Before we get into October I fished Patneys on the last day of September and decided to try an area that everyone said was rubbish – the first pegs as you get to the lake. I chose the right hand side and had a bank of small rushes to my left going into the corner of the lake, this I baited with a large pot of micros and some corn and left. I wanted really to try the open water and a different approach; I planned on fishing expander at 11m and feeding micros with a plug of groundbait via a small pole pot.
Plumbing the swim showed a far shallower area than elsewhere on the lake and I had about 4-5feet of water at 11m. It began slowly with the first hour putting a dozen micros and a small plug of groundbait in every put in for no response. Then a lift bite and a skimmer came to the net, for the next two hours I had eleven carp, of no great size, but I found that I needed to keep the bait static and not lift and drop as you would normally. The session ended with about 14-8 as a total. The reeds had provided one small carp when tried but in fairness I did not focus on that area.
October arrives and I head off for my first session at Blacklands – I avoid it during the late spring and summer due to the campers and increased day-ticket prices, but come October the price falls and the campers are thin on the ground. I decided to start on the bench peg and set up just one rig, a 0.5g home made “Chianti” style float with a bulk set 2 feet off the bottom and 2 x no 10 droppers below that, leading to an 18 hook. This was teamed with a no 5 elastic on a puller with 0.12 Shogun main line to 0.10mm hook-length. I set up two swims about two metres apart at 11m, the left hand one (11 o’clock) was fed with micros, the one on the right (1 o’clock) was given a pot full of chopped worm with micros mixed in.
Starting on the worm line I was soon into roach and it became noticeable that the fish had found the free offerings as both swims were awash with bubbles- the proverbial Jacuzzi. I find this is an encouraging sign as I find that I will always catch when this happens, despite what others say about the fish being harder to catch. When the bubbles subsided it was an indication to top up and they start again! After a run of roach and skimmers I finally hooked into something much larger and after an interesting and protracted fight I put the net under a 7-9 carp.
The worm line slowed after the usual two hours and a move on to the 11 o’clock line saw the skimmers waiting. Bait was expander and again a static bait was best. The session ended with me having 27 skimmers, 22 roach, 1 perch and 1 tench plus the carp for a 23-6 total. A nice start to the month!
The Sunday saw the second round of the North Wessex Winter League, on the Thames at Clanfield. I was drawn at permanent peg 80 or E1 in the match, so I had scale duty also. A lot of talk before the match was how the roach had disappeared, but as they had been hammered during September it was little wonder that they were “sulking”. Plumbing up my swim I found about 9 foot of water at 11m , where the flow was, but for some reason I took some time to plumb the inside line about a meter or so from the bank and found a deep hole, (a foot deeper than my main line) about 5m down the swim. I set up a standard rig of a BGT 1g Grey coupled to 0.08mm hook-length and a size 20 micro-barbed hook for my main line, with a 1g “Yellow” for the inside hole with an 18 to a 0.10mm hook-length and a 2g Paster with 0.12mm and a 16 should anything large turn up. A shallow set waggler for the far bank was also set up – the far bank was only 3-4 foot deep compared to the nearside deep water.
4 balls of groundbait laced with caster were put on the 11m line and it was 20 minutes before the float dipped and a small dace resided in my keepnet. The first hour was a struggle as only 5 other very small dace went into the net. A dropper of chopped worm went onto the 11m line and third run down the float went under and I missed it, half hour later and no further bites I decided to see if there was anything in the “hole”. A dropper of chopped worm went in and third put in again the float buried and a 2oz perch ended up in the net. This carried on for a while with the odd perch showing up and topping up with a dropper every half hour or so but into the third hour it died. Time for the waggler- I had been firing maggots across regularly since the start but it was again very slow with the odd micro dace and then a run of three bigger chublets(1 ounce!), with half hour to go it was a real struggle with the river seemingly now devoid of fish. A dropper of chopped worm went out on the 11m line and my lighter rig followed it with a small thin piece of worm, with 15 minutes left the float buried and I hooked into my biggest fish of the match -a small chub that I managed to manoeuver it through the weed close in and in to the waiting net. That was basically the end of the match , no roach at all. On weighing in I had a level 3lb and won the section with the team taking second on the day.
Next outing was to Blacklands and it proved to be an eventful day. Following the storms around the world this was the day the sun turned hazy red, high winds, eerily dark, so dark the ducks left the water and began bedding down. It was an odd time to be out fishing but I sat at peg 10 (end of the island) and began in a similar fashion to my previous visit but today was slower at the start, I then had a problem as the wind subtly changed direction, so instead of blowing directly into my face it swung more to my right, this resulted in a huge bank of leaves that had been dislodged by the high winds and had amassed in the margins to my right now come and scatter in front of me making it very difficult to get a bait cleanly in the water. Still I persevered and ended up with 21 roach (best 0-13), 20 skimmers, 3 perch and a solitary tench of 2lb for a 17lb total. My worst day at Blacklands but not bad considering the weird conditions.
The Saturday saw a 5am start from home to Cudmore near Stoke for an MFS match on Milo, a venue I had never fished before, organised by Steve May. Fortunately I was not driving, I had kindly been offered a lift by Herbie (“Herbie is our leader” as the chant goes!) as we were meeting with others after the match to discuss updates to the website. We were now in the midst of storm Brian and the accompanying rain and wind was a factor in pegging the majority of the match on the deeper bank where there was some shelter. I drew peg 6 and had Steve on my left and young Sarah on my right. I set up a bomb rod for if it got too bad to hold the pole (not needed in end) and decided on a twin attack at 5m and at 8m given the prospect of the high wind. I had 9-10foot of water on both lines and cupped in 5 balls on my 8m line and 1 on the 5m all laced with dead pinkies and caster. Starting on the 5m line I was 4 fish behind Steve and 2 behind Sarah before I had my first bite. I began catching on and off all day up to the fourth hour when I suffered an hour without putting any thing in the net before catching a few more in the last hour.
After 3 hours my top kit stuck in my no 4 – you know when you put it in to ship out and you feel a “clunk” and you think “***** that’s jammed”, despite trying throughout the remainder of the match it remained stubbornly solid, the whistle goes and it comes apart no problem!!!!
Anyway I was battered on both sides with me weighing in 11-0 to Steve’s 20lb and Sarah’s 17lb. I ended up 5th in section and scored 2pts towards the league table that runs from September to July.
Next day still recovering from the journey to Cudmore I was up early again for the third round of the NWWL at Lechlade. Leo our team captain got me to draw the pegs for this match and I managed to draw him the flier next to the bridge at Lechlade with it also being a Golden Peg worth £200 if it won the match! I was down stream above St John’s Lock on E4. As I was setting up I had a call from Leo to say that info given to one of our members was that I was on a chub peg!. Now I remember this peg as I drew it about 5 years ago and was told the same then but on investigating with a local there had been a chub catch there previously- 10 years ago! So this info was now 15 years out of date- just shows you how labels can stick with little substance to them! Just as 5 years ago I spent time on the waggler looking for a chub with only one bite – a gudgeon. The waggler went through lovely but you can’t catch what is not there!
Anyway apart from the waggler I had about 10-11 foot of water at 11m with a large bank of weed just over the drop off at 3 metres, clear water and a cold wind off my left shoulder. I set up a 1g and 2.5g Paster plus a 5g “Blue” should I need it. 0.08mm hook-lengths to 20s on the Paster rigs and 0.10mm to an 18 on the 5g rig. Four balls with caster went in at the start and 20 minutes later and no indications I lifted the rig to find I had hooked a small dace. That was my only fish after an hour so I then spent the two hours on the waggler for the one gudgeon. Back on the pole and a small perch came to some chopped worm followed by two more gudgeon. So with an hour left I had 4ozs in the net and all the while I could see Paul Rice on the end peg of the section catching small fish on the waggler! I put another dropper of the rest of my worm out and with 20 minutes to go hooked a better fish that I managed to gingerly steer through the weed and into the waiting net – a perch of about 10 oz. Back out and another bite, a perch of about half ounce that got blown off the hook by the gusting wind. I put a caster on and was rewarded with a two net roach and the final whistle went. On the weigh in I managed 1-6 for third in section, beaten by 2ozs on peg1 by John Swann of Radcot with Paul winning the section with 2lb. Oh for another 10 minutes and I would have had the section!
Team wise we finished top on the day with Leo indeed winning the match and picking up the Golden Peg in the process. On the individual front it was tight at the top before the match with 5 of us separated by 1 point, it still remains tight with possibly anyone of 6-9 anglers able to win the individual title with two matches left.