Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dillington Pond - IBC Winter League 5 - 10th December 2017

With temperatures plummeting and matches being cancelled all over the place due to snow, this had the makings of being a real grueller. The weather wasn't too bad on Saturday but waking up this morning is was chucking it down and judging by all the water around, it had been all night and with strong winds to contend with as well, we were in for an uncomfortable day. I got to the Bowling Club and the decision was made to move the match to the pond which was definitely the right decision and hopefully we should get plenty of bites.

I drew number 2, which is a great peg and one I haven't fished for a while, Baz was on peg 1 with Bill on 24 and these three pegs are normally pretty sheltered which would be a massive bonus on a day like today. We got out the pond and all headed to our pegs, Adie was on 19 again but said he wouldn't be able to fish the pole as the wind was horrendous, I must admit I felt for Steve P and Frank who were on pegs 13 and 14 on the bottom bank and would have the wind straight in their faces.
The view from peg 2
I mixed up some Bait-Tech Pro Natural Dark before setting up my rigs, a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti for 8.5 metres just off the bush on my right where I would feed two balls of groundbait containing a few pinkies and casters, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing over groundbait at 8.5 metres (because of the wind) straight out and a 0.4 gram Drennan Pencil to fish off the end of the bush to my left where I would feed chopped worm and caster but after last week, I wouldn't fish it unless loads of big fish started getting caught.

Rob got us underway with a single toot on his whistle and I fed all three lines before starting by the bush to my right with single disco pinkie on the hook, bites from small roach came quickly but I was soon trying single and then double maggot in a bid to catch a better stamp, I had a couple of 2-3oz fish so I tried caster but had to wait ages for bites and the fish were no bigger so it was back to maggot. Baz was catching quite well and had netted a couple of rudd, I couldn't really see anybody else apart from Adie on 19 and Karl on 18 and they were both fishing the feeder although I hadn't seen them catch yet.

Although windy, the rain wasn't too bad to start with but then after about 30 minutes, it ramped up several notches and I had to put my coat on and the lids on my maggots and pinkies to try and stop them escaping. I was catching quite well and after an hour I had 24 fish for probably a pound and a half but as I thought 8-10lb would be needed to get in the money, my catch rate would need to improve if I was going to do any good today. I was feeding casters and hemp and kept trying caster on the hook but they weren't really having it yet.

In the second hour, my bites slowed up and much like the last match, I started getting some small perch so I cupped in another small ball of groundbait but it didn't really help, then Adie had two skimmers in the space of half an hour or so and I had to remind myself that the skimmers tend to average a pound apiece so there was no need to panic yet! During the second hour, I added another 21 fish to put me on nearly 3lb but my catch rate was going in the wrong direction.

As we headed into hour three, I tried caster again and had a really good run of fish catching 21 in half an hour, mainly roach with the odd perch and a Dillington barbel, just when I thought they'd arrived, bites tailed off again and I only added another five or six fish in the next thirty minutes. Adie had another skimmer on the feeder but as he was swapping between the feeder and the pole, I don't think he was getting many indications on the tip. The wind had eased off a bit but the rain certainly hadn't and it continued to lash it down, there were maggots and pinkies everywhere and my groundbait was now slop!

With a couple of hours to go, I decided to stick with caster and caught well in spells, I did have a nice roach come off shipping back and I bumped what felt like a better fish but my catch rate had been pretty consistent all day, averaging around 25 fish an hour. Typically as the light started to fade in the last hour, some better roach put in an appearance and I was having to use my landing net more often. When the all out was signalled, I don't think anybody was too upset as we were all soaked through. My final tally was 122 fish which I thought might give me a pound or so more than the 7lb I had last week.

I'd just about finished packing up when Jake arrived with the scales to start the weigh in, Baz pulled his net out and had loads of small fish for 6lb 12oz, then it was my turn and I was pleased to see the needle pull round to 9lb 1oz. Jake had several skimmers and a nice perch for 7lb 8oz on the feeder from peg 5, Stu had fished the whip all day to weigh 2lb 12oz which included a chub that had been through the wars and Rob had some lovely roach and a skimmer for 3lb 15oz on the feeder from peg 8.
Baz had 6lb 12oz from peg 1
I had 122 fish for 9lb 1oz from peg 2
Jake had 7lb 8oz which included some skimmers and a nice perch
Stuart had 2lb 12oz which included another whip caught chub
Rob had some quality roach on the feeder for 3lb 15oz
Last to weigh in our section was Justin who said he thought he'd just done me and he was right as he had a nice net of roach for 10lb 10oz. We then headed back to the cars for the results and Frank had the top weight in the other section with a level 9lb of skimmers on the feeder, so I ended up second on the day and picked up £35 plus a nugget off Steve P who had struggled for 1lb 3oz on peg 13. Adie weighed 5lb 12oz to take the section money, Bill had 4lb 12oz from peg 24, Fieldy had 1lb 9oz from 17 and Karl didn't weigh on peg 18.
A rather moist looking Justin had the top weight on the day with 10lb 10oz
As you can see from the photos, everybody was soaking wet and the weather had been atrocious but considering the conditions it had fished quite well and as ever it was a tight match with fish being caught on a variety of methods, a little gem of a venue that we need to make sure we look after.

1 - Justin Charles(Ilminster) - 10lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 9lb 1oz
3 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 9lb

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 7lb 8oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 5lb 12oz

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

Graham Field - 7 pts (dropping 30)
Adie Bishop - 9 pts (dropping 4)
Jake Woodard - 10 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 10 pts (dropping 30)
Bill Hopping - 15 pts (dropping 20)
Karl Aplin - 17 pts (dropping 20)
Stuart Aplin - 18 pts (dropping 6)
Frank Woodard - 24 pts (dropping 30)

I can't go without saying well done to Hurf who fished Taunton's Xmas Fayre on the Tone on Sunday, the match was called off at 12:30 due to rising river levels making it unfishable but he winkled out some bleak and a roach from a swim with a little bit of slack to finish third with 310 grams! He took home a nice prize plus pools money and for good measure he also won two prizes on the raffle, so all in all a decent day.

Last but not least, if you haven't already, please take a minute to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards,


Next up - Charity match

Coming soon - My next great interview

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Dillington Pond/Ilminster Canal - Xmas Fayre - 3rd December 2017

The Xmas Fayre is always well attended with several anglers fishing who only ever fish one or two matches a year. The twenty anglers would be split over the two venues, Dillington Pond and Ilminster Canal and I really fancied having a crack at the latter as I love the canal and haven't fished it for ages. I got to the Bowling Club and it was great to see Andy Welch, Fred and Justin, even Ash had turned up (he must have heard it was on the pond!), there was also another new face in the shape of Baz's brother, Dasher, who was fishing his first match in 35 years!

After breakfast and before the draw, Hurf announced that we would have a two minutes silence in memory of Bob which was a lovely touch. The draw got underway and as per usual I went in late and pulled out a ball which I hoped would be down the canal, it wasn't but as it was peg 18 at Dillington, I wasn't too upset as it's normally a decent winter peg. Baz managed to pull out peg 24 for the second match on the trot and his drawing arm is on fire at the moment. Hurf was on peg 5 down the canal and we agreed to still have our usual side bet as did Steve P who was also down there on peg 3.

I had rather a lot of bait this week, along with the usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp, I had chopped worm for the canal and Pro Nat Dark for the pond, I'd also asked Steve to pick me up some pinkies in case it was hard. After a couple of frosts in the week, it was surprisingly mild today and I expected both venues to fish well.

After the short drive I parked up and as I took my kit to the peg, I could see the pond was gin clear and it was flat calm too, what was more worrying was the fact that after being there a little while, I hadn't seen a single fish top and I started to think I might need those pinkies after all. I mixed up some groundbait before setting up my rigs, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing over groundbait at 10 metres, a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti for 11.5 metres if I had to go out further and a 0.4 gram Drennan Pencil to fish off the end of the reeds to my left. Just before the start, a couple of small fish topped out in the middle, which hopefully meant we'd get a few today.
The pond was like a mirror
On the whistle, I cupped in a single ball of groundbait containing just a few pinkies and casters at 10 metres and then a big cup of chopped worm, casters, hemp and corn just off the reeds. I put on a single disco pinkie and shipped out to 10 metres and I thought it might take a while to get a bite but the float settled and sailed away, for once I didn't miss it and swung in a small roach. It was a bite a chuck from small roach and the odd perch, Adie on my left had started on the whip and was getting a few and I could see Ash on 17 shipping in and out. I tried caster and red maggot but it didn't really improve the stamp although normally the bigger roach show later on so I'd keep on trying caster throughout the day.

After an hour, I had 32 fish, mainly small roach although I did slip the net under a couple of slightly better 2-3oz fish and I probably had 2lb which was bang on my 10lb target if I could keep that catch rate up. I fed a small ball of groundbait on my 10 metre line before picking up the heavier rig, slipping a grain of corn on trying my bonus fish line for the first time. I gave it ten minutes but with no indications I was soon back out over the groundbait. I had a quick fish on caster but then couldn't buy a bite, I switched back to single pinkie and started catching tiny little perch which was a worrying sign. Adie said he was struggling now as well, I could see Baz catching small fish and it looked like John D over on peg 10, Rob on 8 and Ash were getting a few but as far as I could tell nobody was bagging.

The second hour was slower but I probably added another pound or so (including a Dillington barbel!) but already my 10lb target was slipping away. Another try for a bonus was fruitless so I cupped in another pot of choppie, caster and corn before going back out with caster and had a couple of better fish including a 4oz perch, I did have a better roach come off as I shipped back. At the start of the third hour I tried double caster by the reeds, after a few minutes, the float disappeared but I missed it, back out and another good bite resulted in a small roach flying out the water and that was enough of that for now.

It was back to being a bite a chuck over the groundbait but the lack of quality was a bit worrying, going into the last hour, Adie said he'd seen Jake net a couple of skimmers but other than that I don't think anybody had caught any big fish. Adie had a slightly better perch and a chublet late on, I got to 103 fish (which at an ounce apiece would give me around 6lb) with five minutes to go, so had one last go by the reeds with corn on the hook but I never had a touch on it all day.

As I packed up Ash asked how I'd got on, I told him how many fish I had and asked how he'd done, he said he'd had more fish than me but was only admitting to 5lb (here we go again!), as I had the scales I went up to weigh Baz in first, he'd done really well to weigh 7lb 7oz and I said I thought he wouldn't be far off with that. Dasher was next and had loads of fish for 2lb 9oz and said he'd loved every minute of it so hopefully we'll see him again. Adie had 6lb 8oz and I thought those two better fish late on had probably just pipped me.
Baz had loads of fish for 7lb 7oz
Dasher did really well to catch 2lb 9oz in his first match for 35 years!
Adie had 6lb 8oz from peg 19
We got to my peg and when I pulled my net out, I knew it was going to be close and the needle settled on 7lb and I wished I hadn't wasted an hour throughout the match trying to catch bonus fish. Ash was next and said he'd had another look at his fish and didn't think he had 5lb, well they must have bred in the net because he plonked 9lb 10oz on the scales, now I know we all under estimate a bit (and I'm guiltier than most) but to be 100% out is just criminal! (I hope Santa doesn't come down your chimney!).
I had 103 fish for 7lb from peg 18
Ash did well to catch 5lb (and another 4lb 10oz to go with it!)
As the others arrived back, Jake had done brilliantly to weigh 15lb 8oz of skimmers and roach so he'd sneaked them in quietly and so had John D who had 8lb 3oz of small fish on peg 10. Rob had 5lb 14oz from peg 8 followed by Frank with 3lb 13oz from peg 4, Karl with 3lb 8oz from 13 and Tony with 2lb 1oz from peg 6. So that just left those down the canal although Adie had spoken to Bill earlier and apparently they were really struggling. Thanks to Rob Cox* and Jake Woodard** for the photos.
Jake had the top weight with a lovely net of mainly skimmers weighing 15lb 8oz from peg 2*
Frank had 3lb 13oz from peg 4*
Karl had 3lb 8oz from peg 13*
Tony had 2lb 1oz from peg 6*
John D had 8lb 3oz for third on the pond from peg 10**
Rob the Ewok had some nice roach for 5lb 14oz from peg 8**
We headed back to the Bowling Club for the results and it had been really tough down the canal where Andy Welch was top with a respectable 3lb 5oz which included a nice skimmer, roach and perch but then the weights dropped right off with Justin needing only 1lb 1oz for second place and then it was just ounces. Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photos***
Andy Welch was top down the canal with 3lb 5oz***
Justin only needed 1lb 1oz for second***
Hurf had 11oz from peg 5***
Rich S had 10oz***
Bill had 6oz which included this specimen perch***
Stuart had 6oz from peg 4***
My favourite photo from the day which sums up what the Xmas Fayre is all about, Terry 'The Toast' had mainly small fish in his 1oz catch! but was still smiling***
Also not pictured was Fred who had 4oz and Steve P who didn't weigh and had an early bath (you can let me have the pound next week mate, 5-2 now!). I have to admit I'm gutted the canal fished that hard because I love the place, I think maybe having nine down there was too many and five or six might have been better, I think we need to fish it when it's milder to get a truer picture.
The canal***
Everybody enjoyed a nice hot meal before it was time for the prize giving, the top two on each venue picked up some super pools and then starting with Jake, people were called up to choose from a fantastic array of prizes (Terry said he'd make himself comfortable as he had a long wait!). I was called out in fifth place and picked a bottle of port, cheese selection and some crackers.
Everybody took home a nice prize
1 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 15lb 8oz
2 - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 9lb 10oz

1 - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 3lb 5oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 1lb 1oz

I have to say everybody fished the match in the spirit it was intended and that's what club fishing is all about, Bill even wore his special Xmas hat with Dasher a close second as Papa Smurf!
Bill's Xmas hat is a work of art!

It was great to see Dasher Smurf fishing today
The club and everybody who fished today would like to say a massive thank you to Hurf for getting all the prizes and organising the match along with Rob Cox and also to Ilminster Bowling Club for looking after us so well.

And finally, it's that time of year again when I plead with you to vote for my blog in the UK Blog Awards, with so many other blogs out there about fashion, food and travel, lets get angling blogs on the map as well! (just click on the image, enter your details and choose 'Lifestyle' from the drop down menu - easy peasy!)

Vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2018

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next great interview

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

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The Archives - Part 6 - The Wilderness Years (1986-88)

Firstly, I have to say a massive thanks for all the great feeback and comments I've received regarding this series looking back at the years before the blog existed, it seems people are enjoying my little trips down memory lane!

I've called this instalment 'The Wilderness Years' for a variety of reasons, the main one being that, although I still loved my fishing, other distractions had started to appear for a 17 year old me and as a consequence the detailed fishing records I had previously kept so carefully, rather fell by the wayside. My diary entries were sporadic at best but there's still some good stuff that will hopefully be of interest!


I was still working in the fishing shop and also still on the committee as the junior match secretary. My angling apprenticeship continued as Barney and Adrian took me to places like the rivers Brue and Huntspill and I also fished the Parrett at Wick and had some nice double figure catches of roach and skimmers. Although I wasn't fishing the canal as often, there were still occasional night fishing sessions.

After a very successful first year fishing the senior matches, this season was an altogether different proposition with no results of note until October when we fished the committee cup at Max's pond in Crockerton. I drew a peg on the favoured near bank and fished an insert peacock waggler with the bulk of the shot around the float with just a few 'dust' shot (it's funny you don't hear them called that anymore!) down the line. I had 7lb 9oz of small skimmers fishing on the drop and it's a method I also used a lot at Dillington in the early days.

Basically you'd feed some maggots or casters and then cast out, once your bait has fallen through the water, instead of bringing it in (if you haven't had a bite) and casting out again, I would reel in a few turns (just enough so your hookbait rises and then falls again) and feed some more maggots. You could do this several times each cast and even if you missed a bite, you didn't need to reel in, just tighten up, feed some bait and have another go. This then gives you several bites (if you'll excuse the pun!) of the cherry, my rather low weight on the day was surprisingly enough to win and see my name etched on another of the clubs prestigious trophies.

A few weeks later I added the Club Cup to my roll of honours when I drew the famous 'Aquarium' swim on the Isle, that will mean nothing to most people as that swim hasn't been used in a long, long time. I can't even remember what number it was, the swim is below the 'Green Hut' and one down from another excellent peg on its day, 'The High Bank'. It was a gorgeous swim with overhanging trees, although it was a shallow peg and only came into it's own with extra water and colour on the river, which was exactly what I was faced with on the day, the river looked perfect.

I fished a little waggler and first run down I had a gudgeon and they were good sized 'gonks' on the river in those days. The rest of the match was plain sailing apart from a lost chub and I had a lovely days fishing to weigh 12lb 11oz. The club used to award trophies for the biggest catches of some species so there were the roach, chub and dace cups plus the gudgeon bowl! My catch consisted of 6lb 2oz of roach, 3lb 11oz of dace, 1lb 4oz of gudgeon plus a chub of 1lb 10oz which put me in the driving seat for the first three for a while but by the end of season, the only one I took home was the dace cup and I never ever managed to get my name on that gudgeon bowl! I picked up £18.50 pools money on the day and I also recorded I won £6 in side bets!

One of the last matches of the year was Bridgwater's Xmas Fayre on the KSD and it was an interesting day, I had quite a long walk and if I remember correctly, I tried to fish a waggler and maggot over groundbait but I was blanking for most of the match, I noticed the two anglers below me were fishing wagglers tight across to the reeds and catching quite a few small fish. It was quite a long chuck and I put the biggest waggler I had on, but to be honest I was still woefully undergunned, after much swishing of the rod, I finally got the float tight to the reeds, the shot settled and then the float just carried on going, I struck and reeled in a tiny rudd, I'd avoided the blank!

Feeding maggots was out of the question at that range but every time I got the float tight to the reeds, I'd get a bite and I quite enjoyed myself and at the weigh in, I plonked a massive 6oz on the scales! I think the two anglers below me had a few pounds apiece and both framed. The format of the prize giving was slightly different to what I was used to as not everybody got a prize and there were the same prizes in each section, i.e. a turkey for first, chocolate for second and I finished in the top half of my section and won a bottle of wine.
See if you recognise anyone here, there's a few I'm not sure about. From left to right, Sharron Gummer, James Parsons, Robin Pike, Kevin Way?, Alan Dunn, Terry Busby, Colin Ryall?, Bob Filler snr, Nigel Garrett, Roger Russell, Kerry Holland?, Vernon Case, Pete Womack, me, Adrian Green and Julian Butler
At that years presentation night, which was at Ilminster Bowling and Tennis Club, I collected three trophies and had the honour of being presented with the Club Cup by IAA's chairman, Bob Filler snr, for the camera. Sharron Gummer had the headlines for being only the second girl ever to win a trophy in the clubs history.


As more distractions presented themselves my diary entries were becoming more and more sporadic, I was still pleasure fishing the Isle with Jon Newby on a regular basis and we also fished Stathe drain with Alan Dunn and Stuart 'Fred' Brown where we caught decent bags of roach, skimmers and eels. I did come third in a match on the Isle with 5lb 2oz of mainly roach, if I remember correctly, and I lost enough to have won the match (nothing new there then!).
Jon Newby
There were also trips to the river Usk in Wales and also a pond in Bridgwater called Wellworthys, which held loads of little carp and was a bit of a novelty in those days, I came third with 18lb 6oz and won £10.


As the year got underway my fishing diaries showed I was fishing pretty much every Sunday but not catching an awful lot! On February 5th I finally passed my driving test but my dreams of travelling to lots of new venues was rather dashed when I then promptly wrote my first car off the following week!

The start of the season was still something to get excited about and this year Jon, Phil Bennett and me went to Wick on the river Parrett the night before and set up camp ready to fish at midnight, we had a Chinese takeaway and a few beers which was probably the best bit as the fishing wasn't anything spectacular. We managed some small fish and eels with the only fish of note, a decent skimmer for me and a small pike for Jon. The next morning we packed up and went to Ashford on the Isle, it was a scorching hot day and after catching nothing, we ended up cooling off by jumping in the river!
Phil Bennett with a small eel at Wick
There was a pond at Oxenford, near Ilminster, used to irrigate a fruit farm and Ilminster AA committee members were allowed to fish it, I only ever went there a couple of times, once to watch Adrian Green fish and then another time with Jon, we had a cracking day fishing the swims down the far end, we fished the waggler for roach and put a lead rod across by the brambles with sweetcorn on the hook, between us we had 50lb 9oz which was a big catch back then and made up of 10lb of roach, six carp for me and seven for Jon, we lost several as well.

I was fishing matches every other Sunday and although wins weren't easy to come by, I was still managing to frame regularly including a third place on the KSD with  just 2lb 14oz. A few weeks later we fished a match on the Isle with the river high, rising and chocolate coloured, to be honest it was unfishable and only four people caught out of the twenty four entrants with the top weight just 1lb 9oz. Actually five people caught, the fifth person being me when I caught a small eel, the trouble was that when it came to the weigh in, my little bootlace had found a small hole and escaped to freedom! I wouldn't have won the match but not checking my net beforehand was costly that day, another lesson learnt!

There were some more memorable pleasure sessions, Jon and me caught 21lb 12oz of roach, dace and gudgeon between us one day on the Isle, both fishing the same swim and on another occasion we had 22lb 6oz from the Tank Traps. In the Xmas Fayre I drew the mill pool at Ashford (peg 82 now) and had a lovely day catching quality roach in eighteen inches of water to weigh 11lb 4oz and finish third, it should have been a lot more as like an idiot I kept trying to swing in 6-8oz roach and dropped several off during the day.

For Xmas that year I got my first carbon pole, it was a nine metre Silstar I think and its first outing was at Stathe on 28th Dec with Alan Dunn and Phil Bennett, I had 2lb 2oz of small roach and skimmers, Dunner had 2lb 4oz and Phil had 1lb 4oz.

Next up - Part 7 takes a look back at 1989

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 4 - 26th November 2017

Before I get on to this weeks blog I would like to pay my respects to Bob Hammond who passed away recently, he fished with both Ilminster and Chard clubs and his very dry sense of humour will be missed by many, rest in peace mate.
Bob with a nice bream caught at Dillington
Me and Steve P with Bob back in the Summer
After several hard frosts, I thought it could be hard going today and when I swap my faithful Bait-Tech baseball cap for my Drennan fleece hat, I know winter has arrived! With Hurf not fishing again this week, it was down to me and Steve P to arrange the match and I have to say it's a bloody nightmare, everybody has an opinion on what pegs should and shouldn't be in, I've said it loads of times on the blog, match organisers deserve a medal as it's a thankless task and there is no way I could do it every week.

I must admit I do worry about the future of the clubs match fishing, we're getting healthier turnouts than we have for years and there's a great bunch of lads that want to fish every week but it's a huge commitment running the matches and people have busy lives these days, I certainly can't devote enough time to do it every week and I do fear it will just fizzle out which would be a massive shame for the club but that seems to be the way it's going.

Anyway, onto this weeks match, after much debate, the pegs decided on were at Redbridge and Isle Brewers and with Hambridge not being used (where the winner came from last week), I knew peg 120 would take some beating, I also really fancied peg 110. As I was holding the bucket I could see what everybody had drawn, Baz pulled out the peg everyone wanted but the first thing he said was 'Bloody long walk!', I think most people would have happily swapped mate! Young Stuart drew 110, Rob was on 108, John D had 126, Frank was on 128 with Bill on 128a, Karl on 129 and Adie on 127. I had the last ball which was 124 and I must admit to feeling a little deflated as it hasn't been great, I had the choice of that one or 124a and decided on the latter as it can throw up a big weight, although normally with some colour on it.

I got to the river and as I was unloading the car, Adie said 127 looked nice despite the river being low and clear, I dropped my kit off on peg 124a before checking out 124 as well, if anything it looked the better peg but I decided to stick with my original choice. Steve P was below me on 125 so I would be able to keep an eye on my pound and Jake was up on 123. I managed to get my box in although I was sat quite high off the water, while I was setting up several fish topped below me on the bend and above me in the shallow water which got me thinking I could be in for a good day.
Peg 124a (you can just about see Steve P down on 125)
I set up two rigs, a 1 gram bodied float to fish the deeper water in the middle of the peg and a 0.6 gram DH16 for fishing across and down the peg in the shallower water, on the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp. I was just about ready in time and started with single caster in the deeper water at about seven metres, I started getting bites but only from minnows so I tried near the top of the peg and a decent bite resulted in a little gudgeon but it certainly wasn't the start I'd hoped for. I had a little dace and small roach but minnows were already being a pain, a quick shout down to Steve and he said he was struggling too.

I stuck on another section to fish slightly further down the peg, I held back, the float sunk from view and a nice roach flashed in the clear water, I shipped back gently only for it to come off! I was feeding casters and hemp at the top of the peg plus feeding casters across and flicking a few down the peg as well, hopefully to bring those fish up the swim. After the first hour, I only had a few ounces in the net but there are usually a few chub about in this swim and as I thought 5-6lb would be a decent weight today, it would only take a couple of fish and they could show up at any time.

I put another section on to search further down the peg and a good bite resulted in another good roach nodding it's head, I safely netted this one and it was a decent fish of 4-6oz, next chuck I had another but any thoughts of bagging up disappeared when I went a further ten minutes without a bite. I laid the rig in further across, where it was shallower and the float didn't even settle and slid across the surface, I struck and I hooked what felt like a better fish but as I shipped back it came off and I've got a sneaking suspicion that as I laid the rig in, it went over a fish and I foul hooked it.
At last a better fish
Jake wandered down and said all he could catch was minnows, even if he put a worm on, while he was with me I had a couple of minnows and a gudgeon but it looked like it was going to be a real struggle. As the match passed the halfway mark (we were only fishing five hours today), I probably only had a pound or so in the net and had to try something else. There were still fish topping down the peg so I picked up the shallower rig with the intention of having a go for them at 13 metres but first I tried over by the far bank and to my surprise, the float settled and then buried and the strike resulted in solid resistance as a fair bit of blue hydro showed itself. I shipped back so the fish was in the middle of the peg, I could see it was a decent chub and thankfully it didn't give me too much trouble and I slipped the net under a two pounder.
A 2lb chub boosted my weight
I went back over and a few minutes later another good bite resulted in a decent roach around 8oz and it felt like there were a lot of fish there, they were just wary of feeding in the gin clear water. Steve wandered up and said he was thinking of having an early bath, I told him to stick at it as it wouldn't take a lot to get in the money today. Over the next hour or so, I added a few more minnows and a couple of tiny dace but I thought I needed another chub or two to do well today.

Going into the last hour, there were still small fish topping above and below me so I stuck the pole 10 metres upstream where it was only about a foot deep, the float went under and I had a little roach, three more followed before they wised up to that. With only about ten minutes left, I decided to go back across by the far bank in search of another chub, time was ticking by and then the float sailed away and the strike resulted in a decent fish ripping the elastic out. I stuck the pole under the water, hoping the fish wouldn't find the sanctuary of the far bank cover and shipped back. I lifted the pole and it was in the middle of the peg, it was a slightly smaller chub but much more feisty and I have to admit, I had butterflies as it went into the landing net. I didn't have time to go in again and shouted the all out.

I packed up and as Jake had the scales, I walked up to weigh him in, he had a few dace plus loads of minnows for 1lb 7oz, I was next and I was pleased when the needle settled on 5lb 12oz, Steve had started to get a few fish late and when he pulled his net out it was close between him and Jake but he fell just short with 1lb 6oz.
Jake had 1lb 7oz from peg 123
I had 5lb 12oz which included two chub and some quality roach
Steve P had 1lb 6oz from peg 125
We took our kit back to the cars and as the others started arriving back, it had been really hard below the bridge as well, John D had the top weight there with 4lb 1oz from 126 followed by Frank with 1lb 10oz from 128, Adie with 1lb 7oz from 127, Karl with 1lb 5oz from 129 and Bill on 128a didn't weigh. So I was still leading but there were still the Redbridge pegs to come and I knew Baz would beat my weight in 120 and apparently Stuart had landed a good chub early.

Back at the results and Baz had won it with 7lb 10oz, Stuart hadn't added to his early chub but it was a cracking fish of 4lb 4oz which was good enough for third place, Rob had lost a couple of chub early but didn't weigh. So I ended up in second place and picked up £35 plus a pound off Steve P (and the score is now 4-2 to me on the side bets). Thanks to Rob Cox for the photos*
Baz won it with a nice net of dace and chublets weighing 7lb 10oz*
Stuart had this lovely chub of 4lb 4oz, cracking fish*
1 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 7lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 12oz
3 - Stuart Aplin (Ilminster) - 4lb 4oz

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 1lb 7oz
B - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 4lb 1oz

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

Graham Field - 3 pts (dropping 30)
John Dursley - 6 pts (dropping 30)
Jake Woodard - 7 pts (dropping 4)
Adie Bishop - 7 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 8 pts (dropping 30)
Karl Aplin - 11 pts (dropping 6)

I've also updated the list of framing pegs so far in the eight matches we've had on the river,

120 - 6 times (won 2)
110 - 4 times (won 2)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
126 - 3 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
124a - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
H4 - 1 time (won 1)
125 - 1 time
125a - 1 time

We've now had seven different winners so far with Frank Woodard the only angler to win more than one match.

Next week it's the Xmas Fayre and with over twenty anglers booked in, I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to try a few different areas of the river but the decision has been made to fish the pond and the canal. I can understand it makes it easier to organise but with the temperature set to plummet over the next few days, I think it will be rock hard, I hope I'm wrong. I'd quite fancy giving the canal a go as I haven't fished it for ages so that's bound to mean I draw out the pond!

Next up - Xmas Fayre

Coming soon - My next great interview

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Archives - Part 5 - Exciting times (1985)

The start of the 1985 season saw a sixteen year old me fish my first match as a 'senior' (although I use the term very loosely!). These were exciting times, two of my angling mentors, Adrian Green and Barney Crockett had opened a fishing shop in Ilminster called A and R Tackle and I helped out at weekends which meant when my name appeared in the paper, the shops name appeared in brackets after it, I was now a sponsored angler, I'd made it, I'd hit the big time! Although in reality, I was just getting my bait cheap because I worked there! It's funny really, because even now, over thirty years later, people still want to have a coveted sponsors name in brackets, even if they're actually only getting bait at a reduced price!


That first match was on the King's Sedgemoor Drain and fished to the points and ounces format, Adrian, Barney and me had been down practising (another perk of working in the shop!) and formulated a plan, we would fish maggot and groundbait just off the marginal weed while feeding hemp and caster down the middle of the drain. We would stay on the inside line as long as we were getting bites before going out when sport slowed. It worked a treat, Adrian won the first match with 95 fish weighing 8lb 15oz to give him 238 points, Pete Womack was second with 59 fish for 9lb 5oz and I was third with 37 fish for 7lb. Andy Warner had all the headlines though, when he caught 123 fish for 15oz giving him a total of 138 points and fifth place.
The first match was on the KSD
Round two was a week later but conditions were very different, there was a strong wind blowing down the drain which brought with it massive rafts of duckweed that almost made the drain unfishable. The odd small fish was being caught when people could get a hook down through the weed, I was next to Ian 'Jock' McGown for the second week running and he had the genius idea of using his pole as a kind of floating boom to hold back a lot of the weed, to be honest, he was still having problems but for a little while I could actually fish the waggler half sensibly and hooked a good fish which turned out to be a nice tench of 3lb 9oz. I only managed another five fish to give me a total of 4lb which equalled 70 points and third place again (plus the heaviest fish pot) behind Roger Russell with 83 points (34 fish for 3lb 1oz) and Barney who won with 42 fish for 2lb 11oz and 85 points

Back then the club also used to fish against Langport with a match on both club's waters, the first fixture was on the River Parrett and we took the verdict with 87lb 15.5oz compared to Langport's 63lb 4oz, Jim Lock had the top weight with 17lb 12oz and I was fourth overall with 8lb 7oz despite suffering some pike trouble.

In between matches, I was still managing some pleasure fishing and a trip to Perry St Pond resulted in catching my first tench there with a nice three fish haul and another trip to Crockerton saw me have a lovely days fishing catching 26lb 8oz of skimmers, tench, carp, roach, rudd and I even had a sizeable trout.

I was enjoying a great run of form in my first season as a 'senior' and as the Isle matches started, this continued when I finished second in the Club Cup with 11lb 3oz from the swim above the 'Roach Hole' at North Bradon, I remember being at Barney's the previous day (we were picking casters) and he'd just go back from walking the river and said there were loads of fish topping in that swim (I can't remember what number it was) and I only went and drew it the following day (shame my drawing arm isn't as good these days!). Dave 'Chippy' Back won on the day with 15lb 9oz of chub and roach from the 'Ding' swim (if I remember correctly) and Den Loveday was third with 10lb 13oz.

I went one better in the next points match when I won with 6lb 11oz of quality roach on a peg downstream of North Bradon, the river was up, coloured and still rising. I was on a non descript straight and just kept running a little peacock waggler down the peg where it would drag under as it reached the tail of the swim and I would hook a submerged 'stick up'. This happened for the umpteenth time and once again the rod curved round as I snagged up but then there was a satisfying thump, thump as a big roach objected to having its lunch interrupted. It was a cracking fish too, around the pound mark and I added five more and a few smaller samples on double bronze or red maggot throughout the day for my first win as a senior. Martin Hill was second with 5lb 10oz and my travelling partner, Vernon Case was third with 5lb 6oz.
My first senior win
I framed in a couple more matches and then we hosted Langport in the return inter-club fixture and I drew the last peg in the copse, the famous 'Stump' swim (now peg 29), although in those days we fished it on the opposite bank, the river was in perfect condition, coloured and fining down. I had another lovely day fishing the waggler, I fished it overdepth to slow the hookbait down and the float would drag under before popping back up (it was a relatively clean bottom) and on the occasions it didn't, the strike usually resulted in a nice roach. I ended up with a level 9lb for another really nice match win, Pete Womack was second with 7lb 15.5oz and Bob Filler jnr was third from the 'Big Bend' above me with 6lb 3oz. We also completed the double over Langport, 45lb 3.5oz to 10lb 8oz.
So my senior match fishing career was off to a great start, what was noticeable going through my old diaries and photo albums was firstly the lack of photos! (no camera phones back then) and secondly how I think we very often look back at the 'old days' through rose tinted spectacles, anglers I fish with are always saying how the river doesn't fish as well as it used to but looking at the results back then, 10lb was a good weight and 15lb a real red letter day, 20lb was virtually unheard of (Colin Dyer did win the open with 20lb 8oz one year), whereas nowadays, high teens is common and there are normally several twenty pound plus winning weights in a season and the match record now stands at over 43lb!

Like most clubs, Ilminster had some real characters including Pete Womack who was a brilliant angler, albeit a little eccentric and was always dressed in full camouflage gear and I have to mention John Hill, another great angler who helped me loads and even showed me how to fix a waggler on the line upside down so it would collapse on the strike in shallow water.

I was also the junior match secretary and although attendances never reached the highs of a few years previous, the turn outs were still healthy with the likes of David Tolman, Jon Newby, Jason Miles, Toby Beasley and Stephen Hallett all doing well.
Another well attended presentation night, from left to right, John Hill, Toby Beasley, Dennis Priddle, Roger Russell, Dave Back, me, somebody I can't make out, Pete Womack, Jason Miles, Jackie Cole, Jon Newby, Stephen Hallett, Jack Newman, Jim Lock, Barney Crockett, Bob Filler snr and Vernon Case
I picked up three trophies at that years presentation evening at the George Hotel, the aggregate shield, the aggregate trophy and for the fourth year in a row, the pairs trophy, this time with Roger Russell as my partner.

Next up - Part 6 takes a look back at 1986