March Mayhem

More than a week goes by and no fishing, partly down to the weather and partly other commitments but finally I venture out to Blacklands to find it mostly covered in thin ice but melting. I plump for peg 10 and feed sparingly with one swim in open water and another against the edge of the ice. The feed to start with was a bit of chopped worm with a few micros on both lines. A sluggish start, understandable with the conditions , but eventually some bites started and I ended with 17 roach, 5 skimmers and 7 perch, but should have been a lot better as I lost a good fish, probably a half asleep carp that plodded around before snagging me on the overflow, plus I inexplicably bumped 10-15 fish and still can’t work out why!

Three days later I returned to find the ice gone and my worms still on the garage floor at home! A good time to focus on other baits I thought! So it was peg 11 today fishing at 10m with 3 areas fed in a line – to the left a half pot of micros, directly in front a handful of micros and to the right a half pot of wheat. Each area was about 3-4 feet away from the next. Two rigs set up – a standard homemade diamond pattern with bulk down and a second bulk of 3xno10 stotz at the hooklength join, the other rig a 0.4g chianti style, again homemade with strung out shot. Both rigs were on 0.12mm mainline with 0,10mm hooklength and 18 hook. Starting on the middle line, I planned to leave the left line “cook” for at least an hour before trying it, I began to get some roach and after an hour with about 10 fish I changed to the right line with double wheat on the hook and was immediately into a better stamp of fish. Indeed the fish had settled on the wheat and apart from a brief dalliance on the left hand line, most of the time was spent on the wheat line with me swapping between the rigs – both produced, the bigger roach were in the upper layers and were taking on the drop but the skimmers were also waiting on the bottom for the wheat! I ended up with 31 roach, 20 skimmers (best two were 2-2 and 1-12), 6 gudgeon, 3 perch and a tench of 1-12.


All the fish apart from the initial ten roach and 4-5 roach and skimmers were taken on the wheat, approx 21lb. Who says wheat only catches roach in the warm weather!

Two days later and I fancied a change so headed off to Patneys, where I was hoping that I may find the odd carp awaking from their icy slumbers! I headed to the usual bay peg as at least I knew there would be fish in the area.



Fishing 13m with a rig similar to that at Blacklands but with 0.16mm mainline and 0.12mm hooklength to an 18, I started by feeding3 balls of groundbait plus a handful of pellet with a dozen maggots and then fed a pinch of micros via the catapult every 5minutes or so. Maggot on the hook got me a roach and 3 small perch, expanders collared 2 small skimmers in the first hour, at which point I decided to stop pussy-footing around and cupped in a dozen 4mm cubes of meat and put a cube on the hook. I began feeding the micros as before via the catapult but now added a small homemade toss-pot to my top kit and introduced 3-4 cubes of meat with a pinch of micros, all held in place by a plug of groundbait each time I shipped out. After 10minutes I had my first bite, a carp of 2-6, the next three hours went as follows (all carp)- 1-14, 0-8, 1-8, 3-8, 1-0,  5-10, 0-8, 3-8, 0-8, 6-0, giving a total with the silver fish of 27-11. Not hectic fishing but pleasant after the wintry weather.


Back to Blacklands but this time I fished Stans Lake for a change as the heavy rain of the previous days had caused the stream to back up and gush into Heron with muddy water. Setting up at the base of the slope behind the BBQ area. Stans is shallow, about 3 feet, and I opted to fish a Chianti style homemade float of 0.3g to a 0.10mm hooklength and my usual 18 at 10m, in the same style as Heron, ie two swims, worm to the right and pellet to my left. As usual on Stans there was the period were things went dead- mainly I suspect carp pushing the smaller fish out of the swim, but had a pleasant day with 26 skimmers, 5 roach, including ones of 15oz and 12oz, 2 perch, 1 gudgeon and a carp of 4-1 which tested my no 5 elastic! A total of around 12 and a half pounds.


That Friday I returned as I was running a match at Blacklands that Sunday and wanted to check on peg 4 as we had not fished it for a bit. Set up was the standard one for Blacklands with the two rigs set up and a similar approach yielded 24roach to 12oz, 33 skimmers and two perch for a total of 20-14, most of the roach coming to wheat. More importantly I discovered that the heavy rainfall that had created the overflow into Heron on my previous visit had dislodged the willow snag that was between pegs 4 and 5 and it was now most definitely in peg 4!!

The weather gods must hate me as a sharp fall in temperature plus a heavy snowfall on Saturday night meant I had to cancel the match as people were unable to get there! A lot of ringing around ensued and I managed to get the match re-booked for the following Saturday (all being well!). By Wednesday when I returned to Blacklands, the snow had gone and I decided to fish peg 7- the narrowest peg on the lake. I fish this differently from most as I ignore the obvious areas against the island and instead fish at 7m “down the track”, again making use of 3 lines of attack.


While fishing it didn’t feel it was fishing well but at the end I had just under 21lb comprising of 24 skimmers (best 2-15), 23 roach, including one of exactly a pound, 12 perch and 1 tench of 1-14. More than half the fish were caught on wheat, including two of the perch!

Match day arrives and I find myself on peg 2, a large fish bumped on third put in slowed it down for me with only 6 fish in first hour with my usual approach. Moving to the pellet was equally slow and I basically had to get my head down and scratch out what I could, the problem was the fish were of a smaller stamp than usual (I suspect to the cold water going in overnight with the rain), by the end I had 28 roach, 32 skimmers and 2 perch for 13-7 for 3rd in section and fifth overall. Fred on peg 1 had a similar number of fish but his were slightly bigger and more skimmers weighed in 18-10 while Jamie on peg 3 had the same problem as me with small fish and not so many skimmers for 8-8. The match was won off peg 6 by Ali Foreshaw with 22-12 , mainly taken on the whip and maggot, a lot of fish but with the odd exception, small.

April beckons with a Fishomania match at Viaduct and roach at Boddingtons to look forward to.



Bait-are we blinkered?

With the plethora of new “super” baits and groundbaits on offer I am beginning to wonder if groundbait/bait/bait additives are the industry’s answer to the decline in float sales (with the increase in home produced and hand made floats) as the latest affordable “must haves”. It seems every season there is a new super additive/flavour/glug and it must be said that a great deal of them have proven successful but is that because of the scientific research into it’s composition or is it down to we anglers being blinkered by the baits we use and anything different will stand out.
Four years ago I bought a sack of wheat for about £9 delivered, I still have some left, and everywhere I have tried it I have caught, and not just roach which most associate wheat with. I have had bream, gudgeon, tench, carp, perch (yes perch!), dace, chub, rudd and roach in all shapes and sizes! The point is was it the pulling power of wheat or was it a different bait from the usual, soft and presented in an acceptable manner? The same goes with  cheese (see previous blog entry”Cheesy what”) and I have had similar fortune with marzipan. It must be said that in some commercial fisheries there is a very prescriptive list of bait that is allowed and as most people are looking to catch carp in a match  or pleasuring it is understandable that they go down the pellet route as the quarry was raised on pellet before introduction to the pool. In the same way, what goes on the hook can have a vast array of flavours and colour while there is now more of a trend to make the bait look “washed out” ie, looking  safer for the fish to take confidently.
Are we alone in our preoccupation with finding the perfect super bait? Obviously not as the introduction of Marukyu shows that the Asian market is just as fascinated with bait. They tend to be “F1” type carp oriented (not sure of the exact genus as there are several!) and there is a far bigger array of baits available than here!
Most bait is paste oriented and is classified into fibrous v soft and time to break down. Most paste has a target fish and method, my lad, Gareth, has been catching a variety of fish on paste, fishing inches deep in rivers and drains. He often gets paste specially made up in the tackle shop for how long he wants it to stay on the hook. Similarly pellets are pre-banded and are different sizes, colours and make-up- the ones shown here are about 6mm in diameter but 1.8cm long.
I have used smaller varieties in this country with success- not only for carp but for quality roach and bream, the shape of the pellet makes it harder for the smaller fish to take easily.
The bottom line is does a bait work because of a magical attraction or because it is different from the norm?

February Freeze

With Gareth safely back in China I went to Blacklands on the Monday to find it covered with a sheet of ice and my ice breaker at home! Pegs 4,5 and 6 were partly clear but I decided to go on peg 1, fortunately the ice was thin and was broken with a pole cup and landing net.

Blacklands ice

I set up with just the one rig, a homemade diamond style float taking 0.6g on 0.12mm Tornado with an 15cm 0.08 Shogun hooklength to a 20. I had a bulk shot 2 feet from the hook, a number 8 just 6 inches below that and

then two number 10 stotz at the hooklength loop.  This is a pattern I had been experimenting with and it seemed to work very well to date. I began cautiously with micros on the left of the peg and worm on the right but less than I would normally introduce at the start. Two hours later and not a bite, plus the ice was rapidly thawing and the ice water seemed to be having a detrimental effect but then suddenly as if a tap was turned on I had a bite every put in on worm – one perch and 36 roach later I packed up, undecided why the “tap” had been put on…Was it a change in atmospheric pressure or…

Saturday saw the next in the series of matches I had arranged at Blacklands. Just 8 taking part this time with some other events locally clashing, this became 7 with a no-show. I drew (or rather Dazza did for me) peg 8. I set up the usual rigs – the diamond and a chianti style for on the drop. This time I had decided on 4 lines, the first at 11m to my left was to be my worm line, a pellet line straight in front of me  at 11m, another pellet line 11m to my right almost 6m out from the bank and a caster line a metre off the island.At the start I put in my usual  decent dollop of choppie , and a big handful of pellet cupped on to both lines, a cup containing about 200 casters was put on my island line. Starting on the worm was a steady start before moving onto the pellet lines, rotating between then and occasionally trying the caster line to plunder some better roach I ended up with 28 roach, 36 skimmers, 2 perch and a gudgeon, at the weigh in the scales went to 20-10, I have to use two weighs as the scales I have go to 20lb and always weigh in last. After this when I was gathering my net I found I had missed a roach – 10oz to be precise much to Dazza’s amusement, so my real weight was 21-4, still not enough to change my position. Must remember in future to thoroughly check the net and spread it out tidily!! The weights went as follows

Peg 2    23-11                              Peg 8   20-10 (21-4)

Peg 3    16-06                                Peg 10 15-01

Peg 5     11-10                              Peg 12   21-09

Peg 6    11-05

Thanks to Dazza for the pics of some of the catches

The following week I returned but decided to fish the other lake- Stan’s. Now this is a very different prospect with a consistent depth of about 3-3.5ft and despite the cold weather I fancied it for a change. Setting up on the right hand bank with the building behind me I set up a chianti style float to 0.08mm hooklength and a 20, kicking off with the usual worm to the right and pellet to the left approach  IO had a very pleasant session with 9 perch, 8 roach to 12oz, 56 skimmers to 3-3 and a solitary carp that gave me the runaround on my no.5 elastic with no puller!IMG_20180221_125517670.jpg

The silvers came to 20-08 giving a total of 25-06 with the carp- a pleasant if cold outing.

Two days later I decided to give the river a go and see if I could get one of the pike that cause so many problems on matches. The top weir at Benger was my choice, but with the temperatures showing -2C I was not over hopeful. I had traveled light and put a float out with a joey for the pike and a maggot feeder with a small piece of worm on a 0.08mm to a 20 and chopped worm in the feeder as my other rod, mainly to keep my interest! After 10 minutes I had a bite on the feeder that I missed and that was that for two hours. I decided to pack the rods away and resorted to getting my 5 piece Shakespeare travel match rod that always goes everywhere with me in the car along with my emergency tackle and give the backwater a go for an hour.

Tackling up, I found about 5 feet of water and catapulting out some maggots I immediately began to get bites and had 3 small fish- a dace and two chub before it went dead- possibly a pike! Twenty minutes later after feeding the cheeky robin that landed on my rod I gave it best and went home! March beckons and a final match at Blacklands

Is it really January?

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
Peg 10 looking towards the bench

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.

float 002.jpg

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!”




Not again!

Back from the North a trip to Blacklands was in order to lift my spirits. The bench peg was selected although the weather was cold and not encouraging with a bitter Easterly wind. The day started slowly and never really got going with the skimmers reluctant to feed and most of the fish being small perch- 32 to be precise, 8 roach, 3 gudgeon and 10 skimmers .

Back to Blacklands on the following Wednesday as a practice for the match I was running on the Saturday. I decided to fish the far end at the end of the island (peg 4 in the match) and tried out a couple of things including dyed micros. A far busier session although cold, saw 37 roach, 6 perch and 16 skimmers come to the net, including a bream of 3lb, making a total of just over 15lb in the 4 hours I fished.

Come the Saturday we had  a real drop in temperature with it being -2C when I arrived and the temperature not getting beyond 3C all day.  I drew last and was left with peg 4 – the one  I had fished on Wednesday, To my left was the “Trawler”, aka Brian Shutler, and I had some other handy anglers in my section on the bench bank. The match started okay with my approach being the usual one of two lines at 10m and starting on the worm. A quick start with some early roach and perch finding the net before it settled into a routine of catch 2-3 fish then wait for a bite. I couldn’t get the fish settled the same as most others, by half way I thought I was doing okay and beating Brian but the pegs on the other side of the island that I could see were catching well as was Mick Rozier on the Bench.

Roach match (2).png

I had a poor fourth hour when Brian began to really motor and despite starting a new line at 13m could not catch him. I ended with 36 roach, 16 skimmers, 8 perch and a gudgeon for 12-10 and section second and 3rd overall with 12-10. Given the way the conditions were I was pleased with the way the match had fished. See below

Peg 1      Chris Rushton       10-7                         Peg 7 Andy Cranston       17-11

Peg 2       Mick Saunders     11-4                         Peg 8 Peter Gilbert             2-0

Peg 3       Fred Parker           12-5                        Peg 9 Ian Spanswick          9-3

Peg 4      Me                             12-10                     Peg 10 James Carty           DNW

Peg 5      Brian Shutler         17-6                        Peg 11 Mick Rozier           12-8

The following day fate struck again with the news that my wife’s aunt had unexpectedly died so another visit up North was required as she was an executor for the estate. That was it for the period up to Christmas with us not returning home until late on the 27th. The weather in our absence had been dire with rain and snow but it wasn’t till New Years Eve that I managed to get out – Blacklands again for a short session (barely 4 hours). I decided to fish peg 8 but had taken my back up pole for a change as it was forecast to be wet (wrong as usual!) but had forgotten to put in the cup for the cupping kit as it was a different type to my usual cups!!! So improvising I introduced some chopped worm and pellet via bait dropper and toss potted micros and chop every other put in. I decided to try concentrating on just one line to see how that went.

Third fish was a decent roach of 14oz(weighed) but I decided at this point to change from a doubled 4 elastic to a solid 5. This seemed to work much better and I ended up with 37 skimmers, 15 perch and 8 roach for 13-12. I found worm caused a lot of missable bites but would produce bigger fish, while expander provided a quicker response but a small stamp of fish.

I have a series of three matches coming up that I am running at Blacklands, one in January and 2 in February.