By the Monday (3rd) I was feeling a bit better and decided to head down to peg 10 at Bowood only to find that Bob, the other regular local had beaten me to it. I know that if he is pike fishing he will have two rods out and one bait would have been put to the left of peg 10, so I decided to give him room and set up on peg 8. After a while he came down for a chat and said an osprey had been seen during the week, now this made sense as the last visit I had seen a large bird with a skimmer of about a pound in its talons flying down the lake but had dismissed it as being an osprey as it seemed too dark but it was! The local twitchers and photographers were out in force on the far bank and they were not disappointed as the osprey soon appeared for them – the picture is taken from one of the photos they subsequently posted.
Anyway I started off at 9:30 as per usual with 3 balls of groundbait laced with some wheat and a few grains of corn. A couple of rudd came to the maggot before I switched to corn and I have to admit my eyes kept switching between my float, the pike float and the osprey!About 10:30 the float lifted and a solid resistance was felt leading to a sluggish but heavy weight coming towards me, as I was about to unship at the top two the fish woke up and steamed off with yards of elastic being pulled out as I hurriedly followed it out before getting a modicum of control back. My first instinct was it could be a pike but eventually I was proved wrong as a tench of 5-08 came to the net.
A few more rudd and a solitary roach came to the corn before an almighty crash 15m to my left and half way across saw the osprey dive from nowhere and pluck what looked to be a fish of about 6oz out of the water and fly off. Unfortunately for the photographers and twitchers- they had left about 20minutes before!
One further bite at about 11:30 resulted in a more spirited initial scrap from another tench of 3-12 and I called it a day at 12:30 as I was feeling surprisingly tired – obviously I was overdoing things too soon!The silvers weighed in at 1-04 for a 10-08 total.
I was a bit wary of going again too soon as I felt rough when I got back to the car and then the wife developed the same symptoms I had so it was not until the following Tuesday (11th) that I ventured out again to peg 10. This time I was on my own but the temperature at 9am was 3C with a heavy frost on the ground, by the time I had packed up at 12:15 and got back to the car it was bright sunshine and 13C! Surprisingly I had no runs at all on the pike rod and ended up with 27 roach, 3 rudd and 2 blades for 3-01, a sign perhaps that the rudd are quietening down and allowing the roach to get at the bait!
My only other visit to date was Friday 14th to the Pondtail fishing 9:35 to 12:05 on peg 2 with the 5m Chinese whip. I used a different rig to normal with a more orthodox Chinese float but with a slightly thicker bristle taking 1.3g. I set the olivette bulk 3 feet from the hook and had 3 droppers below it ending in a 0.10mm hook-length to a size 18 Blue Au Lion D’Or hook which was a mistake as it turned out! I introduced a ball of groundbait and fed a pinch of wheat every other cast, topping up the groundbait with a ball the size of a golf ball every 30 minutes or so. I was in to fish, well bites, immediately. The problem I had was the set up was too sensitive! I was seeing every dip as the fish blew the double maggots in and out. I eventually got myself in check and delayed any strike until it was a definite bite either holding the float under or lifting and holding. The other frustration I had was I was bumping/ pulling out of fish, I came to the conclusion that the blued hook was too fine a wire and springy and I needed a slightly heavier less springy hook. However as I had only taken Gareth’s canal stool there was not a suitable hook to change so I put up with it! The usual also happened with me getting a blank spell of 10-15 minutes with no bites, I am sure these are caused by either the arrival of one of the few resident carp or larger bream coming into the swim. Anyway I ended up with 30 roach a perch and a gudgeon for 2-13, having lost/dropped at least 10 mainly better fish, one being a net-able perch that escaped as I placed the net in the water!
Plenty for me to ponder, especially as apart from that one run when the reel broke I have had no interest from the pike so far and am still to open my account this season!
Friday after my excursion to the Glebe finds me stuck in the rut again – peg 10 at Bowood, fishing 8:35 to 12:00. I was still only taking my pole but had thought about taking the pike rod as well, so set up in the usual way with one main exception- previously I had been fishing a bulk only 5-6 inches from the hook to combat the weed but now I adjusted the shotting so the bulk was two feet from the hook with two sets of two no 8 droppers as this would allow for a more natural fall but still show up clearly if the rig was caught on a stalk. Four balls of groundbait were cupped in with some corn, hemp and wheat, starting on maggot on the 10m mark I had a roach followed by a small skimmer which prompted a change to the corn. Bites were still forthcoming but I was having to wait longer but at 9:30 the float shook then lifted and a lift produced a solid response from a fish that plodded as I managed to guide it towards me before it realised it was hooked and set off on a run that saw elastic streaming from the pole. It took quite a bit of time before the net was finally slipped under a tench of 5-10.
Now as it happens I had forgotten to replace my landing net after the Glebe as i had taken it as a spare so I was left with a Chinese one I had bought to try but had to use a work around as they use different sized threads to us! The net was only just attached to the handle by a couple of turns but held (for this fish!).
The rest of the session went as usual for this time of year- catch some roach and rudd, things go quiet (pike moves in), catch some more(pike moves off), and repeat! Just about 11:50 the float dipped and disappeared, a strike was met with a goodly amount of elastic coming out and after a brief but feisty fight a tench neared the net, at which point the net fell off! I managed to hook the end of the handle under the net and get it onto the platform eventually, while still hanging on to the tench. Grabbing the net I stooped on the platform and managed to scoop the tench all 4-12 of it. At which point I thought enough was enough! The final tally with the tench was 12 roach 11 rudd and the skimmer for 12-13.
Monday sees me back at 10 this time with the proper landing net and the pike kit but things didn’t go to plan as 9 roach, 9 skimmers and 14 rudd for 3-03 was my return and not a single run on the pike rod. Undeterred back to peg 10 on the Wednesday starting in my usual fashion I soon changed to corn and was rewarded with a tench of 3-12 more rudd and roach followed slowly before another tench of 5-14 put in an appearance with the only other action of note was me being snapped by a good fish after a fight of 2-3 minutes that I suspect was a pike! No runs again on the pike rod despite trying different areas/twitches, etc. Eleven rudd two roach and a small skimmer came to 1-10 for a 11-04 total.
It was no until the Monday that I was able to go again back to 10 for an abbreviated session of 8:45 to 10:45 that will be explained by reading on! I was not feeling great to be honest when I arrived at the peg but put it down to not having made the trek for a few days. Setting up as per normal the sardine on the pike rod was dispatched to about 12m out and a couple of metres to the right, the pole had me thinking it may be a good day as the first two fish were skimmers, not big but usually the harbinger of better bream. Switching to corn I had some more skimmers, roach and rudd when at 10:15 the pike float disappeared and the line tightened, closing the bail arm I wound down and struck only for the spool to whirl in freespool and create a birds nest. Quickly untangling the morass of line I soon discovered that the reel was broken the spool was turning as well as going up and down on the turn of the handle meaning no line was being retrieved, so hand-lining the line back on the spool I was relieved to find I was not attached to a fish (one of the advantages of fishing single barbless hooks), so broke down the pike kit and packed it away. Unfortunately the swim was now dead, Mr Pike had taken up residence, I was still feeling off it so decided to give it best, return home and set up with a different reel for the following day. The 10 roach, 6 rudd and 8 skimmers went exactly 3lb. On inspection it appears that something has sheared- probably through the abuse I have given it over the years.
At home I set up with a new reel that my late father bought for me years ago and prepared for the Tuesday only for me to be met with a day of problematic weather and me feeling rough, so I stayed at home which as things turned out was the correct course of action! I seemed to have picked up a bug and spent most of Wednesday and Thursday laid low losing 10lb in weight in the process! Writing this I am beginning to feel human again and may venture out on Sunday or Monday with any luck.
September kicks off on the Friday with a session on peg 6. Setting up in the usual way I had 3 small rudd on the maggot and then swapped to corn for no interest at all! There was lots of pike activity along the arm, literally every 5 minutes there would be an eruption of small fish as a pike attacked. After two and a half hours without any sign of a bite on the corn I thought I would have a mess about fishing the same rig but on the top two with maggot, this resulted in 97 rudd and 3 roach in 35minutes to give me a total of 3-11. Not a fantastic start to the month!
Back on Monday I opted to try peg 10 and I had only corn or wheat as bait, no maggots! Fishing 8:45 to noon I plumped for keeping the same shotting pattern although the weed was starting to die back I still felt there was sufficient on the bottom to cause problems so the bulk 5-6 inches from the hook remained! It took about an hour before I began to catch small skimmers then a better one of just over a pound along with the odd rudd and roach, about 10:15 the float lifted and a strike latched into a better fish that came in quietly at first making me think it was a better bream before it realised it was hooked and all hell let loose before an angry tench of 3-06 was netted.
I had one further tench of 3-13 to go with the better skimmer. seven rudd, four roach and five small skimmers for a 10-10 total.
Wednesday I was back to peg 10, still just with wheat and corn although this time the action was more muted with no tench showing but I did have a bream of 3-10 to go with 16 rudd, 9 roach and a skimmer for a 7-07 total. I mused as I walked back about the symmetry of the last two session weight!
That was it for Bowood as the following week I was at the Glebe for a two day pairs competition that I was running for MFSReborn and wanted to sort out my natch kit in preparation for the time away. The pairs would be drawn on the first day and the 36 anglers were split into two groups – The Pros and the Noddies (I was a Noddy), each pair would include a member from each group and the Noddies would fish Lake 1 on day 1 while the Pros were on lakes 5, 6 and 7. Day 2 would see us swap lakes. There were three sections of 6 in each group.
The draw was done I was paired up with Simmo, who drew peg 94 on lake 6 while I drew peg 15 on lake 1. Peg 15 is not a great area as it is exactly half way on the horseshoe shaped lake and if the wind blows the ends tend to fish better! I set up a feeder, a rig for fishing at 11m, two rigs for the 5m line and two for the margins – one with 0.20mm to a 12 that I intended to use with paste or bunches of dead maggots and the other with 0.22mm to a 16 for corn/pellet.
I called the all in and went on the 5m line to see if I could snare an early fish -NO don’t be silly!- on to the feeder for an hour or so for one skimmer, so then on to the 11m line that had been prepped at the start with a ball of groundbait and loose fed pellet thereafter. A skimmer came after 5 minutes followed by another then I hooked a carp that threw the hook after a minute or so, at which point the heavens opened and it properly rained for the next three hours during which I managed to lose another two carp (one definitely foul hooked as a large scale came back on the hook) and had a couple more skimmers. With 2 hours of the six hour match left I came back on the 5m line that I had religiously been feeding with a few 6mm pellets, I had a carp of 4lb on banded 6mm pellet but lost another, possibly foul hooked. Six pots of groundbait were introduced on the left margin, the right margin had been fed with corn and hemp from the start every ten minutes or so. Bunches of maggots were attacked by hordes of small perch, paste produced a skimmer and then a carp. I was swapping back from left to right and in the end I managed to get a few late carp on JPZ red 8mm pellets. All in all it was not a brilliant day my silver net weighed 10-00 and the carp went 27-08 for a 37-08 total and fifth in section. My kit was soaked but had started to dry out and at least we were able to set up and pack up in the dry! I gathered all the result sheets and went to my hotel to sort the money and results. Simmo had a better day with 148-12 and a fourth in section.
Day 2 arrives with sunshine and I have the last peg in the bag – 106 on lake 7, Simmo was on peg 5 on lake 1. Getting to my peg I was met with the typical strip lake appearance, but I had room on my right as Herbie (our Leader) was next peg in the corner on peg 109. Herbie said I had drawn poorly yesterday and today the lake should get better further down to the left!
Following various discussions I overheard at the draw plus what Herbie had said I decided to dispense with the feeder and put a 10g lead on with a three foot 0.18mm hook-length to a 16, intending to fish a banded 8mm pellet. I also set up two margin rigs as previously, a 5m rig and two 11m rigs, one with a bulk and two droppers the other with the shot spread over the last three feet in the 6 feet of water.
Just as the day before I began at 5m but this time the float went and a carp of 4lb went into the net! No further bites so out on to the bomb, catapulting 6mm out to about 20m with an 8mm Red Robin on the band. No response so changed to a 6mm in the band and almost had the rod pulled from my hand with a savage take from another 4lber. The next hour and a bit I had one more but lost 3, two were my own fault as after I got snapped I tied another hook on and obviously didn’t tighten it down properly as the next fish was on then the hook unraveled. Lo and behold I made the same mistake again! Angry with myself I eventually netted the extra one and changed to the pole at 11m where the 6mm pellet and groundbait had got some fish interested in fact you had to keep feeding 3-4 pellets to keep them interested or the skimmers came back. I had a few more carp but lost a couple as they seem to fight harder than most carp I have encountered with even 3lb fish heading to the far bank at a rate of knots! Fortunately the larger fish tended to be slower but harder to move up in the water.
The match went on similar lines with me swapping between the 11m and 5m lines until with two hours to go I tried the margins, again finding most success with JPZ red 8mm. I lost only two more, one a ghostie of about 6lb when the net was half way over him and the hook pulled but I couldn’t scoop him up fast enough.
At the all out I had clicked my carp nets as 41lb and 46lb with my silvers as 1lb, the weigh in showed, 45lb, 47-04 and 1-04 for a 93-08 total, so close to the magical ton but those lost fish proved costly. That put me 4th in the section while Simmo finished with 152-04 for third. That put us 13th out of the 18 pairs. An interesting two days and one thing that I took away was the fact that my feeder rod that coped with double figure carp at Larford was undergunned for the Glebe, but for the odd times I fish there I will just cope with what I have!
After the Country Fair over the week-end I decided to leave the pole at home and set off with a feeder and waggler rod up to peg 19 (the first peg after the island) on the Tuesday. I started on the open end feeder at 40m at 07:40 and after an hour and a half had 2 skimmers on maggot having missed lots of bites from small roach, during this time I had been catapulting out wheat and hemp out to my waggler line at about 20m. So from 09:10 to 12:00 when I packed up I stuck to the waggler but decided to just fish corn on the hook. What transpired was a very pleasant session with my 3AAA homemade sarkandas reed insert waggler performing nicely and produced 30 rudd, 3 roach and 11 skimmers all on corn for a 6-12 total. Nothing big but plenty of action to keep me busy.
Friday sees me back with the pole to peg 8 which had a nice colour to it. I fished from 08:30 to 12:00, a homemade short rugby ball float with my usual bulk about 6 inches from the 16 hook to the 0.16mm Tornado hook-length. Starting on maggot, over my four balls of wheat, corn and hemp laced groundbait, I was surprised not to get the immediate rudd which is usually a positive sign that the bigger fish were already present. I changed to corn straight away and after a short wait the float lifted and a small skimmer came to the net. The action was steady thereafter with 4 rudd, 3 roach a further skimmer and 7 bream being landed. I lost two big bream plus had a double figure pike on for 5-6 minutes before the hook pulled (not a pike strike, just the pike taking the corn!). This gave me a 20-06 total.
As you can see I weigh the fish as I catch them in the unscrewed landing net and jot down the weight on a scrap of card in my box.
Unusually for me I went to peg 6 on the Sunday (and wished I hadn’t!), fishing 09:00 to 11:45 I had 6 micro rudd on the maggot for 4 ounces. I had 3 proper bites on the corn, one I missed and bumped the other two, however the float was never still as the peg seemed full of micro rudd that were constantly worrying the corn between erupting from the surface and scattering as the pike homed in on them!
Undeterred I was back next day on peg 17 (first peg at back of island in short narrow arm). This was a bit of a shame as the weed was almost impossible to get through but I stuck it out from 08:40 to 10-40 in which time I had a solitary bream of 2-08 and 2 rudd, when I did manage to get through the weed micro rudd put in an appearance and worried the corn into the weed! I decided that I would pack up and move down to the Pondtail peg 2 for an hour (11:00 to 12:00) this was a change fishing the pole at 10m rather than the whip (didn’t have them with me!) I had 16 roach, a perch and a skimmer for a level 2lb on wheat.
Wednesday sees me back at peg 6 fishing 09:00 to 12:00 usual tackle but no fish of size showed, I had sport with 45rudd and 3 roach for 2-11 whilst fending of at times 20 wasps that seemed to decide it was their platform! Friday sees me take the long walk up to the stock pond to fish the big fish peg (peg 1). Setting up to fish 13m where there was a flattish area I introduced 3 balls of groundbait, and fed 2mm pellet and hemp with corn on the size 16 hook, using the same short float as the main lake but altering the shot so I had the bulk set at 2 feet from the hook with 2 no 8 droppers about nine inches apart. I was hoping for carp for a change but apart from a 6lber that acme right up to the platform to have a root around for a couple of seconds that was it, I ended up with 22 roach for 2-04. The Stock Pond is the one place where you often see two kingfishers in tandem and today was no exception which made up for the lack of carp.
The other item of note from the Friday was the estate had now cut paths down to the pegs, some of which were hidden by the undergrowth previously and I was happy to see that the very first peg after the Stock Pond( peg 15) was now not only visible but fishable, this was one peg I had never fished so Sunday (yes another Sunday) I made my way up to the end of the arm, cursing that I had left my phone at home as I wanted to take a picture of the peg (I will visit at some point and do so!).
Anyway plumbing up I had barely 14 inches anywhere in the peg; I decided on two areas, the first directly in front at 10m where I put a solitary ball of groundbait some 2mm pellet, hemp and wheat plus a few samples of corn; the other was to my left where the arm narrows to a reed lined channel leading to the overflow from the Stock pond. I picked a point at 10m where I introduced hemp, pellet and a few grains of corn. I decided to use my usual rig, so that I had a good 2m+ of line above the float- this would allow me to keep the pole away from the baited area. I was not expecting very much and was surprised when a roach of an ounce took my double maggot offering shortly after starting. A couple more roach followed before a far better fish that headed of to the main lake before the elastic controlled it and shortly after I was slipping the net under a bream of 3-08 (typical of me not to have my phone!), the swim went quiet after that so I alternated the two swims with no sign of any action in the left hand one. More small roach and some rudd followed making it an enjoyable session but I kept trying the left swim, finally putting on corn and swinging the rig slightly past the feed area where I had been loose feeding pellet and hemp, the float buried and the elastic headed towards the Stock Pond and the banks of reeds, eventually I managed to draw the fish back up to me and slipped the net under a tench of exactly 4lb! Together with the 20 small roach and 6 rudd this gave me a 8-08 total.
Tuesday, the last but one day of August sees me try peg 5 for an hour and a half between 09:00 and 10:30 for 3 tiny rudd and 2 roach for 3oz,at which point I moved up to peg 10, my first visit of the season! I fished 10:45 to 12:05 and despite the weed still being a bit of a problem in the 8feet of water I enjoyed plenty of bites and ended with 26 rudd, 5 roach and 5 skimmers for 3-08.
Summer is over, September brings a two day pairs match at the Glebe and a move towards the deeper water I think!
Following a chat with another Bowood angler who reckoned he was getting most fish (bream/tench before I was arriving, I set myself the task of trying an early approach again. Peg 8 was my selected swim and the first of 4 balls of groundbait laced with corn, wheat and hemp was deposited at 06:25. I dispensed with the usual approach of starting with maggot and went straight out on corn. Tackle was the homemade rugby ball float taking 0.8g that was set as a bulk six inches above the size 16 hook to 0.16mm Shogun line. It was not until 07:00 when the float rose that I contacted my first fish, a bream of 3-04, another of 3-08 followed by tench of 3-03 and 3-13 up to 09:00. I was adding a further ball of groundbait every 40minutes or so plus regular pinches of loose fed wheat and hemp.Between 9:00 and 11:30 it went a bit mad with further bream of 2-04, 4-12 and 4-00 plus tench of 2-08, 4-02, 3-00 and 3-09. The sun then began to get hotter and I only added one skimmer, two roach and 2 rudd by the time I packed in at 12:00
I think the jury is still out as to whether the early start is worth it, but 39-03 is not to be sneezed at even if most came after 9am- could this be due to the main groundbait being put in earlier- I’ll never know!
Next day I decided to have a couple of hours on the Pondtail on the 5m whip. Starting at 2pm and finishing at 4pm I had the no 2 orange float on with a sixteen hook to 0.10mm and a 0.12mm mainline. Shotting was a bulk two feet from the hook with a no10 and no 9 stotz as droppers; I put in three golf ball sized balls of groundbait and loose fed wheat and hemp (pinch at a time) every other put in. I had an enjoyable session with 29 roach, 3 being netters and a solitary perch that also needed the net for a level 4lb. I should have had more but bumped several good fish before deciding to change the hook, which solved the problem.
Friday sees me back at peg 8 but at my usual time. It was very slow and apart from a lost tench I only had 4 rudd, 3 roach and a blade to show for my efforts, so I decided to be silly and just fish the top two for ten minutes – not changing the rig or anything. In those ten minutes I managed to put 30 rudd in the net, I was quite pleased as I have in the past on various venues had timed sessions of an hour when I have had 180 fish, so although a short session the rhythm needed was still in my muscle bank so to speak.
The week-end was avoided and Monday sees me at peg 7 for a change, starting at 9:00 and finishing at 12:10. I used a homemade 1g pencil float with a 2mm bristle for a change but the shotting was the same. I did start on maggot and had a small rudd first put in so changed to the corn. After half an hour a few bubbles appeared and the float lifted, a strike was met with a very scrappy fight from a tench of 2-04. From 10am to 11:30 I then had a procession of mainly smaller bream 2-06, 2-04. 4-04, 2-12 and 2-04 with just a skimmer, a further rudd and a solitary roach thereafter for a 17-02 total.
Wednesday sees me back on the Pondtail starting fishing at 7:40 until 9:20 to avoid the hot temperatures that had returned. Interestingly I did not get any bites after 9am. Anyway fishing the 5m whip with the same set up as previously, I started on maggot which was a bit slow so changed to double wheat. First cast with double wheat the float buries and I strike into a better fish that had me playing it carefully and guided it to the net – a roach of 1-11!
Next cast I hit another but as I was eating a sausage roll in celebration I managed to lose it with the hook pulling but not before I had seen it in the clear water. That effectively killed the swim so ended the session with 14 roach and a perch for 4-06.
I returned back to the Pondtail on Friday fishing 7:20 to 9:00 as the temperatures were soaring. No massive roach this time but 11 roach and 2 perch for 2-05, but I did hook a large fish, probably one of the carp that I had on for some time before it managed to snap the hook-length in the lilies on my right. Bowood was hosting the annual Country Fair on the Saturday and Sunday so there was a procession of lorries, cans, horseboxes and cars going past me on the bridge. Indeed I am sure that affected the fishing as once they started the fishing got harder.
Sunday I had a go at the Pondtail with the whip again on peg 1 from 7:20 to 9:00 when it was getting too hot. I had 11 roach and 4 perch for 2-04 but most came before 8am, from 8am until I packed up at 9 there must have been 100+ vehicles go past – the trailers/horseboxes/vans were getting ready for the 10am start and subsequent packing away!
No matches this month but once we get into the cooler weather I’ll be back on the main lake and will have a go on the stock pond plus peg 17 for a change!
I decided to get peg 6 out of my system on the Friday and armed with my trusty weed rake arrived at 8:15, Managed two throws to 10m before the unthinkable happened on the third throw, the rope came back minus the rake. Somehow the knot had come apart! Putting my anguish to one side I fished from 8:45 until 12:15, usual set up and despite sticking with corn for the majority of the time ended up with 31 rudd for 5-04 mainly due to a cracking rudd of 1-10, a PB for Bowood. I did lose a foul hooked pike also.
So on to Sunday and the penultimate round of the Summer League on the Thames at Clanfield. I have not been doing very well this season but with the temperature due to peak at 29C I was grateful to draw peg C2, permanent peg 62 which offered some shade for a large part of the day plus the bonus that you can park behind your peg at Clanfield. I did not get my phone out for pics – I was too focused on what I needed to do. I had a large overhanging tree along side an old sluice opposite while the main flow was a couple of rods short of this. Plumbing up I had about six feet or so of water at 11m and I put 4 balls of groundbait laced with casters, wheat and hemp at the start and went over it with a 1g Grey with a 0.10mm hook-length to an 18 with double maggot. I immediately was into tiny bleak and dace, then gudgeon, all the while I was loose feeding maggots every few minutes across towards the flow priming it for the second hour of the match when I was expecting the pole line to slow.
After an hour although I was still catching the odd fish I was getting pestered by unhittable bites which I guessed where crayfish, I went across on the waggler, third cast I had a small chublet and began to pick up the odd small fish before hitting a better fish which turned out to be a chub of about 10-12 ounces, two casts later disaster strikes – a cast catches a hither to unseen branch and although I managed to pull the rig out of the tree it catapulted back and lodged in the large reed bed on my bank to the left that was inaccessible and I lost the lot. Reaching to my bag to get my tube of wagglers I discovered to my horror that they were not there! I had left them in my other bag back at home, so that was the end of the waggler, back on the pole I had a very quiet middle period apart from the ghost bites when I hit one and found myself connected to a jack pike – which did not count in the match, and subsequently lost close in. I plodded away and ended up with 15 dace, 11 bleak, 5 chub(lets), 5 roach, 23 gudgeon and a perch for 2-8-8 and this beat just 3 others in the section.
Licking my wounds, I missed Bowood on the next two very hot days and tried on the Wednesday, this time going on peg 4 (peg 6 was taken!), fishing from 8:45 to 12:15 I took a different approach and started with a homemade float taking just 2 no 8 and had a few small rudd on maggot to start before switching to corn for the rest of the time. I had one bream of 3-05 plus 8 rudd for a 3-10 total! The guy on 6 had a few bream and a couple of tench fishing two rods a float and a feeder.
I gave Bowood a miss for the rest of the week preparing for my visit to Bromley Mill near Eccleshall, Staffs. Setting off at half past 5 I arrived just before 8, 45 minutes early for the draw. Bromley Mill is a one off fishery- very shallow and the carp will swim right up to your box as you need to sit in the water to be able to position your keepnets. Anyway I drew peg 18 which was on the opposite bank to where I wanted to be but was a shortish walk although I had the scales!
To cut a long story short I had one carp on the method and then switched to the pole at 10m, all the time feeding the margins to my left and right with hemp, wheat, pellet and corn which saw frustratingly lots of carp come in but not take any bait seemingly rooting around for the bloodworm! I did hook one carp from the left margin but lost it. I had all my fish from the 10m line and ended up with 9 carp hooked, 5 landed plus 11-06 of bream and roach for a 37-11 total and 11th out of the twelve fishing. Les who organised it thanked me for coming so far but said I had drawn possibly the worst peg!
Back to Bowood on Tuesday but this time on the opposite bank and peg 23, fishing 9-15 to 12:45.Plumbing up at 11m it was very weedy but I found a gap that I could fish into. Only about 4 feet deep I started the usual way with 3 balls of groundbait and the obligatory wheat, hemp and corn. Starting on maggot I had to wait a little before the rudd arrived and after a few switched to corn. It was hard going but by switching baits I managed to get 21 rudd, 2 roach and a solitary bream of 2-06 for a 3-08 total.
Next day sees me back at peg 6 fishing 9:00 to 12:20. Beginning in the usual way I had no response to maggot which filled me with hope as it is usually a sign that the larger fish are already present. Corn went on the hook and by 10:00 I had bream of 3-06, 4-04 and 3-01 in the net, it then went quiet after I missed a bite and I may have messed it up by potting a top up ball of groundbait as I only had a roach, two rudd and five skimmers thereafter for a level 12-00 weight.
Friday sees me back at peg 6 (getting into a rut again!) fishing 8:45 to 12:30. There were 2 anglers fishing further up on pegs 8 and 10 and it turned out that the one on 8 who was also fishing a pole had 14 bream by the time they left at 12, most of which were caught before I got there. This seems to be more common now at Bowood, the bream seem to be feeding early on whereas in past seasons early starts were a waste of time, must try again in the coming month! Anyway back to peg 6 fishing my usual heavier rig I cupped in 4 balls of groundbait with the usual corn, wheat and hemp, stuck a maggot on and almost immediately as there was no response put corn on. Within five minutes the float lifted a a bream of 2-10 was in the net! Further bream of 4-09, 2-12, 1-14 and 2-06 followed all without the float going under.
At this point it may be worth explaining my shotting pattern as at first glance it looks very crude! Due to the weed and in particular the elodea type weed that grows I needed a pattern that would get me through the weed (and rudd although this part didn’t work!) or at least show when the bait was caught on a weed stalk, to this end all the shot are placed as a bunch 4-6 inches from the hook. The depth is then plumbed so that the bulk is only an inch or two off bottom, this has two effects, firstly it is a lift rig as the larger fish will be affecting the bulk if they take the bait in their usual head down grazing manner and then righting themselves; secondly it acts a a very short pivot, the fish can not move far before the bulk is affected, even a turn of the head after taking the bait will indicate a bite.
So back to the fishing, the session ended up with a tench of 4-06 and 1 roach a 1 rudd for an 18-15 total.
I use an old boss trolley for Bowood but one of the tyres had developed a slow puncture and it had been getting progressively worse, investigating previously it was right on the valve, not repairable but despite pumping up just before leaving home, within 100m it was dead flat, so coming back to the car was hard and it certainly made my knees incredibly sore, so much so that I did not think I could manage the long walks at Radcot on Sunday with my normal match kit. The new inter tube would not arrive in time so I made a conscious decision that as we were not threatening the league in any way and had been told to just fish for ourselves, I would take the rucksack seat, keepnet bag, bucket with bait and my Chinese three rod holder that also had tackle pockets for floats, hooks and shot.
Sunday arrived and driving past Radcot on the way to the draw I was shocked to see that the field in which we usually park was completely filled with tents! At the draw it transpired that Radcot downstream was a no-no due to lack of access and that there would be a section at Kelmscott and everyone else would park at Grafton lock and there would be a section above the lock and two below, D section would be a horrendous walk! Fortunately I was drawn at Kelmscott and although faced with a Bowood length walk up to the stock pond at least it was flat. My peg was about 30-40m below the pill box.
As it turned out I spent the match sitting on my keepnet bag on the bank rather than the chair. I had set up a waggler on my 13 foot Lazer Extreme match rod, a 6xno4 stick on a 14 foot Lazer Tornado and a block end feeder on a Lazer Extreme Leger. Now many will not have come across this make but the rods are a legacy from my Buygoodtackle days when the strap line was “If we won’t use it, we won’t sell it!” Hence most of my tackle is now at least 14 years old and much of my non-BGT tackle much older!
Back to the match, the flow was towards the far side but I decided to do as I did at Clanfield and start on the nearside before going across. To this end I introduced 4 balls of groundbait and loose fed just hemp and wheat on the stick line while catapulting maggots across every 5 minutes or so. Third run through with the stick in the nine feet of water brought a small chublet and from then on it was a bite every few runs through, mainly small bleak or chublets but also a net roach and 6oz chub. After an hour, as expected it began to tail off so a switch to the waggler was in order (still feeding the stick line). I discovered that if I cast in the main flow I did not get a bite whereas if i cast just beyond I would get one, albeit from small chublets or bleak. I continued to pick off small fish until I inexplicably hooked an underwater bramble that was not there for the previous 50 casts! This resulted in my rig being retrieved but the homemade waggler stem was snapped so a new float was attached. With an hour to go I hooked a better fish that turned out to be a chub of about 1.25lb that was safely netted, by the all out I had 32 bleak, 22 chub/lets, 6 roach, 3 perch and a solitary gudgeon for 5-07. With half the section weighed I was lying second but decided to make my way home to watch the Lionesses!
No matches now until September but August awaits with the prospect of a couple of early morning starts!
Returning from Yorkshire I had two days to get ready before I was off again to the Glebe near Hinckley for a Maggotdrowners match organised by Whisker. Arriving in plenty of time after setting off at 05:45 I was hoping to be on Pool 6 or 7 rather than Lake 1 but drew peg 2 on Lake 1. Still I was not too disappointed as it meant a short journey with my kit.
I set up a cage feeder with a 20 inch hook-length as is the requirement at the Glebe but was sure I would be on the pole mainly so set up a11m rig, two 2+2 rigs and a margin rig. The two 2+2 rigs altered only in that one was bulked , the other with spread shot in the last half. Line was 0.16mm Shogun or Tornado with a size 16 Matrix bander. The margin was 0.20mm straight through to a 14 Chinese hook.
The match started and after depositing three balls of groundbait on the 11m line and a single ball with corn and pellet on the 2+2 line I reached for the feeder that I had clipped up for a point short of the far bank. So the next two casts ended up well on the far bank! Still don’t understand how that happened so after a quick adjustment I spent 20 minutes having 5 casts and staring at a motionless tip. The feeder went back up the bank even though Chris on peg 1 was getting a bite a cast on the feeder! On to the 11m line, 6mm pellets had been fed every few minutes and the first drop in resulted in a bite and the elastic coming out of the pole, only after a few minutes for the hook to pull as the fish got within netting range. That was it for a while before a bite out of nowhere saw a three pounder being slipped in to the net. Another bite and another lost fish with yet another hook pull, at this point I took the Matrix bander off and replaced it with a size 16 Chinese hook and didn’t suffer any further losses.
After a couple of hours I had clicked about 12lb, made up of 3 carp and some skimmers on a mixture of pellet or corn hook baits, Chris on Peg 1 was way ahead and still catching. I moved onto the 2+2 line and starting on corn was rewarded with an immediate carp of about 4lb then nothing.
I had primed a line just off the tree at 2+2 distance on my right and this produced a few skimmers and a further carp, swapping between the lines and baits I managed to nick the odd fish but with two hours to go I went for the margins, the right was deeper but produced nothing. The left was at least a foot shallower.
I had been loose feeding corn and pellet into both margins but I now potted in three big pots of loose groundbait into the left margin and went in with double corn, strangely, no response until I changed to single corn and I then had a slow but steady run of fish until the end. At the weigh in I put 13-14 of silvers on the scales (all skimmers except for a solitary perch) and 64-10 of carp for a 78-08 total.
It was an unusual week as Tuesday got taken up with household shopping and Wednesday the car had it’s MOT and thankfully passed which meant I could go to Bowood on Thursday which is when we usually do the shopping! Peg 6 was my selected swim which was very weedy but had a good colour and I was hopeful. Priming the swim in my usual fashion with 3 balls of groundbait with corn, hemp and wheat I started with a homemade “chimp” type float to 0.18mm main line and 0.16mm hook-length to a 14 B911X and double maggot at 9:30, my first fish was a small skimmer followed by a rudd, at which point I switched to corn. As the bell was chiming for 10am I hooked into a good tench that I managed to extract from the dense weed on two occasions before a typical swimmers roll dislodged the hook. Twenty minutes later similar story except it came off in the weed. I began to wonder if I should have brought the rake but although dense the weed should not have been a problem. A further wait and this time I managed to extract the tench out of three weed beds and land it safely at 5-07.
The session was frustrating as rudd moved in when there were no tench around but I lost a further tench, two big bream and and unseen torpedo that snapped me- pike/carp/tench- I’ll never know! I ended up with the solitary tench and 14 rudd plus two skimmers for 7-03 plus 6 lost fish!
Next day I was back at peg 6 again to see if I could improve on the situation by using a heavier elastic, the big change was the weather was now very sunny and hot. The water had cleared a bit but unfortunately the session went the way of the previous one. I had 16 rudd, 7 skimmers and a solitary roach for 3-14 on wheat and the following losses:
Tench – hook snapped- yes hook snapped at bend after getting fish through two weed beds
Tench – snapped in weed to my right
Bream – hook pulled close in prompting my to put slightly lighter elastic on
Tench – snapped in weed.
Can’t remember the last time I snapped the line so often in a session.
Following Friday’s session and the weather getting hotter I opted for a short session on the Pondtail on Sunday. I fished the 5m whip from 9-15 to 11-15 and had a pleasant session with 23 roach and 1 perch for 3-07 on maggot, feeding wheat and hemp.
So avoiding the very hot days I ventured to peg 5 on the Wednesday fishing 8:45 to 12:30. Setting up as on peg 6 I had a couple of early maggot fish before switching to corn. It was just past 9:30 when I had my first tench of 3-07 that I landed together with copious amounts of weed. I had reverted to a 10-12 elastic that seemed to be soft enough for the silvers/bream but with enough grunt to deal with the tench. The next tench hooked I lost with it coming adrift in the weed bed to my right. I had one further tench of 3-08 to go with my 10 rudd for a level 9-0.
Sunday sees me at Clanfield for the penultimate leg of the Summer League (which has not been going well for me!), sandwiched between that at the final leg is a visit to Bromley Mill near Stafford.
It was not until the Sunday that I was able to venture to Bowood again, arriving I was shocked to see that I was the only one there on the first Sunday of the season! I trundled off to the early pegs and decided on peg 5 as the water was too clear on the earliest pegs. After raking the swim to give me a clearish channel with 3.5 to 4 feet of water I decided on a homemade short rugby ball style float with a 0.16mm Shogun mainline and 0.16mm Tornado hook-length to a 14. I kick started the swim at 10m with 3 balls of groundbait laced with a few kernels of corn, wheat, hemp and some left over casters at 8:50 and settled down to see if anything would attack the 3 maggots. It was fairly quiet which always suggests to me the presence of something bigger but Bowood seems to buck the trend of most waters where an early start is best and it is usually 10am before any fish seem to show!
I had a few small rudd before 10am and kept alternating between the maggots and corn but it was at 10:30 when I hooked my first better fish, a tench of 2-14, one of the smaller ones at Bowood but the first tench of the season is always a welcome sight.
The temperature had dropped 10C from the 16th and the wind was very strong at times, making presentation difficult, but at 11:30 I hooked another better fish, this time a tench of exactly 4lb which tried hard to snag me in the copious weed but I eventually got it in with a load of weed wrapped around the float!
The only other fish of note was a large bream that I pulled out of as it did a swimmer’s roll in the weed. When I stopped at 1:50 I had 31 rudd, 1 roach and 3 skimmers to add to the tench giving a 9-15 total.
Tuesday 21st sees me back at peg 5 this time starting at 9:45 with surprisingly two other angler in situ on the other bank towards the island. Using the same rig and feeding regime I had a small blade after ten minutes then nothing, a switch to corn saw the float bob a few times before lifting and a few feet of elastic come out before the fish managed to snag me in the weed. Five minutes later a similar bite but this time a bream of 2-04 found it’s way to my net. Over the rest of the session until I packed up at 13:45 the bites were identical and resulted in bream of 2-12, 2-13, 3-12,3-12, 2-15 and a tench of 5-08. I did also have 3 further skimmers and a roach for a 24-07 total but lost 4 tench and 6 bream with the weed!
Friday sees me up at Makins Fishery near Nuneaton for the Pellet Guys Pairs run through the MFSReborn site. I had been drawn with Les who I shared a cabin with at Woodland View. The peg I drew on a windy miserable day (no photos) was Derwent 28 which was a form of snake lake- not my favorite type of fishing! Anyway to cut a long sad story short I landed 6 carp and 5 rudd but lost 5 carp to end with 23-00 and last in section. Les by a quirk of fate had also landed on Derwent but on the other side of the lake and also came last in section! Next day I hoped I would avoid Derwent and fortunately drew Lagoon 16. It was only when I got to my peg and looked at who else was in my section that I realised I was in the proverbial “section of death” to use a football term. I had Pete Bailey, Barry Gabriel, Josh Blavins, Dave Pearson and Glen Butler to name but a few of the class anglers in the section. Anyway I resigned myself to just enjoying the day (hopefully) and sorted out my kit.
To be fair the peg looked fishy and I set up 6 rigs to cover 11m, 2+2, and margins plus a feeder but my main idea was to fish 4mm meat at 2+2 with the option of changing to paste and then going to the margins. The margins proved interesting as the right margin was as deep as the 2+2 line whereas the left margin this side of the vacant peg was about a foot shallower but beyond the peg was similar to the other margin. At the start I put a ball of groundbait with pellet and corn at 11m and went straight onto the 2+2 line simply loose feeding 3-4 pieces of 4mm meat. Within 2 minutes the float had buried and I had a carp of 3lb in the net, the first hour seemed to rush by and I had clicked 16lb. The next couple of hours were not as manic but steady with bream also showing although I did lose one carp. With two hours to go I tried the margins- I had been feeding three areas, the right margin just beyond the overhanging weed, the left margin short of the platform and the left margin at 11m . The short left margin did not produce at all but by nicking a fish from the other swims and alternating I managed to keep puttying fish in the net. When the whistle went I reckoned I had about 60-70lb, the weigh in showed I had exactly 60lb and third in section which I was more than happy with. I had lost a total of 3 carp, the last of which was hooked just before the whistle and had taken me into the tree roots right at the end of the bank. As a pair we ended up 17/24.
Next day (no peace for the wicked) was round 3 of the Summer League on the Bristol Avon at Chippenham. I drew B8 which was “in the trees”. A steep bank, narrow platform and bright sun in my face did not mean a comfortable day and the phone stayed sealed in my jacket pocket so sorry no pictures. The only flow was at 14m but I did have some lilies at 10m to by left. I primed the long swim with three balls of groundbait laced with casters, wheat and hemp and there after loose fed hemp and the occasional caster. The fish were small! Going out to 14m with a high bank was very difficult and then coming back with a chublet that was a third of an ounce was not great! As usual with the Avon the first hour is key and I had 11 small fish in the net before the action died, a switch to chopped worm by the lilies produced nothing, so back out to the flow at 14m and trying to nick the odd small fish. After 3 hours I tried the lilies again with chopped worm and this time hooked a good fish, playing it carefully I got it to the point where I had unshipped to the top kit and had just put the landing net in the water ready when it suddenly pretended to be a tarpon and shot out towards the lilies pulling the hook free! To say I was gutted would be an understatement as I knew that was probably mt chance of decent points gone. The match ended with me having 3 bleak, 12 chublets, 3 roach and 4 minnows for 11oz and last in section, the lost fish would have lifted me to 4th from 11th! The rest of the team fared equally badly and we finished last on the day!
That was it for June as next morning we travelled up to Yorkshire to stay with my mother-in-law while my brother-in-law had some respite from his caring duties. Next month we conclude the Summer League with two matches on the Thames plus a Maggot Drowners match at the Glebe.
First Sunday in June saw me at the second round of the Summer League at Dunn Mill, Hungerford on the Kennet and Avon Canal. I was drawn B10 which put me not far off where I was in the pairs match a couple of years ago! The tow path at my peg was quite narrow and with one thing or another my camera stayed locked away! I plumbed up and settled for a close in line just over the near shelf, two down the track, one to the left would be my groundbait line the one to my right a chopped worm and caster, the far side was very shallow and I settled for a line at 13m, just off the far bank.
I began on the short line and had 13 small fish in the first hour on pinkie, losing a good fish early on, possibly a perch before trying my groundbait line which proved less than spectacular but again losing a decent fish , chopped worm only gave me one small perch so it was across to 13m with a Peatmoor float on a number 2 elastic, 22 hook and 0.07mm line, feeding squatt with pinkie on the hook. I ended up fishing this way for most of the match which was difficult as with the narrow tow path I had the option of not unshipping until the top kit by lifting the pole on top of the 10 foot hedge behind me or unshipping twice; I opted mostly for the double unshipping! Gary Didcott on my left had caught some skimmers and I knew I was behind him and I had not seen anything to my right. At the weigh in Gary weighed in 4-11 and my 49roach,15 gudgeon, 6 perch, 4 dace and a solitary bleak weighed in at 2-13, the angler to my right had a grueller and weighed in 0.5oz.
As things stand we are up to 5th place after getting 5th place on the day! Still not convinced by their scoring system but they run it as they want!
So now I had some caster and squatt spare so Wednesday I bought a day ticket and set of for the K&A at Horton- about 10 minutes from home. I ended up fishing at the end of the pontoon of moored boats on the far bank which was about 12 feet below where my car was parked!
I was sitting a few feet off the water and decided to fish a line close in which as it turns out was the deepest water, a line across level with the boats but away from them, a line in the area between the pontoon (squatt) and the bow of the last boat (caster) and a worm line at the same distance but angled off to the left, just off the shallow water. Rigs were similar to Sunday –
The peg was just at the start of a long sweeping bend which coupled with the pontoon and moored boats opposite would explain why the deep water was on the inside. Starting on the inside after introducing a ball of groundbait on both the far side lines plus regular loose feed of squatt and casters while I fished the inside I was hoping to get the fish confident before going across. Fishing pinkie I began to get some roach and perch plus the odd small skimmer before moving on to the squatt line after about 40 minutes. The next hour or so was constant action mainly from small roach, moving on to the caster line that also produced – small roach to the caster with the odd bigger one and hand sized skimmer. Finally I gave the worm line 40 minutes and again had a run of skimmers and perch before I decided to make my way home. The final tally was 31 roach, 20 perch and 16 skimmers for 4-5lb.
Buoyed by the action I took the plunge as I worked out that it would be cheaper to pay the £37 for a canal membership that would see me through to June 2023 than buy day tickets given I would still want to fish somewhere during Bowood’s close season and not have to travel too far! So on Friday, still with some squatt and casters left, I returned only to find that there was nowhere to park! The lay-by that is the usual parking spot in the lane was full with cars and a German registered camper van! Not one person to be seen fishing so there was no alternative but to try other spots along the canal -after visiting four other areas which were discounted due to either no parking, parking but no spots available due to boats moored up for as far as the eye could see, parking but a narrow towpath with a procession of bikes going past or the final one parking but a short pound with horrible coloured flowing water due to the procession of boats going through the locks at either end. I went home and decided to give it a miss until next year!
June 16th arrives, the start of Bowood, but first I had to do the weekly shop so it was about 10:35 before I actually started fishing in peg1. I had made the decision to fish peg 1 if the water conditions were okay or peg 3 if they were too clear. As there was already an angler on peg 3 I tried peg 1 as it had a bit of colour but not as much as I would like. I put the rake through first before setting up. The weather was sunny, hot with little if any wind- not ideal! I introduced three balls of groundbait with some squatt, caster, wheat and corn and crossed my fingers! Tackle was 0.16mm, size 16 and an Ugly Duckling float. I started on corn as I had left my maggots in the fridge! Fishing from 10:356 to 2:15 I did not get a single bite on corn managing to catch 12 rudd on a bunch of squatt for 14oz. The fish were there as I saw three bream about 3lb plus a long broad backed common well into double figure plus had 3 pike attacks on rudd that I was bringing in. I had a walk up to peg 3 who was having no luck and looked at peg 5 which is going to be my peg on Sunday – nobody will be fishing it as it is choked with weed and unfishable at present – the weed rake will soon remedy that! The pairs match at Makins is looming and the third round of the Summer League on the Avon at Chippenham is the day after!
Friday 20th, two days before the Summer League I headed down to Witherington Farm, just outside Salisbury, with the intention of fishing Cottage in preparation for the two day Pete Bailey shindig at the end of May, plus to get any cobwebs out of my system for the weekend. The day did not start well with light rain (no photos of the peg!), people already on Cottage and got worse when I realised that I had left my bucket with the bait at home in the garage! Fortunately I had some pellets in one of my other bags plus some Chinese paste, so it was going to be a banded pellet or paste day! Then I find that my large barrow wheel for the Octbox is flat so I have to use my two side wheels as the main wheels and put the handles in the foot plate extension so am pushing it from the opposite end!
I settled on Sellwood peg 10 which had clear water in front and two nice looking margins. Plumbing up I found little difference in depth anywhere apart from my left hand margin which was about eight inches with s slope going down to the main depth of approx 3 feet about a metre out. I opted to try a 2+2 approach straight in front plus fed the right margin with micros and 4mm pellets, I did feed the left margin in a similar way but when tried it proved biteless so concentrated on the right margin. Tackle was a homemade slim teardrop float with a 2mm bristle taking a bulk of 4 x no 8 and two no10 droppers, a 0.16mm Shogun line to a 16 Kanto hook (a chinese hook), a 12-14 hollow elastic completed the set up. I also set up the margin rig I used at Staits with a 14 hook.
Cupping in a mix of 4mm and micros on the 2+2 line I was soon getting bobs on the float as small fish tried to suck in the 6mm banded pellet, after 10 minutes I had a “proper” bite and pulled out of a carp after a short fight with a scale on the hook, I had two more of these false bites before I managed to get and land my first carp of around 3lb. The bites continued and I had a few porpoise impersonating bream to go along with a couple more carp of 4lb and 6lb. After an hour or so I decided to give the paste a try on the 2+2 line and was greeted almost immediately with a bite I missed. Still on the 2+2 line I had the biggest fish of the day at roughly 8lb plus what looked like a crucian although it could have been a brown goldfish!
Moving onto the margin, I decided to keep the same rig as the depth was the same and proceeded to get bites from more bream and carp plus a solitary rudd, all on the paste, ending the day with 8 carp, 9 bream, the crucian and rudd for between 45 and 50lb (I actually clicked 49!) with me losing a total of 5 carp, mostly foul hookers. So not too bad given my main bait stayed at home, and at least the rain stopped by midday! The wheel was pumped up on return but was flat again within hours, couldn’t find the puncture and then found that the bearing had sheared- so a new puncture proof wheel is on order!
Sunday sees me at South Cerney for the first match of the Summer League, eleven teams of four to be split between Gilmans and Staits. The drawbag was not kind to team captain Darren or me as we ended up on very poor pegs on Staits while Craig and Nigel had good pegs on Gilmans. Anyway I was at the far end of the road bank, with the rope on my right and a snagpit on my left! I set up waggler, feeder, and two pole rigs- one for the margin and one for 11m which was about 7ft deep. I compromised with the long rig and used a 0.16mm main line to a 0.14mm hooklength and a 16 Kanto hook. My margin rig was the 0.20mm to a 14. Bait was micros and 4mm, some 8mm for pinging, expanders, worms, corn, hemp and paste, with crushed expander as groundbait. Before the start Craig came along and told me the bad news- this was the peg he had last weekend in a two day match and he came last in section after a good position on the first day! We agreed any thing better than last would be a bonus.
First 20 minutes I spent out on the feeder close to the rope with no joy. Back on the 11m line I was hoping something had settled on the three balls of groundbait with hemp and pellet. Double maggot on the hook and after a couple of minutes a half ounce perch means the blank is saved! The rest of the match was spent trying to get a decent fish but skimmers and perch came on the pole line, the margins were a waste and five roach on the waggler meant that at the end of the day I had 28 small perch, 4 skimmers and 5 roach, Brian Ballard on C8 the other side of the rope and on a flier had managed to find some proper bream and won the section with 19lb+. I was surprised to find that my fish weighed 6-09 which put me 9th out of the eleven in the section so I was moderately pleased as it had been a very hard day.
No fishing in the week as was tied up with chores and hospital appointment, so it was straight into the two dayer at Witherington Farm organised by Pete Bailey. A draw of 9:30 meant a leisurely start and I parked up with plenty of time. Sellwood and Cottage were being used on both days and it was to be a random draw each day. Peg 9 on Cottage came out of the bag and I was not too displeased with the draw as I had fished the peg several years ago and knew it would give me a days sport. I had decided to focus entirely on the pole and had left the rods at home; plumbing up I found a consistent depth and settled on a 2+2 line and two margin lines, the right hand margin being deeper but with less cover whereas the left margin had a nice bank of rushes projecting out a foot from the bank.
I set up the two rigs I had used for Sellwood but the difference was I had changed the elastic in the margin kit from a hollow to a 2mm solid Chinese elastic set soft. Starting by cupping in micros, some corn, 4mms and hemp into both margin swims I introduced two balls of groundbait on the 2+2 line and began with a banded 6mm pellet. It was slower than I expected and after an hour or so I had 4 bream in the net and had lost a carp that was probably foul-hooked. I had tried maggot, expander paste and corn with corn and expander producing most interest. I then made the decision to go down the margins early and see if there was any interest, starting with the right hand one. I had been feeding regular helpings of micros and 4mms into both margins with just a few grains of corn, starting on paste I had another bream then nothing, corn was tried and nothing, so I swung around to try the left margin on corn.
A couple of minutes in and I was getting indications on the float with fish brushing the line before finally a proper bite an another bream, then nothing. At this point I decided to rotate the three swims, taking a fish before moving on. This seemed to work and I began to get the odd carp interspersed with the bream, losing 8 carp in total, most seemed to be foul-hooked. By the end I had clicked 31lb of bream and 57lb of carp but was unsure how accurate this was! The scales arrived and I was shocked to find my bream weighed 31Lb and my carp 57lb! A total of 88lb and second place on the lake.
Day 2 and I was back on Cottage this time peg 14, but what a difference a day makes- the carp were in a full throttled spawning frenzy, thrashing around in the reeds and even under the platforms – they were not going to feed! I had set up before most people had arrived as the draw had taken place the previous evening. We had agreed that we would not fish the margins or the island until the frenzy had ceased and things were calm, consequently I plumbed up and found the deeper water was to the left of my peg, so fed two swims at 2+2 and 11m with crushed expander groundbait and the usual micros, hemp and corn.
I started on maggot hoping for a run of silvers/bream given the carp were otherwise occupied but an hour later I still had not had a bite despite trying all different baits. The wind had picked up and was cold plus blowing straight into my face. After two hours I was still biteless when I had a bite on the 2+2 line that turned out to be a carp (possibly foul-hooked) but after several minutes I managed to get it in close when it made a dive for under the platform and the hook pulled. Still blanking others were struggling also with just a few silvers being caught and the odd carp.
By about 1:30pm the carp had calmed down enough for us to try the margins, starting on the right margin the float was getting buffeted as fish went through the swim but then it slowly sank and the resulting strike resulted in a very welcome- bream of about 2lb! The blank had been saved. Continuing down the right margin I managed to get two carp of about 3lb plus lose a third that may have been foul-hooked all on corn. At this point the sky went very dark and the rain arrived in bucketfuls which was very unpleasant as the wind was blowing it straight into me, then the float sank and I hit a heavy fish that had me sweating as it took what seemed an age to get it within netting range and then ages to get it’s head up, I eventually slipped the net under a lump of about 12lb. About 5 minutes later the rain stopped but so did any activity in the right margin, swapping to the left margin I lost one carp when the hook pulled and came back with a scale and that was it for the rest of the match! The rain had the opposite effect two pegs along as the carp started to feed voraciously on the 5m line on meat!
At the weigh in I put my four fish on the scales for 20-04 only to find that was enough for second on the lake, beaten by the late run of meat fish! So Cottage had been kind to me for the two days! Next up is the Summer League Round 2 on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Hungerford, the two day Pairs at Makins followed next day by Round 3 on the Bristol Avon at Chippenham and of course Bowood opens on the 16th!