As I write this it is the Saturday of Bank Holiday weekend and I am still trying to get to grips with the results from Viaduct this week –
Due to family commitments it wasn’t until the end of the first week in July that I managed to get to Bowood for an evening session. Peg 7, although very weeded was my home for the session and starting my usual way with 3 balls of groundbait and maggot on the hook for the first few put ins . I was using a home made float taking 0.5g to 0.16 Shogun and a 16 hook. A plethora of rudd and small blades plus two roach came to the maggot before pike arrived and subsequently lost one. On to the corn and first put in a tench that immediately dived in to the thick weed on my right and kindly left the hook there for me to drag in a bunch of weed! Next put in I had a skimmer of 1-4 followed in the next half hour by two more of 1-4 and 1-2. A quiet spell saw me go back on the maggot and lose two more pike before returning to the corn and losing 3 more tench. FRUSTRATING or what!
Back two days later for a morning session saw me return to 7 and fishing the same way saw me lose two further tench and 2 more pike before I managed to net tench of 3-0 (incidentally this is the smallest tench so far this season as I write this!) and 4-8 before a lull signaled a return to the maggot and being bitten of by double figure pike three put-ins ion a row. This marked the final straw and I packed up.
Next day and back for an evening session, avoiding the blisteringly hot day-time sun, peg 9 was the chosen spot and usual tactics employed I had a jack of 1-11 first put in followed by a pike free time with 24 rudd. 4 blades 14 skimmers and a solitary tench of 3-10 for 18-3 and no lost fish for a change!
I had one further opportunity that week and I returned to 7 for an evening session in the hope that the pike had moved on, 6 roach, 7 rudd and a skimmer on the maggot before a pike snaffled a 10oz skimmer and signaled the move to corn. The recurring theme of catch 1 lose 2 followed me again as a tench of 4-4 went in the net while two others went in the weed!
Bowood then takes a back seat as I had a two day MFS event at the Glebe. Day 1 sees me draw 102 on lake 7 which in theory is a good draw – however a 1oz perch, 2 bream and 24-14 carp sees me last in section with 31-15 and my fellow middle peg also struggled and had 36lb.
Day 2 sees me on peg 1 on lake 1. The method on this peg is to fish long to the left corner. I had a pleasant if not spectacular day with 3-15 of silvers and 57-9 of carp for 61-8 and 2points- at least not last!
Back to Bowood, 4 days later, and peg 8 hoping to break the catch one lose 2 jinx. A solitary blade, 9 rudd a tench of 4-3, NO PIKE hurrah!, but two tench lost and also a big bream.
Two days later back to peg 12, but I had taken the rake and was dragging swims 7,8,9 and 12. Fishing the maggot I had 21 rudd, 6 blades and 4 roach before the heavens opener and we had a downpour, the like of which I have only experienced in China. I discovered even Goretex cannot cope in such conditions- I packed up wet, frustrated and totally soaked as if I was not wearing a coat!
Two days of drying out and I am back for a morning session on peg 9 32 rudd and 6 roach but no tench landed- 3 lost, including one that snapped the hook! I am getting worse I decided!
It was five days before I had the opportunity to return, this time to peg 10.5 rudd and two blades in the net, corn on , float lifts, skimmer on, coming in lovely and then off! Two tench of 4-13 and 5-0 followed separated by three further losses.
With the imminent arrival of Gareth from China I took myself on to the opposite bank and raked two swims but both were very shallow and dense weed all around. A quick session saw 16 small rudd- not very hopeful!
I am leaving the last few days of July for the August installment as Gareth and I will have 15 solid days at Bowood so I will keep it all together.
The groundbait market has changed radically over the last 20 years with the focus moving away from natural venues to commercials and fishmeal based groundbaits. This can cause a problem for the natural venue angler in that their local tackle shop may have a great range of commercial orientated bags but a limited selection of “natural” bags. Previously the choice was Sensas or Van den Eynde in the main but now a range of new players in the market such as Bait-tech, Sonu-baits, Dynamite baits, Ringers and many others are available.
So what is my choice? I have always been attracted to “unknown” brands as just because it is cheap and not a “name” does not mean it will not work. So here are a few of my choices and what I use them for.
My go-to is Sensas Noire, I have confidence in this and can mix it in a variety of ways to vary the break-down. If bream are present then I will use a 50-50 mix of Noire and Gros Gardons – I know Gros Gardons is aimed at roach, but no-one told the bream that and they seem to like it!
I am treating Bowood as a separate venue in this as I fish it so much. My mix for Bowood can vary but inevitably contains Cocoa Belgique from Caperlan a Decathlon brand. Not the type of place you think of for fishing but their groundbait is cheap and works well, plus if you buy enough you get free delivery. Interestingly they give a rough breakdown of the contents on the web-site.
I buy the 5kg bags and store them in plastic containers the fat balls for birds come in. I pour them directly in and just cut the label off to put it on top of the groundbait for reference.
Other Caperlan groundbaits I have used are
I use a large pole pot when mixing the “mixes” so I know the amount I am making. The mixes I am currently confident with for the tench and bream are as follows
A 1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gardon Competition, 2 part Etang
B 1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gros Gardon , 2 part Etang
C 1 parts Cocoa Belgique, 2 parts Gros Gardon , 2 part Gardon Competition
D 2 parts Cocoa Belgique, 3 parts 4X4, 1 part Gardon Competition
The pegs where I am expecting more bream than tench I use B & C, for the autumn D comes into it’s own, A can be used all year round but especially suited for winter .
Other natural lakes
Depending on the information I have regarding the lakes and the amount of pellet going into them I have two basic mixes I have confidence with.
Low pellet use and mixed fishery – Noire and Etang mixed 50-50
High pellet use and mixed – Noire and Sonu-baits sweet F1 mixed 50-50
For down the edge I use whatever fishmeal based groundbait that is on offer cheap! For bottom work on the pole I like the Green Swim-stim and feeder /method work I like a 50-50 mix of Maryuku 130 and 150 ( although this will not be available much longer).
So that is what I use- not exclusively but mainly. Hopefully this may answer a few questions when I say I cupped in 5 balls!
June kicked off with my regular venture to Peatmoor for the Peatmoor v Three Counties match. I had been warned that it was fishing very hard and judging by the poor attendance word had spread. I drew the old peg 27 (can’t remember what the peg number is now!), a peg I had won the match from before with 40lb+ of bream but although it is the conduit between the narrow backwater and the main lake it can be iffy at times. My plan, such as it was, consisted of an hour on the groundbait feeder towards the tree at 25m then on to the pole line that was going to be fed for the first hour with a mix of micros and casters.It was HARD – I had seven roach and a crayfish all on the feeder the pole line appeared devoid of life! My 8oz placed me 3rd! I said it was hard!
Three days later I headed out to Isis No 1 lake with just a waggler rod, my intended swim was taken so I dropped in to the first swim on the left bank. Plumbing up I found 14feet a rod and a half out! I fed two swims with hemp and casters, one directly in front and the other off to my right close to a tree in the water. A pleasant couple of hours saw me with 19 rudd, 14 perch and a roach, plus 4 small tench.
The Sunday saw me head back to Pondwood for another MFS match, Darren Egell was guesting on this and a text just before the draw said he was running late but on way so could I draw for him. At the draw I said “this one is for Daz” and drew out 45!!!! the peg I had last time, I drew 33 in a different pound, a lot wider and some nice lilies across. Darren turned up ,and I gave him the gen about the peg, pointing out where I had caught. There was not much variation in depth in my peg- the usual 3feet but I decided on a line at 6m to my right against a small patch of lilies (2 in fact), one at 10m directly in front and a final line to the left of the big bank of lilies at 14m. Rotating between, meat, maggot and corn I had a pleasant day made up of 10 small tench, 1 small carp, 4 roach, 1 skimmer and 4 ide in my silvers net for 6lb and 7 carp in the other for 17-8 giving me a total of 23-8 and 2nd in section. I lost 5 carp in the lilies but that was always going to be the case!. Daz came second in the match despite missing the keepnet with a 2lb carp !
The Wednesday saw me head off to Patneys and fish just to the left of the island on the right bank. My usual gambit of toss-potting meat and pellets gave me another frustrating session with 3 carp, 3 skimmers and 2 perch being landed but I missed 20+ bites for no apparent reason.
With the Glorious 16th on the horizon at the weekend I had a short session on Isis No1, this time on the front path to the left of the big overhanging tree. Again I was fishing just waggler but this was a great deal harder with just 1 bite from a 2oz perch all I could muster in the 14 feet of water.
Sunday arrives and I trundle off down the hill to Bowood and after a quick look plump for peg 7 – not to shallow with thick weed beds scattered around. I raked the swim first so I had a relatively clear bottom and proceeded to set up. Home made float on a 0.16mm to a 16. Elastic was a doubled 6 through the top two on a puller. Cupping in 4 balls of groundbait with a sprinkling of wheat, micros, hemp and corn I started on double maggot and after 9 rudd, 2 blades and 8 roach, I was ready to slip the corn on. First put in the float dips, the strike meets with a solid resistance that doesn’t move at first and I think-pike. True to form a jack of 4lb had taken a grab at my corn and after a short but enjoyable scrap was returned.
Finally the float lifts and I am into the first tench of the season, easing it through the weed I eventually net a lovely 5lb tinca. Two more follow of 4-10 and 3-6 before I need to go, so ,a 19-10 start to the season.
It wasn’t until the following Friday that I could get out again. This time peg 8, fishing the same way I found this time the tench were conspicuous by their absence but instead I had 2 rudd/bream hybrids, 7 roach, 24 small rudd, 1 perch and 20 skimmers, 9 of which were slightly better going from 10oz to 1-10. A smaller total of 10-12 but enjoyable.
I had noticed over my two visits that there had been a lot of crashing in the shallows and when two walkers on the far bank had asked why there were so many big fish on top in that area it made my mind up to have a go. So peg 2 was my port of call on the Sunday. Very shallow and weedy but a decent colour, so I potted in 3 balls of groundbait with the usual accompaniments except I had forgotten the corn! I managed three put ins on the maggot with a small blade, roach and rudd before I hit a bream of 3-12, then another smaller one of 1-12, I then lost 7 fish on the trot with the hook pulling out. Cursing my stupidity/laziness I changed the top kit from a doubled 6 which was obviously too harsh to a soft 12 hollow elastic. Problem solved and 4 more of 3-2, 1-10, 3-10 and 2-11 came to the net and a 16-12 total, leaving me to reflect on what might have been.
Tuesday sees me back at peg 2 with corn! However the colour had gone and I knew I should have kept on walking but I tried and failed! A jack of a pound, 4 roach, 2 rudd and 2 blades for 2-0 and a tench lost at the net brought me make to reality – find the colour in the water! Walking up before I left I could see bream swimming in peg 8, tench rolling in 7 …
Friday sees me at peg 7, 8 rudd to start before three put-ins give a tench of 6-12, a PB for me, followed by another of 6-0 and another of 5-11. The day just got better as another tench appeared of 4-1 after losing 4 in the weed, a carp of 8-8 and bream of 1-4, 3-0 and 2-13. I also lost another carp and a bream. A nice day to say the least and a 39-9 total.
Sunday, the last day of June sees me going on to the opposite bank, peg 25. I had seen so many fish cruise and swirl in the area I thought I had to give it a go, so armed with the usual tackle plus carp rod and pod I set forth. It was very weedy and had to be dragged, also shallow compared to the other bank. It was hard- nothing on the carp rod, and I save a blank after 3 hours with 6 fish for 5oz – 2 x blades, 2 x roach a rudd and a perch. But that is the nature of Bowood- find the fish and you will have a good day!
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.
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!
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!)
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!
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