Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Yearly Review

As the year draws to a close, here's my look back over the previous twelve months,

January 2016

 To kick off the New Year, we visited a new venue, Hebditch's Pond and the weather was hideous with strong winds and driving rain. I tried to catch short and it just didn't happen, after two hours I was the only person still blanking! I plumbed up a new line at ten metres and caught well for the second half of the match, finishing with 12 carp for 31lb 15oz and nowhere as 51lb was last in the money. Fieldy caught all day to win comfortably with 80lb 6oz from peg 4.

After more torrential rain we were back at Dillington for round five of the V.E.S. Precision League and I drew peg 18 again, I've had a lovely day catching some quality roach and rudd to weigh 11lb 6oz and record my first win of the year.

We actually managed to get back on the river for my third match of the year, I drew 129 again which I was happy enough with. It was slow going for the first half of the match though but then after four hours I've had two big chub in two chucks before catching a few roach for 11lb 4oz which was enough for third on the day. Rob Cox won from 128 with a lovely bag of chub and roach weighing 26lb 10oz.

For the penultimate V.E.S. Precision match we were back on the pond and I was fairly happy with peg 4 but despite catching all day I just couldn't catch any quality and ended up with 102 fish for 8lb 8oz and a section win. Tackleuk's Ashley Tomkins won on the day with 12lb 2oz, just ahead of Bruce Hunt with 12lb.

We were back on the pond for the final match of the month and I drew peg 10 with the wind in my face and struggled all day for 3lb 14oz, I just couldn't get bites and it was definitely a day to forget. Ashley won his second match on the trot with 13lb 6oz from peg 17, Scott was second with 10lb 8oz from peg 8 and Fieldy was third with 9lb 1oz.

Highlights - A lovely day at Dillington and my first win of the year.
Lowlights - Struggling for bites in peg 10

February 2016

Yet more rain meant the pond was our destination for the open match and despite the pond being chocolate coloured I still expected it to fish well. I couldn't have been more wrong, I had three bites in the first hour, then nothing for four hours before catching four fish in the last half an hour. My five fish weighed 1lb 5oz which was enough for third place! Gordon Aplin won with 1lb 15oz and Bruce Hunt was second with 1lb 7oz.

The second match of the month was back on the pond, I drew peg 14 on the bottom bank and had a fantastic days fishing catching quality roach, rudd, perch and a bonus 4lb 2oz bream for 19lb 12oz and my second win of the year. I did lose a good bream which was the only downside to the day. Graham Field won the Royal Oak League.
A lovely days fishing at Dillington which included this nice bream
For the last match of the V.E.S. Precision league we were back on the river and I got just the start I wanted when I pulled H1 at Hambridge out of the hat, the wind was horrendous and when I weighed 7lb 8oz I thought I'd 'blown' (if you'll excuse the pun!) my chances of second in the league as I needed to beat Heardy who was on peg 129. He'd struggled too and his 6lb 2oz meant I'd won the section by double default and finished second in the league picking up £75 in total, which was a nice. Baz Morgan won on the day with 12lb 9oz which included a big chub and a lovely 2lb perch.

Barney's Pairs Open was the last match of the month and I drew a flier at Harrys pond (peg 4) but didn't draw so well for my partner Justin (peg 10). I've caught well all day to finish with 47 carp for 69lb 4oz to win the section and lake, Ash and Alex Murray won with a perfect two point score followed by Martin and Bruce with three points, there was then a five way tie on six points but we got the verdict thanks to a superior weight advantage and picked up £35 each and I also won the £55 superpool so a very nice day.
Part of my 69lb 4oz winning catch at Harry's pond
Highlights - Winning two matches
Lowlights - Losing that bream!

March 2016

I then headed out to Thailand for four days fishing at Exotic Fishing Thailand before going to Ao Nang for five days of relaxing and partying! EFT was lovely and I had 17 fish of 9 different species including several new species and personal bests. The highlights were a Tiger Shovelnose catfish, a Chao Phraya catfish and a Salween Rita catfish along with a 120lb arapaima on the last night with five minutes to go.
55lb Chao Phraya catfish
Tiger Shovelnose catfish
After the highs of Thailand it was back on the river and down to Earth with a resounding bump with a blank! Bruce Hunt only needed 4lb 2oz for an easy win over Steve Hurford who was second with just 9oz!

A busy weekend followed with a trip to The Big One on Saturday which was great and then my first match at Summerhayes for a long while, I drew peg 38 and feared the worst but on what turned out to be a tough day, my 5lb 15oz of skimmers was enough for second in the silvers.

A rare mid week match and I was back at Summerhayes, after getting stuck in traffic I was running late so Pete drew for me and pulled out number 18, a great silvers peg and next door to where Adie won on Sunday. I had a lovely day catching skimmers and crucian carp to weigh 15lb 10oz for my first silvers win of the year.

I was back at Harry's Pond for the next match and caught carp steadily all day to win my fourth match of the year with 61 carp for 94lb 9oz. My last match of the month was at Summerhayes on Longs on the Bank Holiday Monday, the weather was awful again but I managed 9lb 3oz of skimmers and tench for third in the silvers and my fourth envelope on the trot.

Highlights - Thailand and winning at Harry's
Lowlights - Blanking on the river

April 2016

It was back on Longs again and I was really looking forward to it after three decent silvers results and the weather was lovely too! I should have known better, I drew peg 10 which I was fairly happy with but struggled from start to finish and weighed 4lb 15oz of silvers for nowhere. Ads Palmer won from peg 34 with over 44lb and Adie Bishop took the silvers verdict with just over 10lb.

The next match was on Longs again but this time we had to contend with strong winds again, I drew peg 3 which isn't a great silvers peg and struggled for 3lb 11oz of silvers and 15lb 13oz of carp for nowhere. Steve Kedge had the top weight with 75lb 1oz of carp on meat from peg 35 and Ray Wickham won the silvers with 15lb 4oz of skimmers from peg 12.

Longs again the following week but peg 8 wasn't the result I hoped for when I stuck my hand in the bucket, I had a good first half of the match, catching some nice crucians and skimmers but struggled in the second half and my 8lb 14oz got me nowhere with Glynn winning the silvers off the same peg his Dad did the week before. Steve Kedge once again proved his class with another victory, this time with 66lb 11oz from peg 23.

My final match of the month was back at Summerhayes but this time spread over Sellicks and Lily, I drew peg 20 on Sellicks and it was also the golden peg, I didn't think I'd be able to compete with Lily but I've had a lovely days fishing catching two nice crucians, five decent skimmers plus some smaller ones for 11lb 7oz which was the top silvers weight over both lakes and I picked up £32 for the lake silvers win and £75 from the golden ball fund, a lovely day.

Highlights - Winning the silvers off the golden peg
Lowlights -
 The previous three matches!

May 2016

The first match of the month was back on Sellicks and Lily again and I drew the same peg as last week, peg 20 on Sellicks, it was hard going this time around but I had a nice crucian, two good skimmers plus a few bits for 4lb 13oz and first in the silvers again, this time picking up a very nice £70. The following day it was on Longs and I've drawn a decent silvers peg but struggled for 17lb of carp and 3lb 10oz of silvers for nowhere, I gave Glynn his pound back from yesterday but had £2 off Rob Kingston to compensate.

Another double header the following weekend got off to great start at Harry's pond where I fished shallow and had 48 carp for 65lb 7oz, second place and £40. Jake Woodard caught all day for a comfortable win with 97lb 12oz from peg 1. The next day we were on Sellicks and I was very happy with peg 2 but struggled all day for just 1lb 7oz of silvers and plenty of foul hooked carp!

I was really looking forward to the first match of the Summer League at Dillington but bright sunshine and 18 anglers fishing was always going to have an impact. There were still some great weights with Alvin Jones winning with 22lb 6oz of bream and skimmers and Ashley Tomkins second with 16lb 6oz of quality roach, rudd and chublets. I drew peg 24 and had 5lb 15oz for a double default section win and £20.

We were back for round two at Dillington the following week and I drew the same peg as last week, I caught well for most of the match but got 'fluffed' out in the last hour and my 9lb 8oz put me last but one in the section. Hurf won the section by double default with 9lb 13oz so it was close, the pond fished it's head off with Ashley Tomkins leading the way with 22lb 15oz of quality roach and rudd caught shallow, Jake Woodard was second with 20lb 1oz of skimmers on the feeder and Alvin Jones was third with 19lb 14oz of bream and skimmers.

My last match of the month was back at Summerhayes on Sellicks and it was hard going but two nice crucians and a few skimmers for 7lb 7oz saw me just nick the silvers verdict for a nice £80 envelope and take a pound off Glynn who was second with 7lb 2oz.

Highlights - Two silvers wins at Summerhayes
Lowlights -  Drawing peg 24 twice!

June 2016

June kicked off with round three of the Summer League at Dillington and I managed to avoid drawing peg 24 again (only because it wasn't in!) and ended up on peg 8 on the far side, I've caught all day but not enough quality to finish with 133 fish for 11lb 10oz and a section win. John Dursley won with 17lb 8oz of bream and skimmers on the feeder from peg 10.

The next match at Summerhayes was on Sellicks with a few pegs on Willow for a change, I drew peg 20 on Sellicks again and was happy with that although the silvers winner was fancied to come from Willow. That's how things panned out when Glynn Wickham had 10lb 6oz from peg 13, the overall winner also came from Willow with Paul Homewood weighing an impressive 130lb 11oz from peg 1 for a comfortable victory. I managed third in the silvers with a tench, a crucian plus a few skimmers for 6lb 7oz with Roger Russell just pipping me with 6lb 9oz.

Back at Dillington and peg 4, I had a brilliant first hour when I had a good skimmer, a lovely little tench, a hybrid, a decent rudd plus quite a few roach for probably around 4-5lb, but I spent too long trying to catch shallow and I just couldn't make it work. I ended up with 10lb 6oz to win the section. Jake Woodard won from peg 2 with a lovely net of bream and skimmers weighing 25lb 14oz from peg 2 on the feeder and Ashley Tomkins was second with 23lb of quality roach and rudd on the pole and caster.

The last match of the month was on Longs and I drew peg 38 again, I had plenty of bites, ending up with 60 fish but only had four proper skimmers and a crucian for 10lb 15oz, which was joint third in the silvers with Jeff Sparks and we had to share £16. Bob Gullick had the top weight with 126lb 14oz and Nigel Wickham topped the silvers with 16lb 10oz.

Highlights - Dillington fishing it's head off
Lowlights -  Not getting it right at Dillington!

July 2016

Then it was back to Thailand for nearly three weeks and this time I travelled about a bit, starting in Ao Nang before heading to Udon Thani and ending the trip in Chang Mai where I stayed at the lovely Teak Tree lake, I had five days fishing booked and some days to look around. I caught loads of fish including eight new species and several personal bests and Bruce and his lovely wife Noon looked after us very well and we packed loads in, hill tribes, elephants, tigers and temples, another fantastic trip to the 'Land of Smiles'.

My highlights of the trip were my first tambaqui, black shark minnow and a fantastic ripsaw right at the end of my last days fishing.
My first tambaqui
Black shark minnow
A fantastic ripsaw catfish
My first match after returning to the UK was at Dillington and I was really looking forward to it but I drew peg 4 again and although I caught all day, my 137 fish for 10lb 14oz was well off the pace behind Alvin Jones with 28lb 10oz, John Dursley with 20lb 12oz and Fieldy with 19lb.

We had a knock up on the lower end of the Isle and it fished quite well with lots of small fish and odd good chub featuring in catches, I ended up with 54 fish for 4lb 4oz and nowhere once again. Steve P had the best weight with 8lb 8oz which included a good chub.

The last match of the month saw my bad run continue at Dillington, I drew peg 22 which hasn't been great and struggled, I couldn't really catch on the deck or shallow and my 6lb 6oz was way off the pace. Graham Field won again, this time he had 447 fish (including a bream) for a fantastic 31lb.

Highlights - Thailand of course!
Lowlights - The rest of the month!

August 2016

We were back at Harrys for the first match of the month and after a poor run of results I was hoping for better things today, especially as the last junior match was won with over 100lb in just three hours. The level of the pond was well down although I still thought it would fish okay but it was a real struggle and I ended up with 15lb for nowhere and Scott Russell won with 29lb 7oz.

Dillington was the scene of my next disaster when I drew peg 24 again, I kept trying to catch chub and didn't get one, my 10lb 10oz was well off the pace with 21lb 8oz winning and 18lb 15oz needed to win my section!

The bad run continued at Summerhayes when I drew peg 7 on Longs, a great carp peg! I had 6lb 11oz of silvers and a few carp for nowhere once again.

In the last match of the month I managed to avoid peg 24 at Dillington when I drew peg 5 and I've caught all day but no quality and my 156 fish went 10lb 2oz for nowhere. Adie Bishop won with a nice bag of skimmers weighing 21lb 11oz on the feeder.

Highlights - None!
Lowlights - All of August!

September 2016

Back at Summerhayes for the Rover and I managed to pull out first choice! Was my bad run about to come to an end? No was the answer, I caught small skimmers quite well and had three nice crucians but I just couldn't catch any decent skimmers until the last hour or so. I ended up with 10lb 5oz of silvers to just miss out as 11lb 1oz was last in the money. Bill Hopping set a new match record with 242lb 15oz of carp on paste from peg 2 on Sellicks.

Next up was the final Summer League match and drawing peg 15 wasn't a great start, I tried fishing for big fish and it didn't really work, ended up catching some lovely roach close in for 10lb 8oz and nowhere once again. Fieldy won on the day with 27lb 10oz which included two nice bream and he won the league as well.

We were back at Dillington for a pairs open, I was on peg 2 with Hurf on 22, I've caught some cracking roach on caster and with five minutes to go I've landed a nice bonus chub around the 3lb mark. I weighed 17lb 11oz which was third in my section, Hurf had four points and we sneaked into third place on weight and picked up £20 each. Andy Downton had the top weight with two big bream and some quality roach for 22lb 7oz, his partner Glen Radford was second with five chub and some nice rudd and roach for 22lb 3oz and they took the title with a perfect two point score. Scott Russell and Ashley Tomkins were second in the pairs and they both had 19lb 15oz of roach.
I had 17lb 11oz which was my best weight out the pond for ages
The last match of the month was back at Summerhayes on Longs, I drew a decent silvers peg and got off to a flying start catching about 5lb of skimmers and tench in the first hour before I got carped out, I did sneak second in the silvers with 8lb 8oz for my second pick up in two weeks.

Highlights - Finally ending my bad run
Lowlights - Just missing out on my first silvers win for ages

October 2016

The first match of the month saw the start of the Royal Oak league on the Isle and I got off to a great start when I drew peg 14 which is one of my favourite swims on the river, I had a lovely day catching 114 chublets, dace, gudgeon and roach for 12lb 8oz and my first win for a while.

Justin invited me to go up and fish the Wye with him and Fred but it was quite hard going, Fred was the only one to catch with two barbel while me and Justin blanked although we did lose two each.

In the first V.E.S. Precision match, I drew peg 128 and had a nice day catching 135 fish (including a skimmer!) for 7lb 10oz to get the league off to a good start. Steve P won on the day and had a lovely days fishing with 15lb from peg 120.

Round two of the Oak league put me on 129 at Isle Brewers and to be honest I didn't fancy it but I had a fantastic days fishing catching 117 fish for 11lb 7oz and second place, I had some lovely roach and couldn't get the rig in the water fast enough near the end. Adie Bishop had the top weight with 13lb 4oz from 126 and Hurf was third with 10lb 12oz of chub from North Bradon.

The temperature dropped for the second V.E.S. match and with the river very low and clear, it was always going to be hard going for some and a good draw was essential, I pulled out peg 14 again which I was happy with but really struggled for 4lb 14oz although it was enough for third place on the day. Baz Morgan had a lovely days fishing to win with 16lb 3oz from peg 120.

The last match of the month saw us head to Harry's pond for a charity match, I drew peg 6 on the far side and caught well for the first two hours but then it was a real struggle, ended up with 24 carp for 34lb 10oz and a section win. Harry had the best weight on the day with 61lb 10oz to record his first win with the club.

Highlights - A lovely days fishing and a win on the river
Lowlights - Blanking on the Wye again!

November 2016

Cold and wintery conditions combined with a low and clear river were always going to make for a difficult match and although I was really pleased when I drew peg H4, I was blanking after four hours. I did manage a nice perch and some small roach for 1lb 2oz and last in the section. Karl Aplin did well to catch four big chub for 13lb 12oz from peg 108 which also saw him take home the golden peg fund.

Round three of the Royal Oak league saw me get my wish and draw peg 120 for the first time in ages and I've had a bite a chuck all day from dace, chublets, roach, gudgeon and two big ruffe! to finish up with 148 fish for 12lb 6oz which was only good enough for third behind Steve Parker with seven big chub for 18lb 7oz and Adie Bishop with a net of quality roach weighing 15lb 1oz.

The next match was switched to Dillington after the river was flooded out, I drew peg 6 on the far side and had bites all day including some cracking roach in the last hour to finish with 130 fish for 10lb 5oz which was enough for third place behind Adie with 11lb 2oz and Fieldy with 12lb 7oz.
I had 10lb 5oz which included some clonking roach
Round four of the Royal Oak league saw me draw peg 29 and although it looked nice and I fancied it, a single minnow wasn't the result I'd hoped for, Justin won with 13lb 3oz followed by Steve P with 11lb and Paul H with 10lb 8oz.

Highlights - Drawing peg 120
Lowlights - Drawing peg 29

December 2016

The hardest frost of the year preceded this years Xmas Fayre and a good draw would be even more essential than normal, thankfully I got one in the shape of peg 14 again. I caught odd fish all day to finish with 65 fish for 6lb 12oz which was enough to sneak into third place and I collected a nice prize of cheese, biscuits and beer plus £20 from the super pool and we all enjoyed a lovely hot meal back at the Royal Oak. Justin won again, this time with five big chub for 18lb and Hurf was second with a nice net of roach weighing 8lb from Hambridge.

Round five of the Royal Oak put me on 125 at Isle Brewers and despite being very shallow, I really fancied it and with around 4lb in the net after an hour I thought a big weight was on the cards. Then the sun came out and bites stopped, I caught odd fish for the rest of the match to finish with 7lb 10oz and a section win. Baz Morgan won the match with a brilliant 21lb 2oz of roach followed by Justin with 16lb 6oz of chub and roach from Redbridge and Rob Cox with 15lb 3oz of roach from Hambridge.

The last river match of the year saw me hang back at the draw trying to avoid 120 as it's been poor the last few matches but of course it was the last peg in the bucket, I started okay but it soon faded and I weighed 3lb 7oz for nowhere which hasn't done my league chances any favours at all. Steve P won from last weeks winning peg with 12lb 6oz of mainly roach and he took home to the golden peg money as well.

The last match of the year was a knock up at Dillington and well attended with 17 anglers, I finally managed a draw on the nearside, it took an hour to get a bite and then I caught small roach all day along with a bonus skimmer to weigh 7lb 5oz for second on the day and a nice pick up of £60 behind Scott Russell who had two big bream and some bits for 10lb 10oz.
A nice end to the year
Highlights - A nice end to the year at Dillington with a tough but rewarding match
Lowlights - Drawing peg 120


For the first six months of 2016 I had a great run of results and was on target for my best year ever. Along with wins at Dillngton and Harry's I also had some nice silvers pick ups at Summerhayes including only my third golden peg victory ever. Then I went to Thailand for the second time and had an amazing trip but on my return I never picked up a bean anywhere for two months!

During the two trips to Thailand I fished two new venues (EFT and Teak Tree) and caught loads of fish including twelve new species and numerous pbs. I wasn't as successful on home soil where I only managed one trip to the Wye with Justin and Fred and I blanked again! I did lose two fish though.

The fishing at Dillington continues to get better and better with brilliant weights of quality silver fish coming to a variety of methods and the Isle has been fishing really well despite being really low and clear for most matches, loads of small fish are showing along with some big chub in the lower sections. I still really enjoy Summerhayes although I missed fishing the Perry St league and seeing the Chard boys this year. I might try and fish a few matches at the Sedges next year and I keep meaning to fish some opens on the Tone as well.

Blog traffic has gone through the roof and after reaching 318,000 page visits after ten years, I've now passed 453,000 (that's around 135,000 hits in 12 months!), I still get some great feedback both online and on the bank and I really appreciate it. The blog is now supported by Bait-Tech and my match reports now regularly feature on their website and again I must thank Hayley for all her help and advice.

So as I say goodbye to 2016, I'm looking forward to next year where, hopefully, I'll get back over to Thailand and there's still talk of the sturgeon trip to Canada. I also want to try and fish some new venues and I really want to spend more time fishing for those pesky mullet along with some tench and pike trips and I still want to catch a flounder really badly, so much to do and not enough time!

Matches won - 5
Silvers wins - 4
Golden peg wins - 1
Winnings - £1125

Matches fished - 53
Number of pick ups - 31
Success rate - 58%

New venue pb match weights
Hebditch's Pond - 94lb 9oz

New pb's
Asian Redtail Catfish - 33lb - Exotic Fishing Thailand
Albino Pacu - 14lb - Exotic Fishing Thailand
Chao Phraya Catfish - 55lb - Exotic Fishing Thailand
Tiger Shovelnose Catfish - 25lb - Exotic Fishing Thailand
Salween Rita Catfish - 17lb - Exotic Fishing Thailand
Alligator Gar - 25lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Giant Featherback - 4lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Roho - 33lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Mrigal - 9lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Wallago Leeri - 4lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Pacu - 38lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Striped Catfish - 35lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Catla Catla - 25lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Tambaqui - 35lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Black Shark Minnow - 6lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Vundu Catfish - 38lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand
Ripsaw Catfish - 22lb - Teak Tree Lake, Thailand

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dillington Pond - 28th December 2016

With Xmas Day falling on a Sunday this year and the next scheduled match not until New Year's Day, I thought I'd put it out there to see if anybody fancied a knock up midweek. I suggested the Weds or Thurs and asked people to let me know their preference, it was a close run thing but in the end Weds just edged it although I probably could have run two matches and both would have been well attended! I was expecting maybe ten anglers, maybe twelve at the most but had to stop taking names when I got to seventeen! There were a few anglers fishing the pond for the first time and I was hoping they would have a good day.

By Monday, I was seriously bored so I actually did a bit of prep and changed my catapult elastics, made a couple of rigs up and tied some hooks. I'd also been lucky enough to win some Maver elastics in a competition they ran on Facebook over Xmas, so I thought I'd try out the lightest one first, the orange 5-8.
Thank Maver!

I woke up to a hard frost (the second one on the trot) and by the time I'd defrosted the car and loaded my kit, I was running late again (nothing new there then!). I met some of the others at the Little Chef in Ilminster for breakfast and I have to say it was very good albeit rather expensive, I might even save up and go there next Sunday!

We headed out the pond and although we were nearly the first ones there, it didn't take long before the others turned up. Everybody paid their pools and then I tried to work out which pegs to use to give everybody a chance and I have to say it's a nightmare and I don't envy match organisers at all. I really wanted to leave pegs 1 and 24 out as they are either side of a bush and can be feast or famine, also with several anglers fishing who I knew would want to fish the feeder, I had to try and leave corner pegs out or else they would be casting over each other. We ended up putting peg 1 in and I have to say I really hoped I didn't draw it, I also left out peg 10 and put in 11 and 12 which in hindsight was a mistake and I think pegs 3 or 16 would probably have been better.

The draw was announced and Steve P drew for John Dursley who was running late and he pulled out peg 9 on the far side for him, then the usual free for all began and by the time I got near the bucket there were only three balls left with Scott, Ash and me still to delve in. I hadn't heard anybody admit to peg 1 yet and I started to think it was still in the bucket of destiny. Scott went first and drew peg 6 and then Ash went in and grabbed the two pegs left before asking me to point to which one I wanted, I went for his left hand and when he opened it, number 19 was staring back at me, although it's normally reserved for Karl but as he wasn't fishing today somebody else could have a go!. I was well chuffed with that as I can't remember the last time I was on the near bank. Ash looked at the last ball which turned out to be peg 7 so the Tackleuk boys would battle it out next to each other.

Hurf had ended up with peg 1 and didn't look too happy, Paul H was on peg 2 and Jeff Sparkes was on 4 which is normally a good winter peg and as he took his kit round he said there were fish topping. At the other end of that section, Frank was on 8, then John D, Scotty Jackson was on 11 and didn't fancy it and then Jake was in 12 and to be honest he was a bit hemmed in and wouldn't be able to fish the feeder. Then in our section Nick P was on 13 with Rich S next door on 14, Steve P had 17 and Rob could use his WiFi password again in 18. Young Stuart was next to me with Bill 'The Paste King' Hopping on peg 21 and last but not least, Dean, who was fishing his first match with us, was on 22.
The view from peg 19
Looking up towards the pump house
After getting my box level, the first job was to mix my groundbait up and as always I had Bait-Tech Pro Natural Dark, which is all I use now out the pond, a brilliant roach groundbait. It was a cold frosty morning and with the pond flat calm, it could be hard going today although I still thought double figures would be needed to do well. I set up a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach float for 10 metres, a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti for 11.5 metres, both on the deck and a little Preston Chianti for fishing shallow (not used). On the side tray I had maggots, pinkies, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp.

On the whistle I cupped in two balls of groundbait at 10 metres and started with double pinkie on the hook, I was hoping to catch quite quickly but the float just sat there and I started to think it might be a bit of a wait before we started getting bites. I could see Jeff, Scott and Ash on the far side were getting the odd small fish and thought it would just be a matter of time before we started catching. After 45 minutes, I still hadn't had an indication of any kind and I hadn't seen anybody on our side catch.
The first hour was pretty uneventful (apart from Stuart falling off his box!)
There were still quite a few small fish topping and when I saw Rob catch a roach on the feeder, I felt I needed to try something else, so picked up the rig for the 11.5 metre line and went out with a single pinkie on the hook, I was just about to feed a few casters when, to my amazement, the rig settled and sailed away, a few inches of my new Maver orange elastic emerged on the strike and I swung in a small roach to get me off the mark. Two more in two chucks followed before there was an almighty commotion from the next peg as Stuart fell off his box! Luckily he hadn't gone in the pond, which wouldn't have been good on a day like today, me and Bill went and helped him up and made sure he was okay.

I went back to my peg and it was a bite a chuck and I was catching really well, Scotty asked how many I had, I said 22 and he said he was on 26 so despite my blank first hour I wasn't too far behind. I got up to 28 fish after the second hour and then tried the 10 metre line again and had a fish first chuck, I had a further 36 fish over the next hour, mainly tiny roach although I did net a couple of 3oz roach and a similar size rudd and was doing well, most people were getting odd fish but nobody was bagging, I did see Nick P land a skimmer over on peg 13.

I was having real problems with my Drennan Aqua elastic hanging out the end of the pole and I think it had frozen! I was catching on single red maggot but kept trying caster but they weren't really having it yet and I only had a couple of tiny fish on it. Things started to slow in the fourth hour and I only added another 21 fish. Then Scotty hooked a big fish and slipped the net under a good bream to put him in the driving seat. Not long after Ash landed a decent skimmer and then Paul H had a couple of skimmers in quick succession on the feeder and all of a sudden I'd gone from doing really well to needing a bonus fish if I was to do any good.

With around an hour and a half left, I bumped what felt like a much better fish and I was trying caster more and more in the hope of getting some better roach but it still wasn't really happening. Ash had a second decent skimmer and Paul also added a couple more and I was starting to think my only chance of picking up today would be a section win. Then with an hour to go I hooked a better fish on caster and as I carefully shipped back I could see in the gin clear water that it was decent skimmer and I gratefully netted a pound and a half fish to put me back in the hunt.

I was still getting the odd roach but none of the usual quality you get on caster, then Scotty had another bream to go even further ahead, Paul netted another decent fish and Rob was also catching roach really well. I kept putting odd fish in the net and at the end of the match, the clicker was reading 116 and I thought I probably had 7-8lb which I hoped might give me a chance of the section win. I packed up and loaded the car before catching up with Rob and the scales, he'd already weighed Nick P in who had done well to catch four skimmers for 4lb 12oz from peg 13, Rich S didn't weigh and then Steve P had 1lb 5oz.
Steve P had 1lb 5oz from peg 17
Then we got to Robs peg and he had caught really well in the latter part of the match to weigh 5lb 5oz, I was next and my fish went 7lb 5oz which was little less than I thought but a lot of those roach had been tiny. Young Stuart had struggled for 7oz but at least he hadn't fallen off his box again, Bill had 10oz and then Dean weighed 1lb 8oz so I'd at least won my section.
Rob caught well after a slow start to weigh 5lb 5oz
I had a decent skimmer and lots of small roach for 7lb 5oz
Young Stuart struggled for 7oz but as least he didn't fall off his box again!
Dean had 1lb 8oz from peg 22 (and had been to the same hat shop as Jacko!)
The others started arriving back and as expected, Scotty had the top weight with 10lb 10oz and then the next best weight was Paul who had weighed 6lb 5oz comprised of four skimmers and a decent perch and Ash had those two skimmers and a few roach for 4lb 8oz. Jeff had 3lb 9oz but had switched to trying to catch big fish after Scott had his first bream, Hurf had 1lb 6oz, Jacko had 1lb 1oz from peg 11 and then Frank on 8, John on 9 and Jake on 12 didn't weigh so it had been hard going over there. Thanks to Scott Russell for the photos*
Scotty had two nice bonus bream to win with 10lb 10oz (he even gave the camera man a cheeky wink with both eyes!)*
Paul had four skimmers and a decent perch for 6lb 5oz and third place*
Ash won his section with 4lb 8oz*
Jeff had 3lb 9oz from peg 4*
Jacko struggled for 1lb 1oz but had the best hat of the day*
1 - Scott Russell (Tackleuk) - 10lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 7lb 5oz
3 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 6lb 5oz

A - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 4lb 8oz
B - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 5lb 5oz

So I ended up in second place and picked up £60 plus £3 in side bets so a nice match to finish 2016 on, it had been hard going but I'd quite enjoyed it and had plenty of bites.

Well that's my final match of the year and I hope you enjoyed reading about my ups and downs and thanks very much to everybody who has taken the time to give me feedback or say nice things. I really do appreciate it and as always, if you want to send me match results, photos or anything fishy related, just get in touch via the contact form in the side bar on the right hand side of the blog. I'm always looking for ways to keep the blog interesting and moving forward and would welcome guest blogs, so if you've got anything you think would make a good read like a review, a particularly good fishing trip or tips and tactics just let me know.

Happy New Year

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My review of 2016

Check Out - My review of Steve Gardener on...A Life in Match Fishing (below)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Steve Gardener on... A Life in Match Fishing - A Review

Obviously I love my fishing and I hope that comes across when I write about it but the next best thing to actually going fishing is reading about going fishing! I read a lot of angling magazines and there are some excellent blogs out there but when it comes to books, despite there being loads about carp fishing on the shelves of bookstores (and virtual shelves online), there are relatively few on the subject of match fishing. Over the years there have been several really good instructional type books and I remember Dickie Carr's 'Success with the Pole' being my bible when I first started getting into pole fishing. Yet when it comes to books about match fishing, there just don't seem to be that many, I did review 'The Best of Barlow' back in 2013 (check it out here - Best of Barlow review ) and I really enjoyed reliving Franks adventures even though I'd read many of them when they were first published in the Anglers Mail.

So when I heard there was a book coming out about Steve Gardeners match fishing career, I had to get it. Steve needs no introduction with 27 years as part of the World conquering England squad and on the domestic front, a long and glittering list of honours with the Dorking team and of course almost endless individual titles. I was a little intrigued as to what format the book would be in, a collection of Steve's best match wins or his life story and what involvement he actually had with the book. I ordered a copy from Calm Productions (£20 plus £2.99 postage), do check out the website, loads of angling books but like I said earlier, the majority do tend to be from the specimen world. It does beg the question whether there's a gap in the market for great tales from the match fishing world (how about an Against Men and Fish book? although I'm not sure there are that many wobbly tables out there!!!).

It arrived, well packaged and I couldn't wait to get stuck into it, there was a foreword from Steve's great friend, Milo Columbo and then an introduction from Pat Newman (himself a match angler), who approached Steve about doing the book, before we reached the first chapter. I was delighted to see that it's Steve's story told in his words right from when he first picked up a rod to his inclusion in the England squad and then on until the end of his international career and up to the present day.

There are some fantastic stories along the way and it's a real insight into the mind set of a supremely dedicated angler who was a consummate professional who always put the team first, the level of his consistency on the world stage was unreal and it's often said that he's the best angler never to have become world champion. Some of his recollections from the early days, really had me smiling as they brought back very similar memories of my own. He also mentions the much fabled 'good old days' which made me chuckle because he's of the same opinion as me that many anglers look back with rose tinted spectacles when actually the fishing was very hard at times.

Packed with photos all the way through, it really is a fantastic read and it took me no time at all to finish it, get yourself a copy, you won't regret it. The trouble is I now have a fishing book shaped void in my life although I did notice there's a couple of Ivan Marks books on the website which might be my next purchases. As I said earlier, I think we could do more of these type of books and I for one, would love to read something similar from the likes of Des Shipp, Will Raison or Bob Nudd.

You can get it at Amazon


Monday, December 19, 2016

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 4 - 18th December 2016

The weather stayed really mild all week and we had a fair bit of rain which put some colour in the river but it didn't last long. It was a very foggy morning as I headed to the Oak for the draw and all the normal faces were there. Looking at the section boards, I didn't really mind where I drew with the exception of peg 120 which has been poor the last few times it's been in. The golden peg was drawn and today it was H4 and as it won last week, there was a good chance of it going today. Adie and John both had short draws ending up on 126 and 108 respectively, I think Adie is getting Wi-Fi installed on 126 as that's the fourth time he's drawn it!

I hung back hoping somebody else would pull out 120 but my master plan failed miserably when nobody did and as I stuck my hand in the bucket there was only one ball left and it was the one I didn't want. Elsewhere Steve P drew the golden peg and Rob was on H1 again so at least he wouldn't need to adjust his rigs from last week! Fieldy drew 106 and wasn't too impressed despite Justin doing 16lb of chub and roach off it in the previous match!

John followed me to the river as he hadn't been to Redbridge before and I showed him where 108 was although he also had the choice of 109, he decided on the former and as I walked past 109, I gave it a longing look as I've never drawn it and I fancied it today. I also walked past the swim above the wires and it's a swim I think we really ought to try as it looks really fishy with loads of features. I finally reached the weir pool and I have to say I was puffing a bit but it did look nice.
Peg 120 looked lovely but it hasn't broken 2lb for a few weeks!
I got myself comfy and set up a 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo for fishing the deep water and a 1 gram bodied float for the tail of the swim, both rigs had size 18 Kamasan B611's to 0.10mm and on the side tray I had Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp, maggots and casters. I had a quick coffee and then it was time to start, I slipped two red maggots on and started at 8.5 metres straight out in front in the deep hole as the last time I was here I caught really well from the off. No indications there this time so I started inching the float through in the flow to my left, the float dipped before sliding away and I swung in a small dace. Next chuck I had a chublet followed by another dace, then a gudgeon and it felt like there were a few fish there.

I had seven fish after the first half an hour, then I hooked a slightly better fish which turned out to be a surprise golden rudd! I added a couple more small fish and was enjoying myself but then bites just tailed off, I wasn't too concerned as I'd been feeding to the left where there is a back eddy and it's normally where the fish are holed up so after an hour, I picked up the lighter rig went over to the left and had a dace straight away but that was it which left me a bit puzzled.
Golden rudd!
I tried the heavier rig in the flow again and had a couple of quick fish but as seems to be the norm in recent weeks, I was chasing the fish around. I kept trying in the deeper water at 8.5 metres but no bites and then tried 10 and then 11.5 metres and nothing. The only place I could get bites was by fishing in the flow to my left. John turned up and said he was struggling and everywhere he tried, his bait was getting attacked by minnows. Then a rather boisterous young dog turned up and the owner was having a job to control it  - great! I moved my pole sections out of the way and eventually they got it on the lead and went on their merry way, all the commotion did wonders for my catch rate!

I added a little trout to my mixed bag but bites we getting less and less frequent, I was just about to try the lighter rig again, when the float buried and the strike met with solid resistance, I was convinced it would be a perch but it turned out to be a chub around the pound mark which was a nice bonus. I tried the lighter rig in the tail of the swim but no indications and as looked behind me to ship the pole back, Hurf and Big Frank were on the top of the bank watching me. I added a section and went across in the back eddy and had three dace quite quickly but the action was short lived. Frank soon got bored and went on but Hurf stayed a little longer for a chat, although I only added another minnow while he was there and he left me to it.
A nice chub around a pound was a welcome bonus
I had a visit from another dog and then a bit later two Rottweiler's appeared and started barking at me, so much for the peace and quiet of a days fishing! Time was running out and I knew I wouldn't be taking home any envelopes today, I did hook a slightly better fish which was a perch around 4oz to add to my selection but I still hadn't had a roach or one of the swims resident ruffe!
Another species for my mixed bag!
Things didn't really improve and I ended up with 27 fish (dace, chublets, gudgeon, rudd, trout, perch) plus a few minnows. I packed up and it wasn't long before John arrived with the scales, he said he'd caught a chub by casting the lead down towards 109 near the end as they'd been topping all day and I'd have loved to be on that peg today. My fish weighed 3lb 7oz which was a little better than I thought, as we walked up to weigh John in, Fieldy turned up and said he'd had three chub and had bumped several too. John's chub plus minnows went 3lb 5oz and then we walked up to Graham's peg and he weighed 6lb 4oz.
My mixed bag weighed 3lb 7oz
John had a nice chub and a few minnows for 3lb 5oz
Graham had three chub for 6lb 4oz from peg 106
Back at the results and Isle Brewers had been tough again with Adie having the top weight there with 5lb 10oz followed by Justin with 4lb 2oz from 129 and Rich was just an ounce behind with 4lb 1oz. Hambridge had fished well again and is the place to draw at the moment, Steve P had the top weight with 12lb 6oz from H4 which won for the second week running and meant he also took home the golden ball money plus a pound off me. Rob had 10lb 7oz for second place, Karl had some lovely perch from H5 for 4lb 5oz and his brother Stuart had 1lb 15oz from H2. Thanks to Karl Aplin* and Rob Cox** for the photos.
Steve Parker won with 12lb 6oz and took home the golden ball money as well*
Karl had some lovely perch for 4lb 5oz*
Stuart had 1lb 15oz from peg H2**
Rob had 10lb 7oz of roach and perch for second place**
1 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 12lb 6oz
2 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 10lb 7oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 6lb 4oz

A - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 5lb 10oz
B - Karl Aplin (Ilminster) - 4lb 5oz

After four matches and dropping the worst result, Steve P leads with four points followed by Adie on six and Rob and Fieldy on seven, I'm down on nine points and today's draw did me no favours at all!

Well that's the same three pegs that have filled the top three places in two matches on the trot, I need to draw better so perhaps a change in tactics is required, maybe for the next river match I'll go in the bucket earlier while all the good ones are still there.

I've currently got fifteen booked in for the Dillington match on Wednesday 28th December, all the names are on the Facebook page, please let me know if you're not fishing as I'll limit it to sixteen and others might want to fish. We'll meet out there around 8:30 ish and pools will be £15. The pond will be closed on the day.

Before I go, I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everybody......

A Merry Xmas and Tight Lines

Next up - Dillington Pond

Coming soon - A look back at 2016 and my next review

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, December 12, 2016

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 5 - 11th December 2016

After the Baltic temperatures of last Sunday, it was all change again in the week as the weather turned really mild and some rain on Saturday was very welcome too. All the signs were there for a very good match, we just needed the fish to play ball now. I got to the pub nice and early and it was lovely to see Paul Homewood and Baz Morgan again and Ashley Tomkins was also booked in for today (we reckoned he'd been doing a rain dance so we'd go out the pond, but it hadn't worked!). Looking at the pegs, I have to say I didn't really mind where I drew with the exception of 106 at Redbridge but only because we hadn't used it for ages and it was a bit of an unknown quantity. I'd asked Steve to bring me on a few pinkies and there was a message on the box that made me chuckle!
'Take care of me I'm very small!'
As always I had a master plan and would hang back and wait until somebody else drew 106 before I stuck my hand in the bucket and as always, the bloody thing was still in there with just three of us left to draw. Eventually Justin went for it and he pulled out 106, Ash was next in the bucket and ended up with 109 which left me with the last ball that turned out to be 125 although I had the choice of 124a as well. I got to the river, parked up and as I took my kit out of the car, the clip holding the strap on my Matrix 'Superbox' (I use the term loosely) broke which meant I had to carry my box across the field, thankfully it's not too long a walk.

I dumped it by 125 before walking up and having a look at 124a, they both looked nice but I opted for the former as over the years it's won loads of matches whereas the latter can be a bit hit or miss. I sat quite low on the peg so I could fish the pole but with it being very shallow I set up two rigs with long lines so the pole tip would be well away from the float. The first rig was a 0.2 gram Drennan AS1 to fish three sections to hand and the second was a Dave Harrell DH16 0.6 gram, both had size 18 B611's to 0.10mm. It wasn't until I stuck a plummet on, that I discovered just how shallow the peg was and I couldn't find anymore than twelve inches anywhere! There was also quite a bit of weed still about and I was starting to think I'd chosen the wrong peg.
It was quite a foggy/misty morning
I was ready with about 15 mins to spare so went up to see Paul Homewood on peg 124 and have a natter, it looked nice and I thought the river would fish well today. I finished my coffee and walked back to my peg and started with the three sections to hand rig, I flicked the rig out but it wouldn't run through because of weed so I tried somewhere else and the float buried and on the strike, I saw a good fish flash in the shallow water and I swung in (when I probably should have used the landing net) a nice roach around 6oz - great start.

Any thoughts of bagging up soon disappeared when no more bites followed so I stuck another couple of sections on and tried down the middle of the peg, I was feeding casters, maggots and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp and added a couple more roach, a chublet and a gudgeon but already it felt like I was chasing them around the peg a bit and there was more weed than I initially thought as the rig was still dragging under. I tried flicking the rig across where it looked like a clearer run, I had a tiny gudgeon and then had a clonking roach and started catching really well.
I was getting some lovely roach
I had nine fish in the first 30 mins but after going across I was up to 22 after an hour and although I was getting the odd gobie, most of the fish were quality roach and I started to think a really good weight was on the cards. I then hooked a fish which felt more substantial and landed a nice chub around the pound mark and with just over an hour gone, I probably already had 4lb in the net and was really enjoying myself.
A nice chub around a pound was very welcome too
But after a foggy start, the sun came out and although it was turning into a lovely day (crazy weather for December!), I knew it wouldn't do me any favours in a swim less than a foot deep. My plan was not to venture too far down the peg too soon as I didn't want to chase the fish out of pole range so I kept plugging away but only put a few fish in the net over the next hour or so. I added another section and had a couple of fish straight away but then it slowed up again, then I heard a car pull up and then a chap appeared on the road bridge and took a photo of me, I didn't recognise him to start with but it was Hurf who had come down for a look round, right on cue the float sailed away and he got an action shot of me shipping back with a nice dace on. Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photo*
Me in action*
He sat with me for a bit but bites were now hard to come by although I did have a couple of gudgeon while he was with me. He left me too it and I kept adding sections on but didn't really get the response I'd hoped for especially when I went to 13 metres across to stick ups where I thought the fish would be. With around two hours to go, Paul came to stretch his legs and said he was getting the odd silverfish but was having problems with minnows, I was back fishing near the top of the peg when out of the blue, I hooked another chub, this one around 12oz although it was full of casters which is never a good sign.

As we approached the last period of the match and the light started to fade, I started to get a few fish again and ended up with 54 roach, chub, dace and gudgeon plus a couple of minnows and I thought I probably had a similar weight to last week. I took some of my kit back to the car and collected the scales before going to weigh Paul in, he'd found some quality roach late on and weighed 5lb 10oz, then it was my turn and I wasn't too far off with my estimate when Paul called it at 7lb 10oz, which was a little disappointing after such a great start.
Paul had 5lb 10oz which included some nice roach
I had 7lb 10oz from peg 125
As we were loading the cars the anglers from below the bridge arrived back and I was surprised when they reported it had been a real struggle, Steve P had 12oz (mostly small fish!) from peg 129, Rich S had 2lb 2oz on 128 and Adie had loads of small fish for 5lb 8oz from 126. Thanks to Adie Bishop for the photos**
Steve P had mostly small fish for 12oz**
Rich had 2lb 2oz from peg 128**
Adie had 5lb 8oz from Barney's Bend**
Back at the results and Hambridge had fished its knackers off with Baz Morgan having the top weight from H4 with 21lb 2oz of roach although it might well have been quite a bit more as they didn't realise the scales bottomed out at that weight! Below the bridge Rob had another cracking net of roach weighing 15lb 3oz and Fieldy had 13lb 12oz, I thought they'd be second and third but oh no, there was a 16lb 6oz weight of chub and roach from Redbridge, yep, you guessed it, Justin on peg 106! Thanks to Stuart Aplin*** and Rob Cox for the photos****
Baz had 21lb 2oz of roach (possibly more!)***
Stuart Aplin had two nice perch for 1lb 15oz from H5***
Rob was third with 15lb 3oz of roach****
Graham won his section with 13lb 12oz of roach and perch****
The other two pegs at Redbridge struggled with Ash not weighing and Karl having 6oz so I ended up winning my section and I picked up £20 plus nuggets off Paul and Steve.

1 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 21lb 2oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 16lb 6oz
3 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 15lb 3oz

A - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 7lb 10oz
B - Graham Field (Taunton) - 13lb 12oz

After five matches and dropping the two worst results, the league standings are,

Jamie Rich - 5pts (dropping 3 + 5)
Graham Field - 6pts (dropping 3 + 3)
Steve Parker - 6pts (dropping 6 + 6)
Rob Cox - 6pts (dropping 4 + 30)
Justin Charles - 6pts (dropping 30 + 30)
Adie Bishop - 7pts (dropping 4 + 5)

Next Sunday there's the rescheduled V.E.S. match on the river and that's it for the year although I'm thinking of maybe having a knock up out the pond in the week after Xmas if people are interested.

Before I go, just another plea for a minute of your time to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards (just click on the image below, enter your details and choose Lifestyle and Travel from the drop down list. Voting is only open for a couple of weeks so I'll try not to bang on too much about it!

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - A look back at 2016 and my next review

Check Out - My last match (below)