Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Archives - Part 4 - More pastures new and growing up (1984)

My last trip down memory lane documented me winning a couple more matches and I started visiting some new venues and catching some nice fish, the start of the 1984 season saw me still as keen as ever and down the canal the night before 'The Glorious 16th' with base camp established ready for my first ever night fishing session.


My diary showed that I caught a mixed bag of fish, small tench and carp (which I think had been recently stocked ) plus perch, roach and rudd. My first match was as senior fixture the next day at Ash Ponds and I caught 2lb 9oz of rudd, roach and small skimmers, I used a Drennan 2AA Crystal Waggler (it's hard to believe they've been around that long!) and for bait I had mixed maggots, bronze pinkies and a bag of plain old brown breadcrumb (none of this fancy, expensive, continental stuff!).
Fishing a match at Ash Ponds (note the Angling Times Rodbenders badges on the back of my body warmer)
The first junior match of the year down the canal saw my Points and Ounces campaign get off to a great start when I won it with 76.5 points. I caught another golden orfe, this one was 2lb 7oz and added a good eel, five gudgeon, five rudd, a roach and a small carp to give me a total weight of 3lb 12.5oz. My good friends Stephen Hallett and David Tolman were second and third with 23 and 10.5 points respectively. Stephen also lost four carp and in all the junior matches I fished there were loads hooked but only one or two were ever successfully landed.

Looking through my diary from that year, on 14th July I recorded I fished down the canal with my roach pole, the first mention I could find, so possibly it's first outing. It was a 6 metre Crystal fibreglass model, if I remember correctly it was French although I'm not overly sure whether Crystal was the make or model! It was a put in pole and had graphite on the joints, back then the main method of using elastic was with a crook. A few juniors bought poles around the same time and we had fun and games cutting the tip section back to accommodate the crook, I think mine got cut back a tiny bit too much and we had to use wide bore float rubber so the crook would fit snuggly. The crooks came already fitted with internal elastic which was quite a light grade.

I caught a few fish including a 1lb tench, roach, rudd, gudgeon and a small carp for a total weight of 2lb 2oz and I also lost a carp. For bait I had bronze maggots and I used to buy ready tied hooks to nylon (from Rules of course) and was using a size 20 gold hook (which were very popular at the time) to 1.7lb.

The second match of the Points and Ounces series saw me finish in second place with 12 fish for 14 ounces which gave me 26 points, James Parsons won with 41.5 points which included a nice crucian carp of 1lb 4oz and Jason Miles was third with 10 points. With two matches to go, I was leading the series with 102.5 points with James my nearest rival with 51.5 points.

We were still visiting lots of new venues and our parents took a few of us to the Taunton and Bridgwater canal and I had a lovely day catching 30 eels, rudd, roach, a couple of nice skimmers and a tench of 2lb 12oz on a variety of baits (the tench was on bread), for a total weight of 11lb 6oz and any double figure net of fish was noteworthy back then.
A nice tench from the Taunton and Bridgwater canal
There were also regular trips to Chard reservoir (Holemoor Fisheries in those days) and Perry St Pond along with some more night fishing sessions down the canal. I also won the Summer Cup held on the canal with 2lb 2oz which included a couple of little tench, a gudgeon, an eel plus rudd and roach. I was so keen I would often go home for dinner after the match in the morning and then go back down the canal in the evening, normally floating crust for carp and had one of 6lb 4oz to make it a very successful day.

These were very exciting times for us youngsters and with each different venue came a new adventure, a first visit to the Tiverton canal to catch tench was a bit of a flop with just a few small roach and rudd to show for our efforts, another team match on the Huntspill was equally unsuccessful when I caught just a roach and an eel for a massive 1.5oz.

A family holiday to Christchurch was an altogether different matter however when I got to fish the famous Royalty Fishery. The first days fishing wasn't anything special but I had plenty of bites catching some eels on a maggot feeder and dace and minnows on a little 2BB balsa float. The second day was a real red letter affair, I ledgered luncheon meat and caught a small chub of 12oz or so before moving swims, I saw a couple of barbel roll and as the light started to fade, the rod hooped over and I hooked a big fish, a proper scrap followed before I eventually netted a barbel that to me, looked huge. Some anglers fishing above me came down and weighed it using some Avon scales, 6lb 11oz and still my biggest barbel despite the best efforts of Justin Charles who keeps taking me to the River Wye and I keep blanking!
6lb 11oz of Royalty barbel
My grandad and I fished a couple more times during that holiday and we both blanked but I didn't care, I'd caught my first barbel!

Another little stream we used to fish was by the Clark's factory at Dowlish, we never caught any monsters but always caught a few little brown trout along with the odd eel and bullhead - great fun! I was now on Ilminster Angling Club's committee as a junior representative and as such was entitled to fish the committee cup. This year it was held at a lake in Crockerton and what a match it was, I had a lovely days fishing catching skimmers to a pound along with quality roach and rudd on the waggler to weigh 18lb 13oz which was my biggest match weight to date and enough for third place (and £4.50!) behind Don Jobson who had 26lb which included a 4lb 3oz tench and Adrian Green who won with a stunning 35lb 12oz which included some big 2lb plus eels, bream, roach and rudd.

Another match I was looking forward to was the juniors versus seniors, which this year we fished on Westport canal, a nice little venue that held loads of small fish, sadly I couldn't emulate the success of the previous years event and my 7oz (one eel plus gudgeon and roach) was only good enough for second in the juniors and sixth overall. My records also didn't show whether the juniors or seniors were victorious on the day, one interesting thing was that I used Cosmic Cloud groundbait on the day, anybody remember that and who made it?

I'd also been asked to fish for one of the Ilminster senior teams in the Mini League where all the participating clubs hosted one or more of the rounds, to be honest I struggled on some of venues, blanking twice at Sherborne Lake and only managing a gudgeon and a roach on the River Yeo for a magnificent 1oz!

I did better in the remaining junior matches though, winning the final round of the Points and Ounces series with 15 fish for 12.5oz which also saw my name etched on the shield and for good measure added the Club Cup with 1lb 8oz of roach and dace on the Isle and along with my partner, David Tolman, won the pairs for the third year on the trot.

I was also now fishing a few senior matches on the Isle with Vernon Case picking me up on Sunday mornings in his Ford Escort diesel which sounded like a tractor! I enjoyed moderate success with the highlight probably being a third place in the senior Club Cup with 9lb 7oz which included a chub of 2lb 15oz and won me and extra £2.50 for the heaviest fish of the day on top of £6 for third place! It was an opportunuity missed really because, Jim Lock won with 10lb 6oz and I lost a chub and bumped off loads of roach and dace. In my last match of the year, which was also a senior fixture, I struggled to catch six roach for 2lb 3oz and I only mention it here because one was nice fish of 1lb 3.5oz, a cracking roach to end my look back at 1984.
Headlines at that years presentation evening. Some very young faces there! From left to right, Dennis Priddle, Adrian Green, Robin Pike, Ollie Brister, someone I don't recognise, Bob Filler snr, Jason Miles, Dave Back, Jim Lock, me, Phil Rainford, Don Jobson and Steve Bishop
At that years presentation night I had quite a haul, points shield, points and ounces shield, club cup, heaviest match weight, aggregate trophy, summer cup, heaviest fish, pairs (with David Tolman), trophies for winning two rounds of the points and ounces series and for good measure I won the senior heaviest fish trophy with that 2lb 15oz chub!

Next up - So as I wave goodbye to the juniors part 5 takes a look back at 1985

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 3 - 12th November 2017

With more rain and the temperature definitely dropping a few notches during the week, winter is certainly on its way. With Rob still away and Hurf unable to fish, it was down to me and Steve P to organise this one and I have to say a big thanks to Frank and Jake who went down and checked out Hambridge yesterday (still too weedy) and also did some work at Isle Brewers, cutting out swims so people can get their boxes in.

We had quite a bit of rain on Saturday night although there wasn't much forecast for Sunday. On my way to Ilminster in the morning, I had a quick look at the river at Donyatt and it looked quite nice, I then stopped at Horlicks where it was chocolate and pushing through and I thought the pond would be the best bet but on arriving at the bowling club, the general consensus was that the river would be okay and should drop during the day. I put in five pegs at Redbridge with the rest at Isle Brewers and really fancied pegs 125, 126, 128 or 129.

Adie went in the bucket early and unbelievably managed to pull out peg 128 for the third match running, a great peg although I think he'd quite fancy a change of scenery! Steve P drew 125 and his drawing hand is on fire at the moment, Langport invader Baz Morgan pulled out 128a and wasn't impressed at all. By the time I got to stick my hand in the bucket, there was only one ball left, I said to Frank that I hoped it wasn't peg 111 and he said he already had that. I took the last ball and was chuffed to see I was on 126 (Barney's Bend), a great peg and one that normally does well with extra water on.

Driving to the river, there was loads of standing water about and I was starting the fear the worst, as I pulled up, Baz said the river looked horrible and when I took my kit to the peg, it was chomping through but I did have some slacker water on the far side. Of greater concern was the howling wind and I felt sorry for the guys at Redbridge as they would be pretty exposed up there. I'd made up some new rigs yesterday and put one on but it was a bit of a nightmare trying to plumb up with the flow and the wind and I was still faffing about when I noticed the start time had come and gone.
Peg 126 (up and coloured!)
I started with two red maggots on the hook and trying to run the float through in the flow but there was just too much pace on it so I stuck another section on and went further over into the steadier water. A couple of small fish had topped and I thought I'd get indications straight away, even if it was from minnows. The problem was the wind and I just couldn't present the rig any sense and it wasn't helping with my feeding either. After half an hour I hadn't had a bite and was surprised when Steve P appeared behind me, he said his peg was racing through and he hadn't had bite either.

I was just starting to think it might be a case of going through the motions until the last hour or so, by which time, hopefully, the level would have dropped a bit, when my float sailed away and the strike resulted in some blue hydro showing itself, I shipped back gently and swung in a 2oz dace, Steve had seen enough and left me to it. Next chuck, I had another dace and started to think I was going to bag up but then, typically, I couldn't get a bite. I tried double bronze maggot and started getting some small roach and then had a slightly better one of 4oz or so.
Bronze maggot was definitely better
The wind was absolutely horrendous and I dread to think how bad it was for the lads at Redbridge, I just netted another roach of 3oz or so when Frank arrived behind me, he'd walked down from peg 111 and said his swim was basically unfishable at the moment, he reported that everybody in his section was struggling and above the bridge, Steve P was fishless and Bill just had two minnows. He walked down to see how Adie, Baz and Terry 'The Toast' were getting on. On his return he said I was winning the match easily as Baz and Terry hadn't caught and Adie had a fish so small he couldn't tell if it was a dace or a minnow! I didn't want to start counting my chickens yet as I certainly wasn't bagging and as things stood it would only take a chub or a few good roach to blow me out of the water.

I kept trying caster and had the odd fish on it but they weren't any bigger than the fish I was catching on maggot and I was having to wait ages for bites. I was catching mainly dace and roach along with a couple of gudgeon, I'd only had one minnow which is normally a good sign and I was still hopeful that some bigger roach might put in an appearance. I'd been keeping an eye on the water level and it was dropping quite quickly. With a couple of hours to go Terry popped to his car to get something and came over and said he still hadn't caught.

I kept putting the odd small fish in the net and with about half an hour to go I probably only had 2lb or so. I heard somebody come through the gate and when I looked around Scott Jackson and Mike Board were walking across the field, I looked back at my float just in time to see it slide under and this time the strike resulted in more solid resistance, I carefully shipped back and slid the net under a lovely roach of 8-10oz, the best fish of the day. While they were with me I caught quite well and I don't know whether it was the time or day, the fact the river had dropped or a combination of both but I added another 5 or 6 fish to finish with 47 and I hoped I might have 3lb or so.

I packed up and as I had the scales I walked down to weigh Terry in first but met him coming the other way, he'd packed up and chucked a 4oz roach back. I hoped that wasn't going to cost him as I've done something similar in the past and missed out on a default section win so now as long as I've caught, I always weigh in. Baz had managed to winkle out a couple of decent roach for 9oz and then Adie had done well catching loads of small fish shallow for 2lb 4oz.
A camera shy Baz had two roach for 9oz
Adie had a lot of small fish for 2lb 4oz from peg 128
We got to my peg and my fish went 3lb 10oz and when the others came down from above the bridge, Jake had 3oz from 123, Bill had 2oz from 124 and Steve P hadn't caught, it had been that hard! Back at the results and they'd struggled at Redbridge as well where Fieldy had done the best with a few dace for a 1lb from 120. So I'd won my first match for a while and picked up £56 plus a nugget from Steve P to make the side bet score 2-2.
My first win for a while
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 3lb 10oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 2lb 4oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 1lb

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 3oz
B - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 9oz

We should have fished the pond today and that's twice in recent weeks we've got it wrong but as I've said many times, it's a thankless task running matches which is why I'm glad I don't do it very often and fair play to those that do.

After three matches and dropping the worst result, here's how the IBC league is shaping up,

Graham Field - 2 pts (dropping 1)
Jake Woodard - 4 pts (dropping 3)
Adie Bishop - 4 pts (dropping 4)
Paul Homewood - 5 pts (dropping 30)
John Dursley - 5 pts (dropping 30)

We've had six matches in the two leagues so far and out of interest, I had a look at which pegs have framed,

120 - 4 times (won 1)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
110 - 3 times (won 2)
126 - 3 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
124a - 1 time
125 - 1 time

obviously that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story as conditions can play a massive part and others factors like peg 123 has only been used a few times whereas 120 has been in every match but I do enjoy looking at facts and figures and I'll keep this list updated as we fish the rest of the league fixtures and I'll try and put some interesting stats on here regularly. At the moment, the dominance of Isle Brewers is pretty evident (with the exception of 110) although I do think Hambridge will have a say when we start using it, I also think Coxes would have been a better bet than Redbridge today and would probably have provided the winner.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Archives - Part 3 - New venues and a big goldfish! (1983)

So at the end of Part 2, I'd won my first match and thanks to mum and dad at Xmas I was the proud owner of my first carbon fibre rod. I was still super keen and getting on the bank as often as possible, if I wasn't fishing myself, I was watching other anglers and asking questions. I was also buying all the fishing magazines, Angling Times, Anglers Mail and Coarse Fisherman.


I was fishing the canal at every opportunity and enjoying catching carp off the top, there were also several good sized golden orfe that had found their way in there from somebody's garden pond and although orange in colour, they weren't the brightest of fish and were caught on a regular basis. They also weren't the best of fighters and used to come in like a wet paper bag, almost bream like!

One of the first matches of the season was a juniors versus seniors competition on the canal and all the youngsters were chomping at the bit, hoping to teach the 'oldies' a lesson on our home water. I can't remember exactly how many anglers fished only that there was a good turnout and the senior team consisted of members of the committee.

I drew a peg near the top of the canal, it may have even been the famous 'Alcove' peg (which I'm sure people will remember if they fished the canal back then) but with loads of anglers lining the banks, the fishing was really tough with just the odd tiny rudd being caught and it was looking like being a low weight affair. It was neck and neck between the two teams with most people having caught a few small fish when all of a sudden a big orange shape appeared and was heading my way. I cast out so the float landed in the orfe's path and my single maggot sunk slowly in front of it, the float slid away and the strike was met with solid resistance, thankfully the fish didn't put up much of a scrap and I landed a good fish with shaking hands.

One of the seniors, Ian 'Ollie' Brister, was on my right and later in the match he also landed a 'carrot' of his own although his looked smaller than mine. The rest of the match passed without a lot happening and then it was time for the all important weigh in. The scales started at the bottom end and by the time they reached Ollie, the top weight was a fellow junior, Andrew Crouch, with 6.5oz, Ollie weighed 1lb 2.5oz and then it was my turn, my golden bonus weighed 3lb 8oz and I added 2oz of tiny rudd to give me a total of 3lb 10oz.
This lovely golden orfe made my second match win, a memorable one

After the totals had been added up, the juniors had won comprehensively, beating the seniors 5lb 3.5oz to 1lb 7oz. What was really pleasing was that we'd have still edged it, even without my bonus fish.

As it was a good size for a golden orfe at that time, I entered it into the Anglers Mail Top Fish contest and was over the moon when I received a letter to say I was a winner in the junior category and had won a Daiwa Harrier match rod, it was a nice bit of kit but not a patch on my Rule's carbon rod. I also submitted an entry later in the year with another orfe of 2lb 7oz and won a Daiwa reel!

Clipping from the Angler's Mail
So the season got off to a great start and 1983 turned out to be a really good year as we started to visit different venues although I was still fishing the canal and the Isle as often as I could. We started fishing Chard reservoir quite a bit, it was producing lots of big roach with many topping 2lb, I never managed to break that magical barrier, my biggest roach was 1lb 12oz, which was still a lovely fish. Mum and dad took me to Longleat a couple of times and it was great fishing, catching plenty of skimmers and roach along with the odd crucian and tench.
A nice 6lb 2oz common carp caught down the canal
Two cracking roach caught at Chard reservoir, biggest 1lb 12oz
Longleat, nice surroundings for a days fishing!
Towards the end of the summer I caught a good sized carp on floating crust down the canal but it bottomed out my 7lb spring balance scales so I'll never know how big it was!
My biggest ever carp from the canal but how big?

A rather blurry photo of me fishing the Isle (Vernon's peg which is now peg 23), note the Barbour wax jacket (which was the Halkon Hunt of it's day) and the Hunter wellies. I'd also upgraded to a fibreglass seat box and used an Abu Diplomat closed face reel for most of my river fishing
I was still doing okay in the junior matches and won the Club Cup which was fished on the Isle, with a weight of 2lb 4.5oz, I also won the Points Shield, the Aggregate Trophy and for good measure won the pairs for the second year running but this time with Jason Miles as Mark England was no longer eligible to fish the junior matches, which meant the trophies were a bit more spread out this year!
The presentation night was held at the George Hotel (apologies for the poor photo quality but it's scanned from a newspaper clipping)
Back row from left to right, Robert Tolman, Don Jobson, Aubrey Tulk, Stuart Brown, P Wright, somebody I can't make out!, Bob Filler jnr, Jason Miles, Ian Brister, me, Kevin Tolman, Adrian Green and Dave Back
Front row, Bob Filler snr, Roger Russell, Barney Crockett
Next up - Part 4 takes a look back at 1984

Monday, November 06, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 3 - 5th November 2017

With Rob and Hurf both away, it was down to me and Steve P to arrange this weeks match and I was hoping to get us all down the lower end after last week when everybody at Coxes struggled. Also we had the first few frosts in the week and the river desperately needed some rain. I woke up nice and early and it looked like we'd had some rain overnight, I arrived at the bowling club and there was a slightly depleted turnout this week which although a shame, made deciding on pegs a lot easier!

I put a couple of pegs at Redbridge (110 and 120) with the rest at Isle Brewers and to be honest I didn't really mind where I drew although all week I'd been dreaming about peg 110 which has been fishing really well and as I've only ever drawn it once, I'd love another crack at it. For several of the pegs, I gave people a couple of options as well, so hopefully we'd be in for a good day.

I announced the draw and as people started delving into the bucket, I couldn't hear anybody mentioning 110 and with just two balls left, it still hadn't come out. There was just Bill and me left to draw so he went in, leaving me with the last ball in the bucket, was it the one I wanted? Was it fate that I'd end up on the peg I've been fantasising about all week, umm......nope, as I opened my fingers I could see I'd drawn peg 129 although I did also have the choice of 128a which has been doing well although people keep losing chub in there. Bill ended up on my dream peg and I fancied him to win from there today.

Driving down to Isle Brewers there was loads of water about and it looked like they'd had a fair bit of rain which would hopefully put some much needed colour in the river. I parked up and took my kit to 128a, it looked gorgeous and I really fancied it so decided against going to look at 129, Adie Bishop was on 128 again and as I wandered up to have a quick look, there were loads of small fish topping and I thought he'd be in for a good day.
Although not my dream peg, I was more than happy with 128a
It took me ages to set up and none of my rigs were really suitable, they were either too deep or not deep enough and I still wasn't quite ready when the start time arrived, I ended up using a 1 gram Drennan Tipo but if I'm honest there was way too much line between the float and the pole tip. The main flow was under my feet so I started there and the rig was long enough to fish three sections to hand, I put double red maggot on the hook and fully expected to catch small fish straight away, I had a tiny minnow to avoid the blank but also snagged bottom a couple of times so buried the hook in a caster and had a really positive bite but a miniature gudgeon wasn't the result I'd hoped for. A small roach followed but it certainly wasn't fast or furious.

Although not bagging, I'd seen Adie catching a couple of nice roach so I stuck a couple more sections on and went further across where I'd also been feeding some casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp, another good bite but this time some elastic came out and I swung in a nice 4oz roach. Back to the same spot and the float just sat there, I tried tight against the far bank cover and the float sailed away, a positive strike saw another minnow come flying out of the water. Back to three sections fishing in the flow and I had a small dace but I just couldn't catch two fish in one place.

With two hours gone and less than a pound in the net, I shouted up to ask how Adie was doing and he said he was still getting the odd fish and probably had 3lb, I was starting to think I should have fished 129. I knew I needed chub if I was going to do any good now so started fishing as tight as I could to the far bank and upped the feed. I had a small chublet and then next put in, the float slid along the surface before submerging and this time it was a proper fish, I shipped back and the fish was just plodding around in the middle of the peg when all of a sudden the line went slack! I was sure the hook had pulled out but as I swung the rig in, the hooklength had gone and I really don't know what happened there.

I went back out and tried getting the rig as tight as possible to the far bank cover but it was proving difficult due to the long line between float and pole tip and you can probably guess what's coming next, yep, the rig got caught round an overhanging reed and I ended up losing the lot! I was now seriously hacked off and not for the first time this season, I didn't have a suitable spare rig, will I ever learn? I rooted around in my box and found a Drennan 0.75 gram Trio which had been in there for ages and I wasn't even sure what hooklength was on it but did I change it?, did I heck and I was just asking for even more trouble.

Back across against the cover and I was getting the odd indication and had another gudgeon but that lost fish was playing on my mind, then the float buried and the strike was met with solid resistance, I threw the pole back and once again, a big fish was plodding around in the middle of the peg, it didn't really give me any grief and thankfully the hooklength stayed intact and I slid the net under a lovely chub of 3lb plus.

My next bite was a little chublet but I still felt there was another big chub or two to be had as Fieldy had landed one and lost three a few weeks back. Adie asked how I was getting on, I told him and he replied he was still getting the odd fish, he also said he'd spoken to Bill on 110 who'd had two chub and some smaller fish. Then another really good bite saw me attached to another lump and again it was pretty well behaved and I added another 3lb to the keepnet. With half an hour left, I really thought I might get another one but it didn't happen and the last action of the match for me was hooking another piece of crap on the far bank and this time I got the rig back although it was trashed!

Adie was admitting to 7lb which I thought would be a little more and I fancied Bill would probably find a couple more and as I thought I had 6-7lb, I really needed that other chub. I took my kit back to the car and asked Steve P on 126 how he'd got on, he said he'd really struggled and only had, in his words, '72 pairs of eyeballs', as he had the scales I suggested we weigh him first but when he said we'd come back to his peg, my suspicions were raised somewhat and I thought he might have done better than he was letting on.

We got to Adie's peg and he had a nice net of fish that went 8lb 8oz and he's normally pretty close with his estimates, then it was my turn and it was closer than I thought but I still fell short with 7lb 15oz. Then we walked up to Mr Parker and when he pulled his net out, far from having 'eyeballs' he had some quality roach and it was going to be very close. The needle pulled round and settled on 7lb 10oz - phew, so I took a pound off him although he still leads 2-1 in the series. The others wandered down from above the bridge and Rich S had weighed 6lb 8oz on 125, Stu had 5lb 8oz from 123 and Fieldy had 2lb 4oz from 124 so I was second in my section again.
Adie had a nice net of roach for 8lb 8oz
I had 7lb 15oz which included two lovely chub (but I needed that third one!)
Steve had 7lb 10oz of 'eyeballs'!
Back at the results and Bill had the top weight at Redbridge with 8lb 10oz followed by Karl who had 4lb 8oz from 120 so I ended up in the third place overall and picked up £20 but that was an opportunity missed today and rig making is on the agenda for next Saturday! Although the river didn't fish as well as expected it was still a very close frame with just a pound separating the top four places. Thanks to Karl* and Stuart Aplin** for the photos.

Stuart Aplin had 5lb 8oz which included two nice chub from peg 123**

Karl had 4lb 8oz from peg 120*
Bill won on the day with 8lb 10oz from peg 110 at Redbridge*
1 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 8lb 10oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 8lb 8oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 7lb 15oz

After three matches and dropping the worst result, this is how the league looks so far,

Bill Hopping - 2 pts (dropping 8)
Steve Parker  - 3 pts (dropping 3)
Adie Bishop - 3 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 4 pts (dropping 2)
Stu Aplin - 5 pts (dropping 6)
Karl Aplin - 7 pts (dropping 20)
Graham Field - 7 pts (dropping 30)

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next trip down memory lane

Check Out - My great interview with Billy Makin (below)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Billy Makin Interview

Hi Billy, thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview, after reading your book earlier in the year (read the review here – Fishing and Testicles) and enjoying it very much, I wanted to find out a little more about what makes you tick!

Firstly, how did you get into fishing and what was your first fish?

Dad was a keen and pretty good matchman on the Northern canal circuit, so my introduction to fishing by-passed the more usual bent pin and worm approach. My tackle was a sort of hand me down stuff from dad's earlier days, but was good enough to catch fish. Catching fish is what keeps a kid interested. Like most kids, I guess that an odd perch were the initial takers.

When did you start fishing matches and do you remember your first win?

I was around 12 when I won a club match on the breadpunch, having "borrowed" both the punch and the float from the tackle box of Harry Settle when he was in the pub during the interval between the morning and afternoon matches.

What was your favourite style of fishing?

I never really had a favourite style. Being quite an obsessive, anything that caught fish on the day was good enough for me. Whenever I pleasure fished, my mind was always fishing a match and was always in a sort of spatial competitive mode.

Your favourite species?

Anything except carp – they are the bastard spawn of Lucifer.

Favourite venue?

Anywhere full of fish, though I must admit that I was always eager for an Oxford canal match.

There’s been quite a bit of interest in this interview already and some of Against Men and Fish’s readers had questions they wanted to ask you, George Burton asked ‘Where did your angling ability come from? Did you have a mentor, your Dad perhaps? before you moved down south as you just seemed to be instantly that good?’

Dad of course was a major influence. Coming from the North West was also important. Leigh was the home of the caster, Wigan the bloodworm, and Bolton the breadpunch. Each of these towns always had someone who stood out from the rest, and I have to say that my obsessiveness was a critical factor in my development. I watched and learned from the top men in the area, and rather than being labelled with one particular tag, I began to combine all three methods. This isn't so difficult when you are young, as an obsessive mind is like a sponge, and once you become competent at something at an early age, you can take it to the next level. Damned hard as you get older though, that is why an early start in fishing and match fishing was so important.

Jeff Sparkes wanted to know ‘Have you still got that recipe for groundbait for gudgeon that you showed me?’

I can remember Ray Mills winning 3 matches on the trot at Womborne with gudgeon, I think that I won the next 2. The locals were going mad, convinced that we had some secret groundbait mix. I told them that the magic ingredient was HTW. We kept them going round in circles for a couple of seasons, both of us winning a few more matches each.

Eventually I had to tell them once they had bought us both a few drinks. HTW stood for Hinckley tap water – we always mixed our feed before we went to any match at Womborne just to wind them up.

With the creation of Makins Fisheries, you are often credited with changing the face of match fishing, some would say commercial fisheries have saved angling while others think it’s ruined it, one thing’s for sure, they are here to stay. Can you tell us a little bit about the vision you had and how you implemented it?

I suppose that the idea germinated because of Cuttle Mill. Here was a small lake that contained a few whacking great carp, and the brain deads' couldn't get enough of it. I reckoned that if I dug a lake, and stocked it with enough fish, people would pay to catch them. In a poor man's way, I pretty much used the golfing model. Instead of whacking a golf ball among a field of cows, why not build the fishing equivalent of a golf course? If there were toilets, anglers could bring their wives and kids – why not have hot food available. All these things went through my head for a number of years. It was only when I made a few bob out of the float making business that I could afford to start the project. As for the growth into the complex it became, I have to thank Roger Parfitt for that. Being my bank manager, he could see the potential in the project, and one way or another, managed to make the funds available.

The fishery was very successful, one of the premier venues in the country and then you sold it for a tidy sum, was selling it always part of the plan or was it too good an offer to refuse?

Everything in this world has a price except my bottom.

You now live in Thailand where you own a bar, how did that come about? Where did your journey take you after selling the fishery, did you go straight to Thailand or were there other pit stops along the way?

I spent 10 years in Tenerife in order to avoid the UK taxman after I sold my lakes. One day, wifey told me that she wanted a bit of space. I booked a 2 week holiday in Thailand, returning to Tenerife for 3 days to collect my fishing tackle and golf clubs. That was over 5 years ago.

Sandra, my ex-wife, is still my best friend in the world, but Rinda, my Thai fiance, reaches the parts that Heineken has yet to discover.
Billy is happily settled in Thailand
I love fishing in Thailand and have caught some amazing fish since my first trip in 2010, have you done any fishing since you’ve been there?

Just an odd chuck or two with friends, strangely, fishing without matches holds little attraction.

Do you think you’ll stay in Thailand long term or have you any plans to come back to the UK to live?

I can never return to the UK as I do not wish to live under Sharia law.

You recently wrote on Facebook about how you received a Masterclass in bream fishing from the Master himself, Ivan Marks and it was fascinating stuff but how do you think Ivan and other greats from that golden era would fare on today’s match circuit where big weights of carp dominate?

Comparisons from a different era are pretty pointless. A class act in any sport, in any era, will always be a class act. Ivan would simply assume the same sort of dominance that he had in his prime.

Georgie Best would still be a pretty decent footballer if he returned and put on a City shirt.

Red does no-one any favours.

Earlier we touched on how you got into fishing but why did you stop and do you ever miss it or get the urge to get back into it?

I occasionally dream of my match fishing days but the interest ends there. Never look back. Keep and enjoy the memories.

I packed in when the excitement went. Motivation is easy when you are young, but as you get older, and look at a raging blizzard through the bedroom window, the bed suddenly becomes very welcoming.

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

As I mentioned in my Facebook post, a one second lapse in concentration once cost me the present day equivalent of over 100 grand. Ten grand in the 1970's was a pension.

The Mills used to tell me that I didn't really lose anything. I would have given half the money to the wife that was at the time, and she would have taken the other half when she divorced me.

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

Talk to the fish. The Mills used to call it seeing into the water. Ask them what they want. Do they want it a little deeper, is the shotting right, would they like a little more feed, have they moved a little farther out, would they like a change of bait? The response of the fish will be passed on through the way the bites develop with each subtle change.

A fishing match is a dynamic, ever changing series of events. You have to constantly ask the fish what they want – when they begin to answer you with their response, and you in turn can read the messages that they are trying to give you, then, and only then will you be starting to think like Ivan.

Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?

Any real ale

Favourite meal?

Pretty cosmopolitan in my taste. Despite living in Thailand, I avoid Thai food. It not only looks, smells and tastes like buffalo dung, but helps to remind you why God gave you an arse.

Do you support a football team?

Man City since a kid. After seeming like centuries of pain, things are now looking pretty good.

Favourite film?

Not a great fan of films – possibly Slumdog Millionaire.

TV show?

Got none over here – usually documentaries on YouTube.

What music do you listen to?

Used to enjoy classical quite a bit, but as the bar is nonstop wall to wall pop type music, I have lost most of my interest.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Sitting on the biggest shoal of giant gudgeon in the world, and suppin a pint of Tetleys bitter, as half a dozen Thai barmaids feed me kebabs.

Lastly, any plans to write a book on your angling career or how you went about creating the fishery? I could see it being a bestseller!

No plans, I prefer to write novels. I have 4 published, plus Fishing and Testicles. There are two more half finished, but having been appointed head trainer to the 20 bar girls that work for me, I seem to be running out of energy.

Many thanks again Billy, from Against Men and Fish

All images courtesy of Billy Makin

Monday, October 30, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 2 - 29th October 2017

We were back on the river this week for the rescheduled V.E.S. match and I was hoping I might finally draw a peg at Isle Brewers or Redbridge but with fifteen anglers booked in for this one, Rob had to put some pegs in at Upper and Lower Coxes. After we'd all finished eating breakfast and paid our pools, it was nearly time to draw but before we did, Rob announced there would be a slight tweak to the pay out and instead of paying out the top three and two sections, the top two in each section would pick up. A really good idea because, with the river low and clear, it would give the anglers at Coxes something to fish for because at the moment it just can't compete with the lower end.

By the time I reached the bucket, there was just one peg left, I pulled it out and when I looked I could see the numbers 2 and 9 and was desperately looking for the number 1 that should be in front but it wasn't there and for the third match on the trot I was at Coxes. Peg 29 (The Stump swim), used to be a flyer but in recent times it's been a real struggle, I drew it last year and managed one minnow off it! To be fair, two good fish rolled at the bottom of the peg that day, so there are some in there.

Bill and Karl who'd drawn 27 and 28 respectively wanted to follow me to the river so we headed off in convoy, we parked up and I showed Bill where his peg was before starting to unload my gear. Hurf, who was on peg 15, phoned to check if we were still having a pound on it and I said yes because I expected us both to struggle. He also said that pegs 108 and 110 at Redbridge were in our section which meant we were up against it a bit, if it was just a section at Coxes, it would have been fair, very hard, but fair. I was sure one of those two pegs would win the section but it's very rare for both swims to produce so there was still a possibility of a pick up. I do think it's a great idea and it reminds me of when Chard did the same when they were using the Donyatt and Horlicks stretches.

I walked down to my peg and it looked nice but it always does, I sat a little lower than I did when I had it last year. I set up a 1 gram bodied float with an olivette and two droppers and plumbed up, there was a nice depth across where all the flow was with a slightly deeper run to my right. I also set up a 0.6 gram DH16 with a spread bulk to run through and give me a different option. On the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp.
Peg 29 always looks lovely
The start time arrived and I fed some casters and hemp across and also fired a few casters down the peg, I shipped out the heavier rig with two red maggots on the B611 size 18 hook and after two missed bites, I caught a tiny minnow to avoid the blank so on went a caster to see if there were any proper fish about. I rig settled and just as I went to feed some more bait downstream, the float sailed away and the strike resulted in a fish pulling a little bit of elastic out. I swung in a little chublet and when I had another next chuck, I was off to a promising start.
I started to catch little chublets
I took a section off to fish at ten metres in the flow to see if I could catch closer and had a few small dace and it felt like there were a few fish in the swim. I did bump a fish and missed a few bites, back across to the far bank and I had a lovely dace and was really enjoying myself. After an hour I had eleven fish for around 2lb but felt sure sport would tail off. The second hour was steady and I added another eight fish to put me up to 3.5lb although I did lose a fish shipping back and also had a better chublet dive into some vegetation under my feet and transfer my hook to some weed!
I was getting some lovely dace
Then the sun came out which I knew wouldn't do me any favours and I only added a couple of fish although one was a really nice dace of 8oz or so. Karl appeared behind me and said he was really struggling and only had a couple of dace although he had lost a decent trout at the net (I wonder if that was the same one I lost the other week!), he also reported that Bill had only caught a couple of chublets. I did miss a bite while he was there but after a great start, the swim had died.

I went thirteen metres down the peg and held the rig back against the cover, a positive bite saw me swing in a 2oz chublet and I then had a nice little run of three or four fish before bites tailed off again. I went back across and had a nice dace and it was a case of nicking a fish from each swim, I had my best fish, a chublet about 10-12oz from down the peg and was hoping a few bigger specimens might show in the last hour but if anything the bites just fizzled out. I'd really enjoyed myself today and ended up with 31 dace and chublets plus a couple of minnows and thought I had between 4-5lb.

I'd just about finished packing up when Karl arrived with the scales, the needle pulled round to 5lb 10oz which I was pleased with. He very kindly helped me back with my kit before we weighed Bill in, he'd struggled for 12oz, Karl was next and he'd caught some nice dace to weigh 2lb 12oz and wouldn't have been far off my weight if he'd landed that trout. We then headed to Upper Coxes and it had been really hard there, Paul Homewood had the top weight with just 1lb 12oz from peg 22a followed by Tony Newman with 1lb 1oz from 14 and Hurf had 14oz from 15 so at least I'd won a pound off him although I fully expected to have to give it to Steve P who was on 120 today.
I weighed 5lb 10oz and had really enjoyed myself
Karl had 2lb 12oz from peg 28
So I was the top weight at Coxes but with two pegs at Redbridge in our section, I would have to wait and see how they'd got on. As the others started arriving back, there had been some brilliant weights at Isle Brewers and Redbridge, Frank had the top weight on the day with 18lb 5oz from peg 123, he had chub, roach, dace, gudgeon and a couple of hybrids. Leighton also had a brilliant weight from peg 110, he had 17lb 4oz which included four big chub for 14lb and some quality roach, he also lost four chub so that peg could throw up a mega weight in the right conditions. Jake and Steve P both had 10lb 2oz from pegs 126 and 120 respectively so I handed him another pound but what about the other peg in our section at Redbridge? Terry 'The Toast' Morgan had 3lb 1oz which included a nice chub so that meant I'd finished second in the section and had a nice pick up of £40. Photos courtesy of Leighton Cox*
Leighton had 17lb 4oz which included some big chub*
Steve P had a nice day catching 10lb 2oz from peg 120*
Terry had 3lb 1oz which included this nice chub from peg 108*
The rest of Isle Brewers had fished pretty well with Adie weighing 7lb from 128, Rob had 5lb 10oz from 128a (and had lost three chub), Stu had 2lb 8oz from 125 and John didn't weigh from 124.

Section A
1 - Leighton Cox (Ilminster) - 17lb 4oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 10oz

Section B
1 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 18lb 5oz
2 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 10lb 2oz
2 - Steve Parker (Ilminster) - 10lb 2oz

Looking at the results, the new pay out worked pretty well although the same five people would have picked up under the old system, the only differences being Frank probably took home a little less, Leighton had a little more and I had £40 instead of the £15-£20 I would have had for a default section win so yay for the new system!, joking aside, if you look at total weights for the top section of eight pegs (33lb 2oz) compared to the seven pegs of the bottom section (53lb 11oz), there's no comparison and that's with a DNW at Isle Brewers and if you take away Leighton's weight, the top section drops to 15lb 14oz!

I think both pay out systems have their uses depending on the pegs and areas used, it's just a case of trying to give everyone a chance, fair play to Rob and Steve for trying something a bit different. I still think there's lots of fish at Coxes but we need the right conditions, at the moment the river is just painfully low and clear.

Next week, with Rob and Hurf away on their holidays (not together I hasten to add!), it's down to me and Steve P to organise the match (God help us all!).

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - A great interview with Billy Makin and my next trip down memory lane

Check Out - My last match (below)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Summerhayes - Champion of Champions Silvers Final - 27th October 2017

I'd been looking forward to this match since I qualified way back in April and thankfully when I woke up, my back didn't feel too bad. I stopped in the Little Chef for brekkie on the way and arrived in good time. As I went to pay my pools, it was lovely to see the legend that is Charlie Barnes had come along to watch today and it was a beautiful day for it with blue skies and no wind for a change. Jeff said he was paying out the top five and then said he would call people up to draw in the order they qualified. Pete also announced that there was £45 up for grabs for whoever caught the biggest perch.

John Barker was first and pulled out peg 4, then Pete drew 33 and Bruce Hunt was next door on 32, Jeff was on 37 and then Ziggy drew 34 before it was my turn and nearly all the fancied 30's had gone already. I stuck my hand in the bucket and pulled out peg 17 on the bottom bank, I quite fancied it although 19 is the better peg. Adam Palmer ended up with peg 7 and I really wouldn't have wanted that today, Rob Birch drew 12, Roy Hughes pulled out 10 and wasn't impressed, Bill Hopping was on 28, Glynn Wickham on 1, Gary Butler on 24 and Roger had the last ball in the bucket which was number 35.

I drove down and parked up and as I took my kit to the peg, I realised I had loads of space as 19 wasn't in and my nearest neighbours were Gary on 24 (who I couldn't see) and Rob on peg 12! Although a lovely day, the pond was flat calm which isn't ideal and I said to Rob that I reckoned you'd need 12lb to win and 10lb to frame.
The pond was flat calm
I set up the usual 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp for the top two lines left, middle and right and also at top two plus one to the left and straight out, the other rig was a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for two ten metre lines. On the side tray I had some dead red maggots, 2mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse Pellets plus some 4mm Xpands for the hook and I also mixed up some Special G Dark groundbait. After speaking to Ads Palmer in the week, I'd decided to tweak my usual approach slightly and not actually feed my longer lines until I was about to fish them.

The whistle went at 10:30 and I fed some micros on the left hand and central top two lines and then put in a ball of groundbait on the right hand line. I started on the left with a 4mm soft pellet on the hook and had to wait a little while for my first bite which of course I missed, then the next two indications also saw me strike into thin air, I finally hit the next one but a poxy carp of a pound and a half wasn't the result I wanted! After thirty minutes, I still hadn't had a silver and this wasn't in the script!

I switched to the middle top two line and finally got off the mark with a 4oz skimmer and then had two more and missed a bite in the next three chucks and I was starting to enjoy myself. As the first hour came to a close I just had those three fish for 12oz or so and although I wasn't bagging, I was getting a few indications. I had another small skimmer at the start of the second hour and then a better one of 8oz or so, I tried the left hand line again but after that initial flurry of bites I never had another indication there. My next fish from the middle line was a good skimmer around a pound and then I had another little skimbob to put me nearly 3lb after an hour and a half.

I was just thinking I could do a decent weight when the bites just stopped, I tried the right hand line but never had a touch there, back on the middle line and I had another decent skimmer but that was it. As the halfway point approached, I was really struggling but I wasn't the only one, Rob shouted up that he'd only had a couple of small skimmers and from what I could see Ads was only catching the odd roach. It was time to start a couple of new lines so I cupped in some micros at top two plus one to the left and straight out.

I had a 3oz roach first put in but the next indication saw me lose a foulhooked  carp so I tried the middle line and the only action was a small roach that came off as I shipped back. I tried double dead red maggot and had a few small roach but it was slow going. I started getting carped out and it looked like Rob was as well although he hooked one that he seemed to be playing very carefully, he netted it and let out a little whoop before shouting up that it was a big perch, on paste of all things!

With two hours to go, I couldn't get a bite on any of my shorter lines so put in half a pot of micros at ten metres before going out with my other rig, after a few minutes the float sunk from view and the strike was met with a few inches of blue hydro showing itself, I shipped back gently and netted a 4oz skimmer, next put in I had another and I started to think there was still time to stage a comeback. Ads came for a walk and said he was really struggling, he said Roy was admitting to 4-5lb and Rob just had that big perch and a couple of small skimmers, while he was there the float sailed away but this time it was a carp, after I netted it, he carried on round the pond to see how the others were doing.

Next put in I had a carp around 6lb and that was enough of that, I started another ten metre line but this time, my first fish was a carp and another followed, I decided to give it one more go and had a small skimbob but when the next fish was a carp, I decided to spend the last hour on my top two lines, especially as Rob had just landed a big skimmer on his short line and there now wasn't much between us.

In amongst several carp, I did manage one more skimmer but as the whistle went to end the match, I was unhooking yet another carp. My final tally was 12 skimmers, a better roach and a few small ones for around 3-4lb, a real struggle and I was sure it wouldn't be any good today. I was still packing up as the scales party reached peg 7 so walked up to get a few photos, Ads weighed 3lb 15oz and looking at the board, John Barker had weighed 4lb 3oz on peg 4 and top weight so far was Glynn with 6lb 1oz from peg 1. Roy Hughes was next and had done well to put 8lb 4oz of small skimmers and roach on the scales.
Roy Hughes had 8lb 4oz from peg 10
Rob had 4lb 6oz but crucially his perch was 2lb 1oz and he was looking good to take home the £45 perch prize, I was next and my fish went 4lb 14oz but with Ziggy admitting to 9lb and Jeff saying he had 4lb (which would be 6lb given his recent estimates) along with small fish maestros Gary and Bruce still to weigh, I was sure it wouldn't be enough to frame. As I took my kit to the car, Gary Butler had just weighed 4lb 8oz and then Bill had 3lb 2oz on peg 28, I didn't see the rest of the pegs weigh as I was loading the car. As I drove back up the track I saw Ziggy and asked if he'd won it, he said he had with a level 10lb - well done mate.
Rob had this cracking perch of 2lb 1oz which was worth £45
I weighed 4lb 14oz from peg 17
I parked up and as I took my nets back, Jeff said I was in the money! Bruce had weighed 5lb 5oz on peg 32 but then Pete had chucked back on 33, Ziggy was on 34, Roger had 1lb 3oz on 35 and Jeff weighed 4lb 7oz from peg 37 so I'd sneaked last in the money.

At the results, after Jeff had presented Rob Perch (sorry Birch!) with £45, I was called out in fifth place and picked up £40 followed by Bruce in fourth, Glynn was third, Roy was the runner up and the 2017 Silvers Champion of Champions was Ziggy Slowinski. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sparkes*
All the winners from today, from left to right, me, Bruce Hunt, Pete Wakeling, Ziggy Slowinski, Charlie Barnes, Rob Birch, Glynn Wickham and Roy Hughes*
1 - Ziggy Slowinski (Summerhayes) - 10lb
2 - Roy Hughes (Summerhayes) - 8lb 4oz
3 - Glynn Wickham (Summerhayes) - 6lb 1oz
4 - Bruce Hunt (Summerhayes) - 5lb 5oz
5 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 4lb 14oz

Perch Pot
Rob Birch (Summerhayes) - 2lb 1oz
Results from today

So a really enjoyable day and the banter was great, huge thanks to Pete and to Jeff who did a great job running the matches, I'll definitely be trying to qualify for next years final.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - A great interview with Billy Makin

Check Out - My last match (below)