A glutton for punishment should be the title for this episode but more of that later. Buoyed by the results that Gareth had been getting at Rowde, a section I had never fished, I decided to make my way to bridge 114 which is a very nondescript name for the first lock pound that is beyond the famous Caen flight of locks described by the Canal and River Trust as thus:
“Caen Hill (pronounced ‘cane’ by the way), is one of the longest continuous flight of locks in the country – a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over 2 miles with a 1 in 44 gradient for anyone who’s counting!”
Anyway on the Wednesday I parked up and fished 10m from the far end of the pound lock moorings for 2 and a half hours using a 5m whip and a float that many would deem ridiculous for a normal shallow canal at 1.5g (a paster), but as always there is method in my madness! My thinking was that I needed to control the float as there was a heavy tow with boats coming and going through the locks, plus I don’t subscribe to the theory of fishing as light a float as possible!
Now this may be unlike normal canal fishing but Gareth and I have been finding that double maggot has been producing plenty of bites and from a better stamp of fish. Starting off with a little nugget of groundbait and a pinch of maggots I had a busy session with loose feeding keeping the bites coming, ending up with 23 skimmers/blades, 6 rudd, 7 gudgeon, 15 roach and a perch for 4-15.
The next few days were taken up with shopping, collecting Wendy and Zachary from Heathrow and getting the tackle ready for Woodlands View. Traveling up on the morning I almost had a bump when a deer ran straight across me but fortunately managed to avoid it. Once there I got into the swing of getting the monies in and sorting the pegs for the three days with Adrian who runs the fishery. With 21 taking part I had opted to have 3 sections of 5 and one of 6 so as to avoid split sections across lakes. On the first day we were on Hay and Barley and as usual I let everyone draw and had the peg that was left – Hay 12, in the middle of the lake and the start of a 5 peg section.
My preparations had not been thorough enough as when I opened my net bag I found two of my nets and provided a meal for a rodent. With 4 nets required I managed to crumple up the grey net that had huge holes near the top half and put the other net in but planned not to use it for anything other than big carp!
I had targeted 4 swims, one at 11m, a 2+2 line and the margins to left and right. I cupped in some micros and corn at 11m and started on the 2+2 line loose feeding 4mm pellets with 6mm expander on the 16 hook to 0.14mm hook-length. I began well with F1s coming immediately but they backed off and I then went on the 11m line which brought more F1s, basically I could not get the margins working properly and ended up with 4 carp (all around 2lb), 39 F1s, 3 roach, a skimmer, a perch and 2 gudgeon for 52-04 and last in section!
Day 2 sees me on peg 42 on Back Deans, again in the middle of the lake, both my margins were restricted due to the overhanging tree stumps, so at best I had a top kit and half a section to play with.
I had drawn the 6 peg section and to top it all it rained all day. Starting on the short line gave me a couple of F1s then nothing, so out to 11m for a few before trying the margins late on. I had 24F1s, 2 roach and 4 bream plus 4 carp, a 2lber on the 11m line but 3 good fish in the margin on corn. I ended up with 61-12 for 5th in section but one more carp of 6lb would have seen me up to third. I had pulled out of a couple which I don’t think were hooked but got the line caught on a fin.
Final day and we always rotate so those on Back deans would be on Front Deans and vice versa. This time it was fine with sunshine but we had a heavy frost and the temperature was 1C at the draw! I was left with peg 8, another 6 peg section.
Expecting a hard time I planned on the same approach but with chopped worm and casters at 11m, 4mm pellet fed on the 2+2 line and one margin fed with worm the other with micros and corn. Beginning on the short line it was slow as predicted and after a small skimmer and small F1 I went out to the 11m line that I had been feeding a pinch of micros over the worm every couple of minutes. Basically it was a hard and frustrating day ending with 16 F1s and two carp (2lb and 4lb) plus 6 skimmers and 2 roach that went 4lb for a 35-8 total. I was left feeling frustrated as all the fish came from the long line, not a sign of any fish in the margins but others had managed to have a good last hour or so with large carp coming from the margins, this left me last in section, 4lb adrift of the next place. That ended my festival with a rock bottom 21st place, the match finished at 3:30, I was driving off the fishery at 5:05 having done the weigh-in, worked out the results and done all the paying out.
Learning points – check your nets before leaving home!