December Darkness 2021 -Part 2

Monday 20th I managed to sneak in a session from 9:15 to 12:05, this time back at peg 10. Strangely, yet again, no bites on the pole but action on the pike rod. The first run came at just gone 10am which I felt momentarily before the sardine came flying back at me, recasting it was a little over 10 minutes before the float slid away again and this time I hit into the fish, a feisty 7-03.


An hour later the float slid under again and a strike was met with a solid resistance, the fish keeping low and slow only waking up as it neared netting distance when it went off on a couple of powerful runs. Drawing it towards the net I could see the single hook clearly just nicked into the scissor of the pike’s mouth and was relieved when I finally got it into the net 13-03. You can see my “pike” float in the picture.


I am convinced that the slim pellet waggler I use for piking helps as it gives minimal resistance to a taking fish.

Christmas and family then intervene and it was not until the 29th that I ventured out again. In the interim period I had received two Chinese whips I had ordered from Aliexpress- one 3.6m the other 4.5m, both carbon and the same make as my 6m and 7m whips. The combined total for the two including VAT and delivery was £22.08 vastly cheaper than ones in this country. On the subject of whips, I get really frustrated when people talk about elasticating their whips as in my eyes a whip has a flick tip and once elastic is brought into the equation it becomes a pole (albeit a short one). The excuse given is that it is an insurance against hooking bigger fish but providing there are no snags you should be able to land a 5-6lb fish on a whip if you know what you are doing and if they are fishing a venue with lots of carp present then the whip is not the tool for the job! (Rant over) Back to the fishing- I decided to give the 3m a try out and after making up a rig at home (must do a guide to how I make Chinese whip rigs!) I ventured to the Pondtail peg 1. Now the weather had not been the best and indeed was wavering between heavy drizzle and proper rain for the 2 hours of my visit (9:45- 11:45) and this was reflected in the water – hot chocolate would be the usual description given the clay rich soil that was in the area but it reminded me more of the cups of tea my grandmother used to make with CO-Op 99 tea leaves, tannic orange! Not only was the water heavily coloured but was flowing like a medium paced river! Added to this I had to negotiate a full blooded 4 wheel slide when pulling up to park, managing to stop crashing into the fence with 4 inches to spare!

I wanted to give it a go so plumbing up I had about 5-6 feet of water so introduced 4 walnuts of groundbait in a diamond pattern and began on double maggot, a white and red. Loose feeding a pinch of hemp and half a dozen grains of wheat every other cast it was 10 minutes before I had my first bite, a roach that dropped of as I swung it in, indeed I dropped the first 4 fish hooked, so the size 20 was taken off and I quickly whipped on a size 16 Preston N10 which has been my go-to hook for the whip as it has a long shank to make unhooking easier. After this I never lost another fish and managed to sneak out 14 roach in the remaining time for a 1-09 total with double faded bronze maggot proving best (faded because they were 3weeks old!).

That was it for 2021, an eventful year in so many ways, here’s looking forward to 2022 (I may sneak out for a couple of hours to start the New Year in the right way!). Happy New Year and tight lines.

December Darkness 2021

December arrives and a trip to the Pondtail peg 1 is called for. I decided on the 6m Chinese whip and the short bulbous float dotted down.

Two golf balls of groundbait are thrown in followed by a sprinkling of hemp, a white and a red maggot goes on the 16 hook and nothing. A slow start but the first bite came after a quarter of an hour, a roach of 2oz, thereafter the fish came at regular intervals, all roach except a perch of 2oz and a better perch of 1-04 which was dealt with easily by the flexibility of the whip. The session ended after 2.5hrs with 32 roach and the two perch for a 4-08 total.

Friday the third sees me back at peg 10, the weather had produced a cold night but now a brilliant sunny morning with no cloud and clear water, however after an hour it turned very cold and despite my best efforts the 3 hour session saw me produce my second blank of the campaign. So my first blank was on the 50th visit to Bowood since the start of the season on 16th June and my second was on the 53rd!

Time moves on to Wednesday 8th, days are now getting greyer/darker with little sun on offer so I decide to fish the banker to catch some fish – Pondtail peg 2. This time I started on the 7m Chinese whip but after 11 roach I felt that it may be better closer in so changed to a 3m Chinese whip with a more traditional pole float (home made of course) and added a further 21 roach to the net, giving me a 3-06 total for the session. It should be said that the depth close in is almost as deep as further out – about 5-6ft. Why I thought it would be better close in I don’t know, I just had a hunch and went with it!

Friday 10th sees me back at peg 10 with bright sun and a cold wind! I had a session from 9:30 to 12:30 without a bite on the pole but at 10am the pike rod went and a strike resulted in a slow, sullen response that became more energetic as the fish realised it was hooked. As the bells finished chiming 10am I slipped the net under a 13-00 pike.


Fifty minutes later the float went off again and this time a scrappy fight from a pike 11-04 signaled the end of any action.


Sunday sees a change it is the annual Pike Cup at Peatmoor. It is fished as a rover but I decided to set my stall out on peg 10 which is at the point of a bay with a bush in the water on both sides of the peg. To cut a long day short – nobody caught a pike/lost a pike/missed a pike or saw a pike! The highlight for me was when a kingfisher went fishing from the bush on my right, less than 10 feet away, caught a roach that looked like half the size of the kingfisher and proceeded to whack it on the branches of the bush until it could devour it!

Tuesday 14th sees me back on peg 10, fishing 10:00 to 1:00, this time no runs on the pike rod but 2 net skimmers, a net roach and a gudgeon gives me 1-13.

This episode finishes with me fishing the Pondtail peg 1 on the Friday (17th) with the 5m Chinese whip My bait tray now included the fresh wheat that I had soaked for 4 days but after 2 hours and not a sniff of a bite on maggot or wheat I packed up having recorded my third blank of the campaign on my 57th visit! My only excuse is that the night had been colder by a couple of degrees and I had scared a cormorant off the water on my arrival – perhaps they were too cold/wary to feed or it may just be me!

Not November 2021 ! – Part 2

Now as you are probably aware peg 10 at Bowood is my winter go-to peg as it is deeper and I work on the principle that so few people a) fish Bowood, b) fish for silvers that if I keep to one peg then there is bait going in and keeping the fish in the area. The downside of this it can become a habit that is difficult to shake off and you get caught in a rut. I decided that to get out of the rut I would fish either peg 8 or 9 on my next visit. As it happened when I arrived on the Friday one of the locals was on peg 10 anyway fishing for pike so I dropped in to peg 8.

Peg 8 is a lot shallower at only about 5 feet rather than the 8-9 on peg 10 so I set up slightly differently with a homemade shortish Chianti style float taking 4 no 8 shot and 3 no 10s. I set the bulk at18 inches from the hook with 2 no 10 droppers, line was 0.12 Shogun to a 0.10 Shogun hooklength and an 18 fine wire hook. I began by potting in three balls of groundbait (cocoa Belgique, Vanilla, Lake and Roach competition in equal measures) with a few grains of corn and about 40 pieces of hemp. The pike rod was suitably adjusted for the depth and a sardine was sent out to about 12m.

The roach were the first to appear on double maggot and after about 4 fish I switched to corn and while the bites were not as fast in coming the stamp of fish was better. After about an hour I had a run on the pike rod that I briefly thought I had hooked but then the bait came flying back at me, undetered I cast back to roughly the same area – 10m as I had twitched the initial cast after 40mins- and fifteen minutes later the float bobbed then slid away, this time the fish was hooked and a jack of 5-01 came to the net. I ended up the session with 23 rudd, 16 roach and 2 skimmers to give me a 10-10 total with a further missed run and a lot of the mysterious bobbing! The angler on 10 missed two runs also but did get a pike of 13lb.

The week-end was left alone and I returned on the Monday but the weather had taken a turn for the worst and there was frost on the ground with an air temperature of 1C with bright sunshine – not ideal by any means. I tend to keep the sweetcorn in a one pint bait box and wrapped up in a freezer bag with the air taken out and stored in my bait fridge in the garage. On arrival I add water to the bait box and wash the corn a couple of times then cover with fresh water, doing this a can can last me 2-3 weeks or more. Putting the water in the sweetcorn I was shocked by how icy the water felt. Starting cautiously I potted in a small ball of groundbait with just a smattering of corn and hemp (I need to do some more wheat!) but in the three hours from 10 until 1 I did not get a single bite on the pole and to make matters worse I missed a run on the pike rod so ended up blanking like the angler on the other bank on peg 20 who arrived just after me and packed up at the same time!

Two days later I was back at peg 10, the water was still icy and I started the same way, very cautiously, this time after and hour and twenty minutes the float dipped and I avoided a blank with a net-able skimmer that weighed 10oz, this turned out to be my only bite on the pole! At 11:45 the pike float disappeared and the strike produced a solid response a very welcome pike of 12-10 and that was it with me packing up at 12:45.

I have three unhooking mats but I deliberately do not use them at Bowood, experience has shown that the pike are far more active/unhappy on a wet unhooking mat than on the spongy soft grass at Bowood. It is very rare for the pike to flap around when on the grass whereas they can be a real handful on the unhooking mat – hence the lack of a mat in the photos at Bowood.

I decided that I needed to spread my wings a bit as I had not fished a river this season so on the Friday I headed to the downstream stretch of Sutton Benger with the rucksack seat and my Chinese rod bag carrying rods set up for a stick float, a waggler and a feeder. Baitwise I had maggots, cheese, micro pellets and worms. I slotted in the weir swim and starting on the maggot feeder I had a bit of interest after ten minutes – from a robin that settled on the rod near the first ring and looked at me as if to say “why are you not feeding me?” The robin was dutifully supplied with maggots and I managed to winkle out a roach, a dace and a bleak before I give in to my urge and got the stick float out. I had been priming a swim about a rod length out where there was a slightly deeper channel where I could trot my 5 x no4 through. The next hour was spent trotting through with one small chub and 6 bleak coming to the net. The fish were not big, indeed the total weight was only 9oz for the 10 fish but it was nice to get back on the river.

That visit turned out to be the last opportunity this month as a combination of booster jabs, visitors and -2C temperatures in the day made me think discretion was the better part of valour and I stayed in the warm! As I write this the temperature has gone from the -2C of yesterday to 9C but it is then getting colder again so the fish will not know whether they are coming or going!

Not November 2021 ! -Part 1

The end of October had been a wash out in terms of fishing and it was cabin fever that set me off to Peg 10 on the first of the month (against my better judgement). Getting out of the car, the Pondtail was flowing and a horrible colour but I still took the long walk to peg 10 on the main lake. The main lake was a horrible chocolate colour, high and flowing, in fact if Cyril (my friendly swan) had put in an appearance he would not have been able to swim beneath the platform as he had previously. Having walked there I gave it a go and made up a bit of groundbait and put a homemade rig taking 1g on. To cut a long story short, I fished 9:15 to 11:45, had my first bite at 11:17 of a half ounce roach and a second bite from a similar sized blade ten minutes later. Having avoided the blank I did the sensible option and went home!

It was not until the Friday – Bonfire Night- that I ventured to Bowood again, this time the water was back to normal but we had been on the receiving end of two frosts and stepping out of the car, the temperature was only 2C with the ground white. I had deliberately only brought the whips to fish the Pondtail so I set up on peg 2 with a 6m Chinese whip and short Chinese float that somehow took more weight than the long ones. Anyway two walnut sized balls of groundbait were introduced and double maggot was presented while loose feeding hemp and wheat. I was relieved when the float lifted on the second cast and a two ounce fish was swung in. Two hours later 80 roach were in the net for 7-03 and I decided to head back. Unusually no gudgeon or perch appeared!

I decided to do something different and go to Bowood on the Sunday but this time to take the seat bag and rods and head up to the Stock pond. I had bought a three rod bag from Aliexpress and had put a feeder rod, a method feeder rod and a waggler all set up in it along with bank stick and landing net handle.

I arrived at peg 2 (the small carp peg) and set up the waggler that had my original 1970’s Abu 506 on it and the feeder rod. I began by throwing a ball of groundbait laced with micros out to about 20m and followed it up with some hemp and wheat. I intended to let it settle while I fished the feeder for a start. Ten minutes in and I hooked a roach, soon followed by a succession of missed bites and then another roach. After an hour I had 4 roach and too many missed bites – the feeder went up the bank and I reached for the waggler to see if the fish were on the loose hemp and wheat I had been catapulting out every ten minutes. The first two casts saw small roach on double maggot come to the net, but a switch to corn on the hook saw me wait longer but the stamp of roach was better with a couple needing the net! Anyway the action was not fast and the three hours saw me total 25 roach for 4-06, an average just under 3oz.

Next day I’m back at Peg 10, fishing 9:15 to 12:50. I now reverted to a BGT Round that took 0.8g (although it was marked up as 0.5g) with a yellow top having the top inch coloured with a black maker so it stood out in the white water.Fishing the usual way at 10m on the pole with the sardine on the pike rod out at 20m. Action on the pole was slow with roach at first before rudd muscled in. After an hour I had a run on the sardine, striking I latched on to a feisty pike of 7-05. By 12:35 I had 12 roach, 12 rudd and a small skimmer for 2-10 when I decided to pack the pole away ready to leave at about 1pm. I had moved the sardine a lot closer in- only 6-8m out, I had just finished putting the pole in the rod bag when the float bobbed and disappeared, a strike was met with a slower, heavier fish that only woke up when in netting range, as I maneuvered it into the net the hooks dropped out but a swift lift and he was mine! I left him in the net to weigh and recover a small double of 10-04.

Due to car issues it was not until the Friday that I was able to go again- back at 10 (the rut has set in!) Fishing in a similar manner it was a lot slower at first but ended up with a jack of 4-10, 21 roach and 20 rudd for 4-06, making a round 9lb total. I left the week-end alone and returned on the Monday for one of the most bizarre days for a long time. Arriving at the parking area in bright sun-light I walked down to peg 10 with my coat on the trolley. Unpacking the trolley, I placed, as I usually do, my bait bag, keepnet bag, rod holdall and coat on the platform thinking I may be regretting leaving my sunglasses in the car, I turned and went to retrieve my box. Picking it up I turned around only for the sun to disappear, a heavy mist descend and by the time I walked the handful of paces to place my box on the platform the far bank was out of sight! It was like something out of a Hammer movie or a Steven King novel!The fog stayed until I went at 1pm albeit it had lifted greatly by then but I could not make out the outline of the island until 11am and did not see the outline of Bowood House until noon. I would not have been surprised to see a headless horseman- it was that type of atmosphere!

Anyway back to the fishing, usual set up produced 14 rudd and 7 roach for 2-10 plus a jack of 5-05. I had run out of sardines and put on a joey mackerel and this brought another of the phantom bites – two bobs, just as if a pike was taking hold but then nothing. On retrieving it there was a two inch cut along its underbelly as if it had been done with a filleting knife, no teeth marks or other marks at all. I am at a loss as to what it could be. We’ll see what the rest of the month brings!

October Outcomes 2021 Part 2

My next foray to Bowood saw me at the Pondtail peg 1 with the whips. I had decided to ignore the main lake as the forecast was not brilliant with heavy winds which would have made it extremely difficult to fish a pole comfortably.(Reading between the lines, yes I whimped out!)

I decided to tackle the session with the 7m Chinese whip but instead of using my usual long Chinese float I instead opted for a short 4 inch one with a bulbous tip which surprisingly took a lot more weight! The 0.14mm mainline was supplemented with a 0.12mm hooklength to a 16 microbarb. I threw three golf-ball sized balls of groundbait in and followed it up with 20 grains of wheat and similar of hemp. The float was dotted down but because of it’s bulbous tip was very visible and bites were easily seen. Bait was double maggot.

Now there is one thing I have not mentioned – an old friend was at the peg when I arrived, Cyril the swan/cygnet, who was looking to be fed./ I did resist the temptation! Anyway the fish were obviously hungry as in the first 15 minutes I had 12 roach, I was loose feeding the wheat and hemp every other cast and stuck with the double maggot approach. I did have a couple of instances when the bites died followed by a perch but another ball of groundbait brought the roach back.I did get one good roach that I decided to weigh which went exactly 1lb. The session lasted 2.5 hours and I ended up with 72 roach and 4 perch for 11-06. I was more than happy with the way it had gone and really enjoyed using the Chinese whip which was more fun than the stiff European versions. I do have difficulty understanding why people elasticate whips as it defeats the whole purpose of the equipment, if they are concerned about hooking bonus fish then fish a pole to hand! I did have one incident when Cyril displayed his ninja skills by creeping up behind me and trying to nick my groundbait bowl!

I was planning on going to the main lake on Friday but on Thursday evening I received an email asking if I was still available to fish the Maggotdrowners Mystery Team at the Glebe on the Saturday, a match I had offered myself as a reserve for! So Friday was taken with sorting the match kit for the early start on Saturday. The match was one where you draw a peg and at the end you find out who your team mates are, the team draw having been done the day before and stored in secret! Anyway the day did not start well as I was making good time and the sat-nav predicted I would be there 30 minutes in advance of the draw, when I arrived at Cirencester to find the road closed so followed the diversion signs that took me in a big loop back to where I started! IT turned out there where at least 3 road closures and they all had diversions but some bright spark had not used the usual circle/triangle/square signs to distinguish them! Anyway 30 minutes later and I had managed to get back on route but was predicted to arrive dead on time. In the event I managed to arrive 7 minutes early for the draw and got my nets dipped.

I drew peg 11, one I had not fished before but one of the regulars who asked me where I had drawn grimaced! I set up a feeder with the intention of switching the feeder to a bomb later in the match, only to discover I had not packed my catapults! That was one tactic gone! I set up a 0.6g homemade chianti style float for 11m with a toss-pot for feeding with a 0.14mm hooklength to a 16, the shot was bulked 2 foot away from the hook with 2 droppers below. I also set up a rig set at 4feet for the close line which turned out to be 2 +1 sections and a margin rig of 0.20mm to a 12.

I set off on the feeder but after no interest after 6 casts in 30 minutes that went up the bank and I was on the 11m pole line which was not any better. Trying different baits- corn, pellets of various types produced a bite after an hour – a skimmer of about 10oz, so at least I wasn’t blanking! That remained all the bites I had after 2 hours so on to the short line. Nothing on corn or pellet but I had made up some Chinese paste from a recipe on a Chinese video. First put in and the float buried and I missed it! For the next hour and a half I managed to hit some bites and added a carp of about 6lb, 3 skimmers similar to the first, a bream of about 2lb and a gudgeon! I then lost a carp that went ballistic through the swim only for a me to retrieve my rig with a large scale on the hook- a foul hooker! This seemed to kill the swim and with no further bites I explored my margin swims. First drop in on my left margin on single corn produced an immediate bite that I missed then nothing. Switching to the right margin (both margins had been loose fed since the start on a little and often basis) on single corn produced a couple of bobs. At this point I decided to concentrate on the right margin for the rest of the match but switched to double corn. This resulted in me adding 2 further carp and a crucian but also losing 2 crucians, a skimmer and 2 carp! Not a brilliant day! At the weigh in I had 7-02 of silvers and the carp went 16-06 for a 23-08 total which put me last in section. My team mates it transpired caught less than me but ended up last but one in their sections so of the 6 teams of 3 we were the strongest, holding everyone else up at the bottom!

Tuesday sees me back at peg 10! With the lake to myself it took an hour before I had a bite- not a good sign and ion the following two hours it got slightly better but not by much! I had 13 rudd, 6 roach and a gudgeon for 2-01. I did lose a pike of 5-6lb foul hooked in the tail on the pole after a long fight with a couple of aerial acrobatics when it managed to dive into the reeds on my left and leave the hook there! I think I may need to do some gardening there as they are encroaching further out into the lake. I had one run on the pike rod that I missed through being too eager and I also had another of those ghost bites with the float slightly bobbing and the sardine (which has quite firm for a change) had a rectangle cut out of it’s side almost as if done by a knife!. I am considering fishing a small hook with a piece of flesh on it and seeing what occurs!

That was it for the month as the rain gods were angry with me and on the Friday and Sunday I awoke to very heavy rain which had taken place during the night as well so I decided discretion was the better part of valour and although I don’t mind fishing in normal rain, the rain that was coming down was far too heavy!

October Outcomes 2021 Part 1

Friday 1st October, went to the Pondtail peg 2 with the whips for a short session, the weather was supposed to be dry but once there the Bowood micro-climate kicked in and we had some heavy rain but worse still it was very cold rain. so I lasted 2 hours but only had 4 bites, 2 roach for 7 oz , a missed bite and a roach that dropped off. Not an auspicious start to the month!

On the Tuesday I headed down to peg 10, this time it was dry but very windy. Getting the right presentation was proving difficult and my ten roach, five rudd and a solitary skimmer was looking a meagre return after 3 hours when I decided to pack up, lifting the pole I hit into a good fish which took a goodly bit of elastic out when the pike float disappeared, initially I thought it had got tangled up in the pole line as the fish had run in that direction but it soon became obvious that a pike was the cause. So now I had a good unseen fish on the pole and a pike on then pike rod, I managed eventually to get the pole fish in and netted – a tench of 4-08, the pike turned out to be a jack of 3-03 and the hook fell out in the net, one of the beauties of fishing two single barbless carp hooks.So my fortunes had changed from 2lb of silvers to a 9-11 total just as I decided to pack up!

Back to 10 on the Friday, a sunny day but 2 missed runs on the pike rod and a hard won 13 rudd, 9 roach and a skimmer for 2-12. I am not totally sure that the runs were from pike as Tim , the gamekeeper, had related to me that several members had commented on “ghost runs” – perfectly good strikes at runs that resulted in nothing. His theory was that they were not pike but possibly the bigger tench or even the odd carp taking the fish, this certainly has some merit as on calmer days the float would sometimes give slight bobs without anything developing, the bait on inspection had been stripped of flesh in areas.

The following Tuesday sees me back in the rut – peg 10! Now I made a fatal mistake at the start of the session, I had a quarter pint of old maggots that I was going to add to the groundbait but on setting up I had a visit from a young swan/older cygnet who I have named Cyril. He made a beeline for me and made the usual throaty sound asking to be fed which I duly obliged with the said maggots. Cyril has so unwary that he even took the ,maggots from the tub that I was holding. Anyway apart from a couple of occasions Cyril stuck around for the whole session.

I fished a slightly lighter float this time, another homemade rugby ball of 0.5g and three balls of groundbait saw an immediate response from roach before the rudd arrived. I started as usual on double maggot but spent a fair amount of time on the corn with not much joy, a couple of fish on wheat and then back on maggot. The pole caught fish weighed 5-02 made up of 26 rudd 10 roach, a hybrid and a skimmer, but this time I had two runs on the pike rod, the first a scrappy 7-02 followed by a double of 11-02

both on sardine, the bigger one taking the bait just as the bells were chiming noon- this seems to be a regular feeding time as I regularly get a run between 11:45 and 12:15! Cyril was a spectator for the pike as you can see in the video!

Friday the 15th arrives and peg 10 beckons! I returned to my more usual heavier rig on the pole and the usual three balls of groundbait did not bring a response at first, in fact after the first hour I had 5 roach 3 rudd and 2 small skimmers on the maggot. At this point I decided to turn my attention to the wheat with the odd dabble on corn. Double wheat was immediately interesting the fish and by loose feeding 10-15 grains plus similar amounts of hemp I managed in the next two hours to bring the total up to 26 roach, 31 rudd and 6 skimmers, giving me a 5-10 total. This time no interest at all from the pike.

I must try not to fish peg 10 next time! Anyway this is what Cyril thinks of it.

September stumbles 2021 – part 2

Returning home, complete with wife (!), after the various family duties in Birmingham and Yorkshire, it was not until the 22nd that I ventured out to Bowood. Looking back I realised that it was roughly the same time in previous seasons that I had started taking the pike rod, so sticking to prior form I packed pike kit in with the rest of the tackle and trundled off to peg 10. Setting up and armed with last season’s sardines that had been in the freezer since January, I managed to put one on the homemade wire trace with the two size 8 barbless carp hooks and cast out only to see the sardine float despite having 4 SSG on the line! Reeling in I dropped it in the side of the platform off the rod tip thinking the water would thaw it out without it being a surface target for any sea-gulls! It sank while I was setting the pole up and I carried on setting up when I noticed a bob and the float running across the surface, a quick strike and before too long an 8-00 pike was in the net. A lucky start!

Anyway a new sardine had the same treatment but no run this time, so it was cast out just beyond pole range. I had decided to revert to my “winter” rigs for Bowood with a 1g Paster float and 0.12mm Shogun hooklength to a 16 allied to a lighter 6-10 elastic. Three balls of groundbait went out on the 10m line along with a handful of hemp and wheat plus 10 kernels of corn. Double maggot on the hook and 10 minutes later a small skimmer was in the net. The absence of immediate interest from rudd raised my hopes that the bream may be around, so a change to corn was in order. Things didn’t pan out as expected with the odd small skimmer and a hybrid before rudd appeared. It was odd but no roach were showing, then after an hour or so the pike float bobbed and slid away. A strike was met with solid resistance and a stubborn pike of 11-04 was finally netted.

The pole line was very slow with just the odd rudd taking the corn but then a minute dip and slight movement to the left made me instinctively strike and see a good amount of elastic come out and a strong fish charge to the left and then back to the right, a good few minutes passed before I was able to put the net under a tench of 5-04. Resuming I had a few more rudd before a bite around 1pm just before I was going to pack up resulted in a solid resistance which immediately made me think pike, only to be proven correct as Mr Pike decided to tail-walk a couple of times which can be good fun on a rod and reel but is doubly so on a pole. Eventually I managed to net it and it pulled the scales down to 7-08, so with my rudd, skimmers and hybrid that gave me a 32-08 total, a pleasing session particularly as I had been filming it, changing camera half way through the session. I was not pleased when I got home to find the second camera had stopped recording after 5 minutes and had not captured any of the fight with the tench or pike nor me posing with the tench before releasing it! GRRR!

Two days later I was back at 10 with slightly different weather – the previous cloudy overcast weather was replaced by a very warm and sunny day. Starting as before I was intrigued that my first 5 fish were roach whereas they had been absent on my previous visit, the day was unremarkable in that I ended up with 25 rudd, 9 roach and 6 skimmers for 4-01. The pike rod produced no interest but my corn on the pole resulted in two pike that were both lost, one a tail-walking double that I had on for 7-8 minutes before it found some lilies on my left and managed to snap my 0.12mm hooklength.

I avoided the week-end and it was the Tuesday that I returned to peg 10 only to find that the large tree in the middle of the field that used to provide some welcome early morning shade in the summer had been felled and the estate workers were busy with the chain-saw, preparing for it to be burnt as it was apparently diseased. Anyway I stuck it out fishing from 9:15 to 12:05with no sign of pike but 20 roach, 16 rudd, 4 skimmers and a hybrid gave me a level 5-00.

The weather put me off going for the last two days of the month with strong wind and rain but all in all September was kind to me!

September Stumbles 2021

First day of September usually gets me thinking bream and pike season soon! I ventured not to peg 10 but on the opposite bank up to peg 20 (second peg from the island) just on a hunch.

Plumbing up I had a decent depth at 10m but it sloped down and leveled off at 11.5m so that is where I deposited four balls of groundbait (all Caperlan – Lake, Roach special, Vanilla and Coco Belgique in equal measures) with hemp, wheat and a few kernels of corn. Fishing a home made rugby ball taking 0.8g with the bulk set six inches from the 14 hook, the usual 3 maggots brought an immediate response from a couple of small rudd before the customary switch to corn. Bites came slower at first but the size of rudd improved, when I managed to get down past the rudd I found the odd small skimmer and roach before a lift of the float signaled the thump of a good fish, playing it gingerly through the various weed beds I slid the net under a tench of 4-10. Ten minutes later a bream of 4-00 was in the net, but then I lost 2 good tench in the weed. I was topping up with a ball of groundbait every 40 minutes and loose feeding hemp and wheat every couple of minutes. The lull with the larger fish signaled the return of the rudd and when that suddenly went quiet I hoped the tench had returned only for the float to slide under and the resultant strike hit a solid plodder- a pike, that soon parted company with me leaving an oval scale on the hook. From that point on I had rudd/roach/skimmers interspersed with a further tench of 5-09 and a smaller bream of 2-04, losing one further tench. The 35 rudd, 9 roach and 6 skimmers weighed 6-12 giving me a nice start to September of 23-03.

The 4lbers

Returning two days later to peg 20 I started in the same manner but lost a bream soon after starting and that was it for the bream but did manage to net tench of 4-07 and 4-00 to go with 34 rudd, 16 roach and 4 small skimmers to give me an 18-10 total, again losing a pike which this time bit me off.

Another two days pass and this time I am on peg 21, this is a lot shallower, barely 4 foot at 11.5m, and I remembered why I tended to fish the other bank which is far deeper in comparison. I went back to the Ugly Duckling rig I used in the shallow pegs but still fed as before, with the first ball going in as the bell in the tower sounded 9am. The maggot surprisingly was not taken by a rudd but by a small skimmer (blade) so I immediately went over to the corn, 10 minutes later I lifted in to a tench of 3-02, some better quality rudd followed this before a “runner” of a bite resulted in a bream of 3-04, the rest of the day up to 1pm when I stopped went in similar fashion – a better fish interspersed with some rudd. The day finished with another “pea in the pod” bream, two further tench of 4-00 and 3-00, 20 rudd and 2 skimmers/blades, the rudd and skimmers went 4-08 giving me a 21-02 total.

2 peas in a pod! 3-04

Two days later back at 21 I was feeling the heat – it had gone up to 28C and I fished 9-12 as It was getting too hot for me with little breeze, the fishing suffered al;so with just 7 rudd and 5 roach for a round 3lb.

Two days later (see the pattern!) I decided to give the Pondtail a go as the hot weather had been replaced by the threat of rain. Fishing the first peg I had taken the Chinese whips and opted for a 5m one with a Chinese float set up Chinese style but without any swivels. As I started to plumb up there was what we call a mizzle- similar to sea fret and during the 2 hour session I experienced, mizzle, drizzle, rain and heavy rain. 42 roach, 5 perch and 3 gudgeon for 6-08 were not put off by the weather, 26 of the roach taken on wheat. I now was faced with a break as I resumed my travels to Birmingham and Yorkshire!

Ruddy August – Part 2

I managed a couple of visits before returning to Birmingham for a couple of days (hospital visit for son and wedding anniversary- on same day!), the first a 2.5 hour stint on the Pondtail, peg 1. The weather forecast was stating zero percent chance of rain, but knowing the micro climate that is Bowood I took my waterproofs, just as well as it turns out as a fine mizzle (Yorkshire term I believe- like a sea fret) was in the air and by the time I had set up the 5m Chinese whip and was set to start the mizzle had become a shower which later progressed into heavy world-ending type rain! Undeterred I managed to put together a bag of 27 roach, 17 gudgeon and 2 perch weighing 4-08 on a mixture of double maggot or double wheat. I have noted before that a single bait gets no response strangely, yet a double or treble bait provokes interest! The good news was my waterproofs passed the test and I was dry until I took them off at the car and got wet just going from the boot to driver’s door such was the rain!

Next day I decided on an evening session on the main lake peg 7 and came armed with my back up winter waterproofs , I like to give wet waterproofs a day to dry/recover before wearing again, but fortunately they were not needed as the sun was out throughout the evening session. Fishing from 3:45 to 7:15 it was hard work! The jack pike were in action, scattering fish every couple of minutes but I managed top sneak out 5 rudd a roach and a tench of exactly 3lb for a 3-07 total. I also lost a good fish to a hook pull, possibly a bream and as this happened in the first hour it most likely did not help matters!

On my return from Birmingham and this was to be a longer period as the hospital visits were now completed and we felt it pointless me traveling to and fro unless circumstances changed, I took the plunge and headed off for the long walk up to the Stock Pond to have a go for the carp. I had put in a method rod to put out as well as the pole but was expecting most response from the pole.

Stock Pond peg 1- usually the “big”carp peg

Looking to the left towards peg 2
Looking to the right

Starting with 4mm pellets and hemp plus 3 balls of groundbait (green lipped mussel) and a few kernels of corn on the 10m mark in just over 7 feet of water I was hopeful of some carp action once the usual flurry of roach died down. I had opted for a wire stemmed home made rugby ball float taking just over 0.8g with the bulk set at three feet above the foot and two number 8 droppers below that, the last at the hooklength loop (0.16mm to 0.14mm) and a 14 hook. Beginning on maggot to get something in the net I swiftly changed to corn after two maggot roach were deposited in the net, the method remained lifeless with nothing interest in the yellow band-um wafter. Corn produced better quality roach but various sized pellets produced no response and despite the loose feeding of hemp and pellets no carp appeared, there was even a lack of tell tale bubbles anywhere to be seen. The method was up the bank after an hour and a half as I concentrated my efforts on the pole. The carp were not playing ball but the roach were ! After 3 hours I called it a day with 64 roach in the net which I thought was about 6lb, on weighing in my wet eva bucket I was surprised that the scales went around to 9-10.

I avoided the Bank holiday week-end but did venture out on the Monday, deciding to pay my first visit to peg 10! While setting up another week-day regular arrived and chatting he had also been plagued by pike in the top field (pegs 11-14) with several attacking his feeder while fishing (static) as well as on the retrieve. He had several pike on corn that season including a small one of 23-05, taken on 5lb line and size 12 hook! I remarked that it had been unusual as despite all the pike activity I had not had a single pike nor a pike attack any hooked fish, as I said it I knew I was tempting fate!

I was only intending to fish up to midday so began in the time honoured fashion of 3 balls of groundbait laced with wheat, hemp and a few grains of corn. Usual homemade float taking 1g with yellow tip with last 2cm blacked out with marker pen, size 16 hook to 0.14mm line. Treble maggot initially got no response in the 8 feet of water which led me to hope there were some bigger fish about but a flurry of bubbles suggested it was pike . Eventually I began to get some roach and small skimmers by swapping between corn and double or triple maggot with blank spells that usually ended by a flurry of bubbles as a pike cleared it’s gills, a small bream/large skimmer of 1-01 gave me hope but nothing bigger materialised until a lift of the float was met with a stiff resistance on the strike and then a plodding fight that turned into speedy runs as it approached the net, I had a feeling fate was having a laugh at me and so it was as a jack of 3-05 was netted with the sweetcorn still visible in it’s scissors. By noon I had 14 skimmers 10 roach and only 2 rudd plus Mr Jack for a 7-15 total, that brought my August outings to an end.

Returning to the musings in part 1 of August not being a brilliant month historically for me, this year a total of 12 visits have seen me average 6.95lb. I am looking forward to September!

Ruddy August 2021

August arrives and it is a case of a few days at home (alone) then back to Birmingham to rejoin Mrs J for a few days as elder son will be recuperating for some time and is not allowed to lift anything, plus various hospital visits to make …

I managed to squeeze in as much fishing as I dared whilst at home whilst keeping the household ship-shape! August 3rd sees me at Bowood peg 6 for a morning session. Fishing with my homemade special with the shot bulked at the hooklength loop I deposited my usual 3 balls plus loose helpings of hemp, wheat and a few grains of corn and put three maggots on to get a fish in the net before switching to corn but the expected bite from the small rudd did not materialise, instead the bait got down to the bottom uninterrupted. This usually sparks my interest as there is either a pike sitting there or there are bigger fish in the swim, after five minutes the float sank and a small skimmer ensured the session would not be a blank! A second slightly bigger skimmer followed which prompted a switch to corn, half an hour later the float did it’s Polaris impression and a steady lift saw the thumping of a good fish which ran towards the weed beds on the left before being turned and finally netted a tench of 3-11. The session followed a similar pattern, catch a couple of smaller fish, this time on corn, then get interrupted by a tench. I ended up with further tench of 5-01 and 2-11, 4 rudd, 3 skimmers and 3 roach for a 12-13 total.

Thursday 5th sees me at the Pondtail Peg 1 for a 2.5 hour session on the 7m Chinese whip. Three golf balls of groundbait to start followed by a loosefed pinch of wheat and hemp every cast saw slow action on the maggot and it wasn’t until I swapped to double wheat that the action got a bit quicker, even so 19 roach, a gudgeon and 3 perch were not what I was expecting. Although two of the perch were bigger than usual.

Next day I ventured down to the main lake and set up in the usual fashion on peg 7. Usual method this time the maggot saw 2 small rudd in the net before I changed to corn. Loose feeding hemp and wheat and adding a ball of groundbait every 40 minutes saw me get plenty of action on the corn from the slightly better sized rudd but also a bream of 4-07 and a tench of 4-04. The 33 rudd, 2 micro perch and 9 roach went 5-14 giving a 14-09 total. It has to be said this was one of the better August catches as looking back at my records (sad I know ) the average for August in general falls away dramatically and is between 6 and 9lb average for the month. I think this is not just a Bowood phenomena as and, two fellow bloggers have been discussing the very thing.

Anyway back to the fishing, following a trip to Birmingham on my return I had an short evening session for a change on 11th August. Have to say it was very slow and 21 rudd and 3 roach, mostly taken on the maggot with just a couple on corn as I was getting bored with no signs of any thing else other than the jack pike that marauded through the rudd shoal around my float with alarming regularity. The evening was saved on the famous “last cast” by a Polaris lift on the corn and a scrappy 2-12 tench finding its way to my net giving me a 6-00 total.

Next day I decided to change tack and headed off for the rear of the island in the short arm- peg 16 where last year I had had a good session. I was presuming the weed would be receding but I was wrong and not having brought the rake I had to scratch around for gaps in the weed- obviously no-one had fished it this season! Anyway I scratched out 14 rudd and 6 roach for a magnificent 1-06 all on maggot, nothing on corn but again lots of jack pike activity.

I managed a morning session next day and returned to peg 6, starting as the bell chimed 9am and put 18 rudd and 5 roach in the net on corn before the float slid under as the bell was chiming 12 noon which resulted in a scrappy tench of 3-03, giving me a 5-03 total at which point I left!

Next day (Saturday) was my last chance before returning to Birmingham again, so I opted to set up on the Pondtail peg 2 and put a feeder out two thirds across at 45 degrees with chopped worm in the feeder and worm on the hook, while fishing a 5m Chinese whip. The feeder was up the bank after a couple of hours after 3 perch were the only interested parties and I concentrated on the whip which was going better than previously but the bites cut out after my 50th roach, a switch to double corn saw another 27 slightly better roach put in the net to join the others along with two micro perch. I thought I had about 5-6lb but on weighing them I was surprised to see the scales swing around to a level 9lb.

The main lake tends to hold the larger fish in the shallower end (1-7) until the weed starts dying back and then the fish migrate towards the main lake area and deeper water (8-14), so when I returned I had a session on peg 8 for 3 hours , 10-1, and apart from the rudd being ravenous and being savaged by the jack pike the only larger fish was a solitary bream of 2-1, which added to my 23 rudd made a round 5lb. One jack of about 3lb came hurtling out of the water through the rudd but on re-entry its tail hit my pole and it flipped into an inelegant fishy belly flop. I am very tempted to take a spinning rod at some point and have a go for these jacks