Sunday, January 30, 2011

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League - 30th January 2011

All week it had been really arctic and bitterly cold and even though the wind had dropped, I knew this match wasn't going to be much fun. At the pub there were only six of us fishing and Robin had pegged us all at Upper Coxes. The only pegs I fancied were 14 and 15 and when Rob announced the draw I dived straight in and pulled out 15! It was also a golden peg and I fancied it for a few fish as Heardy had won off it a few weeks back with 4lb 6oz (mainly trout).

I got to my peg and the river was painfully low and clear but I still thought I'd catch. I set up a 1.5 gram Carbo and plumbed up to find a nice deep hole in front with the peg shallowing up towards the tail of the swim. I decided to feed two lines, one across in the deep water where the flow comes back on itself and also in the flow under my feet. With this being the penultimate match in the series I needed to avoid the blank and started on double maggot to try and catch a minnow.

After ten minutes I started to get knocks and put a couple of minnows in the net, job done, now for the proper fish. I couldn't get a bite on caster or half a lobbie on either line and after an hour I knew it was going to be rock hard. Justin and Robin walked up and Robin had a few minnows from peg 18 but Justin was blanking and they said Neil only had minnows on peg 17 and Heardy on 24 had the same. Fieldy then walked down from 14 (the tank traps) and he hadn't had a bite yet! This really was going to be hard. Justin said that when Martin had it he caught his fish just off the flow on the inside.

I tried this for a bit but had no indications, I went back across with double maggot and fished for minnows for an hour and after about dozen, got bored and went back to bigger baits and catching nothing. I was convinced that at some point a proper fish would have a go but the time was ticking on. With about an hour to go, Robin turned up again and said he had caught some more minnows but nobody had caught a silver fish yet. With that Fieldy walked by with his kit, he'd had enough so at least I was guaranteed two section points.

The last hour I spent with lobbie and double caster in the flow, convinced a trout or two had to be there. In the back of my mind I kept thinking I should be fishing for minnows but I couldn't bring myself to do it and surely somebody would hook a chub, wouldn't they? The match ended and all I had to show for a torturous five and a half hours was a few minnows. I packed up and hoped that not fishing for minnows hadn't cost me. I met up with Neil and Robin by the bridge and they'd both just caught minnows and Robin said if Martin only had minnows as well the only fair way to decide it was to count the fish. I wanted to weigh as I had some quality minnows!

We walked down to Martin and on the way we passed Justin's empty peg (he'd had an early bath too). Heardy had lost a foulhooked chub but only had minnows in the net. He pulled his net out and started counting, he finished with 44 minnows for which we gave him 11oz (four to the ounce!). Next up was Robin and when he got to 40, we knew it would be close but the final tally was 43 and despite searching all the corners of his net he couldn't find anymore. Neil had 24 minnows and a tiny stickleback, I was pretty sure I didn't have 25 and was now really regretting not getting my head down for the minnows as I reckoned I could have won it - bugger.

I pulled my net out and as I was tossing the fish back, it became clear this could be close, I finished two poxy minnows short on 23. I had a monster minnow too and Robin wouldn't let me count it twice! A truly awful day and the first time I can ever remember a match where not a single siver fish was caught. On the league front, Martin still leads with a perfect 5 point score followed by Neil on 6 and me on 11. I can't catch Martin and the only chance of catching Neil is if he blanks on the last match.

Minnow bagger and match winner - Martin Heard

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 11oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 10oz
3 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 6oz

Next week there's a Crown match and I really hope it warms up and we get some rain because I don't think I can face another day like that!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

River Isle - Crown Winter League - 23rd January 2011

After a week of wicked frosts, this match had all the potential for being a real grueller and despite Robin winding me up all week about it being on the pond, we were on the river. We hadn't had a frost overnight and with it being overcast the temperature wasn't too bad either, perhaps it would be better than I anticipated?

I got to the pub and it was the usual eight fishing, Robin had pegged two at North Bradon, three at Redbridge (for the first time this season) and three at Isle Brewers. With peg 125 not in, everybody wanted to draw 125a as you can run a float down into 125 and I fancied this to be the winning peg today. Graham Field went in first and pulled it straight out, he really ought to do the lottery! Seizing my chance I went in next and pulled out 123 - great! It had been throwing up the odd weight before Xmas but has been rank the last few times it's been in. Looking on the section boards I actually had the choice of 122 or 123 and Robin reckoned I should fish 122.

I walked past Graham on 125a and Justin on 124 and stopped at 123, without a lot of time I decided to fish it, without looking at 122 (big mistake!). I set up the usual Carbo and plumbed up around the peg, there was a nice depth although there wasn't as much cover as there used to be, which I'm guessing has been scoured out by the floods. I started on double maggot to try and catch a minnow, it was hard going and even at this early stage I just knew I was going to struggle. I persevered with maggot and was eventually rewarded with four tiny roach and a couple of minnows. I tried caster and lobbie but had no indications. Justin turned up after an hour and he hadn't had a bite yet!, he said Fieldy had caught a few without really bagging.

To be honest even at this early stage I was out of ideas and couldn't see me catching anything substantial. The highlight of the day was when David and Roger Tolman turned up, I haven't seen either of them for more years than I care to remember. David was one of my best friends when I was younger and his dad Roger used to take us all over the place fishing as he was a keen angler too. We had a good old natter and they're both keen on starting fishing again, I hope they do as it would be great to see them on the bank again. David was a really good junior angler and used to win loads of matches so maybe he'll get the bug again. They both said they read and enjoyed this blog so all this slaving over a hot keyboard isn't for nothing!

I caught a few more minnows but halfway through the match I grabbed my flask and went down to see Justin. He still hadn't caught and Graham had slowed up as well, he did report that Robin had phoned him to say Neil had caught three chub at Redbridge. I went back and went through the motions of trying to catch a chub on double caster or half a lobbie but never had another bite. I quickly packed up and Justin weighed me in, a fantastic 2oz! and I was left wishing I'd checked out peg 122. Justin hadn't caught so I'd gained a valuable section point. Graham weighed 2lb 6oz and I said I thought he might sneak into third place with that.

Back at the results and neither Steve Parker or Leighton had caught at North Bradon which meant I'd gained some points on Leighton in the league. Then the three from Redbridge came back and Neil had caught five chub for 15lb 14oz from peg 110 and he'd lost two and Robin had five and lost three from 109 for 15lb 1oz. Martin Heard only had one, but at 3lb 10oz it was enough for third place on the day. In the league today's results meant things are very tight at the top with me and Fieldy on 11 points followed by Neil on 12 and Leighton on 14.

Chub bagger Neil Dring

1 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 15lb 14oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 15lb 1oz
3 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 3lb 10oz

Lets hope the weather warms up for next week and that I draw a decent peg!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dillington Pond - V.E.S. Precision League - 16th January 2011

After a fair bit of rain in the week and some more forecast, I feared we might be on the pond again but Saturday was dry and I was hoping we'd actually get on the river. Robin put paid to this when he contacted me and said the river was high and rain due on Sunday would mean the river would be unfishable, I still thought he'd jumped the gun a bit. I also suggested the canal but he was having none of it. I'm not going to moan anymore as organising matches is a shitty job and whatever you do isn't right and I think Rob does an excellent job (oh and thanks for picking my goodie bag up Rob!).

Sunday morning arrived and although pretty windy we hadn't had much rain and when I drove over the river it looked perfect and I started dreaming about pegs 14, 15 and 27, but enough of that, there was a match to be fished. I was determined to do a better job than I did last week and make sure I fined down my tackle and just get my head down and see what I could do. There were only eight of us fishing, Ash was supposed to be fishing but had a bad back (and Spurs were playing Man U today!) and I was surprised that Moses wasn't fishing but at least it gave the rest of us a chance!

Everybody wanted peg 4 as the wind would be off your back and Graham Field was the lucky angler who drew it, Scotty Mugger Russell drew peg 20 (the disabled platform) and that looked fairly calm as well, I pulled out peg 12 on the bottom bank. On arrival at the pond, the wind was gusty and right in my face - great! I had intended to set the whip up but that was out the window. I set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Quad with 0.08mm bottom and size 18 B511 and plumbed up and it was hellishly deep at 11.5 metres. I came back in to 10 metres where hopefully I'd be able to control the pole in the wind.

I mixed up some groundbait, a 50-50 mix of Sensas Noire and Lake and just had time for a coffee before a single blast on Rob's whistle signalled the start. I cupped in a single ball of groundbait at 10 metres before going over it with a single bronze maggot impaled on the hook. The rig settled and I fully expected the float to sail away but this didn't happen, also the wind was blowing from left to right but there was a wicked trip going back the opposite way and it was making presentation a nightmare. After 10 minutes biteless I heard Martin on peg 6 ask Rob if he'd had any bites yet and he replied he hadn't, this could be a real struggle!

I could see Scotty swinging in the odd fish from his armchair peg and after half an hour I started to get worried and then I saw Martin catch a small fish as well. Steve Parker on my left hadn't caught either and I feared the worst. Then my float slid away and I had a small roach - phew. In fact I then started getting regular bites and after the first hour I was on six fish. Martin shouted across to Scotty for an update and he was on seventeen while Martin had seven. So at this early stage it looked like Scott might be the runaway winner but at least I wasn't too far off Martin, who was moaning about the wind and reckoned he hadn't fed in the same place twice.

I was loosefeeding maggots, casters and hemp and after every hour or so, I was cupping in another small ball of groundbait. I was catching without really bagging, mainly roach with the odd small perch. I also realised my rig was woefully undergunned and a gram or heavier would have been better and an olivette instead of shot would have helped (another lesson learned). After two hours I slipped a caster on and after waiting a while, had a decent bite that saw quite a bit of number four elastic come out before I slipped the net under a 6oz perch - bonus! I persevered with caster and had a run of chunky roach and after three hours was on around 35 fish and thought I was doing ok until I heard Martin had 57 and Scotty 65! It looked like the rest of us were fishing for third place.

Last week Ash had 120 fish for nearly 10lb so I set my target at 60 fish as I thought that would give me 4-5lb. The wind was a bloody nightmare and with an hour to go it started to rain as well - perfect! Then Scotty hooked and landed a good perch and I couldn't see anybody catching him. Steve and Rob were both on the feeder but hadn't caught on it. I could see Fieldy netting odd fish on the waggler but I couldn't see how Neil was doing on peg 2 and Malcolm on peg 18 didn't look to be doing much but you never can tell.

I was still getting odd fish, mostly on maggot with the odd fish on caster and ended on 62 fish when Rob blew for the all out. I was soaked and cold and glad it was over to be honest and I was sure I was just going to miss out on any brown envelopes. Scotty had ended with 130 odd fish, including three decent perch and Martin had finished with 92 fish. Scotty came round with the scales and reckoned it would be close between Malcolm, Neil, Graham and me for third place. My fish actually went 5lb 1oz which was bang on my estimate, Steve Parker didn't weigh on my left or Rob on my right (so I won't be fishing the feeder next time!) and then Scott went off to weigh Malcolm in.

I packed up and was loading the car when Martin walked past, I asked how he'd got on and was amazed when he said he'd had 4lb 9oz! He'd caught a lot of small fish and was still moaning about the wind, the rain, everything in fact! Martin said he'd had to fish a two gram float and as Scotty said he'd fished a gram, it confirmed that I'd fished too light (note to self, buy some heavier floats). Martin also said that both Neil and Graham had weighed 3lb 11oz so that just left Malcolm and Scott. Back at the results and Scott said he'd weighed a level 10lb and Malcolm had 4lb 1oz so I'd actually sneaked into second and picked up £30.

Despite his moaning, Martin actually won his section today which means that after five matches and dropping the worst result, he leads with a perfect four point score followed by Neil on five and Graham on eight. I'm on nine points and with two matches to go it's all to play for (or it could all go pear shaped!).

Match winner Scotty (who had a lovely day sat in his armchair!)

1 - Scott Russell (Tackle UK) - 10lb
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 1oz
3 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 4lb 9oz

Next week it's the Crown league again (please let it be on the river!)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Dillington Pond - Crown Winter League - 9th January 2011

The river was bank high on Saturday but I was still a little disappointed to receive a call from Robin saying he was switching it to the pond at this early stage. On the plus side, it meant Scott and Ash would be fishing (yep, mugged again!). I woke up Sunday morning and we'd had a wicked overnight frost which I didn't think would help the fishing out the pond. On crossing the river, it looked perfect and I was hoping perhaps Rob would have a re-think but on arriving at the pub, it was confirmed it was on the pond.

There were 11 of us fishing including pond addict, Moses Holbrook. I really fancied peg 17 but as Rob had only pegged even numbers, this was never going to happen. I came close though with peg 16, by one of the inlets with a tree to my right. On arriving at the pond, it looked good with small fish topping although it was a couple of feet down. I quickly mixed up some Sensas Lake groundbait and got two rigs out (Ole Faithful would have a rest this week), a Drennan 0.5 gram Roach for the open water and a Carpa float for fishing to the reeds to my right. The reeds had actually grown out far enough that you can no longer reach the tree, on plumbing up there was only a foot and a half depth by the reeds so I planned to dump some chopped worm and caster there and try it in the latter stages of the match.

The open water rig had 0.10mm bottom (first mistake) and a size 18 B611 (second mistake), coupled with a number four elastic. I had intended setting a whip up but ran out of time. Rob blew for the start and I decided to feel my way in to the match and see if the fish would respond as it had been so cold overnight. I cupped in a single ball of groundbait at 11.5 metres and some choppie by the reeds at 10 metres. I started out with single bronze maggot and after five minutes bumped a small fish, next put in I had a tiny perch and was off the mark. I asked Martin on 18 how he was getting on and he replied he'd already had four fish! I could also see Scott catching on the waggler opposite and Ash on the peg next to him catching on the pole.

After those two early bites I was expecting more of the same but then had to wait ages for the next bite. I tried red maggot and then pinkie and caught a couple more miniscule perch but was already falling way behind Martin, Scott and Ash and then there were the anglers I couldn't see! I was just loose feeding six pinkies every put in with single bronze maggot on the hook. I tried coming half a metre this side of my groundbait and started catching some chunky little roach and netted a 4oz perch. I tried caster and missed a good bite but had to wait ages for the bite so went back to bronze maggot.

About half way through the match I was on 24 fish but the three small fish experts had nearly three times that! I felt I needed a bonus to compete so cupped in some more choppie with a mind to trying it shortly. Steve Parker was the next peg along on my right and was struggling as were Robin and Leighton along from him, Steve was in my section but the other two were in the other section and I needed to make sure I got good section points as Leighton is one point ahead of me in the league. I saw Ash lose a decent fish and when I heard someone up from Martin had caught a chub, it was time to try my big fish line.

I cupped in another ball of groundbait at 11.5 metres and then put half a lobbie on and went by the reeds, I waited ages and didn't think it was going to happen when the float slid away and I missed it! Another quarter of an hour elapsed before I had my next bite, I connected with this one but the resulting fish was a 4oz perch instead of the two pounder I'd hoped for. No more action here so I went back out long and carried on catching small perch and the odd roach.

News filtered down that Neil Dring had caught a couple of chub in my section (and he hates the pond!) and that Moses had caught a big chub and a big perch on the whip (luckily he wasn't in my section, although we did have a £1 sidebet). I started loose feeding casters by the reeds with the intention of spending the last half an hour there in search of a big fish. I struggled on to 42 fish before the last half an hour arrived. Back by the reeds with half a lobbie on, after ten minutes without any indication, I tried double caster with the same result. I spent the last five minutes back out long but didn't add to my meagre tally. It had gotten really cold in the last hour or so and I was glad to hear Rob blow the whistle.

I packed up and met up with Martin and the scales after he'd weighed Graham Field in with 2oz and Neil Dring with 5lb 15oz, I weighed Martin in and he had around 120 fish for an impressive 8lb 4oz, I then weighed 3lb 5oz and Steve Parker had 7oz so I ended up with 3 section points. The other section had fished really well and Ash continued his good run on the pond with 9lb 12oz, followed by Moses with 8lb 1oz and Scott with 7lb 1oz. Leighton had actually finished last in his section with 2lb 1oz so the league would be really tight now.

Talking to Scott and Ash after the match, they had both fished 0.08mm bottoms and size 20 B511's and caught quite a few fish on caster. So lesson's learnt, I fished too heavy and should have tried caster more often. Mind you I still reckon I'd have caught more on the river!

Pond expert - Ashley Tomkins

1 - Ashley Tomkins (Tackle Uk) - 9lb 12oz
2 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 8lb 4oz
3 - Moses Holbrook (Ilminster) - 8lb 1oz

A - Scott Russell (Tackle Uk) - 7lb 1oz
B - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 5lb 15oz

The league is now really tight with both me and Leighton on 8 points, followed by Graham Field on 9.

Next week is the V.E.S. league so lets get back on the river and some proper fishing!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

River Isle - Barney Crockett Pairs Open - 2nd January 2011

After being practically housebound since the last match I was itching to get back on the bank and as we'd had some rain last night and it was raining in the morning I was hoping there might be some colour in the river. As I drove over the river at Donyatt I was disappointed to see the Isle running painfully low and clear. On reaching the pub I was really disappointed to see there were only six pairs fishing, a really poor showing although I think the flu had accounted for a few no shows. After winning this match last year with Bruce Hunt, I was back with Justin Charles as Bruce couldn't make it. Still two years ago me and Justin came third, so we've got a pretty good record as well.

It was soon time to draw and Justin said I should do it as I draw so well (I've got no idea what he means!). The first peg I pulled out was 38, a mega walk and a chub or bust peg, the second peg was 126 (Barney's Bend) at Isle Brewers and although not as good as 125, it's a pretty consistent peg. As we both wanted it I put the pegs behind my back and let Justin choose which hand, he chose correctly and left me to put my hiking boots on. Robin and Neil were on 125 and 15 and looked red hot favourites to win. I also had the scales just to weigh (pun intended) me down some more.

As I parked up I could see Malcolm Levy starting the trek to the river (he was on peg 37), his partner Martin Heard had drawn 123 and it's a peg he's done well off before so those two would be a danger too. In a bid to make my load lighter I put all my groundbait from my carryall in my boot and was astounded to find I had half a dozen bags, some opened some not plus some pellets (and I wouldn't be needing those today!). I got about a third of the way across the field before I had to jettison some of the load, when I reached the other side I dumped what I had left and went back to pick up my gear which was strewn all across the field! On my return Malcolm was carrying my rodbag to my peg, it comes to something when an old man of 104 has to help you to your peg - cheers Malc!

I actually had the choice of 38 or 39 and Malcolm was trying to persuade me to fish 39 (just so he had more river to go at I reckon) but I opted for 38 as I know a few chub live there. I made myself comfortable and surveyed the scene, apart from being really low and clear, the swim looked pretty fishy with a tree in the water to my right and another downstream to my left. The trouble was you could see the bottom over most of the peg apart from a deeper hole at 5 metres to my right in between three lots of branches hanging down from one of the trees.

I only set up 'Ole Faithful' and plumbed up before having a quick coffee and then it was time to start. I started with double bronze maggot to try and get a minnow to avoid the blank but couldn't get a bite. Next up was a single caster and I tried all the fishy looking areas without so much as a sniff. After about an hour, I heard Malc's mobile go off and he shouted down that Martin had lost a 3lb chub and wasn't happy. I asked Malc what he'd caught and he said he'd had a minnow. We both agreed the signs didn't look good and neither of us could see us catching a chub.

I tried single maggot in the flow five metres to the left and started getting minnow indications, I dropped the first one off but soon had half a dozen in the net and got bored with that very quickly. I tried caster against the tree to my left and past it at 13 metres, still nothing. I had a go past the tree to my right but Malcolm complained about me poaching his swim! Malcolm was still getting the odd minnow so I caught a couple more but even they slowed up. I had a coffee and decided any chub would be in the deeper water so I plumbed up again by the trailing branches to my right. I set the rig a few inches deeper and went in with a single caster on the hook.

After five minutes the float slid under and a resticted strike due to the branches saw me bump a good fish - bugger it, that could be costly. Next put in I had another good bite and this time the fish was on and after a short tussle, I netted a 2lb+ chub - phew! I had another good bite which I missed and the caster was mashed and I felt there were a few fish there and there was still an hour and a half to go. I then hooked another, I saw it flash and then it did me on an underwater branch - shit! After tying on another hooklength I went back out but no more bites made me start to think I'd blown my chance and spooked them. With half an hour to go I hooked another one and got this one safely in the net and it looked close to 3lb.

Thought I might get another but never had another bite, I quickly packed up and Malcolms minnows weighed 2oz and my two chub plus minnows went 4lb 14oz. He said that Martin didn't hook any more chub and just had two minnows so that was them out of it, I was now hoping Justin had done alright. After slogging back across the field, Malcolm was still waiting for his partner to pick him up but by the time I'd loaded the car up, he'd arrived and I asked how they got on in his section. He said Robin had 6lb 13oz off 125, Graham Bulgin had 1lb 11oz from 125a and Justin had 5oz!!!! from 126. It looked like we might be out of it with two more pegs in his section to come back.

Back at the results and it became apparent how badly it had fished and I'd actually won the top section. The other two pegs in Justin's section came back and Fred had 5lb 2oz from 96 and Steve Parker hadn't weighed from 92 so Justin finished with four section points giving us a total of five. It looked like a few pairs had similar scores and it might come down to weight and I was hoping those lost fish wouldn't cost us. Robin and Neil won it with four points, Neil scoring three for his 12oz from peg 15. We were read out in second with five points beating Moses and Graham on weight with 5lb 3oz to 2lb 10oz and we picked up £25 each, so a good start to the year and I was relieved that those fish hadn't cost us although if I'd landed one I would have won the match which would have been nice.

The club donated the peg fees and a raffle had been running all week with the proceeds going to a charity of Mary's choice. We had a nice buffet back at the Crown and the club would like to thank Steve and Cindy for the food and Rob for organising the match.

Robin Cox (match winner and pairs champion)

Neil Dring (pairs champion)

1 - Robin Cox and Neil Dring - 4 pts
2 - Jamie Rich and Justin Charles - 5 pts (5lb 3oz)
3 - Graham Bulgin and Moses Holbrook - 5 pts (2lb 10oz)

1 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 6lb 13oz
2 - Fred Brown (Ilminster) - 5lb 2oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 4lb 14oz

Next week is round five of the Crown League so lets see if this run continues (picking up seven matches on the trot), I doubt it.

Oh, and Happy New Year everyone.