September arrives and the first Friday sees me at Bowood peg 20. The session starts slowly with me priming the swim at 11.5m with 3 balls made up of 2 parts Caperlan Etang, 1 part Coco Belgique and 1 part vanilla laced with a sparse helping of wheat, corn and micro pellets. Corn did not get any response for 30 minutes until the float lifted (I am persevering with the double bulk approach) and the strike resulted in a small bream of 1-10 coming to the net, the next hour was interspersed with roach and rudd at intervals before at 10:30 (the bell was chiming) the float disappeared and I struck into what felt a better fish. The fight was not like a bream nor a tench nor typical of the pike and you would have seen my jaw draw when it finally surfaced – a perch. Now it is rare to catch any perch on the main lake and they usually are 1-2oz when they do occasionally appear, but this pulled the scales down to 1-6, a PB for Bowood and a vary pleasant surprise.
Next put in another decent fish, this time a tench of 2-2, again one of the smaller tench but more of them later! Back to the odd roach, rudd, a couple of hybrids and a skimmer before ending the session with a better roach of 12oz. The final total for the 4 hours 15 roach, 9 rudd, 2 hybrids and skimmer and the 4 better fish for 9-2.
Next day I was back but this time taking the long trek to the first peg on the stock pond. I wanted to have a session on this peg as I had the Monkees v Shandees 3 day match coming up at the Glebe and wanted to try various things.That night had been a bit cooler but I was hopeful of some action. Setting up at 11.5 metres in 7-8 feet of water I fished a 1g home made job with the bulk set at 3 feet from the hook and three no 8 droppers below. Line was the usual Shogun 0.16mm to 0.14mm hooklength and a 16.
Three balls cupped in with wheat, corn and 4mm pellet, sat back and waited, 10 minutes later float dipped and a roach was soon in the net! Things didn’t quite go to plan as the carp were not playing ball but I had a nice 3.5hour session with 32 roach that weighed 5-3 and a solitary carp of 4-12.
The Monday sees at the Pondtail, peg 1 me for a short session with the whip. Very slow but managed to winkle out 8 perch, 18 roach and 24 gudgeon – nice to see the gudgeon making a comeback, we must be in one of the high points of a three year cycle they go through.
Wednesday sees me travel up to the Glebe for the aforementioned M V S match. I was fishing for (handicapping more likely) the Shandees in this North v South annual encounter, I was drawn peg 106 on Pool 7 for the first day, a new pool for me in my infrequent visits. The fact I did not take any pictures may tell you something about the peg! Clear banks so no margin cover. I decided to set my stall out with 6 lines of attack,
1. feeder over
2. groundbait and pellet at 13m
3. 5m straight in front with pellet/corn
4. 2m out from bank at 7m pole distance groundbait
5/6 the margins one with pellet and corn the other wheat and corn.
First cast on the feeder I had a bite as I was cupping in on the 5 metre line (this is allowed under the Glebe rules) and managed to net a carp of about 6lb, the next 3 hours were biteless on the feeder long pole and short line. I went on the angled 7m line and by alternating between corn/paste/pellet managed to put one or two fish in the net, finishing with a couple from the margin (left one) on corn for a disappointing total of 54-11 (7 carp I think, plus lost 2 and a skimmer of 1-11).
Day 2 sees me on peg 8 on pool 1. I discovered at the draw because of a couple of withdrawals two pegs were being taken put and yes one of them was 106! I had been told that there was a hole close in to the right of the peg and when Jason Weston trundled up on the left of me he confirmed that they normally caught to the right half way between the stump and the post in the water. I plumbed up there, at 13m 5m in front and also close into my right just over some bankside reeds forming a bay.
Feeder didn’t produce, long pole neither, 5m line was a waste so I went on the right hand area where I had been feeding groundbait, pellet, hemp and wheat. I began to get some bites landing a couple of bream before a couple of carp then more bream , I belatedly tried the inside line only to find the carp were there, adding three more and losing two in the last 30 minutes. When packing up I was told by Shorey666 the section winner the day before he had all his fish in that bay, he had seen me plumb there and thought I was aware of it!!! The bream went 19-11, the carp 31-6 (just 2 lost) for a 51-1 total DOH!
Final day and peg 13 is drawn for me on Pool 1 another peg that had won the section the day before.
Again a carp early on was a one off on the feeder, the 13m line produced not a single bite and most the action was fixed on the 5m line in front, 7m to the side and the right hand margin. To cut a long story short, 7 carp lost 2 for 41-14 and 10-5 of bream for 52-3, consistent if nothing else!
Family matters then stop me wetting a line for a week and a return to Bowood with my first visit to peg 10! I decided to increase the initial feed and put in 6 balls laced with wheat and corn. I also put out the pike rod with a sardine to one side of my swim. A slow start then a roach, a skimmer and it goes quiet, the float dips and a better fish comes to the net – the smallest tench I have caught at Bowood at 1-11! The session went on in a similar vein with catch a few small fish, swim goes quiet, hook at tench. I ended up with 5 smaller tench of 1-11,3-10,3-12,2-5 and 2-3, 1 skimmer, 10 roach and 6 rudd for a 16-4 total. However I also lost a good tench of 4lb+ plus an unseen fish that I suspect was a pike plus I hooked a tail walking pike of about 6-7lb that was great fun on the pole, but not a sniff on the pike rod! Typical!
I decided to reduce the tackle down to a waggler and feeder rod combined with my rucksack seat for my next visit on the Sunday, taking the 1340 paces to peg 14, the last peg in the top field. I had some groundbait left over from the Glebe – Green lipped Mussel- and wanted to get some practice on the feeder. I started with an open ended 30g feeder and 3ft hooklength of 0.12mm to a 16.
Starting on worm with chopped worm in the feeder I began getting indications from small skimmers and roach, ragging the worm, maggot produced small roach and a switch to corn gave a slightly better stamp. After an hour I rested the swim and had a dabble on the waggler at 15m where I had been feeding wheat, same story with rudd and roach attacking the corn and wheat baits. Back to the feeder and a minute twitch on the tip was struck at resulting in a small bream of 1-10. I was on braid mainline and I am sure I would not have seen that bite if I was on mono. The next 2 and a half hours see me land bream of 2-4, 1-8, 1-4, 2-8, 2-0 ,2-4, 1-10 and 1-15 which with my four skimmers, 10 roach and 2 rudd gave me an 18-12 total before the 1340 pace return journey!
Two days later back on the long trek, this time to peg 13, same kit but this time the waggler stayed in the bag. A slow start with the groundbait the same but the three hours produced three bream of 2-4, 4-0 and 2-0 along with 10 roach and 5 skimmers for a 9-12 total, I bumped one good bream and that was the signal for them to move off!
It is interesting that my reel and braid are both Chinese, both perform admirably, have lasted well and the combined total of £15 (reel £9, braid £6 for 300m) makes them totally affordable if not fashionable!
The last Friday sees the temperature go down to 3C overnight and it was only 6C when I arrived at peg 10. I had decided to go back to 10 rather than try and continue the “fish every peg” target as given the sudden change I figured the pike might be more willing than the bream to feed. I cast my first sardine at 9:15 and began setting up the pole, but stopped and put my neck warmer on and zipped up my jacket tight as the wind was very strong and cold. I began on maggot to see if anything was over the three balls of groundbait I had cupped in. Fifteen minutes later I had a minute roach to show for my efforts, this is usually a sign of something larger in the vicinity so on went the corn but after an hour I had moved on to 3 roach, albeit the corn fish were bigger. I decided to top up and switch back to maggot, this prompted a few roach before it quietened down and a switch to corn saw some net roach coming to the net. The major problem was the strong cross wind was making the pole difficult to hold never mind present a bait attractively! Every time I was able to present the corn in a reasonable manner I was getting a bite, the problem was my shoulders were getting sore with the constant battering of the pole by the wind. Suddenly the pike float stopped its rhythmic bobbing with the waves and slid under, my first run of the season a firm strike was met with an equally firm response from the pike which finally succumbed after trying to impersonate a jet boat! Not massive at 8-12 but a welcome intervention on a cold windy day, I gave it another hour and packed up just after 12pm with 17 roach, 3 skimmers,2 rudd and a hybrid weighing in at 3-10.
Sunday sees me at Sutton Benger guesting for Clanfield in the North Wessex Winter League. I was hoping not to draw the last two sections which had mega walks through cloying mud and was relieved when told I had been drawn in the top field , B4 which was permanent peg 13. Not fantastic unless there was a bit of flow and there wasn’t! But you are able to park next to the peg so no long walk .
The water was fairly clear and you could see thousands of this year’s fry in the margins. Usually you can get an hour or so at the start to catch well but as soon as the sun hits the water it kills it and you are in scratching mode for the rest of the match. With this in mind I opted for a groundbait line at 11.5m where there was six feet of water, a 5m line with hemp and wheat, a second 5m line 6m down the peg, a far bank waggler and small feeder.
The previous night had been cold so I started with 3 plum sized balls of groundbait (2 parts Sensas Noire, 1 part coco belgique, 1 part vanilla, 1 part Caperlan etang) with 30 casters and similar amount of hemp. The depth was fairly uniform so I had set up just two rigs, the first a 1.5g Paster that would act as both my main attack and later worm rig with a 0.10mm hooklength to a 20 microbarb. The bulk was set two feet from the hook with a single number eight dropper (I would later move a number 6 from the bulk down to the number 8 to counteract the minnows). A single ball went on the 5m line and this was fed with hemp and wheat throughout the match.
The match started and second run through I had a microscopic gudgeon, then another, and another , then a minnow then a smaller than microscopic gudgeon! I was feeding a pinch of casters every put in whilst feeding about a dozen maggots across every other put in. At this point I changed to double maggot and proceeded to catch minnow and gudgeon interspersed with 2 half ounce roach and 3 small chublets! A switch to caster saw a slowing down of the minnows and a slightly better stamp of gudgeon (4 to the ounce). After an hour an a quarter the sun was up and the bites slowed right down. A switch to the waggler sees – minnows- then a net roach then minnows.
I had continued to trickle casters on the 11.5m line and tried a bit of chopped worm, no reaction at all, possibly any perch were gorged on the fry! Back to the pole line and more gudgeon on caster, nothing on feeder nor on the short lines, into the last hour and a little bit of shade was coming back, with 30 minutes to go I hooked another net roach and added a few more gudgeon. At the weigh-in I had 25 gudgeon, 3 chublets, 17 minnows, 4 bleak and 4 roach for 1-14-8 and second in section, beaten by the first peg who had 3-10 of gudgeon. Clanfield won the day as well so my efforts were not in vain.
October sees me at a group coaching session with Andy May at Partridge Fisheries up North!