May Mediocrity

With various family commitments May saw  a little bit of activity (not as much as I would like!), starting first at Patneys (Woodside Lakes) fishing down into the bay on the right. Usual set up with 0.16mm Shogun line to a 16 Kamasan X611 and a homemade rugby ball type float taking 0.8g, set with a bulk two feet from the hook and two nos 8 droppers in the 8 feet of water at 13m. Kick started the swim with a ball of groundbait and a pot of micros with about 10 cubes of 4mm meat. The day was a bit on the grey side and I was glad to be wearing my fleece and coat! Anyway it was the usual slow start with no bites on meat for over an hour despite the regular plug of groundbait with 5 4mm pellets and 4 cubes of meat each put in via a toss-pot,, so I put on two maggots just to get a bit of action. Immediately I had two skimmers and two roach, then a small carp of 1.5lb. I then managed to lose a lump having got it back to 5m when the hook pulled for no obvious reason.

The wind now picked up stronger than previously and I lost sightb of the hills in the distance so I knew rain was on the way, as the rain started I had a carp of 6lb before the rain turned to sleet and then hail which was being driven into me with ever increasing force by the wind. I managed to hook and lose another lump to a hook pull before the wind made it impossible to fish and I packed up during a brief lull before heading back to the car with the hail bouncing off me!

My next outing was more than a week later again to Patneys but this time at the left hand side of the island on the right bank – the swim where I had missed the bites on a previous visit. I set up the same way as previously on the peg but stuck with meat, I wanted to see if I could solve the problem of the missed bites. I ended up with a partial answer to the problem- I had 3 carp of 4-4, 1-4 and 1-4, 3 bars of soap tench, a golden rudd and a roach and at least 20 bites that were missed. I believe the problem may have been the bar of soap tench that were holding the meat in their lips as all three tench were lightly lipped hooked and gave the exact same bite as I had been missing!

My next visit to Patneys saw me two swims below the far end of the island on the right bank.  A really frustrating session saw 6 skimmers and a perch plus 20+ missed bites on a variety of baits, despite trying smaller and larger hooks. Grrr!

Three days later I was at Pondwood Fisheries between Reading and Maidenhead for an MFS match organised by Rick Baxter. Arriving early I parked up and had a look at the water- a narrow snake lake with lillies in some swims. I drew peg 45 which was in a small section on the left of the entry road, separated from the specimen lake by a bank of rushes. My far bank was only 9m at most away but I had a good amount of space on my left towards the rushes plus some lillies directly opposite. I decided to feed 4 swims, one next to the lillies opposite where I had seen fish basking, a swim right in the far corner of the swim with a muddy bank and overhanging grasses, a swim half way at 10 o’clock and a margin swim against the rushes where there was a channel through the rushes to the other lake.

All the swims were very shallow- the far bank and rushes about 18inches and the middle swim no more than 2.5ft. The far bank swims were tackled by short homemade “BGT1” style floats while the middle swim had a homemade chianti style and the rushes a beefed up BGT1 style homemade float.

DSCF0311

Groundbait was crushed expander that had been soaked and left overnight then pushed through a riddle that morning. Feeding a ball of the crushed expander and some micros near the lillies and into the corner swim, I put a ball of groundbait and some 4mm pellets down the middle finishing with a ball plus 20 cubes of 4mm meat and some 4mm pellets by the rushes. Double maggot on the size 18 hook I started by the lillies and immediately had 2 ide and a perch before I hooked a carp that ploughed through the lillies and snapped the elastic! Quickly setting up another rig and top kit, I had more ide and some small carp from the lillies, feeding micros via a pepper-pot. Rotating between the lillies and the corner, it was obvious that there were better fish around but the ide were getting to the bait first and if they didn’t get there the small palm sized carp did. I made the decision that as I knew I could not compete with Andy Greggory on peg 42 on small fish I needed to focus on trying to get the better fish- so meat came into play and alternating between ll 4 areas for the rest of the match saw me accumulate 21 carp, 11 ide,3 perch, 5 barbel and 3 tench in my silvers net for 19lb and 7 carp over 1lb in my other net for 14-8 giving me a total of 33-8. The guy on 44 had 32-8, Andy on 42 had 32lb+ of silvers plus carp for a 57-8 total, validating my decision to concentrate on  the larger fish. Overall a close match

Peg 29 Bob DNW
Peg 30 Rick Baxter 36-1
Peg 32 Vic 48-3
Peg 34 Plummers 44-4
Peg 36 J Brownlie DNW
Peg 38 Herbie DNW
Peg 40 Malc Fowler 40-12

Peg41 Jaap Stamm 27-8
Peg 42 Andy G 57-8
Peg44 John Brady 32-8
Peg 45 BGT 33-8
Peg 46 Matt Nutt 27-8
Peg 50 Pikey 41-4

The last visits of the month came the following Thursday and Friday when the MFS HillBilly Pairs took place at the Glebe fishery near Hinckley in Leicestershire. I was running the match for the site so had laptop and numerous folders in tow with the paperwork for the two day event. This year we had seeded the anglers so a “good” angler was teamed with a “noddie”, although there were some very good “noddies”!

The A group would fish Pool 1 on day one then the strip lakes (lakes 4,5 and7) on day two, the B group the reverse. I drew peg 82 on Lake 5 and endured what can only be described as a torrid time, living up to my noddie status. The six hours saw me have 10 bites , resulting in 6 lost fish, 3 carp for 15-1 and a missed bite. No need to go into any details!

Day 2 saw me on peg 23, a peg where 147lb had been caught the previous day, albeit with a blank peg either side, which today was not the case. Stating on the feeder, second cast saw a 6lber in the net, followed a couple of casts later by a bream of about 2lb- that was it! On to the pole lines where despite advice from my partner on where to fish in the peg, the fish had not been told the same! I ended up with 3 carp for 21-12 and 3 bream and a skimmer for 6-4 and a 28-0 total, rock bottom again! I lost 3 carp and two bream, although one of the carp i did land was a double- but so was one that I lost!

I managed to pack up, weigh in, get the kit packed in the car, work out the results, and pay out 50 brown envelopes all within 2hours, so at least that side went okay! I have another two day event at the Glebe in July- I need to rethink how I approach it!

June 16 sees the start of not only the river season but Bowood’s season also. Hopefully tales of tench and bream next month!

Recovering April

A bit of a slow time on return from China, a short session at the end of March on Isis No 1a lake resulted in one bite and a small perch, best not say any more! Family matters then took a hand so it was the second week of April before I could get out again, a visit to Patneys and a swim on the right hand side the car park end of the island. Plumbing up saw a slope from the island down to a flat area at 13m and to my left. I began on the 4mm meat, feeding a few cubes along with micros plugged into a kinder pot with a thumbnail of groundbait. The result was a frustrating session with 3 small 2lb carp landed and some skimmers(on maggot) but I missed 15 very good bites with no idea why. They were definitely not liners but I managed to miss them if I hit them early, waited …you get the picture!

It was almost two weeks before I could get out again (decorating, boo hiss). I intended to fish the same peg but on arrival found another angler on the next peg fishing a feeder and judging by how he had set up he was fishing off at an angle towards my intended swim. I decided to let him have his space and moved down to “the Peg” in the bay. This did not work out as expected either as meat produced not a single bite, but a change to three maggots produced a run of 20 skimmers from the swim that appeared dead!

Couple of days later I headed back to Isis lakes to pass on some documents that had been sent to me as there was a match on the little lake. I had already decided to fish the big lake and setting up on the left hand bank with a Shakespeare MK1 Specialist 12′ and my folding seat haversack. A couple of hours saw 14 nice rudd and a tench of 2lb fall to my waggler tactics on the maggot.

My focus for the next week was preparing for the Matchfishing-scene Woodland View 3 day Festival near Droitwich. I had been given the job of organising the event so I went duly armed with paperwork and laptop. Day 1 saw me draw peg 3 on Biog Als, unfortunately this was upwind with a glass like surface compared to the rest of the lake which resulted in me having 6 bites five F1s and a tiny perch for 3-8 and last in section. Both Big and Little Als did not fish well (neither did anywhere in the country on that day we subsequently found out later) but the highlight was Herbie (Our Leader) winning his section and having top weight of the day, as one member said, “I’ve never seen Herbie catch so any fish!”.

Day 2 arrives and peg 10 on Front Deans at least gives me some sport with 40-12 comprising of about 20lb of skimmers and F1s and 3 carp and a barbel for the rest. The three carp came in the last 40 minutes plus I pulled out of another.

Day 3 sees me on Barley 2 for 37-8, 4 carp for about 20lb and the rest F1s and skimmers caught short. My mistake was continuing going for the carp in the corner that I could reach with 13 or 14.5m when I should have continued fishing short and put fish in the net- still we live and learn!

Pete Bailey won the Festival for the second year running with18 points out of 21, another quality performance. A day 2 carp for Pete below!

I managed to get into the top 20 just! 19th out of the 21, still there is always next year to look forward to! May sees more MFS action at the Glebe with the Hillbilly Pairs.

(https://matchfishing-scene.co.uk/  if you want to know more!)

The Long March – the final part

On one of the days Gareth and Wendy took us to the Zhongshan “Wheel”, similar to the London Eye but smaller although situated alongside the river. Unfortunately the wheel was closed until later in the day for maintenance, undeterred we had a coffee and a walk along the river. Gareth said that he had fished about a kilometer upstream from the wheel and we would have a go one day.

It was particularly noticeable that wherever we walked there were shoals of tilapia stretching from the margins out to about 10m, with occasional swirls as catfish and snakeheads came up to gulp air. We walked for the best part of a mile and the shoals were unbroken and continued for as far as we could see.

The smaller tilapia were sitting just on the surface but occasionally bigger fish would emerge from beneath them before slowly dropping out of view again.

True to his word Gareth took me via a 25minute taxi ride, to a bridge upstream of the wheel. Walking alongside the river there were only two spots to fish – steps down to the river for boats. The first was occupied by a local with nets (more of him later!), the second was unoccupied so we set up with Gareth fishing a worm on a bomb down the margin and me on a waggler. First cast Gareth had a bite that he missed. I proceeded to cast into the shoals of tilapia but despite altering depth and trying different sizes of worm I had six bites and missed them all! However the session was marked by two events, the first is what I later dubbed “That Guy”

At the time we we flummoxed as he didn’t say anything and we couldn’t tell what was in the bag that he deposited in the river. Wendy on seeing the video suggested that someone had died nearby and he was lighting the sticks in memory of them and releasing fish into the river!

An hour later the fisherman we had seen earlier arrived…

He then got into the water and a couple of minutes later…

We gave it another 20minutes after this and then decided to give it a go the other side of the bridge. Now I have to say that we were supposedly upstream of the wheel (which I could see) BUT the water flowed from left to right! When we got the other side of the bridge ie downstream from where we started according to the flow, we found a space behind some bushes which some boat stanchions in the water and lots of catfish topping. However, this time the water flowed right to left!!!!! Despite seeing a mottled snakehead mullet under our feet and dangling a worm right on its nose we ended up with a blank despite fishing on bottom and all areas in between. The weird flow may have been caused by the confluence of a smaller river just down from the bridge but who knows!

IMG_20190316_165115898_HDR

My final session was to be a very short one outside a restaurant where we were having our farewell meal. Very few tilipia in evidence but some largish catfish and snakeheads were constantly topping. No sign of a bite there so Gareth suggested moving down a little to where he had caught fish before- the end of the promenade trotting down to the bridge.

This was shallower than before with about 3 feet of water a rod length out and despite fish topping the closest I came was a bite that I hit under the bridge only for the fish to come off halfway back unseen.

That ended my fishing in China, a really interesting experience (in more ways than one) but that was not the end of it – walking from our hotel to Gareth’s we went passed what can best be described as an open sewer- a drain about 20m wide, which fluctuated by 3feet in depth during the day, with a horrible methane stench usually. Gas bubbles were constantly rising from its depths but on the last morning, crossing the bridge I was shocked to see a fish top- a definite fish! That was perhaps the most surprising event of all!

Operation Zach came to an end so here he is to end this instalment

IMG_20190311_114109319

The Long March Part 3

One evening Gareth and his wife Wendy took us by taxi to a Vietnamese restaurant in a huge mall called the “Glamour Plaza”. On the way we went down a back road and Gareth pointed out a shop front saying it was a small tackle shop but the owner had a big range of pastes and was considered by locals to be an expert. I mentally made a note and decided to try and find it later that week. ,The meal was good and on exiting Gareth lead us next door to the Hilton and took us up to the top to see the view at night- the highest building in Zhongshan.

Two days later my wife and I set off with the intention of stopping off at the “Holiday Plaza” for a coffee before walking on to the “Glamour” and hopefully finding the Paste Meister’s shop. Drinking our coffee in Starbucks (yes they get everywhere!) we were approached by a Chinese lady who asked if she could take our photos, after much maneuvering she finally got her selfies with us and left happy, with us bemused by our”celebrity” status!

Setting off we managed to find the shop without much difficulty and I had a quick look around as they were having a mid-morning bowl of noodles and decided to buy some paste on the way back. Three hours later we returned and  I got a picture of a bream on my phone and showed it to the guy and pointed at the paste. He nodded and picked out two bags, indicating they needed to be mixed together equally.

IMG_20190321_113733476IMG_20190321_113728046IMG_20190321_113713676IMG_20190321_113705524

Buoyed by my success I showed him a picture of a carp and he delved down into the shelves of paste emerging with a far larger bag

IMG_20190321_113621151IMG_20190321_113611970

As I was paying him he signaled as if he was casting a rod, I nodded and he indicated another pack -to make the mixture stiffer by adding a little (or at least I think that is what he meant!). I left with 4 bags of bream paste mix, one big bag of carp paste and a bag of stiffener all for the princely sum of £3.50, the carp paste amounted to most of that as it was £1.80, the stiffener agent was only £0.20.

All I need to do now is try them out but at that price I can’t really go wrong. Looking at the packets on display it appears that the pastes are categorised into speed of breakdown and tackiness. Most seem to use the slow breakdown or very tacky offerings on the river but revert to the quick breakdown on the commercials. The tacky pastes are very similar to the fibre paste in this country but again they are available in different levels of “tackiness”. The commercials are usually costing around £8 for 4 hours fishing, mainly for F1/carp/carassio and it is whip only on most.

The last installment features two sessions fishing on the main river which was an eye opener in more ways than one.

The Long March Part 2

IMG_20190315_140034329

If Hong Kong had the potential for death by a thousand umbrellas, Zhongshan had a plague of bikes! There were hire bikes everywhere, plus electric scooters, scooters and motorbikes not to forget the cars! Our hotel was a 10-15 minute walk away from Gareth’s apartment block and entailed us crossing two major road junctions, fortunately there were lights to help us, unfortunately the red light to stop cars also meant that cars turning right could ignore the red light! Added to this electric bikes and scooters did not obey any traffic signs or rules and often weaved in and out crossing intersections diagonally, plus they could ride on the pavement ! A strategy was needed in crossing a road and Gareth’s advise was act and walk confidently! I took it one step further and stared directly at any approaching vehicle to let them know I was aware of them and they had better stop! It worked in 99% of cases with only a top of the range Mercedes driver deciding he could ignore me!

Gareth uses a Chinese form of Uber – DD. Uber tried to get a foothold but gave up as DD undercut them or offered free rides! Taxi fares are very cheap – a 15 minute trip on our first fishing expedition in a premier vehicle(you get free bottles of water) cost 60p. So to the fishing…

IMG_20190310_180210058IMG_20190310_180206069IMG_20190310_180200883

The taxi ride had taken us to a small stream behind a college car park. Accessing to the right of the security cabin  at the bridge we went down a short flight of steps to the “promenade”. The top picture is looking back at where we came in by the bridge with the water only 2 foot deep, the shoal of tilapia and group of carp scattered on our arrival- it was very noticeable how wary the fish were.The middle picture gives you some idea of the width, plus how high we were off the water, the final picture is looking into the distance – the white block you can just make out is a tree with the bottom two foot painted white, this was our spot, under the tree.

I had planned to video the session but could not get it to record (only realising afterwards that this model would not allow you to record while plugged into a power pack, unlike my usual camera!). There was a nice colour to the water and a shoal of tilapia were in attendance when we arrived with carp up to 4lb but mainly around the 2lb mark going back and forth along the far back vegetation. We were about 10 feet off the water and tackle consisted of telescopic rods with a paternoster to a 14 hook and worm as bait. Third cast I had a little rattle and waited only to be told by Gareth that that was it! There were plenty of fish in front of us but it was very slow in terms of bites. I decided to change to a waggler and Gareth advised fishing very shallow- 6inches. So waggler set up, worm on a 14, first 6 casts, 6 bites all missed! I then decided to just put a piece of worm on about an inch in length, result – a tilapia, my first fish in China.

IMG_20190310_165644165_BURST000_COVER

I let Gareth act as my ghillie and unhook the fish as it is a bit like a perch with spines and sharp edges around the gills but more of them and a lot more muscular. Holding even a small tilapia was difficult as they seemed to have an ability to squirm out of any hold you had on them, leaving you with lacerations! We only had a shortish session of a couple of hours as we were due to go out, but I did manage 4 in that time with Gareth chipping in with a couple also but he had spent most of the time trying to catch a carp off the far bank on paste.

We returned the following day to find the water clearer than previously so after a couple of trots with no interest I changed the depth to about 18inches. Fishing worm pieces I had about 20 tilapia of different sizes but also lost a fish when trying to get it up off the water that looked as if it may have been a bleak variant that Gareth has had before.

You can see in the video how we are off the path and fishing between the branches!

Gareth Tilapia (2)

It was frustrating that the carp would not look at any thing despite rooting around for pellets that Gareth had thrown in.

Next installment we visit the paste meister of Zhongshan.

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”

IMG_20190309_115215481_BURST000_COVER_TOP (2)IMG_20190309_115222071_BURST000_COVER_TOP (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!