May 2022 – Summer League Prep

May starts with a lot of household painting chores but my focus soon moves on to the impending Summer League starting with a lake match at South Cerney’s Wick Water complex on Gillmans and Stait Lakes. The league consists of eleven teams of 4 so the match in effect would be two sections on both lakes. Previously I had visited one of the bad pegs on Stait and a not so good one on Gillmans, the rational being that if I was fortunate to draw on one of the better areas I am confident that I would do okay, but the team result would hinge on those unfortunate to be in the poorer areas, so any method of putting ounces in the net would be worth exploring.

I decided to give Stait another go on Monday 9th, this time on peg 36, almost opposite peg 1, again not a good area compared to the other pegs on that side of the lake but better than peg 1! On walking down I was greeted by a mother with her goslings .

Anyway I set up two rigs (I had decided to leave the rods at home), the first a 0.3g rig with a spread bulk of number 8s for fishing at 2+3 range, 0.16mm line to 0.14mm hooklegth and a 16, teamed up with a soft set 8-12 hollow elastic; the second for fishing at 11m was a similar rig but with a 0.4g slim rugby ball 0.16mm hooklength and bulk plus one dropper, teamed with a black hydro equivalent. The plan was to feed caster on the short line and worm and pellet on the longer line. Three balls of crushed expander went out at 11m followed by a pot of finely chopped worm with some 4mm pellet. The short line was fed with one ball of the expander and caster, as an experiment I also threw a handful of mixed micro and 4mm pellets down to my right a foot out from the bank where a small shrub was growing.

Starting on the short line on maggot saw small perch and rudd put in an appearance before a few skimmers showed up. After about 40 minutes I had a look on the long line and was rewarded with – nothing! Back on the short line saw more skimmers being brought to the net- best about 2lb before a light coloured movement to my right saw a good carp in the margin chomping on my loosefed pellets. I brought the rig in and picked up my long rig, pulling the float down so I was fishing about 2 feet deep. Dropping a banded 6mm in, the float was buffetted around by the swirls of the feeding fish before it disappeared, a lift and a light brown torpedo came hurtling out of the water and did a very good impression of a flying fish before the hook pulled! Another handful of pellets went in and ten minutes later more shadows and swirls appeared, this time the torpedo stayed in the water but the bow wave as it went down the lake with me adding sections suggested a good fish- then the hook pulled! At this point I thought to myself that I need to get a grip and set up a proper margin rig- this was a 12-14 elastic, with a homemade short “BGT 1” style float to 0.20mm Shogun and a 14 hook.

Fifteen minutes later the fish were back feeding and after some swirling the third fish was hooked, this went of like a rocket and I hung on with extra sections in play it was pulling the elastic out to an alarming length as it tried to get to the island 30m away. Somehow I managed to turn it but could not make much headway, 5 minutes into the fight Darren turns up and tells me the average for the lake is 12-18lb with a lot of 20s! To cut a long fight short, it was another 10 minutes before I managed to slip the net under the beast that was hooked in the pectoral! Darren reckoned it was about 17lb!

Despite further attempts and plenty of swirls that was the last action from the margin swim, I did go back on the 2+3 line and managed to hook a carp there which eventually threw the hook. I ended the session with 11 p[erch, 10 rudd, 10 skimmers and 2 roach for about 10lb, giving me plenty of food for thought.

So it was back on Friday, this time to Gillmans and peg 10 with a heavy wind blowing left to right (somehow the other side of the island was flat calm!) and after 5minutes when the aerator on peg 9 switched on a heavy tow!

During a calm spell!

I set up a 2+2 rig (waste of time as did not get a single indication), and a rig for 10m, which was about as much as I could hold in the wind. I actually swapped the rig from the 0.5g I had been using to a 0.8g ion order to try and improve the presentation. I had introduced 3 balls of groundbait laced with pellet and corn at the start and after no bites close in I went out and stayed on the long line. My first bite came after 2 hours and I had to scale down to a 0.10mm hooklength to get any action. Gillmans has very few if any carp but lots of tench and bream. It was not until I introduced a bit of chopped worm that I got any joy (and not a lot of that!) with some rudd coming to the net. To save you the tedium of my misfortune I ended up with 8 rudd and a bream of about 1.5lb for a total of 3-4lb.

The other people on my bank far equally badly (or worse!), however the other side of the island fished brilliantly, Darren turned up later just before I left and he had 20lb of rudd on the waggler from the other side! Still I now have a plan of attack for whatever lake or side of lake I draw!

A slow start to April Part 2!

Before diasppearing to Droitwich I managed to head to Staits, this time on a Tuesday and managed to find it free from a match. Having paid for my day ticket I drove around and parked at the far end and opted for Peg 1 – the first peg on the roadside- an area that I had been told was difficult. My thinking being if I could work out an approach for the difficult areas then if anyone in the team drew them (probably me!) then at least we would have a tactic!

Peg 1 Staits

I opted to ignore the island as the info was that the carp were usually at the other end of the lake and again I wanted to concentrate on the pole. I elected to try three lines, the first at 11m, another at 2+2 and the left hand margin by the overhanging bush. I am slightly odd in the sense that most people will start at the full distance of their pole- either 16m or 14.5m- while I prefer to settle on a different line to those around me and 10/11m is often ignored which is why I fish it! Anyway I put 3 balls of crushed expander with some 6mm pellets at 11m while putting a solitary golf ball of the same at the 2+2 line. I proceeded to loose feed pellet over the top of the 11m line and a pinch of maggots every put in on the short line. A handful of pellets was put into the margin and left for 20 minutes before repeating.

Tackle was heavier than I probably would normally use for silvers but with the possibility of carp I thought discretion was the better part of valour! The long line was 0.16mm to a 0.14mm hooklength to a 16 barbless with a 10-12 elastic set soft, while the 2+2 was 0.14mm to a 0.12mm to a 16 and a hybrid elastic which I think was 6-10, again set soft.

Starting on the 2+2 line I began getting bites after 15 minutes or so and after 2 hours had 7 roach, 3 perch, 2 rudd and 9 skimmers, the biggest being 1.5lb. At this point I decided to try the long line, putting on an expander, there was lots of interest but no positive bites, I did managed to foulhook and lose a decent fish, possibly a proper bream when the hook pulled leaving me with a scale and some slime! The margin again showed lots of activity but mainly from small fish and a solitary perch was the result.

So on to Droitwich and Woodland View, I was charged with running the event and the majority were staying on site in the caravan/lodges. I was to share with Les Hobson. Anyway we were scheduled to fish Arles then Hay and Barley and ending up on Front and Back Deans, on arrival I found this had all changed and we were now on Big and Little Als on Day 1, then on Front and Back Deans for the next two days, with each angler fishing both pools, ie if you drew Front Deans on Day 2 you would draw from Back Deans on Day 3. So having sorted out the pools for the three days and the pegs we were to use, I got the draw underway and after everyone had drawn I was left with peg 10 on Little Als.

Little Als peg 10

Arriving at my peg I realised it was the peg that the match was won from on our last visit with the fish coming from right into the corner of the lake. My elation lasted all of two minutes as Tony Wynn (always refered to as Tony Wrexham) turned up and said he was on 11, I thought that was on the other side but it transpired that they had put the peg literally in the corner of the lake so Tony was able to fish along the side bank with ease and I could not get anywhere near ! Added to that we had a strong wind blowing directly in our faces and into the corner. You can guess what happened – Tony bagged up with carp and weighed in 80-12, at one point saying he had caught 20 carp without losing one and then proceeded to lose the next three!

My match was not comfortable, I set up a margin rig, a rig for 11m that was not used and a 2+2 rig for worm and another for pellet To cut a long story short, Tony had 4 carp in the net before I had a bite, I ended up with 4 carp that I clicked at 16lb and lots of micro perch plus the odd small skimmer for 19-1, Herbie on my left had 1 carp and I ended up 5th out of 6 in the section! Les suffered a similar fate also finishing 5th.

Moving on to Day two I was left with peg 14 on Front Deans -an end peg, arriving I was hopeful as the wind was blowing directly into me .I set up a top kit line with a tosspot with a homemade 0.3g slim chianti style float with 0.16mm to 0.14mm and a 16, a 2+2 line with a similar float taking 0.4g and the same set up, a margin rig with 0.20mm and a 16 and a 11m rig with a 0.5g rugby ball float with the same set up as the 2+2 . As a back up I also set up a bomb rod but did not expect to use it and didn’t!

Peg 14 Front Deans without the wind!

I started the match with the wind- and it was a cold one!- coming straight into my face, the sun was obscured by the tree on my right so it felt distinctly wintery whilst the anglers on the other bank were in tee shirts, I ended up wearing my jacket zipped up tight. I began on the top 2 line, toss-potting in micros and with an expander on the hook, I was quickly into fish and had clicked 20lb in the first hour when horror of horrors the wind swiung around to blow down the other end of the lake and the bites died! I scratched around rotaing through the line getting a couple more carp on worm on the 2+2 line and one from the margin but at the end I weighed in 39-10 made up of 25-02 of carp and 14-08 of silvers. This left me 5th in section only beating Tony Wrexham who again drew next to me! So on to the final day and I was left with peg 35 on Back Deans – not great as Pete Bailey (sponsored by Colmic) had fished it the previous day and had caught 80 odd pounds but had only come 4th in section so it must have been tough! I set up as before but without the bomb rod. (No pictures for this day!) Once again I was drawn next to Tony!

I began as before with the sun on my back but the wind in my face (off and on), the top kit line produced some F1s and skimmers and by rotating the lines before going down the edge I managed to get 34-05 to put on the scales, consisting of two better sized carp, some F1s and some bigger skimmers/bream, this got me to 3rd in the section. I collected the boards and sat in my car to do the results before dsriving to the on-site cafe to do the results and payouts. Special mention must go to Barry Gabriel (Bazz Wrexham) who won the festival with a perfect score of 3 points and 288-03. Seventeen different anglers won something as I paid first two in each section plus top 5 overall in festival, I was not one of the seventeen!

Must do better next time!

A slow start to April 2022

A combination of family visits and weather means there has only been one trip so far this month, indeed as I write this I should be out fishing but when I got up and got ready I was greeted with “surely you are not going in this lot” – looking out of the window I finally see that the rain is hammering down and so I relented and went to get changed !

Anyway the one trip I did manage to make was mid-week to the South Cerney Wick Water complex as the first Summer League match was scheduled on Gilmans and Stait lakes. Talking to the other team members there seemed to be an agreement that Stait was the potential fly in the ointment as it was extremely peggy and some areas seemed devoid of carp which made up the bulk of the weights. I had decided to try one of the very poor pegs to see if I could work out a tactic to at least get mediocre points if we were drawn in it, however that plan went by the wayside as on getting my day ticket I was told there was a match on it! So Gilmans it was!

I decided to opt for the first peg on the lakeside bank as it had no island to fish to but had some reeds in the corner. Plumbing up I found it to be fairly shallow at about 4 foot deep and was fairly consistent once you got beyond the first shelf which was about 3 foot and exstended just beyond the 2+2 mark. I set up two rigs, the first to fish at 10m with a home made rugby ball float with bulk set at two feet and three droppers to a 0.10mm hooklength to an 18. The second was a 0.4g homemade rounded diamond with the bulk at mid depth and two droppers to an 18 with similar line. The more observant will notice I have a keepnet in the water and another ready by my box – I was not that optimistic! The rule is that tench and bream go in one net, silvers in another, I was told in the tackle shop that it would be highly unlikely that I would see any carp! I had opted to forego my normal Bowood kit and instead go with my match kit as it was to be a practice, although I left the rods at home as I wanted to concentrate on the pole.

As you might guess from the photos, there was a wind coming left to right, however this increased significantly during my session, to the extent that I could not keep the pole still at 10m and was forced to go on the 2+2 line. I began by cupping in two small balls of crushed expander with some wheat and maggots and loose fed both the lines every five minutes with a pinch of maggots and wheat. It took 15minutes for my first bite and I missed it! Next put in the float disappeared after a few minutes and the first “fish”, a micoscopic perch saved a blank having taken a liking to the double maggot offering. The session continued in a similar vein, if I could hold the float still I would get a bite, sometimes from a perch but interspersed with rudd, the biggest of whish was about 10-12oz and required the net! Once I was forced to go on the close line, the situation did not change with perch and rudd featuring with the addition of a solitary roach. After three hours I had 21 perch, 15 rudd and the solitary roach for 3-4lb when the rain arrived in tandem with the wind, at this point I decided to cut my losses and go home.

The end of the month will see me at Woodland View near Droitwich for a 3 day MFSReborn festival which I am running (for my sins) so hopefully I may have some fish to talk about!

March 2022 Part 2- Boddington, oh Boddington

With the end of the river season also being the end of the season at Bowood I was faced with one match in March on the last Sunday at Boddington Reservoir in Northamptonshire. I had actually booked the match for the MFSReborn site but more of that later. I intended to go up the previous weekend to see the water level and speak with the bailiff regarding allocation of pegs and Darren Edgell said he would come along also. Before that I had a host of jobs to catch up on around the house so it was indeed the visit to Boddington that was my first chance to fish.

Meeting up with Darren at the Brunch Bar on the outskirts of Banbury we carried on to Boddington and parked up. I had forgotten that they had put in a gentle ramp to replace the “heart attack hill” that we previously had to negotiate so that was a welcome development. I had made a decision not to take a pole and match kit instead my tackle for the day was to be my Bowood matchbox, the Chinese whips and a couple of rods- a waggler and a feeder. I settled on peg 38 and Darren on 39 with the water level high, lapping over the top of the fist platform down.

Peg 38

For those unfamiliar with Boddington, there are a series of concrete steps and platforms on each peg reaching out to about 3-4m, I am not sure if it is 3 or 4 platforms in total as my memory is playing tricks having only once fished at the base of the “stairs”. The wind was not too bad when we got there, strong, cold (easterly) and in your face but increased significantly during the day with gusts of 33mph plus a steady wind into the high twenties. This had a profound effect as starting on the 5m whip Chinese style I began catching roach only for the wind to increase and the tow pick up so that it was faster than the Thames in summer! My presentation was totally wrong and I struggled, Darren was fishing a pole and had started the day with 15 (fifteen) balls of groundbait but was able to keep his float relatively steady between gusts to catch . A swap to waggler was no better and in desperation I swung a feeder out on my whip line, this at least got me a couple more fish but that died when I lost a roach over a pound when the hook pulled in the wind. I ended up with just 9 roach and 6 lost fish, Darren managed 44. To give you some idea of the wind the water was splashing up into my face!

Returning home things went from bad to worse when my computer cut out in mid flow, initially I thought it was a power cut but quickly dismissed that thought as the screen was still on! To cut a long story short the motherboard had short circuited so I got hold of a cheap refurbished computer to tide me over, disassembled the old computer and stored the parts with the intention of upgrading the new one with said parts once the year’s warranty expires.

The matches we have held at Boddington in the past have attracted over 40 anglers but I had initially 15 expressing interest and had booked 12 pegs knowing I could add more, however by Wednesday we were down to 6! Covid, family issues, health problems and work abroad had taken its toll. I could not ask some anglers to do a 160 mile round trip for a match involving 6 anglers so with regret I cancelled the match. I was grateful to those who had already paid the peg fee refusing my offer of a refund as I still had to pay for the pegs booked! Darren and Nigel Russell still wanted to fish so as I was going anyway to pay the bailiff we had a friendly £1 bet.

The water level had dropped about 4-6inches and the wind was not nearly as strong but cold! I set up on 34, Nigel on 36 and Darren on 38. I began on the whip with the same box and rig and although I had brought a pole and rods I stubbornly stayed on the whip for the 5 hours! I began well and had eight decent roach in the net in the first hour and then the bites died! Single maggot, double maggot, caster, off bottom, hard on bottom, whatever I tried I could not buy a bite while Darren and Nigel were getting consistent fish. In the last 4 hours I had 4 fish, 2 of those came in successive put ins in the third hour, one came in the fourth hour and the final roach was foul hooked in the tail! Towards the end a pike angler came along and asked how we doing, when I told him he said that he often had big pike out of that peg and that confirmed my suspicions, especially when the bailiff came to see the weigh in and said that I probably had “the big pike” sitting in front of me!

Anyway my 12 roach weighed 5-01 so they were not a bad stamp, Nigel had 17-12 by fishing 18″ off bottom at 13m and Darren a similar number to Nigel but smaller weighing 10-15.

My 5-01
Nigel 17-12
Darren 10-15

April beckons and a three day festival at Woodland View at the end of the month.

March 2020 starts Bowood ends

As I write this on the first day of the river close season and of Bowood (yes it still holds a close season!) I think it is time to reflect on the season just passed at Bowood, but more of that later! March starts and I make my way to Bowood along the slippery muddy path until I get to the short section between the fields where I find the path is blocked by a fallen tree.

Having negotiated the tackle over the tree and through the stream that was now in place with all the extra rain water proving too much for the small culvert I finally got to peg 10. Setting up I was not too confident as the water was flowing and not very appealing with a clay colour in evidence. Setting up as per norm I was surprised when the float lifted after half and hour and a small roach graced my net – that was the blank saved! A further roach and rudd followed at 10 minute intervals before the pike float skated across the surface and disappeared, a solid strike resulted in a feisty pike of exactly 9lb, however on unhooking the pike which had managed to hook itself on both single hooks at opposite sides of it’s mouth my grip slipped- the pike flared and despite me wearing a filleting glove I managed to get two gashes in my thumb that began bleeding profusely. Getting the pike back in the water I looked in the bottom of my box for my styptic pencil only to find it was not there! I realised that I must have left it in my seat bag from my visit to Peatmoor! As you are aware the anti-coagulant nature of the pikes teeth meant I was not going to stop the bleeding easily, so wrapping the thumb as tight as I could in a rag I proceeded to return my 2oz of silvers and beat a retreat over the stream and tree back home!

It was over a week before I was able to venture back to Bowood and was greeted by the sound of a chainsaw as I got out of the car. Realising the tree was being sorted I made my way along the left bank to peg 21. Setting up I remembered why I tended to fish the right bank, firstly the depth was a good 4 feet shallower at 11.5m than the opposite bank at 10m and secondly it was far more exposed to any wind coming down the main part of the lake, and today was very windy and cold. I opted for one of my BGT Rounds taking 0.8g with a 0.10mm hooklength to an 18. Two balls of hard groundbait were deposited along with a few grains of corn and a big pinch of wheat and hemp. The pike rod was cast out to 20m with the usual sardine bait. It was slow but eventually the float disappeared and a 3oz roach was in the net. Five minutes later the float went again and this time a gust of wind caught the pole as I was bringing the roach in and bumped it off! That was the end of any action on the pole. After an hour or so one of the regulars came along and while we were chatting the sardine was taken, a strike was met with the resistance of what felt like a decent pike. As I managed to get it closer and intro the shallower water the fight changed and I could see that the wire trace was caught around its fins and I was in effect trying to bring it in broadside on. Fortunately after a few failed attempts at netting it, the pike managed to untangle itself and had a couple of “flarings” before succumbing to the net. It felt heavier than I thought when lifting the net out of the water and had a two-tone colouration , getting it onto the soft squelchy grass I unhooked it without any fuss – the bottom single hook was in the scissors. The scales showed it was 15-08. (Apologies for the poor photo!)

The only other action came from three “ghost” runs where the strike met with no resistance and the sardine came back untouched, despite one of the runs ending up 10m away from where it started! We are suspecting carp or tench as pike would have left some indication on the bait. On packing up the other angler was still biteless!

With the end of the season rapidly approaching I ventured to The Pondtail, peg 1 on the last Friday to fish the whip as the rain and wind we had been having had left me unsure the main lake would be worth fishing. Anyway it was very windy and cold rain being driven into my face- I was glad I had decided to give the main lake a miss as I would never have been able to hold the pole. Anyway, I fished 9:15 to 11:15 by which time I had had enough! I fished the 5m whip (Chinese of course) and by being patient had 8 roach for 1-13, so they were a better stamp than usual. I also dropped one and lost a good fish that I think was a big perch to a hook pull resulting from the maggot masking the point of the hook!

I decided to take a chance and went on the last Sunday of the season and was shocked that there was only one other car parked up. The Pondtail field was now home to about 200 sheep and as the ground had been soft and slippery before now the path was rutted with imprints of sheep hooves and was very dodgy! I managed to get to peg 10 and was thinking it was a mistake as the wind was very strong but I had a go and deposited two balls of groundbait at 10m with a liberal helping of corn, wheat and hemp. I opted for a 0.5g homemade diamond bodied float with 0.10mm hooklength to an 18. The pike rod was dispatched as usual with a sardine bait. It took 15 minutes before the float lifted and a small roach was in the net, this was followed at intervals by two more roach and two blades. The wind was a real problem and giving me a real buffeting but after two hours the float lifted and a strike found myself attached to a better fish that turned out to be a bream of 2-08, this was followed by another roach and blade before another bream of 3-09 came along. There was a lull followed by a roach and then another bream style bite that I missed. That was it for the next hour before a strike produced a jack- one of the smallest I’ve had at Bowood of 1-08 and that was my lot! A total of 7-14.

I had been planning on going on the last day, the Monday, but on waking I was so sore and achy after the buffeting from holding the pole in the wind I decided to listen to my body and give it a miss.

So that was another season over at Bowood and time to reflect on the past season. Sadly, I keep a spreadsheet to record all my visits so here are this year’s stats:

75 visits costing £2.67 a visit, producing 700lb exactly at an average of 9-5-8. Eighteen pegs were fished, with 3 visits to the Stock Pond and 16 to the Pondtail;

25 pike were caught weighing 230-14 at an average of 9-3-8, including 3 on the pole, 11 doubles with best two being 24-10 and 15-08;

42 tench weighing 157-12 at an average 0f 3-12 with best being 6-15 and 7 over 5lb;

45 bream/large skimmers weighing 91-10 at an average of 2-0-8 with 13 over 3lb and best at 5-01.

I fish Bowood as it is so convenient, literally 3 minutes from setting off to getting out of the car, but this comes at the cost of fishing other venues. My time up to June 16th will be spent on other venues and match fishing but I have already resolved to fish more venues next season but still aim to visit Bowood plenty!

February 2022 – yet more blanks!

It wasn’t until Wednesday 16th that I ventured to Bowood again. This time after the weather we had been having I decided to give the main lake and the Pondtail a miss and head up to the Stockpond with minimal tackle – float rod and feeder plus haversack seat. On parking up I could see that the Pondtail was very coloured and walking up to the Stockpond the main lake looked in poor condition. I set up on peg 2 (the big fish peg) but was amazed at the water – it was like tap water! I decided to just set up the waggler a home made job teamed with my ancient Abu 506 and Filstar Extreme match rod. Two hours later and no bites nor sign of fish I decided to move down to the narrow shallow arm at the back of the island (peg 16) to give it a go. This also was gin clear and after half hour I capitulated and made my way home!

It was the following Tuesday before I ventured out again, this time to the Pondtail to fish the 5m whip. I found it in better state than the previous week but still very coloured, setting up on peg 1 I used what I refer to as the Orange 2 – a Chinese float that takes 1.1g and is all orange apart from the bristle!

From left to right- the Oranges, the Thins and the Thicks!

I was hoping I could break the blank spell and was relieved when after five minutes a small roach came to hand! I fished from 9:45 to 12:00 and ended up with 38 roach, a perch and a gudgeon for exactly 4-0-0.

I returned to Peg 1 on Friday 25th for what was to be my final session of the month, fishing from 9:15 to 12:40 I set up as before setting myself a target of 50 fish and managed to achieve that despite the frost on the ground when I arrived. Interestingly whereas I had most bites on double maggot (white and bronze) the previous visit this time white and red was the best bait although I did give corn a try after having fed a few grains along with the customary hemp and wheat. The corn produced an immediate bite from a netable roach but no further bites! The fish, all roach, weighed 5-06.

The day was interesting with a pair of kingfishers, one perching on a fallen branch by the bridge and fishing, the other coming to collect the catch and flying off to the other end of the lake where they must have had a burrow under a tree that overhung the water. Added to the buzzards soaring above, the kites calling and a pair of herons flying over as I packed up, it made me realise how much I take for granted!

February 2022 – PB and blanks!

I did manage to get out on the last day of January to peg 10 at Bowood. On arrival I was not particularly hopeful as I had brought my usual pole gear and pike rod but there was a very strong cross wind. Anyway I set up as usual with a 0.10mm hooklength and a 18 and introduced a couple of tangerines of groundbait then set about fighting the wind. After half hour the float on the pike rod disappeared and a strike produced a jack of 4-10. Back to the pole and after an hour I admitted defeat and packed the pole away as the wind had increased in strength and there was no way I could hold the pole. My focus was now on the pike rod and after another 2 cups of coffee (about an hour and a quarter) I put the sardine about 6m out from the bank. Ten minutes later the float bobbed and skated away, a strike showed this was no jack and after a dogged fight I put the net under a pike of 14-6. At this point I decided to call it a day and managed to reach the car before the rain started!


It was the Friday before I returned, again to peg 10 fishing 9:45 to 12:15. I was disappointed that I did not get a single indication on the pole despite running through the range of baits and smaller hooks/line. However it was not to be a blank as at 11:10 the pike float slid away from it’s position 10m out and to the right of my pole line. The strike was met with a solid resistance and the rod arced around indicating a good fish that persisted in staying deep and requiring me to backwind on a couple of occasions. Eventually I managed to get it close to the net and could see the bottom single barbless hook in it’s scissor,before guiding it over the waiting net. I weighed the fish 3 times to be certain, 24-10 a new PB by 2oz!

24-10 PB

I allowed my self another cup of coffee and fished until 12:15 before packing up.

Monday, back at peg 10 but a totally different situation met me. The water was up by several inches, muddy, cold and flowing! You could barely see an inch into the water. I gave it a go hoping that the bream may show but was biteless – a blank!

Wednesday I decided to give the main lake a break and set up on the Pondtail peg 2 with the intention of fishing a feeder for the first 40-50minutes and then fishing the waggler across the far side of the lake for a change. On my arrival there were two cars parked up and two more arrived after I started, they all were on the main lake so I had the Pondtail to myself. Starting on an open end feeder I used one of the trees across the opposite field as my aiming point and cast the feeder at a 45 degree angle to where I was fishing (there are only two pegs and I was on the last one) 50 turns of the reel handle. Normally I would have had 5-6 quick casts to get some bait down but on this occasion I began fishing immediately but compromised by leaving the feeder in place for only 3-4 minutes before recasting. After 3 casts I had a slight tremor on the tip, a strike produced a roach of about an ounce. After 45 minutes I had put 3 roach in the net and missed 2 bites plus pulled out of what felt as if might have been a skimmer. At this point the feeder went up the bank and I reached for the waggler. I had set up a homemade sarkandas reed float with a 3mm pole tip as an insert, the beauty of which was that the yellow tip was highly visible at the 20+m I was fishing.

I only loose fed, beginning with two pouches of hemp and one of wheat, thereafter alternating between 6-10 maggots and similar quantities of wheat every cast. Five minutes in and my first bite produced a small roach, thereafter the bites came at fairly regular intervals, not frantic but often enough to keep my interest. I stopped after a couple of hours and my sparse net of 13 roach and a solitary perch weighed 1-10. As I was packing the car two of the other anglers returned from the main lake and it seemed it was very slow with only one fish of 11lb between the four fishing.

I was planning on going on the Friday (today as I write) but the cold night with morning temperatures only just above freezing and bright sunshine persuaded me to keep my powder dry until next week.

January 2022 A slow start continues!

Next out on Wednesday 19th back on peg 7 which was a mistake as the water was very cold and flowing! Anyway I decided to try it and fished 9:15 to 1pm during which time I managed the grand total of 4 roach, 2 rudd and two skimmers(blades) for the princely total of 4oz. It took me two hours to get my first fish and despite rotating through the baits could not get anything other than on single bronze maggot which is unusual for Bowood anyway. The day was capped off when at five to one the pike float buried and a strike resulted in me hooking a good double that eventually threw the hook after doing a “crocodile roll” complete with head shake. I packed up then!

Friday sees me back at Bowood complete with ice-breaker as the car was showing a temperature of -3C on arrival following a couple of days and nights of low temperatures. Bowood was indeed iced over!

An iced over Bowood

I made my way up to peg 10 and 20 minutes later I had cleared a 5m x 2m hole in the 1cm thick ice.

I took it steady and drip fed 2-3 maggots with a peanut of groundbait via a toss pot every 10 minutes straight out , the pike rod was dispatched to the right edge of the ice.

I gave it 2.5 hours without a bite/run before heading home!

Monday 24th I decided on a change and went to Blacklands which is just as close to home but I had not fished it for a couple of years after they messed about with Heron Lake and spoiled the fishing. I wanted to see if things had settled down and returned to a point where it was worth holding a match there. Alas it was not, although the weather was cold previously I would have expected 50-100 fish for the 4 hours I was there. I scratched my hardest to get 10 roach for 14oz with a further 4 small roach dropping off. I will not be back!

I was out of sardines and I knew the local Tesco would not have any until the Friday so on the Wednesday I tried the Pondtail peg 1, fishing whips- an hour at 3m for no bites and an hour at 6m for (you guessed it) no bites! I gave it up as a bad job then as previous experience had showed that you would not catch if bites were not forthcoming after an hour!

With Friday being Sardine Day and my aversion to the week-end, Monday would be my last opportunity for January- Chinese New Years Eve! I will add the last day next month but in view of the forthcoming lunar new year I thought I would share a review of my new Chinese whips!

I am now in possession of a set of 6 ply cross-rolled carbon whips from Aliexpress.

I initially bought the 7m version before adding the others in stages and have been very impressed with them. Now it must be said that I am “a whip is a whip” person and as soon as anybody says elastic it is no longer a whip in my opinion. Mostly people say they use elastic as insurance against better fish but I have landed carp to over 4lb with no issues on a 5m whip and these whips will lift a dead weight of 2lb+ so I have no worries about their strength or their ability to bend! Anyway some facts about the whips;

Whip Tip mm Butt Weight g Length m Closed Length m Cost £

3.6 0.8 13.7 89 3.85 0.77 9.36

4.5 0.8 15.6 113 4.60 0.77 10.21

5.4 0.8 17.5 142 5.31 0.77 11.42

6.3 0.8 19.7 206 6.48 0.77 12.44

7.2 0.8 21.1 246 7.20 0.77 12.51

The cost is what I paid in total including delivery from China, so for £55.94 I have a set of whips that will cover me in most situations. The whips are fitted with a Chinese whip fitting that allows 360 degree rotation and all is needed is to tie a small knot in the braided piece to allow the rig to be attached.

These are definitely not the cheap and nasty versions of whips you sometimes see and are made for the Chinese market where they would be considered to be in a medium price bracket. Their action is different from European whips in that they are designed to bend but once you have got used to the action they are a joy to use.

January 2022 – a slow start

The title refers not the fishing but my opportunities to get out! Due to a variety of factors it was not until the tenth day of January that I managed to get to Bowood. I was expecting coloured water with flow due to the weather we had been having but I fancied some of the middle pegs when I set out- pegs 6, 7 or 8, not sure why but had a feeling they may be worth a try. Anyway arrived with one angler already in situ – on peg 10- but I set up on peg 7. The water was indeed flowing and coloured, also very cold! I began tentatively with two golf ball sized balls of groundbait and some hemp and wheat, the pike rod was put out with a sardine at about 14m and I sifted through my month old maggots that were in a right state for two reasonable specimens to go on the hook. I had put a 0.5g homemade chianti style float on to cover the 4.5 feet of water and had scaled down to a 20 on the hook. A couple of quick micro roach then a nettable skimmer saw me up the hook to a 16 when out of the blue the sardine was taken and the float drifted off to the right on a run, a strike brought a scrappy fight from a 7-01 pike, a good start after 30 minutes. A return to the pole saw me having to work for bites but a run of small roach and skimmers (blades) kept me interested. A lull in bites was broken by the pole float slowly going under and a lift resulted in the solid resistance that I recognised as being a pike. Playing it carefully I managed to get it into netting range before it realised what was happening and it made off on a run that the elastic managed to curtail but unfortunately a couple of minutes later as it was plodding back to nettable range the hook pulled!

This signaled the return of bites from small roach on the pole and about 20minutes later the pike float went again, this time a strike was met with a solid resistance a a more measured and deeper fight, eventually resulting in a battle worn fish of 12-14.

I gave it three hours in total but then I began losing the feeling in my finger tips so called it a day with 18 roach, 6 skimmers and a very rare for the main lake but welcome gudgeon. These along with the pike made a 21-05 total.

Now it was not until the Sunday- 6 days later- that I ventured back to Bowood for no other reason that the weather had turned very cold with the water in the bird bath being frozen for 3 days plus very bright sunshine. Now I know some people will welcome the sun but I have found that a bright day with the low winter sun allied to freezing temperatures does not give you the best chances fishing. Perhaps I should have gone anyway but I didn’t! So it was to the Pondtail peg 2 that I ventured on the Sunday morning for a session between 10 and 12. I had spent the time at home revamping my Chinese whip rigs and set up with a 5m rig with a “size 3 thick tip” float as I refer to them (the middle float taking 1.9g olivettes and two number 9 stotz plus a number11 stotz) .

The weather had got milder but I was greeted by the usual mizzle and rain for about 10 minutes before it cleared. I primed the swim with two firmish balls of groundbait and a little bit of hemp and wheat. I had thrown in the remainder of my maggots on the last trip and had bought some fresh mixed maggots. Baiting my hook (a Chinese 1# that equates to a size 16) with a white and a bronze I had my first fish within minutes only for me to not catch it as I swung it in, it hit my hand and bounced back! The two hours past quickly with the fish, all roach, coming in bursts of 2-3, any protracted lull was the signal to introduce another golf ball of groundbait, so by the end I had 30 roach for 2-13.

You may be able to pick out the float towards the bottom right corner but the quality is not brilliant I’m afraid.

I have been persuaded to fish the local summer league this year for Darren Edgell’s Team Bankers! Starts in May with two commercial style lakes at South Cerney for the first match, then off to the Kennet and Avon canal at Hungerford, followed by the Bristol Avon at Chippenham, the Thames at Clanfield and finally the Thames at Radcot at the end of July. That should be a good series!

Chinese Whip Rigs

When you buy a Chinese whip off Aliexpress it usually comes with a spare top and a bunch of freebies.

The “Freebies”

Starting at above the float is a rig making kit and a winder with a complete rig minus hooklength for the length of whip bought (more of this in a bit). Below the float is a green “doughnut that I believe is to go on the whip close to the butt to prevent it being pulled of the rests that they use! The blue roll is a self adhesive sponge handle grip similar to those used on squash or badminton racquets.

The rig provided is set up so that it is easily adjusted by moving the rubber stops –

The rig provided.

As you can see the rig consists of a small float adapter held in place with two float stops then a black plastic tube with metal wrapped around it, held in place by two float stops at either end leading to a swivel that they attach the hook length to. The rigs in China that are provided when you buy a whip are slightly different in that they have a two hook hooklength and have a pole winder type attachment that straps to the whip for transport purposes.

Basic rig making kit!

The basic kit needed to make a rig in China would be the above, float stops cost £2.29 for 300, the weight tubes cost £2.18 for 100 and the lead strip was £2.54. All the prices include VAT and delivery. You will notice that the lead strip if marked out in 0.1g segments for ease of cutting and has a special non-leach coating.

I have adapted the basic set up as unfortunately using the lead strip would be illegal in the UK so I have replaced it in two ways, firstly using either the foil covering from wine bottles (good excuse to have a glass!) or wrapping plasticine/tungsten putty around the weight tubes or secondly, and the easier option, use in-line olivettes!

I have dispensed with the swivel and simply use a loop to loop approach for attaching the hooklength. The Chinese rigs seem to have a heavy line of perhaps 8-10lb whereas I do not go above 0.14mm for the main line. The rigs are stored on spools in their own case. One case for the shorter whips one for the longer ones.