in-line dibber for fishing a shallow, a 0.3 gram Drennan Crystal Margin for the inside line and I made up a new rig for the five metre meat line. On the side tray today I had Bait-Tech 6mm and 8mm Carp and Coarse Pellets, Strawberry Meat, maggots and some Juice Dumbells in case I could see the odd cruiser.

I was ready in plenty of time so wandered up to give the Tart some abuse, as I reached him on peg 7, Superintendent Smith was already there and there were loads of carp swimming about which didn't bode well as far as my pound was concerned and with Picky on peg 4 and Janders on 8 at Sadborow, this could be an expensive day! On the plus side, Sergeant (Delia) Smith had brought some lovely looking doughnuts for today's treat.
Smithy with todays treats
I walked back with a few minutes to spare and on the whistle I cupped in some meat at 5 metres and dead reds and some meat on the inside before starting at 11.5 metres with the shallow rig and a banded 6mm pellet. After a couple of minutes of firing 6mm's out and lifting and dropping the rig, I was surprised when the float shot under and I was into a carp already. I safely netted a decent fish and was relieved to get off the mark as the last time I was on this peg, I was still blanking after 3.5 hours! The Hoff on peg 2 landed a couple of carp and Grandad Young over on peg 17 had netted one as well.

Any thoughts of bagging up soon disappeared when the rest of the first hour was pretty uneventful, I was just about to try the inside line when I had two more carp in quick succession which prompted me to stick at it for another hour. Along with feeding the 5 metre and inside lines, I was also pinging a few 8mm's up towards the corner where I'd caught a few late the last time. As the second hour drew to a close I hadn't added to my three fish so I tried the inside line for the first time. I hadn't been in there long when the float disappeared at a rate of knots and a decent fish has gone off up towards Hoff, I was hanging on with the pole tip under water when everything's gone slack and its buried me in some lilies and snapped me.

The next bite saw me get the fish in open water only for it to come off and when I looked at the rig, I had a load of line and another hook attached to it, so I think I'd hooked that rather than the fish. Things got even worse when I lost the next two as well, I got both in open water and the hook has just pulled out, on a day when the bankside grapevine was suggesting it was fishing hard, I had a feeling they might cost me! Yardie over on peg 19 was having the same problem and had several come off for no apparent reason so maybe they weren't having it properly.

Hoffy was a couple of fish ahead of me but I couldn't tell how the rest of my section was doing although it sounded like Picky and the Tart were getting odd fish. I cupped in some more feed on the inside before having another go shallow without any success and a first look at 5 metres had the same result. A fish signalled it's presence on the inside with a tail pattern so I quickly shipped back and changed rigs, the float sailed away and I actually managed to get this one out to level the scores with the fish at 4-4! Then normal service was resumed when I hooked another that snagged me and I had to pull for a break.

I had another go shallow but it just wasn't happening so I stuck on another section and went up towards the corner where I'd been feeding 8mm's for four hours and never had a bite! Another fish waved at me from the inside so I went in to say hello and enjoyed a purple patch, landing three fish quite quickly to make the score 7-5 in my favour and with an hour left, I thought if I could get another couple, I might not be far off. Then my mate Andy turned up for a chat and it was great to see him, he said he'd almost thought about getting his gear out again but after watching me catch nothing for an hour, I'd probably done nothing to inspire him!

Hoff had a decent fish late to put him on 8 and a skimmer, I packed up and as people started taking their kit back to the cars, I asked how they'd done, it had fished hard for most, Picky had 5, Mark had struggled for a couple on peg 5, Bushy had 7, the Tart had 9 and Sith Lord Smith was admitting to a similar number. The scales started with me and my fish went 30lb 14oz which was an improvement on the last time but could have been a lot better. Hoff weighed 35lb 12oz and that last fish had done me, Picky weighed 15lb 12oz and then Mark had 6lb 14oz before we got to the Tart, his fish went 44lb 2oz although he said he'd lost 15, so obviously a few fish there then!
I had 30lb 14oz but needed one more fish
Hoff had 35lb 12oz
Mark had 6lb 14oz from peg 5
The Tart had 44lb 2oz
Bushy just pipped me with 31lb 8oz to push me down another place and then we got to Corporal Smith on peg 10, when he pulled his net out, it was obviously going to be close and he'd just done enough to beat his travelling partner with 44lb 8oz so at least he wouldn't have to put his ear plugs in on the way home!
Bushy had 31lb 8oz (and nearly smiled!)
Squadron Leader Smithy with part of his section winning 44lb 8oz
Then we headed around to weigh in the other section, Chilly had struggled in peg 11 to weigh 10lb 6oz, Les had 16lb 12oz which included 9lb 4oz of silvers, Oz on peg 13 had 17lb and then Bish had done well on 14 and weighed 58lb 14oz. Butch didn't weigh and then Grandad Young had 39lb 6oz from peg 17 and struck a pose for the camera although we weren't sure he'd be able to get back up again! That just left Yardie who had 10lb 10oz but had lost several as well.
Les had 16lb 12oz which included this nice net of silvers weighing 9lb 4oz
Oz had 17lb from peg 13
Bish had the top weight on the lake with 58lb 14oz
Grandad struck a pose with his 39lb 6oz but we weren't sure he'd be able to get back up again!
Back at the car park and everybody was back from Sadborow, Howard had finished his league in style with 66lb 12oz to win the section, match and league, well done mate. He lead the league from the second match, winning his section five times along the way. Exeter Mike was second in the section with 57lb 14oz which meant he finished as the runner up in the league ahead of Shane. Janders was third on the day and took a pound off me with 52lb.

1 – Howard Watts (Torquay) - 66lb 12oz
2 – Mike Hosgood (Nr Exeter) - 57lb 14oz
3 – John Anderson (Donyatt) - 52lb

Perry St Low
1 – Mike Smith (Torquay) - 44lb 8oz
2 – Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 44lb 2oz
3 – Mark Hollister (Chard) - 35lb 12oz

Perry St High
1 – Steve Bishop (Chard) - 58lb 14oz
2 – Geoff Young (Torquay) - 39lb 6oz
3 – Steve Osborne (Chard) - 17lb

After working out the results, Les read the final league results out in reverse order, I was surprised to hear him call me and Bish out in joint sixth place with 30 points as I thought he was only paying the top three, we picked up £15 each although I was bit gutted as today's bad result has cost me a few places, Chris W was fifth with 29, the Tart fourth with 27, Shane with 26, Mike with 23 and champ Howard had 19 points. The final top ten in the league looks like this,

1 - Howards Watts - 19 pts
2 - Mike Hosgood - 23 pts
3 - Shane Jeffery - 26 pts
4 - Brendon Ions - 27 pts
5 - Chris W - 29 pts
6 - Jamie Rich - 30 pts
6 - Steve Bishop - 30 pts
8 - Les Braunton - 35 pts
9 - Steve Osborne - 36 pts
9 - Mike Smith - 36 pts
League Champion Howard collects his winnings from Les
Top three in the league (from left to right) Exeter Mike, Howard and Shane
I really enjoyed the league, the fishing was great and the banter even better! As I said in a recent post, there are fine lines between success and failure and over the nine matches, lost fish here and there have cost me loads of points, especially those lost through my own stupidity. Drawing peg 1 twice at Perry St hasn't done me any favours either. It looks like I won't be able to fish the league again next year as it'll be starting in February but Les said I should be able to fish most weeks as a stand in. Here's a brief overview of the league in numbers,

Most section wins - Howard Watts with five
Best peg at Sadborow - Peg 9 (average of 3 points per match)
Worst peg at Sadborow - Peg 7 (average of 7 points but only used for the first three matches)
Best peg at Perry St Low - Peg 5 (average of 2.86 points per match)
Worst peg at Perry St Low - Peg 8 (average of 5.87 points per match)
Best peg at Perry St High - Peg 11 (average of 3.22 points per match)
Worst peg at Perry St High - Peg 20 (average of 8 points per match but only used for the first three matches)
Biggest winning weight at Sadborow - Jamie Rich - 120lb 6oz
Biggest winning weight at Perry St Low - Karl Everton (standing in for Chris W) - 96lb 8oz
Biggest winning weight at Perry St High - Steve Bush - 79lb 8oz
Side bet scores on the doors
Jamie 5 - Tart 4
Jamie 5 - Picky 3 (he was away for one match)
Jamie 6 - Janders 2 (we tied one week)

So huge thanks to Les for organising another great league and to all the anglers for making it such a good laugh. But for me (and everybody else, I'm sure) the league will be remembered for the wrong reasons with the sad loss of Dave, tight lines and rest in peace mate.

Next up - Dillington

Coming soon - My next review

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, August 07, 2017

Todber Manor - Open - 5th August 2017

After a really good week where I saw one of my all time favourite bands, Teenage Bottlerocket, in Bristol, I was looking forward to fishing Todber for the first time but then came down with a stinking cold on Thursday and wasn't sure I'd feel well enough to go. When the Tart text me to say he was fishing, a day in my sick bed started to look even more favourable! I woke up at the crack of dawn and felt half human at least, so decided a day in the fresh air might help!

I met Scotty and a few others in the Little Chef at Podimore for breakfast, it was really busy and by the time we got served and had eaten we were quite pushed for time but got to the venue with a few minutes to spare. There were 37 booked in for this one which just shows what a popular venue it is, it was also great to see Alan Oram who I hadn't seen since the Chard Pairs league, many moons ago, it wasn't so nice to see the Tart who was looking very pleased with himself. It's a great set up at Todber with loads of lakes where you can park behind your peg in most cases and there's a well stocked tackle shop on site.

The draw was announced and I delved into the bucket quite late, I opened my ticket to see 38 on Hill View staring back at me, this meant nothing to me, the Tart was on 49 on the same lake and when he showed Freddy Roberts and Ashley Tomkins there were some jealous looks and shouts of 'That's the best peg on the lake'. Hopeful of a similar reaction, I tentatively showed them my peg number only for the jealous looks to turn to pity and comments like 'At least you should get a few bites' didn't fill me with much hope. Scott said it wasn't the best area and he'd drawn a couple of pegs away on number 40.
The view from peg 38 on Hill View
With it being my first visit I was going to keep it simple and several people had advised me to fish just down the slope at top two plus two and also feed a margin line for later. Looking at previous results, well over a ton is needed to frame and 40-50lb weights win the silvers, busy fishing with lots of bites from little tench, carp and skimmers along with the odd lump. The side tray was also fairly uncomplicated with three big tins of corn, Bait-Tech 6mm and 8mm Carp and Coarse pellets plus I mixed up some Special G Dark to which I added some Nutty Stick Mix liquid and added a generous helping of corn.
Bait-Tech pellets, Special G Dark and corn
I set up a Drennan 0.4 gram Carp 1 for fishing corn and pellets at top two plus two straight out and another rig featuring a hand made pattern for fishing the inside at the same distance but at an angle to my right. It was already quite windy and it was looking like we might get some of the wet stuff which was bad news for Alex Nadin on my left as he hadn't got his waterproofs with him!

On the whistle I fed three balls of groundbait packed with corn straight out and then fed some corn and 8mm's by hand on the inside line. Both my neighbours started on the method feeder fished towards the islands. I had to wait a while before I had my first indication which resulted in a 4oz carp, I had another next chuck and then a couple of tiny tench before I caught a roach and then a small perch (on corn!). Then I hooked a fish that saw a fait bit of grey hydro exit the pole tip and I landed a 4lb carp, a smaller one followed and then a skimmer. Scott and Alex both had a couple of carp but it wasn't fast and furious at this stage although I was expecting the sport to improve as the day progressed.

The wind was getting steadily worse and it started to rain hard enough for me to put my coat on, after an hour I probably had 5lb or so which wasn't great and if anything my bites were slowing up. I could see odd fish being caught but nobody looked to be bagging and Scott commented how hard it was fishing. I had a few more fish in the second hour including a nice skimmer around a pound and a couple of half decent carp but going into the third hour I was really struggling and it wasn't just me. I tried banded pellet but only had one bite which I missed and at the half way point, I probably had around 15lb. I could hear the anglers on the far bank talking and it sounded like it was a similar story over there with people admitting to 20-25lb, Freddy Roberts came for a walk and said he was struggling and was going to get something to eat.

I'd been feeding corn and pellets on my other line and with three hours to go it was time to try it, I had to wait a while for my first bite and landed a nice mirror carp about 2lb, more followed including some good commons and a 3lb skimmer and all of a sudden I was starting to put a weight together. Scotty was getting odd fish and I could see Ash up on 34 netting fish regularly but I was doing okay and if anything my peg was getting stronger and stronger.

With an hour to go, Scott has come in the edge by the hay bales where he'd fed heavily with groundbait and maggots and started to get some proper beasts, including one that he could have put a saddle on! I was still catching well but after hardly losing a fish all day I lost three in quick succession, including one that felt like a big fish. I then hooked one that just plodded around but I couldn't get its head up, after what seemed like an age I managed to get a fish that looked to be around 10-12lb in the landing net, breaking it in the process, I had a spare so wasn't out of action long.

Scott wasn't catching as quickly as me but every one he landed looked like a lump, just before the all out was called, my float buried and I hooked another only for it to come off and I didn't have time to go back out again. I ended up with 49 fish (37 carp plus tench, roach, skimmers and perch) and to be honest I didn't have a clue what weight I had because my carp ranged in size from 4oz to 12lb!

The venue's team does all the weighing in and arrived just after I'd started packing up, Ash had weighed 94lb 8oz, Rich Yeo on the next peg had 51lb 8oz and Alex had already gone. My first carp net went just over 40lb and my second net was 51lb and I wasn't sure I had enough in my silvers net to beat Ash but it was called at 6lb to give me a total of 97lb 8oz. I was a little disappointed not to break triple figures but by the same token I'd had a cracking days fishing after a slow start. Scott weighed a fantastic 137lb 11oz with his biggest fish going over 18lb and the last hour had seen him bag right up. The Tart turned up looking rather dejected as he'd only weighed 37lb and Vince had given him a right spanking off the next peg when he weighed over 130lb, so another of his pounds was heading back to Chard with me.
After a slow start I weighed 97lb 8oz**
As I was packing up I could hear the odd weight being called out as the scales carried on round the lake and I started to think I had a chance of a pick up. Back at the results and the top weight came from Homeground with James Knight weighing 211lb 4oz from peg 76, Scott was second and Vince Brown was third with 130lb 4oz. Top silvers also came from Homeground with Steve Hutch weighing a brilliant 53lb 14oz from peg 87. I just missed out on the section money as Scott Puddy won our section with 101lb from peg 45. Thanks to Todber Manor* and Scott Russell** for the photos.
James Knight with part of his massive winning catch*
Scott was second with 137lb 11oz*
Scott Puddy won our section wit 101lb*
Steve Hutch won the silvers with 53lb 14oz*
Barry Robson was second with 37lb 4oz*
Paul Greenwood was third with 31lb from peg 58*

1 - James Knight - 211lb 4oz
2 - Scott Russell (Tackleuk) - 137lb 11oz
3 - Vince Brown - 130lb 4oz
4 - Jack Stamp - 127lb 6oz
5 - Alan Oram - 126lb 2oz

1 - Steve Hutch - 53lb 14oz
2 - Barry Robson - 37lb 4oz
3 - Paul Greenwood - 31lb

Hill View A  - Scott Puddy - 101lb
Hill View B - Mark Poppleton - 80lb 10oz
Homeground C - Nick Ewers - 86lb 4oz

I really enjoyed the day and will definitely be back again, it's just a shame it's so far away, my main worry was getting battered but I didn't disgrace myself and only just missed out on the ton (and a pick up) in the end.

Next up - Perry St

Coming soon - My next review

Check Out - My latest ramblings (below)

Friday, August 04, 2017

A Long Time?

A recent match really got me thinking about the time we spend on the bank at weekends, most of the matches I fish are six hours in length, that's a long time right? Well I'm not so sure it is, if you're bagging up, time flies by and by the same token if you are really trying your hardest to put a few bites together, there's never enough time. It only seems like a long time if you're blanking (or if you're unlucky enough to be pegged next to the Tart, it feels like an eternity!).

The match in question was at Perry St where normally twelve carp is there or thereabouts, now for a venue that is well stocked with carp, catching two carp an hour shouldn't be too hard should it? I ended up with 11 carp, 1 bream and a small skimmer so I just about hit my target but if you say I spent five minutes playing each fish, that's around an hour, so what an earth was I doing for the other five hours! That's a lot of time not catching anything, sat waiting for a bite, admittedly that's not strictly true as I did also lose another five fish (three of which I'm pretty sure were foulhooked) but even if you said that took up another 30 mins, that's still four and a half hours, not really being exploited to it's full potential.

I don't profess to have all the answers because obviously if I knew the secret to catching fish all day long, I'd be winning an awful lot of matches and to be honest I think it would get boring pretty quickly. If you read the blog regularly, you'll know that most of my matches at Perry St follow the same basic formula, normally three lines, shallow, meat at five metres and a line in the edge. I normally start shallow and as long as I'm catching odd fish I stick with it and in an ideal world, that's the only rig I'll need all day but in most the matches I've had a go at five metres at some point but only had the odd fish (until the last match but more of that later) and I can't recall catching a carp from my inside line this year!

To be fair it's worked pretty well and in seven matches so far (including the pre-league match), my results have been as follows,

Match 1 - Peg 14 - 37lb 8oz (7 carp) - section win
Match 2 - Peg 13 - 28lb (8 carp) - 5th*
Match 3 - Peg 2 - 50lb 6oz (13 carp) - 1st
Match 4 - Peg 1 - 21lb 10oz (5 carp) - 6th**
Match 5 - Peg 12 - 63lb 6oz (14 carp) - 2nd
Match 6 - Peg 19 - 45lb 12oz (11 carp) - 3rd

So you can see that my target of twelve carp will in most cases get you top three in the section and some money. In match 2*, one more carp would have been second and two more in match 4** would have been third and it just goes to show that there are very fine lines between success and failure.
45lb 12oz but should have been more
Talking about fine margins, in the last Perry St match, tactically my match went like clockwork but there were several key moments that ultimately meant I ended third rather than first,
  • foulhooked fish, all about luck, probably 7 times out of 10, they will come off but occasionally you will get one in. I lost three including one that came off at the net, on another day, luck would have been on my side and I'd have finished second.
  • losing a 8lb carp due to the rig snapping, no excuse, it was a rig that had been in the box a while, my own fault and, annoyingly, so easily avoided. The difference between winning and being an also ran!
  • not having another suitable rig in the box, with fish queuing up at five metres, I had to abandon that line and go back out shallow, inexcusable!
  • losing a fairly hooked fish when the hook pulled out for no reason, it happens and there is nothing you can do about it, another day you land everything you hook.
Now the first and last points are all down to luck and along with missed bites, lost fish are part and parcel of match fishing, several others in my section that day also lost fish that would have made a big difference, we have to take that on the chin and move on. The others are my fault, user error if you will and sometimes with fishing you get out what you put in and I didn't deserve to win that day. If nothing else, it has rammed home the point that preparation is key to doing well, you don't get that many chances in this game, so when one comes along you have to capitalise on it. We can't do anything about luck, but we can avoid making things difficult for ourselves!

Going back to the title of this post and six hours being a long time, how do you approach your match to maximise it's potential? Now match fishing being such a complex sport with so many different factors involved I'm not even going to attempt to analyse it, put simply, most anglers have an idea of how they are going to approach a match and then tweak it depending on the swim they've drawn. It may be they target multiple lines, even different species, possibly using several different methods and sometimes it all goes swimmingly, everything works and you walk away with a big fat envelope but to be honest, mostly it doesn't go like that.

Basically it boils down to two ways of thinking, you either have supreme confidence in your method or methods and work on the basis that it will come good during the match or you try and make things happen i.e. change methods, feeding, start a new line, scale down. The trouble comes when your chosen method doesn't work or you try something different and that doesn't either and then you end up chasing your tail in ever decreasing circles until the all out is called and at the results you have to applaud the anglers who have got it right!

A good example of this was the latest match at Dillington where weights of bream and skimmers have been winning, Jake Woodard won it with 21lb 3oz of chub and bream from peg 1, Nick Payne was second with 15lb 13oz and I was just behind with 15lb 5oz. The interesting thing was myself and Nick had very similar weights but fished two very different matches and I think it neatly illustrates my point above. Nick had done well in the previous match, framing with 25lb of bream and skimmers from peg 19 and his tactics today were similar, feeding corn quite heavily and sitting it out for bigger fish, he caught very little for the first three hours but then caught well in the second half of the match.
Bonus fish late but I needed one more
Whereas I fed a big fish line but never had a bite over it until the last thirty minutes when I had a bream and two skimmers for about 6lb but I only tried it two or three times during the match, the rest of the time I spent fishing the caster for 9lb of roach, rudd, perch and a bonus 1lb tench. Going back to the subject of six hours is a long time, if Nick had fished for small fish for the first three hours would he have caught the 6lb he needed to win? Or maybe if he'd done that he wouldn't have caught those bream! Conversely, would I have done better if I'd stuck it out on my big fish line all match? I really don't know, I tried it for probably two hours without a bite throughout the match when I probably could have added another 4-5lb of roach.

Nick had supreme confidence in what he was doing and it paid off but for me it's too much of a gamble, after three hours he didn't have much in the net, say it got to four hours or five? It's pointless doing anything else then, other anglers fished for big fish all day and weighed 6-7lb. It's certainly an intriguing venue, I think I could possibly have done 14-15lb of small fish which would have got me the same result but in recent matches that's only been enough for a section win so you do need some bonus fish.

That's what makes the top boys like Des Shipp and Andy Power so good compared to us mere mortals, not only are they fantastic anglers and technically brilliant, they have an uncanny knack of knowing how to make the best use of the full six hours and they prepare meticulously for matches (and I'm pretty sure they have duplicate rigs and none that have been hanging around a while!).