First visit of the new year was to Blacklands to test out the venue for the up coming match I was running at the week-end. Peg 9 was my choice and it was nice to see that despite the colder weather (-4C) the water was clear; beginning close to the end of the overflow while letting my pellet swim settle I had a roach followed by a larger fish that turned out to be a bream of about 4lb that shed the hook at the net. Bites slowed down after that as I obviously had spooked the fish. Switching to the pellet line at 10m I had a run of 22 roach, 7 skimmers and 2 perch in my short session with bites not as frequent as usual but I put this down to the conditions.
So the match arrives on Sunday and I draw peg 4 (the pipe swim), starting at 10m I fed a pellet and a worm line with the intention of firing casters over both lines and having the option to go out a further section on caster if needed. After 10 minutes I realised it was going to be hard as I had not had a single bite on the worm, in fact not many people had, and myself, Shedders on 5 and JWB on 6 were all biteless. After an hour I had a small roach, both Shedders and JWB had lost carp and nothing else. I had by now tried my pellet line and had moved to fishing maggot over both lines in the search for something – the something eventually came in the shape of a small tench around the pound mark. To cut a long match short, it fished awfully with our section being one by Herbie with 6-4, myself and Jamie Richards tied with 3-3, Jaap on peg 3 had 1-14, Shedders had a solitary roach of 4-5oz and chucked back and JWB had 4 small roach and also didn’t weigh. The match was won by Dazza on peg 9 with 10-0 with Mark Kay on 12 second with 9-0. A rare event- Brian (The Pewsey Trawler) Shutler did not weigh. A very disappointing day despite the increase in temperature.
My next outing was mid-week at Bowood, peg 12. Cold weather and no rain meant the water was very clear and I was dubious about catching anything other than pike. Indeed that panned out as I had 3 runs, resulting in two pike of 5-12 and 5-0 and another lost when the sardine was cut in half as if with a knife! No indication at all on the pole.
Sunday sees me back at peg 12 for a blank! No runs, no signs of fish!
Friday was my next outing and 1 run missed plus three snatches on the retrieve resulted in a 4lb jack that saved the blank. When I tried sink and draw- nothing! A change was needed for my sanity so Sunday saw m,e head to the Pondtail peg 2. I decided to take a feeder rod with the intention of fishing it far to the right about three quarters away across, about a 40-50yard cast, while fishing the pole. Groundbait plug with chopped worm and casters in the feeder, two balls of groundbait on the pole line at 10m. It was slow with a missed bite followed by a roach on the pole after an hour. After about 6 casts on the feeder the tip twitched but I missed it. This was the signal to pack the pole away and concentrate solely on the tip. Two casts later a bite resulted in a hybrid of about a pound and a quarter, the next hour and a half produced a few more bites, some of which I connected with – 2 roach and a bream of 4-1, the first sign of proper bream in the Pondtail apart from the presence of hybrids.
Mid week saw me head back to Blacklands and peg 6, I wanted to see if the hardship JWB faced was a one off or if there was a reason. Setting up, the groundsman came over for a chat and to get feedback from the match, what he had to say explained everything- during the period when the water was low, remedial work had taken place and some of the very small fish had been removed but they had started to feed the fish with pellet, three times a week as they were concerned over the fact that they were thinner than normal. Unfortunately he had been feeding them in the same place each time- down the other end of the lake – when I told him about the match he immediately said that he would rotate where they were fed in future! Anyway I fished my usual way and could not get a bite on worm but had 10 roach, 2 hybrids and a carp of 4lb when I switched to maggot!. I cut the session very short as the light went at mid day so much that I was having trouble seeing the float,then the snow came in big clumps- I beat a hasty retreat home but at least I had resolved the mystery. Friday I was about to head for Bowood when the phone went and eldest son was on his way to A&E very poorly, quick change, pack a bag and off we went to Birmingham for 11 and a quarter hours in hospital before he was admitted and put on a drip. That was it for January, finally returning home well into February but at least elder son is now okay and out of hospital!
February sees a further match at Blacklands!