Sunday, 14 January 2018


Cedar Lake, Decoy, peg 3

This was the fourth match in the five-match Drennan Individual Winter League, and before the draw Steve Freeman and I were talking about the pegs we fancied – I went for 1 or 26 on cedar. These are opposite each other at the car park enf o this strip lake. But I was happy with peg 3 as Cedar often  tends to fish better towards this end. The water was flat calm with a light south-easterly wind from my right.

Unfortunately when I got to my peg Jon Whincup was on my right on 1 and Martyn Freeman was on 26. Both were in my section of 5, and both are crack anglers, so I realised I was effectively fishing for third place. And I started well. After half an hourwith none of the other three of us having a fish - though the other two both lost two or three fish, probably foulhooked -  I took three carp in three put-ins on expander pellet at 11.5 metres. Then I waited for almost three hours for another one, apart from a few tiny roach on maggot at 13 metres. Another 3 lb carp came from my second swim to my right at 10 metres on maggot. And ten minutes before the end a 2 lb tench took my maggot at 14.5 metres. All day I veered from fishing  just touching bottom to a few inches off, putting in small expanders and micros to begin with, and changing to micros and maggots later.

Meanwhile the angler on my left had started to get occasional fish about halfway through the match on pellet, and the angler opposite had about four, and two four-pounders in the last half-hour, on maggot. I cannot work out why I couldn’t catch at this time.

My section, won with 80 lb 14 oz.
The match was won on Six-Island peg 11.

Martyn Freeman won the lake with 80 lb 14 oz fishing maggot to the end bank on his left, and never put a single piece of bait in that area, fishing various depths from the bottom to a foot or two off bottom. Jon, also, did not feed his swim next to the end bank, taking his 51 lb 13 oz about 8 inches off bottom on maggot. He told me afterwards he didn’t get a single fish from open water, where he had fed.
Beastie was the hardest of the lakes.
As always Damson fished consistently.

My 15 lb 5 oz was last on the lake, and obviously last in my section. I see that there was an 18 lb farther down the lake, and the angler opposite me was next lowest with 23 lb 6 oz, so perhaps it wasn’t just bad fishing on my part. I need a miracle in my last two matches so I can drop these five points and perhaps end up with a reasonable total. My first three brought me a respectable six points.
Willows was clear but still produced good weights.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Hammered both sides!

Beastie Lake, Decoy, peg 24

This was a 15-peg Open, and I drew the same peg I had had ten days earlier. It's got form...but I can't find it! I had Nigel Baxter on my left on 23 and Alan West on my right on 25. The wind was light, but had turned round to the South-East and it was in out faces, and cold!
My swim. The wind was light but very cold.

First 45 minutes was spent on a maggot feeder but all I had was a few liners; next 45 minutes I spent looking for roach where I had caught some previously - at four section - without a bite. So I went out to 11 metres with maggot and halfway through the match caught the first fish any of the three of us had caught - a 3 lb F1. But no more.

With about two hours to go Nigel and Alan suddenly started to catch odd fish, perhaps once every 15 minutes. Then their rate of catching went slowly up, until the last half-hour when they were getting a fish every few minutes. Meanwhile I had gone out to 13 metres but still sat biteless until 90 seconds before the end of the match, when a 2 lb F1 came in. At the same time Alan netted a 13 lb 1 oz mirror - his last fish.
Alan with 13 lb 1 oz mirror.

The winner, Chris Barley.
My meagre catch was 5 lb 3 oz - the only two bites I had -  while Nigel had 34 lb 15 oz and Alan 47 lb 7 oz. Chris Barley, on 30, took three fish on a waggler, and the rest on maggot feeder fished in the open water, and won with 74 lb.

The fish were obviously down towards the Southern end of the lake as those towards the North fared badly. But I have no idea what I did wrong - presentation was OK and I was feeding similarly to Nigel and Alan.

The result - at least I wasn't last...

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A good day at the office

Six-Island Lake, Decoy, peg 20.

This was the third Drennan individual Winter League, fished by 61  on five different lakes at Decoy. The day was sunny, but the temperature had dropped below freezing overnight, and the forecast was for a maximum of about 3 or 4 degrees, falling to Minus 2 in the stiff North-Easterly wind.
My swim. Simon, with red on his jacket, was opposite, working out how to fish with his back to the water!

In all the times I have fished this lake I had never drawn peg 20, which is opposite the end of an island – a nice-looking swim, but not rated as one of the better swims on here. Opposite, on the other side of the island, was Simon Dow, a cracking local matchman, who, together with the three anglers between us, was in my section. As always my sole ambition was not to come last in my section – anything better than that would be a bonus for me. The wind was coming from my left, and into me at about 45 degrees, making presentation difficult at times, but not exceptionally difficult.

Slow start
Simon hit an F1 first drop-in next to the reeds on the end of the island, which looked to be around 14.5 metres away, which made me think I was probably on a hiding to nothing.  I could reach the island with 11.5 metres and, using maggots, took a roach after about half an hour fishing just off bottom. After almost another hour I hooked the bottom...but after a few seconds it moved! Ten minutes later I netted a 6 lb-plus mirror hooked in the dorsal fin. Simon had had a few fish, but I couldn't see how big they were.

I fancied I saw the float twitch a couple of times in the next hour hour, and in fact lost a fish which felt big, so persevered on the end of the island, and in the next couple of hours netted three F1s, a perch of well over 1 lb, and two or three roach, all taken a few inches off the bottom.  Then I had a good look a little closer to me, on my side of the island, and after missing a bite I hit a fish which surfaced well out, and looked to be about 2 lb...then it came off.

Sod’s Law
Out to the the original swim and it happened again – the 13 Hollo Preston elastic was a bit strong for these fish at the point where I tried to take out the top two and net them. There’s a high bank behind which makes breaking the pole down a bit awkward. So I put the rig onto a size 8 elastic...and the next fish I hooked was even bigger than the mirror I already had. It surfaced once, and after about ten minutes it was gone. Sod’s Law. I felt that with the stronger elastic I could have got it into netting range earlier. So I changed back.

Another three or four F1s and a couple more roach came until, with half-an-hour left and the wind making presentation difficult at times  I decided to put in a bait-dropper of maggots on the two-plus-two line I had plumbed up at the start. I had thought about putting out a feeder, but Simon tried  it several times and I didn’t see him catch much on it.

In went the bait dropper and I left the line for ten minutes as, strangely, most of my fish had come several minutes after I had put in maggots. The last couple in fact had come when I hadn’t baited the far swim for half an hour.

Ten minutes later I dropped in the near swim, and had an F1 immediately, followed by another next cast. But no more, and a final drop-in near the reeds was fruitless.

Fish were wary
Four of the F1s were hooked on the outside of the mouth, obviously not taking the bait properly, but having a really close look and actually knocking it. But they all count!

Anyway Simon weighed 20 lb, taking some fish in open water towards the end. My fish weighed 30 lb 6 oz and I was chuffed to think I had beaten him and not come last in the section. But the other three, on pegs 22, 24 and 25 (the last two on the end bank with a backish wind)  didn’t beat me either – so I ended with a section win. Afterwards Simon said he thought I was fishing really shallow, but I wasn’t – my side of the island appeared to be almost 18 inches shallower than on Simon’s side. So a win, a second and a third so far - better than I could have hoped for. And if I had 
Josh won the whole match with 120 lb 13 oz on peg 12.
landed the four fish I lost I could possibly have won the lake, won with 48 lb.

Tony Evans won on 30  with 93 lb 6 oz on a maggot feeder.
My lake, won with 48 lb 10 oz on 6 (I think!) I was on 20.
Horseshoe, won by Ben Townsend on 15.

Damson was consistent, but not as good as expected.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Pop-up experiment was an eye-opener

On a recent match on Magpie I started with a banded Dynamite Super Fishmeal Pup-Up Nugget - it's white, and soft, like a firm marshmallow. I checked, in the side, that it popped up, cast out, and retrieved ten minutes later without having had a knock. I re-cast, still without a take, and retrieved to cast again.

Before the third cast I checked that it popped up...and it didn't; it sank slowly. I took hold of it and it was soft, had got smaller, and virtually fell apart in my hand.
The Dynamite soft pop-ups.
Even in my white container the trail can be clearly seen.

Intrigued, I tried an experiment at home the other day - and the photograph shows the reason it got smaller - after a minute or so it started leaching a trail of white into the water, which I suspect would be extremely inviting to any fish nearby. At home the trail sank straight down, but on a fishery I expect it would move sideways with any tow.

I also tried hooking this particular pop-up with a straight hook, rather than banding it, and I think that will be better than using a band. I also realised that retrieving it almost certainly speeded up the leaching, causing it to get smaller more quickly than if it had been left. At home it was still popping up after ten minutes.
The Drennan pop-ups are harder

In contrast the Drennan Bandit Dumbell Pop Up retained its size and texture after ten minutes in a band. From memory these are similar to the original Crazy Bait coloured Pop-ups.

So in future I will hook the Dynamite straight onto a hook and use for one cast only. That scent trail is a bit of a bonus, I feel.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Decoy Open - windy and cold

Beastie Lake, Decoy, peg 24

Lots of snow on Wednesday, followed by rain, meant that the water was cooled down even more than it had been. Just nine turned out for this Saturday Open on Beastie, but they included some class anglers – including Stuart Bracey, Nigel Baxter and Danny Carlton, all of whom are regular framers here.

I must admit peg 24 has form, but I couldn’t master it! I had a viscious, cold back wind that rocked me about on my basket at times and kept blowing my pole sections off the rollers – poor Nigel Baxter on 17 had it almost dead on from his right and I remember fishing on that peg, next to Nigel, in similar weather a couple of years ago (though not quite so cold), when it was impossible for either of us to fish more than two sections of a pole. Today Nigel said afterwards that he had to fish feeder all day, and he must have been frozen.

I started on a bomb with maggot and got several small twitches that never developed into proper bites. Then it was out to 11 metres on the pole with a 4mm expander, but after two hours I hadn’t got a fish. So I came into top-two-plus-two, where I had found a nice slope which was about four inches shallower at the top than on the bottom – and the tow was taking the float from deep water to shallow, which is always the best way.

In went a bait dropper of dead maggot, with maggot on the hook, dragging the bottom, and eventually got a bite from a roach. Ten minutes later in came an ide of over 1 lb. Things were looking up, as I hadn’t seen the anglers on either side catch a fish. Then I saw the angler on my left unhooking something, but couldn’t see how big it was. He was alternating between his near pole swim and another at about 11 metres and a feeder, so I suspected he was struggling.

Two or three more roach came off as I broke down the pole – it’s always a problem when catching small fish at distance, especially in a strong wind. Then a bite on the drop persuaded me to shallow up by a foot, which brought some more roach – all around 2-3 oz. Shallowing up further brought some more roach, and I was catching one about every five minutes, always hoping that a carp or more ide would muscle in, but none did.

With about 30 roach in my net I went down on the bottom for the last half-hour and immediately picked up another ide and  just two or three more roach, losing some more as I unshipped. My elastic was the lightest I had – a 6-8 – and although something like a 3 or 4 would have been better for the roach I wouldn’t fancy my chances of landing a big carp on that elastic in that wind. A Catch-22 situation.

The weigh-in
The angler on my left had 7 lb 7 oz, so I was pleased to total 8 lb 4 oz, and the angler on my right had picked up two good F1s on a Method feeder in the last half-hour to add to a single bream plus a few roach, for 11 lb.

Danny Carlton on 29 had fished for roach all day, and took 18 lb 5 oz of them, fishing a long line, which I will do next time if I start cacthing small roach. He would have won if Stuart Bracy on 12 hadn’t foulhooked a double-figure carp near the end of the match, adding it to some bits on the pole and three F1s on the Method, and winning with 20 lb 4 oz. Nigel Baxter was third with mainly small bream on a groundbait feeder with maggot. When I asked him if he’d cast to the island he said: “I caught them from all over the swim.”
The result
Winter League prospects
So a difficult day but I felt I hadn’t disgraced myself, and with the next individual Winter League next Sunday possibly not fishing much better, given the forecast of more snow, I am prepared to look at catching more of those roach if necessary. It’s on six different lakes, with section points counting, and anything could happen. Someone will probably get a big weight, possibly on the favoured pegs on Elm, around 9 and opposite around 16, though the prevailing westerlies blow onto that bank and it can be horribly cold if you get snow or rain in your face.  The first three or four pegs on Damson could be sheltered if we get the same wind, though the carp here are of a smaller average size than all the other lakes, but it could produce a surprise.

Lous 6 will be a favoured peg, fishing into the corner with a feeder. Six-Island I don’t fancy in this weather as it’s the shallowest of the lakes. But Horseshoe, although open to the Westerlies, can fish consistently in the Winter, especially in the higher numbers where the underwater lillies are densest. Finally there’s Beastie, which can produce a winning weight from anywhere, with 26, 29 and 30 possibly the favourite spots if there’s a raging gale.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

A good peg, but difficult on the day

Jay Lake, Pidley, peg 2

There were 28 in this Christmas Open, on Jay and Magpie, and peg 2 was probably the one that most anglers would have chosen, as it has good recent form, producing a 99 lb winning weight before the snows and always producing fish. I was able to reach the far bank with 13 metres plus a half butt, but the stiff wind from left to right meant I struggled to fish across all day. Note that this was 13 Browning Metres (which are invariably accurate!).

First drop-in with bread punch off the bottom (called dobbing thoughh I have no idea why) saw a 4 oz carp, and in the next 10 or 15 minutes fish of 2 lb and 3 lb came in. I had to have six feet of line between pole tip and float, to allow for the gusty wind. Then, unaccountably, I got nothing – not even a liner. I had strolled up to peg 6, Dennis Page, the angler on my left, before the match started and it definitely seemed slightly calmer there – indeed two pegs to his left the water was flat calm, sheltered by the end bank; so I guessed I might struggle.

Odd fish
I fed a few maggots down the side of my platform, and took a couple of small perch, then hit a 4 lb carp which eventually pulled off. Back out to the far bank saw nothing until I changed to double maggot, which brought a 4 lb carp first put-in; then nothing. Eventually I fed some maggots and hemp out in the deep water at four sections and hit a 3 lb carp first drop-in; then nothing.

It was impossible to get right over to the far bank with six feet of line, so gradually I reduced the length down to a foot, which meant that I could often get only a few seconds of perfect presentation before a gust blew the pole round. By this time I had put in a few maggots, though one more fish came to bread. Then, an hour later, another to maggots in the deep water. The whole match was spent going from one swim to another, and going across when the wind abated slightly.
Me with my meagre haul.

Magpie result.
My seven decent fish and a few perch weighed 17 lb 7 oz, while Dennis, who in fact hooked a fish before I even realised the match had started, and had a good first half, and a steady second half, fishing right across with bread then maggot, weighed 89 lb 9 oz for the lake win.

Then it was back to the cafe for free refreshments and a free draw, again with the winner picking a prize blind out of the bucket; this was highlighted by Shaun Coaten, who had DNWd and had gone home (don’t know why) winning the top prize when Simon Godfrey picked it out of the bucket for him. No justice in the world!!

I was obviously disappointed. But while a better angler than myself would have had more fish, I don’t think I was capable of getting much more, as I felt I hadn’t done anything stupid, and that if the fish had been there in any quantity I would have caught some. And this was reinforced when I saw that the ‘flier’ peg 2 on Magpie  produded a DNW.  At this time of year fish definitely move around in blocks...which is what make things exciting – you never know where the fish will be!

PS. The forecast was for ‘mild,’ but I don’t know where they got that from. By the end of the match I was shivering with cold. I suppose compared with the North Pole it might have been considered ‘mild.’
The other half of Jay.

My half of Jay.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Bah - humbug

Magpie Lake, Pidley, peg 24

Not much Christmas cheer forthcoming from the carp in this match. To be fair, it fished pretty much as most of us thought it would, with everyone fishing for a bite, and almost half of us failing even that! Of the 20 who fished, 11 caught a fish. I was not one of them!

The previous evening was the first for 10 days which had not seen frost, so any ice that had been left would have thawed and dropped the water temperature even further. The surface was flat calm with no wind, and didn't look inviting.  However, around pegs 1 and 2, where there are lillies, anglers reported that the water was black with carp. And Alan Owen on 2 kept up his extraordinary run of performances here at Rookery Fishery by winning with 51 lb 1 oz. From where I sat I saw him catch a five-pounder and some smaller ones fairly early on, but the fish obviously slowed down.  Opposite me John Belshaw sat the first half of the match on peg 36 (the old 38) with not a fish, but then hit three fairly quickly, of which one weeded him and came off.

Then a couple of spurts, including four fish in the last hour, saw him take another six or seven on bread punch fished two feet deep - the method that caught the majority of carp, and the one that is likely to win here while the water stays cold. I was in open water and never had a bite on pinkie, bread or a pop-up on leger. You needed to be near an underwater feature to get a bite - so the lillies near the entrance dominated the match.
My peg 24. The winner is in red - in the far distance across the bridge, on peg 2. Second was on 36, just out of picture,
 to the right of the bridge, facing the blue aerator.

I had to fish with my 12-metre Browning Sting because two sections of my 16-metre Browning Z12 were being renovated by Will Hadley, who brought them to the match for me to pick up, but who advised me not to use them on the day as the resin would not have completely dried. And although I fished long on this same peg last Winter to come second in an Open I don't think it made any difference on this day - the fish were hanging around lillies and wouldn't move away.
Chris Saunders, 3rd with 20 lb 7 oz.
John Belshaw, 2nd with 36 lb 5 oz.

We had all brought as prize, and afterwards we retired to the cafe for a drink and food, but the winner didn’t get his pick of the prizes – he had to pick a ticket from the bucket stating which prize he had won. I was, obviously, one of the last to pick...and I finished with a bottle of whisky, one of the best prizes there. I like this system!
The result.

My next match is probably the Christmas Open on Sat, Dec 23, and after another couple of mild days with no frost at night, and hopefully given a warmish wind, it should fish much better. The match is on Magpie and Jay, and I will have my 16-metre pole ready for action – it will almost certainly be needed on Jay.