Thursday, 16 November 2017

Only nine fish, but a good day

Wednesday, Nov 16th

Magpie Lake, Pidley, peg 21

The lake has been re-numbered, with peg 16 taken out;  so I was on the old peg 22 and this sequence continues round the lake to the island. I understand a new peg has been inserted after the old 35 (which is now 34) and the final peg 38 is now 36. Got it? Peg 21 is sort of the first peg in the bay proper, with the far bank about 30 metres away, but no lillies within reach.

This was the regular Over 60s; 20 fished; and there was not a breath of wind, while the day was murky and overcast. With no ripple it was likely that the fish would be well out and I imagine everybody will have started on long pole or possibly a straight lead. The biggest nuisance in my swim was ducks and a big moorhen, which sent ripples across the swim on and off all day.
My swim looking across to  new peg 27.
I didn’t take a feeder rod, as I rarely use one here – so I just determined to enjoy myself on the pole. I toss-potted a few hard pellets in and first drop-in at 11-metres plus a half-butt saw the Tuff Eye float sink and a 3 lb carp come in on a 4mm expander. Another came soon afterwards, then I pricked one. In the next 90 minutes I caught three more. The float was dotted right down and the bites were so tiny the float sometimes just shivered without going under.

I foulhooked a very big fish which showed me its tail and fins a couple of times as it rolled along just under the surface, obviously not realising it was hooked. I gently pulled it in with the pole tip under the surface, down to the top two, hoping to net it before it realised what was happening, but the hook pulled out.

Five fish halfway through
Halfway through the match I had five fish and Ken Gammon, on my right on 19 (the old 20, which has some form) also had five. It got so dark I changed the orange tip in the float for a yellow one, which showed up a bit better against the black reflection. Then things went very quiet and I managed just three more carp, losing three of which at least one was foulhooked as a scale remained on the hook. They probably all were.

A small bream came when I tried maggot, and several looks down the inside did not result in a touch of any kind. But I kept getting liners on 4mm and even a 2mm expander. I tried a small piece of worm and a piece of corn, neither of which produced even a liner – then next drop-in a pellet brought back liners. So I am convinced that the fish were actually knocking the pellet.

I land a foulhooked five-pounder
One of the fish I landed after some hairy moments on Preston 13 Hollo elastic was a lovely bronze 5 lb common hooked in the side of the pectoral fin, which makes me certain that fish were cruising along the bottom but not really interested in food. All-round it was obviously going to be hard – the two anglers in the bay to my left were John Belshaw and Ron Clark, who was second in the Raven match two weeks ago,  and neither weighed in.
The fish here are in great condition.

Ken Gammon weighed 43 lb 2 oz for second, which I thought was a very good performance on that peg in the narrows, even though it has fished well all summer. In the winter on Magpie you are looking for a deep-water feature away from the bank – like lilly pads or the reeds in front of pegs 7 to 9 (approx). Ken had neither.

My eight carp and small bream weighed 26 lb 10 oz which at first I was disappointed with because I knew the fish had been there on and off all day, expecially after I had put a few pellets in. But on reflection, when I see where the top weights came from, I was happy with seventh place. Top weight was only 47 lb 2 oz from peg 1 by Alan Owen, who won the Raven match two weeks ago.
The result


OK, I had liners, but that at least shows the fish were around and keeps you interested. However the float had to be dotted down to a pimple for the bites to show, and in that murk I was glad that with spectacles I have very good eyesight. All-round I think I did a fair job in the circumstances, and if all those fish had stuck I could have won.

PS. Just remembered it wasn't a little bream - it was a roach!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The best laid eventually!

Monday, November 13th
Damson Lake, Decoy, peg 5

Boy was it cold! The hourly forecast I looked at before leaving home said that mid-match the temperature would be 2 degrees ‘But Feels Like Freezing.’ And it did. Just as we were going to our pegs Ted drew up – the 89-year-old had overslept, jumped out of bed (well probably shuffled at his age), driven as fast as he dare along the frost-covered Fenland roads and arrived in time to start, but having had no breakfast. He then got peg 11 – the longest walk...perhaps it was not going to be his day!

There were now 10 of us and we fished the nearest pegs, opposite the high bank, with the Northerly wind from right to left putting a big ripple on the water – biggest at peg 1, falling away a little towards the end pegs. I fancied Peg 1 as I have noticed, on every match I’ve fished on here that the low numbers, where it’s narrowest, have produced a few  bigger fish – 3 lb-plus as compared with the 10 oz to 1 lb stamp which comprise the majority of fish. But it was not drawn, and Mick Linell had peg 2 – a good angler on a decent peg, but the overnight frost might turn things topsy-turvey I thought.

I had peg 5, and decided to fish banded pellet in the margins and at three sections, where the depth fell to about 7 feet, loosefeeding hard pellet – this is the tactic John, at the fishery, has recommended to me a couple of times, using the margin rig farther out if the fish come up in the water. The plan looked like working when I had a fish in the margins, about 18 inches deep, first drop-in. Another came a few minutes later, then...nothing.

A change of plan

After another 25 minutes consistently feeding both swims but getting just one more fish near the side I turned to Plan B – fishing normally with expander on a half-gram Tuff Eye float. Meanwhile Peter, on my right, was fishing four sections with paste and catching fish of 1 lb-plus steadily, while Trevor, to my left had also had two early fish but now sat biteless.

Another 75 minutes fishing three sections with expander brought about three small fish and my right hand was aching with the cold. So I had a short break, and a hot Bovril, and a walk up to my mate John on peg 7. He had around 6 lb in the first hour, but hadn’t had a bite for ages and was seriously thinking of going home because his hands were so cold. Peter told me afterwards that at this point he had around 20 lb in his net.

Plan C works better
So back to my peg and I had a re-think and because the water was so rough I wasn’t sure where my bait was landing in the seven feet of water; so I put in a bait dropper of pellet and hempseed. This seemed to work after a fashion and in the next hour I added another five or six fish, all around 1 lb, while Trevor, on my left also had a few fish. By this time the wind seemed a little warmer and didn’t have the bite it had earlier – and John decided to carry on!
My two favourite floats - the Tuff Eye has four
different coloured interchangeable tips; the
Maver Invincible has a spring eye with the line
going through the body. I use the smaller
 Invincibles for most of my margin work.
Plan D in operation
I felt that the rig wasn’t fishing properly, and couldn’t put my finger on the problem. So, wondering if a more positive approach would work I got up and went to my holdall and took out a top with a 1 gm Tuff Eye attached which I had used the previous day. I slid the bulk down to a foot from the bait and slid the two Number 12 shot down to within four inches and baited with a 6 mm expander. This definitely worked better and I added three or fish quickly; then a lull.

Plan E
My final fling, with an hour to go,  was to put out a bait-dropper of pellet and hempseed to four sections, where the depth was only about two inches deeper than I had been fishing. For a start it didn’t work. But I started adjusting the depth by half-an-inch at a time and suddenly started getting bites. The float was dotted right down so that the pellet on the bottom dragged the float under, and I held it back by lifting the pole just an inch, when the weight of the nylon lifted the float back top the surface. But bites were slow in coming, and I felt certain the fish were there.

Then I did what I should have thought about earlier and changed from a 6mm expander to a 4mm – the change was miraculous. Now the float could drag the bait along the bottom without going under. I very slowly tripped the rig through the swim and started getting a bite every put-in.
The result
I had to mark the pole section I was holding to get the rig in exactly the same spot, because if I didn’t I just hooked leaves. But it brought results, I don’t think I missed a bite,  and the last 40 minutes or so must have seen me land 15 or 16 fish, the best 2 lb. I had been really ‘in the zone’ for that last period and hadn’t even looked at Peter or Trevor, but they told me afterwards they were almost fishless in the last couple of hours.

My Theory
I believe the fish were hanging almost on the bottom, not moving, and not hungry, and not willing to move to take a bait. But if the expander was dribbled along right past them then some fish would take a peck more out of instinct than hunger. The fact that I hooked about three on the side of the head makes me certain this was what was happening. But the float had to be dotted right down as the fish weren’t moving. On more than one occasion I struck at what I thought might possibly have been a movement and had a fish every time.

Second place
Mick weighed in 43 lb 2 oz and had at least one good fish approaching 8 lb.  That was a good performance considering the conditions in the first half of the match. I was mighty pleased to see my fish weigh 27 lb 2 oz, and surprised that Peter weighed in only 24 lb 7 oz for third after having been so far ahead of me earlier.
Good old Ted was fourth – you can’t keep a good man down. What a remarkable man he is!

Monday, 13 November 2017

A good result for me!

Sunday, November 12
Elm Lake, Decoy, peg 7

This was the first of the Tony Evans-organised Individual Winter League, held on Elm, Cedar, Willows, Beastie and Four-Island – a total of 64 fished, and the points are awarded for sections of five.  My ambition was not to finish last on my lake.

My draw put me between two of the big names – Jon Whincup was on my left on peg 9, and Barry Mason on my right on peg 6. There was a nasty, strong cold wind coming from the left but at least it was slighly over my left shoulder, so although it was cold on our side of the lake the anglers opposite must have been freezing.
Putting the world to rights before the match.

The sections
Tony has done the sections brilliantly – rather than just taking the first five pegs then the next five etc he has worked his way down, on both banks, from the end. So the first section of five had two on my bank and the nearest three opposite – very fair because the strips tend to fish better towards one end or the other. But that did mean that both Jon and Barry were in my section, together with the nearest two anglers opposite.
My swim - with Jon Whincup tackling upon peg 9.

I started fishing well out because as the weather gets colder that’s usually the best plan – it’s not unusual for very few fish to be caught in the margins here at this time of year, even though the deepest run on the strips is just a top-two out and there’s not much in the way of shallow margins on many pegs. Mine had a small shallow ledge to the right but the left dropped right down to five feet immediately.

Problem wind
I found before the match started that I could easily fish at 13 metres but, as usual, decided to start a section short of that in case the wind got up harder...and it did. With a vengeance.  Before the match started I had to alter my starting spot  to 10 metres plus a half-butt. I now find the half-butts invaluable as they not only protect the section but make it more comfortable to handle and offer the option to push out that extra 18 inches at will.

So I put in just a few pellets, pieces of corn and hemp at 10 metres, and some pellets down into the deepwater to my left, and started on a 4mm expander at 10 metres with a o.5 gm Tuff Eye. For 90 minutes all I got was a couple of possible knocks, and I was about to have a look on the inside line, where I had been drip-feeding pellets, when I got a proper bite and hit a big fish. Seconds later the 5 lb hooklength broke. I have no idea why – probably caught on the dorsal fin. I tend to use hooklengths only in the winter on Decoy, as there’s always the chance of hitting a double-figure fish (or worse, foulhooking one) and much prefer the comfort of fishing straight-through.

So on went a size 16 PR478 hook, and next drop-in I hooked, and landed, a 4 lb mirror. Fifteen minutes later, having not had another bite, I had a look inside on a piece of corn and immediately hooked, and landed, a 6 lb common. Cracked it!!!

Err, as usual I hadn’t. No more bites and the wind started to get really nasty. Barry had been on a feeder or straight bomb for some time but I then saw him hook a fish on long pole – probably 11.5 metres. And we now both had trouble with gusts blowing the pole right round almost parallel with the bank. Jon and the angler to his left, though, didn’t seem to have as much ripple and afterwards Barry agreed that the wind was not as fierce towards that end, thanks to the partial shelter of the end bank. The angler opposite the peg to my left, had some big fish which looked like eight-pounders, early on, fishing long. But the angler opposite Barry was struggling.

The rest of my day was spent trying desperately to get some sort of decent presentation on the long pole as I never has another touch inside or on the shallow ledge. Three more mirrors, all around 3 lb, came in the next couple of hours, plus two bream around 8 oz, but the only fish in the last hour were a couple more bream. All came to 6mm expander except the last two bream, which came to maggot when I came in to 8.5 metres and started another line 45 minutes from the end, when it was impossible to fish properly at 10 metres.

The weigh-in
I was fourth to weigh on my bank . My fish totalled 23 lb 13 oz and I was amazed to see I was top down to me. But Jon, who I could not see properly because of a bush between us, weighed 108 lb and Joe Cole, to his left, took 110 lb, for the top two on the lake. The two anglers opposite were third and fourth. However Jon won my section, the angler nearly opposite him was second, and I managed third. I were Reet Chuffed!

I see Jon won the lake from peg 9 in last year’s series, and these pegs three-quarters of the way down the strips do tend to have an edge – though Cedar’s top two weights came from the two end opposite the car park – pegs 1 and 26. Cedar is the one strip, out of the four, which can fish best towards that end in all weathers.

There is no doubt, as you can see from the weights, which I have typed out below, that the lake fished best down towards the Northern end. So I had an advantage over Barry and the anglers to his right...but you’ve still got to catch them. And third in section is a big bonus for me, from a field which included a lot of big names. It suggests I can, at least, make the anglers around me work to beat me. That’s all I ask.

Not sure when all the dates are – they are supposed to be on Facebook, which I have registered for, but I can’t make head nor tail of how to find them. I suppose time will tell.

Elm weights – Pegs 1 and 24 at the car park. Blank shows the peg was not fished. 
My section is in bold.

Peg        Weight (lb-oz)                   Peg        Weight
24                                                         1             
23           3-07                                       2                6-07
22           2-03                                       3
21                                                         4               18-00
20           19-14                                     5
19           22-00                                     6               19-10
18                                                         7               23-13
17           72-10                                     8             
16           76-14                                     9              108-00
15                                                          10           110-10
14           62-14                                     11          

13           13-13                                     12              29-10

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Pre Winter League

Thursday, Nov 11.
The Tony Evans Winter League starts Sunday (alternate weeks) and the bottom line is that I know I will probably be the worst angler there.

It's not false modesty - while I don't know who has entered I fully expect it will include locals like Jon Whincup, Barry Mason, Kevin Wadge, Steve and Martyn Freeman, Nigel Baxter, and a host of other Decoy regulars. And I expect anglers from other parts of the country looking to practice for the Winter League Final, half of which is held on Decoy. Previous Winter Opens these have included people like Lee Kerry and Andy Geldart.

So my simple target is to not finish last on whichever lake I am pegged on. If I can manage that, just once, I will be very happy.

Before any match I always attach to some pole tops the rigs I am most likely to need; this takes away any decisions as to what to use if I am unsure. And because I have an Octbox, which takes time to get ready, it saves valuable time setting up. So I've got about 10 possible rigs attached - 0.5 gm, 0.75 gm and 1 gm Drennan Tuff Eyes, some tied all-through and others with lighter hooklengths attached, three small Maver Invincibles for close-in work, up to about 4 ft deep, and a couple of stronger full-length rigs for cat meat if the bigger fish start showing. Plus a couple of shallow rigs just in case. And some spare tops with assorted elastics.

I expect to use maggots, expanders and sweetcorn on the hook though I have worms as well. I will have three leger rods made up, but I may not use them. The good thing is that, surrounded by good anglers, I can see whether they are picking fish up on a feeder or leger. You learn a lot from these matches, even if you are hammered.

But whatever happens I am determined to enjoy it!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

I can't manage even 1 lb!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Six-Island Lake, Decoy, peg 22
This was the day after the first frost of the Winter, and although the sun had already burned off the rime, when I left home the temperature was still below freezing. None of the 14 of us expected to catch much as Six-Island is the shallowest of the lakes here.

In these conditions – bright with not much wind - the fish can be anywhere so I sat down on peg 22 with an open mind, starting first on maggot with a small cage feeder near the big island to my right. After half an hour I’d had three or four liners, so things looked good. But no fish, so I looked at my two main pole lines – top two plus one in deep water near the reeds and top two plus three in the deepest water I could find. An hour on these lines with maggot produced one tiny liner near the reeds but Ted, on 24 to my left had already had a good carp, as had Trevor opposite on 2. So I decided to have a look towards the island on my left at 13 metres plus a half butt, where I had been pinging hard pellets.

There’s a high bank behind along this side which means you either have to break the pole down or push it right up the bank. I decided to break it down, which is always awkward, but when I hadn’t had a touch after 20 minutes I gave it a rest. So it was back to the two main lines, and I started putting in a few pellets. Trevor then landed his second carp and lost another.

A fish!
The match was halfway through before I got a bite on 4mm expander in the longer swim, and I bent down to pick up my landing net...only to realise I hadn’t put it together! The net was still on the bank, with no handle. So I clambered over my pole sections, walked the fish a few yards along the bank, picked up the net and landed a crucian a little under 1 lb. Thank goodness it wasn’t a ten-pound carp! Trevor opposite was highly amused an promised he’d read this blog to see if I confessed to being a berk...I do.

About an hour after that episode I had another bite in the nearside swim, and the elastic streamed out. It’s my favourite Middy 22-24, but although sound (I had checked it) it’s old and a bit stretchy so I quickly added two more sections. The fish made for the aerator on my left and I had to dip the pole tip under the surface. The fish slowed, and stopped. Now the problem with lowering the tip underwater is that you can’t see where the fish is heading, and when I lifted the pole I was horrified to see the fish had turned and made straight for one of the reed beds floating in the margins. It was solid. I got the float back, but not the fish.

Afterwards I reasoned that it was probably a foulhooked barbel. Which was no consolation at all. So back to the fishing, and after beefing up the elastic for the inside swim an hour went by with no fuerther bites. To relieve the boredom I walked up to Peter Baker, on my right, and photographed him landing an 8 lb carp on waggler – his fifth carp.
Peter playing his fifth carp.

"What are you doing taking my picture?"
Safely into the net.
Final fling
My final fling was to go out at 13 metres-plus to the big island to my right, after positioning the pole roller halfway up the bank and shipping it up and down the bank in one piece. It’s murder on the arms, but I persisted for nearly half an hour. I didn’t put any bait in, as I really had no idea what depth the fish were in, so I dotted around the various depths hoping that one fish would give its location away. But with no sign I eventually gave up, had another look near the other island, and then put the rest of my dead maggots into the near swim. I was rewarded by...a half-ounce perch ten minutes from time.

The weigh-in
I gleaned a few bit of information as I watched the weigh-in. Mick on 4 had got all his fish on the smallest pieces of sweetcorn he could find, which reminds me I must buy some small times of Jolly Green Giant Niblets, as these are smaller than the standard size and very useful in Winter. Terry, who won with 40 lb 8 oz on peg 14  had gelatined his 4mm expanders (or they might have been 3mm as they looked quite small) and had all his fish on them. I was gelatining pellets 15 years ago,  but the Bag-Em ones I use don’t really seem to need it; however I am going to do a few again as you never know if there’s a difference in the way they behave underwater.
Bob was third with 31 lb 1 oz.
Winner Terry, 40 lb 8 oz.

Peter Baker’s swim was either a bit shallower than mine or he was fishing his expander off bottom, which made me think that the fish were indeed cruising around slowly just off bottom. I had tried just off bottom, so  I can only shrug my shoulders and say I didn’t do anything stupid. John on 9 had a big fish first drop-in in the deep water and then had a short good spell just before the end of the match in slightly shallower water, which goes to show you can never give up on days like this.

The one silver lining is that I wasn't last, as Martin didn't weigh in. I don't know whether he caught anything, but as Kevin Ashurst told me many years ago: "If you haven't weighed you haven't catched." So I wasn't last!!!
The result. I wasn't last!!!
Sunday see me fish the first of the Tony Evans Winter League matches on Decoy. I'm told that 70 have entered - all will be better than me, but if a village football team gets the chance to play against a Premier Division side, they are not likely to turn it down, are they?

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Long pole dominated on Raven

Raven Lake, Pidley, peg 17

I’ve matchfished Raven only once previously, and the best weights came from the high numbers – 20 onwards. So I wasn’t overjoyed about pulling peg 17 from the bucket. And when I got there I have to say that pegs 17 back to about 12 were not ones I would have picked – there was a cold breeze from the right, which gave us all a side-wind. Peg 18 to my right down to the end had more of a head wind, but a high bank gave some shelter, while the lower numbers had a back breeze, but were not fancied to produce the winner.

Still, a job to do, and I had Dave Pearce to my right. We went to junior school together...when King George the Sixth was on the throne – so you can guess how long ago that was! The water was a good colour, but I had a bush directly opposite while I would have preferred the simple dead reeds that some of the other pegs had.

Three rigs
I basically set up three rigs – one for across at around two feet, one for my margins (both around two feet deep) and another at eight feet for down the track. But like almost everyone else I started across, after putting in a pot of dead maggots in the shallow margin to my left; even so, before I had time to put in my rig Dave was into a fish! And he kept on like that for the first two hours, fishing across at around 13 metres, though as he was using a Daiwa pole I think he was using the 14 metre section.

My Browning is correctly quoted as 13 metres, and that’s what I used, plus a half-butt for comfort. But it took a long time to get my first fish on a 4mm cube of luncheon meat. That fish was 2 lb; 15 minutes later I landed one of 7 lb. But in the next hour and a half I took only about five more fish. The wind made presentation difficult - if I could hold the rig still for 30 seconds as it sank I usually got a bite, but the wind made it impossible most of the time.
My far-bank swim. The overhanging bush was dead opposite, and I eventually caught towards the reeds on the left.

My margins didn’t give me a single bite. So I kept trying towards the reeds on the opposite bank, to my left, and suddenly had a liner. I moved swims and took a couple of two-pounders there, about six feet from the far bank. Any closer and I couldn't get a bite – probably to do with the depth. A change to expander brought more carp, steadily, for the rest of the match, mainly at 2 lb with odd smaller ones, but with annoying spells of ten minutes at a time without fish.

After two hours I reckon I had had 13 lb, while Dave must have had over 40 lb. Then his fish went off, and I after moving swims started to catch up, losing just two which I think were foulhooked. I kept looking quickly in the margins, and in my original far-bank swim, but the only place I had a bite was in my new swim. My best spell came when I fished the bait several inches off bottom when the wind had died down towards the end of the match.

Overall, a good day
The end result was 73 lb 8 oz and some aching arms through pushing the pole out all match with a small Toss-pot filled with expanders attached. That is a lot harder than pushing it out with no pot on. But a satisfying result as, although Dave beat me, I was fourth up to me, then beaten by Dave and two other weights over 100 lb to my right in the higher numbers, all taken on long pole. Peg 24 won with 158 lb 8 oz – this peg has form. Most of the others are regulars and certainly better than me. Perhaps I should have primed a proper swim down the track as an alternative. And a really hot spell of 20 minutes would have put me perhaps in the top five. But it was a good day’s fishing.
Dave with his 112 lb 4 oz carp catch for third spot - fish mainly to 2 lb.

However I am wondering whether Raven will cause problems with clubs who have anglers unable or unwilling to  fish at 13-plus metres. Of course there will always be some fish in the margins, and down the track, but I strongly suspect that matches here will be dominated by anglers fishing the long pole. This seems to have happened on Jay Lake, and it has been suggested to me that with the original wooden platforms removed, the loss of cover on the near bank has caused fish to tend to go over to the far margins. Already the club I am in who have traditionally fished Jay have said they no longer wish to fish there. Time will tell. I am happy to fish anywhere, but I know not everyone feels the same way.
The result. There are 29 pegs on Raven,
which has just had an injection of fish.

What is certain as that with hundreds of fish just stocked into Raven, there are a lot of fish there! Perhaps the margins will fish better in Summer.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

One of those ‘could-a, should-a’ matches

Horseshoe Lake, Decoy, peg 8

As they say in the Fens, this was a Large Morning – cold, bright, no wind, so the world seems bigger than normal. Twelve of us fished on Horseshoe, where the three best weights the previous day came from pegs 18, 13 and 10 – but we were pegged from 1 to 13.

As forecast, it was cold, with a light Northerly breeze into my face, but this was cold as well, and after getting to my peg, dressed in thermal vest, thick T-shirt, sweat shirt and a fleece, I went back to the car for my hoodie. So I wasn’t expecting much, even though Peg 8 in a corner is often THE peg to draw in the Sunmmer. I’d never been fortunate enought to draw this before, though!

It’s very deep in a small spot on the left margin right against a bunch of sedge grass – a good six feet I reckon – so I made up a heavy and light rig for this. You don’t normally have much margin on this peg as 7, 8 and 9 are very close, but peg 9 had been left out so I had a platform to fish to about ten feet away. My other plan was to fish ten metres out, in about seven feet of water, as the water is clearing and it's a good starting point at this time of year..

Fifteen minutes on the pellet feeder were biteless, and I dropped in the left margin with a piece of cat meat.  Terry Tribe, on 10 to my left, had two fish on a feeder and suggested I cast right across to the corner.  I was prepared to do that, but he didn’t know I had had a liner in the margin swim...and I didn’t tell him! Shortly after, I had a 2 lb tench and then a 3 lb barbel, then a 1 lb tench, all on meat.

Bites died away so I went onto corn and had a fantail goldfish-looking fish, and then went out onto my 10-metre line. This produced an F1 within seconds, but then nothing for some time. From then on I alternated the two swims but felt I was falling behind Terry, who seemed to be getting a lot of fish from the long pole line he had started. I also had a look with meat next to the platform to my left, but apart from one tiny liner it produced nothing.

Strange time losing fish
Suddenly everything went haywire, and I lost about ten fish in a row from the long line. The bites I struck at were all the same – the float was shotted down to a pimple so that the grain of corn or tghe expander sunk the float if it was off bottom, so I let it drift until the bait just touched bottom and the float just showed. Each time the float sunk steadily – all in the same way. Generally the fish came off after three or four seconds – just when I had assumed it was hooked properly.

I had had some liners earlier so, assuming the fish were off bottom, I took off a shot and fish the corn a foot off bottom. No bite at all! So I put out a shallow rig with banded pellet – still no bites. As soon as I went back to the full depth I got those bites again. Occasionally a fish stuck but still they came off. A switch to the inside swim into which I bait-droppered some dead maggots saw me hook a very big fish on meat which I played for a minute or so before that, too, came off. Then one or two F1s and another barbel came to a bunch of deads. Then back to the long line.

I played around with the float depth, changing depth by half an inch at a time and eventually started landing the odd fish, mainly F1s around 2 lb to 3 lb. But not many. Just before the end I moved the float up by half-an-inch and hit three fish quickly, losing the last one, before the match ended.
Peter was on 13 and took this
 carp approaching 10 lb.

Bob was on my right. I took his
 picture because he's good looking!
The weigh-in
The catches were mixed, from DNW to a few pounds, and several barbel caught, which was a surprise , being so cold. As widely expected our organiser Trevor on peg 2 had a good catch – 36 lb 12 oz and I weighed 34 lb 6 oz, which surprised me as I though I had just over 20 lb. I assumed Terry had 50 lb or 60 lb, but in fact he weighed 39 lb 8 oz, so a couple of those lost fish – perhaps just the one big one – could have seen me beat him.

Winner, though, was Mick Linnell on peg 11 with 46 lb 15 oz, including a 4 lb 13 oz barbel which we weighed, taken mainly on a long pole.

I was fourth, and unexpectedly took the last prize, so I actually framed! But those lost fish easily cost me the match. The bites were all similar, and I believe they were proper bites but that the fish were just nudging the bait and the hook was pricking the outside of the lip. Most of those I landed were hooked on the edge of the lip, and often the hook fell out in the landing net. The liners were completely different – often with the float rising slighly before slashing down..

Perhaps I should have tried expander in the margin swim, but a lot of fry were playing about near the surface and knocking the line, so I kept to meat and corn, I should have tried, though, as I had the feeling that fish were there in that deep spot all the time. Perhaps, also, I should have had anther drop in to the platform on my left; generally if a fish is willing to take meat they will do it within a minute of the bait going in. And perhaps I should have tried maggot on the hook on the long line, although I hadn't put any maggots out there.

Winner Mick with a 4 lb 13 oz barbel.

But all-round I can’t be unhappy – Mick (1st) is a former member of the Peterborough National team and a vastly-experienced matchman; Terry (2nd) is a former National Champion and fishes several matches a week if he can – his forte is straight legering corn in the winter  which has won him a lot of matches. Trevor (3rd) is possibly the best angler in the club and would do very well in Opens if he chose to fish them. So fourth in that company has got to be satisfactory...even if I did say afterwards I should have won it!
The result, on what looks like being the first day of Winter.