The loss of my trusty ice breaker saw a visit to the local DIY store for a length of chain on the Saturday after New Years Day. Equipped with a new chain a new breaker was assembled!
I was loathe to but decided to give it a go on the Sunday, Peg 10 seems a lot further when you have an ice breaker on the trolley I discovered! The temperature was just below freezing when I arrived but was due to rise to the giddly heights of 3C.
Peg 10 was still covered in ice, as was most of the lake apart from a strip on the far side that stretched a 100m or so and was being kept clear by the wind movement. Setting to work with the breaker I cleared an area out to 9m, based on the fact that was the easiest distance to throw the breaker, but rather than the usual rectangle shape, I cut a funnel shape in the ice so I could put a pike bait out as well.
With the ice now cleared I decided to not cup in any bait, rather use a kinder pot to deposit a few micros and maggots with a groundbait plug. My sardine bait for the pike was lobbed to the edge of the right hand edge of the ice about 7m out. I didn’t have long to wait before I had a bite on the pole, a small roach, followed by two microscopic perch.
The bites continued and whenever they tailed off another plug of groundbait kick started them again. The fish were small but welcome, after an hour another brave (fool-hardy) angler arrived on the far bank and went on 19, by the island, which had a clear patch of water, again fishing for pike. The morning passed quickly with regular bites and at 10:30ish the pike float slid beneath the ice! A low strike was met with solid resistance but a fairly short if scrappy fight ended with a pike of 6-12 in the net. A bonus on such a day!
About 11:45 3 other anglers turned up and I decided it was time to think about going, the temperature had risen to those heights of 3C and the ice had started to melt, making my area bigger but the ice water was going to have an effect on the fish. I ended up with 50 small roach and those 2 perch to go with the pike. I said they were small and they were the scales showed 2-9 for the 52 fish! I told the new anglers that I was leaving if they wanted to drop in to my peg (as it was the only one clear on this side).
Tuesday Lockdown 3 starts and angling is not allowed, by Thursday thanks to the efforts of the Angling Trust it was back on the allowed forms of exercise providing it was done locally. If ever there was an example of why everyone should be a member of the Angling Trust, this was it. It may be a pandemic this time but you only have to look at what has happened to angling in Germany in the past as a result of not having a coherent Governing Body to see why we need the Angling Trust.
I decided to leave the weekend alone and returned to peg 10 (yes the rut has set it) on the Monday. The walk was not pleasant to say the least with the underfoot conditions being very slippery. The colour was dropping out of the water and with a very cold wind straight in to my face I lasted 3.25 hours. It was an hour before I had a bite and lost it, in fact that was a theme for the session with 8 small roach being landed and 9 being lost. The hook was checked and fine, it was after the fourth fish landed I discovered the reason, the fish was not hooked but hanging on to the maggot! It seems the ice water had made the fish very lethargic and they were just holding the bait rather than wolfing it down. The session ended with my 8 roach weighing 0-4-8!
Various factors then came into play that stopped me going again until the following Monday. Determined to break the rut, I took my rucksack seat, waggler/feeder/pike rods up to the island to try and almost complete my mission of fishing every peg this season.
I decided to fish a waggler given the overhanging trees and found about 4 feet of water 15-20m out. My first problem was that I did not have a catapult, as when I went to retrieve it from the front pocket it was not there! So I prepared to introduce two balls of groundbait with a few micros and pinkies in them.The pike rod was lobbed out to the left about 20m, just over a slight drop off, with a sardine as per usual. Looking around the island it now only had the one fishable area as the brambles had taken over peg17, so it looks as if I have fished all the available spots this season!
Ten minutes in I had my first bite which I missed, next cast missed again, third cast I hooked what looked like a hand sized skimmer that flipped and came off! I then began to get a run of roach and managed to keep them coming by introducing a ball of groundbait every 40 minutes or so. The pike rod was totally inactive! Towards the end of the session, a large double flashed through the surface chasing the roach, I then moved the pike rod into that area but to no avail. I had set myself a target of 50 roach if possible and at 12:15 achieved that and decided to pack up. Whilst doing so the pike swirled again! The 50 roach plus one rudd and one small skimmer weighed 5-1.
The weather is not looking brilliant at present with the forecast of more rain making the poor underfoot conditions even worse (if that is possible). I have made up a rig with a 5g “Blue”and given the opportunity I am planning to do a follow up video session with my 10m Chinese whip – the “banana”.
After Sunday’s disappointment at Peatmoor I headed to Bowood 10 on the Tuesday without much hope as the rain had continued and the Pondtail was up and coloured and on arrival it looked as if peg 10 had become a huge cup of PG Tips. Still I put the sardine out with little hope and decided to put three balls of groundbait down and see if I could coax something out of the tea! Surprisingly I managed to get a few bites leading to 10 roach and a small skimmer for the enormous weight of 9 ounces! Still I felt as if I had achieved something by catching at all in the conditions.
The weather was such I did not go again until the Tuesday of Christmas week, fishing 9:15 to 12:30. The water was still very coloured but at least it had a better hue to it. The rut continues and peg 10 sees me putting out the sardine and introducing just two balls of groundbait to start. Small roach attacked the double maggot on the first two put ins then went dead, I suspected a pike and 10 minutes later the pike rod was in action as the pellet waggler slid away. This produced a good start – a pike of 9-14.
I could not get any bites on the 10m line so switched to the top kit line and began getting regular fish, albeit small interspersed with two more runs resulting in fish of 6-05 and 6-08. The pike were clearly in situ and pushing the silver fish towards the bank. When I packed up I had 53 roach and 14 rudd for 3-04, all taken apart from the initial two on the top two line.
Christmas arrives and it is the Wednesday before I attempt to go again, now the weather has changed to sub-zero temperatures and this was to cause me an unforeseen problem – the car locks froze and I could not open the boot (could not even get the key in to start). After trying several methods I gave it up as a bad job and went to B&Q for a new shower hose on the suggestion of the wife – “it might jog it open”. Arrived at store- boot opened!
Next day, New Year’s Eve, tried again, temperature was -3C, lock frozen again but this time a hair drier manages to thaw it open! Car loaded and set off on the 3 minute trip to Bowood, lock was frozen again. After a couple of minutes I managed to get it open, the Pondtail was covered in ice apart from Peg 1 where the whirling current was keeping it clear, so ice-breaker in tow I set off for 10. Arriving at 10 the main lake was covered in a thick sheet of ice, so my trusty ice-breaker was thrown to 10m and the sawing back process began. Reaching 7m the chain got stuck and it took a few moments and hefty tugs to release it and continue the sawing process until it got to about 3m out and it stuck again, this time the hefty tugs saw the chain stuck in the ice and the rope come back to me! Landing net was quickly put up and reached beyond the chain sticking up in the ice only to find the path I had cut had refrozen, on tapping the ice the chain disappeared into the 5 feet of water! Faced with no breaker I trudged back to the Pondtail and fished the whip for an hour without a bite before deciding to cut my losses and go home! A disappointing end to 2020
I have posted this on MatchFishing Scene but for completeness here it is on my blog!
I have mentioned these whips in my blog on numerous occasions but have put together a rough (very rough as video is not my forte!) video of almost 7 minutes dealing with my use of the whips. In terms of cost they are very cheap in comparison to whips in this country, as an example the 5 whips in the video cost less than £25 in total. I have just ordered a 7m carbon version for £10.50 delivered!(This does include a coupon plus discounted “Singles day” price – real price now £15.60 delivered. If you can get past the differences in action they are very suited to UK style fishing and versatile – I use these whips at Port Talbot Docks with floats up to 5g.
Well whip turned up , well wrapped in sturdy bubble wrap, taken a bit longer than usual because of Black Friday and Singles Day (11th Nov) sales. Unwrapped and found extra top 2 sections, float, rig winder set up already, two packs of float stops, a plastic donut(?) and a handle wrap similar to what you would put on a badminton racquet. Obviously not tried it out yet but on scales it went 233g but then I realised that I had left the bung in place, that weighed 22g so weight of whip itself is 211g. Butt diameter is 23mm and tip is 0.9mm. Closed length 780mm.
On investigating the extras further the packs that I thought were float stops are actually a complete rig making kit.
In the packet are float stops, a green float adapter a swivel, a plastic in line boom and a thin lead strip. Unwinding the made up rig you can see how it all fits together. The float stops for the float and weight make it a very versatile rig in terms of depth and the hook length is attached via the swivel. I can see me setting a rig up in similar fashion but using either a loop or a mini quick change swivel in place of the swivel. I have since discovered that the “donut” is used to put on the whip when it fits into a Chinese seat rest to prevent it being pulled in!
The whips are designed to bend right through and are “floppy” by European standards but they work! The flick tips are very fine and the whips are never elasticated as the whip does all the work. The action at first seems odd but you soon get used to it!
Monday saw me true to my word with bag-seat on my back trudging up to peg 11 in the top field through the rain sodden muddy slope, that even the sheep were having difficulty with, leading to peg 11, the last on my list for the right hand bank. I decided to set up just the waggler along with the pike rod, with the sardine being cast about 15m out in front of me but a couple of metres to the right. The waggler was about the same distance but directly in front. Two balls of groundbait thrown out and wheat loose fed over the top.
The view from peg 11 in warmer times! Starting on double maggot I began getting the the odd small roach before it went quiet and the sardine attracted the interest of a 7-14 pike.
I had not taken the big net due to the walk but instead made use of a 28″ net as seen in picture. On returning the pike and casting out a new sardine I changed to double wheat and began getting slightly better stamp of roach and rudd. I had planned to fish to about 1pm but at 12 I hooked another pike weighing exactly 9-0, returned it caught two more roach then the pike rod went again and THE SAME pike of 9-0 was in my net once more. It had a distinctive scar on it’s back so it was clear it was the same fish. Either it was ultra hungry or catching and releasing does nothing to put a fish off from feeding! Not the best picture but I wanted to get it back in to the water quickly following it’s extended exertions!
At this point I thought enough was enough and packed up with 11 roach and 4 rudd weighing 2-06 and the 3 (or is it 2?) pike.
Next day I returned this time to peg 10. The temperature was right down to zero so I only cupped in one ball of groundbait with a few grains of corn and wheat. Setting up with 0.10mm Shogun hooklength to an 18 and double maggot I began getting small roach, a change to wheat for once made no difference. A lull signaled the arrival of pike in the area and sure enough the sardine was taken by a jack of 4-10. A few more roach and another lull but this time the pole float lifted and a strike met with a solid object that did not move at first- the typical sign of a pike on the pole. Playing it as carefully as I could I managed to coax it to top 2 distance when the hook pulled! A few more roach and rudd then the same lift, strike and solid resistance signaled another pike. This time after a few minutes or so I managed to put the net under a pike of 9-08.
That was the last of the main action with my 20 roach and 4 rudd weighing 1-08.
The weather at the end of the week went very wet and when I ventured to the Pondtail on the Saturday to try out my new 7m carbon whip from China I found it in flood with the lake more like a river with a huge washing machine style eddy. I gave it an hour and sneaked a solitary gudgeon before the water began coming up through the platform! At this point I left!
Undeterred I returned on the Monday and fished 10-1 to peg 10 armed with the whip and pike rod and fished 10-1 . Fishing a Chinese float I began on double maggot and with the water almost tea coloured I began to get some small skimmers and roach on the whip. A lull announced a pike of 10-2 taking a fancy to the sardine! The whip handled well but it is different in action from European versions, and relies upon it bending through to the handle rather than any elastication, and I will do a separate write up about the whip. Best fish on the whip was a skimmer of 1-06, with 15 roach and 12 other skimmer for a 3-08 total.
Next day sees me back at peg 10, kitted out more conventionally! The day started with a run on the sardine that produced a pike of 8-14, the only run of the day. On the pole fishing as per usual but this time starting with 3 balls of firm groundbait to counteract the tow on the still tea coloured water I was plagued at first by mini roach and rudd on the maggot before hitting a better fish that turned out to be another surprise perch of 1-08 a pb for Bowood. I also had my usual run ins with pike on the pole, hooking two but losing both, one with the hook pulling the other bitten through. The 18 roach and 2 skimmers weighed 0-12!
Sunday sees me at Peatmoor for the annual Pike Cup, the weather was not kind with 5 hours of rain sitting on a rain puddled platform and my one and only run was from a pike of about 7lb that threw the hooks after a minute or so!(NOT HAPPY).
It was not until the Saturday I was out again, I should have been taking part in the AT Silvers qualifier at Larford but that has been put back to 31st January. The rut has re-established itself and peg 10 at Bowood was surprisingly clear for a Saturday with 4 other cars parked up- busy for Bowood! I did the usual and put a sardine out on the pike rod while setting up the pole, three balls of groundbait deposited at 10m and 3 roach in the first three put ins on maggot, then nothing which is usually a sign of bigger fish moving in or a pike. Five biteless minutes later the pellet waggler I use as a pike float bobbed before moving off on a run, a firm strike and the reassuring jar of a fish being hooked. It felt like a good fish and fought well but I was surprised when it came to the net with it only weighing 9-15, a fish that definitely fought above it’s weight!
The roach and rudd returned and after a further 6 fish I put a piece of corn on, the result was a longer wait but a better quality of fish. I had planned to fish until 12 and by 11:55 I had 25 roach and 15 rudd for 5-03. I began packing the pole up when the pike rod went again, this time a more dour fight but a pike of 11-08 was soon in the net. A conundrum, should I stay or should I go? I decided to stick to my guns and packed up after returning the pike. As I was loading the trolley one of the anglers from the top field came around loaded down. He had had a fruitless morning and had decided to move around, after a chat he decided to drop in to 10.
Tuesday sees me back at Bowood and the rut continues- peg 10. Started as before and had 5 fish then went on corn. First drop in the float disappears after a couple of minutes and the strike is met with a solid resistance as if I had caught the bottom before the bottom starts to move! I knew immediately this was a pike as that is how pike seem to feel initially on the pole, however I was on my no5 elastic, 18 hook to 0.10 Shogun. After a couple of runs and tail walks I managed to get it back to the top 4 which is what I would need to land it on, when the pike rod goes! The top 4 goes between my legs and I strike into pike number 2. I managed to keep this one away from the one on the pole and netted it in the pike net, dropping the handle onto the platform and securing it wit my foot I then continued to play pike 1! Finally getting it into my normal net. I weighed this one first 9-04 and released it the n pike number 2 was unhooked and weighed in at 8-12.
Roach and rudd continued for the next hour or so when pike 3 came along- on the pole again! Same scenario, bite solid mass, slowly plods off, then wakes up and tail walks a couple of times. Got back to the top 4 when with no extra pressure from me or the fish the hook pulls out! I should mention that these pike are hooked in the mouth (usually in the scissors) which is why I am able to land some of them! Half hour later the same thing happens but this time there is a sudden parting as my no 5 elastic finally succumbs to the abuse it had been receiving lately and snapped 12 inches above the retaining bung. I consoled myself with the fact that at least the pike would be able to get rid of the rig easily given it was a 0.10mm hooklength. I had one further encounter with a pike, a jack of 3-07 again on the pole taking corn! My 35 roach and 20 rudd went 6-05 to give me a 27-12 total.
I missed the Wednesday as it was raining quite heavily and I had some jobs to do but intended going Friday after our early morning walk, however Thursday saw the temperature drop to -1C even at 9am with a heavy frost, and Friday was 0C with dense fog when we went on our walk to the Pondtail bridge. The sight was not good, lots of foam on the water but the colour of the water had turned a pale grey/mud – truly horrible so I decided to give it a miss and go on the Saturday.
Saturday arrives and four cars already parked up. I was hoping 10 was clear if not I would drop in 8 to give anyone on 10 some room. Unfortunately there was someone on 10 and 8 and although they said there was room to go on 9 I opted to go on 6 to give them room. I was not hopeful on 4 with 4.5ft of water but gave it from 9-1 fishing. No runs at all and went on the corn after the first 4 maggot fish would weigh an ounce in total. There were lots of small yearling fish attacking the corn but I managed to winkle out 15 roach and 10 rudd for 2-04 before I left. The angler on 10 had 3 pike in that time (apparently 2 before I arrived also) fishing two pike rods, the angler on 8 had one just as I was going. I am coming to the conclusion that my original standpoint of not fishing Bowood at the weekend might be reinstated, I am giving Sunday a miss and have decided to end the month on Monday by walking up to peg 11 in the top field to complete that side of the lake.
November 1st arrives and Radcot throws up its wet and windy best for the fourth round of the North Wessex Winter League.
Drawn on C5, peg 13 downstream of the bridge I was not hopeful as there was no steady water close in and my hope seemed to be a tree in the water on the far bank. The match starts and I go straight across on the maggot feeder for no bites in 2 hours. The pole with an 8g flat float and 16g of lead at 6m does no better. Jamie on the upstream peg comes down to warm up and says Paul Rice on 3 has just had a 3lb bream and missed the net with it! Now Paul had been lobbing a groundbait feeder on to the 12m line so when Jamie went back I quickly changed feeder to a 40g open end and lobbed downstream on the 12-14m line. Half hour later I had a knock and a gudgeon saved the blank! I ended up with 2 roach, a chublet and the gudgeon for 0-9 and last in section, indeed the section places were the same as the peg numbers! The team fared little better and we are now behind Radcot when we go into the final match, whenever that might be after lock-down.
Tuesday came with a temperature of 4C and I ventured to Bowood with rucksack, coupled with waggler and feeder rods up to peg 12 (only peg 11 remains to fish on that side of the lake now). Starting on the feeder but swiftly moving on to the waggler I had a shortish session with 8 skimmers, 18 roach and 6 rudd for a level 4lb.
Friday arrives and I make my way back to peg 10. A frustrating start with 12 very small maggot fish saw me switch to double wheat and end up with 33 roach and 33 rudd for 4-12. Who says wheat is a summer bait! Sunday comes and rare week-end visit to Bowood finds 4 FOUR cars already parked up, I have never seen that many cars at Bowood, one of the consequences of lock-down! The water level was well down, probably due to the heavy rains we have had someone had opened the sluice at the other end and left it open too long! There was a piker on 10 so I set up on 8 a good 50m away and fishing in my usual style had one run on the sardine which resulted in a pike of 8-6 while the pole line was regularly visited by pike shearing through the fish attracted by my offerings I managed to extract without any pike attacks 1 perch, 12 roach and 24 rudd for 4-03.
The Tuesday sees me back on peg 10 with the water level still down about a foot. Casting out the sardine I began setting up the pole only for the pellet waggler to skim along the surface and disappear before I had even attached a rig to the pole. A strike was met with…nothing! The sardine came back in pristine condition, this happened a second time later in the day, the gamekeeper reckons these “phantom” runs are caused by carp or tench. Anyway the day was similar to the Sunday in so much as I would get a run of fish then nothing, this time there were no tell-tale signs of pike but my suspicions were well founded as a lift of the pole float resulted in me hooking a pike of 8-04 in the tail which proved quite an interesting fight as it tail-walked at least 5 times in an attempt to get away. The down side was I hoped that was caught on film but the gremlins had been at their work again and the file was corrupted! In between 22 roach and 21 rudd I did manage to get a proper run on the sardine which resulted in a very welcome pike of 13-06.
Wednesday sees me back but at the Pondtail for a 2 hour session armed with the Chinese whips I opted to fish a 5m whip (5.4) with a new Chinese float I had bought. Feeding only wheat and a couple of small balls of groundbait I had a pleasant session with 50 roach, 19 gudgeon a perch and a carp of 3-10 which illustrated why the Chinese whips are not as rigid as European ones as it bent right around to absorb the lunges of the carp, despite me only having a 0.10mm hooklength. The other fish came to 5-12
Monday sees me back after days of gloomy rain and wind to the Pondtail with the promise of a dry day and the intention of doing some filming to create a Chinese whip video. Started of okay but after an hour the rain arrived, two days early! I packed the camera away and decided to pack the whip away and have a go on the feeder for a couple of hours. The whip had produced 15roach, 9 gudgeon and a perch before the feeder added another 15 roach, no gudgeon and 4 perch to the worm, including a roach of exactly 1lb, total; weight 4-02.
Next day sees me back at peg 10 with the water level now back up and high while flowing through quite hard. I did not expect to catch any pike but put the sardine out anyway. I had changed to a number 5 elastic and 0.10mm line to a 16 as is my routine at this time of year on the pole. It was hard going with me having to hold back like on a river to get bites from small fish, eventually hooking something large that plodding around for 5minutes before without any lunges the line came shooting back, the hooklength cut halfway – I suspected a pike! It continued to be hard, catching odd fish between cups of coffee when 5minutes after the 11am bell had tolled I struck into a fish that I immediately thought was a pike as it sat there before moving slowly off, indeed it was a pike as it showed itself with a spectacular tail-walk (alas no camera today), several further jumps happened before the next bell at 11:15 and several more before the 11:30 bell, I eventually managed to net it with two extra sections on at 11:35! It was foul-hooked in its ventral fin and weighed 8-03. I ended up finishing just after 12:15 with 14 roach, 2 blades and a rudd for a level pound!
Lock-down continues, I may try and complete the right bank by fishing peg 11 before the end of the month.
No further visits until the Sunday when it was the third round of the North Wessex Winter League at Lechlade. The draw was in a field next to the official expensive car park, parking at the edge of the field there were 4 sections at Lechlade itself and 2 at “Bloomers field. I managed to get drawn C1, scales again!, and faced an extra long walk just to reach the river. Finally reaching my peg I find it would have been easier to walk along the main road and through the car park to access the river!
I set up a waggler, a feeder, a 3g flat float, a worm rig and a 2.5g roach rig. On the whistle I cupped in 3 balls of groundbait (Roach Noire and River) laced with just a pinch of casters and hemp. I was soon getting bites and after 90 minutes I had about 3lb of roach in the net when calamity struck – a large barge decided to turn between myself and the down stream peg, to be fair the guy knew what he was doing and did not make the usual pigs ear of it, BUT he managed to end up getting the propeller and seriously gunning the engine directly over where I had been fishing, resulting in a washing machine full of dirty water in front of me. I hoped the 7 feet of water and time for it to settle would allow me to continue catching but fat chance of that! My once lovely snag free peg was now festooned with major snags that were unmovable! Despite my best efforts and trying waggler, feeder and all areas of the swim the last 3.5 hours produced 6 fish for me to weigh in 3-9 and last in section. Fortunately other team members did better and we ended up still at the top but our lead cut to one point!
The weather Gods then took hold and it wasn’t until the following Friday that I was able to get out again, returning to peg 10 at Bowood for a short session. Setting up the usual way it was a case of picking out a couple of fish at a time from the coloured water (not as coloured as I expected though!). I ended up with 22 roach, 4 skimmers,18 rudd and a hybrid for 4-02, no runs on the pike rod at all.
Tuesday sees me up at Partridge Fishery for a coaching session with Andy May arranged via Herbie at MFS.
I was joined by 2 others, Ken and Ian with another having to drop out. Andy explained the fishery had been fishing hard and with the wet weather it may be a couple of hours before we started to get bites! I ended up on peg 59 on Covey 3, with ken on 60 and Ian on 62 (Andy left out 61 deliberately). Andy set his tackle up on 63 and went through his rigs, the feeding process and various other things that I won’t divulge here! He showed us how he would fish , the areas to start with and laying in rigs and the reasons behind his approach, then we went off to our pegs to have a go with Andy’s words ringing in our ears, Andy then rotated between us for the rest of the day, watching our efforts and making suggestions of how we could make subtle changes to what we were doing. The fishing was hard and was not a form I would normally do (F1s and ide) but managed to get 6 ide, 6 F1s, 2 carp 4 gudgeon, 2 rudd and a roach for about 16lb. Not a spectacular return but given the driving rain for most of the day and way the fishery was at the time it managed to suffice as the whole point of the day was to learn something and I certainly did that! Andy was a very welcoming and knowledgeable host and well worth having a session with if you get the chance.
Friday sees me off again, not to Bowood but this time to Larford to practice with Darren for our upcoming silver fish match in November. It was Darren’s first visit and he was, in his own words, “in awe” of the place! WE wanted to ignore the carp and settled on pegs 6 (Darren) and 7(me). Darren was going to ignore the feeder and just concentrate on the pole with a “ball it” line and a “toss-pot” line, I planned to have an hour on the feeder while my 4 balls of groundbait settled on 10m and loose fed with micros plus the 2+2 line with 4mm meat and 4mm pellet. I was thankful for using a braid reel line as the bites on both worm and caster and maggot were very slight and I doubt whether I would have seen them on mono. After an hour I had 4 skimmers and missed a few bites, switching to the 10m line I could not get a bite on pellet while Darren was getting plenty of action on single maggot, I swapped to double maggot and began to catch for the remainder of the day, discovering that the fish were definitely coming to the groundbait. I ended up with 17 skimmers, 4 proper bream of 3lb+, 6 perch with one being over the pound and another between 12oz and a pound, 6 roach and a hybrid for about 25lb+. Steady fishing with us trying out various things during the day ready for the match (if we are not in lockdown by then!).
November starts with Round 4 at Radcot – my least favourite venue on the Thames.
After the match at Sutton Benger I did manage to sneak a visit in to Bowood before the end of September – a 4 hour stint on peg 10. No pike but a nice session on the pole resulting in 57 roach, 12 skimmers, 3 hybrids and 28 rudd for a 12-1 total.
So into October and did it rain! I had a practice match for the next round of the North Wessex at Clanfield on the Sunday so spent the4 time sorting things. Setting off on the Sunday I was dubious as the rain had been unrelenting and there was a lot of areas of flooding on the roads. Still I arrived, in the rain, to discover that the bottom field was out of use and all pegs would be cramped into the first field BUT we would have to walk to the pegs rather than the usual drive across the field. At this point I said no thanks, remembering a similar incidence 20 years previously wading through knee high puddles in the field to reach the river that absolutely knackered me then, and went home!
Tuesday sees a break in the weather and I find myself at peg 10 at Bowood. Now at this point I should say that I am still looking to fish every peg and only have pegs 11,12, Stock 2 and the Island left but I fancied 10 after the rain. I decided to play safe and put in just 3 balls of groundbait, usual rig and three maggots to kick off with. It was a slow start which suggested there was either larger fish (tench/bream/pike) about or the weather had turned them off! Slowly by swapping between corn, wheat and double maggot I began to put some fish in the net, a run of small skimmers at first then roach.I then hit into a large fish which I thought may be a pike as it just held station on the strike before slowly plodding off. As I got it closer in it woke up and took off on a couple of powerful runs before I managed to get it within netting range (down to my top kit). I had still not seen it but there it was- a good tench doing a swimmers roll and heading off on another short run before it was turned and the hook pulled!
I was not happy to say the least but got my head down and carried on picking of the silvers when the pellet waggler on the pike rod signaled a run. Quickly shipping in I struck into a spirited fighter of exactly 9lbs.
Somewhat mollified by catching the pike I went back to the silvers only to hook another good fish that took what seemed like an age to get in – a tench of 5-14.
So after 4 hours I packed up with25 roach, 11 skimmers,2 hybrids and 1 rudd plus the pike and tench for an 18-10 total.
Next day I had a short session (2 hours) on the Pondtail peg 1 with the Chinese whips. Fishing the 4m whip with the 3g float (set up for Port Talbot Docks) I fed casters that I had turned and alternated between double maggot, caster and wheat for 60 roach, 31 gudgeon and 9 perch for a 8-6 total.
Thursday I contacted Darren Edgell, my pre-Covid travel partner for details about Sunday’s draw for him to tell me he was at Clanfield and just landed a barbel of 16-04!
Next day with Darren’s success still in mind I settled at 10 again and cast the pike rod out just as the bell tolled 9am. Setting up the usual rig on the pole I adopted the same cautious approach with three cups of groundbait cupped in with a sprinkling of corn and wheat. Starting on double maggot I was soon into roach, not frenetic but steady, then at about twenty to ten the pike float went off on a run, shipping back quickly, I hit it and a momentary solid resistance then nothing as the sardine came back. Recasting I went back to the pole but just after 10:15 the pellet waggler indicated another run which this time I hit and after a momentary thought that it was a middle sized jack the fish went on a powerful run, I could do little with the fish but with side strain and steady pressure managed to turn it towards me, gradually getting it back in front of me but the fish carried on swimming past! It went on 4 further runs that saw me frantically back winding before finally it appeared, a real crocodile of a fish, and at the third attempt it was safely in the net. A PB for me 24-8, I had a cup of coffee after releasing the fish to calm me down!
I managed to carry on until 12:30 but packed up with a broad smile on my face! The rest of the catch was a 4-13 net comprising 30 roach,8 rudd,1 skimmer and a perch.
Sunday arrives and the next round at Clanfield. This time we are thankfully able to drive to the pegs albeit by a circuitous route. I was drawn B1 (scales) on permanent peg 12. Darren said it was an okay peg for roach and chances of a barbel or chub from the downstream tree on the far bank. I set up a waggler, stick and feeder plus 3 pole rigs a 1g BGT Grey with an 0.1mm hooklength to a 20, a 3g Paster as a worm rig and a 2.5g Paster with an olivette 3 feet from the hook and two no8 droppers to a 20 again on 0.10mm Shogun.
I began by feeding 3 balls of Sensas Noire, laced with a sprinkling of casters, wheat and hemp, on the 9m line at the edge of the crease. I would feed a pinch of casters every put in over this, I loose fed hemp and wheat closer in but 3m down the peg in a steady bit of water as a potential hemp line for later in the match. The tree was loose fed with maggot every other put in on the pole and with hemp every fifth put in.
I began on the 2.5g rig and had 8 roach and 2 gudgeon in the first hour. It then slowed down and the gudgeon became more frequent and smaller. By swapping between thew 2.5g rig, the waggler and the stick I managed to amass 21 roach, 18 gudgeon, 6 minnows, 3 chublet, 1dace and 1perch by the end. The highlight being a roach of 1-10 taken on the pole by running it down the swim.
The section looked to be close and although I couldn’t see the next angler I had heard plenty of splashing! On weighing in I had 5-3-8 beaten into third by a 5-4-0 and the next angler with 5-9-8, both of them had 2-3 chub over the pound mark. As a team we managed second on the day and retain the lead in the league by 2 points, Darren however had a grueller on a poor peg and was last in section with 2oz .
Tuesday sees me back at Bowood and peg 10 again! A bit later this time, I managed to get the pike rod out by quarter past nine and the pole by half nine, same approach with same rig – boring I know! Anyway the day was interspersed with two pike of 6-06 and 6-08, 21 roach, 4 skimmers and 14 rudd. No runs missed and packed up by 1:30pm!
Next day, the 14th sees me with the ready rod bag and haversack walking to the Stock Pond, to tick off peg 2 from my list . I was only planning a short spell (3 hours) and although I had a feeder rod with me the plan was to fish the waggler for a change. Inspired by Sidestream Bob’s float making I had made up some peacock wagglers and wanted to give them a try out. Taking 2AAA they (well the one I used!) cast well and the tip was very visible. I had taken some fresh groundbait to mix and the remains of the previous session (approx 3 balls worth) but I decided to put in two balls at 20m and feed hemp and wheat over the top while using double maggot on the size 20 hook. I put in the last ball after an hour and didn’t bother mixing any more up. I had a variation of the double bulk set up I have been using on the pole as I wanted to get down through the upper layers fairly quickly in the 6 feet of water, so I had a mini bulk of 4 no 8 2 feet from the hook and 3 no 11 shot 8 inches away from the hook.
The three hours passed quickly with interludes of watching kingfishers fishing opposite and regular bites from 64 roach that came to 6-10.
Next up will be round 3 at Lechlade on the Thames and Covid rules permitting a coaching day with Andy May.
September arrives and the first Friday sees me at Bowood peg 20. The session starts slowly with me priming the swim at 11.5m with 3 balls made up of 2 parts Caperlan Etang, 1 part Coco Belgique and 1 part vanilla laced with a sparse helping of wheat, corn and micro pellets. Corn did not get any response for 30 minutes until the float lifted (I am persevering with the double bulk approach) and the strike resulted in a small bream of 1-10 coming to the net, the next hour was interspersed with roach and rudd at intervals before at 10:30 (the bell was chiming) the float disappeared and I struck into what felt a better fish. The fight was not like a bream nor a tench nor typical of the pike and you would have seen my jaw draw when it finally surfaced – a perch. Now it is rare to catch any perch on the main lake and they usually are 1-2oz when they do occasionally appear, but this pulled the scales down to 1-6, a PB for Bowood and a vary pleasant surprise.
Next put in another decent fish, this time a tench of 2-2, again one of the smaller tench but more of them later! Back to the odd roach, rudd, a couple of hybrids and a skimmer before ending the session with a better roach of 12oz. The final total for the 4 hours 15 roach, 9 rudd, 2 hybrids and skimmer and the 4 better fish for 9-2.
Next day I was back but this time taking the long trek to the first peg on the stock pond. I wanted to have a session on this peg as I had the Monkees v Shandees 3 day match coming up at the Glebe and wanted to try various things.That night had been a bit cooler but I was hopeful of some action. Setting up at 11.5 metres in 7-8 feet of water I fished a 1g home made job with the bulk set at 3 feet from the hook and three no 8 droppers below. Line was the usual Shogun 0.16mm to 0.14mm hooklength and a 16.
Three balls cupped in with wheat, corn and 4mm pellet, sat back and waited, 10 minutes later float dipped and a roach was soon in the net! Things didn’t quite go to plan as the carp were not playing ball but I had a nice 3.5hour session with 32 roach that weighed 5-3 and a solitary carp of 4-12.
The Monday sees at the Pondtail, peg 1 me for a short session with the whip. Very slow but managed to winkle out 8 perch, 18 roach and 24 gudgeon – nice to see the gudgeon making a comeback, we must be in one of the high points of a three year cycle they go through.
Wednesday sees me travel up to the Glebe for the aforementioned M V S match. I was fishing for (handicapping more likely) the Shandees in this North v South annual encounter, I was drawn peg 106 on Pool 7 for the first day, a new pool for me in my infrequent visits. The fact I did not take any pictures may tell you something about the peg! Clear banks so no margin cover. I decided to set my stall out with 6 lines of attack,
1. feeder over
2. groundbait and pellet at 13m
3. 5m straight in front with pellet/corn
4. 2m out from bank at 7m pole distance groundbait
5/6 the margins one with pellet and corn the other wheat and corn.
First cast on the feeder I had a bite as I was cupping in on the 5 metre line (this is allowed under the Glebe rules) and managed to net a carp of about 6lb, the next 3 hours were biteless on the feeder long pole and short line. I went on the angled 7m line and by alternating between corn/paste/pellet managed to put one or two fish in the net, finishing with a couple from the margin (left one) on corn for a disappointing total of 54-11 (7 carp I think, plus lost 2 and a skimmer of 1-11).
Day 2 sees me on peg 8 on pool 1. I discovered at the draw because of a couple of withdrawals two pegs were being taken put and yes one of them was 106! I had been told that there was a hole close in to the right of the peg and when Jason Weston trundled up on the left of me he confirmed that they normally caught to the right half way between the stump and the post in the water. I plumbed up there, at 13m 5m in front and also close into my right just over some bankside reeds forming a bay.
Feeder didn’t produce, long pole neither, 5m line was a waste so I went on the right hand area where I had been feeding groundbait, pellet, hemp and wheat. I began to get some bites landing a couple of bream before a couple of carp then more bream , I belatedly tried the inside line only to find the carp were there, adding three more and losing two in the last 30 minutes. When packing up I was told by Shorey666 the section winner the day before he had all his fish in that bay, he had seen me plumb there and thought I was aware of it!!! The bream went 19-11, the carp 31-6 (just 2 lost) for a 51-1 total DOH!
Final day and peg 13 is drawn for me on Pool 1 another peg that had won the section the day before.
Again a carp early on was a one off on the feeder, the 13m line produced not a single bite and most the action was fixed on the 5m line in front, 7m to the side and the right hand margin. To cut a long story short, 7 carp lost 2 for 41-14 and 10-5 of bream for 52-3, consistent if nothing else!
Family matters then stop me wetting a line for a week and a return to Bowood with my first visit to peg 10! I decided to increase the initial feed and put in 6 balls laced with wheat and corn. I also put out the pike rod with a sardine to one side of my swim. A slow start then a roach, a skimmer and it goes quiet, the float dips and a better fish comes to the net – the smallest tench I have caught at Bowood at 1-11! The session went on in a similar vein with catch a few small fish, swim goes quiet, hook at tench. I ended up with 5 smaller tench of 1-11,3-10,3-12,2-5 and 2-3, 1 skimmer, 10 roach and 6 rudd for a 16-4 total. However I also lost a good tench of 4lb+ plus an unseen fish that I suspect was a pike plus I hooked a tail walking pike of about 6-7lb that was great fun on the pole, but not a sniff on the pike rod! Typical!
I decided to reduce the tackle down to a waggler and feeder rod combined with my rucksack seat for my next visit on the Sunday, taking the 1340 paces to peg 14, the last peg in the top field. I had some groundbait left over from the Glebe – Green lipped Mussel- and wanted to get some practice on the feeder. I started with an open ended 30g feeder and 3ft hooklength of 0.12mm to a 16.
Starting on worm with chopped worm in the feeder I began getting indications from small skimmers and roach, ragging the worm, maggot produced small roach and a switch to corn gave a slightly better stamp. After an hour I rested the swim and had a dabble on the waggler at 15m where I had been feeding wheat, same story with rudd and roach attacking the corn and wheat baits. Back to the feeder and a minute twitch on the tip was struck at resulting in a small bream of 1-10. I was on braid mainline and I am sure I would not have seen that bite if I was on mono. The next 2 and a half hours see me land bream of 2-4, 1-8, 1-4, 2-8, 2-0 ,2-4, 1-10 and 1-15 which with my four skimmers, 10 roach and 2 rudd gave me an 18-12 total before the 1340 pace return journey!
Two days later back on the long trek, this time to peg 13, same kit but this time the waggler stayed in the bag. A slow start with the groundbait the same but the three hours produced three bream of 2-4, 4-0 and 2-0 along with 10 roach and 5 skimmers for a 9-12 total, I bumped one good bream and that was the signal for them to move off!
It is interesting that my reel and braid are both Chinese, both perform admirably, have lasted well and the combined total of £15 (reel £9, braid £6 for 300m) makes them totally affordable if not fashionable!
The last Friday sees the temperature go down to 3C overnight and it was only 6C when I arrived at peg 10. I had decided to go back to 10 rather than try and continue the “fish every peg” target as given the sudden change I figured the pike might be more willing than the bream to feed. I cast my first sardine at 9:15 and began setting up the pole, but stopped and put my neck warmer on and zipped up my jacket tight as the wind was very strong and cold. I began on maggot to see if anything was over the three balls of groundbait I had cupped in. Fifteen minutes later I had a minute roach to show for my efforts, this is usually a sign of something larger in the vicinity so on went the corn but after an hour I had moved on to 3 roach, albeit the corn fish were bigger. I decided to top up and switch back to maggot, this prompted a few roach before it quietened down and a switch to corn saw some net roach coming to the net. The major problem was the strong cross wind was making the pole difficult to hold never mind present a bait attractively! Every time I was able to present the corn in a reasonable manner I was getting a bite, the problem was my shoulders were getting sore with the constant battering of the pole by the wind. Suddenly the pike float stopped its rhythmic bobbing with the waves and slid under, my first run of the season a firm strike was met with an equally firm response from the pike which finally succumbed after trying to impersonate a jet boat! Not massive at 8-12 but a welcome intervention on a cold windy day, I gave it another hour and packed up just after 12pm with 17 roach, 3 skimmers,2 rudd and a hybrid weighing in at 3-10.
Sunday sees me at Sutton Benger guesting for Clanfield in the North Wessex Winter League. I was hoping not to draw the last two sections which had mega walks through cloying mud and was relieved when told I had been drawn in the top field , B4 which was permanent peg 13. Not fantastic unless there was a bit of flow and there wasn’t! But you are able to park next to the peg so no long walk .
The water was fairly clear and you could see thousands of this year’s fry in the margins. Usually you can get an hour or so at the start to catch well but as soon as the sun hits the water it kills it and you are in scratching mode for the rest of the match. With this in mind I opted for a groundbait line at 11.5m where there was six feet of water, a 5m line with hemp and wheat, a second 5m line 6m down the peg, a far bank waggler and small feeder.
The previous night had been cold so I started with 3 plum sized balls of groundbait (2 parts Sensas Noire, 1 part coco belgique, 1 part vanilla, 1 part Caperlan etang) with 30 casters and similar amount of hemp. The depth was fairly uniform so I had set up just two rigs, the first a 1.5g Paster that would act as both my main attack and later worm rig with a 0.10mm hooklength to a 20 microbarb. The bulk was set two feet from the hook with a single number eight dropper (I would later move a number 6 from the bulk down to the number 8 to counteract the minnows). A single ball went on the 5m line and this was fed with hemp and wheat throughout the match.
The match started and second run through I had a microscopic gudgeon, then another, and another , then a minnow then a smaller than microscopic gudgeon! I was feeding a pinch of casters every put in whilst feeding about a dozen maggots across every other put in. At this point I changed to double maggot and proceeded to catch minnow and gudgeon interspersed with 2 half ounce roach and 3 small chublets! A switch to caster saw a slowing down of the minnows and a slightly better stamp of gudgeon (4 to the ounce). After an hour an a quarter the sun was up and the bites slowed right down. A switch to the waggler sees – minnows- then a net roach then minnows.
I had continued to trickle casters on the 11.5m line and tried a bit of chopped worm, no reaction at all, possibly any perch were gorged on the fry! Back to the pole line and more gudgeon on caster, nothing on feeder nor on the short lines, into the last hour and a little bit of shade was coming back, with 30 minutes to go I hooked another net roach and added a few more gudgeon. At the weigh-in I had 25 gudgeon, 3 chublets, 17 minnows, 4 bleak and 4 roach for 1-14-8 and second in section, beaten by the first peg who had 3-10 of gudgeon. Clanfield won the day as well so my efforts were not in vain.
October sees me at a group coaching session with Andy May at Partridge Fisheries up North!
Lat time I was looking forward to the onset of winter as I don’t like hot weather or I should say it doesn’t like me! A few more days of hot days sees me venture out for a Saturday morning short session on the Pondtail. This time on peg 2 and only fishing the feeder. Casting down the lake to the edge of the weed bed 30m to my right and 40m out it was slow going but ended up getting 15 roach for 2-4. I had a couple of cast straight out in front and managed to hook a good fish that I am guessing was a carp that took me into a patch of lilies before parting company. That signaled the end of my session and I scuttled off home!
The weather now breaks but I am stuck in for the week, Friday being my only opportunity to get out and guess what – the heavens open and we get biblical rain! I don’t mind fishing in the rain but the next day I was on the Canal Pairs qualifier at Hungerford and wanted to keep my waterproofs dry until then! Next day parked up at Hungerford near the Borough Arms where the draw was scheduled, Darren my partner arrived and we went up only to find the pub all locked up with no-one around. Quick check on the web-site and no mention of any changes, Darren phones the organiser and gets voicemail so leaves a message. Next thing a van drives by and stops – Richard Chave- recognised us from previous matches and tells us to follow him as the draw was changed as the pub was not big enough given the covid situation. Would have been nice for that to have been put on web-site! Anyway we managed to get to the draw in plenty of time and organiser apologised, think he must have felt guilty as we were the first pair to be called up to draw. At the draw he had mentioned that they had had a problem with wasp nests, one on B section was right on a peg but the nest had been destroyed/removed, the other was on A section but it was still there as it was between A8 and A9, what did I draw- A9.
At least drawing first gave me plenty of time to get to the peg and set up. The peg looked nice with overhanging branches on the far bank.
I knew that I would not compete in a small fish race with the likes of James Carty, Gary Etheridge and Richard Chave, who all had walked past me so decided to set my stall out for skimmers and perch that I knew frequented the area. I set up 4 rigs, one for squatt/pinkie across, one for skimmers across and two track rigs a lighter one for anything that swam and a heavier set up for fishing worm and the bonus perch. I discounted the inside line as the tow path was very narrow and there had been a lot of disturbance with the other anglers going to their pegs and walkers.
Anyway the match started and to cut a long story short I struggled as the roach were microscopic as were the gudgeon, I started on the track line while feeding across for later and lost more small fish than I have for ages, I began to wonder if they were not hooked but just holding on to the pinkie!
I only had a couple of small roach across, no interest in the caster and caught mostly down the track over my ground bait line, I had fed another line to the right with a fish meal groundbait and loose fed micros. Worm produced nothing when first tried but an hour later 2 perch, the first about an ounce, the second about a pound, then nothing. The match ended with 22 roach, 7 gudgeon, 12 skimmers, a ruffe and the two perch for a 3-6 total and no wasp stings despite them being a constant companion. A8 had 3-5 and A10 following a good start had 5-4. Talking afterwards with the angler on A8 who was local it seemed the two pegs we had drawn were very good winter pegs and he had caught well on the inside before going down the track! James came down and had weighed in 200 roach for a 6lb weight, Richard had similar and had just pipped him but Gary on the end peg had 11lb. Darren on B section had a similar experience and weighed in 3-5.
It was Wednesday before I could get out again- a short afternoon session on the Pondtail peg1, but this time I just took the whips. I decided to fish the 4m whip that I had set up for Port Talbot Docks with a 3g Paster. Now this may seem excessive in 7ft of water but I don’t subscribe to the fashion of fishing as light a float as you can get away with. I think this stems from years ago catching half ounce rudd in the docks which were holding up an 18g float! I would rather fish with a float that can “boss” the conditions rather than fly on the edge of acceptable. Anyway two balls of groundbait went in and caster and wheat were loose fed every put in. Starting on double maggot, I was soon catching roach and by swapping the hook bait from maggot to caster to wheat to pinkie and rotating the fish kept coming. I stopped at 100 fish after 2 and three quarter hours, 85 roach (best 14oz-weighed), 13 gudgeon and 2 perch for a weight of 10-14.
August was quickly going and I made the most of the last few days by going three days running. Firstly a return to the Pondtail peg 1 again on the whip for a 3 hour session. Slower this time but 50 roach, 26 gudgeon and 6 perch weighed in at 8-02, best roach this time 10oz. I do like using the Chinese whips as they have the capacity to bend right around if needed and have a far nicer action in my mind than the European versions.
Saturday sees me complete the first part of my mission to fish every peg this season with me visiting peg 20. This now leaves only the island pegs to complete that side (unless peg 15 becomes fishable at some point). I plumbed up carefully and found a flat spot on the slope at 10m. The wind was strong but coming into me before being funneled down the arm of the lake so holding the pole was better than expected. I decided to attack the peg a bit more than usual as I knew bream had been caught in the area. Five balls laced with squatt and micros were deposited along with half a pot of wheat micros and a dozen kernels of corn. I had set up a 1g home made float with a 2mm red and yellow tip, the bulk set 2 feet from the hook and 3 no 8 droppers to a 16 hook.
Ten minutes in and things were looking up – no bites, this may sound odd but usually if there are no larger fish around the corn is attacked by small rudd and roach, a period of no bites told me there was a chance of something better (as long as it wasn’t a pike!). Fifteen minutes in and the float disappears, a gentle lift sees the elastic come out and a 3-12 bream come to the net after a scrappy fight. Ten minutes later another bite results in a smaller bream of 2-3. Then a few roach and rudd appear- a signal to top up with a ball of groundbait to supplement the wheat I was loose feeding. This was the case for the rest of the session, bream of 2-5,1-15,1-8,3-0 and 2-2 followed interspersed with 20 roach to 10oz and 16 rudd- the bream went 16-13 while the rest weighed in at 6-10 making a 23-07 total.
Next day sees me head up to peg 9 (only peg 10-my favorite- left for the right hand field). For once I did not have the lake to myself with an angler on 10. A quick chat and checking he was okay with me dropping in 9 I set up with the same rig as the day before. The wind now was a cross wind from right to left and I opted to feed 4 balls this time, loose feeding wheat over the top. No such luck this time with rudd attacking the corn immediately!
The session went slowly with me catching 2-3 then a lull then another 2-3, etc I ended up with 15r, 5 rudd, 2 hybrids and 2 skimmers for 5-04. I was sure there was something bigger down there but no response from whatever it was. You can see my “pole-roller” for Bowood in the photo. I opted out of going on Bank Holiday Monday, so my August is complete. September awaits with 3 days at the Glebe for the Monkees v Shandees and perhaps an assault on the top field (pegs 11-14).