Christmas passes and just as the New Year kicks in fishing is put on hold while another family emergency is dealt with- this time a son with flu. Not so serious but due to his ongoing medical condition any dehydration can put him back in hospital and seriously ill, a few nights in Brum of me sleeping on the floor and my magical chicken cawl and we were back home.
Blacklands was calling- I needed some fish to catch, so finally I was setting up on peg 10 on Heron Lake. I have amended the pegging for the matches so we do the draw at the end of the toilet block (bottom left hand corner of the diagram below) and the bench peg is now peg 12. This way I can have two fairly even sections.
Peg 10 has the jetty on the right and is slightly deeper on the left of the peg. I only set up one rig – an ugly duckling of 1g with 0.08mm hook-length to an 18. These floats look very odd but if you shot them correctly are incredibly sensitive.
Anyway I started the predictable way with the worm to the left while feeding micros directly in front at 10m, I ignored the jetty as I thought there would be a carp or two in residence! As usual a good hour on the worm before having to move over the micros on expander brought 31 skimmers, 9 roach and 10 perch for 16-6. Not hectic but a welcome day out after the break.
Managed to get out later the same week, this time I fished in between two and three (just to be perverse) same approach same tackle (I am getting boring and in a rut I think, or is it “if it ain’t broke…) 8 perch, 24 skimmers and 26 roach later, plus an hour out to help the groundsman get some branches out that had snapped off in the high winds/storms that week, I was VERY happy. The reason one of the roach I weighed went 1-13!
It was noticeable that no large perch had been showing. The following week I returned to fish peg 7 which is the narrowest peg on the lake at just about 11m.Starting the usual way but with a more traditional diamond shaped float I had caught 1 perch ( 1 oz) after an hour but then the next 3 hours passed quickly on the expander with 33 skimmers (largest 3lb), and 6 roach for 16-7. I bumped another big skimmer after catching the first one otherwise it may have been even better!
Saturday arrived and I was running a Match-fishing Scene match at Blacklands. With people coming from Chester, Oxford as well as the locals I was hoping it was going to fish up to scratch. I arrived at 8am to peg out and was met with icy driving rain coming into the jetty bank. The preceding days had seen a lot of rain but the temperature had now dropped to just above freezing – it was not pleasant! I was last to draw with one no show and had peg 12, the bench, so at least the rain would not be in my face. To cut a horror story short I had 3 skimmers, 13 roach, 6 perch and a gudgeon, most in the first hour and last half hour, for 4-3. My pegging proved correct as the weights went like this
Peg 1 DNW Peg 7 6-0 (incl 3lb bream)
Peg 2 18-14 Peg 8 DNW (packed up after 2hours)
Peg 3 22-9 Peg 9 DNW(packed up just after peg 8)
Peg 4 19-8 Peg 10 not drawn
Peg 5 18-7 Peg 11 5-11
Peg 6 10-3 Peg 12 4-3
The anglers on pegs 8 and 9 suffered horribly in the wind and icy rain and could not feel their fingers when packing up. During the match we had an overflow from the stream behind the back with 7-10 and plumes of muddy rain water were deposited in the lake, in fact I only caught in the last half hour when the plume reached me! Fortunately Steve May (yes Andy May’s dad), the winner, was the one who had come down from Cheshire, but said he wore out his wiper blades on the journey back as the weather was so bad!
My Goretex did not survive the driving rain for the first time ever and I got very wet as I do not fish with a brolly! The next week was spent drying out my Goretex, cleaning it in the bath with the shower, then washing it, drying it and reproofing it.
A tentative return to Blacklands came at the end of the week along with newly reproofed jacket and over trousers. Peg 4 was my destination but a very slow session saw 12 roach, 17 skimmers and 5 perch rudely interrupted by a tench of a pound and a quarter for a weight of 12-2.
The weekend saw me up at Heathrow to collect younger son Gareth who was flying in from China for a short visit. I had arranged a match for the following weekend with his visit in mind! Wednesday saw us visit Blacklands and Gareth on 7 and me on 8. Fishing 10m with the usual diamond rig saw me get 16-4 of silvers – 18 roach, 20 skimmers(best 2-12), 1 perch and 1 gudgeon. In addition I had a scrappy 4-10 common carp that made my no 5 elastic stretch somewhat to Gareth’s amusement, giving a total of 20-14, Gareth had a similar silver net.
February arrives and the day before the match saw us go to Patneys and fish the left had side of the island. The ground was very boggy with the rain we had been having but fortunately it was a clear, dry day. A slow start for me,despite starting on 0.08mm and an 18, Gareth had a perch on the maggot while I tried pellet. It was not until I put a 4mm piece of meat on that I had a bite after an hour, ending up with 12 small carp (biggest 4lb) for between 12 and 15lb. Gareth was getting the odd carp but then latched on to a better sample of 7-12.
As is typical the following day- it was raining for the match, fortunately it was not heavy and it lifted after an hour into the match but returned for the last hour and the weigh in. I had several drop outs leading up to the match and only 8 were fishing but I had 9 lots of money to pay out. So I used two sections as usual and the section winners would pick up along with the best placed second place. Gareth drew peg 6 and I drew peg 10. I began by having three lines, worm on the left, pellet directly in front and also 1m from the end of the jetty. Line was 0.08 to an 18, with my diamond float from practice, a 0.4g chianti style for on the drop (in case it was hard) and a 0.6g egg style . It began slow an I feared the worst as I put 3 small roach in the net in the first hour. A change to the pellet saw a couple of small skimmers but nothing great. I then took a decision and put a pot of micros on the worm line, a further pots on the other lines and got my head down with an expander swapping between my two initial pellet lines. I began to steadily put skimmers in the net and then in the last hour swapped between the worm line and middle line to end up with 27 roach, 1 perch. 38 skimmers for 17-8. The weights went as so:
Peg1 10-11 Peg8 18-1
Peg 3 25-0 Peg 9 13-5
Peg 5 11-5 Peg 10 17-8
Peg 6 19-0 Peg 12 8-15
So I was beaten by 9 oz for the section and Gareth beat me for the best placed second!
We had one more outing before Gareth returned to China and we fancied a bit of piking on the K&A at Bedwyn. Arriving at Church stretch the water was gin clear, the air was cold, sun shining and the boats were taking up most of the tow path, so we settled for a spot just up from the bridge, floats with smelt and sardine were dispatched to likely looking areas along both nearside and far bank margins and we waited. and waited… After two hours and not a sign of a fish either on a pole that I had put out with chopped worm or drop shotting (I tell a lie , I did see a 1oz perch follow the lure but turned away) we decided to move down to another stretch at Roadside (Froxfield). Here we were greeted with green-grey colored water with lots of grass cuttings! A further hour or so plus two empty flasks made our decision to pack up easy. As I said to Gareth – “It’s called fishing, not catching!”