Can we have less rain please?

January has been a disappointing month from several respects, the fishing Gods seem to have decided to laugh at me when I decide to go fishing/have a match…and change the weather! Let me start of with Bowood- only been 3 times and called off another 3 visits due to torrential rain and the ground being totally saturated making the hike to and particularly back from the lake seem like hard labour.

Visit one – early on in the month during a gap in the weather, had a small roach when shipping out on my first put in then nothing for 4 hours before I jigged a maggot at my feet to catch another small roach  as I was packing up. Water was horrible chocolate colour so was not surprised it was hard. Had to stop 3 times on way back to catch my breath, the going was so bad.

Visit 2 – slightly better with a skimmer of about a pound, a rare gudgeon and some small roach. Only had to stop twice on way back!

Visit 3 – the rain had stopped but now it had turned cold (-3C). Like an idiot I went without my icebreaker, thinking it would not be fully frozen and only a bit of cat-ice like on the canal (see later). How wrong can you get, solid across entire lake apart from one small area in front of the house on the far bank where it had been broken for the birds and you couldn’t fish. I tried to break the ice with a bank stick and managed to clear a hole about 2 feet by 18 inches in front of the platform through the inch thick ice.



I set up a hand line to jig a maggot to see if I could snare something – 2 AA shot, 8 inches above a 22, single red maggot – 40 minutes later I gave up and went home – a blank at Bowood!

Three matches this month to tell you about. Firstly I  agreed to fish a teams of 4 series on the canal at Pewsey. First match and we realised we were in danger of being the whipping boys for the series as the calibre of anglers taking part was very good- mostly sponsored or venue experts! I drew B section up at Milk House, a draw I was relatively happy with as the path is good and there is always the chance of a few fish. B13 was last but one in the section and a very long walk, it was the one peg in the section that had no cover behind nor in front but did have a set of inviting reeds on the far bank. As I arrived the rain started, gradually getting worse, in fact it was not until the last half hour of the match that I could see that there was a hill at the end of the field opposite. To cut a long story short I started on the 3m line on punch, had one fish after 10 minutes then nothing, went onto my squatt line at 10m and managed to get the odd fish throughout the match on double squatt to a 24 on 0.07mm. Nothing on the far bank line where chopped worm and cater made not a jot of difference. Even a choppie line down the track (my favourite method) produced nothing. Result 42 fish for 1-0-0 and 2pts – the pegs to my right around the bend had all managed a bonus skimmer, hybrid or perch, end peg to my left had just over 2lb after catch well at the start. Team wise we finished 5th out of the nine teams with Tony Leach, my team member in section A winning the match with 7lb of worm caught perch. (It was over a week before my kit dried out after the rain!)

Round two was  two weeks later and the day started badly when team captain Darren texted that he has unwell and unable to fish, so ,we were up against it! Once again I drew B section, B10 and thinking I was going to be on fish was quite happy to be walking down the long path again. The weather had turned cold but had warmed up apart from the previous night,I was not expecting any serious ice and left the ice breaker in the car. When I got to my section  I seemed to be walking past all the pegs I fancied when lo and behold I ended up 25 yards away from where I was last match. The canal was iced up but we had a shout that a boat was coming through so don’t worry about breaking the ice- in fact once the boat had passed I never had any ice to worry about. The match started and again little on the bread, on to the squatt line and nothing then a pair of eyes. With two hours gone I had 2 tiny roach and 3 smaller perch, I decided to forget the squatt and put all my faith in the chopped worm approach- tiny bits of worm moved around very slowly. This produced more perch and I ended up with 3 roach, a gudgeon and 8 perch for 0-11-0 and 5 points- it was hard! Team wise we ended up with a team total of 7 points and last!

The final match was one I organised as part of the MatchFishing-Scene Garbolino Champions League series. Lakeside Rendezvous, near Rowde just outside Devizes was the venue and 14 taking part, travelling from the south east, south west and all points north! The previous match I had organised there had been won with 51lb of small skimmers and I was hoping the same would happen but those damn fishing Gods laughed at me and we had the cold snap that froze Bowood that week then on the Thursday the weather turned so by Friday night the ice had gone but the water temperature as a result plummeted for the match on the Saturday. I drew on what is normally the favoured south side and was on the peg I had taken Tom fishing just before Christmas. Calling the all in I went out and 15 minutes later no-one had had a bite! Then Minnowmaster on my left put together a run of skimmers in the next hour before they disappeared, I had managed to get one small roach in the net by this time and by cutting back on the feed- loose feeding 2-3 maggots every 3-4 minutes I began to put the odd fish in the net. End result was 1-5-0 for 4th in section. The match was won off the end peg on the opposite bank with 9-15 of quality fish. A big disappointment for me as I was hoping everyone would get a decent days fishing but it wasn’t to be.

Two more canal matches to fish in February – can it get worse?

Desperate December

The rains of December left me thankful that we live on a hill and not near any rivers after viewing the scenes from elsewhere in the country. I have difficulty in remembering any day in December when it did not rain for at least part of the day. The weather combined with pre-Christmas family visits and preparations meant my opportunities to get out were curtailed somewhat.

My first visit to Bowood saw me at peg 11 (I’m definitely getting in a rut- but it is a good peg) with the intention of catching anything that swam but having a pike rod out at the same time. The water was up and very coloured not good for pike (or so I thought). Starting on the pole I began getting the odd roach and small skimmer when surprise the pike float went – resulting in a pike of 7-12 a nice start to the month. I tend to use herring in “dirty” water conditions and mackeral in clear conditions – I rarely use sprat at Bowood as I have never had much (no) success with it.

The roach were small but kept me busy until the pike rod went again this time with a 10-6 fish that only just fitted in my net- one of my season’s targets accomplished!


With the weather closing in I made my way back to the car with a 20-8 total and severely out of puff after sliding about in the conditions underfoot.

My next excursion to Bowood saw me leave the usual kit at home and revert to the haversack seat and float rod as I determined to break the rut and walked up to the end peg- peg 16, a total of 1150 steps in the wet conditions. The drizzle was not to bad and although I did not get any runs on the pike rod I had a pleasant couple of hours catching small roach and skimmers on the waggler for 5lb- the size of the fish was immaterial as I was just pleased to be out and the float going under!

The rut set in again on my next visit and it was back to peg 11 – there is a rational (I keep telling myself), if I am the only madman to fish here during the winter then at least I know there is bait going in on this peg and it may encourage any larger fish to remain in the vicinity, especially as it is the deepest part of the “arm”. The rationale seemed to work as I had a bream of 3-12 , lost another bigger fish and lost a good tench. I had a few small roach to take the total to 4-12 but left regretting the choice of putting a light elastic on rather than my usual 6-8.

Final visit was another tale of lost fish but slightly different. Peg 11 (again) usual elastic this time and I started getting very small roach on the maggot but they were not coming very often and I felt there was something bigger out in the swim. I changed to corn and 10 minutes later was putting the net under a larger skimmer of 2-12, then nothing. No runs on the pike rod, nothing on maggot so went back on corn. The float lifted and then buried, a fish tore off to my right then turned as the elastic did its job, at first I suspected tench but as it got closer and was keeping low and then making fast runs I suspected a pike – and it was a jack of 3lb hooked under its chin. Still a nice fight on the pole during a wet and windy day! No further bites on anything when the pike float ran across the surface, pole was shipped in and put to one side as the float disappeared and my strike was met with not just heavy resistance but a bone wrenching jaw to my arm as the pike rod bent right over and the fish began to run then the hooks pulled out!!!!! I was not a happy bunny as that pike was far, far larger than anything else I had hooked at Bowood and felt a great deal heavier than my pb of 14-12. No further action and with it getting wetter I packed up and trudged back to the car having to stop 3 times to catch my breath- the conditions underfoot were that heavy!

January will see me fish a Teams of 4 series on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Pewsey.More on that next month!