Monday, January 26, 2009

Ilminster Canal - 25th January 2009

We met down the river but as it was like a raging torrent we decided to give the canal a go for a change. There were only five of us so we made sure we had plenty of room between pegs and I drew peg 4, which was where I was last time. The level was quite high and most of the reed beds had died off but I still had some decent cover across. On my left I had Alvin Jones on the end peg and on the other side was Janders so at least I would be able to keep a close eye on whether my pound was safe or not! The Old Fossil (Malcolm Levy) had drawn the other end peg with his travelling partner, Martin, next to him.

I set up two rigs, a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 for my chopped worm line against the reeds and a Drennan Squatt rig with 0.08mm bottom and size 20 B511 for fishing down the middle. I chopped up some lobbies and casters and was ready for the off. On the whistle I cupped in some choppie by the reeds at about 9 metres and some hemp and casters at 10 metres towards the back into a little alcove. I also cupped in a few casters and a pinch of hemp in the middle at about 7 metres at an angle to my left. I started down the middle with the lighter rig and single red maggot on the hook.

I didn't catch straight away but decided to stick at it for now to allow the worm line to settle. I looked up to see Alvin shipping back with loads of elastic out but the fish (a carp I think) came off. Then my float dipped but I missed the bite, next put in I bumped a fish before catching a 2oz perch on my third attempt. I had a couple of roach but every time I looked up somebody seemed to be netting something. Janders and Alvin landed decent perch and both Martin and the Fossil landed small carp. After half an hour I had three fish and was itching to go across so I slipped a caster on the heavier rig and shipped out. The float settled and kept on going and I was soon netting a decent roach.

It was a bite a chuck from decent roach and perch to 8oz and after an hour I was up to twelve fish. The second hour was slightly better and I was up to 25 fish although the average size had got smaller. Alvin and Janders seemed to have slowed up although apparently Malcolm now had two carp and was catching loads of silvers and Martin had also netted a couple of carp. I decided to feed some more choppie and come back on the shorter line. The fish weren't really there though and I only had one better roach and some smaller ones on maggot. I tried on the longer line with the lighter rig and had a couple of quick fish before it slowed right up.

I found myself switching between all three lines without catching much (in fact I never had a bite on the 11 metre line) and was convinced I was out of it and as we were only paying the top two I was sure Martin and Malcolm had these places filled. I stuck at it on the longer line with caster and had a disastrous ten minutes where I hooked three better fish only for the hook to pull out. I was convinced they were perch and that my light number 2 elastic didn't have enough 'umph' to set the hook. I went back out with the heavier rig and promptly lost a better roach! No more bites saw me back down the middle with red maggot on the hook.

A couple more roach followed before I hooked another better fish, again it felt like a perch and as I was gently shipping back the poxy hook pulled out of this one as well! Janders and Alvin were now really struggling and it seemed to me that only Malcolm was catching so I kept plugging away hoping Martins carp weren't too big. The trouble was that bites were now at a premium for me as well, I was still catching small roach on the light rig but felt I needed caster fish to compete. I kept trying it but when I got a bite the fish were the same size as the ones I was catching on the maggot.

I tried just off the reeds in the slightly deeper water and had a run of three small skimmers before it slowed and I was back down the middle. I did lose a skimmer where I didn't even see the bite. I kept trying caster here too and missed some sail away bites but did have a couple more roach including one on the whistle where, as I went to ship in the fish was on! I ended with 54 fish and thought I might have 4lb or so. After packing up I went to weigh Alvin in as he had the scales, he had 2lb 5oz although he did lose some better fish. My turn came and when I pulled my net out I realised it might be more than I thought, the needle settled on 6lb 8oz and even Janders conceded that it was a nice net of fish - blimey! Malcolm reckoned I'd win with that but I've been had like that before.

Janders was admitting to a 1lb but actually weighed nearer double with 1lb 11oz, I said he been listening to me too much! Martin said he'd be nowhere near but weighed 5lb 3oz and could have won as he lost five carp! Then to Malcolm and when he pulled his net out I thought he'd done me by miles but the scales settled on 6lb 13oz - bugger. I kept thinking of all the fish I'd bumped/lost/missed but then if Martin had landed one of those carp he'd have pushed me out of the frame. Still second and £25 plus the all important pound off Janders combined with a nice days fishing can't be sniffed at.

The 'Old Fossil' with his winning bag

Hopefully we'll actually be able to get on the river before the season ends! Before I go I must just say 'Well Done' to Ashley Tomkins for coming second in the Brue Championships yesterday.

1 - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 6lb 13oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Chard Remains) - 6lb 8oz
3 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 5lb 3oz
4 - Alvin Jones (Chard) - 2lb 5oz

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dillington Pond - V.E.S. Precision Winter League - 18th January 2009

My prayers for rain were answered but we got far too much so we were headed to Dillington again. Strong winds and more rain were forecast and I wasn't looking forward to it at all. I drew peg 2 on the point and this didn't improve my mood any as, although it's a good peg, I've never done very well off it. On reaching the pond it looked pretty dirty and I envisaged a repeat of the Xmas Fair, few bites or fish.

The pond was that horrible dirty colour again.

My peg was relatively sheltered as was Alvin's next door although I didn't see any small fish topping which wasn't a good sign. I mixed up some Sensas Lake and Matchblend in equal quantities and then set some rigs up. I set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for 11.5 metres with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 B611 and also a little Drennan Squatt rig for fishing at 6 metres just past some dead reeds on the inside. The lighter rig had 0.08mm bottom and size 20 B511 hook combined with a number 4 elastic.

On the whistle I cupped in three balls containing a few maggots, casters and a pinch of hemp on the longer line and one at 6 metres. I put on double red maggot and started on the longer line. The wind was a pain but far worse for those on the opposite bank including Martin Heard who hadn't actually drawn a flier for a change! After ten biteless minutes it was all rather deja vu when suddenly I had a bite which I promptly missed! A repeat performance happened on the second put in before I finally connected on the third cast and had a tiny roach. I had a another small roach and a perch quite quickly. I tried caster to see if I could get some quality but never had a bite on it. Alvin was also catching although I couldn't see anybody else setting the world alight.

I decided to try the shorter line as it would be quicker (if the fish were there!) and the pole would be easier to control at shorter lengths. I carried on catching and had 26 fish after two hours for around a 1lb. I fancied if I could carry on at this rate I could do around 3lb which would be a good weight. I thought I was ahead of Alvin but then the bites stopped! I cupped in a small nugget and went back out long but couldn't get a bite here either - great. Alvin carried on catching and was pegging me back, he was fishing a line somewhere in between my two and I toyed with the idea of putting another line in. Another couple of fish on my short line stopped me putting in a third line for now.

Robin Cox walked round and reported that he was blanking but that John Coxon had caught a perch, so Rob's secret bait wasn't working today! He wandered off to see how the rest were doing and went back to not catching. By now I swapping between my two lines but really struggling. My inside line was dead so I decided to concentrate on the longer line as Alvin was still catching. Rob came back and said that Neil Dring and Martin Brook had around a dozen fish each but the leader was Bruce Hunt on peg 16 who was catching consistently.

Bruce was bagging again

With about an hour to go I started catching at 11.5 metres, not fast but at least I was putting something in the net although I did miss quite a few bites and bumped several fish. On the whistle I ended with 42 fish (mostly small roach along with a couple of rudd and perch). I packed up and Roger Russell came along to weigh me first, my 'haul' went 1lb 12oz. Alvin pulled his net out and it looked very similar but I was relieved when his weight was called out at 1lb 6oz. Next was Roger who had 1lb 1oz, so far so good. Then Justin Charles pulled his net out and again it looked very close, Roger called 1lb 13oz - bugger! Last to be weighed in my section was Martin Brook who had a pound exactly.

Back at the results and Bruce was announced as the clear winner with 4lb 2oz, Justin was second and I sneaked into third and picked up £30 plus a squid off Janders who had 12oz. Alvin won our section and Martin Heard won the other one with 1lb 8oz. I ended up with two section points but I'm still way down in the league. Once again no big fish were hooked although several were seen topping in the middle.

Next week lets hope we can get back on the river!

1 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 4lb 2oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 1lb 13oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Chard Remains) - 1lb 12oz

Section A - Alvin Jones (Chard) - 1lb 6oz
Section B - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 1lb 8oz

Monday, January 12, 2009

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 11th January 2009

Well the weather had warmed up slightly for this one but frosts had been replaced by strong freezing winds - great. At the draw Robin said he'd put all chub pegs in, so now all I needed to do was draw a sheltered peg! I stuck my hand in the bucket and pulled out peg 28, now this peg had gone from being quite poor to winning several matches this year but the last two matches had seen two good anglers not catch very much. Also it's a big peg and I feared it might be pretty exposed. I got there and it looked nice but I was right about the wind!

I made myself comfortable but the wind was biting, I set up the usual 1.5 gram Carbo and plumbed up to find I had a nice depth at 11.5 and 13 metres towards a little cutback in the far bank where the chub normally come from. The trouble was the gusting wind was making holding the pole nigh on impossible. On the whistle I put a caster on and shipped out to 11.5 metres and started feeding caster hemp and maggot, no bites were forthcoming which was hardly surprising with the pole being blown all over the place. I went through the bait changes including half a lobbie and maggot but when I couldn't even get a bite from a minnow on maggot I knew I was in trouble.

I tried coming short where I could control the pole a little better but never had a touch. I had a nagging thought that perhaps the lead might be better and after an hour or so I walked down to see Alvin Jones on peg 29, he was blanking as well and his peg was also like a wind tunnel. I went back and gave it another half an hour but it was pointless so decided to set a tip rod up. I put on a little bomb and a size 16 Kamasan B611 and started casting a lobbie round the swim in search of a chub. With the tip being buffeted by the wind I was waiting for the tip to pull round but after another hour I knew I was going to blank.

I walked up to see Justin Charles on peg 27 and as I sat behind him he swung in a small dace. His peg was lovely and sheltered and he was getting a bite a chuck from small fish, I watched him catch half a dozen before I had enough and walked back to carry on catching nothing. The end couldn't come soon enough and as I started to pack up I realised I couldn't get my reel free from the screw fittings on the rod - great and I've only used it a few times. Could the day get any worse? As I also had the scales I asked Alvin if he'd caught and he said he'd had five minnows so we gave him an ounce. Justin had a nice net of mainly dace for 4lb 10oz and I reckoned he'd frame with that.

As we were putting our kit in the cars my nemesis Janders turned up, he'd blanked as well so at least I didn't have to cough up a pound. He was at North Bradon on yet another golden peg, he said that it hadn't fished well there either and Robin Cox was top with three chub for 6lb 14oz. Back at the results and Rob's win was confirmed with Justin second and the top section was won by Bruce Hunt with 1lb 14oz and Neil Dring won the bottom section with 2oz!

Robin caught some more chub like these he had the other week - well done mate

So after the high of last week it was back to earth with a resounding bump! This was also the first match of a new Crown league and as you can only drop one match, this wasn't a great start! Still, rain is forecast tomorrow so maybe next week we'll have some much needed colour.

1 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 6lb 14oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 4lb 10oz
3 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 1lb 14oz
4 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 2oz

Monday, January 05, 2009

River Isle - Barney Crockett Pairs Open - 4th January 2009

I was looking forward to this one but feared for the worst when I woke up to yet another hard frost. The annual pairs open was to be in memory of Barney Crockett who sadly passed away last Xmas and continues to be missed by us all. There were 26 anglers booked in which just goes to show how popular Barney was. My partner for the day was Justin Charles and we've always done well when we've fished together and I hoped this would continue. At the draw I wished everybody a Happy New Year and it was nice to see some faces I hadn't seen in a while who turned up out of respect for Barney. Among these were Steve Chant, Les Braunton and Alan Dunn who I hadn't seen for ages, Steve said he was now a regular reader of my blog so welcome aboard Steve!

As it was a pairs match there were two sections and after drawing you could decide who goes where. I drew first and pulled out peg 37 and was very disappointed as it was only put in for the first time a couple of weeks ago and Janders only hooked one chub (and he lost it!). Then Justin drew peg 79 which used to be very good but hasn't done bugger all this year - great we were buggered already! We decided that we both would fish the pegs we'd drawn despite me trying to swap as 37 is a mammoth walk. The good news was that Steve (Chanter) was on the flier below me so at least we could have a chat while I watched him bag up.

The hot favourites had to be Martin Heard and Malcolm Levy and Alan Dunn and Stuart 'Fred' Brown as both pairs had drawn two decent pegs. I wished Justin luck and set off. I parked up and started the long trudge across the field which took me several trips and any onlookers would have thought it was the retreat from Stalingrad all over again with the amount of kit I left strewn across the field on my way.

Chanter looked happy with his flier!

Peg 37

My peg looked quite nice with a tree opposite and another just downstream that had gone over in the recent floods. Butch Baker was downstream on 39, another peg that has been doing ok and I thought I might be in for a battering. After the yomp there was only just enough time to get old faithful out and plumb up, it was fairly shallow by both trees and I shouted down to Steve that it was time to start at 10:15. I slipped a caster on and started by the tree opposite. I started feeding caster and hemp above the tree and catapulting maggot down the swim in the hope it might bring some fish up. I was also feeding caster and hemp by the other tree half way down the swim.

With no early bites opposite, I was soon searching down the swim but with no indications there either I was back under the trailing branches opposite, thinking it was going to be a waiting game. After about twenty minutes there was a dip on the float which got my attention, then it slid away and a swift strike saw loads of black hydro streaming out. I quickly shipped the pole back to get the fish away from the snags and was soon netting a 2lb chub. Phew - I was mightily relieved as I reckoned a fish would be worth it's weight in gold today. I shouted down to ask Chanter if he'd had any bites yet to which he replied in the negative.

A quick look at the watch revealed only half an hour had passed but if that was the only fish in the swim the rest of the match could be pretty boring. But next put in I had another bite which I missed! Chub number two soon followed and I felt there were a few fish there. Then in the flow I saw a flash and could see a chub head down obviously feeding, then another bite saw me land chub number three and I started to think a big weight could be on the cards. Then it went a bit quiet so I started swapping hookbaits in a bid to get another bite. I tried double maggot, double caster and half a lobbie all with no success.

I saw another flash by my feet and then again halfway across the peg as a fish spooked in the shallow water. I then had another bite and soon landed chub number four, again on single caster. Steve was still blanking as was Butch and things were looking good and then Chanter had a phone call from his partner Les who was blanking and reported that Justin was blanking too - great, just what I needed to hear. Steve said he missed a bite which resulted in his rig going up the tree - whoops! My peg had gone a little quiet after the commotion of the last fish.

A bankwalker appeared and was asking about the fishing when my float went under and I had my fifth chub. He said I was doing ok as the pegs in the copse above me weren't catching much. I was more worried that my catch could be in vain if Justin blanked. Another check on the time and we'd only been fishing two and quarter hours and with half the match still to go I already had 10lb in the net. Butch came up to see how I was getting on and called me quite a few names when I told him I had five chub. But all of a sudden I couldn't buy a bite and tried down the swim again but no bites were forthcoming.

Steve asked me if I'd show him where they normally catch in his swim so thinking a rest wouldn't harm my swim I poured a coffee and walked down to see him. From what I could see he was doing everything right so maybe the fish had moved up into my swim. I said to him that often the chub will have a munch in the 'golden' last hour and that you only need a good hour to do a weight and left him to it. As it turned out the rest didn't help and I still couldn't get a bite. Time was ticking by and Les phoned Steve again to say he'd given up and was sat with Fred on peg 85, who'd only had one roach but he didn't mention whether Justin had caught yet.

The 'golden' last hour arrived and Steve wanted to know where his fish were! I said that perhaps it would be a 'golden' half hour today. With half an hour to go and the light fading I had what I thought was a bite but it didn't develop so I didn't hit it. Shipping the pole back I discovered the caster had gone so with renewed vigor I went back out. I also shouted down to Steve that maybe it was going to be a 'golden' last quarter of an hour! Then with ten minutes the float went and I hooked chub number six which shot off downstream but the black hydro did it's job and the fish was soon safely netted. I had time to go back out when I heard Steve swearing and cursing, he'd hooked a chub only for the maggot to roll over the point of the hook and he lost it. He wasn't a happy bunny.

Butch just about to weigh me in.

I quickly packed up and as Butch and Steve blanked they came up to weigh me in. My six chub went 12lb 15oz but the big question was, had Justin caught? I yomped back across the field which took me several trips again and as I was loading up the car Paul 'Ned' Overd came by and said the pegs in the copse hadn't fished that well, Ned was the best weight with 4lb 12oz. Alan Dunn had blanked and John Coxon only had 1oz.

Me with my chub

Another piccy (well it doesn't happen very often!)

Back at the Crown and as the weighboards started to filter back it became clear that there had been loads of blanks. Dunner and Fred had blown out, Neil Dring and Robin Cox both had half decent weights and were looking good until Martin Heard got back, he'd caught eight chub for 12lb 14oz from peg 123 (his second 12lb+ weight from that peg in as many weeks). His partner Malcolm had also got good section points for his 2lb 8oz. Then finally Justin's board came back and he'd caught, but only 2oz. Would it be enough for us to sneak into the frame?

Pete Lonton finally sorted the results and there was a tie for first with Martin and Malcolm and Robin and Neil on five points with the former taking it on weight, we sneaked into third with six points and picked up £65. We had £30 each and gave the odd fiver to Barney's wife Mary for the air ambulance which along with the pegging fees that Ilminster AA donated and a £50 donation from the club saw over £100 raised. Well done everyone and as this will now be an annual event, lets see if we can raise even more next year.

On a personal note I really enjoyed the day (and the company Steve!) and it was nice to finally register a match win which I didn't manage at all on the river in 2008. And especially nice to win as it was my old mate Barney's match, lets hope it's the first of many. Oh, almost forgot to mention I had a £1 off Janders for the first time in ages as he weighed 12oz.

1 - Jamie Rich (Chard Remains) - 12lb 15oz
2 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 12lb 14oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 8lb 3oz

1 - Martin Heard and Malcolm Levy - 5 pts (on weight)
2 - Robin Cox and Neil Dring - 5 pts
3 - Jamie Rich and Justin Charles - 6 pts