Sunday, February 22, 2015

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 7 - 22nd February 2015

Going into the final V.E.S. match, Heardy was leading with 10 points followed by Rob on 11 and then Fieldy and me on 12 and it was all to play for. To secure second place in the league I needed to beat Rob and Fieldy and with fourteen anglers fishing today there was an outside chance I could overhaul Heardy's two point league if he drew badly and I did well in my section but of course it could go the other way too! Looking at the section boards the only peg nobody really wanted was 114 at Redbridge and everybody was hoping for a draw at Hambridge.

The forecast was awful for today but varying reports were saying the bad weather could hit us anytime from dinner time to late afternoon, for now there were blue skies and it was a gorgeous day although we'd had a frost overnight. Rob announced the draw and I hung back thinking that if I waited until last there had to be a good chance peg 114 would attach itself to some other unlucky angler. When I heard Baz Morgan say he had got it (well he had to draw a bad peg sometime!), I felt it was safe to dip my hand in the hat, there was only one peg left and when I opened my fingers I saw H5 at Hambridge staring back at me - result!, Fieldy had won off it last week although it was up and coloured and the fish seemed to have spread out compared to the week before.

Justin had drawn H4 on the bend and Paul Homewood was on the swim above the bridge where he'd done nearly 21lb two weeks ago, Frank was above me and Hurf was up on the bend where I had those chub and we arranged the usual side bet. Rob was below the bridge where Baz had caught 29lb and 13lb in the last two matches and Ashley Tomkins was below him. In the other section Fieldy had drawn 109 which is a great peg but Justin blanked the last time it was in and Heardy was in 125 which has been hit and miss, Bruce was in 126 and should do well.

We arrived at the river and dropped our kit over the fence before driving up to the car park and putting our waterproofs on. My peg looked great and I could get my box close to the water with out it sinking in too much. I set up two rigs, a 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 and a lighter 1 gram version with 0.10mm bottom and size 18 B511. Plumbing up I found the deepest part of the peg was down the middle at about 6 metres and it shallowed up if you went any further across. Scott Jackson and Dave Sydenham turned up for a look round and were with me with the all in was called, they said they'd watch me catch a fish and then leave me to it. I feed some caster and maggot upstream and some hemp nearly in front of me and started with double red maggot on the hook, holding the rig back and inching it through. I had a few indications and then caught a minnow which wasn't an ideal start but at least I hadn't blanked.

I then had a nice chublet around 5-6oz and I was up and running, Scott and Dave went on and I had another four or five chublets and it was a steady start. At this early stage Hurf hadn't caught and Frank had caught a small roach and a couple of minnows. I then had a 3oz roach and hoped I was going to be in for a busy day, I tried caster but it was slow going so switched back to maggot and bumped a couple of better fish which wasn't in the plan. Frank netted a chub around a pound but Hurf was still fishless. Then we had the first few spots of rain and the wind started to get up and both were freezing cold! I was still getting odd fish and finished the first hour with 19 fish and thought I must have 2lb or so and hoped some of those better roach and perch would put in an appearance sooner rather than later.

The rain and wind was hitting me straight in the chops and although my Polar Buff was keeping my neck warm it's times like this that wearing glasses is a right pain in the bum. The wind was playing havoc with presentation and blowing the pole all over the place, Hurf still hadn't had a bite and came for a wander and he said he didn't think he'd be here much longer as he'd been feeling rough and he was really cold, Frank was also looking a bit moist and contemplating an early bath. He went down to see how Justin was getting on and just as he left I hooked what felt like a better fish and it turned out to be a 12oz roach - lovely! or it would have been if the hook hadn't pulled out at the net!

Steve came back and reported that Justin was bagging up on the stick and the pole with big roach and chub on caster although a pike was giving him problems and he'd already lost some good fish to it, he also said Paul was catching small roach one a bung on the whip. He went back to give it another go but said he'd probably be packing up soon. I kept trying caster but was having to wait too long for bites, I did hook what felt like a better fish only for a pike to grab it and I spent five minutes playing it before it came off but thankfully I hadn't lost my hook. I was now frozen and had put my gloves on and every other item of clothing I had with me and it was all soaked, this wasn't much fun.

After Mr Pike showed his teeth the swim went quiet and I could only get the odd 1-2oz roach, both Hurf and Frank packed up and were headed off to the warm and dry with half the match gone. After they'd gone I started catching really well and had a succession of roach including the odd netter although I was bumping the odd fish too. I've then struck into a bite and was met with solid resistance as a fair bit of blue hydro streamed out of the pole tip, the way it was fighting I just knew it was a perch and a beautiful stripy around 2lb slipped over the rim of the landing net, this was more like it! More roach followed and then I've struck into a fish and something gave way, I thought the rig had snapped but no, my elastic had!, to be fair it had been in there a while, I got off my box and managed to hook the line with the pole tip and ship back very gently, I got the rig back and the 8oz roach that was attached to it. I then had to faff about sorting another top kit out and it took a while before I was fishing again.

All the commotion hadn't helped things and bites slowed right up, with an hour and a half left I thought I had 8-10lb but I needed my catch rate to improve. By now I'd put my glasses away as I couldn't see through them anymore, I'd also given up trying to keep my hood up and was soaked through. I also managed to hook the back of my hood in a place I just couldn't reach and ended up having to take my coat off in the driving rain to remove it and I ended up even wetter (if that was possible!). I had hoped that when the light started fading the bigger roach might switch on but it didn't really happen, I did have a pike take another decent fish but only added a few more roach and also had two ruffe (the first I've caught in years) and some tiny gudgeon. I finished with 76 fish which I hoped would be around 10-12lb but I wasn't sure that would be anywhere near good enough today.

I packed up and went back to the car to collect the scales and as I walked back to weigh Paul in, the rain pretty much stopped and the wind died down - typical. Paul had done even better than the last time he had the peg when he had a load of roach and a couple of decent perch for 24lb 1oz, a lovely net of fish. Justin pulled his net out and it looked like it was going to be close, he didn't have as many fish but he had some real quality including several chub, some nice perch and some clonking roach. After two weighs his total was 25lb 5oz to go into the lead and he was on a golden peg too. My fish went 11lb 7oz which I was a little disappointed with, out of interest I weighed the perch which went 2lb exactly, a lovely fish. As we finished packing up Rob and Ashley arrived at the bridge, I asked how they'd got on and Rob had a cracking day catching 18lb 12oz of mainly roach and Ash had 12lb 7oz which meant I'd finished fifth in my seven peg section with double figures! Realistically I knew any chance of a league placing had gone unless Fieldy had blown right out as well.
A very wet looking Paul Homewood with part of his second placed 24lb 1oz net of mainly roach
Justin had some real quality fish in his winning 25lb 5oz
I had a lovely 2lb perch in my 11lb 7oz
Back at the results and Fieldy hadn't blown out, in fact he'd won the other section with an excellent 14lb 14oz of roach and chub so that was that for me then. Baz had caught a 'heroic' (his words) three chub for 8lb 15oz from peg 114 and Neil Dring had 8lb 13oz from peg 123 and with Bruce weighing 6lb 1oz from 126, Heardy's 2lb 2oz from 125 gave him five points on the day. After totting up the points, Fieldy had snatched victory in the league with 13 points, Rob also overtook Martin to finish in second place with 14 points and Heardy had to settle for third with 15. As for me, I ended up in fourth (and no cigar) with 16 points and needed to beat Ash today to tie with Martin on points and pip him on weight, oh well, there's always next year!

So Hambridge had fished really well again but when it's clear it does seem to be that the further away from the bridge you go, the lower the weights are. When there's some colour on it those fish do seem to spread out a bit more.

1 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 25lb 5oz
2 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 24lb 1oz
3 - Robin Cox (Ilminster) - 18lb 12oz

A - Graham Field (Taunton) - 14lb 14oz
B - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 12lb 9oz

Final League Positions
1 - Graham Field - 13 points
2 - Robin Cox - 14 points
3 - Martin Heard - 15 points

The club would like to say a massive thanks to V.E.S. Precision for their continued support and sponsorship, it really is appreciated and thanks again to Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak, Ilminster for putting up with us and also to Robin Cox for organising another great league.

Next up - The Pairs Open on the Isle and Dillington

What's new - Loads of page updates

Check Out - My Ringers Pellet Bander and Polar Buff reviews (below)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ringers Floating Pellet Bander Review

I do quite a few reviews on the blog now and it's something I really enjoy doing, I don't profess to be an expert or an authority on fishing tackle but I am an angler and as such I strive to give an honest review every time I'm sent something or I buy a piece of kit that there's been a lot of hype about. That was certainly the case with the Ringers Pellet Pump (my review can be found here - Ringers Pellet Pump Review ) and so far, of the 561 posts I've published since 2006, it's had the most hits with 2310 and counting. Well I wrote that review almost two years ago and I'm happy to report that the pellet pump is still going strong and I'm as impressed with it now as I was then.

I tweeted Phil Ringer to say my review of the pellet pump is my most popular post yet and he replied saying he'd have a new toy for me to review soon and went on to reveal the new Ringers Floating Pellet Bander would be hitting the shops soon. Within a week a little parcel was popped through the letterbox and it had arrived.
It was nicely packaged and very bright!
The bander was packaged nicely with the now familiar gold writing on a black background and in the middle of the backing card was a St George's Cross and beneath it 'Manufactured in England' which is great to see. On the back was a list of the features the bander incorporates,
  • Spring loaded reset
  • Can be used for 4mm to 14mm pellets
  • Ultra smooth action
  • High visibility
  • 'And it floats!' 
The bander was certainly very visible as it was luminous yellow with black prongs, if you drop it you are going to be able to find it and if you drop it in the lake, no problem as it says it floats. I'm just off to check this now..........
Confirmation it floats
Yep it floats, which is good to see as several of the plastic items we use on a regular basis don't, a slamo disgorger springs to mind, it cost me £6 or something ridiculous and on it's first outing it disappeared into the depths of a very deep Gloucester canal! Pellet banders are one of those small bits of kit that are essential and I'd class them alongside disgorgers, plummets, loop tyers and hook tyers, items that you don't realise how important they are until you lose one! The difference with a pellet bander though is that there are a few moving parts and as such, the potential for them to break.

Early impressions with the Ringers bander are good, the action is very smooth and the spring loaded reset works very well, the prongs are also stepped for the bait band to sit on and this is a nice touch which just shows the thought that's gone into this product. The last bander I owned had several metal parts and although it meant it felt sturdy it also ensured it sank like a stone but that wasn't the reason for it's demise, as with so many of the early banders there was a band to keep the prongs in place but these would perish and although not the end of the world it was a bit of a pain in the bum. Also the action got a little stiff and I managed to bend the metal prongs when I caught them in the drawer of my seat box which all contributed to it being binned.
Another fantastic bit of kit from Ringers
So all good so far but it hasn't really been used in anger yet and as I don't really start using banded pellets until it warms up a bit, I won't know how it withstands the rigours of intensive use until it's been through a few matches with me. As with all my reviews I will endeavour to update it once I've used the bander for a few months. If I have one reservation, it's that the bander is made of plastic and although it looks a sturdy bit of kit, I fear it would lose the battle if it came up against a clumsily placed Skee-Tex boot (other brands of boot wear are available!) but again only time will tell.

The Ringers Floating Pellet Bander retails at around £5.99 and just like the pellet pump you know these will be flying off the tackle shop shelves and will be a common site on anglers side trays up and down the country. The thing with Ringers products is that they are designed by top, top anglers and actually used by them, they're not just endorsing various items of tackle, they are being made to their exacting standards.

So that's two Ringers products I've reviewed (the pellet pump and the pellet bander) and two big thumbs up from me, I will try and get my hands on the baiting needle range over the coming months to complete the set.

*Ringers sent me this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Polar Buff Review

One of the unexpected and most welcome perks of writing this blog is that from time to time I'm contacted by various companies asking if I'll review their products. I've been sent allsorts including groundbait, a water bottle, waterproof jacket, pole floats, a photo canvas and been asked to review several fishing apps and I've really enjoyed doing it. These reviews have proved to be very popular and I strive to be as honest and thorough as I can be. It's always very exciting when an e-mail arrives in my in-box from one of these companies and the latest one was from

Basically they were asking if I would feature their website on my blog as their new anglers collection would fit in with my readership, the e-mail went on to say that they would like me to review one of their Buff's and would be happy to send me a Polar Buff which would be handy with the freezing weather we are currently experiencing. I must admit I was intrigued, I have come across Buff's before, the legend that is Terry Eustace is a big fan and wears them in hotter climes, our paths have crossed several times at the wonderful Gillhams Resort in Thailand and he even lent me one which was brilliant at keeping the sweat out of my eyes but would one be any use on a freezing cold riverbank somewhere in deepest, darkest Somerset?

Job number one was to have a look at their website and the first thing I noticed was that the Buff originated in Spain and it looks like Kitshack are the main Buff distributors in the UK. Secondly the range of Buff's is huge and there are loads of different designs to choose from. As they had offered to send me a Polar Buff from the new anglers collection, it made sense to check out that section of the website first. When I clicked on the link I wasn't too sure what to expect but I wasn't expecting the large range of products I was faced with (see list),
  • UV Insect Shield Buff
  • High UV Protection Buff
  • Wool Buff
  • Neckwarmer Buff
  • Polar Buff
  • Polar Buff Reversible
  • Hood Buff
  • Cyclone Buff
  • Angler II Gloves
  • Fighting Work II Gloves
  • Water Gloves
  • MSX Gloves
Phew! and that's just the anglers collection. Then each type of Buff has several types of design, for example the High UV Protection Buff has 35 different designs! These include some amazing fishy patterns like Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Barracuda, Bonefish and Dorado. You can probably tell from the names that the anglers collection is aimed primarily at the Big Game/American market although there are Carp and Northern Pike designs.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna design
So after looking at all these striking patterns I was left a little deflated when I clicked on the link for the Polar Buff and there were just two to choose from! Both were Mossy Oak designs, the kind of camouflage favoured by hunters in the states. The product description for the Polar Buff is as follows 'The simple addition of a section of Classic Polartec® fleece to Original BUFF® makes this the ultimate in winter headgear. With both the microfibre and the fleece section printed  with a Mossy Oak®  design you’re sure to keep warm and blend in with your surroundings.'

MO Break Up Infinity/Alabaster Mossy Oak
A day or so later they e-mailed me again to say the Polar Buff had been dispatched and they also included a little video demo which shows you how many different ways you can wear the Buff. The clip is below and I must admit it was a revelation, with my limited knowledge of the product I had assumed it was basically a type of neck scarf that could also be worn bandana/Foreign Legion style with a flap to protect the neck from the sun. Yes the Buff can be used like this but it can do so much more, take a look at the demo and I'm sure you'll be as impressed as I was, what an innovative product!

It arrived on the Saturday, just in time for me to wear fishing the following day and as it had been really cold with a frost most mornings, it should be the ideal conditions to try out the Polar Buff.
The design on my Buff was the Mossy Oak Break Up Infinity
I had a play around with it and I have to admit Henry (in the demo above) made it look easy, my results weren't quite so good (see below) but nothing a bit of practice wouldn't put right although I wouldn't suggest walking into a bank looking like this!

I look a bit like terrorist but you can clearly see how the fleece section on the bottom of the Buff keeps the neck warm
I wore it on the Sunday and actually finished fourth in the match with 13lb of chub but I'm not sure I can attribute that to the Buff! I just wore it around my neck and it did the job, keeping any chills out and I also loved the fact that when it started to get darker and all those annoying little flies and midges, that seem intent on trying to get you to swallow them, came out, you can just pull the Buff up over your mouth to counteract them. I'm just so impressed with my Buff, what a simple idea (the best ones always are), you can just stuff it in your coat pocket as it doesn't take up much space so you've always got it with you.
The Polar Buff catches you chub! (although I'll try to ensure the label isn't sticking out next time!)
To be honest for what I'm going to use it for, the Neckwarmer Buff or Wool Buff would probably be more suited to the job but then I also really like the Polar Buff Reversible and an Original Buff will be ideal for the next time I go to Gillhams in Thailand but what design to get? (there are 211 to choose from!), decisions, decisions, decisions. Maybe they could do a perch or tench design for the UK angling market!

I do urge you to have a look at their website Kitshack, I've spent ages looking through some of the really cool designs, check out the Star Wars Darth Vader! Prices for the Original Buff are £15 or £16 depending on the design, the Neckwarmer Buffs are £15 or £18, the Wool Buffs are £25, Polar Buffs are £26 and the Polar Buff Reversible are £26 or £27. They also do a range of gloves, some of which might be ideal for winter fishing but I'll have to get some and let you know. Free delivery is available for all UK orders plus the Rest of the World on orders over £25.

Whilst looking around their website I came across the Care Instructions section which made me chuckle, 'Your Buff headwear is made of pretty strong stuff, in fact it might possibly out last you. However, if you notice a strange aroma after a few months of use, all you need do is either wash by hand using any form of detergent or machine wash at any temperature and it will not stretch, shrink or run as Buff headwear is completely colourfast. When it comes to drying all you need do is run down the street with your Buff trailing behind and after a good hour on the run it should be dry or just hang it on the line because it will dry in minutes.'

I can't express enough how impressed I am with the product and the company (and I'm not just saying it because they sent me a free Buff!), they do a lot for charity and focus on supporting loads of the sports and activities through grassroots sponsorship. Have a look at their charity page.

Finally I will leave you with a little factoid, Buff is derived from the word 'bufanda', which means 'scarf' in Spanish.

*Kitshack sent me this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Monday, February 09, 2015

River Isle - Open - 8th February 2015

With the river producing some cracking nets of roach and chub, a few new faces had booked into the open, the trouble was we'd had a week of bitterly cold frosts and with the river really low and clear, it could be hard going for some. Rob walked miles on the Saturday looking at the river to try and make sure he could give everybody the best possible chance of catching fish. We had another frost overnight and I must admit I was fearing the worst. I got to the pub and along with the regulars, it was fantastic to see Scott and Roger Russell, Jamie Parkhouse and Paul Homewood had turned up, hopefully they'd catch some fish and we might see them again.

Rob had put six pegs in at Hambridge and we haven't used this stretch for a few years so nobody was really sure how it would fish and to be honest I felt it was a bit of a gamble, although the first two swims above the bridge had been good the last time we fished it. After a coffee and a bacon sarnie it was time to draw and everybody was hoping they'd pick out peg 109, I also quite fancied 112 or 125 but after I stuck my hand into Rob's hat I managed to pull out peg H3 at Hambridge which I thought would put me on the first peg above the bridge where I finished second the last time I'd fished it so I was quite pleased with my draw. It turns out I was actually the third peg above the bridge which was a bit of an unknown quantity. Justin was the lucky angler to draw 109 and we all thought we'd be fishing for second place, Jamie P was on 125, Scott had pulled out 123 which isn't my favourite peg but has been good for 6-7lb and I felt a bit sorry for Roger as he was on peg 124 which hasn't been great, he did have the choice of 124a but nobody has fished that peg much recently.

Meanwhile down at Hambridge Paul Homewood was on H1 (where I thought I was) and Andy Welch was on H2, Baz was on the peg below the bridge with Neil Dring in H5 and Heardy in H6, the last time these pegs had been in they'd only thrown up odd chub. I parked up and walked across the field to my peg and found my swim which was just above a bend, it looked like I'd be able to get down near the water but what I thought was solid bank was actually very soft mud and I sank down past my ankles which wouldn't have been a problem apart from the fact I still only had my shoes on! I pulled myself out of the glutinous mud and got the rest of my kit out of the car and put my wellies on. I moved my box slightly upstream which was still boggy but I managed to get reasonably comfy although my box legs sunk into the mud fully extended and my fishing station had an alarming tilt to it and I hoped it wouldn't lean forward any further and deposit me in the river!

H3 my peg for the day, it looked like the Battle of the Somme by the end of the match!
I had intended to put some groundbait in at the start but after plumbing up it was a bit shallower than I would have liked so didn't bother mixing any up. I set up two rigs, a 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 Kamasan B611 for the deepest part of the peg in the main flow, I also set up a 1 gram bodied float with the same hook and hooklength to fish further across where it was slightly shallower. Andy shouted the all in and I started with the heavier rig down the middle with double red maggot at about 8.5 metres. As I was expecting roach, the first few minutes normally determine what sort of day you're going to have, if you catch straight away then there are fish about and you could be in for a good day, no indications and a hard day is on the cards. After 15 minutes and no bites, the writing was on the wall, I finally had a couple of knocks holding back in the flow at 10 metres down the peg but still no fish!

I finally connected with a fish after half an hour when the strike resulted in a minnow flying out of the water before dropping off and I was still blanking! After an hour I've managed to get my first fish in the net, a small roach, I had another and then a gudgeon but was going nowhere fast. There was also a sunken branch or something slap bang in the middle of the peg and I hooked it a few times and lost a hooklength. I tried the shallower rig and added a few more small roach, tiny gudgeon and a mini dace but I hadn't got a pound yet and we were halfway through the match. I saw Heardy walk up from below the bridge and walk across to see Andy so I thought I'd go for a wander and see how they were getting on.

Martin said he was struggling and only had a couple of small fish and Neil was in the same boat, Baz, Paul and Andy on the other hand were all sacking right up! As we knelt behind Andy, he had several nice roach on the stick float and had also landed a couple of nice chub and a 12oz perch, I could see Paul swinging in loads of roach on the whip and there were obviously loads of fish in the swims either side of the bridge. You could probably put another two or three pegs in and they would all catch which is something to bear in mind for the future. It did cross my mind that if those three framed it probably wouldn't take much to win the section by default, especially as Heardy had already packed up!

So after finishing my coffee and with two hours left I wandered back to see if I could find a few more fish. I slipped two red maggots on and shipped out to 10 metres where I had been fishing before and held back in the flow, as Heardy walked back down to see Paul, the float buried and I struck expecting another tiny roach or gudgeon to fly out the water but what actually happened was the elastic streamed out of the pole and a decent fish was on! I shipped back and played the fish with kid gloves only for it to go through that poxy snag in the middle of the river and was stuck solid. I really thought the fish had gone but I gave it as much welly as I dared and eventually something moved, I flung the pole back and bullied the fish using the pulla bung and slipped the net under a chub around the pound mark - bonus!

Next chuck the float barely settled before away it went and this time I was ready, I quickly swung the pole round so it was parallel with my bank to keep the fish away from that snag and chucked the pole back, this one was better at about 2lb and both fish had been full of casters. Next chuck I had another around the same size and the swim was now solid, I had six one after another for about 10lb and all of a sudden thoughts of a section win were replaced with me thinking I could actually win the match. Typically it then slowed up and my next fish was a 6oz roach which was still very welcome but to stand any chance I needed a few more chub. I had a smaller roach which was followed in by a jack pike and then a big pike swirled for a better roach and all of a sudden the swim was alive with fish.

A few more roach followed before I hooked a big fish which shot upstream and I thought I had it under control when it snagged me, I stuck sections back on and changed the angle of pressure and eventually it came out and was my best chub yet at around 3lb. I thought I now had 12-13lb but felt I needed another to stand any chance of beating the other three. I didn't get it although I did catch a couple more nice roach including one right on the whistle. Jamie P had turned up and was sat with Paul for the last hour, he'd struggled in 125 and said you could see every stone in the peg, he reported that it had been a struggle for most at Isle Brewers. I packed up and took my mud encrusted kit back to the car before walking back with Andy to start the weigh in at Paul. He'd had a lovely day catching mainly roach around 1-3oz and had only used his landing net twice, after two weighs, his total came to 20lb 13oz, what a cracking net of fish.
Paul with the second weigh of his 20lb 13oz
We then walked up to Andy and when he pulled his net out he'd had a lovely day too, he had some real quality with several chub to around 1.5lb, three 12oz perch plus a load of roach, his net went 16lb 11oz. Then we got to me and my seven chub plus a few roach went a level 13lb and the way the weights were going I might not even win the section!

Andy had a lovely mixed bag for 16lb 11oz
I had seven chub and a few roach for 13lb
I loaded the car and as I drove back over the river, Baz was just loading his van, I stopped to ask how he'd got on, Paul said Baz was admitting to 20lb so I thought he might have a similar weight  to him so I was amazed when he said he'd weighed 29lb 6oz and he was only 33% out with his estimate this week! All joking aside, what a fantastic net of fish, he said he'd had a few chub to a pound plus but he'd caught mainly roach with one beauty around 1.5lb. That's the second time he's had 29lb on the Isle and he doesn't fish if very often! Neil had found a few roach late on to weigh 2lb 5oz but had lost a big chub which would have boosted his weight. So I was lying in fourth place (out of six pegs) and Rob was paying four today but I fully expected Justin in 109 to beat my weight as well.

Back at the results and Justin hadn't caught in 109 which just goes to prove the same pegs won't do it week in week out and I hung on to fourth spot and picked up £20. Hurf had a fantastic day in Barney's Bend catching 12lb 4oz to win the section and christen his new pole in style, as far as the side bet was concerned it was a case of 'close but no cigar' as he handed over another nugget. Jake Woodard won the other section with four chub for 7lb 8oz from peg 112 and lost a further five which could have seen him challenging for a top three place. Elsewhere Scotty had 5lb 10oz from peg 123 which seems to be par for the peg, Roger struggled in 124 as did Rob in 128 and Fieldy in 129, where have all those roach gone? down in Baz's peg I reckon!
Hurf had 12lb 4oz (thanks to Rob for the photo)
Jake had four chub for 7lb 8oz (thanks for the photo)
1 - Baz Morgan (Baz Angling) - 29lb 6oz
2 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 20lb 13oz
3 - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 16lb 11oz
4 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish/Burt Baits) - 13lb

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 7lb 8oz
B - Steve Hurford (Ilminster) - 12lb 4oz

So some amazing weights today and it's great that a new stretch has produced them although I'm realistic enough not to carried away as those fish are only in certain pegs. As I said in my last blog, we need to try different areas but the trouble is not every new peg or stretch we put in will produce and winter river fishing can be very unpredictable but then the same applies to commercials too. The club has a lot of water and Rob does an amazing job walking the river as it takes up a lot of his time. I do think it's important to keep trying different sections though as we can't keep hammering the same pegs every week.

Next up - River Isle

What's new - Loads of page updates

Check Out - My latest review coming very soon

And for info Ilminster AA's AGM is at the Royal Oak on 27th Feb at 7:30

Sunday, February 01, 2015

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 8 - 1st February 2015

The weather got colder during the week and we even had a light dusting of snow on Thursday and with some strong winds forecast for today it was looking like we were in for a chilly one! Rob couldn't fish today so it was left to us to sort out, some anglers wanted it on the pond, some wanted to fish the canal and others wanted to try some different sections on the river, who would want to be a match secretary? After much debate we eventually decided on fishing the same pegs on the river we always fish! In a bid to give everybody a chance of a nice days fishing, we gave people the choice of several pegs and the only one I didn't fancy was 123 and of course I drew it, I did have the choice of 124, 124a or 125 as well but I didn't fancy them much either!

Baz drew the peg I had last week, proving he draws better than Picasso and Justin had 112 where Jake had caught six chub last week. Fieldy had Barney's Bend (126) and Steve Parker had 128 with the choice of 129 or 133. Talking of Baz, he brought on some float samples for us all to try, cheers mate, a nice touch. I got to the river and was going to fish peg 123 as it's done 6-7lb in the last couple of matches, it wouldn't be enough to win today but it's still a nice days fishing. I stopped to have a look at 125 and it looked gorgeous, although a shallow peg I couldn't see the bottom and I really fancied it. Also a hedge to my left would shelter me from the worst of the wind and there was nice cut out for my box so at least I would be comfortable even if I didn't catch much!

It's normally a waggler peg but as I didn't have any rods or reels with me, that was out the window, I set up a one gram bodied float with 0.12mm bottom and size 18 B611 and plumbed up and it was pretty much as expected with between 1.5 and 2 feet all the way across. I decided to start at 8.5 metres to see if I could catch fairly short to start with and I could always add more sections to search further across or down the peg. After a quick coffee it was time to start so I slipped on a caster and shipped out before feeding some casters upstream to my right and some hemp straight out in front. After running the float through a couple of times, it buried as I was holding back and a pleasing amount of blue hydro streamed out of the pole tip on the strike before I netted a 6oz roach to open my account.

It was then a bite a chuck and I was catching at the top of the peg, as I inched the float through and as I held back in the flow at 8.5 metres to my left, everywhere in fact! and at this early stage it felt like there were a lot of fish in the peg. I was catching roach, dace and chublets and had 10 fish in the first 15 minutes, the first hour was really good and I ended up with 21 fish for probably around 3lb and much like last week I felt sure it had to slow up at some point. The second hour was slower and I only had another 10 fish and a few gudgeon which I didn't count, I also had a bit of a nightmare where I've bumped several good roach in the flow and missed some really good bites.

I tried double red maggot and had a stonking roach followed by a good dace before I started catching some tiny gudgeon so went back to caster. Hour three was slightly better and I added another 13 fish to put me on 44 fish with two and a half hours to go. By my reckoning the fish I was catching today were averaging 2oz apiece so 80 would give me around 10lb but with some great pegs in today, that might not be enough to get in the money. Justin wandered down from Redbridge and looked very cold, he said he hadn't had a bite yet but Baz was getting odd fish although it was very exposed up there and the wind was hideous. While he was with me I had a few fish on double maggot but lost a good roach and I was starting to feel all these lost/bumped roach could come back to haunt me.

Every time bites slowed I added the 10 metre section which would result in a couple of fish quite quickly before they backed off again, I held off on adding another section as I didn't want to push the fish beyond pole reach and was wishing I'd popped home after the draw to get my waggler rod but then again I thought I was going to be fishing peg 123. Steve Parker came up from peg 128 and he'd had a nightmare with the wind and problems with his shoulder and was off for an early bath, as a parting gift he left me with the scales and the pools money, cheers mate! I was still catching in spells and had a run of roach on double maggot while Steve was with me but also pulled out of another decent fish.

I'd reached 64 fish with about 45 minutes to go but the swim was fading fast so stuck the 11.5 metre section on to chase the fish down the peg and had a couple of net roach straight away but the action was short lived and I only added a few more fish up until the end of the match. My final tally was 71 roach, dace and chublets plus around a dozen gobies, bizarrely I never had a minnow all day! I hoped I had double figures but as we were only paying two today I needed to beat Fieldy to stand any chance of a pick up as I was pretty sure Baz would do enough to win from his peg.

I packed up and as I loaded my kit into the car, Fieldy arrived with his gear and said he'd struggled but I've heard him say that before so wouldn't be counting any chickens yet. He pulled his net out and he wasn't lying for once and had a lot of gudgeon for a level 2lb. Then it was my turn and my fish pulled the needle round to 11lb 14oz and it should have been more as I'd probably bumped/lost 4lb of fish, saying that I reckon I'd have caught a lot more if I'd have fished the waggler, still I'd had another cracking days fishing.
I had 11lb 14oz but it should have been more
I drove up to Redbridge to weigh the others in and as I arrived Baz was by his van, he asked what I'd weighed and when I told him he said it would be close and I knew then that he'd beaten me. He'd had a frustrating day with the wind and the icing on the cake was when a black Labrador started eating his groundbait before running off with a bag of casters and his pole roller bag! He said Justin had caught three big chub when he got back from his walk and when he pulled his net out, they were good fish and I was relieved when the scales read 10lb 8oz, then it was Baz's turn and as expected he'd done enough to win with a nice net of roach for 14lb 8oz. I picked up £25 for second place plus a pound off Steve but I haven't had that yet.
Justin had three big chub for 10lb 8oz
Baz had a lovely net of roach to win with 14lb 8oz
I felt a bit sorry for Justin as normally on the river if you weigh double figures, you're in the money but on the plus side it's great too see the river fishing well, especially when I see on social media that people are struggling on commercials with only a few pounds needed to win the silvers pool and some really good anglers are blanking. I'm not knocking it because I love fishing for silvers on commercials in the warmer months but I do like a bit of variety in my fishing and I think you have to go a long way to beat a double figure net of pristine red finned roach from a river. I do think there's a lot of untapped potential on the Isle but people are loathed to put in new swims in case anglers struggle and I totally understand that but maybe the way forward is to give people the choice of two or three swims, almost a rover. It's like my peg today, it's done nothing the few times it's been pegged and if I'm honest I was going to fish 123 today and if it hadn't been for the weather I would have done.

There are two or three other swims at Redbridge that look like they could produce and I reckon are well worth putting in, take the gas pipe swim, it hasn't been fished in a match for ages and then does two almost identical weights but Jake had six chub whereas Justin only had three so how many chub are in the swim? The wires swim looks good as does the swim just below the bridge and I think 110 would do a weight too. Well it's the open next week and it would be great to see some new faces but I won't hold my breath.

1 - Baz Morgan (Baz Angling) - 14lb 8oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish/Burt Baits) - 11lb 14oz

With one match to go in this league Robin Cox leads with 10 points after dropping his worst result followed by Justin with 13.

Next up - Ilminster AA Open on the River Isle (now where did I put that waggler rod!)

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Check Out - My last match (below)