Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seaton - Chasing Silver Shadows - 31st March 2012

After yesterdays disappointing trip to try and catch bream down the resi, today me and Andy were off to Seaton to try and catch a mullet, a new species for both of us. The problem was neither of us knew anything about them or how to catch them! I'd tried doing some research but all I really found out was that bread was the bait and that they were very difficult to catch - great!

I was up bright and early and actually got to Andy's before 9:00 which is practically unheard of for me, I'm never early! We made a quick pit stop at Tescos to pick up a couple of loaves of bread and we were off. We found the tackle shop in Seaton and the owner Chris told us they'd been catching mullet opposite the shop and recommended some Whizzo Stench groundbait to go with our breadflake hook bait. We had a coffee and an excellent sausage and bacon sarnie in the next door cafe, which set us up for the day and we were ready to do battle.

The Axe at Seaton

The weather was overcast and a lot cooler than the previous few days which meant spotting any fish might be difficult. We parked up and walked round to the other side of the Axe where Chris said they'd been catching. I had picked up some bits and bobs from Tackleuk for today including some Chubber style floats and size 8 and 10 hooks. I mixed up some groundbait and we both set up our waggler rods with 4AAA floats with just a simple bulk shotting arrangement. We were both eager to start and I always get quite excited when trying something new.

Andy trying to catch a mullet

We started fishing breadflake and feeding small balls of Stench but after a couple of hours our early enthusiasm had evaporated and neither of us had anything like a bite or even seen a fish. To our left were some mooring pontoons where the tackle shop owner said they sometimes caught fish so with nothing to lose we gave it a go. We started getting little knocks and I'm sure I'd seen a fish swirl when Andy managed to overcast and hooked one of the moorings and had to pull for a break. He said that was enough for him and he'd watch me but a few more indications soon saw him setting up again. I felt sure it was only a matter of time before we latched into a fish. Then a boat owner walked along the pontoon and stood right over where we'd been getting bites and unsurprisingly they stopped.

The scenery was certainly different to what I'm normally used to!

He wandered off but I think the damage had been done, but then a fish swirled for a floating piece of bread in the main river and our enthusiasm was back. Andy missed a bite before going back to get the landing net, we'd fed some floating bread and there were fish coming up for it back in the original spot we'd fished. All of a sudden my float buried and a fish was on, it gave me a few hairy moments when it tried going around a buoy, but after a spirited fight, Andy safely netted for me. It wasn't huge but it was a mullet and another new species for me. I weighed it at 1lb 13oz before getting a couple of pictures and releasing it.

Not huge at 1lb 13oz but it meant we'd achieved our goal

I will definitely be back to try and catch a bigger one

I was happy to watch Andy for a bit and was sure he'd catch but the river level was still dropping and those mullet were swirling further and further down and despite missing a couple of bites we didn't catch anymore. We were about to call it a day when all of a sudden we could see some mullet feeding on something on the bottom but despite our best efforts they ignored us.

A really enjoyable day and will definitely be back for another go when the weathers better although next time I will make sure I've got a couple of loaves of liquidised bread with me as well.

Tomorrow I'm at Summerhayes for the third part of my very varied fishing trilogy, it's on Sellicks which apparently has been fishing hard so make sure you come back tomorrow to see how I got on.

P.S. if anybody can tell me what kind of mullet I caught I would be grateful as I know there are different species.

Update - I have been told by several people the mullet I caught was of the Thick Lipped variety, so thanks for your help guys.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chard Reservoir - Slab Hunting - 30th March 2012

Next up on my 'Mission Impossible' hit list was bream and possibly roach so I headed to the resi where I fancied I'd latch into a few, especially after Russell Hilton's great session recently. Janders very kindly agreed to come down with me so I could borrow his trolley and we could head to the prolific pegs in the forties. Well, best laid plans and all that, on arriving at the car park I was surprised to see it almost full and I was hoping I would be able to squeeze into the forties somewhere. Janders arrived and we loaded up and off we went.

There were a couple of pleasure anglers in around peg 41 and they hadn't caught yet but as we walked further up it was bivvy city and every peg was taken right up to peg 50. A change of plan was called for and I dropped into peg 38, these pegs had struggled in the last match with the top weight being 2lb 14oz but as the wind was blowing in to these pegs I still fancied getting a few. After two hours and not so much as a chewed maggot, yet another change of plan was called for! This certainly wasn't going to plan, it was also quite cold in the shade of the trees so we decided to head for the dam wall, where we would be in the sun at least. So the trolley was loaded up again as we headed to warmer climes.

The view up the resi from the dam

I decided on a peg near the car park (near where Picky had won the section the last time I'd fished the resi) and started again. After 40 minutes and no indications I honestly thought another blank was on the cards. The two pleasure anglers turned up and set up along from me, they hadn't had a bite in the woods either. I was just thinking about an early bath when the tip pulled round and I netted a skimmer which I weighed at 2lb 13oz. So at least the blank was avoided and I had done enough to earn badge number two. Then I had another of a similar size next chuck and fancied I might get a few and hopefully the proper slabs would put in appearance.

Not the slab I was after but at least I was off the mark!

I had a third but it wasn't exactly fast and furious and the two lads hadn't caught yet either. Then Les turned up and told me I was doing it all wrong, my feeder was too small, my hooklength too long and my groundbait was the wrong colour! He shortened my hooklength and insisted on a chuck to show me how it was done, he was just sinking the line when the tip went round and he had a skimmer! So maybe he did know what he was talking about. He went off to collect the rest of the day ticket money but not before telling me how crap I was!

Janders enjoying the sun

I was still hopeful of catching a 5lb+ slab so I could fill out one of the blanks on my pb list but apart from one more skimmer, bites were still few and far between. The two lads packed up fishless but to be fair they probably hadn't picked the best day with it being hot, sunny and flat. Les arrived back and had another couple of chucks but didn't catch anymore before leaving me to it. Then my mate Andy turned up and couldn't believe I was fishing the dam again. I did miss a couple more bites before Janders and Andy decided they'd seen enough. I stuck it out for another half an hour but was soon feeding the ducks with the bait I had left before packing up and heading home.

Les did say there was a space available on the resi on Sunday but as I'd already booked into a match at Summerhayes, I had to decline and I must admit that with there being a chance of drawing the dam again, I just don't know if I could face it! Not the bagging session I'd hoped for but at least I had a few fish and it was a nice day in lovely company. Well tomorrow me and Andy are heading to Seaton to try and catch a mullet and as neither of us have a clue what we are doing, tomorrows blog could be quite short and lacking in fish photos! Be sure to come back to see if we end up getting rescued by the RNLI (now where did I put those flares!).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Summerhayes - Open - 25th March 2012

After last weeks disaster I was hoping for better things today at Summerhayes, it was on Long's Match Lake again and the forecast was for a hot, sunny day. I picked Janders up and on arrival we could see there was a really good turnout (26 anglers in total). There were the usual venue experts in the form of Bruce Hunt, Adie Bishop and the Wickhams plus some right stars (muggers) in the shape of Bob Gullick and Tom Thick who always seem to do well here. Just after I got out the car a chap came and introduced himself to me, it turns out he's Ivan Currie who follows my blog and also writes an excellent blog himself, have a look, a very good read It was his first time here and he was a really nice bloke, it's always nice to meet fellow bloggers!

I really fancied a draw near to where I was last time but I pulled out peg 5 on the opposite side of the lake and the general consensus seemed to be it wasn't a great silvers area, just what I wanted to hear! I have struggled there before but I did manage a silvers win with over 17lb in one match, but as the silvers was won with 33lb last week with 25lb second, I didn't think that would be enough today. Janders had drawn peg 14 and was determined to fish for silvers this week. I had a chap called Roy on my right and he mentioned he'd started reading this blog and really enjoyed it, cheers mate, I really appreciate it when I get nice comments like that. I had a blank peg to my left so at least I had an inside to go at if the silvers didn't show.

I set up the usual Malman 0.4 gram pencil float with 0.12mm bottom and size 16 808 along with a similar duplicate rig in case of disaster, I also set up a Trabucco dibber for fishing the inside and across to the far bank at 14.5 metres (but I was hoping I wouldn't have to go over there!). I had some micros which I dampened down along with some 4mm Bait Tech expanders and I also opened a small tin of corn. Bobby Gullick was on peg 1 and would be going all out for carp although Roy normally goes for silvers so I wouldn't have them all to myself.

Pete (who wasn't fishing today as he's done his back in) blew for the start and I cupped in half a pot of micros at 10 metres straight out in front before cupping in the same plus some corn on the inside to my left. I wouldn't feed across until I started fishing it, which hopefully I wouldn't need to do. I had a bite first put in with an expander on the hook and netted an 8oz skimmer to get me off the mark. Next chuck I had another and then a crucian and I was catching well. Roy was also getting a few although I think I was just ahead at this early stage. After the first hour I had 11 fish for probably 4.5lb but I knew I wouldn't keep catching at this rate.

Things slowed in the second hour and I only added 3 skimmers plus a few small fish and a tiny carp for probably another 1.5lb. I was on 6lb of silvers after two hours and thought if I could average 3lb an hour it would give me around 18lb and a chance of sneaking in the silvers money as Pete was paying three today (plus the top five). I was toss potting in micros every time and still getting odd fish but I was missing loads of bites (small fish?) and probably only added another 2lb in hour three to put me on about 8lb. I had also bumped a couple and lost a skimmer at the net. I was trying to keep a running total and was counting each skimmer as 8oz as some were bigger and some were probably only 6oz or so. I was getting quite a few 2oz skimmers and roach but I didn't include these.

Bites were now quite hard to come by and Roy was having the odd look down the inside without too much success which meant I was gradually pulling away from him. Janders turned up and said he just couldn't catch silvers and was going to fish the reedbed on the inside as several people had told him his peg wasn't a silvers peg. From what I could see it was a bit of a struggle on our side with only the odd carp coming out. I was still getting odd skimmers and after four hours was probably up to around 10-11lb. I would get a couple before struggling again, I tried fishing past my feed and to the left and right of it but this didn't really improve things.

It was a really hot day and I could feel my arms burning and really should have slapped some cream on. Hour five saw me still missing loads of bites but I added another five skimmers for about 2.5lb plus a few small fish. I had all skimmers and roach apart from one tiny carp and that crucian, in the last match I'd had several tench and a couple of 2lb+ skimmers which bumped my weight up and I was hoping a few might show in the last hour when the heat started going out of the day.

The last hour was a little frustrating as I was still missing bites and had two carp in quick succession and they weren't helping my cause at all. I did manage another three skimmers and a few blades to end with 46 fish (including three carp), by my totting up I reckoned I had about 13.5lb but was admitting to 10-11lb as I didn't want to look like a chump and over estimate. With Pete not fishing today he was soon starting the weigh in as I packed my kit up. As I took some kit back to the car I was surprised to see a few people had packed up and Nigel Wickham on peg 2 already had his nets out on the bank to dry! Bobby said he'd had 16 carp but reckoned Tom had done well on the other side.

When I caught up with the scales the top silvers weight was Glyn Wickham with 12lb 12oz and I thought it might be a close call between me and him. Mark Leahy had an excellent 52lb 12oz of mainly carp before Tom Thick went into the lead with 64lb 6oz, Tom fishes soft pellets and really seems to make them work here for the carp. There were quite a few 7lb silvers weights but nobody else broke double figures and I was confident I'd at least be in the top three. Janders had 10lb 9oz but didn't manage to beat his weight from the last match (I won't mention you said your target was 30lb today!).

Then it was my turn and my three carp went 4lb 13oz but I wasn't too bothered about them, when I pulled my silvers net out I received a bit of ribbing about my estimate, the needle settled on 17lb 12oz and I was leading the silvers with two people to weigh. I was sure I had nowhere near that, I thought I might have had 15lb max but was well chuffed. Roy had 7lb 1oz of silvers before Bobby weighed 32lb 10oz to sneak into third place. So I won the silvers again and picked up £35 plus the all important £1 from Janders. I really do enjoy this style of fishing and I was only 4lb off a frame place again, I just need to sort out a way to stop missing so many bites.

Pretty good weights again

1 - Tom Thick (Bristol) - 64lb 6oz
2 - Mark Leahy (Street) - 52lb 12oz
3 - Bob Gullick (Garbolino Blackmore Vale) - 32lb 10oz
4 - Dave T (Summerhayes) - 26lb 15oz
5 - Adie Bishop (Summerhayes) - 26lb 1oz

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 17lb 12oz
2 - Glyn Wickham (Summerhayes) - 12lb 12oz
3 - Alan J (Summerhayes) - 7lb 7oz

I'm going to the resi next Friday to see if I can catch some bream but I'm not sure where I am on Sunday as Les might want me to stand in again on the resi or if not I'll fish the match at Summerhayes, come back to find out where I end up!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mission Impossible? - 23rd March 2012

Back in February of this year I realised I'd never caught a grayling in 32 years of fishing and arranged a day on the River Tone with Scott Russell and despite less than favourable conditions I managed to catch a small grayling. It was a really enjoyable day and one which I repeated a few weeks back and caught another three 'ladies' with the biggest about 12oz, no monsters but it got me thinking that there's lots of things I'd like to do fishing wise. This was reinforced to me when I added the 'Personal Bests and Species List' to my blog, there were lots of blanks there, I've caught tench and bream to 5lb+ but never actually weighed them, there are also some species I'd really like to catch. I've added grayling this year and I really fancy a go at mullet, I would also like to fill in all the blanks on my list.

This isn't some kind of confessional where I declare I've given up match fishing and have turned to the 'dark side' (specimen hunting) as I still love the buzz of fishing a match and competing 'Against Men and Fish' but I also really fancy exploring other avenues of this wonderful world of angling. I'm going back to the paradise that is Gillhams Resort in Thailand in October and will be doing my best to add pacu and Mekong catfish to my list and I would dearly love to up my biggest arapaima which currently stands at 160lb. But for now I'm going to start closer to home and the catalyst to this was the Korum Challenge in TCF magazine.

The Korum Challenge

Basically if you catch a fish and submit a photo you receive a badge and if you catch a fish over a qualifying weight you receive a 'Specimen' badge. Now this reminded me of the old Angling Times Rodbenders awards for junior anglers and I remember catching enough fish to actually gain the coveted 'Gold' badge and being well chuffed. As I'm getting older I seem to do a lot of reminiscing about the good old days and I thought I'd set myself a challenge, a 'Mission Impossible' if you like, to see how many Korum badges I could get.

During the last few matches of the river season I caught quite a few chub and weighed one which equalled my personal best of 3lb 5oz, so I submitted a photo and today received my first Korum Challenge badge.

My first Korum Challenge badge

My badge (and match) winning chub

Looking at the list, most of the standard badges should be achievable with the only ones that stand out as difficult being barbel (no rivers round here that have them!) and pike (I wouldn't know where to start as the only pike I've caught weighed 1lb 6oz and was caught by accident!) but the others shouldn't be too hard to get. I've got two days off next week and will start with a session down the resi (inspired by my poor result last Sunday and Russell Hilton's fantastic day this week), where hopefully I'll be able to catch a slab or two and there's a good chance of getting one over the specimen qualifying weight of 6lb.

I hope you will join me on my 'Mission Impossible', but before my next quest there's a match at Summerhayes on Sunday and there have been some good silvers weights coming out so come back on Sunday to see how I got on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chard Reservoir - 18th March 2012

I was standing in for someone on the winter league today and was looking forward to seeing the tip get pulled round a few times (famous last words!). It was good to see all the Chard crew for the first time for ages. After paying my pools and sorting out some bait it was time to draw. Les said that Bushy was going to have a close draw on the dam wall as he had a bad chest infection and asked if anybody else wanted to go on the dam, I said I would as I can't handle the long walks (this turned out to be the biggest mistake of the day!). I knew the winner was unlikely to come from the dam but there was still the section win to go for and I wouldn't be knackered from the walk.

I had Picky on my left (who I had a £1 sidebet with) with Dunner next to him and Bushy on my right then Butch and Andy Winters on the end peg. I mixed up some Sensas Bream groundbait and added a little fishmeal groundbait as the skimmers seem to like it. For bait I had red maggots, pinkies and squatts. I only set a feeder rod and was ready with plenty of time. I had a quick chat with Picky who reckoned around 12lb would win our section. Les blew for the start and I baited with two red maggots before filling the feeder with squatts and groundbait and casting out to about 40 turns. I made sure I kept re-casting about every ten minutes to get some feed down but after an hour I hadn't had a bite and nor had anybody else. I wasn't too concerned as the first hour can be slow before the fish find the bait.

Andy on the end was the first angler to get off the mark with a small roach but after two hours I was still biteless and starting to get worried. After three hours I was extremely worried! Andy had added a decent bream and was winning the section comfortably. Then Picky missed a bite before losing a skimmer ten minutes later, surely it was only a matter of time before my tip went round? Bushy had missed a couple of indications but our section was rock hard and Picky's 12lb prediction looked to be well off the mark. By now I was pinning my hopes on maybe catching in the last 'golden' hour.

Then Picky latched into a skimmer and safely netted this one, then he had another and another before catching a proper one and I still couldn't buy a bite! We were now four hours in and I was still fishless as was Dunner and Bushy. Butch had landed a couple of small roach but only Picky was getting regular bites. I tried double pinkie but this resulted in no interest either. With an hour to go I was losing the will to live! I heard Picky say to Dunner he was fishing out at 45 turns so with nothing to lose, I unclipped and went out a bit further, still no bites. Dunner caught a decent bream and a roach which just left me and Bushy blanking.

With half an hour to go, Picky said he'd been catching on double squatt so I tried that as well but all to no avail. Bushy who was in third place in the league before today did land a skimmer right on the whistle to save a bit of face. So I blanked and just checking through my records, that's the first blank I've suffered since Feb 2010! I just couldn't believe I never had a solitary indication. Our section didn't take long to weigh in, Andy had 5lb 2oz, Butch 1lb 4oz, Bushy 2lb 4oz, I had a big fat blank, then Picky had an excellent 20lb and gave me a right dicking and took a pound off me and finally Dunner had 5lb 5oz.

Back at the results the 40's had fished really well with Dave Mockridge on peg 46 weighing 78lb, Bish had 63lb 6oz (peg 47), Les 62lb 8oz (peg 44) and Hoff 58lb 2oz (peg 48). To finish off my day Janders had 25lb off peg 49 and took a squid off me. The other section in the 30's wasn't so good with Hainsey (who was leading the league before today) blanking along with Dave Ball and Dave Lawrence.

My section was a bit grim!

The 40's were the place to be

1 - Dave Mockridge (Chard) - 78lb
2 - Steve Bishop (Chard) - 63lb 6oz
3 - Les Braunton (Haines Angling) - 62lb 8oz
4 - Mark Hollister (Chard) - 58lb 2oz

A - Alan Gage (Chard) - 20lb
B - Steve Osborne (Chard) - 35lb 14oz
C - Dave Abrams (Weymouth) - 37lb 8oz

League Standings (with one match to go)
1 - Mark Hollister - 39 pts
2 - Chris Haines - 48 pts
3 - Dave Mockridge - 49 pts

Les said he was organising a knock up on the dam wall next Sunday but I don't think I could face another six hours of that. I love tip fishing when you're getting bites but it's torture when you're not. So I think I'll book into Summerhayes next week, tune in to see if my luck improves!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Summerhayes - Open - 11th March 2012

With nothing else on, I phoned and booked in for the match at Summerhayes, Janders also phoned me in the week and asked if he could come along. I picked him up at 8:00 and off we went, there was a decent turnout of 19 anglers including Martin Heard, Bruce Hunt and Adie Bishop. I had no idea what a good draw would be but quite fancied being down one of the straights near where I won the silvers the last time I was here. I pulled out 28 which was close and I knew it must be a decent area because Bruce was on 26! Janders was on 24 so I would be able to keep an eye on my pound.

In the last match 18lb won the silvers and I fancied a similar weight would be there or thereabouts today. After sorting out Janders with some micros and expanders, I started setting up. As usual I was going all out for silvers and set up a Malman 0.4 gram pencil float with a spread bulk, 0.12mm bottom and size 16 808 hook. I also set up a similar duplicate rig in case of tangles/breakages and a little Trabucco dibber for fishing the inside by some inviting reeds to my right but hoped I wouldn't have to go over this line. For bait I had some micro pellets which I dampened down, some 4mm Bait Tech expanders and some corn.

Pete shouted the all in and I cupped in half a pot of micros at 10 metres before potting in some corn and pellets by the reeds. Bruce was fishing across and would be targeting the carp as was the chap on my left so hopefully I'd have the silvers to myself. First put in I bumped a fish, not the start I'd hoped for but next chuck I had a small carp followed by two 2lb+ skimmers, this was more like it. I had a blinding first hour and added several more skimmers and a couple of carp for probably 10lb (of which 6lb was silvers). The second hour was slower but I still added a couple more skimmers and carp plus a little tench and gorgeous little crucian. I was up to around 8lb of silvers but needed to up my catch rate if I was to stand any chance.

Bruce was still catching carp well although Janders and the bloke on my left seemed to be struggling. Hour three was really hard for me and I couldn't get a bite over my feed and the only place I could catch fish was a metre past my feed or to the left of it. I added a couple more skimmers, some roach and a couple more carp and was now on about 10lb of silvers with half the match gone. Bruce had slowed up as well so I decided to rest my 10 metre line, I cupped in some more micros and came on my inside line with corn on the hook. There were fish there as I was getting bites but I kept getting snagged up and after the third time and a bleeding knuckle, that was enough of that.

Back on my long line and I lost a couple of small fish on the way in before catching a skimmer, a couple of roach and another carp, I was just thinking this was going to be my worst hour yet when I had a 1.5lb tench to put me on about 12.5lbs of silvers with two hours to go. I carried on getting the odd small skimmer in hour five and even added a lovely little golden tench but I was now getting quite a few carp which wasn't helping my cause. Bruce was still getting carp and would be challenging for a frame place. By the end of the penultimate hour I probably had 15lb of silvers and was hoping for a grandstand finish.

I had plenty of bites in the last hour but mostly from carp and I had about five plus three skimmers, the last one I landed on the whistle to end with 49 fish and I reckoned I had about 16.5lb of silvers and probably the same in carp. I packed up and took some of my gear back to the car, Janders had quite a nice day although he can't get on with my expanders. Mark Leahy was first to weigh and had 35lb 4oz but as most of that was carp I wasn't too concerned. Then the owner Pete had 16lb 9oz of silvers and I started to think it could be close, then a chap called Roy on peg 32 had 14lb 2oz of silvers and I was hoping I'd pipped him. Mike Bendle on my left didn't weigh and then it was my turn. My carp went 17lb 5oz and when I pulled my silvers out I wasn't sure I'd done Pete but he called out 18lb 5oz and my total of 35lb 10oz put me in the lead overall. This lasted until we got to Bruce who put 44lb 15oz of mainly carp on the scales.

Janders had over 11lb and was pretty pleased as he finally managed to break double figures but he still had to pay me a £1 - cheers mate. I missed the rest of the weigh in as I took the rest of my kit back and loaded up the car. When the scales got back round I was actually fourth but won the silvers as it was worth a fiver more and I picked up £35. A really enjoyable day and the weather was glorious, I think that's my biggest weight on Longs yet.

1 - Bruce Hunt (Tiverton) - 44lb 15oz
2 - Jim Jenner (Summerhayes) - 40lb 10oz
3 - Jason King (Summerhayes) - 37lb 13oz
4 - Adie Bishop (Summerhayes) - 35lb 4oz
4 - Mark Leahy (Street) - 35lb 4oz

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 18lb 5oz
2 - Pete Wakeling (Summerhayes) - 16lb 9oz

The weights were really close, what a cracking venue

Next week I'm standing in for someone in the Chard winter league down the resi, I quite fancy a draw on the dam as I can't handle the long walks. Would be nice to see the tip pulled round a few times, come back next week to see how I get on.

I've just added the Ilminster AA Summer and Evening league dates on the News, reviews and match results page, don't forget to check out all my new pages, they're updated daily.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The 'Big One', Farnborough

I popped to the 'Big One' at Farnborough airfield today (I say popped but had to use my passport to get out of Somerset!). My main purpose was to pay my deposit for this years holiday to the fantastic Gillhams Resort in Thailand but it would also be good to catch up with Stuart and have a look around.

The Gillhams stand (with Jason Ingley pictured)

I caught up with Stuart and paid my deposit, unfortunately Benz wasn't there (she was off shopping apparently!) and also met Jason Ingley who I'd met briefly when we fished the Ebro in Spain, he'll be there when I go over so hopefully he'll help me get a mekong catfish and that elusive pacu. I also bought a fivers worth of raffle tickets (and got a free t-shirt!), to see if I can win another holiday over there but I don't think I'm that lucky!

I had a wander round and bought some Marukyu Krill but at £8 a bag it might be the only bag I ever buy unless it catches me loads of fish! I also caught up with Dave Harrell and it was great to finally meet him in the flesh, his floats look the business too. The lovely Beverley Clifford was there looking stunning and I also checked out the stand with John Wilson and my old mate Jeremy Wade (see pic).

John Wilson and Jeremy Wade

So holiday booked, only 29 weeks to go although I'm not counting obviously!

Tomorrow I'm fishing Summerhayes and Janders is coming with me so lets hope the silvers are in an obliging mood!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

River Isle - Barney Crockett Pairs Open - 4th March 2012

I always look forward to Barney's match and have done well everytime I've fished it so far, winning it individually and as a pair with Bruce Hunt. I was struggling to get a partner this year as Justin couldn't commit and finally ended up with Graham Field who has been bagging up out at Dillington and as this match was going to be split between the river and the pond, it worked out quite nicely. Rob had pegged the bottom end of the river which could make life difficult for some with strong winds and rain forecast as it's very exposed at Isle Brewers. On my way over to Ilminster it was raining quite steadily and there was loads of water on the roads, would the river actually be fishable?

There were twelve fishing today, including Justin who could now fish as his son wasn't playing football. The river anglers drew first and I was praying I didn't draw 128 as it was the only peg I didn't fancy but of course drew it! I had the choice of 129 as well but decided to stick with 128 as it's a shorter walk and I had 3lb of it a few weeks back and I reckoned that would give me decent points today. Graham drew peg 4 on the pond which is a decent peg although given the conditions and the fact there would be a few anglers around the pond, I wasn't sure he'd do double figures today!

I got to the river and was amazed to see it running clear - unbelievable! I had intended to have a look at 129 but with time running out I settled in 128. I set up two rigs, both 1.5 gram Drennan Trio's, one to fish the deep water and another to fish tight across at the top of the swim where I'd caught a few fish last time. The wind was truly awful and along with freezing rain, it wasn't going to be a comfortable day. I'd just about finished setting up before it was time to start, I decided to try and catch a minnow by fishing maggot at three sections to hand but after ten minutes I hadn't had a bite! Where were all those small fish from last time?

I eventually caught a minnow on red maggot at ten metres towards the tail of the swim and that was my signal to switch to caster to try and catch some roach. The wind was making presentation a nightmare and after half an hour it was obvious this was going to be a grueller. The rain hadn't abated and my hands were freezing cold for the first time this year so I stuck the pole between my legs and had a cup of coffee while fishing at about 8 metres. I had what looked like a bite, struck and swung in a gudgeon, at least it wasn't a minnow. I thought I might get a few more but no more bites saw me trying to inch the float through in the flow but this was made difficult with the wind trying to rip the pole out of my hands.

After a couple of hours I'd only added a couple more minnows so tried the shallower rig at the top of the swim, action had been instant last time but I never had a fish here this week, things were getting desperate. Half way through the match the rain stopped but the wind was getting worse if anything. I did try fishing at 14.5 metres further across but it was a waste of time. Then the river started rising and getting dirtier, I was hoping this might kick start some fishy action but no such luck. I had to plumb the depth again as the river was rising quite quickly now.

I won't bore you with a blow by blow account of how I caught bugger all for the rest of the match but I ended up fishing four sections out, holding back and caught around a dozen minnows and that was that. I was hoping the others had found it as much of a struggle as me. I really wished I'd gone in 129 now but to be honest neither peg really stood a chance today. I was glad to pack my gear up and take it back to the car, Steve Parker and Neil had already weighed above the bridge, Steve had 13oz and Neil had a level pound although he'd snapped his pole and wasn't a happy bunny. I walked down to weigh Pete Lonton in and he had 1lb 3oz and I was looking at last in my section as I knew Malcolm would do well in 120 and Justin would winkle some fish out of 108. My massive haul weighed 2oz and as this was the last river match it was a damp squib to end on.

Back at the results and Malcolm had caught 4lb 5oz and Justin weighed a stunning 11lb 13oz which was made up of three chub and some roach. The pond had fished poorly with my partner Graham winning it with 4lb 8oz (whoops, sorry mate) and Martin was second with 4lb 4oz meaning him and Malcolm won it with 4 points, followed by Justin and Leighton with 5 points. This was the first match Malcolm had fished on the river this year and I reckon Martin should leave him in his retirement home next time! I do think we'd have been better off up the top end today but the conditions were really against us today.

Top pairs
1 - Martin Heard and Malcom Levy (Tiverton) - 4 pts
2 - Justin Charles and Leighton Cox (Ilminster) - 5 pts

1 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 11lb 13oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 4lb 8oz
3 - Malcolm Levy (Tiverton) - 4lb 5oz

Next week I'm hopefully going to fish at Summerhayes so lets hope the weather is better for then!

Friday, March 02, 2012

River Tone - 'Searching For Another Lady' - 2nd March 2012

After my last trip in Feb to try and catch grayling where despite the awful conditions I actually caught a small 'lady', I was itching to have another go. With the weather a lot better and the end of the river season approaching, I booked another day off and arranged another trip with 'Scotty's Guided Grayling Tours'. This time there was another musketeer in the shape of Scott's dad Roger, we all met at 9:30 before heading to the Silk Mills stretch which looked a whole lot better than last time!

The Silk Mills stretch wasn't orange this time!

As last time we decided on a mobile approach, with just one rod and taking it in turns, we started off in the same swim as last time and flicking a stick float out to the middle, bites came quickly and we caught lots of small trout and a couple of dace but no grayling so we moved on down the river to the next likely looking spot. The next swim looked really fishy and Scotty had a cracking dace and a nice chub of around a pound and a half.

Scott with his chub

A couple of fish were lost before we were on the move again, the next swim was lovely and I missed a few bites before getting the first 'lady' but as she was only small at about 3oz, I was hoping for better things to come. Scotty then had two on the trot with the biggest about 12oz before Roger had a go and he had a brace of a similar size as well.

Scott with one of his ladies

Two of the three musketeers (Scott and Roger)

I had another go and caught a beautiful little grayling, again about 12oz, before Roger had a small spottie and we decided to stop for lunch before heading for the fast stretch of the Tone for the afternoon.

Me landing my grayling

Another lovely little 'lady'

Isn't she lovely?

Roger about to swing a small spottie

After a brief stop at Tescos for some sarnies, it was off to the fast stretch which I'd never fished before. Matches are being won here with over 30lb of chub at the moment so hopefully we'd get a few of them as well. The first swim saw us catch a succession of minnows before Scott dropped off a nice grayling swinging it in, I didn't fare much better when I lost two in two chucks as they twisted and turned in the fast flow. Roger had a nice grayling along with a chublet and a dace and a couple of small salmon parr. Scott had a chublet before we moved on again.

Rog with another grayling

Our next stop was a swim that produces a lot of chub in matches and Scott was the first to catch here but it turned out to be a grayling which was followed in by a pike! He then had a nice chub around the pound mark before I had a go and had one of a similar size, Roger had one as well which was grabbed by the pike on the way in but thankfully let go.

The fast stretch

Our last swim was leading up to a small stone weir and Scott and Roger both caught chub quite quickly before I had another grayling just before the float went over the weir! While we were there a young lad came down and tried crossing the river by the weir, he got up to his waist before turing back, and he was only wearing jeans and trainers!, strange lot these Taunton youngsters! I finished with a small trout before we decided to call it day.

Another cracking day (definitely better than being at work!) and we caught loads of fish including 9 grayling, chub, dace, trout, salmon parr and minnows. I'd even dug out my old Avon scales (remember them?) hoping I might catch a 1lb+ grayling to set a new pb but the biggest fish we'd had was Scotty's first chub, still it gives me an excuse to come back again next season!

Next up is Barney's Pairs Open on the Isle and Dillington on Sunday, the forecast is awful with strong winds and rain so wish me luck and be sure to come back to see how I got on.