The Long March Part 2


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…


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.


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!



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.