November 1st arrives and Radcot throws up its wet and windy best for the fourth round of the North Wessex Winter League.
Drawn on C5, peg 13 downstream of the bridge I was not hopeful as there was no steady water close in and my hope seemed to be a tree in the water on the far bank. The match starts and I go straight across on the maggot feeder for no bites in 2 hours. The pole with an 8g flat float and 16g of lead at 6m does no better. Jamie on the upstream peg comes down to warm up and says Paul Rice on 3 has just had a 3lb bream and missed the net with it! Now Paul had been lobbing a groundbait feeder on to the 12m line so when Jamie went back I quickly changed feeder to a 40g open end and lobbed downstream on the 12-14m line. Half hour later I had a knock and a gudgeon saved the blank! I ended up with 2 roach, a chublet and the gudgeon for 0-9 and last in section, indeed the section places were the same as the peg numbers! The team fared little better and we are now behind Radcot when we go into the final match, whenever that might be after lock-down.
Tuesday came with a temperature of 4C and I ventured to Bowood with rucksack, coupled with waggler and feeder rods up to peg 12 (only peg 11 remains to fish on that side of the lake now). Starting on the feeder but swiftly moving on to the waggler I had a shortish session with 8 skimmers, 18 roach and 6 rudd for a level 4lb.
Friday arrives and I make my way back to peg 10. A frustrating start with 12 very small maggot fish saw me switch to double wheat and end up with 33 roach and 33 rudd for 4-12. Who says wheat is a summer bait! Sunday comes and rare week-end visit to Bowood finds 4 FOUR cars already parked up, I have never seen that many cars at Bowood, one of the consequences of lock-down! The water level was well down, probably due to the heavy rains we have had someone had opened the sluice at the other end and left it open too long! There was a piker on 10 so I set up on 8 a good 50m away and fishing in my usual style had one run on the sardine which resulted in a pike of 8-6 while the pole line was regularly visited by pike shearing through the fish attracted by my offerings I managed to extract without any pike attacks 1 perch, 12 roach and 24 rudd for 4-03.
The Tuesday sees me back on peg 10 with the water level still down about a foot. Casting out the sardine I began setting up the pole only for the pellet waggler to skim along the surface and disappear before I had even attached a rig to the pole. A strike was met with…nothing! The sardine came back in pristine condition, this happened a second time later in the day, the gamekeeper reckons these “phantom” runs are caused by carp or tench. Anyway the day was similar to the Sunday in so much as I would get a run of fish then nothing, this time there were no tell-tale signs of pike but my suspicions were well founded as a lift of the pole float resulted in me hooking a pike of 8-04 in the tail which proved quite an interesting fight as it tail-walked at least 5 times in an attempt to get away. The down side was I hoped that was caught on film but the gremlins had been at their work again and the file was corrupted! In between 22 roach and 21 rudd I did manage to get a proper run on the sardine which resulted in a very welcome pike of 13-06.
Wednesday sees me back but at the Pondtail for a 2 hour session armed with the Chinese whips I opted to fish a 5m whip (5.4) with a new Chinese float I had bought. Feeding only wheat and a couple of small balls of groundbait I had a pleasant session with 50 roach, 19 gudgeon a perch and a carp of 3-10 which illustrated why the Chinese whips are not as rigid as European ones as it bent right around to absorb the lunges of the carp, despite me only having a 0.10mm hooklength. The other fish came to 5-12
Monday sees me back after days of gloomy rain and wind to the Pondtail with the promise of a dry day and the intention of doing some filming to create a Chinese whip video. Started of okay but after an hour the rain arrived, two days early! I packed the camera away and decided to pack the whip away and have a go on the feeder for a couple of hours. The whip had produced 15roach, 9 gudgeon and a perch before the feeder added another 15 roach, no gudgeon and 4 perch to the worm, including a roach of exactly 1lb, total; weight 4-02.
Next day sees me back at peg 10 with the water level now back up and high while flowing through quite hard. I did not expect to catch any pike but put the sardine out anyway. I had changed to a number 5 elastic and 0.10mm line to a 16 as is my routine at this time of year on the pole. It was hard going with me having to hold back like on a river to get bites from small fish, eventually hooking something large that plodding around for 5minutes before without any lunges the line came shooting back, the hooklength cut halfway – I suspected a pike! It continued to be hard, catching odd fish between cups of coffee when 5minutes after the 11am bell had tolled I struck into a fish that I immediately thought was a pike as it sat there before moving slowly off, indeed it was a pike as it showed itself with a spectacular tail-walk (alas no camera today), several further jumps happened before the next bell at 11:15 and several more before the 11:30 bell, I eventually managed to net it with two extra sections on at 11:35! It was foul-hooked in its ventral fin and weighed 8-03. I ended up finishing just after 12:15 with 14 roach, 2 blades and a rudd for a level pound!
Lock-down continues, I may try and complete the right bank by fishing peg 11 before the end of the month.