Friday, December 29, 2017

Hebditch's Pond - 28th December 2017

This time last year, I arranged a match out the pond which proved very popular with seventeen anglers fishing and I got asked by several people if I was doing the same this year but after lots of initial interest, there were only going to be a few of us so I was just going to fish Summerhayes on the Friday instead. To cut a long story short, the match was off then on again several times and to be honest I was getting a bit fed up with it (like I've said many times, who would be a match organiser!). Harry then contacted me and said he was still keen to do something and suggested we fish his pond again to see if it would fish better than last time.

It was more of a knock up to be honest as a lot of people had family commitments or were fishing elsewhere but I was just looking forward to getting out of the house. A hard frost greeted me in the morning but it didn't actually feel too cold, we met at Cartgate for breakfast and with only a few of us fishing I had suggested leaving peg 1 out to try and make it a fairer match but the general consensus was to leave it in. Harry held out his hat containing folded up bits of paper and we all picked one hoping it would be the flier but nobody could bring themselves to look, then Jake spoiled the party by looking and admitted he had it.

Okay, failing that, pegs 2 or 10 would do but Frank and Harry had those, Steve P was on peg 4 and not happy, I looked at mine and saw I was on peg 8, I was fairly happy even though it blanked last match as I've done alright there before. On arrival the pond was flat calm apart from several poxy cormorants including one that gulped down a pound carp while we were there but they didn't hang around long. I set up the same rigs as last time, a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for fishing two lines at 10 metres plus a 0.3 gram Drennan Margin Crystal for dobbing bread by the dead reeds to my left.
Peg 8 and as far away from peg 1 as you can get!
Harry whistled to get us under way and I put in a few grains of corn with some micros at ten metres angled to my right and a single ball of Bait-Tech Special G Dark with some dead reds at the same distance, angled to my left. I then dobbed some bread all along the reeds but never had a touch, Bill on my right said that Jake was already catching well on peg 1 and as suspected the rest of us were fishing for second place already. I gave it twenty minutes on the bread but was soon trying corn and then double dead red over the longer lines but much like the last time, the float rather stubbornly refused to go under. The first hour passed without so much as an indication so it was time for a quick walk.

Bill hadn't caught on peg 9 and nor had Frank on 10 although he said he'd briefly foul hooked a fish on the lead, I got to Jake and he'd had eleven carp already! Harry had one on peg 2 and Steve P was still blanking so although first place was out of sight already, second and third were still very much up for grabs. While I was stood with Steve, Jake had carp number twelve and then Frank struck into a fish so thinking perhaps the fish had started to wake up, I headed back to my swim, as I reached Frank's peg he was playing another fish which elevated him into second place.

Sat back on my box, I tried the longer lines again but no bites and I had to try something else. Jake was catching by the reeds and Frank was blanking until he fished by the reeds so thinking that the carp were in any available cover because of the cold, the cormorants or both, I set up a Carpa 2 to fish by the dead reeds to my left, my only concern was that they both had a good depth by their reeds whereas I only had around two and a half foot in the corner by my dead vegetation.

I shipped out with a piece of corn on the hook and toss potted in two grains and a pinch of micros, I lifted and dropped the rig every few minutes but no indications and it was starting to feel very similar to the last match here where I didn't have a bite for four hours! I went to lift and drop the rig for the umpteenth time but I was snagged up and as I lifted, one of the reeds moved and then something started to pull some elastic out! I played the fish with kid gloves before netting a nice carp of 2lb or so.
After two hours I had my first carp (even though I hadn't had a bite!)
I've gone in again and after another five minutes, there was a sharp dip of the float before it submerged and carp number two was on. After safely netting it, I went back out ready for another but it didn't happen. Bill still hadn't caught and said he was going round to see how Steve was doing, he stopped to see how the others were doing and then spent ten minutes with Steve before making his way back, just as he was approaching his peg, a slow bite resulted in my third carp. Bill reported that Steve was still blanking, Harry had two carp, Jake was still catching odd fish and Frank now had seven carp so although it looked like first and second places were already filled, third was still a possibility.

I shipped back, tapped in a few micros and two pieces of corn and was just about to check my phone when the float slid away as carp number four took the bait. Then I had three more, one after another before the bites just stopped, I cupped in some more feed on the longer lines and went back to fishing by the reeds. After about ten minutes, I missed a good bite but that was it, I tried punched bread and then double dead red maggot, I had a good bite but the strike resulted in a small rudd flying out the water. Just then Harry turned up, I went back to corn on the hook and shipped out, explaining to him how I had a purple patch with bites coming just after I'd tapped a little feed in from the toss pot, with that, the float sailed away and carp number eight was soon in the net.

Two in the next two chucks and I started to think I could mount a late charge as Harry said Frank was on ten carp and Jake now had twenty but there was still an hour left. Harry left me to it but then I couldn't buy a bite again, Bill was getting odd fish now and was up to four. I did try my longer lines again, mainly to rest my other line but I never had a bite so with half an hour left, I came back in by the reeds but no more indications until two minutes to go when I missed my second bite of the day and that was it.

It got really cold in the last half an hour and when I went to pack up, the toss pot on my other rig was frozen to the ground! Frank shouted up to ask how many I had, I told him and he said he'd ended up with fifteen and Jake had twenty four, I knew they'd beaten me but hopefully I had enough to hang on to third place. As Steve hadn't caught and Harry chucked back, we walked up to Jake and after several weighs his total was 65lb 7oz, Frank had 36lb 13oz which included some good fish, Bill didn't weigh and then my ten carp (and a rudd) went 22lb 10oz and I ended up third and picked up £20.
Jake had a lovely days fishing for a comfortable win with 65lb 7oz
Frank had 36lb 13oz from peg 10
I was third with 22lb 10oz
So quite an enjoyable day and it was nice to be out, I have to say thanks again to the Hebditch family for letting us fish the pond and I'm looking forward to fishing it again in the summer. Well that's nearly it for this year with just the IBC match on New Years Eve to go, there's twelve booked in already including a new face as the popularity of the matches continues to grow and I really hope we can keep this going as it's brilliant and testament to the great and varied fishing the clubs got.

1 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 65lb 7oz
2 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 36lb 13oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 22lb 10oz

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Yearly review and another trip down memory lane

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Perry St Pond - 24th December 2017

With it being Xmas Eve I wasn't going to fish but the thought of going nearly two weeks without my fishing fix didn't really appeal. If possible I wanted to stay local but I knew Ilminster didn't have anything on so I text Les who said they were going out Perry St and I could fish, perfect. Of course it didn't take long for my arch nemesis, The Torquay Tart, to get wind I was fishing and I soon received a text saying not to forget to bring a pound for him, on the plus side he said Smithy was also fishing and bringing cakes!

We met at Wetherspoons and I have to say I really enjoyed the breakfast, lots of it and coffee for less than a fiver, great value. It was great to see everyone and to be honest, as I haven't fished it since the summer, I didn't have a clue what would be a good peg this time of year. Everybody was saying 19 would be hard to beat today and also peg 10 had won the last match but once again my drawing arm had deserted me when I opened my peg and saw number 14 staring back at me. To be fair it's normally a pretty good peg so I wasn't too upset.

Hoff was the lucky angler to pull out 19 and the Tart was looking very pleased with himself as he'd drawn peg 4 with three empty pegs to his right and one to his left! Les and Commander Smith were the two anglers on corner pegs 10 and 11 and my neighbours for the day were Bushy on 16 and Mark on 13. The Tart asked if I wanted to enter their van sweep so I stuck my quid in the hat.
The Tango Tart looking even more smug than usual (if that's possible!)
We got to our pegs and the pond was very clear although there was the odd small fish topping which I hoped was a good sign. I set up a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp to fish two lines at 10 metres, one angled to the right with corn over micros and the other to the left with dead maggot over Special G Dark, I also had some Bait-Tech 4mm expanders for a change of hookbait.
The pond was gin clear and flat calm
Bait-Tech corn, The Juice and Special G Dark
On the whistle I fed both lines before starting over the micros with a single grain of corn, I thought it might take a while to get bites but the Tart was into a carp quite quickly and so was the Hoff. After twenty minutes I hadn't had a bite on corn so switched to double dead red maggot over the groundbait but by this stage my orange nemesis had already had two carp and I feared the writing was on the wall already. But then I had an indication before the float slid away and the strike resulted in a decent fish on, it wasn't a carp but a skimmer of 12oz or so was very welcome all the same. I had another skimmer, this one about 6oz and although I was a long way behind Brendon and Hoff who had both added skimmers to their carp, nobody else had caught much, Bushy and Butch over on peg 6 were catching roach and the odd small skimmer.

I added a third hand sized skimmer before the end of the first hour, a quick try with dead maggot over the micros line resulted in a small roach back and then I had another over the groundbait, I put an expander on and missed a bite but I think it was roach and I wouldn't be winning anything with those, especially as Yardie on peg 8 landed two carp in quick succession. Bish turned up for a walk around and it was nice to have a chat as I hadn't seen him for ages, he soon got bored of watching me catch nowt and left me to it.

I tried maggot again and lost a skimmer before catching another around 6oz along with a couple of roach but I was going nowhere and when Yardie added a third carp and I heard Captain Smith up on peg 11 had a couple as well, I knew I needed to catch carp. I stuck with corn for the next couple of hours but never even had an indication and the Tart was still catching quite well and getting cockier by the minute. You could tell he was doing well because he kept saying Hoff had more than him to try and put us off the scent.

With two hours to go, Bushy, me, Mark and Butch opposite still hadn't hooked a carp so in a bid to try and make something happen I stuck on a couple more sections and fished towards the left hand rope with corn on the hook and just toss potting in a couple of grains with a few micros and I did have a couple of little knocks and missed a good bite but that was it. I tried scaling down to 0.10mm and a size 18 808 and even went to 14.5 metres towards the aerator but it was like the middle pegs were devoid of carp and I wasn't too upset to hear the final whistle.

I packed up and took my gear pack to the car before we congregated by the Tart's peg and when I asked what weight he had, he was admitting to 32lb, he had ten carp and skimmer and his first net was more than his estimate, he ended up with 51lb so not too far out then! Butch had 3lb 6oz of skimmers and roach, Chris had 11lb 6oz and then Les had one carp for 4lb from peg 10. Smithy had caught a decent skimmer late which came in handy as he weighed 13lb 10oz to push Yardie down into fourth place.
The Tart with part of his winning 51lb
Superintendent Smith had 13lb 10oz from peg 11
The Hoff was second with 29lb 10oz from peg 19
Mark had 3lb 10oz of silvers and then my four skimmers and three roach went 2lb 6oz and Bushy didn't weigh, Hoffy on the other end peg had 29lb 10oz to take second spot. So the Grinch ruined Xmas by winning but then Santa Smithy restored my faith in humanity by handing out gifts in the shape of donuts and cookies, what a nice man, although I drew the line when he asked me to sit on his knee and tell him what I wanted for Xmas! The thought of Smithy in a red suit coming down my chimney with a bulging sack is quite frankly, the stuff of nightmares!
Santa Smithy provided the best bite of the day with these lovely after match treats
Even though the Tart took my pound off me in the van sweep he had the audacity to claim I owed him a pound!, well I suppose it doesn't happen very often so he has to make the most of it when it does.

1 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 51lb
2 - Mark Hollister (Chard) - 29lb 10oz
3 - Mike Smith (Torquay) - 13lb 10oz
4 - Chris Whitham (Torquay) - 11lb 6oz

Well as I'm posting this on Xmas Day, I hope you've all had a lovely day, received loads of fishing gifts and eaten and drunk yourselves silly! Merry Xmas

Next up - The next scheduled match is on the Isle on the 31st but hopefully I'll get out in the week somewhere too

Coming soon - Yearly review and another trip down memory lane

Check Out - My look at seat boxes (below)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Perfect Seatbox?

With Preston just releasing their new carbon seatbox with a, frankly ludicrous, £2200 price tag, it got me thinking, is there such a thing as a perfect seatbox? Preston, by the way, have to be applauded because although they won't sell very many, the social media coverage they have had as a result is huge which I'm sure was the intention in the first place!

We can all probably remember our first seatboxes and looking back over my 38 years of fishing, I've had a surprisingly small number of places to sit my bum, some would say it's because I'm tight (I prefer frugal!) or maybe I just get my money's worth. I've never really been a tackle tart and I can't afford to change my pole or box every time a new model comes out.

Although most peoples first seatbox was an iconic wicker basket (or creel), the first one I had was a wooden box given to me by Trevor Hyams way back in 1980. It was replaced by a canvas and metal framed monstrosity made by Efgeeco, that I received as a Xmas present one year. It wasn't long after that, Brennan and Hickman started producing fibreglass seatboxes and although I never had one, I did upgrade to a blue fibreglass box, from Rule's in Langport of course!
My Efgeeco was something like the one in the middle at the top of the picture above
A Brennan and Hickman box
Around the time I bought my blue box, a real game changer hit the market when Shakespeare released their blue moulded plastic seatbox, they must have shifted hundreds of thousands of them as every man and his dog had one and they could be seen on river banks and towpaths all over the country. Later they released grey and green versions and also several accessories like a tackle box that could be clipped on the top to hold all your terminal tackle and bits and bobs.
The Shakespeare Team seatbox, reasonably priced, sturdy and waterproof - genius
The next massive innovation came when Octoplus released a set of adjustable legs that could be fitted to your seat box to ensure you were level, no more looking for stones or bits of wood to wedge under the box on uneven ground. I had a set but as I was clueless at doing anything remotely practical, Frank Woodard came round and fitted the legs to my fibreglass box. The standard legs which were about six inches in length were fine if you were setting up on fairly solid ground but if it was muddy or boggy you were in trouble as they were quite thin and sunk into soft ground. Of course you could buy longer legs, mud feet and a whole host of other accessories which fitted on the legs and turned your box into a fishing station. Attachments like feeder arms and side trays made fishing so much easier.
A Shakespeare box with Octoplus legs and various trays and attachments
We had now come a long way from the humble wicker basket but things were about to get even more advanced with the arrival of the first continental style seat boxes, the ASI (or AS1 which I believe was the proper name) burst onto the scene and I must admit to suffering from serious box envy when I saw my first one but they were way out of my price range at over £300. They were a very cleverly designed with loads of features, legs that extended from the box itself, several wooden trays, a brolly spike holder in the back of the box, a padded seat and it came with a groundbait tray that fitted on the bottom of the box for transit, it could also be used as a side tray. They came in various colour schemes and changed the face of seatbox design forever.
The AS1 was totally different than anything I'd seen before!
Some fantastic boxes came onto the scene over the next few years made by firms like Boss, Brilo and Matchbox with most having an integral footplate which was another massive leap forward as up until that point, most anglers took a separate platform with them. I still had my blue fibreglass box which had lasted me years but when my mate Andy bought a second hand Milo Tardis box, I had to have one, it was built to the same basic formula as the other boxes I've just mentioned, folding footplate, deep base unit, three side drawers, two front drawers, pole seat, space for winders and extendable legs that were very stable even at full length. It had loads of storage space and it certainly lived up to its Tardis name, it even had a side tray which held a groundbait tray underneath that slid under the box in transit, a brilliant idea, you could use it as a groundbait bowl or on wet or windy days you could put bait etc in it and slid it under the side tray so that it didn't get wet, almost like an early version of these very expensive trays with a lid that are so popular now!

Not long after, the opportunity arose to buy a nearly new Tardis for £350 so I bit the bullet and delved into my savings. It was a heavy box but even with the legs fully extended, it was rock solid and you could stand on it no problems at all. I had that box for years and it was still going strong when I got rid of it, admittedly it was a bit like Trigger's broom from Only Fools and Horses, it had a new gel seat courtesy of Andy who'd packed in fishing and I'd bought some new legs over the years when the locking nuts had seized but it was a brilliant box.
My Milo Tardis in 'action' on the Isle at Redbridge (note the side tray behind it)
So after many years of faithful service, I'd decided to retire the Tardis and treat myself to a new box, but what to get? if money had been no object, I'd have probably gone for a Rive but I just couldn't justify spending around a grand on a box (not that I had that kind of money to spare anyway!). With my budget, the front runners were the Preston box, the Daiwa Tournament and the Matrix Superbox which was the new kid on the block and after talking to loads of people, that was the one I decided to go for.

The day arrived to pick it up from the tackle shop and then I realised I didn't have any attachments that fitted so bought various keepnet arms and a side tray which added another £60 or so and this was getting expensive, also unlike several of the other seat boxes on the market, winders weren't supplied. I got my shiny new box home and set it all up in the garden and I have to say it looked nice but then I noticed my first niggle, one of the side drawers wouldn't shut properly due to the rubber seal, I contacted somebody at the shop and they said not to worry and that it would soon 'bed in', well over three years later, it still hasn't!

So my relationship with my new box hadn't got off to the greatest of starts but there were other little annoyances too, I hadn't had the box long and the footplate warped, looking online, it seemed to be quite a common problem, then one of the cheap carabiner clips that attached the strap to the box broke, although Matrix were very good and sent a replacement free, I couldn't believe they'd scrimped on such a vital clip, especially when really good quality carabiners are only a couple of quid from outdoor type shops. I've since had another clip break and again, Matrix did send me another but I'm not looking forward to the day it happens and I have to carry my box across two fields!
My Matrix Superbox (I use the term loosely!)
The problems didn't end there, I was at Dillington one day, sat out in the water and I have to say it's a nice stable box to sit on but when I came to pack up, I went to take my box out of the water and the legs were stuck in the soft mud, no problem you'd think but as I heaved, all the mud feet detached from the legs! After digging round in the mud, I managed to retrieve them but now every time I fish on soft mud, the same thing happens, another example of cutting corners, why weren't they riveted instead of just being pushed in, I'm not even sure they were glued! I also bought some Matrix winders which had sliders on the side (great idea by the way) which did away with the need for pole anchors to attach your rigs but these kept pinging off, effectively rendering the winder useless. I've got some similar winders from a different manufacturer and they are much better quality.

I can also foresee further problems ahead, the carrying strap attaches to some webbing/straps that are attached to the box's frame, it looks quite hardy and has lasted three years so far but what happens if it breaks or rots or the mice have a chew on it? It doesn't look a simple job to replace it, so I then won't be able to attach the carrying strap and it's not a light box to lug about. With most boxes, if the carrying strap breaks, it's not a big deal to buy a new strap.

Now, given all I've just said, I've actually grown to quite like the box but it could be so much better, surely the team of designers and consultants at Matrix are made up of top anglers and know what anglers want from a box, just a few tweaks and the Superbox would live up to it's name but if I went out and bought the latest version tomorrow, I bet many of the little niggles I've mentioned above, still haven't been addressed.

So going back to the title of this post, is there such a thing as 'The Perfect Seatbox?', at the moment, the two that I hear talked about a lot are the Rive and the Octobox but are either the ultimate seatbox? Lets have a look at each in turn, the Rive certainly looks like a lovely bit of kit and has a price tag to match, which in itself puts a lot of people off and if you want to add accessories that will add a rather formidable sum to your initial outlay as. I'm also a little mystified about the much talked about 'Open Leg System', as far as I can see it's a system that allows you to take legs out to add attachments etc without having to lift the box up. Now I've never seen this as a particular issue, Rive have created this fantastically engineered answer to a problem that doesn't really exist!

The average Rive box will cost you over a grand which a lot of people don't spend on a pole, although they might be secretly pleased with Preston's new arrival as all of a sudden Rive's boxes look a bargain at half the price! The Guru edition is a sexy looking box but at £1149 for the basic model, it should be!
The Guru Rive, lovely looking box
What about the Octbox that loads of top names have started using, it looks very well made and built to last but a lot of people don't like the 'Meccano'-esque' look of the box, that really doesn't bother me although compared to the racing car looks of the Rive, it definitely comes second in that department. Also for me, it extends to far out the front where there is a space for a keepnet, which for me isn't needed as these days people need three or more keepnets to fish most commercials. The basic D25 model (with 25mm legs) comes in at a reasonable £350 while the D36 will set you back around £695. With everything fully extended, the Octbox wouldn't look out of place in the North Sea!
The Octbox
What about some of the other top brands then? well Milo, Garbolino and MAP all have seatbox ranges but none of them really appeal to me, MAP do produce a really nice carbon model of their own but at £1249, I would buy a Rive. So there you have it, my thoughts on seatboxes, hopefully it's given you something to think about, I don't think there is a 'Perfect Seatbox' out there at the moment but if money was no object I would probably go for the Guru Rive but as a lottery win is unlikely, I'll have to stick with my Matrix for now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hebditch's Pond - Charity Match - 17th December 2017

I was talking to Harry recently and happened to mention it would be nice to fish the pond again and with a free date this Sunday and Harry actually having the day off, a match was arranged and as always we would all make a donation to a charity of his choosing. With only limited places available, these were offered to the regulars and it filled up in no time. I was really looking forward to it but then it got really cold and I had visions of us having to break the ice but by midweek, the temperature rose of couple of degrees and hopefully we wouldn't have to get our Eskimo gear out!

I woke up early Sunday morning and was relieved to see we hadn't had a frost, I got to Cartgate in good time and most people were already there including our very own 'Elf on a shelf'. We paid our pools and also stuck £2 each in a kitty for a guess the weight competition for the top silvers and carp weights, I went for 32lb 8oz of carp and 4lb 12oz for silvers, guesses varied a fair bit with somebody saying 100lb for carp which I thought was a tad optimistic and 13lb for silvers.

After breakfast it was time for the all important draw and as always, everybody wanted the prolific reed bed pegs (1 and 10). I delved into the bucket and pulled out a ball but didn't look, as people started writing their numbers down, nobody was admitting to number 1 and I was hoping it was finally going to be my day as I've never drawn it. Alas as I opened my fingers, the number six was staring back at me. Rob was the lucky angler to draw peg 1 and would be able to check his Wi-Fi password still worked and Hurf was on peg 10.
Ilminster's Elf on a shelf!
After a short drive we arrived at the pond and Harry said I was on the left up in the corner, an area I draw a lot and to be honest I've struggled here a few times. It looked nice with a tree in the water on my right and the end bank to fish to on my left. The wind was keen, cold and blowing straight into the corner which I didn't think would do me any favours. On the side tray, I had corn, dead red maggots, Bait-Tech 2mm Carp and Coarse pellets that I'd soaked and added some Special G Dark to plus a couple of slices of bread for dobbing.
Looking up the pond from chilly corner
I set up a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for fishing two lines at 10 metres, one with micros and corn and the other with dead reds plus a 0.3 gram Drennan Margin Crystal for dobbing bread. My neighbours were Bill 'The Paste King' on my right and Jake on the left, he had some reeds in his swim and apparently carp could be seen in amongst them so hopefully we'd get a few today. The match got underway and I cupped in a few micros and a few grains of corn at 10 metres angled to my right and some dead reds at the same distance but angled to the left.

I started with punched bread on the dobbing rig in the corner at about 10 metres, lifting and dropping by the cover, nothing after 10 minutes so I added another section to search further along the bank and then went to 13 metres but nothing, not a touch. I saw Frank up on peg 3 net a fish on the lead, Karl on peg 2 had one on the pole and Steve P on peg 9 had lost a couple, after three quarters of an hour, I hadn't had an indication of any kind and I was cold so decided to have a quick walk to warm up.

First stop was Bill who'd had a carp on, you've guessed it, paste, Stuart on peg 8 hadn't had a bite, Steve P had one carp but had lost two and Hurf was still waiting for his first bite. I got to Rob and as I hadn't seen him catch, I thought he might have sneaked in a fish or two and was quite surprised when he said he'd already had nine carp! As I was with him he lifted and dropped the rig, the float settled and slid away and carp number ten was on, so at least I'd seen a bite! Karl was next with four carp and Frank had two on popped up bread so there were obviously a few fish at that end!

As I headed back to my peg, Harry hadn't caught on peg 4 and Jake was still blanking, I sat back on my box and poured a coffee before having my first bite of the day when I opened my chocolate bar, and very nice it was too! Over the next hour or so I tried corn and double dead red maggots on both of my longer lines but the float never even trembled!
Best bite of the day!
As we approached the halfway mark, I could see Rob was still catching well and Karl and Steve P were getting odd fish but nobody else seemed to be doing much. Both Jake and Harry were still biteless and walking so I went for another wander as well, Bill now had three carp on paste but said bites were very few and far between so it was just a case of sitting and waiting. As far as the silvers were concerned, Bill said Hurf was admitting to one roach so it wouldn't take a lot to win that pot!

I went back determined to catch something, I did contemplate scaling right down but Jake said he'd tried that and it hadn't done him any good. It also rained on and off and combined with staring my first blank for ages in the face, this wasn't turning out to be the day I'd hoped for! Harry had another wander to try and keep warm and said he'd had two carp out of the blue on double red maggot but now couldn't buy a bite again, he also said Jake was still blanking so it wasn't just me.

Then after four hours it happened, there was a slight dip on the float and I thought I was seeing things but then it very slowly sunk from view, the strike resulted in a fair bit of yellow elastic coming out and I'd only gone and hooked a carp! I played it very carefully and slid the net under a 2lb carp, not a big fish but it had saved the blank and there was still an hour and a half left to go. Any thoughts of staging a comeback soon disappeared when I shipped out again and the float just sat there.

Another five minutes passed and I was just thinking that was going to be my only action of the day when the float went under again but this time, the strike wasn't met with solid resistance but with a small rudd flying out of the water, I started to ship back but any visions of winning the silvers pool didn't last as it came off! The same think happened a few minutes later and had I just fluffed, not one but two chances of winning some money?

I put on two dead red maggots and finally opened my silvers account with a small rudd, I added a few more and then with about fifteen minutes to go I had another carp, this one around 3lb and that was it  for me. I packed up but any faint hopes of winning the silvers faded away when Harry said Bill had 2lb of rudd. Young Stu hadn't caught in peg 8 so we started the weigh in with Steve P who had 11lb 7oz but had lost several carp which could be costly on a tough day like today, Hurf had caught four carp in the last twenty minutes for 9lb 14oz but also had 3oz of silvers. Then we got to Rob and after three weighs his total was 42lb which would easily be enough to win today.
Steve P had 11lb 7oz from peg 9
Hurf had 10lb 1oz in the last twenty minutes
Rob with part of his winning 42lb from peg 1
Next up was Karl on peg 2 who had 18lb 7oz to go into second place, Frank had four carp for 9lb 2oz from peg 3, Harry and Jake didn't weigh and then it was my turn, my two carp weighed 5lb 5oz but then my 5oz of rudd put me in the lead for the silvers but I knew Bill had more than that and he did with 1lb 11oz, I was just thinking that was that but when Bill said he had four carp, if they weighed 10lb he would frame and I'd pick up the silvers pool by default! He plonked them in the weigh sling and the needle pulled round to 11lb 2oz to give him a total of 12lb 13oz and third place.
Karl had 18lb 7oz for second place from peg 2
I only had two carp for 5lb 5oz
Bill 'The Paste King' was third with 12lb 13oz
Back at the results, after the top three were paid out, I picked up £20 for winning the silvers and then the winners of the guess the weights were called out, Harry was closest to the carp weight with his guess of 44lb and mine was the lowest silvers guess with 4lb 12oz so we picked up a tenner each but when Harry gave his back for the charity, I did the same which bumped the total up to £70.

1 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 42lb
2 - Karl Aplin (Ilminster) - 18lb 7oz
3 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 12lb 13oz

Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5oz

So a difficult day for most but a nice sum raised and the charity chosen this time around was the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association after a close friend of many in the club, Nick Barrett, lost his son to this cruel condition. If you would like to donate or find out more please click on the link.

Prader-Willi Syndrome Association

A massive thank you to the Hebditch family for letting us fish the pond and also to all the anglers for sticking it out and their generosity.

Next up - Perry St

Coming soon - Yearly review and another trip down memory lane

Check Out - My last match (below)

Before I go I would just like to wish everybody who reads the blog a Merry Xmas and thanks to everyone who has taken time to comment, message or say hello on the bank, I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dillington Pond - IBC Winter League 5 - 10th December 2017

With temperatures plummeting and matches being cancelled all over the place due to snow, this had the makings of being a real grueller. The weather wasn't too bad on Saturday but waking up this morning is was chucking it down and judging by all the water around, it had been all night and with strong winds to contend with as well, we were in for an uncomfortable day. I got to the Bowling Club and the decision was made to move the match to the pond which was definitely the right decision and hopefully we should get plenty of bites.

I drew number 2, which is a great peg and one I haven't fished for a while, Baz was on peg 1 with Bill on 24 and these three pegs are normally pretty sheltered which would be a massive bonus on a day like today. We got out the pond and all headed to our pegs, Adie was on 19 again but said he wouldn't be able to fish the pole as the wind was horrendous, I must admit I felt for Steve P and Frank who were on pegs 13 and 14 on the bottom bank and would have the wind straight in their faces.
The view from peg 2
I mixed up some Bait-Tech Pro Natural Dark before setting up my rigs, a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti for 8.5 metres just off the bush on my right where I would feed two balls of groundbait containing a few pinkies and casters, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing over groundbait at 8.5 metres (because of the wind) straight out and a 0.4 gram Drennan Pencil to fish off the end of the bush to my left where I would feed chopped worm and caster but after last week, I wouldn't fish it unless loads of big fish started getting caught.

Rob got us underway with a single toot on his whistle and I fed all three lines before starting by the bush to my right with single disco pinkie on the hook, bites from small roach came quickly but I was soon trying single and then double maggot in a bid to catch a better stamp, I had a couple of 2-3oz fish so I tried caster but had to wait ages for bites and the fish were no bigger so it was back to maggot. Baz was catching quite well and had netted a couple of rudd, I couldn't really see anybody else apart from Adie on 19 and Karl on 18 and they were both fishing the feeder although I hadn't seen them catch yet.

Although windy, the rain wasn't too bad to start with but then after about 30 minutes, it ramped up several notches and I had to put my coat on and the lids on my maggots and pinkies to try and stop them escaping. I was catching quite well and after an hour I had 24 fish for probably a pound and a half but as I thought 8-10lb would be needed to get in the money, my catch rate would need to improve if I was going to do any good today. I was feeding casters and hemp and kept trying caster on the hook but they weren't really having it yet.

In the second hour, my bites slowed up and much like the last match, I started getting some small perch so I cupped in another small ball of groundbait but it didn't really help, then Adie had two skimmers in the space of half an hour or so and I had to remind myself that the skimmers tend to average a pound apiece so there was no need to panic yet! During the second hour, I added another 21 fish to put me on nearly 3lb but my catch rate was going in the wrong direction.

As we headed into hour three, I tried caster again and had a really good run of fish catching 21 in half an hour, mainly roach with the odd perch and a Dillington barbel, just when I thought they'd arrived, bites tailed off again and I only added another five or six fish in the next thirty minutes. Adie had another skimmer on the feeder but as he was swapping between the feeder and the pole, I don't think he was getting many indications on the tip. The wind had eased off a bit but the rain certainly hadn't and it continued to lash it down, there were maggots and pinkies everywhere and my groundbait was now slop!

With a couple of hours to go, I decided to stick with caster and caught well in spells, I did have a nice roach come off shipping back and I bumped what felt like a better fish but my catch rate had been pretty consistent all day, averaging around 25 fish an hour. Typically as the light started to fade in the last hour, some better roach put in an appearance and I was having to use my landing net more often. When the all out was signalled, I don't think anybody was too upset as we were all soaked through. My final tally was 122 fish which I thought might give me a pound or so more than the 7lb I had last week.

I'd just about finished packing up when Jake arrived with the scales to start the weigh in, Baz pulled his net out and had loads of small fish for 6lb 12oz, then it was my turn and I was pleased to see the needle pull round to 9lb 1oz. Jake had several skimmers and a nice perch for 7lb 8oz on the feeder from peg 5, Stu had fished the whip all day to weigh 2lb 12oz which included a chub that had been through the wars and Rob had some lovely roach and a skimmer for 3lb 15oz on the feeder from peg 8.
Baz had 6lb 12oz from peg 1
I had 122 fish for 9lb 1oz from peg 2
Jake had 7lb 8oz which included some skimmers and a nice perch
Stuart had 2lb 12oz which included another whip caught chub
Rob had some quality roach on the feeder for 3lb 15oz
Last to weigh in our section was Justin who said he thought he'd just done me and he was right as he had a nice net of roach for 10lb 10oz. We then headed back to the cars for the results and Frank had the top weight in the other section with a level 9lb of skimmers on the feeder, so I ended up second on the day and picked up £35 plus a nugget off Steve P who had struggled for 1lb 3oz on peg 13. Adie weighed 5lb 12oz to take the section money, Bill had 4lb 12oz from peg 24, Fieldy had 1lb 9oz from 17 and Karl didn't weigh on peg 18.
A rather moist looking Justin had the top weight on the day with 10lb 10oz
As you can see from the photos, everybody was soaking wet and the weather had been atrocious but considering the conditions it had fished quite well and as ever it was a tight match with fish being caught on a variety of methods, a little gem of a venue that we need to make sure we look after.

1 - Justin Charles(Ilminster) - 10lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 9lb 1oz
3 - Frank Woodard (Ilminster) - 9lb

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 7lb 8oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 5lb 12oz

After five matches and dropping the worst result, here's how the IBC league is shaping up,

Graham Field - 7 pts (dropping 30)
Adie Bishop - 9 pts (dropping 4)
Jake Woodard - 10 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 10 pts (dropping 30)
Bill Hopping - 15 pts (dropping 20)
Karl Aplin - 17 pts (dropping 20)
Stuart Aplin - 18 pts (dropping 6)
Frank Woodard - 24 pts (dropping 30)

I can't go without saying well done to Hurf who fished Taunton's Xmas Fayre on the Tone on Sunday, the match was called off at 12:30 due to rising river levels making it unfishable but he winkled out some bleak and a roach from a swim with a little bit of slack to finish third with 310 grams! He took home a nice prize plus pools money and for good measure he also won two prizes on the raffle, so all in all a decent day.

Last but not least, if you haven't already, please take a minute to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards,

Next up - Charity match

Coming soon - My next great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Dillington Pond/Ilminster Canal - Xmas Fayre - 3rd December 2017

The Xmas Fayre is always well attended with several anglers fishing who only ever fish one or two matches a year. The twenty anglers would be split over the two venues, Dillington Pond and Ilminster Canal and I really fancied having a crack at the latter as I love the canal and haven't fished it for ages. I got to the Bowling Club and it was great to see Andy Welch, Fred and Justin, even Ash had turned up (he must have heard it was on the pond!), there was also another new face in the shape of Baz's brother, Dasher, who was fishing his first match in 35 years!

After breakfast and before the draw, Hurf announced that we would have a two minutes silence in memory of Bob which was a lovely touch. The draw got underway and as per usual I went in late and pulled out a ball which I hoped would be down the canal, it wasn't but as it was peg 18 at Dillington, I wasn't too upset as it's normally a decent winter peg. Baz managed to pull out peg 24 for the second match on the trot and his drawing arm is on fire at the moment. Hurf was on peg 5 down the canal and we agreed to still have our usual side bet as did Steve P who was also down there on peg 3.

I had rather a lot of bait this week, along with the usual maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp, I had chopped worm for the canal and Pro Nat Dark for the pond, I'd also asked Steve to pick me up some pinkies in case it was hard. After a couple of frosts in the week, it was surprisingly mild today and I expected both venues to fish well.

After the short drive I parked up and as I took my kit to the peg, I could see the pond was gin clear and it was flat calm too, what was more worrying was the fact that after being there a little while, I hadn't seen a single fish top and I started to think I might need those pinkies after all. I mixed up some groundbait before setting up my rigs, a 0.5 gram Drennan Roach for fishing over groundbait at 10 metres, a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti for 11.5 metres if I had to go out further and a 0.4 gram Drennan Pencil to fish off the end of the reeds to my left. Just before the start, a couple of small fish topped out in the middle, which hopefully meant we'd get a few today.
The pond was like a mirror
On the whistle, I cupped in a single ball of groundbait containing just a few pinkies and casters at 10 metres and then a big cup of chopped worm, casters, hemp and corn just off the reeds. I put on a single disco pinkie and shipped out to 10 metres and I thought it might take a while to get a bite but the float settled and sailed away, for once I didn't miss it and swung in a small roach. It was a bite a chuck from small roach and the odd perch, Adie on my left had started on the whip and was getting a few and I could see Ash on 17 shipping in and out. I tried caster and red maggot but it didn't really improve the stamp although normally the bigger roach show later on so I'd keep on trying caster throughout the day.

After an hour, I had 32 fish, mainly small roach although I did slip the net under a couple of slightly better 2-3oz fish and I probably had 2lb which was bang on my 10lb target if I could keep that catch rate up. I fed a small ball of groundbait on my 10 metre line before picking up the heavier rig, slipping a grain of corn on trying my bonus fish line for the first time. I gave it ten minutes but with no indications I was soon back out over the groundbait. I had a quick fish on caster but then couldn't buy a bite, I switched back to single pinkie and started catching tiny little perch which was a worrying sign. Adie said he was struggling now as well, I could see Baz catching small fish and it looked like John D over on peg 10, Rob on 8 and Ash were getting a few but as far as I could tell nobody was bagging.

The second hour was slower but I probably added another pound or so (including a Dillington barbel!) but already my 10lb target was slipping away. Another try for a bonus was fruitless so I cupped in another pot of choppie, caster and corn before going back out with caster and had a couple of better fish including a 4oz perch, I did have a better roach come off as I shipped back. At the start of the third hour I tried double caster by the reeds, after a few minutes, the float disappeared but I missed it, back out and another good bite resulted in a small roach flying out the water and that was enough of that for now.

It was back to being a bite a chuck over the groundbait but the lack of quality was a bit worrying, going into the last hour, Adie said he'd seen Jake net a couple of skimmers but other than that I don't think anybody had caught any big fish. Adie had a slightly better perch and a chublet late on, I got to 103 fish (which at an ounce apiece would give me around 6lb) with five minutes to go, so had one last go by the reeds with corn on the hook but I never had a touch on it all day.

As I packed up Ash asked how I'd got on, I told him how many fish I had and asked how he'd done, he said he'd had more fish than me but was only admitting to 5lb (here we go again!), as I had the scales I went up to weigh Baz in first, he'd done really well to weigh 7lb 7oz and I said I thought he wouldn't be far off with that. Dasher was next and had loads of fish for 2lb 9oz and said he'd loved every minute of it so hopefully we'll see him again. Adie had 6lb 8oz and I thought those two better fish late on had probably just pipped me.
Baz had loads of fish for 7lb 7oz
Dasher did really well to catch 2lb 9oz in his first match for 35 years!
Adie had 6lb 8oz from peg 19
We got to my peg and when I pulled my net out, I knew it was going to be close and the needle settled on 7lb and I wished I hadn't wasted an hour throughout the match trying to catch bonus fish. Ash was next and said he'd had another look at his fish and didn't think he had 5lb, well they must have bred in the net because he plonked 9lb 10oz on the scales, now I know we all under estimate a bit (and I'm guiltier than most) but to be 100% out is just criminal! (I hope Santa doesn't come down your chimney!).
I had 103 fish for 7lb from peg 18
Ash did well to catch 5lb (and another 4lb 10oz to go with it!)
As the others arrived back, Jake had done brilliantly to weigh 15lb 8oz of skimmers and roach so he'd sneaked them in quietly and so had John D who had 8lb 3oz of small fish on peg 10. Rob had 5lb 14oz from peg 8 followed by Frank with 3lb 13oz from peg 4, Karl with 3lb 8oz from 13 and Tony with 2lb 1oz from peg 6. So that just left those down the canal although Adie had spoken to Bill earlier and apparently they were really struggling. Thanks to Rob Cox* and Jake Woodard** for the photos.
Jake had the top weight with a lovely net of mainly skimmers weighing 15lb 8oz from peg 2*
Frank had 3lb 13oz from peg 4*
Karl had 3lb 8oz from peg 13*
Tony had 2lb 1oz from peg 6*
John D had 8lb 3oz for third on the pond from peg 10**
Rob the Ewok had some nice roach for 5lb 14oz from peg 8**
We headed back to the Bowling Club for the results and it had been really tough down the canal where Andy Welch was top with a respectable 3lb 5oz which included a nice skimmer, roach and perch but then the weights dropped right off with Justin needing only 1lb 1oz for second place and then it was just ounces. Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photos***
Andy Welch was top down the canal with 3lb 5oz***
Justin only needed 1lb 1oz for second***
Hurf had 11oz from peg 5***
Rich S had 10oz***
Bill had 6oz which included this specimen perch***
Stuart had 6oz from peg 4***
My favourite photo from the day which sums up what the Xmas Fayre is all about, Terry 'The Toast' had mainly small fish in his 1oz catch! but was still smiling***
Also not pictured was Fred who had 4oz and Steve P who didn't weigh and had an early bath (you can let me have the pound next week mate, 5-2 now!). I have to admit I'm gutted the canal fished that hard because I love the place, I think maybe having nine down there was too many and five or six might have been better, I think we need to fish it when it's milder to get a truer picture.
The canal***
Everybody enjoyed a nice hot meal before it was time for the prize giving, the top two on each venue picked up some super pools and then starting with Jake, people were called up to choose from a fantastic array of prizes (Terry said he'd make himself comfortable as he had a long wait!). I was called out in fifth place and picked a bottle of port, cheese selection and some crackers.
Everybody took home a nice prize
1 - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 15lb 8oz
2 - Ashley Tomkins (Tackleuk) - 9lb 10oz

1 - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 3lb 5oz
2 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 1lb 1oz

I have to say everybody fished the match in the spirit it was intended and that's what club fishing is all about, Bill even wore his special Xmas hat with Dasher a close second as Papa Smurf!
Bill's Xmas hat is a work of art!

It was great to see Dasher Smurf fishing today
The club and everybody who fished today would like to say a massive thank you to Hurf for getting all the prizes and organising the match along with Rob Cox and also to Ilminster Bowling Club for looking after us so well.

And finally, it's that time of year again when I plead with you to vote for my blog in the UK Blog Awards, with so many other blogs out there about fashion, food and travel, lets get angling blogs on the map as well! (just click on the image, enter your details and choose 'Lifestyle' from the drop down menu - easy peasy!)

Vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2018

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)