Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Archives - Part 1 - Where It All Began (1980)

A few people have said they'd be interested in reading some stuff from the memory banks and I've been meaning to do something for a while now, so with my recent incapacitation due to doing my back in and in a bid to stave off boredom, here is the first instalment. As ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts and any constructive feedback, just leave a comment on here or message me via the contact form in the side bar.

22nd June 1980

It was the summer holidays and all the kids were going fishing so not wanting to be left out, I tagged along one day. We headed to the River Isle and basically chucked a ledger out and sat around chatting, at the end of the day we reeled in and there was a gudgeon or bullhead (I really can't remember) on the end and I was 'hooked!'.

I was eleven old years and living at The Incline in Ilminster and at the bottom of the street was the recreation ground and The Old Canal, the last remaining part of the Chard to Ilminster canal which was now basically just a long pond. I had a little rod that my granddad had given me and a few bits and bobs and was spending every available minute down there, to be honest I caught very little, just the odd small rudd but I couldn't get enough of it.
Me fishing the canal in 1980 (it was still quite wild down there then, compared to today's grass banks)
A bumper haul of seven rudd (note the knotted mesh on my eight foot keepnet!)
I've always kept diaries and records of my fishing exploits, even though in the early days they were fairly basic, I was using 'Perch Bobber' floats but later upgraded to a 'Zoomer' (anybody remember those?). Slowly but surely I started to get some gear together, Trev Hyams gave me a wooden seat box and I bought a 13 foot Shakespeare match rod from Adrian Green and coupled this with a Mitchell Match reel that my mum bought (fantastic reel that I still have somewhere).

I also fished my first junior match on the canal not long after I started fishing and predictably I blanked. My second attempt was slightly more successful and I recorded that I caught four rudd for 2.5oz although I lost three floats! Looking through my first diary I was fishing most days during the school holidays and just catching a few small rudd, in those days carp had an almost mythical aura about them and although the canal held quite a few they were rarely landed.
An 'action' shot down the canal (note the 13 foot rod and sun visor!)
On the 24th August I entered my third fishing match and caught fourteen rudd and a dace! (not convinced with that fish identification, probably a small roach) for 7.5oz and second place! My records show I was fishing peg 2, conditions were cool and cloudy, I used bronze maggots and a Drennan Onion float!

I was by now also having the odd foray down the river but mainly minnows and only the odd roach seemed to feature in my catches (nothing much has changed there then!). I did fish at Isle Brewers with my granddad and although I blanked, he hooked a pike around 4lb and I was so excited by this beast from the deep, that I nearly fell in trying to get a closer look and he had to hold on to me as well as playing and landing the fish!

My next match was also my first one on the Isle and I caught three dace for 11oz although I did also have five minnows which escaped through the rather large mesh of my net! I came second again and according to my diary, I used small worms as bait. The following week, my dad took me to Rule's tackle shop in Langport (I loved going there) to buy a ten foot micro mesh keepnet.

On the 30th November it was the Junior Xmas Fayre on the river and I drew a bend above Ilford (where Colin Dyer once won the open with 20lb of chub) and caught one chub of 1lb 1oz (which I think was my biggest fish to date). I came second again (behind Trevor Priddle who had a chub of 1lb 13oz) and won a box of chocolates (Terry's All Gold if I remember correctly). One of my overriding memories from those early winter matches was wearing so many pairs of thick woollen socks that it was difficult to get my wellies on, a far cry from todays thermal boots!

Next up - Part 2 covers 1981-82

Sunday, October 15, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 2 - 15th October 2017

After struggling in the first two Isle matches, I was praying for rain (which was looking unlikely) but failing that, a draw at Isle Brewers would do me as that's where the top weights have been coming from. As ever I was really looking forward to my next fishing fix but during the week, I had to go out and about on site (yes I do some work sometimes!) and did my back in, it was agony and I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to fish at the weekend! On Friday morning, I could barely get out of bed and I don't think I've ever felt this uncomfortable, at times I couldn't even stand up!

I managed to get a doctors appointment and he gave me some tablets and signed me off for a week so I had to phone Hurf and tell him I couldn't fish this week, gutted and I'm bored stiff already! I will still post the results and hopefully some photos. I'm hoping I won't be out of action too long.

With thirteen fishing, Hurf put in Upper Coxes, three pegs at Redbridge (which he cleared out yesterday) and six at Isle Brewers. With the river still being low and clear it fished hard at the top end again but Redbridge provided the winner with Big Frank Woodard catching three chub for 8lb 4oz from peg 110 (it's normally 109) and he lost one as well, Graham Field continued his good run with a chub plus roach and dace for 8lb 2oz from newish peg 128a (and he lost a couple of chub as well) and John Dursley who's still recovering from recent surgery on his hand was third with two chub for 6lb 15oz from 124a. Section wins went to Steve 'The Pole' Parker with 3lb 7oz from 22a (which included a big trout of 1lb 14oz) and Bill Hopping with 6lb of dace, roach and chublets from 128. Thanks to Graham Field* and Rob Cox** for the photos.
Graham was second with 8lb 2oz from peg 128a*
John Dursley had two chub for 6lb 15oz and third place from 124a**
Bill Hopping won his section with 6lb from 128*
Stuart Aplin had 4lb 6oz*
1 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 8lb 4oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 8lb 2oz
3 - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 6lb 15oz

A - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 3lb 7oz
B - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 6lb

It's nice to see some of the newer pegs producing, especially 128a which we put in a few times last year and it was shocking, which just goes to prove that fish do move about. I reckon 130 and 133 would throw up some weights but they are a bit of a walk, it's a shame the parking isn't better and we could get everybody down Isle Brewers! With some colour, I think we will see some brilliant weights and it's nice to see the chub still showing at Redbridge and more and more are turning up at Isle Brewers. It will interesting to see how Hambridge fishes this year (although by all accounts it's still a bit weedy at the moment) and hopefully we'll try some other stretches as well.

Well I'm hoping to fish Summerhayes next Friday and then I'm looking forward to getting back on the river on Sunday (hopefully my drawing arm will be working again by then!).

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My latest review (below)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ThermoNet Buff Review

If you've followed the blog for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of Buff products from when they contacted me back in early 2015 to ask if I'd like to review one of their Polar Buff's from the new angler range. To be honest I didn't really know too much about the firm at that time, so some research was required. Looking at their website I was immediately impressed with the vast choice of products and patterns and I could see lots of possible uses for fisherman and not just from the angler range.

I chose a Polar Buff which arrived quickly and what a great product, if you haven't already seen it, the review can be found here - Polar Buff Review

Fast forward to March 2016 and I was at The Big One angling show and went and had a chat with the lads on the Buff stand, I mentioned I'd reviewed their products before and told them about an upcoming fishing trip to Thailand and said I'd love to review one of their Insect Shield Buff's, they got one sent out to me and it was another brilliant product, that review can be found here - UV Angler Insect Shield Buff Review

I'd signed up to receive e-mails and updates from them and one I received recently caught my eye, it was announcing a new product, the ThermoNet Buff. The technical blurb in the e-mail goes on to say, 'This year, we are unveiling a new technical fabric. ThermoNet brings together the knitting tradition at Buff with technical yarns from our partners at Primaloft. The result of years of research and testing, is this extremely thin, lightweight fabric which retains body heat while wicking moisture away.'

I cheekily e-mailed them to see if there was any chance of doing a review and was over the moon when they replied saying yes, I opted for the Soft Hills Turquoise from the website and it arrived within a few days. They also sent out the two latest catalogues, a nice Buff pen and some stickers which was a nice touch.

As for the Buff itself, I loved the colours, the pattern and removing it from the packaging, it immediately felt like a quality garment. Reading a bit more about the Primaloft material, it has the following qualities,
  • made from 70% recycled content
  • fast drying
  • superior softness
  • moisture management
  • lightweight

It also says on the packaging that the ThermoNet Buff is 4 x warmer than the original which makes it ideal now the weather is starting to get cooler and we wave goodbye to what little summer we've had this year.

I'm looking forward to trying it out over the coming weeks as our winter leagues get underway, one of the great things about Buff's is that they take up so little space that you can have one in your jacket pocket or carryall and not put it on until needed. A great little tip for winter fishing is not to wear all your warm gear if you've got a bit of a walk to your peg, you can then put it on as you start to cool down and really feel the benefit.

To be honest I don't really wear my Buff's in the multitude of different ways they can be, but worn as a neck warmer they are fantastic at keeping the chills at bay and from going down your neck. The other time I find they come into their own (here and fishing abroad) is when it starts to get dark and midges and suchlike come out to play and are intent on going in your mouth or up your nose, simply pull your Buff up and problem sorted.

Check out the website for loads of other great designs as well - Buffwear

Look out for my update on how I'm getting on with my new Buff over the next few weeks as the temperature starts to drop a few notches.


Monday, October 09, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 1 - 8th October 2017

I always look forward to the V.E.S. Precision league and although I've got a pretty good record in it, I've only actually ever won it once, with more anglers fishing the river it's a tough league to win and Adie did brilliantly to win it on his first attempt last year! We were back at the Bowling Club for the draw this week and after another cracking breakfast it was time to decide our fate for the day. I really fancied Isle Brewers today after it had fished so well last week and the pegs on my wish list were 120, 124a, 125, 128 and 129. With the river being back to low and clear, I didn't really fancy pegs 14 or 15 at Upper Coxes so hung back hoping they would go, Tony Newman pulled out 15 but by the time I got to the bucket, there were just two pegs left and one of them was 14. You can guess what happened next, I pulled it out, leaving Rob on 129.

To be fair, I wasn't too upset as 14 is one of my favourite pegs on the river and has been good to me over the years, Adie did 10lb 3oz off it last week although he caught well for two hours before it died. After a short drive, I parked up and took half of my kit up to the swim, I couldn't believe how low it was, you could see the bottom all the way across to the tank traps apart from one slightly darker area by a big submerged branch. The other main catching area tends to be up towards the weir, just off the flow where there is normally a decent depth.
The Tank Traps (you can see how low and clear it was)
Looking up towards the weir
I set up a 0.5 gram DH16 to fish by the traps and a one gram bodied float to fish to my left in the deeper water. The usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp were on the side tray today. The match started at 10:00 and I fed some hemp and casters on both lines before starting over by the traps, I fully expected to catch quite quickly but when this didn't happen I knew I was in trouble already, you normally get a few small dace and chublets, even if sport doesn't last long. After half an hour, all I had to show for my efforts was two tiny minnows - not good! Then out of the blue, the float sailed away and I had a 2oz chublet but that was it. As the first hour ended I did hook what felt like a chublet or dace only for it to come off as I shipped back and I was going nowhere fast.
At last, a little chublet!
I picked up the heavier rig and tried upstream just off the main flow at 11.5 metres for the first time, the rig barely settled before shooting under only for me to bump the fish, next chuck I had a chublet and it felt like there were a few fish there. Over the next ten minutes, I had two dace, a chublet, bumped another fish and missed a few bites but then, just when I thought I was going to put a few fish together, the bites stopped. I stuck on another section and tried a bit further up towards the weir, the rig settled before flying under and a decent fish took off, I was sure it would be a trout and as they count in our matches it was a nice bonus when I slipped the net under a nice fish around a pound.
A nice trout boosted my weight
It was a gorgeous, sunny day but not great fishing conditions, I stuck on the 14.5 metre section which is almost unheard of for me but that wasn't the answer and I was left scratching my head. I went back over by the traps and bumped a fish first put in which you really don't want to do in shallow, clear water and apart from a tiny little fish of less than half an ounce which may or may not have been a chublet when it grew up (it was so small I couldn't tell!), that was the last of the action there.

I went back up towards the weir and the rest had done it some good and I had a couple of fish quite quickly but they just wouldn't settle, I stuck the 13 metre section on again and in a carbon copy of the last time, the float sailed away and I hooked and landed another trout of a pound or so. No more bites so I tried the lighter rig up there and had a gudgeon. Hurf turned up for a chat and said Tony was really struggling down in peg 15, he stayed with me for probably an hour but I never had a fish while he was with me and he soon got bored and left me to it.

The rest of the match followed that same sort of pattern, I'd get the odd fish up towards the weir but then would have to rest it and fish somewhere else. I was hoping the fish might switch on in the last hour but it didn't happen and I ended up with 16 fish (those two trout plus chublets, dace and gudgeon). I packed up and took my kit back to the car before going up to weigh Tony in, he'd had a nice perch and a few dace and chublets for 1lb 2oz, we then walked up to my peg and my fish went 3lb 7oz.
Tony had a nice perch from peg 15
I had 3lb 7oz from peg 14
Tony headed off home and I waited for the others to get back, Bill and Karl arrived first and Karl had been on 108 at Redbridge and hadn't weighed in after losing loads of hooklengths to the cabbages so it needs a good flush through. Bill had 6lb 6oz from peg 120 and said he was struggling until a cow fell in and put some colour in the swim, we all reckoned he'd brought a tame cow with him for just such an eventuality so maybe he should be known as 'Wild Bill Hopping' the cattle herder from now on!

Next to arrive was Fieldy who'd weighed 5lb 5oz from new peg 125a, he'd had 20 dace and around 160 minnows! The rest arrived back and Steve 'The Pole' Parker had done well from 128 to win with 8lb 11oz (and take a pound off me) with Adie second from 126 with 7lb 8oz. Stu Aplin had 2lb 4oz from 124a and Rob didn't weigh on 129. So another struggle for me but second in my section and two points at least means it was a decent start to league. Thanks to Stu Aplin for the photos*

Graham had 5lb 5oz from peg 125a*
Stu Aplin had 2lb 4oz which included this nice perch*
He also had this pike (which don't count)*
1 - Steve Parker (Ilton) - 8lb 11oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 7lb 8oz
3 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 6lb 6oz
4 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 5lb 5oz

Once again Isle Brewers was the place to be and provided the top four weights with two of the pegs on my wish list (120 and 128) framing although 125 wasn't fished, hopefully we'll get some rain before next week, failing that we'll all have to get ourselves cows like Bill, last seen heading home with Ermintrude!

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - The brilliant guest post from Billy Makin (below)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Masterclass By The Master - Billy Makin

My latest guest blog is something a little different, Billy Makin has been posting some brilliant stories on Facebook from the golden age of match fishing, I contacted him and asked if I could publish them on the blog and he said yes, so for those of you that don't use Facebook or haven't seen this yet, sit back, read and enjoy!


I suppose that the time would be the late 70's, the venue was Attenborough gravel pits, and the swim was number 29, smack bang in the corner of Sandy bay. The match of course was run by Steve (RIP OFF) Toone, who like Pat O'Connor, is owed a great deal of gratitude for the job that they both did.
Now for anyone who has never experienced the following phenomena, it will be difficult to believe, but the peg simply had... too many fish in it, the fish in question being big, beautiful, slab sided bream. This was in the days before carp had been invented. Having been brought up on the Lancashire canals, any bream above 2lb, would have seen a television crew rushing to the venue to film the captor.

I was way out of my depth; every time my lead hit the water, the quiver tip went berserk, and after 3 hours, I had managed 3 fish and had become a nervous wreck, when salvation arrived in the form of the master himself - Ivan Marks.  Ivan sat behind me, grinning, as he watched the pantomime, until he couldn't take it any longer. "For God's sake Bill" he said. "Do you want me to show you how to catch bream"? No-one could possibly refuse an offer like that from the world's finest bream angler, so I nodded.

He took out a packet of size 12's hooks and told me to tie one on, and lengthen my hook length to 6 feet. Size 12's hooks were for hanging slabs of beef on at the butchers, but I wasn't going to question the judgement of my hero, so on it went, on went 2 worms, and out into peg 29 went the lot.

Immediately, the quiver tip started to dance, and as I made a grab for the rod, Ivan whacked me across the knuckles with a stick. "Strike when I tell you Bill" he said. "Now take your hands away from the rod, and sit on them".  I now had to endure 5 minutes of torture, as the quiver went berserk, and every time I reached for the rod, down came Ivan's stick onto my knuckles. Eventually, the tip went round, and the reel began to spin. "Lift now" Ivan said, "but don't strike".  A 4lb bream was soon in my net, followed by several more, until at the final whistle, I had 60lb, instead of the 20 that I was heading for.

The next day, I rang in work, and booked a week's holiday, and for the next 5 days, I travelled to Attenborough, and fished peg 29, putting into practice, a lifetime of Ivan's knowledge, which I had been blessed with in no more than 2 hours.  Blow me, the next Sunday, I again drew peg 29, and the Sunday after. One of the Nottingham lads who had seen me practicing for a week, and then drawing the same swim 3 weeks on the trot, remarked. "Is Toony shagging you Bill?  "Of course not" I replied indignantly, "But if he lets me draw peg 29 again, I might let him".


After the 3rd win at the Attenborough peg 29 aquarium, I found myself suddenly elevated to the status of an (A) lister.  For people of a more recent vintage, at the time, it appeared that fishing was on the verge of taking off. Every other week, there was a match, massively supported by a sponsor, and 20 or so of the country's top anglers ...were invited. I had now become one of the select few. My fishing cap was now way too small, my head having assumed the size of a small country. I had arrived.

I had now done the impossible treble in three weekends, and was sat at my swim on the private bank at Coombe Abbey. All around me were magic names - Kenny- Clive - Denis - Kevin - Robin - Roy, and of course, the master himself - Ivan Marks. When the starting whistle went, I went into meltdown. What on earth was I doing in such company?

Two pegs away was God himself, Ivan. Why had I so stupidly wasted a day's holiday from British Gas. I was much too far in over my depth. Reality kicked in, and a whole lifetime of knowledge, forced into me by Ivan in those two short hours , flashed before me. For 5 amazing hours, Ivan and I matched each other fish for fish.

The scales decided the issue. Ivan weighed in 48lb, and mine magically topped it by 4 ounces. At the presentation, I floated on air as I collected my cheque for 1000 pounds. There are no prizes for guessing who was the first man to congratulate me. Ivan not only shook my hand, but he put his arm around me in the most genuine gesture of affection I have ever seen. I would have willingly ripped the cheque into a thousand pieces if I could have only frozen that moment in time.

Pathetic as it may seem, I am now typing this with tears in my eyes,


I have to go back to part one of the saga, and explain what really happened during the unscheduled, yet positively essential learning process from the master himself. At the point where Ivan entered the scene, I had become a wreck. My hands were trembling, and my heart beat was well into three figures. Not only had I never... caught bream on the canals of Lancashire, I had never even seen a bream of over 2 pound, and here I was, sat on several hundred of the blighters, and I hadn't a clue what I was doing.

I have already described the set up that Ivan advised, and was surprised to learn that it was prescribed for two reasons, the most important of which was for my benefit and not for the fish. He had to calm me down, otherwise my confidence would be shattered. Ivan continued to speak, and slowly at first, the trembles eventually faded. Without realizing it, a succession of 4lb bream were beginning to fill the keepnet, and Ivan's lifetime of knowledge was beginning to fill my head. From now one, the rest of the piece is in my words, however you have to remember that the events were well over 30 years ago, nevertheless the sentiments are those of the Master.

Imagine spreading a few slices of bread on the garden. It may take an hour or so, but eventually a sparrow will appear. If you disturb that sparrow, it could easily be a long time before the next one arrives - if you do not disturb it, the garden will soon be full of sparrows. "Bream are just like that", Ivan said. "Allow them to settle before you start to catch them".

My fertile mind travelled back many years. As a lad, in our coal mining village, we had what we called a "Knocker Up". This was a little old chap who went round the miner's houses, usually around 5 in the morning, and using a length of bamboo poles tied together, tapped on the miner's windows to wake them up for the early shift. When fishing, if we caught an early fish and couldn't get another bite, we used to say that we had caught the "Knocker Up". Bloody hell - things were beginning to fall into place.

Take the "Knocker Up" out of the equation, and the miners overslept - disturb the first sparrow and the rest of the flock will not appear - catch the first bream in the swim and ----- you can finish the rest. Think about that for a while. Now go back to the canal days. Only a fool cast out a waggler or pushed out the pole to the far bank as soon as the match began. You needed the fish to settle - you needed to build up their confidence. You most certainly didn't want to catch the "Knocker Up".


I am now back on the peg 29 aquarium, and between my slipping the net under a series of slabs, Ivan continued to speak, and told about the ten bite rule. " You only ever need ten bites to win a bream match anywhere in the country", he said. "That works out at one bite every half hour". I thought about it for a couple of minutes before re-baiting and casting out again. " If the shoal are settled, and feeding confidently, you should never miss a bite if your set up is right; you will also eliminate most of the line bites as the fish will no longer be nervously milling around". The quiver tip twitched. I twitched and reached for the rod. The stick once again rapped me on the knuckles.

Ivan continued with the masterclass, and slowly, the tip swung round and the rod began to follow it. These bream were becoming a damned nuisance and were interrupting my concentration. There would be many opportunities to catch bream in the future, but to receive a 2 hour lesson from the master was a once in a lifetime chance to skip many years of trial and error - imagine picking up a lifetime's knowledge of bream fishing and possibly even moving on from there. "It isn't all about size 12's hooks and double worm", he said. "Sometimes you will have to fish a single maggot on a size 20's, then it is even more important to take your time and make every bite count, confidence is the key - you have build up the fish's confidence before you even think about catching them".

For those of you who have been privileged enough to have watched Ivan in full cry among a bream shoal, I'm sure that you will agree, he could be bloody infuriating. He would slip the net under a slab - drop his rod on the rest - light a fag, and turn around to talk to the gallery that always accompanied him, sometimes for up to 10 minutes. This wasn't Ivan simply being Ivan as we all thought. This was Ivan observing his 10 bite rule, he was resting his swim, after all, he only needed one bite every half hour.

I have moved on a few years and was sat on the Trent and Mersey canal somewhere in Stafford.
This was Dave Berrows' country, and winning in this part of the world was as easy as falling off a log - you simply had to catch one more fish than Berrowsy. Dave had drawn well in a noted gudgeon area and was odds on. My swim wasn't too good, but occasionally threw up an odd decent caster roach. To my right, was a fishy little bush, and I fired an odd caster over for the first half hour as I scratched around for a few gudgeon. I then pushed over the long pole, and slipped the net under a decent roach.

Now was decision time. How many of you would have pushed out the pole again? I suspect everyone - I didn't - I had been to the master class. Throughout the entire match, I only pushed it across a dozen times. I got my ten bites. As for Dave Berrows? Massively over-rated - I had annihilated him by almost 2 ounces in his own back garden.

I believe that he went into therapy shortly after.


I was now into week 4 following the masterclass by the master, and was sat at my swim on the rowing course in Nottingham. This was the biggest match ever held, and on a pro rata basis, it still is.
It was the Sundridge Carbon King, and by way of promotion, the company had pumped in thousands. Also present were Ladbrokes the bookies, who were attempting to break into the match fishing market. My odds were 66 to 1, and as I was pretty flush and overly confident, I stuck on a fair old wedge for a straight win.

I was now becoming a cocky little shit, having just won 4 bream matches on the trot, catching over 200lb of bream in the process, and slipping in a win on one of Peaty Pat O'Connor's Oxford canal matches on the Saturday. The starting whistle blew, and Ivan's masterplan was put into place.
Forty yards out went a dozen caster crammed balls of feed. Anyone can do that you may think - of course they can, but now came the wisdom. Two balls were fed a few yards to the left of the main dinner table, two balls to the right, and two balls short.

Remember how I said that the main shoal must not be disturbed, the idea being to target an odd fish on the outer edge of the shoal. The knocker up must also be left alone at all costs. I played around on the waggler for perhaps 40 minutes before picking up the quiver tip rod - I slipped 2 worms onto Ivan's size 12 hook, (I had kept the packet) and out went the lot, landing perfectly to the left of the main dinner table, smack on top of the 2 seemingly misplaced balls of feed. I put the rod on the rest, and sat on my hands.

The quiver tip twitched - so did I, yet I managed to hold on, my nerves on edge. The tip slowly pulled round, the rod tip began to follow. I lifted, and round went the rod in a satisfying curve. I was on my way. Slab number one was in the net - nine more bites to go, and over four hours still left. My next cast was to the feed that I had dropped short - same result - slab number two. Slab number three came almost immediately from the right hand area.

 My dad was sat behind me having kittens. "What the hell are you waiting for? Stop bloody talking and cast in", he was almost screaming at me. Dad hadn't been present at the master class. Dad knew nothing about the 10 bite rule. Cast number 4 sailed out once again to the left hand area, and slab number 4 joined his mates' in my keepnet. "This was as easy as shelling peas", the cocky little shit told himself.

I was now over confident, and instead of waiting for a few minutes to allow the shoal to settle, I broke one of Ivan's rules. Out went the lead, only to land smack bang in the middle of the dinner table - smack bang in the middle of the shoal. I had now broken 2 of Ivan's rules. Within seconds, the quiver twitched - I twitched, and totally ignoring all forms of rationality, I struck like a madman.
The rod arched over, and seconds later, the bream came off, right in the middle of the shoal.
I had now broken 3 of Ivan's rules - the penalty was worse than death, off went the spooked shoal of bream.

My 4 slabs weighed in at 17lb 2oz, enough for second place and 300 quid. Dave Edwards of Sheffield weighed in 10 ounces more. Those 3 basic errors had cost me well in excess of 10,000 quid.
To give you some idea of how much money that was then, I had just bought a town house in Hinckley for 10,000 quid. The house is probably worth around 140,000 now, so I had just blown the present day equivalent of 140,000 quid by forgetting the rules of the master.

I didn't sleep well that night, and the following day I could barely speak to anyone in the office.
At lunch time, I walked home and switched on the radio, as I considered the least painful way of topping myself. "Johnny Owens has died", came the news. Johnny was a Welsh boxer who had been knocked out fighting for the world bantamweight title, and had never regained consciousness during his 7 weeks in hospital.

Johnny had come second and lost his life, and there was this cocky little shit who had just come second and won 300 quid. I grabbed my coat, and the still unopened envelope with the 300 quid in it - shot off to work, and almost physically dragged out the entire office. A couple of hours later, we all returned, blind drunk. Most of the 300 quid had gone, and so had the cocky little shit - confined to the scrapheap of history where he belonged.

I can still remember almost every word spoken during my masterclass with the master. Ivan Marks had many imitators during his life, but just like the Mona Lisa, nothing ever came close to the original.

For more great stories from Billy pick up a copy of his book  - Fishing and Testicles

Also look out for my interview with Billy coming soon!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Kayleigh Smith Interview

My latest interview is with England and Matrix star, Kayleigh Smith.

Hi Kayleigh, thank so much for agreeing to answer my questions;

Firstly, wow, what a year you’re having, Ladies Fish O Mania champion, Division 2 National Winner and represented England – phew! What’s next?

Kayleigh - Yes it’s definitely been a good year for me. Next up is the Winter League with Ossett, so hopefully we will be able to qualify for the Winter League final again and probably a few open matches/leagues at Lindholme and on the Stanie. I’ve already qualified for next year’s Ladies Fish’O on the last Ladies National, so I will be trying to retain my title, while trying to qualify for one of the big money finals in 2018.  

Can you tell us how you got into fishing and what was your first fish?

I first got into fishing by walking my dog around a local quarry where a few of my friends went fishing. I was bought a setup from Argos and during the summer holidays I would go every day to the tackle shop for a pint of maggots, I caught my first fish here which was a roach. The Leeds juniors were run from the tackle shop so I got asked if I wanted to join their team. I did and that’s how I progressed into match fishing and never looked back.

Match angling is still very much a male dominated sport, do you encounter much in the way of chauvinism or patronising attitudes? 

No, very much the opposite. Most people are very nice and are willing to share information. It does help however if you are able to join in the banter that takes place and learn to give as much as you get. It’s all part of having fun and enjoying the day out, nothing too serious. 

You’re a consultant with Matrix, how much do you get involved with the development of new products and can you tell us a little about the process from concept to the product hitting the shops?

The new SX Slim rods are a very nice silver fish/skimmer rod that I have had the pleasure of using, I generally get to help out in testing the new products, making some of the product videos which you may see on Facebook and Youtube. In terms of product development Matrix have a team dedicated to this, although any ideas/changes we may have, we can put forward for future products. 

What exciting new Matrix products can you tell us about?

There are quite a lot of new products, which have just this week been released so make sure you check them out, they're all on the Matrix website now.

What’s your favourite style of fishing?

It’s a toss up between fishing for roach on hemp and big carp down the edge.


Your favourite species?

Golden tench

Where is your favourite venue?

Canal (Stainforth and Keadby) and commercial (Lindholme Lakes)

Have you any angling heroes or anyone who has inspired you?

Tommy Pickering was the one who introduced me into international fishing and also taught me a thing or two along the way and is someone I still look up to now.  

I see you also do a bit of specimen hunting, what’s your biggest fish in the UK? And abroad?

Yes I like to do a bit of carp fishing in the summer, I generally try to go 2/3 times a year and make all my rigs and hooklengths for the world champs. My biggest UK fish at present is a 25lb ghost carp caught from Pool Bridge Farm and I’ve had bream to 13lb, I’m hoping to catch a UK 30lb next year. My biggest fish abroad is a 51lb mirror carp caught from Crete Lakes in France. 


Your partner is also a match angler, how competitive do you get or do you work together and pool ideas? Is there a cheeky pound side bet when you fish the same matches? And if so who’s got the bragging rights so far this year?

We are quite competitive but we generally don’t have any pound side bets, we just share all our money. We normally try to help each other where we can. So far it’s a close one between us as one of us has picked up at least once every weekend except for 3 so far this year. Overall though I reckon I might have edged it this year 😉. I have won the Ladies Fish O, the Division 2 National with Ossett as well as representing the England Ladies in Hungary along with open matches. Adam won the Bait Tech Winter League Final on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal and the DHP Memorial along with framing in quite a few opens.

A lot of people say commercial fisheries have been the saviour of match fishing, especially with the decline of the rivers but more recently there seems to have been a swing away from carp back towards silver fish matches and rivers, where do you think the future of fishing lies?

I think there will continue to be split opinions on this. I feel that there will always be commercials, with some people seeing no need to fish the rivers or canals, but on the other hand some people just want to fish canals and rivers and don’t want to fish a commercial. I personally enjoy both at different times of the year. Canals in winter and commercials in summer, getting the best of both worlds, and it generally keeps bites coming all year round.

On the whole, match angling is an aging sport (present company excluded of course!) any ideas on how we can get more youngsters into the sport?

When I was younger junior clubs and competitions were very popular and a great way to fish against people your own age, but they seem to be dwindling. I think that possibly running more junior leagues and coaching days and encouraging parents to bring them along to fish is one way to increase numbers. 

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

I would go back to my first Fish’O final, quite a few years ago now and I was 2nd to Sandra (Scotthorne). Back then the matches were only 3 hours long not 4. I had 12kg and Sandra had 22kg. I was on 'The Peg' but it was 10ft deep. I was fishing a too light of float and kept foul hooking barbel as I was feeding meat through a kinder pot. With 1 hour to go I put a new heavier rig on and started big potting meat. I got a fish a chuck until the end. Lack of experience cost me the match and I was sure if I had fished it like that from the beginning, I would have won the match, but you only learn from your mistakes.

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

Feeding little and often is definitely a better method of feeding rather than just dumping in a load of bait and waiting, especially now it’s starting to get a bit colder.

Match fishing has been steadily becoming more professional with anglers smartening up their appearance, big money televised events and more and more sponsored anglers but there are still only a handful of full time anglers, do you think there will ever be a time when match angling can become a viable career, like say professional footballers?

I personally don’t think that match fishing alone will ever be able to become a full time career as there are so many variables that are out of our control and no matter how much time and effort goes in sometimes it’s impossible to get a result from some pegs. However I think it will be possible to make a career from the sport but only through working for companies. The fact that more and more big money matches are available now is a massive positive for match fishing though and hopefully it will continue to grow in the future.

On the subject of the big money events like Fisho, MMT and now the Golden Reel, do you enter the qualifiers? Is there a burning desire to win one of those events?

Yes I enter some of the qualifiers each year, I don’t travel up and down the country like some people, I generally try to do the local ones but with more and more big matches being created it still gives you a lot to go at. I would love just to qualify for one of these events, let alone win one. 


Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?

Fruit ciders or Disaronno and Coke 

Favourite meal?

Indian (Chicken Tikka Garlic Balti and Garlic Nan)

Do you support a football team?


Favourite film?


Many thanks again Kayleigh, from Against Men and Fish

*All images courtesy of Kayleigh Smith

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 1 - 1st October 2017

I was really looking forward to getting back on the river and all the signs were good after some of the guys had been down swim clearing and reported seeing loads of fish. Some other good news in the week as well when the blog went past 600,000 hits, thank you so much for all your support and great feedback, I really do appreciate it.
Amazing numbers!
We had quite a bit of rain mid week which would hopefully put some much needed colour in the river and with 14 booked in, Hurf was going to use Upper and Lower Coxes and Isle Brewers. Several of us met for breakfast at the Little Chef and it was great to see Paul Homewood and Terry 'The Toast' Morgan fishing today, looking at the pegs, I made a mental list of the ones I fancied, 14, 15, 27, 120, 124a and 125 so nearly a 50:50 chance of drawing where I wanted!

After everybody had finished we headed to Upper Coxes to do the draw, Adie went in the bucket first and pulled out 14 so that only left five of my preferred options, by the time I went in, there were only two balls left. I pulled out one and slowly opened my fingers, I could see the first number was a 2 so I wasn't at Isle Brewers, I revealed the second number and it was an 8 which put me on the 'Big Bend' in the copse. It used to be a great peg but in recent times, it's been a struggle and hasn't been used much, the last time it was in, Hurf blanked and I had one minnow from peg 29. But we have to give them a go and peg 27 has been throwing up some decent catches and young Stuart Aplin was on it today.

As for the other pegs on my wish list, Rob was on 15, Fieldy had drawn the fancied peg 120, John Dursley was on 124a and Jake was on 125. After a short drive I parked up by the copse and showed Stu where his peg was before heading to my peg, it looked nice with lots of cover opposite and in the tail of the swim, I got my box low to the water and was quite surprised how clear it was, given the rain we'd had but the river doesn't hold colour for long these days.
Peg 28 in the copse
I set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo to fish the deep water and a 0.6 gram DH16 for shallower water in the tail, both had size 18 B611's to 0.10mm. On the side tray I had the usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp. The allotted start time of 10:30 arrived and I kicked off with a single maggot on the lighter rig and it wasn't long before I had a minnow in the net and that was enough of that! I switched to caster and was expecting to catch quite quickly but never had a bite, after about ten minutes I did catch a small chublet which was on when I moved the rig!

Next I tried the deep rig at ten metres, just short of the tree in the middle of the photo above and finally started getting bites, I had a couple of small dace before catching a slightly better chublet of 4oz or so and then had a lovely dace followed by a decent roach and I was really enjoying myself. As the first hour came to a close I had eleven fish for around 1.5lb and if I could carry on like this, 9-10lb would be on the cards which I thought might be a decent weight today.
I had a nice chublet......
Followed by a clonking dace
Bites slowed up going into the second hour and I added a section to fish right across but the flow was all over the shop and I just couldn't get the rig to hold back or run through any sense and I only added another six fish. Hurf phoned and said the same, he'd caught well to start with before bites slowed up, he also said Paul Homewood had got to his peg and fallen in! Fair play to Paul though, he took off his wet clothes, dried himself off and fished wearing just his waterproofs and a spare hoodie he had in his car.

I did manage two more chublets from tight across but as the half way point arrived, bites were becoming less and less frequent. I'd been feeding the tail of the swim from the start so picked up the shallower rig again, I missed a couple of quick bites before that died a death as well. I stuck some more sections on and went tight to the far bank at 13 metres, I had a decent bite but on the strike a minnow flew out of the water and fell off! Next chuck I had a tiny little chublet of about quarter of an ounce and decided to have one more go over there before trying somewhere else, the float buried and this time the strike was met with some resistance and I gently shipped back before netting another good dace.

Over the next hour or so I had a few more but they wouldn't settle and I'd get a couple before having to try somewhere else. I was still feeding to my right as well and with about an hour left I had another go with the deep rig, I didn't really get the response I'd hoped for and with no bites after ten minutes, I was just about to give it up as a bad job when the float shot under and I had another chublet. Next chuck the rig had barely settled before the float slid away and this felt like a better fish, I was shipping back carefully and the fish was making some darting runs and pulling a fair bit of blue hydro out and I was sure I'd hooked a decent trout and as they count in our matches, it would be a handy bonus. Then it all went slack and the hooklength had gone and I think it had bitten me off!

I tied another hooklength on but that was the last of the action there, for the last hour I fished tight across with the shallower rig and managed a couple more fish and lost another dace before the end of the match arrived. I was gutted about that trout and I hoped it wasn't going to cost me. I'd nearly finished packing up when Stu arrived with the scales, he said he'd caught a few and enjoyed himself but had bumped several as well. I stuck my 27 fish on the scales and he called it at 4lb 7oz which was a little more than I thought but should have been nearer 6lb! We walked up to weigh Stu and he had a level 2lb.
4lb 7oz and quite an enjoyable day but a long way off the pace!
Stu had 2lb from peg 27
Then it was back to Upper Coxes for the results, Adie had 10lb 3oz from 14 but had caught most of that in the first couple of hours, Leighton did really well to weigh 8lb 15oz from new peg 22a, Rob had 4lb 10oz from 15 and Tony Newman didn't weigh in peg 17, so I was well down in my section already and there was still Fieldy to come and I was sure he'd beat me from 120. Sure enough, as the lads started coming back from Isle Brewers, it had fished really well with Graham leading the way with a brilliant 21lb 10oz, he'd fished his normal three sections to hand and had caught loads of small fish and added a 3lb chub for good measure. Thanks to Jake Woodard* and Rob Cox** for the photos.
Graham had a cracking day catching loads of small fish and a 3lb chub for 21lb 10oz*
Adie had 10lb 3oz from peg 14**
Leighton had a nice day on new peg 22a to weigh 8lb 15oz**
Paul Homewood had made the right decision to stay and fish as he had 15lb 6oz which included a 3lb chub and some nice roach, he'd lost a chub as well, Jake Woodard was third with 12lb 8oz of quality roach from 125 followed by John Dursley with 10lb 12oz from 124a, Karl had 6lb 9oz from 123, Bill had 6lb 2oz from 126, Terry weighed 5lb 13oz from 124, Hurf had 5lb 7oz from 129 and lost a big chub but still took a pound off me and I had to give one to Karl as well. Thanks to Steve Hurford*** for the photos.
Paul Homewood had a lovely net of fish for 15lb 6oz and second place***
Bill had 6lb 2oz from peg 126***
A rather blurry Hurf had 5lb 7oz from peg 129***
1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 21lb 10oz
2 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 15lb 6oz
3 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 12lb 8oz

A - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 10lb 3oz
B - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 10lb 12oz

So a great start to the river matches with double figures needed to get in the money and I was spot on with my wish list as four of the top five came from my fancied pegs, not such a great start to my winter league campaign though with a lowly five points out of seven but I'm looking forward to the next one already.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next interview

Check Out - My latest interview with Simon Fry (below)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Simon Fry Interview

My latest interview is with Garbolino star, Simon Fry.

Hi Simon, thank you very much for agreeing to do an interview;

You’ve been a consultant with Garbolino for a long time now which is quite a rarity in this fickle sport of ours and I have to say I find such loyalty refreshing, can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Garbolino?

Simon - I used to work in the cosmetics industry with a guy called Terry Hale back in the mid 80’s! Terry went on to buy a fishing tackle company called Leeda, who were the UK distributors of Garbolino at that time, and asked me to come and work for him. That’s where I met Darren Cox, and the rest as they say is history! Garbolino started dealing directly with the trade (away from Leeda) in 2003 and has been going strong ever since!

Do you get involved with the development of new products and can you tell us a little about the process?

Yes, I do. As well as working together, Darren and I are very good friends and travel around fishing matches a lot. We are always talking about products, ideas, etc. I will often get to play about with prototype products and have an input where I think improvements can be made, etc. We also have regular trips over to Garbolino’s French HQ, where we meet with the French product and management teams. It’s an ongoing process to be honest.

What exciting new Garbolino products can you tell us about?

The major product category about to hit the market is a range of distance feeder fishing rods which I can’t wait for. Feeder fishing is all the rage currently and Garbolino has always had a good name in this area with the original G and Super G distance feeder rods going back years….. This new range (due to launch in October) will take them on to another level!

What’s your favourite style of fishing?

I’m a bit of an “all-rounder” and love many aspects of fishing so don’t really have a specific favourite style. 

Your favourite species?

As with above, I just love catching fish! My favourite species is the one I need to catch to win the match!

Where is your favourite venue?

I’ve got a soft spot for my local River Avon around Stratford and have had some great days on the river. Commercial venue-wise I tend to favour larger open water venues, with Barston, Larford etc among my favourites, having been very kind to me.

Have you any angling heroes or anyone who has inspired you?

In my early days, Ray Mumford. I have been very lucky to fish with a successful Starlets Team over the last 15 years or so, winning lots of big team events, so I’ve taken loads of inspiration from my Starlets colleagues, most notably of course my great mate Darren Cox.

What’s your biggest fish in the UK? And abroad?

Not had many BIG fish, but have had several “just under” 20lb carp in matches.

A lot of people say commercial fisheries have been the saviour of match fishing, especially with the decline of the rivers but more recently there seems to have been a swing away from carp back towards silver fish matches and rivers, where do you think the future of fishing lies?

I hope there’ll be a place for all styles of fishing in the future. I’m sure the current craze for feeder fishing is set to continue, and events like Riverfest prove there is strong demand here too, but I can’t really see the general dominance of Commercial Fisheries fading. 

Match angling is such a complex sport with so many variables, that overnight success is rare, in this day and age of instant gratification and the ‘want it now’ culture, how do we get more youngsters into the sport? and have you got any tips on how they can become successful match anglers?

The question of getting youngsters into fishing is the major issue for everyone connected with the fishing tackle trade. It’s one that is extremely difficult to answer. Those youngsters that are coming through should try and get involved with a club, or go to venues that hold high profile matches and have a look at the top anglers in action. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!

Looking at your profile on the Garbolino website you have an enviable roll of honours, which have been your biggest achievements? And are there any more you would like to add to that list?

Two really stand out, with my biggest achievement being winning the 2005 Division One National on The Grand Union Canal around Milton Keynes with Starlets. This was the last of the really big “Teams of 12” Nationals, and was Starlets first ever Div One Title. What made it extra special for me was winning it individually on the day as well. I had around 25lb of bream and skimmers and had a bumper payday after a bet with Billy Knott!

I also won the Drennan KO Cup in 2009. What a great competition that was and a true test of all round ability, with rounds on canals, rivers and various types of commercials. I beat fellow Garbolino Angler, Ian Didcote in the final who went on to win it himself the following year!

I would obviously love to win one of the major big money events.

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

Never look back! What has happened has happened, just look forward to the next one!

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

Get as much information as you can about where you are fishing, and be fully prepared with your tackle, etc.

Match fishing has been steadily becoming more professional with anglers smartening up their appearance, big money televised events and more and more sponsored anglers but there are still only a handful of full time anglers, do you think there will ever be a time when match angling can become a viable career, like say professional footballers?

Nope! It’s way too niche a sport and in the grand scheme of things just doesn’t attract a wider interest outside of those directly involved.

On the subject of the big money events like Fisho, MMT and now the Golden Reel, do you enter the qualifiers? Is there a burning desire to win one of those events?

I do enter them and have been in FishO, MMT and Riverfest Finals. I just missed out on Feedermasters 4 consecutive times last year, and 3 times this year have framed in a Golden Reel Qualifier. All you can do is keep knocking on the door…………. One day Rodney!?!

Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?


Favourite meal?

Salmon Salad

Do you support a football team?

Haven’t watched a game of football in many years! I do go regularly to support Wasps in the Rugby Premiership, and was at the Prem’ Final at Twickenham earlier this year. 

Favourite film?

The Green Mile

TV show?

Once a year…..The Masters at Augusta

What music do you listen to?

Jazz, Soul.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Waking up on a hot sunny day whilst on holiday, looking forward to a chilled out, fun day with my family.

Many thanks again Simon, from Against Men and Fish

Check out the website here - Garbolino

*All images courtesy of Simon Fry

Monday, September 25, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 24th September 2017

After last week's struggle I was looking forward to fishing Longs this Sunday but feared the worst when I saw on an angling clubs blog that they had it booked for a match and sure enough Pete phoned in the week to say we'd be on Sellicks again.

I met Hurf at the Little Chef for breakfast as he was off to fish the Taunton match on the Tone, which was a nice start to the day but I also received a text from the Tart saying he was on his way to Pete's, which wasn't so nice! I got there in good time and Jeff Sparkes paid me his pound from the other week and I said he'd probably have it back today. While waiting for the draw, Pete showed us his new free range maggots!

Along with Jeff, I had the usual pound with the Tart on our respective positions for carp and silvers and Gareth wanted a pound on both. The golden ball was drawn and today it was peg 2, which Rob Birch then pulled out, I went in and was happy with 19 on the far side, just next door to where I was last week. Rigs were the usual 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp to fish top two on the right and a 0.6 gram Malman Pencil for two lines straight out and angled to the left at ten metres and also a line at five metres. As always my side tray was nice and simple, Bait-Tech 2mm Carp and Coarse micros that I'd soaked the night before plus 4mm Xpands for the hook.
This week I thought I'd treat you to the view looking up the pond!
On the whistle I fed some micros on all four lines before starting on the top two, in almost a carbon copy of last week, I had a small tench quite quickly but unlike the last match I was getting a few indications so stuck with it and added a small roach on the half hour mark but when I saw Roger up on 14 land a skimmer it was time to try my longer lines.

I had a hand sized skimmer followed by a small carp and then another little tench to finish off a steady first hour and I felt a decent weight was on the cards. I should have known better, the second hour was awful with the only action coming from the inevitable foul hooked carp. Pete turned up and said it was fishing really hard, Rob hadn't had a fish yet on peg 2 and Jeff only had a couple of silvers. While he was behind me I had a good bite and struck into a little blade which of course came off as I shipped back and then I hooked yet another carp.

Just after he left, I saw Roger land another skimmer and then out of the blue, I've had a slightly better skimbob but it appeared to be a loner. As the halfway point arrived I only had about a pound in the net but if last week was anything to go by, it would only take a couple of better fish to get a result today. Jack Billett was on 21 and catching carp quite well and it was neck and neck with his brother John who was on 23. There was another Jack on my right, a young lad who travelled up with the Tart and he was catching a few and seemed like a nice young man, although that won't last if he spends too much time in the Tart's company!

It also started raining and Roger walked past to get his coat from the car, he said he'd had three skimmers and a crucian so he was well ahead of me. I had a spell of missing loads of bites on the longer lines and I did lose a slightly better skimmer when I went to unship at the top two. I eventually managed to hit one of those bites and it turned out to be a tiny blade. I had a quick go on the inside but when I lost a carp, that was enough of that.

With two hours to go, it was time to try the five metre line for the first time, I had a bite quite quickly and hooked a little tench that came off at the net which about summed up how the day was going. I started getting quite a few indications and had another tiny little blade so upped the feed to try and get rid of them, it worked to a certain extent as my bites dried up! I did have a couple more carp and two more hand sized skimmers but I knew I hadn't beaten Roger and I hoped those two lost fish weren't going to cost me.

After packing up, we all gathered at Rob's peg to await the weigh in and while we waited we watched Captain Pugwash aka Mike, in the boat trying to retrieve some lost pole sections. I asked Rob how he'd got on and he said he was blanking after two and a half hours but then had caught a few on paste and was admitting to 5-6lb and I was pretty sure nobody else had that so he was in line for a bumper payday. The Tart arrived and was admitting to 60lb, it was looking like he'd be in the top three so I gave him a pound, then Jeff said he was admitting to 3lb of silvers so I paid him as well and all I needed was Gareth to have caught a few silvers and I'd be skint! Pete arrived with the scales and when Rob pulled his net out he had some nice skimmers and his weight was 7lb 13oz, well done mate.
Rob Birch with another winning silvers catch
Jim Jenner was next and stuck 97lb 12oz on the scales, Mike didn't weigh as he was having too much fun in his boat and then Jeff had 3lb 8oz of silvers, the Tart had 80lb 14oz to go into second place before Gareth had 58lb 11oz but as he didn't have any silvers, that side bet was quits - phew! Duncan had 50lb 8oz from peg 12 and then Roy Hughes pushed the Tart down into third place with 87lb 14oz. Roger was next and when he pulled his net out, it was going to be tight and the digital readout settled on 3lb 6oz. Darren K didn't weigh and then young Jack had 34lb 1oz from peg 17.

Then it was my turn and my fish went 2lb 6oz and I don't think those two fish I lost would have been enough for second, I didn't bother weighing my 20lb of carp. That just left Jack B and his brother to weigh and see who would take home the bragging rights, Jack just edged it with 59lb 12oz to John's 54lb 4oz. Thanks to Jeff Sparkes for the photo*
I struggled for 2lb 6oz*
1 - Jim Jenner (Summerhayes) - 97lb 12oz
2 - Roy Hughes (Summerhayes) - 87lb 14oz
3 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 80lb 14oz

1 - Rob Birch (Summerhayes) - 7lb 13oz
2 - Jeff Sparkes (Summerhayes) - 3lb 8oz
Decent overall weights but it's a struggle on Sellicks for silvers at the moment
So Jim won on the day and Rob took home a big fat envelope for winning on the golden peg and both him and Roger have been hard to beat on silvers all summer. Next week we're on the river for the first match of the winter league and I'm really looking forward to it as some of the lads have been down swim clearing and are reporting loads of fish about.

I can't go without saying well done to Hurf who had a better day than I did when he finished second in the Taunton AA match on the Tone at Newbridge with over 7 kilos of quality roach on the waggler.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next interview coming up in the week

Check Out - My last match (below)