Monday, 9 April 2018

I draw the Golden Peg, but...

Cedar Lake, Decoy, peg 20

This was the first Fenland Rods club match of the year, fished by 16. There’s water lying everywhere on the fields, and the water level was well up, leaving the platform on peg 22 (which has been one of the hot pegs during the Winter, partially underwater, so it wasn’t pegged. However, from the results it looks as if the fish have spread out, so 22 and the peg opposite, Number 6, probably won’t necessarily be better than the rest from now on. My swim was almost eight feet deep – showing how much extra water is in the lakes after this incredibly wet spell we’ve had.

The weather was really uncomfortable – a cold North-Easterly (not the mild weather forecast) and persistent rain from start to finish (hence no pictures) – not heavy, but enough to soak everything and to make my hands cold. By the end I was shivering, even though the wind on our bank was from behind. But I was, at least, on the £100 Golden Peg!

Fish first cast!
I started on a Method feeder with a pop-up and hit a carp of 3 lb first cast, followed immediately by one of 6 lb. A third cast brought nothing so I had a quick look in the deep-water margin swim, which was just as deep, where I had been throwing maggots. A 4 lb barbel was the first fish – foulhooked. This was followed by another, smaller fish, and after a blank ten minutes I decided to have a look at 13 metres, which was where I imagined my main swim would be, putting in about ten grains of corn and a few micros with each drop-in.

Again, first cast produced a carp, of about 4 lb, to corn, but it never produced fish regularly. I could see liners coming every minute or two, but didn’t strike until it looked like a bite, and they came only at intervals of about 10 minutes. A couple were foulhooked so I looked up in the water at various depths, but never had a bite! Back on the bottom came another bite or two, and another fish foulhooked.

Barbel in the side
So it was back, for the moment, to the side swim, where another couple of barbel came, and then the swim died. The float kept dipping but not turning into a bite, and I am convinced these were barbel snuffling around the bait but not taking it. I’ve noticed this before when barbel are in the swim.  Back to 13 metres with corn and another couple of fish foulhooked. At one point about 90 minutes before the end I foulhooked four fish in four casts at 13 metres, landing the first three. Among those I had lost I’m convinced there were some over 4 lb - although foulhooked, they felt like sacks of potatoes, rather than dashing around everywhere.

From what I could see not a lot of fish were being caught, so I thought that perhaps I might frame, but was annoyed I had foulhooked (and lost) so many fish. Afterwards I found that a lot of anglers had the same problem, and an angler on Oak Lake, behind me, told me the same thing. Of course, landing foulhooked fish is partially down to luck – there’s no standard way of playing and landing them that I know of. The worst, I have found, are those hooked in the tail, and those hooked in the nose.

A short spell on cat meat down the side, which produced just one 2 lb bream. In the last half-hour, with about 50 lb in the net, I put in two bait-droppers of maggots into the side swim, hoping this would keep the roach away, and took three more barbel to 4 lb, two hooked on the outside of the lip, which further convinced me they were taking the bait only half-heartedly.
The (rather wet) results sheet.

To my right Tony Nisbet fished at 6 metres, after taking a few fish down the side, and took fish regularly on a 6mm expander, to win with 85 lb 4 oz, and I was second with 64 lb 4 oz. But the weights were spread around pretty evenly, and I was impressed that on such a difficult day my mates caught as many as they did. It was the sort of day when, because of the cold and wet,  I just could not bring myself to get up and start adding extra sections, or putting on different rigs. 

The one thing I should have done was to follow Tony’s lead and start a new swim at six metres, which would have been much easier to fish. But I didn’t actually realise he was catching so many fish. Mike Rawson took almost all barbel down the side on a maggot feeder - something I believe I should try more often. But you can't do everything.

Dave Garner, last season's Club Champion,. took third place - it's astounding how he catches on cat meat whatever the conditions, using just rod and line! 

So a pretty good result for me...but no £100 to put in my back pocket.  I know that a good angler would have found a way of avoiding those foulhooked fish. However, hats off to Tony. My next match is in two weeks time, on Elm. Hopefully it will be a little warmer.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

I manage to frame

Kingsland Large Carp Lake, Coates, Cambs

There were 12 of us in this club match, and were given (as matches here seem to be now) the Eastern bank of the lake. Our peg 1 was in the first corner, down to 5, where there was a pleasure angler, and then 6 round to 12, in the U-shaped end of the lake). This is a great water for fishing shallow, and I used to use a pellet waggler, but now we’re always on the Eastern bank we are always facing any prevailing wind with West in it, which can make float fishing difficult, and  if the wind is behind us, as it was on this day, it’s always an Easterly which is never ideal for fishing shallow.

The fishing can be great, with lots of double-figure carp, but the banks are awkward, and you can’t lay everything out within easy reach, so I just took my rods and main pole, leaving behind the margin pole I like to use for lumps and which usually take here. The wind was cool, but at least there was no rain. My swim was 7, with the usual reed beds extending a few feet out – though towards the right, the higher numbers, there are two or three swims where you can fish very close in. Unfortunately I never seem to draw these.
My swim, with reeds either side, which can make it
 difficult landing fish  in Summer.

I started on the Method, with yellow pop-up, and after about 45 minutes took a 5 lb carp. After another 30 minutes biteless I changed to a pole, where I had put in half a pot of pellet and corn, and took carp of 6 lb and 8 lb in the next hour, fishing five sections out with corn. Then a hour went by without a fish – but Trevor, to my right, started taking carp regularly about every 15 minutes, on a pole. The swim was about 8-9 feet deep from just past the reeds and seemed not to alter depth by more than an inch or two right out to where I fished.

But landing carp on a top two when fishing eight feet deep was quite difficult, particularly since they simply kept refusing to come up to the surface. I was glad I had a puller on my Preston 13 Hollo elastic, as without it I would have had to use at least three and possibly four sections. The water was still cold, so obviously held more oxygen than it does in Summer, and the fish took advantage of that, taking well over five minutes to land, though Trevor seemed to be having less trouble.

Eventually I managed to hook a the tail! It scorched away into Trevor’s swim but eventually landed up in my net. Then, for the next two hours, I couldn’t get a fish. I tried cat meat over dead maggots near the side where John, to my left, had taken a fish which we later weighed at 16 lb 5 oz (one of only two fish he had all match), getting several obvious liners from fish near the surtface, and striking at just two bites. Both hooked fish, and both the fish came off after five seconds – the second was definitely foulhooked so I assume the first was. I also hooked two roach on a bunch of deads but they, also, both came off.
John played a big carp for around 15 minutes, eventually landing it. But he ended with just two fish.

John's 16 lb 5 oz common.
Last-hour sprint
With 45 minutes left and just four fish weiging about 19 lb I knew I was well behind Trevor, who had 14 or 15 fish. I was at a loss to know what to do and in fact at one time started to nod off on my basket because of the lack of action. Another cast on the Method brought not even a liner, so I decided to ‘start again’ – fishing as if the match had just started.

I added another section, brought my droppers down again to within ten inches of the hook, and put on a small pole cup, filling it with ten grains of corn and a topping of Micros. I had watched Trevor carefully and he seemed to be fishing like this. To all intents and purposes I was fishing a nerw swim.
Out it went, and almost before the bait had wafted down to the bottom the float shivered and jerked under. I struck, and hooked a 6 lb carp. A good five minutes was spent landing it . Out I went again, and hooked another carp, about 8 lb.

 I was letting the rig settle and then dropping the bait directly and holding the rig steady before, after a minute, letting it drift slowly to the left. Normally I would drop the bait in first, but with so little time left the accuracy of the baiting right over the float gave me confidence.

The next cast saw the float go under but I realised that it was the corn. Somehow during the last fight the shot under the float had slipped and the float had dropped down the line. I moved the float up half-an-inch, tightened the shot underneath it, and next time it sat perfectly and I had a bite as soon as I allowed the float to drift very slowly. This gives a tiny bit of movement to the bait. This fish was 6 lb and the next drop-in brought another of 8 lb, which I landed five minutes after the match finished. Adding a section had occasionally brought me fish before, but not as spectacularly as this. Four fish in the last 40 minutes, while Trevor had started to struggle.

The weigh-in
Ninety-year-old Ted on Peg 1 weighed 31 lb 15 – what a great bloke. I was told that a lot of the fish in the first few pegs came in the last hour. I had no idea whether they had been catching but I felt, all day, that no-one was likely to have a huge bag. I was top weight down to me, with 48 lb 3 oz. Then came Trevor – and I found out the reason he was landing fish more quickly than me – I had 8 fish for 48 lb, average 6 lb; Trevor had 17 fish for 61 lb 3 oz, average around 3.5 lb.
Terry Tribe - Mr Happy!
Bob Barrett - Mr Unlucky!!
A tie for 1st place
Two pegs farther down was Bob Barrett, who had taken some better fish close-in, on corn. He had about ten...and they also weighed exactly 61 lb 3 oz. Talk about unlucky – he was on the Golden Peg but because he wasn’t the outright winner the money couldn’t be paid out.

I ended third with Terry Tribe, former National winner, fourth, taking his fish nearly all close in. So all-round I was happy. And with my next match on Sunday on Cedar Lake at Decoy I’m likely to start the same way as I finished here – a soft approach at 13 metres (wind permitting),  a meat rig ready for the side, and another side rig for maggot if the barbel show.

I wouldn’t mind pegs 1 or 26, at the car park end, or around peg 6 or opposite on 21. But, as always, I’m happy just to be fishing, and with slightly milder weather (though the water will still be cold) there’s a chance of winning off any peg.
Hurry up and take the picture!!

The result

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

My plans changed

Sorry - can't fish the match on Thursday now. I expect to fish a Decoy Open probably on Sunday.

Monday, 26 March 2018

A satisfactory match on Oak

Oak Lake, Decoy, peg 24

This was a regular Sunday Open, fished by some very good anglers (12 of us in total), and I was dubious about doing well, unless I managed to pick peg 10 or opposite on 21 or 22. In the event 24 stuck to my fingers, which, although only 20 yards from the hot area, hasn’t been regarded as anything other than average. But with the slightly warmer weather the anglers were hoping the fish might have started moving from the areas where they have been coralled all winter. That hope was dashed for me when Adam Playford, on my right on 22, next to the bird hide, had a big fish on within a minute of the match starting!

Foulhookers and double-figure fish
I hooked a fish at 13 metres on pellet after about 20 minutes, but it came off immediately – probably foulhooked. So I potted in a small amount of pellet and hemp and had a look down the side, in the deep water, where I had been throwing maggots. Within two minutes I hooked a big fish which was obviously foulhooked, and which came off ten minutes after being hooked. It went to ground near the side, but rather than being snagged, I think it just stopped swimming – it felt like a sack of potatoes. Probably a very big double.

In the next two hours I managed to hook a three-pounder on corn and lose another huge fish after a long fight, also obviously foulhooked by the way it swam. So halfway though the match it was Carp -3; Me – 1. I had 3 lb in my net, and Adam and the angler opposite, Steve Harwood, seemed to be on their way towards 100 lb!

Maggot works!
Desperate, I started using maggot, and managed to catch  four more – three around in the side, in the deep water, where it was a foot deeper than at 13 metres, and one out at 13 metres – all on maggot. I learned later that most of the better weights were taken on maggot, but with the air a little warmer than recently I had banked on pellet working. You can’t win ‘em all... Two of my fish were around 10 lb with one at 6 lb and another around 8 lb.

Adam’s swim dried towards the end, but Steve carried on catching fish regularly and his winning catch of 128 lb consisted of just 18 fish. This is the peg I was on two weeks ago when I weighed over 100 lb.
Me with a 10 lb-plus friend.
Runner-up Adam Playford, 81 lb.

How the top men fish
Across from me a little to the left Chris Barley on peg 6 was working hard, continually moving swims from 13 metres, to about 7 metres and then down the side, and catching odd fish all day for an impressive third place.

One tends to think that top anglers like Chris can tell as soon as they get to the water’s edge how they will catch, and where. In fact they usually fish very little differently to the way most of us fish – learning as the day goes on and trying stuff until they find something that works. I once sat behind Nigel Baxter to watch him fish a whole match at Decoy, and afterwards I decided he fishes very little differently to the way I do...except that he obviously does it just a little better. It brings home to me that fishing is not an exact art – it’s almost always trial and error.
I managed sixth, which I was pleased with.

The results are shown and I was happy that, in the end, my five fish weighed 37 lb for sixth spot in a strong field of 12, which also included Barry Mason. Three of mine were foulhooked, but then most anglers had this problem. The water was ice cold, however the fish were moving, swirling near the surface, but obviously not in feeding mode – Rob Goodson fished shallow for a long time for just two.

My next match is on Cedar this Thursday, when the best weights may come from around peg 6 or opposite around 19. When the water has warmed up the fish should move. The carp here are not as big an average as in Oak and Yew, but there appear to be more barbel, so dead maggots down the side may play a part.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Not a happy bunny

Six-islands Lake, Decoy, peg 20

This was a club match, with 11 fishing, and I would have preferred pegs 4 round to 14, which were forecast to have a ripple in a Westerly wind. But I wasn’t unhappy with 20, as it’s the peg where I won a Decoy Winter League this Winter, and when I got to my peg I remembered exactly where I had had my fish. At the start my swim was almost flat calm, and the sun was shining – not ideal in Winter. But I was still optimistic.
Calm water and sunshine at the start - the wind picked up gradually.

Unfortunately I couldn’t repeat any sort of success. I started at 11.5 metres on pellet over micros to the end of the island, but hooked just one fish in the first hour which came unstuck after one second.  I stuck it our here for nothing for another hour, also trying corn, and eventually coming in to the inside of the island, and getting a few roach on maggot. I then tried maggot in my first swim, for some roach and then a 2 lb F1 – but no more came.

The rest of the match was spent working my way round four swims, mainly with maggot, bites were spasmodic, and apart from a couple of perch every fish was a roach, best about 6 oz. The other two swims were down the track and into deepish water on a top-two plus one. Mick, to my right on 18, started catching fish very close in, and I could see he was almost four feet deep. However my bank had fallen in, giving a horrible bumpy margin and I had to go farther out to find the deeper water, but there was no feature to fish near, like a quick drop-off or reeds, so I had to just watch Mick pick up about seven carp in the last couple of hours.
The result - not brilliant but the water is still very cold.

Wind became a nuisance
The wind had started changing around – one minute from the right and next from the left; and one huge gust blew me into the island, snagged my rig, and I had to pull for a break and concentrate on closer swims for the next hour, just catching a few roach. Then the sky became overcast and it became much colder. Half-an-hour from the end I tried pellet again, at 11.5 metres, and foulhooked another 2 lb F1.
Bob, second with 42 lb 3 oz

Trevor - with 64 lb 8 oz on corn.

I weighed exactly 10 lb, next to last. Rob Allen, on my left, managed just four knocks on a feeder for three fish weighing 8 lb 7 oz. The windy section had fished a bit better, and Trevor, our organiser, won on peg 13 with 64 lb 8 oz on corn - and he was over the 50 lb limit in one net! Bob was on peg 9 – a peg I would love, as there are so many options (good margin to the right, shallow in the corner, the end bank within 13 metres, and an aerator 25 yards away in front) but have only drawn about twice in 20 years! Interestingly Peter, on 11, had nothing after three hours and tried cat meat in desperation, taking carp and the odd barbel for 34 lb 7 oz. I hadn’t had the nerve to try it! But I still believe that there weren’t as many fish willing to feed in our stretch of the lake at the car park end.
Mick thrashed me next door
 (we went to junior school together).
Peter's catch, taken on catmeat, which
included some barbel.

Next match may be an Open this weekend,but I haven’t decided which day is most convenient.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A day to forget

Magpie Lake, Pidley, peg 1

This was an Over 60s Open,with 21 entered,  and I was happy with peg 1 as it’s got a bit of form, and I won the very first Over 60s match I ever fished there from it. I’ve fished it one more time in a club match and I know I framed. But an overnight frost and  the very cold wind today spoiled it – a Southerly blowing into my end peg from the left front, making decent presentation almost impossible at 13 metres, on the edge of the underwater lily roots.
My swim - peg 1. The cold wind was blowing into the end bank to my right.

It wasn’t a lot better at 10 metres, where I remembered there being a gentle slope up to the end bank to my right. I got nothing on a feeder towards the bridge over to the island, and ended with  six roach and a single rudd on maggot on a top three, angled downwind  near the bank, and one scale, which fought like a madman for 30 seconds before finally coming fluttering back in the wind. I weighed a miserable 2 lb 5 oz.

To my left Dennis Sambridge also took six roach, but added a carp 90 minutes before the end, to weigh 6 lb 11 oz. Pegs 1 to about 11 all suffered with the wind, and the top weights all came from anglers who had a bit of a back wind. Top was Will Hadley on 19 (the old peg 20), with nine carp and a few roach for  a total of 29 lb 15 oz. This peg has a sort of feature in the shape of an overhanging bush, which doesn’t look much, but it has done quite well this Winter.
The result - best weights came from pegs with a backish wind.

Give a good angler a peg with a slight edge and he’ll always be in with a chance. Well done, Will. Nine carp on a day like that is good going. I think he would have had a back/side wind. Ken Gammon on Peg 36 (the old 38) came second – he had a back wind.


After losing a two Quickstops in the first four fish on Tuesday, when the quickstops caught in the landing net and the nylon broke,  I said I’d experiment with Maxima. And it appears to have worked!
Eyed hook (left) and spade end with Quickstops
attacked on loops of Maxima 6 lb nylon.
The photographs show a Quickstop tied with 6 lb Maxima to an eyed hook and a spade end. Then the hooklength, in normal nylon, is added by whipping as usual. It took me a few goes to get it right. Basically the Quickstop is tied in a small loop, but on several inches of nylon. Then a whipping is done as normal, but taking the quickstop round the shank, and down through the loop. All you have to do is to get the length correct by allowing for the line shortening as it goes round the shank.  Then what would normally be the hooklength end is cut off at the whipping. I intend to add a dab of superglue as a precaution.

The knots are horrible-looking, and bulky, but I imagine the fish will take them for weed.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

First 100 lb of the year

Oak Lake, Decoy, Peg 10

This was the first Spratts club match, fished by 10 of us, and I was very happy with peg 10, opposite the bird hide.  It’s an area that has held fish all Winter, but we’d had a mild day or two and I wondered if it would encourage the fish to spread out. The carp  in Oak and Yew tend to be bigger than in Elm and Cedar, but there seem to be not so many barbel.

There was a stiffish North-Westerly breeze over our backs from the left (we were all sitting on the West bank), but it wasn't cold - and later it became quite mild. As usual I was late starting, having acidentally mixed expanders in with my feed pellets, which necessitated putting the lot into water and skimming off the expanders. Stupid Boy!

Fish on the feeder
I started by checking the 1 gm pole rig out at 13 metres, and when I was satisfied everything was OK I checked an inside rig as well, over maggot. Nothing came in those short spells so I went onto a pellet feeder with a hair-rigged 8mm Robin Red just over my 13-metres pole swim., rather than throwing across as most of the other anglers seemed to be doing.  To my surprise after about 25 minutes I hooked a carp on the feeder,  which turned out to be a hard-fighting six-pounder. I think I must have put it into the wrong net (as I found out when I came to weigh in) – by wrong I mean the one I had intended to be the second net.

Next cast came another fish of over 8 lb...and it took me 20 minutes to land it. It wasn’t foulhooked, either. Three more came in the next 90 minutes, best 10 lb,  during which time I lost two Quickstops which came off.  They tend to catch in the net and pull off when the fish wriggles around.

Fish on the pole
After a lull I had a look on the pole at 13 metres, fishing a 6mm expander pellet over micros, hemp and a few 4mm feed pellets. This produced four fish, all in exactly the same spot, in the next 90 minutes, all approaching 10 lb. I also lost a couple, probably foulhooked. A quick look on the feeder during this time brought just one more fish.

Then the wind dropped and I could see fish humping in the surface, so quickly tried fishing shallow, which brough me one touch but no fish. Unfortunately I had to stop this because the constant feeding brought in two mallard, which refused to move and kept threatening to snag the line. In Summer I think that fish are actually attracted by duck feeding, but with the water so cold I felt I was flogging a dead horse, with the fish keeping away from the disturbance.

A change to feeding sweetcorn at 13 metres and going back to the full-depth rig with a grain on the hook brought the smallest fish of the day of about 5 lb and with 90 minutes to go and an estimated 42 lb in each net I went for a third net.

The last 90 minutes brought only two more fish to the net on corn, and two more  lost, the last one after I’d played it for 20 minutes without ever getting it near the surface. I have to assume it was foulhooked, as the hook pulled out, but it didn’t fight as if it was foulhooked. So I ended with about six fish in each of the first two nets and two in the last one. I kept trying the close-in swim which I had fed by throwing maggots in, but never had a bite there.

The weigh-in
Top weight from peg 1 down to me was 39 lb 6 oz from Martin, former Vets National Champion,  on peg 2, with Bob Allen, on my immediate right having 34 lb 5 oz which I think were all taken on a feeder, with a good spell towards the end of the match. To be honest I had been concentrating on my own swim and hardly saw anybody else catching.
The result - the Northern end fished best.
Peter with his last two carp,
which weighed 21 lb.

I had estimated 42 lb in each of the first two nets, so imagine my surprise when the first net weighed 36 lb! The second was 48 lb – then the penny dropped. I must have put the first 6 lb  fish into the lefthand net, instead of the righthand one. The final two went 17 lb, and my total was 103 lb 3 oz. Bob to my left was third with 51 lb 1 oz (over in one net) and Peter on 14 took 70 lb 9 oz, all on paste. So the best catches were in the bottom end of the strip lake, and not at the carpark end into which the wind was blowing.

Nice to win, even though it’s a noted peg, because having a peg everyone expects you to do well from puts a bit of pressure on you. One match tomorrow, then I will spend the weekend tidying my tackle and re-tying some quickstops. I intend to try to tie the Quickstop to the hook with some tough Maxima nylon before adding the hooklength. That shouldn’t be too difficult, though normally I tie on the Quickstop and then tie a Knotless Knot to an eyed hook. I will see if it can work with a spade end.

I've also ordered some section inserts from WE Tackle, to protect the ends of the sections - something I should have done when I first bought the pole, of course.