Sunday, February 26, 2012

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 7 - 26th February 2012

The final match arrived and it was a glorious sunny day although not ideal for catching fish on a low, clear river! I got to the pub and things got off to a great start when Rob handed me £20 for coming second in the Tacklebox/Royal Oak league which finished last week. This league is pretty tight with Martin leading with 8 points followed by me, Rob and Justin on 10 with Pete Lonton on 11. Justin couldn't fish today so he was out of it but I still needed a section win to guarantee a league placing and that's easier said than done with the patchy fishing at the moment. Bob Hammond was fishing today and it was lovely to see him back on the river.

Rob had done his best to put pegs in that would give people a chance but I didn't really fancy 108 or 92 and really fancied 120 but of course Heardy drew that and would now definitely win the league as it's been a really consistent peg. As for me, I opened my hand to reveal peg 124 again!, I wasn't sure those chub would show and it has been a chub or bust peg of late. Neil had drawn 125 where he won last week and Steve Parker had 126 again, poor old Rob drew 92 although he had the choice of 95 as well but he didn't fancy either of them!

I got to my peg and managed to get lower to the water than last time and just set up the same rig I'd used the last time I was here. Would those chub show again? 10:15 arrived and we were off, I started with a single red maggot and caught a tiny minnow after inching the float through in the flow, so I'd at least secured three points. I switched to caster and was surprised when the next chuck resulted in a small roach. This set the scene for the first hour and I caught five roach and a tiny chublet plus a few minnows but I knew I wouldn't win anything if I carried on catching like this. I tried going further down the peg and holding back in the flow and a good bite resulted in a substantial amount of yellow elastic stream out of the pole tip, the 0.12 bottom did it's job and a 2lb chub was netted, this was more like it! I was sure this wasn't one of the chub I'd caught two weeks ago and it was bigger than Rob's last week so again it begs the question, how many chub are in this peg?

I then had a gudgeon on caster so thought I'd try half a lobbie to see if I could target another chub, I didn't have to wait long and a savage bite saw me net a second chub of similar size. I thought one more would give me a chance of winning the section but no more bites on the worm from here so I started searching the rest of the swim. I had some decent bites at the top of the swim (where I caught last time) but I think it might have been small fish attacking the worm as I didn't connect with any. Neil turned up and he was really struggling in 125 and could see every inch of his swim, he'd had loads of minnows and a few small silvers. He phoned Rob who was also struggling and said Pete had only had minnows in 96. Neil said he'd give it another ten minutes but might be back to leave the scales with me (great, even though I didn't draw the scales, I was still going to end up with them!)

After he'd left I tried caster again but a couple more minnows soon saw me back on the worm, I was fishing at the top of the swim when the float buried and I had chub number three and this one was bigger at around 3lb. I did miss one more bite here but also snagged up a couple of times. Back down in the flow I had another gobie on caster but no more bites on worm. Next up was 13 metres to the far bank reeds towards the bottom of the peg, I wasn't hopeful as I've never caught here although other people say they have. After five minutes the float slid away and a good fish was on, this one gave me the run around and tried it's best to bury itself in the reeds but I eventually netted a good 3lb+ fish.

I decided to leave this to settle after the disturbance and tried my other two main areas but after ten minutes I was back down there and away the float went again, this was another good fish and put me on about 12lb with two and a half hours to go and I was starting to feel a big weight was on the cards. Typically I then couldn't buy a bite and even managed to catch a minnow on lobbie! I was a bit concerned that Neil hadn't come back, maybe he was catching now! Going into the last hour I hadn't added anymore from down the peg so was back at the top and a change to caster saw me catch a 4oz dace followed by two small roach and couple more minnows. Another gudgeon down the peg saw me stick it out on worm for the last 15 mins but I didn't add anymore to my net. I do think under the right conditions this peg could do hell of a weight but the way things are going we'll never have any rain again.

I packed up and on my way back to the car I asked Neil if he'd started catching, he said not really but as Steve Parker had gone on in 126, he had to stay to weigh me in. He'd wanted to go and watch his beloved Spurs but as they lost 5-2 to Arsenal he's probably glad he didn't! Neil had 1lb 10oz and had really struggled, my five chub, seven roach, three gudgeon, one dace and a tiny chublet plus minnows weighed 13lb 5oz, so at least I'd won my section which should see me secure second place in the league. I did weigh the biggest two chub thinking I might beat my personal best of 3lb 5oz but the biggest was the same weight, maybe next time! Back at the results and Martin was the next best weight with 5lb 6oz and he secured his second league title, so I'd won my second match in three weeks. I picked up £45 for the win and £60 for second in the league so a good day all round. Pete found a chub of 2lb 12oz and was third on the day and leap frogged Rob into third place in the league.

My five chub plus bits went 13lb 5oz

Martin Heard - V.E.S. Precision Winter League Champion

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 13lb 5oz
2 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 5lb 6oz
3 - Pete Lonton (Ilminster) - 2lb 12oz

Final League Positions

1 - Martin Heard - 9 pts
2 - Jamie Rich - 11 pts
3 - Pete Lonton - 13 pts

The club would like to say a big thank you to V.E.S. Precision for their generous continued support, Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak and Rob and Pete for organising another excellent league.

The clubs AGM is at the Oak on Friday 2nd March, starting at 7:30.

Barney's Pairs Open is next week and there will be one section on Dillington Pond and one of the river. Draw is at the pub between 8:30 and 9:00.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

River Isle - Tacklebox/Royal Oak Winter League 9 - 19th February 2012

Driving to pick up the bait yesterday, there was loads of rain and I was hoping that we might get some colour in the river for this week. At the draw there were some really good pegs in including my peg from last week, 125 and 126. To be honest I didn't really fancy drawing 124 again as I didn't think those chub would show again so soon. I also didn't particularly want 124a but of course drew it, I did have the choice of that one or 123 but I hate that peg with a passion. I did win off 124a this time last year with a couple of chub and Heardy had done 5lb+ off it fairly recently so there were fish to be had.

On arriving at the river it was terribly clear yet again although there was a little more pace. I think that's been half the problem this season, just no water in the river and I can't recall fishing it once with proper colour on it. I managed to get myself dug in quite low to the water but the wind was coming straight up the river and it was a really cold wind too - nice! I only set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio and kept thinking I should have set up a waggler as Heardy had caught quite a few roach by casting down into the shallows, but like a muppet I left the rod in the bag. Robin was above me on 124 and the wind wouldn't be helping his cause much and I fancied Neil on 125 and Steve on 126 to fill the frame places today.

I started with double maggot in the flow at 8.5 metres to try and catch a minnow to avoid the blank but couldn't even catch one of those! There were also quite a few 'stick ups' and after getting snagged a couple of times I was soon switching to caster. The wind was pretty strong and made holding even 8.5 metres a struggle. I was just thinking it was going to be a chub or nothing day when I had an indication which I missed. Next put in I had a small dace and things were looking up, then the greedy minnows arrived and I had two or three, where were they earlier when I was fishing maggot! I then had a 1.5lb chub in the flow and I started to feel there were a few fish about.

We were now an hour and a half in and Rob walked down and said he was struggling to hold the pole although he'd lost a chub first put in. He wandered down to see how the others were getting on and on his return he said Steve and Neil were getting odd small fish but not setting the world alight. I had added a couple more dace and a small roach and was strangely quite enjoying it as I was getting a few bites. I was praying another chub would show up as I felt that was the only way to stand a chance of beating 125 or 126.

I was still catching the odd small dace and roach and by the halfway mark had probably reached the heady heights of 2lb! Then I heard some splashing and looked up to see Rob netting a chub, great that was probably 3lb then, going by the fish I had last week. I really needed another chub now. I would get the odd run of bites before it slowed and I was cursing not setting up that waggler to give me another option. Going into the last hour I was on 11 fish (plus minnows) and probably had about 2lb 4oz. I was hoping it would be a 'golden last hour' but the fish didn't want to play ball and I only added one more dace. To make matters worse Rob had added a second chub and I was sure there would be no brown envelope for me this week.

I packed up and took half of my gear to the gear and collected the scales (yes I had them again!). Steve had loads of small fish for 2lb 9oz and I didn't think I had that, Neil had a decent net of roach and dace for 5lb 8oz and took the lead. I was sure Rob's two chub would beat that but he was adamant they weren't very big - yeah right! My 12 fish went 2lb 7oz and I needed another chub (or maybe I should have set up that waggler rod!). When Rob pulled out his net it was obvious he was telling the truth and his two chub weighed 3lb 1oz which was good enough for second place. It does make me wonder as those fish obviously weren't the ones I had last week, so just how many chub are in that peg!

Neil won yet again!

1 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 5lb 8oz
2 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 3lb 1oz

Final League Standings

1 - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 11 pts
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 13 pts
3 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 16 pts

So I finished second in this league but I think Rob only pays out one so no coin this week. I'd like to say a big thank you to the Tacklebox in Chard for their generous sponsorship, Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak for being excellent hosts and Rob Cox for organising another brilliant league.

Next week is the final V.E.S. Precision match and I'm currently joint second with two others and I need a section win to guarantee a top three placing in the league, come back next week to see if I get it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

River Isle - Open - 12th February 2012

After last weeks poor match and more freezing weather during the week I was fearing the worst for this match but was pleasantly surprised to wake up and see we hadn't had a frost, the air temperature wasn't too bad either. I got to the pub and there was a half decent turnout of ten including Tony Newman, Andy Welch and even Graham Field had turned up although I think that was mainly so he could take the micky about Everton beating Chelsea yesterday! Rob had put in the bottom end for today and I fancied most of the pegs apart from 128 or 129. In fact Neil and me were talking about how we didn't want either of them and we were convinced we'd talked ourselves into drawing them!

Rob announced the draw and got Steve the landlord to draw for Justin who had disappeared and he pulled out 128 - whoops! Still that meant there was only one nightmare peg left, I drew and didn't look while other people pulled their pegs, nobody was admitting to it and I was sure I had it but opened my hand to reveal peg 124. It's been a consistent peg and I've drawn it twice already and managed 4-5lb off it both times, I would still rather have had 120 though! Steve Parker was the unlucky angler to get 129 and as for Neil, he had 120, so his drawing hand is even better than Rob's!

I got to the river and was surprised to see it carrying hardly any colour, my peg looked quite nice although much of the far bank cover has gone now after the couple of occasions we've had high water. I got myself comfortable and set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Trio with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611, the peg had a nice depth and I set the rig so it was a few inches overdepth. I was ready and drinking a quick coffee before the start when I saw a figure walking up towards me, it was the Hoff, his match on the resi had been cancelled due to it being iced over so he'd come down for a wander. I wasn't sure he'd learn anything about river fishing watching me!

It was soon time to start and I fed some casters and maggots upstream before inching the float through in the flow and was amazed when I didn't get an early 'mug' small fish. In fact I couldn't buy a bite!, I tried going to 13 metres against the far bank and also towards the tail of the swim. I did have a couple of slight indications which looked suspiciously like bites but the caster wasn't marked. After an hour Hoff said he had a cold bum and wasn't going to learn anything and was off to see if the resi had defrosted. I was by now fishing the head of the swim just past where the main flow comes in and missed what looked like a good bite but again the bait was untouched. Next put in I had a proper bite which I missed but this time the caster was mashed and my interest was back.

My next visitor was Justin who said he hadn't had a bite in 128 and Steve in 129 was in the same boat but Tony in 126 and Andy in 125 were catching small fish. I was just telling him about my missed bites when the float sailed away and a substantial amount of yellow elastic streamed out of the pole, after a spirited battle I netted a chub that looked to be around 3lb, I just needed to catch a couple more now. Justin said he'd seen enough and walked back to his peg. I missed another couple of bites before visitor number three turned up in the shape of Ned, it was like Piccadilly Circus today! I then had my second chub which was around the same size as the first. I thought if I could get one more it would put me on 9lb and I'd be there or thereabouts.

Ned reported that Tony and Andy were still catching small fish but not exactly bagging before he headed off. No more bites so I tried double caster and then half a lobbie without any success. I then stuck two red maggots on and was holding back in the flow when a really positive bite saw me net chub number three, number four soon followed and I started to feel I could do a big weight. But then typically, I couldn't buy a bite. Another bank walker arrived, this time a chap down on holiday, he stayed for a bit before leaving me to get on with it. We were now into the last two hours but I still felt confident I'd get another before the all out. I did lose a couple of hooklengths in snags further down the swim so decided to concentrate on the top of the swim for the remaining time.

Justin came back and said he hadn't caught and was going to pack up, he also said he'd spoken to Pete Lonton on peg 83 and nobody in that section had caught but Neil in 120 was getting a few. I was now back on the maggot and started to get a few indications in the last half hour, I missed a couple of bites before connecting with a minnow! so spent the last twenty minutes on caster but no more bites and that was that. Steve Parker came up just before the end (my sixth visitor!) and said he'd packed up so if I could beat Andy and Tony I'd at least be assured of the section win. I packed up and took my gear back to the car and collected the scales before walking down to weigh Tony in, he had a nice net of roach along with several chublets for 4lb 9oz and reckoned he'd lost quite a few as well. Then Andy pulled his net out and I knew it would be close between him and Tony, the needle settled on 4lb 6oz and Andy was left cursing the loss of three good fish, one of 2lb which did him under his keepnet!

Then we walked up to my peg and I was sure I had 10lb but was hoping it would be a bit more, I plonked my fish on the scales and they went 12lb 5oz which I was well chuffed with, but would it be enough to win?

Me with my four chub (and a minnow!)

Back at the results and the top section had fished really poorly with Neil Dring weighing 4lb 10oz to take second place, leaving Heardy to win the section with an ounce. So I'd done it!, I picked up £45 plus a £1 off Heardy (although I haven't had it yet) and got my first win of the year.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 5oz
2 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 4lb 10oz
3 - Tony Newman (Ilminster) - 4lb 9oz

A - Martin Heard (Tiverton) - 1oz
B - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 4lb 6oz

So I've had a pretty good weekend fishing wise, my first grayling on Friday and my first win of the year today. I felt I'd fished a tidy match today, I did miss a few bites but hadn't lost any fish. Next week is the last match of the Tacklebox/Royal Oak league and Heardy can't be caught and I'm not sure if Rob is paying the top two so tune in to see how I get on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

River Tone - 'Searching for a lady' - 10th February 2012

I've been an angler for 32 years and realised the other day that I'd never caught a 'Lady of the stream', a grayling. I spoke to Scotty who said he used to catch loads on the Silk Mills stretch of the River Tone so I booked today off with the aim of catching one. Snow had been forecast and I woke early to find we'd had a light dusting in Chard, a quick text to Scott revealed it was just raining in Taunton. On my way over it was raining quite hard and after weeks of the rivers being low and clear I was hoping it wasn't going to go the other way with the river bank high and unfishable.

After a quick brew at Scotty's it was off to Morrisons for a hearty breakfast. When we finally got to the river I was disappointed to see it well up and a horrible orange colour. Scotty wasn't too hopeful that we'd catch anything but we decided to give it an hour. We decided on a mobile approach and just set up one rod with a stick float (something I haven't done for years), and would try in any likely spots.

The river was a horrible orange colour

Scotty didn't think much of our chances!

The first swim we tried had some slacker water on the inside but after a couple of run throughs, I had managed to catch a stick before the float got stuck up a tree (not a great start!). The next swim looked quite nice although a little boily but I did have what looked like a bite on worm which I missed! We moved further on down and found a swim with a nice slack behind a bush. The rain had finally stopped and it seemed a degree or so warmer. Scotty missed a bite where one maggot was gone and the other was ragged out which at least meant something was feeding. Next chuck he had a decent bite and swung in a nice dace, not our target species but at least we'd avoided the blank.

Scotty was first to catch with a nice dace

With Scott off the mark, it was my turn, after a few minutes the float slid away and a better fish was on, we thought it might be a trout but it actually turned out to be our target species, a lovely little 'Lady' of perhaps 10-12oz. Job done, mission accomplished!

Another new species under my belt!

My first grayling

We stayed in this swim a little longer and I had a small trout and a dace and Scott had another dace before bites dried up and we moved on down stream. Our next stop was a nice run leading up to some branches in the water and it screamed fish. It took a while to get the first bite but then I had a nice chublet of 12oz. I really thought we'd get some more but it didn't happen and we were thinking of moving on again when Scott struck into a decent fish which turned out to be a clonking roach which had to be getting on for a pound.

My chub

Scott's roach

No more action saw us heading back to the van with a brief stop off at the swim where I missed that bite earlier. I had another small trout and with the light fading that was enough for the day.

A really enjoyable day and a fantastic result after seeing the state of the river where neither of us had much faith we were going to catch anything, let alone a little lady. I think I'll certainly be back again when the conditions are more favourable. Now I've got the bug maybe I'll have a go for mullet next!

The next trip for me will be on the Isle on Sunday for the annual open, lets hope it's better than last week!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

River Isle - Tacklebox/Royal Oak Winter League 8 - 5th February 2012

More awful weather in the week and much of the country had snow so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and it was mild and we hadn't even had a frost. Quite a bit of rain yesterday would hopefully put some colour in the river too. At the draw there were the usual suspects and I was quite surprised to see Heardy as he said he wouldn't be fishing this one. It turned out the pond he was supposed to fish was frozen over so he was here to take another pound off me!

Rob had done the right thing by using the top end of the river this week and I fancied pegs 14 or 27. Rob's drawing hand is on fire at the moment as he pulled out 14, mind you as I had the choice of 27 or 28 I wasn't too upset. I've been dying to fish 27 as it's been really good to me in the past and as Martin was on 29 I would be able to keep an eye on my pound. I arrived at the river and it looked gorgeous, a nice pace and a lovely tinge of colour, the best it's looked all season and I really fancied it to fish well today. My peg certainly looked the part as well with a nice slack opposite and a branch hanging in the water about 10 metres down the peg.

I set up a 1 gram Drennan Trio with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 and was ready for the start after a quick coffee. I just couldn't believe what a lovely day it was after the crap weather in the week. I fully expected to catch straight away and baited up with double bronze maggot. I started just off the slack in the flow but no bites soon saw me searching down the peg. After ten biteless minutes it was obvious it just wasn't going to be the bagging session I'd hoped for. I'd also been feeding upstream in some slacker water as I've caught well there on previous visits but ten minutes trying there resulted in no action either. I just couldn't believe I couldn't catch a minnow.

After a biteless hour and a half, I decided to walk down and see if Martin had caught, I passed peg 28 which also looked really good and when I got to Heardy I asked how he was getting on, he replied he hadn't had a bite either! He said he'd spoke to Rob in 14 and he was blanking too, I just couldn't understand it, I'd have put money on it fishing well today. Martin reckoned perhaps salt and grit washed into the river might have buggered it or that the prolonged cold snap had put the fish off. I went back and tried single maggot all over the peg to try and catch a minnow and while fishing 11.5 metres towards the far bank downstream I was sure I'd had a slight judder on the float. Inspection of the maggot revealed it had been nipped! I knew it was only minnows but one would avoid the dreaded blank and guarantee me two section points.

Next put in I had a minuscule minnow and five minutes later I had another and that was enough of that! Running out of ideas I tried shallowing right up and fishing in the shallows below the branch in the water, first put in with caster the float buried and I had a 7oz trout to get me interested again. Just after I landed it, Heardy turned up and said he'd caught a minnow but just couldn't buy a bite from a proper fish. I stuck with fishing the shallows but never had another bite there. I went through the motions for the rest of the match, trying maggot, caster worm but never had another fish - great.

I packed up and went down to weigh Martin in, sure he'd have caught a couple of late chub but when I saw his gear packed up I guessed he hadn't found any. In fact he had a bait box of water containing his solitary minnow and I awarded him the obligatory ounce. Any hope I had of sneaking into the frame evaporated when he said that although Rob had blanked, both Steve and Neil had caught trout. My trout and two minnows weighed a mighty 7oz which meant I took another squid off Martin which was the only high point of the day. Steve Parker won with four trout for 2lb and Neil was second with 1lb although he did lost two big spotties which would have seen him win easily.

With one match to go, Martin has already won this league as his dropped result is a two pointer and he's on nine points meaning his worst total would be eleven, I'm on eleven so even if I win my section in the last match I can't catch him.

1 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 2lb
2 - Neil Dring (Ilminster) - 1lb

What a disappointing day, well lets hope the weather stays mild and we have some more rain for the open next week.