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)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dillington Pond - 22nd October 2017

We were supposed to be on the river for this match but the arrival of Storm Brian and a fair bit of rain on Saturday night saw the decision made to switch it to the pond, if I'm honest, I felt it was a little premature as these days the river rises very quickly but by the same token it drops equally as fast. I woke up to blue skies and as I drove to Ilminster there was some standing water about but as I went over the top end of the river at Sea it looked fine.

I got to the bowling club and there was a dirty dozen fishing today, it was nice to see Rich Studley fishing with us again along with Langport invader, Baz Morgan who was also a bit surprised we were on the pond. The good thing about the pond is that you are normally guaranteed plenty of bites, I just wanted to avoid pegs 1 and 24 because although they are both potential match winners, they do tend to be all or nothing and I struggled the last time I was in 24.

Rob announced the draw and I hung back hoping to hear that those two pegs had gone and when Baz drew 24 (and wasn't too impressed!), I was halfway there. Rich S drew peg 2 which I really fancied but with only two balls left in the bucket, I was starting to think I was destined to be on peg 1, I went for it and opened my fingers to reveal......peg 14, that'll do, one of my favourite pegs on the pond. Rob had the last ball which was peg 1, so I nearly ended up on it!

Steve P was on peg 17 so I'd be able to keep an eye on him to see if he was going to take another pound off me and young Karl on peg 8, also agreed to letting me try and win my pound back from the last match. My peg is on the bottom bank and the wind was blowing straight down the pond and would be in my face all day, Baz would have no such problems opposite me in his sheltered peg and I'm sure I saw him getting a deck chair out!
The view looking up the pond from peg 14
I set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach float to fish at ten metres with maggot and caster over groundbait and also a 0.4 gram Drennan Pencil to fish corn by the reeds to my left. On the side tray I had maggots, casters, corn and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp plus some Pro Natural Dark that I'd mixed up as soon as I got to my peg. Rob got us underway and I cupped in two balls of groundbait straight out and then two pots of casters, hemp and corn by the reeds, my plan was to fish for roach and every hour have a quick look for a bonus fish by the reeds.

I shipped out with a single red maggot but the rig didn't even settle as small fish were hitting the bait on the drop, I missed two bites before catching a tiny roach and that was enough of that so I slipped on a caster. It didn't really help and I was still getting small fish but hopefully the stamp of fish would improve later in the day. Steve was getting a few and I could see Adie on peg 6 catching a small fish every chuck on a short pole to hand.

I was getting a bite a chuck from roach averaging an ounce apiece and also added a nice 6oz perch and a Dillington barbel (gudgeon), I reached 30 fish for around 2lb by the end of the first hour before trying my other line with a grain of corn on the hook, no indications after ten minutes so I cupped in some more feed before going back over the groundbait line. The second hour was a bit slower and I added another 20 fish to put me on 3lb or so, another quick go for a bonus fish but no bites and I started to doubt whether I'd get one but I put some more feed in and would try it again in another hour.

Apart from Adie who was still catching a small fish every bung, nobody else looked to be bagging, John Dursley was switching between feeder and pole and I'd seen him net one skimmer, Steve P was getting odd fish and Karl was fishing the waggler and catching some roach. I added another 22 fish in the third hour and was probably up to around 4lb 8oz but I was a bit surprised at the lack of quality roach and rudd. It was time to try my other line again, another ten minutes passed and I was just about to come off it when the float dipped, first of all I thought it might have been my eyes playing tricks on me (well they were watering due to the cold wind blowing straight in my face all match!). I gave it a few more minutes and then the float buried and the strike resulted in a pleasing amount of Preston green elastic exiting the pole tip, it was obviously no chub but I shipped back gently and netted a nice skimmer of a pound or so.

I was hoping a few more might be out there so I spent another fifteen minutes fishing the corn but no more bites so I cupped in some more grub and went back to trying to catch roach although I was missing loads of bites and bumping a few fish. Over the next half an hour I only had another nine fish, including two more Dillington barbel, to put me on around 6lb with two hours to go. Rob turned up and said he'd had a few chublets on peg 1 but Baz was bagging in 24 with bream and skimmers, so with Adie also still catching lots of small fish, they were looking good for first and second unless some big fish started to show.

While Rob was with me I had a few small roach and then, typically, had a slightly better roach of 2-3oz drop off after I tried to swing it when I should have used the net! My bites were slowing up and over the next hour and three quarters I only added another 16 fish for about a pound and when I noticed young Stuart over on peg 19 net a big fish, I had to have another go for a bonus of my own. The wind was a real pain and blowing the rig towards me and as Tony Rixon said in his blog, the float kept trying to hide under the pole tip!

Time was running out and I didn't think it was going to happen but then with five minutes to go, the float dipped (or was it my imagination again), another minute passed and then the float buried, again it wasn't a huge fish, a skimmer of 12oz-1lb but very welcome at this late stage. I even had time to ship back out again but just after the rig had settled, Rob blew to signal the end of the contest. I finished up with 99 fish (should have been 100!) and thought I probably had around 8lb (if the small fish equalled an ounce apiece that was 6lb plus the two skimmers).

As I packed up, my back was killing me, it had been fine on Friday but I think fishing at ten metres and battling the wind hadn't done me any good today. Steve had the scales so we went up to weigh Baz in first, he'd had a lovely days fishing catching a 4lb bream plus skimmers for 14lb 5oz, I said he'd win with that and even offered to take his deck chair back for him! Next up was Stu whose late bonus fish had been a chub which he did well to land on the whip and boosted his weight to 5lb 5oz.
Baz had a lovely net of bream and skimmers to weigh 14lb 5oz
Stuart had a nice chub to boost his weight to 5lb 5oz
John Dursley on 18 just pipped him with several skimmers for 5lb 9oz and then Steve had 5lb 7oz which included some chunky perch and just 4oz had separated three pegs but interestingly all totally different catches and that's what makes the pond such intriguing fishing. Also most people had a few Dillington barbel as well so they are thriving in there. Then it was my turn and the needle settled on 8lb 9oz which I was fairly pleased with, last to weigh in our section was Bill who was admitting to 4lb and actually weighed 4lb 5oz which is a bloody good estimate!
John had 5lb 9oz from peg 18
Steve 'The Pole' Parker had 5lb 7oz which included some chunky perch
I had 8lb 9oz which included two nice skimmers
Bill had 4lb 5oz from peg 13
Back at the results and Adie had the top weight in the other section with loads of small fish for 11lb 15oz with Terry 'The Toast' Morgan next best with 6lb 15oz which included a lovely bream that he'd sneaked in without me seeing. Karl had fished the waggler most of the day on peg 8 to weigh 3lb 15oz so I got my pound back, Rob had 2lb 15oz and Tony and Rich had both struggled. So I ended up in third place and picked up £25 (plus the two side bets) to end my bad run for now, I actually felt I'd fished a half tidy match today, I'd given myself a chance of catching big fish while at the same time, catching enough small fish to win the section. Thanks to Rob Cox for the photos*
Adie had loads of fish for 11lb 15oz*
Terry had 6lb 15oz which included this cracking bream*
Karl had 3lb 15oz on a rare day trip away from peg 19!*
1 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 14lb 5oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 11lb 15oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 8lb 9oz

A - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 5lb 9oz
B - Terry Morgan (Ilminster) - 6lb 15oz

So quite an enjoyable day (apart from my back and I still think the river would have been better!) but I'm a little concerned at the lack of quality roach out the pond, it was very clear which may have been a factor. Next up for me is the Champion of Champions Silvers Final at Summerhayes on Friday, a match I've been looking forward to for ages and would love to do well in but with loads of really good silvers anglers fishing, it'll be a tough match to win.

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - A great interview with Billy Makin and more stuff from the archives

Check Out - My trip down memory lane (below)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 20th October 2017

I'd booked the Friday off work for a little practice before the Champion of Champions Final next week and after not fishing last Sunday, I was gagging to get back on the bank. My back was still not 100% but a lot better than it was so I decided to give it a go as I was climbing the walls at home! The forecast was pretty grim for later in the day but on waking up, it didn't look too bad outside. I loaded the car up and was a little apprehensive when it came to lifting the box but it wasn't too bad. A quick pit stop for breakfast at the Little Thief and I was on my way with my wallet a tenner lighter.

I arrived with ten minutes to spare and had a coffee and said hello to everyone, the draw time arrived and Jeff got me to pull out the golden peg which turned out to be choice number four as it was a rover today. With the golden ball back in the bucket, I drew again and pulled out choice number one, the trouble is I never seem to do very well when I have my pick of the pegs. After everybody had drawn, it was time to chose and I went for peg 34 as it's been a really consistent area. Rob Birch went for peg 32 and Roger chose 38.
One of the best pegs on Longs but would I do it justice?
As per usual I set up a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp for the top two lines left, middle and right and also at five metres straight out, the other rig was a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for two ten metre lines, one fed with micros, the other with Special G Dark groundbait. On the side tray I had 2mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse Pellets plus some 4mm Xpands for the hook.

On the whistle I fed micros short left and middle and cupped in a ball of groundbait on the right, fed a pot of micros at five metres and then micros at ten metres straight out and groundbait at the same distance but angled to the right. I started on the top two line to the left and after a few minutes the float sunk from view and for once I didn't miss it and netted a 4oz skimmer, I had another next put in and then missed a couple of bites before adding a third. I then had a foul hooked carp that gave me the run around, I had another skimbob but when I hooked another carp it was time for a move.

I went to the middle line and had another hand sized skimmer before catching two better ones in quick succession and just before the first hour came to a close, I had another of 4oz or so to put me on eight for around 2.5lb, not bagging but steady and as I thought 12lb would be a good weight, I was just ahead of my target at this early stage.

I'd seen Roger net a couple of skimmers and Rob appeared behind me to ask how I was doing and said he was getting a few. As the second hour started, I tried the right hand short line but never had a bite, back on the middle line and the rest had done it some good as a couple more skimbobs put in an appearance. A few more 4oz fish followed and then I had one around a pound and I was up to 5lb after two hours and it was going well.

Things got even better when the next bite resulted in a two pounder flying out of the water, I safely netted it, two more smaller skimmers followed and I was really enjoying myself, I was just thinking that I hadn't hooked a carp in over an hour when the next bite resulted in a pond pig tearing off. I rotated around the three short lines for the next half an hour but every bite over the micros resulted in a carp and I couldn't get a bite over the groundbait. Rob stopped on his way up to see Roger and said he was getting carped out as well. I needed to use the loo so fed all my lines before I went, on my way back I asked Roger how he was doing and he replied that he'd only had five small skimmers.
A nice skimmer around 2lb got me thinking I was in for a good day
Back on my box, I went over the ten metre line for the first time and the float had barely settled before disappearing and another carp ran me ragged, after netting it I decided to give it another go but the next bite resulted in blue hydro all over the place and that was enough of that. I wanted to leave the five metre line until the last couple of hours so came back on the top two lines but it was the same story and I was running out of hooklengths fast.
And another one....
I did manage one more skimmer over the next half an hour but it was hard going so with two hours to go I tried the five metre line for the first time but three carp in three chucks and I didn't know what to do next. I came back on the central top two line where there were loads of blows but they looked very carpy, I had a couple of fish that I was sure were skimmers but they somehow turned into carp and then out of the blue I had a decent skimmer of a pound or so and was probably up to 8lb or so and there was still an hour left. I kept thinking I could still pull this out of the bag with a couple more big skimmers but it didn't happen and I only managed one more 6oz fish.

I packed up and just as I finished loading the car, the scales were with Roger who weighed 4lb 10oz, I was next and my 21 skimmers and a few tiny roach went 10lb 6oz which was a little more than I thought but I didn't think it would do me any good today. Rob weighed 4lb 1oz and when Gary Butler had 5lb 11oz I started to think I might sneak in, especially as Jeff was admitting to 8lb. I should have known better as he weighed 12lb 1oz and when John Barker said he had 10lb or so I knew that was that, he actually weighed 10lb 13oz so it had been tight.
I had some nice skimmers for 10lb 6oz but needed a couple more
Gary Butler had loads of fish for 5lb 11oz
Jeff won off the golden peg with 12lb 1oz
I'd wanted to use today as a practice for next Friday but I'm none the wiser, that's three times I've drawn in the 30's and not done very well although to be fair I wasn't far off today but I'm not getting it right. I hadn't lost or bumped any silvers although I had missed a few bites.

1 - Jeff Sparkes (Summerhayes) - 12lb 1oz
2 - John Barker (Summerhayes) - 10lb 13oz

Next up - Dillington Pond

Coming soon - A great interview with Billy Makin

Check Out - My trip down memory lane (below)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Archives - Part 2 - Influences and my first match win (1981-82)

So Part 1 detailed my introduction into fishing and my first tentative steps onto the junior match scene in 1980, Part 2 takes up the story on June 17th 1981. There was still a close season in place and I can only describe the countdown to June 16th as something akin to the excitement of waiting for Xmas day. I can't remember why I didn't fish the 16th but it may well have been to do with avoiding the crowds as the canal was a relatively small water and used to get pretty busy on the first day. My records showed that I caught 58 rudd and roach, 2 eels and a 2lb tench so my fishing had improved hugely compared to the meagre catches I was recording the previous year. I still had the 13 foot match rod and was using bronze maggots but had now added a 8.5 foot ledger rod and a Mitchell 206 reel to the armoury.

The first match was on 28th June and it was interesting to note it was fished using the points and ounces format where you got a point for every ounce and a point for every fish with the highest points score winning. The junior matches were well attended with 14 fishing this one. I had 29 fish for 1lb which gave me 45 points to finish in second place behind Trevor Priddle who had 40 fish for 15oz. Most of the fish were caught by casting as tight as possible to the far bank, no poles back then.

Also looking through my diaries and photo albums, carp had by now lost their almost mythical status although they were still a prized catch and not the nuisance they are nowadays. They weren't big fish, typically between 2-5lb with a six pounder being a big fish. Lots of fish were caught on floating crust which was great fun.
Two nice carp caught on floating crust at the bottom end of the canal
I was still fishing matches, mainly on the canal, and doing well although that first win eluded me. We also travelled further afield when Ilminster entered two teams into the Junior South of England Team Championship on the River Huntspill. To be honest, we struggled due to a lack of experience as fishing a big wide open drain was totally alien to us. The 'B' team fared slightly better, finishing 21st out of 27 teams, the team consisted of Ian Priddle who caught 1lb 6oz, Richard Priddle (1lb 1oz), Steve Pittard (10oz) and me (10oz). The 'A' team (and you'll probably recognise a few names here as well) were Dave Tolman, Mark England, Dave Phillips and Lee Crossland who received a trophy for the youngest angler competing to weigh in at the tender age of nine years old!

June 1982

At the start of my third season I was down the canal on the 16th and caught 52 fish for around 2lb in total, not a massive catch but plenty of bites, I was using a 2BB Stillwater Blue, a lovely delicate little float, made by Drennan I think.

The matches kicked off on 27th June and the first one saw 22 youngsters line the banks of the canal (how we all squeezed in, I'll never know!). I caught 38 rudd and a roach for 7.5oz which gave me 46.5 points and I finished third. The next fixture on the canal I had 9 fish for 9oz which included a gudgeon, it was also the start of the pairs competition and my partner was Mark England who was winning everything at the time.

The Summer Cup was fished on the canal by 19 juniors and Mark England won again, I was fourth with 8oz. In the photo above, IAA Chairman Bob Filler Snr can be seen weighing in, also pictured was Dave Crouch the junior match secretary, Dave was a massive influence and helped me so much in those early years. I recognise most of the youngsters in the photo but there's a few I'm struggling with, front row left to right, I can't remember the lad on Dave's right, Bob Filler, Ian Isaacs, Neil Dopson, Dave Tolman, Stephen Hallett and Pete Bennett? (not sure), back row, Shaun ?, Jason Miles, Stuart 'Fred' Brown, Paul Brion, Andrew Crouch, me, Richard Priddle and Trevor Priddle.

Talking of early influences, three other people I must mention are Trevor Hyams, Richard White and Andy Langdon, three anglers who used to fish the canal a lot and I used to sit and annoy them with all my questions. Trevor gave me my first seat box and used to quite often pick me up some bait from Rule's tackle shop. I'm still good friends with Rich after 36 years although we don't see each other nearly enough and Andy went on to become one of my best mates. Regular fishing companions around this time included Dave Tolman, Stephen Hallett and Terry Busby.

After being the bridesmaid on several occasions, I finally won my first match on 12th December with victory in the Xmas Fayre. I caught two chublets, two roach and two dace for 1lb 6.5oz and won a tin of biscuits and the grand sum of £1 in pools money! I fished a stick float with bronze maggots as bait, a classic combination. The river was very high and it was a struggle for most with only three from a field of twenty troubling the scales. I seem to recall I caught all my fish running down in the crease between the slacker water created by my keepnet and the main flow.

My first match win
Xmas that year was a memorable one as mum and dad bought me an A.W. Rule's 12 foot carbon rod, a lovely bit of kit. I christened the rod down the canal on 28th Dec when I caught seven rudd and a gudgeon.
Back row from left to right, Dave Back, Bob Filler jnr, Rob Doak, Bob Filler snr, Frank Sadler, Roger Russell, Vernon Case, Adrian Green, Barney Crockett, Dennis Priddle
Front row, Tony Pearce, Alan Dunn, Jamie Rich, Mark England
The clubs presentation night was held at the Lord Nelson and I was proud as punch to be the first name on the Xmas Fayre shield which was a new trophy and Mark England and me won the pairs although in truth, he pretty much won it single handed!

Next up - Part 3 covers 1983

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Archives - Part 1 - Where It All Began (1980)

A few people have said they'd be interested in reading some stuff from the memory banks and I've been meaning to do something for a while now, so with my recent incapacitation due to doing my back in and in a bid to stave off boredom, here is the first instalment. As ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts and any constructive feedback, just leave a comment on here or message me via the contact form in the side bar.

22nd June 1980

It was the summer holidays and all the kids were going fishing so not wanting to be left out, I tagged along one day. We headed to the River Isle and basically chucked a ledger out and sat around chatting, at the end of the day we reeled in and there was a gudgeon or bullhead (I really can't remember) on the end and I was 'hooked!'.

I was eleven old years and living at The Incline in Ilminster and at the bottom of the street was the recreation ground and The Old Canal, the last remaining part of the Chard to Ilminster canal which was now basically just a long pond. I had a little rod that my granddad had given me and a few bits and bobs and was spending every available minute down there, to be honest I caught very little, just the odd small rudd but I couldn't get enough of it.

Me fishing the canal in 1980 (it was still quite wild down there then, compared to today's grass banks)
A bumper haul of seven rudd (note the knotted mesh on my eight foot keepnet!)
I've always kept diaries and records of my fishing exploits, even though in the early days they were fairly basic, I was using 'Perch Bobber' floats but later upgraded to a 'Zoomer' (anybody remember those?). Slowly but surely I started to get some gear together, Trev Hyams gave me a wooden seat box and I bought a 13 foot Shakespeare match rod from Adrian Green and coupled this with a Mitchell Match reel that my mum bought (fantastic reel that I still have somewhere).

I also fished my first junior match on the canal not long after I started fishing and predictably I blanked. My second attempt was slightly more successful and I recorded that I caught four rudd for 2.5oz although I lost three floats! Looking through my first diary I was fishing most days during the school holidays and just catching a few small rudd, in those days carp had an almost mythical aura about them and although the canal held quite a few they were rarely landed.
An 'action' shot down the canal (note the 13 foot rod and sun visor!)
On the 24th August I entered my third fishing match and caught fourteen rudd and a dace! (not convinced with that fish identification, probably a small roach) for 7.5oz and second place! My records show I was fishing peg 2, conditions were cool and cloudy, I used bronze maggots and a Drennan Onion float!

I was by now also having the odd foray down the river but mainly minnows and only the odd roach seemed to feature in my catches (nothing much has changed there then!). I did fish at Isle Brewers with my granddad and although I blanked, he hooked a pike around 4lb and I was so excited by this beast from the deep, that I nearly fell in trying to get a closer look and he had to hold on to me as well as playing and landing the fish!

My next match was also my first one on the Isle and I caught three dace for 11oz although I did also have five minnows which escaped through the rather large mesh of my net! I came second again and according to my diary, I used small worms as bait. The following week, my dad took me to Rule's tackle shop in Langport (I loved going there) to buy a ten foot micro mesh keepnet.

On the 30th November it was the Junior Xmas Fayre on the river and I drew a bend above Ilford (where Colin Dyer once won the open with 20lb of chub) and caught one chub of 1lb 1oz (which I think was my biggest fish to date). I came second again (behind Trevor Priddle who had a chub of 1lb 13oz) and won a box of chocolates (Terry's All Gold if I remember correctly). One of my overriding memories from those early winter matches was wearing so many pairs of thick woollen socks that it was difficult to get my wellies on, a far cry from todays thermal boots!

Next up - Part 2 covers 1981-82

Sunday, October 15, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 2 - 15th October 2017

After struggling in the first two Isle matches, I was praying for rain (which was looking unlikely) but failing that, a draw at Isle Brewers would do me as that's where the top weights have been coming from. As ever I was really looking forward to my next fishing fix but during the week, I had to go out and about on site (yes I do some work sometimes!) and did my back in, it was agony and I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to fish at the weekend! On Friday morning, I could barely get out of bed and I don't think I've ever felt this uncomfortable, at times I couldn't even stand up!

I managed to get a doctors appointment and he gave me some tablets and signed me off for a week so I had to phone Hurf and tell him I couldn't fish this week, gutted and I'm bored stiff already! I will still post the results and hopefully some photos. I'm hoping I won't be out of action too long.

With thirteen fishing, Hurf put in Upper Coxes, three pegs at Redbridge (which he cleared out yesterday) and six at Isle Brewers. With the river still being low and clear it fished hard at the top end again but Redbridge provided the winner with Big Frank Woodard catching three chub for 8lb 4oz from peg 110 (it's normally 109) and he lost one as well, Graham Field continued his good run with a chub plus roach and dace for 8lb 2oz from newish peg 128a (and he lost a couple of chub as well) and John Dursley who's still recovering from recent surgery on his hand was third with two chub for 6lb 15oz from 124a. Section wins went to Steve 'The Pole' Parker with 3lb 7oz from 22a (which included a big trout of 1lb 14oz) and Bill Hopping with 6lb of dace, roach and chublets from 128. Thanks to Graham Field* and Rob Cox** for the photos.
Graham was second with 8lb 2oz from peg 128a*
John Dursley had two chub for 6lb 15oz and third place from 124a**
Bill Hopping won his section with 6lb from 128*
Stuart Aplin had 4lb 6oz*
1 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 8lb 4oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 8lb 2oz
3 - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 6lb 15oz

A - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 3lb 7oz
B - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 6lb

It's nice to see some of the newer pegs producing, especially 128a which we put in a few times last year and it was shocking, which just goes to prove that fish do move about. I reckon 130 and 133 would throw up some weights but they are a bit of a walk, it's a shame the parking isn't better and we could get everybody down Isle Brewers! With some colour, I think we will see some brilliant weights and it's nice to see the chub still showing at Redbridge and more and more are turning up at Isle Brewers. It will interesting to see how Hambridge fishes this year (although by all accounts it's still a bit weedy at the moment) and hopefully we'll try some other stretches as well.

Well I'm hoping to fish Summerhayes next Friday and then I'm looking forward to getting back on the river on Sunday (hopefully my drawing arm will be working again by then!).

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My latest review (below)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ThermoNet Buff Review

If you've followed the blog for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of Buff products from when they contacted me back in early 2015 to ask if I'd like to review one of their Polar Buff's from the new angler range. To be honest I didn't really know too much about the firm at that time, so some research was required. Looking at their website I was immediately impressed with the vast choice of products and patterns and I could see lots of possible uses for fisherman and not just from the angler range.

I chose a Polar Buff which arrived quickly and what a great product, if you haven't already seen it, the review can be found here - Polar Buff Review

Fast forward to March 2016 and I was at The Big One angling show and went and had a chat with the lads on the Buff stand, I mentioned I'd reviewed their products before and told them about an upcoming fishing trip to Thailand and said I'd love to review one of their Insect Shield Buff's, they got one sent out to me and it was another brilliant product, that review can be found here - UV Angler Insect Shield Buff Review

I'd signed up to receive e-mails and updates from them and one I received recently caught my eye, it was announcing a new product, the ThermoNet Buff. The technical blurb in the e-mail goes on to say, 'This year, we are unveiling a new technical fabric. ThermoNet brings together the knitting tradition at Buff with technical yarns from our partners at Primaloft. The result of years of research and testing, is this extremely thin, lightweight fabric which retains body heat while wicking moisture away.'

I cheekily e-mailed them to see if there was any chance of doing a review and was over the moon when they replied saying yes, I opted for the Soft Hills Turquoise from the website and it arrived within a few days. They also sent out the two latest catalogues, a nice Buff pen and some stickers which was a nice touch.

As for the Buff itself, I loved the colours, the pattern and removing it from the packaging, it immediately felt like a quality garment. Reading a bit more about the Primaloft material, it has the following qualities,
  • made from 70% recycled content
  • fast drying
  • superior softness
  • moisture management
  • lightweight

It also says on the packaging that the ThermoNet Buff is 4 x warmer than the original which makes it ideal now the weather is starting to get cooler and we wave goodbye to what little summer we've had this year.

I'm looking forward to trying it out over the coming weeks as our winter leagues get underway, one of the great things about Buff's is that they take up so little space that you can have one in your jacket pocket or carryall and not put it on until needed. A great little tip for winter fishing is not to wear all your warm gear if you've got a bit of a walk to your peg, you can then put it on as you start to cool down and really feel the benefit.

To be honest I don't really wear my Buff's in the multitude of different ways they can be, but worn as a neck warmer they are fantastic at keeping the chills at bay and from going down your neck. The other time I find they come into their own (here and fishing abroad) is when it starts to get dark and midges and suchlike come out to play and are intent on going in your mouth or up your nose, simply pull your Buff up and problem sorted.

Check out the website for loads of other great designs as well - Buffwear

Look out for my update on how I'm getting on with my new Buff over the next few weeks as the temperature starts to drop a few notches.


Monday, October 09, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 1 - 8th October 2017

I always look forward to the V.E.S. Precision league and although I've got a pretty good record in it, I've only actually ever won it once, with more anglers fishing the river it's a tough league to win and Adie did brilliantly to win it on his first attempt last year! We were back at the Bowling Club for the draw this week and after another cracking breakfast it was time to decide our fate for the day. I really fancied Isle Brewers today after it had fished so well last week and the pegs on my wish list were 120, 124a, 125, 128 and 129. With the river being back to low and clear, I didn't really fancy pegs 14 or 15 at Upper Coxes so hung back hoping they would go, Tony Newman pulled out 15 but by the time I got to the bucket, there were just two pegs left and one of them was 14. You can guess what happened next, I pulled it out, leaving Rob on 129.

To be fair, I wasn't too upset as 14 is one of my favourite pegs on the river and has been good to me over the years, Adie did 10lb 3oz off it last week although he caught well for two hours before it died. After a short drive, I parked up and took half of my kit up to the swim, I couldn't believe how low it was, you could see the bottom all the way across to the tank traps apart from one slightly darker area by a big submerged branch. The other main catching area tends to be up towards the weir, just off the flow where there is normally a decent depth.
The Tank Traps (you can see how low and clear it was)
Looking up towards the weir
I set up a 0.5 gram DH16 to fish by the traps and a one gram bodied float to fish to my left in the deeper water. The usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp were on the side tray today. The match started at 10:00 and I fed some hemp and casters on both lines before starting over by the traps, I fully expected to catch quite quickly but when this didn't happen I knew I was in trouble already, you normally get a few small dace and chublets, even if sport doesn't last long. After half an hour, all I had to show for my efforts was two tiny minnows - not good! Then out of the blue, the float sailed away and I had a 2oz chublet but that was it. As the first hour ended I did hook what felt like a chublet or dace only for it to come off as I shipped back and I was going nowhere fast.
At last, a little chublet!
I picked up the heavier rig and tried upstream just off the main flow at 11.5 metres for the first time, the rig barely settled before shooting under only for me to bump the fish, next chuck I had a chublet and it felt like there were a few fish there. Over the next ten minutes, I had two dace, a chublet, bumped another fish and missed a few bites but then, just when I thought I was going to put a few fish together, the bites stopped. I stuck on another section and tried a bit further up towards the weir, the rig settled before flying under and a decent fish took off, I was sure it would be a trout and as they count in our matches it was a nice bonus when I slipped the net under a nice fish around a pound.
A nice trout boosted my weight
It was a gorgeous, sunny day but not great fishing conditions, I stuck on the 14.5 metre section which is almost unheard of for me but that wasn't the answer and I was left scratching my head. I went back over by the traps and bumped a fish first put in which you really don't want to do in shallow, clear water and apart from a tiny little fish of less than half an ounce which may or may not have been a chublet when it grew up (it was so small I couldn't tell!), that was the last of the action there.

I went back up towards the weir and the rest had done it some good and I had a couple of fish quite quickly but they just wouldn't settle, I stuck the 13 metre section on again and in a carbon copy of the last time, the float sailed away and I hooked and landed another trout of a pound or so. No more bites so I tried the lighter rig up there and had a gudgeon. Hurf turned up for a chat and said Tony was really struggling down in peg 15, he stayed with me for probably an hour but I never had a fish while he was with me and he soon got bored and left me to it.

The rest of the match followed that same sort of pattern, I'd get the odd fish up towards the weir but then would have to rest it and fish somewhere else. I was hoping the fish might switch on in the last hour but it didn't happen and I ended up with 16 fish (those two trout plus chublets, dace and gudgeon). I packed up and took my kit back to the car before going up to weigh Tony in, he'd had a nice perch and a few dace and chublets for 1lb 2oz, we then walked up to my peg and my fish went 3lb 7oz.
Tony had a nice perch from peg 15
I had 3lb 7oz from peg 14
Tony headed off home and I waited for the others to get back, Bill and Karl arrived first and Karl had been on 108 at Redbridge and hadn't weighed in after losing loads of hooklengths to the cabbages so it needs a good flush through. Bill had 6lb 6oz from peg 120 and said he was struggling until a cow fell in and put some colour in the swim, we all reckoned he'd brought a tame cow with him for just such an eventuality so maybe he should be known as 'Wild Bill Hopping' the cattle herder from now on!

Next to arrive was Fieldy who'd weighed 5lb 5oz from new peg 125a, he'd had 20 dace and around 160 minnows! The rest arrived back and Steve 'The Pole' Parker had done well from 128 to win with 8lb 11oz (and take a pound off me) with Adie second from 126 with 7lb 8oz. Stu Aplin had 2lb 4oz from 124a and Rob didn't weigh on 129. So another struggle for me but second in my section and two points at least means it was a decent start to league. Thanks to Stu Aplin for the photos*

Graham had 5lb 5oz from peg 125a*
Stu Aplin had 2lb 4oz which included this nice perch*
He also had this pike (which don't count)*
1 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 8lb 11oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 7lb 8oz
3 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 6lb 6oz
4 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 5lb 5oz

Once again Isle Brewers was the place to be and provided the top four weights with two of the pegs on my wish list (120 and 128) framing although 125 wasn't fished, hopefully we'll get some rain before next week, failing that we'll all have to get ourselves cows like Bill, last seen heading home with Ermintrude!

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - The brilliant guest post from Billy Makin (below)