Following the match at Pewsey the weather takes a turn as the temperature falls at the start of the week to sub-zero, particularly over night but then becomes ever so slightly milder for the next two days. Friday sees me head for Bowood, my intention on Thursday had been to go on the main lake but I decided on the morning to go to the Pondtail instead and fish the whip. Getting to the bridge area I was met by two shocks- firstly the bridge was closed and a large part of it was missing, secondly there was a swan standing on the ice on the Pondtail – both lakes were frozen!
There was a small area clear but no where near the platform, so it was ice breaker time! I was shocked at how thick the ice was and was only able to clear an area out to 2m after 20minutes.
Using the 3m whip with a couple of sections retracted I was able to fish the five feet of water but without much hope. Loose feeding a couple of pinkies every few minutes saw no action on the usual double maggot approach, nor on single maggot. A change to a 22 hook and double pinkie saw an immediate “skating” bite which resulted in a roach that was duly netted.
Ten minutes later I missed a similar bite then it went quiet, a change to single pinkie produced a bumped fish and another missed bite, so after two hours and my flask being empty I packed up relieved that I had been able to fish and had some action!
No match on the Sunday but Gareth wanted to go to Christian Malford with Zachary for pike , so off we went only to find a string of cars parked up. Investigating we found there was the rearranged Xmas match taking place (which obviously was not listed), so back in the car we decided to go to the Isis water at Sutton Benger and for me to fish with Gareth watching/acting as ghillie! Parking at the far downstream border by the bridge we settled on the bridge peg as the slack there gave the chance of a few fish plus there had been pike action there previously. Casting out a sardine it was within 15 minutes and the float bobbed and started traveling against the flow, a strike was met by a firm resistance and a pike about 8lb flashed clearly a foot or so down before releasing the bait! That was it for the pike and even a try with a leger and maggot produced only one sucked maggot so we went home disappointed!
Next day we were back at Christian Malford fishing 2-4pm trying peg 8 and 11 with no success apart from a one ounce roach on the maggot to prevent a blank. Similarly on Thursday we fished 1:30 to 3:20 with no pike action with Gareth getting a roach and a minnow for me to save the blanks! Friday I went to the Pondtail to find it still frozen but starting to thaw which resulted in a drop in the water temperature and although I could now fish a 3m whip without retracting any sections my sole bite resulted in a tiny perch!
Sunday sees me back at Pewsey for the third leg of the teams of 4. I draw C11 which puts me on the boats section first peg after the wires which is a good draw normally but as with my luck I draw a good peg when conditions are wrong! The peg along with the two pegs to my left are covered in thick ice at least an inch thick while the rest of the section is mainly cat ice or very thin ice that has disappeared before the end of the match whereas our pegs stay iced all the time! It took about 30-40 minutes to break a path for top2 plus 4 to be clear by which time I was knackered!
I only set up two rigs – a Blood with 0.06 to a 24 and a Peatmoor to a 0.06 and 22- intending to fish the edges of the ice and seeing what I could scratch out. To cut a long story short I ended up with 18 roach, 17 perch and a blade for 1-11 with the majority of the perch being similar in size to the Pondtail one, the exception being one of about an ounce that was taken by a pike and after an interesting struggle under the ice the pike let go and I had my perch! I ended up beating 3 others in the section (next weights were 1-12, 1-13 and 2-00) but suffered from blank periods when I am sure the pike was in residence. Hopefully next week for the final match the ice will have gone, although the section at Milkhouse had ice approaching 2 inches thick!