Day 33 since release from hospital. Must say thanks to all those that sent their best wishes to me. The road to recovery is going to be long but I am on the way! I have set myself a target of taking part in the MFS Pellet Guys Pairs at Makins on June 18/19 so we shall see. Yesterday completed 2.36 miles to what the wife and I call Purgatory Peak at Bowood, the start of the first hill down to the bridge; our walk usually involves “Hell’s Hill” on the way to Bowood, Purgatory Peak and Satan’s Slope down to the parking area at the bridge (you can tell we have been watching Supernatural by the names!). The walk yesterday took as long as it used to take to walk down to the bridge and back , so still a way to go in terms of getting back to normal.
In my enforced absence from the bank side I reflected on the past season and looked at the spreadsheet I use to log my visits to Bowood (sad, I know). I made a total of 67 visits at a cost of £2.95 a visit, catching a total of 665-08 at an average of 9lb 12oz. The season was the reverse of the previous one when bream had been scarce and tench had been plentiful. I weighed any fish over a pound separately when caught, so accumulated 51 bream for a weight of 125-08, the biggest being 5-11 with 10 further fish over 3lb. The 13 tench went 46-07 with the best 5-14 and 5 over 4lb. The pike was not bad given the best part of the season for them I missed, 26 pike for a total of 226-02, this included 6 taken on the pole (best 9-04), but the highlight was the PB of 24-08 with 3 further doubles of 13-06,11-08 and 10-02. Not necessarily massive fish but not bad in terms of sport given I used the pike rod as a sleeper while on the pole.
I have also been using my time to make up some floats and will look to get them on rigs in the near future.
This will be a very short write up for reasons you will see!
February starts with me walking down to peg 10 at Bowood, setting up the pike rod and getting a call from my wife that my son had taken a turn for the worst and as an “at risk” with us as his support bubble, I quickly packed up got back home unloaded the car and then loaded the car with what we would need in Birmingham, by midday we were at his place in Birmingham. To cut a long story short the next week was spent sleeping on his floor, shopping for food and caring for him. Fortunately it was not the serious flare up that could only be treated in hospital and after discussions and visit to the GP/hospital it was decided it was safer to treat at home with antibiotics and close monitoring. Luckily it worked out okay and with a week gone we felt confident enough to return home.
The Wednesday was my first opportunity to go to Bowood so peg 10 was tackled starting at 9am and had my first bite at 11:30 a small roach, two more came along by 12 and I missed a run on the pike run when I packed up. The weather and other things got in the way so it was not until Tuesday 16th that I planned to go again. Woke up on the Tuesday and had a shooting pain in my left shoulder, no way I could move easily let alone hold a rod or pole – ibuprofen taken and a day in doors in some discomfort!
Wednesday the shoulder had eased and my midday seemed fine. Thursday got into the car to do the weekly shop and felt my back twinge on the right side, by the evening I was in a lot of pain and unable to eat or sleep. Friday contacted doctor who suspected kidney stones, referred to Chippenham Hospital for second opinion/possible treatment, telephone call from doctor there suggested to go to A&E Swindon, I couldn’t drive and wait for ambulance was 3-4 hours, so booked taxi and 10 minutes later on way to Swindon.
To cut a long story short- collapsed in Swindon, scan showed a big clot, so was sent to Gloucester in ambulance, arrived and rushed up to intensive care, more scans showed it was getting worse, they decided to undergo an emergency procedure usually used on stab victims but were unsure if it would be possible because of where issue was. 1am Saturday they phoned my wife to tell her and said she should be prepared for the worst. Three hours on the operating table, back into intensive care. Returned home late Thursday, very tired, weak, sore and VERY relieved. Writing this has knackered me so will leave it there, no fishing for foreseeable future but targeting June if I am still on path to recovery. Catch plenty of fish for me!
January is not the most welcoming month weather wise, it can be a complete mixture of all the inclement types of weather and this year has been worse than usual. To carry on from where I left off last time, the ice had gone but was replaced by rain, rain and more rain ; I have no problem with fishing in the rain, my waterproofs do their job and keep me dry and I do not use a brolly, but the problem with constant rain is the state of a) the water and b) the underfoot conditions. Anyway I plucked up courage and trudged off to peg 10 on the Friday with the intention of videoing the 10m Chinese whip (the banana). I managed to slip and slide my way to 10 and set up the whip with a 5g Blues rig, 0.14mm main to 0.10mm hooklength and an 18 with double maggot and the pike rod. Now at this point I must mention that with the heavy rain over the previous days the water had gone up and now resembled oxtail soup with plumes of sediment clearly visible (the only thing that was visible in that mess!). I began on the 10m whip and have put a couple of clips to show the action on casting and striking, no playing fish as after almost 2hours I had not had a bite. I swapped to the 7m whip instead and managed to avoid the blank with a shell-shocked roach of an ounce- my only bite!
The weather now went cold- very cold so when we went for a walk on Monday the lake was still frozen but with the weather warming up slightly the thaw had started. Next day I went to the Pondtail peg 2 armed with the icebreaker and managed to get a reasonable space as the ice was thin and melting. Over the weekend I had finally taken my old ABU 506 apart and cleaned it up so it now worked- only taken me 15 years to do it! New line had been spooled and although the conditions were not good I wanted to give it a run out to check it was okay. The water was gushing through the weir and it was akin to trotting on a slow river but try as I might I remained biteless, running through going over depth and dragging made not a jot of difference as the fine weather promised on the forecast never materialised and the Bowood micro-climate kicked in with heavy drizzle that further melted the ice and lowered the water temperature again. I gave it two hours then packed up, walking back to the car, Tim, the gamekeeper, drove past going about his business and pointing to his head mouthed “You’re mad!”
I think he may well be right. However I planned to go on Friday but rain in the preceding days had caused flooding on the roads and fields and when the heavy rain began on Thursday night and carried on into the morning I thought about the potential oxtail soup waiting for me at peg 10 and showed a little bit of sanity and stayed home and did this!
The loss of my trusty ice breaker saw a visit to the local DIY store for a length of chain on the Saturday after New Years Day. Equipped with a new chain a new breaker was assembled!
I was loathe to but decided to give it a go on the Sunday, Peg 10 seems a lot further when you have an ice breaker on the trolley I discovered! The temperature was just below freezing when I arrived but was due to rise to the giddly heights of 3C.
Peg 10 was still covered in ice, as was most of the lake apart from a strip on the far side that stretched a 100m or so and was being kept clear by the wind movement. Setting to work with the breaker I cleared an area out to 9m, based on the fact that was the easiest distance to throw the breaker, but rather than the usual rectangle shape, I cut a funnel shape in the ice so I could put a pike bait out as well.
With the ice now cleared I decided to not cup in any bait, rather use a kinder pot to deposit a few micros and maggots with a groundbait plug. My sardine bait for the pike was lobbed to the edge of the right hand edge of the ice about 7m out. I didn’t have long to wait before I had a bite on the pole, a small roach, followed by two microscopic perch.
The bites continued and whenever they tailed off another plug of groundbait kick started them again. The fish were small but welcome, after an hour another brave (fool-hardy) angler arrived on the far bank and went on 19, by the island, which had a clear patch of water, again fishing for pike. The morning passed quickly with regular bites and at 10:30ish the pike float slid beneath the ice! A low strike was met with solid resistance but a fairly short if scrappy fight ended with a pike of 6-12 in the net. A bonus on such a day!
About 11:45 3 other anglers turned up and I decided it was time to think about going, the temperature had risen to those heights of 3C and the ice had started to melt, making my area bigger but the ice water was going to have an effect on the fish. I ended up with 50 small roach and those 2 perch to go with the pike. I said they were small and they were the scales showed 2-9 for the 52 fish! I told the new anglers that I was leaving if they wanted to drop in to my peg (as it was the only one clear on this side).
Tuesday Lockdown 3 starts and angling is not allowed, by Thursday thanks to the efforts of the Angling Trust it was back on the allowed forms of exercise providing it was done locally. If ever there was an example of why everyone should be a member of the Angling Trust, this was it. It may be a pandemic this time but you only have to look at what has happened to angling in Germany in the past as a result of not having a coherent Governing Body to see why we need the Angling Trust.
I decided to leave the weekend alone and returned to peg 10 (yes the rut has set it) on the Monday. The walk was not pleasant to say the least with the underfoot conditions being very slippery. The colour was dropping out of the water and with a very cold wind straight in to my face I lasted 3.25 hours. It was an hour before I had a bite and lost it, in fact that was a theme for the session with 8 small roach being landed and 9 being lost. The hook was checked and fine, it was after the fourth fish landed I discovered the reason, the fish was not hooked but hanging on to the maggot! It seems the ice water had made the fish very lethargic and they were just holding the bait rather than wolfing it down. The session ended with my 8 roach weighing 0-4-8!
Various factors then came into play that stopped me going again until the following Monday. Determined to break the rut, I took my rucksack seat, waggler/feeder/pike rods up to the island to try and almost complete my mission of fishing every peg this season.
I decided to fish a waggler given the overhanging trees and found about 4 feet of water 15-20m out. My first problem was that I did not have a catapult, as when I went to retrieve it from the front pocket it was not there! So I prepared to introduce two balls of groundbait with a few micros and pinkies in them.The pike rod was lobbed out to the left about 20m, just over a slight drop off, with a sardine as per usual. Looking around the island it now only had the one fishable area as the brambles had taken over peg17, so it looks as if I have fished all the available spots this season!
Ten minutes in I had my first bite which I missed, next cast missed again, third cast I hooked what looked like a hand sized skimmer that flipped and came off! I then began to get a run of roach and managed to keep them coming by introducing a ball of groundbait every 40 minutes or so. The pike rod was totally inactive! Towards the end of the session, a large double flashed through the surface chasing the roach, I then moved the pike rod into that area but to no avail. I had set myself a target of 50 roach if possible and at 12:15 achieved that and decided to pack up. Whilst doing so the pike swirled again! The 50 roach plus one rudd and one small skimmer weighed 5-1.
The weather is not looking brilliant at present with the forecast of more rain making the poor underfoot conditions even worse (if that is possible). I have made up a rig with a 5g “Blue”and given the opportunity I am planning to do a follow up video session with my 10m Chinese whip – the “banana”.
After Sunday’s disappointment at Peatmoor I headed to Bowood 10 on the Tuesday without much hope as the rain had continued and the Pondtail was up and coloured and on arrival it looked as if peg 10 had become a huge cup of PG Tips. Still I put the sardine out with little hope and decided to put three balls of groundbait down and see if I could coax something out of the tea! Surprisingly I managed to get a few bites leading to 10 roach and a small skimmer for the enormous weight of 9 ounces! Still I felt as if I had achieved something by catching at all in the conditions.
The weather was such I did not go again until the Tuesday of Christmas week, fishing 9:15 to 12:30. The water was still very coloured but at least it had a better hue to it. The rut continues and peg 10 sees me putting out the sardine and introducing just two balls of groundbait to start. Small roach attacked the double maggot on the first two put ins then went dead, I suspected a pike and 10 minutes later the pike rod was in action as the pellet waggler slid away. This produced a good start – a pike of 9-14.
I could not get any bites on the 10m line so switched to the top kit line and began getting regular fish, albeit small interspersed with two more runs resulting in fish of 6-05 and 6-08. The pike were clearly in situ and pushing the silver fish towards the bank. When I packed up I had 53 roach and 14 rudd for 3-04, all taken apart from the initial two on the top two line.
Christmas arrives and it is the Wednesday before I attempt to go again, now the weather has changed to sub-zero temperatures and this was to cause me an unforeseen problem – the car locks froze and I could not open the boot (could not even get the key in to start). After trying several methods I gave it up as a bad job and went to B&Q for a new shower hose on the suggestion of the wife – “it might jog it open”. Arrived at store- boot opened!
Next day, New Year’s Eve, tried again, temperature was -3C, lock frozen again but this time a hair drier manages to thaw it open! Car loaded and set off on the 3 minute trip to Bowood, lock was frozen again. After a couple of minutes I managed to get it open, the Pondtail was covered in ice apart from Peg 1 where the whirling current was keeping it clear, so ice-breaker in tow I set off for 10. Arriving at 10 the main lake was covered in a thick sheet of ice, so my trusty ice-breaker was thrown to 10m and the sawing back process began. Reaching 7m the chain got stuck and it took a few moments and hefty tugs to release it and continue the sawing process until it got to about 3m out and it stuck again, this time the hefty tugs saw the chain stuck in the ice and the rope come back to me! Landing net was quickly put up and reached beyond the chain sticking up in the ice only to find the path I had cut had refrozen, on tapping the ice the chain disappeared into the 5 feet of water! Faced with no breaker I trudged back to the Pondtail and fished the whip for an hour without a bite before deciding to cut my losses and go home! A disappointing end to 2020
I have posted this on MatchFishing Scene but for completeness here it is on my blog!
I have mentioned these whips in my blog on numerous occasions but have put together a rough (very rough as video is not my forte!) video of almost 7 minutes dealing with my use of the whips. In terms of cost they are very cheap in comparison to whips in this country, as an example the 5 whips in the video cost less than £25 in total. I have just ordered a 7m carbon version for £10.50 delivered!(This does include a coupon plus discounted “Singles day” price – real price now £15.60 delivered. If you can get past the differences in action they are very suited to UK style fishing and versatile – I use these whips at Port Talbot Docks with floats up to 5g.
Well whip turned up , well wrapped in sturdy bubble wrap, taken a bit longer than usual because of Black Friday and Singles Day (11th Nov) sales. Unwrapped and found extra top 2 sections, float, rig winder set up already, two packs of float stops, a plastic donut(?) and a handle wrap similar to what you would put on a badminton racquet. Obviously not tried it out yet but on scales it went 233g but then I realised that I had left the bung in place, that weighed 22g so weight of whip itself is 211g. Butt diameter is 23mm and tip is 0.9mm. Closed length 780mm.
On investigating the extras further the packs that I thought were float stops are actually a complete rig making kit.
In the packet are float stops, a green float adapter a swivel, a plastic in line boom and a thin lead strip. Unwinding the made up rig you can see how it all fits together. The float stops for the float and weight make it a very versatile rig in terms of depth and the hook length is attached via the swivel. I can see me setting a rig up in similar fashion but using either a loop or a mini quick change swivel in place of the swivel. I have since discovered that the “donut” is used to put on the whip when it fits into a Chinese seat rest to prevent it being pulled in!
The whips are designed to bend right through and are “floppy” by European standards but they work! The flick tips are very fine and the whips are never elasticated as the whip does all the work. The action at first seems odd but you soon get used to it!
Monday saw me true to my word with bag-seat on my back trudging up to peg 11 in the top field through the rain sodden muddy slope, that even the sheep were having difficulty with, leading to peg 11, the last on my list for the right hand bank. I decided to set up just the waggler along with the pike rod, with the sardine being cast about 15m out in front of me but a couple of metres to the right. The waggler was about the same distance but directly in front. Two balls of groundbait thrown out and wheat loose fed over the top.
The view from peg 11 in warmer times! Starting on double maggot I began getting the the odd small roach before it went quiet and the sardine attracted the interest of a 7-14 pike.
I had not taken the big net due to the walk but instead made use of a 28″ net as seen in picture. On returning the pike and casting out a new sardine I changed to double wheat and began getting slightly better stamp of roach and rudd. I had planned to fish to about 1pm but at 12 I hooked another pike weighing exactly 9-0, returned it caught two more roach then the pike rod went again and THE SAME pike of 9-0 was in my net once more. It had a distinctive scar on it’s back so it was clear it was the same fish. Either it was ultra hungry or catching and releasing does nothing to put a fish off from feeding! Not the best picture but I wanted to get it back in to the water quickly following it’s extended exertions!
At this point I thought enough was enough and packed up with 11 roach and 4 rudd weighing 2-06 and the 3 (or is it 2?) pike.
Next day I returned this time to peg 10. The temperature was right down to zero so I only cupped in one ball of groundbait with a few grains of corn and wheat. Setting up with 0.10mm Shogun hooklength to an 18 and double maggot I began getting small roach, a change to wheat for once made no difference. A lull signaled the arrival of pike in the area and sure enough the sardine was taken by a jack of 4-10. A few more roach and another lull but this time the pole float lifted and a strike met with a solid object that did not move at first- the typical sign of a pike on the pole. Playing it as carefully as I could I managed to coax it to top 2 distance when the hook pulled! A few more roach and rudd then the same lift, strike and solid resistance signaled another pike. This time after a few minutes or so I managed to put the net under a pike of 9-08.
That was the last of the main action with my 20 roach and 4 rudd weighing 1-08.
The weather at the end of the week went very wet and when I ventured to the Pondtail on the Saturday to try out my new 7m carbon whip from China I found it in flood with the lake more like a river with a huge washing machine style eddy. I gave it an hour and sneaked a solitary gudgeon before the water began coming up through the platform! At this point I left!
Undeterred I returned on the Monday and fished 10-1 to peg 10 armed with the whip and pike rod and fished 10-1 . Fishing a Chinese float I began on double maggot and with the water almost tea coloured I began to get some small skimmers and roach on the whip. A lull announced a pike of 10-2 taking a fancy to the sardine! The whip handled well but it is different in action from European versions, and relies upon it bending through to the handle rather than any elastication, and I will do a separate write up about the whip. Best fish on the whip was a skimmer of 1-06, with 15 roach and 12 other skimmer for a 3-08 total.
Next day sees me back at peg 10, kitted out more conventionally! The day started with a run on the sardine that produced a pike of 8-14, the only run of the day. On the pole fishing as per usual but this time starting with 3 balls of firm groundbait to counteract the tow on the still tea coloured water I was plagued at first by mini roach and rudd on the maggot before hitting a better fish that turned out to be another surprise perch of 1-08 a pb for Bowood. I also had my usual run ins with pike on the pole, hooking two but losing both, one with the hook pulling the other bitten through. The 18 roach and 2 skimmers weighed 0-12!
Sunday sees me at Peatmoor for the annual Pike Cup, the weather was not kind with 5 hours of rain sitting on a rain puddled platform and my one and only run was from a pike of about 7lb that threw the hooks after a minute or so!(NOT HAPPY).
It was not until the Saturday I was out again, I should have been taking part in the AT Silvers qualifier at Larford but that has been put back to 31st January. The rut has re-established itself and peg 10 at Bowood was surprisingly clear for a Saturday with 4 other cars parked up- busy for Bowood! I did the usual and put a sardine out on the pike rod while setting up the pole, three balls of groundbait deposited at 10m and 3 roach in the first three put ins on maggot, then nothing which is usually a sign of bigger fish moving in or a pike. Five biteless minutes later the pellet waggler I use as a pike float bobbed before moving off on a run, a firm strike and the reassuring jar of a fish being hooked. It felt like a good fish and fought well but I was surprised when it came to the net with it only weighing 9-15, a fish that definitely fought above it’s weight!
The roach and rudd returned and after a further 6 fish I put a piece of corn on, the result was a longer wait but a better quality of fish. I had planned to fish until 12 and by 11:55 I had 25 roach and 15 rudd for 5-03. I began packing the pole up when the pike rod went again, this time a more dour fight but a pike of 11-08 was soon in the net. A conundrum, should I stay or should I go? I decided to stick to my guns and packed up after returning the pike. As I was loading the trolley one of the anglers from the top field came around loaded down. He had had a fruitless morning and had decided to move around, after a chat he decided to drop in to 10.
Tuesday sees me back at Bowood and the rut continues- peg 10. Started as before and had 5 fish then went on corn. First drop in the float disappears after a couple of minutes and the strike is met with a solid resistance as if I had caught the bottom before the bottom starts to move! I knew immediately this was a pike as that is how pike seem to feel initially on the pole, however I was on my no5 elastic, 18 hook to 0.10 Shogun. After a couple of runs and tail walks I managed to get it back to the top 4 which is what I would need to land it on, when the pike rod goes! The top 4 goes between my legs and I strike into pike number 2. I managed to keep this one away from the one on the pole and netted it in the pike net, dropping the handle onto the platform and securing it wit my foot I then continued to play pike 1! Finally getting it into my normal net. I weighed this one first 9-04 and released it the n pike number 2 was unhooked and weighed in at 8-12.
Roach and rudd continued for the next hour or so when pike 3 came along- on the pole again! Same scenario, bite solid mass, slowly plods off, then wakes up and tail walks a couple of times. Got back to the top 4 when with no extra pressure from me or the fish the hook pulls out! I should mention that these pike are hooked in the mouth (usually in the scissors) which is why I am able to land some of them! Half hour later the same thing happens but this time there is a sudden parting as my no 5 elastic finally succumbs to the abuse it had been receiving lately and snapped 12 inches above the retaining bung. I consoled myself with the fact that at least the pike would be able to get rid of the rig easily given it was a 0.10mm hooklength. I had one further encounter with a pike, a jack of 3-07 again on the pole taking corn! My 35 roach and 20 rudd went 6-05 to give me a 27-12 total.
I missed the Wednesday as it was raining quite heavily and I had some jobs to do but intended going Friday after our early morning walk, however Thursday saw the temperature drop to -1C even at 9am with a heavy frost, and Friday was 0C with dense fog when we went on our walk to the Pondtail bridge. The sight was not good, lots of foam on the water but the colour of the water had turned a pale grey/mud – truly horrible so I decided to give it a miss and go on the Saturday.
Saturday arrives and four cars already parked up. I was hoping 10 was clear if not I would drop in 8 to give anyone on 10 some room. Unfortunately there was someone on 10 and 8 and although they said there was room to go on 9 I opted to go on 6 to give them room. I was not hopeful on 4 with 4.5ft of water but gave it from 9-1 fishing. No runs at all and went on the corn after the first 4 maggot fish would weigh an ounce in total. There were lots of small yearling fish attacking the corn but I managed to winkle out 15 roach and 10 rudd for 2-04 before I left. The angler on 10 had 3 pike in that time (apparently 2 before I arrived also) fishing two pike rods, the angler on 8 had one just as I was going. I am coming to the conclusion that my original standpoint of not fishing Bowood at the weekend might be reinstated, I am giving Sunday a miss and have decided to end the month on Monday by walking up to peg 11 in the top field to complete that side of the lake.
November 1st arrives and Radcot throws up its wet and windy best for the fourth round of the North Wessex Winter League.
Drawn on C5, peg 13 downstream of the bridge I was not hopeful as there was no steady water close in and my hope seemed to be a tree in the water on the far bank. The match starts and I go straight across on the maggot feeder for no bites in 2 hours. The pole with an 8g flat float and 16g of lead at 6m does no better. Jamie on the upstream peg comes down to warm up and says Paul Rice on 3 has just had a 3lb bream and missed the net with it! Now Paul had been lobbing a groundbait feeder on to the 12m line so when Jamie went back I quickly changed feeder to a 40g open end and lobbed downstream on the 12-14m line. Half hour later I had a knock and a gudgeon saved the blank! I ended up with 2 roach, a chublet and the gudgeon for 0-9 and last in section, indeed the section places were the same as the peg numbers! The team fared little better and we are now behind Radcot when we go into the final match, whenever that might be after lock-down.
Tuesday came with a temperature of 4C and I ventured to Bowood with rucksack, coupled with waggler and feeder rods up to peg 12 (only peg 11 remains to fish on that side of the lake now). Starting on the feeder but swiftly moving on to the waggler I had a shortish session with 8 skimmers, 18 roach and 6 rudd for a level 4lb.
Friday arrives and I make my way back to peg 10. A frustrating start with 12 very small maggot fish saw me switch to double wheat and end up with 33 roach and 33 rudd for 4-12. Who says wheat is a summer bait! Sunday comes and rare week-end visit to Bowood finds 4 FOUR cars already parked up, I have never seen that many cars at Bowood, one of the consequences of lock-down! The water level was well down, probably due to the heavy rains we have had someone had opened the sluice at the other end and left it open too long! There was a piker on 10 so I set up on 8 a good 50m away and fishing in my usual style had one run on the sardine which resulted in a pike of 8-6 while the pole line was regularly visited by pike shearing through the fish attracted by my offerings I managed to extract without any pike attacks 1 perch, 12 roach and 24 rudd for 4-03.
The Tuesday sees me back on peg 10 with the water level still down about a foot. Casting out the sardine I began setting up the pole only for the pellet waggler to skim along the surface and disappear before I had even attached a rig to the pole. A strike was met with…nothing! The sardine came back in pristine condition, this happened a second time later in the day, the gamekeeper reckons these “phantom” runs are caused by carp or tench. Anyway the day was similar to the Sunday in so much as I would get a run of fish then nothing, this time there were no tell-tale signs of pike but my suspicions were well founded as a lift of the pole float resulted in me hooking a pike of 8-04 in the tail which proved quite an interesting fight as it tail-walked at least 5 times in an attempt to get away. The down side was I hoped that was caught on film but the gremlins had been at their work again and the file was corrupted! In between 22 roach and 21 rudd I did manage to get a proper run on the sardine which resulted in a very welcome pike of 13-06.
Wednesday sees me back but at the Pondtail for a 2 hour session armed with the Chinese whips I opted to fish a 5m whip (5.4) with a new Chinese float I had bought. Feeding only wheat and a couple of small balls of groundbait I had a pleasant session with 50 roach, 19 gudgeon a perch and a carp of 3-10 which illustrated why the Chinese whips are not as rigid as European ones as it bent right around to absorb the lunges of the carp, despite me only having a 0.10mm hooklength. The other fish came to 5-12
Monday sees me back after days of gloomy rain and wind to the Pondtail with the promise of a dry day and the intention of doing some filming to create a Chinese whip video. Started of okay but after an hour the rain arrived, two days early! I packed the camera away and decided to pack the whip away and have a go on the feeder for a couple of hours. The whip had produced 15roach, 9 gudgeon and a perch before the feeder added another 15 roach, no gudgeon and 4 perch to the worm, including a roach of exactly 1lb, total; weight 4-02.
Next day sees me back at peg 10 with the water level now back up and high while flowing through quite hard. I did not expect to catch any pike but put the sardine out anyway. I had changed to a number 5 elastic and 0.10mm line to a 16 as is my routine at this time of year on the pole. It was hard going with me having to hold back like on a river to get bites from small fish, eventually hooking something large that plodding around for 5minutes before without any lunges the line came shooting back, the hooklength cut halfway – I suspected a pike! It continued to be hard, catching odd fish between cups of coffee when 5minutes after the 11am bell had tolled I struck into a fish that I immediately thought was a pike as it sat there before moving slowly off, indeed it was a pike as it showed itself with a spectacular tail-walk (alas no camera today), several further jumps happened before the next bell at 11:15 and several more before the 11:30 bell, I eventually managed to net it with two extra sections on at 11:35! It was foul-hooked in its ventral fin and weighed 8-03. I ended up finishing just after 12:15 with 14 roach, 2 blades and a rudd for a level pound!
Lock-down continues, I may try and complete the right bank by fishing peg 11 before the end of the month.
No further visits until the Sunday when it was the third round of the North Wessex Winter League at Lechlade. The draw was in a field next to the official expensive car park, parking at the edge of the field there were 4 sections at Lechlade itself and 2 at “Bloomers field. I managed to get drawn C1, scales again!, and faced an extra long walk just to reach the river. Finally reaching my peg I find it would have been easier to walk along the main road and through the car park to access the river!
I set up a waggler, a feeder, a 3g flat float, a worm rig and a 2.5g roach rig. On the whistle I cupped in 3 balls of groundbait (Roach Noire and River) laced with just a pinch of casters and hemp. I was soon getting bites and after 90 minutes I had about 3lb of roach in the net when calamity struck – a large barge decided to turn between myself and the down stream peg, to be fair the guy knew what he was doing and did not make the usual pigs ear of it, BUT he managed to end up getting the propeller and seriously gunning the engine directly over where I had been fishing, resulting in a washing machine full of dirty water in front of me. I hoped the 7 feet of water and time for it to settle would allow me to continue catching but fat chance of that! My once lovely snag free peg was now festooned with major snags that were unmovable! Despite my best efforts and trying waggler, feeder and all areas of the swim the last 3.5 hours produced 6 fish for me to weigh in 3-9 and last in section. Fortunately other team members did better and we ended up still at the top but our lead cut to one point!
The weather Gods then took hold and it wasn’t until the following Friday that I was able to get out again, returning to peg 10 at Bowood for a short session. Setting up the usual way it was a case of picking out a couple of fish at a time from the coloured water (not as coloured as I expected though!). I ended up with 22 roach, 4 skimmers,18 rudd and a hybrid for 4-02, no runs on the pike rod at all.
Tuesday sees me up at Partridge Fishery for a coaching session with Andy May arranged via Herbie at MFS.
I was joined by 2 others, Ken and Ian with another having to drop out. Andy explained the fishery had been fishing hard and with the wet weather it may be a couple of hours before we started to get bites! I ended up on peg 59 on Covey 3, with ken on 60 and Ian on 62 (Andy left out 61 deliberately). Andy set his tackle up on 63 and went through his rigs, the feeding process and various other things that I won’t divulge here! He showed us how he would fish , the areas to start with and laying in rigs and the reasons behind his approach, then we went off to our pegs to have a go with Andy’s words ringing in our ears, Andy then rotated between us for the rest of the day, watching our efforts and making suggestions of how we could make subtle changes to what we were doing. The fishing was hard and was not a form I would normally do (F1s and ide) but managed to get 6 ide, 6 F1s, 2 carp 4 gudgeon, 2 rudd and a roach for about 16lb. Not a spectacular return but given the driving rain for most of the day and way the fishery was at the time it managed to suffice as the whole point of the day was to learn something and I certainly did that! Andy was a very welcoming and knowledgeable host and well worth having a session with if you get the chance.
Friday sees me off again, not to Bowood but this time to Larford to practice with Darren for our upcoming silver fish match in November. It was Darren’s first visit and he was, in his own words, “in awe” of the place! WE wanted to ignore the carp and settled on pegs 6 (Darren) and 7(me). Darren was going to ignore the feeder and just concentrate on the pole with a “ball it” line and a “toss-pot” line, I planned to have an hour on the feeder while my 4 balls of groundbait settled on 10m and loose fed with micros plus the 2+2 line with 4mm meat and 4mm pellet. I was thankful for using a braid reel line as the bites on both worm and caster and maggot were very slight and I doubt whether I would have seen them on mono. After an hour I had 4 skimmers and missed a few bites, switching to the 10m line I could not get a bite on pellet while Darren was getting plenty of action on single maggot, I swapped to double maggot and began to catch for the remainder of the day, discovering that the fish were definitely coming to the groundbait. I ended up with 17 skimmers, 4 proper bream of 3lb+, 6 perch with one being over the pound and another between 12oz and a pound, 6 roach and a hybrid for about 25lb+. Steady fishing with us trying out various things during the day ready for the match (if we are not in lockdown by then!).
November starts with Round 4 at Radcot – my least favourite venue on the Thames.