The Last Hurrah – March 2020

March arrives and the close season at Bowood looms closer. A short session on the first Monday on 12 from 11-2 sees a disappointing 7 roach 3 perch and a blade for a staggering 5oz! Next day sees me for a short session on the Pondtail I decided to chuck a feeder out for the bream with a worm whilst fishing the 5m whip on cheese, but first put a maggot on to get a couple of roach in the net. The cheese was a stupendous failure with no sign of a bite, reverting back to maggot didn’t produce any either, so the only action was on the feeder where 3 roach took a fancy to my worm. Five roach for 8oz, not the farewell to the season I was hoping for!

Friday was my next venture out and I reverted back to peg 12 but this time with the pole. I set up with a number 5 elastic to 0.16mm Shogun mainline and 0.10mm hooklength to an 18 and a homemade body down teardrop float with a green hollow 1.7mm bristle taking 0.6g. The pike rod, as usual was set up with a two single no6 barbless carp hook to a 15lb wire trace and a sardine bait. The pike rod produced two missed runs but the pole gave me a pike of 5-8 which gave a good account of itself on the 5 elastic. The 10m line also produced a skimmer of 1-13, 6 roach, a small skimmer and a mini perch for 2-10.

A three hour session the following Monday sees me finally hook a pike run for a small one of 5-7 with the pole producing 15 rudd and 15 roach for 2-6, all on double maggot, as usual single maggot is totally ignored!

Wednesday sees me back on 12 and some interesting action. Setting up as before I had a run early on from a scrappy jack of 3-10. I began to get a few bites on the pole when I hit a good fish that I eventually lost after 10 minutes without seeing it. Half an hour later the same happened,  a good fish hooked that I could do little with, finally getting it under my feet after 15+ minutes (I know the time as the Bowood House bell rang twice during the fight), to my surprise it was a a big tench (6lb+) that promptly went under the pike rod and into the weed bed and the hook pulled! I was not a happy bunny! Anyway an hour later the same thing happens and this time after 30mins I put the net under a pike of 7-6!


You never know what to expect at Bowood!. A plugged away and had  a total of 13 roach, 8 blades and 2 rudd for 1-2 when I packed the pole up at which point the pellet waggler float I use as a pike float bobbed, and moved off, resisting the urge to strike and when it went a second time hit into a pike of 8-8 to finish the session. The beauty of the rig I use is the hook fell out in the net but the downside is the fish was only hooked in the lip with one hook despite the length of time I gave it to take the bait- hence the number of missed runs. All in all not a bad session with a 20-10 total.

Friday was going to be my last day at Bowood as I decided to give the last day a miss as I reckoned that it would be busy (more than two anglers!). Any way the day set off well with lots of bites coming on the pole then a bream of 1-14 turned up, followed by a run on the pike rod that gave me one of 9-4. The day continued along the lines of catch small fish hook a pike …the next one was a jack of 5-2 on the pole (I had taken the precaution of putting a top with a slack 8-10 elastic on). The last one on the sardine was one of 9-11 to finish the session. So 22 roach,1 mini perch, 20 rudd and 5 blades went 3-4 to give me a final session total of 29-3 a nice way to close the season.


Family commitments then kicked in and with the ever worsening Corona virus situation it was Monday 23rd that I managed to get out next for what looks to be the last session for some time as that night the restrictions were announced. The last visit was to Patneys or to give it it’s proper name Woodside Lakes, two lakes that are in the middle of nowhere with no platforms or facilities – natural in every sense . When I arrived there was one car in the car park, a carp angler on the specimen lake, I parked on the other side of the car park and set up on the right hand side  of the match lake just before the first island. I had resorted back to my match set up rather than the trusty Maver Metalica and matchbox I use at Bowood. I decided on 0.14mm Shogun to a 0.12mm hook length to a 16 barbless with a home made float taking 0.6g. I had planned to fish the meat but on inspecting the meat taken from the freezer, it was too soft to keep the hook in plus I had forgotten my pole pots for this pole! Bait wise, apart from the meat, I had a half pint of fresh maggot, a few worms, some micros and 4,6 and 8mm expanders. Plumbing up carefully I found the deeper spot to my left that I had found on a previous visit, three balls of groundbait mixed with micros and some of the 4mm cubed meat was deposited and double maggot was put over the top of it. I began by catapulting some old maggot I had left from Bowood over the top every 5 minutes or so. After 30 minutes I had my first bite and missed it! This I had found to be the frustrating thing about this particular peg as it seemed to be home of a lot of mini tench that were very cagey feeders. I finally managed to hit my fifth bite, a roach of 4 oz. It was a good half hour before the next bite, a small perch. Ten minutes later I had a bite and latched into a carp that I had on for 30 seconds, before the hook pulled (the maggot had masked the hook). Another roach of 3oz followed after 15 minutes but then a run of missed bites as the wind picked up. At noon another angler turned up and went on the opposite bank just as I hit a bite from another carp, this time properly hooked and after the short fight(see video) weighed in at 5-8.  Only one more bite hooked in the next two hours a carp of 1-8, but two more were bumped. At which point I called it a day and went home.

No fishing for the foreseeable future but it will be a small price to pay to keep people safe.

A February Whipping

The start of February arrives with Gareth et al still here thanks to the Corona virus. We managed a short session on pegs 12 for me and 11 for Gareth. Gareth missed 2 runs and had 48 small fish for 2-0 while I had no interest from the pike but had 31 roach and 22 rudd for 2-2. They were SMALL!

Two days later back again for a couple of hours late in afternoon same results- Gareth missed two runs on 11 and had 25 small fish, while I had no interest on 12 but had 21 roach, 8 rudd and a blade for 1-4. It is worth mentioning that we were fishing two single hooks on the wire trace as I have stopped using trebles, this does lead to more runs being missed but it is so much better unhooking the fish.

Next day we decided to take Zach to the Pondtail to catch his first fish, so strapped in to Gareth chest we went on the first platformmmexport1581275487334

armed with a 3m whip, a bag of mixed groundbait and a pot of maggots. A nugget of groundbait with 3-4 maggots was put in every couple of minutes and eventually after 5 minutes the float dipped and was missed! Next put in and…

Mission accomplished, Gareth went off with the others for a walk down the lake leaving me to amass another 21roach and a hybrid in the next half hour.

We made the decision after this visit to forget the poles and just take the pike rods and whips for future visits as the sessions would be 2 hours at best. Next afternoon the plan was put into action with me on 12 and Gareth on 11 (his choice). Fishing 4m whips I had 15 roach and 15 rudd for 1-3 but also had pike of 11-0,9-0 and 5-0, Gareth on 11 had pike of 8-2 a bream of 2-7 plus another pound of small roach and rudd on the whip.  Double maggot was the only bait to attract the silvers, no bites on single at all.

Two days later back again in the wind and rain as storm Dennis took hold, same pegs, Gareth getting a rudd of 1lb plus a load of bits for 3-1 on the whip plus a pike of 4-8, while I had pike of 5-6 and 8-11 plus 20roach, 18rudd and a perch for 1-13 (small fish!)

Sunday should have been round 5 of the Port Talbot Docks Winter League but the organisers had called it off on the Wednesday as the extent of Dennis became known, this led to the owner cancelling the rest of the matches as he felt they should have waited longer before cancelling. The result being that the 4 matches fished counted and the league ended with me in 9th and Darren in 7th spot. Can’t help feel sorry for the organisers as they were proven correct in their assessment!

Dennis came and went, trees were down and needed to be cleared on the estate roads and the water went very murky. Wednesday saw us on the usual pegs but me on 11 this time.No runs which was not surprising given the water but 14 blades and 5 roach on the whip for me for 1-6 while Gareth had a skimmer of 1-4 and 5 blades for 2-0. Two days later we had 2 hours on the Pondtail, with Gareth fishing feeder and worm in the hope of getting a  bream, I plugged away on the whip on the first peg for 21 roach for 2-6, Gareth managed 2 roach on the worm. It was four days later we managed another short session, again I went on 11 and had a skimmer of 1-4, 7 roach and a hybrid for 2-1 while Gareth struggled in the wind and rain on 12 for just 3 roach, we packed up after an hour and a half in a break from the rain as we could see another heavy system approaching, just making it back to the car before it came down!

Another short session the following day on Pondtail, again Gareth fished the feeder and had 10 roach, I managed 37 roach, 2 perch and 7 gudgeon for 4-2 on the whip. Friday sees us having a slightly longer session of 2.5 hours, I was again on 11, managing two pike on the sardine both fish remarkably weighing exactly the same at 6-9, the small fish had disappeared and I had 4 fish on the whip, 3 small roach and a stonking 1-0 roach. Meanwhile Gareth had 3 roach on the whip  and a pike of 8-4.


Following day another late afternoon session on the same pegs sees me nab skimmers of 1-6 and 0-15 on the whip plus 5 roach and a perch for 2-9 while Gareth on 12 had 10 roach and 2 blades for 0-8, missed two runs but did land a pike of 11-4 so he was happy!


Finally things were getting back to a semblance of normality in China and Gareth had booked tickets to leave on  Thursday 27 (43 days after arriving for a 13 day stay!) so we only managed one further session at Bowood, again on 11 and 12, I fished 11 and again had a skimmer of 1-4 on the whip plus 10roach, a perch and a blade for 2-6, Gareth had 10 small roach and blades for 0-8 from the murky water. It was probably the coldest I have felt there in a long time with icy rain sweeping into our faces. Needless to say no pike!

As I write this, they have arrived back in China safely, Zachary probably expresses it best…

Disrupted Plans Jan 2020

The New Year  saw me back in the rut – peg 12, but it threw up a hectic session with 76 roach and 6 rudd  for the princely weight of 2-12! But also two pike of 8-6 and 6-8. Back to 12 on the Monday sees a change to gale force winds and chocolate for water, 33 roach and 7 rudd were winkled out at 2+2 as I couldn’t control the pole at 10m! Again small fish for a 1-8 weight – I gave up after 2 hours as I just couldn’t control even 2+2.The weather continued to create havoc and it was the Friday that saw me back at 12, later joined by another regular on 11, both of us biteless in the 4 hours I fished.

Time to brush off any New Year blues and head off to Port Talbot, as usual it was raining when we met to transfer the kit to one car and stopped once we got going! As soon as we hit Bridgend we hit biblical rain but fortunately we managed to drive out of it and it was only light drizzle when we arrived at Bros Cafe for the draw. On the way down Darren asked what peg I fancied and I replied that I would like one down the bottom end for a change but not really bothered as long as I didn’t get peg 7 – what did I draw -peg 7, Darren fared a little better and drew end peg 3. Last time I could not get the whip or pole line to work and had to scratch for 25 fish mainly on the feeder, still it was a new day and I had to get positive about it or I would be beaten before I started!


I began the match with 8 jaffas laced with micros, dead reds and casters at 8m and put 2 similar jaffas at 4m on the whip line. Starting on the margin pole at 8m it was 5minutes before I got my first bite, a 2oz roach, this was followed at intervals with more roach and the odd perch before slowing right down after an hour and only 10 fish in the net. Onto the whip line that I had been feeding with loose hemp and the occasional nugget of groundbait, a slow run of roach and perch saw me finish the second hour on 30 fish, the third hour started slowly and prompted me to try the 8m line again only to get a roach first put in then nothing. On to the feeder at 20 turns and again slow with just two roach, one on worm the other on maggot (during this spell the heavens opened and we had a patch of rain and hailstones for about 15-20 minutes), at this point I decided to cut my losses and stick on the whip.The end of the third hour saw me on 37 fish. The fourth hour was totally different weather wise as the sun came out and shone directly down the dock onto peg 7 so I was having trouble seeing the colour of my maggots let alone the float, adjusting the feeding so it was more of a 1m strip in front of me I alternated the glare free areas to finish the fourth hour on 55 fish.

The final hour started slowly but 37 roach in the last 40 minutes saw me finish on 97 fish. I had not had a single net fish or skimmer. Darren weighed in first with 12-3 he said he had 103 fish but crucially he had caught some skimmers- including two in the last 10 minutes to boost his weight. Mel on peg 4 weighed in 14-1, peg 6 weighed in 8-0, my fish went 9-2. Peg 8 on the headland had been catching well all day on the feeder and weighed in 20-4 for a match win, the rest of the weights were very close with 5 weights between 11 and 12lb, then several in the 16-18lb region.
Going home and reflecting on the match, we agreed that despite being newcomers we were not too far off the pace and just need to have a reasonable draw, two matches left to make a difference
The Wednesday saw the arrival of Gareth accompanied by his wife Wendy and my grandson Zachary from China. Sunday sees us grab a few hours at Bowood Gareth fishing 12 and I went on 11. The water was a better colour now and somehow the fish had moved down to 11, I had one pike of 5-15, a skimmer of 1-12 and 12 roach (1-5-8), whilst Gareth didn’t get a run and had to make do with15 roach. Back the next day for another short session, I went on 11 again and had 5 roach, while Gareth fished 12 and had 1 roach but as we were packing up hit a run on the pike rod which resulted in an 11lbe. IMG_20200119_095701859_HDRIMG_20200120_162900727
A few days later we managed another short session with me on 11 and Gareth on 12, this time I had a a pike of 6-2 and 10 roach, while Gareth managed pike of 4-0 and 5-14 plus a clutch of roach, rudd and blades for 2-2.
Sunday sees us arrive for a late afternoon session with Gareth due to go back on the Tuesday, unfortunately there was another angler on 12 with a float also on 11 so we fished the shallower pegs, me on 9 and Gareth on 10. We had no pike although the angler on 12 had 4 small samples in the 2 hours we were there, but we were kept busy with small roach and rudd, I finished with 22roach and 15 rudd for 1-12 while Gareth had 15roach and 5 rudd for 1-8.
The corona virus then disrupted plans as the advice from Zhongshan was not to return as everything was shutting down! Wendy works as a manager in a hospital and the advice came from her colleagues. So plane tickets were cancelled and bags unpacked, the silver lining was we had more time with Zachary and the chance to go fishing a few more times. The day after they should have left we were back at Bowood for a another short late afternoon session, with Gareth on 12 and me on 11. Gareth had a bream of 1-8 and 9 roach and 1 rudd for 012, while I sneakily managed to get skimmers of 1-4 and 1-0 plus 10 roach and a rudd for 1-2 plus a pike of 9-1. All the pike were taken on a double single hook rig and sardine bait.
As I write this tickets have been booked to return and then two hours later cancelled following the Foreign Office statement that Britons should leave China!  We will see what February brings, will they still be here?

Farewell 2019

December starts in chilly fashion with me arriving at Bowood with heavy frost and the air temperature at -2C at 9am. Peg 12 looked okay and with the heavy frost causing a mist to rise from the water but I wondered whether the sudden drop may make it more difficult than it looked. Starting cautiously with one ball of light groundbait laced with just a smattering of micros and about 20 casters I began on the pole with a size 18 to 0.10 Shogun, having put a sardine out as usual on the pike rod. I began catching small roach on double maggot before being interrupted by the elastic coming out on the strike and a slow ponderous fish moving off. My initial thought was pike as it was a typical scenario at Bowood, the tench seem to move off faster and even the bream are faster. I’ll never know if I was correct as the hook pulled half way in.

Back to catching small roach when 10 minutes later the same happened only this time after the slow ponderous start it realised it was hooked and went a run that saw the hook being pulled out again. Back out and a slower wait for the roach, 30 minutes pass and the elastic comes out again, only this time I manage to steer a jack of 4-2 to the net. The roach are now coming a lot slower and it is apparent that there are pike in residence as another two are lost on the pole before a jack of 4-8 is netted on the pole. I then manage to miss my one and only run on the pike rod! DOH! Another two pike are lost, one with a snap, I am guessing that the other pike may have been foul hooked possibly. I packed up with 30 roach, 3 rudd and a perch in the net at 1pm and on returning to the car found the temperature had risen to 5C.

Two days later back at 12 with a very heavy fog, began slowly with odd better (relative to the others I had been catching) roach until 11am when the fog lifted and bright sunshine hit Bowood – from this point until I packed up at 1pm I only had a solitary bite. The seven roach remained my only fish, no sign of any pike!

Sunday sees a change and me fishing the annual Pike match at Peatmoor, you can select your peg and move as the mood takes you so I headed for Peg 1-


the first time I had managed to fish it in the match. Two rods are allowed so I opted for a sprat on one and sardine on the other, both fished on my usual float(pellet waggler) and single barbless hooks. Before I had even sorted one rod out a pike was taken opposite on spinner 5-2. Two hours later I was still biteless when the sardine float went, a strike met with a solid resistance and the pike managed to get around my other line before being netted. Sorting out the tangle of line wrapped around the pike I finally had the fish weighed at 7-10, which put me in the lead. Usually if you get one pike on peg 1 you will get other runs so I ignored the temptation to move and stuck it out until the end of the match – no further runs! My one fish put me second as the spinner had worked it’s magic with 3 fish falling for the lure to give a winning 15lb total. I think I have been second or third 5 times in this match now and never won it!

Back to Bowood on the Wednesday, peg 12 started at 9:15 had 6roach and 4rudd by 10:30 when there was a very sudden drop in temperature- almost as if you had stepped into a freezer suddenly. There were no more bites from 10:30 to 11:30, the rain started and I went home!!

The rain continued and continued but more of that later, Sunday sees me meeting Darren for the second round of the Port Talbot Docks Winter League.

The day didn’t start well apart from the 30mph winds and rain the motorway junction outside Chippenham was closed which meant a diversion to come on at the Bath junction. The rain was causing all kinds of problems with 3 accidents seen on the way to the Docks, fortunately by the time we got to Bros, where the draw was held, we had driven past the torrential rain and were greeted with a heavy drizzle. The day didn’t get any better with the draw being totally cocked up – we should have been in rotating sections but the organisers gave up and changed it to a random draw for all matches after the first attempt prompted a call for a redraw. Result was instead of being in the preferred high numbers where the original plan would have placed us we ended up in the same section as the first match with me on 7 and Darren on 6. First bit of luck was the rain had stopped and the wind dropped by the time we got to the pegs.

wl2 peg7wl2 peg7r  ​wl2 peg7l 

I set up the feeder with a 30g open end on a link swivel tied directly to the braid (no shock leader- never found I needed one particularly with short casts) and a 15 inch hooklength of 0.12mm to a 16 looped around the braid above the knot to form a sliding paternoster. The margin pole came out at 8m with red hydro to a 14g giant to a 16 on 0.12mm. Two whips set up at 4m and 5m, 3g at 4m and 5g at 5m. The match started and 10 balls went in on the pole line in about 14-15ft of water. A small nugget went on the 4m whip line and I started on the pole while watching Darren as he was fishing the whip exclusively and if he started to catch I would swap over. A bite first put in saw a two ounce roach swing merrily towards my hand before dropping into the water at my feet!(It was going to be one of those days). After ten minutes the weather changed- the wind that had dropped came back with a vengeance with 35mph gusts.

The first hour proved to be a warning of what was in store with very few bites and no-one catching much. I had 9 roach in first hour, Darren 7, whereas we were expecting to hit between 30-40 an hour from past experience (more of that later!) By the end of the second hour I had added 2 more roach, Darren was up to 20, I had broken up some cheese into pellets that had gone into the groundbait I was feeding but resisted the temptation at this point to try it, instead put half a medium dendra on the hook and swung it out into the wind that was coming straight at us. After 5 minutes the float buried and a 12oz skimmer was safely in the net, soon to be followed over the next hour by several more some small but including one of about 2lb, then the wind went from 30mph to a reasonable 20mph and the bites dried up! I now reached for the cheese  to no effect, then tried mussel ( match record several years ago of 80lb+of bream was taken on mussel!) still nowt.
I rang the changes to no effect, the whip lines had only given me three roach, so I thought sod it and went out on the feeder managing a few more roach and a couple of skimmers by the end. The five of us in this part of the dock weighed in as follows peg3 7-8, peg 4 8-1, peg 6 8-1, peg 7 8-1, peg 8 DNW, the rest of the section was the other side of a small headland and went Peg 10 17-0, peg 11 DNW, peg 12 15-01. The lower section was far more consistent with mainly double figure weights headed by one of the organisers on peg 20 with 30-7.
Talking to Scott Williams on peg 3 at the end we asked why he fished most of the match on a feeder as he is known as the whip king at the docks taking many 30lb+ nets of whip caught roach. He explained that the heavy rain we had been having usually spells the end of the big shoals of roach that he had plundered and the shoals break up and seem to disappear meaning that skimmers come to the fore. Armed with this we will take stock and think about what we do for round 3 – next Sunday.

The rain did not abate and I decided that going to Bowood would be a waste as previously the water was chocolate and flowing like a river at times so with the local river up and a muddy torrent instead of its clear steady flow (even after the previous rains) I had an enforced break until the following Sunday’s return to Port Talbot.

With it being the Sunday before Christmas the cafe we normally use for the draw was shut so we had to meet at the docks at 8:15, that meant Darren and I had an extra half hour in bed before setting off at 6:30. The trip down was uneventful and we made good time, arriving at the dock entrance before anyone else.The draw this time put Darren on 13 and me on 11 – one day we may get to draw down the bottom end! Bearing in mind what we had learnt last time I did not put up any whips , just a feeder and the margin pole with the usual 14g Giant.
The weather, for once was kind to us with winds of only 20mph and the occasional short shower. The fishing however was a different matter! We learnt that the day before that the anglers plundered the bream on 12 and 13 with one angler having 4 keepnets out as there had been an influx of warm water from the steel works but there had been very heavy overnight rain that had cooled the water. At the start I began with 10 balls laced with dead reds, corn, casters and wheat and went straight over it looking for an immediate response, which came in the shape of a 2oz roach.

Unfortunately it was a case of diminishing returns as by the time 50 minutes had gone the bites had dried up and I had put 15 roach in the net. Picking up the feeder I began with a half dendra and chopped worm, dead reds and caster in the 40g feeder. Casting every couple of minutes I began to get a few bites but it was slow, switching to double maggot speeded it up slightly but it was a case of waiting and putting the odd small skimmer in the net. The guy on 12 was also struggling and the angler on peg 10 (the fancied one in this top half) had put a glut of roach in the net fishing the waggler shallow (4-6feet) but was now on the feeder and catching skimmers.

I could see Darren had decided to fish the 4m line and was catching but despite further attempts on the margin pole line it was not worth sticking with. The guy on 12 had tried the short line with no success so I decided to stick it out on the feeder , ending the match with my lowest weight of the series so far – 10-6, the guy on 12 had 8-2, peg 10 had 19-8. Darren had managed 175 fish for 15-12 while Scott on peg 14 won the match with a top 2 catch of roach plus one bream of 26-12.
Annoyingly the area we had drawn last match had fished well with a string of double figure weights with the exception of peg 7 (my peg last week!).

The trip home was the best we had in terms of traffic but I came to the conclusion that my decision making is crap! Next time I am going to do it differently!

Christmas then intervenes with a trip to Yorkshire but on the return I get a last chance at Bowood. Peg 12 was calling me  and on arrival I find a reasonable colour but still flowing. The sardine is put out and three balls of groundbait with some caster, wheat and dead reds are put in on 10m, maggots on the hook and the pike rod goes! A strike is met with a solid thump and after a short but feisty fight a pike of exactly 10lb is in the net – a welcome start!


Bites were aplenty but the fish were painfully small and 61 roach, 2 rudd and a small skimmer at the end of the session went 2-12 with a further two pike missed, to conclude 2019. The New Year will see more action on peg 12 (hopefully) and the last 3 matches at Port Talbot. Have a good one !


Wet, wet, wet November

As predicted last month, Halloween saw me sneak a last visit to peg 12 before November drew in.  As befits that day things were a bit weird, we had what the wife calls “wet rain” – a very fine drizzle that seems to permeate every nook and cranny, leaving you wet without you realising what is going on; fishing was okay with 21 roach, all small for 1-2 and a pike of 11-8 on the sardine but I lost 2 further pike with them not being hooked properly and also I had changed to a 5 elastic on the pole so hit two large fish which I suspect were tench and lost both with the hook pulling for no real reason!

November arrives and it is not until the middle of the next week I can get out again to peg 12. The rain that had been causing chaos elsewhere had abated slightly so I had a relatively dry day, but the water was heavily coloured with a lot of dead weed that had been dislodged by the strong influx of water that was flowing like a slow river through the lake.I had a run first 10minutes on the sardine that turned out to be a fish of 8-2, which I considered a bonus given the state of the water and this was accompanied by 16 small roach and 3 equally small rudd for 13oz, not brilliant but better than a blank. No sign of any better fish -typical as I had reverted to a heavier hollow set loose just in case!

It was almost a week before I ventured out again and was back almost as soon I had left as the road down to the lake was shut as they were doing repairs. I phone call to the estate office produced an apology and the permission to drive through the now closed public entrance and through the estate to the lodge where I could park.  Still miffed I waited until the next day to go, my usual 3 minute journey now taking 15mins. Water was still very coloured and I kept hoping that the bream would show, as in the past these have been the ideal conditions for them. Peg 12 was not the place for the bream though as after 3 roach in the first 3 put ins I had to scratch hard to end up with 15 roach a rudd and a perch for a pound. I did however get a pike  of 8-9 and lost 3 others which may explain the reticence of the other fish to feed. That week-end saw me back to 12 on the Sunday following very heavy rain over night and a bitterly cold day. I was not too hopeful but after 5 roach on the pole I hit a good fish which I suspected was a pike and after a tense fight I was proved right with an 8-4 fish coming to the net. The pole produced 30 roach, 4 rudd and a perch for 1-6 but the sardine produced a very lively fish of 12-2 and an hour later produced another fish which was a good double which threw the hook just out of netting range (Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr).

Pike 12-2 17nov

Two days later back at peg 12 the small fish fed better which explained my getting one solitary run on the sardine which I subsequently missed (on the phone to Herbie, our MFS Leader, at the time). The session ended with me netting 50 roach 3 rudd and a perch for 2-12.

I took some time off then to prepare for round one of the Winter League at Port Talbot Docks. Meeting up with traveling partner Darren Edgell we made good time and arrived at the cafe for the draw a little after 7:30. We were hoping for a draw in the areas we had previously fished but I ended up on peg 4 (rarely fished from what we could see) and Darren drew better on peg 11 where I had fished in our first open venture.

The view from peg 4 – note the calm conditions- very unusual!-, my home for the day. I had not fished this area before and set up a feeder (hoping I would not need it), 4m and 5m whips just tripping the boulders in 11ft+, plus an 8m margin pole to hand in the 15 feet of water. On the all in I put 10 balls of heavy groundbait on my 8m line and a small ball on the 5m whip line and started there on double maggot. I had expected a bite within a couple of minutes and when I still had nothing after 20 minutes realised I was in trouble! I did not want to go over the 8m line but did so for 5 minutes just to check and again nothing, so out went the feeder to 20m. Slow was an understatement and I finished the first hour on 5 roach, having lost a skimmer on the way in and no real interest in the worm or maggot baits I had tried. My hand reached for the five metre whip and in the next hour I managed to put 30 fish in the net which by the Dock standards is slow going! On the two hour mark I gave the 8m line a try and had a couple of roach but again it was slow so back to the whip and the third hour finished with 29 fish including a skimmer of about 12oz that was taken by a pike on the way in and subsequently released. The fourth hour was sheer frustration as I hooked a further three skimmers, each taken and released by pike between the roach, which had the effect of killing the swim for 10 minutes after each attack, the hour ended with 18 fish. The final hour was a carbon copy of the fourth and despite trying the 8m line it was not as productive as the whip line, 2 further pike attacked skimmers in the net and a total of 20 fish in the last hour saw me with a total of 102 fish and a weight of 13-2. Not a good start to the league but fortunately only the best 4 placings count and for the next match I will be in the more productive lower section of the dock.
The results
Peg 3 18 01
Peg 4 13 02
Peg6 22 06
Peg7 18 07
Peg 8 24 06
Peg10 13 04
Peg11 18 03 (Darren)
Peg12 6 05
Peg13 26 11
Peg14 32 12
Peg15 13 11
Peg16 22 10
Peg18 10 09
Peg19 7 12
Peg20 22 01
Peg21 28 07

Tuesday saw me head out to Bowood, light drizzle when I arrived and putting on my bib and brace and boots I suddenly realised I had left the pike rod at home! I couldn’t be bothered to undress and drive back so I decided on a change and fished Pondtail peg 1.

A small ball of groundbait was introduced at 10m in 8ft of water with me loose feeding casters, left over from the weekend, over the top. After a slow start my no 5 elastic started to get some action and I ended the 3 hour session with 76 roach (biggest 13oz), 2 gudgeon, 4 perch and two hybrids of 1-8 and 1-10 for a 10-8 total. Pleasing in the sense it kept me busy and stopped me moping about forgetting the pike rod!


The last Friday of the month saw me at Bowood 12 rather than at the Black Friday sales. This time I had remembered the pike rod! A slow but steady approach was called for as the weather had got cold and there was still a lot of water emptying into the lake. A single ball of heavy groundbait was introduced with the remnants of the casters being fed over the top. I find I can keep caster for over a week in fairly good nick if I save them in a blue freezer bag rather than a clear one. A steady start saw roach and rudd come steadily to the net before I hit a better fish, which given its heavy head thumping suggested a tench and true to form a tinca of 2-10 turned up in the net.

More fish followed before I had a run on the sardine that I managed to hit but half way in there was a large clunking sound and the reel suddenly had the spool rotating while I was trying to wind! I eventually managed to coax the fish in to the waiting net, a pike of 8-12. The reel was knackered- a cheap Shakespeare Omni that had been abused for a good few years- on subsequent dismantling of the reel at home, various bits of metal fell out after having sheared off!

I continued with the pole and after a while hit another good fish, this time a tench of 4-8. Why do some people think tench won’t feed once autumn arrives? The session ended with 43 roach and 17rudd which went 2-15. A nice session to end the month.


December brings the Peatmoor Pike Cup and rounds 2 and 3 of the Docks winter series.

October madness

October arrives and the trek to peg 12 at Bowood starts- I tend to stick with the same peg/area as so few people fish in the winter that I feel sticking to one peg gets the fish accustomed to finding food in the area, plus it is deeper than others in the area. Anyway the month started very positively with me having a pike of 5-6 on a sardine before I had even finished putting the pole up. I have found that the size of bait is more important at Bowood than the type, a bait too big or too small will often be ignored for some reason so now I head to the nearest Tesco and buy up their stock of sardines- usually about 12-14 fish at a cost of about £2.60, far cheaper than the packaged “pike” baits- and then freeze them in pairs for later use.

Anyway back to the fishing, the pole was eventually in use and 4 balls of groundbait laced with a few kernels of corn, some wheat and a good dollop of micros was deposited at 10m as there was a bit of colour in the water for a change, if the water had been clearer I would have gone out to 11.5m. Roach were soon interested and the day progressed as follows- plenty of roach, quiet spell, pike run, lost pike, plenty of roach, quiet spell, pike run, lost pike, plenty of roach, quiet spell, bream 1-6, bumped bream, quiet spell, pike run, lost pike, plenty of roach, quiet spell, pike run,  pike 10-8, plenty of roach, quiet spell, pike run, lost pike. The last pike was a big double that threw the single hook close to the net. All in all not a bad start to the month.

I was unable to visit Bowood for the rest of the week and on Sunday I returned to Port Talbot Docks with Darren for an open. We were due to meet at the cafe at 8am for an 8:30 draw but suspicions grew and then realisation dawned – we were sitting in the wrong cafe! A quick check and move we finally got to the correct cafe, paid our money and had a bite to eat. I drew one of the Golden Pegs – peg 11, on the boards and set my stall out like our previous visit with 8m margin pole to hand and a feeder set up. The big difference was that I had mixed up 5kg of groundbait the day before. I began with 10 balls laced with corn and dead red maggot on the pole line and was into small roach immediately. My set up of 14g float and red hydro may seem extreme but it works fine and 165 roach, 1 perch of a pound and a two pound bream later I was happy with the set up. I did try the feeder (for too long) and only had 6 fish on it. I also lost a large pike that had the red hydro right out for several minutes before it’s teeth finally cut the line! At the weigh in  I had 16-8 which was okay for the first match attempt there, Darren had drawn 14 and had 16-12. The strangest part of the day was the shift in water level- first rising by about 6 inches then dropping at least 3 feet, if you look at the photo below, the water at the start would have been well up my leg!


Darren has since talked me into fishing the six match Winter Series at the Docks!

Back to Bowood, peg 123 (of course), wind and rain, good looking colour made me hopeful of the bream showing up but 31 roach and 19 rudd later I packed up before the latest set of rain clouds hit (just managed to get back to the car in time!). No pike interest but was not expecting much with the colour and strong tow on the water.

Couple of days later I returned for a short session (9-30 to 12) and again nice colour but the tow had eased but there was a lot of loose weed in the water following the heavy rain, which made it awkward with the pike rod as it was constantly picking up floating clumps. I nevertheless had a solitary run from a pike of 8-12, 13 roach and 24 rudd on double maggot.

Another couple of days of rain sees the water like chocolate and more rain making things unpleasant but started with a roach and two small skimmers in first 5 minutes, then nothing for an hour and a half, so I decided to pack up, just managed to pack the pole up and I get a run resulting in a pike of 12-0 – I then packed up and went home!


Three days later I was back for another short session (9:15-12:15), fishing in the usual manner I ended up with 5 roach, 2 hybrids, a perch, a gudgeon and a pike plus a pike of 9-4.

9 4 Oct18 19

Two days later, Sunday, I was back and once again like all the other sessions had the lake to myself! Fishing 10-1 this time, it was busy with a pike of 8-12, a missed run plus two other pike attacks as I retrieved the sardine, 29 roach and 3 rudd, including one of 14oz.


Interestingly I could not get the pike to take the bait when I deliberately tried sink and draw or “spinning” with the sardine!

Monday was cold so on Tuesday I broke out the winter gear for my visit to peg 12 and yes it was warm and sunny and it felt as if I was melting! 46 roach and 4 rudd kept me happy,no pike but two of the roach were 1-3 and 0-13 which was a bonus in the sunlight!


I had a couple of days away from Bowood to get myself sorted for another open at the Docks- our last opportunity before the winter league series started due to other commitments. The hour and a quarter drive passed quickly and arriving at the correct cafe this time we found we were far too early. Eventually we were allowed in  and once again I drew a Golden peg, this time peg 19, not really a peg with any form as such. This time I had mixed up a concoction made from the Caperlan range of groundbaits, with vanilla biscuit and Riviere the main bulk. I had also decided to set up a  5.4 Chinese whip- this is not 5.4m it is more like 4.75m, coupled with a 1.5g Paster float with olivette and three droppers. I set up the 8m margin kit along with the feeder but I wanted to see how the whip would work. It was a bit shallower than I expected but was still 10-11 feet where I would be fishing. At the whistle 10 balls laced with corn, wheat and dead reds went in at 8m while I decided to feed more sparingly than previous and put a small ball in every 3 put ins. I had a break of an hour where I tried the 8m line (11 fish, 2 perch 2 small skimmers and 7 roach) and the feeder (nothing). I had been hoping for some bream but it was not to be on those lines.


The whip worked well and I ended up with a total of 222(including the 11) and had at least 40 each hour I fished it. I had some distractions- a 4.5lb pike that succumbed to the whip but didn’t count!, a 2lb bream plus a further 2lb bream lost on the way to the net. My weight of 19-2 was good enough for 4th on the day, beaten by a bream weight of 19-4 (ouch!) from form peg 20, and two weights of 36lb and 29lb off the boards. Darren fished the full 6 hours on feeder just to see and crashed out with 9lb as the skimmers were not really feeding with a lot of cold flood water entering the dock and unusually calm conditions- at least it was dry! We had lots to think about on the way home which took a lot longer than it had in the morning! Now I think I have a plan for the series, but it is going to be hard with twenty taking part, you score your position, ie 1st gets one point, 2nd two,etc but can drop your worst two results. I will be happy to finish in the top half but that is going to be tough!

Last fling at Bowood this month sees 12 a bit clearer but with a tinge in the water so 10m was still my line of attack. I was about to cup out my groundbait when I had a run that resulted in a jack of 4-12. Eventually got the pole started and ended up with 21 roach and 2 rudd but only after I scaled down after half a dozen as the going was slow. This is normal for Bowood- you can fish heavy up until this time and then with no warning you need to scale down from 0.16mm to 0.10mm in order to get bites. Retrieving the sardine I had a pike snatch at it and take it, I resisted the urge to strike and waited for it to settle and move off, a firm strike was met with solid resistance and then nothing, the head of the sardine came back like you see on cartoons when a shark has bitten through a fish! An hour later, just before going I had another run which resulted in a pike of 9-8. A nice ending to the month (although I suspect I may be able to grab a couple of hours at Halloween!).


September 2020 – back to normal.

After the excesses of August, the next month was going to be broken up by a visit “up North” and a three day MFS event at the Glebe. Before we get to that August was rounded off by a short evening session on the Pondtail on the feeder  which gave me one perch and three missed bites!

Returning to peg 12 the next day, I managed not to blank and managed 2 skimmers of 1-9 and 15oz, 6 rudd, 5 roach and a perch for 4-2. My next opportunity was on the first of the month and being a Sunday there was a crowd there – one other angler! He just happened to be fishing on peg 12 so I gave him plenty of room and settled on 10.  Usual tactics saw 23 rudd, 6 roach and a hybrid hit the net for 3-8. Bowood was in one of it’s moody spells with the water clearing again.

I then had a break with the MFS  Monkees v Shandies event at the Glebe, it is fished like the Ryder Cup with  the first day being 4somes, the second pairs and final day singles.. Fishing for the Shandies (the South) day 1 (the 4s) I drew pool 6 peg 87.

PICT0003 I set up a feeder, a rig for 13m, another for 5m and a margin rig. Starting on the feeder after cupping in 4 balls of groundbait laced with 6mm pellets and corn on 13m and a cup of 6mm pellet at 5m, I had a carp first cast that came off at the net and that was it! After 40min the feeder went up the bank and swapping between the 13m and 5m line plus a couple of late margin fish saw me eke out 41-7. Not enough to stop the Monkees taking our fours.

Day 2 and remarkably I was back on Pool 6, this time 95, which I was not to pleased about as Pete Mercer (a far better angler than I ) had struggled on the day before for 25lb. Starting the same way, I had a similar experience to day one, except this time I landed the first cast carp, but that was it again! Swapping didn’t help as I could only catch on the 13m line, but managed a couple of late carp in the margin for 42-8. Annoyingly the camera didn’t work for some reason so no footage.  Monkees won yet again!

Final day and I was back on Pool 6 AGAIN, this time peg 90, this time 31lb had come off it the previous day. I was on a hiding to nothing as I was fishing against one of the venue regulars. This time the feeder lasted 20min before going up the bank with no indications. Fishing at 13m seemed best and I also managed a few fish from the margins recording my best weight of the three days at 51-4 but battered by 100lb by my opponent. I did learn a bit about what he was doing and especially the bait in preparation for next year!

Returning home I was off two days later to Yorkshire! First day back I headed off to Bowood, peg 12  and starting on the maggot I had some small roach and rudd before changing to corn and securing a tench of 5-12 and skimmer of 1-12 plus some better roach. Ending with 16 roach,14 rudd, 3 skimmers plus the two fish mentioned for a level 11lb. Again annoyingly the camera seemed to go over the earlier part of the session so not footage of the actual capture, but I did get a shot at the end.

Tench 5-12

Back a few days later to 12 which had a nice tinge to it. I had seen a lot of pike action on my last visit so I put the pike rod in and frustratingly missed a run in the first 20minutes and that was it! That is one of the downsides of fishing a single hook, I miss more runs but in terms of fish welfare I am happy with that. Baiting with double maggot, it was a slow start with no immediate action from the smaller roach and rudd, this usually signifies one of two things at Bowood – either there are bigger fish in the swim or a pike is about. The former was the case as bream of 1-6, 2-0 and 1-8 came to the net before I bumped a fish with the maggot doubling over the hook and that was it- 20 roach, 10 rudd and 4 skimmers followed to complete the session.

Couple of days later back at 12 with a tinge in the water but clearer than before. No runs on the pike rod 34 rudd, 26 roach and a solitary skimmer, all on the maggot as I had forgotten the corn! Moody still!

Two days later with heavy rain forecast I had a short 2hour session on Pondtail peg 1 on the waggler15roach and 10 gudgeon made up a 2-4 catch before the rain started. That was the most gudgeon I have caught in a session at Bowood, indeed it is probably more than all the rest of the time at Bowood!

Two days of rain led me to hope that the third day would see the bream feed, so peg 12 was my target and once again, no runs (but not unexpected given the water colour) but disappointingly it was a great struggle with another angler on 11 also struggling (blanked I think) and 11roach and 4 rudd saw the scales break the pound barrier at 1-2.

Saturday was going to be different as I had agreed to go to Port Talbot docks with Darren Edgell. Darren picked me up and eventually we drove down the track to the docks , paying our money to Dai the owner who was tidying some things up. The Docks are known affectionately by the locals as “Beirut” and Darren, despite my warning was clearly gobsmacked and likened it to Mars! We settled into the two pegs down wind of the buttress, with me being the furthest away. The docks is deep – not your namby-pamby deep of 8-9 ft but 18-20 ft at 6m.

My peg.jpg

The weather was not kind with strong winds showers occasionally with a severe weather system forecast for 3 or4pm so we had decided to pack up and be gone before then. I had got the camera working but forgot to alter the date! The wind was whipping the water up into waves that were bigger and rougher than I had seen a couple of weeks earlier at Bridlington on my visit up north! In the end I built a mini breakwater from the rubble to try and stop the splashing!

This type of water calls for a special approach and I was using a very old margin pole with red hydro, using a 14g Giant to 0.18mm and 0.10mm hook length to a 16. The float was cocked with a 12g olivette held in place by 2xAA shot about 18inches from the hook with a no6 dropper 8inches from the hook. Groundbait also needs to be heavy unless you are after the rudd which abound, I had mixed up the day before 3.5kg of dry mix, mainly Sensas Magic and River with some of my other cheaper makes to bulk it out. All this was mixed with a third of a bag of PV1 and just a little extra water was added at the venue to get the mix right. I had a separate feeder mix made up of fishmeal based groundbaits I had left over in the freezer.


After introducing 10 balls laced with dead reds and a bit of corn at 8m I fished 2 and a half hours on the margin pole (8m to hand), putting in a ball of groundbait every cast. After the first 5minutes it was a bite a cast as small roach attacked the bait, the weather however made spotting bites difficult with the waves crashing in, it was also incredibly dark at times. However I did manage a bream of about 2-3lb on the pole despite the wind making it impossible at times to control the pole and net, and several small skimmers other than a load of small roach before the bucket of groundbait ran out. Packing the pole away it was out on the feeder and although slower the roach were a better stamp and after an hour and a half I had another bream of 2-3lb plus 3 skimmers and some roach on the feeder with double maggot. Meanwhile after a slow start Darren had bagged on the small roach once he got to grips with the depth of water. Weights were not brilliant I had 10-4 and Darren 6-12 but given the weather conditions we were more than happy. Ironically when we packed up it was the calmest period of the day – the lull before the weather front hit!”

Docks bream.jpg

Spot my “rod-rest”.