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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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Spot my “rod-rest”.

 

August – a visitor comes home

As I write this it is the Saturday of Bank Holiday weekend and I am still trying to get to grips with the results from Viaduct this week –

Viaduct Fishery
@viaductfishery

Match Results Overall 1. Norman Sterry – 465lb 3oz – peg 111
2. James Guy – 241lb 12oz – peg 98
3. John Brown – 235lb 15oz – peg 110
4. Carlo B – 155lb 2oz – peg 88
5. Dick Bull – 149lb 11oz – peg 119
6. Dan Govier – 138lb 15oz – peg 86
Silvers 1. Alvin Jones – 50lb 7oz – peg 114
Now Viaduct has some very large carp (for match fishing) and even at an average of 15lb the winner would have caught 31 fish, about 6 fish an hour or a fish every 10 minutes. If the average was smaller then the speed required becomes mind boggling  to achieve the winning weight. As an angler who has fished a lot of matches in the past I can only dream of that scenario but would I want to do that every week? As age creeps on and the aches and pains increase the number of matches I fish decrease, coupled with living on a pension I now need to be selective of which matches I fish. My focus has turned more to matches where there is a decent group of anglers who are willing to share their experiences/tactics and where if very lucky I might get the odd section pay out, hence this year I am predominantly fishing MFS matches and have declined the offers to fish in teams in the winter and summer leagues in the area.
Which brings us to Bowood. One of the reasons I fish only a few matches on carp orientated  commercial venues is that generally if the float goes under it will be a carp, and being commercials the frequency of bites is high given they need to draw anglers to the water in order to make money. It could be termed easy, predictable fishing but the good angler will always out perform others by reading the water and being in tune with what the fish want on any given day. Bowood on the other hand is not easy, to start with it is a natural venue, little angling pressure, full of weed and clear water but it’s allure is that you never know what it will be if and when the float moves.
The visit of Gareth from China illuminates this to a degree. We spent 15 days on the trot fishing Bowood for different lengths of time and at different times of day – here is what happened:-
July 29
Arrived at Heathrow, got back had a short evening session on peg 9(me) and 10 (G), a tench of 4-2, two roach and a blade fell to my usual approach of starting on maggot and moving on to corn, with the tench taking corn, the others maggot, Gareth ended up with 7 roach and 7 skimmers for around 4lb.
July 30
Another evening session peg 8 for me and Gareth went on 7. Again a solitary tench on corn of 4-11 plus the customary 2 roach and a rudd on maggot. Gareth loses two good tench in the weed and saves a blank with a rudd.
July 31
Same pegs mid day to tea-time session, I lost a tench in the weed and blank saved by 2 roach and 4 rudd for 6oz, Gareth had 2 roach and 10 rudd for a about a lb.
August 1
With the water getting clearer we moved up to peg 11(me) and peg 10. A solitary tench of 4-0 joined 6 rudd, 2 roach and a bream for me while Gareth at last got among the tench and managed two of 5-11 and 4-6 plus about a pound and a half of mixed small fish.
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August 2
Pegs 9 and 8(G) this time evening session of a couple of hours. No tench, I had 8rudd for a lb and Garerh managed a mixed bag of roach and perch for a pound and a half, also losing a pike of about 6lb.
August 3
Pegs 8 and 7, midday to about 4:40pm. This time I had three tench of 3-12,4-3 and 3-8 as well as losing a further two in the weed, plus 8 rudd and 4 roach. Gareth followed suit with tench of 4-4, 4-3, losing a further 2 in the weed plus a jack of 3-6 and 10 rudd.
August 4
With Peg 7 and 12 already taken we decided to fish the opposite bank for a change pegs 21 and 22(G) – a mistake! Had to spend time with the rake clearing the swims and I struggled on maggot with 11 rudd, 3 roach and 7 blades for 1-3 while Gareth managed 2 skimmers, roach, rudd and a tiny jack of 8oz all on worm. Walking back we stopped at the weir bridge and spotted a couple of double figure carp that would happily take the maggots we were throwing in!
August 5
Evening session on 8 and 7(G). 8 rudd, 3 roach and 3 tench of 3-0,4-0 and 4-8 plus two others lost in the weed while Gareth lost two tench and 2 pike but landed tench of 5-0, 4-5 and 4-1.
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August 6
Began well on 10 and 9(G) with 2 roach,2 rudd and a tench of 4-6, with Gareth getting a skimmer of 1-4 and some roach before torrential rain saw us beat a hasty retreat just short of 2hours in.
August 7
Late afternoon into evening session. Started at 3pm on pegs 9 and 8(G) but after just small fish appearing we decided to head back and fish Pondtail as I had put a feeder rod in the car just in case! So Pondtail 2 was the peg and I set up one of my travel rods with a feeder.6:40pm- Both casting into the main part of the lake at an angle of 45 degrees from the peg (there are only two pegs  and it needs a cast of 50 turns to get into the main part of the lake). Hair rigged spicy sausage pellet was Gareth’s bait while I put on three maggots. I had a couple of knocks but 20 minutes in Gareth had a big drop back bite and hooked into a good fish, I hurriedly reeled in and in my haste to hook up the rod and get the landing net managed to get a size 16 micro barbed 611 stuck deep into my middle finger!(OUCH!) I bite off the line and managed to slip the net under a bream of 4-9. The hook was lodged firmly so it was an early exit, a stiff whiskey and Gareth “unhooked” me.
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August 8
Session on Pondtail from 3-8pm. I went on 1 with a waggler and maggot plus plastered finger! Gareth was back on 2 with the feeder. 47 roach, 9 perch,1 gudgeon and a 1-8 hybrid later Gareth had had a couple of knocks but no real bites, so he had a go on the waggler to break his duck while I missed the only bite on the feeder , snapping the line on the platform!
August 9
Evening session on Pondtail (6-8:20pm). Same pegs but this time apart from the 13 roach, 2 perch and 2 gudgeon I hooked two good fish which I believe were carp that ultimately broke me in the lillies between the pegs. Gareth fared better with two bream of 4-10 and 4-3 plus missed 2 further bites.

August 10

Afternoon session on Pondtail. 33 roach (best12oz),7 perch and 2 gudgeon for a 4-6 total on the waggler and maggot and wheat. Gareth had another bream of 4-3 plus a skimmer of 1-3.
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August 11
A change today we started at the Stockpond and Gareth was on peg 2 (the big fish peg) and I had the only other peg- peg 1 the little fish peg! Fishing the corn over groundbait we were both soon in action. The difficulty with the Stockpond is that at 5m there are submerged fence posts from an earlier time so playing fish can be a bit of an art! I ended up with22 carp and 7 roach for 15-4 (biggest was only 2lb, hence the small fish peg tag as this has proven the case whenever fished), Gareth ended up with 18-14 including the biggest at 8-4. The difficulty was getting the bait past the stockies!
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From the Stockpond, we headed to Pondtail for a short session and it proved very subdued with a blank for Gareth and 6 roach and a perch for me.
August 12 (THE LAST DAY)
Back to Pondtail for the evening and 14 roach and 1 perch for me, a solitary 8oz roach for Gareth, but he did lose a decent carp after a long fight. That rounded off the fishing for the visit. Gareth was back in Zhongshan a few days later complete with drilled pellets to see if he could elude the tilapia and get a catfish or carp.
So you can see the difference and why I am tending to prefer Bowood as it is not just about “catching” for me, it is more about the uncertainty and feeling of achievement when things go right. Two more sessions to write about, firstly my first visit to peg 12
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was back in July so I decide to give it a go as the water was clearing but there was still some colour around 12.  Fishing my usual method of 5 balls of groundbait with micros, wheat, hemp and corn cupped in and a home made float to 0.16mm and a 16 saw me start on double maggot- for some reason single maggot is ignored- and stay on maggot as I had forgotten my corn! A tench of 4-0 and skimmers of 1-4,1-1 and 1-3 were dispatched to the net with 13roach, 3 smaller skimmers, 2 rudd and a hybrid for a 9-12 total in the 4 hours.
Two days later (yesterday as I write this) I was back- this time with corn!
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Same rig (the bluish one) and same starting method with bait. No tench this time but after an initial flurry of roach I hit into a better fish which turned out to be a bream of 3-4. At this point I switched to corn and ended up with bream of 3-12, 3-12, 1-5, 20 roach, 1 rudd, 1 skimmer and 1 hybrid for a total of 18-11 in the 4 hours I fished, but what made the day for me was a roach of 1-10, my biggest at Bowood taken on corn on the drop.

I have caught bigger fish on commercials but there was something special about catching a truly wild fish of that size. Next time I fish peg 12 I will probably blank, but that is why I like Bowood!

July at Bowood

Due to family commitments it wasn’t until the end of the first week in July that I managed to get to Bowood for an evening session. Peg 7, although very weeded was my home for the session and starting my usual way with 3 balls of groundbait and maggot on the hook for the first few put ins . I was using a home made float taking 0.5g to 0.16 Shogun and a 16 hook. A plethora of rudd and small blades plus two roach came to the maggot before pike arrived and subsequently lost one. On to the corn and first put in a tench that immediately dived in to the thick weed on my right and kindly left the hook there for me to drag in a bunch of weed! Next put in I had a skimmer of 1-4 followed in the next half hour by two more of 1-4 and 1-2. A quiet spell saw me go back on the maggot and lose two more pike before returning to the corn and losing 3 more tench. FRUSTRATING or what!

Back two days later for a morning session saw me return to 7 and fishing the same way saw me lose two further tench and 2 more pike before I managed to net tench of 3-0 (incidentally this is the smallest tench so far this season as I write this!) and 4-8 before a lull signaled a return to the maggot and being bitten of by double figure pike three put-ins ion a row. This marked the final straw and I packed up.

Next day and back for an evening session, avoiding the blisteringly hot day-time sun, peg 9 was the chosen spot and usual tactics employed I had a jack of 1-11 first put in followed by a pike free time with 24 rudd. 4 blades 14 skimmers and a solitary tench of 3-10 for 18-3 and no lost fish for a change!

I had one further opportunity that week and I returned to 7 for an evening session in the hope that the pike had moved on, 6 roach, 7 rudd and a skimmer on the maggot before a pike snaffled a 10oz skimmer and signaled the move to corn. The recurring theme of catch 1 lose 2 followed me again as a tench of 4-4 went in the net while two others went in the weed!

Bowood then takes a back seat as I had a two day MFS event at the Glebe. Day 1 sees me draw 102 on lake 7 which in theory is a good draw – however a 1oz perch, 2 bream and 24-14 carp sees me last in section with 31-15 and my fellow middle peg also struggled and had 36lb.

Day 2 sees me on peg 1 on lake 1.  The method on this peg is to fish long to the left corner. I had a pleasant if not spectacular day with 3-15 of silvers and 57-9 of carp for 61-8 and 2points- at least not last!

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Back to Bowood, 4 days later, and peg 8 hoping to break the catch one lose 2 jinx. A solitary blade, 9 rudd a tench of 4-3, NO PIKE hurrah!, but two tench lost and also a big bream.

Two days later back to peg 12, but I had taken the rake and was dragging swims 7,8,9 and 12. Fishing the maggot I had 21 rudd, 6 blades and 4 roach before the heavens opener and we had a downpour, the like of which I have only experienced in China. I discovered even Goretex cannot cope in such conditions- I packed up wet, frustrated and totally soaked as if I was not wearing a coat!

Two days of drying out and I am back for a morning session on peg 9 32 rudd and 6 roach but no tench landed- 3 lost, including one that snapped the hook! I am getting worse I decided!

It was five days before I had the opportunity to return, this time to peg 10.5 rudd and two blades in the net, corn on , float lifts, skimmer on, coming in lovely and then off! Two tench of 4-13 and 5-0 followed separated by three further losses.

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With the imminent arrival of Gareth from China I took myself on to the opposite bank and raked two swims but both were very shallow and dense weed all around. A quick session saw 16 small rudd- not very hopeful!

I am leaving the last few days of July for the August installment as Gareth and I will have 15 solid days at Bowood so I will keep it all together.

 

Groundbait – a personal choice.

The groundbait market has changed radically over the last 20 years with the focus moving away from natural venues to commercials and fishmeal based groundbaits. This can cause a problem for the natural venue angler in that their local tackle shop may have a great range of commercial orientated bags but a limited selection of “natural” bags. Previously the choice was Sensas or Van den Eynde in the main but now a range of new players in the market such as Bait-tech, Sonu-baits, Dynamite baits, Ringers and many others are available.

So what is my choice? I have always been attracted to “unknown” brands as just because it is cheap and not a “name” does not mean it will not work. So here are a few of my choices and what I use them for.

River

My go-to is Sensas Noire, I have confidence in this and can mix it in a variety of ways to vary the break-down. If bream are present then I will use a 50-50 mix of Noire and Gros Gardons – I know Gros Gardons is aimed at roach, but no-one told the bream that and they seem to like it!

Bowood

I am treating Bowood as a separate venue in this as I fish it so much. My mix for Bowood can vary but inevitably contains Cocoa Belgique from Caperlan a Decathlon brand. Not the type of place you think of for fishing but their groundbait is cheap and works well, plus if you buy enough you get free delivery. Interestingly they give a rough breakdown of the contents on the web-site.

I buy the 5kg bags and store them  in plastic containers the fat balls for birds come in. I pour them directly in and just cut the label off to put it on top of the groundbait for reference.

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Other Caperlan groundbaits I have used are

 

I use a large pole pot when mixing the “mixes” so I know the amount I am making. The mixes I am currently confident with for the tench and bream are as follows

A  1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gardon Competition, 2 part Etang

B 1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gros Gardon , 2 part Etang

C  1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gros Gardon , 2 part Gardon Competition

D 2 parts Cocoa Belgique, 3 parts 4X4, 1 part Gardon Competition

The pegs where I am expecting more bream than tench I use B & C, for the autumn D comes into it’s own, A can be used all year round but especially suited for winter .

Other natural lakes

Depending on the information I have regarding the lakes and the amount of pellet going into them I have two basic mixes I have confidence with.

Low pellet use and mixed fishery – Noire and Etang mixed 50-50

High pellet use and mixed – Noire and Sonu-baits sweet F1 mixed 50-50

Commercials

For down the edge I use whatever fishmeal based groundbait that is on offer cheap! For bottom work on the pole I like the Green Swim-stim and feeder /method work I like a 50-50 mix of Maryuku 130 and 150 ( although this will not be available much longer).

So that is what I use- not exclusively but mainly. Hopefully this may answer a few questions when I say I cupped in 5 balls!

June Surprises

June kicked off with my regular venture to Peatmoor for the Peatmoor v Three Counties match. I had been warned that it was fishing very hard and judging by the poor attendance word had spread. I drew the old peg 27 (can’t remember what the peg number is now!), a peg I had won the match from before with 40lb+ of bream but although it is the conduit between the narrow backwater and the main lake it can be iffy at times. My plan, such as it was, consisted of an hour on the groundbait feeder towards the tree at 25m then on to the pole line that was going to be fed for the first hour with a mix of micros and casters.It was HARD – I had seven roach and a crayfish  all on the feeder the pole line appeared devoid of life! My 8oz placed me 3rd! I said it was hard!

Three days later I headed out to Isis No 1 lake with just a waggler rod, my intended swim was taken so I dropped in to the first swim on the left bank. Plumbing up I found 14feet a rod and a half out! I fed two swims with hemp and casters, one directly in front and the other off to my right close to a tree in the water. A pleasant couple of hours saw me with 19 rudd, 14 perch and a roach, plus 4 small tench.

The Sunday saw me head back to Pondwood for another MFS match, Darren Egell was guesting on this and a text just before the draw said he was running late but on way so could I draw for him. At the draw I said “this one is for Daz” and drew out 45!!!! the peg I had last time, I drew 33 in a different pound, a lot wider and some nice lilies across. Darren turned up ,and I gave him the gen about the peg, pointing out where I had caught. There was not much variation in depth in my peg- the usual 3feet but I decided on a line at 6m to my right against a small patch of lilies (2 in fact), one at 10m directly in front and a final line to the left of the big bank of lilies at 14m. Rotating between, meat, maggot and corn I had a pleasant day made up of 10 small tench, 1 small carp, 4 roach, 1 skimmer and 4 ide in my silvers net for 6lb and 7 carp in the other for 17-8 giving me a total of 23-8 and 2nd in section. I lost 5 carp in the lilies but that was always going to be the case!. Daz came second in the match despite missing the keepnet with  a 2lb carp !

The Wednesday saw me head off to Patneys and fish just to the left of the island on the right bank. My usual gambit of toss-potting meat and pellets gave me another frustrating session with 3 carp, 3 skimmers and 2 perch being landed but I missed 20+ bites for no apparent reason.

With the Glorious 16th on the horizon at the weekend I had a short session on Isis No1, this time on the front path to the left of the big overhanging tree. Again I was fishing just waggler but this was a great deal harder with just 1 bite from a 2oz perch all I could muster in the 14 feet of water.

Sunday arrives and I trundle off down the hill to Bowood and after a quick look plump for peg 7 – not to shallow with thick weed beds scattered around. I raked the swim first so I had a relatively clear bottom and proceeded to set up. Home made float on a 0.16mm to a 16. Elastic was a doubled 6 through the top two on a puller. Cupping in 4 balls of groundbait with a sprinkling of wheat, micros, hemp and corn I started on double maggot and after 9 rudd, 2 blades and 8 roach, I was ready to slip the corn on. First put in the float dips, the strike meets with a solid resistance that doesn’t move at first and I think-pike. True to form a jack of 4lb had taken a grab at my corn and after a short but enjoyable scrap was returned.

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Finally the float lifts and I am into the first tench of the season, easing it through the weed I eventually net a lovely 5lb tinca. Two more follow of 4-10 and 3-6 before I need to go, so ,a 19-10 start to the season.

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It wasn’t until the following Friday that I could get out again. This time peg 8, fishing the same way I found this time the tench were conspicuous by their absence but instead I had 2 rudd/bream hybrids, 7 roach, 24 small rudd, 1 perch and 20 skimmers, 9 of which were slightly better going from 10oz to 1-10. A smaller total of 10-12 but enjoyable.

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I had noticed over my two visits that there had been a lot of crashing in the shallows and when two walkers on the far bank had asked why there were so many big fish on top in that area it made my mind up to have a go. So peg 2 was my port of call on the Sunday. Very shallow and weedy but a decent colour, so I potted in 3 balls of groundbait with the usual accompaniments except I had forgotten the corn! I managed three put ins on the maggot with a small blade, roach and rudd before I hit a bream of 3-12, then another  smaller one of 1-12, I then lost 7 fish on the trot with the hook pulling out. Cursing my stupidity/laziness I changed the top kit from a doubled 6 which was obviously too harsh to a soft 12 hollow elastic. Problem solved  and 4 more of 3-2, 1-10, 3-10 and 2-11 came to the net and a 16-12 total, leaving me to reflect on what might have been.

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Tuesday sees me back at peg 2 with corn! However the colour had gone and I knew I should have kept on walking but I tried and failed! A jack of a pound, 4 roach, 2 rudd and 2 blades for 2-0 and a tench lost at the net brought me make to reality – find the colour in the water! Walking up before I left I could see bream swimming in peg 8, tench rolling in 7 …

Friday sees me at peg 7, 8 rudd to start before three put-ins give a tench of 6-12, a PB for me, followed by another of 6-0 and another of 5-11. The day just got better as another tench appeared of 4-1 after losing 4 in the weed, a carp of 8-8 and bream of 1-4, 3-0 and 2-13. I also lost another carp and a bream. A nice day to say the least and a 39-9 total.

Sunday, the last day of June sees me going on to the opposite bank, peg 25. I had seen so many fish cruise and swirl in the area I thought I had to give it a go, so armed with the usual tackle plus carp rod and pod I set forth. It was very weedy and had to be dragged, also shallow compared to the other bank. It was hard- nothing on the carp rod, and I save a blank after 3 hours with 6 fish for 5oz – 2 x blades, 2 x roach a rudd and a perch. But that is the nature of Bowood- find the fish and you will have a good day!