The Long March Part 1

March saw just one last visit to Bowood before I was off to China, resulting in a disappointing two bites and two roach for 8oz from peg 12. This concluded my season at Bowood as it has retained a close season and I would be away for the remainder of the time it was open. I keep a log of my visits – a total of 57 visits resulting in 32 tench for 125lb, 22 pike for 174lb 2oz but only 8 bream over a pound. Total weight for my visits was 545lb at a cost of £3.33 a visit. Sad that I know these stats, I know!

Operation Zach took over- a visit to see my new grandson in Zhongshan, China where my son works teaching English. The travel arrangements were taxi-bus-coach-plane-ferry-taxi with a couple of days in Hong Kong after the flight to “acclimatise”. Leaving on the Monday we survived death by a thousand umbrellas in the mayhem that is Hong Kong before finally arriving at our hotel in downtown Zhongshan on the Friday. Now Zhongshan is classified as a small city – only 4m population (rising to 6m when you include migrant workers) and has a network of flood drains, streams and rivers that intertwine before flowing into the Pearl river delta.

Saturday saw us visit the local market, a short walk from Gareth’s 15th floor apartment in a gated community. Making our way around the stalls of spices, textiles, live fish in washing-up bowls, fruit and veg we came across one of the permanent stalls – a tackle shop. Rows of paste, whips and accessories together with pots of worms and floats were grabbing my attention.

It was noticeable that the whips were in definite quality order; the lower shelf were the cheap whips (£3-5), middle shelf the slightly more expensive up to £10, while the top shelf was reserved for the competition whips, the most expensive being on the other side of the shop above the paste. Rods were either cheap telescopic or two piece short spinning rods. Accessories such as float stops or running beads were about 30-35p for 10. Floats were bigger than I have seen which may be because of the amount of river fishing available. Worms were in a small tub costing 50p for about 20-30 worms. Interestingly there was no groundbait in sight although Gareth did point out some jars of dyed rice that they seems to use as loose feed plus some “vitamin rice additive”

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Part 2 to follow with the first outings and a visit to the Paste Meister of Zhongshan.

February – really?

First opportunity to get out saw me at peg 12 Bowood, looking at a very muddy, murky water after all the rain. The water was moving faster than the Avon so I decided on a 1.5g Paster that would allow me some control teamed up with an 0.10mm Shogun hooklength to an 18 and double maggot. I decided to attack it (cf the time of year) given the state of the water and put in 4 balls of groundbait laced with a few casters and maggots. The pike rod was rapidly changed by taking the float off the running bead and a lead put on instead – waste of time really as no runs were forthcoming or expected to be honest!

First bite came after 15 minutes, a roach. It then went quiet and an hour later I had a small bream of 2-11 followed by 7 further skimmers and a roach to finish the session off. Bites came when I held back hard against the flow.


Two days later I was back and with the water still coloured was hopeful of some fish BUT I packed up after 2 hours as the wind was making it impossible to present the bait in any kind of sensible fashion as the pole was constantly being buffeted by gusts up to 50mph I discovered later!

Sucker for punishment two days alter back at 12 but this time the murky water was very cold so I only introduced one ball of groundbait, ending up with 2 unseasonal rudd and 11 roach but I had to keep swapping and changing combinations of single maggot and double maggot to get bites.

Two days later again I headed off to … No Blacklands, as i wanted to see if Heron Pool had improved, two hours later having fished peg 6 again without a bite, I moved to Stan’s Pool and in the following two hours had seven perch, a gudgeon, fourteen skimmers up to 1-12 and nine roach. I arranged with the office to change the match on Sunday to Stan’s so that at least it would be fairly even!


Friday came and I ventured back to peg 12 at Bowood, we had had a bad frost overnight, with bright sun and the temperature rose to 13C, the colour was dropping out of the water again and you could see down to 18 inches or so. The day was spent watching the buzzards and sparrow hawks as I had one bite resulting in one roach. The weather may have been “good” but not for fishing!


Sunday sees me running the match at Blacklands on Stan’s. I ended up on peg 7 – the last peg on the left hand bank, opposite the island- not really where I was hoping for. To cut a long story short- it did not fish as I was expecting and I ended up with 15 roach, 3 perch, 4 gudgeon and 2 skimmers for 2-3-8 and last place!

Needing something different I decided to try Pondtail peg 2, but to just take a feeder rod and try to get some more bream. Casting was okay, groundbait was fine but 3 missed bites and then a lost fish meant another blank!

That was my last chance in February as another trip to Birmingham was  needed and then March was upon us. China awaits and the promise of snakeheads and tilapia!



2019 Begins slowly

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!


Where’s Santa?

The last day of November saw me back at peg 12, this time I had a few bites, namely 1 rudd and 13 roach  all small for a 1-2 total, one run on the sardine was missed GRRR!

Two days later, same peg, gloomy conditions for 7 roach and 6 rudd for 1-6 but this time I had 4 runs, missed 3 and on the fourth hit a very large fish that I could do nothing with until the bait came flying back at me. I am now in a quandary, I moved to single hooks because of the constant snagging in the net but have yet to be confident in leaving the bait too long for fear of deep hooking. The evidence suggests I need to adopt a slightly more patient approach!

Another two days pass and I’m back at 12. This time 9 roach and a mini perch for a round 1lb. A pike snapped at the bait on the retrieve and 1 run that the pike mysteriously dropped ended the session. I made a visit to the local Tesco and saw that they had some sardines that were exactly the right size so I bought the entire stock of 16 and bagged them in pairs before depositing them in the freezer!.

Sunday saw me at Peatmoor for the annual Pike Match, it is a rover but I decided to sit put on peg 10 and put a sprat just over the marginal shelf and another out at 10m. After an hour and still biteless I put the 10m rod out to about 20m and had a run after 10minutes, this resulted in a fish of 6-10. While unhooking the fish I somehow managed to lose my grip, the pike flared and blood started coating the net from my thumb! Fortunately the bailiff lives close and went and got a first aid kit and patched me up. Two hours later another run resulted in another pike of exactly 6-10 and that was my lot! 13-4 was good enough for second.

The pike’s revenge three days later!Pike's revenge.jpg

Silly really as I have an unhooking glove that for some reason I didn’t use – that will teach me. I used it for the second one!!

A week passes before I am back at peg 12, more colour in the water, no runs but 3 roach 0-4, 0-8 and 0-14 for 1-10 all on double maggot. Wednesday sees a change, I head off for Blacklands to check how it is fishing in preparation for the match I was running at the start of January.  I settled on the “Bench” peg and decided to use up what worm I had left while priming a micro swim and for fun a short swim with cheese. It proved a stark contrast to Bowood with plenty of bites on both the worm and micro swims plus a bonus 2-14 bream and 1lb perch off the cheese swim! I ended up with 35 roach and 45 skimmers and 2 perch, the other being 1oz! A total of 19lb left me satisfied as  I had spent some of the time trying out various rigs.

My last visit to Bowood before I have to head north for Christmas sees me at – yes, you guessed it- peg 12. This time the water was very coloured and I was not too hopeful but two pike from 2 runs of 4-8 and 10-0 plus bream of 1-7 and 1-10 coupled with roach gave me a pleasant day and a total of 19-2.  Christmas has come and gone and New Year looms. One final visit to peg 12 sees a very frustrating session with one bite on the pole from a 1/2 oz roach, 3 pike runs- the first released the bait just after striking (still not got this sorted), second run was from a fish about 8lb that I lost at the net when the hook pulled and the third was one I actually managed to land of 6lb!

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this and I hope the New Year brings some more consistent sport!

Misery and Ecstacy – a typical November

November begins with a trip to Radcot for the penultimate North Wessex Winter League – not my favorite venue due to the potential long walks and it’s peggy nature. The first bit of good news I had was that I had drawn the upstream A section which was the shortest walk but had the board. On arriving at my peg which was high off the water and sloped down into 10 feet of water just as the river came round a steep bend, I was told the match the previous week had caught 1-9 off the peg! I knew I was in for a hard match as there were chub pegs a plenty down the other end of the section and peg 1 was a noted chub peg. First hour on pole after cupping in 5 balls of hardish groundbait laced with a sprinkling of casters produced 3 roach, a perch and a chublet, despite trying worm, feeder, waggler and various combinations of bait I had just 2 more roach in the last 4 hours for a 1-7 total, which I suppose was par for the peg, and 2 points.

Fed up next day I went to Bowood to find peg 12 taken so slotted into 11 (which is a decent distance apart-20+m). Starting off I put the pike rod out with a sardine on a single hook trace and proceeded to set the pole up at  10m, cupping in 2 balls of groundbait laced with a few casters from the previous day. After an hour an no response from anything I cast the pike rod towards the middle rather than by the pole line. This worked with a run that produced a 6lber, it then went dead. The guy on 12, also biteless packed in at about 12 and went home.

I waited until he was in the next field then cast my sardine into peg 12 from 11 to roughly where I was expecting the pike to lie – this worked with two fish of 5-12 and 11-8, giving me a 23-4 total made up entirely of pike.


It was Friday before I returned this time to find Bowood in a very windy state but peg 12 free. Starting in my usual manner, after an hour I had my first bite and proceeded to hook my first 3 fish, all roach, and lose all of them on the way in for no apparent reason. Fishing at 11.5m was proving difficult to present the bait properly and a particularly strong gust saw the pole being dragged to my right by the wind and me finding an 8oz roach hooked on the end! Nothing else happened until mid day when …

My previous best (landed and weighed) pike was 14-12 from the canal, so to have finally broken the 20lb barrier was something that put a smile on my face for a few days! The only downside was the pike I had lost a couple of years ago dwarfed the 20lber!

20lb pike (2)

The following Monday back to peg 12 and – a blank! Not a sight of a fish moving and even the grebes were conspicuous by their absence!

Friday arrived and I was back at Bowood again beaten to peg 12 so dropped into peg 11. The good news was that the guy on 12 had caught a bream of about 3lb, so perhaps they were beginning to move back in to the area.Setting up the pike rod with a sardine , I put it out to about 15m and began to set up the pole. I got as far as plumbing up and began to mix some groundbait when I had a run. A quick strike and a fiesty 10-6 pike came to the net. The pike had a very long gash down one side as if it had been raked by a sharp bill.

It was a case then for the next couple of hours of 4 bites, 4 decent roach for exactly 1-8 and then my last cast gave a 10-2 pike for a 22-0 total.

So on to Sunday and the final round of the Winter League on the canal at Pewsey. I drew F3 which placed me at Bowden’s Bridge. Starting on the bread I had 9 roach before a couple of canoeists went through and killed it. I then moved on to the groundbait and squat just up the far slope (I had 5inches of water right across!) and began to string some fish together but each time they were coming on strong a boat or canoe went through and I had to start again. With about an hour and a half to go I had 46 fish in the net but then a very wide and deep barge went through over the top of where I had been catching, leaving plumes of muddy water in it’s wake – I had 1 small fish off the punch line for the rest of the match, I tried everything but could not buy a bite, ending on a level 2lb and last in section, next weight was 2-3, the 2-14-8, 2-15, 3-8, 3-8, and 4-1 off the end peg. Felt really gutted and even more so when I got back and found the rest of the team had 1,2,or 3 in section. We ended the league in 4th place 3 points off second.

Back to Bowood for some “therapy”, peg 12, cold easterly wind, clear water – yes you guessed it a blank! Returned on the Friday for a dark, blustery day that saw another blank but the highlight was meeting a young stag with a full set of antlers on the track down and getting to within 6 feet of him before he jumped the fence and ran across the field. Not a fish but a nice compensation for another blank – that is why it is called fishing not catching!

Bream, bream where forth art you…

October arrives and hopes of pike and bream at Bowood come to the fore. The bream have been conspicuous by their absence this year with tench being the main action to date. Still I trudged off to peg 12, now I know I am boring fishing the same peg but my rationale is that it is the deepest peg in the area and if I consistently fish it the fish will get used to finding food there and remain close by. As I have said before Bowood is little fished and it is rare to see another angler so setting up a peg with regular bait makes sense.

Three balls of groundbait laced with a sprinkling of micros and a few casters are deposited at 11m, and pike rod cast with a mackerel tail just to the right and at 13m, I shipped out with double maggot and 2 minutes later the float dips and a roach of 13 ounces arrives in my net. I hoped that was to be the start of a good day but that was my one and only bite on the pole despite going down to 0.10mm and a 20. There was one piece of action at mid day when the pike float lifted and disappeared  resulting in a pike of 9-2 and that was it for the day.


That was it until the week-end when we had round 2 of the North Wessex at Clanfield. I don’t mind Clanfield although it is very peggy as you can drive and park directly behind your peg, which on this occasion was A7 or peg 21 which was on the straight immediately after a long sweeping bend that formed a cattle drink. Plumbing up showed that there was a deep hole just to my right upstream that sloped up to about 8-9 feet in front of me at 11m with a fairly consistent depth right across the river. Anyway I set up a worm rig, a light rig (1g) and a slightly heavier one of 1.5g, with the intention of starting light and moving to the heavier one if needed. The match starts and two hours later I have about 4ozs in the net and really struggling, with nothing showing, to make matters worse as end peg i didn’t have a clue how the rest of the section was doing but suspected that the first pegs would be catching as they were in a hot area. My fortunes changed slightly as the cows arrived for a drink creating plumes of muddy water coming through my peg plus streaks on my car from the licking the cows were giving it! I began to pick up pairs of eyes gudgeon, so stuck the heavier rig on to get the bait down quicker and settled down to try and scratch as best I could. The match ends and I manage to weigh in 2-6 of the eyes but as I suspected the top pegs all had 4lb plus leaving me with a miserly 2points for my efforts.

After Sunday I needed some encouragement so I headed for Pondtail peg 2 for a 3hour session on the Chinese whip, fishing double maggot I managed 160 roach and 2 perch for a weight of 10-2.


Pintail 1 was the next visit and again on the whip, this time just a short 2hr session saw 105 roach and 3 perch for a level 6lb. Peg 12 was calling so that Monday i headed down and set up as per usual with pike rod out with a mackerel tail and pole at 11m. I have probably omitted to mention my pike set up for some time so as a recap it consists of a 2.5lb three piece carp rod allied to a Shakespeare Omni X loaded with 12lb line, my terminal tackle consists of one of my pellet wagglers taking 5g on a sliding set up, with usual barbless trebles (this was to change !). The day began slowly with 6 roach and a small hybrid for 2-6 but the pike saved the day with three coming to the net, the first 10-0 to the mackerel tail, the next a jack of 3lb again to a tail and finally an 11-4 to a red smelt. The day decided me that I had enough of trebles getting caught in the net so I decided to ditch the trebles and that week made up some single hook traces to 20lb wire.


Friday sees me back at peg 12 with single hook traces, this time the smaller fish were playing ball and on double maggot I had 17 roach (biggest 12oz), 15 rudd 1 perch, a skimmer of 1-8 plus 3 small blades  which added to a solitary jack of 4-3 gave me a 9-8 total.

Sunday saw me at Lechlade for the third round of the Winter League. The organisers had managed to get us parking in the field next to the riverside car-park which would save us splashing out £5 on parking fees, but it backfired a bit as the entrance path back to the riverside park had been sealed off so it meant a lot longer than the normal long  walk to the river. Anyway I ended up drawing C5, my usual 150m stretch of river- I always seem to get the same area over the years!- in the small paddock just over the stream bridge. I had 10 foot of water at 11m and about 3foot on the 5m line with a handy looking bush in the water on my side 5m downstream. To cut a long story short the bush and inside line were both a waste of time with no sign of fish and I spent the majority of the match at 11m holding back hard and then running through before holding back again which accounted,  all bar 6 waggler caught fish,  for 31 roach, 16dace, 2 skimmers, 2 perch, 1 gudgeon, 1 little chub and 9 bleak for 5-13 and third in section. The two who beat me caught on the whip at 5m for 6-15 and 6-12.

Tuesday and peg 12 called – I keep throwing in wheat and pellet when I leave in the hope that the bream will find it and settle but once again I had a solitary small skimmer and 27 roach for 4-6 on the maggot plus a pike of 6-4.

Friday sees me stop being so boring and walk around the far side to peg 22 which is almost opposite 12!! I had forgotten how shallow it was on this side with about 3.5feet of water at 11m. As I was setting up another angler arrived with a couple of pike rods and set up on peg 12!

Snapshot 1 (27-10-2018 12-03)Snapshot 2 (27-10-2018 12-08)

I adopted a cautious approach as the wind was cold (the left side of my face was cold but my right side burning with the winter sun!) two pots of loose groundbait with a pinch of wheat, micros and maggots was introduced with a pinch of maggots fed at regular intervals. It didn’t go to plan as 10 small roach and a perch for 9ounces was my reward (plus a couple that came off). Just after taking the pictures, as i was packing up my top kit, the pike float lifted and shot off, a strike, the clutch grumbled and the pike was on, flashing in the water, it was a fish of 8-9lb when the single hook pulled out. I think I need to ensure the clutch doesn’t stop me getting a good hook hold in future!The guy on 12 had not had anything when I left a few minutes later.




Here and There

September arrives and it is with expectation of the bream turning on that I went to peg 12 at Bowood. The day began with a 1oz skimmer/blade \and that was it as far as the bream were concerned, 8 rudd and 32 roach saw the session out at 3-12. No sign of any bigger fish. To compensate for my disappointment, two days later I did the long walk to Stock Pool and sat on peg 2. Once again slow to start I had the roach and small pasty carp in fits and starts initially on maggot but then on wheat before the larger fish moved in and 7 carp ended up in the net (in order of capture 2-10, 2-6, 7-11, 1-14, 4-12, 2-4) which along with the smaller fish gave a total of exactly 26lbs. Tactics for both sessions had been the same as previously.

I then had a couple of sessions on Pondtail that are recorded elsewhere before having another session on Pondtail 2 this time with 102 roach on the Chinese whip for 6-1 but also being snapped by a large fish, possibly a carp. Back to 12 and this time with the pike gear in tow. Getting the roach going stimulated the pike and two samples of 7-0 and 9-7 followed. I have found that getting the correct size of bait is paramount to getting a run, if it is too small or too big it is ignored; a 6-8inch bait seems to be best. In between the pike I also had a tench of 2-6, 16 roach, 3 skimmers, 2 rudd and a perch for a 22-14 total.


Bowood then had to take a back seat as family commitments took me north and a week in Hornsea with the mother-in-law on holiday. The good thing about Hornsea is that 10 minutes away is Westlands , a commercial fishery with a good tackle shop and this is where I would be heading for some short afternoon sessions.

First visit was on the Saturday but with a majority of lakes taken with matches I ended up on Canal about half way along. Gareth had taken back the telescopic rod to China on his last visit, so I took the plunge and bought one from China a 3.6m (12ft) 99% carbon version costing a total of £9.37 delivered to my door! I set this up with an inline method feeder and baiting with a Bait-Tec Juice pellet cast the feeder tight against the far bank. Setting up the float rod as well I fed the middle withe micros and down both edged with 4mm pellets. The afternoon was one of those frustrating ones where you know the fish are there but not having it, one small pasty from the feeder line, one small skimmer and perch from the micro line saw me turn my attentions to the edges.


Once again it was slow but swirls told me the fish were around, most activity was on the right edge so I decided to concentrate my efforts there. The bailiff came around for the day ticket money and commented that there may well be barbel where I was fishing. Any way I had a few small carp and one of 4lb before hooking a good fish that I had on for over five minutes, slowly going to the left and right and across the lake, I had it in netting range on more than one occasion but could not get it’s head up; finally it made off one more time to the left and we parted company! That was the last of the action! I did not go on Sunday as it was booked up with matches.

Monday saw me return and after a while saw me settle for Middle lake, the furthermost corner with the wind (such that is was) blowing into the corner. Again both rods set up but I only fished with one at a time.IMG_20180917_150125085_HDR.jpg

Beginning on the float I began fishing directly in front while also feeding the corner to my left. A couple of small carp followed before I decided to go down to my left, a couple of better fish to 4-6 came before I took the gamble and put the float rod up the bank and swung the method on top of the same line, a further 16 carp came to banded pellet (The Juice), biggest being 6-14. The Chinese rod coped admirably with them and had a really nice action, as well as being incredibly slim. The session saw me end with 20 carp for 68-8 (I weighed each fish and jotted down the weight on paper).


Next afternoon saw me back at Middle but this time in the opposite corner (peg 26?).



I decided to concentrate on the waggler for most of the session but did have a few fish at the end on the feeder. Loose feeding 4mm pellet and using corn and banded pellet I had a succession of carp and F1, missing a lot and bumping fish, despite this I managed 12 carp/F1 and 2 skimmers for a 35-13 total, so you can see the fish were of a similar stamp to previously, the best being 4-14. However it made for an enjoyable session with not many slack times.


My last session was made on Little Tench, the far corner peg on the roadside. I adopted a similar approach with most of the time fishing the waggler with just short bursts on the feeder. Corn and banded pellet saw a run of fish come to the net but they were significantly smaller with 27 carp and 2 roach weighing in at 44-14. A busy final session but enjoyable despite the very windy conditions.

Back home and the first round of the North Wessex Winter League arrives at Sutton Benger! I tend not to take my match kit to Benger, opting instead to take my Bowood tackle as the walks can be totally savage and the soil is very cloying clay. So to the draw and I drew B6, upstream of the top weir, driving down the lane to the river I parked up in the car park took 4 paces across the track and there was my peg- a real savage walk! This peg is feast or famine usually, with the chance of chub (usually later in year though) and big perch.

I set up the usual feeder, waggler, worm rig and light rig, cupped in 4 balls of groundbait laced with about 50 casters and 20 grains of wheat and went out to 10m (where the flow was) with double maggot on a 20 to 0.10mm below a 0.5g Blues float in the 6 feet of water. Third run through I had a roach of 3oz and a succession of smaller roach followed until I hooked a better fish, a roach of about 10 oz, that I guided in past the remnants of the stalks only for it to make a dart to my left into the pad of lilies and the hook to pull! A second better fish was lost to a hook pull , this time further out, leaving me unhappy to say the least. As usual after 75 minutes the bites tailed off and dried up- time to introduce the worm at the end of the lilies, only nothing happened- nado-nothing. On to the waggler and by feeding two different areas and swapping between them I was able to put the odd fish into the net. More chopped worm introduced over the groundbait produced a couple of small perch plus one of 8-10ozs followed by a small chub of 6oz. By the time the whistle went I thought I had about 3lb in the net. I realistically thought I was fishing for 5th in section as the weir peg flier was in our section plus 3 other very good pegs in the first field. When I came to weigh in Mick Rozier on B1 was leading with 6lb+- a big chub and some decent perch with Frank Humphries next on 4-5, I watched as the scales settled at 4-3 (those roach cost me!), the weir didn’t produce leaving me third. Not too bad a start.

Mid week after some painting around the house I headed for 12 at Bowood with pike rod and on a glorious autumn day without a cloud in the sky and warm sunshine I did not get a bite nor run in three hours. In fact I did not see a sign of any fish apart from three separate occasions when a pair of eyes dimpled the surface. I packed up and walked back to Pondtail where I had 3 hours on the pole for a change – 100 roach, 1 perch and 1 gudgeon- yes fish other than roach. Best fish was 1-7. in a total of 7-9.


Pondtail Pool Chinese style

If you have read some of my other posts you will know that I have experimented with some Chinese tackle – not the stuff built in China for the UK market but the tackle the Chinese use. Earlier this week I fished Pondtail Pool on the Bowood Estate, for the first time, with a waggler and had 125 roach, including two at 1-08 in just over 2 hours for 12lb. Taking into account the larger roach this meant the fish were averaging slightly over an ounce.This led to me deciding to try fishing it with a 5m Chinese whip and float for a couple of short sessions of 2 hours. There are only two platforms on Pondtail and they are at the start of the lake with a long expanse beyond the platforms that you cannot fish. So I decided to fish both pegs in the same way.

A Chinese whip is way different to what we are used to , both in terms of size and balance. You can see from the pictures that they are incredibly slim and are multiple short telescopic sections. There is a ring on the screw in butt cap because these whips are used on their “commercial” for carassio or F1s with larger carp also present; they clip a length of string to the butt in the event of hooking a “lump” and allow it to tow the whip if needed and then hand line the whip back once the initial runs are complete. (I was not going to do that!) Balance was also totally different with it feeling top heavy- again it is usually used in conjunction with a small rest rather than being constantly held. These whips are often advertised with them picking up two full coke bottles to show how much it will bend!!!

The rig I was using was made up of 0.12mm Tornado to a 0.10mm Shogun hooklength and a size 18 B611. The rig is set up on a foam spool that fits into a neat box  and  rubber stops either side of a brass float adapter into which you push the float stem keeps it all nice and neat.  I was using a bog standard cheap Chinese float as you can see in the top right hand pic, I think I paid about £2 for 10 floats and that included delivery from China! The bottom right is a pic of some of my match quality floats from China.  The float I used took 2BB and 3 no 8, the BBs were placed under the float and the three no 8s were spread so that I could take advantage of the long tip on the float and spot bites at every level of its fall through the water.

The first attempt was on the first peg and I started by introducing a small ball of soft groundbait and catapulted 20 or so maggots every other put in, with a further small ball added every 15 mins or so.Double maggot  was the only bait I tried, I bumped one good fish and ended up with 85 roach for 8-08, so they were of a better stamp than on peg 2 with most fish coming in the last 18 inches of the 5 feet of water. I also lost a fair few by using a barbless hook.

Peg 2 was next and I had amended the tackle by using a micro barbed hook.


You can see the minimal tackle I used (making use of my lad’s stool as he is in China!) Fishing the same way I had a similar experience except I lost a good bit of time as a strange cloud came down from the weir and slowed things down. I had 90 roach in the time and they were of a similar size to my first visit with the waggler, weighing in at 7lb but that included one of 1-07.


But I also hooked a far bigger fish that was fighting like the roach before the hook pulled- it was significantly bigger than the largest I had caught there – I think I may need to target the water a bit more in future. Interestingly I fed maggots but on the waggler it was caster but the result was the same in terms of average size. The one thing I did try this time was some artificial corn that I bought from China, I had used it on the carp on the Stock Pool with success while feeding pellet, it was again successful with a couple of slightly larger roach falling to it.

The whip was very forgiving and performed as well as could be expected, the floats I have used elsewhere such as Boddington for the roach and they are very sensitive. Most of my reels are now Chinese and cost less than £10 but perform well and in fact are better than some of the more expensive “brands” that have a good reputation. Interestingly in 3 visits to Pondtail I have had 300 roach and no other species!


Into August

August arrives and we were making hay while the sun shone so to speak, having the days out and the late afternoons down at Bowood. Returning for a 3 hour evening session Gareth again opted for 11 while I went on 12. Same rigs and feeding with a pot of worm going in after each tench saw fish of 3-14, 3-4, 4-12 and 3-12 plus a solitary rudd grace the net, two further tench were lost. Gareth had a tench of 3-1, lost another plus two roach.

Next day saw us go earlier than usual as we had family plans in the evening, peg 11 was taken so Gareth suggested going up to the next field, so we ended up on 13 and 14 (me). Gareth was soon busy catching the roach and rudd that seemed to be everywhere and I had several plus one small 4oz skimmer (at last, a skimmer) plus a solitary tench of 3-12. Friday saw us back in the evening and I was on 11 and Gareth on 12 for a slow evening session which only resulted in a skimmer of 1-4 and 4 roach (at least another skimmer has been caught!) and a lost tench was my only joy with Gareth having a couple of tench and bits.

I was on the Riverfest at Clanfield the next day and as usual my drawing hand produced the usual no hope peg – Peg 54 or permanent peg 87. 4 perch, 8 bleak, 1 tiny chub and 4 roach for 1-10 was my total for the match – par for that peg! The next day we went up to Yorkshire returning my mother-in-law after her stay with us.Gareth managed to talk his way into us taking some pellet and corn up with us in case we fancied a few hours at Birkwood, just down the road. (I have two travel rods and a bag of kit permanently in the car!) Anyway we ended up at Birkwood for a couple of hours on the oldest lake (can’t remember it’s name) on peg 11. We tackled up in the same peg, sitting on the ground and feeding the margins to the left (me) and right (reed fringed -Gareth). Single corn got response from the resident roach but I did manage to lose two carp, one a plodder that looked about 8-9lb but the hook pulled and the other went on a screaming run and snapped me on a snag. Gareth had a load of roach and managed to lose 4 carp in the rushes!

Birkwood is closed on a Monday so on the Tuesday we went for a short session late morning before we had to set off home in the afternoon.This time we went down the far end of the lake on the opposite bank and fished for an hour catching roach and Gareth had one carp before the grass that must have been cut the day before was blown into our corner by the wind and made presenting a bait impossible. We moved to the far end opposite where we had first fished and Gareth was having joy catching small carp and roach while I changed to a running bomb for 4 roach. However, when it was time to start packing up, I volunteered to sort out Garth’s rod while he carried on fishing with mine. No sooner than I gave him the rod when the tip slammed round with a carp- just my luck!


Back to Bowood and we plumped for a change – me on 9 and Gareth on 10. I had a bigger skimmer of 1-15 and two smaller ones and 6 roach but no tench although it was fizzing with bubbles, while Gareth managed a skimmer of 2-0 and tench of 4-6 plus his customary roach and rudd. Perhaps the bream are at last beginning to show!


Next day we were back on the usual pegs for a disappointing session- 4 skimmers and 12 roach for me on 12 with Gareth getting a solitary tench of 3-0 along with a few nice roach

.Map of pegs.jpgThat day we had received an e-mail from the estate manager reminding members that the Stock Pool and Pondtail Pool were weed free and available (I think he had been receiving a lot of complaints over the heavy weed!). We decided to give the usual side a rest and try the Stock Pool- a place I had never fished, nor realised was available! It is a long walk – 1340 paces (sad that I counted, I know)- but we set off for our customary 3 hour evening session. There are only 2 pegs so I sat on the closest (peg 1) and Gareth took the far one (peg 2).I was unsure what was in the lake and had debated whether to scale down but Gareth said to stick the same and see what happens. I began by putting in two balls of groundbait and a pot of chopped worm with micros. It was a slow start with a couple of roach before I hooked a fish which turned out to be a carp which promptly snagged be on a post I had not noticed. On closer inspection there was a line of submerged rotting posts in the water at 5m, I was fishing at 11.5m so I now had to think about how to play the fish in future.Fishing worm on the hook it was apparent that it was a sit and wait job, but eventually I had carp of 3-12, 3-12, 7-6, 4-11, 3-0, 5-2, 5-4 which with my two roach gave me a 33-0 total.Gareth had 11 carp (biggest 5-14) but mostly of a smaller stamp to weigh in 33-13 plus about 10 roach.

IMG_20180810_203414353IMG_20180811_150726148_HDR (2)

The next day saw us back on the same pegs, this time I had carp of 3-12, 5-4, 4-12, 4-8, 5-8 and 0-4! plus roach for a 24-12 total, Gareth had a lot of pasty carp plus ones of 2-4, 1-0, 2-3, 5-0, and 3-15. It was appearing that the bigger fish were on peg 1. Gareth final chance to go to Bowood arrived and back to the Stock Pool for a short  afternoon session. This time he was on peg 1 and I went on peg2. Fishing shorter this time -8m, I encountered the same as Garth with lots of small hand sized carp but I did manage to get out ones of 3-10, 6-1 plus a crucian of 2-2 for a 14-0 total Gareth ended with 18-11 with 5 carp, 0-8,3-12, 5-12, 3-11 and 5-0.

Having safely seen Gareth back off to China it was the end of the week before I ventured back to peg 1 on the Stock Pool. Walking down I felt I was making a mistake as we had had the first rain of the summer and there looked to be a tinge in the water and I fancied that the bream may show on the usual pegs, but I continued. After a slowish start I had  some of the smaller carp of 2-3,,2-2, 4-14, 1-12 and a fish of 2-15 that looked like a crucian on unhooking it but I remain unsure- no sign of barbules on unhooking, lateral line count was okay but it just didn’t look right, may have been an odd brown goldfish or F1, although I didn’t think there were any in Bowood.25 roach and 9 pasties gave me a 17-12 total


Two days later I was back on peg 12 in the morning with a nice colour on the water I was hopeful of a good day. Beginning with 3 balls of groundbait and a pot of micros with a few grains of corn I had some small roach before a skimmer of half pound appeared. Next cast I had a roach of 3 oz that was almost ripped in two as a pike made a water erupting dive for it. Further small roach came but the next time I hooked one of about 3ozs the pike took it. Now pike are not everyone’s cup of tea and they are a pain in matches when they don’t count but I quite enjoy the fight on the pole when pleasure fishing. After about 5 minutes I managed to fit a pike of 7-8 into my landing net!


I then decided to introduce some worm into the swim, this resulted in tench moving in with 5 finishing in my net – 3-3,4-8, 4-10,4-10,4-2. Together with my roach and pike that gave a 30-1 total.

Two days later I was back on 12 again with the water now coloured so the bottom was no longer visible. Starting the same way I had a small roach first put in then a bigger roach taken by a pike which eventually succumbed to the net at 7-4. Skimmers of 1-12, 1-8 and 4 others under a pound followed plus a tench of 4-8 for a 19-0 total. The bream are beginning to move in so I hope September will be good.

Finally the last match in the Summer League arrived. Back to Clanfield with a weather forecast of wind and heavy rain! The one good thing is that you can drive and park directly behind your peg. The team were mid table, too far off the top to affect the leaders and well away from the bottom, but our other side was in third only a couple of points adrift. As I got to my peg, B6, permanent peg 41 the rain started and got worse and worse during the match with only a couple of short respites when it lowered in intensity. The peg was deep- about 12 feet at 9m sloped up away and towards me, so the only flat area I could find was at 9m so that was to be my attack line with 6 balls of groundbait laced with a handful of caster cupped in on the whistle. I was using a homemade wire stemmed 4g float with an olivette set 18 inch from the hook with 2 no 8 droppers. I also set up a feeder and waggler plus another top kit for fishing along the inside slope at 5m. I had decided to make this my hemp line, feeding a few grains every put in with wheat every 3rd put in – this was tried but no bites on tares or elderberry, a bush was at the peg and overhanging the water up stream of me.

To cut a miserable story short, I had 14 roach, 10 perch, 21 gudgeon, 3 dace and a little skimmer for 3-4 and second in section.Everything was soaked including me as I discovered that I needed to reproof my Goretex (as you may recall, I don’t fish with a brolly!). I was literally dripping wet and every layer of my clothing was wringing wet. I had to put an old towel on the drivers seat on the way home and as I write this my wallet is in the airing cupboard drying out. No- I didn’t go back for the results and end of league barbecue. I reckon I have about 4 days of drying out to do on my kit, but that’s fishing for you!

Jubilant July

Mid week with the last days of June saw me return to Bowood armed with my weed rake, I cleared 3 pegs – 5,8 and 12. Before and after can be seen below.

As previously experienced, raking a swim kills it for that day and this was no different – another blank. I had now sorted out in my mind what was needed;

the clarity of the water meant that a pole over the shallow pegs was a no-no but the weed meant that any tench hooked on rod and line would have to be dragged through weed and therefore lost, in all probability. The solution was to fish the deeper water although this was not the norm at this time of year. So that Friday evening saw me arrive at peg 12 which was just a mass of green weed, I knew the bottom was clear so this was just surface weed, ten minutes later after slowly easing the weed towards me and into the margins I had a clear channel up to 11.5 m (  I would need to do this on all subsequent trips as the wind blew more weed in to cover the peg).

Two balls of groundbait laced with micros and a few pieces of corn went into the swim to kick start it. Did I say kick start, after an hour an no signs I introduced some chopped worm with micros and corn and half a worm on the hook , ten minutes later fizzing started and 5 minutes later a tench of 3-4 lay in the net, the first of the season- always a welcome sight.IMG_20180629_180118220.jpg

A top-up of worm saw another tench hooked, but this time lost in the weed and the evening finished with one further tench of 5-8. This would be my lot for a couple of weeks as I had to go north to take the mother-in-law on holiday.

Holidays in Brid mean I get the chance to go of in the late afternoon to Rosedale Fishery at Hunmanby near Filey. My first session saw me on peg 2 where fishing the waggler I had 25 roach, 1 skimmer and 4 small tench for 7-14, all on the corn. I had two further sessions, both on peg 39. The first saw me finish with 10 roach, 3 skimmers, 2 tench and 1 rudd for 4-10 but also carp of 5lb, 3lb and 3x 2lb for 14-0 and a total of 18-10, again all on waggler and corn. The last session was possibly the most interesting as I had 3 roach, 3 skimmers and 3 tench for 4-10 (again!) but this time I noticed carp literally at my side in the pads. Now peg 39 has a large willow overhanging on the left of the peg with pads going out to a rod length or so, but under the willow it was pad free but had evil looking brambles in the margins instead. Using the telescopic feeder rod with 0.25mm hooklength to a 14 with 3 BBs 18inches above the hook, I lowered my double corn offering into the clear area the size of a dinner plate 6 feet from the platform. You could see the tails as the carp rooted around for the micros I was feeding constantly, the line tightened and I was in, an angry carp raced through the pads, but by keeping the tip in the water and following the carp through the pads I was able to eventually land a 3lber. Back in and this time a carp shot off under the tree before the hook pulled. Next in and with tails swirling around the line tightens and a better fish heads through the pads, 5 minutes later and I have an angry 12lber in the net.  I went on to hook 5 further fish, losing all of them, 3 to hook pulls, one shedding the hook into a 12foot branch under the brambles(I had to pull for a break on that one as the branch was coming so far out then stuck!)and the final one snagging me under the tree in the “clear water”, managed to get that back though! An exciting evening and although some may question the sense of fishing such a snag pit, playing fish by keeping the tip low or in the water helps greatly in overcoming the potential pitfalls as shown by not snapping on any fish.

Finally back home and Bowood peg 12 for an evening session, after clearing the weed I dispensed with the groundbait and started with a pot of chopped worm , micros and a few pieces of corn. Fifteen minutes in and the float lifted to provide my keep-net with a small tench of 2-14. I should explain my set up, due to the weed and shoals of rudd and roach I was using an 0.8g float with 4 x no4 set 12 inches from the hook and 3x no9 stotz 6 inches from the size 14 hook. Line was 0.18mm to 0.16mm hooklength, both Shogun. My aim was to get the bait down quick but have a very positive indication for lift bites that you invariably get with tench. My pole I use for Bowood is an old 13m Maver Metallica, some ridicule Maver poles as being prone to breakages but I have to say that the Metallica is the strongest pole I’ve ever used(so good  I have 2) and I’ve yet to break a section (I hope I haven’t tempted fate with that!), elastic is KND Green.

Anyway, I digress, the method I was settling on was hook a fish- feed worm- wait for bite; this seemed to work as I had further tench of 3-8 and 4-10 while losing 4 in the weed, a small roach and rudd also joined the tench in the net. Buoyed by this success, I returned the next evening for another 2.5 hour session and fishing the same way on peg 12 I had 3 rudd plus tench of 3-8, 4-4, 1-15, 4-10, 3-14, 6-2 (a PB) and 4-10 plus lost 3 others in the weed. A night to savour!6 2 tench Bowood

The following week I had two further evening session both on peg 12 but not as successful with the hot, sunny evenings having an effect The first saw one tench of 4-8, 2 rudd and a roach with two lost tench, including one that must have found a sharp snag as the elastic snapped and on inspection looked as if it had been cut rather than frayed. The following evening followed a similar pattern with a solitary tench of 3-0, 8 rudd, 3 roach and a perch with a further 2 tench lost in the weed.

With the next round of the Summer League at the weekend, I went to Sutton Benger down stream for a session. I struggled up through the field with huge cracks in the ground (the trolley went in up to its axle on several occasions. I wanted to fish the hard pegs and I walked past the fliers by the trees and had a look at peg 130- it didn’t look fishable with pads sub surface across the entire river. I trundled on further and settled into peg 127 which had clear water. There was little if any flow and what there was showed up at 2+2 range. Two balls of groundbait went in, one hard with 20 maggots in, the other slightly softer so it broke up at mid-water in the 8 feet I had. Loose feeding hemp and wheat I found fishing a white and red maggot produced most bites and from better fish, ending up with 1.5 to 2lb of small roach, perch, bleak, chub and gudgeon. The only other excitement was a big dog chubb that serenely cruised downstream disdainfully ignoring my attempts to mug it, and my keep-net being attacked by a pike of about 5lb!!

Friday saw me back at Bowood, peg 12 again for tench of 4-8 and 2-6, none lost this time plus a couple of rudd. Then the weather changes- we have rain so the visit to Benger on Sunday becomes a horrible march through cloying mud to my peg D1, down stream where I practiced. When I arrived I could not believe the pegging – the peg I had rejected on Wednesday for being unfishable was my home for the match! I plumbed up as best I could and found a tiny hole at 11m and a clear area on my 2+2 line between two banks of pads. So two pole rigs set up, one light and one heavy for worm, plus a waggler set 3 feet deep. Starting the same way as Wednesday but putting caster in the groundbait as well as maggots I started to catch tiny roach, chub and bleak short, while feeding hemp, after an hour this died, nothing on the 11m line and the rest of the match was spent scratching on the waggler and the light rig with worm. I ended up 4th in section out of 7 which I was chuffed with, especially as when others saw my pe4g they congratulated me for getting what I did out of there.

My youngest, Gareth, had now arrived for a couple of weeks from China and he had bought a Bowood ticket as he was planning on coming over in the new year also. So Monday saw us down at Bowood in the evening, Gareth went on 12 and I fished 11. I had to fish at 10m as there was a bank of weed at 11m. Fishing the same way with a bank of very dark clouds and heavy winds, that had pushed the weed down the bottom of the lake, saw me get 2 tench of 3-14 and 3-8, losing a further 2 plus 6 nice roach. Gareth on 12 had a tench of 4-4 and lost one plus loads of roach.

Final day of July and 6pm saw us on the pegs, this time Gareth fancied 11 and I went on 12. Tench of 3-1, 5-3 and 3-8 with no losses plus some 6 roach and 4 rudd saw me end the month in pleasant manner, while  Gareth had tench of 3-14 and 4-5 plus lost 2 further tench in weed as well as some good roach.

No sign of bream yet at Bowood, not even skimmers, which is very odd. August beckons and a few more evening sessions before my next match- the Riverfest at Clanfield, followed by the final Summer League on the same venue.