Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Blogging a Dead Horse

The title of this post isn't particularly relevant but I just thought it was quite a good one!

Well, firstly, thank you so much, the blog has hit and surpassed 500,000 hits, yes that's half a million, that figure just seems incredible. In my last Random Ramblings I told you how the blog had nearly 130,000 hits in just over a year, it's now had around the same number in seven months so Against Men and Fish continues to move forward at a rate of knots and I'm now receiving some great feedback on a regular basis so it would seem people are still enjoying the blog.

January also saw the blog reach new heights in the most number of hits in a day with 2788 and that month was the best yet with 29,220.

Along with my weekly match reports I'm striving to bring you lots of interesting extra content and I've got some more great reviews lined up along with another great interview and there are also some guest blogs in the pipeline. For people new to the blog, there is loads of stuff to read, from interviews with Fish O Mania champions to local fishery details and great tackle and bait reviews to Thailand trips, please have a look around and let me know what you think.


Bob Roberts
Tony Curd
Andy May
Jamie Harrison
Mark Hoye
Dean Barlow
Hayley Goldsmith
Johan Attby
Andy Neal
Bonus Interview
Steve Mayo
Dave Harrell
Pete Clapperton







Not wanting to rest on my laurels I'm hoping to start a You Tube channel which will feature some reviews among other things so watch this space!

On the fishing front, 2017 has got off to a pretty good start with a couple of wins on the Isle which helped me to finish runner up in both leagues and I came second in the Open at Dillington.
My second win of 2017 with 14lb 2oz of chub
As ever, feedback is welcome and feel free to send me match reports, photos, tips and I would love to put some more guest blogs on here, just contact me using the form in the side bar of the blog.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hebditch's Pond - Barney's Pairs Open - 26th February 2017

I always look forward to Barney's Pairs Open and as per usual, it was well attended, with 18 anglers fishing this year. With Steve and Cindy back from an amazing trip to New Zealand, we met at the Oak for the draw and breakfast. Most of the usual crew were in attendance and it was also lovely to see Dean Morrison and Paul Adams again. The day got off to a good start for me when Rob handed out the envelopes for the V.E.S. Precision and Royal Oak leagues.
A nice start to the day
When everybody had arrived and finished eating it was time to draw and Rob called one person from each pair up to draw and Justin said I should do it. I pulled out peg 7 at Dillington for him which is where he won the open from, so he was happy and then peg 3 at Harry's for me, which put me on the far side towards the end, not the best of areas and I'd have preferred to have been on the near side. The reed bed fliers had been left out today but I thought the next pegs along would be hard to beat and Harry and Rob were the lucky anglers to draw them.

We got out the pond and it took me two trips to get all my kit round to my peg, I had Jake on my left where he was second the last time we fished here and Rich S was on my right, it was pretty windy for everyone with the exception of Rob who's peg was fairly sheltered, Karl and Steve P were getting the worst of it up the far end. I set up two rigs, a 0.4 gram Drennan Carp for fishing three lines at 10 metres and a Carpa 2 for fishing the margins left and right, both rigs had size 16 Kamasan B911's to 0.12mm.
Peg 3 with Jake on my left and Rob in the trees
On the side tray I had some Bait-Tech Coarse and Carp 2mm micros that I'd soaked the night before with water infused with 'The Juice' and corn and dead maggots which I covered with water and gave a good glug of the same. I was ready with 15 minutes to spare so had a chat with Jake and a few others while we waited for the start time. Rob shouted the all in and I cupped in half a pot of micros with a few grains of corn at 10 metres straight out, a full pot of micros and some corn at the same distance to my right and micros and dead maggots to the left before feeding the margins and then starting straight out with corn on the hook. The rig settled and after a couple of minutes, I had an indication which I missed and I thought there must be a few fish there but next chuck the float just sat there!
Fully 'Juiced up'
Harry was into fish straight away, fishing up towards the reed pegs and Dean next to him was soon off the mark but after twenty minutes, I hadn't seen anybody else catch. I had tried corn on all three of my longer lines but no more bites, so I put two dead reds on and went over the maggot/micros line. Jake and Rob both had a fish and I thought surely it was only a matter of time before I latched into one. I tried straight out and then the right hand swim and after half an hour I finally had a bite and landed my first carp. I then foul hooked a fish briefly but any thoughts of bagging up soon disappeared and by the time the first hour was up, I'd only added one more carp.
Phew - got one!
Nobody was really bagging and after flying out of the blocks, both Harry and Dean had now slowed up. My next two fish came from the middle line and I thought it would be a case of nicking a couple of fish off each line before moving but despite rotating around all three longer lines, I had no more indications and ended the second hour on four fish. I potted in some micros before trying the margin swims but no indications and I didn't stay there long. Rob had a couple more fish but Jake was still on one and it was looking like it was going to be a hard match. Two more fish in the third hour from the right hand line and I thought I was doing okay and gaining ground on Harry and Dean, then I saw Rich S land a fish on the feeder and I shouted up to ask how many he had and wasn't expecting him to say he had twelve as I hadn't seen him catch up to that point!

Despite trying the other two ten metre lines, the only place I could get a bite was from the right hand line on double dead reds with quite a few bites coming after I moved the rig slightly. Karl came for a wander and said Steve and him only had a single fish each and that Harry was on eleven, I was on nine and had number ten while he was sat with me so although it was looking like Rich would win the lake, I was still in with a shout of a decent result.

I could see Rob was getting odd fish but I didn't think there was much between us, I did bump a couple of fish but was fairly pleased when I ended the match on fourteen and thought I probably had around 35lb as they looked 2-3lb apiece. I packed up and walked up to grab some photos of the weigh in, Rich said he had twenty two carp so I thought he'd top the lake. Tony was first to weigh and had 6lb 8oz, then Rich had 28lb 9oz and his carp had been on the small side, I was next and it looked like it was going to be close but after two weighs I was just short with 28lb 1oz and way off with my estimate. Jake had 8lb 4oz and then Rob said he had nineteen carp and when he pulled his net out, they were decent fish, after three weighs, his total was 42lb 14oz which put him in the lead.
Tony had 6lb 8oz from peg 5
Rich did well, catching 22 carp on the feeder for 28lb 9oz
I wasn't far behind with 28lb 1oz
Jake had 8lb 4oz
Rob had a bigger stamp of fish to win the lake with 42lb 14oz
Harry was next and I thought he'd beat me too but he had 24lb 8oz, Dean had 12lb 13oz, Karl hadn't added to his carp which weighed 2lb 13oz and Steve had two for 3lb 8oz.
Harry had 24lb 8oz from peg 9
Dean had 12lb 13oz
Karl had one carp for 2lb 13oz
Steve kissed both his carp before safely returning them
Then it was back to the pub for the results to see how our partners had done, it had been hard going for most at Dillington with Adie needing just 8lb 11oz to win the lake, that put him and Rich on three points but Baz was second with 7lb 9oz which meant him and Rob also had three points but they won it thanks to a superior weight advantage. Justin was third with 5lb 15oz so we ended up in third place overall and picked up £25 each. Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photos*
Adie had the top weight at Dillington with 8lb 11oz*
Baz had 7lb 9oz for second*
Justin was third with 5lb 15oz*
Frank had 5lb 2oz from peg 5*
Hurf had 4lb 6oz*
Paul had 3lb 2oz from peg 13*
Terry 'The Toast' had 1lb 15oz*
Andy had 1lb 4oz from peg 18*
Stuart had 1lb 2oz*
Pairs Result
1 - Baz Morgan and Rob Cox - 3 points (on weight)
2 - Adie Bishop and Rich Studley  - 3 points
3 - Justin Charles and Jamie Rich - 6 points

Hebditch's Pond
1 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 42lb 14oz
2 - Rich Studley (Ilminster) - 28lb 9oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 28lb 1oz

1 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 8lb 11oz
2 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 7lb 9oz
3 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 5lb 15oz

Steve and Cindy laid on some lovely food for the anglers and it will be the last time as they have sold the pub and the club and all the anglers would like to say a massive thanks for looking after us so well and for all their support. Thanks also to Rob for running another great match and to the Hebditch family for the use of their pond. As always the peg fees are donated to a charity of Harry's choice and this time it was Moorfields Eye Charity, a fantastic cause. Everybody put some money in the collection, including Steve and Cindy and Hurf went round the pub with the charity box which added a fair bit more and the proceeds of the Sunday night quiz also went in the pot and the total raised was £215, just brilliant.

If you'd like to donate to this brilliant cause or find out more about it, just go to the link below,


I'm not sure where I'm going next week yet but come back next Sunday to see where I end up and stay tuned for some more great interviews and reviews. Also I used the Tinca Fishing XChange landing net for the first time today and I'm well impressed so far.

Next up - ?

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My latest review (below)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tinca Fishing XChange Landing Net Review

I was contacted recently by Tinca Fishing and asked if I would like to review their XChange Interchangeable Landing Net and as always my first port of call is Google to find out a little more about the product. The Tinca Fishing website looks fairly new and clicking on the products option revealed that currently the XChange Landing Net is the only product available although in the shop there are two different mesh types that can be purchased. I have to admit to being a little sceptical because it sounded a little gimmicky. 

The product description says

'XChange is a multifunctional, cost - effective landing net which allows the user to change between different depths and mesh materials. This means you have more options when fishing for different situations and also means that when one mesh breaks you have other ones to use.
This set comes with 3 different mesh types: a speed mesh, a standard mesh, and a silverfish mesh. Different types of mesh are available as extras.
The frame has a lightweight, aluminium construction which makes it much easier to use.
Also, the thread attaches on to standard landing net handles which means that there will be no unexpected extra costs for you!'

A few days later the net arrived and I was a little intrigued to see exactly how the system worked and it's actually a simple but very clever idea. Rather than the net fitting around the frame like I was expecting, the net is slotted into the lightweight, aluminium frame and stays in place thanks to thin tubing in the hem of the net. I tried changing the mesh and it was very easy and quick to do (well it must be easy if I can manage it!).
The XChange Landing Net
The slot to slide the net in
Mesh ready to be removed
Despite it being a very clever idea it did have me wondering if perhaps an answer had been found for a problem that didn't really exist! but the more I thought about it, the more I started to think of several applications for this product. Firstly, there can't be many anglers out there who sometime or another haven't had mice problems (as happened to me recently) but with the XChange system you just need to change the mesh and not buy a whole new landing net head. Also if you fish a variety of venues, say for silvers one week and then carp the next or maybe rivers and canals, now you don't need to have several landing nets, just change the mesh to the relevant one using the XChange system and away you go!
Ideal net for silvers....
Or carp
I would say this net is aimed primarily at match and pleasure anglers although there is possibly scope for a larger version for specimen anglers but as they tend to use triangular nets, I'm not sure if that would be feasible.

The XChange Landing Net comes with three different nets and costs £20, there is also an extra deep mesh and a rubber mesh which is good for lure fishing as hooks won't get caught in the mesh, both variations cost £5 and can be purchased from the web site here Tinca Fishing Shop

As I said earlier, I think its a really clever idea but my only concern is how the frame will hold up after some abuse on the bank and whether the mesh can pull free from the frame, the only way to find out is to use it in anger, I'll be using it for the first time at Harry's tomorrow and I'll update the review after a couple of months and let you know how I'm getting on with it.

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


Monday, February 20, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 7 - 19th February 2017

After last weeks bitterly cold conditions, it was lovely and mild all week and after a couple of very mediocre pegs in the last two river matches I was hoping for a better one to end this league on a high. A few of us met at the Little Chef again and it was great to see Harry again and Terry 'The Toast' is fast becoming a regular. After breakfast we headed to Coxes to do the draw and after looking at the pegs Rob had put in, I really fancied 124a or 125 and had mixed feelings when I pulled out peg 109 at Redbridge. It's a swim I've wanted to fish for years but it's been poor in recent matches. Going into this match, Adie was leading the league with 8 points, followed by Steve P on 9 and then me and Fieldy on 12 with Rob on 13 and as Graham had drawn 124 in my section, the same peg he won from last week and Rob was on 125 the most consistent peg in the other section, I was up against it.

I drove to Redbridge and parked up, Rich S had drawn 120 which was also the golden peg although the last few times it's been pegged, it hasn't done much and Adie was on 106 which like my peg, would be chub or bust. I set up a 1 gram bodied float and a 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo and put new 0.12mm hooklengths with size 18 B611's on both, if I hooked a chub, I wanted to make sure I got it out as I might not get too many chances today. Preston size 13 green elastic completed the robust set up. On the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp.
I'd always wanted to draw peg 109 but would it live up to expectations?
On the whistle I started with the lighter rig, inching the rig through the peg at 10 metres which was a section short of the far bank cover you can see in the photo above as I didn't want go tight across straight away. I was feeding hemp and caster to my right but after 15 minutes with no indications I stuck another section on and held the rig back against the cover, a positive bite saw me strike expecting to meet solid resistance but instead a tiny minnow flew out of the water! Not the result I'd hoped for but at least I'd avoided the blank, a couple more followed and it's never a good sign when you catch minnows on caster so I started putting in a good pouch full of casters and hemp every chuck in a bid to feed them off.

After an hour I'd only had a few minnows and they were even attacking double caster, I'd tried poking the rig right in the cover and holding it there and then added another section and went 13 metres across to the far bank below the bush, I had a really good bite but it was just another minnow, I even went 14.5 metres down the peg but it was like the peg was devoid of anything apart from minnows. I kept the feed going in but after two hours there was still no sign of a proper fish and when it got to the half way point, I was going through the motions somewhat and starting to feel like any chance of a league placing was slipping away. I stuck at it though as the chub at Redbridge are decent fish and it only takes an hour to win a match here and I thought my best chance might be in the last period as the light started to fade.

I decided to phone Steve P who was on peg 128, a good peg that had been winning matches but it blanked last week, he answered and said he was really struggling and only had a handful of small fish. I told him to stick at it and put the phone down, I glanced at the time and we were now 3.5 hours into the allotted six hours, I looked back up just as a good fish rolled to the right of the cover, where I had been feeding. Suddenly I was interested again as I knew there was at least one fish in the swim, I shipped out and this time when the float sailed away, I just knew it was a chub and sure enough the strike saw plenty of elastic come out, I shipped back quickly so the fish was in the middle of the peg away from any snags and without too much drama, I slipped the net under a 2lb chub and I have to admit, the old heart was pumping a bit.
I was relieved to finally get one after three and a half hours
Next chuck, in exactly the same spot, I hooked number two and safely landed another two pounder, the next bite came nearer the bush and was a bigger fish, getting on for 3lb and all of a sudden it felt like a good weight was on the cards. I had fourth to put me on 10lb and there was still over an hour to go. Things then slowed up although I did miss a couple of bites, my next bite came just after I'd shipped out and was about to feed, this felt like a real lump and when I finally landed it I was sure it would be a new pb. There was still half an hour left and I thought there was a good chance I might get another but it didn't happen and I had no more bites but I was really pleased that I'd hooked five and landed five.

Rich turned up just before the end with most of his gear and said he'd really struggled for a few fish, I pulled my net out and out of interest weighed the biggest chub which was 4lb exactly, so no new pb for me. I put the other four in the weigh sling and Rich called my weight at 14lb 2oz but would it be enough? We walked back down to weigh Rich, he had a level pound and that peg definitely seems to produce for the first few matches before tailing off. We took our kit back before going up to Adie, he'd had two chub, one early and then one late for 4lb 11oz and barring a disaster I thought he would still take the title but we would have to wait and see how the other pegs had done.
I had five lovely chub for 14lb 2oz
Rich had a pound from 120
Adie had two chub for 4lb 11oz from peg 106
Back at the results and Fieldy had finished second in our section with 7lb 4oz and Karl had weighed 6lb 15oz although it should have been more as he lost the head off his landing net and had to swing in everything! Rob had the top weight in the other section with 7lb 13oz from peg 125 followed by Stu with 5lb 8oz from H4 and Terry with 5lb from H1, Harry had lots of bites and weighed 3lb 12oz from 126 and Steve P had struggled for 1lb 10oz. So I'd won on the day but as far as the league was concerned it was all looking very tight. Photos courtesy of  Rob Cox*, Harry Hebditch**, Terry Morgan*** and Steve Parker^
Graham had 7lb 4oz from peg 124*
Karl won his section with 6lb 15oz from peg 124a*
Harry had loads of small fish for 3lb 12oz*
Rob was second on the day with 7lb 13oz from peg 125**
Terry had 5lb of mainly roach from below the road at Hambridge***
Stuart did well again, winning his section with 5lb 8oz from H4***
No photo of Steve but he did have this pike on corn of all things!^
Despite scoring four points today, Adie had still done enough to win the league with twelve points, with Steve blowing out and me winning my section we actually both tied on thirteen points and I took the verdict on weight (54lb 3oz to 40lb 8oz) so I picked up £45 for winning today and should have some league winnings to come next week.

1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 14lb 2oz
2 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 7lb 13oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 7lb 4oz

A - Karl Aplin (Ilminster) - 6lb 15oz
B - Stuart Aplin (Ilminster) - 5lb 8oz

Final league positions

Adie Bishop - 12 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 13 pts (dropping 4)
Steve Parker - 13 pts (dropping 5)
Rob Cox - 14 pts (dropping 4)
Graham Field - 14 pts (dropping 5)

Next week it's Barney's Pairs Open at Dillington and Harry's so hopefully we'll have a nice day and raise some money for charity.

Finally the club would like to say congratulations to Adie for winning the league on his first attempt, a massive thanks to V.E.S. Precision for their continued and very valued support and also to Rob Cox for all his hard work running the matches.

Next up - Barney's Pairs Open

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, February 13, 2017

River Isle - Royal Oak Winter League 9 - 12th February 2017

After having a lovely day last Sunday, I spent most of the week praying for rain but it was dry and cold and it looked like we'd be in for another tough match on the river for the last league match. We even had a light dusting of snow on Saturday and waking up the following day, it was bitterly cold. A few of us met for breakfast before heading to Upper Coxes to do the draw. I was hoping to pull out a peg at Isle Brewers but wasn't too upset when I drew H4 at Hambridge where I'd done okay a few weeks back but then somebody realised we were a peg short and had to redraw, second time around I drew 129 at Isle Brewers, it can be a good peg but has tailed off somewhat in recent weeks.

As far as the league was concerned it was between Fieldy, Rob and me and we'd all drawn in the same section so I needed to beat Graham to win the league and avoid a total blowout to hold onto second spot. Easier said than done though with Rob on 128 and Graham on 124, both pegs that have won recent matches. We got to the river and as we started taking our kit to the pegs it we soon realised how cold the wind was and it was whipping across the fields and it would be even more exposed for those at Hambridge. I really expected it to be rock hard today and had said to Adie earlier that I thought 5lb would be a good weight today.
Peg 129 at Isle Brewers
I set up a 1 gram Drennan Tipo with a size 18 Kamasan B611(http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/) to 0.10mm and on the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Superseed Hemp. I started with single red maggot on the hook just to try and catch a minnow to avoid the blank, first put in at 8.5 metres in the middle, the rig settled before the yellow tip disappeared and I swung in a tiny minnow, job done, blank avoided, or it would have been if I hadn't missed the keep net with it! Next chuck I had another and blow me if I didn't do the same thing again! This time it landed on the bank so after scrabbling about I finally managed to retrieve it and get off the mark.

I buried the hook in a caster to see if I could catch a proper fish and inched the rig through, the float sailed away and this time some elastic came out before I swung in a 4oz chublet, this could be better than I'd first thought. Any thoughts of bagging up soon disappeared when every run through resulted in either a minnow or the end nipped off the caster. I did catch a couple of tiny gudgeon but was going nowhere fast. Just before the first hour was up, the float sunk from view and this time the strike resulted in something more substantial shaking its head, I shipped back carefully before netting a chub around a pound and a quarter - bonus!
Hopefully I'd get a few more....
Not long after, a very cold looking Rob turned up and said he hadn't had a bite yet although he did say Terry 'The Toast' had caught on 126 and young Stuart was getting a few just above the bridge in peg 125. After watching me catch a few minnows and a gudgeon, he left me to it and went back to his peg. I kept trying different areas of the swim but the result was the same, a slightly better fish did top in the tail of the swim and I flicked the rig down there but it was miles overdepth and it just wasn't right.

In a bid to try and avoid the minnows I had upped the feed and put double caster on but it wasn't working and they were still being a real pain. Around the half way point, Rob arrived again and he still hadn't had a bite, while he was sat with me I went back to single caster and the next bite resulted in a 3oz dace and not long after I had a better one of 4oz but the action was short lived and it was back to minnows and the odd gudgeon. Then Hurf came for a walk round and said that Fieldy had been struggling but tried fishing a waggler in the shallow tail of the swim and had started catching really well. He also reported that Stu was getting some nice roach and as peg 125 is really shallow, it got me wondering if perhaps the fish in my swim were in the tail.

With two hours left, I had to try it for my own peace of mind so I got off my box and set up a shallower rig, it was still around three foot deep in the tail and I tried fishing 13 metres down the peg but nothing. Baz phoned from Hambridge and they were struggling down there as well, he hadn't had a bite for three hours but then had a pound perch out of the blue. I tried fishing across to the far bank above me and had a few minnows and Hurf said he was heading off when I hooked what felt like a dace or chublet only for it to come off as I shipped back so he said he'd stay and watch a bit longer but when the next couple of fish were minnows he did bid me farewell.

I went back to fishing down the middle and was just going through the motions, catching minnows and gudgeon when with 15 minutes to go and the light starting to fade, I had another dace and then I had my first roach which was about 4oz, I then bumped a decent fish before catching another roach and had a gudgeon just as the six hours came to a close. A really frustrating day as there were obviously fish there but they just didn't want to feed. Terry soon arrived with the scales and was admitting to three pound plus so I knew I hadn't beaten him. My fish went 2lb 13oz and I hoped the two fish I'd bumped weren't going to cost me.
A frustrating day for 2lb 13oz!
Rob had blanked so at least I was guaranteed second place in the league, then we got to Terry and he had a nice net of dace and chublets weighing 4lb 11oz and I said he would probably frame with that, Rob said he wasn't so sure as Fieldy had weighed 14lb of chub, perch and roach and Stu had 10lb 2oz of quality roach! Photos courtesy of Rob Cox*
Terry was third with 4lb 11oz from peg 126a
Stuart had a nice net of quality roach for 10lb 2oz and second place*
Graham had a lovely net of chub, perch and roach weighing 14lb to win the match and the league*
Back at the results and Hambridge had fished really poorly with Adie having the top weight there with 3lb followed by Baz with 2lb 9oz, Rich with 1lb 5oz and Karl with 5oz, Steve P hadn't weighed. So I actually ended up winning the section money of £15 by triple default! (I'm not proud!), finished second in the league and took a pound off Steve so not too bad a day.

1 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 14lb
2 - Stuart Aplin (Ilminster) - 10lb 2oz
3 - Terry Morgan (Ilminster) - 4lb 11oz

A - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 2lb 13oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 3lb

Final Royal Oak League Positions
1 - Graham Field - 13 pts (dropping 3 + 4)
2 - Jamie Rich - 17 pts (dropping 5 + 5)
3 - Adie Bishop - 19 pts (dropping 5 + 5)

Next week it's the final match of the V.E.S. Precision league and that's pretty tight with Adie on 8 points, Steve P on 9, me and Fieldy on 12 and Rob on 13 and with the way the river is fishing anything could happen!

Congratulations to Graham on winning the league and the club would like to thank Steve and Cindy at the Royal Oak, Ilminster for all their continued support and massive thanks to Rob for all his hard work organising the matches.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - Last weeks lovely day (below)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Dillington Pond - Open - 5th February 2017

More horrendous weather during the week with loads of rain and strong winds so Rob made the right decision to swap venues and hopefully with some colour in the pond, we should all get some bites. Although when I woke up we'd had a frost which probably wouldn't do us any favours. After another really good Little Chef breakfast we headed to the pond for the draw, there was a good turnout and it was great to see Andy Welch who always fishes the Open and Gordon Aplin who won this match last year with only 1lb 15oz, conditions were pretty similar again with the pond chocolate coloured and I hoped it would fish better this time around. Big Frank and Nick Payne were also fishing their first matches for a while.

I paid my pools and Rob decided to also run an optional £5 super pool, which I think is a great idea, looking at the pegs I didn't really mind where I drew with the exception of the hero or zero pegs by the bush (1 and 24) or peg 15 which is on a high bank and awkward to fish with the fence just behind you. When the draw was announced I decided to try and get in early for a change and went in fourth or fifth but didn't look to see what I had. I heard Big Frank say he had 24 and when Nick said he was on 1, I felt it was safe to have a look, I was on peg 13 which is on the bottom bank and an area I really like. Hurf was on 20, Rob would be able to see if his Wi-Fi password still worked in peg 19 and Steve P was on peg 10.

The pond was very coloured
I got to my peg and it was still quite misty and there was a definite chill in the air, after setting my box up, the first job as always was to mix my groundbait which was Bait-Tech's Pro Natural Dark which I use for all my silvers fishing on natural venues and I also added a glug of 'The Juice' to the water for mixing the groundbait. This end of the lake tends to be a bit deeper so I opted for a 4 x 16 Preston Chianti with a size 18 Kamasan B611 barbless (http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/sale/fishing/) to 0.10mm. On the side tray I had maggots, casters, Bait-Tech Superseed Hemp plus I'd asked Steve to get me some disco pinkies and like the last time he wrote a little message on them which almost made me feel guilty for using them!

Pro Natural Dark and 'The Juice', an awesome combination

Steve's pinkie message 'Don't drown us we are babies'
I said to a few people that I thought it might take a while before we started getting bites but as I was setting up there were quite a few small fish topping which I hoped would be a good sign. Rob shouted the all in and as I cupped in two balls of groundbait at ten metres, I saw Fieldy opposite me on peg 4, swing in a small fish so that was my theory out the window! I put two pinkies on and shipped out, fed a few casters and a pinch of hemp, the float settled and dipped before sailing away and a 2oz roach got me off the mark. I had another seven in as many put ins and probably had a pound in the first 15 minutes, a great start!

My next couple of fish were tiny so I tried single maggot which didn't really help, double maggot was better although I was having to wait quite a while for bites. Most people seemed to be catching small fish and Adie on peg 18 had netted a skimmer on the feeder. After an hour I was on 26 fish and shouted up to ask Steve how he was doing and he said he had around a dozen fish, I replied saying I thought he had a clicker and he said yes he did, so I asked why he wasn't using it and he said he was and that it had 19 on it!!!! Work that one out!

I kept trying caster but was having to wait ages for bites and went back to pinkies and maggots, I was still catching small roach with the odd 3-4oz fish and thought if I could catch around 20 fish an hour at an average ounce and a half apiece, I wouldn't be far off 10-12lb which I thought would be a good  weight today. The next hour was similar although things started to slow up as we approached the half way point, I started coming half a section closer and also fishing to the right and left of my feed and I'd get a couple of fish before going back over my main catching area.

Justin on peg 7 had a good bream and a skimmer on the pole and Adie had also added a couple more skimmers, Rob and Terry 'The Toast' Morgan on peg 17 were catching lots of small fish but I still felt I was doing okay. So far all my fish had been roach but in the fourth hour I hooked a fish which pulled a bit more elastic out before I netted a 4oz chublet, some better roach also put in an appearance and I was still on course for a decent weight although both Adie and Justin were getting odd skimmers on the feeder and Hurf had landed a good fish too.

With two hours left I started catching more fish on caster including my second chublet although I kept having spells where I'd bump or miss several bites on the trot which was very frustrating, I also lost a good roach as I unshipped the top kit and I hoped it wouldn't cost me. I was slightly ahead of my 20 fish an hour target and then with fifteen minutes to go I hooked into a decent fish and elastic streamed from the pole tip. After the initial run it didn't do a lot and I carefully shipped back and was surprised when a 2lb chub popped up, it didn't give me too many problems and was a welcome bonus. I still had time to land another couple of roach and my clicker was reading 128 when Rob called the all out. I thought I had around 12-14lb with that chub but wasn't sure it would be enough to beat the bream and skimmer weights.

I packed up and took my kit back to the car before going to get some photos of the weigh in, Frank didn't bother the scales on peg 24 and I have to admit I wouldn't have wanted that peg today, Hurf had 2lb 8oz which included a lovely tench then Rob had a nice net of roach weighing 7lb 14oz, Adie had six skimmers for 6lb 3oz which surprised me as I thought he had more than that, Terry had done well to catch 248 fish for 8lb 9oz from peg 17. Leighton had 2lb 4oz from peg 15, another peg I really don't like and Rich had struggled for 14oz from peg 14. I was last to weigh in my section and the needle settled on 12lb 6oz but I didn't think it would be enough to beat Justin.
Hurf had a lovely tench on the feeder
Rob had loads of small fish for 7lb 14oz from peg 19
Adie had six skimmers and a few bits for 6lb 3oz
Terry had 248 fish for 8lb 9oz from peg 17
Leighton had 2lb 4oz from peg 15
Rich S had 14oz from peg 14
I had 12lb 6oz of roach and a bonus chub
Back at the results and it was close, very close in fact but Justin had won it with 12lb 8oz, Andy Welch had the next best weight in that section with 7lb 12oz from peg 6 which included a lovely bream and just behind him was Graham who had 7lb 11oz from peg 4. Gordon had 5lb 12oz from peg 2 but had lost a good perch at the net and Steve P had 4lb 2oz from peg 10. Stuart had 2lb 11oz from peg 8, beating his older brother Karl off the next peg and Nick didn't weigh in peg 1. Photos courtesy of Karl Aplin*
Justin had the top weight on the day with 12lb 8oz of bream and skimmers*
Andy had 7lb 12oz which included a big bream*
Stuart had 2lb 11oz from peg 8*
Karl had 1lb 12oz next door on peg 9*
So I ended up in second place and had nice pick up of £75 thanks to the superpool but was left cussing all those missed/bumped fish and that's twice in recent weeks I've been 2oz off winning, but still a really enjoyable day and pounds off Hurf and Steve were the icing on the cake.

1 - Justin Charles (Ilminster) - 12lb 8oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 12lb 6oz
3 - Terry Morgan (Ilminster) - 8lb 9oz
4 - Rob Cox (Ilminster) - 7lb 14oz

A - Andy Welch (Ilminster) - 7lb 12oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 6lb 3oz

Next week it's the final match of the Royal Oak league where I'm currently in second place but it's all very tight with only two points separating the top three.

The draw will be at Upper Coxes at 8:45 and for those that want breakfast, meet at the Little Chef at 7:45.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Some more great reviews

Check Out - Last weeks disaster (below)