Monday, 22 October 2018

A difficult Autumn day - Decoy, Cedar

We thought we were on Oak, but it looked like a mistake somewhere at our end, and we were happy to fish Cedar. I would have chosen a peg at the car park end – 22 to 26 or 1 to 4 – but ended on 19, towards the far end, and on our £100 Golden Peg.

The night had been cold, but things were warming up and there was a nice breeze, into my face. However the sun on my left  made it difficult fishing that side. I started on The Method with maggot, as it looked like being difficult, and put in a few pellet and corn at six pole sections; but within a minute Dave Garner, on peg 7 on the opposite bank, landed what looked like a barbel, which made me think it might not be as diifficult as I had feared, if the barbel were already prepared to feed. 

So after 15 minutes I tried the margin to my right, where I bait-droppered maggot and hemp, and fished with a 0.14mm rig straight through to one of the newish Guru black fine-wire hooks (I forget the name) baited with a bunch of deads.
No prize, but I caught a couple of good barbel... did Kevin, to my right.

First drop-in saw a 2 lb F1 in the net, followed by a 3 lb mirror. But then I could get only knocks from roach, some of which clung to the maggot before dropping off and I could see they were about ten to the ounce. In the next 45 minutes I had a couple of roach and a gudgeon, but on the opposite bank they all seemed to be catching, while Mel Lutkin, opposite me, seemed to be landing a 4 lb carp or a barbel every ten minutes.

The opposite bank was bagging!
A look in the longer swim brought two 2 lb carp to corn, but it took an hour to get them, and during the next hour I managed just a barbel and another 2 lb carp from the margin swim on maggot. So halfway through the match I had about 14 lb while Mel opposite must have had 40 lb or 50 lb, Dave Garner to his right also had several fish, and Tony Nisbet on 13, in the far corner, had also been catching regularly.
Mel had a great start, but had to wait some
time for each bite. He ended with 97 lb.

Tony fished peg 13 - and
it wasn't unlucky for him.
 He won with 106 lb 11 oz.
Later I found out that John Smith, on peg 4, had also had a great start: “I might as well have gone home at 12 o’clock” he told me. Yet to my right Kevin Lee, after taking the odd fish early on, was really struggling, like me. Odd fish now came from my two swims on corn until I had a look down in the deep-water margin to my left, where a barbel on corn made me swap over to cat meat. This brought intermittent carp to 5 lb and several barbel also to 5 lb, some foulhooked,  until I changed to a heavier 1.5 gm rig, which instantly upped my catch rate.

In the last hour things started getting better, and with half-an-hour left I hit three fish very quickly and looked to be headed for a cracking last 20 minutes. But then the wheels came off – I must have missed 15 bites on cat meat and I lost six fish, all after being hooked for about two seconds; I’m not convinced they were all foulhooked. With 30 seconds left, in frustration, I dropped back into the right margin and promptly hooked my final 3 lb barbel which I landed after the whistle.

Bill Foster calculates all our
weights and records them on the
board (gotta keep in with him!)

Dick, fourth from peg 24

The weigh-in

I estimated I had 60 lb-plus, which I was sure was definitely beaten by Les Bedford on 1 with 78 lb 4 oz, Dave Garner with 89 lb 8 oz (including a carp of 14 lb 4 oz), Mel with 97 lb and Tony with 106 lb – these all taken from the end bank on about 13 metres.

So round the end of the lake to pegs 15 and 17, both of whom had struggled to 40 lb-pus, and I was surprised to weigh  77 lb 2 oz, which was beaten on my bank by Dick Warrener on peg 24 with 83 lb 14 oz. He hooked five good carp in his first five casts, though the biggest one came off at the net.  I finished sixth, but if I had managed to land just a couple of the fish I had lost I would definitely have framed.
The result. This club has just one match left this year.

I should have had a look in my lefthand margin earlier; and I should have tried worm to see if the fish took it better at the end, when I was getting dodgy bites on cat meat. It seemed the fish wanted to feed but weren't taking the bait properly. 

Still, I was second on my bank with four of the top five weights coming from the opposite bank, so I can’t be anything but happy. And everyone else was happy as it was a Golden Peg rollover. But, Boy those barbel do fight!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Bream in the wind - Beastie, Decoy

Beastie Lake, Decoy, peg 3

Wind – lots of it, with some huge gusts – greeted the 17 of us, though it was warm. A few days earlier our secretary, John, had been mulling over the pegs to put in, and was insistent that 9 and 18, which are either side of the bridge to the spit, would be left out, on the grounds that big carp can shoot under the bridge and round the corner and break you. In addition with the strong Southerly wind forecast he wasn’t going to put in the pegs immediately facing it – 14 to 18 – and he was going to leave out the pegs 9 to 13 on the grounds that they are not very good.

After speaking with John at the fishery on the morning he put in 13 (which has been very good in many matches this summer) , 15, 17 and the dreaded 18...and promptly drew the one peg he wouldn’t have wanted – Peg 18! And in fact it was the windiest peg on the lake that day...but I would have loved it. It’s my favourite peg on Decoy, and I don’t think I’ve ever fished it without framing.

Peg 3, my home for the day, was sheltered compared to some others.
I drew the one I wanted least of all – 3, which was sheltered. I wanted the windiest peg possible, especially as rain wasn’t forecast, because in those conditions big carp feed in the margins. My peg 3 was comparatively calm, sheltered by a penisula sticking out on my left, and a high bank behind me. The wind was from the back over my left shoulder – whistling straight into peg 18 in the far corner - and  had more of a swell than a ripple. In addition the last time I fished Beastie I had peg 2, and Mick Linnell, who has fished for some cracking match teams, didn’t weigh in from peg 3.
Gotta keep in with Mel - he
organises our Christmas dinner.

A problem
I followed the plan John Smalley, at the fishery, suggested to me when I told him where I was pegged – micros and a few grains of corn out towards 13 metres near the end of the penisula, followed by a cast on The Method halfway across; then feeding the pole line before another cast. You’re allowed to feed a pole line here while feedering, though our club rules have banned that. It’s dodgy anyway – on the last match here Mike Rawson lost a rod and brand new £80 reel, pulled when he wasn’t paying attention.

Alan found fish on peg 30,
but not quite enough of them.
Plumbing up I encountered a problem – my plummet got caught in a load of line at about 10 metres out. I put on another section and shook the plummet free, but it made me wary of fishing nearby. I also put on a rig for the left, near the pennisula at just four sections, and another for the margins under the tree to my right. I went round with a long-handled hook to try to find the rogue line, and although I could feel it rasping, I didn’t manage to actually hook into it to remove it.

I stuck to the plan, baiting about four times in the first three-quarters of an hour, and taking just one 3 lb common on The Method. Swapping to the pole, I tried first at just four sections, a little  to my left near the peninsula, and immediately took three bream about 1 lb on corn over micros. I had to change the elastic from a tight 16 to Preston 13 Hollo, hoping I didn’t hit a big carp which took me into the loose line just a few metres away.

Club Champion Dave Garner with
a cracking common on peg 15.
In fact I carried on catching bream, plus one F1. The bites were tiny, and I ended up putting my bulk shot three inches from the hook, which probably stopped the bait swinging about in the strong undercurrents. Occasionally I went out to my long line, and the fishing was similar here, but most of the time I stuck inside. At one point I put in a couple of handfuls of 6mm pellet and some hemp and cat meat right in front of me, and hit a 3 lb common and a 2 lb F1 immediately. Then nothing. I suspected I needed to keep baiting to draw in the odd carp, but didn’t want to mess up my bream swim which was only two metres away. So I went back to the bream, baiting only occasionally with a small pole cup,  and at least was putting fish in the net regularly.

Gradually bites petered out and I found they were gradually moving down the slope into deeper water. I suppose I was taking a bream, mainly up to 2 lb, every four or five minutes, but had no idea whether this was any good on the day as I couldn’t easily see anyone else. However, it was very enjoyable. But then Mike, on peg 4, pointed out that John our secretary was already fetching a third net. I wondered if his opinion of that peg 18 might now be changed...

A good last 50 minutes
Callum's 17 lb 6 oz munter.
Another couple of small carp also came in, and with an hour to go I felt I had to look in the margin to my right. Dead maggots under the tree produced a couple of small roach, and with 50 minutes left I put in dead maggots and hemp next to the bank, beside a rather attractive-looking clump of weed growing over the surface, hoping there might be barbel there. There were! The first one took me by surprise as I broke down to the top two, and shot under the bank to my right. I could just see the float – the fish was at least a metre under the grass! Hook gone.

The next four I successfully beat by adding a section, pushing the fish out, then breaking down and pulling the purple hydro, as quickly as I could, until there was very little stretch in it. Those four ended in my net, best 4 lb. Then a 10 lb mirror took a lump of cat meat on the drop, and that, too, ended in the landing net. The final drop-in saw a seven-pounder foulhooked and landed just as the shout went up to end the match. My two best fish in the last few minutes.

The weigh-in
I was first to weigh in – 103 lb 11 oz, of which at least 60 lb was bream. A quick visit to the toilet (one of the results of my on-going prostate radiation) and I got back in time to take some pictures. The toilets here are really good and clean – there’s even a shower!
How about than, then? Winner
John on a peg he didn't want.

To my surprise The weights on the board were much lower than I had anticipated. John Garner, on 13, who had easily won the Spratts match on peg 30 earlier in the week, struggled on 13 and weighed only 24 lb 11 oz, so it looks as if, at least for the six hours of the match, the carp hadn’t favoured that area – these strong winds set up all sorts of undercurrents which so often govern where the carp feed.

Dave Garner, our current champion, was on 15 with part head-wind, fishing a waggler, which is a big disadvantage in winds this strong. It simply doesn’t allow the options of presentation that a pole gives you – basically all you can do is fish the margin or drag a bait well overdepth farther out. He totalled 54 lb 10 oz.

Les weighed over 80 lb without
including his oxygen cannister!
Next to him Callum – after whom I reckon the storm had been named – had a whopper of 17 lb 6 oz in one of his three nets; but he finished just 13 oz short of my weight. Then to John, who was an easy winner, fishing to his right away from the bridge two to three metres out, with 139 lb 8 oz; and he lost his best fish five minutes from the end when it went round one of the platform posts. Credit to him for getting such a good weight from a peg he didn't even want to put in.

Les - Man of the Match?
Then round the lake, to Les, who was fifth with 80 lb 9 oz, mainly on long-distance feeder. I reckon that, with the wind in his face and his oxygen bottle plugged in beside him, that was a fantastic catch in difficult conditions.

Mat collates our final Club Points.
I had expected peg 26 to produce – it’s a noted swim -  but it was sheltered from the wind and Mat, one of our best anglers, struggled to 52 lb. On peg 29 (a noted swim which was even more sheltered) Tony Nisbet had mainly small carp and bream for 88 lb 10 oz and fourth. It did seem to me that, as I had suspected, the windier pegs had an edge.

I finish second
The final, windswept, result.
So I ended runner-up, which I was very pleased with. My decision to keep putting fish in the net instead of searching for carp, was vindicated. And it’s a long time since I caught more than 60 lb of bream.

 With just two matches to go – Oak and Elm, both on Decoy – it looks  to me as if Tony may end as club champion as he’s been so consistent.

Monday, 8 October 2018

A frustrating rod-and-line-float-only match - Kingsland Silver

Kingsland Silver Lake

There were just ten of us in this ‘waggler’ match. Last year, as it was called a waggler match, I used ...wagglers, fixed bottom only, but found that lifting a dropping a bait in the margin didn’t work very well.  Afterwards I found  that any float could be used – including pole floats. So this year my initial plan was to target the small carp – up to 4 oz – with a 13-foot waggler fished to hand with a pole rig, for the first hour or two when the bigger fish were not  likely to show.

So it was definitely now described as a ‘rod-and-line-float-only’ match. Then a curve-ball – we were told on the morning that we could use a pole to cup in. Unfortunately I had left my pole behind so I could not be accused of using a pole in a rod and line match. Seemed reasonable to me! Not that it would have made a huge difference to the result – but at least I shall know for next year.

I admit I wasn’t looking forward to the match as I’m not much good on the waggler, and hadn’t fished one since the same match last year. I was also (still am) feeling a bit fragile after having had 12 of my 20 sessions of radiography for my prostate cancer; in fact the previous day I had rung to say I would probably not be there. But on the morning I thought I could manage. However I decided  I’d forget about winning, and just enjoy myself if I could, and hopefully catch a few on pellet waggler. Then I drew the £100 Golden Peg! But I accepted I couldn’t live with Tony and some of the others  on the float,  and forgot about the money.

Kevin had most of his fish on bunches of dead reds
fished in 18 inches of water in the margins.
My plan works
My plan of going for small fish with a single maggot worked well for the first hour or so, and I put about 10 lb in the net. Then I tried pellet waggler with 6mm pellet for half an hour, and didn’t get any indications at all. Tony, on the bank to my right, was getting some, though – mainly small fish. His feeding must have been better than mine.

All the time there were carp from 5 lb to 8 lb feeding in ten inches of water just a couple of metres out. Everybody had some in their swim, but few were caught. The fish seemed to be sucking up the mud, and not moving much. I later suspected they were after bloodworm. I caught three, all hooked properly in the mouth. But I never saw a bite. I remembered where my cat meat was, and when I saw a tail above it I struck, more in hope than expectation as the clouds of mud obscured the fish’s head.

But I wasted hours trying for more. Even dead maggots didn't work. Frustrating. Another five took cat meat over pellet and corm farther out, among some more carp about 4 oz which somehow sucked the lump into their mouths. I interspersed this with more small fish on the maggot, and quite enjoyed it all. Another try on the pellet waggler for the best part of an hour again produced nothing. At the end I had 20 lb of small fish and 41 lb of larger ones – eight fish around 5 lb each -  and to my amazement it was good enough for third! Dave, to my left, our Club Champion, fishes a waggler in every match, and he struggled. So I was quite happy with my 62 lb 3 oz.
I was surprised to take third spot, from peg 9.

There were just 4 oz between Tony and winner Kevin Lee, who was three swims to my right. He fed dead maggot in the margins and fished a bunch of deads for 132 lb 12 oz,  while Tony used mainly pellet for 132 lb 8 oz. If I had had a pole cup with me I think I would, in fact,  have vastly improved my weight. If nothing else it brought home to me the huge advantages a pole can give in many circumstances.

Saturday sees me on Beastie Lake at Decoy if I’m still fit enough to go. My favourite pegs 9 and 18 look like being not pegged, so I hope for 2, 7, 8, 26, 29 or 30.

Monday, 1 October 2018

I managed third in a cool wind - Decoy, Cedar

Cedar Lake, Decoy, peg 8

There were 12 in this Fenland Rods match, and I would have liked pegs 1 to 5 or 26 back to about 22, at the car park end of this strip. But 8 stuck to my hand, and as I walked to my peg I realised that 24, 25 and 26 were all pegged and occupied, and I mentally accepted that fourth was probably the best I could do, as these three pegs traditionally produce well.
A dull day, with occasional sun, but no ripple near this side bank.

There was a very cool South-Westerly over my back, but although it meant I was probably warmer than those opposite it meant there was no ripple for those of us on this bank, and the wind tends to push a margin rig out, rather than into the shallower water, which is almost always preferable. So I started on the Method, while pinging out 6mm pellets to six metres. After 40 minutes with only liners I went out on the pole to six metres, with a 6mm expander fished on the bottom. Immediately I foulhooked a fish which came off.

Over the next half hour I took two small F1s then, having had several liners, switched to a light strung-out rig fished a foot off the bottom. First put-in a 3 lb F1 took, and I had cracked it! Err, no – inevitably it was a false alarm and another 30 minutes trying all depths proved fruitless. After two hours I had about 10 lb, and went to the left deep margin with a bunch of dead reds over read reds and hemp. This didn’t produce even a bite, so I went back to six metres.
Me with two double-figure fish.

There I lost four fish in succession; came in to the left margin, and lost another. Carp – 5; Me – nil. But the next carp of 8 lb stuck, only for me to lose another next drop-in. They were probably all foulhooked, and I could see some anglers on the opposite bank also losing fish. But slowly, very slowly, the fish started to feed properly, and several carp to 98 lb came over the next hour mainly from the left margin. I had about 45 lb when Kevin, opposite, went for his third net.

A switch to the right margin produced two double-figure fish quickly to cat meat over pellet and corn, then I foulhooked a 5 lb barbel, which ended up in my landing net...eventually. I concentrated here and in the next 45 minutes managed to hit another double-figure carp foulhooked near the tail which somehow, through gritted teeth, I managed to land, and then a couple of smaller fish.
Alan, with sunglasses because
the sun came out at the end!

With 20 minutes to go I went for a third net – though now both Kevin Lee opposite on 17 and Tony Nisbet on 24 had four nets and I had revised my best possible result to being top on my bank of six anglers. On my return I dropped in and immediately hit another fish on a bunch of deads that felt very big; but after a couple of minutes the hook pulled out. I think it was properly hooked. Just one more fish came on the last cast, a 2 lb 10 oz ide to corn which was lonely in that last net.

I was surprised, when I went to the car to get my extra net, that only Kevin and Tony appeared to have more than two nets out. So that made me wonder whether I might have managed unexpectedly to scratch third spot. I was top weight down to me with 98 lb 13 oz, having managed to not go over the 50 lb limit, though the first two nets were perilously close, at 48 lb 14 oz and 47 lb 5 oz.
Callum, in corner peg 13. He's
 a neat angler and a neat writer -
just look at his results sheet.

Tight at the top!
Then round to Kevin who weighed 168 lb 8 oz, taken on cat meat, to lead the match, and he looked to be the winner. But in a nail-biting weigh-in Tony on 24 managed to pip Kevin by just 13 oz. Tony started out at about eight metres with pellet but, like me, couldn’t keep the fish feeding, and then came in to the deep-water margins taking most of his fish on corn. And he lost four really big fish one after the other.  John Garner, next door, surprisingly hadn’t managed to find the fish, and Mike Rawson on 26, who hasn’t been in the club long, took 38 lb, mainly on feeder. So I finished third.
Mel Lutkin with the best fish of
the match, weighing 14 lb 5 oz.

I noticed when I walked round to the opposite bank top watch the weigh-in and take pictures, that although it was even cooler there, the ripple did look nice, and I fancy that if the wind had moved round and given me some, I might have caught more. When there are 10 lb-plus fish in your swim you don’t need many to really give you a big weight in a short time. The fish came late, but not quickly enough for me. So I suppose third spot and top on that bank was a good result, really.
Kev with a 13 lb 15 oz mirror.
 "That's the way to do it!"

The result,

Tony lifting one of  his nets out.

The winner, Tony.

This barbel was almost 5 lb.

Mike - loves his fishing!

Next match is a rod-and-line float-only on Kingsland Silver Lake. If the water is still down it will be difficult, as the margins are shallow and clear, and I wouldn’t expect fish to come in close unless it’s a warm day. I will have pellet waggler ready.

Monday, 17 September 2018

A match I did my best to throw away - Elm, Decoy

Elm Lake, Decoy, peg 17

Fifteen of us fished this Fenland Rods match and with the very strong wind from the South-West I fancied the pegs towards the Northern end – say 8 to the corner 12, and from 13 back to 17. So I was happy with 17, roughly opposite peg 9, which last Winter produced some really big winning weights in the local Winter Leagues.

Elm is deep, and I had well over four feet next to the bank on my left and around six feet in the deepest water about ten feet from the bank; to my right there was shallow water where the bank has fallen in, but most of it was bumpy. Before the match started I had a wander round to the far bank, where the wind was slightly over their back, and was surprised at the difference – it looked as though it was easy to fish up to 14 metres if necessary, whereas on my bank eight metres was maximum in the wind, which never relented all day and was probably up to Force Six - a day when you had to lay your spare top kits on the grass as they would have blown off a roost.
Peg 17, towards the windy end of the lake, looking towards pegs
 11 and 12. The deep water is only a top-two out from the bank..
My first mistake
I kept to some sort of plan – casting a Method feeder with hair-rigged corn along the bank on the deep water while I loose-fed some pellets and corn. This brought no response so it was out a third of the way across with the feeder. First cast brought a thumping take which was obviously from a big fish, which steamed away while I tried desperately to follow it...only to realise that the anti-reverse was on and the clutch tightened down. A second later ‘Bang’, the hooklength broke. Error Number One.

Meanwhile John Smith, opposite, had a big carp in the net very early on and two more, which looked about 5 lb each, soon afterwards. And James, in the corner, was catching – he told me afterwards he had four or five carp up to around 8 lb to 10 lb in the first hour! I couldn’t see what anyone on my bank was catching because of bushes.
John made a cracking start. This fish was 14 lb 4 oz.

The next half-hour brought me two small F1s to the Method and a 2 lb barbel from the deep water on pole and meat; but the next hour brought absolutely nothing anywhere, though at one point I managed to hook a 1 lb F1 in the dorsal fin on The Method (how can you do that?) and after going round and round my landing net about six times it came off. So annoying. Two hours gone and I had about 5 lb. Neither margin had produced anything, and I quickly dismissed them for the moment.

It seemed I would have to pole fish farther out, so cast a Method feeder about eight metres out, where I had another F1. Out with the pole to eight metres, and although I felt I managed to present a pellet reasonably well in the wind, I never had a touch. Desperate to make something happen I put in dead maggots with a bait dropper, on the deep-water line fishable on a top two, and immediately had a 3 lb barbel on a bunch of five dead reds.

For the next hour I carried on here, taking another five or six barbel to 4 lb, plus one F1, feeding after every fish,  but no ‘proper’ carp. The barbel were taking a very long time to land – I fancy the wind was putting so much oxygen into the water that they ended up turbo-charged, like mini Ferraris. My arm was aching by this time.

Then I remembered
Then I remembered I had two pints of nine-day-old casters, bought the Friday of the previous week from Tackle and Bates at Rookery Farm, Pidley, and not used. I poured them into a maggot tin of water, floated off the few floaters...and they were perfect!!! No burns, because they were wrapped in brown paper.

I put in two bait-droppers of casters and hemp. I know barbel love this combination, but I hoped the casters might attract the carp...and it worked! For the next hour I had barbel, and carp to 10 lb, on dead reds, some on a bunch of casters, and then on a small lump of cat meat, feeding casters and corn (for the carp) after every fish.
James was first to get a net.

The last 90 minutes of the match saw me take several carp from 5 lb to 12 lb, with the occasional barbel, and I went for another net with 75 minutes to go. Tony Nisbet and James Garner had already been for a third net, and soon after I returned Kevin Lee,  who I rated as possibly favourite on peg 14, also walked past me to get his third. The wind caused me to change my Preston Hollo 13 elastic for a stronger solid, and I got on better with this landing the bigger carp.

Another mistake
 Interestingly I had to wait a couple of minutes after dropping in my rig to get the bite. I didn’t get a single bite when the bait was still - it had to drift in to a small ridge, or I had to lift it, to get a fish. One 2 lb bream gave a superb lift bite which I struck at more in hope than expectation, imagining it might be a liner, but the bream was hooked in the mouth. Four or five of the other fish were hooked in the side of the mouth, so I am assuming that they were still only half-heartedly feeding. 

At the end I estimated there was 34 lb in my last net...but with seven minutes to go I had  hooked another big fish which came off after a couple of minutes. The hook had pulled off the line, and left a little pig’s tail of nylon on the end. I had already landed several big fish on this rig, so it must have frayed at some time.  I whipped on another, but it wasn’t right, so I had to cut this off and whipped it on again. That cost me a couple of minutes.
Tony - still wearing his artist's smock!
Afterwards I told several people I had lost a second carp before dropping back for the last time, but later realised I had simply re-whipped it. Anyway, with a size 12 whipped back on and a minute to go I fed, dropped back with meat, hooked a big fish...and it happened again!!! The hook came off. No idea what I had done wrong. There was no whirly line at the end so I can only assume the line cut at the spade.

No time to have another go, and I felt that I had probably cost myself at least a place, as the fish had been lining up at the end. Apart from those two I remember losing only one other fish on the pole. I’d not spent much time looking across the lake, but had seen all of them taking fish towards the end. After that bad start I decided I would be happy to finish in the top half, because it was possible those to my left had also been for nets, but I could not see them.

The weigh-in – my worst mistake of all
I started to pack uo, staked my nets out with a couple of banksticks, and went across to see what pistures I might take. John was about to wigh in, so I snapped that.  Interestingly Dick, who weighed in 97 lb, told me he caught his first fish at 1 o’clock, three hours after starting; so I then realised I wasn’t the only one to find it difficult at the start.

John weighed in over 100lb, as did Tony, James and Kevin, and I estimated  I had 39 lb in one net (giving me the option of putting more fish in if they came fast at the end), with 40 lb in the second, and 34 lb in the last – totalling 113 lb, which would not be enough to trouble Kevin on 14, who had 128 lb 10 oz.

Kev's best carp - 14 lb 10 oz.

My weigh-in – mistake Number Three
We got back to my peg and I was horrified to see only two keepnets. One, plus the bankstick it was resting on, was missing. This happened to Dick last year, and the feeling is one of absolute dismay. That was 34 lb gone. The bankstick was fairly firm when I left it, but the wind must have blown into the net so it acted like a sail and loosened everything.

What a beauty, and the fish is nice...
I quickly took my special landing net handle with hook attached out of the holdall – thankfully I hadn’t taken any tackle back to the car because had I wanted a few pictures, so the holdall was still lying on the bank. A quick dip into the margin found the net, I  lifted it a little, and thought I could see the bottom ring appear. So I dropped it, came back towards me, scooped from the other end and, amazingly, found it had hooked into the top ring. A very quick lift followed...and there were still fish there.

With some trepidation the net was emptied into the weight bag, and the scales went round to 38 lb. I do believe I had not lost a single fish!!!  The ‘39 lb net’ went 45 lb 2 oz and the  ‘40 lb net’  went 47 lb 5 oz – total 130 lb 7 oz, for the narrow win, because the anglers to my left couldn’t make 100 lb. Rarely was a win so undeserved.
The carp were all in great condition. Neil
showed us two commons, before he had to
dash back to his meeting of the Mafia!
A great match despite the wind.

So because I take so long to pack up – I had six rigs to put away, plus the feeder rod, and an assortment of baits to sort out, plus taking the accessories off my box, including the back – I had been able to whip out my hook and save the day. I won’t be repeating that, but I will sort something out to hold my nets securely in future.

No more mid-week matches for at least a month as I have to attend Addenbrooke’s for daily radiation of the prostate cancer. But I hope I will be OK at weekends...assuming the following treatment for the lung cancer allows it.

I'm on Cedar the weekend after next, where peg 26 would be nice, or at least one near the car park end – 1 to 3 or 24 to 26, though I know I will have a good day, as in 65 years of fishing I’ve never yet had a ‘bad’ day. Days when I have not caught anything, yes, but how can fishing not be good?

The fishing on Cedar is similar to that on Elm. But I am toying with the idea of using an eyed hook tied with a Palomar knot rather than a spade end, and I will be checking my fixed-spool reel clutch before I start. I won’t get away with making those mistakes again.

Friday, 14 September 2018

A good last hour – Horseshoe, Decoy

Horseshoe, Decoy, peg 12

This was a Spratts club match, with 12 of us taking part. There was a real overnight temperature dip, and at 6 am there was not a cloud in the sky; by the time I left at 7.45 am the outside temperature was still only 7 Centigrade. And at the fishery the wind was a stiff breeze which wasn’t bitingly cold, but definitely cool, so I fancied my pre-match plan of fishing shallow was probably out of the window.

Peg 12 stuck to my fingers – not a peg I would have picked as the margins here are quite deep and the pegs 10 to 13 were open to the South-Westerly breeze, which was basically in our faces much of the time. I started putting in a little pot of hemp and pellet at 8 metres and had a look inside, with no result. Half-an-hour on the longer line brought a small bream and a roach. By this time Trevor, on 8, had two big carp in his net on a feeder, and Peter Harrison, next to me, had already had some F1s on his Method.
My swim. My margin fish all came from the right, almost under the tree.

A change to a banded pellet on Method brought a single F1 and after two hours that was all I had – 3 lb., while I estimated Peter next to me on peg 11 had 15 lb to 20 lb, and his catch rate started to increase. On my left Peter Barnes had just one carp, though soon he had another big fish on and as I had nothing better to do I took a few pictures of him landing it!
This one took Peter about ten minutes to land...and I wasn't catching anything anyway!

Two good-uns for Peter.
Note to self: Do not shoot
into the sun....
The fish is there somewhere (camera operator error?)

Meanwhile Trevor had switched to a pellet feeder and then to a pole shallow and then to a full-depth pole rig, so I guessed he had slowed. But I was quite downhearted, and was sure I was probably last, and could easily end bottom. So I started switching swims and methods to try to find at least one fish! The far-bank swim was weedy, and I had to cast about ten feet short with my feeder to avoid the rubbish, but as I was getting liners I kept going over there. At one point Peter next to me tried shallow, but never had a bite, so that made my mind up on that tactic.

I fall a long way behind
In the next three hours I managed another three on corn on the Method after I had spotted that Peter was using corn.All were around 2 lb to 3 lb, and a quick switch to the margin with a pole had  brought four hooked barbel in four casts on dead reds...only one of which I landed. Two snagged me (one in my keepnet) and one came off. But I had persisted in that area, moving out to the slightly deeper water to my right six feet from the bank, and three or four 3 lb carp and a couple of better ones on reds and on corn. So with an hour left I had only an estimated 40 lb, and was really getting hammered by Peter Harrison on 11 and John Garner on 10 who seemed to be playing a carp on pole every time I looked up. At this point I started on my second net.
Peter Harrison on the next peg to me caught steadily all day on The Method.

Suddenly things start
looking up
This one was around double figures.
I concentrated on corn, reasoning that Peter was catching on this, and suddenly I started getting bites close in to the side, in about four feet of water. Peter also caught there, dropping his Method feeder in almost under his rod tip. That last hour saw me, in fact, add 40 lb to my catch, all carp around 5 lb, and putting some feed in before each fish – if I didn’t do that I didn’t get a bite. I lost just one, in the last five minutes, and was playing a fish when the match ended.

I hadn’t bothered to click these last-hour fish as I hadn’t imagined they would keep feeding. But in the end  everything was OK, and I finished third with 81 lb 12 oz behind Peter Harrison on 113 lb 11 oz and John Garner, who had 100 lb. I was happy with that, after having been convinced I would finish way down the list.
Runner-up John Garner.
John Smith with friend (I have to take his picture
sometimes as I go to his house for a quick cup
of tea and a biscuit, if I am lucky, on the way home!!)
The result (note Mick on peg 2 did not sit on Ted's knee
on another peg 2 - Mick was actually on 1).
Another trip to Specsavers is on the cards!!

Next match is this Sunday on Elm, at Decoy. The forecast is for warmer weather, so perhaps the barbel will be out in force. It’s impossible, at this time of year, to pre-plan with any real confidence, but I have made up a 4.2 lb, 0.12 mm rig with a size 16 hook as a nod to the fact that the fish will start becoming more finicky any time now. I prefer to use a 4.2 lb rig straight through rather than adding hooklengths to a stronger rig, as it’s stronger than a hooklength rig (only the hook whipping as a weak spot), though of course more liable to degrade along its length. However I will use hooklengths in the Winter, which enables me to make a quick change to a lighter business end if the water is cold.

Monday, 10 September 2018

A difficult match at Northview

Northview, Gedney.

Overnight the temperature dropped, and a cold wind welcomed the 14 of us in this Fenland Rods match. My peg (13 on the day) was the second one in from the entrance – it would have been in the corner of the original lake, before the extra bit was added a year or two ago.

I would have preferred the wind blowing into me – pegs 15, 14 and from 1 to 6, because on that opposite bank the margins are deeper than on the roadside, and in the cold wind I fancied the fish might want to find the deeper water, at least until the temperature warmed.
The wind was cold but at least it was over my back. I plumbed up
next to the island at 13 metres but never tried it.

However, I had fancied trying shallow with caster, and my back wind was ideal for this. I started on the bottom in about four feet of water to my left ten feet from the bank with a 6mm Sonubaits sinking expander. One carp and another lost foulhooked was my catch in the first 45 minutes, and I tried out at three sections. Here I took three or four bream to about 2 lb, and tried throwing caster out and fishing shallow.

A grim first two hours
Carp were turning under the surface, but all I got were two roach. Going down I suddenly managed to hook, and land, two more carp about 3 lb on pellet. So after a little over two hours I had three carp and John Garner, to my left had one. He also said that Kevin Lee, to his left, wasn’t catching much. Then I knew that it was likely to be hard.

On the opposite bank they must have been very cold. I could see they were all muffled up against the wind, with hoods over their heads. And I didn’t see much caught there, either. I couldn’t see beyond peg 3, though. The wind veered slightly to the left now, causing me to rule out going over to the island at 13 metres, where I would have had trouble presenting the bait properly.
John, on my left, struggled all day
as I did. But this golden
carp raised his spirits just a little.

I now started foulhooking fish, virtually all of which came off. I wasn’t the only one – all those to my left had the same problem. I also lost five 2 lb bream which hurtled out of the water when hooked and threw the hook! I looked for deeper water than four feet, but couldn’t find any within 11 metres, so concentrated on the little dips I could find – the bottom here is very bumpy.

Dead reds sort of worked
The rest of the match was spent mainly at three sections and at five sections, and when I put some hemp and dead maggots in by baitdropper it kicked the swims into life – though not a lot! However it did bring occasional carp, plus some more foulhooked which came off, all on a bunch of dead reds. It was the only way I could get fish. Just one, my best at 7 lb,  came from deep margin swim near the reeds to my left, where it was almost three feet deep. My best hour was the last, when I landed about six carp, the best that seven-pounder.

All day I had tiny indications that fish were playing with the bait, or hitting the line somewhere just above it. I put it down to the sudden drop in temperature. My pellet felt like ice when retrieved.

To my right and in front of me the margin was no more than ten inches deep six feet from the bank, and from time to time fish would come in here and kick up clouds of mud and wave their tails at me. Of course I tried to catch them, but they wouldn’t look at a bait, and I foulhooked just one, on cat meat, a bait which I kept trying but on which I never had a bite. Those margin fish seemed to be just enjoying themselves, like they did at Kingsland earlier in the week.

Difficult to land
The water was so muddy that it was impossible to see fish to net them until they were right on the surface. So trying to scoop them out as they came bast just under the surface was impossible. Consequently they took a long time to land – nearly all were in beautiful condition, solid and fit.
Wendy Bedford with husband Les' fish
as he was in the car on oxygen. Just
look at the quality - fin and scale-perfect.

A complaint!!
One or two of us had asked, at the draw, if the start and finish could be made more obvious – shouting is the usual method. So, unbeknown to me, Kevin, who is official timekeeper, crept up behind me at the start and roared “START” in my ear. I jumped a foot in the air, but immediately saw the funny side, and had a good laugh. At the end he did it again, taking me by surprise, a split second after I hooked my last fish, a four-pounder foulhooked in the tail.

That fish took me several minutes to land, and consequently I missed the first few being weighed. I estimated I had about 55 lb of carp and 10 lb of silvers, and in fact that wasn’t far out as they totalled 70 lb 3 oz.

The winner
Over on the far side Dick Warriner and James Garner found fish in the deep water, with Dick telling me he had at least six feet. It was a clever decision to go out there early in the match, as I suspect most of the rest of us opted to try closer, and with the wind in his face he must have found it quite difficult at times. Dick took fish steadily all day, his winning 133 lb 14 oz coming on cat meat  – something which didn’t work for me. A very good win on a difficult day...Dick is now one of the anglers you expect to probably frame in almost every match.
 I was on 13, next to John Garner, while John Smith was
opposite me on 1. The weighers-in 
clearly should have gone to Specsavers!

I ended seventh, though only 4 lb behind the fourth man, so just one of those 20 or so lost carp could have given me several more club points.

Such a pity that this water is going to be closed to matches in the next year or so, the owner concentrating on pleasure anglers, with unhooking mats being currently required on the other two lakes, and I imagine the same rule will apply here.

My errors
I made two mistakes, I think. I should have tried a Method feeder over to the island, and I should have fished positively for a time with cat meat on a proper strong rig in another spot somewhere, possibly to my right, instead of just putting cat meat on my pellet rigs. Not sure whether it would have worked, but I should have tried. Then I realised I was top of the six pegs at my end of the lake, so perhaps I did OK after all.

Next match Thursday on Horseshoe, Decoy. I have casters for those lovely F1s, and will try shallow for them if I can. But the fluctuating temperatures may spike that plan!